"Break, Break, Break....."

31 December 2008

This is one of Tennyson's best & my fav:

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.
O, well for the fisherman's boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!
And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;

But O for the touch of a vanished hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!
Break, break, break,
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.


How Much?

26 December 2008

How much? Kitne ka? WHAT! Are there diamonds in there?
This cacophony of shrill and crass voices brought my attention to the source of the sou
nd. I turned around to see two youngish women, identically dressed in jeans so tight I wondered how in the world they'd got 'em on, streaked hair, make-up & what have you. (Ah! No, I have nothing against the D&G bags...and the rest of it either)They stood there, pouting. I turned back to look at the artisan who looked at them with the kinda benign patience only a poor man can have.(Oh, by the way, I was in a tribal art & craft fest)If you were to look at this potter's wares, created outta mud, wrought in fire and sweat, you'd feel the same way I did: horrified at the words of the women. What he'd created in a remote village of Maharashtra was mind-boggling. Creativity, beauty, art at its ethnic best! What these women found "expensive" was a foot scrub, a curved fish shaped as if it were in the last throes of death. Rs 50. That's all. The younger of the two then looked at other stuff, found it ridiculous and moved on to the next stall. The potter and I exchanged looks. It was an odd moment. I plopped down next to him. He sighed and said nothing. I let him be silent. After a bit, I asked him about his work. This chap comes all the way from a tiny hamlet in a Godforsakenplace, travels for 2 days in a general compartment of a messy train, all the while wondering if his goods will reach Delhi intact or not, pays a huge amount of money to be in a place like Dilli Haat and is not even entitled to earn a few pennies as profit? His hands are magical...they create such beautiful shapes outta the shapeless mass! He even has fridge magnets moulded into exaggerated heads of animals, people...even tiny V-shaped chappals! All these are glazed and in different colours typical of India. He's also got miniscule cups and saucers, threaded to be hung on a kitchen door...I mean his goods are so NOT run-of-the-mill. But then, how can a woman who lacks imagination, wears what the others wear, carries bags that are supposedly carried by the elite(shucks! people are so dying to be 'like' somebody!)and probably buys stuff only from the malls, ever know what it is like to appreciate the smaller things of life? She is running after the west so blindly that she has no time to "stand and stare" (Wordsworth said that?) at the beauty that is there in the 'unbranded' things of life.
Hmm...I looked at this potter's dark face, white teeth, silver hair, knotted fingers, bare feet,, bent back...and his life kinda flashed before my eyes. I felt deeply touched.
As the old man sipped tea, a gaggle of giggly teenagers passed us, tarried for a bit, and moved on, exclaiming...eee...didya see that or what!
It was time to move on. My bags and I found our way back to a small bench, where I sat down and wondered...I don't know what this woman must have bought( I have serious doubts if she managed to buy anything at all...she wouldn't have liked to buy a banana-skin bag, a coconuthusk tray or mugs made out of lavastone) but I do know this: with all the education and the frills, if one cannot appreciate the unpretentious things of life, it can't be called life...it's merely a semblance of it...and one, then, is not living, one is hurrying on to finish up life.


A little note on Jack...

24 December 2008

Someone close-by made a comment about someone: such a jack of all trades and master of none!
Hmm…and what, may I ask, is wrong in that? We all can’t be the Da Vincis, Diors or who’s-who of the world. So, for us common mortals, is it really wrong to be jack of all trades? Not really, I think. In fact, I think Jacks are at a better advantage given their sheer expanse of experience in multiple areas. Now, imagine, can a master architect, in really severe times, do clothes, dabble in paint or fix a doorbell/leaking faucet? You get the basic drift. Now, our Jack has tried his hand at banking, electronics, cooking, sculpture…a little bit of it all. Maybe he ain’t the best, but his is a better perspective. He understands more. Appreciates more. He is wiser. His is not the judgment of the frenzied one-sided, blinkered old horse. When he gives opinions, they are more the valuable for their rounded angle. His life is more varied, he has more opportunities. In times of need, he is the one person who can multi-task coz he’s been-there-done-that...no tiny thing, he. Imperfect, yes; out-of-work, never. Now, this is not to deny a master his due. This is just in favour of the Jacks who feel it ain’t good till you’re a CEO of the blah-de-blah.
Times are a-changing. No longer is there a need to feel ashamed, Jack if you ain’t somebody. You can always make yourself useful. Remember Mr. Ashley who couldn’t do anything other than be a soldier in
Gone With the Wind? I’m afraid, I’m not much good at anything, Scarlett. Sigh! Whatever you may be, Jack, you sure ain’t a loser. You can always paint or teach.
Or, maybe, write a blog? :)


Of Gentle Reminders...

