Monthly Archives: July 2010

Chasing Rainbows – fiction

‘Chasing Rainbows’

Fiction on the topic ‘When an NRI Returns… Observations and Experiences’

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‘You must be out of your mind!’ Neetu bangs the bowl so hard the shiny black table, that it cracks. The bowl, ofcourse, not the table!

From where I can see, they are having one of their routine weekend arguments. Come Friday night, and these two start off their incessant bickering.

‘Ravi! Did you meddle with my iPhone again? Something’s not quite right!’

‘Not pizza again, Neetu! Let’s have some ‘proper’ Indian food. Why don’t we just hire a cook?’

‘Ravi, your dirty clothes are supposed to go inside the laundry bag, not outside!’

My ears ache. I am often tempted to use those white sponges – er, what Neetu calls ‘ear-plugs’ – you know, the thing she always steals from hotels!

Some weekends however, are different. The house is filled with silence. Eerie silence. Those are the days when these two go absolutely mad, and cannot stand the sight (or sound) of each other! Comparatively pleasant, I have to confess.

Three months. Exactly three months since my children returned ‘home’. When Ravi left Chennai nine years ago, to work in London, he said he would return in just two years. Two rolled into three, four, five, and slowly nine. Finally, it was my illness that called him back. I know Neetu did not want to come back. After all, she is an educated modern girl. What is that thing she says all the time? ‘Spaaace’. Yes. She screams ‘I neeeeeed my space, Ravi!’.

Really, what is this space??! We have a beautiful 1500 sqft apartment! On the main road. In the heart of the city. That too, just next to the bus terminus! If I was young again, I would just get into my favourite Bus 12B and travel all the way to Marina beach and spend the day there, for just Rs.5!! Did you know, they have introduced Air-conditioned buses too now. That ticket costs Rs.10, and personally, I do not mind paying that much. But you know, my milkmaid – Bala, she says it is exorbitant. Poor woman. Carrys her aluminium tin full of milk packets in the bus and even on her head.

Anyway, Neetu is always asking for ‘space’. I think she has forgotten,  that her apartment in London was only 700 sqft. I went there once, you see, when Ravi’s Appa was alive. Nice city, actually. Though, I do not understand why those people always say ‘How lovely to meet you!’ What is so lovely about meeting a stranger?! But they are polite, those English people. We can actually learn some manners from them. Here, even walking has become a nightmare. Never know who will bump into you, or land his motorbike right on your feet, and not even bother to say ‘Saari’.

But nothing like ‘Home’. London was very peaceful. But it was dead. Perhaps any city would be ‘dead’ for an old woman like me. But here in Chennai, I am alive. Every moment. I wish Neetu would also realise this.

‘Crash! Bang!’ – more plastic cups flying across the dining table now. Ouch! This must be a really big fight. Talking to you, I seem to have missed what this was all about! Let me listen carefully.

There is a slight drizzle, and altogether, it makes a very pretty picture. The setting sun, the pitter-patter of raindrops, the aroma of hot samosas…

‘I hate this place, Ravi. I H-A-T-E Chennai. I am going back to where I belong!’ she cries.

‘What do you mean ‘where I belong’?? You lived all your life here, my dear. Have you forgotten your childhood days in Mandaveli area?’ he yells.

‘I have not forgotten. And that is EXACTLY the reason I cannot stand living here!’ she gets hysterical.

If you ask me, Chennai has changed so much in the last decade. When these children left for London, what we had was a quiet, old-fashioned city. Today, it is a modern metro. Complete with metro, shopping malls and the works! In those days, there were a few excellent schools and colleges for the youngsters.  Some new foreign banks had opened. That is where Ravi himself joined. Rukku Mami was so jealous about Ravi’s good fortune. To counter it, she used to brag about her daughter, Paddu, who had joined some ‘software company’. Shameless!

‘What’s your problem, Neetu? We have great jobs. You yourself earn a lakh of rupees a month!!’, Ravi continues to argue with Neetu.

‘You don’t get it, do you, Ravi?’ Neetu is on the verge of throwing a glass vase.

Please, not that vase, child!! I want to scream! I bought it about twenty years ago from Poppat Jamaal – what was then, one of the biggest shops in Chennai. Please choose another vase. Like that cheap imitiation you brought from London. Do you remember, how we laughed, when we turned the vase over and it read ‘Made in China’? Throw that one, please. Of course, she does not heed me. She never does.

‘We are both happy here! We have everything we can dream of!’, Ravi pleads.

Well said, Ravi. You both do have everything. Neetu also is doing well, I suppose. She has made so many new friends in the last two months.

She is very fond of driving, and in London, she never managed to get a license. Can you believe it? She tried four times, each time, she failed. As soon as she came to Chennai, she called ‘Metro Driving School’. They got her a driving license without her even going for the test! Five thousand rupees and two photographs – job done!

‘Ravi, can’t you see how congested this place is? India is just so polluted. Every time I step out, I end up coughing like an old woman!’ Neetu continues to whine.

Now, this is really getting annoying now. What is so dirty about India? Agreed, the roads are very congested. But the government has built so many flyovers. Many roads are one-way, and traffic is quite smooth, if you ask me. Ofcourse, you won’t! It is not fair, I think, that people obey rules and follow one-way signs when they are abroad, and when they are here in India, they crib that it is causing delays!

But look at it this way, our immune system is so much better than those who are living abroad. Our children roam around in the hot sun, but do not fall ill. I remember Neetu used to apply some expensive sun-screen lotion during the few summer months in London. We never do this drama! We are naturally robust.

Talking about being robust – look at our mental strength! Our country has been attacked so many times, in the past, and even now. The Mumbai blasts, terrorist attacks… every day, some part of our country is destroyed, damaged. But we Indians bounce back to Life. That is our biggest strength. I wish this girl could see these finer points of life.

‘We have to start a family, Ravi. Look at the free health system in London. Excellent education too, and all free!’ Neetu is pleading her case very hard today. I do not know how Ravi will reply to this.

You see, in India, education is not ‘equally’ available to everyone. There is a huge difference in government schools, and private funded schools. The former are usually very mediocre. There are some bright students, ofcourse, but they do not always get a fair chance. The poor people cannot afford a decent education for their children.

