Sunday, August 30, 2009

Why lie?

She is a close relative.. close enough for me not to name names. She called last Sunday evening and asked me for a telephone number of a taxi service I use. "So, planning a trip?", I asked , scrolling through the numbers. "Nooo Yaar, I just realized that I do not have the number and my mom will need it next month."

After I gave her the number we moved on to other topics like family and festivals and ended the conversation. Today, I just got to know through someone else that she and her mother had made a trip to Mumbai last Monday. Just the day after she took the number from me. What I do not understand is the need to lie.

We are contemporaries and it was not as if I was going to prevent her from going anywhere. You may argue that it was never my business in the first place. I agree. The question was more conversational than anything else. So, why lie?

I know we all don masks at different points in life. At times the circumstances demand it. sometimes it is the person. Occasionally because the truth is not palatable or may hurt. But compulsive lying, for no reason? It is really irritating. More so because trust is very fragile and hard to re-establish. Why risk lying to family?

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Green visitor

What is green and black, moves fast, is hard to catch and creates a flutter when spotted? No, it is not a new character from a Rakesh Roshan Movie. Yes, I know that 'Quickgun Murugan' could be a close guess, but Murugan is more multi - coloured than my visitor.

It looked like another 'blah' Friday afternoon, when my help, who was finishing up with the dishes, spotted this little wriggly string that moved away when she squirted it with water. Closer examination revealed that it was a small sssnake! Being a village woman, (she spouts theories that humans are more poisonous than snakes and it is sometimes the snake who dies. Then again, she may be closer to the divine truth than I know!!) she did not panic, but called out to me. After the initial excitement of having a real live snake on the premises subsided, we called the local pest control services, who also double as the animal help services here.

The next few minutes were rather thrilling. Knowing little about the snake and it's venom, we all hung over the balcony railing to try and make sure we kept track of the wriggly thing. ( see how the swine flu got away because the government did not keep track) As we watched, it made it's way through a patch of 'Alu' leaves and vanished below a decaying yellowed one. The experts came in all prepared with their high tech equipment. Turns out, all they need is a clean, green, empty, plastic ..hold your breath.. soda bottle. Quickly, efficiently and with disappointing tameness, they coaxed the small snake.. about a foot or a bit more, just half an inch thick.. into the bottle and went their way. Relax, I too asked them what they do with the snake. We are fortunate to have a snake park in pune that takes all such snakes... they also release the harmless ones into the great big outdoors, far from the madding crowd. So, looks like our visitor will be enjoying the facilities at the park, before he is released. What really deflated the excitement was that he was a harmless little fellow. So much for braving a snake attack!!

Btw, I learnt that there are many superstitions associated with snakes. They range from omens of good luck, great harvest for farmers, death, loss of power, loss of wealth, bad luck et al. To think that all the snake was looking for, was a meal!

In all the excitement I forgot to take any pictures, but am posting a picture of the famed "Alu" thicket. The snake was green, with dark bands. I believe he was a 'Trinket'.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Stolen flowers

For God’s sake!

I see them every morning. I am on my morning walk when I see them going around with their little plastic bags. I know they are ...errrr..pinching something. Some of them look faintly embarrassed, but mostly they are extremely nonchalant about the whole thing. Even the guards standing around do not deter them. Their reasoning – it is for God’s sake. What do they pinch? They take something that belongs to everyone. It is nature’s bounty that is meant to bring joy to all who see it. They steal flowers that grow within plucking distance. It does not matter whether the flowers are blooming in a public space like a garden or spilling over a private wall. If the flower is within reach, it is nipped off and put into the bag. Size, colour, fragrance, no bar! I am talking of the flowers that get offered to God. In fact, the more beautiful the bloom, the faster it disappears into the bag.