16 December 2008

A couple of days ago, I went to a remote region in Haryana with a friend who wanted to buy an agricultural tract of land. After several twisty roads (if you may so call ‘em) we reached a place where two roads met. Obviously we took the more travelled one. Once in the village, we met up with the village head of land affairs. In case you're worried, this write-up is not about benefits of agriculture, la “krishidarshan” on Doordarshan.
Well, hesitatingly at first, we had to hop on to the local vehicle available (read: bullock cart) coz the car from the city would not be able to bear the harshness of the rough & severe path that’d lead to the site or what everyone in the village called a “ploat” (plot). Several meandering, dusty, umm…in-ways…(dunno what else to call a no-road kinda road)later, suddenly came upon one of the most arresting and pleasant sites I’ve seen in a long time: a vassssstttt undulating area filled with sarson…bright & green & yellow, swaying in the wind. A real feast to the starved eyes. While X (let’s call my friend that, for the sake of simplicity) conversed and discussed and discussed some more with the main farmer, all I could think of was…nothing. My mind did not, could not, race or flit from one topic to a disconnected another. Suddenly, X & the other chap stopped talking. The silence in the fields became positively overwhelming. All I could hear was the musical interplay of the delicate sarson, rising and falling; see the entire area change hue as the yellow heads ducked and the green became more prominent. It was magical. It was picture perfect.
I was being asked for my opinion. Oops…err, yes, X, it’d be perfect. Eh? An acre? Buy the whole area! Yes, I am sure…BUY! What more could you want? This place was perfect…build a little cottage and surround yourself in this sight, this smell, this sound of silence. Your concrete jungle will never take you to this...this... heightened sense of well-being, tranquillity and harmony.
Once back to the “oppice” (office), we were offered a most delicious cuppa masala tea and a box of sweetmeats. Whoa…why sweets? We hadn’t struck a deal yet, not even spoken about it. My antennae were up, trust factor plummeting to zero. What was he trying to get at? As if sensing my discomfort, the man offered, “We can’t let you go empty-handed.” His bronzed face, missing teeth and humble voice left me feeling that somewhere, I’d become a victim of the cruel, calculating, modern times that have repeatedly taught us to never trust anyone.
I was humbled.
I’m back to the concrete jungle. Surprisingly, each time I am weary and tired, in vacant or in pensive mood the dancing fields
flash upon that inward eye;
Then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils…

It is a totally underdeveloped, unsophisticated little hamlet that provides me with comfort when my “modern,” urban, fast life sets my being in a tizzy. Ironic or what.


Sis, Perspective & Me...

05 December 2008

My sister just left for the States. I'd known for more than 5 months that she'd leave around the last quarter. Yet, when the moment actually came, it hit me hard. You see, I'm the sort of person who can distance herself emotionally. Sometimes it is a hard, conscious effort, sometimes self-suggestion, at times escapism, and many a time logic. Therefore, outta-sight-outta-mind. I thought I'd apply one of my usual techniques this time, too. My sis stayed for 3 days, we had a blast, trying to enjoy every single moment before she'd leave with her husband for a good 4 years. We chatted, gossiped, visited people, and yakked some more till our bodies revolted. Hmm... why wasn't I happy? All through her packing, (which is an on-the-face sign of "leaving," I wasn't affected.) I mean, I'd decided to be happy. Half the time, we think of ourselves, how we are going to feel and base our judgment or opinion on that. Ergo, since I was not going to have a skewed perception, since I was going to be logical and reasonable, I was glad she was going. Oh, another thing you ought to know about me...I've never been a conventionally good elder sister. I know I've missed playing with her when we were kids/teenagers, missed being close to her because of a most crazy, psychologically stupid ...imbalance of mind. This is how I can best describe myself as far as my relationship with kid sis is concerned. It's only lately I've realised how important she is in my life, my thoughts, my emotions...& I so hate myself for being mean and outrageously cruel to her...for spoiling the best years of my life being idiotically distant from her.

And now, she's gone.

On our way back from the airport, mom had tears, dad was talking a little too much & I listened to a Jethro Tull number...or was it Jones? Perspective. Angle. Logic. No emotions. She's happy, I'm happy. Period.

Why am I wearing the oversize slippers she left behind, using the purse she couldn't carry? Why haven't I as much as glanced at her room? Why couldn't I sleep? And why was I silent at work? Why can't I stop my tears each time I think of her? Why am I writing this?

Perspective be damned. I as hell can't help missing her. She means more to me than I'd realised, more than anyone else ever can. And, yes, I am happy for her. It's just that I am totally miserable without her physical presence, her silly smile, her one-liners, her comments, her jokes...This time, I am not going to get rid of my emotions. I am going to allow myself to feel. After all, she's my sister.

And I love her.


