One of the most difficult decisions in our lifetime is choosing a name!
A name for anything important or special to you. Like your child, for example. Or a new venture. Its amazing how we want to find that most unique name of all, a name that no one else would think of! Only to realise, a couple of days after choosing it, that it is not so uncommon after all!!!!
Some of us ofcourse, think radically different, and assume we believe we have ‘hit the nail on the head’. Like these names (of shops/enterprises) that I came across during my last visit to Chennai…
* V-Solve Consultancy (Really! You solve things? Awesome! Didn’t know consultancies did that!!!)
* Sibling Revelry (This was the name of a children’s nursery/day-care. They probably assumed that the common man/woman uses ‘revelry’ in day-to-day conversations??! Or perhaps they hired V-Solve consultancy to come up with a name so unique ;-))
* Brainobrain academy (Naaiiice! One look at this name and you know your child is going to be the next Einstein, or atleast a home-grown IIT->IIM->Chetan Bhagat!!! No wonder parents fall for this! Btw, did they mean Brain-o-brain or BrainNObrain!)
* Interestingly, most boutiques here are one-word-names. Anokhi, Ananya, Shilpi, Pallavi (ahem!), Vastra, Lasya, Varsiddhi….you get the drift? They all seem to want to lean on heritage of some kind. Well, I’m not cribbing.. just commenting 😉
* The most creative names ofcourse, are those on the lines of Simla Snacks (What? The snacks are from Simla? Or is Chennai enjoying some Simla weather!), Babu Tea Stall (congrats, Mr.Babu!), Five Star department store (Really? Its more often than not, just a dingy little shop where underpaid shop-girls hover around you, lest you decide to nick something precious!!!), Classic tea shop.. and so on.
* And now, the best for the last. Very often people write words in English as an exact translation of the regional language. Like this one: ‘Swapna’ (a beautiful word that means ‘dream’). In the process of converting this from Tamizh to English, look at how they decided to name the venture: ‘Sopna Tailors’. Creativity at its best 🙄
So then, folks, here’s wishing you a very happy weekend. Have a great time.. and the next time you come across a name as creative as something above, do drop in a line to let me know 🙂
(PS: This post is especially for Urmi and Ash, both of whom have been gently nudging me to revive ‘Crocodile Tales’ – for my newer friends, that was the erstwhile name of this blog :lol:! Now don’t ask me how or why I happened to choose that name!! 🙄 😉 😆 :lol:)
Three events in a row, have been rankling in my mind for some time now.
A birthday party earlier this year. The birthday-boy was English, and his grandma and I were making P.C (as my dear friend Sowmya refers to ‘polite conversation‘). She enquired about our plans to ‘settle down abroad’ and I replied that we intended to ‘head back home‘. When she said, ‘Well, good for your son that he is ‘here’ now, he can learn his language (English) here’. I laughed it off. Inwardly, I was SEETHING.
A chance encounter with a friendly Mum-Kid duo at a play-area. The mother was Indian, born and brought up in Africa, and now settled in the UK. In the course of our conversation, she happened to say – with evident surprise – ‘Your English is beautiful!‘ and wanted to know how I managed to speak English, coming from India.
A little conversation on a canal boat in Amsterdam. The American couple seated in front of us, struck up a conversation, and happened to mention that they were surprised to hear my son’s ‘British/American accent’. Naturally, the question that followed was how he managed to converse with our relatives/friends back in India, and IF people in India could speak English.
Three incidents. They were friendly and innocent remarks, not meant to cause any harm or insult. However, the unspoken words set me thinking.
So, why is it that foreigners ASSUME that people in India do not understand/speak English?
It is not just foreigners. Even second generation British Indians (i.e. whose parents or grand-parents settled in UK and these folks were born and brought up here), seem to think the same way. I was asked by an ‘Indian’ colleague, if people in India could speak English, and if everybody was still very poor! I remember being quite shocked at the ignorance and stereotyped image she carried of her country!!
So, does India still project this image of being a third-world country, where people wear saris or dhotis, chew paan, speak only their regional language, and watch snake-charmers perform tricks by the side of the road?!
Does the word ‘India’ conjure up a picture of beggars and snake-charmers or monkeys performing tricks and people throwing coins onto a ragged cloth spread on the dusty road?