These individuals seem to believe in the free market philosophy, especially if the blooms happen to be in some public garden or common area. . The concept of ‘public property’ is completely lost on these people and should you ever broach the issue at a public place, they look astonished and even get offended and aggressive. Tell them that they could be hurting the plants and they are quick to say ‘mere ek ke todne se kya hoga’ implying that just one person cannot destroy the garden. They seem pained that you should stop them from making an offering to god, as if the phrase ‘Bhagwan ke liye’ meaning ‘it is for God’ should absolve them of all wrongs. Belligerently they enquire “Tumhara hai kya?” (Is it yours?). Some even offer you a part of the spoils in the belief that you are just feeling cheated about not getting the flowers yourself! Should you catch them in the act outside your private garden, they offer a weak smile along with explanations like ‘you could not have reached it from inside anyway’ or ‘you can spare one, after all it is going to God’ or ‘you too will get a share of the blessings’.

In large Indian cities most people consider themselves fortunate just to have a roof over their heads. Most of us do not have the luxury to look at the aesthetic value of the surroundings we hope to set up home in. It is very likely that the view from the window is just another building with the washing hung out to dry. It could as well be the train tracks or the corner grocery store. Given the way things are, I consider myself lucky to be living in a place which has well maintained gardens and public areas. In fact, this is one of the marketing USP highlighted to those who choose to live here. Yet, some the very same people who have bought homes based on all this are the ones who denude the plants. Dressed in track suits and walking shoes, armed with little bags, they begin the onslaught early in the morning. They are the very people who can tell you in detail about the beauty of the clean and pretty streets of Singapore they visited recently. They wax eloquent about the beautiful wild flowers that border the freeways in the USA. They discuss the beautifully maintained gardens in London. Raise the issue of the flowers in the local garden and they look surprised that you are unable to understand that their deep piety overrides petty concerns like beauty.

Plucking a few flowers may seem like a very insignificant issue, but in this world where the daily grind causes so much stress to everyone, a thing of beauty like a garden or even a few lovely flowers do bring a lot of joy. They often break some branches and trample on others in an effort to reach the best blooms. The gardens end up looking bare and maimed. Apart from doing away with the emotional advantage of surrounding oneself with a little beauty, even the practical benefits of having a few plants capable of cleaning up our air are diminished if not destroyed. It also sends out the messages that it is okay to take what is not ours and destroy pubic property while doing so.

I do not know how it works in other cities, but in the city of Pune, we can have flowers delivered to our doorstep at the crack of dawn. These flowers are specifically meant for ‘Pooja’. The best part is that they can be availed for as little as Rs.5 or Rs. 10 a day. This service also provides some employment. All those who want to invoke God’s blessings may do well to subscribe to this service.I hope that this Ganesh festival, people will be more careful. After all, shouldn’t you be offering what is actually yours, what you have some part of your earnings or energy on, in the first place? Especially if you believe that God created everything??

P.S. All the flowers in this post bloomed in my garden this week!!!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


In these times of the swine flu and terrorism stories, today The Times of India, carried a wonderful story. It was about a 83 year old retired teacher, Soballapuram V Venkataraman, and his students. In times when the teacher and the taught both regard their relationship as a professional one involving the exchange of money and time, it was truly heartening to know that there are those who understand the value of a good teacher.

The teacher who used to teach Tamil and inspire countless students was left with a pitiful pension of Rs. 9,000/ and the responsibilities of an aged wife and a widowed daughter. When a couple of his old students visited him a couple of years ago, they were shocked to discover him in a leaky rented home. Galvanised into action they decided to build a home for him. Around 250 of the school's alumni got together and have built a house for their inspiring teacher. They plan to hand it over to him on teacher's day next month. All the teacher did was do his job with sincerity and devotion, expecting nothing in return.

Restores faith in the ideal of good things come to good people! May there be many more teachers and students like this.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Lost Generation

I came across this video the other day ... Found it interesting and thought others might too......

I would like to believe that the next gen is anything but lost. They are very aware and will make a difference. Apart from other things, this video is a great demo of how the meanings change, depending on the order of the words. Use them with care!!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jai ho!

