Monday, November 11, 2013

The obsession to self-dependence

I belong to a Telugu Brahmin (top-notch) family in which the concept of maid servants is unheard of. Reason being the caste differences: the kitchen, the puja area etc. are supposed to be SO auspicious that very few people in the home are allowed to enter those – that too immediately after bathing, wrapping that wet saree around, just in case any of the readers understands Telugu, it is called ‘madi’. There is this 'madi' time every morning for a few hours where usually the eldest lady in the home along with one other for help; does puja, cooks food etc. And a shorter version of the 'madi' happens in the evening (sandhya time) also. I stayed with my grandmother for a few years, and we used to make trips often and thanks to that I know all of this. I used to blindly accept these as we were taught the same from the childhood, though I don't agree to all this superstitions now, I do respect people doing it, it is their way of generating positive energy, of course if done religiously - it is the intent that matters of course! We grew up in Ahmedabad with my parents, my mother also never had a maid - one reason could be her upbringing & family, and the other reason could be that she never considered Gujarat to be her land, she never trusted anyone there generally, not even now after almost 30 years! - also probably because we could not afford one, and all of us were females at home so we used to  manage things ourselves well.

So, basically, we never had a household help due to various reasons. My grandmother was a very good housewife. She used to manage a lot of things by herself and used to keep the house as clean as possible. Rarely would she ask for anyone’s help. Somehow, her 2 daughters could not get this quality, but her 3 granddaughters – my 2 sisters and I got this to the core - the obsession to cleanliness, and I have gone 2 steps further, I caught another obsession - the one to self-dependence. We were not like this earlier but slowly and gradually, especially after starting our own households, this quality became too much ingrained.

I started my household in Kuwait where I didn’t need a maid. Though, due to my husband’s generosity we got one to clean our home & car once a week, there was no need for cleaning beyond once a week, but still I did. I never admired the guy cleaning my place, I wanted to do it myself :)

We shifted to Hyderabad, getting a help who would work religiously (as per my definition) was a pain there. We changed 2-3 helps in a span of 2-3 months and each of them had attitudes to the core - why can't they study and do sophisticated jobs then, I wonder. Overall, my experience with helps wasn't good - the main cause is my expectations are too high from them. We shifted to Gurgaon, the house was bigger, and it was extremely cold for me who had never seen the actual North India winters before. I was not sure if I could manage the entire maid-like activities of my house myself. I started off but soon I got a maid, I didn't like her work. But I had learnt to deal with it by then, along with my job in the new place, managing everything was tough. The maid left - one maid - then the other - then the other - then another - and almost 10 maids now - again I am left with none! I did get 1-2 good ones though, meeting my expectations but they left without any notice, such an irritating act!

When I analyze, it is not the dissatisfaction with the work - it is the dependence that kills me more! Waiting for someone to come when he/she is not turning up at the committed time or when one leaves without informing - is the worst part of dependence - whether it is a driver or a maid or a bathroom cleaner or a plumber. Getting the work done and the work not to the satisfaction - is another part. Asking someone else to do something that I can do myself is the most difficult thing for me, next to impossible. I like to do everything on my own unless there is no option, because I can do it at my own pace, the output is as expected and no frustration and a lot of satisfaction in the end. It is very tiring at times managing too many things - sometimes I also hurt myself while doing household work, but I learn a lot, I am able to sustain individually. I have used many household tools since childhood - I play an electrician, a maid of course, a plumber, I had played a mochi (cobbler) also [when I was getting married, my mother commented "throw the mochi kit away now, the mochi is going :)"] - I have all these tools at my home and I feel very glad I am able to use them to fix small things which would end up in dependencies on many different individuals otherwise. And also I do it in an educated & a smarter (I have learnt to always keep looking for the smartest way to do a job) manner than the actual helps using smarter tools so its fulfilling. There are things beyond my capabilities - like repairing a soldered work say - even this small amount of dependence when I know the job is out of my capability is something that I cannot digest fully!!! In the process I must say I have collected many good tools :)

I don't know if it is good or bad, it might be unrealistic, but in the current times I am glad I have this obsession!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

C'hhh'ennai 'Y'express

(I actually have a page dedicated to movie reviews but since I am not able to write reviews regularly, I thought of putting this one as a blog post)

Today I had a true South Indian treat - one was the lunch at a new authentic south indian restaurant Madhuban that was so authentic that it reminded me of my grandmother seriously (not in the Hindi sense of 'naani yaad aa  gayi' - :p) - her coconut chutney, her tomato paste-type chutney and her dal chutney: yes there are too many chutneys and powders that we South Indians eat :)

The second one was the movie "Chennai Express"...well, I feel so nice that I am familiar with and am able to follow and relate to the most prominent regional languages & cultures of our country - South Indian (any of the 4 states), Gujarati, Bengali. Hindi is of course well known to me by virtue of the push that my family had on me to learn Hindi in my school. And hence, am able to enjoy the sarcasms depicted around these cultures in our Hindi cinemas & shows.

