Saturday, December 17, 2011

Soon it will be Christmas Day



Soon it will be Christmas day! That’s what I said to myself, not in the way it should be said with excitement or great, joyful anticipation....I was panicking. I had everything ready for the Christmas cake...but power cuts (long, erratic, and frequent) were the pain in my you-know-where. I knew exactly where I was going to put up the tree, and the nativity and the this, that and the other...but getting the boxes, in which they were packed safely last year, down and opened needed another back and pair of hands. My back and arms couldn’t, wouldn’t and shouldn’t do it, thus saith my doc! And I had to adhere.



That was yesterday’s lament. As I type this out, I am overwhelmed by the aromas of freshly baked cakes, wafting through the home as they sit cooling on racks in the kitchen. I managed to bake three so far. There was a moment, actually a long time that saw my chin touching the floor. Just as I had poured the cake mixture into the baking tins, the power went off. I thought all was lost...one and a half hours later power was restored and joy of joys, nothing went wrong! I plan on doing another three this evening. I’m keeping all fingers and toes crossed. As for the decorations, Lolita has offered to help me out and she’s promised to get the boxes down and opened this Sunday and she’d also unwrap whatever I needed from them. Well that’s a good start to the day. Positivity and good spirits reign Hallelujah!



I’m in the process of planning Christmas dinner. Since there will be two vegetarians as well, it is challenging to not repeat the dishes I made last year and the year before that. Is it important that I don’t repeat the dishes? Am I over-thinking things too much? A psychologist I know says I do that....I hate to admit it but she’s right.



I keep slipping in and out of the 16th century to the 21st. I’m reading a book called The Emperor’s Writings. It’s all about the Mughal King Akbar’s life and times. Written by Dirk Collier, it has the style of an autobiography. The account unfolds through Akbar’s letters written to his son and heir to the throne, Salim (who would go on to become better known as Jehangir) The Mughal period in India has always fascinated me, especially the times of Akbar, Jehangir and Shah Jehan. I have enjoyed visiting many monuments in Delhi and Agra, built during this time. But Akbar certainly catches my interest the most.


I have stepped out of the Diwan-i-Khas into my humble abode for now and I better get cracking with the chores at hand...I do not have a retinue of servants and attendants at my beck and call as the emperor had!!

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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Meandering Thoughts.....

Am I a SAD person?

Learn to enjoy every minute of your life. Be happy now. Don’t wait for something outside of yourself to make you happy in the future. Think how really precious is the time you have to spend, whether it’s at work or with your family”......(Earl Nightingale)


The end of November normally indicated upbeat moods and a lot of suppressed excitement barely concealed under a calm veneer; but this time it wasn’t that way. I tried unsuccessfully, to kick start the enthusiasm that preceded the coming festive season but all in vain. I continued to be lethargic, despondent, aloof, and even melancholic....and would keep searching the net for winter getaways. I just didn’t want to stay here for Christmas...I wanted to escape to somewhere, where it wouldn’t matter that it’s Christmas and there’s no one home to share and celebrate with you. I wallowed in this miserable feeling from the beginning of November and as it began to dig its tentacles deeper, I decided it was enough. This wasn’t ME.


I don’t host pity-parties and I don’t attend any either. So what was getting to me? I googled ‘pre-wint
er blues’ and came up with the acronym SAD: Season Affective Disorder. According to the article, SAD occurs due to the lack of sunlight. Since sunlight is a great source of Vitamin D, which in turn is important for general well-being, the lack of bright sunny days affects some people, making them feel the way I was feeling. So that’s what it’s all about?! Naah! We still have quite a lot of sunshine around and I am getting my share of natural vitamin D. I’m missing something else. But I’m definitely not a SAD person.



So I snap out of it and decide to learn how to enjoy a festival like Christmas, without decorations, the children and grandchild. Christmas is so much larger than life’s disappointments. In fact, it permeates the depths of the soul and once again revives the grieving spirit with joy. I shall not sail, fly or drive away from life as it is, but celebrate it as I always have....besides it’s too late to change my inherent nature now. Joy doesn’t succumb to SAD!



Did I lose my identity?


Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers.” (Luke 6:44)



Many years back, around 1987-88, I realized I was better known or shall we say recognised as Viny’s mom, around the new neighbourhood we had shifted into in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Later on at the school where I taught and in which both the kids studied, I was called “Joy Ma’am” but identified as Ranjit and Vineet’s mother. I found it amusing and often commented on how I had lost my identity to two rascals!!



Just the other day I was contemplating on the verse in the Bible that says “a tree is known by its fruit”(Luke 6:44) and I asked myself if the tree lost its identity to the fruit or was enriched by it. After all a tree is recognised by the fruit it has produced and its worthiness by the quality of that fruit. Putting this into a simple, everyday situation, I believe each family and home rejoices in the worthy achievements of its children, because they do contribute to it in many supportive ways. Yes, I feel blessed, proud, grateful, and honoured to be known as Tintin and Viny’s mom. And I am further blessed to be called Alyssa’s Daadi. My identity is embellished by such references and it endorses the fact that our tree has grown and branched out; reaching for The Light, which is the most important and magical thing a tree needs to nurture and enrich its roots and fruit.



I am blessed abundantly and may you also be gladdened when you lose your identity to your worthy children.....




How do I tell thee?


To me there are three things we should do every day. We should do this every day of our lives. Number one is laugh. You should laugh every day. Number two is think. You should spend time in thought. And number three is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be happiness or joy. But think about it. If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special”........(Jim Valvano)



I get tongue-tied and at a total loss of words many times. There have been occasions for which I have rehearsed lines I would say, and then when faced with the right time, the cat gets my tongue. Those are the words my mind has coined. Reticence, nervousness, anxiety, fright or any such immense emotion play on the mind and tangle up speech. That’s what happens very often to me. Yet, communication doesn’t end there. When words become inadequate to express feelings tears do the job!



I am moved to tears by happiness and extreme joy. I am moved to tears by anything beautiful; an experience, music, verses, story, movie, happy memories, funny things....Copious tears express anger, frustration, helplessness. Grief and loneliness seldom move me to tears, but the memory of good times in sad moments make me teary yet happy. I’m moved by gratefulness for those precious moments.


When the mind fails, the heart speaks...through tears. Happy, joyous, funny, tickled, angry, helpless, ecstatic tears speak as eloquently and effectively as words.


These are those silent moments of release...of tears or unshed ones, which may or may not be understood. But if you don’t understand my silences, how will you understand my words?

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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Chair And I





When one chair says to the other, “Yonder comes another bum,” you had better believe it! We are on our derrieres more often these days and for longer periods. Kudos to the health freaks that jog, walk, swim, and go ‘gymming’ religiously, but they are a minority. I was just “another bum” until recently. I was so sedentary that I could grow roots, branches, moss all together. Yes, I grew you know, and grew, and grew, like Alice but unlike her, I grew horizontally and found that it wasn’t only the mirror that was getting smaller.



Every time I decided to exercise or go for a walk, the pain in my bones sent me back to the chair. All I needed was a stronger will and conviction that exercise (certain ones) would help me immensely. I had to believe that; bear the pain and start with ‘baby’ steps literally. But sceptic me wouldn’t budge. The stronger the doubts became, the more beached I got...a beached whale! The doctor persisted tirelessly in goading me to lift myself out of defeat, depression and that chair. Only something drastic would get me to move. It took an earthquake to rock the chair I had permanently lodged myself into. Finally, reality hit hard and I got up and walked out of that chair in my head.



Today I am addicted to my morning and evening walk. I count my steps and time myself...I’m counting my steps to a healthier me. Exercises have added benefits too like de-stressing the mind, stimulating the digestive system, and giving one a ‘feel good’ feeling within, and I’m the better for it. The chair and I are still friends, we have been through ‘thick’ and thin and it has been a strong support, however we give each other a bit more space. I’m less of a ‘bum’ and it has stopped being my crutch!







“Health is Wealth” is an old adage. I didn’t realize the literal, hard truth behind it till I lost health and with it a lot of wealth....I see many young people at the orthopaedic’s with lumbar, cervical problems. Modern life has made us sedentary...that’s a mild way of putting it...in truth it has made us lazy, slothful, and totally unhealthy. Everything is instant, like coffee, and we want easy and fast. Exercise and balanced diets, freshly cooked home food involve time and work....Don’t we do enough work at our desks, and don't we deserve 'easy' and 'fast'?! If your answer to that is "No" you're not just "another bum" for sure...but if it's "Yes"....Hmmm....no wonder the chair has become sarcastic!




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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Little joys and moments......