Ganesh Chaturthi is upon us. In Maharashtra, it means a no holds barred, all out celebration.

This year, the swine flu is expected to dampen some of the exuberance, but you cannot keep a good celebration down, especially when it brings the society together on faith issues. Last evening, the markets were abuzz and the colourful items on sale created a festive atmosphere all over.

I was out to buy some essentials and got caught in the rush. In fact, it is a rush in more ways than one. The crowds do overwhelm you and carry you in a wave. There is no going back or against the crowd. You cannot cut through or across. All you can do is inch your Way through the bustle of humanity on their vehicles and move slowly in the same direction. You might, if you are lucky, make it in the general vicinity of where you hoped to be, or get carried away further. The crowds are like the eddying waters of a river in spate, with flotsam sometimes joining the water and some finding it's way to the bank.

In all this though, there is another rush. The one you feel when you see that nothing can keep people away from making the most of the joy such celebrations bring into their lives. They are all obviously experiencing the rush that devout faith brings. They have no qualms about braving the swine flu or the recession or the drought that promises to send prices sky high. Some of the more cautious spoke through masks and handkerchiefs on their faces. Yet, the happiness glowed through even the covered faces. It was as if they were encased in a bubble of faith that the virus could not penetrate. While my prayers are very private and I do not understand the faith that drives hordes to one spot and community prayers in the thick of humanity, I have to appreciate the faith I witnessed. It is easy to be blase and dismiss all the mingling as foolhardy and an invitation to disaster. There is no denying that the enthusiasm is invigorating and infectious. It is also a tribute to the human spirit that tries to normalise life under all circumstances.

Pune's Famous Dagduseth Ganapati

So, bolo, Ganapati bappa morya!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The art of gift giving

Recently I was invited to a wedding. My 'bai' or the household help was getting her daughter married and so invited me . She was very excited about presenting the invitation card to me. She also told me that she had invited three other women from the neighbourhood and we could all come together.

It was decided between the four of us that we would go together and the gift would be a combined one. This way we could either get her something really nice or give her the money which would be a nice lump sum. Since she had been working for all of us for over three years, I assumed that a month's wages would be a good amount to begin with. The first of the women I mentioned it to did not sound too enthusiastic, but she did not reject it out of hand either. As per the plan we met the next day to decide on the specifics at one of the homes. After the usual 'chai- nashta' which included some special 'katchoris', ("filled with dry fruits, you know") we got down to the nitty gritty of what and who would get the gift. "I know you said it should be a month's wages, but don't you think that's too much?" The other two were also nodding along and since they all seemed to be in agreement, I cut it down to half. Even that was shot down and then one of them suggested a figure that seemed a joke. Or so I thought at first, but when she explained how we were already paying the 'badli' or the stand in and added the inconvenience of attending the wedding and the price of petrol in it, I realized that she was serious. Here was a person who was always wearing the latest clothes, who dropped over a thousand rupees on the tickets alone, just to catch the latest movie at the local multiplex. She was feeding us Katchoris with dry fruits and was always boasting about the expensive gifts she gave and received (dena padta hai, achaha nahin lagta,na) and she was suddenly tight fisted. What was worse, she had calculated everything to the point of saying "in logon ke liye yeh theek hai, yeh hi standard bhi toh hota hai" meaning that 'this is good enough for these people, it is the standard'.

HERE IS MY QUESTION, why do we compete to give expensive gifts to those who need less of them and give less to those who need it more? The house help's daughter needs that money and can use it far more effectively than the neighbour whom you impress by feeding expensive dry fruits. It is truly ironical, but we tend to give expensive gifts to people who have no need for them, while giving less to those who really need it. It probably stems from the need for validation. It could also be the ' log kya kehenge?' or what will people say syndrome. It could be the need to feel on par with the receiver.

