Sunday, December 12, 2010

The unmaking of India

This post played on the mind for long. I just didn’t have the courage to spell my fears. For some time now we are hearing and seeing a bit too much that makes us lose the famous Indian complacency. I had been one of the ardent believers of the shining India story. But now I feel the façade is giving away at a mind boggling pace to show the hollow innards of the system. But Iam not trying to bring attention to the majot topics of the day like the telecom scam or Radia tapes, but bring to light a fast spreading phenomenon that can leave the people in the shackles of penury.

GOLD LOAN – a new nomenclature for the old pawn broking business. Many years ago the leaders of newly independent India had taken efforts to push these to mere existence and showed people that banking was a safer and saner solution to financial needs. The habit of saving was inculcated in us and the gold was safest investment and saved to deal with the needs of future.

With increased consumerism, the needs have escalated but the incomes of all haven’t. Senseless borrowing seems to be order of the day. The condition is much like the Hindi sayng”Aamdaani athanni aur karcha rapaiya’ ( income 50 paise and expenditure a rupee). You get loans of all kinds – education, car, vehicle, house, personal needs, business etc. Earlier you went to the bank of financial institution for a loan, now they are after you asking you take a loan. But even with this kind of banking approach, people just want more money faster. Result, they opt for GOLD LOAN. They pawn the ornaments with some new age sahukars and get the money and if the business idea fails end up paying exorbitant interest that squeeze the life out of families.

The GOLD COIN investments are yet another nice way to trap the naïve. A closer inspection to the terms of these brings forth the fact that there is no sale involved. You believe that you invested in gold but have actually pawned the gold. I hope some journalist publishes details of these and people can be saved.

A look at the statistics shows that hundreds of new offices of these not so holy NBFCs have opened. They have made inroads to hitherto unchartered territory snuffing the future out for many. The loans have helped some but harmed many.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fear Factor

Every year I get annual visits from cousins. One of them comes down with only four things on his mind.
1. Meet all relatives, but stay at a hotel.
2. Visit all major temples and donate lumpsums insisting a hundred times that his name should not be published.
3. Buy more land/ apartment/ house.
4. And instil the fear in you and family that the Hindus are at risk.

The fist exercise leaves everyone with three arches in face - two raised eyebrows and one unhappy mouth.

The second makes sure that all authorities know whose name should not be published

The third has left him lose count of property

And the fourth leaves me with a hoarse voice trying to argue. He is afraid that all non Hindus are having more children...gives some statistic that in Kerala the majority will non hindus in next ten years...that things will be bleak once it happens and so on. And my kids hang around hearing every bit of it. He can't digest I go to a nearby Church for the annual festival there nor that my dad is reading parts of Koran as part of his translation work.

I argue that he is employed by non hindus and lives with family in a non Hindu country with absolutely no problems. Then, he tries to say that people there are different. So, it is not religion that causes problems but just peoples' mindset, I argue.

By then the allotted 30 mins of his valuable time is over. He wraps up the conversation and gives couple of pics of his kids. And hugs my kids and wishes us well and steps out with a Jai Shri Ram! He has three more relatives to visit the same day.

Bye Bye, Cousin till next year.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Case filed

This morning the discussion was coming to the last round. Till now the case had five favouring the decision to have a legal settlement while three others just wanted to wrap the affair. The main hurdle of the whole proceeding is that harm has been caused to a baby just seven months old.

For you innocent folks let me take you through some scenes
1. Young family flies in from USA for a wedding in family. The baby is eagerly awaited as none have seen him yet face to face.
2. The house wore a new coat of paint, the yard was cleaned, the sitout retiled and so on.
3. The boy’s family are let minimum time to hold baby (kissing not allowed ) before wife and kid proceed to her house as it is her brother who is marrying soon.
4. Mum in law and pop in law are pissed off when son too leaves by evening
5. Ten more days to wedding. Many ceremonies before that.
6. Boy’s parents are not good at the traditions and draw amused glances from everyone as they do some silly mistakes. Boy is worried that they are not performing well enough.
7. Pop in law starts acting funny starting a cold war with son. Son vents anger on mom. Mom hates daughter in law for that and DIL has no love for anyone except the baby.
8. Wedding day. Mum and pop in law act as if they are just another couple invited and not partake in ceremonies on the stage. Girl is happy as she gets to meet her friends and relatives after long break. Boy is happy and unhappy at same time but poses for photos. Baby changes hands and finally is left with an eight year old as others are too busy.
9. Baby is found sitting on a chair with some kids playing nearby. Baby has a well chewed bubblegum in his hair, all matted.
10. Pandemonium.
11. Everyone points finger to other for not being responsible. Baby’s head is washed many times but gum sticks on.
12. Baby develops cold and fever in subsequent days and is hospitalized. Son is worried whether they can manage a clearance to fly back.
13. The rift in family widens.
14. The neighbours click their tongues at the situation. They try to be helpful by asking more questions.

By noon, the decision is out. The culprit – Bubblegum makers. The verdict- the neighbours abstain from gum eating for a week

Meanwhile the plane with baby touches down on American soil.

Monday, October 11, 2010

LLCS(Losers Low Confidence Syndrome)

I don’t know whether any other nation has this disease. About 40% of Indians are afflicted by this disease. Even if they are happy that the country is winning some medals at some International games like CWG, they can’t show their happiness. They will make such comments as “Thanks to Kalmadi, we scared the better sportspersons so that we can win some medals”.

The disease afflicts a lot of prominent mediapersons too. They don’t seem to be happy at all. Charu Sharma on DD Sports was commenting, “Saare medal thodhi na lene hai. Doosare desh bhi aaye hain”. That’s real good spirit booster. Let others take the medals and we just compete seems to be his mantra.

Barkha Dutt was asking someone for his opinion on the Ayodhya verdict and she phrased the question, “How has this verdict disappointed you?” The likes of her won’t let the nation move on.

I hope someone finds some medicine soon for this dangerous disease.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Rehashed

Dear blogger friends. It has been very busy for me as I try to balance between work and home. So, haven't been able to write anything new. Posting comments on other blogs has been poor. Please bear for some more days:)
Meanwhile, read the rehashed post and laugh



The Indian summer: it affects different people in different ways. Let us examine the case at hand.

A small village in central Kerala is the stage. After a sumptuous lunch, the household has settled down for a siesta. And thanks, to loadshedding, getting a wink was proving to be difficult. But our braveheart family did not give in. People took to the bare floor where it was cooler. The atmosphere was quiet. Even the cows were not mooing.

Kerala as you might know is a 100% literate state and publishes many magazines, newspapers, weeklies etc for its voracious reading population. These editors are real mavericks for they come up with all kinds of useful information for its readers- for eg: How to make Sambar- a dish which everyone in south India knows to make, How to make your child eat, Why did Cuba have problems, Ask the psychologist column, Weekly horoscope, The story of couples who opted for love marriages etc.

Our heroine had one such useful magazine to help her to go to sleep. She was feeling drowsy when she came upon the page – Cats too can go mad. As the household had couple of cats, she was hooked. Her eyes grew wider as she read on.

She nudged her husband who was snoring away, “Did you know that cats can go mad?”.
“No.” Said he and rolled over to the other side.
But she was not letting him go with that, “Look, I am not joking. It says so here. And they have listed the symptoms too…”
“Eh?”
“1. The cat prefers a shaded place.
2. It doesn’t react quickly when provoked.
3. Once Provoked…” Before she could continue, he took the magazine from her.
She protested and then gave in saying, “OK. Read for yourself. Anyway, it’s almost time to make tea. I will just refresh myself”. And she went into the adjoining bathroom.

“Ahhhhhhhhhhh” She came out screaming and was now standing on the bed.
“ What’s the matter? Why are you screaming?”
“ It’s the cat. It’s in there”
“So?”
“It’s mad”
“Who, our Sati? No joking”
“No, It’s true. It’s in there”
“OK, Let me see”
He tiptoed to the bathroom. And there was Sati lying in one corner of the huge bathroom. He tiptoed out and went to the terrace where the arecanuts were spread to dry in the Sun. He picked an handful and came back and started to pelt the cat.

At the first pelt, she did not bother. By the fourth, she opened a questioning eye. She didn’t like to be disturbed thus. She was in no mood to play. By the tenth, she heaved herself up and padded to the other corner and settled down again to continue her disturbed sleep. But this was not her day! The pelting continued.

Now she had it. She got up and stood in the classic arched pose, flashing her teeth. Her hair was standing on its end. She looked ferocious. She was a big cat and a black one at that.

However, she could not quite understand this sudden change in behaviour of her masters. They loved her and she loved them too. And she had been a good cat. That morning too, she had curled at the foot of the bed and crooned appropriately when cuddled. At breakfast, she had eaten the crumbs and purred gratefully. And she had not stolen a thing from the kitchen, except the neighbour’s. Her mom had taught her not to steal from the house where she chose to live. Then, what was the problem, wondered Sati. Maybe it was the mouse she had failed to catch, but that should not be a problem, Sati thought. Anyway, she continued to snarl and keep the pelters at a distance.

By then, the couple was sure that the cat was mad. Now the husband brought in a pole to poke the poor cat. Meanwhile, the commotion had woken everyone and all of them made a beeline for the room where the action was.