Does the western world not know how developed we are, on various grounds? We have miles to go, that is certain, but we aren’t exactly an undeveloped, tribal land today!!
Do they see us as Slumdog-non-millonaires? (On another note, I remember being angry at the producers of Slumdog Millionaire for projecting such a pathetic, stereotyped image of our country!)
Does ‘India’ not represent a modern and growing nation at all? What of all the IT parks and banks that have sprung up in the last couple of decades? And the dreaded call-centres that cater to western countries? What of the high-rise buildings and roads crowded with cars and bikes? I do understand that our villages are a far cry from cities. But they too, are developed in more ways than we can imagine!
If nothing else, what about our adorable Kalmadi, Radia, Raja and Kanimozhi :roll:? If nothing else, atleast these esteemed folks should give them a better idea of the state of affairs in our country 😆 😆
On an interesting note, I googled ‘India’ on Google Images, and this is what came up: Our flag, the Taj, maps, even a picture of Shahrukh Khan posing for Chak De 😆
Sadly, there was no Anna, and heavens be blessed, no Ramdev 😉
Now coming back to the question of ‘understanding/speaking English’, from my limited experience, most Indians can understand the language, and can communicate fairly reasonably, if one can ignore the grammar/pronunciation. Even the simple vegetable vendor can understand a few words. So if a foreigner were to visit an Indian city (I am not sure about remote villages), he can manage to get across a few basic words. Just as he/she would, in, say, Russia or Germany! Don’t you think?
Well, to the friendly American tourist on that boat – I strongly recommended that she make a visit, cover the grand palaces in Rajasthan, and go all the way down South to marvel at the exquisite temples. She genuinely seemed quite interested. Just before we left the boat, this is what I said to her:
‘I do hope you visit India some day, its a beautiful country. Only, don’t expect to see any snake-charmers!!’
She replied, with a smile, ‘Damn!! I was hoping to see some!’
So people, how do non-Indians perceive India? Any ideas?
[Caution: Potential heated discussions ahead. No personal attacks please. As always, let us share our views in a civilised manner :-)]
So I was having a very interesting argument with Mochachilo the other day. It started with his post describing his recent trip to Chennai. My ears perked up the moment I heard the word ‘Chennai’! Now, like all cities, Chennai is unique in its own way. Unfortunately, it did not meet the author’s expectations, for reasons that were valid to him.
The die-hard-Chennai-ite that I am, I obviously took up the gauntlet and challenged some of the sweeping generalizations made against the city, which I felt were incorrect and biased.
Please note: I am certainly not here to attack my friend Kartikay 🙂 AND I am not here to defend Chennai by arrogant (and ignorant!) claims that it is heaven on earth.
I am merely going to state facts – from MY limited experience.
I love Chennai for its unique culture, the manageable pace of life, the distinctly gorgeous old-world-charm that is still preserved in places like Mylapore Tank.
I love all that just as much as I hate the muggy weather, the conniving auto drivers and politicians, and the pollution.
So there! I do not aspire to call Chennai the best city in the world or anything of the sort. Like my darling sister always says, ‘That-that person, that-that favourite city’!!
The crux of this blog post is this: Kartikay stated that considering it is a metro city, Chennai is not cosmopolitan.
However, as someone who has lived most of her life in Chennai, I would like to throw some light on the place that I lived in, and still do.
This is a quiet residential area. In this typically old-fashioned and ‘non happening’ part of town, there is a famous Temple, a Church of historical significance, and a popular mosque, all within exactly 10 minutes walking distance from each other. Infact, right opposite the mosque is a temple.
Believe it or not, we wake up to the call of prayer from the mosque, and also hear the evening aarti at the temple. There has never been a religious problem – ever! Touch wood!
People understand Tamil, English and a bit of Hindi too. You don’t necessarily need to know Tamil to speak to auto-drivers. They are a bunch of thieves, and they fleece everyone irrespective of caste/colour or language!!
Cinema theatres air all sorts of movies (some of the posters can make one cringe :roll:!).
Restaurants offer a wide variety of cuisine! You name it, you can find it!! From super-soft idlis and golden crisp masala dosai to dal makhani and gobi manchurian, its there for the asking!