What ever it is, you see it happening all the time. In fact, doesn't the famous fable of Sudama and Krishna illustrate this very thought? The thought that you need to have more to meet someone who has it all, and coversely less for those who have less!

Monday, August 17, 2009

What Indian are you?

This happened to me when I was in fifth grade in school. I had just moved from Kerala, where I was living with my grand parents to Jaipur, to be with my parents. I did not know a word of Hindi, and was thrown , head first into the curriculum of Rajasthan board, where Hindi was almost the first language. In order to gain some mastery over the language, my parents sent me to a friend's home where I would develop and practice my skills. I remember, one young neighbour there asking me what my 'surname' was. Not familiar with the term, I just shrugged it off. The reason I remember the incident clearly is because not only did I feel foolish, not knowing something she so obviously expected me to know, I also did not know why it was so important.

Later on, I learnt that the surname or the last name, was something that while connecting you to one community, weakened your ties with others. Some said, "oh, so you are from our side!" while others just contented themselves with "but you do not look like One" as if it was a difference of species. As I grew up, so did my knowledge of names and identities and sadly, I can decipher some of the linguistic differences. Yet even now, I am fortunate enough not to know the caste differences.

We are so good at dividing the world up into races and countries even though we talk of globalisation and the shrinking distances. There are those who want to maintain the distances. We all meet them ever so often. The people who slot you into a specific place, based solely on your name. They slot you as Bengali, Tamil, Marathi, Gujarati and so on.. They also attribute certain qualities and behavior to you based on that.

"Aap Bengali hain?", meaning 'are you a bengali?' is a question I often get asked. I also get asked whether I am Assamese, Hindi, Punjabi, tamilian and so on... People who feel that they can tell where a person is from, very often get thrown by my not so familiar name and are unable to slot me neatly. I also get asked about my religion, which is again a way to neatly compartmentalise a person. I enjoy the 'ukdi cha modak' as much as the christmas cake or, the 'onam sadhya' as much as the 'gujiya', the 'puran poli' as much as the 'pongal'.

Yes, I do understand that comfort zone you have with some one from the same background. I too feel happy when I meet someone who has studied at my Alma mater, or who has lived in the same place that I did. There is a sense of camaraderie that links you to the other. Yet, to make that one of the first questions to ask of a co-passenger or some one you meet casually at a party? Also, mostly I am asked if I am a 'keralite' by some one who has never lived in 'Kerala'. The person who wants to know if I am a Punjabi, has never lived anywhere near Punjab. So it is more to ascertain that you are not one of 'them' rather than to include you, that the question is put. (That neat slot, remember?)

Having lived in different places, I am fortunately, not limited by languages and am ever willing to learn different customs and traditions. I am proud of my heritage and feel that our heritage gets accentuated by the similarity in different traditions.I believe that languages are just tools of communication. The emotions and thoughts that are communicated are the same, all over. I was born in free India and want no labels that limit me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

This Swine flew

Over heard at a local store - "Bhaiyya, yeh koi doosre colour mein nahin hain?" which loosely translates to "Is this available in any other colour?" If you think that this is a conversation about an item of clothing or a regular accessory, you would be wrong. This in fact, is the latest item sported by the locals of Pune, thanks to the place being the swine flu capital of India. This is the MASK. Just like the mask in the movie "THE MASK" (obviously) granted special powers to the wearer, the locals here are hoping that their mask, available for Rs. ten to Rs. Three hundred, will give them the special power of keeping the swine flu at bay. Some being the fashionistas that they are, want to accessorise the mask with their outfits, hence the question on the colours.

That the swine flu is something no one has a real handle on, is pretty obvious now. It spares some and takes others with virulence. It is quite amazing that in the middle of all the chaos, confusion and tragedy, some have spotted a marketing opportunity. The mask are selling like the proverbial hot cakes at almost every street corner. Like the tickets of a hit movie that is house full, there are even black marketeers who are hiking up the prices ( Simple economic law of supply and demand!) I have seen the same mask sold at a difference of forty five rupees, within a few feet of each other.