The Lady of the house, my aunt, went in first. Upon being enlightened by the state of affairs by her daughter, who was still standing on the bed, she exclaimed, “Oh! Shut up. Don’t be so stupid to believe in that nonsense. It is a hot afternoon and the poor cat has simply found itself a cool place to nap”. But her daughter and son-in-law differed. As aunt tried to go into the bathroom, they tried to save her from imminent calamity. She shoved them aside and went in and called the cat lovingly. She approached it slowly and the cat calmed down a bit. She picked it up and came out.

“Look”, said aunt. But there was no one in the room. The daughter had gone to a safer place- on top of the dining table. The son-in-law peeped from the kitchen.

“Ha ha haHo Ho”, aunt burst out laughing and added, “We don’t have a mad cat in the family, but two madcaps who think that cats can’t climb on to the dining table”.

A trail of laughter followed.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Where are the nails?

“Amma, Padmam…Where are the nails?”, cried Krisna swamy.
“ Look carefully. You’ll find it. Who needs your nails anyway?”, replied Padmambal from the kitchen where she was frying the kondattom( dried rice snacks)
“I had put it in the small room alongwith other such stuff. Now it is not there”
“You might have left it somewhere and forgotten about it”, said Padmaambal arriving on the scene and joining the search.
“Tomorrow that carpenter will come to mend the cowshed. I had kept it ready so that he works full day.”
“Aama(Yeah), that guy is a lazy bum. He works only when you cal him to have the coffee”
The search continued. No results

“Oh! This summer sun makes you thirsty. Give me some sambharam( buttermilk with chillies and curry leaves)
“I ‘ll get you soon”
“I thought that once our grandchildren went back to Mumbai, we’ll have nothing to do. But today seems to be more busier. What’s the time?”
“It is almost 2p.m. Didn’t notice at all. You and your nails.”
“ Did our son and family call after returning to Mumbai?
“oh! They would’ve reached only this morning. Might be resting after journey.”

“I’ll just check out the plantain grove. Will be back in an hour. Keep the coffee ready then”
“O.K. Take care. There are some snakes in the adjoining rubber plantation”
“I will wear those gumboots”

Silence. The late afternoon is very still. Padmaambal could hear the steps receding into the grove beyond. She reclined on the easy chair for a while thinking of her grandsons aged 5 and 8. Perfect scoundrels, they were. She could not lie down while they were here. She could hear fast steps approaching. Is he back already, she thought.

“Padmam, I found the nails”, panted Krishna Swamy
“Where from? Why is your hands and nails wet?”
“Just guess.”
“Well, your dear grandsons drove them home in couple of plants in the grove. All that just started to bear fruits. Just let them call. Hmmph”

Just then, the phone starts to ring. It is the son calling from Mumbai.
“Amma, we reached a bit late. Where is Appa?”
“He is fuming here”
“Why? What happened?”
“You ask”, said she handing over the mouthpiece to her husband
“Give it to Subbu” ( subbu was the elder kid)
“Hello”, squeaked a voice.
“ Why did you drive the nails into the plantain plants?”

“Oh! That. We wanted to see if it gives out sap like the rubber tree. We kept a coconut shell below to collect the sap. Ramu nailed 6 and I nailed 10. How much sap is collected? Send the money from selling it for Diwali. Bye Tatha(grandpa)”

Friday, September 10, 2010

A Chapter


It was the May of 1985. Dad bought the first car of his life , old rugged 1962 model ambassador. He used to work in central India then. And he bought the car from a doc in Kerala. He had this adventurous idea of driving it all the way up to Bhilai where our native town, Thrissur, covering more than 2000kms. So we got ourselves a mechanic and started off.

Summer in the Deccan is not one of the most pleasant regions to travel in a non Ac car. But there we were, driving through little villages with a trail of amused children and dust. We tasted all kinds of cuisines on the way from wayside little hotels and somewhat better restaurants. It was fun.

Well, we reached Hyderabad around 2 AM. And the town was asleep. We were new to the city and we did not how to get to the main road to the better hotels. We tried one or two, but they were kind of unwilling to take in late visitors and said"No rooms available". so we finally ended up in an old house converted into a hotel. It had one big squarish inner courtyard, around which the rooms were set. That night was horrible. The room was full of gigantic mosquitoes who made sure that we did not sleep a wink.

The next day we started off in search of a better hotel and found one. And we saw the Golconda fort and the Salar-e- jung museum. Drive to Bhilai from there took another two days. By the time we reached Bhilai, the driver had Chicken pox and I had fever.

The fever I had was peculiar. I ran high temperatures every alternate day and only at night. After about three cycles , I was hallucinating, seeing peacocks from my window, Amitabh Bachchan dancing by the bedside and so on... Soon, I ended up in the hospital in a double room where the other bed was occupied by a woman. I drifted off to sleep with IVs injecting medicines into me. I regained complete consciouness only by late afternoon. I had opened my eyes earlier and seen my mother talking with the woman on the bed. Now, she told me that her name was Kamala and that she had kidney failure.
" How are you feeling now?", Kamala asked
" Better", I managed.
" Oh! It's nothing. Look at me, I have dialysis twice a month but Iam OK".

I smiled. Mom took over the conversation part.
Suddenly, there was a commotion in the adjoining room. A girl my age was being given Oxygen. I saw her some moments ago as she peeked into my room from the small corridor that joined the rooms. She was a bubbly, beautiful Punjabi girl. And when mom said that she being given oxygen, I did not believe it. She had a serious cardiac problem.

Next day, Kamala had a visitor. Her husband, a trucking businessman, had come over. They spoke in hushed tones. He was crying and she was trying to comfort him. And when he left, she told us that he would return the next day with the kids. She showed some photos of the kids - a three year daughter and a five year old son.

"Cute children, are'nt they?", asked Kamala.
" And who is this?", mom asked
"That's me. I looked beautiful then. It is at a wedding."
Tears welled up in her eyes. She was lost in thought.

Later she told mom that her treatment costs were getting out of hand and that her husband was the youngest brother and he could no more take money from the family business to treat her. But she held nothing against her in -laws. She believed in God and fate.

Next day, Kamala was up early, all dressed to see the kids. Soon, we heard chattering voices in the passage. The kids were here. They came and leapt at Kamala in joy.

"Come home", they said.

I was a witness to the poignant moment. Her husband and her eyes were happy and sad at the same time. The husband had brought some food. She fed the children with her hands. The elder was telling her about school, the younger one about her cousins. It was the first time I realised, the value of life.

That evening, she was mum, unlike her chattering self. By night, she said that she asked her husband not to show her body to the kids. She wants them to remember her as an active mother.

I got discharged the next day. Later we came to know, she was soon paralysed and her systems shut down one after other and she died. She was cremated nearby and not taken home as per her wishes.

I will always remember this chapter of my life.


P.S This post was originally published in overacuppacopy.blogspot.com

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gafur ka dost

Any Malayali worth the name will remember the snip from the movie- Naadodikattu. It comically brings out the scams that go on in the name of recruiting for overseas jobs. Lured into the net with dreams of a wealthy tomorrow, the hit duo Mohanlal-Sreenivasan, give Gafur, the agent whatever money they could manage for a ride on boat to gulf as they have no VISA. And they are fooled by the agent who tells them to hop off after an overnite ride to Chennai. He gives them a pair of Arab dress, teaches them some useful Arabic like Salaam Valaikum, Valaikum usalaam and tells them to blurt out Gafur ka dost if some one asks more.

Kerala is full of such agents. You get ‘Gafur ka dost’ for any job to be done- some take you for a ride while others deliver. It is really a difficult job to differentiate one from another. Maybe Kerala has the maximum no. of agents who provide gas connection, rail or air tickets, Visa help, school/college admissions, real estate, housemaid, home nurse, babysitter, painter, plumber, electrician, taxis, bystander at hospital if you have none in the family to do the service, beautiful well dressed girls to pose as bride’s friends and add glamour to a wedding and on goes the list. And the public is kind of wary but still uses these invaluable services, sometimes in the process losing all their valuables.

In this scenario, the simple Good Samaritan who tries to extend help to fellow beings in whatever way possible is gauged differently. The absolute free services don’t carry the same weight as paid service. So, the person you are trying to help either looks at other avenues or runs out of patience and rarely is able to receive a help well delivered.

Things have come to a pass where we find difficult to believe a person through and through. “Nothing comes for FREE” – is it getting a bit too much into our heads? Or are we losing patience working on computers as in “Hey, this page is taking forever to load, let’s try other options?”

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Railgadi chuk chuk chuk

Trains fascinate me. My first train travel was as a one year old. The annual two day journey to Kerala was the greatest attraction for summer. As I grew up so did the Indian railways. The steam engine gave way to Diesel and then to Electric engines. But the clamour, melee at stations, the running after TTE for a berth etc continued. Then, few trains had AC coaches, now there are many and more travelers opting for it. But Iam here to relate few incidents of some train travelers of yesteryears.

1.Mr. Bannerjee took the express to Calcutta. At Jharsaguda, the train waited at the station for further signal. The power in the coaches went off. Mr. Bannerjee got down to the platform and dozed off to sleep on a bench that sultry summer night. Waking up, he asked the station master to send a telegram to his brother to collect the luggage at Howrah terminus.

2.Dad was single then. He was returning from kerala after attending the funeral of an aunt. He makes it to Jolarpettai. From there onwards, he has no connecting train for another 14 hours. Has to reach ASAP. He boards a goods train. Makes friends with engine driver, shares his dinner, sleeps on his bed and reaches destination in time to report to duty.