It's been a long time...I had a nice break, enjoyed a trip to the mountains, attended a wedding, spent quality time with family and Alyssa in particular! I did get a bit of a scare when I did something to my back which laid me down for a few days, but thanks to my concerned and helpful orthopaedic, he monitored the situation on the phone and I was back on my feet with rest and a few meds. Now I'm back home, it's quiet, like it normally would be, only this time it seems odd without the patter of Alyssa's little feet and her constant prattle. She and her mom are with her maternal grandparents (Naana & Naani)to celebrate Diwali, which falls today 26th Oct.

A few pics to tell you about the little joys and moments that filled my life these past few days.


I came home to find luscious green chillies on my potted chilli plant. This is just one variety of the many kinds available in India.


Alyssa thought she should sweep the fallen autumn leaves with her balloon!!!


It was tiring, so she takes a break!



I woke to a misty Diwali morning. There's a pleasant nip in the early morning air. I decided to catch the lazy sun that has decided to rise later these days and also much weaker...:)))



Specially designed Diwali cupcakes. There are two cakes with edible 'Diyas'(A diya is an earthen oil lamp) and two with gold coins that symbolise wealth and prosperity. These will be gifted this evening to my hosts who have invited me to dinner.



This it friends. I'm so glad to reconnect with you. I hope my pictoral account works out on the page. This is the first time I'm attempting something like this. I'm technically challenged and haven't a clue about photo resizing or blog page setting etc....but that doesn't put me off...does it...hahah.


Happy Diwali to those of you who celebrate the festival.

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Friday, September 30, 2011

I'm on cloud 9 and I didn't get my laptop along........

I'm sitting on Cloud nine...oh yeah, I am! My grand-daughter (1yr 8mths) is arriving tomorrow, from Canada, with her mother for a month long holiday. Isn't that enough to send me to a higher stratoshere?!

We'll be going to the Shimla hills for some days and we will be attending a wedding too. All this means I will be off blogging for a while. I hope to enjoy myself in Alyssa's company...it's a welcome break from being 'home alone' and mostly grounded...:))

Don't forget me my friends, will miss reading your blogs.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

There’s Something About......


There’s something about shoes; new shoes in particular! I’m hopelessly in love with them.
I remember, when I was a little girl, I went to bed with my new shoes, every time a pair came home. I would push my little hands into each and gently rub the smooth soles on my cheeks.... I’d kiss them, and cuddle them and wake up in the middle of the night to make sure they hadn’t walked away or worse, I hadn’t crushed them under me! But that was short-lived: it all ended when I turned eight. The passion hasn’t died, but I don’t cuddle , kiss or go to bed with them! There’s something about the leathery smell of new shoes!


There’s something about walking on dew drenched grass, bare foot! An early morning walk, before the fresh drops evaporate...nothing could be more refreshing. In my country, it is believed that doing this is not only relaxing but also good for the eyes. Well, I don’t subscribe to the eyesight thing but endorse the relaxing bit. There’s something about the combination of dew and green grass and early mornings!


There’s something about sitting on a rock with your feet in a running, mountain stream. It’s about clear, cool water washing over your feet and through your toes as you wiggle them...about blue skies and white clouds...about rustling leaves, languid sunrays, silence and vast open spaces. Yes, there’s something about feet, running water and the mountains.


There’s something about sunsets! It just shuts me up...no words to break the magic. Vibrant changing colours, darkness slowly creeping in as daylight fades...poetic, romantic, stirring. There’s something about watching the sun slide behind a mountain range or sink into the sea...so grand yet so peaceful.


There’s something about shopping at Christmas time! Hustle-bustle, lights, decorations, beckoning window displays, sales...the air is warm, friendly, frantic, hectic, exasperated and sheer fun! There’s something about Christmas shopping that makes me more generous than I usually am...carols, mid-night church service, freezing cold, warm blowers, woollies, gormandising, family get-togethers....yes, there’s something about this time of the year.


There’s something about old albums! Old photographs and warm memories: I could go through old pictures for hours. Each one sparks a memory...and I relive beautiful, funny, touching and sweet moments. There’s something about the way it connects the past and the present...family and friends and moments.


There’s something everlasting about old songs! Most of the new ones are hear(d) today and gone tomorrow...but the golden oldies go on forever.


There’s something about living with all this technology! I can’t imagine life without the internet, mobile phones, laptops, computers, Blogs, Face Book, Skype...Yes, there’s something addictive about these technological luxuries...they make you dependent.


There’s something about life and living....helping, sharing, caring, loving and forgiving...yes, there’s something about life that’s addictive.

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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Yesterday......

Yesterday, the 5th of September, was Teacher’s Day. I revelled in the warmth of messages and wishes from old students. There’s something so special about old students remembering you: They bring back memories of another day; of celebrations in school, of being made to feel special....and a celebration at home that kept me on my toes. The first celebration at school felicitated and honoured the teachers. An honour I got by default: I was a teacher. The second one at home felicitated my late husband whose birthday fell on the fifth. I will always remember 5 September for the joie de vivre, food and company that invariably overflowed at home: he was a popular man.


Yesterday was different from the yesterdays I remembered. It was quiet, peaceful and relaxed....I loved it as much as I had loved the hustle-bustle ones of my yesteryears.


Yesterday, I read that personalities differ according to blood groups! I am acquainted with zodiac and sun signs thanks to Linda Goodman’s books. She writes about how these signs are responsible for certain characteristics of personality and their significant role in shaping one’s destiny. I do not take any part of it seriously. However, I was intrigued by this new information, but could not find much written about it.


I recalled another yesterday many years back. A friend, from France, had sent me pages and pages of information about food, medical treatment, and general healthcare of people with my blood group. I was not keeping too well in those days, and was recuperating from a major surgery. She meant well, but I was sceptical. I had never heard about blood group based treatments or food. It sounded bizarre and way out. Since then I have heard of such practices around the world, but they haven’t gained many followers.



The memory connected with the new information I had come across. It seems like the theory of the effects of different blood groups on personality, food requirements and general healthcare has its believers all around the world. It’s interesting to go through even though you might pooh-pooh it at the end of the reading! I’m giving you the personality for AB+ compiled from different sources......you will guess why I found it amusing and interesting at the same time.

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Type AB "CARE-FREE"

Population: 4% of the world is AB + and 1% AB –

Your traits: Easy-going, Diplomatic, Creative, Unpredictable, Artistic, Flexible and Moody.

People with type “AB” are blends of opposites. They can be shy with some issues and bold with others. They are both introvert and extrovert. They are unpredictable and seem to have a calm exterior. They are very creative, good at spotting problems and skirting them. They can get bored easily. Everything they do is compelling. (they)Never take things for granted. Appear mysterious. Contribute harmoniously to society. They dislike touching or being touched by others.


Cool and controlled, you are generally well-liked and always put people at ease. You are a natural entertainer who is tactful and fair. But, you are standoffish, blunt, and have difficulty making decisions.


It is called the "The Enigma."

Wikipedia definition: An enigma is a puzzle, something mysterious or inexplicable, or a riddle or difficult problem.


Type AB's are the split personalities of the blood groups.


According to all the research I have done, the first positive date for AB blood type was 700 AD. However, if you believe the Shroud of Turin, which was found to have AB blood on it, was the cloth that Jesus was wrapped in after his crucifixion, then it would be much earlier than that.


What does AB mean in blood types?


Those who have type AB blood do not make any A,B, or O antibodies. It will accept any blood type in a transfusion. AB is the universal recipient.


So how did it come into being when the rest of the world was O, A, and B?
If an A is inherited from one parent and a B from the other, the type will be AB


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See what I mean......."population worldwide 4%"....."Shroud of Turin"....."AB blood on i"t........"split personalities".....:)!!



I remembered Sidney Poitier yesterday. Oh no I didn’t know him beyond the silver screen! His role as a teacher in the movie ‘To Sir with Love’ remains one of my favourites. It appealed to us young ones quite a bit because it was in stark contrast to what we had on the other side of the table most of the time. And that made me remember Lulu...oh I didn’t know her either beyond the records on the turn-table. She sang that lovely song for Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) Much later, as a young teacher, new to the profession, I dreamt of other 'Lulus' singing that lovely title song to me! Yesterday, I dedicated it to my favourite teachers, who won’t even know about it: Two aren’t on the social site and one has passed away. But that doesn’t matter...they have given me wonderful yesterdays, and tomorrows.


Yesterday I wove a lovely fabric from old yarn.
Today it is time for something else.