You walk into a shopping mall or even a roadside shop – and find people dressed in all sorts of clothes – ranging from saris, salwar-kameezes, skirts, shorts, jeans and tees, shopping, eating and making merry.
Amidst the excited chatter, one gets to hear not just Tamil, but also lots of Hindi and English.
There are shopping malls, libraries, architectural wonders, and more. There is a steady influx of Oriya students pursuing higher studies. Our dear Marwadi brethren have set up flourishing businesses (clothes, diamonds, etc) in the city. I have a Punjabi friend, whose entire family has been settled in Chennai for the last 2 generations, and plan to continue to do so! I have so many Mallu friends, who form a lovely part of my life!
And hey, we even built a damn temple for Khusboo!! 🙄
To quote LR: ‘Temple for Khusboo… Temple for Namita. Now we are more accommodating than any one could imagine 😆 :lol:’
I can go on and on, about what a melange Chennai is (rather, has always been). But that might be a biased picture too. So I will just stop with: Every city has its fair share of pros and cons. To focus only on the negatives and brand a city as ‘dull and boring’ is simply not correct.
One does not go to a city known for its temples and music seasons and focus only on the seeming lack of nightlife!!
This is like visiting Egypt and whining about ‘broken down buildings and the lack of a disco!’
So a statement that Chennai is ‘not happening’ or ‘not cosmopolitan’ – to me – sounds pretty loaded with prejudice, and to a small extent, arrogance too!
Chennai, like any other city, is famous for certain attributes. One learns to appreciate those, and not slam a culturally-rich city for lacking in nightclubs and not conversing in a language familiar to ‘you’!
Now, coming to the moot point here: Mochachilo’s statement that Chennai is NOT cosmopolitan and someone entering the city does not feel ‘at home’.
He has infact given a really wonderful definition of ‘cosmopolitan’.
Despite our top tier metro cities being so straight-jacketed (unsure if that is the right word!), we proudly state that they are ‘cosmopolitan’.
However, any other city with the exact same characteristics (local dialect, unique weather, city-specific attire) or similar characteristics is NOT cosmopolitan?
Is that correct??
Or have we all become so self-obsessed that we think OUR city’s culture is THE culture of the whole of India, and the cities that do not ‘conform’ to our city are actually not cosmopolitan?!!
Those of us who CLAIM to live in a cosmopolitan city, let us think it over. Does our city really reflect a blend of cultures ACROSS India? If one thinks his/her city is a melting pot of cultures, I think it is time to think again!!!
As for Chennai, I do not claim that it is entirely cosmopolitan. I appreciate that a non-Tamil-speaking person might find it difficult at first (exactly the same way that a Tamilian who cannot understand Hindi, is bound to struggle in Mumbai or Delhi, until the time he/she learns the local language or finds people who speak English!).
If you asked me, India is simply too vast for any city to be truly cosmopolitan. Even the most ‘modern’ metro cities are steeped in a culture of their own. There is no way it is reflective of the COUNTRY.
I am not sure if a Tamilian who enters Karnataka or Delhi for the first time, feels ‘at home’ in that cosmopolitan city. Or is made to feel at home by friendly locals or any initiatives by the local government?!!
I am not certain that a Keralite visiting Calcutta (a metro city) would feel at home if he/she did not understand Bengali!
IMHO, Mumbai might score a notch above other metro cities, for sheer number of immigrants. However, we do have a Thackeray who defeat good intentions there!!
Therefore, I cannot confidently say that ANY Indian city scores high on being cosmopolitan.
It is up to the visitor/immigrant tofit into the place by learning the local language and adjusting to the local weather/attire/culture.
At the risk of sounding biased – I’d just say in Indian cities, it is immigrants/visitors who put in efforts to blend into the local culture. The local people do not necessarily take efforts or facilitate such blending. One just takes baby steps to try to fit in.
On the contrary, take a look at a city like London, for example. To be fair, I’d say THIS is a city that is cosmopolitan. You have people of diverse cultures living under the same roof, aka sky. They speak their own distinct language. ALL the major festivals of EVERY community are celebrated with pomp. If people celebrate Christmas, they also equally enjoy Chinese New Year and Diwali. People love croissants, sushi AND curry. There are churches and temples, functioning smoothly ALL the time. Everybody is eligible to vote. Believe it or not, some council offices even have a full-time Bengali translator for the non-English speaking immigrants. Touch wood. You find people of every race and colour walking about the streets.
