Monday, 13 December 2010

The Santa Lady


This is a story I did four years earlier.
Visit Kamala Dutta's house if you want to meet Santa Claus. He is there in all shapes and sizes. Lovely photographs too. Will upload in some time.

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Where does the Santa Claus stay?
North Pole? Not really. More than 1,200 Santa Claus’s of varied shapes and sizes jostle for space in Kamal Dutta’s house. Santas made from tooth pick, sand, rangoli, wool, wax, ceramic plates, bottles, keys, pots, mugs, tiles, egg shell, coconut, pencils…whew. You name it and she has it!
Every Santa, Dutta has bought or made, is proudly displayed in her showcase’s, while others are neatly packed away into cartons and boxes. Pulling them out for inspection and putting them away is such a difficult task that 76-year-old Dutta just showed us a ‘glimpse’ of her collection.
Ask her how many Santas she has in her collection and Dutta says, “I stopped counting after I reached the total of 1,200. It’s not a numbers game for me.”
A librarian by profession, Dutta made her first Santa Claus some 10-12 years earlier. “My daughter, Bohagee, was eight-years-old, when she insisted that I make a Santa for her. That was the first one I made, then the second followed and then the third…” Dutta says.
“Earlier, I was reluctant to buy expensive raw material. Then I started saving money I got from giving tuitions. I did not want to be a burden on anyone while nurturing my hobby,” she says.
Making Santa Claus’s gives her creative satisfaction and Dutta does not believe in selling them. She has also held only one exhibition so far.
Despite her old age, Dutta continues to be mesmerised with Santa Claus. “Every November-December I go into a trance. I don’t like to go anywhere. I am busy making Santas. Even if I am travelling, I am armed with my knitting and stitching paraphernalia. I manage to make about 100 Santas in a year,” she says.
With her daughter now grown-up, Dutta lavishes all her love on Santa Claus. “They are my kids,” she says, posing for the photographs.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Old and New

I happened to be in Sadashiv Peth yesterday.
The landscape/skyline has changed. Old crumbling wadas (there are a few left) are now sandwiched between apartments, buildings with fancy names.
I was walking home so I decided to do a random check – to spot buildings/stores which I frequented to when I was staying in the hostel.
Yup, Shabdali was there. The owner looking unhappy...(was he threatened by the new, swish, swanky, modern stores off the block?)
I went to Shabdali often to buy Teens Today, Tinkle, Outlook and India Today. On the opposite side, there used to be Calyx – a card shop. Now there's some electronic store there.
I took a turn to the Madiwale Colony. My friend's house is still there. I didn't drop in to say hello. She is in US now.
Then another left turn and I came to Swami Samarth Math. I liked being there. I used to stay as a PG in a house which had its back to the Math. Now, the house has been razed down. Another apartment has come up. At that corner, I could smell the cowdung. That means the old cowshed was still standing next to the temple. I could hear the temple bells - very soothing.
Straight down and another left...Udyan Mangal Karyalaya is still there. On the opposite side, Scouts and Guides ground throbbed with activity. Shailesh Rasvanti Gruha doing a brisk job and maybe good earning too.
---
A decade earlier, Tilak Road, Sadashiv Peth, Khajina Vihir Chowk were looked down up – gao, ghati and agau. After yesterday's visit, I will say 'ghati has become trendy'.
Almost all big names in the electronic market are standing tall and proud on Tilak Road – Sony, Haier, Samsung, Maharashtra Electronic Company, Whirlpool and what not.
And, there are so many shops selling 'western wear' - washed out jeans/denims and check shirts on display. What fancy names they have! One said 'Marino'. Why the hell, Marino? Wasn't there a biscuit company with the same name?
I just spotted one shop, a tailoring shop, which said – ithe punjabi suit shivun milel. Now jeans are in. If you wear a 'punjabi', then you are a 'behenji'.
Next time you are in Pune, (the ones who stayed in Sadashiv Peth), take a test. Find out how many old landmarks are still standing.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

The Trek

My first attempt at story-writing. Didn't quite work out.




---
Sonia and Meera just couldn't stop smiling! They were setting off for their first trek in few hours time. They giggled at the thought of the fun they were going to have – new friends, trekking and playing in the snow and singing and dancing around the bonfire.
What the girls didn't admit to each other was the fact that they were hoping to meet their Prince Charming! That was their secret!
At 5 pm, they were at the Pune Railway Station, shepherded by Sonia's father. They spotted the group of trekkers and went over to meet Avadhoot, the group leader. The girls were the youngest member of the group going to Pubbar Valley near Shimla.
There were quick introductions and Sonia found herself half in love already.
Meera noticed her friend blushing. And guessed the reason behind it.
She quickly tugged Sonia's hand when they were boarding the train.
“What's up?” Meera whispered into her ears.
“Sssh...In some time,” said Sonia with a smile.
As the train chugged away out of the station, Avadhoot ensured that all the team members were comfortable.
Then he and Aniruddh started going over the itinerary with other members of the team.
The girls were huddled together.
“Who is HE?” Meera looked around the group.
“They all look older...” Meera thought. “Fossils!” she smiled.
She tried to catch Sonia's eye, but Sonia was staring at Aniruddh. Now Meera knew.
Later the girls excused themselves to the loo.
In a quick whisper, Meera asked, “Aniruddh, isn't it?”.
Sonia nodded.
“He is old. Must be in late 20s...”
“So what?” Sonia readied herself for a fight.
In her mind, Sonia was already confronting and bringing her parents around for her marriage with Aniruddh.
“So what if he is older than me? Who says that we can't stay together?” Sonia questioned Meera.
Meera gaped.
“No one,” she mumbled. Good Luck!
She walked past Sonia to their compartment.
Sonia followed her with a swing in her steps and smile on her lips.
She felt she was Simran – Kajol of DDLJ.
The setting was so right. Train journey, snow, songs and dance. Sonia was already dreaming.
Anirudh and Avadhoot were huddled together, making innumerable calls for their transport and food during the trek.
After the last call, Aniruddh stretched out his legs, and noticed the girls.
“So, which school you are in?” he asked Meera.
Sonia quickly answered. “We are college students.”
“Oh! Grad students?” Great!,” smiled Aniruddh.
“Junior College students,” informed Meera ignoring Sonia's dirty look.
“Ummm. Good! And, good night. Rest all you can. Trekking can be difficult,” he smiled and left to check on other team mates.
Sonia turned to glare at Meera. But Meera had wisely snuggled into her mattress.
Sonia then opened her bag and pulled out a sheet. She settled in to dream of Aniruddh – Aniruddh helping her when she twists her ankle, covering her with a bed spread when she feels cold, consoling her when she misses her parents, getting her water when she accidentally bites into a mirchi...
“Wake up... you”.
Sonia opens her eyes slowly to see Aniruddh towering over her.
“What's your name? You sleep like a log...Hurry up now. The breakfast is here. We need to go over the itinerary again,” Aniruddh spoke rapidly and then left.
The rest of the train journey passed away in a dream for Sonia. Meera knew that she had not even noticed that Aniruddh, who was an old fossil, was treating them like kids.
“For a 20 something guy we are kids... Best to leave the girl alone,” she shrugged.

Aniruddh was right. The trek was not all that easy. In fact NOT easy at all.
“I wonder where we got the idea of playing in snow and having swinging bonfire nights,” Meera thought aloud.
“You are such a SPOIL SPORT Meera. It's so beautiful out here,” Sonia pointed out.
“Yea..yea. A perfect romantic setting,” Meera thought it was the right time to give Sonia a piece of her mind. “See Sonia...Aniruddh is way older than us. Stop, Let me finish,” she told Sonia, who opened her mouth to speak.
“I know how you feel about him. But its very silly. He treats us like kids. You better get out the idea that he is in love with you or whatever,” Meera finished.
Sonia had tears in her eyes.
“He does. You will see,” she said and left to catch up with the others.
At night, Aniruddh saw the girl shivering in sleep.
“Looks like she hasn't got extra bedding. Better cover her up. Else she will catch a cold,” Aniruddh quickly covered her up with a quilt.
Next morning Sonia awoke to find herself covered in a maroon quilt.
“Whose is this?” she turned to ask Meera.
“Hey sleepy head. Morning,” Aniruddh smiled at her.
“You really sleep like a log. Last night you were shivering and yet you didn't wake up to get the extra mattress. I covered you up in that quilt. You didn't even stir...” Aniruddh smiled some more. “Come, have hot cocoa or it will grow cold.”
Sonia turned to Meera as soon as he left. “See,” was all that she said.

