Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

India bleeds

What a dastartdly act of those self-righteous cowards to beseige Mumbai !! What kind of animals must they be to attack hospitals ?!

When will terrorism end ?

Categories
Incidents

a grey day

A very grey day today in Chennai. A scary cyclone hit the city, ravaging homes and lives. Indoors – we were safe, or so I thought. Until my most beloved little brat of a boy kept running and running all day long, till he slipped and got a gash in his head. 3 stitches in all 😦

He’s better now, thank you 🙂 The cyclone has also passed by.

Looking forward to some sunshine tomorrow.

Categories
Incidents Short story

My (s)hair of woes!

Inspired by recent posts by Shail’s nest and Tattoo.

Why do (we) South Indians have the stickiest, oiliest, completely lack-of-textur(ish?!) hair in the world? I cringe when I see those familiar thin, curly, sticky little pigtails (rat-tails, if you ask me!). It brings back some uneasy memories… of… of…. why, of me (the school-girl, of course)!!!

A recent visit to the hairdresser left me short…of what…you will soon realise if you are kind enough to read the rest of the post.

I sashayed confidently into the parlour wearing my new sequined kurti from Sona’s boutique. The air-conditioned room was a welcome in itself. But that was the only welcome I received. The girls/hairdressers didn’t bother to even turn in my direction. Even the dazzling sequins didn’t succeed in distracting their attention from the ‘K-soap’ they were watching on TV.

I resigned to meekly asking them for a hair-cut. ‘I’d like a hair-cut…’. They looked at me foggily. Clearing my throat, I repeated myself, this time, more assertively. ‘A HAIR-CUT’. That seemed to work. One of the girls grudgingly stood up, and led me to a nice black leather chair. As I kept my handsome new handbag down, the girl asked me what cut I’d like.

I am not really stingy, but what with the recession and all, I am trying to be penny-wise, these days.

‘Very simple…an ordinary U-cut’, I replied.

The girl was used to clients like me. She got the drift and replied, ‘U-cut is (Rs.)200, straight-cut is (Rs.)150’.

‘Um..Ok..’ I gulped. I was most tempted to ask for ‘A straight-cut please’, but what the heck! I might as well pamper myself, for once. And I didn’t want her to get the better of me!

‘That’s fine’, I croaked, inwardly resenting the extra Rs.50 that I had to shell out now! I could have used that to pay up the ransom that the autorickshaw driver would demand !

I quickly consoled myself, though. Had I been in London, the same would have cost me atleast GBP 35, which is (even with the pathetic exchange rate) Rs. 2618!!!! And all for a fast-thinning bunch of strands.

The girl very slowly removed the cute white hairclip (which by the way, was also sequined!!) I was wearing and left it on the table in front of me. I suppressed a gleeful smile. Finally, a nice hair-cut at an air-conditioned parlour! Yay! Until……I happened to catch her expression in the mirror in front of me.

—-

She shakes her head from side to side.

‘What?’, I wonder.

She parts my hair to make it frame my face. And tilts her head.

I get anxious. ‘Has she found a gaping hole in my skull?’

She disdainfully lifts the hair that barely covers my left ear/cheek and drops it down again. And repeats the same with the other few strands that hang by my right ear.

Anxiety pangs get the better of me. I look up at her beseechingly, like a helpless not-so-little puppy.

She doesn’t seem to thaw! She looks as grim as the steadfast K-Bahu who wallows in self-inflicted misery, and whose reflection now falls in the same mirror in which I see mine !

Finally, the girl breaks the suspense. ‘Madam, your hair is oily’.

‘OK…so ?’

‘So, I can’t cut your hair. It won’t be even!’

‘I don’t mind’, I almost blurt.

‘I can give you a hair-wash and U-cut’, she mysteriously adds.

I helplessly watch on. Waiting for her to utter her golden words.

‘Rs.600’, she adds, almost mockingly.

—–

Needless to say, I returned home. Cut really short. The spirit, I mean !!

Categories
Incidents

The Bargain

The work was over, and the guy very matter-of-factly told me to pay up Rs.700. Startled, I raised my eyebrows, then blushed when I realised how awkward my reaction had been. I meekly said I’d paid only Rs.400 the last time. The guy thought for a moment, then agreed at Rs.500.

I handed over the note bearing Gandhiji’s picture. He seemed to be laughing at me! I flashed a toothy smile, at the dentist, and walked back home.

Who would have thought we need to bargain with a dentist over a tooth-filling ?

