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Saturday, July 27, 2013

It rained and it rained and it rained. Incessantly. Where one could no longer see the raindrops pelting down.. it was more like sheets of rain cascading down.

I love the monsoons. I love the sparkling green trees and plants - washed clean of the dust. I love it when it rains so heavily. I love the sound of the pounding on the awnings, the rooftops. I love looking at the poor boughs of the trees as they bend to the beating rain. I love how the raindrops slide down the leaves in a steady stream... glistening as they catch a bit of light.

I opened the windows and parked myself on the sill. The breeze brought in a spray on to my face.. into the room... oh, I love the monsoons.

The watchman’s cabin is just across my room. . He was probably smoking a bidi. The acrid smell rose up to my window on the first floor. No, I do not have any aversion to the smell or the smoke. In fact I used to find a smoker very attractive . Some blokes do carry the look well . The cigarette smoking kind, not the bidi wielding .

Such drenched , lonely afternoons are the times when the memories "de-lurk"". In any case, wallowing in the past seems to have become an obsession with me. I welcome the memories. I tend to linger there for a long time. Sometimes I feel I glorify the past too much too. Yet I do not seem to do much to curb the habit either.

Memories…….. they have a way of intruding, forcing their way into the thoughts, and then taking over the mind and the senses.

Small triggers take me back in time. Today it was the rains combined with the bidi.

Reminded me of my grandfather who for a long time used to smoke a pipe – cheroot he called it. He had 3 of them. I remember him filling those with tobacco.. from a pouch. Grandmum would light it for him sometimes. His shirt , trouser and his mundu would have at least one burn mark where they were singed, from the errant ember. He later took to chewing on a cigar. That is how I remember him. A thin frail old man, in a silken robe, a whiff of the woody tobacco fragrance around him.

My father used to get him the boxes of cigars. They were roughly assembled wooden boxes. The boxes had a mirror on the inside of the lid. I used to request my grandfather to send me the empty boxes to store my little trinkets. I loved the smell of the tobacco that lingered heavily in those boxes. The smell tickles my nostrils even as i am writing this.

Grandfather . I called him Aajja. He wasn’t my father’s father. Nor my mother’s father. He was the one and only friend my father had. Somebody my father had met at a stage in his life and forged a bond with. He was several decades older to my father. He was my father’s friend philosopher and guide. We belonged to the same community. The families bonded well too and he became the grandfather we never had. He was Aaajja to us and his wife - our aajji. Aajji was different from my grandmothers. This aajji was an educated one, a graduate in her times. spoke fluent English and was much more clued in with the current . There was a feeling of awe and affection.

For us they were the head of our family. They were the ones who had given me and the sibling, our names. A..... , they had named me.

Any major event , milestones, were all communicated and shared with them. Celebrated with them too. They too played out their roles of the responsible seniors in the family.

I was twenty, when i completed my graduation. The mother was keen to marry me off. Copies of my horoscope were made. Copies of my photographs were readied. All to be circulated. The father was livid. NO!... not for a couple of years more. Does she want to study? Yes? Great!! No? , then she better take up a job. Let her move out of the house, let her meet people, let her see the world outside of the 4 walls of home.

Alliances were coming in. Advice was pouring in .. of how the parents were being foolish while they were letting go of the best available catch. “Your daughter is tall. The boy only seeks a girl to complement his height. No other "demands". A good family.. they don't even want a working gal.” Well, well... the mother was attracted. .. known family , a good family background, no demands of the monetary kind, , no pressures on her daughter to slog it out at the work place! Can’t really blame her.

Amma was a typical mother. A simple woman of her times, who was afraid of dreaming too big. She had learnt to limit herself , her dreams, her expectations.

The father however was adamant. He stuck to his stand. The daughter had to hold a job for at least a year.

Enthusiastic relatives kept bringing in alliances and proposals. At that time, the dowry trend was prevalent in the community. A bank clerk was the prize catch for the middle class parents. He came at a tag of a 100 gms of gold, 21,000 in cash and half the marriage expenses. A bank clerk was an attractive proposition - he could avail of bank loans at nominal rates of interest to purchase that all elusive and all pervading dream of buying a house in mumbai. Vasai Virar and Mira Road were the coveted hot spots.

The mother kept hearing stories of how fellow anxious mothers would smoke out info about "deals'' in the marriage market, up it with double the gold, double the cash, making the offer highly irresistible and land a son-in-law...

Amma was getting paranoid and frantic. She had heard tales of anxious fathers having to undergo the "dar dar ki thokarein" routine. For over a year, our home had been the Collection Centre for horoscopes and photographs when my cousin brother from another metro was to be married. The prospective brides' fathers used to thank us profusely for simply being welcomed into the house and offered a glass of water, a cup of coffee and a warm conversation. They would be in shock at this welcome routine at our home , At most other places they wouldn’t even be invited inside the house. They would be treated like a handy man delivering a parcel and would be unceremoniously packed off from the doorstep itself.

My mother hoped that her husband wouldn’t be subjected to such humiliation..She spoke of oft repeated stories about hapless fathers of the bride who went through several pairs of chappals as they went out each weekend in search of the elusive but perfect match for their beloved daughter.

Advice... I wasn't spared either. there was a lot of advice from well-wishers for me too. How i shouldn't be too picky, too choosy... Not to have many unrealistic expectations... how i should be considerate towards my parents.... not make things too difficult for them... yada yadaaa....

and then there was one more. a strangest bit of advice, words which always amaze me.

