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!
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!!!!
Guess what I found this morning, as I was de-cluttering? This!!!!!
This timeless, gorgeous piece of music by the once-upon-a-time-gorgeous Lucky Ali!! Click this link to listen to the song on Youtube.
I have many lovely memories associated with this song, and with the tape too, so this picture (supposed to be part of my Project 365), warranted a post on its own 🙂
Warning: Long, boring post ahead!
So, this particular song, ‘O Sanam’ is one of my most favourite EVER! It reminds me of freedom, of being carefree and incredibly stupid. But then, such is the beauty of youth, isn’t it? To do whatever you wish to do, without stopping to weigh the consequences!! And to just be exhilarated about nothing!
The first time I heard this song, was when I had joined the mandatory ‘Higher diploma in software engineering’ course at Aptech. Those were times when parents would be mortified if their child was not taking up a ‘campooter course’! And who were touchingly oblivious to the fact that their children who worked overtime stating ‘combined studies’ were busy generating business for the seedy ‘Valentine’s Day flower-vendors’ on the footpath 😉
Anyway, in the computer Lab (where ‘flirting‘ = ‘switching off a girl’s computer to piss her off!’ (Sigh!!)), a friend was evidently SHOCKED when the gang was discussing this song ‘O Sanam’ and I had no clue what it was!! So I went back home, got the song recorded at the local store. Yeah yeah, those were the days, when we used to jot down the names of ‘supposedly trendy’ songs and get it recorded at the local video store, because that was just way cheaper than buying an audio cassette!!! (And while the recording used to be pretty decent, we were also blessed with hearing the ‘recorder’s’ flowery language/cusses/etc. during the ‘in-between’ gaps between songs :-)) I digress again! So, I finally heard the song!! And, to a romantic like moi, that was a sheer piece of heaven!!!
Once I moved away from home, to do my MBA, my mum sent me money to buy myself a ‘walkman’. I dragged a friend along every seedy street in Pune, to find a good, but not too expensive walkman. And this is what I bought for an exorbitant Rs.1100 🙂 It even had a speaker and recorder (AND it still works, after an entire decade!!) We (my roomie, an extra illegal roomie and I – and when I say ‘illegal’ I only mean, this girl, Miss S, was ALWAYS in our room, despite not actually living there, so my landlady used to stare at her, with evident dislike, every time she came home!! And which we conveniently ignored :-)) have listened to many lovely songs on this walkman, and needless to say, O Sanam was one of them!
And the last (please don’t say ‘Phew!’ :-)) memory is that of roaming the streets of Mumbai, at 1 am, in a cab full of friends, that too at the expense of the company for which I worked 😈 I was working on a project, and when my work got over, a bunch of very close friends arrived, we piled into a Taxi, and simply roamed all around Mumbai.
We went up and down the beach, saw the Hiranandani apartments from afar, and gaped, in awe 🙂 I don’t think any of us even dreamed of owning something like that in our lifetime!!! We were ‘just out of B-school’ and we thought the world of ourselves! And yes, since I was ‘working beyond office hours‘, my noble friends ‘suggested’ I bill the cab fare (which was an enormous Rs.430 :lol:) to the organization, and I very sweetly obliged. I hope none of my ex-colleagues are reading this 😉 And oh yes, I missed telling you, that throughout the drive in the cab, we listened to this tape.
And O Sanam was etched in our memory forever!!
So there, folks. We finally come to the end of the post. Please, do me a favour. Before you shut the computer on my face 😉 do listen to the song. Here:
And, DO SHARE YOUR MEMORIES, with this song, if you would like to 🙂
PS 1: My dearest and most adorable non-Chennai friends – Please oh puhleez don’t call this DO-SA. It is a DosaI 🙂 🙂 🙂
One of my best friends back in college used to say ‘DosA and Sambhurr’. Had she not been so dear to me, I could have killed her Every time she massacred the word DosaI by calling it a DosA. Its like me saying ‘Barota’ instead of ‘Parantha’ 😛
It wasn’t until late December that I found the envelope. It was addressed to no one. It bore the seal of ‘Vrindavan Home for the Aged’. That is how I realised it (perhaps) belonged to my father.