3.There was no direct train to Kerala from Central India. The Keralites in Bhilai gathered for an agitation. I remember riding on the carrier seat of Dad’s Yezdi, the road swirling up dust as hundreds of Malayalis- Hindus, Christians, Muslims all rode on various vehicles to the rail crossing to have a Rail Roko. Years later, I drew parallels when I saw Gandhi – the Dandi March scene. First we got two bogies which were pulled in by some train to Nagpur where it waited in the outer to get hitched on the Kerala Express from Delhi. A year or two later, we got the train Bilaspur Cochin Express which is now extended to Trivandrum.

4.Mr. Mahalingam, Mrs. Mahalingam and three kids board the train. There is nothing maha about Mahalingam, a puny man while wife is rotund and pregnant fullterm. Draped in a nine yard kancheepuram and bedecked with flowers they get on with at least eight small pieces of luggage. Dinner is packed in a typical cloth bag. After dinner, lights go off. At 11.00 p.m, the pains start. Mahalingam swoons. Other passengers now have it on them to pull off a delivery. The next station with medical assistance is a good four hours away. People run along the train in either directions to get hold of a Doc or nurse. They find an ortho and a military nurse who deliver a baby boy on lower berth with sheets as partition from passage.

5.Abdul Salim boards from Kurla terminus in Mumbai. He is a NRI- a poor one. He works as a labourer on Dubai’s prestigious projects. But he has a big suitcase. Two RPF trainees too get on the train. They want some goodies. They ask him to open the suitcase near the toilets for security reasons. Mumbai blasts are still fresh in public mind. So, they let RPF check. The lady occupying the nearby seat is concerned. She asks, “Kyon tang kar rahe ho bechare ko?”( why are you bothering him?”
People look up and want her to keep quiet. The questioning session goes on. The train is nearing Kalyan.
”Tum logon ko sirf uska saman chahiye! Arre logon, yeh bechara mehnat kar ghar kuch laya hai aur yeh nikamme use lena chahte hain. Hamare jaisa hai, Raipur ja raha hai. Kuch karo” ( you guys just want some goodies. The poor fellow has worked hard to bring some presents home and you good-for-nothings want to take it away? Hey people, he is like any of us, going to Raipur. Do something)
”Acchha Raipur Ja raha hai? Phir toh kuch karna hoga” ( He is going to Raipur, is he? Then let’s do something)
A group advances daring the RPF trainees. The train pulls in Kalyan outer. The two get off and disappear into darkness”
”Shukriya mayi”, Abdul salim says, eyes all wet. “ Main toh dar gaya tha” (Thank You, Mother. I was really frightened)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Accident Prone Kilometre

Driving down the National Highways of India, you get to see these boards now and then. Usually you find it near to a busy junction or sharp bend or blind turning the road. Similarly there are some people who can be called accident prone kilometer themselves. Things just happen to them in the most incredulous way, sometimes again and again. Let’s see what happened to Guptaji.

1. Guptaji and wife go to the railway station to receive some relatives. He wears a new kurta. As they stand on the platform, a train just leaves in the opposite direction and someone throws a pack of half eaten idli sambhar on to the platform or say directly onto Guptaji.

2. Guptaji buys a new car and parks it on the street. A coconut falls on a passing truck, gets deflected smashes the front screen.

3. Guptaji is going to home town by train. He has got himself a top berth so that he may sleep whenever he wishes to. In wee hours of morning, Guptaji tries to get down and discovers that someone had left the turkey towel to dry on the ladder. He jumps and promptly lands on to a fruit knife in open bag below.

4. Guptaji takes a holiday to Kerala. He is happy to see the greenery and fresh air and rolls down the windows of the taxi a take a fresh breath and gets splattered with puke. Someone has put his head out of the window to do so on the bus the taxi is overtaking.

5. Guptaji goes to enquire what the commotion is about in the marketplace. It seems a thief is being given the thrashing. And when the crowd wants to know who the accomplice is, he points to Guptaji and …

6. Guptaji comes home late after a party, changes clothes and goes off to sleep. In the morning, he goes to answer the doorbell and gets a queer look from milkman. He has his wife’s kurta on( all floral prints).

7. Guptaji( I.K Gupta) is a candidate at club election. And all the votes intended for him goes to L.K Gupta because the “L’ was written as ‘l’.

8. Guptaji’s Patient health card is borrowed by brother to avail free medical checkup and he eventually develops complications and dies. The PSU records now consider Gupta dead though he is very much alive. If he told the truth, he will be taken to court and his family will not get even a penny as compensation.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Celebrating 50


This is my 50th post and I would like to celebrate by giving away the Magic Blog award to some fellow bloggers. I like to read these blogs for various reasons. I like:
Insignia for her observations
Neha for her analysis
Aparna for her ruminations
Bikram for his takes on life, situations and customs
silverine for her humour
Destiny's Child for her wide angles and narrow escapes
RGB for her perfection
Karthik for his gift of writing
Anil Kurup for his quests
BK Chowla for his efforts for India
Kavita for information
wise donkey for her intense posts
Tomz for his out of the box posts
Swantantra for her simplicity
Shilpa for her variety posts
Lazy Pineapple for her humour and truthfulness
Sujata for anecdotes & Travelogues
Sana for her pure thoughts
Samvedna for her peaceful views

Monday, August 2, 2010

Comparing Notes


“Hello, we’re planning a get together. Come along. We can relive the good old times”, boomed Mr. Achuthan from the other end.

“Why not? Who else is coming”, asked Dad.

“Oh! The Menons, the Arvindakshans, the Nalinakshans, The Sudhakarans and the Surendrans.”

“ And Hemachandran?”

“ No. His mother in law is not doing fine.”

“Let me call him up”

Before I go further, this presumed get together was for some retired fellows most of them free with kids married and settled in far off places within India or in some foreign country.

“ Hello, Hemachandran? Ah! Why are you not coming over for the get together? You ask your brother in law to manage for a day, no?”

“Eeek! Should one bother?”

“Bother about what?”

“ What can we do? A pack of oldies who can’t drink or smoke or eat their fill? Compare notes on how much sugar one has or pressure? Or talk about the pains and aches? Iam not coming!”

Dad broke out laughing.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How do you feel when….

1. At a club party, one of your friends asks you, “Why are your eyes in such a hollow?” And before you can recover, the other one helps out, “Oh! It runs in their family. All of them have sunken eyes!”
Harishchandras as friends is dicey

2. Two weeks after Grandma dies, someone asks you” Amoomayude aavashyam kazhino?” which translates to “Is Grandma’s need over?”
Aavashyam in local language means rites

3. The child is calling you “Dusthi” for not allowing to watch TV and your sister corrects the child, “You should not say that. It is Dustha, not Dushti for woman”
Your sister is studying to be a teacher

4. When you open the door to the newspaper agent expecting to get the bill and all he says is” Cheyathu Upakaramkalluke nanni”( Thanks for all help) and disappears
You helped him get a gas connection a month ago.

5. You had pain and think you have a kidney stone and consult the urologist who tells you that you are dreaming things
A week later, he confirms the analysis of a stone

6. Guests just asks the kids, “How are you at studies”. The smart elder one immediately says,” He(pointing to younger brother) is a outstanding student, stands outside all the while”. Not to be outdone, younger one adds,”He gets zero out of zero”
You get consoling glances from guests.

7. At the zoo, you see a bleeding man( hand almost torn apart) being rushed to hospital. When you make enquiries, you are told – “Sardarji Bhaloo se haath milane gaye the” (Sardar went to shake hands with the bear)

Monday, July 19, 2010

In search of roots

Grandma died. After 16 days, the official mourning period, they brought in an astrologer. A learned man, he was said to be very correct in his readings of what the stars had to foretell. About the time of grandma’s death, he said it was auspicious. So everyone was relieved that she was directly passage to the heavens with no hanging around Earth’s atmosphere. Then he said ominously, “But I see displeased Gods.”

“But it can’t be”, said the aunt who spent hundreds on different offerings every month

“I see it clear. You have not prayed well to your family deity for long”

“But we offer prayers to the deity in our hometown.”

“That is not your family deity. It is a Goddess – a form of Kali”, went on the astrologer

Questioning glances went around. None knew of a Goddess. Finally a distant uncle said that he offered prayer to a local goddess near his house.

“Not that. This is somewhere south near the sea. A famous Shiv temple is close by”

This was not particularly helpful with Kerala’s long coastline and innumerable backwaters. And the fact that most temples dedicated to a Goddess had a Shiv temple close by, wasn’t making things simpler.

“What were your forefathers?”, was the next query from the astrologer.

“Farmers. One grand uncle was a doctor(GP). Few teachers….”

“Can’t be. This goddess has been revered by warriors. You must be from warrior clan”

Whispers went around. “Psst..Maybe true. Have you noticed that the east house has those huge aunts and uncles with bushy eyebrows. Pssst…..Iam afraid of them”. “Yesss…me too”, added another low tone.

The eldest aunt who had been keeping quiet all the while finally spoke, “I remember my granny telling me something about… the family had come from somewhere else…that her grandma had fled their place fearing wrath of king…they came by boats during night…they had their valuables in little bundles…then they were given asylum by local families in new place”

Another round of whispers. “Wrath of king…my, my. What would they have done?”