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Sunday, August 28, 2011

Suffer The Idiots

The Ceat Tyre advertisement warning: “The streets are filled with idiots...” brought home the truth a couple of days back. I had a busy schedule, with a new assignment keeping me on the edge. So I wasn’t sitting so easy in the car as we drove out to work.


Barely fifty yards into the drive and the car screeched to a halt and my heart almost popped out of my mouth! We had barely missed a child of about three, who decided to cross the road on her own. Her parents, a young couple, stood by the road and called out to her but didn’t think it prudent to stop her physically. As if that was not enough, they had a younger one of about a year and a half, running along ahead of them in the middle of the road. I thought both of them would be shaken but was in for a surprise, when they stood there giving us the kind of dirty looks one could kill someone with. The kind that said, ‘Don’t you know there are unattended kids on the road?’


“There are Idiots on the road,” I muttered, “and they have to be out so early and in my way!”


When my heart slowly made its way back to where it belonged, I settled in, praised the driver for his quick reflexes and cautioned him to keep alert. Things went smoothly, we were on a stretch that does not have much traffic so early in the morning and I was thankful for that: It was premature. I lurched forward as the brakes hit the floorboard once again. Thankfully, I had on my lumbar support and cervical collar. Another “Idiot” had conveniently stopped his car in the middle of a turn around a traffic island, and was talking on his mobile phone. He was so engrossed in his conversation that he remained blissfully unaware of his foolish action and its potentially disastrous consequences. He did not hear the screech of brakes and neither did he notice the strike down dead looks we gave him, as we drove off. “Please God no more,” I pleaded as my heart took its time settling into a more comfortable rhythm.


I was shook up nice and proper and decided it would be better to close my eyes for a while and shut out the idiotic chaos. Before that, I gave the driver who was new, directions about the route he would take to my workplace. We would be getting into the rush hour traffic and I had some time for a bit of shuteye.


It was taking too long to reach my destination. Was the congestion heavier or was there a jam? I opened my eyes and looked out. There was no traffic jam; in fact, there was no familiar landmark either! Where were we? A wrong left turn and many other wrong right and left turns had brought us to unfamiliar territory. The driver sheepishly admitted we were lost and he had forgotten to get his mobile phone.


“As if the Idiots on the roads were not enough, I had to get one in the car too,” I muttered.

“Kya baat hai ma’am?” he asked.

“Kuch nahin,” was my deceptively sweet reply.


As he asked passers-by, autorickshaw drivers, cycle-rickshaw riders and whoever was kind enough to stop and give us directions (none of the cars stopped!) I searched for my mobile phone in every pocket in my handbag. It wasn’t there. Well, well there was another idiot in the car who had forgotten to carry her phone too.

Ah! Suffer the Idiots!



Glossary:

Kya baat hai ma'am........what is it ma'am or what's the matter

Kuch nahin........................Nothing (at all)

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Monday, August 22, 2011

Water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink.......

Hola! I'm back after one of those unscheduled breaks (from blogger) that keep happening despite my efforts at organisation and day agendas etc, etc!


The first thing that laid me low was a lesion in a lumbar disc, which I stupidly allowed to happen while I sat in an uncomfortable, unstable chair in a multiplex and refused to get up and leave because I was enjoying the movie so much (not to mention the money I'd paid) So bed rest it was....or so I thought!


The ongoing water situation (read: no water supply) which had started four days prior to my visit to the cinema hall, which the society supervisor had promised would get solved in three days, had not been fully resolved. However complaints and necessity moved the people in charge to buy huge quantities of water everyday. This came in water tankers and would then be pumped up to the overhead tanks. However they could not meet the desired level of need, so water was rationed and we had to be alert to fill up or then do without. Needless to say what happened to my back! The water situation continues, with hope gleaming on the horizon. A lot of drilling went on throughout last night...work is in progress, Hallelujah! I'm happy to report my back is doing better. I decided to leave everything on hold and fill water and rest...it worked!!!

(FYI our side of modern Gurgaon uses ground water. It seems that the original pump had not been drilled deep enough and in the eight years since then the water level had gone down)


I have also been on flood control duty...(hyperbole ha!) A few heavy showers during this period threatened to flood my dining room! The balcony onto which the room opens out to, was getting flooded as both the outlet drains were clogged. Thankfully one was cleared.


I was worried about my potted plants. Rationed water left none for them...but the rains obliged so far. Let's see how I manage to keep them alive and well.


I've visited a few blogs and will be reading the ones I've left. It's nice to be back.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Tryst With Destiny






"Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny. Now the time has come when we shall redeem our pledge - not wholly or in full measure - but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance."


This is an excerpt from the famous Independence Day speech made by our first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru at midnight, on 14th August 1947. Today we celebrate sixty-five years of Independence. We are a young nation.


I am a post Independence child and did not experience life in the British Raj. There were many interesting stories our parents and grandparents told us about those days and about the turmoil of the partition, which created another nation called Pakistan. However, I remember that Goa, a small state on the coast of the Arabian Sea, remained under Portuguese rule until 1961. Portugal held a handful of enclaves on the Indian subcontinent - the districts of Goa, Daman and Diu (now in the state of Gujarat) and Dadra and Nagar Haveli - collectively known as the Estado da ├Źndia. The armed action in December 1961, by the Indian government, ended in a decisive victory for India, ending 451 years of Portuguese colonial rule in Goa! I was a small child and could only understand bits and pieces of the conversation around the dining table. However, I knew there was a battle going on because talk revolved around the safety of my uncle who was in the thick of it.



I woke up to a grey, wet Independence Day this morning. It rains practically every year on the early morning celebrations at the Red Fort, from where the Prime Minister addresses the nation. People in raincoats gathered despite the inclement weather, holding a thatch of umbrellas aloft, against the steady ‘showers of blessing’! Closer home, in our society block of apartments, the rain had thrown all the outdoor preparations for today’s celebrations into disarray. The organisers, comprising mainly women whose children would be performing, did the best of talking, discussing, laughing and worrying they could do, then decided to delay all celebrations until the rain stopped. As I write, it’s 11.00 am and the rain has ceased, I guess things will start moving now.



Today many challenges arise for our young nation, both internal and external. I will not go into these but express my wish and pray for her, in the words of Rabindranath Tagore:


Where The Mind Is Without Fear


Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake
.

Happy Independence Day!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

‘Real’ bros and ‘Rakhi’ bros!!






This year on the thirteenth of August, people in some states of India will be celebrating Raksha Bandhan. This festival celebrates the sister-brother relationship. The significance of the coloured and often embellished thread, which a sister ties around her brother’s wrist, is symbolic of his vows to protect her and help her if she needs his help, as long as he lives. In return the brother gives the sister gifts ; these could be gifts in cash or kind or both! The sister can demand for anything. This is an ancient custom and has its origins in Hindu mythology as well as in historical legends. Many stories have filtered down the ages but I find these two quite imaginative and interesting.


A legendary narrative about Alexander’s invasion of India in 326 BC, suggests that Roxana (or Roshanak) Alexander’s wife, sent a sacred thread to King Porus asking him not to harm her husband in combat. Porus, the Hindu ruler, who battled Alexander at the Hydaspes(Jhelum) river, honoured the request and tied the thread on his wrist as a reminder. When Porus met Alexander in battle, and overpowered him at one point, it is said that the sight of the rakhi (sacred thread) on his wrist prevented him from delivering the final blow. Of course, there is no historical record of this, but the battle ended in defeat for Porus. The legend might have been born out of the fact that Alexander did not kill Porus, instead he made him a Macedonian Satrap or viceroy.



Another well known story built around the rakhi thread is about Rani Karnavati, the Rajput queen of Chittor, a city in Rajasthan and Mughal Emperor Humayun. The Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah invaded Chittor. In order to save the kingdom, Rani Karnavati sent a rakhi to Humayun, with the request for help. Touched, the Emperor set off with his troops to defend Chittor. However, he arrived too late and Chittor had fallen. The queen along with 13,000 other women in the fortress, had committed Jauhar, preferring to kill themselves to avoid dishonour at the hands of the invading army. Humayun met Bahadur Shah sixty miles from Chittor and laid siege to his camp, blocking his return to Gujarat. Historical records and memoirs do not mention the Rakhi episode and some historians are sceptical about it, but it is mentioned in a mid-seventeenth century Rajasthani account.