Yes, there are problems. But absolutely nothing like the ones we find within India!!
So, dear readers, what do you think of your city? Is it truly cosmopolitan? Or do you think any particular Indian city is really cosmopolitan?
Is there any such city in our country where an ‘immigrant’ (I am not referring to the upper strata of society or people like expats) feels completely ‘at home’ and ‘not marginalised’?
Please share your views on an Indian city that you think is truly cosmopolitan?
I know I am old when…
1) While filling in any application (even a darn credit card), I have to scroll, and scroll, and scroll a couple of pages down, to reach my ‘Year’ of birth!!! I mean, seriously, it wasn’t that long since I was born, was it?
2) I watch the Idols of our teenage years (SRK or Juhi Chawla) on screen, and realise they have considerably aged!!! So if a young and vivacious’Ghoonghat Ki Aad Se’ Juhi is a comical-looking old woman now, that makes me.. er.. Ok, let’s skip!
3) My kid asks me, ‘Mummy, which is bigger? 4 or 33?’ I reply, with a smile, ’33’. He laughs happily. When I suddenly realise, the ’33’ he is referring to, is … me!!
4) An Alumni meet is planned, and we realise it has been TEN YEARS since we left college! How could T-E-N years have whooshed by??! 🙄 I mean, I don’t know what happened in this decade!
5) For the first 5 years of my career (or say, all 5 years of my career), people who used to report to me were double my age! I used to feel sorry for them. I suddenly realise, in a few years, I will be one of them!!!
6) All the ‘kids’ in the apartment block that my parents live in, greet me with a cheery ‘Hi AUNTY!’. I have gotten quite used to that one. But the next lines are what shock me out of my wits. I ask them ‘How is college?’ and they guffaw and reply ‘Whaaat Aunty! I have been working for 4 years now!’
7) I meet my parents every 6 months or sometimes, more frequently than that. And every time I see them, they seem more ‘sober’ and ‘quieter’ (considering that we are a strange family, in the sense that none of us acts appropriate to our age!!!)
8) I log into Skype to chat with an old friend, and we realise, that it has been 9 years since we saw each other!!! I mean, NINE years is a long, long time.
9) I read this lovely post on ‘decision making’ and the start of a promising career!! I realise I have come a long, long way. I mean, not that I have a career, but it has been a couple of centuries since I was at that juncture of ‘opening my first bank account’ 🙂
10) When you lovely readers read this post, and send me loving ‘Awwws..’ and kind ‘Hugs’, then I’ll feel like a total piece of crap. Aged crap!!
And on that cheerful note :lol:, I wish you all a very happy week ahead!! Live life to the fullest folks. You just don’t realise how Time flies. And very soon, you might be writing a post like this yourselves!!!!
Year 2010 just began. And its nearly over too! Where do the days and years disappear? Days filled with insignificant, mundane chores! Days centred around our pretty selves!!
Perhaps, it is time to take some effort to ‘make a difference’ to those who really need help!
The Ojas Trust does precisely that. The Ojas is a Registered Educational and Charitable Trust.
Please do read their website to learn about all the fantastic work they are doing to help people who aren’t as fortunate.
A quick summary of their projects:
1. To mark its grand opening, The Ojas has adopted “Irular Colony”, near Ponneri, 75 kms from Chennai. The colony has about 1000 residents in 120 tiled and thatched huts. They don’t have access to drinking water and electricity. The Ojas is negotiating with the government to ensure that by end of project, the Colony has these two basic needs. Also, for Diwali 2010 – The Ojas is distributing new clothes to all the inmates along with Rice & Grains. The colony still needs lot of work …and we need you to help us with this! Please contact for more information – email@example.com
2. The 12th Blood Donation Camp is scheduled to be held on Nov 14th, 2010 between 9.00 am and 12.30 pm at Aditya Ashwin Apts, Dr.Ranga Road, Mylapore, Chennai – 600 004. Additionally, we will be serving food to all the donors and volunteers on this day.