Crazy times, we live in!

Say Cheese ?!

Categories
Short story

The colour of red

The non-stop traffic on the main road created a dull, deafening din throughout the day. Even at night, cars, lorries, trucks, motorbikes, bicycles whizzed by, as if hurrying on to meet a beloved who waited across the city’s borders. It rained intermittently, water stagnating along the potholes on the dirty tar roads. Regular power-cuts were an accepted part of life. Viral infection was rampant in the city. Who would have thought this was the rapidly developing metro of Chennai!

The maid-servant had not come to work that busy Monday morning, so we took turns at doing the daily chores… washing the utensils, drying out washed clothes (God bless the (wo)man who invented the washing machine!!), folding them (the washed clothes, I mean), sweeping/swabbing the cold and perennially dusty floor. It was my turn to fold the aired-out clothes, and I did it monotonously, while an involuntary expression of disdain escaped and perched on my face.

I missed the cool and crisp London weather, as well as the complete serenity of my home that overlooked the river Thames. I missed the place that had been my home for the last ten years. I was all but waiting to head back into that cold and dark city, that would soon be lit up for the Christmas season.

 

I picked up a red sari, and began folding it. The soft georgette cloth slipped from my butter-fingers, and fell to the dusty floor. A small-sized cockroach scampered away into a corner of the room. I bent down with the agility of an eighty-year old and gathered the ends, and tried folding it again. Luck favored me this time, and I managed to make a rather neat rectangular bundle of it. ‘What a bright colour’, I thought. ‘So different from the muted English shades. But so typical of the colours people wear here. Bright and cheerful. But almost gaudy!!’ I frowned.
The traffic continued to whiz by our apartment. Horns honked non-stop. Suddenly, I heard a strange ‘Screeeech’. Something was wrong. I clutched at the sari, and slowly walked towards the verandah that faced the main road. Cars, lorries, trucks, motorbikes still raced by. I frowned and turned away. ‘Aiyooo….’, came the distant wails from the road ahead. I looked again, carefully, between the big, leafy trees that adorned our house. And finally caught sight of a man.

 

He sat right in the middle of the road, holding his right knee in his hand. I could not see his face, though he did seem middle-aged. His motorbike was fallen next to him. A small black bag and a plastic lunch-bag hung carelessly from the handles. It seemed like he was on his way to work. And he sat there, crying like a child.

 

He held his knee tightly. From below his shank, I saw a white stick protruding out of his leg. For a second, I refused to acknowledge what it was. The man’s broken ankle hung loose, like a puppet. And a small red stream started flowing onto the road. Not a bright, vibrant, Indian shade of red. A dark, slow, almost lifeless one.

 

In a few moments, passers-by stopped, and a small crowd of men and women gathered around him. He was looking around, wailing. Almost complaining, like a child to his mother. ‘Look, what has happened to me! Look! Look!’ The bone still protruded out of the man’s leg. His ankle dangled when he tried to move. He refused to let go of his knee. Vehicles sped past on the other side of the road.

 

A bald gentleman stopped his car and offered to take the man in. A woman appeared with a bottle of water. Another tore out a piece of cloth and tried to tie the torn ankle to the rest of the leg. Finally, they carried the man away to the nearest hospital.

 

I didn’t see what they did with his motorbike. I couldn’t hear the noise of the peak-hour traffic any longer. I sat down, a little dizzy. I still held the bright, red sari in my cold, sweaty palms.

 

A light drizzle started.

 

And in no time, washed away the dull, red stains from the dusty road.

Categories
Incidents Short story

The beggar woman

It was already quite dark. I looked at my watch.. only 6 pm. Another half hour to while away, until hubby came to pick me up from the mall. A steady drizzle had begun, so I didn’t have a choice, but to remain where I was.

Then I saw them…three young girls/women, with a skinny half-naked baby. They sat in a corner of the footpath, chatting animatedly. A young couple passed by them. One of the women grabbed the baby into her arms, and begged the couple for alms. They shook their head and went their way. I decided they were selfish. Ofcourse the beggar woman caught my sympathetic gaze, and quickly headed towards me. She held out a packet of earbuds and asked me to buy the pack for Rs.10. Now that was exorbitant, but I was impressed by the woman’s industry. Atleast she wasn’t just begging. So I bought the pack, and watched her walk away triumphantly. Hell! I didn’t mind, I might have been duped, but it was for a good cause.