When I finished my graduation, aajji too was looking out for a perfect partner for me. She had already taken charge of getting ready my wedding jewellery when the groom was yet to be found !

It was one such rainy afternoon when we had been over to their place for lunch. The topic of discussion - ME, My marriage.. how matters would have eased if i had been a wee bit shorter - this from my mother...

Aajja called me into his study and sat me beside him. “You are twenty now. your father has shielded you from the world, the knocks of life. You will soon be married , stepping into a new family with new people. Life will be different from the one you have always known. Adjustments will have to be made.. They might be difficult too. I want you to know that we will always be around for you. Your ajji , she is not just a grandmother. you can treat her as your best friend. She has always been the Indira Gandhi to all the young girls in the neighbourhood, nurturing, understanding and taking up cudgels on their behalf. Any time you are unable to handle a situation, want somebody to hear you , you know where to look.”

“another piece of advice from me. you might not like the sound of it now. but it is a sound piece of advice. Do not give up your friends after you get married. Especially the "boy" friend. Hold on to the male friend at all times. And in a strictly platonic relationship.” He smiled and continued . ” the husband has his place in your life. as also your friend. “ .

Ajja passed away soon after. 2 yrs later, i got married. I remember his words often. every one of it.

Looking back, that was one bold statement he had made – “hold on to the boyfriend, the male friend”. The platonic bit didn't shock me then. The upbringing and the times were such that any relationship oustide of the marital one, was bound to be platonic only.

That was a strange conversation we had had in times where most would warn daughters, to keep away from male company. Or would prefer to pretend there weren’t any in their daughter’s life. The refrain would often be “dont clutter yr space with friends. your husband your family takes priority. friends are important. but family first." And the male friends … well well ! they wouldn't even be acknowledged.. Accepting them was too far fetched a thought

Parents weren't being entirely wrong when they were being concerned or even voicing their concerns.

Yet my ajja's advice to me was heartwarming.

Friends. I have been blessed to have a good bunch around me .

Friends. The male friends as much as the female friends. The male friends have often outnumbered the female friends.

Friends. They have been pillars of strength, sounding boards when i have been in doubt, a source of succour to the troubled mind.... their presence around me has been comforting.

Friends. I have only had to reach out and i have found one to clutch my hand.

Friends. The distinction between the male friend and the female friend has been wiped out too. To me they all are simply Very Good Friends !

Friends,  They have only added rather than taken away from my equations with everybody in the family. Having them around has made me more sensitive, empathizing. I have only come out richer.

If two is company and three is a crowd, I love the crowded relationship I am in !

Sunday, July 21, 2013


What do you want to be? What is your passion? Find it . Follow it. These are sentences I hear most frequently whenever we - mothers of our 15 year olds, meet outside their school on most days.

We have a common concern. Will our children be able to take that crucial decision? Of what their goals are, of making the right decisions in trying to achieve it? And most importantly , are they equipped to make the right decision? How are the going to arrive at it? Is it going to be one which is dictated by their heart and mind or they going to be influenced by the choices their friends are making. Or worse…. are their decisions being based on what they think we parents expect of them?

We are concerned mothers there at the school. Trying to zero in on careers the children would like to take up.. and trying to help the child brace himself and arm himself so that he can tread that path suceesssfully.
The problem begins when the goal is unclear. It is difficult for a 15 year old to set one.

Parents these days are softer on the child, which is how it should be. Trying to empathise with him as he fights his way through the confusion. Hold his hand as he bravely trudges through the quagmire.

Selecting the streams after the SSC, setting a course , gliding across it. Zeroing in on your calling in life. Deciding or stumbling upon it – what is it you want to be… NOT EASY. Not easy at all.

What is the the one thing that helps you to arrive at this decision.? Are you going to go in for options which they think are lucrative ? what we used to phrase as “iss line mein scope bahut hai” is the scope for the paypacket or for personal betterment.

Doing that which is after your heart. Not all can afford the luxury. So then, will the dreams and passion remain in the background to mourn over at a later date

I used to be quite flummoxed and yet appreciative when I used to hear about people returning to their studies in their late 30’s or 40’s . realsing the need to make a switch . follow their hearts calling.

I am anxious that the daughter has not been able to tell me what she really wants. And I realize I still do not know what i want  either.    what Is my calling?  The mind is a disturbed one. 
A little late to be thinking on these lines .  but it hurts all the same.
Education , for me has always been  very important . It was a sort of a benchmark. Success for me was about the  degrees in the kitty. I even tended to judge a person by that.

but now,  when I am  44, I want  to think about my likes, my preferences, my dreams… . All that is about me .

Age and experience wisen one.  Now it is no longer about that certificate. It is more about learning. Learning that which I was and am passionate about. Learning that, which even remotely interests

The pressures to succeed aren’t there.  not the conventional ones. The pressures of the scorecard isn’t there.

Yeah there is that tiny fear.. am I wasting my time. Is this really relevant? What am I going to achieve at the end of it? Will I be able to complete what I am beginning? There are no pressures to go through it… so will I take the easy route and prefer to opt out when the going gets tough? and importantly - Is this THE ONE.

Well I wouldn’t know until n unless I make the effort to find out. To atleast try it out. I want to give myself a chance . Several chances.  Not too late yet, to embark on that search.  Not   much to loose

The family is encouraging. They encourage me to get over my fear of failure – that which weighs on the heart and the mind. The son who once said - "you don’t need to prove yourself," and at another time had said - "study that which is worth your while ".... is now spouting sentences like” do what you really like”.

Kya pataa, I might eventually find my calling. Atleast I can die peacefully knowing I tried!
 One sorrow less .

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Memory. Memories.

28th January 2013


Yeah memory. as against memories. "Yaaddash" as against "Yaadein".

Some people have a photographic memory . Their visual recall is good. For some, it is the heightened sense of smell. Fragrance or otherwise.

For me it is the smell,... Olfactory.. it  stirs memories. and I recall incidents clearly.

From Jan '89 to April '92, when I used to walk to Malad station on the way to work, at around 7.30 am, I had to pass by a small settlement. No not around huts, but a small settlement of people of modest means. They would heat their bath water on a small pile of wood outside their house. The fragrance of that burning wood at that early hour, the small wisps of smoke rising and creating a very very fine smoke screen and the odd sunbeam - not very sharp, trying to thrust themselves from between the branches of the jamun tree... would take me back in time to my father's native home in Udupi. It would remind me of my grandmother. It would take me to the times when as a kid , I  would wake up in that old house, and walk to the kitchen which would be smoky from the chulha. Lightly smoky as it would have been lit hours ago, in the wee hours. The kitchen woud be lit by the sun which came in through some glass panes left uncovered by the mangalore tiles. the light would come in through the windows , from in between the vertical wooden rods . I would love to sit under that sunbeam. The floating dust particles would attract . As an adult today, in a 'dramatic ' language i would say the kitchen looked like focus lights had been fixed on the the roof and I would like to be in the limelight.

The fragrance of that burning wood in M alad would take me to my vacations back in Udupi, remind me of my grandmom and the breakfast of ragi vermicelli. Pink vermicelli garnished with coconut, cooked in coconut oil. a couple of pieces of fresh jackfruit from the tree in the 'aangan' and a big glass of coffee sweetened with jaggery.

The memory then takes me to the bath in that old house in Udupi. WWe used to have two huge copper urns, one filled with cold water, the other with hot water from the big crackling fire under it. Before we could enter the bathroom we had to pass by the cowshed, with a couple of cows tied in there.  
Ganga .. Lakshmi.. Ganga.S he was tied closest to the bathroom door and was quite the grumpy one and with her sharp pointed horns she intimidated. I can clearly see my widowed aunt milking the cows while the 'khandaan ka billa' Dammu, the white tom cat, would beg for a serving with his whining mewing. Once in a while he would be served a hard kick and he would literally fly to another corner with a screeching meaaaaaaaaaaawwwwww!!.

Another smoky; memory is of the cousin who would come to check the fire in the bathroom and chuck a few raw cashew nuts in the fire. We would have plucked some cashew fruits, the evening before, gorged on slices spiked with salt and pepper and she would store the raw nuts to roast  the next morning. We would hover around the bathroom, waiting to see and hear the 'popping' sounds as the cashews roasted. In a few minutes she would pull them out with a twig and we would gather around her to count and check whether she had got them all outS. he would put them in the pallu of her half sari, rub them , shell them and give them to us. the warm cashew nuts.

Why this post today?? heehee... no , I am not in malad, nor did I light a fire in my kitchen - the woody kind. It just happened that I rose early this morning and had an early morning cup of chaai, "woh bhi amma ke haath ki"  .    "the chaai ki mehek" took me back 20 yrs.... to Malad once again. To the time between March 1st and April 10 1992.

Dad would leave for work at 6.45 am. After that it was 'mera raaj' .   The music system which was playing Pandit Bhimsen, would now belt out  the "angrejji gaana."

There was this favourite cassette borrowed frm the fiance Ahem !

20 mins of side A, while I got ready to leave for office . After that Side B and my breakfast - chai and chappati with kissan mix fruit jam  .The 3rd song always coincided with the first sip of chaai.

And today as I  sipped the same fragrant chaai, at around the same time I was back in Malad, changing the cassette and in my mind listening to this one - the 3rd song, Side B 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Mommy and the 'MUMMY"

 24th nov 2012

I was going thru the newspapers this morning. Usually that early, in the morning , I do not go beyond the Mumbai Mirror. but somehow I found myself turning the pages of the main newspaper. I found myself staring at a news item about the new exhibit at the museum. "Presented in collaboration with the British Museum, the exhibition is centered around Nesperennub's mummy, its cartonnage case and an array of funerary objects and figurines. Nesperennub, a priest at The Karnak Temple Complex, lived and died in Egypt 2,800 years ago but he is one of the resident rockstar mummies at the British Museum." There was to be a 3 D film too about the same. Interest was piqued. The daughter seemed keen too. There were the hazaar "things to do" staring at me . Swept through  most of them like a possessed witch on a broom. and at 3.00 pm we were on our way to Chhatrapati Shivaji Vastu Sangrahalaya !

Reached the place around 4.00 pm. As expected the news item had attracted a lot of enthusiasts. The security guards were herding the crowds to the auditorium for the 30 min 3D film. We thought we would see the exhibit first and then watch the film.

SPOILER ALERT :- aagey ka description might be too detailed and might put off some, who might want to go and see and  experience for themselves rather than read details here. :-) You know how fond I am of the Keyboard.

The exhibition is on the 1st floor and is spread over 3 halls. On display are stones /tablets with Hieroglyphs. statuettes, other objects and miniature replicas.Since the exhibition was about the mummy, the items on display were objects used during the rites and rituals associated with death . On the walls, inscribed in wood is concise but relevant information about the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians as regards death and life after death. About their gods, and their depiction. How the various gods were thought of as having various powers and their representation accordingly. Hence so many of their idols had some animal or bird features - the strength of a lion, wings... etc

The second hall was more of a photo studio. There was a backdrop of the river Nile with villages in the background and a cutout of a boat in the foreground. On a table nearby were an assortment of head gear worn by the ancient egyptians. One could wear these and get himself photographed behind the boat , to look as if he was sailing on the blue blue Nile. I had seen this in the newspaper and grinned when I saw the settting. The daughter, as expected shook her index finger and said, No No , Not ME.

We moved to the next hall. This one was huge and the most interesting one. There was this huge wooden casket. painted. with symbols . with Hieroglyphs. This could hold the dead. 

On one side was painted a pair of eyes and a doorway. This was to enable the body inside to "look" outside (at the sun?) .  The inside of the casket had religious text written and depicted . On the base of the casket were directions and maps of pathways and waterways too, which would enable the body/soul inside to find its way out. Find its way back. The casket was so ancient and yet the writings and paint was so clear, clean . The casket was of thick heavy wood. It is such a reaal and a  tangible link to the past of so many thousands of years ago. This fascinated me so much... But there were more thrilling exhibits ahead.

The ancient Egyptians had their unique beliefs about death and the  life after. This hall and the other exhibits here talked about the process of embalming.It  unsettled me a bit. 

Different types of oils were rubbed on the body. 7 of them. On display were lengths of fabric that were used for mummification. To preserve the body .Some organs which culd decay or putrefy were removed. The brain, the digestive organs , the lungs..... These werent discarded. There were urns displayed which held these. Before the urns came into use , they would wrap these organs and store them in a closet along with the body. and in times before this practise, they would place the wrapped bundle between the deceased's legs and then mummify him. The organs in the body were removed by making an incision in the abdomen and the incision was covered with a small metal plate .The plate was carved with the eye of their god. to whom the responsibility of the deceased was now entrusted. More charms, amulets were placed and the body was then  swathed in fabric and layers of resin. much like the process of plastering.This process took about 40 days they say. Once the body was mummyfied they would adorn it with Hieroglyphs and religious symbols.

The mummy and wooden coffin of the Egyption priest Nesperrenub in its cartonnage case and an array of funerary objects is also on display .

Also there is another mummy , that of an adult and out of the cartonnage case. This one is almost eerie.  A tall well built figure swathed in fabric frm head to toe lying in the glass display case.

Then there is one more mummy - that of a young girl.

The mummy of the Egyptian priest Nesperennub - this is the one they talk abt in the 3D movie. Unwrapping the muumy almost always destroys it they say. So they have CT scanned it and examined it. This is a very very interesting film and the 3D effects are phenomenal. The way they have used this 3D technology to bring to us the facts is just...... well Ihave no words. OK , let me try. As they examine each part , from the skull to the entire body, the 3 D effects bring those so close to almost feel u are the one holding it and examining it closely. they have tried to rebuild the face of that priest from the skull and attempted to recreate his life and death

It is an experience, an amazing one. The information on the boards on the walls and the descriptions of each exhibit in each glass cabinet is  educative and  informatiive.

One can't help going back in time...........I did.  Proof attached

Return of the Reading Bug

It happened,

and I hope the good times last.

Am on a high,
a smile on my mug.

Want to go slow.
am wary.

But can't seem to help myself.

I am deeply involved now.

I look away intermittently,

To let the happiness of the moment
seep in .
To savour the pleasure of the moment
for a little while longer.

But am beckoned,

With an urgency.

The spell has been cast.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Pyaar mujhe iss mod pe le aayaaaaaaa."

 12 june 2013

As a young girl, I lived a pretty sheltered life. The parents were always around to take care of things.

Gradually they goaded me into taking over small chores. Mum encouraged me to join her on her visits to the vegetable market, grocer, post ofiice and banks . Gradually I learnt to do these by myself. I stumbled. I made mistakes. Brought back the wrong grain, a wilting veggie, have come back without signed acknowledgements.... but I learnt.

As a new bride, living in a nuclear set up, I was quite independent and eager to play the role of the ardhangini by shouldering any household responsibility.

The spouse, in the throes of lovu and affection was always eager to lighten any burden. Was always around like a cavalier

Electricity Bill ? arrey I will get it settled.

Banking ? bass sign karo... it will be done

Applications to be written? I will take care of it.

I gave in. Gladly, i must add.

Over the years, this became the standard affair. nothing changed. well ...something did change.

Soon it was me listing out things and chores for him to get done. This, this and this..... get it done.

some more years ... and now things have further changed.

Go do it yourself, is what i get to hear

Am i offended? YES of course. Hey... You  were the one who have been doing it all these years. .You were the one who offered to take over....

Do I resent this?... Yes, but only for a while. I realise I have to pitch in. Pitching in, not as in just doing my share of chores, but learning the ropes. Once again. I have to know for myself how things move. I have to bring myself outside my cloistered existence once more. get over my fears, insecuritues and complexes. face my demons. I understand what he is trying to do.

I was writing a letter to the bank today. and spent a couple of seconds debating whether I should end it with a Yours faithfully or Yours sincerely. Didnt want to use either. One seemed very school bookish and the other  had a pleading undertone. Couldn't think of the right option or anything better so P decided I would end it at a 'Thanking you'.

Then I  realised that if the better half gets to see this he wouldn't let go the opportunity of wagging a "I told u so" finger at me.

So to simplify matters, I called him up and asked him . As expected he burst out laughing. He told me what to do.

I was cursing myself for my stupidity , foolishness and ignorance.

How did I let this come to be. how could i withdraw so much. be so dependent. how could i burden him with so much. i was embarassed at my helplessness. angry at my helplessness . angry with him too. and not just for laughing at me.

and the typical wife in me blamed the husband. it was he who had indulged me. cushioned me from the bumps and knocks of life. . lavished a bit too much of care.

it has been a perfect case of "Pyaar mujhe iss mod pe le aayaaaaaaa."

a rant

27 june 2013

"Live your dream, stay true to your dream." A magnanimous me wants to tell her offspring.

I also talk to them about the greater good, compromises, priorites , sacrifice, adjustments, yielding...

Live your dream, I tell myself.

and the same obligations bind.

Of human kindness and then some more !

29 june 2013

It was past 12.00 in the night when I reached the Bisleri signal on my way home.

The city was shutting down for the day. The traffic had thinned too.

The signal turned red just as we turned to cross the highway from under the flyover.

The highway at that junction was bathed in a bright yellow light.... it highlighted clearly the plight of those huddled under the flyover. the place they called home.

The otherwise , throbbing with activity, traffic signal, now looked like a huge dormitory. Mats laid out one after the other. Men, women , young lads, girls , children... all fast asleep. Deep in slumber. the passing vehicles didnt disturb them, nor the fact that they were being exposed to the elements and the gaze of those that walked or whizzed past them. They had had a busy and a tiring day and were clutching on to their moments of rest and peace , oblivious to their surroundings.

Every mat had 2 or more bodies stretched out on them. Pillows were fashioned out of folded clothes , bags or the arm folded. Occasionaly the head rolled off the 'pillow' and yet, even in slumber they dug their head in deeper, trying to find that comfort spot.

There were the people and then there were the dogs. At the head of every 2 or 3 mats there sat a dog. A dog who looked healthy, with a shiny coat.. none of the mangly ones here.  The dogs, bright eyed, ears perked, tongues lolling out - just looking out. looking out for themselves and for their people who had just retired.

Amongst all these sleeping bodies there sat an old man, still eating his dinner. he had a couple of rotis topped with a sabzi on a piece of newspaper. He called out to a sari clad girl who was hanging out some clothes to dry. she went up to him . He had apparently called out to her to sample his meal. She stood next to him, bent at the waist, palm outstretched and he smilingly pressed bit of roti and sabzi onto it. .She took the morsel and turned. As she turned,I  realised that she was in the family way. He called out to her again, holding out his plate as if urging her to take some more. She said something in reply , walked past him and then me. She came up to a corner and put the food down on the pavement . She gestured to the old man to hold on and that she would join him . I wondered why she had put the food down on the bare footpath. she turned back to go to the old man. I wondered if she would come back eat the food she had put down on the road side.

I saw her go back to the old man, take another bite from his plate and put it in her mouth. She then walked back to the corner where she had put down the earlier morsel. Now I was really curious and turned my head to follow here with my eyes.

And I saw what had happened. She had laid out the first morsel for a frail and hungry kitten. She had now come back to coax the little one to eat..S he petted it and directed its head to the food.

The kitten made for  pitiful sight. It was skinny, frail and looked ill too. It sniffed at  the food and turned its head away. Then tuned its head labouriously once again, for a lick. It seemed as if even that bit of physical effort was taxing for the little one.

The girl had walked away into the night.

What astonished me as much as the old man's and the young girl's kindness and empathy was the behaviour of the other animals on the scene - the dogs.

They had sensed and probably understood the hunger and the helplessness of the little kitten. They did not attack him or even playfully tease or frighten him. They had let him be pampered and fed . They had let him be.

"It's a dog eat dog world" say some. . I would  beg to differ

Greetings , from Samrat Estate Agency !

 2nd july 2013

There is this blackboard on a footpath at the Bisleri junction as we come from Chakala to the W E highway. It belongs to an estate agent - Samrat Estate Agency.  It usually has ads for rentals scrawled on it, with regular white chalk.

A couple of days ago while passing by the place, I noticed a whole lot of scribbling across it.

message was for the morning walkers... Good morning  morning walkers   have happy day.

The other message read ''Happy Banyan Tree Worship  !"

It was the Vata Savitri pooja that day .

The bridge is falling down, my fair lady.

3rd july 2013

The bridge the bridge..... it is coming apart !!
The brrridge ...

I am screaming out in fear

I feel a heaviness in my chest. of impending doom.

I can't hear my voice anymore...I am choking.

the is crumbling.

and then I feel myself being hauled up...

The sudden flash of light hurts the eyes....I am disoriented.

I struggle to get my eyes open...struggle.

but my ears hear the voice alright.

It is a familiar one.

yet the confusion persists.

I strain to listen...

I pick out the words, more clearly now.


This was the spouse .

The cloud clears . A sheepish me, doesn't want to open her eyes now.

This is the 2nd time in a row that I had subjected him to  the same nightmare....of the bridge, crumbling.


The one in my mouth , the one which is holding my teeth together.

Over the past week, the teeth were causing some discomfort and I had thought that the bridge was loosening . As is typical of me, I had tried to wish the problem away.

What made things worse for me  , was an often heard dental horror tale that kept popping in the mind. There was this lady, (much senior in age) who was eating her sandwich and had swallowed her dentures (or probably a part of it) accidentally. She had  later died of complications of the same.

I had the same fear . of my 'bridge' separating itself frm the teeth and  gums and my swallowing it while fast asleep.

I have an intense dislike for dentists. I hate the prodding and the probing in my mouth. . The knock of steel against my teeth. The blow of the air on gums and teeth. the grinding whir .... Nooooooooo!! ooooof!!

Well, to end the story, I did go to the dentist. the bridge is intact.It has been declared safe and sturdy enough to remain in service.

All iz well in my part of the world !

All of 4 , and Bachpan no more !

 4th july 2013

So I was speaking to Tanvi, the grandniece in Bangalore. She will be 4 years old this August.


My jaw dropped.

Tanvisms we are used to, but this one was quite something.

Before I could recover , she added, "I now go to National Public School"


It was her kindergarten school.
6th july 2013.

attachment is a bond formed with another over a period of time. it may be an instant connect too. the bond may also be between a person and his material possessions.

every such attachment will have a story of its own- of how it came into your life. the fond ones, one wants to hold on to. gradually one becomes a hoarder. of the possessions and the memories.
memories are easier to manage. they occupy your heart and the mind. they do not occupy physical space. on the other hand , the material possessions lay a claim on your space... expensive real estate.

several years ago, when the in-laws took ill, we moved them from udupi to be with us, so that they could be taken care of. it was the ideal scenario, where we were constantly around to attend to their needs, medical and emotional.

like everybody, they were loathe to leave the familiariaty of their home and town.
after they passed away , we thought of getting my parents to move in with us. they were growing old too .

 In 2005 I managed to convince my parents to move from their residence in malad to a flat opposite ours, in andheri. the kids were growing and with their school schedules it was getting difficult for us to rush to their assistance whenever the need arose.

In 2007, when we moved residence, they moved in with us to the new address.

it was an ideal scenario. us for them and them for us.

the biggest tussle that arose during that time was about possessions. they wanted to bring over every one of their spoons, utensils,, furniture etc etc. every item had a story. a memory…. a glass gifted by a neighbor during my naming ceremony. a first piece of furniture bought by them in the early yrs of their marriage. the brassware that my mother had inherited from her mother.. they wanted to hold on to their stories as much as I wanted to hold on to mine . I also had to make place for the ones yet to be written

my father is an emotional man. strong on emotions and sentiments. he plays by the heart and has always let it rule and overrule the mind.

when we were doing up this new home, my father and i made a pact as regards sharing shelf space for our books . he would have one wall and i would have the other

he is an avid reader and has an enviable collection. he has the paper backs – fiction, hard bound classics, encyclopedias, collector’s issues, limited editions, reference books/.. his repertoire ranges from fiction to spiritual. he has his tomes

he also has his principles. he doesn’t believe in borrowing books nor lending them. “if you want one, go buy one: he says. He is particular about how one reads a book.. he is particular about covering a book before reading it. About opening a book just this much so that the pages don’t give away. even after he has read a book, it will appear absolutely untouched.

he knows where every one of his book is amongst the several that adorn the shelves in his library. he is always able to tell when i have raided his stash. he accurately pinpoints the book i had stealthily removed and hastily put back while he was away.

he is a collector. i am a hoarder. there was only so much that those shelves could hold. i moved my stash out . i bought myself my very own cupboard.

he happily occupied what i had vacated.

he is a reader. he is a collector. and though i have inherited his passion for books we do not share the same interests in books.

at this stage in my life, i have no use for the books on history , fiction of the 40's and 50 about life in ancient france England or germany. i have read most of them. the ones that i had affinity for , i shifted to my racks.

his tastes have evolved and changed too… moving to the philosophical and the spiritual.

he had to make a choice. the old had to go. to make place for his new passion.

I had the privilege of choosing my favourite ones from amongst his collection . Then i chose some because i knew he wanted me to hold on to them.

but then there was only this much i could help out with.

i promised him that i would look for a good home for his beloved books.

that there was no way i would pass them on to the raddiwala.

i fulfilled my promise to the best of my capabilities, checking with like minded friends and family.

today i had to go to the daughters school . when i came home, i found him standing , holding on to the doors of his library. head bent. a defeated stance. books were lying around in neat heaps. he looked tired. washed out with the effort.

he is ageing. he tries to keep as active and occupied as is possible. his day begins at 5.30. and he wants to make the best of every minute of his time, willing his body to comply. by noon, he is a tired man. he has to be reminded to eat small meals at regular intervals which will sustain his energies till lunch time. the disciplined man that he is , he regulates and monitors his food intake.

i was upset and angry with him for indulging in the physical labour. his daughter or mine, would have willingly done the mazdoori. “couldn’t u have waited “ , i asked of him.

“the books...they will all be gone” was all that he said. , his voice heavy, …trying to sound dry and emotionless but the effort was telling.

They were not just books. Some of them were part of an unfulfilled dream of his. He had dreamt of writing a book on shivaji,. Over the  years he had collected hundreds of books on his favorite subject. At some point in his life he had realized that it would remain just that. A dream. Other than these select few on the subject , he had given away the others to a library. He often wondered if anybody even thumbed the pages of those books. Some of them had been extremely rare copies

He was emotional now and with a cause too. Nothing is more sad than letting a dream die. He had held on to these few and today he was letting go of the last vestiges.

the streams flowing down his face was not just the sweat from his brow. They also contained his tears.,
Icouldn’t bear to be in the same room as him. guilty that I felt I was. I settled him with a glass of water and a fruit and stormed into my room

I had spoken to him, about letting go..” let the old make place for the new”. I had convinced him to let others savour what his children already had, let others benefit from the treasure he had held on to, and had no use for now. Those books had served their purpose for him. somewhere it had made sense to him too. he had agreed to pass these to a library..

I was wondering if I had been insensitive. cruel to him. Had I failed him?  But to me it seemed the ideal thing to do.... to move those books to a library where many others could access them

I tried to imagine myself in his place at his age.

I thought of my children. would they remember me as the otherwise accomodating one, or as this as this pragmatic practical cold hearted one...

Treat others as you would want to be treated... will I face a similar tussle with my offspring? Of falling short of expectations . would they be any more sympathetic to my cause then... or me, to theirs? ...who would hurt more? there are no answers.

attachments. bonds....... it is a heavy burden we carry
12th july 2013

Airports, railway stations, bus stands.... they all fascinate me. I can spend hours there, all by myself, just watching the people pass by. i like watching the hustle bustle, the activity. i love observing the people... some in a tearing hurry, some idling the hours away,. i love observing t he people.. the self assured ones with their confident swagger. the nervous one, checking and rechecking their baggage, their tickets..,, i love listening to the sing song lilt of the announcements. i love the rush at the stores - folks meticulously checking out the merchandise, looking for that perfect gift for their loved one. i love catching the expressions on their faces while they are on the fone . i try and imagine the life they are going away from or are returning to. i try and conjure images of the kind of peope they are and the kind of life they lead..i build their stories in my mind.

my home, by virtue of being close to the airports and not very far from the major railway terminuses, serves as transit accomodation to a lot of family, and their friends . for the longest time, one of us , me or the spouse , would be regulars at the airport or railway station, either receiving or seeing off a guest.

i do not like seeing people off. especially if it is somebody frm the immediate family. parents, spouse or the kids. i hate bidding goodbyes. at the airport, i follow them with my eyes, a transfixed gaze, as they walk further away from me. my arms raised to wave out so that they catch my sight from amongst the crowds. and as they negotiate that last turning and look behind to wave a goodbye, i want to rush in , pluck them out, hold them close and say, "bass, chal wapas ghar chaltey hain".

i was at the airport tonite, to see off the son. he is away on a short trip. just 10 days.

just 10 days... this was how i convinced myself when he asked us if he could make the trip. his enthusiasm was infectious. plus the fact that he is the kind of a person who usually doesn't easily ask for something for himself. he will have weighed it in his mind a hundred times before. again, , he makes it a point to assure us that it is perfectly alright if we refuse. that we don;t have to give in just because he has asked .

like most families, ours is a nuclear family set up. vacation time meant the 4 of us vacationing together. they havent experienced the madness and the fun when hordes of cousins got together during the holidays. they really havent spent much time away from us.

i wondered if i had been wise to permit him to go for this trip - 3 days at a Linux Coder's Conference and then a 5 day sight seeing trip. he is an adult at 19 years. but for me he is still a child. mine.

as the date of his departure had approached, i had felt my heart flutter wildly, palpitaitons at times, panic stricken at others. had voiced my fear to the spouse, seeking validation each time... have we done the right thing? he will be all by himself !

i hoped n prayed that he would be careful with his travel documents... that he would wake up with the alarm, tired as he would be while being responsible for himself.

he stays away for his education. i have made my peace with that. but then i have family around there. he has his teachers and class mates around.

these 10 days he will be in unfamiliar surroundings, with not a known soul around him.

i am scared.

i didnt want to reflect any worry , doubt or fear on my face. i didnt want to pass it on to anybody in the house. the spouse and friends assured me that all would be well. but i have been restless.

today we went to see him off. today i found the airport a gloomy place to be. perfectly reflecting my state of mind. young sons, holding on to their mothers, passing on some of their strength to her, to hold on till they came back next. the mothers smiling lop sided smiles of trying to bid a cheerful ggodbye while trying to reign in the upheavel in their hearts. as if their smiling countenance would lighten some of the burden their child is already carrying on his shoulders.

i had gone to see him off. i was blank. no palpitaitons. no panic. a calm. i saw him fumble as he opned his back pack to remove his passport n ticket at the entrance to teh terminal. he had forgotteb to zip his bag back. i could not hold myself and hopped in next to him , zipped the bag in place for him. he said his goodbye. we told him we are in teh waitung room.

within minnutes he called to say he had checked in. i was angry. why o why did it haev to be so fast? he came near the waiting hold, a sheet of glass separating us. he waved a good bye. i picked up the intercom and told him we would wait till he finished his immmigration. that would take a load of our hearts - the paper work being in place.