My experience of Raksha Bandhan, which is not celebrated in our family, resulted from group extortion plans in college...yes it was emotional blackmail. We were a group of four girls and I was the only one who didn’t observe this ritual, so my two brothers didn’t count in our scheme of things. Raani was the other one who had ‘real’ brothers. “Your bros are our bros,” we declared and that got us two rakhi brothers. Rita was the one who had a boy friend. He was an Iranian called Rada. The majority felt, by virtue of being our friend’s boy friend, Rada became our brother too! He didn’t have a chance against this bizarre argument! All three boys took it with good humour and as we loaded our pockets, theirs got lighter. They remained our ‘rakhi’ bros until we were in college. What had started as fun and games to collect some extra pocket money ended into a sister-brother bonding! It was amazing how a little bit of coloured thread could alter attitudes and bond strangers into a sacred relationship. However, that was then...years ago in a small, conservative city. Today would be a different story.


Rada and Rita broke up, Raani died and our group lost contact as each one moved away to different parts of the country. Every year I’m reminded of my rakhi virjis and the sweetness of a relationship that was beyond mere friendship and blood ties...


Glossary:

Raksha Bandhan.......raksha means to protect/protection. Bandhan means bond or ties

Rakhi..........sacred or holy threads, made of coloured fibre and embellished with beads, sequins etc. Some are quite big and cumbersome. Most people prefer the simple threads.

Rani.......Hindi word for Queen

Jauhar......... Mass suicide...ancient Indian tradition of honorary self immolation of women and subsequent march of men to the battle field (against any odds) to end their life with respect. It was followed by the Rajput clans in order to avoid capture and dishonour at the hands of their enemies. Such painful method (burning) was preferred over other ways like poisoning or hanging, because Muslim invaders buried the dead women instead of cremating them.(Wikipedia)


Virji...........'Vir' is one of the Punjabi words for brother. 'Ji' is suffixed as a sign of respect. I have added an 's' to make it plural and this is an anglicised way of speaking and not the Punjabi way of making plurals.


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Monday, August 8, 2011

My first award...


I received this award from Rachna. Thanks Rachna, I've never received an award and I'm thrilled. (In fact I don't even know from where one gets these awards on the blogoshere to present)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Traveller's travails

A visit to the Railway Museum revealed some gems of information, the best of course was that the trains in India in the early 1900's did not have ensuite toilets in the carriages, and one would have to wait for the next station to use the facilities. God help you if it were an emergency. And that brings me to the post for today...the result of one such emergency!

Following is an actual complaint made by Okhil Chandra Sen, in shall we say 'Hinglish.' It is hilarious in expression and language employed, but that was no impediment to the consequent, productive result.




Okhil Babu’s letter to the Railway Department (early 1900’s )


I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with ‘lotah’ in one hand and ‘dhoti’ in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers.”


Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj Divisional Railway Office in 1909. It is on display at the Railway Museum in New Delhi. It was also reproduced under the caption “Travellers’ Tales” in the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Any guesses why this letter is of historic value?

It led to the introduction of TOILETS in Indian trains!!!!!!!!!


Three cheers for Okhil Babu......Hip..hip...hurray!



Glossary:

Lotah............a globular water container used in India, Myanmar etc.

Dhoti......it is a traditional garment worn by men in India and many other countries in the Asian sub-continent. It'sa rectanglar piece of unstitched cloth, wrapped around the waist and knotted. It covers the lower part of the body including the legs.

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Sunday, July 31, 2011

I wonder.....

This Sunday morning I saw a middle-aged couple in their balcony. The man was sitting reading the paper while his wife coloured his hair. Their retriever was watching the whole process too. Would this man do the same for his wife? I wonder....

I observed the pigeons that live in the nooks of apartment blocks all around us. They sure are lovey-dovey couples! But it’s the doves that symbolise love and peace not the gawky pigeon. I wonder why....

I just don’t like Sundays....but I look forward to Mondays. I’m not in a regular job, so I wonder why week days or weekends should make any difference....

My maid loves Hindi soaps. She goes all googly eyes and flapping ears if one is playing on the TV. But I don’t like them one bit, yet I switch on a particular soap....Now why do I do that, I wonder.....

Tell me to fill a form, any form and I get an anxiety attack. I’ve filled N number of forms; just filled two recently, but the stress stays. I wonder why...

I’m terrified of lizards. I don’t recall any frightening incident concerning them, or any such thing, but I even get nightmares with lizards in them at times....makes me wonder why.....

I love to sing in the kitchen, while I’m engrossed with cooking....one hears of bathroom singers I wonder why no one mentions kitchen singers....

I rarely feel lonely when I’m alone, most of my loneliest moments have been those when I had people around me. Wonder why....

I was with a group of teachers (women) recently and they were all talking at the same time. All of a sudden one looked at 'quiet' me and said apologetically, “We’re teachers you know we can’t stay quiet for long and neither can we sit still for long. It’s the bane of the job.”
I replied I’ve taught for over twenty-two years, I’ve never suffered the “bane of the job,” I wonder why......”

I go out for meals alone, I shop alone, I travel alone, I live alone but I can’t watch a movie alone in a cinema hall....I keep wondering why...

When people ask me what I do the whole day at home....I start to wonder....!

I’ve been walking religiously for half an hour in the morning and half an hour in the evening, and I’m beginning to wonder if the lard’s gonna melt away.....(don’t even suggest that I walk longer. My condition limits me to this time at present !)

There are moments when words seem inadequate so I employ tears....I’m moved to tears with joy, I’m moved to tears by anger, I’m moved to tears by beautiful music or poetry, I cry when someone I know cries, my eyes get wet reading sad stories, tears flow when I laugh. Why do my tears have to speak when I’m pretty articulate? I wonder....

During the day I rarely miss company, but come evening, especially my evening tea...and I would love to have good company. I do wonder about these evening blues....

I needed some passport snaps, which meant I’d have to go to the photographer, which also meant I’d have to call for a cab, which meant I’d have to pay more for the cab than for ten copies of my PP pictures. On the advice of someone, I went to a small photo shop called Light Of Life (LOL) in the market near my place. I paid the advance and returned home quite thrilled that I had saved money. When I went to pick up the pictures, the shop wasn’t there. They had shut down overnight and vamoosed! Well, LOL...wonder why I'm laughing out loud....

I used to have an elephant’s memory before...now I just have the body...and there’s nothing to wonder about that... I’m actually smiling you know!! I’ve finally found something I don’t have to wonder about today and I can wrap up this piece and look forward to a great week.

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Nanaji and the Dirty Fellas

We have very specific names for our relatives, which make it clear how one is related to another and from which side of the family they belong to. For instance, paternal grandparents are Daada (male) and Daadi (female). So the moment a child refers to someone as Daada or Daadi, everyone knows it’s a son’s child. And when the terms Nana or Nani are used, you know it’s a daughter’s child. There is no confusion about any relationship unlike the common terms uncle and aunt or grandma, grandpa, brother-in-law, sister-in-law etc. To come back to my father becoming a nana or nanaji, as the kids called him (the 'ji' is suffixed as a sign of respect) and a few memories of the kids’ interactions with a man, who had been a strict disciplinarian as a father, and had grown more reserved and serious with the years. Everyone was still in awe of this man, who although mellowed with age, yet held a commanding demeanour and a sarcastic sense of humour. My sons learnt to talk rather early so their interaction with nanaji began early too. By this time Daddy had already transitioned to the grandparent level, courtesy my elder sister’s son.



Daddy used all his sarcastic humour on the kids, who just loved it. They were quick to retort and he would have his laugh. They often got into little kiddie fights with him, and when we’d hear “Dirty fella, I’m not talking to you,” we knew we would witness a wonderful, funny incident soon.



One day Daddy had a bit of a falling out with my sister’s son Chiku aged three and a half.

“Go away, I’m not talking to you, dirty fella,” says nanaji to the scowling boy. Both walk off to their rooms; the grey haired one hiding a broad grin and the younger one certainly miffed.


A few minutes later a chubby face peeks into nanaji’s room, he is ignored. The second and third attempt to reconcile is also ignored. The fourth time he comes with a bunch of grapes as a peace offering. Nanaji refuses to accept it, closes his eyes and appears to have fallen asleep.

Chiku stands and stares at him for a while. Then he decides it’s too much. He plucks two grapes off the bunch and before nanaji can say “dirty f...” the grapes are stuffed into his nostrils and Chiku scampers out like a grinning monkey.

Thankfully the grapes weren’t far in and were snorted out easily! And nanaji was in splits. We saw them sitting together and eating the rest of the grapes soon after.


Daddy would sit in the back verandah or in the back lawn and write when the weather was cooler. On one such day, nanaji had an encounter with another three and half year old named Tintin; Elder son of yours truly. Nanaji was immersed in his study and writing while Tintin played with his toys. Nanaji had an old, in fact very old, Bible which he loved and in which he had written many notes, on pages specially inserted into the binding. It had a thick, hard leather cover which had faded and cracked over the years. It was open and lying face down on a table beside him. Tintin sauntered over and looked at it. Apparently he didn't like the look of it. He screwed up his little arrogant nose and asked what book it was. Nanaji answered him without stopping his work. A few moments later he needed to refer to something in the Book and well, it wasn’t on the table. He looked around and what do you think he saw?

“You dirty fella, what are you doing?” he said and jumped out of the chair to rescue his precious Bible from a washing.

Tintin had decided that nanaji shouldn’t have a dirty Bible and had dunked it into a tub full of water, that was kept for the two small tortoises naniji had bought for him. He was just getting to the washing part when it was retrieved by nanaji.

“What are you doing, you dirty fella? Why did you put it in the water?”

“It was dirty so I was washing it,” replied the “dirty fella” blissfully unaware of the damage he could have caused. Nanaji found the explanation quite plausible, and though he was worried about the Bible, he couldn’t stop laughing. Once again thankfully, except for some pages getting smudged with ink and a loss of notes, the Bible was dried out. Well the cover looked more thumped than it did before!


Nanaji got a lesson in etiquette and right practice from yet another of his dirty fellas, when he came on a holiday to Rajasthan. This time it was Viny, not quite three yet. The days passed off fast and nanaji and the boys had a rollicking time. Then it was time to leave. Our littlest one was over eager to help; push and tug bags to the waiting taxi. Everyone was mightily impressed by the offer of help, as all the bags were too big and too heavy anyway for him to even budge a centimetre, yet he was lending the proverbial helping hand. He hung around nanaji, who once again saw through all the show, and was wanting to get his last laugh before leaving.

It was time to leave and nanaji got into the taxi. He didn’t close the door, but kept making small talk with his “dirty fellas.” We tried to hurry him but he kept stalling. Finally, what he was waiting for happened. Afraid that it would be too late, Viny took the initiative to inform his nanaji about Rajasthani customs.

“Nanaji,” he said seriously, “jab koi jaata hai na, woh kuch de kar jaata hai.” (Nanaji, when someone leaves he gives something and goes.”

Nanaji was thrilled, he had got his laughs. He dug into his pockets and handed both the boys some money. It was customary in those days for elder relatives to give the kids some money before they left. Needless to describe the glee with which the cash was handed over to mother dear, as Viny rattled off all that he would buy with it, including a car. I didn’t spoil his joy by telling him that he would fall a bit short of cash for a car.


Just for the record, he was thinking of buying a real life size car...LOL



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Sunday, July 3, 2011

General Knowledge....forgotten!!

My previous post, The Messenger, would be unbelievable to some, so here are some more believable and interesting pieces of GK, which I know I knew but didn't know now....can you make any sense of that?!

Note:The blogger is not responsible for any discrepencies or falsehoods...the blogger didn't have anything to write so has posted a forward (forwarded several times over) which she received!



In the 1400's a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb.
Hence we have 'the rule of thumb'

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Many years ago in Scotland , a new game was invented.
It was ruled 'Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden'.. .
and thus, the word GOLF entered into the English language.

------------

The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone. (Really? I find that hard to believe)

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Coca-Cola was originally green.(Yuck)

------------


It is impossible to lick your elbow.

------------


The cost of raising a medium-size dog
to the age of eleven:
£ 10,120.00 (Dunno about this, my Heidi died at seven...)

------------

The first novel ever
written on a typewriter, Tom Sawyer.

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Each king in a deck of playing cards represents
a great king from history:

Spades - King David

Hearts - Charlemagne

Clubs -Alexander, the Great

Diamonds - Julius Caesar

------------

111,111,111 x
111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987, 654,321

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If a commemorative statue, of a person on a horse, has the horse with both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.
If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died because of wounds received in battle.
If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died
of natural causes

------------


Q.. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter 'A'?

A. One thousand

------------

Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers and laser printers have in common?

A. All were invented by women. (yay, yay, yay...)

------------

Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?

A. Honey

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In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes.
When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened,
making the bed firmer to sleep on.
Hence the phrase...'Goodnight , sleep tight'

------------

It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago, that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon. ( Betcha didn't know that)

------------


In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts....
So in old England , when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down. It's where we get the phrase 'mind your P's and Q's'

------------

Many years ago in England , pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. 'Wet your whistle'
is the phrase inspired by this practice.


------------

At least 75% of people who read this will try to
lick their elbow!



------------

YOU KNOW YOU ARE LIVING IN 2011 when...


1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.


2. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.


3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers, to reach your family
of three.

4. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.

6. You pull up in your own driveway and use your mobile phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry in the groceries...

7. Every commercial on television has a web site at the bottom
of the screen

8. Leaving the house without your mobile phone, which you didn't even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it

10. You get up in the morning and go on line before getting
your coffee

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. : )

12 You're reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward this message.

14. You are too busy to notice there was no 9 on this list.

15. You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't
a 9 on this list

~~~~~~~~~~~AND FINALLY~~~~~ ~~~~~~~


NOW U R LAUGHING. The post wasn't that bad after all.....


And stop trying to lick your elbow!


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Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Messenger

This is an old article and I'm posting it after an interesting conversation with a friend about intuition, telepathy, sixth sense, spirits, superstitions etc reminded me of this experience.


It was the month of September 1991, and the clock chimed eleven times to tell me it was an hour to mid-night and I better hurry. The house was shrouded in the blessed silence that comes with slumber. I was the only one awake. I usually did my baking at night as I struggled to juggle my time between home chores and a career.


In order to understand what occurred next, I must explain how the kitchen was built. A long corridor led from the dining room, past the children's room, staircase and ended in a little cul-de-sac, which had ample storing facilities. I used it to keep all the crockery. From this little store a door opened into the beautiful, large kitchen where I was working, softly humming to myself. Then I experienced the strangest of sensations! I stopped humming, stopped what I was doing and stood stock still.


My back, down the entire backbone, was tingling and slight shivers ran down my spine. I sensed someone staring at me from the store area, which was behind me. My heart was pounding wildly while my ears strained for some sound. I couldn't stand the tension any longer and turned around. Nothing! No one! I was puzzled. I brushed it off without dwelling on it too long. I had a cake to bake and I had to be up early the next day. Picking up the tune I had left off, I happily popped the cake into the oven.


Then it happened again! Once again tingling, shivers, turn around – no one! I was beginning to get a bit uneasy now. I switched to singing hymns for good measure, and a bit loud too, as I mustered all the courage I had, to make my way through the store, down the corridor and into our bedroom, where I felt safer. I thought of waking my husband, but decided against it, knowing he wouldn't believe me and I'd be the new drawing-room joke. Instead, I sat it out till the cake was done. Now I had to go back. I switched on all the extra lights and finding myself in a better shape to face my 'demons,' ventured into the kitchen, making sure I zipped through the store. Nothing happened. I took out the cake, left it to cool and went to bed.


As expected, husband dear pooh-poohed the whole thing as the result of an over-imaginative mind, fuelled by the horror movies I watched.

"You had better not talk about it. And especially not in front of the kids, you'll only scare them," he laughed.

"You've got to believe me Nanan. I'm not a loony. This was real," I said emphatically. But who was listening.



My husband was often out on tours, so I was quite used to living alone with the kids and was never scared or nervous about it. However, after a month or so when the incident occurred again, I wasn't very comfortable any more. This time it was a bit different, I sensed the presence of a person or thing or whatever it may be called. I could see nothing, but I could tell where the person was and also that it was a male. I still can't explain this but I felt it as strongly and surely as if I could see him. I also sensed that he was on the advanced side of 'middle-age'. Once again, my husband laughed it off. As the 'being' didn't visit in the next few days, the topic was closed.



A month later, it happened again and it became a frequent occurrence. Almost every day….afternoons, evenings….and always it stood in the same place. The most unimaginable thing was that all fear had dissipated. I sensed that I was in no danger. Once my comfort level had been restored, I began to feel that ' It' was trying to tell me something. When it started or how I do not know, but I was communicating without words or any visible signs with my invisible visitor. I became aware of a deep sympathy flowing from it. As if it was feeling sorry I wondered why. "Why, why, why,"…my mind cried out. The answer I got knocked the air out of my lungs. "I'm going to die? When? How?"… I was in total shock.



I can still recall how I felt. I went about my chores in a trance. In the evening, as I passed the children's room, something snapped. I stood and watched them as they waged a pillow fight and I was swept with grief and pain. That day I communicated a lot with God. I begged Him not to take me away just yet, as my children needed me. I reminded Him that they were His gifts to me. I knew that my husband would never be capable of looking after them by himself. He would pack them off to his relatives. Where would they study and how would they adjust to life in a remote village in Rajasthan? I also knew that my husband would be married off before a year had even passed. The thought of my children's plight wrenched my heart and I cried. All that I prayed for at the end was, "If it is possible, for the sake of my children, spare me. Otherwise help me to accept your will, Lord." I was exhausted and I slept very deeply that night.



After carrying this burden within and no one to share it with, this prayer released me of all anguish and I felt, strangely, very relaxed. It was the first week of January 1992, and after this encounter I never felt the presence again. Life went on as usual. Sometimes I wondered what fate had been decided for me – but these were fleeting thoughts. Republic Day was approaching, and the preparation for the parade and cultural function took up a major part of both time and energy, leaving me with very little scope for reflections on my life.



On a beautiful, sunny winter morning, I sat in the lawn drinking my coffee, planning and listing all the jobs that my husband would have to see to, when he came back from his tour.



Suddenly I was cut off from reality – out of nowhere, a picture flashed across the screen of my mind – I saw Mr Singh, a friend, telling me that my husband had met with a fatal accident. Then the frame changed to a picture of me dressed in white, looking bewildered at a number of women wailing around me. It ended abruptly and I was back in my beautiful garden with an empty coffee mug in my hand.


I shook myself and got up immediately, immersing myself in work lest my mind painted any more horrifying pictures. My husband was right; I did have an over-imaginative mind. Still I was on tenterhooks the whole day. In the evening, the familiar honk of the car sent me dashing out, and I was more ecstatic than usual to see hubby dear. He kept trying to figure it out, but I passed it off as the end to an unusually hard week. The next day was Republic Day. Nanan had to leave on yet another tour in the evening. He found it odd that I should be a bit put out by his tour.



" It's only a two day tour. I'll be back on the twenty-ninth," he said consolingly. He had been out a lot lately.


On the twenty-seventh night, while the kids and I were watching TV, the doorbell rang. Mr Singh stood there with tears in his eyes, "He's not coming back Bhabi, he has succumbed to a major heart attack," he said and broke down.


Two days later, on the day of his funeral, I was dressed in white and I was bewildered as I looked at the women crying around me. "Why are they crying?" I thought to myself. "Why are they asking me to be strong for the kids? What do they mean he's gone…of course he's gone on tour. I hope they stop crying, they're making me cry too. Don't they know I can't see any one cry? What do they mean that he was so young…he is young. Thirty-nine is young." I was in shock and denial.


Prior to this, I would take such a narrative with a huge pinch of salt and scepticism. To me these things oozed of superstition, ignorance and misplaced faith. Even today, I often ponder over this event, wondering what to make of it. I have no definite opinion. Was it imagination running wild? Then how does one explain the events that followed? Or was it mere coincidence? I'm torn between unbelief and credulity.


Later I confided to Sudhaji, an elderly neighbour, about the presence I had felt and all that had happened. She listened quietly and patiently, and then asked who I thought the presence was.

"I'm not sure," I said, "but I did feel it was my Father-in-law, which is very strange because I have never seen him. He expired many years before our marriage."

She nodded her sage head and said, "It could be. Yes, it's possible. Lekin, there's something I must tell you. Some years back the landlady rented out this house, for the first time, to a Mathur family. The place you store the crockery didn’t exist at the time. Mr Mathur got it made himself at his own expense. He died a few months later of cardiac arrest."


You could hear a pin drop in the silence.

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Glossary:


Bhabi....a term of respect used for a brother's wife. It is also used by a man's friends to address his wife, in small towns or orthodox families.

Lekin....a Hindi word meaning 'but'

Nanan....David's pet name
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Saturday, June 18, 2011

PS: I LOVE YOU DADDY

"The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity." ~Jean Paul Richter




I lugged the picnic-basket up the little hillock. It was a bit heavy for me but that didn't matter. After all, it contained our “victory treat." I just managed to keep up with my brother and father, who were carrying our prized kite and the paraphernalia that goes with kite flying. Daddy had clubbed a picnic along with the kite-flying event. I was flushed with excitement. We were going to "finish off " all our contenders that day with our daddy-of-all kites, in our area at least. It was between 3 1/2 - 4 ft I think.


The kite was a beauty, really big and daddy had reinforced the ordinary twine to hold and lift it against the wind. All this was painstakingly made by my father because my brother and I lamented that we never "got the better of the others."


Indeed, it was a day to remember. A victory constructed for us by Daddy.


I was six years old then but many decades later, the memory is as fresh as ever. There are myriad memories painted on the canvas of my childhood, and Daddy made the best of these. Some of these stand out more than the others because they have moulded me; given me strength; inspired me and filled my heart with eternal hope.


I was the youngest then, of four children. My younger brother was born much later. I was a tomboy and this aggravated my mother especially since my other siblings were docile and quiet.


Daddy had a big hand in moulding my interest in boyish pursuits. Of course, he didn’t realise it but the tales of his boyhood, which rivalled Tom Sawyer's, fired my imagination. It drove me almost to the point of setting out to explore the world at the ripe old age of eight. I got into scraps with boys who picked on my brother, crept through the underbelly of a bridge to the middle, to catch a whale from the backwaters of the Arabian Sea with string and a tiny hook! I even jumped off an eight-foot high ledge with a parachute made of a tablecloth, in order to be the youngest para-jumper at age seven (fortunately I didn't break any bones!) And these adventures are only a minuscule part of my life back then!


I suspect Daddy liked the firebrand element in my nature, for he never reprimanded me nor criticised my escapades. However, I'm sure it began to alarm him at some point because he introduced me to music, dance, drama, drawing and painting. He began taking me to visit museums and historical monuments and encouraged my interest in History and Art.


At about this time he also began talking to me about the values of life and Jesus. Not as one would with a child but as he would with an adult. There was much I didn't comprehend at that age, but this was to be the drift of our conversations in the future. So, what went over my head then, finally went into my head and my heart, as I grew older in years and understanding.