“Try to find the place and offer prayers to please the Goddess”, advised the astrologer before he wrapped up the session.

“Give us some more clues. How far south?”, pleaded everyone.
“Farther south than Cochin”
“That south?...Oh No! Now we can’t make fun of Southern dialect and accent”, moaned a cousin and immediately got all kinds of glances.

Then ensued a long round of discussions. The problem at hand threw up all kinds of conditions. There was set of eager people who were intrigued and wanted to delve further into the mystery. Another set were looking up train charts to book tickets back to workplace. They cared least about the mystery. Yet another set wanted to have a second opinion and not believe the astrologer. A couple who were yet childless wanted to find the place fast and offer prayers to the goddess and kids were planning how to have a picnic to the place once they found it out.

Finally the challenge was taken up by my uncle and elder cousin. Uncle was in Kerala Police and so he did the first round of investigations.

While on a duty to Cochin once, he spotted a bus by the family name. He made enquires at the RTO and found it to be registered to a Christian family in Ernakulam town. He went to their place and told them the story. They said that they too have heard that they came from south and were converted about 300 years ago. So that drew a blank.

Time passed. About a year after, uncle came to know of a place in Alappuzha district (Alleppey) which resembled the family name. But it was on an island and you had to get ferried across and the vehicles can get across only twice a day. So, uncle and cousin got on a boat to the island. They got talking to people and asked about their destination. Many knew the place.

“Yes. I live near it. I pray at the temple everyday. There is a school also by the same name.”

“Any branches of family by the name living there?”

“None I know of”.

“Why is the school, temple and place itself named so?”

“Don’t know. Maybe you can contact the most knowledgeable person in the area – a writer. But…”He hesitated

“What but…”

“He is a muslim”
“Oh. That’s all. No problem.”

And they got down on the island and took auto to the place. And indeed amidst milky white sands stood a little temple. They went inside and invited questioning glances. They told the story and the priest, a young chap listened but he was new to the area and didn’t much about local history. The temple seemed to be not very rich. Simple people around didn’t much to make as offerings. The school too bore the name. They asked few questions about other ancient families in the neighbourhood. None resembled our family name.

Then they went in search of the writer. They were welcomed and given food. The locality did not have any great hotels. The famished duo ate thankfully. When the writer listened to the story, he was ready to help in whatever way. They met a really old man who recollected hearing the name of the household but could not add much.

And the next vacation we came down to join a bus load of family members who were going to see the Goddess. We started early and reached the place by 10.30am. About 50 of us were treated to fresh juices by the writer’s family. The household had five members- the writer’s mom, wife and two sons. They were such nice people. They had prepared a vegetarian meal for all of us after we were back from the temple. And to ensure that we felt at home, they had not prepared any nonvegetarian dishes that day even for themselves. Their love was the best thing we discovered, even better than the small temple we could call our own. They still invite my uncle and cousin for their family celebrations – like weddings and they too invited them to weddings, naming ceremony of children etc.

The trip widened our views on people. We started to have more respect for other religions and understood that the thought that the best people lived only north of Ernakulam was meaningless. Now the family has many more relatives from south of Ernakulam.

And, for the first time in life, I saw the white sands of Alappuzha. It’s just unimaginably white. Walking on the sands to an ancient temple that has drawn us from afar was an experience that could not be put into words.

Couple of years later, my cousin’s husband was posted in Alleppey and they did further research and discovered the remains of foundations of a big house that was razed to the ground by the king for the fault that a member of the family who was a respected chieftain fell in love with the princess and married her against his wishes. But his razing down did not raze down the family. The name survived in temple, and temple of learning. The descendants survived and flourished in a different land and came back to find their roots.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Lama Revealed

It has been a year since I started blogging. Novice writer was the one who led me to it. I started out with a invocation to success. And I have tasted more than that here with blog buddies. I feel happy to blog and meet up interesting people, viewpoints and comments.
Thank You All.
Here are some pics of family characters who appear in the blog.
Self, Bumbum & Boozy, Hubbydear

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Spreading the Cheer


There is a State Beverages Corporation outlet right across our office. The outlet has a long queue of most well behaved customers. They are pillars of patience. They wait in burning Sun, pouring rain, closing dusk for their share of bottles for the day. They always have short change and never push in queue. And if there is a holiday or hartal round the corner, they stock up to last the difficult times.

And the just on the footpath by the road is a Chilly Baji, Pakodas, bondas cart which opens at 4pm and does brisk business till the BEVCO outlet is open. Run by a couple, many vouch for the tasty fare they have.

RGB and myself had tasted the chilly bajis and agreed with all and sundry that it was the best we ever had. So, when the monsoons got active, we wanted to have the bajis. We peeped through the window- No cart, No BEVCO. Why, we wonder and like our brethren, we wait for next day. Same scene- No BEVCO, no cart.

RGB is more solid material. I could not take it. My left chest started to ache. To make sure twice over, I went to the balcony leading fire escape and looked for the magic cart. But Alas! No such wonderful sight. Two guys on a bike were also surprised to find BEVCO closed. That made three broken hearts.

As I was walking in from the balcony, I passed the cabin of our office administrator. A man in late forties, he was a dedicated worker. Few spoke to him unless necessary. He seemed to be tense about some job and was sitting looking down, cradling his head in his hands, one of them holding his specs.

I entered the cabin and asked, “Boban Sir?”
“Huh?”, he said looking up bewildered
“The Beverages shop…Why is it not open?”
His lips broke into a smile,”Why? You needed something?”
“Yes”
“Eh?”, he asked amusedly
“ The baji cart is not open. We wanted bajis. No BEVCO. No Cart”
“Oh”, he was laughing relieved and continued. “Don’t know…BEVCO has been closed for two days”

I walked back to my place having spread the cheer.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Teaching session


After a long day at the office, I waddle in home.

“I have a hindi test tomorrow”, says the younger kid all of seven.

“Ok I take a shower and then we will sit together. Learn on your own till then”

After a shower and tea, I ask him to bring the notebook

“Have you learnt?’

“Yes.”

“Ok Let’s see. What’s meaning of mahal?”

A film buff, he adjusted his hair filmy style and replies, “Poverty”

“What?” I burst out laughing. He looks comic with his antics and one tooth in front surrounded by gaps.

“Now, Read it first and then I’ll ask”

He skims it in a minute and returns the book saying, ‘You ask. I’ll answer all of them”

“Ok What’s the meaning of mahal?”
“Palace”, he pipes up

“Garibi?”

“I know that “, says he striking a pose. “Condition”.

“Look bumbum, this is no time for fun. Learn it well”

“Ok”and skims through again.

“This time if you don’t answer, I’m going to beat you,” I say making an angry face.

“Garibi?”
“Poverty”
Right. “Mahal?”
“Palace”
Good. “Halat?”

He thinks a while. He doesn’t know

Then
“I’m going to say now. I’m going to say now. I’m going to say now.”

“Say it then”

“I’m going to say now.”

“I’m listening”, I say loosing my patience

“I’m going to say now (pause) I’m going…”

And he was gone. Out of the room.

Now, whom do I teach?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Management of Change

{This post was originally published in the blog overcuppacopy.blogspot.com. That blog members were in the same workplace, and now are in different places except Expresso aka RGB ofhttp://zingthing.blogspot.com/ and myself aka KK in the same place. We form the creative team to a web and sofware solutions firm in Kochi. Cappuccino is Destiny's child of http://destinyschildsspace.blogspot.com/ and Latte aka Novice writer ofhttp://a-dream-diary.blogspot.com/ }

"Change is inevitable. Your strength and ability lies in adapting and assimilating as much as you can and delivering according to the changed needs", went on the management guru.

The company had arranged a management class for us. And this exceptional talk was in the post lunch session. Dozing off was not possible because it was a small room and there were only about ten of us from the creative division.

“ We are in the service industry and we can survive only if we meet the customer’s demands. Customer satisfaction is a must”, he droned on.

I was just thinking the type of writing that is expected of us sometimes and how we dread to stoop to that standards. But the next day at office, everyone was game to giving it a try- to change.

So we decided to make a change in our spoken English first and then carry it forward to our written English.

Espresso: let’s in the do.

Latte: yes yes

Cappucino: Change is in the us

Myself :My head is in the circle

Espresso: What?

Myself: My head is in the circle

Cappucino leans over to read something on my desktop and: She is in circle and Iam in the runs

Latte(giggling): Sheesh. You in the go there.

Espresso: Me going meeting moron

Myself: me the thirsty

Suze floats in. “Is that interface ready?”, she asks

We blink. We don’t understand.

She asks again.

She hasn’t changed. The management class has not affected her.

“Tell me when it is ready” and drifts off again

Cappuccino looks at the time, “ Oh no. I see butt of bus”

Myself offers, “ Iam the droppings”
And then corrects, “ Iam in the dropping”

What do you suggest? Is change good?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

It happened to me


I had been putting some things for later for a long while. Travelling to the city centre in morning rush hour was a bit tedious. Finally I thought of doing those. It included the following jobs:
1. A visit to the bank
2. Try to find a book store in south of city for a pocket dictionary for bumbum.
3. Get some ayurvedic medicines
4. Get some fresh pappadams
5. Mend Bumbum’s old umbrella as he broke the brand new one beyond repair.