it was nearly an hour later that he called that he was now proceeding for the security check . i asked to call once again after he boarded the craft. he agreed.

we now had to leave the airport. the goodbye moment... it had now arrived. not when he entered the terminal, not when he had checked in, not while he was waiting fr the immigration clearance. but now.

a long walk to the car, even that was comforting. it gave me more time to hang around at the airport. i understood i was being ridiculous. but yet...

he called to say that he had boarded. i quickly fired a final set of instucitons -" wear yr jacket ". etc etc and paassed on the fone to the spouse. the tears popped out of my eyes.

within minutes the fone rang again. it was the boy once more. the husband answered the fone.. and soon he was laughing out loud.

why?? a neighbour and his wife were on the same flight.

the husband spoke to them...."ab shrimatiji aaj raat chaiin se so sakti hai. aap jo uske bete ka khyaal rakh rahe ho !"

and funnily enough , i really relaxed completely. they were with him. it was comforting. so wot if it was just for one leg of the journey.. i could now put away my worries for one more night.

tomorrow is another day.
16th July 2013

at my parent's place, we were a silent family. hey, it wasnt that we didn't speak to each other. ours was a regular normal family. Dad was a disciplinarian, a man of few words. Mum was a busy mother and a homemaker. there was a lot of affection, yet ours was a quiet silent family.

it was after i got married that i started mentally comparing the companionship between me and the spouse and that between my parents. there was so much conversation between me and the husband, we had so much to ask, we had so much to share, so much to talk

I had been used to the silences at my parents’. those were not the silences of wars waging in the background, rather they were the silences of comfortable togetherness.

I however preferred the chatter in my relationship.

Over the years, life happened. There were responsibilities to shoulder and we got busy balancing roles as parents, offspring, offspring – in-law, siblings, siblings-in-law. I forgot what it was to be me, he forgot what it was to be him.. we continued playing as a team. did not let the respect and affection diminish , but somewhere the companionship and more importantly the conversation disappeared. That which was about him and me.

we even manage to find the me time, but the us timei is relegated, the fone, the tabs the laptops, the books,,, all are effectively isolating us.

so many times thre is something i want to share, read out but the spouse is busy. and on the one occasion that he initiaetes a jlt conversation, i happen to be busy sorting out some other issue. the folly of not having entertained the spouses call is realised but ..
Our communication now comprised mainly about issues related to the family, matters that had to be resolved seeking each others opinion. Work priorities, familial ones.. all took preference. Where was the time to think about our individual selves.

Yesterday , after a really really long time, we planned a small outing. Just the 2 of us.

“Mere saath chalogi? Akele darr toh nahi lagega?”... this was the husband, asking of me, on a beautiful Sunday morning.

Bring down those raised eyebrows, this wasn’t intended to and did not sound half as romantic as Jackie Shroff did , in the movie Aaaina. It was just that I needed to be driven to the other end of town. It was a Sunday , the driver was on leave and the husband offered to drive. I am not comfortable when the husband is at the wheel. He was simply amused at my desperation.

This Sunday, was one of those very very rare days, where there were no pressing demands on our time or our attention. Free we were .

Driving on the empty streets of Mumbai on a Sunday morning…, the sky a dull grey, a shade of grey which brought out the greens of the trees, the colors in the building and the streets. We were cruising over all the flyovers, taking in the sights - the chawls around Lower Parel, the churches and the synagogue, the old buildings and mosques as u pass by the J J hospital, the period buildings as one drives into Fort, It was a treat to the eyes. The drive was a beautiful one.

In the evening we decided to drive to Malad. Again, just us. Yeah, I like to push my luck.

The husband had spent the impressionable years of his bachelorhood in goregaon and malad. Goregaon and malad was where I was born and brought up too. All along the drive we were talking about the good old days. As we reached malad, we took a wrong turn, lost our way and then something took over him. Our intended destination was abandoned. He said he wanted to visit his old place of residence.

He was baffled by the changes the 20 odd yrs had brought to the place. New road, new buildings…..and he was talking animatedly. Pointing out a landmark, the places he used to frequent, the route he walked then…. Oh, the nostalgia!

I was pleasantly surprised and extremely pleased to see him like that. The same the boyish enthusiasm in him once more, the kind eyes twinkling with excitement and laughter, once more….the patient unruffled countenance …. and yes , the conversation. He talked , he smiled he laughed. He wanted to walk into the building, check on the old neighbours….

The years simply melted. Disappeared.. he was no longer the serious, responsible spouse and father- a man in his late forties.. gone was the slightly cynical expression in his eyes, the impatience…….

This was the man I had fallen for.

Communication. Companionship. the conversation, the connect… it was all happening . the warm fuzzy feeling returned.

Hmmm…… I was thinking… I had always been the talker and he the listener. He was a good listener encouraged me to share, . Listened with interest. Supportive too. Occaisonally I would now have to the prodder …prodding him to talk. Be the listener

It is only when u are able to give up on the “I”, that a relationship flourishes, they say. But it also true that the unique traits and quirks of every “I” that adds a zing to the relationship.

we are all about seriousness while doing that which is expected from us. Discharging duties and responsibilities . . it is these these little seemingly inconsequential  moments which keep a relationship alive , kicking and rollicking… . where you can be just you and just you. one simbly has to Grab evey such moment or steal as much as u can. It is only service that one is doing to the relationship