I read 2 types of reviews of this movie Chennai Express before going & watching it - one was the newspaper's critic review which sounded good & genuine & gave the movie 3.5 stars. The other one was a viewer review that gave the movie a 1 star. I didn't expect too much out of the movie because of the following:
- I could not relate to & imagine Deepika Padukone doing any justice with the Tamil accent
- I could not tolerate any movie of Rohit Shetty apart from his first Golmaal (that was a fantastic movie)
- I thought he would bore with long scenes on blowing up cars and other nonsensical things

The movie started on a very high note I must say, especially with the comedy and Shahrukh Khan's acting. The entry of Deepika Padukone was good and funny, the scene was not dragged too much and the fun elements that were put in the movie which usually Farah Khan uses in hers were good like relating dialogues & scenes to SRK's earlier movies in a funny way...were good, apt and unexpected. Deepika Padukone has become a very good actor I admit - I liked her a lot in 'Yeh Jawani Hai Diwani', they say she acted very well and had a good role even in 'Cocktail', I just disliked the fact that Saif Ali Khan was looking like an uncle of the two girls and hence can't resist the movie. Her Tamil accent was surprisingly good and more than the accent, her typical south indian-like hand & face movements while talking were very well practised. SRK's acting and especially the punches with the confusion with Tamil were too good. Half the movie was in Tamil, the clothing etc was entirely South Indian, it can very well be declared as a Tamil movie - the only thing is in Tamil land, they will miss the fun of contexts to the other Hindi movies. I loved the music by Vishal Shekhar, the two songs lungi dance and 1-2-3-4 song - the typical element of the non-stop random movements all through the song was genuinely South Indian. Such a film actually can be dedicated to Rajni Sir and so his virtual presence was justified completely :) The cinematography was good, choice of scenery was very, very good. The only thing I felt about lungi dance is that the two actors were a bit sophisticated for such a song & probably that sophistication could not do complete justice to the steps for such a song!

What I thought was missing in the movie was there was no single instance of the mention of the word 'aiyyaiyyo' or even simply 'aiyyo' :) The word had many instances in the movie to fit itself perfectly well - like for instance when the couple had fled as narrated by Deepika, the instant reaction of the villagers a South Indian would expect is this.

Anyone who does not have a touch or have not experienced a flavour of South Indian culture will not be able to appreciate the film. I guess the 1-star rating to this film is by one of those :) I feel very sorry for the fun they miss in life! The film definitely deserves at least a 3 from my side.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bollywood & us!

Sometimes I think what would it be if there was no Bollywood! (its not cinema, its Bollywood that I am particularly mentioning here)

For a thin layer of the society, it may be just any other source of entertainment and may not be so important. But imagine the innumerable people in our country who are probably just alive because of Bollywood. I wonder how many live because Rajnikanth is there! How many people must have become left-handed just because Amitabh Bachchan is! How many people must have learnt or taught their children some form of classical dance because Sridevi or Hema Malini are! Of course things have changed a lot since the actual 'cinema', but somewhere it is these emotions within our country that make the country special and very different from the rest of the world. Could totally depend on the sheer mass of population that tends to just 'emotionally' admire these stars with no logic. I was named 'Sridevi' after the actress that is admired by 3 generations in our family - my grandparents admire her for the 5-year old girl who played a role in the old Telugu black & white movie named Chanakya (Akkineni Nageswara Rao had also enacted in that movie). My mother loves her eyes and especially her saree look with that long plaited hair - like the character 'Anju' in the movie Chaalbaaz. I obviously like her too - I particularly like her acting and I thought she looked wonderful & her best in the movie Chandni. The 3 stories of the movie Bombay Talkies (except the Karan Johar's) were amazing depictions of the impact of Bollywood on the society. I love what the scene with Nawazuddin Siddiqui closing his eyes after his little accomplishment conveys silently! I can totally understand the murabba story, that last twist was fantastic, my mouth remained open during those 10 minutes of climax :)

The passion with which movies were made especially till about 3-4 years earlier before the cinema took a bit of a changing turn is something that particularly interests me. The passion with which the movie 'Hum' was made. It is interesting that even then actually the difference between the leading male star and leading female star was quite the same as it is now. Probably because at that time information dissemination was so limited that one could not actually find out how old a star was :) I was watching this video of Simi Garewal's 'Rendevous' show in which the Bachchans came, they talked about the accident of the BigB during the Coolie movie and how he was in coma and almost died, he was reborn all over again is what they say. I just wonder how many normal people's lives came to a stand-still during those days of Amitabh Bachchan being in coma! No wonder the crowd gathering before the hospital after he came alive again and went out. A colleague tells me that the news headlines every day at that time were saying that we were losing the superstar.