Before you stand on high moral ground and fire me for having sent away my old (and ailing!) Dad to the Home, do try to understand, and if possible, even believe that I truly did not want to send him there. At sixty, he was fit as a fiddle. We used to fight over the TV every evening, and would both finally lose to my son, who decided that Ben Ten was the right programme for us. So we, the boys of the house, would sprawl on the sofas and watched the inane aliens fight gory wars.
I digress. Like I said, the envelope, slightly yellowed and crushed, was addressed to no one in particular. It just bore my address. I assume my Dad had written it for me! Which made me curious, as he was not the sort of person who would write letters! If my memory serves me right, he was particularly not fond of reading or writing. So this was special. I didn’t quite want to open it. The last two months had been rather painful. First, the agony of losing him. Second, the fact that I had left him to die alone. I can never get over it. Ever. And third (perhaps, the most important reason) – I was afraid… of what the letter might contain!!
It was my birthday. In no mood to celebrate, I decided I would open the letter after all…
You know how much I hate to write!
Bang on! This was definitely from Dad!! My lips curved into a smile.
I want to let you know something… its been on my mind ever since you left me.
I stiffened. It was not like I left him! It was HE who decided to leave us. Vidya and I pleaded. So did little Prithvi. But he had made up his mind.
I like this place they call ‘Home’. Its spacious, airy, the nurses take care of me. I have no complaints.
I visited him almost every Saturday. I would take his favourite food. Sometimes, Vidya and Prithvi came along, at other times, they didn’t. Dad would always recognize Prithvi, no matter what! The moment he saw his chubby little grandson, his wizened face would break into a smile. I felt relived that he liked the Home.
But you know… I want to write this before I can forget everything.. before my traitor of memory fails me. Sometimes I cannot even remember your face. At other times, I feel like you are standing right next to me. I know you are there. Its just, I don’t remember who exactly you are .. or at times, who I myself am!! I have to confess that part is a little scary.
So that was why he wrote the letter!! When he was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, it had come as a brutal shock to all of us.
On most days, he was very normal. The same old Dad who steadily picked his nose as he sat in his oversized armchair, watching children play cricket on the street! On other days, he would turn into a complete stranger. He would just stare at the ceiling. At times, he would simply grab the nearest object and smash it into the wall. He would walk down the street, to buy a packet of chicory, and wouldn’t return home until dark, when one of us would go in search of him, only to find him sitting on a broken bench, looking dazed and confused.
Finally it was he who suggested being moved to the Home. We wanted him around. He, however, was adamant. He left a day after Prithvi’s fifth birthday. We had a great party. He joined in the fun. I almost called the Home to cancel the move. But the next morning, he woke very early, bathed, and packed a little holdall with a couple of shirts and bare necessities. He did not give us any opportunity to try and persuade him against going. Before he left that morning, he blessed us with wishes for a ‘long and happy married life’, and said, very simply, and as a matter-of-fact, ‘Tell Prithvi I love him the most!’
When Prithvi returned from school that afternoon, he searched for Dad in every room of the house! And when he didn’t find him there, he cried himself to sleep.
There’s one little person I always seem to remember. A lovely cherubic little boy. Let me try to recall.. Preetham.. or was it Prithvi? Yes, I think it is Prithvi. My darling little angel. He visits me often. I can’t often remember his name, but I know that he is part of my soul.
I fought hard to blink back the tears. Dad wouldn’t be kind to anybody who cried at the drop of a hat!!
So, my dearest, I had better finish this letter quickly, as I might just not remember about it in some time.
Very often, nurses wipe tears rolling off my cheeks. Sometimes, they say ‘tut..tut..’ and walk away, cursing (in a rather filmy style!) my ‘supposedly wicked’ son who they think has left me here.
Little do they know, that these, in fact, are tears of joy.
Joy at a life well lived. This is the happiness of a husband, who found a good and loving wife. The pride of a father, who raised a strong and caring son. And also, the yearning of a grandfather. Whose only (albeit greedy) wish was that he had a few more years to spend with his grandson, frolicking in the park, or sneaking away from the watchful and loving eyes of his Mummy, to lick an ice-cream cone. But then, I’m just being ungrateful.