If this is not enough to convince you about how you can work on people's insecurities, here is another --- brilliant sales man or opportunist, you decide. Yesterday, I received a text message which read something to this effect "Good morning friends, all day doctors ,news say that if your immune system is strong ,you can prevent swine flu. so what is the way out...something that has got 4 basic ingredients...immune booster, basic nutrition, system regulator, toxin cleanser..all these 4 together in xxxxxx, the king of herbs, do not wait for the h1n1, to come. Tomorrow it could be h2n22, like the police in the Hindi movies who come at the end. Act your and your children's lives. consume xxxx......" and so on, ending with a 'happy to help' sign off.

No prizes for guessing, the person is in the herbal supplement business. The message was in textese ( lot of short forms) . Is fear not a primal emotion that keeps us on our toes? Right now there are thousands of people in Pune who are willing to pay any price to stay healthy and avoid the latest threat on the horizon -the swine flu. This was almost a match made in heaven, and many business gurus would probably admire the wonderful marketing ploy, adroitly disguised as a desire to help. Proves that even in times of fear there are other emotions at work as well.

Masks in colours, maybe with sequins and mirror work, herbal supplements.. who knows what is next? Who ever said, "we are continually faced with brilliant opportunities, disguised as insoluble problems", probably saw this coming.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

a thousand words....

A picture is worth a thousand words....

Any comments?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Log Aaj Kal

Last night we went for a movie. We are not major movie buffs, so this counts for something. In fact, it counts as a family time. So it is more about the popcorn, the sandwiches and the nachos than the film itself. We start out with some of the stuff and then supplement it during the intermission. This time, all anyone wanted midway, was a bottle of water. J, my husband, got us the bottle, we complained about how long the interval seemed and then about how the film dragged in the latter half.

By the time the film got over, it was almost eleven in the night and as we reached the car J realised that his wallet was not on him. The money in the wallet warranted little panic, but the cards were all there too. Off we rushed to the theatre again, all the while wondering about the damage that must have accrued on the cards. Stories about how people had maxed out cards within minutes of finding them, raced through our minds.

They wouldn't let us get into the screening area, and directed us to the security instead. J, narrated how he was missing a wallet and got ready for for a long discussion about how where and why they did not, could not have found it, when the person asked for his name. Armed with the name, 'Ek minute sir, mein dekhta hoon' , he said. Much to our delight he produced the wallet and a photocopy of J's id card (from the wallet), and asked him to sign for the wallet after checking it's contents.

Less than ten minutes of discovering that the wallet was missing, we were on our way home. Today, aaj kal, when we constantly crib about the declining morals and falling standards, this was an eye opener. It also made me realize how cynical we have all become. It took the log, the people at BIG cinemas, previously called Gold Ad Labs, to bring this home.

I do not have much to say about love aaj kal, but I can vouch for the log aaj kal!!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Open season!!

OK, So I stand corrected (and how!!). The Supreme court ruled that 'A husband and his relatives cannot be prosecuted for "cruelty" towards wife merely because the mother-in-law or other family members had kicked her or for that matter threatened her with divorce.'

So please put back the Champagne bottles to the deepest recesses and cut all the celebrations. (Previous post). I would have thought that kicking any one amounted to cruelty. I even include animals in that. The people sitting in the Supreme court are supposed to have a highly trained and evolved sense of justice. So how can they be so oblivious to something that is obvious to any lay person? This is like declaring open season on the helpless and the hapless. It puts the battle for gender equality back in the dark ages when women were considered on par with cattle and other property. Now the physically Strong can pick on anyone with impunity. May be things like ragging in colleges and bullying in schools will also rise. After all, if it is not cruelty coming from a family member, why should others hold them selves back? In the times when we talk of human rights and animal rights, this is truly appalling. To think that it comes from the SUPREME court!!