Of Yoga & Peace...Journal of the Journey

16 November 2008

Ok, so I decided to join a yoga course. Normal, you'd say. Yeah, so I thought...some light floor exercises, a coupla deep breathing techniques & voila!Ha! Wasn't I in for a surprise! Lemme just provide a brief history of 30 days. (Oh, by the way, you must remember I am someone who had a most divine habit of waking up at 8 in the morning. Going for yoga meant goodbye to that.)
Day 1: Yikes! Overslept! Hop, skip & jump out of the bed at 6.15 a.m. Run into the door of the bathroom(it takes time, you know, for the brain lights to come on & I ran before my brain could register I'd woken up.)Steady, ol' girl! Ah...brush etc, run down a long flight of steps, bundle into the car, honk, honk...(I didn't need to, actually, but I was in a state of panic & that's how I vented.) Reached the sprawling studio at last, tiptoed into the silent room, took off my shoes, grabbed a mat & lay down next to an over-proportioned aunty who gave me you're-disturbing look with her bulbous eyes. Striken, I lay down quietly. The instructor's voice was calm, collected and sonorous. Close your eyes, now mentally imagine your toes are reelaxxeedd....Oh hell! I'd forgotten to send an important email! Bring your awareness back to your body, now breathe easy..inhale to the count of 4...Man, I sure hope Rakesh doesn't send me a stinking reminder...Gently open your eyes & sit up slowly...Bloody Hell! Why am I so forgetful? Now, let's get ready for Suryanamaskar. Wha...? Oh ok...ATTTENNSHUUN! Ok...I'm back. Now, Suryanamaskar can be a very gruelling task, esp when you have to stay in 12 rather trying positions and inhale/exhale exactly when the instructor tells you to. Post SN, we had to do coupla asanas that looked easy but were tougher than floor gymnastics when you got down to doing them. By the end of the one & a half hour session, I was bruised and battered in my soul. I could neither touch whatever it is I had to in most of the asanas nor stand on one leg for more than half a second, or pretend to be a bird. It was all so slow, so steady...why couldn't I do it?
Day 7: Groan, darn...Still wake up with aches & pains. Nothing but a will to succeed takes me to the class, only 5 mins late this time. The Kapalbhati kriya is in progress & in my keenness to follow them, Gak! I choke. I don't believe it. I have managed to disturb the entire class! Raghavan manages to put the session back on track & becomes my personal instructor for that hour. I see the rest of them doing it all so well & me....shoulders tense, spine bent & a face purple with all that effort. SN isn't that tough although I do feel the strain on the hamstring muscles. You see, I am a survivor & I don't like to give up. So, several twisty postures later, I am sure I'll get it all one day ... and, till that day arrives, I am going to continue.
Day 15: I reach just as the rest of them have finished the opening prayer. Not bad for a lazy bum, what! Well, the aunty is back & if looks could kill, I sure would be singed. I cannot place the 6 feet long mat without russling it, now, can I? I try, though. Anyway, I start the breathing exercise, trying to relax & not contract my shoulders with each inhalation. Oh boy! I've spent 5 grand this week just on clothes...R seems ok with me today although each time I half open an eyelid to peer at everyone else, I find him looking at me with a lot of apprehension. Close your eyes...concentrate on the breathing count now...4 in and 8 out. Darn! He'd seen me peep. He looks quite benign, though and a good sport at all this business.
Day 18: I am on time & R seems pleased. Aunty hasn't passed a glance in my direction today. Whew! Kbhati doesn't seem so bad now that I can flush the breath out without going blue in the face. SN, however isn't all that easy as it looks. Push-ups, V's, cobras, curling of the toes in/out with each change of pose...& this has me confused. I dip when I should be a mountain, I use my shoulders when I ought to be using my back... R displays massive patience & does each asana along with a panting me. It's more than a fortnight & all I am great at is shav asana!
Day 20: I have downloaded all postures of SN & mugged them up. I go to the class, place my bright pink mat with a swish next to the aunty, smile sweetly when she shows me the eye & start the kbhati kriya. Thundering typhoons! Why can't I blow without sucking in air? I wade through somehow. Time for SN. It's a day of test. I am looking like I've already won, that's coz I have have memorised the entire book of do's/dont's & what's next. I stand, ready to take on all 12 postures with finesse. R smiles & reminds me of a complacent cow, chewing cud. With my eyes closed, I go through the first Herculean round. Humpf...inhale, swing hands up ...haaraah...exhale touch toes, inhale...running pose, palm flat on the floor, foot as far back as possible....ohmigod! Suddenly, I feel the proverbial heebie-jeebies. What number was I on? What's next? I open my eyes, look at the smug, canine-looking aunty, then at R who looks like he hasn't seen me before. What's next? A million hands go up & I untangle myself & retire in a corner, hurt, looking like someone who's cross, brave & beaten, all at once. What's worse, the buxom, barrel of an aunty got all her postures right. Oh well, she's been learning for a month now, maybe.
Day 21: I haven't slept the night, deciding whether I ought to walk through that yoga studio door ever again or not. I take a negative decision with a loud thump of a turn on the bed, hands folded across my chest. You know what's strange? I find myself before everyone else in the yoga studio. I'll show her, won't I! Everyone streams in & we all go through various asanas, composed & calm. All, except me. Coz I am not doing yoga, I am making a show of it. Today, I neither stumble, nor fall. I don't need to peep, be told to inhale/exhale, stay still on one leg with my hands above my head, bend forward like a bird about to take flight on a single leg, etc. I am flawless. I look at protudy-eyes & vainly smile with a bet-you-couldn't-have-learnt-so-fast look. R seems very pleased at a 2 hour long display of all the 24 asanas & SN & tells me so. And me? Well...
Day 30: I reach the studio just as R is unlatching the main door. I push the heavy door & walk into the room, place my mat, help R throw open a zillion windows & wait for the others. It is exactly 6 in the morning, the lark's singing & all's well with the world...Browning said that? All the 18 people arrive & we begin. Today's Sunday, the last day & this would be a long half-day session with the last few hours as part of the final test. I am silent through it all. No, I mean SILENT. My mind neither wanders on money-matters, nor on forgotten deadlines. I feel filled with a strange energy, a kinda thrill, as I realise I don't want to show anyone anything. I'm going to do this because I want to be fit, healthy & at peace with myself. Isn't that the purpose & end of yoga?
Have I achieved it? Well, I have understood it. Today, I am perfect. Not because I haven't made a single miscalculation/error but coz today, I don't need to prove...not even to myself. The asanas & I are one. At the end of the extended class, I find myself asking a question. Everyone turns to look at me. Without flinching, I ask, Hey Raghavan! Do you think I could enroll for the next course? R smiles verrrry meaningfully. From my place at the back, I as hell don't miss the twinkle in his 60 yr old-young eyes as he says, You bet!
Did he KNOW? mmmm...