I could have lived with our children. But you know, much as I hate to boast, I think our son adores me! So does Prithvi. I want them to remember me as their Hero. Not as a senile patient who couldn’t recognize them! No. That wouldn’t work for me.
So, this is my big secret. I want you to know, my dearest, that every time I remember us, and cry, it is only to say that I have lived a very happy life.
I think I will see you soon.
Dad’s last letter. It had not been written for me. Or for Prithvi. But for Mum. I was stunned, at how Dad never let us see how much he missed her. I hoped they were together again.
To me, the letter had a cathartic effect. I don’t know if I can ever stop feeling guilty, but this day, I felt a little better. He knew what he was doing. And he did it not just for me, but also for himself.
I guess he was right afterall. When I think of Dad, I only recall a tall, strong man, who would throw Prithvi up into mid-air and catch him as he fell squealing with delight. I remember him as a level-headed counsellor, who simply declared that every workplace had its share of politics, and it was upto me to handle it or steer clear! Vidya remembers him as a loving father, who would make her a cup of ‘straang filter kaapi’ when she returned home from work every evening.
And Prithvi.. well, he does not remember much of him. When we happen to mention Dad, he perks up, curious to know more about his childhood friend. We cite him examples of how Dad used to pretend to be his Horse and ‘giddy up’ as Prithvi ordered him to! Prithvi chuckles shyly when we mention such incidents.
Often, he walks into Dad’s old room (that has now been converted into a Study) as if looking for something.
Sometimes, I follow him, and find him gazing at a picture of Dad’s. At other times, I find him dozing in the big arm-chair.
Well, whatever it is he is doing (or not doing!), I get the feeling this room is his favourite haunt. He seems happy here.
As for the letter, I placed it back in its envelope, labelled it as ‘First Letter Written’and tucked it far, far away inside my wardrobe. I could perhaps give it to Prithvi when he is grown up enough to be deceived by ‘Success’ manifesting itself in the form of money or fame?! Will it make any sense to him, I wonder…
Or perhaps, I will simply start writing a letter of my own…. hoping that I too, can be a Hero to my son, as Dad is to me.
Daughters. Sons. Grandchildren. They huddled around the hospital bed. She was 90. Frail, weak. ‘Some water, Ma?’ the youngest daughter asked. Ma shook her head. Very slightly. ‘Wi…’ she muttered. Nobody heard. They were far too engulfed in sorrow. Much as they had hated the old hag, the fact was, they had spent a lifetime with her. Living off her ancestral wealth! ‘Wi…’ Ma said again, this time, a little louder.
The eldest daughter heard. ‘Did you want something, Ma?’ A look of exasperation crossed Ma’s wrinkled face. She motioned to the wall across the huge hall, on which hung a massive TV. The ‘TV wall’ was famous within family circles. It was supposed to have a secret brick, which, when removed, would reveal the ‘Keys’. Keys to what? That nobody knew. Except Ma.
They crowded closer by her bedside, to get a better view. Or to hear better, as the case might have been!
‘Go on Ma, tell us..’ the eldest grandchild coaxed.
‘Wiiiiiii…’ Ma urged, motioning wildly towards the ‘TV Wall’ with both hands.
Murmurs arose within the closed room.
‘Wall? Is she pointing at the wall?’
‘Shush…quiet.. I think she means her Will. That’s what she’s been hiding behind the TV all these years!’
‘Tee hee, Granny wants to wee ;-)’ giggled the youngest of the brigade.
‘Wow.. a Will.. Wow!!’ the older ones whispered in sheer admiration. A real mystery, that too, in their otherwise mundane, insignificant little lives!
The macho men in the room took big strides towards the TV wall, and tried to pry the TV off from its stand.
Ma raised her eyebrows in alarm.
‘Don’t worry Ma, we will give you the Will in a minute..’
Ma shook her head, and lifted both hands towards the heavens above.