Gender equality

Break out the champagne, the law is truly impartial when it comes to the genders. At least so it seems. One of the accused in the blast of Zaveri bazaar and Gateway of India, on august 2003, thought that she would be spared the death penalty just because she is a woman. The death penalty may not be the anwer, but why only for the woman? Did she think she was a gentle killer? Did her acts not lead to the death of many? So, why did she expect to be spared? How can any one plot such terrible things in cold blood and then expect compassion? The Syed couple have the dubious distinction of being the first to get a death sentence together. Allegedly, Fehmida's first thought was that her children would be orphans. While my heart goes out to the innocent kids, did she think of the children who might be orphaned when she planned the terror act? I am not convinced that the death penalty solves all the problems as it may be just the trigger for growing the next crop of terrorism. That said, justice should have no gender bias.

I believe that gender equality means exactly what it says; that every one is equal. I believe that any thing else is affirmative discrimination. So while you may not agree with everything the courts have to say, at least they seem to have this one. If you do the crime, you do the time....

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Whose choice is it anyway?

This was mailed to me, but I think it it needs to be somewhere more open, so I am putting it up...

Young King Arthur was ambushed and imprisoned by the monarch of a neighboring kingdom. The monarch could have killed him but was moved by Arthur's youth and ideals. So, the monarch offered him his freedom, as long as he could answer a very difficult question. Arthur would have a year to figure out the answer and, if after a year, he still had no answer, he would be put to death.The question?... .What do women really want? Such a question would perplex even the most knowledgeable man, and to young Arthur, it seemed an impossible query. But, since it was better than death, he accepted the monarch's proposition to have an answer by year's end.He returned to his kingdom and began to poll everyone: the princess, the priests, the wise men and even the court jester. He spoke with everyone, but no one could give him a satisfactory answer. Many people advised him to consult the old witch, for only she would have the answer.But the price would be high; as the witch was famous throughout the kingdom for the exorbitant prices she charged.The last day of the year arrived and Arthur had no choice but to talk to the witch. She agreed to answer the question, but he would have to agree to her price first.
The old witch wanted to marry Sir Lancelot, the most noble of the Knights of the Round Table and Arthur's closest friend!Young Arthur was horrified. She was hunchbacked and hideous, had only one tooth, smelled like sewage, made obscene noises, etc. He had never encountered such a repugnant creature in all his life.He refused to force his friend to marry her and endure such a terrible burden; but Lancelot, learning of the proposal, spoke with Arthur..He said nothing was too big of a sacrifice compared to Arthur's life and the preservation of the Round Table.Hence, a wedding was proclaimed and the witch answered Arthur's question thus:What a woman really wants, she answered..... is to be in charge of her own life.

Everyone in the kingdom instantly knew that the witch had uttered a great truth and that Arthur's life would be spared.And so it was, the neighboring monarch granted Arthur his freedom and Lancelot and the witch had a wonderful wedding.The honeymoon hour approached and Lancelot, steeling himself for a horrific experience, entered the bedroom. But, what a sight awaited him. The most beautiful woman he had ever seen lay before him on the bed. The astounded Lancelot asked what had happened.The beauty replied that since he had been so kind to her when she appeared as a witch, she would henceforth, be her horrible deformed self only half the time and the beautiful maiden the other half.Which would he prefer? Beautiful during the day....or night?

Lancelot pondered the predicament. During the day, a beautiful woman to show off to his friends, but at night, in the privacy of his castle, an old witch? Or, would he prefer having a hideous witch during the day, but by night, a beautiful woman for him to enjoy wondrous intimate moments?

What would YOU do?
What Lancelot chose is below. BUT....make YOUR choice before you scroll down below. OKAY?

Noble Lancelot said that he would allow HER to make the choice herself.
Upon hearing this, she announced that she would be beautiful all the time because he had respected her enough to let her be in charge of her own life.Now....what is the moral to this story?

The moral is......If you don't let a woman have her own way....Things are going to get ugly !!!!
You better believe it!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The friendly neighbourhood

Recently, I met someone who is building a new home. They will be residing on the ground floor, while the top floor will be occupied by a friend. "So we can have some companionship when we grow old" she said. The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. As more and more people have fewer children, you are sort of deprived of the larger extended families of yore. My children for instance have only one cousin on my side.

Also, as more and more of us move out of our home towns and drift across the country or even the world, we are not living very close to family. Even if you never moved out of home, the chances of your children living anywhere near you are increasingly remote. Friends are people who share your sensibilities and likely know your quirks. As you age and need to have people who care and share, it would be good to have like minded people.

After all, isn't it a good idea if you can turn friends into neighbours, instead of trying to turn your neighbours into friends?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For matrimonial purposes

A cousin's daughter is at that age.. you know, the age when the mother starts getting the feeling that she may be stuck holding her baby. The age is different for different moms, but once their daughters cross that invisible line they start dredging their memories for any near and dear ones who may have crossed that line and still got plucked from the family tree.

So guess who called me from the blue? OK, the not so know what I mean! I told her that I had crossed the ripe old age of, hold your breath, twenty six when I found Mr. Right. That was considered practically geriatric those days (ok, I fess up eighteen yrs ago). In fact I remember my uncles exhorting my mother to bring me to the bosom of the community and let me be seen there. To my mom's query about what would happen to my work, they just went 'pshaw'! emphatically, signifying that it did not matter. It's another thing that we never did anything of the sort .

Seems though, this young girl is over that hump..ooops! Should have increased my age when I told her. Last heard, she is looking around further in the family branches to find older fruit. Funny, how you need validation in things like this, even as you repeat frantically 'Marriages are made in heaven'.


Think you'll not remember a loved one's special day? Never fear! You can get your organiser to remind you. Don't have one? Use the cell phone. Not good enough? Then there is the laptop, at work, at home... No matter where you are and what time it is, there is a way to remember with technology.

These days something or another is beeping, honking, flashing,vibrating... basically drawing attention to something that needs to be done. It could be as prosaic as a meeting at the office, as romantic as buying chocolates for a loved one, or as important as an appointment with the doctor.

In fact, it's got me wondering... would anyone remember anyone sans these reminders? OK, so that may be a bit harsh. I guess people have been remembering special days from time immemorial. Why, long before any of these gadgets were there, my grandmother told me that her mom never forgot her birthday. I believe it was the day it rained very heavily and a coconut fell on her uncle's head. The good thing about this was, we could take our pick of rainy days to celebrate my grand mom's birthday. But I digress.... to come back to the beeping, honking et al, I know of people who within minutes of meeting you, will jot down your number and b'day in their trusty little 'ring thing'.

This birthday, some friends called me a couple of days early and some a few days late and one even forgot till we spoke about it in a random conversation a few days later. But those are the ones I know for sure remembered my b'day. OK, so some may have recalled the day without any electronic prompting. Here I must say that there is nothing wrong with some helpful prompting. The thing though, sometimes you are not sure, you know the person well enough for them to remember or even care. BTW, I thank each and everyone for calling me, who ever, how ever, what ever prompted them.

So just what is my issue here? Well I just hope we are not reduced to picking up chocolates only when reminded, sending a preset text message at a beep and sending an e-greeting from a pre - programmed computer. Mostly, I feel deprived of a chance to celebrate a birthday every time it rains!!!!


With the prices of fruits and vegetables these days, more and more people are choosing to display them instead of eating them. If you do not believe me, take a look.......

I told you so!!!

Then there are some of us who are too creatively challenged to do it anywhere else except here!!!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Do you know your child?