‘You’re right, Neetu. State schools in London are world-class. And free. But we can afford to give high quality education to our children. And we have the best possible schools here. Look at your own nieces and nephews. They go to the best school in Chennai. Haven’t they turned out brilliantly?’

But Ravi, what about our daily commute to work? I spend two hours on the road every day, in the dust and heat, travelling to the outskirts of the city on work. This will take a toll on my health, don’t you think?’ Neetu seems to have softened her tone a little now.

‘Darling, you used to travel an hour a day even in London. Remember those horribly crowded underground trains, in peak-hour. And every other day, there would be a delay because of some signal failure! Atleast, you get to car-pool here. Or travel independently, if you like’ Ravi gently kisses her on the forehead. I have to turn away now. I know where this is leading!!

‘But the corruption, Ravi? Everywhere we go, we have to bribe something to someone. Otherwise things just do not get done. This country runs on money. Only money’

‘Now, Neetu, don’t be unreasonable. Every country has its faults. I know we have not seen much corruption in London. The machinery moves even without the ‘extra’ oiling. But do you see, how slow things are there? It took us three weeks to get a broadband connection. When Appa fell ill, we had to wait two whole days, to get an appointment with the government doctors. See how accessible things are here in India…’

‘Hmmm’ I hear Neetu’s unspoken words. She cannot refute the points my darling son is making.

 ‘Remember the day we landed? You and I did not have to do a thing!! Helpers did everything for us. And what did you do? You yelled at poor Lakshmi-amma, for not wiping the mirrors well enough’.

I see Neetu squirming. Now her cheeks are turning red. Oh no, Ravi! You have treaded dangerous territory now! Seems like Ravi has heard my alarm too.

Sorry, darling. I did not mean it that way. I was just trying to make you see how convenient it is to live in India. We have so much help. You do not have to lift a finger! In London, we did everything, from cleaning bathrooms, to painting the house. We have people to do every little piece of work here. All you have to do manage them!’

At this moment, the lights go out. Before I assume these children are upto some hanky-panky, I hear a loud knock on the door. ‘Nityasireeee, Current illaya?’ (meaning, no current?) comes the booming voice of our neighbour, Chandra Maami. How much I miss her. We used to leave our front-doors open, and sit in our respective hallways, and chat with each other, during quiet evenings. Her children live in Seattle. Naturally! She educated them so well. IIT, IIM. And what did they do? Flew away to the USA, and settled there. I know exactly how she feels. I used to feel the same way. Until Ravi and Nityashree returned. Such a beautiful name – ‘Nityashree’. She gets angry when anybody refers to her by this name. She said her friends found ‘Neetu’ easier to pronounce. Sigh!

Sometimes, I think the best way of putting some sense into her head, is to show her the restaurant bills they have both run up in the last two months. One would think they returned to India for me. From the way they have been ravaging the Chaat shops and Dosa-outlets, it looks like they have been starving for the last nine years. ‘Mmmm… mmmmm…’ is all I hear when they bring home a take-away. Slurp. Of all the food they have gobbled, I loved the aroma of pav-bhaji most! I know – Ravi knows it is my favourite dish. He is a loving boy, my Ravi.

He remembers Chennai, the way it was. Madras.

The quaint old-fashioned city with its quiet, cultured inhabitants.

The streets where one would find a beautiful old temple, a relatively new Mosque and a historically important Chuch, all within five minutes walk of each other.

The beautiful Marina beach. If one could just ignore the number of slum-dwellers who performed their morning ablutions in front of our eyes! Still, it is a beautiful beach. Countless families who relish their Saturday evenings. Lakhs of ‘lovers’ walking hand-in-hand, dreaming of a future so bright, and in a world miles away from here. Little realising, that this place – right here, and right now – is a heaven on earth itself.

Call me a frog-in-the-well, if you like. I have breathed my entire life in this beautiful city. In this magnificent country, India. By far, I believe this is the most wonderful place ever.

‘This is the most wonderful place, ever, Neetu’ says Ravi, almost echoing my thoughts.

They have lit a candle. In the darkness, all I can see is Neetu’s eyes, glistening with tears. And Ravi caressing her gently.

‘I miss my life in London, Ravi! I miss those beautiful rainbows on a quiet summer evening’ Neetu whispers.

‘Oh, I miss my Tropicana orange and Cider too, Neetu’, Ravi says teasingly. And Neetu bursts out laughing. She actually looks quite pretty when she is happy.

‘I know you miss London. I do, too. But we cannot deny the fact that whatever be the case, we led a monotonous life’, Ravi looks quite serious now.

‘We spent our days shopping, travelling, eating, drinking…’ he continues. ‘Which is not bad at all. That is exactly what everybody wants to do. But you will realise, some day, what I mean when I say Life must be more Fulfilling’.

Neetu starts to get up. Ravi holds her hand and pulls her back.

Really, these children have no shame. Holding hands freely, in front of elders. Er, is this what Neetu means when she says she wants her ‘space’? Anyway, I have to perk up now, if I want to catch any more of their argument. Which I know, Ravi is going to win!

‘We want to start our family, Neetu. How do you want our children to grow up? In play-groups or nurseries with strangers? Or with your own family here – with your parents! Do you want your child to be lonely and bored despite having expensive toys? Or do you want her to simply walk down our apartment complex, and just join a bunch of energetic children playing excitedly?’

Neetu nods slowly.

‘Neetu, you do not have to turn into another Shahrukh Khan from Swades!

You do not need a dramatic tryst with poverty and misery – for you to have a change of heart.

You do not have to stumble upon an orphanage, to realise how much there is to be done here in India.

You just have to open your heart and mind, and realise that there is so much more to share here. With so many more people. You can share your sorrows. Your joys, even. There is just so much to give, and to receive too!’

I feel a lump forming in my throat. This boy is wise beyond his years.

‘We cannot change this country, Ravi. You’re being dramatic!’ Neetu argues.

‘Nityashree!’ (Ravi only uses this name when he is very serious). ‘I am not trying to change this country. All I am saying is, give us a chance, to return home!’