3. In order to spread awareness, The Ojas is also inviting people to come forward to “Donate Eyes”. Forms are available with representatives. The duly filled forms can be returned to us, which will be in turn deposited at “C U Shah Eye Bank, Sankara Nethralaya”. Interested people may please contact Priya at 98840 36200 or email her- firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Another new endevour of The Ojas to increase environmental responsibility is planting 86 fruit bearing coconut trees in Magaral Village, Tamil Nadu.
5. Representatives of The Ojas have personally visited and surveyed 18 homes (including baby-care units, orphanages, old-age homes, etc.,) in and around Chennai. The sum total of the needs have been clearly listed below.
• 2 ton AC for a Baby Care Unit
• 20 Steel Single Cots for a Old-Age Home
• Fans & Tubelights (50 numbers)
• Huggies (Different Sizes)
• Grinders/Mixie/Washing Machine
• Bedsheets & Pillow Covers
• Mike with Amplifier & speakers
• Large sized Aluminium vessels for cooking purposes
• Pressure Cooker (20 ltr size)
• Steel plates and tumblers (Over 500)
• Wax for candle making (Over 200 kgs)
• Tea Powder (Over 100 kgs)
6. The Trust will also be distributing 250 “AkshayaPatra” Bags that contain Rice, grains, pulses, oil, toilet & sanitational needs etc that cost Rs.2000 per bag. Each of these 250 bags will be given to Irular Colony and inmates of Leprosy Village.
7. Rice, pulses and grains in bulk quantities purchased for these homes. The requirement for each home varies from 100 kgs of rice to 50 kgs of dhal, oil, sugar, etc…
I just received this email:
Our first Grama Seva (Village Project) happened on October 24th 2010 in the Irular Village near Ponneri, Chennai. The inhabitants of more than 800 people were each given new clothes and sweet & savories. Additionally, every family (120 families) were given 25 kilos of rice and the Akshayapatra Bags. The Ojas Trust also gave large amounts of used clothes and other usable household things (such as mixie, vessels, umbrellas, etc..etc…) to the villagers. Chairs, large sized cloth mats (to be used on the floor) were given to the school.
About 35 volunteers representing The Ojas reached the village at about 10.00 hrs. The crowd was waiting in anticipation for their goodies. The organised crowd who were given tokens came forward to receive their gifts. Our volunteers went along personally to place the bags of rice in their respective homes. The village roads were in bad shape owing to rain the previous evening. The place immediately needs proper sanitation and that would soon be the area of focus of The Trust.
We sang devotional songs at the end of the distribution, made photographs along with the villagers and bid them farewell promising to come back again with more concrete plans. The school needs PRIORITY attention. The flooring is almost absent and children are often bit by insects as they sit inside the school. The leaking roof adds to the agony.
Those of us who are interested in promising these people better sanitation and a better environment to study – please write to us at –email@example.com
Here is a picture update of the project! Thanks to all of you who made this project a reality! We look forward to your continued support!
Perhaps every person living in India would agree with me, when I say that we have only two seasons – 1- Summer. 2- Winter. Finito.
We simply do not have the concept of Spring or Autumn, because that’s just what our country has been blessed with! (Note the sarcasm, please!!). My Mum used to say, very often, that Chennai has only two seasons too – Hot. And Hotter. The last few years have ofcourse changed this perception, as now we experience ‘Hotter and Hottest’ weather! (Which brings me to another question ‘When does one say ‘weather’ and when does one resort to ‘climate”. But, I digress.)
So, the last few years in London have given me such a beautiful glimpse into the four seasons of Nature. Each season is marked by the weather, the time of sunrise and sunset, and many other factors.
However, to me, the leaves tell all. While I enjoy the bright green leafy trees whose branches sway merrily in the summer breeze, I also love the striking beauty of stark naked trees, that go into a hibernation of sorts, every winter.
But what I truly and dearly love, is this time of the year, when leaves turn from Green to Gold, and that too in phases. One day its all green. The next day, they have turned a most beautiful shade of Orange. Then a mesmerising yellow with Golden hues. And finally, ofcourse, they fade away.
I simply cannot get enough of this….
And this… one tree is completely green, the other turning golden yellow, and the third, who has quite been stripped of its leaves already!