So, I started earlier than usual at about 9.00am. First stop the umbrella mending guy at wayside.
“He is on long leave”, said his mate, the cobbler.
OKayyy. I gunned my mean machine ( Scooty pep+) to life and vrooom

By 9.40 am I was at the bank’s front gate. The guard smiled wanly. It opened at 10.00a.m. I asked him, “Is there a place nearby to mend umbrellas?”
“Don’t know”

Since there was nothing else to do, I started walking down the road. Let me just tell you exactly how I was: Attire – a kurti and jeans with white jootis with phoolkari type work. A 4 yr bag with faulty zip and awning mouth slung on shoulder. A red kid’s umbrella in hand.

The book store had put the shutters only half up. I got inside and immediately asked the first guy
“Bhargava’s Hindi English pocket dictionary?”
“Eh!”, said he looking at the raised umbrella.
I forgot I was holding it while speaking
I repeated my question
“Sorry, we don’t stock Bhargava.”
Next I asked my favourite question, “Is there a place nearby to mend an umbrella”
That guy looked at the manager for help to answer nerds like me, who volunteered, “You can find one near the theatre up ahead”
So I trudged ahead and found the guy.
“ I mend shoes, no umbrellas. There’s one next junction”

9.55am
Five minutes to go
“Ok let’s find if we can mend the umbrella”, I told my legs which are not used to walking.
The next junction had a lone lottery seller. Someone was buying a ticket to try luck for the day.
“ Where’s the mending guy?”, I asked
“Oh! He won’t be coming today”
I almost wanted to buy a lottery ticket where the prize was ‘Umbrella mender’. I glanced at the tickets and decided to walk back to the bank.

Bank job done, I went in search of H& C stores for the pocket dictionary. With directions from various people on the road, I got to the complex where it was housed. Next problem, 'where are the stairs up.'
I asked a guy who was sweeping the front of his shop, “Where is this H& C stores”
“Don’t know”, trying to be cold and distant.
So I parked right in front of his store and he gave a questioning look and got a cold distant stare from me.

The next guy showed the way. I trudged up the steps and the moment I started my question” Bhargava’s..”
“ Sorry, stock over”
“ But I called and someone said you had two versions. I come from the suburbs”
“ Sorry. New stock will arrive in two weeks”
“OK can you at least ask your branch in suburb to stock them?”
“Will do”
Thank You

I wanted to give our sweeping friend one more cold stare. But he wasn’t there.

Next stop: Ayurveda shop
It was strarting to drizzle. I got off the sccoty and ran to the shop window with helmet on. Inside, two old timers are having an interesting discussion on carnatic music. They felt disturbed.
I said apologetically, “A bottle of Vyoshamritham and Vasharistham mixed 50-50”.
“Tana, naa,na Haan”, said the animated old timer. The other got up to leave.
“ In ancient Bharata, women were devis. And they had crowns on heads”, the old guy continued pointing to a badge of Sri Ram and Sita on his chest. “ And now”, he continued.
“ They have helmets on”, I offered taking off the helmet.
“Hmmm.” “Do you know when this was?”
I stared clueless.
“About 5000 years ago, when Bharata was a great civilization”
“Oh! No. He’s still on that devi crown saga. He may lecture about wearing sindoor on forehead too. How to scoot fast?” My brains were working overtime.
“Make it a bottle of each. I can mix it at home and use it longer”
“OK”
And he gave me the medicines.

Now it was my turn to surprise.
“Any umbrella mender around here?”
“Eh?”
I gathered my stuff, paid him and went my way. Next time I shop there, I go with a crown on my head.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

First tag reply

I never understood tags. I have been tagged quite a few times but I did not respond. Since Bik of http://mann-bikram.blogspot.com/ seems to be a bit too , I reply partly to his tag.

1. What one material thing are you hoping/ scoping to inherit? Ancestral home
2. If You were a character in a movie that you've seen who would I be and why? Saif Ali Khan in Dil Chahta Hai( you seem to be in and out of relationships;))
3. If You could do one thing for Someone, no matter what it was, what would it be for Who? I could have mobilised money for my neighbourhood kid for better treatment( long ago)
4. You’re driving. It’s great weather. Attractive member of opposite sex in expensive car looks at you and half-smiles. You’re in a relationship. Do you return the look and half-smile back? I smile back. Hasne ka tax nahi lagta
5.Pick a situation a. You’re 42. Would you rather go without sex for three years and win a lottery after that, enabling you to never have to work again? Orb. Get twice the lottery money now (at 42) but have your partner sleep with your boss?
a since i can't make a decision about whom my partner sleeps with
6. What has been the craziest thing u have ever done?
Cycle 8 kms at dawn to replace a gadget before anyone knew that it went kaput
7. God gave u chance to alter any one event in the past, present or future. What wud that event be?
Past- no Bopal gas tragedy. Present - No oil spill. Future - The boss stops the banter on recession for not giving a raise
8. Would you rather go bald or lose your front tooth?
front tooth. Can have a dental implant. Bald women aren't interesting especially if they have misshapen heads
9. Your sibling is sleeping with your married close friend. Who do you go to first, sibling or married close friend?
Neither. It'll be too much
10. Would you rather your kid turn out to be a nymphomaniac or gay?(For my amusement, please answer in the format: I would rather my kid be —) Spare me!!!!!!!

Any who love this tagging game can take it up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

A foreigner’s view of Indian weddings

This is a first hand account of what they feel attending Indian weddings:

  1. "My, my, do you always have so many guests to the wedding!"
  2. "Why do you have so many lamps? What do they signify?"
  3. "And why are going round in circles onstage?"
  4. "And does the bride wear all that gold later too?"
  5. "Why does the couple look so glum? They are not smiling much."
  6. "What? Can’t listen with music…"( nadaswaram in background)
  7. "Don’t you guys dance. Your films show so much dance and song."
  8. "No thank You. I can eat with my fingers"( on being offered a spoon)
  9. Seeing everyone leaving after feast, "Is that all?!"
  10. Snapping away the pics of dining hall after feast,"I must show everything folks back home"

I request each of you to write something about each:D

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Some memories


Vacations at grandma’s place was fun. Mom had five siblings. We were 14 cousins in all with the oldest being about 23 years older than the youngest. That means you have all age groups. The mid eighties is what I remember most. Kerala then was known for power cuts and monsoons came sooner. My vacations started in April and by end of first week, we were in Kerala till mid June as school reopened in July. Sometimes, dad too managed leave or it was just us traveling with other families.

In April, it was hot and humid. But we cared less. We had all sorts of weird games like jumping over fallen banana trees ( high jump) setting it higher each time, Bus games where we just ran behind the fast bus( my cousin clothed in a shorts with two sticks as wipers), playing Tarzan, sliding down the curved sloping wide bannister by the steps, feeding the cows(my short clad cousin would just squeeze milk from the udders directly to mouth), trying the taste of latest cattle feed, having chemmeen puli eating competition and so on. The elders were busy talking, playing cards, playing music on the latest 2-in-1 bought by Gulf uncle. And if Gulf uncle came that year, there was this multitude waiting for their share of goodies which included perfumes, cigarettes, alcohol, and garish lungies, gulf sarees, soaps, talcum powders et al. Grandma will ask the numerous women servant to grind, sieve, powder rice and coconut to make different eatables. Other favourites included banana chips, jaggery coated banana chips, achappam and Jackfruit Jam ( Chakka varatiyathu).

But with sun down, the atmosphere changed a bit. The men might go out or a drink and I was afraid of Gulf uncle who will hold me high up in air(he was 6’3”), once he was on a high. The younger males and my aunts would start singing the Malayalam hits. While some of my elder cousins sang well, others knew the lyrics and so we spent the powerless moon lit nights on terrace. We kids tired after the day’s toil listened to nice songs lying on someone’s laps or on a straw mat. Suddenly some one might draw attention to the glow worm and we would get up to see or pluck the tenderest of mangoes from the overhanging branches of the nearby tree.

By 8.30 pm, grandma will call everyone downstairs. By then, my eldest aunt’s husband, a teacher to astrologer would be there. He will tell all those ghost stories which everyone knew was whims of fancy. Around 9.30 p.m, we will have dinner and youngest of cousins will go off to sleep. Around 10.30 p.m almost everyone is tired of ya-yapping throughout the day. My lazy elder cousin would be picking at her hair for lice, (wonder whether she found any in her life). Her mom will be asking her to take a bath which she wouldn’t be taking till its about midnight.

Suddenly, there will be a thud on the window and a sound like ouuuyiii. Lazy cousin jumps out of her chair.
“Indrakuttyamme”, calls out the voice
“ Ow, Chakunni, why do you scare us so?”

Chakunni is the local grocer who closes the shop at 10 pm and home delivers things he had taken order for in the morning.

“ Da, ithum pidicho( here, hold this too)”, he says thrusting a paper into my aunt’s hand. And rushes off.
“Appo paisa”( what about your money), aunt calls out to the diappearing figure with a torchlight.
“Pinne” ( Later).
But that later is only till next morning.

It’s the bill. It’s something like this
Sa-10
Mupo-7
Cha-30
Pa-17
So-40
U-2.50
Ma- 4
………
110.50

None but my aunt could understand that bill. The miser he is, he saves ink of pen and paper too by making it so brief. And is always uses the backside of notices and handbills to write on.