I have to tell you about Daddy's singing. To my mother's embarrassment, Daddy would burst into song while walking down the street, causing passersby to turn and stare. Oblivious to my mother's scowl, I'd clap and laugh and join him if I knew the chorus - for those were the songs he sang. His favourite was -

Trust in the Lord and don't despair
He is a friend so true
No matter what your troubles are
Jesus will see you through.

Sing when the day is bright
Sing through the darkest night
Every day, all the way
Let us sing, sing, sing
.


Marriage took me away from home, widowhood brought me back. My husband's death unleashed years of turmoil and struggle. I saw many masks fall off, and many of my idols topple from their pedestals. Bereft of comfort and support, I found myself falling back on all that Daddy had taught me. My trust and faith in God grew stronger with every onslaught of misfortune. Was it surprising then to find myself singing – “Trust in the Lord...” as I wearily lay my head on my pillow? It was Daddy again.


My idols had toppled from their pedestals - but not my Daddy.


When I look back today, it is with immense gratitude to a parent who gave me a goal and showed me the path to tread. It's been a long haul Daddy and I want you to know how much you have meant to me...I love you and remember you fondly.
________________________________________

Friday, June 17, 2011

Murder She Said.......

I met Sudha for the first time twenty-four years ago, when we moved to a city in the south of Rajasthan. She was our immediate neighbour on the right, if you were facing the house. At the first meeting, I found her very friendly as she sent trays of cold water and snacks on our arrival and even offered food which of course we declined. We were dusty and tired as we unloaded the luggage and shifted and pulled furniture, boxes, suitcases, cartons into their right places. Her thoughtfulness impressed us; she was so helpful. It wasn’t the usual behaviour a newcomer expected. They say the first impression is the last impression, but my impression of her would change a couple of times before the ‘last’ confirmed the first. She was indeed very helpful even when it came to the crunch. But that’s another story which I’ll save up for later.



Sudha was much older than us and according to the prevalent customs, we as younger people would have to address her with respect. That meant we either called her ‘didi,’(sister) ‘aunty,’ or simply suffixed a ‘ji’ to her name. Since the kids called her aunty she decided how we should address her, so ‘Sudhaji’ it was from then on. She was a gregarious person and an incorrigible gossip as well. So we had to be wary. She had a knack of getting people to talk, and this is how she knew everything about everyone. This knowledge coupled with her cheerful nature opened many doors for her. Sudhaji hadn’t studied English but she wanted to speak it because it would add to her prestige. So she picked up words and phrases and liberally peppered her conversation with it.



There was the day water was pouring down the drainpipe profusely and it wasn’t raining. She explained it this way:

“Overhead tank fulfil ho gaya and the football is spoil is liye paani flow out ho raha hai.”
(The overhead tank is full and the float valve is spoilt so the water is overflowing)



She met my elder sis and exclaimed:

“So much reflections in the face, pata chalta hai you are sisters.”
(So much resemblance, one gets to know you are sisters)


Then when she was leaving to attend a funeral:

“Doodhwala se hamare liye please doodh le lena, mujhe criminal mein jaana hai.”
(Please take milk for us too from the milkman, I have to attend a criminal (funeral))


When they were trying to get her son into college:

“Percentage best nahin hai, so by who and by croo hamein admission karwana hai.”
(His percentage isn't good enough, we'll have to get him admitted by hook or by crook)


About a member of her kitty party group:

“She is very proudy. Uske husband ka promotion hua hai. Ab woh bahut impotent man hai aur she is hawaa mein flying.”
(She is a very proud lady. Her husband has been promoted and is an important man now, so she is flying in the air)


When she tried out a recipe successfully:

“Mera project sexfully ho gaya. Everybody was happy.”
(My project was successful. Everybody was happy)


Pointing to a picture of her son, who was two and a half at the time it was clicked, she said:

"He is only half past two iss picture mein."
(He is only two and a half in this picture)



No one could say it the way Sudhji could! She was so entertaining. She had become friendly over the days and rarely probed for information, so I welcomed her company. My efforts to correct her atrocious use of English met with uproarious laughter. She didn’t care a hoot about her mistakes, it was enough that she was using English. According to her, most of the women in her circle were not even at her level of “proficientcy” so it didn’t make any difference and the dubious prestige of "knewing" English remained intact. I told her that I would quote her funnies, and she laughed and said that I could do so as long as it wasn’t to people who knew her, as that would tarnish her “im-age.” And so she continued happily murdering English with impunity!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Money Bags Year

"Ignorance and superstition ever bear a close and mathematical relation to each other."
James F. Cooper



Yesterday I got a forward that told me 2011 is the 'Money Bags Year' and it went on to explain why. I read through it, found the math amazing; felt a bit more knowledgable but nowhere did I see why the year was seen as a money generating one, and if forwarding a mail to eight or twelve or sixteen people could get me money in "four days" I could do some more math and multiply the number of forwards. But then some of the believers warned me against doing that. It would divide my money gains they said ominously! But why, I asked. I didn't understand the math. "It's feng Shui," was the answer.

Superstitions abound. I believe the only time money abounds with out hard work in such a short time, is when you are born with a silver spoon in your mouth, or you inherit a legacy from your parents/grandparents or a wealthy, childless relative pops suddenly leaving you rich. Or then you stumble upon a pot of gold in your backyard, while digging a plot for a vegetable garden...(that involves hard work too!) Anyways, this is interesting so I'm posting it. Of course I've knocked off the part that assures you will get money if you send this to eight other people...Oops! the cat is out of the bag!


Year 2011 - is called as Money bags Year


In the Year 2011 July has

....5 Fridays,
....5 Saturdays
....5 Sundays.
And this happens once every 823 years.

This is called money bags.




This year we're going to experience four unusual dates.

1/1/11, 1/11/11, 11/1/11, 11/11/11


And that's not all...


AMAZING ACTIVITY

Take the last two digits of the year in which you were born -
Now add it to the age you will be/are this year.......

The results will be 111 for everyone in the whole world.

This is the year of the Money!!!

Do you see any connection with money? Please let me know if you do....I'll send it to eight friends too....:)))

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Senior Moment

This post was prompted by a forward I found in my inbox. It was an illustration of how a member of the younger generation (a college freshman) perceives the older one, as primitive beings. While I haven't run into many youngsters like the obnoxious one mentioned there,I can safely say they exist with all their pompous arrogance. I've seen it as road rage and disparaging remarks thrown at senior citizens driving on the road. I have noted the frustration of young drivers honking madly as an old person laboriously crosses the road. I've heard and seen enough to wonder from where all this comes. On the brighter side I have heard and seen a majority of young people, being kind, gentle and patient with their elders. These are the ones, who you will not find airing their disapproval, of the oldies they encounter outside their families and homes.


Generally one can safely say, youngsters these days are becoming quite impatient and intolerant of older people, who have not kept abreast of the times. Being born in a world where everything has to be superfast, almost instant, they adopt arrogance and condescension with those they perceive as ‘primitive,’ and slow. They fail to understand that, the fruits of progress they enjoy today, didn’t happen overnight. These senior citizens have been a part of the process. They have moved through the stages of development and each has seen an improvement on a previous generation in terms of inventions and discoveries.


As children, we grew up with some new inventions, that our parents' never knew in their childhood. We also enjoyed improvements on existing devices which made them, faster, quicker and more efficient. But I can’t recall impatience, intolerance or arrogance being a part of our interactions with senior citizens. In fact we would be very keen to explain about new inventions and even try to convince them they were safe and good to use.


I know how difficult it was for companies to sell pressure cookers to housewives in small towns, back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. The general fear being that it would explode. It was the same when kerosene stoves were introduced to replace coal, firewood etc. Later the introduction of LPG for cooking found the same initial response. I was never intolerant of my grandmother, who lived in a village and used firewood and coal to cook and heat the house in winter.


Computers are the biggest challenge for older people in my country these days. Some have learned or taught themselves the basics, so they can surf the net and stay in contact through emails etc. Yet many still don’t know how to operate a computer, the largest percentage being women. Youngsters are impatient with such people.


The progress in the past two decades has happened at a faster pace than earlier years. Not many who carry the senior citizen tag have been able to catch up with recent developments. I’m sure that is no reason to view them as stupid or inefficient. But that’s just me. Tell it to a generation that has grown up on ‘instant.’

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

LEFTOVERS

Leftovers in their less visible form are called memories. Stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.

(Thomas Fuller)


Leftovers always present challenges that I can’t resist, and I rise to meet them.


A bowl of last night’s chicken, veggies, chappatis, old bread or even a bowl of humble dal fires my imagination and challenges my culinary skills. It becomes imperative that I transform these miserable leftovers, which everyone would rather see given away or better still dumped than on the table, into respectable dishes that can hold their own against any discriminating palate. And very often I am stunned by the amazing results!


I see so many possibilities in bits and pieces of cloth, wool, old clothes, ceramic tiles, empty bottles anything that would appear as waste. A stitch or two here, a dab of paint there, some embroidery, a little crochet or knitting, a bit of glue to stick imagination to an otherwise useless bit of garbage, and what lovely things emerge with new value of utility and beauty.


As I travel through life, I view the leftover part of my journey and I’m fired up to do wondrously beautiful things with it. I start to collect bits and pieces of memories, experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly to make up an intricate mosaic. Each moment has so many possibilities and potential to develop into life points, aha-moments, thought provoking points, crazy, hilarious nonsense, tender and loving snapshots, thoughtful silences, romance, moon-light and tears and so much more. It excites me, it humbles me.


I appreciate leftovers. I love the way it pushes me to find what is good and useful in each day of my life and put it to good use.


Glossary:

Chappati........an Indian flatbread made from whole wheat dough, cooked on a gridle. Resembles tortillas.