Well said, my boy! I almost whoop in delight!

Look around you! Your life is brimming now. With people, activity, laughter, sorrow, noise, light… you and I, are fully alive! Unlike our depressing winters abroad. There is something about the air in our country, that makes me feel alive. I hope you will realise it someday, too’.

I feel a tear roll down one cheek. I feel alive here too, Ravi. I want to walk right up and embrace him.

‘When I came back to Chennai last year…’ Ravi continues. I suspect a tremor in his voice.

‘When I came last summer, Appa was already gone. But Amma – the sight of her shook me. She was alone, naturally. But she was so content. Simple, yet, so peaceful and calm. That is when I realised, that we, despite all our material comforts, were sorely missing something by being away from our homeland’

When Amma also died last year, I realised that the most important pieces of my life were gone.

First my father, and then my mother. The only thing I had left now, was my hometown – my country, my home. My roots. I could not reverse Time. But I could gather the remnants of my life…’

Neetu nods slowly. She looks up and stares at me. Rather, at my photograph that hangs on the mango-yellow wall.

Her gaze meets mine. Hers, undecided. Mine, pleading.

‘He is right, child!’ I want to cry, ‘I hope you too, realise that a large chunk of you belongs in your roots. No country, no home is perfect. But if you give it a chance, you could actually stop chasing rainbows, because they are right here – even in a drop of adulterated water, even in a ray of light. Happiness in every breath! Well, almost’, I plead silently.

‘Ok, Ravi’ she finally whispers. ‘Let’s do this!’ she says more affirmatively.

In a rather filmy way, the power suddenly comes back on. In the distance, I notice, what most certainly looks like a rainbow! I know that my children will notice it too. Soon!

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Live Death

Innumerable homes in London are built on the banks of the river Thames. Every weekend, we see lines of middle-aged men seated patiently by the river, with a fishing rod in hand. They just sit there from morning till noon, calm, serene and absolutely content (atleast, that’s the way it seems).

Once the Brat actually went up to an elderly gentleman and asked him ‘Excuse me, Mr.Fisherman, can you teach me how to fish?’ To which the old man gave him a wry look and said ‘I’ve been here all day, and haven’t caught a single fish!‘. The brat didn’t get the irony ofcourse ;-) but it was funny!

Last Sunday, there was this much awaited SALE (:-)) at NeXt. So as soon as I woke up, I grabbed my purse and headed to the mall ;-) Knight in shining armour declared I was ‘official’(ly crazy). But then, the stores had all opened by 5:30 am, and on the high street, serpentine queues would have formed that early!! Technically, I was running late by almost 3 hours!!

Anyway, I digress. So as I crossed this little bridge across my house, I saw two Chinese guys apparently fishing in the river. ‘What a waste of time, they aren’t going to catch anything here!’ I thought to myself. But suddenly one of the guys jumped excitedly. He had caught a fish!! It was a nice silvery one, and not small by any means. Not too big either. From where I was watching, it seemed to be just a little bigger than the size of a palm.

I was quite excited for them! In the last six years here, I have never seen anybody actually catching a fish :-)

But what followed after that, busted my bubble of joy :-( The fish started jumping about, obviously struggling to get back into the water. I felt a little sorry for the fish. And then, while one guy tried to hold the fish down to the ground, the other guy took out his camera and took a video recording :-( That was when I felt sick at the pit of my stomach.

This has nothing to do with being a vegetarian (which I am) or a non-vegetarian (which I used to be). I don’t wish to discuss ethics/morality/vaues in being or not being a vegetarian.

This is beyond that. It is about some creature that was alive and kicking a minute ago, but struggling now, to simply breathe and live.

And more importantly, this is about how someone can derive pleasure out of watching it die :-( :-( :-( I don’t understand this.

Lie, sound, colour, number, etc. [a light exercise] from Caferati

I came across this delightful writing exercise on Caferati, on the Ryze network. Pushpee has written a lovely poem  on her blog here and it was so interesting that I took it up too.

These are the guidelines:

Lie, sound, colour, number, etc. [a light exercise]

Line 1 – Write down something that happened this morning. But make it an out and out downright lie.
Line 2 – In the spirit of 1 – write a sentence with a sound in it.
Line 3 – Write a sentence with a colour in it.
Line 4 – Write a sentence with a number in it.
Line 5 – Write a sentence with a character from a book in it
Line 6 – Write a sentence with an animal in it.
Line 7 – Write a sentence with an emotion in it.
Line 8 – Write a sentence to do with the past, present or future.

You might want to go away, write it, cut and paste it. But write it quickly! Go for the first things that come into your head. But by all means do a little work on the finished result. The result may not be great poetry – but hey, it should be fun.

And this is what came out of it:

Just after his favourite breakfast, I killed him
Silence – is that the sound of the ‘seven-year itch’?!!
White walls splashed with red
Two bullets, the first had missed
He looked like the Ghost
And I, like a little rabbit, trapped
Afraid of what I had done
Unsure – of how I would use my new found freedom!!

 

Go on, all you budding writers and poets… give this exercise a shot!!

Hope your weekend is going on well :-)

x

A song – grab some tissues please!

This is one song you simply CANNOT watch without crying your heart out!!

‘Maa’ from ‘Taare Zameen Par’ is one of the BEST songs ever, and this movie itself is a GEM!! Kudos to Aamir for making this. Who said Bollywood is about sex and violence only?! One cannot sing this without a quiver in his/her voice. One cannot even listen to the entire song without the eyes getting filled :-)

Heard this a thousand times, but this song NEVER EVER fails to wrench my heart.

I feel so sorry for mother who has to send her child away to a boarding school. I was never a mushy-mushy person, children would never run to me, and I had no clue as to how to cuddle / pamper little babies/toddlers. But after my Brat arrived, it has quite changed. I am still very ‘touch-me-not’ but my Life lives outside me now :-) So for a mother, having to separate from her child is really the most challenging thing ever!

I feel worse for that innocent and vulnerable little boy who is sent away from his family. I can imagine the insecurity and sorrow of the child, who must think ‘he is to blame’ or ‘there’s a problem with HIM’ when in reality it is the family who is not able to help him enough while keeping him with them! Lucky, that this child lived in Bollywood. Where there IS a happy ending. God help all those kids who live in the REAL world.