Sa is savala or Onions, Mupo is mulakkupodi or chilly powder, cha- is chai or tea, pa is panjasara or sugar, so is soap, u is uppu or salt, ma is mathangna or pumpkin.

I have never seen that guy walk, always on a run like the industrious ant On the local palli perunal ( feast at church), he will wear a shirt and on Christmas and Easter and weddings. In any other season, he had only the lungi on and torch as accessory. He worked on the day he died too. Died in sleep.

Maybe we can learn a lesson or two from him. HE NEVER WASTED ANYTHING OR A MOMENT. His effort led to his children being like him. They worked their way up. Only one remained in village to look after his dad’s shop, but has another business interest too- timber trade.

Monday, May 31, 2010

History through Textbooks


The holiday homework for my elder son included learning two poems- one in English and another in Hindi. I searched the web and found him some poems to choose from. And he said he found the Hindi poem a bit too difficult. It was the weekend before the school reopening. The kids and I had gone to my parents place for the weekend. With no net connection, I had no choice but search the bookshelves. Being an old house, there were many books to look through. And I came upon this book on geography published in 1916 and used by my grandfather in Form II.

Hardbound, it was published Longman. The pages were smooth. The book had changed many hands. Grandpa’s younger sisters had read it and so had my dad’s elder brother. My curiosity of how they wrote about regions and people then made me read it here and there. It was a simpler world then on the map. Large unified regions were marked as British Empire, Chinese Empire, Japanese Empire, Persia and Africa. Europe looked different, Middle east and Africa were totally unrecognizable. India looked different with Madras presidency, Bombay Presidency, Calcutta Presidency, Gwalior, Travancore Cochin etc. So much had happened in the last 100 years.

Somewhere between the pages, it was written that the Zulus of south Africa were war like earlier and now( around 1911 when the book was edited) had become law abiding peaceful people( Does that mean some bad leadership allowed the tribe to lose its identity to British occupation?). And that the British had difficulty to control slave trade( human trafficking) done by Arabs off the coast of Africa(Can you believe that?). Another important factor while describing a country was the fact whether it had trains. Maybe trains were the symbol then that modern age had arrived in that country.

The written word, a textbook can so mould a person’s thinking. No wonder governments try to frame minds through these. What are the text books of future going to look like? How will be the world after another 100 years?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A risky job

Come vacations and one team is working overtime – the thieves in the neighbourhood. Their work has to be meticulously planned taking in so many factors – when the wife and kids of a house go visiting relatives, when the guy hangs out late celebrating, when the old couple are leaving for pilgrimage, which guests have to go to church on wedding eve etc etc. But as it is, sometimes calculations don’t work and sometimes its too easy to be called a risky job. Here are few real instances. Read them to have a ringside view of things.

  1. Broad Daylight – Mr. Warrier is seated in living room with the door wide open. Thief walks in and walks out with brand new music system. Stammering Warrier tries to shout but could manage only de, de, wh, wha, hey, hey….
  2. In dead of night, the women of the house hear a loud thud in kitchen. Cautiously, they venture to check out. They switch the lights on. A guy is lying face down. He is dead.
  3. The owner of the house arrives in the wee hours of morning, called to duty early on. He finds two guys who have packed almost anything valuable and are sleeping like babies beside the loot. As they get socked, one thief manages, “ Par, sahib. Aap to raat waali gaadi se aane wale the”( But sir, you were to come by the night train)
  4. A proud father of five grown up sons was always laughing at the stories of local burgularies and said,” None would dare to burgle my house”. And his house was burgled soon- seems that each lazy son thought it was one of family making noise and didn’t care to check out.
  5. The petty thief had jumped into the courtyard to pick some things lying around and was stunned by the scene of the young girl taking an open air bath in the moonlit yard. She sees him after a while and pours water on him, but the poor guy is totally lost and recovers only after she disappears from scene.
  6. The thief gets into house being constructed( in finishing stages). While he is in, the owner comes to show the work progress to friends. He tries getting out through the exhaust hole in kitchen and gets stuck.
  7. A new sofa set was taken off by pair of enterprising thieves from a housing complex. They signed at the entrance and told the security that the sofa set had to be changed as wrong colour was delivered.
  8. A solitary lean old fellow manages to scare of a couple of thieves as he charges towards them- the dhoti fast leaving him.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The feeling of Oneness

The feeling of being one with the Universe, being part of whole Nature, knowing your little stature is perhaps best brought about by the magnificence of Nature as in High mountains, gurgling rivers, the vast seas, the expanses of desert. It just helps us to understand that we are a mere drop in the ocean. Here are few snaps which helped to puncture that bloated ego, that useless sense of 'this is mine' and so on.



On way to Badrinath
Waiting for your turn, Kanyakumari
Wagamon, Kerala

Thursday, April 29, 2010

A time in future

Society evolves. What we vouch by today is not accepted tomorrow. Change is continuous. So, we see some definitions change.

Definition of family: Parents and children make the family. But the hitch is, it is no longer compulsory that you must have a father and mother. It can be mother-mother or father- father duo taking care of children, biological, surrogate or otherwise

Definition of marriage: A prolonged live in relationship that stumbled into a certificate session

Definition of a Classroom: Has students who have never appeared in person in front of teacher. The teacher is at least 1000 miles away blinking away sleep as he/ she is in another time zone.

Definition of a vegetable: A variety of a species genetically engineered to grow in colder climates unlike its natural origins of growing in a tropical climate.

Definition of Keeping track: Inject the kids with a chip so that you may track them in a radius of few kilometers.

Definition of higher growth for developing countries: Cultivate single crop that you have no use of, make MNCs buy it and use the money to buy the food you need that has originally been grown by your neighbour, exported to a foreign nation and imported into the country and sold at a higher price.

And discover at the end of it that we are living a life much akin to children playing train. Wee go around in circles and find that time is kind of constant. Past, present and future are just our way of relating to it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

To catch a thief

The day dawned as any other morning. After the usual hullabaloo I create while getting ready to work, I jumped onto my scooty and rode out of the porch. Hubby dear was there to see me off as he went to office only about 11a.m.
“ Hey”, said he pointing to the drainage canal in front of house. Through the yawning where the slabs weren’t there, he could see two small crow bars.
“Look, thief’s tools”
“Where?”, asked I putting on the brakes.
“Here.”
“Where?”, I asked again craning my neck
“You get off that or bring it closer”
I tried to push the scooty to edge and almost ended up in the drains
“OK, you continue your investigation. I am off”, and I rode off

I returned home early the day. I was already into my home wear when I heard hubby pulling up his car outside. The boys too came in at the same time from play. So, I got busy pushing them into shower. Ten minutes had passed and hubby had not walked in. I went out to investigate.

There was small crowd gathered at the neighbour’s gate. Hubby’s wrinkle free trousers were stainful- seems he had jumped into the dry drain( thankfully of rainwater) to pick the crowbars. The neighbour who lived alone held them in his hands. Real beauties, they were. Fashioned to prick and open any heavy door with minimum effort. Everyone was super excited. The ideas of who left it, when and will the thief be back to pick them up….topics of animated conversations were many.

One guy came up with the suggestion, “Let’s wait and keep watch and when he comes, we flash torchlight to his face!”
“And catch him” , added another
“ No. no.”, the first guy continued. “See, when we flash light, he will run and we will be able to recognize him, later when the police catch him”
And so on went the intelligentsia.

The boys too were there at the boundary wall listening to this major problems adults had.
Soon, they too were ready for the thief, armed with cricket bats.
Bumbum even had a tune on lips,
“Oh, yeah,
The thief is appeared”(excuse his grammar)

“ Let’s inform the police”
“No good” said another
“We keep watch. The thief will come today to make the attempt”, said the enlightened husband.
“OK. That seems the best idea” and the crowd dispersed. The crowbars were in safe custody of neighbour. Hubby came in for shower and tea. He did not want any snack as important things were to be discussed for the night.

I thought of renaming the junction as dumbo junction. Did these people really think that the thieves will show up after all that commotion they had created? And what’s more, hubby went to the nearby bakery which sends out flash news just to spread the word. With that action, the thief could no longer be unaware.

Meanwhile we had two small power breaks. And then we had dinner and watched TV. After the enthusiastic kids were asleep, hubby dear was ready with his counterpart- our neighbour. And they kept watch till 3 am. I checked once a while till 1.15am and after that slept like a log.

Next morning, hubby misses gym, sleeps late, is in a bad mood. Anyway, he has to go to school to collect books. As he gets out, the police jeep arrives. The neighbour hands over the tools. The police examine them, ask few question, throw it in the jeep and speed away. I take the nylon rope ( to tie the thief to the electric post), kept on the water meter, inside.

Friday, April 9, 2010

What a tight spot!