Then came another girl in the dirties of rags. No alms, I was determined. I shook my head sideways, indicating that I wasn’t going to humour her! She didn’t budge. She looked right into my eyes and confessed she hadn’t eaten in two days, and if I could just pay for her meal, she would be most grateful. Hunger pangs are something I don’t want anybody in the world to go through. Especially when I was myself in possession of a nice, hot takeaway of burger and fries.

”How much for a meal?’, I asked her. ‘Only Rs.40’, pat came the answer. I suspected she was taking me for a ride, but nevertheless decided she would be fed well. I opened my handbag quite cautiously, and searched for a note. The girl peeped into my bag quite audaciously. The first note that came to my hand was a Rs.100. Too much…way too much! I still gave it to her. She thanked me profoundly and walked away.

In a jiffy, I was attacked. From all sides. By the rest of her gang. Of beggar women.

They swarmed around me, and demanded more money. I asked them to share the cash I’d already given, but they claimed it wouldn’t suffice. I was getting scared now. So I hurriedly pulled out another note from my bag. Rs.10. The vultures grabbed the note, and demanded more. Passers-by actually stopped and stared… savouring the free entertainment for a few minutes. I was at my wits end, not knowing how I would escape the fierce mob of beggars, unscathed. After the two minutes that seemed ages, I noticed hubby driving towards me in an autorichshaw. I managed to break free of the circle and literally ran towards him.

The group of women chased me, as I ran tumbled into the autorickshaw. They tried to grope me and continue demaning their ransom.

I tightly clutched onto my handbag with all my might.

And begged them – to let me go.

Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

On self-imposed abstinence

Today, I finally did something I’ve not done in ages! The family had gone to bed, and I broke the chains of self-imposed abstinence, and sneaked in. I didn’t dare switch on the lights, for fear of waking the others. I tip-toed towards temptation. In a jiffy, I opened and shut, the box (dabba), grabbed a handful of murukku and bakarwadi, and ran back into my room. Aaaahhh…a midnight feast. After ages!! Yummmmmmy!!!!

Categories
Thought and Reason

Purani jeans…

7 weeks of holiday in Chennai! Wow!! Lots of plans to have fun with family and friends!

With almost half my holiday now over, I am still trying to settle down into a daily routine. Forget about meeting friends, I haven’t even been able to talk to anyone, thanks to a terribly sore throat!

Last night was a normal night…my toddler son trying to maul his hero (elder cousin brother), the womenfolk (humph…includes me) trying to get everyone to complete the chore called ‘dinner’. All this, amidst two the din of two TVs, one blaring a despicable (read: popular) soap, and the other, a nonsensical (read: more popular!) cartoon.

Then, something on the TV caught my attention. It was the ‘Purani Jeans…’ advertisement for Mastercard. And brought back a flood, nay, a small stream (for lack of time!!), of special memories….

Of….

….Waking up at the unearthly hour of 6 am (;-)) to attend the Yoga classes. I remember the instructor walking around, nudging us (quite rudely!!) out of our sleep during ‘Shav Asan’.

….Nodding…absolutely nodding off…to the most boring guest lectures by bigwigs from the industry, who, I believe, mostly just happened to get lucky!

….Going for hot cups of cappucino, at the dark, shady and dingy Bourgeois Cafe in Pune. And when we reached there at midnight, we would find many of our classmates also lurking around!!

….Huddling together for group studies, where again, we would end up taking a good nap.

….

Interestingly, down South (of India), ‘Purani Jeans..‘ wasn’t a very famous ‘college-time-song’. I guess its more of a ‘North Indian’ thingy. Nevertheless, I enjoyed those few minutes reliving the good old days. I hope you do too!

Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

Shopping in Chennai

Car-lined dusty roads,

prosperous tummies

and eco-friendly shopping bags!

Wait a minute…

Where have all the trees gone???!!

Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

The bunch of…

The bunch of them roam carefree,

oblivious of the life that is bustling outside,

thinking of only, how to enjoy the next moment.

They laze around in an air-conditioned room,

while tanned labourers sweat and toil outside,

building sky-scrapers that they cannot dream of owning.

The bunch of them enjoy a lazy afternoon,

overhearing grandma gossip over the daily soap,

while the servant maid pretends to clean and scrub.

Until, the master of the house appears that evening,

and sees them through the corner of his eye.

And fumes, at the maid, the grandma, and the Recession.

For he spots, that dirty bunch roaming around carefree,

That bunch of hair, in the corner of the house.