Sonia was dressed in tight jeans and a nice pink coloured kurti, which set off her complexion. She was going to meet Aniruddh today!
It was a very noisy evening at the reunion. All the trekkers were meeting at Vaishali for coffee.
Sonia found herself looking at Aniruddh ever so often. But, he was always laughing and chatting with someone else. He had only once smiled her way and remarked, 'Hey sleepyhead!'
Meera, who was sitting next to her, was persuaded by her friend to talk to Aniruddh.
At the end of the reunion, Meera was pushed by Sonia into Aniruddh's path.
“Hey! See you then,” Aniruddh smiled.
Meera was conscious of Sonia looking their way.
“Hi....errr I wanted to speak to you about something,” she croaked.
“Well...go on then..” he said.
“It's about Sonia,” Meera hesitated.
“Sonia? Oh, your friend? What about her?” Aniruddh looked at Sonia.
Sonia melted.
“She...she likes you. So,” she was cut short by Aniruddh.
“She LIKES me?” guffawed Aniruddh. “I am sorry. I know it sounds cruel. Do you know how old I am? I am 29! And, you must be 15-16, right?”
He then strode towards Sonia.
“Girl...grow up. I am sorry. You will outgrow this fancy. It's not LOVE. It's an infatuation. It's a beautiful feeling but its wasted in this case. Take care and don't be foolish,” he held her hands.
Sonia looked down to find her hands held tightly by Aniruddh.
“He is holding my hands! BUT...
Sonia learnt to grow up the hard way.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

For Aai...

This was written for a contest. Results will be declared in June. Wish me Luck.


----
I was home after almost six months. I stood in the veranda with the bag hanging down from my shoulder. The garden looked lush green and neatly manicured.
My growing up years have been associated with this place and its transformation from a vacant plot, into a kitchen garden and then in to a 'wildly growing' garden. There were trees, thickets, shrubs, potted plant, cactus, flowering plant, money plant...you name it and we had it. Or rather my mother had it.
My parents, who wanted to build a small house, had pooled their meager resources to buy the land. When the house was being built, we (my elder sibling and I) often accompanied our parents to see the construction. The area surrounding the house, looked dusty and barren except for few trees.
“Teak! That's teakwood tree,” Aai shrieked loudly.
I had looked around to see if anyone had overheard us.
“And”, she said pointing to another tree in the distance, “that is sal.”
I nodded. I didn't really care for the house or the trees. It looked dull and boring.
After moving into the new house, my mother quit her job at the PSU. I thought that was crazy.
I had asked her, “What are you going to do at home?”
She had smiled and said, “Do up this place.”
I had stared at her because I never really thought my mother was the 'domesticated' type.
Finally I said, “I hope you do something nice for my bedroom then...”
“Wait and watch”, was the reply.
My bedroom window overlooked a tiny patch. Soon I could see orange, red and golden heads – marigold flowers.
Aai had planted the seeds by dozens it seems.
“It looks nice,” I had thought.
She had also planted tomato seeds in the patch near the kitchen. Soon we were eating tomatoes, bhendi and sweet lime.
Aai had never studied horticulture, but the plants grew at her touch. She bought books on various plant species, made notes, watched Aamchi Maati Amchi Mansa and went off on her own “field trips”. It was embarrassing to accompany her on the “field trips” as she would pull out any weed and put it in her plastic bag, or approach the neighbours with her hearty laugh and persuasive manner and come away with at least one sapling.
I wished she would “outgrew this fancy,” because since she was not working, she had become a watch dog of sorts.
We had no compound wall or wiring then around our plot. So invariably many laman women, would sneak in the afternoon trying to chop off the branches of teak and sal trees.
My mother would sit up in the bed at the slightest sound. The sleep in her eyes would clear and she would listen keenly.
“Listen...just get up,” she would wake me up from my siesta. “Just go and check if the laman women are here and then shoo them away. Go, go.”
I was in no mood to go and chase the women. But didn't I mention that Aai was a very persuasive woman?
Sure enough, the laman were there pulling at the trees.
“Aye suno...jao yahan se,” I used to call out weakly.
The women didn't even bother to look at me.
And then a voice used to bellow out, “Aye suno. Tum logo jate ho ki nahi yahan se? Ya police ko bulaon? Is ped ki kimat pata hai tumhe?”
By now Aai was out of the bed and the house into the garden and on the other side of the thicket talking, cajoling and threatening the women.
I used to stand, half hidden by the door, wondering what would happen to my mother.
However, the women left quietly and Aai used to come in, lock the door and go to the bedroom. In a matter of minutes, she would be snoring!
After the first crop of marigold flowers, Aai planted papaya and palm trees.
The papaya was very sweet and so were the guavas!
“We don't have a mango tree,” I remarked one afternoon.
My maternal grandfather owned an aamrai in Konkan. Aai got him to send us a crate of hapus mangoes and planted the 'bata' of one mango in the garden.
The mango tree took 12 years to flower, but Aai never lost hope. She used to water it lovingly thrice a day and also spoke to it in Konkani... the magic worked!
The juice from the leaves of the mango trees reduced my father's sugar levels...the wheat grass juice stopped the bleeding from my nose! She experimented with fruits, flowers and us – and it all worked.
When I moved to Pune for studies and called home, I used to get an update on all the members of the family.
“Your father is keeping well. Can you smell the ratrani? It has blossomed. I am sitting right next to it..When are you coming home? Come soon, your favourite gulmohar tree is in bloom. Fiery red...what a lovely colour! I am sending you some guavas with your sister. Eat them. Juicy ones from our tree. The bluebird came and sat on the window sill. The sparrows too. I can't spot the mynah though..”Aai continued.
Sometimes I wondered if she really cared for us. Plants and trees and birds occupied her mind space more than us - her children.
---
Now, my mother is no more. The garden is there, the trees are there, the flowers are in full bloom, in a riot of colour, the fragrance of ratrani and mogra still lingers in the air – all protected by the compound wall.
What is missing is her loud voice and magic!
Today, as a grown up 29-year-old, I realised what my mother meant by “doing up the place.”
She was “doing up” the area around the house with plants. The joy and beauty of the growing plants and cooing of the birds had found its way into my house.

Sunday, 14 November 2010

D - Company

For the last few days I have been humming Door Koi Roshan Hua Ek Chehra...from Thakshak, one of my favourite films.
On a whim, I am listing down few romantic (ahem ahem)songs which begin with D
Alright, the first one is Deewana Hua Badal from Kashmir ki Kali. Next one is Dooba Dooba of Silk Route (Loved the sea in this one). Then comes Dil Deewana From Maine Pyar Kiya (Bhagyashree's yellow sari...YUCK!). Dil Tadap Tadap Ke from Madhumati...
Deewana...Haan Deewana from Parde.
There are others too like Dard-e-Disco and Dhoom Machale...but I am not so enamoured of them...

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Remember Me?