I am glad my parents never had thoughts of sending me to a boarding school. All the same, I am equally grateful they allowed me to fly away to hostel when I was old enough.

So for everything they have done, and not done… here’s to my wonderful parents :-)

(And to my younger Sis too, as she will kill me if she doesn’t see her name here ;-) )

Btw, I also like this video, where real life mums and children get emotional after hearing the song. And I have to say Aditya looks darn cute with those glasses ;-)

And if any of you is feeling senti or sad after watching the above videos, then take a look at this and perk up :-)

Cheers..

Mein Kampf and a Verdict

Team This post has been published by me as a team member of Tiger Trails Team for the SUPER 3 round of Bloggers Premier League (BPL) – The first ever unique, elite team blogging event in the history of blogging world. To catch the BPL action and also be part of future editions and other contests, visit and register at Cafe GingerChai

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WARNING: LONG POST AHEAD. PART FICTIONAL, PART HISTORICAL.

I held Mummy’s hand tightly. For one, I was meeting her after so long! Almost six years. I’d almost forgotten what she looked like. So I wasn’t going to let go of her hand for even a moment! And two, the short Man had just entered our court room. Instantly, I felt Mummy stiffen. Some of the men and women who were seated with us stood up from their seats as the Man took his place in the witness stand. A couple of middle-aged men – like my Daddy – shuddered and began to hurl curses at him. The Man looked around the room, at all of us, his eyes betraying no emotion. The crowd quietened down immediately.

Ok let’s get down to business. We don’t have much time’ – the Judge announced in His booming voice. This wasn’t the typical court room one would see in the Movies. There was no sound of ‘Order Order’ or the symbolic Tap of what-looked-like-a-hammer!

This was a different court room. In a different world. One that was miles and miles above where we used to live earlier. Mummy says she arrived here five years ago. But she isn’t too sure. Papa reached here two days back and I just about landed. And boy oh boy, you can imagine how excited I was, to have both my Mummy AND Papa with me at the same time. It has been so long since we were together.

I digress! So, our court room was a nice airy hall, with high ornate ceilings and French-windows. Pretty curtains kept in place with gold-plated tie-backs.

Outside was a long table loaded with fresh fruit and drinks. I was waiting for the trial to get over, so I could run out. I was famished. Judge, of all the people, should know! They never gave us enough to eat. They didn’t even let us cry. You know where, right? At Auschwitz.

‘So, Führer. Here are the broad charges against you.. ’ Judge’s voice boomed again.

1-     ‘Conspiring against peace

2-     War crimes

3-     Crimes against humanity’. ‘And, remember, everyone present here is the Prosecution!’

Now, I did not understand any of this. ‘Papa.. what is happening?’ I whispered. ‘Shhhh…that’s the Baddie.. he’s going to be punished today!’ he muttered hurriedly.

The Man called ‘Führer’ remained motionless. The crowd in the room was anxious. Still, there was pin-drop silence.

Suddenly, somebody threw a shoe at The Man. Then, there was another. And another. In a few moments, it was raining shoes! One infact hit me on the head. Mummy quickly covered her hands over me to keep me safe. Oh! How nice it felt to be protected by her again. I had been so lonely until now.. I had missed her so much.. at Auschwitz.

‘Stop!! Stop that right now!’ Judge yelled. ‘You’re behaving no better than … er..quiet, people!’ Judge cut short His words. The last of the shoes fell short of reaching the witness stand. The crowd quietened down again and waited breathlessly, for the Man to speak.

The Man rose from his seat. A swift but calculated movement. He scanned the faces of the people in our room. A shiver ran down my spine. Who was HE???? I wondered. Short and unimpressive to look at. But one who triggered such an extreme reaction by throwing just one glance!

The Man cleared his throat. Quite obviously, he was his own Defence lawyer as well! ‘My people…’ he spoke firmly .. ‘My people.. you call me an irrational madman. A Villain. A murderer’

A cloud of silence descended onto the room.

‘What appears to you as Crime.. for hundreds and thousands of soldiers and comrades defending our Fatherland, was in truth (long pause) – JUSTICE

A loud murmur ran amongst the crowd. I felt a little afraid.

The Man continued, ‘God knows that I wanted peace!’ Führer looked knowingly at Judge. Judge pretended to have not noticed at all.

‘GOD knows that I wanted peace!’ Führer emphasised loudly. The crowd began to murmur again.

‘Is this your idea of peace?! You started World War II. You planned it. Waged war. Destroyed a whole generation! You swine!’ –  an elderly man shouted from the bench behind me. I looked up at Papa. He was staring at the Man, his eyes shining with anger.

‘War??’ Führer’s voice boomed now. ’War??? Germany, our Fatherland, was forced to fight or starve. Soviet was about to attack us. The Communists would have taken over our nation. If we did not stop THEM at the right time, this disease called Communism would have plagued the whole of Europe. What I did – (pause) What I did – was PROTECT my Fatherland. OUR Fatherland.’ He said angrily.

‘Papa, who is he?? What exactly did he DO?’ I asked again, excited and curious. Before Papa could reply, The Man continued.

‘When I was 24, I left my hometown Vienna, to avoid mandatory military service in the Austrian army. My heart and soul belonged to Germany – the most superior nation. 1914 – I still remember the day – we had gathered in the Plaza to celebrate the German proclamation of World War I ! For me, as for every German, there now began the greatest and most unforgettable time of my earthly existence. Compared to the events of this gigantic struggle, everything past receded to shallow nothingness!’

The crowd shuffled impatiently.

‘Do you even remember how we lost the war? Defeated, broken, bruised and bankrupt. We had nothing. Our economy was in ruins. The British, French and American armies had ousted us. And beyond the obvious, do YOU – who accuse me of being a criminal – know the REAL cause of our destruction?’

Führer paused and looked around, fire burning in his eyes. Many of the grown-ups shifted their gaze to the ground, as if they did not have the courage to meet his. I thought it very strange. Papa said HE was the ‘baddie’, and here, my friends and family couldn’t lift their gaze to meet his?!