The daughters nodded wisely. ‘We know, you’ve waited all these years to share this moment with us…’
Ma clutched her head, and with all her energy, managed to pull out some perfectly silvery hair.
‘What’s wrong, Ma? Are you not happy? We won’t tamperwith your Will, don’t you worry! Your wish will be our command! We swear!!’
Ma shook her head, rather vigorously.
‘My end … is imminent!!’ Ma cried.
‘Be brave, Ma, it is us who will be left alone.. Come, let’s atleast read your last wishes in the will now‘, the daughters sobbed. A small, empty bottle of glycerine lay in the dustbin under the bed.
The men were still working hard at removing the TV. ‘Fetch the screwdriver, you fool! We don’t have all day!!’ shouted the elder son to the younger.
There was chaos all around. Men hunting for a Will. Women waiting for the hunt to end! Children whispering animatedly, at what would be in the Will!
Until finally, ‘Crash!’ Ma grabbed the glass of water by her bedside, and threw it on the floor, with all her might.
‘Can you dumb fools stop breaking my new flatscreen TV?’ she managed to scream.
The daughters looked at each other, in disbelief. Sons and grandsons heard it loud and clear. They turned around, confused!
‘But.. but what about your Will?’ the daughters questioned, tears having disappeared rather magically.
‘My Wi…’ Ma whispered again.
‘Your will, dearest Ma?’ the youngest daughter cooed.
‘Shut up, you useless fools. No damn will. And no bloody money. I’ve donated everything before you vultures came to my deathbed. Now give me my damn Wii from the rack beside the TV. I want to play one last game!’
Reticent. That is what best describes me. Probably. My mum would have found the right word. Had she been around. Infact, had she not left, I would probably not be – reticent.
She was wonderful – my mother. I don’t remember her being pretty. Nor attractive. But when she came to collect me from school, my friends would spot her bulky frame, run towards her to greet her. They would tell her about what they did in the classroom that day. She would be all smiles. Crows-feet around her eyes. Yes, that’s what I remember most about her. When she smiled, her eyes would sparkle. And crows-feet would form around the corners. She would laugh heartily at what Gabbi or Maya said. Or at Ben screaming like a Dinosaur! If Sophia hung onto the fence, crying for her Mommy, my mum would promptly tell her ‘Don’t worry darling, I saw your Mommy on the way, she is going to be here very soon!’
And all the time, I would watch – hiding behind a play tent –her eyes would be looking for me. Searching… searching…And when they found me – they would light up, like she had witnessed fireworks in the sky!!
Anyway. The days we spent at the hospital. She would lie limp on the bed. I would chatter. Incessantly. She would smile. Mostly! Sometimes, she would simply ask me to ‘shush‘. I couldn’t. Well, that’s me. Excited, animated, energetic. I think – well, I know – that that spirit is what she loved most about me.
That last day, I went to wake her up. And when she did, I ..I .. cannot explain. Pale, ashen face. Hollow eyes. Dry, cracked lips. Almost, an ugly ghost in the place of my beautiful mother.
I shrank. ‘Go Away!!’ I screamed. I ran out of that room, screaming ‘Just go away!!’. That was the last I saw of her. They didn’t allow me at her funeral. They thought I was too young.
How do I remember – you might ask. You see, some things – events, faces – just get etched – deep, deep down – somewhere.. somewhere beyond even Memory! Just like a photograph. Flash, click. The moment captured – for eternity.
Sometimes, I wake up, looking for her. Wake up right in the middle of a dream – Of me waiting behind my school fence. Hiding behind a play-tent. My eyes, searching. Searching…
Sometimes, I pretend to go back to sleep and continue the dream – and try to imagine that I’ve found her.
Her face is beautiful again. I cannot bring myself to see her ‘other’ face. Even in a pretend dream – it is too difficult.
I simply stand and stare. She waits, with a smile that lights up her face.
And I? I have so much – just so much – to say to her. I have to tell her that Maya hurted my feelings. That Ben invited me to his birthday party. That.. that..I’m so clever that I know all about the continents.
But not a word comes up to my lips. My dry, cracked lips. And suddenly, my mind goes blank. There is only one thing that I want to say. Only one.