And most of all, this… a beautiful carpet of golden , orange leaves…
Back home (and to me, home always means my maternal home. And that, by the way, is a small 2BHK in Chennai, and not some sort of ‘ancestral property’ as the words ‘maternal home’ might unwittingly indicate 😉 )…well, back home, we never EVER checked weather forecasts. It was always hot. Hot, hotter, hottest (as my Mum would describe our Chennai weather). So the question of looking forward to hearing the weather forecast never occurred! To me, ‘weather forecasts’ simply meant a sweet smiling bimbo (sorry!) with absolutely straightened hair, smiling from an NDTV news channel and talking about rain or sun across different parts of India.
So when we moved to the UK, it came as quite a cultural shock to me, that the weather could change practically every hour!! In the peak of summer, for instance, we would step out of our apartment, wearing nothing more than a Tee and jeans. Halfway down the road, the sky would turn dark grey, and strong winds would threaten to fly us away like kites (well, not me, but some of the really thin folks out here!).
Or BBC would forecast ‘heavy rains’, and so we would go out of the house, fully prepared, bundled up in a thick jacket and scarf! Only to realise that it is a really hot day, and yours truly reaches her destination, sweating like a pig (like my friend Pushy says, I haven’t seen a pig sweat, but hey, that’s how the phrase goes…).
So what made me write this non-post today? Two things.
One, my friend back in Chennai updated her FB status with something to the effect that her son’s school declared a ‘rain holiday’ but there were no rains!! This took me right back to my childhood.
We lived a stone’s throw away from our school. So whenever there were rains, my sister and I would be almost the first few kids to get to know if school was ‘open’ or ‘closed’. We would wade through the water (yeah, half a day’s rain would flood our narrow lanes. Infact, its pretty much the same situation even today! 🙄 ), reach our school, and look around for a small black notice board, that would announce that school was closed!!! On days when we didn’t find the board, we would trudge sorrowfully back home, pack our bags and head back to school.
But on the days that we did find the ‘School Closed’ board, we went ‘Yippeeee’!! We would ever so happily skip back home, announcing loudly ‘Girlie, school closed!‘ to every schoolgirl we found on the way. Since many schoolmates lived in our apartments, if one kid got the ‘good news’ she would often make sure everyone else knew too, by yelling loud from her verandah 😀
And THE BEST PART – Once we were back home, warmed and changed into fresh, dry clothes, the rains would magically disappear!!! Not a drop, half an hour from the ‘rain holiday’ declaration 🙂 So my sis and I used to spend the day, playing quietly, reading or bickering! The walls and ceiling would leak (no, we did not live in a hut, but the walls did leak.. they do even today 😯 ), and the freshly washed clothes wouldn’t dry, but all that was my mother’s concern. For me and my sister, ‘school rain holiday’ meant a ‘free holiday’ 🙂
Schools, however, are quite a bunch of sadists. They would always compensate the holiday by making us work a subsequent Saturday. That was kind of irritating. But hey! We cannot have everything, can we?
Its been raining all day long, and quite appropriately, BBC had predicted we would have ‘sunny spells’, which are yet to happen!
You read it right!! Chennai liberates me. Staying here un-binds me from formalities and etiquette 🙂 For example…
You do not have to smile at people on the road or wish them a Good Morning/afternoon or evening, as the case may be! In London, people are uber polite. Well, most of the time. So it can get quite tiresome at times, to have to smile at a stranger and wish good-day. Back home, one is free to smile, smirk, frown or even growl!! No one feels bad at the lack of etiquette 🙂
You can bump into someone on the road, and continue to walk like nothing ever happened! You don’t have to say ‘Sorry’ or even look apologetic 🙂 We are above such formalities!!!
You can jump queues, cut traffic, take a U-turn right in the middle of a traffic-packed road. People will scream at you, with the choicest words and colourful language. But you don’t actually need to pay much heed. Just yell back and move on. Such is life here. Smooth as can be 🙂
Finish a tetra-pack of juice and you don’t necessarily need to look for a garbage-bin. Just contribute your pack to any growing pile of garbage at the corner of any road. And voila! Job done 🙂
This, my friends, is true liberation.
Well, I have no complaints! So far, I’m loving it.