The new advts by Vodafone are cute, throwback to school days - particularly the one in which a girl saves a seat next to her for a friend. It was the same with all of us, I guess - likes and dislikes, friends, best friends and 'enemies'.I don't want to talk of my school enemies here - too petty and now when I look back, I think I made much ado of small things.
My bench partner, the one I remember, was Aarti Kurkure, in Std I. I don't remember whom I sat next to in jr and sr kg.
In Std III, I think it was Suparna. I don't remember the last name. I think she left the school after that one year. I particularly remember Std III very well because I lost my first tooth (front one - gaping hole, I tell you) on my birthday. It came out when I was eating lady finger veggie from my tiffin box. Suparna, who was sitting next to me in the class, made me drink water and rinse my mouth.
For days I worried that the tooth might now grow back and every morning I used to check if it had grown in the night. Add to that my mother's threat who said that if I touched the gap in my teeth with my tongue, the replacement might just disappear. I don't remember who I shared my bench with in Std IV and V. But, I do remember I had got very friendly with Parineeta, a girl from Darjeeling. I remember asking her if she was Chinese. I think till Std X, Pari and I were bench partners.
The class topper (Pari) and the class dumbo (me). We were good friends. We kept in touch when I came to college in Pune. Till junior college, we wrote letters, embellished with sparkles and designs, cards etc. After that we lost touch. I remember her birthday (March 9) every year, but somehow have never wished her.
We met again on FB, but except adding her as a friend and replying to her "Remember Me?" with "Of course Pari...how can I forget you" I never made an attempt to contact her again. She is in the same town.
I wonder why there's a difference or lack of communication with people who were friends for years. Even if we do meet, I can't imagine the dialogue. What am I going to say?

Friday, 5 November 2010

Something to Crib

Today's Diwali...
And, I am in a crabby mood. (Isn't that an old story?)
So...let me just put down in points what I am missing in life at this point: 3.30 in the afternoon, Nov 5.
Here goes:
1)My pen friends and the letters we used to write.
Status: I'm not in touch with any of them.
2)My old camera. I clicked my college life and niece's photographs with it
Status: Left it in the almirah of my cupboard. Don't know if its working.
3)My old diaries. Used to write pages and pages when in college
Status: Burnt them. I am regretting!
4)Mogra flowers. Reminds me of Aai.
Status: Have to go back home and see if they are in bloom.
5)Chocolates. I used to hunt for them in my sister's bag, cupboard.
Status: I can and still eat them by dozens. But they don't taste that good.
6)Rains. The thunderstorm and the lightning.
Status: It doesn't rain in Pune. It just drizzles and cleans the road.
7)My home.
Status: It's still standing, rock-solid. I hope it does forever. I want to go back to it again and again – as long as I live. It should outlive me.

Okay...if you haven't understood...I am missing home.
But here I am sitting in the office writing weepy blogs.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

The Adorable Boy

This was published in the books page of the Sunday Supplement


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When I was in college, the most-talked about book was Prakash Sant’s Vanwas, or ‘exile’. I was staying in a hostel and was always homesick; and I didn’t want to read a book that would have proclaimed my state of mind loud and clear. It was a chance conversation with my roommate, four years later, that I developed an interest in Lampan or Lampu, the boy character (Sant himself), on whom the books — Vanwas, Pankha, (Fan) Sharada Sangeet and Zumbar (Chandelier) — were based.
A highly imaginative and sensitive child, Lampan lives with his maternal grandparents (Narayan Sant and poetess Indira Sant) in a small village near Maharashtra-Karnataka border. He’s a gifted musician: he can sing, compose and play all the musical instruments; but scores a duck in Maths and Geography. Lampu speaks Marathi with a distinct Kannada lilt. His favourite words are “Mad”, Tantotant and Kay mhantat na... tyatli gat. He “measures” his happiness and sadness in numeric terms, like “don hajar charshe chhappan”, or 2,456 times.
Lampu has the ability to become friends with children and adult alike: Mhapsekar Master and Jamkhandikar in Sharada Sangeet; Savkar (landlord) in Pankha; Baburao (Ajji and Ajoba’s Man Friday). The only exception is Sumi or Sumitra; Lampu is not sure about his feelings for his next-door neighbour. The emotional sea-sickness of the adolescence stage is brought out beautifully in the sequels. Sant later weds Sumi.
I loved the way relations and relationships are described in Sant’s works. The warm bickering between his grandparents speak of love and respect they have for each other. Lampan’s parents too are good friends; that knowledge unknowingly found its way in his thinking — married couple need to be friends first.
Sant was a master of portraying emotions in few short sentences. He describes Lampan’s separation from his parents and Mini, his younger sister, when they come to drop him at his grandparents’ house. After they leave, Lampan feels restless; his eyes shine with unshed tears. He feels he has been “exiled” and wants to hide in some corner of the house.
The situation is trying for both Lampan and his grandparents until the boy is taken to the room his mother lived in as a child; Lampan finds his mother’s old photographs, prizes and certificates that she had won as a student. They offer him solace: he feels ‘reunited’ with his mother; he belongs to this house.
Sant beautifully describes the emotions of his grandparents when their grandson comes to stay with them. Ajji and Ajoba are not sure how to deal with the boy. They try to reassure Lampan with their queries and kind words.
Lampan is also very fond of his father; he is left emotionally shattered with his father’s untimely death. Sant wanted to write a book on this incident exploring his feelings, but instead he wrote a heart-warming story, Sparsh, on his father.
What appeals to me the most is that Lampan and his friends understood and grasped so much of worldly life: death, suicide, passion, separation and fair-weather friends. The summations about the ‘adult affairs’ were made in crisp, staccato, one or two sentences and hit home the truth that not much can escape a child, even if they don’t know the whole truth.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Thank You!

This was written as a second edit piece.

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The lal dabba, as it is often derisively referred to, holds very special memories for me. I was a gawky, confused teenager when I first came to Pune to study in a reputed city college.
I was always homesick for the first few months, and counted days when I could go home. The first opportunity came around the ten-day Ganesh festival. I took an autorickshaw to Swargate and then made my way to the platform for Mumbai bound buses. I stayed in a small village near Panvel, so I had to get down at a 'request stop'.
I, therefore, decided to wait for the conductor to ask if he could stop the bus at Dand Phata, the request stop.
When he came, with the driver, I was scared of his gruff manner and I fumbled. I had to repeat myself twice before he nodded. I was travelling alone for the first and that too on a bus, so after Khopoli I kept my eyes peeled for Dand Phata. I need not have worried because the conductor called me as the stop neared.
The next few times, whenever I made a trip back home, I invariably met the same conductor-driver pair. We didn't become friends, but I grew less fearful of the conductor.
I was soon to realise that he had appointed himself as my 'guardian'. After making a call home from Lonavla, he didn't let me linger at the stand, talk to strangers. He also ensured that I always sat next to another lady passenger.
When I entered graduation year I used to take a bus in the evening, which meant that I didn't meet the same conductor-driver pair. However, I met other 'guardians'.
There was one conductor, who repeatedly asked if someone was coming to pick me up from Dand Phata. He didn't let me alight till he caught the lights of my father's motorcycle. There was another driver, who had yelled at the conductor for letting a lady passenger travelling alone, alight at some unknown spot on the old highway.
They are all nameless guardians. I never asked their names nor checked their coat lapels.
It was because of their care and concern that I could relax on the journey back home. It was because of them that I could make myself trust strangers.
When I read or edit news reports regarding teenagers molested or abused on bus, in trains and in flights...I considered myself blessed. This is a Big Thank You for all the employees of the State Transport.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

KP and After That...