Motherboard, Me & the Daily Humdrum

12 November 2008

OMG!OMG!OMG! My comp went blank just as I was sending a stinker to a person I most detest! I'd just about reached telling him to ...you-know-what & my machine gaped at me with a dark face. Sigh! No amount to plugging in/out, rebooting etc helped. It had decided to die on me & that was that. According to a greek-latin speaking techy, my motherboard had gone blink & there was only so much he'd try to retrieve. Comps had a mother or a board?
Well, anyway, so there was I...at work & no machine to work on. What would I do? What about all my deadlines for the day and the mailing and the...blah-d-blah? Hmmm, while the techy was trying to find a method in the madness, la-Lear, I thought of calling up a most dreaded client & catching up on a project. Oh well, he wasn't available & would I please call back later? Sure, dude! Just thought I'd let you know we are at it. Humdedum, what next? I called up a couple of old cronies I'd not called in ages, called up my siblings...everyone on earth I could think of & still no sign of a temporary comp for me to work on. Well, such situations umm.........call for a meeting! So I collected my team members & pushed off for a long, long meeting. Poor souls, I bet they cursed me just the same as I curse my boss when she calls for a boring, dull meeting. Ok, so we decided to work faster, harder, raise the bar a little higher & all the jazzy I do/will bow-wow promises people make in meetings. Half a day still remaining. Ha! I knew what I could do! Fill out the hateful productivity sheets that I'd ignored for the last half a month! Darn...those who have to do this will have complete, undivided sympathies with me when I say filling out these PS' is one of the worst tasks a company can make an employee do. Trust me, if you've done this everyday for a month, you can do almost anything else in the world, except produce a baby, maybe.
5'o clock & at last I get to see a spare machine. What's the point anyway, in an hour, it'd be time to go home. And, hell, what about my motherboard?It'll take a good 7 working days to get it back. What about all my work saved on it? What about all the crazy articles I've penned for the ga-ga & the dotty in the other part of the world?
Hmm, maybe I'll just take a holiday to the Himalayas & look for the infamous, elusive Yeti. That seems to be an easier task than getting a sick computer to work.


Disconnected Thoughts on the Remains of the Day

24 October 2008

I just finished reading Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. Little did I know it’d turn out to be so much more than just a historical account of the lives of a motley group of courtiers in one of the most turbulent times in English history. What a very engaging & thought-provoking novel! It follows the lives and fortunes of the 2 Boleyn girls, one of whom was the mother of England’s finest monarchs, Queen Elizabeth I.
I devoured the book within a few hours of laying hands on it. Honestly, I couldn’t care two hoots whether it followed facts or not. It got me thinking about a lot of stuff, some that I’d consciously relegated to the back of my mind. I became absorbed more by what the book threw subtly at you, more than the story itself. Hypocrisy. Rivalry. Deceit. The Boleyn family will stop at nothing to acquire wealth, achieve status and find favour with the King, even if it means converting their daughters into the King’s whores. 16th century human world wasn’t very different from our so-called modern world, what! Human beings haven’t changed very much since the time of the Aryans now...or have they? On our moral landscape, insincerity has inevitable acceptance. As has treachery, sham and deception. We are pretty cool about it, in fact. We teach our children to be ‘realistic,’ don’t we? We say things we don’t mean, do things we don’t believe in. What are the remains of the day, after all that we do to live? Or, is it a semblance of life?

Food for thought, even if it ends along with this full stop.


Of Christie & Wodehouse Haters…

23 October 2008

I am a compulsive-Agatha Christie-reader.
No matter how many slew of books I may read, tomes, some of them, but tis an AG I need by my bedside at night. This whole bit of writing is because someone made a comment the other day about how juvenile one had to be if one read AG’s beyond their teens. Well, all I’ve got to say to this sort of comment, in defence to AG, is how delinquent one had to be to comment thus.
To those of you who may have read/still read AG’s, I am sure this will sound totally dotty. Who can deny not having found these novels with the old but sharp Miss Marple or the clever Poirot entertaining and diverting? Don’t you remember having an oh-I-miscalculated-again look at the end of the story as the villain/vamp is brought to justice in a most unexpected and startling logical manner? Among a whole host of reading stuff, this is one book I can always pick up and read without feeling guilty or wondering why Life is so/not so etc. You get the drift.
Oh, wait, there was another rather daft observation on another, one of the world’s wittiest authors, P.G. Wodehouse. The person said Wodehouse never made sense to him. Well, alright, understandable. But, the footnote that followed was something totally baffling…that Wodehouse was NOT witty/humorous from any angle, but was rather puerile and trivial (Gak!). Now, this leaves me having very strong hate-vibes. Oh, no, not because he doesn’t like the same books that I do, but that these conclusions were like the word of God, final. Also, to me, it displayed an unperceptive mind! No one sensible'd ever put their thoughts in this immature a fashion. One may not like an author or a book, but, does that mean you hold it in contempt? Not liking a colour does not make it universally distasteful or bad, now, does it? Buddy, if you don’t comprehend satire & understated British wit, wry and all, you probably need to ease up on the double, not call Wodehouse dumb!
These remarks betray a ridiculously infantile mind that cannot conceive of the truth that a true mark of a good critic is that he does not condemn an author as established as maybe, Shakespeare. Personal liking is one thing; & to say the Bard is useless, is to say Heck, I cannot ever understand the intelligent use of the language and its myriad nuances or styles. In short, it’s like saying, Hey, everybody, look I’m dense!
I am so sick of pretenders to intelligence and un-perspicacious(if ever there is such a word) people that I zimbly had to pen my thoughts!


All in a Daze Work!