And on that note, wish you all a very happy Independence Day 🙂
Debs gave me this idea.. to write about the little incidents that happen here, during my short stay in Chennai! So let me shoot…
* We took this arduous journey of almost 17 hours to reach Chennai! It was an indirect flight, via Bombay (I cannot yet bring myself to say Mumbai!). Inflight, it was stuffy and warm, and I had a splitting head-ache for half the journey! Then the plane hovered around for about 30 minutes in the air, because it couldn’t land due to air-traffic congestion!! We finally reached home at 5:30 am!! Luckily, my favourite nephew was awake to welcome us, so that eased away all the trouble of travelling!!
* We were jet-lagged for the first three days. The Chennai weather did nothing to help us out. Strangely, until the day we landed, (we are told), the weather in Chennai was supposedly awesome.. warm during the day, but chill at night! Sigh!
* Just as I recovered from jet-lag, my paternal Grandma passed away. The family was expecting it for a couple of weeks, as she was ailing, but when the phone rang at 12:30 am, it was a bit of a jolt!!
* This morning, I witnessed an ‘auto fight’ 🙂 It was fun. Fun, because the auto-driver was negotiating with a foreigner over the fare to be paid! For non-Chennai-ites, you must know something – Chennai autos do not believe in the concept of ‘metre readings’ or ‘fair fares’ 🙂 they believe in harassing and fleecing ‘savaari’ or passengers 🙂 So we saw this auto driver arguing with a foreign lady. And the Hero that my Dad likes to be, he shouted at the auto-driver and said, foreigners will think we are all beggars! The dutiful daughter that I am, I supported him, by saying ‘What will ‘they’ think of ‘us”. Only to realise, after a few minutes, that the auto-driver was actually asking for a reasonable amount. And that the poor foreigner was actually leaving a posh silk-saree shop!!! So much for ‘hospitality’ towards ‘foreigners’ 🙂
* A strange conversation with my dearest maternal grandmother this evening. According to our custom, the son/family is not allowed to perform anything auspicious or even visit temples/undertake pilgrimage for 1 year from the time of death in the family. I was cribbing about this insane custom to my grandma. When she said, that as a young girl of about 6 or 7, she remembers being shocked at a woman in her village (Poondi), who lost her husband, and confined herself to the four walls of her house for an entire year!!!
While I think this is outrageous, there could be a couple of reasons for such a stupid custom…
1- The family is in mourning, so they cannot venture out. One year was probably a fair enough period for them to ‘move on’.
2- The family cannot afford to undertake anything, be it a function or pilgrimage, as people did not save quite that much in the olden days!
3- The widow must be protected from other men (or women) who might try to take advantage of her frail situation.
While I found all the above utterly insane, one point that my Grandma made was striking! She said ‘It is specifically at such a time, that the bereaved family needs support from other people’, so to cut them away from the rest of the world is insane! Kudos to my Grandma for saying that!
* The rich-poor divide in India has always been talked about. Infact we have lived our entire life through this divide, struggling each day, to ensure we are on the right side!! But the more we look around, the deeper this divide gets imprinted in our mind. Yesterday, I went to get my old watches repaired, and spent about Rs.340 on them. Then I realised my slipper had snapped, so decided to buy a new one. In the meanwhile however, I spotted a cobbler, and got the slipper mended by him. The man sat hunched, cruching in the little shade that the bare tree could offer. He did his job, and when I handed out a Rs.20 note, he returned Rs.15 to me. It struck me as so unfair. That labour is so cheap!! What would that man do with such a meagre amount of Rs.5??? Even if he repaired 20 pairs of slippers that day, he would not make more than Rs.100… on his good days, probably Rs.250 or 300? Or Rs.500 perhaps? Is that enough, TO LIVE A LIFE OF DIGNITY?????
* We had an awesome little blogger’s meet this afternoon. Uma, Kanagu, Aarthi, Vimmu (who made a guest appearance), Anish and yours truly met up and had a ball!!! We did take some pictures, but I have this bad feeling that I’ve accidentally deleted the pics I took. So I bank on Uma to upload her pics on FB. Oh, and she baked this yummylicious and totally drool-worthy chocolate cake for us 🙂 that we ate secretly under the tables, when the power went out!!!
* And finally, this evening, came the awful news of IHM’s daughter. Tears rolled freely, as I read Tejaswee’s blog. And a particular post called ‘On dying early’. My deepest condolences to dear IHM. I feel choked. So I have to sign off now.