This appeared in the Sunday supplement


---
The chat signal turned green.
“Hey!” my friend pinged.
‘Hey... long time...’ I pinged back.
“Yeah... KP...” she said.
‘Koregaon Park? Aare... I need to go shopping...’ I typed furiously.
“Not that KP re...” she said.
‘Then?’ I wondered.
“C’mon... KP...” she sounded tired.
Ah! KP... My friend was talking about the kande pohe meeting! In Maharashtra, when the prospective groom, accompanied by his family members, comes to ‘see’ the girl at her house, he is generally served kande pohe and chaha (tea). Of course, modern girls prefer to meet the guys in a cafe or restaurant. But the name has stuck.
Anyway, I was eager to know how the KP meeting transpired. I had several KP meetings to my credit, and since I also got married through an ‘arranged’ match, I was considered a ‘veteran’. No wonder then, my friend started keying in the details about her experience.
“The meeting wasn’t great,” she pinged.
‘So, you didn’t like him?’ I asked.
“No... aisa nahi hai...” she replied.
‘Aisa nahi toh phir kaisa hai? Did you like him or not?’ I grilled.
“See... he’s nice. But just nice”.
‘What are you looking for?’
“Well, something more than nice,” she drawled.
‘And you think he can’t be more than nice?’
“Are you my friend or his? You are not empathising with me...” she whimpered.
‘So, what else is happening?’ I tried to change the conversation.
“My parents, ya, they are after my life. ‘Get married, get married’, is all they say”.
‘Hmm. I have been through this’.
“And, I have to meet the boys every week ya. How the hell can I say ‘He is the one’ in just one meeting? I don’t know what to do. This guy... I don’t know anything else about him...” she trailed off.
‘What did you talk about? You didn’t ask him the details? What were you doing?’ I was becoming agitated.
“I did”.
‘Then?’
“He’s okay... He has asked to meet him at the tekadi. Do you think I should?”
‘In the morning?’
“Nope... evening around six”.
‘No... no. Never! You know, how lonely the place is after six,’ I said in my matronly voice.
“Yeah... I know. See... that’s why I had this odd feeling about the guy. What do you think I should do now?”
‘Isn’t it clear?’
“So, I shouldn’t meet him, right?”
‘Do what you want to do,’ I was short. I was already regretting my eagerness to know.
“But... you have been through this. You can help me out”.
‘Don’t go...’ I was gritting my teeth now. Where’s her common sense?
“He won’t feel bad na?”
Well... I always thought that shopping for marriage was very tiring. Never thought that kande pohe chat can be so tiring as well.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Without You

Amma...
It has been two years without you.
I miss you.
Sorry for being the 'black sheep' of the family. And for being rebellious, short-tempered and harsh. I am sorry....

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

No Answers, Only ??????

Right now, I am feeling very exhausted and tired.
But, I don't want to mope or at least whine on this blog.
However, nothing nice or cheery comes to my mind...
If I could use drawing tools, I would sketch lines representing my thoughts in a criss-cross manner – if you look from far you can see a nice pattern; from close, it will look like a mess or clutter.
That's what is the current state of my mind.
I am so TIRED.
Am I working too hard? Do I need to see a psychoanalyst?
Am I tired of pleasing others? How difficult it is to do things I like?
Why do I drive people up against the WALL?
Why am I not sleeping well at night?
Why do I toss and turn endlessly?
Why do I babble in my sleep?
What is troubling me?
---
I have no answer. Only questions.

Enduring Impoliteness

I had written this for the second edit column

---
Today when we step out of the houses, our usual stops are at the multiplexes and malls. Whether one likes it or not, the malls - with their promises of sops, and a 'lifetime experience' - are here to say. With so many new malls, stores, designer boutiques are coming up every other day, there's stiff competition to win more and more clients and customers with 'sales', 'discount rates' and 'membership cards'.
It is a haven for both the shopaholics and for those who indulge in it occasionally. But, what dims the 'lifetime experience' is the demeanour of the staff on the floor who are supposed to guide and help you choose from the vast array of stocks. The experience, at least in my case, has been an indifferent attitude, half nods and fingers pointed in vague direction.
The plausible reasons, which I have come up with for their downright rude behaviour, are that they are ill at ease in their professional attire and the language (English) they have to speak in. The staff tries to cover up its inadequacies under the garb of 'being indifferent'.
I am not being snobbish nor do I intend to put down the youngsters who do not feel comfortable in the 'uber cool' environs of the work place. To make the experience good for both the customers and the employees, I would suggest that the employers/management encourage the staff to extend the same courtesies and warmth, which they are supposed to say in English, in the local and the national language. In our case, Marathi and Hindi.
If the management wishes to stick to English, then it's high time they enrolled the staff in the introductory course of the language and as an added bonus gave them training in etiquette and conducting themselves gracefully.
More than the pricing and the sale offers, what remains with the customers long after the clothes tear, the treatment they received in the stores or the malls. A bright smile and courteous behaviour will ensure that the customer returns to the store again and again.
It's time to brush up on those Ps and Qs!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Live from Peepli

Yup! I know lot has been said about the movie. It was sure to do well, right from the moment Aamir Khan decided to produce it. Well, yes, the movie was good. Damn good. Slick, humorous and as 'real' it could get.
I thought it was going to be about farmers suicide. But...yes it does talk about the farmer's or A FARMER'S SUICIDE. The farmer, in this case, is Natha. And, his suicide is discussed in DETAIL by the mediawalle from Delhi and also by the regional satraps.
The media makes a mockery of his death. And, like all the media reports, exclusives, breaking news - nothing CONCLUSIVE, comes out of it. The movie, I mean.
Personally, three scenes touched me. One is that of the farmer, Hari Mahto, who has lost his land because he didn't have the money to repay the loan he took from the bank. He works in a pit now, digging mud. The mud is sold to contractors for meagre Rs 100 per day. He dies. The media, meanwhile, is tracking Natha's death (will he? won't he?) while Mahto's death is ignored. The 'real' suicide is ignored. Because, Natha's story fetched more TRP. Right from DM, to CM to the babus in Agriculture Ministry, everyone has a stake in Natha's death.
The second scene has Rakesh, the local reporter for a Hindi daily, trying to convince the hot-shot reporter from Delhi, Nandita Mallik (Barkha Dutt, maybe?) that she needs to focus on Mahto to have the word, TRP' flung on his face. Incidentally, Rakesh is the one who first 'broke' the story of Natha.
The third scene is when Rakesh loses his life in the fire. The mediawalle write off that Natha has died in the blaze.
---
I have worked in the Capital's media office. So, I found the scene where Deepak (Deepak Chaurasia?)follows Nandita Mallik when she leaves the CM's conference to trace Natha who is hiding/forced to hide in the godown. Nandita's car's tailight picks up Deepak's car, who in turn realises that other media people are following him - so that all get their pie of the 'breaking news'. That was hilarious. TRULY HILARIOUS!'
--
The gaon, Natha's wife, his buddhi amma, elder brother, unki do bakriyan, the thakur, the babudom, the caste politics - all make for a perfect setting. A perfect story of why India works or why it doesn't.
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Do watch. At least for the media bashing. We deserve it.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

My Grand Plans

I don't have much work to do this week. So, I guess that's why am in 'plan-making' spree. Even when there's lots of work, I keep making plans – what to do when I am free and not have much to do. Do I actually implementing the plans when I am free?
Nope.
But, that doesn't mean I stop making plans, does it?
Well, I got this brain wave when P and I had gone out. We both saw a temple on a busy road, but hidden by some tapering structure and surrounded by trees. It was dusk and hence couldn't be seen properly from where we were standing.
I immediately felt like crossing the road and jumping over the ditch to the other side, to the temple, to see what it was like. P played a spoil-sport. So, we decided to come back here again during daylight.
I have always loved temples – not those where pilgrims and tourists make a beeline to ask for 'mannat' – where its all calm and quiet; where you can pray or dream or just talk to yourself and soak in the atmosphere.
Down South, where we went last year, we found many such temples. Same is the case with Konkan.
My first grand plan (ahh...now I am talking) is to sling a camera and go and take the pictures of these temples, dig into their history and start another a blog.
Keep watching this space.

My second grand plan is to travel in the lanes and bylanes of Pune – visit the tamabt aali (coppersmith's lane), Kumbharwada, Bhori lane – and buy all the stuff there. Or maybe just take pictures. We actually did a story on all these places, which have so much to offer. Unfortunately, (or maybe fortunately) these places are not on the tourists 'must-see' spots. Therefore, they are 'not known'.
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My third plan is to visit the museums in Pune and compile some information on them. There are so many of them and have so much on display (Am not talking about Peshwai here)

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Kids!