‘Our REAL enemy – was the group of ‘November Criminals’’. The audience looked a little baffled. ‘Ah! For those of you who choose to be ignorant – they were the German politicians who signed the armistice negotiations with the Allies in November 1918. Specifically, the Jews and Marxists, who undermined and SABOTAGED our efforts in the war. They were the REAL back-stabbers who led to our defeat’.

At this, some of the elderly men shook their head sadly. I wasn’t sure if they were in agreement with him, or desperate to hear something else!

‘Hear the TRUTH, my people’ – the Man continued. ‘This is YOUR history! The German Empire was abdicated. The German Republic was formed. A new nation, born in political and social turmoil. Remember 1919 – the Allies signed the Treaty of Versailles, and forced our Fatherland to accept all responsibility for causing the War. They took away YOUR money, land, and restricted YOUR troops, missiles and military aircraft. THEY HUMILIATED YOUR NATION’

I watched in admiration, as The Orator spoke. There was something very powerful radiating from his persona. I was almost in awe of him! I suspect many of others in the audience felt the same way!

‘They DESTROYED and HUMILIATED US in front of the entire world’, he continued dramatically, but paused to cough. Nobody offered him water to drink. ‘Do you think we should have accepted such humiliation??? NEVER! It was OUR RESPONSIBILITY to break the shackles of the Treaty and RE-ASSUME OUR PLACE IN THE WORLD. Germany had to be re-born. Re-built, through a powerful Nationalist government. We had to punish the November Criminals and Jewish Marxists.’ He coughed again. His earlier arrogance was still visible. But his posture now showed that he had slouched a little.

‘What you call WAR was in reality, the only way to peace and prosperity in Europe! Our Nation – Germany – was and IS the true Leader – the supreme power – and it was MY responsibility and yours too – to help restore Germany its real status’

‘But war is never a solution, Führer!’ – cried an angry young man from the audience. ‘You STARTED World War II – you caused HAVOC – you destroyed MILLIONS of lives!’ Some of the women in the group started to cry, and shout ‘You are a KILLER.. KILLER!’

Führer looked around in the direction of the man who had asked the question. We could not discern the expression on his face. He squinted his eyes to get a clearer view of the young man. The young man shrank back. ‘Young man! If your neighbour plundered your home and raped your woman – what would you do? (pause) Sit back and watch? Or fight tooth and nail?’

The man kept silent. ‘Answer, young man’ Führer thundered. The man looked perplexed.

‘You KNOW what you would have done. You would have attacked. Killed and plundered. To ensure you avenge the injustice done to you. That is exactly what I did too! I also vowed to vanquish the Anti-Race called Jews!’

The audience turned to look at each other, bewildered.

‘We were ruined from the Outside. And from the INSIDE. ’ but before Führer could complete, there were loud shouts from the Audience. Führer waited patiently for the shouts to die. Judge looked around. I felt a little sad for Him. Having to deal with a tough character in the Stand. And with a bunch of ‘wronged’ outside the stand!

‘All that I strived for is right here – in my 25-Points – read it!

This is what we BELIEVED in :  COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD. Is that so wrong?!!

  • I wanted the union of all Germans in a Great Germany on the basis of the principle of self-determination of all peoples.
  • That the German people have rights equal to those of other nations.
  • Those who are not citizens must live in Germany as foreigners and must be subject to the law of aliens.
  • If it should not be possible to feed the whole population, then aliens (non-citizens) must be expelled from the Reich
  • That all unearned income, and all income that does not arise from work, be abolished!
  • That ruthless war be waged against those who work to the injury of the common welfare. Traitors, usurers, profiteers, etc., are to be punished with death, regardless of creed or race.

Go on! Read the rest of my 25-Points here!!’

With that he threw a bunch of pamphlets onto the nearest desk. Nobody dared to pick one up.

‘This is the demand of any true patriot! You accuse me of WAR! All I wanted was peace! In my way’.

‘But what about the atrocities committed by the Nazi army? Do you have no regrets whatsoever?!’ a frail-looking woman asked in a thin voice.

Führer glared at her. ‘Nazi philosophy by no means believes in an equality of races, but along with their difference it recognizes their higher or lesser value and feels itself obligated to promote the victory of the better and stronger, and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker in accordance with the eternal will that dominates this universe’. (Mein Kampf)

‘But what you did was not mere sub-ordination, but complete destruction! You tried to annihilate an entire race of people called Jews! You are inhuman – you Murderer of Millions!! You called us THE PROBLEM. Your ‘FINAL SOLUTION’ was to EXTERMINATE us, like a pack of rats?!! You threw us into concentration camps like Auschwitz Papa suddenly shouted.

Führer turned to us. Papa looked livid. Mama held on to me very tightly.

‘Every manifestation of human culture, every product of art, science and technical skill, which we see before our eyes today, is almost exclusively the product of Aryan creative power. (Mein Kampf) We – the German people – had a duty to control the world! The anti-Race did not deserve to live!’. At this point, I thought I saw Führer flinching slightly. ‘The JEWS threatened our civilization!’ Angry murmurs rose in the audience.

Führer did not pause. ‘A mere 1% of our population – the Jews tried to take over our Nation using money power – they controlled politics, business and the markets. They were lazy, adulterous profiteers who tried to make our race impure!’

That is unfair!’ shouted a woman from the last bench. ‘Every human has the right to live. The Nazis snatched that right from us! They rounded us up into trains that had no windows. They herded us into concentration camps. They crammed us into unhygienic rooms. With no water, no food. No air, even. They took us away from our men. They did not even spare our children!!’

Führer surprisingly remained silent.

‘You orchestrated mass murder of millions of innocent Jews! You gassed us in chambers! You starved us, beat us, murdered us! You experimented on our children like they were guinea pigs. You HUNG THEM FROM WALLS!!’

I turned to Papa in shock. Memories of my days at Auschwitz camp came flooding back to me. I had blocked them out quite successfully until now. I remembered the train all too well. My family and I were pushed into a dark compartment. Papa was torn away from us. Mama hugged me so tightly I could almost not breathe. The very thought of it made me want to take a deep breath. The Nazi soldiers would never give us enough to eat. There were no games to play. Nothing to read. All we had to do was work. And wait. Wait for our turn to enter the big showering chamber. The chamber of No Return!