Dal.........lentils made as a thick soup with added spices and tempered. It's a basic food and is eaten with rice or chappatis.

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Sunday, May 15, 2011

My favourites from around the world

I find it interesting to read the adages and proverbs of different lands. Here are a few that I like from around the world.


Irish definitions:

of a gossiper:

She has a tongue that would clip a hedge.

of a coarse, ill-mannered person using poor language:

What would you expect out of a pig but a grunt?

on trying to change a stubborn person's mind:

You might as well be whistling jigs to a milestone.

of very bad music:

Aw, that's the tune the old cow died of.

of one who overstays their welcome:

If that man went to a wedding, he'd stay for the christening.

of a talkative person:

That man would talk the teeth out of a saw.

in praise of strong whiskey:

I felt it like a torchlight procession going down my throat.

said of a woman who had made a bad marriage:

She burnt her coal and did not warm herself.

of an unfortunate one:

He is always in the field when luck is on the road.

of very wet weather:

It's a fine day for young ducks.

of someone who always plans carefully:

If he's not fishing he's mending his nets.


Pearls from Africa:

A low-class man will just talk; deeds are the hallmark of a gentleman. (Swahili)

God is our neighbour when our brother is absent. - (Swahili)

A donkey knows no gratitude. - (Swahili)

The good looks of a moron do not stay that way for long. - (Ethiopia)

The haughty blind person picks a fight with his guide. - (Ethiopia)

Do not vacillate or you will be left in between doing something, having something and being nothing. - (Ethiopia)

It is foolhardy to climb two trees at once just because one has two feet. - (Ethiopia)

Though the lion and the antelope happen to live in the same forest, the antelope still has time to grow up. - (Ghana)

When you are at home, your troubles can never defeat you. - (Ghana)


Israeli sayings:

A bird that you set free may be caught again, but a word that escapes your lips will not return.

A mother understands what a child does not say.

A slave shows his true character, not while he is enslaved, but when he becomes a master.

Commit a sin twice and it will not seem a crime.

Don't approach a goat from the front, a horse from the back, or a fool from any side.

Don't be too sweet lest you be eaten up; don't be too bitter lest you be spewed out

Never trust the man who tells you all his troubles but keeps from you all his joys.

One of life's greatest mysteries is how the boy who wasn't good enough to marry your daughter can be the father of the smartest grandchild in the world.


Time heals old pain, while it creates new ones.


From India, sayings of the Buddha:


Men give up one thing to take up another, but in spite of numerous changes they do not find peace. They are no better than monkeys who let go one bough to take hold of another, only to let it go again.

Silence is an empty space, space is the home of the awakened mind.


Flower and thorn are in the same stem.


He who slings mud loses ground.


He who lives by the sword eats with bloody hands.


What's done to the children is done to society.


A truly wise man does not play leapfrog with a unicorn.


To light a candle is to cast a shadow.


A dog is not considered a good dog because he is a good barker. A man is not considered a good man because he is a good talker.


Ambition is like love, impatient both of delays and rivals.


In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.



A few from Scotland:


Fools look to tomorrow; wise men use tonight.


Friends are lost by calling often and calling seldom.


Give you an inch and you'll tak an ell. (An ell was a Scottish yard of 37 inches).


He goes long barefoot that waits for dead men's shoes.


He's the slave of all slaves who serve's none but himself.


He that teaches himself has a fool for a master.


Money is flat and was meant to be piled up.


Whisky may not cure the common cold, but it fails more agreeably than most other things.

Willful waste makes woeful want.

Wink at small faults - your own are muckle (great)

Ye canna make a silk purse of a sow's lug (a pig's ear).

You may as well keep your breath to cool your porridge.


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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Are you heading for Alzheimer's ?

After reading my post ‘Did I say losing it?’ a friend sent this to me so I could check and reassure myself once again that all was fine with me.

Anyways I didn’t want to save it all to myself, so here it comes for you. Remember no cheating, follow instructions honestly. Your time 2 minutes for question 1,2 & 3.

Short Neurological Test

1 - Find the C below, Please do not use any cursor help.





OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOCOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO



2 - If you already found the C, now find the 6 below.

99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
69999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999
99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999



3 - Now find the N below. It's a little more difficult.

MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMNMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM
MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM



This is NOT a joke. If you were able to pass these 3 tests, in less than two minutes, without cheating...you can cancel your annual visit to your neurologist. Your brain is great and you're far from having a close relationship with Alzheimer.

Congratulations




PART 2


eonvrye that can raed this rsaie your hnad.

To my 'selected' strange-minded friends:

If you can read the following paragraph, forward it on to your friends and the person that sent it to you with 'yes' in the subject line
.


Only great minds can read this. This is weird, but interesting!




If you can raed this, you have a sgtrane mnid too

Can you raed this? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

I cdnuolt blveiee that I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd what I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in what oerdr the ltteres in a word are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is that the frsit and last ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can still raed it whotuit a pboerlm. This is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the word as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! If you can raed this forwrad it.





Pat yourself on the back if you read it through smoothly, without hesitation and hemming and hawing!!!

Now look down and check if one leg is a wee bit longer than the other. Trust me, mine was after I went through this test!

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Some Mornings....

Yesterday I woke up to an overcast sky and a cool breeze. I heard the harmonious choir of winged creatures as they flitted among the trees and garden bushes. I espied sparrows, a group of seven sisters, mynahs, honey suckles, bulbuls and though I couldn't see them I heard the distinguishable call of the koel and a peacock.


I closed my eyes and breathed in the peace and tranquillity. I was Eve in Eden......and then the Adam next door shattered the illusion and brought me down to earth as he leaned over the balcony and yelled, "Oye Ram Singh, paani nahin hai, motor chala do..."


Soon the cacaphony of the world drowned out the sounds of my winged friends.' Good Morning world,' I said as I carried on walking to a hot breakfast and Breakfast news!


Glossary:
"Oye Ram Singh, paani nahin hai, motor chala do".....
Oye Ram Singh there's no water, turn on the motor (water pump)

Seven Sisters: Jungle Babblers. Commonly called seven sisters because of their tendency to forage in groups of seven to ten.

Koel/koyal: You can hear this bird at this link: http://youtu.be/GoOMlG1Vd_E

Bulbul: Bulbuls are of different kinds. The one that i see regularly is a bird with a black pointy hood, a red patch behind his eye and a red bottom, also called the red vented bulbul. Here is a link: http://youtu.be/sjCmedlFHhA

Sunday, May 1, 2011

A Whimsical Little Mind

Watching Alyssa as she went about her day, dancing, prancing, laughing, crying, demanding, deciding, manipulating, teasing, remonstrating; being as unpredictable as a fourteen month old can be, set the whirligig of time spinning and I found myself at different time zones with my boys.


I was with Tintin aged five, who had just returned from a school fete. It was the first time he had attended a fete in school. He was happy, I could tell from the way his eyes glowed and by his non-stop chatter about his day.


“I bought poha for you because you like it,” he said handing me his plastic tiffin box. I was pleased. I opened it and saw a lot of chopped green chilli, carefully collected in one corner.


“Wow! That’s a lot of chilli,” I exclaimed.


“Yes, that’s why I picked them out. You don’t like too much chilli, na?” My heart melted.


“So where is the poha, beta?” I asked looking at the few turmeric yellow grains of rice sticking to the sides.


“Oh, I ate it.”


He didn’t see the broad grin on my face because he had already turned his attention to something else.


“You are so thoughtful about Mama,” I said.


I knew I was not going to forget the day my little boy thought of buying me something I liked, on his first fete. Well, that he picked out the chillies was also so thoughtful. That he ate it up is the whimsical part!



The whirligig spins again and I go further back in time. Tintin is one and a half. I have tutored him about not putting things from the floor into his mouth, because they were “dirty.” “Dhirty,” he had repeated bobbing his head. I was pleased as Punch.


I had left him sitting on a small stool on the balcony. He was munching on almonds, cashewnuts and raisins from a bowl. Then I heard it, a low chant in a monotone; Dhirty...dhirty..dhirty...


I went to see what was so ‘dhirty’ and there he was, meticulously picking up the spilled nuts and raisins from the floor and pitching them over the wall, having pronounced each as dirty! I tried to stop him but the look he gave me as he held one up to me and said dhirty, left no room for retrieval. He insisted on throwing each dhirty, not to mention expensive, nut out.



I wondered if it would be a good idea to teach him about ‘not so dirty.’ After all weren’t almonds supposed to be brain food? However I chucked the idea along with the few remaining almonds. There was much more the brain could feed on. Tintin found books, the best food for thought!



When Tintin was three, we were on our first ever trip to his father’s home town. It was as new for me as it was for him. The people, the language, the culture, everything was new and had a different tone and nuance. Our first lunch with the family found Tintin sitting between an older cousin, much older by about twenty-two years, and one of his father’s college pals.



He was a picture of decorum and good table manners and I puffed up like a mother hen, as my mother-in-law praised him. However, I noticed he was leaning away from the man on his right, the college pal. Thinking he had some sort of discomfort with the chair, I made the big mistake of asking out loud, why he was sitting that way. He nodded his head and kept quiet. So the cousin whispered a query. That was it.


He leaned further away from the pal and said in a stage whisper, “This man is dangerous.”


Nothing could be more far removed from the image of “dangerous” than this thin, meek man sitting bent over his plate.


Given the cultural setting we were in this could be construed as a big insult especially, coming from someone so young. It could also be reflective of the manner of upbringing, thus bringing our parenting skills into question. All of a sudden there was a clash of emotions between the inflated mother hen and the mother. The former deflated and the latter burst out laughing. Thankfully, everyone found it not just funny but charmingly funny; even the pal.


I guess he had no option given the cheerful scenario.


Glossary

Poha....a light dish made of beaten rice and spices.
Beta...son

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