This was published sometime back

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I work for a children's weekly and as a part of my work, I meet several children and their parents. The tete-a-tete have not always been pleasant; I have often come across children who are too 'adult' beyond their years. Twelve-year-old boys are reluctant to cycle around the colony on their own or get wet in the rain. Instead, they prefer playing with their gadgets and using adult 'cuss' words. The 12-year-old girls love dressing up in their college-going sister's attire. I sometimes find it difficult to distinguish between a 10-year-old girl and an 18-year-old girl.
At the other end of the spectrum, are children who are too 'frivolous', and believe in 'Live Life Kingsize' . Unfortunately, most of the parents do not think that there is anything wrong in giving their children a Rs 1000 currency note to blow up in one evening at the multiplex or the mall.
I have often come away feeling disturbed and powerless to stop this 'disease'. If the word 'disease' sounds harsh, then it's meant to be so. Unable to stop myself, I did talk to parents, only to be told very politely that I am 'middle class' in my values and that times have changed.
Times have changed. Or maybe they haven't. Last week's visit to a city school has reinforced my belief in the innocent fun of the childhood. I had gone to the school for a photo-shoot during the lunch break. The cacophony of the happy voices that greeted me was very refreshing. The teasing and gobbling of food quickly to go and play with friends was still the same.
The sight of the girls sitting, prim and proper, in one corner with their tiffins placed on the neatly laid out napkins was, at the risk of stereotyping gender attributes, very 'girlish'.
The boys, on the other hand, were eating their chapati rolls, vada pavs with their grubby right hand and reaching out their left hand to grab something from their friend's dabba.
I will call this a very 'boyish' trait.
I also noted how the boys in Std VI were puny and shy, while those studying in Std VII were tall and sprouting a thin moustache, bursting to crack a joke and bully others. It was just a year's difference. But what changes!
I found the whole sight 'reassuringly normal'. A sight which told me that there is some innocence in the children left.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Lost, confused, impatient and WILD

I have been yelling around, rude to 'dumb' people and generally being a slave-driver. Sometimes I wonder, if I am too hard on people. Maybe I am. And, what can I do about it? I don't derive any pleasure out of this.
All I expect is that people put in their effort in what they are doing – concentrate on the task at hand. But, unfortunately, I have to deal with people who are distracted, slow (and not steady), and on top have an attitude problem. So I guess I am justified in making them run and getting work done.
As they say, its lonely at the top. (I am not exactly on the top, but when you have to get work done from three to four women, it does get TOUGH AND LONELY).
I can't bring myself to discuss commonplace topics when I am working. Nor do I enjoy taking frequent breaks. I am an employer's Godsend and employee's nightmare. Hahaha! LOL. This deters my juniors from building any real connection with me.
But, you know what, the juniors/trainees who have gone on to work in other places or switched careers, are suddenly dying to get in touch with me over the mails, phone, chat. Perhaps they realise that I was not as half as bad, as their present bosses' are. Hahaha!
This, however, doesn't make me any happy at the moment. I am feeling a bit lost, confused, impatient, wild and ready to burst. I am the volcano. Stay away!
Any suggestions to get along with your colleagues and get work done from them? Any Chicken Curry for my soul? SOS!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

What do you think of me?

An old colleague of mine wanted to know what memories we had of her. The one that immediately came to my mind, wasn't a particularly nice one, especially so because it was kind of personal and had to be put up in a public space. I did it, nevertheless.
And, that as usual, set me thinking.
If I were to ask what was the first thing people remembered about me... what would they say? I am cluttered with thoughts and memories and as usual confused.
I did ask two people on chat and got no replies. Maybe they had BAD memories.
What if I were to ask myself about five memories/incidents that mean the most to me?
They are:
1)My marriage
2)My mother's death
These were the first two ones that popped into my mind. Life altering ones! I am yet learning, coping, adjusting and loving.
I can't think of three more memories, in order of importance/cherished ones, that is.
The images that are crowding before me are some from my post-grad days. A girl, who is in turns, whining, childish, stubborn and forever eating softies.
A girl, who is often distracted by books being sold on the pavement. A girl, who loved nosing through yellow-coloured pages of old, tattered books.
A girl, who hit a child on streets of Pune, while learning Activa. And, who after that had cried buckets and buckets and also vowed to never drive again. Had made umpteen calls home and said how bad she was and she was no good and apologised over and over again.
A girl, who was forever, on phone. Talking away into the nights.
A girl, who loved writing pages and pages of letters to friend and pen pals.
A girl, who loved the smell of mogra and looking at the star lit skies.
A girl, who slept with the walkman on, listening to songs.
A girl, who lived on waran-bhat (that's one thing I haven't given up)
A girl, who had a full-throated laughter (something which I am still ashamed of)
A girl, who didn't want to grow up.

If you guys know me, tell me what you think of me. Good or bad.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Story of Ambu

This was written for the kids studying in vernacular medium.
(God! Two posts in a day!)

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Six-year-old Ambu sat under the shade of a banyan tree, tears pricking her eyes.
“Dear God, in next ten minutes, I want to grow up like Anu, Raksha, Aju and Abhi. I don’t want to remain limbu-timbu,” Ambu prayed her eyes shut tight.
After sometime Ambu opened her eyes to find that she was still the same.
She wanted so badly to be in the cricket team, to hit fours and sixes off the full-toss ball. But Ambu was made to run and hunt for the ball in thick hedges and remain at the beck and call of the players.
Today she threw a tantrum, but the teenagers gave her sage advice, “Grow up limbu-timbu.”
Thus sat Ambu wondering how to grow up…when she heard herself being called. There were the others, coming towards her waving and beckoning.
“The ball has disappeared. Will you hunt for it?,” said Aju, panting.
Ambu was about to refuse when he said, “You can bat, if you find it.”
“Really?” Ambu’s eyes were shining now. He nodded.
She jumped and rushed to find the ball.
And soon limbu-timbu Ambu was hitting the ball with the bat.

For Aai

This is for you Aai
(I had written this sometime back)

Aarghhhhh! Not again…where’s the key? I mumbled to myself, digging into the pockets of my bag. I could feel the elusive key as I dug deeper into the bag, but instead of producing it, my fingers touched something soft and prickly. Rose petals…some soft, some crushed and leaves with the thorns intact. The aroma of the petals engulfed my senses. My thoughts went back to the not so distant past.
----
Every trip back home meant coming back with flowers – roses, mogras,
jai-jui, lily, raat-rani, marigold…Most of them used to wilt by the time I reached Pune.
“What’s the point if they are not going to last long? My bag smells, the flowers make a mess…” I tried telling my mother, hoping to dissuade her from giving me fresh beautiful flowers every Monday morning. It didn’t work of course.
“It’s a ‘Best of Luck’ flower. The flower will bring you luck and success in whatever you do,” my mother used to tell me, thrusting another flower in my hand. I used to shrug my shoulders and plonk the flower in the zipped pocket of my bag.
For days, the dried-up flowers used to stay inside the pocket except when I used to turn the bag upside down looking for a lost key, a pen or perhaps a piece of paper. The whole process used to irritate me, wondering why mothers behaved the way they did.
----
Now, when life has changed irrevocably, the care, love and concern of the giver leaves me with a lingering pain. This is for you Aai

Monday, 7 June 2010

Miserable June, Sept and August glory

Well, June didn't spell any good news for me. In school days June meant picking up the bag and hopping on to the school bus. Now, of course its the same. I just don't hop on to the school bus. But I work for school alright. Miserable month. The rains, the work - I'm hating it.
And, m dreading September.
The only thing to look forward is August. My Independence! LOL
I complete a year.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Rains!!!

It's about to rain...I can feel it even though I am sitting in a glass cage insulated from the outside world. I can feel the distinct nip in the climate; I can hear the thundering;
I turn back to see the skies darkening.
Will it drizzle? Or will it pour?
I hope for the latter. There's nothing like getting drenched to the skin. And, hoping to cross the danger zone safely without stepping on the crabs clambering out of their homes under the boulders.
Danger zone! That was the name my sister (and I agreed) had thought for the kaccha rasta which was lined by boulders conveniently used as stepping stones during the rains. The bad thing was that the boulders wobbled when we gingerly tried to walk over them and not to mention the crabs and frogs and tadpoles and snakes. I remember I used to mumble prayers to someone sitting up there while I hopped across the boulders; sometimes the wrong judgment leading me to land into the slush.
Once on the other side I bravely continued my journey to the bus stop, sometimes stumbling over stones, trying to wipe off the rain drops from my face.
The school and my classroom presented a very colourful picture because of the raincoats and umbrellas drying out in the verandas. It was fun to walk in the gumboots. Nice, squeaky, squelchy noise they made.
It was fun to sit down on hard benches in the wet uniforms and then getting up again and again to check the patterns my bottom had made. It was nice to feel one droplet making its way down the back or trickling down from the forehead...
It was nice to dream of slurping hot teas and gorging on bhajjis on our return back home.
It was nice to sit on the window sill and watch the rain falling pitter pat or lashing down the roofs.
It was nice to make paper boats and sail them in the puddles.
It was nice to jump up and down in the puddles without bothering about dirty clothes.
It was nice to sit in a comfortable arm chair waiting for the electricity to lighten up my home.
It was nice to spot the glow worms after the rains had stopped.
It was nice to hear the crrrrrrrrrr of the cricket after the rains had stopped.
---
I can hear the mad honking from the roads. Without getting up from my seat I can tell that there is a long jumble of cars and buses and scooters racing to get ahead of each other on the slippery road. The signals are not working adding to the chaos.
I will soon be a part of the chaos.

