Saturday, June 18, 2011


"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...


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....:)))


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.’


Sunday, June 5, 2011


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: 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.