Now, you'd wonder what is it about observations of a bookstore? Read on...it's all in a daze work. I had half a day to myself and a very quaint little bookshop and its rather old-fashioned banner arrested my attention. I was pulled toward it, as it were. My little nephew was with me and knew his fate was sealed for a good one hour the minute he observed my striken appearance. Resigned to his fate and trying to blend in with my mood, the poor chap followed me in darn good spirit, if you ask me. Well, I opened the door... thud, doink, thuddddd... yes, that's right, I fell through half a flight of steps. Ah! But you ask me, why the hell didn't I look! Well, I did! But, at the most cruelly placed ad poster of a new book I've been dying to read. I am sure many others had preceded me in their embarrassing fall owing to the highly inappropriate placement of Brisinger's poster. Never mind, thought I. A fall is a fall, as long as no bones are broken. While I was thus reasoning, I happened to notice the rapidly changing expressions on the faces of the security guard and my own blood (read:nephew) that betrayed me rather vengefully! The former tried his best to be helpful, look sorry & guilty...all at the same time. Actually, come to think of it, he looked like he was dying to laugh but the thought of his dismissal made it impossible to. The latter, in the meantime, looked cheerfully avenged and at ease. Imagine this: me fallen pitifully with 2 bags full of things, my nephew at the top of the steps looking at me with a who're-you look looking elsewhere and the guard extending his hand for help. This was the decisive moment. I could be either angry and be laughed at behind my back, or laugh myself and allow the other to let their snickers loose...or, I could get up full of grace and dignity. Err...difficult choice, if you ask me! So, what did I do? In my most polite tone, I asked the nephew if he could please manage to descend, help me with the bags, smiled the sweetest smile ever at the guard(boy! did he feel miserable after that) and collected myself, brushed my jeans off any traces of dirt and with nephew in tow, walked into the shop, totally forgetting my very reason for being there. Ah! There was the book I was looking for...As You Like It. Or, was I? Nephew, in the meantime, decided to buy the most expensive book in the store and make quite a noise about it, too. (It suddenly dawned upon him that he was in a quiet, public place and he had a one-in-a-million chance to make the most of it.) Okkk...so what was I supposed to do? Another moment of decision...either I could yell back or I could give in and buy the book. Here is what I did. Picture me limping gracefully to the most annoying chap in the world(at least it seemed so at that moment). Our conversation was as follows: Hmmm...lovely book!(smile). Can you read? (The tiny face fall here rather dramatically. Don't think I'm mean or something...he loves to act, rather overact.) Now, would you be good enough to put it back? I must say one positive thing about Nephew: he knows when he is defeated. A mild but-you-can did rise from his mouth, but I was already on my way out(truth be told, I couldn't hide my pain anymore!). Looks like Brisinger will have to wait for one of its most ardent devotees to come and pay obeisance to it one day. That day will not arrive soon, I'm sure...can't walk with a leg in temporary cast, now, can I?


On an elder sis...

20 October 2008

Honestly, I am not clear about my intention in writing this. All I know is that I felt a need to pen something about my it. Technically, the one I'm writing about is a cousin. In reality, she is one helluva sister! Well, to begin with, I did not always feel this thick with her. I always looked at her as someone really cool, sweet, nice and I had breezy conversations with her. It is almost after 2 decades that I found MY relationship with her. No, I cannot define it...she isn't my best friend or a guide or a cousin...she is different. Or, maybe, I discovered my own relationship with her only recently. Maybe, she discovered it, recently, too! In the last one year, I've had the deepest and the silliest of conversations with her not because she's an elder sis who is always willing to talk/in the same town, but because she is like a delicious pina colada...a blend of several thingies that makes a drink enjoyable and memorable. The point is, I call her names, I insult her, hit her with ill-meaning words, you name it and I do it...and she thinks nothing of these barbs. Instead, she welcomes them, and, with a perfect return serve, waits for more to come from me! Nothing unusual, you think? Maybe not. But, in an ever-expanding extended family, she is the only one I can call up anytime of the day or night and not feel unwelcome. She doesn't just do it out of politeness...she actually doesn't mind being disturbed! I do have other elder cousins I am fond of, but none with whom I share a great, near-perfect rapport. I am never judged, never told something that differs from the truth...I just don't have to worry about being good or bad or witty or sombre! She lets me BE! And, the best part about this is that not many know this about us! It's like an arcane thing we share...and it's beyond anyone's understanding, too. What I like the best about our relationship (apart from the boring, obvious ones!) is the back and forth of the most inanely humorous sms', hitting each other with repartees(quick, witty retorts...in case you were wondering!!!) until we're both rubicund with laughter! Not many people can laugh at themselves...she can. I've heard others tell her that she was their model...I've never felt this way, unfortunately, about her. But, I do look up to her for the fortitude she has, for her caring spirit and for the fact that no matter what she's facing, she never loses her sense of humour. This is what I hope I'll have some day. I have very little clue about the possible arrival of that day, but this much I know: when it does come, I'll know I have fulfilled a large part of what's spoken of as being a good human being.
The whole point of this article is this: people will forget the things you say, they will forget your name, and the things you do. But they will never forget the way you make them feel. Kudos to her for never failing anyone in this department. Given the extreme, grave, depressing and really trying situations she's been in, it is really amazing how this woman continues to be such a sweetheart...especially towards me!


A Trip to the Station With Mad Hatters!

12 October 2008

There were multiple yelps of loud Yay's as our group got a positive response from the department head for an official two-day off together. (The Chief thought we'd do well to bond...not that this company of assorted mad hatters needed any more of it!) Plans began to be drawn and after a lot of bow-wowing and not-there's, the group decided to go to a sweet old hill station. There was just enough time to book tickets and pack bags for a two day trip. Well, at the appointed time, the taxi...nope, did not arrive. It was one of those monster-shower days where the entire city comes to a standstill with a few cms of rainfall clogging the city's roads. Well, did this dampen the spirit of the chaingang...oops, jing-bang? Au contraire. The maddest of all hatters decided to get rickshaws for a motley group of 20 people. Ya, right! 10 very shaky mins passed before the man came back with a decided...nope-no-luck look but an extremely determined stride. He went straight to the phone and dialled a number rather resolutely. It was now or never. We barely had an hour before the train'd leave --with or without us! 19 people crowded around this being and followed every nod of the very round head and every flicker of his chinky eyes as if our life depended on it. If ever there was "pin drop" silence, this was the time. He hung up and breathed deeply. 2 cabs had been arranged but they could take time. O, how could cabs not be available? We were so ready to pay a ransom for it! Well, a taxi did arrive and this wave of 20 pairs of hands and feet rushed out. Yes! It was, indeed a yellow and black cab! Who cared if it was more than a decade old jalopy? What about the other one? Broom...hyak...hyak...the second cab sort of, well, drove in. So now we had 2 cabs and 20 people. Not bad! 9 people were bundled off(thank god for ambassadors!) into the first one...you get the picture, 3 in front, 6 behind. Had it been possible for this scrap of metal to burst at its seams, it would have. But, as it was, it merely shook on its underbelly, occasionally, side-to-side. Suddenly, there was a whrrr...whrr of a rick. Someone had just gotten down of a rick! Divine intervention, what! 4 people quickly hopped into the three-legged vehicle and threw their bags into the second amby's backside. The remaining adjusted quite well and started merrily towards the railway station that was about 25 kms away. As the taxi chugged along, we sat with bated breath. Why bated, you ask? Well, there was little choice! When someone weighing 50 odd kgs is perched on you, you can't do pretty much else, can you? Oh what a ride twas! You couldn't see the road in front of you. The traffic you see, blocked your view. Every second counted. Just when the indivuduals had managed to begun to cope, 3 phones rang simultaneously. No, there couldn't be a scurry of hands trying to reach to the phones. The phones were buried deep inside pockets and no amount of groping could bring them out from their safe haven. (Damn the ringtones...especially those that have ascending laughter. It sure sounded maniacal). Imagine this repeated cacophony of ringtones: batman joker laughing insanely + gamcha bichayi le + arre o samba. You get the picture.
If this wasn't enough, the 3 sisters of Fate(sorry, can't recall their Attic names right now) decided to unleash some more of their dark humour. The rick containing 4 very wet people did a hurrrum-bhaaack and then died. Ah! but we didn't know this then, did we? We couldn't reach our cellphones, remember? Well, the Fates sure were having fun! At the Chandinichowk redlight crossing, 2 two-wheeler scooters drew up and a pair of very fast-moving arms waved at us. At first, we looked away in disgust assuming they were eve-teasers. But, when the arm-waving became more rapid, we looked more closely. The faces seemed vaguely familiar! Indeed they were! Two out of 4 wet figures had managed to get a lift. There were kind people left in this cold city, afterall! Err...the other two? Well, a little behind us was a tempo van carrying someone's furniture. Yeah, you guessed it. There was much hee-hawing about this and other senseless stuff in our cab. Not for long, though. The cabbie, who'd had to tactfully maneuver changing gears from between two very thick pairs of legs, had had it! A most disgusted sound emanated from his dark lips. Wouldn't be prudent to reproduce what he said, but the gist(you may even call it quintessence) of it was to shut up, quit squiggling and let him drive on if we wished to reach the station. We felt like Moses(soon after he must have been hit by the Commandments, that is!). 10 more mins and we managed to arrive at the un-pearly gates of the station! AH!
The cab spat us out in utter revolt. The passengers of the tempo and the scooters also arrived soon after. We met each other with renewed joy and camararderie. But,oh! had we made it on time? Someone (of erstwhile 'marching captain' fame) hollered run. The gang made a run for it(except, you can't pretty much run when there is a crowd of several thousand people, with stray dogs interspersed, around you) and managed to reach platform number 6. The blue train was more than ready to leave and had begun its pronounced chug-chug. The pack bundled into whichever bogie they were closest to. After managing to reach the correct, alloted seats, 20 black, wet, tired, but happy faces acknowledged each other. Right.
Our journey had begun!


On Self- Importance & Other Blah Blah...

09 October 2008

Hmm...have you noticed how some people are so filled with self-importance that they have nothing to think or worry about except how other people react to them? There is this most absurd woman who thinks that the entire world is conspiring against her. Every word spoken has to have a double meaning. I mean so insecure is this person that the other day I saw her standing near the entrance, straining to listen to what a couple of us were talking about! Wait...there is more! Later, we heard things we had spoken about her. I don't even remember talking about her remotely! She presumed we were talking about her! Self importance has no limits, I tell you! Then there is this older man who walks about with a false air of being somebody. In his hay days, he used to be a model of sorts. Today, he is no more than a local businessman(I think!) who will concoct such viscious stories that even the most innocent comment of yours would appear malicious. The worst bit is he believes in his own tales and lies so much that there is no truth for him other than the one his own perception projects. This means a perfectly blameless person will become a villian/vamp just because in his mind, this person is so! Ridiculous, isn't it? How many friends...I mean FRIENDS, do you think he has? Not many. Those who call him their friend are just colleagues or neighbours who will have no more to do beyond hello-dahling-how-are-you-doing-oooh-such-beautiful- little- children-you-have! I mean who'd actually want to spend more than a couple of hours with such a twisted mind? I'll tell you who. Those who have no other choice (relatives, etc.), people he calls over for parties (read:forced to smile and say how lovely!)or those who are so good that they will not believe he could be mean. Sad life, what! I can't imagine living in a world where I have no one to really have a heart-to-heart with beyond my spouse! Imagine being unable to trust anyone! Brrrrr!
I'd rather be open and be on-the-face and steer clear of such creeps than wonder hell, did I say anything that could be taken personally without a reason or rhyme? Man...it sure takes all sorts to make a world! I'm sure better off outside this world than in it and look a 100 yrs old and probably have several nervous disorders and mental blocks(or, alternately, make others go dotty).
Goodbye, self propellers and insecure nitwits! Now on, me is strictly vegetarian!


Ennui is IN!

08 October 2008

Ennui! Well, learning how to pronounce it right might take away a bit of it but that will not eliminate the need to do something and something, well, different. However did the older generation manage without videogames, T.V. or cell phones? Very well, if you ask me. Creativity was the name of the game and one either was born creative or learnt how to entertain oneself. No whining but, mummy, what do I do kids. You went out to play and invented games. You managed with a whole gang who was out to PLAY, you know! You split into teams, made friends with real people and played real games, not move thingies called 'joysticks' all over the place to win. One ran, fell, got dirty, came back home with scratched knees and bruises. One climbed trees in stealth and plucked ripe mangoes much to the anger and loathing of the local chowkidar. One looked forward to watching a movie in the only theatre in town, wait for that one copy of record...One...well, bonded, made lasting relationships and friendships. Girls looked forward to having their first Barbie doll and boys to the first GI-Joe or He-Man. One talked, shared tales, joys and sorrows. In short, one was social, never got bored and was totally kicked about life and how to find more time to fill it with more fun and meaning.
I see small kids today and teenagers feeling lost without their ipods, psp's, computer games or DVD's. Whatever happened to all the Nancy Drews and Malory Towers? Books, anyone? No? Oh well! Never mind. Looks like this generation doesn't know what having fun is. All they are busy at is getting bored. How ironic...just when the world is moving towards making life more entertaining and easy, we seem to be moving away instead of solving one of the simplest of all concerns: ennui. The more we have, the less we seem to enjoy it. Less was definitely better.


Stray Notes on a Place Called the Mind...

07 October 2008

The mind is its own place... in itself it can create a heaven of a hell or a hell of a heaven...Milton was so right when he said that! I see people with everything they could need and yet complain. A woman I know of, for instance. She is as beautiful as they come with very little to complain, actually speaking. The more I look at her life, the more I wonder what makes her such a compulsive cribber. A doting husband, two beautiful boys, a perfect job and a happy home, a supportive family on both sides...the works. And, yet, this woman perpetually complains! If it's not her in-laws, it is the gardner...I mean, come on, she is looking for something to bow-wow about. In her mental make-up, people are forever scheming, plotting and gossiping. Sometimes, I feel people need this to remind themselves they exist! Maybe, this is where they get their sense of belonging or strength from? Perhaps, the sound of their own voice gives them a high! Or, could it be that their laments give them a sense of feeling alive and busy? Simply put, some people just don't know how to count their blessings. Oh! then there is this woman...she screams, shouts and generally thinks she is the Sun around whom all the planets revolve. She would rather that everyone around her work according to the flavour of her mood of the day...and don't miss the fact that she is ''pious''coz she makes it a point to let the whole world know how she had been to the temple that morning or how she had fasted and the next minute you know she screams her head off at a poor office boy who may have forgotten to say good morning to her! I mean haven't you come across people who feel the need to make an impact with every breath they take? They love it when the ripples of their emotional acts affect someone else. How fragile such people, and utterly sordid their lives, must be. Imagine waking up in the morning and wondering how best to make people take note of you by say, making a startling entry at work or announcing their arrival by plunking down loudly, or running about when you may as well walk, moving about with a look of purpose even if it's a trip to the coffee machine!
Hell or heaven are what we make of it. What! And you thought it was a place?


Desultory Thoughts on Yakity Yak Yak...

05 October 2008

Have you ever been an observer? No, I mean REALLY observed people? Imagine sitting in a crowded room, watching people come and go, talking of Michaelangelo as Eliot says. Look at the way they can go on and on and on with inconsequential chitchat! Why do people talk so much? Ever wondered? Could it be because they are uncomfortable with silence? Maybe silence forces them to turn inward and think about deeper matters? Silence...is it a vaccum? A dreaded empty space where one doesn't know what to do? A place that compels one, as it were, to come to terms with who one truly IS? Yes, silence helps one confront one's own conscience, acts, thoughts and what-have-you. No escape from reality. No looking over the shoulder...plain confrontation with one's own self. Brr...scary or what! Talking, well, talking helps you get away from the gnawing that goes on within. It helps one cope, so to speak. Ah! well, everyone needs to cope, after all! So much simpler to let things be, suppress and kill the little voice within than to sit with boring talks with oneself. One could achieve so much with another person instead! Bond, for instance. Have you noticed how everyone wants to bond these days? Whatever happened to the ancient cry of Gnothi Sueton or 'Know Thyself?' Well, who knows and who cares? There is so much to talk about! So much needs to be accomplished...who has time for all this thought?