Old posts in a new blog

These posts were published before. Hope to write something new...

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My looks and the way I dressed was a cause of concern to everybody else, except me. “What's the big deal?” deal was my constant refrain when first my mother and then my friends in hostel, frowned at my mismatched salwar kameez or down-at-heel chappals.
“You know what...you look like a proper jhalli. Just look at your hair, all frizzled. No one will believe that you have run a comb through your hair today. And, listen this dupatta doesn't go with the maroon kameez. By the way, have you ironed the salwar kameez before wearing it?”, Anima, my room-mate, went on and on without even pausing to check if I was taking it in. I was not. Why would I, especially when it's an everyday ritual – you know something like being forced to drink milk and then quickly emptying the rest of it in your sister's glass once your mom's back is turned. And your mom being very much aware of it...
Anima knew that I listened to her with sleep in my eyes, yawning, wishing that she skipped the daily ritual and hurried for the bus. A neat, organised and fastidious person, Anima cringed at the thought of being seen with me at the coffee house or theatre or park. She never ceased wondering, “Why anyone would turn out like a mess?” and perhaps that was the reason why she had promised my mother that she will transform me into a 'civilised' girl.
Did she succeed? Well, that's for Anima to answer!

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Any hostellite will always recall with horror the food served in dining hall or 'mess' as they are called. No wonder that, hostellites who lived on hot chapatis, 'served fresh from the tawa', (which turned into papad if eaten five minutes late) and soggy, watery vegetables always had this gaunt and 'famished' look.
It was difficult to sleep on half-empty stomachs, so girls from the neighbouring rooms used to get together in one room and talk... of food.
“My mom makes very good pav bhaji. When I go home for Diwali I will eat to my heart's content,” said Rajashree. Then Prajakta started talking of chaat – our mouths started watering at its mere mention. Looking at the expressions of other girls, I realised that all of us were thinking of gol pani puris, bhel puri with its slightly tangy taste, hot ragada pattice... It didn't do any good, because we couldn't slip out in the dead of the night to eat chaat. There would be no chaatwallah either!
Next brain wave came from Darshana, “Chalo, hum yahin bhel banate hai.”
We all were galvanised into action. Farsan and gathia came out of the cupboard, one solitary onion was produced with glee, tomatoes and bit of coriander was smuggled out with the help of canteen boys. Since no one had any murmure, we added all the above-mentioned ingredients with chivda. No tangy imli ki chutney either...so out came ketchup with khatta-meetha flavour. Did it taste good? It was heavenly!
Sated and happy, we sat talking for some more time and then fell asleep, dreaming of bhel! From then on, it became a nightly routine. Bread masala, wafer shev puri, pohe with cauliflower and peas added to it, khichadi...we were very creative and imaginative with the names as well as the delicacies.
As the term neared its end, we had lost the gaunt and famished look. Our parents thought the hostel food was nourishing and we looked happy. Well...parents are parents.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Questions!

I tried to catch the evening show of The Japanese Wife. Couldn't get the tickets though. I think I need to attune myself to the changing circumstances. Until the year before last, I could ( or any average joe, jui) easily get into the theatre, buy a packet of popcorn and settle down to watch the movie. Not any longer.
Today the multiplex security guards shooed me to the neighbouring mall's parking lot. There was a queue of two-wheelers and cars before and after me. First, they checked my dikki, in which they found a hand bag, desperately in need of repairs. He asked a lady security officer to go through the contents. Meanwhile, another security guard noted down the number of my Activa. Another one asked me to remove my scarf. In between, they waved away an empty auto standing before the mall. (Images of the auto being blown up and all of us being hurt or killed flashed before my eyes). Then I was allowed to go down to the parking lot. Mid way I was stopped again – had to pay for the parking ticket.
Walking up the steep turn, I rushed to the multiplex. Again a queue. Eight women were before me at the 'Ladies Only' ticket counter. As I inched closer towards the ticket window, I happened to look around me. There were two cops, a TV screen showing the visual of city Police Commissioner Satyapal Singh. Another notice saying that the hand bags were now to be deposited at the handbag counter. This was certainly NEW.
I mean, I was here at the theatre in December, I think (or was it January) to watch PAA. Yes, we had to park our four-wheeler in the parking lot of the same neighbouring mall going through the same process. But, there was no single entry system them. We could have taken the exit route to go down to the parking lot, but now I had to go inside the mall and take the elevator down to the parking lot. And, I had to leave my bag behind.
Now, of course, maybe because of the German Bakery blasts, or the whole miserable security scenario, we have to get used to this life. Of living in a war zone. If war zone sounds exaggerated than perhaps terror zone is very APT.
Is this how our life is going to be henceforth? I would rather watch a movie at home. At least I will be safe there. Will I? What if some suicide bomber comes and decides blow himself up right in my lane? Are we going to be safe anymore?

I haven't really had the privilege of meeting Maoists or Arundhati Roy who has described them as 'Gandhian with Arms.' If I do get that privilege (and I am looking forward to it) I will just ask one question - “Is it so difficult to build or start a school/hospital/bridge/pucca houses for the villagers and hence you just go around razing down and burning the houses, killing the cops, villagers? It is far more easier to destruct than construct, isn't it? With 'construction' comes accountability and the Gandhian with Arms find it easier to hold others accountable.
The ideology business, I would like to tell the Maoists, is bull shit. If they were really so sincere about redistribution of wealth, and equal opportunities for poor etc etc blah blah..
why haven't they done anything for the villagers? Have they build schools, bridges, hospitals – so essential for the villagers?
If their cadre comes from the educated and privileged class, why the 'educated' haven't thought of imparting their knowledge to the villagers – they could have helped them in getting tractors, cows for farming, poultry bizz etc.
I have spent 15 years of my life in a small village/town. I don't see any reason why someone has to redistribute wealth, why can't we simply create wealth?
Ask Mao Tse Tung to keep his philosophy – Power flows from the barrel of the gun – or whatever to himself.
Maoists are no 'intellectuals'; they are ARMED TERRORISTS.
Maoists and their faithful comrade-in-arms Arundhati Roy – go visit Abhay Band in Gadchiroli (Naxalite affected region in Maharashtra) who has worked for the people there. Please also go, visit Anandvan and Hemalaksa. Amte's and Band families have worked to give the tribals – dignity, education and the confidence to earn their own living in the village/s and or cities. Theirs is a much more difficult task, because they believe in constructive activities'.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

HURT

A friend out of the blue said that I was screwing up her life. A general remark on her appearance invited the 'screwing up' comment. I was hurt. I didn't particularly mean to be insensitive when I knew what she was going through.
Another friend doesn't get the hint - that I have a different priorities now. It's not as if I don't want to be in touch or wish to avoid him.
Sometimes I wonder, why do I have to be the 'giver' in any relationship. There are times when I wish to be left alone, but no, there are friends who always wish to take my time.
I remember when my mother was ill (I sorta knew that she wouldn't be with me for long, but was running around checking with the docs, hospitals and sanatoriums so that she could recover...) I had decided that I am going to focus on her, be with her that she needs me. But, no, I had to deal with friends who wanted to know why I was in hiding, why I didn't take calls, why I couldn't meet them...
Maybe it was my mistake that I didn't tell them about my mother's illness or more importantly my fear that I was going to lose her. But, if you are a friend, a real friend, then wouldn't you respect my time out and leave me alone till the time I found it in myself to get in touch and talk about things that matter and don't...
It never did happen with me. I always had the guilt feeling, that yes m ignoring, yes m being insensitive and so yes, I should put aside my own troubles and listen to other people's pleasure and sad talk.
But today I was feeling low. God knows why. And then something innocuous like 'why don't you change your hair style or cut your hair short...it looks good', invites an extremely insensitive comment. Hell no!
I know girl, you have been going through a rough patch (even I did and you helped me through it) and I didn't mean to hurt or make things even worse. I thought that suggesting something new and different will boost your spirits up. I didn't know that you had a low confidence in your appearance and that my comment made you feel even more miserable.
I thought I was the only one around who felt that I scored a zero on personality and grooming...
Hell, I am sorry.
Hell, just leave me alone.
Hell...I am hurt

Saturday, 27 March 2010

What makes a house?