I thought of the dark bunks into which they crammed us every night! I used to be afraid of going to sleep, for I might die of suffocation!!

‘You separated us from our children! You destroyed our lives!’ an old man now shouted.

Führer did not reply. He stared quite blankly.

‘Do you even KNOW what it is like to lose someone you love? You cold-hearted sinner!’ – shouted another woman.

Führer nodded slowly. ‘I do. I do know, what it is like. To have never been loved. My father… (pause) my father beat me into a coma. He attacked me – with both words and hands! The scar he left has lasted me a lifetime. He made me feel I was unworthy of living’

The audience was livid. Was Führer making this up? Was he trying to garner sympathy? They automatically looked towards Judge. He nodded. So it was true.

But Führer was not finished yet. ‘UNWORTHY of living, do you understand? Just like YOU!’ he was raging with anger again.

‘I DID NOT have an easy life! Unlike you prosperous bunch of profiteering Jews! I slaved for my daily survival.’

I wanted to be a Priest!’ The audience smirked.‘I wanted to become an Artist!’

‘But it was people like YOU who decided I was not fit for such fine arts. It was people like YOU who drove me into an alternate life.

I was unloved. Rejected. Scorned. But I believed. In MYSELF. In my NATION. In my purpose of life. Which was to restore glory to my Fatherland – Germany!’

‘We do not want any other god than Germany itself. It is essential to have fanatical faith and hope and love in and for Germany’ (Mein Kampf)

The audience spoke in hushed tones. The Man obviously believed in whatever it is he had just said! Our friends here however did not know how to respond. To drive home the point, that killing of an innocent was not justified in any event!

At this point, I felt like I had to say something. I raised my hand. Nobody noticed.

‘Er.. Excuse me, Mr. Führer!’ I said quietly. Even Papa did not hear me. I took a deep breath, and stood up on my bench.

‘Excuse me, Mr. Führer!’ I screamed. A couple of heads turned around to face me. The Man too, finally spotted me. And suddenly there was complete silence.

I was now very nervous. But I had to tell HIM something. Rather, ASK him something that had been nagging my mind ever since I entered the room this morning.

‘Er..er.. ‘

‘Sit down!’ Papa hushed me.

‘Mr. Führer! I actually do not understand WHAT you did, or WHY everybody here is angry with you. But I have to show you something.’

People threw questioning looks at me. I felt very conscious. But I had to do what a boy had to do!

I took my shirt off. My trousers too. The audience let out a collective gasp. I was a mere collection of bones. My eyes were almost hollow. My thin shoulders hung loosely by my side. My head was shaved. It had been, for a very long time. A number was tattooed. That had been my new name at Auschwitz.

Papa’s eyes filled with tears.

The audience turned back to glare furiously at The Man.

‘Mr. Führer, all my friends at Auschwitz look just like me. Actually, I do not remember what I looked like earlier. You know, before I reached Auschwitz. Mama says I was a very handsome boy. She cries whenever she sees me now

Hot tears rolled down faces in the audience.

‘Mama she says she should have ‘killed me’ a long time ago, so that I need not have become like this’.

Mama had started to shake silently. I knew she was crying again. I felt sad for her.

I turned around to show Führer my back. It was striped. Every stripe, a reminder of someone’s anger. Every bluish-black patch, a souvenir of hatred and violence.

Führer looked like he was rooted to the spot. This time, he did not even try to respond.

‘Mr. Führer’ I continued – ‘I love the way you talk. I know Mama will be angry with me. But actually, I think I admire you. I want to be a soldier, just like you’

Führer blinked his eyes just once, as if taking in all this was an effort for him. Most of the audience were now crying. They were probably all thinking of their children. Most of the children were here anyway, in this court room, far above the skies. But some of them were still trapped down there. They were alive, of course, but from here, they looked like zombies.

‘I feel bad for you, Mr. Führer. Your father hated you. Mine has always loved me J Mama says your Mama died very young, so you were all alone. I am sure, you just as lonely as I was, when the Soldiers dragged my Mama away into the Gas Chamber. But Mr.Führer, you were so brave!!’

The Man continued to stare at me. I was not sure if it was in disbelief, or in gratitude, for being the only one to have understood him. His eyes looked vacant. Like he was in shock, because something had hit him hard.

‘But Mr. Führer – I just want to know one thing – Were YOU the one who killed my Mama?’

The Man stared at me. Unable to reply.

‘You killed Papa too?’

He opened his mouth to talk, but words did not come out.

‘Were YOU the one who did THIS to me?’ I pointed to my visible rib bones that stuck out through the frail, almost charred skin.

Someone in the audience started to clap. In a few seconds, the entire audience was clapping their hands wildly.

The Man himself hung his head down in shame.

Judge miraculously produced a tiny hammer, and said ‘The verdict is there – for all to see!’

HE pointed to Adoph Hitler, who had tightly shut his eyes and refused to meet my gaze any longer.

DDLJ Live!!

Picture this awesome scene from the movie DDLJ - SRK and Kajol are running to catch the train, he hops aboard first, then heroically lends her a hand and she manages to get in too! 

 

This is pretty much what happened on our recent trip to Disneyland Paris!! 

Well not exactly, but something similar… 

On a sudden whim, we decided on Thursday, to make a quick trip to Disneyland Paris :-) 

 

Our onward trip was rather uneventful, except for the fact that I (un)wisely decided to take only my old dabba (not so good) camera and leave behind hubby’s new one!! 

Once we boarded the train, the tummy let out a rumble, so we opened out the aloo parathas that were meant for dinner (!!) and gobbled them up, quite oblivious to the glares from fellow-passengers ;-) In fact, I wanted to open even the Achaar and Yogurt (but I wasn’t carrying any of the former, and the latter was a HUGE tub, and even I felt embarassed to dip the paratha into it ;-)) 

As we reached, the weather Gods decided to make our trip rather memorable. We looked out of the train, to find, that everything to our left was Bright and Sunny and absolutely beautiful :-) ! While, everything to our right was CLoudy, Dark and morose :-( :roll: Then, a light drizzle, followed by slightly heavy rain, and in a few minutes, LIGHTNING!! Luckily, the sky cleared up just before we reached our destination – Marne-la-Vallée. 