Silence can kill, did you know that? Ever wondered why they have solitary cells in jails?
Talking also helps one to put ourselves in perspective. Yes, the other person's. Were it not for our talk, however would the other person know who we are, for crying out loud? (Sarcasm intended)
Hasn't talking lost its meaning in all this...umm...talk? Talks meant communication, understanding, discussion... Where has all that disappeared in mouths uttering words that have no meaning? Has knowledge been lost in information? Has communication been lost in yakity yak yak? Indeed, have we lost ourselves?


Waiting for Godot

Waiting can be an extremely painful process. Especially if you are sitting outside an ICU, waiting for the medical practitioner to emerge out of the cold, impersonal room and declare a verdict with an even tone.
The area was much like a typical hospital, smelling of nothing but, well, a hospital. Four people were seated with backs hunched, eyes looking at their toes, fingers interlocked and resting in their laps. It had been three days since the boy had been in the ICU, in a coma, probably breathing his last few breaths. But, the waiting family did not know this. He'd been hale and hearty till three days back, looking forward to fatherhood and listening to his favourite numbers. Suddenly, there was an entry. A loud woman announced her arrival with a heavy plonk and "what do the doctors say?" in between munches of an apple, quite without feeling. Who was she? "He'll be fine, beta, don't worry," said the aging man kindly to his son's wife as he got up and walked toward the window overlooking the hustle-bustle of life outside. LIFE! Were to God his son would live...images of his reticent, handsome son came to him like a whirlwind of colours. He turned abruptly back and went up to his daughter asking her to walk along with him. The loud woman's voice reached their ears as they walked away...I'd told him na.. but he only...The man who was the father gently put his hand on his daughter's shoulders and said, "Don't worry, he'll be fine. I've spoken to the doctors...he'll be fine." The daughter's imploring eyes wanted to believe. She went up to the only idol and began to pray. The father sat down and one of the many conversations he'd had with the doctors came rushing back to his mind. Sir, your son has no more than two days to live. Oh! How he wanted to silence the voicepounding in his head...if only...but miracles seldom happen. It was night now and he had opted to stay the night at the hospital. He looked at his son, lying so calmly, breathing evenly. Who could tell there were poisonous acids ruining every single organ inside his body with every passing minute? The doctors had been amazed at his tolerance level...patients only scream in this condition with pain and he doesn't utter a single complaint. What a man his son was! The bed was too small for his tall, lean frame. Just a year ago, the boy had got married to the only girl his parents had suggested he meet to see if he would like to be with her. He had married her because he couldn't bear to hurt a person's dignity by saying 'no.' The old man paced the floor up and down through the night, hoping for a flicker of an eyelid, a sound...anything. But nothing happened. The morning was as usual, the Sun rose up in the silent sky, cars went by, the family arrived with a hot steaming cup of tea for him. The doctor arrived for the usual check-up and took the old man aside. I am going to try a new medicine as a last effort. Could you please have it brought up from the pharmacy? The old man, dignified as always, spoke gently to his loyal driver, asking him to get the injections and the medicine and went back into the ICU along with the doctor. The man ran down. It was exactly noon when the old man came out of the ICU just as the driver came panting up with medicines in both hands. Papaji, ye lijiye bhaiya ki dava. The old man looked at him very gently, Ab khel khatm, beta, and walked over to his stunned wife to put an arm around her and help her down to sit. The daughter walked away and the daughter-in-law started a loud wail, dropping the biscuits she was eating on the floor.
Yes, the game gets over sometime or the other. But how many people have the fortitude to accept it? This man is a hero, if ever there was one. He knew while the rest of us waited for Godot…


Random Thoughts on the Tring Tring

04 October 2008

"OMG!" "LOL" "BRB!" are some of the few words that had me rather foxed when I was first greeted with them over various chat sessions. It took me a while to get used to these short forms. And longer than a while to accept them as part of the gen y's (or is it gen z,now?) regular lingo. Nah! no harm, really as long as it stays away from verbal, face-to-face communication!
The cellphone sure has changed the world picture with more than just a loud bang...it has done so with a reverberating blast, the effects of which can be felt in the remotest corner of the world. Remember those huge black boxes with thick, twirled wires that had the power to wake up the dead from their graves with their menacing "Tring trrring?" Ha! One was forced, as it were, to pick up the receiver and holler a 'Helloow'(especially if twas a 'trunk call.') Why did they call them 'trunk calls' anyway? Dialling a number was even more painful...the eternal wait for the dial to roll back down. Gosh! It'd have been so much better to use it as a hypnosis tool instead, so long was the waiting time. Well, wasn't this black box(let's call it BB for now, no sarcasm intended regarding the short format) more of a family get-together forum than a phone? The entire clan used to rush near the phone to hear what the caller had to say. And, oh, don't forget the 3 minute limitation a trunk-call had...what's worse, having an operator listening to a private conversation! What DID lovers do in those days? Imagine having a heart-to-heart with your sweetheart with a giggly operator throwing in a 'thee-hee-hee' with every "I love you, dahling!" And what about the P.P. calls? How annoying for a neighbour to have to scamper each time there's a call for Chopraji across the street! On second thoughts, it may have been interesting to know about the lives and the goings-on of others. Did the son of the family fail? What happened to the mausiji who'd been nearly kicked out by her daughter in-law? Do sit down for a cuppa chai and Britannia biscuits...hmm...was the BB responsible for good, social mingling? Cut to the current times. Individual numbers, private calls. Personalised ringtones. Oh, and not to forget caller tunes. Who knows what's happening in the next room, leave alone the neighbour's house. Neighbours? What's that?
Not long ago I heard them say that the world has become smaller. They also say technology is bringing people closer. Hmm, I wonder.



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