Categories
Short story Thought and Reason

A bagful of peanuts

Every now and then, something beautiful comes my way to show me that Life is the greatest humbler! 

For instance, all of you (my regular readers) know I have been in India during the Easter break. I usually carry bundles of old clothes (in great condition) to give away to maids/helpers back home. This time again, I took a box of clothes and my mum distributed it among some regular helpers. One particular shirt was slightly over-sized and hardly used, and we decided to give it to our fruit-seller for one of his three sons. He accepted it with his usual quiet demeanour and left without saying a word. I wondered if he even appreciated that it was still a good shirt and would use it for his child, or quickly sell if off for a few rupees on the footpath the next day!!

Let me quickly clarify that I was NOT looking for ‘gratitude’ as people sometimes do. My belief is that people who receive things from me are actually doing me a favour by helping de-clutter my house and in turn, my life! So there was no question of gratitude. Only, a subconscious wish for some sign of ‘acknowledgement’.

Anyway, a few days passed, and the incident had completely vanished from memory.

Late one hot summer evening, the door bell rang. Mum answered it, and was surprised to see none other than the fruit-seller. He simply stood there, quiet as he always was, looking looking tired in a crumpled brownish-yellow shirt that was once probably white.

Mum was surprised, because it wasn’t the time to buy/sell fruits! She opened the door anyway, not knowing what to expect! Usually, helpers who visit late in the evening, are looking for some help, usually in the form of money. We waited to see what he would say/ask for.

To our surprise, the fruit-seller just passed his hand around the half-open iron-grill-gate and handed over a bag overflowing with fresh peanuts (monkeynuts). And walked away without a word.

We stared at each other – dumbstruck, tears brimming our eyes. A big bag of nuts. It would have probably made an excellent snack for three hungry children that were waiting for him back home. Yet, he chose to give it to us. In his own quiet, humble way, he had shown us that to give something, one only needs a big heart!!

The magnanimity of the poor fruit-seller left us utterly humbled!!

I don’t think I have words enough to explain the lesson in humility that I learnt that day. It was certainly one of the most beautiful incidents ever.

I wish we had more of such people around. They certainly make the world a better place!

This post is a participation in the Blogsplash (24th April 2012) in celebration of FionaRobyn‘s book ‘The Most Beautiful thing”.

Categories
Uncategorized

Ragi Ragini – a work of art!

I’ve had the privilege of interacting with Anjali Purohit (writer/artist) thanks to her online presence at a writing forum. I am not exaggerating when I say that Anjali is one of THE most talented people I’ve known. Her creations (both her writing and her paintings) are of a very high standard. (Quite unlike the amount of trash that get published under the genre of amateur Indian chick-lit these days!)

It should come as no wonder then, that Anjali’s book ‘Ragi Ragini’ is not a run-of-the-mill novel/recipe book, but a true gem! (Ok, I have to admit that at first, I thought Ragi Ragini was a recipe book!) Reading the book gave me a start. It was like holding a work of art in my hands.

‘Ragi Ragini’ is a beautiful tapestry of Ragini’s story, the virtues of Ragi, and the timeless poetry of Bahinabai (again, I confess I had not heard of her until I read the book).

I loved the way the three facets of the book have been interwoven to make complete sense. I, for one, am highly impressed by the nutritional value of ragi, and cannot wait to try out all the recipes in the book. The ovis again, speak of simple yet profound truths of life.

I think the book touches life, both at a physical and a philosophical level.

Altogether, this book is a keepsake!! I have just ordered another copy as a gift for someone very dear to me.

If you are even remotely interested, please hop over right away to Flipkart and order it online.

Categories
Thought and Reason

Band Baajaa And Imperfect Brides

I am yet to forgive my two best friends for what they did to me at my wedding. Now, don’t go getting any ideas. My buddies dragged me to a certain beauty parlour and got me a mini-makeover. I still cringe when I look at my wedding album. I don’t recognise myself, with all that face-paint on

This is exactly why I feel bad for the brides who participate in the new makeover show ‘Band Baajaa Bride’. I am a complete sucker for makeover shows, and I was excited to catch an episode of this show, where the famous designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee creates a grand outfit for the chosen bride-to-be.

On the face of it, the show seems like an amazing opportunity. Having a stunning dress designed by a top designer, looking like an Indian queen on your wedding day, adorned in all the finery, and getting all this for free ) – a dream come true for any bride.

So what is it that I am cribbing about?

Just this – the show takes the natural charm out of a girl and replaces it with stupid and needless glamour! Almost as if saying, your natural perfection IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. You NEED to be an artificially enhanced doll. Or a live advertisement for designer wear!

The episode I watched featured an extremely pretty bride-to-be, with lovely long tresses and an innocence that radiated. She wanted a ‘lehenga-choli’ that was not ‘red’ in colour. And she wanted to ‘look REAL’ – just the way she was.

What do you think Team Band Baaja did? They took her to a cosmetic surgeon to make her lips look fuller (that by the way, looked perfectly fine to me), chopped off her ‘boring’ tresses to make her look younger (apparently her fiancé also said ‘she was pretty but not glamorous’), and created a very regal wedding outfit – in red.

The bride looked gorgeous. The outfit, the styling, the accessories were all perfect.

But somewhere down the line, that pretty girl who had walked into the show wanting to look ‘REAL’ had been lost. She now looked like a perfect Hindi-serial actress.

And in place of a naturally charming young girl, we had someone who represented the designer dreams of Bollywood. Instead of simple, realistic, and attainable charm, we now had glitz, sparkle and heavy work that is simply not attainable to most of population.

It is this stereotyped concept of ‘perfection’ that immensely bothers me. A show like this makes a bride believe she NEEDS a grand makeover, failing which she would not look ‘good enough’ on her special day.

Yes, you can say this is a case of sour grapes. There was no such makeover show when I was a bride 😉 😉

But on a serious note, isn’t this the problem with us? We seek perfection in everything that is superficial. A lame child, a dark girl, an obese boy – instant ridicule. Every matrimonial advert reads ‘Wanted: Slim, Fair, Good-looking bride for boy’.

How about people who do not fit the bill – are they not worthy enough of consideration?

Interestingly, we do not make any attempt in perfection ourselves, in terms of skill, education, vocational training, etc. We don’t aim to stand up for anything worthwhile. Instead, we watch makeover shows, dreaming of looking perfect, but not bothering to be perfect in the things that do matter.

Coming back to the show itself, not all is wrong with it. Yes, it does a huge deal of advertising for designer-outfits and designer-jewellery. But despite that, the anchor Team comes across as friendly and enthusiastic.

I loved what Sabyasachi himself said on the show – ‘a beautiful bride does not need Sabyasachi’ – That was incredibly humble and delightfully charming. I loved watching brides weave their dreams.

But I don’t like the fact that there is a huge chance, that it makes people believe they are imperfect ‘just the way they are’. That, is dangerous.

So what do you think?