We had read mixed reviews of our hotel on the internet. So our expectations were not that high! Thankfully!! The room was clean, no doubts, but it was Teeeeeeeeeeeeny Tiiiiiiiny!! There was one little sofa-bed which, once pulled out, left no space to even walk around the room! The bathroom was huge, which was really nice. There was also a tiny kitchenette, which pretty as it sounds, was also rather useful. Typical South Indian that I am, I actually carried a little rice cooker, paruppu-podi (and yogurt ofcourse, which is my staple diet :razz:) 

Saturday morning was rather strange. As we ate our minimal breakfast (yummy croissants with jam) – and I say ‘minimal’ because the hotel didn’t provide fruits or cheese! – a thunder storm had broken out!! It was pouring…and we weren’t quite equipped for it!! All we had was one umbrella between the three of us (but the smart Mommy that I am, I had packed a raincoat for the Brat). 

Anyway, we brave soldiers marched onwards to the mini shuttle that took us to the Disney Park. The local store made some massive business that day via Raincoat sales!!! So we donned our disposable raincoats and went all around the Park. We took a ride in the little train. The MAP looked rather daunting! What with all those mountains, forests, little rivulets and all. But soon, we realised the actual Disney Park wasn’t all that difficult to manouvre around. 

It was amazing, how clean the park remained even with all the rains. There was no litter, no dirt… it was actually magical ;-) 

In a couple of hours, the rains stopped, and then we had a ball!! 

We went on several rides. There was one Mad Hatter’s Tea Cups, that spun us round and round. Then, there was this other Merry Go Round. Remember the ones we find on beaches in India? Same thing. Just a little more colourful and cleaner. For a change, instead of hubby and me taking turns, all three of us went on the ride together!! The brat sat on the horse in the middle, while we were on either side. I loved this part!! And to my luck, obviously, when the ride stopped, my horse was high up in the air, and I struggled to get off it!! I am so glad I didn’t fall and make a fool of myself, which I am normally bound to do!! 

Pic courtesy: Google

 

There was this Big Thunder Mountain Train-ride.. which was a breath-taking experience. The train was super speedy (as my brat calls it) and the carriages threatened to THROW us out horizontally!! The train went through tunnels that were PITCH DARK and steeped really high/low in turns!! We were all screaming our lungs out. At one point, I actually thought one of us would just fall into the ravine beside the little hill!! But this was the most memorable ride of all :-) Little R loved it ;-) 

There were beautiful parades, of all the cartoon characters… Pooh bear, Piglet, Tigger, Mickey and gang, etc…. Infact, I got pretty emotional when I saw all the fantasy Princesses and their respective Princes. I’ve lived on fairy tales all my life, so to see them in ‘pseudo-reality’ was rather moving :-) Call me crazy, if you like, but I did get senti!! 

 

We also went in a Maze with a little castle at the top. From our prior experience, we have no luck with Mazes. At Hampton Court palace, we actually forgot to visit the maze!! At Leeds Castle, we did enter the maze, but 30 minutes down the line, we had just made three trips to the ‘EXIT’ and not reached anywhere near the centre! Now, this Disney Maze, for a change, was really quite easy. We found it in about 20-25 minutes and were rather thrilled as we reached the centre!! 

As we sat to refresh ourselves over coffee, there was this HUGE tea-pot from which a little Rabbit would pop out every few minutes. I put R on it to take a photo. After which, there was this other Indian family, with 3 boys all climbing the tea-pot. One of them was standing at the very tip of the spout and YELLING OUT LOUD to his parents to take a pic before he fell down!! The parents were busy drinking something and chatting away happily :-) I’m not sure if they even got a picture of the heroic stunt :shock: 

By end of day, we were poooooooped!! We got back to the hotel, to eat our precious ‘curd-rice’ ;-) and crash into the lumpy sofa-bed!! :roll: 

Sunday was Hot Hot Hot. We were also tired from the previous day’s excitement, so we spent the first couple of hours, in the Disney Village (window-shopping) and went on a quick ride on a beautiful Hot Air Balloon. It was stationary though..meaning, it was tied down to the base by a thick rope. Made me wonder.. what if.. the rope snapped and we went far far away… gosh.. it was both scary and fascinating. 

We spent the second half of the day at Disney Studios. This had many shows – animation, live puppet shows, etc. etc. And yes, we had a good time at all these. Especially a Motor Stunts show, which I vehemently opposed, but ended up enjoying thoroughly. 

Yeah, so back to our DDLJ in Real Life scene! 

It was 6 pm, and our train was to leave at 7:34. We decided to be extra cautious, and reached the station by 6:30 itself! And waited. And waited. AND waited. There were no signs, and all the announcements were in French, which neither of us knew!! (The only thing we know now, thanks to R, is ‘Bonjour Come Es Stas’). 

At about 7:15, little R had a bad fall – right on his face – cut his lower lip really badly – and was bleeding and howling with pain and shock!! 

And in all that chaos, at around 7:25, the departure board announced that our train was to depart at platform 3. we were right at the gate. But… the gate was closed!!! 

So we ran – literally ran – with bag, baggage and a screaming child – to the other end of the station – and tried to get through the other gate. And guess what? Even that was closed!! 

Then we asked the Info guy, and he pointed out that we had to ‘check-in’. And as we discussed what we ‘should have ideally done’, we saw our train slowly chugging away!! 

The Helpdesk however, on seeing R’s lip wounds, suggested that we catch the local subway to Paris city, change to another train, and then take the Eurostar back to London. 

We were left with no choice!! We again ran ran ran all the way to the ticket counter, managed to get onto the subway and counted every minute as the train slowly slowly slowly pulled into Paris. 

After a heart-stopping and breath-taking one hour, we finally made it to Gare Du Nord station. And guess what? It was 9:05, and the LAST Train to London was to leave at 9:13!!! And, to top it all, there was a serpentine queue for immigration and security check!! 