  1. Tell your foreign photographer friend about an Indian festival and call him/her over for it. As they plan in advance, tell them a rough date to book and when they have done so, tell them 15 days before travel that the festival is already on and they missed it.
  2. Open the door to see a man with a polythene bag and tell him ‘Sorry, we don’t give alms’ and discover he is courier delivery boy.
  3. Give the maid few pieces of marinated fish and she discovers that they are pieces of jaggery you put in the deep freeze long ago.
  4. Take some friends to distant national park of which you have read about and find that the park is closed for the mating season.
  5. Tell a joke about squint eyes to a girl in goggles and discover….
  6. Hearing your cousin from Hyderabad speak, say “What a difficult language Telugu is!” And he tells you that they just spoke English.
  7. Tell a neighbour, just to make them happy that you love their regional cooking and be invited over for a meal where you can’t eat a morsel.
  8. Have a tenant who has a dog named after your nick name. Each time he calls out, both man and animal show up.
  9. Draped in saree, you discover half way into the party that the most important pin has slipped off and the saree is giving away and that chattering aunt doesn’t let you go and introduces to all Tom, Dick and Harry(groom hopefuls)
  10. Visit a relative and tell them your kid doesn’t like bananas and the two year old has at least three.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Lessons from a seven year old

Q March is the ………month of the year.
A. Tenth( He is born in May)
Lesson: Think different

Q Spell empty
A. MT
Lesson: Go to phonetics class

Q. Why have you written tail for picture of fish?
A. Look, the tail is bigger.
Lesson: Believe what you see

Q. Why haven’t you coloured the whole grass green?
A. That cow ate some of it.
Lesson: The past is always there

Q. Why have you written dense mountain?
A You taught me the new word dense as in dense forest, remember?
Lesson: Try innovation

Q. Why should I buy you two comics?
A. Becoz cousin got two
Q. But have you got same grades as he has? He has all A and A+.
A. So what, I have A+, A, B+, B and even C
Lesson: Don’t argue with a 7 year old

Sunday, March 14, 2010

S.O.S

How longer sanity
Insanity I wish Thee
Come to my rescue
As I need to flee

Belief and confidence at the nadir
I’m becoming more skeptical by the day
I wish I smiled from heart
Can’t take trust breached again

I wish to smile
To speak, to share thoughts
Can you help today
Or is it again nay say

If the cord with present broke
And they called me mad
Left me alone
In a world that is mine

Ye, Gods
I look to the Heavens above
And beseech your favour
For life to bloom again.

Guesses on what might have caused the lines are welcome

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Girl to Woman

As little girls, they want to grow hair long. Once they grow, they want it short.

As girls, they like coochi cooing and holding babies. Once they become mothers, they want others to hold the baby.

As little girls, they want to wear what mama wears at parties, sarees, ethnic wear and stuff, at teenage they want to wear what brothers wear and finally end up wearing Jeans with ethnic tops.

At teenage, they think “why do these women go to beauty parlours’, by twenties they frequent at least four times a year and by thirties, they go every month.

At 15, always ready to call someone in early thirties aunty, they are shocked when called same at 30.

As girls they join the family to criticize mom’s cooking and when their turn comes start fuming about it. And miss their mom’s cooking.

When young and before marriage, they adjust real well anywhere. Then something just changes. At their parents’ home they are always complaining.

And at 15 most have a beautiful kamar ( a beautiful waistline), by 40 most have it as big as a kamara(room)

And through life, they always say, “Actually Papa/bhaiyya/ mummy/ didi/ boss/senior/woh/ beta/beti told me not to” about things they don’t want to do.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Always leads to another


“A visit to the dentist always leads to another,” friends had warned.
And here I was for my second visit a few days later. As my readers might remember I was sent off on a mission to get my X-rays washed. That mission was accomplished with the help of two cute nurses and the dentist had cleaned and done the first part of RCT that day itself.

So, the next Wednesday, I slipped out of office by 12.30p.m.This time, I knew the procedure. Walk straight to the room and knock. No response. I discover the door is locked. A passing nurse asked me to wait. The dentist had gone for an early lunch.
Twenty minutes later, I see the dentist walking up the stairs.

“Come on in,” she led me into the consulting room and directed me to that chair.
“Where’s the X-ray?”, she asked the nurse. “How may missed calls?”, she continued to the nurse who plugging the doc’s mobile to charge.

“Antony chetan had called”
“Oh no!, Hope he is not coming back today. Such a dumbhead”
“ Another number…”and she read out mine.
“ Mine” , I volunteered.
“ We’ll need the red, yellow and white”
“The white is the last box we have”

The last two exchanges sounded Greek.
Then she put the X-ray on a stand and asked me open up wide.
The she took something that looked like a drill and compared the length of root. She went on yapping away.

“Yesterday it was Ann’s fancy dress competition. She was dressed like Sakuntala and did she act well. She lay down on the stage writing a letter to the king.. And they asked her to clear off because she overstayed in the position. Boy, was she angry that she could not pluck the thorn off her foot. She had rehearsed it so well”. ( Ann was the doc’s little 4yr old and a regular brat)

“ Where did you get the dress from?”, asked the nurse.
“From that lending place near the railway bridge”
“ And where was your husband then?”
“Oh! Him. He had taken mummy to the ayurveda therapist for a chavitti thirumbu(massage by feet on back)”
“Why?”
“ The scooter accident last month”
“Owww” said I
“ What is it- pain or that funny feel”
“ Funny feel”
“It’s OK. Spit”
“Keep the suction ready”
“ Ah. Where was I? Isn’t it funny that you pay some one to get kicks on back?”, she continued”

Knock. Knock
The nurse moved to the door and opened it.
“ Oh1 Antony chetan”
Doc spins around all smiles. “ What is it?”
“ You said you liked the wallpaper on my mobile. I remembered it half way home. Give me your mobile. I will download it for you.”

This conversation helped me immensely. My jaw dropped and it made working inside easier for doc.

Antony chetan downloaded and went back a happy man, having done his duties.
“ What does he do for a living? Seems like having no job other than rushing squirrels up the trees.”, said she returning to wide open mouth.

Dentist: “Just check if that woman is there. I asked her to have lunch and she said she had carrot juice. Hope she hasn’t swooned”

Nurse peeks out and nods affirmatively. And adds,” she is lying down on the bench”

“Hand me the white ones”, and she pushed that thin conical thing into my cavity.
“ Red, yellow, white again.” This went on for a while. Then they switched of the fan.
“ There, now you have a nice broom inside your mouth to keep it clean” And she showed me the inside of mouth in a mirror. And indeed, the whole box of those things were in my mouth.

And now we burn the extra end off and she put on the mask. Fumes came out my mouth. I forgot to breathe. I shut my eyes. My mouth is on fire.

“Now close you mouth. Perfect. Ok. Done”

A visit to the dentist isn’t that bad after all with all that free entertainment.
On my way out, I saw the frail woman on the bench. I knew she will be alright with this doc and nonstop entertainment.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A visit to the dentist

The moment you tell someone that you are going to visit the dentist, you get the classic “You poor thing” type of look. Everyone sympathizes. Even the bravest feel a shudder for the ordeal ahead.

But the ache was a bit too much. So I gathered myself and went to the hospital around 12.30p.m. The nun at the window too had toothache or was in a bad mood.
“Is this the time to turn up for morning OP?”
“But…..”
“We close giving further appointments after 12.30p.m”
“I have real bad ache”, I said trying to look like a whimpering kid.
It worked.
“O.K. Just go upstairs and find out if she is willing see you”

And up I went. The paediatric OP was just across on the same floor. So, there were few kids, some crying and I almost wanted to cry out.

After a while, I knocked at the door. A nurse opened it with a questioning glance. I peeked in and smiled at the doc who was good friend of my dear husband. She was in the process of drilling and she just removed the mask, smiled back and asked to wait.

30 mins passed. The nurse came out with many files and gestured me to get inside. I was the last patient. Crying babies and children too had left.

She was getting ready as I waited on that chair remembering the ‘so sorry’ looks of friends and relatives who sympathized with me.
“What’s up?”
“Toothache. Filling fell off some days ago.”
“Let’s see. Pretty nice history. Two fills, one cap, one tooth missing and now two rotten”
“Two?”
“Yeah, two”
I gave a wan smile.
“We’ll have to take an X-ray”

She clipped the films to a handle and asked me to go the X-ray dept and get it washed as if it was the norm. I blinked. She had turned her back already. So, ‘poor me’ trooped off in search of the X-ray dept. It was a difficult condition. Reasons

  • I had a toothache and so had an awful look on face.
  • I am not a registered patient so can’t roam around
  • The sister I met earlier was at the ‘May I help You” counter.
    (To be continued....)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Boy to Man

As boys they love full length trousers and once grow up, they love Bermudas or shorts

Before they grow moustache they shave everyday and when they have one, they forget to shave.

Before late teens, they find girls weird. By 20s they know only women.

Before they learn to drive, they want to drive cars. After 3 or 4 years, they don’t want to do it anymore. If given chance, they will let someone else to drive.

As boys they always want next size for shirts. And then they go for slimfits.

When are learning to use the bike, they offer to do the local shopping for you, once they get the motorbike they are nowhere to be seen.

In the early twenties, they forget to comb the hair and by late twenties and thirties, they comb it real well as they need to cover gaping spaces.

As boys they listen to mom. As men they listen to wives.

Poor things and they call it a man’s world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Did you Know?


Change Gender:
Cow x Beef
Dog x Bull Dog

Overheard at Charminar
Oh! They even built a monument to sell cigarettes.

My reckoning of Orkut
Started by a Malayali for nostalgic social networking reason Ormakalude Kootaayama (getogether of memories).

Malayalis contribution to English
Tapioca
The story goes that the Englishman asked the farmer who was digging out the tapioca and “ What are you doing?”
He replied rummaging,”Tappi nokka”(searching)
And soon he showed the tuber and so the tuber was christened Tapioca by the Englishman

Hippopotamus
The malayali servant accompanied the Englishman on an African safari.. They saw the Hippo taking a mud bath. And the Malayali said, “Ippo Pottum”( will burst now)
And the Englishman liked the name, to add effect he added ‘us’.

Cashewnut
The Englishman went to the nut store in Kochi and asked the vendor the rate. The vendor replied “kaashne ettu” ( 8 for a kaash – kaash was the currency then in Kerala). Thus the name Cashewnut.

Tell me about your enlightenment:)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Street17

It was almost 7pm and we were still playing in the dusk. Hours of play made the shuttle cock look bigger.
Growing up in the steel township of Bhilai has given many memories.

We lived on street 33 then. The triple storey building had 18 units. Usually the light at the stairs was not working and a huge tree grew to envelop the dim lamp post which sent down a small beam of light.

“Babli, come home, Datta aunty called out and bring babloo too”
“Coming, ma”, Babli called out. We hurried to wrap the game.
“Babloo, Babloo”, Babli called out.
“You go. I’ll come later.” He was keeping wicket for the match.
“Oh! It’ll be dark soon, There is no light on the stairs. You’ll be afraid”.
Babloo was about 10 and younger to Babli.
“ Oh No. Iam brave. Iam not afraid of the dark,” he piped up.
“OK. Then just cycle down stree 17 and come back by street 19”, said I.
That did it. He went upstairs with his sister.

Everyone was scared of street 17. Even the elders avoided it. I had cycled down it once in broad daylight and it scared me. Street 17 was long and winding. After the first two blocks, there was an open ground on one side and the street took a blind curve after the ground. At night the street light threw down a golden ring of light. But the huge trees with thick foliage almost blocked it. After the blind turn the street again had rows of blocks on either sides. A large banyan tree stood right in middle of the road. Hindu belief and reverence had let it be there. Someone had started pooja at the small hanuman idol placed under the tree. A small lamp burnt there. It also had a chabootara(platform). This tree was the most ominous, for in the nights, a solitary Baba wrapped in a blanket used to sit and sleep here. He looked almost like Rabindranath Tagore. He towered over six feet and had greying long beard and a huge bump on his forehead which gave him a sinister look. I had never seen him speak. He used to be seen around the market are in the evenings. At the paanwaala, he will just stand there. The paanbhai Kashi gave him a benarasi after some time and he will accept it and move away. I was always intrigued by this person but never had any courage to speak to him. My dad’s friend for some reason, used to called him guruji.

When I was fourteen, I went to friend’s place in the nearby sector and it was almost 6 when I returned. A storm was brewing in the horizon. As I did not have a raincoat, I decided to the short cut through street 17 and take a diagonal cut through the ground to reach street 32. A solitary girl on a cycle had given ideas to some rogue and he started following me on the cycle. I regretted my decision. There was no one on the road to call for help. I cycled as fast as I could. It was now dark and large droplets started to fall. I took the blind curve and the banyan tree in front of me looked real scary with the branches whistling in the wind. With prayers on my lips, I cycled past the small mandir. As soon as I sped by, Baba came out and stood right on the road. The rogue was scared and retreated. I went home and related the incident.
“He knows you right from the days you were a small child”, Dad said
“Who is he?”, I asked
“ He was a Professor at the University. You might have heard Chaubey uncle refer to him as Guruji”
“Then….Why is he like this?”
“His family broke up. He could not take it”, replied Dad in a final voice.
I wanted to ask more but kept restraint.

There are still things I never knew.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mission 22

Mission: Shopping for a badminton racquet and partywear for the family
Time: to reach the shopping district by 7p.m
Hurdle: choc-a-bloc traffic at Christmas time
Distance to be covered: 8 kms
Vehicle: Verna
Team: Whole family- Parents, hubby, two kids and self
Weapons: Speed, Debit card

Unexpected problem: At 6.00p.m. No one is dressed. Kids have gone out to play. Father has gone for bhajan. Mother is complaining and no sign of Hubby.

Booom. The short temper is let loose. Lessons for mother to get the boys ready in time are dished out. Have a shower, change, go searching for boys. One found in the park nearby, another in the ground about 250 m away. Send them home back on the cycle, ask them to shower and dress as quickly as possible. I walk back to find elder wait for the lemonade to refresh him. Grandma is making it for him.
“You shameless fool. Didn’t I ask you to be ready at 6.pm? Do you want to go?”
“But… lemonade. Have to rest after play”
“How long did you play - half an hour? Scoot and take a shower”
“Now, where’s your dad?”
“Upstairs, getting ready’, volunteers mum.
“And my dad? Why did he have to go for the bhajan today?”
“ It’s OK. He will join us in the town”
“ OK . Call him”
“ I don’t know the number.”
“ You find yourself. It’s a shame you don’t know his number after all these years”

Mum puts on her specs and searches in the phonebook and she is unable to locate it for full 10 minutes. My last ounce of patience is disappearing fast.


We set out on Mission 22. Hubby dear sets the traffic laws. Overtake from left, almost kill the pedestrian, set rocket scientist to shame with precision driving ( read missing the buses and trucks by a micro millimeter). Thank goodness many buses have Gods images plastered on the rear side. So we sent our silent prayers to St. Antony, Jesus Christ, Lord Shiva, Ganesha, Sree Krishna, Virgin Mary and Allah as represented in the words from Quran. And some of them were in office and doing their jobs properly. We reached town in one piece with no dents.

Target 1: Sports goods store
Difficulty: On Main Road. No Parking space

Another rule made. Park in No Parking zone. Reason. No cops seen.
Enter shop. Elder son, boozy, starts selecting.
“Rush,” I say
“Yonex, is the preferred one,” says shop assistant
“OK . Buy Yonex. ”
“Ashwin has Ashway. His mom is a State player”
“Do you have Ashway? ”
“Yes. Two qualities – lower end and highest end. ”
“Show lower end”
A not so inspiring piece is shown
“Buy Yonex”
“But…”
“Be fast. The clothes shop will close. ”
“But…”
He inspects both.
“Take yonex”
“OK”, he agrees with a face that’s already changing.

I look around for hubby. Nowhere to be seen.
I pay by debit card and…
Son to shop assistant, “Can I have a complete cover for the racquet?”
“ This model comes with cover for the top portion only”

Dissatisfied, he walks out of shop with the Yonex racquet.
Don’t make a long face now. Now you have a new racquet, play well and win some championships. ”
“What? With this bat?”
“Why not? Try.”

Find hubby on pavement outside with parents. Dad had walked about 1 km to reach us, looks land smells like just out of a workout. I shake my head. And we rush to the garment store. One saree and one dress for younger fellow, bumbum selected and the elder son still has long face.

“Now what? Why are sitting there with that expression?”
“I want Ashway.”
“OK. Go and change it then. Take your dad along.”
Both leave. Two minutes later, phone rings.

“Is the key there on the chair where I was? ”, asks hubby
“What, Iam now on second floor? You lost the key? Why do you need it? ”
“The racquet is in the boot.”
“Splendid. Let me get to the third floor.”
Just one flight of steps. I huff and puff up. Ask parents to stay on second floor and leave bumbum with them. Phone rings.
“Its Ok. I have it.”
Two minutes later, another call
“Why did you pay with card? They have a problem.”
“Stay there. I’m coming.”

At shop, roly poly manager is noncooperative. Given reason- can’t reverse a card payment. Real Reason- has to return money
“But it’s a debit card, not a credit card.”
“The amount is not yet credited to my account.”
“But its already gone from mine. It will go to yours”
“How can I be sure?”
“Sure? It a debit card. What’ll happen if you never get paid from some credit transaction?”
“I’ll take it up with bank.”

“OK. When will this be credited to your account?”, asks hubby
“In 8 hours”
“Ok give me in writing. I’ll collect it tomorrow.”

Roly poly is shaking in anger. Elder son Boozy’s face is expressionless. He is examining the new racquet. Shop assistant is checking time. He wants to go home.

Roly poly writes and passes it. Long face boozy changes to normal boozy.
“Why don’t you keep some cash in your bag? Using a card for such small payments.”, complains hubby
“Why can’t you be where I am shopping? Just stop playing chauffer. You drive us to town and disappear at shop. Stay with the family. Always interested in phone calls.”

And it goes on….

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cochin a.k.a Kochi a.k.a Ernakulam


Most tourists face the problem. What is the place really called? You fly into Kochi, the airport is called Cochin International Airport. Your Tour operator welcomes you to Cochin and takes you to a hotel in Ernakulam. You arrive by train at Ernakulam Town or Ernakulam Junction when you visit Cochin. The main old quarter of the town is called Fort Kochi. If you take a bus from somewhere to cochin, the destination must read Ernakulam , if you want to reach the city. There are no buses with Cochin as destination. You might get on one to Fort Kochi, though. And if you don’t know the Malayalam alphabet, you’re done for. Few carry English sign boards. And if want the postal address of a friend you made while here, you might get an address like: Mr. xyz, Abc villa, Palarivattom, Ernakulam Dist, Kerala. Pin Kochi- 682032

Well, I have been living in Cochin a.k.a Kochi a.k.a Ernakulam with a postal address similar to above and shopping in Ernakulam town for the last 12 years. I never understood it. When my friends outside the state call, I invite them to Cochin while the relatives in Kerala are invited to Ernakulam.

There is some cross wiring in our heads, somewhere, I am sure. Hope no short circuit happens.