The legendary movie 'Sholay' - Ramesh Sippy's newspaper interview on the occasion of the centenary film festival said he had made the movie with no violence actually seen. The change of the scene is what conveyed the violence - like the Thakur's story narrated after the Holi song and Gabbar saying 'yeh haath humko de thakur' and the change of scene with his shawl flying off. Similarly Gabbar pressing the insect in his hands and the change of scene with Sachin's dead body :) What --- a -- thought, I felt! What passion! What involvement! And that's what makes a movie legendary it is like you don't make a viral ad, it becomes viral by itself - it is the passion that makes it viral. Infinite number of TV shows even now recollect those moments, mimicking the styles of Shatrughan Sinha, or BigB, or Pran or Rajesh Khanna or anyone - how much one misses of not being able to follow & admire these shows/programs/acts I wonder, I am one of the fortunate ones thankfully!

I love recollecting the suspense of which movie would be played on that one Sunday evening, or which language movie (our family used to wait for a Telugu movie) would be played on the Sunday afternoon after that news for dumb & deaf! I even remember my grandparents 'listening' to the movie 'Bawarchi' on the 'radio' !!! - I am sure some small towns & villages have this fascination even now! The music, the dialogues (arrey oh pushpa!! or 9 lakh ke haar ke liye 12 lakh ke aansoo!! or one of the latest '....arfi'), the dialogue delivery - the entire thing about making you sit for 2-3 hours and make you "FEEL" emotions & the drama that are being played on the screen! - Commendable. And how we all carry those emotions back home and drive ourselves motivated through our lives basis those emotions is far from being logical! But that's the reality, and how amazing is this reality!

Some classic music pieces in the praise of Hindi cinema (of course you can look up for many more on YouTube):
Aap ki nazron ne samjha
Aaj puraani raahon se
Mujhe naulakha manga de re
Kasme waade pyaar wafa sab
Lagi aaj saawan ki phir woh jhadi hai

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The man that is!

I was reading this article, one of the best articles I have read about the man.

I am brought up in Ahmedabad, the city which made me to what I am today. As a kid, if my parents were not afraid of sending me out alone even in the night times, it is because of that city. As a kid, if I did not know what a power cut was, it was that city. As a grown-up, if I became independent in traveling myself on a 2-wheeler, it was that city. How enthralling is it to watch every 2nd two-wheeler being driven by a woman - a college-going girl, a house-wive, a working lady, a mother of 2 teenage daughters! In which other city can you see that frequency of women on a 50 cc Kinetic or later a 100 cc Honda Activa or now a 125 cc Suzuki Access with unusual freedom on a road as wide to take at least 10 more 2 wheelers like theirs in parallel!

Every single time I land there, I see a new fly-over being under construction and the next time I land that fly-over is fully operational - the time span between two landings is usually not more than 6 months. In which other city would you see the roads which can take 50 times more traffic than the current times? Whether it is the 40+ malls in the city, or the fly-overs or the most successful BRTS system adding lanes after lanes every few months in extremely well planned phases, or the additional 200 mts Sabarmati riverfront being completed every few months or the many world-class educational institutions - which one of these cannot be fascinating enough for anyone to fall in love with the city, more importantly the person behind this development.

There is one question that haunts amidst all this excitement -  'Was he the one?' and I am afraid my conscience forces me to think yes, probably it is. Every time I enter that new BRTS lane, I am forced to think about the frightening times of the Feb-Mar 2002 when we did not have even proper milk for weeks together due to high curfews across the city. My parents stay at the place which is 100 mts away from the place called Juhapura, that area is colloquially known as the India-Pakistan border. I had seen people walking/running in a rage towards Juhapura from our area with some or the other weapon in their hands at 2AM in the night, from the balcony of our apartment on the 3rd floor. I had seen policemen firing tear gas shells just in the lane where we stay. I saw all of these live. I had seen a mob setting a scooter and a jeep ablaze in the middle of the market just like that with no reason - those few seconds of the chill running down my spine is something that I wish no one experiences, especially on the thought that not only the vehicles, but the mob didn't spare even the people on those vehicles! I have friends who watched truck drivers being pulled out of the trucks and burnt alive during that time. When I see the Topaz restaurant or the Kabir restaurant now (my previous office is located in the same building as the Kabir restaurant), I still can recollect afresh the fire and dark black fumes coming out of them on a bright sunny day. Every time I get hurt by small burns on my hand or palm in my kitchen and I look at the wound, I recollect that horrendous news pieces talking about people's experiences like 'first they were hanged, and then were burnt alive!'. How complex are human beings to understand!!!

Was it the same man? I wonder! Recently I saw Kai Po Che movie and again the question 'was it him?' - as many others, I had witnessed the two biggest historic events in Gujarat - the earthquake and the riots. I know what it is to feel you might die the next moment on being collapsed in the rubbles of the building that is oscillating 50 degrees on both sides with you trying to balance yourselves! I also know what it is to feel you could be set ablaze along with your two-wheeler the next moment (though I am not the minority many of whom actually experienced the torment). Thanks to these two historic events I 'fear' something and though I am an athiest, I do keep my hands on my heart and tell the power inside me (you can call this a prayer) try not to let anyone experience such dreadful moments in their lives. Though I know many innocent people experience such things very often in many other forms.

Some day I would want to ask the man in person about the reality!

Now, with all the news about him all set to being the PM, the question I ask myself is would he become the PM? Is he the best to become the PM? Would he do a good job as a PM?

To the first question - I don't think so. I agree he is the greatest administrator of these times and I am a great fan of this quality in him as I also have witnessed the biggest development along with the two historic events in the same place. I would love to see the development extended to the country actually. And I know that event of 2002 will not repeat itself. Even if he was the man behind the event, even if he was not the man behind but is to blame for not taking a corrective action (one of my uncles from Army who witnessed the Babri Masjid event as a Black Cat Commando actually says it is a wise decision for police or Army not to interfere when the mob is in a rage, since the outcome would remain unchanged), that event won't repeat itself with him as PM. Because he plays very safe as I understand and he would not take a step that would give him any more negative limelight and strengthen his past negative image. But honestly, I don't think he will be allowed to become the PM.

To the second question - among all, yes I guess. The discipline, the hitlet-ism that he has is badly needed in our country without which it is difficult to control the 1Bn ignorant humans.

To the third question - I am sure he will do a great job of developing the infrastructure but with an unbiased view, he might be a threat to many of my friends - not about the minority factor, but probably his reluctance to accept western culture. He might impose certain rules which may not be liked by many of the youth (though actually in Gujarat there are no rules like that but probably that part of the country is not yet too westernized also!). What if he declares the country dry! :)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

I think you should try a 'smaller' size!

For my entire life time I had waited to try a 'smaller' size in every apparel that I bought!
['smaller' was one size less than the biggest or the second biggest and not one of the actual 'small options' :)]

I have always been overweight if not obese. As a kid I was 'healthy', being overweight is considered to be healthy in South India. In South India, especially in Andhra Pradesh, even in these times most of the people don't know the most important things in life from a girl's point of view (some might be applicable to boys also) like - looking good (is termed as 'stylish'), going to a beauty parlour (is termed as 'fashion'), being on a healthy diet (is termed as 'unenergetic'), going to the gym (is thought to be something that will ruin the girl's reproductive system). Plain rice along with simple boiled dal with salt and ghee or simple achaar with 2 full spoons of raw groundnut oil or deep fried aloo red in colour with MTR chilly powder can be a complete meal for them. Even the film actresses don't bother so much about the weight there it seems :p

I have always had a resolution to not exactly get slim but to lose weight. I never knew what would it take though, I was regular with yoga, I was pretty active and most of the times on minimal diet in the nights. But I never realized it doesn't matter how much you eat, it matters what you eat - I knew it but with the amount of exercise I had I thought it should not matter too much. I had conversations with a few doctors and they always said if it was hereditary, I would have to fight my genes for my entire life time; they had suggested for thyroid tests etc. all came normal till a few years back (I was operated for goitre in the year 2000 on the day there was 18-inch rainfall in Ahmedabad :), goitre was definitely a reason for my obesity or overweight for quite a few years). The thyroid became normally functional after I became more or less regular with yoga I think, at least I give the entire credit to it.

29th December, 2012 - I was preparing for my resolution and was mentally prepared to work towards losing weight from 1st January, 2013 onwards. I didn't know how and most likely would have ended up doing the same usual things, in vain with no significant results unless this friend of ours came over to meet us on the 29th. I had seen him for the first time after he lost about 22kgs after being at the high end of obesity for his entire lifetime :) I asked him how he did it and the 2-3 things that he told were the actual mantras. These were one of the very few things where I and my husband always had arguments on: diet control, he always used to say its fine to eat anything as long as you can digest it, so work towards digesting what you eat rather than stop eating :) I never agreed, works for him but not for me, or rather works to control normal weight but not to lose extra weight. I always argued in order to lose extra weight, good and strict diet control is needed for a few months along with exercise of course.
April, 2013:
I went to Las Vegas in April and at one of the premium outlets, I went into a shop for formal clothes. I was looking at a pant and was thinking of the size.

The lady came, "Would you like to try this ma'am?".
I said, "Yes." and picked up 2 sizes to try and said, "I would try these two."
The lady said with raised eyebrows, "You want to try these sizes?"
I wondered what she was going to say next!
The lady said, "I think you should try a smaller size."
That moment was the biggest moment in my life! A foreign store with European sizes thinks I should try a 'smaller' size!
It was unbelievable for me and I told her let me try 'this' showing the smaller of the two sizes I had chosen.
She said, "Its fine if you want to try that but I still think you should take the smaller one!"
I exclaimed to myself, I tried the one I was adamant on, it was lose.
I came out of the dressing room and told her she was right, and she happily gave me the smaller size telling me, "see I told you!!"
I tried that, it was lose too. I stood in the dressing room wearing that and looking into the mirror for a few seconds. It was totally unbelievable for me, I don't have words to explain those moments I spent in that dressing room.
I came out again from the dressing room and asked her for a even smaller size. That was the smallest in that shop :) Gone were the days when I used to buy the biggest of all sizes and often came out of the shop disappointed because of the biggest size not fitting me...lolz (now I can laugh, but that disappointment was unexplainable too :))

Things that I did:
1. Adopt the NO SUGAR policy: I love tea, especially the early morning tea (boiled with little bit of Everest tea masala and small piece of ginger either grated or mashed) and so the first thing after water or lemon water that used to go into my stomach is a spoonful of sugar, tea aside. And during the day I used to have tea at least 2-3 times, which means at least 4-5 if not more spoons of sugar everyday. I gave that up, I have not given up tea but every time I have tea, I feel good that the spoonful of sugar is not going in :) Anything that has sugar as an ingredient, just avoid.
2. Give up fried items: I always liked pressure-cooking because it saves a lot of time without much compromise on the taste of food. I know anything fried tastes too good and especially coming from Andhra Pradesh, that small potato deep fried with a lot of chilly powder eaten with hot rice is  a delicacy out of this world for me, though its been years since I ate such a dish (not too sure if I should actually call it a 'dish') :), and I cannot eat any bit of spice now after staying away for years. My use of cooking oil has never been more than a spoon probably in the entire day, I do used to compromise a bit on the weekends since that is the day I like cooking especially something delicious for my husband (whether delicious or not he, the victim, only will tell though I don't think he has a choice anyway since he can't cook at all :)).
3. Think before eating: Questions that I ask myself before eating anything are:
a. Am I hungry or am I eating just like that? If not hungry, best to avoid. Its fine to eat for taste if really feel like eating but then better to take care on the quantity, should be very minimal or best to exchange it with a healthier option available.
b. Do I need to eat this or can I eat something better? Choose the best healthy of the options available.

I normally feel very hungry for dinner around 7:30PM as a habit, and during that time I made sure I have some healthy option available to munch in case I am unable to ready the dinner by that time.

I did these for 3-4 months, my target was to fit into smaller size clothes by March/April. My target was a scullers formal pant I had, but I am way ahead of that now and nothing like the feeling that two of you can fit into a pant into which one of you were fitting earlier :)
Exercise may not be necessary as I read articles I learn it is 80% diet and 20% exercise, but it is good to exercise, some form of exercise - either walking (I have a dog - 5 years old beagle called Bruno so I have two mandatory walks in the morning and evening at least 30 mins each), or climbing stairs or quick yoga or anything that works.

Ek baar commitment kar lo, fir apne aap ki bhi matt suno - bas!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Some secrets 'die' with people...

The picture here is the corpse of my grandfather, my mother's father. He died in 2009. We used to call him 'tataru', it is actually 'taata gaaru' which is the Telugu version of 'nanaji' or 'dadaji', but we were told that as kids we used to pronounce it as 'tataru' and hence it remained the same even after we grew up.
My grandfather's corpse - 6th June'09

We were always told stories about how he lived life king size, we heard stories about his various businesses that he started, and closed, and started again, and closed again. He did not have a bank account, all the money he used to get was ad hoc and all his spending was ad hoc too. Any money that I saw in his hands ever, or he brought home ever to give to my grandmother was a few hundreds or a few thousands at the max. and were only to last a couple of days. Anything bought from anywhere was literally on credit saying that we would get money some day and we would clear the credit off. I personally remember instances where I used to go to a shopkeeper to give us a biscuit packet worth Rs.10, or even worse, sooji for Rs. 5 and I was told 'bring the money and take it, or clear the credit first to get more!' My grandmother used to keep that little money she had usually in 3-4 different places, like the grocery dabbas in the kitchen or behind some God's idol or picture poster in the 'auspicious' area as declared by her. The family was a top-class Telugu Brahmin family so waking up early in the morning, getting fresh, taking bath, doing puja in the house and visiting the temples on the stipulated days was a routine practice. In the family, to date, if a girl doesn't wake up before sunrise, it is considered to be a 'sin' and is supposed to bring 'bad omen' into the family. To date, I have the habit of waking up early, I like it now but at that time it was a compulsion and the scariness created around the 'bad omen' if I don't wake up early enough. Though the restrictions imposed on us (my 2 sisters and myself) were lesser because we didn't belong to the family entirely since we were staying there temporarily and actually would be gone to Ahmedabad after a few years. Anyway, that is a different story altogether.

But every now and then, my grandfather would say he was going to close a deal soon and we would get 'some' money, occasionally he also used to say we would get 'lots' of money also. And the money would never come. He would go out of the home in the morning (very early around 7AM, I guess due to Vizianagaram in AP being in the east, the sunrise was early and so the work used to start early as well), ask me to open the gate for him usually. He used to strongly believe that seeing me on his way out was a good omen. As a usual practice whenever I was home when he went out, he used to call me so he could see me. And he used to put his hand on my head so gently (that grandparents' touch - I tell you is an unmatched emotion, a killer one that fill the eyes with tears entirely), and say good bye. I used to close the door and come into the home. While coming back into the home and whatever task I would do, I would remember his words about bringing money and I used to pray every single moment that this time it should work out. Every single time, we would wait for days, and weeks, and months together for the 'deal' to get closed, and it would be a disappointment in the end. My grandfather used to always attribute this failure to either me or one of the sisters waking up late which was bringing a bad omen into the home, or something related to someone in the family doing wrong religiously, usually it was the women. But now I understand it could have been out of frustration.

The questions that I have, and will always remain are:
Why did his efforts fail every single time? Did he even make the right efforts?
What did he exactly do in his life?
What kind of businesses did he run or was a part of?
Who were his partners, and how did he make money at all?

The answers to these questions either no one knew or no one ever told us. He used to talk a lot to my grandmother, I am not too sure how much of it was real!

But, towards the end - about 3-4 years, he seemed to have got involved in some serious business as a broker to sell lands. As we were told, he apparently used to identify some barren lands, used to identify the owners and get some buyer to it and 'close the deal', to charge a commission on the entire land. I used to get calls from my grandmother about his visits to different places - Visakhapatnam, Kolkata, Vijayawada and so on and so forth. Honestly, once my grandfather was out of the home, no one would know where he had gone! One fine day, I got a call from my grandmother saying my grandfather had got hurt and his back is hurting very badly, he was walking, he visited the doctor himself and got himself the prescribed medicines etc. My grandmother doesn't know English and she never could read the prescription or the X-ray reports or anything, she got to know that he had gone for an X-ray also much later. Gradually, his energy levels started coming down, he got bed ridden. My grandmother kept reporting in her regular calls and gradually from walking, sitting, turning side ways, it came down to a stand still bed-ridden position. She would pass on the phone to my grandfather and he would just keep saying, 'it is hurting, my back is hurting very badly'. I used to repeatedly ask him what exactly happened. He would just reply, 'I fell down.' His speech started deteriorating over the phone. The last thing he spoke before he could not speak anymore, a few weeks before his life ended was that he had accumulated some money and he will give all the money that he had taken from my mother (he had taken a lot of money from my parents, had mortgaged a lot of gold of my mother which he could never repay and get back and so on for which he was guilty I guess). But till the end, I could never believe a word he talked about, I somehow had developed a hatred towards the kind of person he was and I had made up a conclusion that he always lies. So, to believe anything, even simple normal things that he said was totally impossible for me. In fact, the last conversation that I had with him, I thought he was doing a drama of being bed-ridden!!! How rude was that, I admit!

A few days later, my grandmother said he had gone into coma. I could not believe it even then! I had to leave for my MBA classes in a month or so and I started sensing about something being wrong or I at least started thinking of a possibility of something being wrong, I thought I would go and visit them and booked a ticket for the 6th June, 2009. On the evening of 4th June, 2009, I started feeling a bit uneasy and I called my grandmother and asked if things were ok. She replied, 'what fine, now everything is fine, gone is your grandpa!', I did not know how to react. The entire hatred, the entire suspicion, the entire mistrust - all gone in a fraction of a second! The person towards whom I had these feelings is no more, for whom would I have these feelings? Whom would I hate? For a second I thought 'was I wrong somewhere in whatever I thought!, especially in his last days?'. Yes, I was. His body was taken to the medical hospital within a few hours of his death.

He had donated his body to a medical hospital, he had told me with a smile on his face (I could feel it on the phone) over the phone a year or so before he died. He had told me 'If people cannot be of my help when I am alive, they don't have the right to do my last riots after my death'. His brothers had disowned him a few years back, in fact one of the brothers didn't even want to hear the news of his death over the phone. His children could not own him either. He always said he had money to live his own life but he never did! It was just his own perception and which is why I think slowly everyone moved away from him. He somehow managed in his last few years, don't know how though. I got to know that once before he went into coma, my grandmother, her younger daughter and younger son-in-law were there and when they tried to ask him what happened and how he was feeling, whether he would want to have some water...they say he cried, and cried for a while....and then next morning he was in coma.!

The questions I have, and will remain are:
- I asked the doctor who treated him as to what exactly caused him to go bed-ridden. He replied it was a major fracture on his spine!!! My GoD! How did he manage to walk around and bear it for months!!! A fracture in the spinal cord!!! I saw the X-ray and froze for a while! He apparently went to a surgeon asking to operate him, he was ready to sign the declaration that the doctor was not responsible for his death in case of one due to the surgery, but apparently the surgeon refused! Grandpa was old, but bold, he was diabetic but was willing to take risks, as always!

- I went to the hospital to see his dead body, they said they would keep the body in ice for 3-4 days after which they would process it for the practical classes for the medicine course. I saw the dead body, when the dead body was being taken out of the -9 degrees temperature storage unit, I felt as if his eye-brows were rising with pain due to body's movement, and I was saying, 'No, no, don't do that, its fine!' to the attendants. I stared at his face, it felt as if he was smiling. I felt he was telling me, "Its fine beta, I know you care." I stared at his heart - that was the first time I saw a heart not beating!

I asked him:
"Why grandpa! Why did you bear all the pain? Why did you cry so much that day? Why didn't you tell me? Why didn't you call me? I would have taken you to a surgeon myself. Why did you only trust the people who disowned you? Why did you always expect help only from people who never wanted to be of any help to you? How did you exactly feel grandpa? Why did you not share anything about your pains with me, ever!?............................................."

The answers to all these questions and a LOT many others remain secrets, they died with him and there is no way one (I) can get to know them!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Innocence in 'The Millennium City'

I live in a place called 'The Millennium City'. Some of the many attributes that give the name to the place which actually has a 'gaon' (gaon means village in Hindi) in its name are:
- loads & loads of dirt
- hardly any smooth road
- innumerable power cuts
- extreme pollution due to the diesel emissions mainly from the generators because of power cuts
- tall, taller and tallest buildings with no idea where the water & power supply are to come from
etc. etc. etc.

In my violin class that I had joined sometime back (of course I could not prioritize continuing with the class among many other things, and I try to practise at home now), it was about my 3rd class when along with me in the class there was a small kid (about 7 years old). He came to the class and sat and after a while he opened the violin case. To my surprise the violin was quite smaller than mine. It was about half the size of my violin and it was very cute, I didn't know till then that a smaller size violin does exist. The class started and he played the violin and I watched him for a while with a pleasant smile on my face, he played at his own pace with the beats going haywire. He was just so cute and there was that innocence which I saw in him and that was the first time I saw it in this city. In another class he barged into the class as he was a bit late. He entered, sat down with his legs folded and opened his violin case and shouted, "arrey!", I bursted out of laughter when he stared at me with the astonishment to see the violin case open and the violin missing from his case :) I simply loved his expression. I felt a relief within to see that such innocence still exists!!! When I inquired about his background I learnt that his parents' origins are from a city not the millennium one, "very much possible", I thought!

We were thankful to get a rented flat in a nice colony with well maintained parks within (I have a complaint that they are for kids to play but dogs aren't allowed even to enter the play areas, I don't mind too much because I do understand changing human mentality is a task for a life time of many :)). We take Bruno for a walk everyday. In the evening, these days being pleasant during the evenings, there are many kids usually playing in the parks, one of which happens to be near our block entrance from where Bruno's walk usually finishes. The moment any of the kids in the group notices Bruno, they all come running towards us and shouting Bruno's name, usually also 2-3 other names to call them telling them that Bruno has come. Every kid is different - some pull Bruno's ears, some of them play with his tail, some are telling the others not to bother him too much, some are afraid to come near him but enjoy seeing him, some want to take him for a walk and snatch the leash from me, some are afraid he would bite and are confirming with me that he would not....etc. How much liveliness Bruno spreads around!

There is a lovely kid in the group who always has random conversations with me while her short play time with Bruno.
"Aunty, Bruno ki age kitni hai? (how old is Bruno?)", she asked me the other day.
"He is 4 and a half years old", I replied. I said '4 and a half' purposely because my education research brain prompted me to.
Then I asked her back, "Tumhaari age kitni hai? (How old are you?)".
She said, "4".
My research brain insisted me to ask, "Toh kaun bada hai, tum ya Bruno? (So, who is older? You or Bruno?)".
She said, "Main badi hoon (I am older than Bruno)."
I said, "Par Bruno toh 4 and a half years ka hai. (But Bruno is 4 and a half years old)."
She said, "Par main toh full 4 ki hoon (But I am full 4 years old)."

I wanted to explain her but didn't try to since I don't have a way to explain her because I know she has not yet come across the concept of fractions :) :) :) That was so cute I felt. She is so attached to Bruno, she calls him Bruns, and she has told everybody in her class about Bruns and how Bruns is her neighbour. I believe she had learnt 'neighbour' newly in her school. She explained me, "Aunty, you stay in 6th floor and we stay in 7th floor in the same building, so we are neighbours". She even made a story "Once upon a time, there was a dog. His name was Bruno.....etc......etc....." - there came a beast in the end of the story as well, I don't recollect how the story ended, my husband heard it better. I am more interested in watching her and the innocence within her :) There is this another kid who told me that he got 10 on 10 in an exam in school and so on. Another kid sees Bruno from his balcony of his home on the 4th floor and shouts, 'Arrey yeh toh Bruno hai...(see this is Bruno)!"

Every kid is innocent at heart. And it is such a pleasant feeling to note that is not completely lost yet in this part of the country which is moving too fast towards losing it though, I feel!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Words that convey a lot!

I feel lucky I have been exposed to many languages in my life and can follow quite a few of them thoroughly. It makes things a lot simpler (and is actually funny too) when you are able to choose your vocabulary to make the communication simpler :)

Bhassad (भसड)
One fine day during my MBA course, there was quite a bit of hotchpotch with too many activities on campus. I wanted to check about something & I walked up to the CR of our class Prashant to check. He replied, 'abhi thodi der mein dekhtaa hoon yaar, bohat bhassad machi hui hai'. That was my first encounter with this word. I loved the word & I wondered how much did that one word convey! Truly! There are versions of this word like 'hotchpotch', 'chaos', 'confusion', 'afraa-tafri' etc. But no other word can convey the gist as this word and such a simple word to use!

Bakala (بقالة)
This is an arabic word for a small departmental store, kirana store, small super market or the kinds. If you are going to buy some grocery & are going to a small store, you can say 'shop', 'grocery shop', 'kirana', 'departmental store' etc. etc. But ever since we came across this word from our stay in Kuwait, we realized how big use this word is of. It was 2006-2007 that we learnt this word & ever since we have been using it. Such a life-saver!

Pindaakudu (పిండాకుడు)
I love this word! Simply love! Anyone from a Telugu Brahmin community from Andhra (by Andhra I mean Andhra Pradesh (minus) the Telangana), would know this word perfectly well. This is not a word that is used in a sophisticated form of communication (yes, I admit, Andhra side is not a lot sophisticated like the Telangana side but let me not get into the divides of the states & regions) but what an amazing word this is! It actually means 'whatever', or 'yaa..fine' (actually not in the literal sense but talking sense, the serious meaning is something else) but the effect that this word can create no other word for any other meaning can do I swear!

Parchooran (પરચૂરણ)
This is a Gujarati word. As much as I love the place I was brought up in (Ahmedabad), I know Gujarat is not a very sophisticated state & so the culture & the language too. It sounds very funny to speak and it doesn't particularly please the ears like some other languages especially Hindi does. This word means 'miscellaneous', but this word can be used in many different contexts - like for the money change to small little household articles to miscellaneous kids' items to small little grocery shopping to what not! If we have to say all these different things in different contexts, it will definitely be a pain trying to communicate & help others understand.

Maamu (मामू)
This is the best part of the Munna bhai movie apart from all the other amazing things. What would Munna have called Circuit when he had random thoughts. If he had said, 'don't behave like a stupid', would it have created that impact or would it have even conveyed the same meaning? Absolutely no! This movie was actually remade in Telugu but whichever language that is not able to translate the word 'maamu' to give the impact would have made a waste effort in remaking the film, honestly! What a word again!!!

The above ones are the high impact ones that I could recollect immediately one after the other as I use them or come across them. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What age does to you!

One more year gone, another started. The first thing I think is that I would become one more year older this year! It comes with a lot more ambition to me & a resolution to start working towards those personal preferences which throw guilt to me always since I am not able to give time to them! Hmmm...till I was a minor, I awaited the time when I turn 18 & I would be eligible to start working, ACTUALLY! I was the youngest always among the peer group (though I never looked like one thanks to my South Indian background! - no offence), I went to school one year earlier than usual, I skipped a class in between due to some stupid test for a higher standard that I passed & so I didn't know the Archimedes Principle till the end of next class (so, as per my peers I was 2 classes behind in knowing about that principle) and I faced desperate struggle to solve those quadratic equations in the next class since I was behind those memorized concepts from the earlier class. Well, not that any of the two above make a difference in my life now, but at that time only I know how I was not able to handle the pressure! I started my first job earlier than my peers, I finished my masters well ahead of my peers and so on.

After celebrating many new years one by one, when I started working in this company, we were too many people from the same college but different batches with about 2-3 years gap. We were all talking about things like 'oh you joined the year when I left', 'oh, strange we didn't meet on campus...' etc. etc. when a girl from another section of the office came in. One of our discussion group members generally asked her about her date of birth. The year she uttered spread a deathly silence across and we had our jaws dropped. One of my friends in that group & I shared a stare with each other, in that same shock! And my friend smartly said, 'okay, I better not ask that question again to anyone!' and that silence converted into a huge laughter with a hidden <tch> :)

Yesterday my school friend called up after a long time & when I shared the news of my younger sister's marriage, she got astonished & said, 'why so early!', I had to remind her it was not a child-marriage & we are much older now :)

Each of us from all my past friends groups have moved on to take different career paths & personal hobbies since then but when I think back one thing I realize is we are still the same people. The only thing I conclude is you change forcibly or voluntarily to adapt to the different circumstances that come to you by themselves or by your own creation, which has unfortunately happened to some of our friends. But you still have that 'yourself' within you and given an opportunity, you would want to remain that same you.

If we were 15 when John Abraham was 30 and we admire him, why should anything change when we turn 35 & he turns 60! [Like that news snippet about our elders (women) being sad & not doing household work for a few days when Rajesh Khanna died :) Deadly that was, whoever's thought that was!]

Happy New Year!