Having moved recently into one of the 'elite' areas of the city, I fell in love with most of the houses. ( I simply love houses/homes/buildings. Don't mistake, I am no authority on architecture)
My brisk morning walk is often interrupted when I slow down to just gaze at the bungalows – some are compact ones, some are two-storeyed/three-storeyed. I love those – which are old and have a bit of history attached to them. I spend time reading the ugly looking blue-coloured PMC's heritage site nameplates. Bits of information like – Doyen of Indian classical music, Vasantrao Deshpande spent the last few years of his life here (Building's name is Basant) gives me goosebumps.
I have often wondered about people living in the houses I have liked. What's their day like? Does it mean anything to them – a vocalist of repute had once stayed in their apartment or a reputed Marathi historian stayed in the house they are now living in? Or is it just a name for them?
I really don't know, because I haven't gone around asking questions. Sometimes though I itch to take the pictures of these houses. But hesitate fearing a backlash from the residents – they may think its intrusion or worse they might think that I am upto no good. I wish to preserve history, at least in my mind, for my reference, hence the need for pictures.
There are other things too which make me slow down – madhumalti which covers the terrace wall or the balcony (reminds me of my own home), the fragrance of Ananata and Sonchafa. These again remind me of my mother and her garden.
Sometimes I stop to despair. Like today. I was just crossing one lane when suddenly I came upon an imposing structure in white with huge windows. From the road I could see large fluffy soft toys in pink and white. Was this a mall? But, no this was a residential area. A huge three-storeyed building/mansion in white with big windows barricaded by walls. Was it some politician's idea of some dream architecture? (It's a nightmare, if you ask me) I had to go around the house, right up to the entrance gate, only to be greeted by a posse of security guards standing outside it. The name of the owner was engraved in gold and silver. From what I could see was a huge driveway and the imposing structure. It didn't look welcoming. (Not a politician's humble abode, I am sure. The name's not familiar. Or perhaps I am not aware of the powers-that-be )
The structure (I wouldn't call it a home or house. It doesn't fit into my idea of what's a home) gave me more food for thought. Who are the inhabitants? How do they feel living in an ivory tower? What goes on in the char diwaron mein? Are the interiors more opulent, flashy?
I don't think I will never know. I guess I should stop being a Peeping Tom.

Friday, 19 March 2010

SHIT!

There have been few times that I felt really troubled by other people's attitude towards me. This latest incident however takes the cake.
The two fat suckers just stood up and yelled and yelled - I wonder how they managed to pitch their voice on that 'even' tempo. The performance lasted for some 10 minutes. I just didn't look at them. But, I know that they spouted lava of venom and all the malice they could rake up. Not against me. I mean, they didn't take my name. But made sure that I heard every word that was being yelled/hurled like a missile at me.
The first time they put up the act, I had a tough time stopping myself from giggling. I wish I had. That would have taken the wind out of their sails. The second act deserved a punch. Perhaps that would have taken the air out of those puffed up balloons. But I didn't. Not for the lack of courage.
I just couldn't stoop so low like standing in my cubicles and yelling names. No, not names. They didn't take the name of those who had angered them. Perhaps it suggests something about them. Besides being fat suckers, they are also COWARDS!
I didn't give them a 'first look' when they stood up yelling for the whole world to hear. They don't deserve it - UNCOUTH WHO HAVE NO SENSE OF DECORUM.
All this ranting might give me a momentary satisfaction. But that still doesn't answer my question.
Why do some people try to make it tough for others? Because the others are good at something which they are not? Because they want to be the first at finger pointing - lest someone points fingers at them and say 'work shirkers'. ? Or are they just bloody unhappy lot who wish to spoil someone's day?
What the hell is wrong with me?
Why am I wasting my words on the fat suckers? They deserve a royal IGNORE. Let them be. Empty vessels make more noise - or Fat suckers make more noise
(Pssst...won't the fat sucker ups be glad if they come across this blog? At least someone has taken a notice of their antics. SO, FAT SUCKERS, THIS IS FOR YOU....

I am BORED

I am bored...I am bored..I am bored...I am bored...I am bored...I am bored...I am bored...

Writing it over and over again doesn't make me feel less bored. So, what should I do to feel better? to feel happy? to feel good and nice and float on cloud nine?
Should I rant or rave? Should I laugh like insane? Or should I stretch those lip muscles in a grimace?
Hmmmm...tried and tested
I am not feeling better.
Why not write down those things that make me feel better?
What will make me feel better?
1) Sizzling brownie with hot chocolate sauce
2) Garma-garam pohe with ketchup
3) A good book
4) A good movie
5) A bed to sleep and no one to disturb
6) Gulmohar tree
7) A jog around the park
8) A bench where I can sit and watch the world go by
9) No work to be done and no pressing deadlines to be met
10) The fragrance of ratrani and mogra at night
11) The slight nip in the air
12) The first rain and the smell/aroma/fragrance of the mud
13) The deep blue sea
14) Drive down the bylanes
15) Red roofs of an old bungalow
16) Tulsi plants in the front yard (reminds me of home)
17) Trees aiming for the skies
18) Splashing of cold water on my face
19) A mssg or call from a loved one (Mssg me someone)
20) Sitting in the bus to go home
--
I am feeling slightly better. I am slightly less BORED

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Long Live the Comics

This article has also been published. I think it still needs to be worked upon. Well...


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It was heartening to read that the first copy of Batman, published in 1939, fetched
more than $1 million at an auction recently. The zeros added to 1did not make me happy, but the fact that 'Old is STILL Gold'.
I remember being a voracious reader of Batman and Superman and desi comics like Chacha Chaudhary, Billoo and Channi Chachi. The other childhood favourites were Chandamama, Champak and Tinkle. I don't know if any of the above-mentioned comics will be auctioned for millions of dollars, but they certainly could do with a new lease of life.
The comics, as I remember them, were of poor print quality. The language wasn't grammatically correct either. Yet, we were hooked to the comics. I remember waiting for the vendor to get us new copies and once they came immediately settle down to leaf through the pages gaily illustrated characters and the speech bubbles.
Looking back now I remember meeting Channi the Chachi with her rolling pin and her opinion on anything and everything and the smart alec Billoo in my neighbourhood.
I could relate to 'Raman' because I could sense my father and so many others like him trying to meet the ends with a dash of humour and dignity. The simplicity of 70s and 80s was reflected in those comics.
And, it was inevitable that with the advent of the globalisation and the Internet era, they faded into the background. I say, inevitable, because the owners/publishers were not foresighted enough to keep pace with the changing times. It was in 2003 when Diamond comic's popular character, Chacha Chaudhary with the tag line – Jinka dimag computer se bhi tej hai – made his television debut. Another desi superhero, Bahadur who fought with dacoits in 1976, is coming back in a new avatar. In 2010, he will be fighting with the terrorists in the Internet edition.
In the 80s it was okay to not have a TV; one could simply join the neighbours. In 90s it was not okay if you didn't have the Cable TV. In 2010 if you are not there in the virtual world, you don't belong to this world.
Although, I am old-fashioned and would prefer reading the print edition of the comic, I know that if it has to multiply its readership today, Net edition is a must.
In this race for survival, I hope that the endearing traits of the superheroes and the neighbourhood heroes and heroines like Billoo and Pinki are retained. After all, that's the reason why we still remember them and grab the collector's copy.
Batman, Superman, Chacha Chaudhary, Chaman Charlie, Gardhab Das, Tantri the Mantri – May you Live Long.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Learning to be lady-like

Some pointers for me...hinted by my well-wishers

1)Brushing my hair at least twice or thrice in a day
2)Avoid wearing wrinkled clothes and mis-matched payjamas (Ooops, Salwars or chudidars and something called legging is 'in'. Payjamas is so downmarket, snigger the polite ladies)
3)How about trying to sit with knees pressed together for 10 minutes in a day instead of split wide open? (Am trying. No luck, so far)
4)How about....ahem ahem...manicure and pedicure? (What's that supposed to mean?)
5)A touch of lipstick... (Eeeeeeeew... run for my dear life)
6)Waxing hands and... (It's too hot, I yell. And cold wax is too....icky)
7)Avoid walking with a heavy tread (Is the construction so shaky that it will collapse at my …....kg weight)
8)Greeting others politely ( I thought backslapping established instant camaraderie)
9)Talking in a low, soft tone. (I CAN'T HEAR YOU)
10)No picking nose. Why not carry a daintily embroidered hanky to blow your nose into?(Got it, got it)

Dear Lucy...

Dear Lucy,
Where would I be without you? You are a real friend...ensuring that I munch less on chips and run around and also exercise my vocal chords once in a while.
I do find it irritating when every time you see something edible in my hands, you make a rush at me, pawing and clawing. No amount of squealing, shouting or thumping works. You are really very determined. On most occasions I have to give up bakarwadi (something which I really like) or chocolates and see you falling upon it greedily. You give it one final lick, and look up at me again hoping that I will oblige with some more. That doesn't really happen.
Sometimes when you are out in the garden, barking your head off, I manage to sneak in few bakarwadis and chocolates. I feel so happy! Guilt pleasure! And, the fact that I outwitted you also adds to my happiness.
Sometimes I feel sad at having snacked behind your back, so I offer you some biscuits and watch you gobble them up. When I'm in a really generous mood, I give you chocolates too.
What has it resulted in? We are both round and rosy.
Did I refer to exercise and munching less...in the beginning? We have to ignore that.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

German Bakery

The day after German Bakery blast, I got calls from friends in Delhi to check if I was safe. I was 'safe' and 'insulated' from the happening too.
"Yeah...yeah I am okay. It's not near my place."
There was and still is the disconnect with the blast. Maybe I have got too cynical and fatalist.
"If I have to die, then I will die." Sounds cruel perhaps. But life has not been any different for a decade or so. The first time I really shuddered at the dastardly act, and killing of innocents was the 1993 serial blasts which rocked Bombay/Mumbai. I was 11 or 12 and I can recall and even feel the tensed atmosphere and people watching their backs. After that, I think one sorta gets used to such killings - as long as its not me.
Perhaps the terrorists have succeeded. They have succeeded in benumbing the humane feelings and also the cry for justice. Past reports have shown that none of the terrorists or the brain behind the plan or the mastermind, as they say, has ever been arrested.
Some Mehsud gets killed in Pakistan. Does it stop the killings in India, UK, USA, Israel and even Pakistan? Nope. And, it never will.
I am not sure what my reaction is supposed to be? An eye for an eye, but then as Gandhi said An eye for an eye will make the nation go blind. Cynical though I am, I certainly believe in that. Civilians taking up arms or burning with the desire for revenge will not really help. We will lose youth, we will just go back to stone age. Look at Pakistan and Afghanistan - their own citizens are living as refugees. Those who could afford and had the means escaped to other countries like US leaving their own nation in shambles.
I don't want that to happen to India. I don't want destruction, I don't want 'human bodies' living here. I just want us to grow from strength to strength.
I can give no clear cut solutions to others. I don't have any myself. I just want to be able to relive those days when life was peaceful.
I'm referring to the 80s when growing up meant watching He Man and eating mud and cycling and laughing and crying because your sibling beat you or snatched your chocolate. And, not because you have been left behind your sibling. It's not so back in the past. Maybe we can still go back to it. I certainly do.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Harishchandrachi Factory

I saw the movie 'harishchandrachi factory' a couple of days back.
My verdict......ummmmm Not all that great. I think the movie, which was meant as a tribute to Dadasaheb Phalke, the Father of Indian Cinema, has been trivialised.
The foresight, the persistence of the man and the support of his family doesn't really come through. The director's (Paresh Mokashi) attempt to show the trials and errors, the tribulations his family goes through in a light-hearted manner (perhaps the word is 'humourous')falls flat.
There are blunders too.
How could a brown-skinned native sit along with the Brits and watch a motion picture? In 1911? Didn't the Brits have notice board on most of the public establishments - Indians and Dogs Not Allowed.
The characters too are not 'developed'. They are mere caricatures, their roles/contribution in the life of Phalke not fully explored. I wish they would have shown more of the man, Abdullah, the inn-keeper (hotelier/restaurateur) who Phalke meets in London. Same goes for his friend Telang, who becomes the cinematographer of Raja Harishchandra.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

From Venus

This is something which I wrote sometime back


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I was never good at Science, so this concept of 'Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus' never made sense to me. Why talk about planetary influences when living on ground...(earth). I didn't think it was a big deal. Now, that I am four months into marriage, the distinction is slowly becoming clear to me.
I arrived at this conclusion after some 'minor' glitches, which according to my husband were 'blunders'. Talk of opposite poles attracting – I don't know ABC of cars and their body parts. I mistook fan belt for conveyor belt and the mention of BMW motorcycle set me thinking. I had heard of BMW cars, but what so special about this motorcycle?
Then 'Mars' decided that it was time 'Venus' was given some lessons in cars, motorcycles and their engineering – how a two engine powered BMW motorcycle was the best and very rare and is the best example of..... I am not sure if I can recall the rest.
Well, we move on to another touchy topic. Married women generally have to deal with 'other' woman in their husband's life – their mothers. I had to deal with two. His daughter. Ah...uhhhh. Don't get me wrong. Its his dog or should I say she-dog, whom he considers as his daughter. (You see, I could never differentiate a dog from a she-dog)
Unfortunately, I never got along well with the 'daughter'. On my first meeting with her, I fled for my dear life when she tried to come too close for comfort. After four months, I can walk past the daughter, ready to flee if she comes close. I am being urged to pat the dear girl, but for once 'Venus' has dug in her heels and refused to give in to 'Mars'.
Another lesson which I learnt is that there is no scope for sentimentality in a 'Mars' life. He came upon some scattered and withered rose petals, chocolate wrappers under the bed.
“Whose are these? And, why have they been kept under the bed? Just throw them away, will you?”
I was stunned and mortified. “I won't throw them away. The petals...well, you had presented me roses when I agreed to marry you. You gave me chocolate when I was on a diet and had hunger pangs. How can I possibly throw them away?”
Now, it was the 'Mars' turn to be stunned. And, speechless too. He gave me the distinct impression that he thought that I was acting like a henwit. But, he was sensible enough to not voice his thoughts. He was a man of action. He just gathered the petals and the wrappers and tossed them off in the trash bin.
“Next time when I buy you flowers and chocolates, promise me not to keep them preserved for posterity or eternity or whatever it is,” 'Mars' said and 'Venus' nodded.
So much for sentimentality!
I have dealt with cars and the dog (oops, she-dog) and the roses...what else remains? Maybe 'Mars' fastidious views about how 'Venus' should be dressed. That of course is a touchy, touchy topic. “A neatly dressed woman, swishing down in heels, her long plait swaying behind...” that's his ideal 'Venus'.
I object to 'swishing down in heels'. You don't swish down in heels... you go 'tok, tok' in them. My attempts at correcting his usage of metaphor was met with a stern gaze.
Venus has lots to learn, you see.

First steps

Hi!
I always have a had a lot to say and write. This is just a different medium. Hope it works for me.