But my throat hurts so bad, that I’m unable to bring myself to say it … ‘Mummy, I’m sorry I got afraid’.
You see, I am reticent. I really am. Because none of it matters any more.
No time to blog, even! Or perhaps it is just me, unable to adjust myself to the really hectic lifestyle in India.
This is how a typical day starts … Wake up to early morning calls from the Milk(wo)man and sounds of stairways being swept and cleaned. And ofcourse, the newspaper neatly tucked into the grill by a really busy newspaper-boy 🙂
This followed by a quick breakfast of toast (or dosai, if lucky 😉 ) complemented by the noise of a wholesome fight over water, between a skinny, grumpy watchman and an obese, grumpier apartment resident!
Following this fiesty morning start, the day just whizzes by uneventfully, punctuated by umpteen rings on the poor little doorbell (indicating visits by servant maid, watchman, servant (again), salesgirl, post, watchman (again), courier folks, medical shop assistant, courier folks (again), flower-woman, laundry (iron) boy, laundry boy again – this time to deliver neighbour’s clothes as neighbour isn’t at home, exactly 15 mins later, neighbour himself, to collect the pile of laundry!, casual visit by some other neighbour…the list goes on. If lucky, we are also blessed by a visit from above-mentioned-grumpier-resident’s grumpiEST wife who rattles on for half an hour, about her plight and that of her entire family tree!
In between all this, naturally, the phone rings ATLEAST once an hour. Crank calls, Telemarketing guys, Relatives whom we like, relatives whom we hate too ;-), Ex-colleagues, Calls for little birds who have already flown this nest, a couple of wrong numbers…. (hey, what fun is it without those wrong numbers!)
And to think that in between all this interesting socialization, we also need to take care of our mundane chores and Live a little…. phew…!
Like I said, Life in India, is absolutely hectic.
Which explains why, despite having such fun in Chennai, and taking notes in the mind, about interesting events/tidbits, I’ve found no time at all, to log into my dear virtual world!
There was this one scene that has been captured in my mind. Unfortunately, I did not have a camera on hand at the time. It was THE MOST CREATIVE lighting solution EVER! Enroute to the airport (to pick up my lil sis who flew in all the way from Hyderabad), we saw this road rather dug up towards one side. Someone had put up a shabby little wooden fence, more as a ‘sign’ and less, as a protective measure! The best part was, the lighting solution on the fence. The same someone had simply fixed a little bulb onto one wooden pole, and had upturned a red plastic pot (the ones we use to collect water in!) over it. And voila! We had a beautiful red lamp glowing away in the hazy darkness of a typical Chennai evening 🙂 This is one time I REALLY cursed myself for not having taken a camera or phone along! Sigh!
And did I mention our little Blog Meet? A few of us (the same group that had met earlier on in January this year) met up at this supposedly quaint restaurant called Dhaba Express. Uma was the first to arrive. Dressed in a chic blue kurti, one would never imagine she was a Mommy, and that too, of teenage kids! She brought her vintage chocolate cake, as always. And it was such a treat!!! The darling that she is, she even gave me a huge chunk to take back home for the Brat! Thank you, Uma, and May You Bake many more 🙂
Aaroo joined almost immediately. We never read each other’s blogs, but trust me when I say, no trip to Chennai is complete without meeting her 🙂 The three of us managed to squeeze into the low-levelled tables and got chatting.
As you know, VIPs always arrive late. So did our Prince Villiam! After many phone calls and SMS-es between him and Ums, he finally made it to the event! Looking neatly scrubbed and perfumed, he barged into the scene, gulped down some Aam Panna, and rushed out after a few pics were clicked! So much for a guest appearance!!
Amidst all the chattering, the power went out for about half hour. We diligently used this time, to hog the totally yummy and absolutely delicious chocolate cake without being seen by the restaurant authorities ;-).
Pics will be posted soon(est). Why I cannot post them today, is a sad story in itself. But that post, is for another day!
For now, let me just say, I am glad to be back on WordPress and Facebook 🙂 Hope to catch up on all those posts in my Reader really soon.
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.