I am convinced that most of us would not know our children if it were not for their appearances. I for one, would not recognise my teen and tween. The child who answers me by nods and shakes of his head, with a shrug thrown in for emphasis, recently came home with a report card that waxed eloquent about his communication skills. Getting him to say a few words at home, needs more preparation than pulling out teeth. If you ask him what he wants for food, he shrugs. The offer for seconds at the dining table is rebutted with a shake of the head. Enquire about his day at school and you will see the familiar shrug. Push him for details and you will get a pained 'nothing happened'. I sometimes wonder why we spend so much on a school where nothing happens.

As for the teenager, he has elevated non communication to an art form. He seems to hibernate in his room and his style would impress a bear. The first two summons for dinner elicit no response, the third one may get you a muffled 'coming'. Fifteen minutes later, the fourth angry summons will get you a double 'coming, coming'. It will be a full ten more minutes before you see him. A mumbled sorry is all that you get by way of explanation. The very same child was voted in almost unanimously, by teachers and peers alike, as the Head boy of his school. At the investiture ceremony, all I heard was how helpful, articulate and attentive he is. I am sure the teachers were puzzled by my strange expression of pride mingled with perplexity.

I would have continued in that uncomprehending haze, except that a friend called the other day and complained about her impeccably behaved (as far as I know) son and his ways at home. Then it dawned on me. We do not know our children. Others seem to!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Dealing with bad news

I just heard that the thirty year old son of a very dear person has Cancer of the stomach. Just about a month ago he was talking about his plans to invest in a new place of his own. A handsome young man, he turns heads where ever he goes. Blessed with a happy-go-lucky disposition, he brings a smile to your face with his comments and observations.

I am aware that Cancer is no longer regarded as the threat it once used to be. New Cures and treatment are more effective and efficient than ever. In fact, a friend who was recently diagnosed with breast Cancer was talking about the strides in the past three years. She too is very brave. Her diagnosis itself was a blow, but close as she is to me in age, it was somehow different. This young man is two thirds my age and somehow I do not know what to say to him or his parents.

With my friends,I think you can say something as you can imagine what you'd like said to you. Being the parent of an afflicted person must be about the worst situation to be in. We all want to protect our children from all the hardships of life. We want to set things right. We want the best for them. I know you can be encouraging and keep the spirits up, yet inside you must be the most frustrated by your helplessness. I know he will be fine soon and beat the Cancer. Yet, for now what do you say to a parent in this situation? I write all this as I do not know whom to talk to and what to say. I just cannot keep it all within either.

I only hope they know that we are all with them till I find the words and the courage and tell them myself.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Special day

My birthday this year fell on a weekday. This meant getting up at the crack of dawn (OK, five in the morning) and getting sleepy kids out of bed, stuffing their reluctant faces with some nutrition, getting them into the uniform, helping them locate last minute stuff and then reaching the bus stop on time. Then there is the dog food to be soaked, the washing machine to be started (in case the electricity fails later) and then on to the walk. First a round with the dogs and then one on our own. A stop at the in-laws on the way back and a few minutes of chatting. Reach home, feed the finicky dogs and get the breakfast. A shower and run for the one hour yoga class. All this gets done by ten in the morning.

The rest of the day is more of a 'play it by ear' sort of thing, with lunch and tea and dinner, with the doggie walks and dinners are thrown in. Randomly there are visitors and the door bell rings. Sometimes I have to make sure I put the dogs out of the way. There is also the mandatory yelling at the kids ( do they ever come when you call them for a meal?). Generally though there is a more laid back approach.

On special days though..birthdays, anniversaries etc, the extended family is here for the celebrations, which means putting on a meal. That was my birthday plan. So when a friend called to wish me and asked me what was special that day, all I could think of was a rainbow I had seen during my walk. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was special. It was not very ordinary. It was not every day, just rains could not ensure one and they do not last long. At this point, we hardly rip open the gifts ( though I do appreciate the love, care and thought that has gone into it). So, apart from all the calls, messages and greetings, it was the rainbow that made the day so special.

Maybe age adds to your wisdom. At least, I could appreciate the special nature of such a beautiful, natural occurrence!

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