I tried to get some sympathy from one of the female staff, thinking she would understand our situation with the missed train, baggage and wounded baby!! She was rather unsympathetic though. 

Then Hubby worked his magic on one of the staff, who finally helped us jump the queue. And by this time, it was already 9:20. We were sure that by the time we completed our check-in process, this train too, would have left!! 

Anyway, we continued to run, run and run. So there was my SRK running in front of me, carrying the brat, who was by now, screaming his life out, in pain, shock and sorrow!!!! And me, running right behind, panting, almost about to throw up (sorry for the graphic description) and carrying a trolley and two backpacks and some other junk that I could have easily just left behind!!! The staff watching on, had a taste of DDLJ :-) Just that, instead of a lovely Kajol, all they got was a panting fatso ;-) and screeching baby :shock: !! A couple of the staff actually said ‘Don’t worry, you have time!’ :mrgreen: 

And you know what I realised after this incident – Kajol was carrying an EMPTY suitcase!!!! :roll: Cheats!! 

Like my friend commented on FB, ‘ordinary people huffing and puffing, with REAL luggage, is not romantic at all’!! :-( 

And just as we jumped into the train, the doors shut……..but YAYYYYYY!!! We actually made it!! We reached home by 12:00 am. Exhausted, but so relieved just to be back!! :-) 

So there ended our Disneyland adventure :-) And guess what? No matter how awesome a holiday is, there is nothing better than Home!! :-) 

Happy Weekending, folks!

Tasty Tuesdays

Inspired by (and in direct contrast to) Vimmu’s fascinating TasteLESS Tuesdays, here is my TastY Tuesdays :-)

Btw, the above is an original Strawberry cheesecake picture from the M&S website!

My not-so-delectable version of a slice (ready made, bought from M&S, and pre-cut into rectangles.. phew..):

Burrrrppp…

Sinner Sinner

When I first saw this tag ‘Sin against Gender Stereotypes’ from IHM I thought ‘I’ve never committed any of these ‘sins”

But after reading posts by my dear Smitha, Deeps and Hitchy, (and being officially tagged  by them) I realised that I’m guilty too :-)

So here are my list of sins against gender equality:
1. I think cooking is a waste of time!!

2. Would rather hang around the Computer or TV

3. Never been a very girly girl.. you know ..the pretty ones who do their curls and eyes and lips and all that stuff. I’ve always been just plain vanilla!!

4. Would rather read than watch an Ekta Kapoor soap!

5. Believe ‘serving’ family members/guests is a slightly menial task and that each person at the table must just stretch his/her arm out to help him/herself!!

6. Love technology… esp computers and MS-office :-) Such a shame that I don’t do much of it anymore!

7. Cannot bake or make anything (cakes/pickles/traditional south Indian cuisine).. i.e., rather unfit inside the kitchen!!

8. Desperately need ‘peace’, ‘space’ and ‘quiet’. Except for my own ‘khit-phit’ cannot stand any other noise ;-)

9. Love screwing (Straighten your thoughts, my friend… I meant – love tinkering about with stuff – fixing/repairing/screwing/unscrewing broken things)

10. Would rather surf the net than gossip with the womenfolk ;-)

11. Not a fan of ‘pink’, ‘heels’, ‘stilletos’ or anything pretty. As I said, I’m a plain vanilla!

And now to tag people…. er… here is the list of the Tagged :-

Shail

Batul

Dreamer

Ordinary Guy

Piper

Pushpee

Quirky Indian

Ratna

Supriya

Roshmi

Yashada

Saurabh

Now the creator of the Tag, our very own IHM says…

So here’s a tag – Please list at least ten things you have ever wanted or done which your gender is not supposed to.

The tag is called ‘My Sins against Gender-Stereotypes’. And you must tag twelve blogging friends or else you will be cursed to wear blue clothes pants if you are a woman and pink shirts if you are a man – for next twelve years

So get going people :-)

F-Un-Scrambler Golden Trophy

*****Drum-roll***** 

OK folks, here is the much-awaited Golden Trophy award!! 

Most of you (er, all of you) had figured out the jumbled words and sentence perfectly in my earlier post called ‘Unscramble This’, and that too, within 3 seconds flat… (much to my disappointment :-( ) As Uma mentioned, you are a rather smart bunch of people :razz: which I whole-heartedly second! 

So here is your very very beautiful golden ‘The F-Un-Scrambler Trophy’. 

 

But .. but .. but, going by the popular saying ‘There is no free lunch’, the Trophy too comes with a small catch ;-) 

I hereby award the trophy to the FIRST THREE COMMENTATORS, AND THE LAST THREE COMMENTATORS. 

In order of commenting:
Winner 1 – Prats
 

Winner 2 – Uma 

Winner 3 – Shilpa 

Winner 3rd from last – IHM 

Winner 2nd from last – Shail 

Winner 1st from last ;-) – Masood 

(Also, my dearest Deeps did drop by, and technically 3rd from last, but very unfortunately, she did not mention if she had managed to unscramble this or not! But she did mention something on Facebook. So what do you guys think? Should we give her the trophy too? Reply YES or NO and not MAYBE ;-)

Now, your CHALLENGE is: Proud recipients of the F-Un-Scrambler Golden rolling Trophy are HEREBY TAGGED to put up a similar post with scrambled/jumbled words!! No rules/conditions apply. It just has to be jumbled words or jumbled letters or both, the way you like it!!

Do remember to link back to this original post though, so we maintain continuity. AND please also come back to let me know when you’ve posted your challenge (that way I will get a chance to participate too :-) ;-) )

And yes, do pass on this beautiful rolling trophy to your winners too :-) 

OK WINNERS, OVER TO YOU!!! 

x

EDITED TO ADD:

Ok folks, we have a controversy now.. and I’ve been (un)justly accused of ‘favouritism’. So to clear my name of this infamous slander… I have to hereby award the gorgeous F-Un-Scrambler Golden Rolling Trophy to the foll. three people who commented on my post on Facebook!! Psst: Since there were only these three, they win both in the ‘First’ and ‘First from Last’ categories :-)

Urmi

Swaram

Deeps

Phew… who knew all this would happen…. :razz: