Monday, December 22, 2008

My Char-M

To delhi and back.

beautiful weather,
dusty delhi.
metro dreams a few metres above our heads,
early morning mist,
flyovers daring us,
milkmen guiding us,
a u-turn
Back home.

Well, yes, I and Mahesh drove to Delhi to meet Char-Paanch Bloggers. NM, HDWK, Pinku, PinknBlu, and Sukumbho (More about that later) and I come back home and Ritu Charges me with a Char ka Tag. Totally charmed, here I go, spreading about my charms.

4 places I go to over and over again

1. Internet (Lifeline has to go on blinking in the modem, or I am dead)
2. My life size mirror (not that it has a lot to offer, I want it to feel good when it looks at me)
3. My Work Place ( Have to, chotey chotey bachey hain mere)
4. Tennis Courts (in capacity of the White Tiger)

4 people who mail me regularly

1. Sumanta (sigh, he has finally accepted that he has to give me up to the blogworld)
2. Bikramjit Sekhon (He is actually pissed off at my not doing the GNDU Newsletter till now)
3. Kiran Grewal (Remember the baby devil?)
4. My Mom ( till she was abroad)

4 of my favorite places to eat ( apart from home)

1. The Maya, Jalandhar (Though once they brought the bill without our asking and I was thirsting for the manager's blood)
2. Haveli, Jalandhar (The other cronies around cities like Karnal and Ludhiana are nowhere close to the original)
3. Brijwasi Chaat Bhandar, Bhandari Bridge, Amritsar. (I loved their jaggery-tamarind sauce in chaat. Oh Paapi memory…kithey cheta aa gaya, yummm)
4. Sanjha Chulha in Johal Market, Jalandhar (Till I was a chickiterian, I loved their Chicken Irani)

4 places I’d rather be now

1. Chandigarh
2. Watching Dil Kabaddi
3. In Udaipur, leisurely enjoying the rich city
4. Walking on unwalked trails in Kasauli

4 favorite TV shows

1. Tom and Jerry
2. Shamsher Sikander Chuddi-Buddy (Yeah, there is a monkey in it that is totally in awe of his bum)
3. Discovery travel shows ( I don’t know the names honestly)
4. Lizzie McGuire or Shararat (On Disney; I dont know why both cannot be aired)

4 Movies I could watch again and again

1. Sholay (But of course)
2. Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyon Aaata hai ( hehe, sorry it was a white lie)
3. Chupke-Chupke (starring Dharminder, Jaya Bhaduri, Amitabh Bacchan, Sharmila Tagore)
4. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro

4 people I would like to tag:

1. Afaque
2. Iya
3. Manasa
4. Zirelda

Edited to add:

Gandhigiri in tags results in Philip agreeing to do the tag. Will wait to hear from you LP.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Now This Calls for a Treat

When we lay our hearts bare before our readers, either as anonymous writers or with our names declared on our blogs, we do or do not crave appreciation. We yearn for sharing our joys and sorrows; we yearn to use the writing as a catharsis. To some, this becomes a compulsive activity, to others it is merely an extension of their personality. Through our blogs, we meet those who live a whole world afar and are yet just a step away from us. Through our blogs, we become the reason for many strangers to meet and talk on a common forum. If nothing else, I feel this is one valid reason for us all to come together through the words expressed on our respective pages.
When these same friends remember you on their own blogs for a reason as good as an award, it is not flattery, it is not mere reciprocation. It is merely a way to remember each other on the blogs and to introduce new blogs through the various links that these awards ask you to put up. It is a validation of what you stand for in your blog-and a validation offered by your blog-mates who are the true judges of your words. Nor are the awards givers any celebrities in the regular sense of the term. They are celebrities in their own right. Some of them make us laugh, some make us empathize with them, some jolt us up to the realities of our day and some just share their day-to-day life with us. We know their babies, spouses, parents, friends, friends-of-friends, colleagues, neighbors from their writings. After all we are all just Six Degrees removed from each other.
Over the past couple of months, I have been blessed with so many awards that I feel humbled. Here they go.

Indian Home Maker
thinks that I am an honest blogger for my approval of posts that do not result in anger, arguments and strife!

However, I feel that
Philip-for venting out his anger honestly on the current scenario
Balvinder-For bringing out the voice of the Indians in his suggestions post after Mumbai Siege
TheArmyGuy-For taking us with him as far as he could in his paratrooping
Trailblazer-For saying unmincingly what he believes in (though at times I tend to disagree with him)
Imp's Mom-For uncovering the insecurity that we all are feeling for our children
MySpace-For the honesty with which her stories touch the bottom of the heart
Oreen-For the pashbalish humor he likes to spread through his honest posts; for leaking out the well kept secrets of the Bengali people to us lesser mortals
deserve this Honest Blogger award.

Lately, a cute butterfly has been spreading glee in the blogosphere. And it came to see me four times. Mithe, Iya, DeeplyDip, and Mandira sent it my way. IT is supposed to be for a cool blog. I don’t know what makes my blog cool, but it gave a shine to my eyes everytime I looked at it. The shine must spread. I think
Dipali has a cool blog because she writes about everything, from little dogs, to her trips, to her supposed dinosority-and all through, her words are always coated with courtesy, warmth, and above all humor.
Himalayan Adventurer, Dr Khandelwal deserves this cute award for bringing to us the cold of Antarctica first hand. I am simply a fan of his blog. His simple language and informative style is very attractive.
Jagjit is the guy with the red blog. Yeah, I know now he is not using the red colour anymore, yet I associate his blog with Red. So he deserves this cool award for all his wild ‘orgasmic’ humor.
Monika's blog has such a beautiful cool look now as compared to before ( am I mean in mentioning it?) that it is what you call a cool blog.
Parry has been singing such beautiful songs and poems that he deserves this mention and award. Lagey raho.
Parul is my recent discovery but the look and the content of her blog is way above cool. This one is for you girl.

Mama-Mia has been very kind to remember me while awarding her blog mates with the Proximidade award. The award is such a cute beige and pink that I would have snatched it from Abha if she had not awarded me with it. And the bonus is that as I am typing out this post, Monika beckons me to her blog. There she is, with another Proximidade award.
The citation of the award reads that this award is given to a blog that invests and believes in PROXIMITY - nearness in space, time and relationships! See I told you…
I would like to remember these friends for the award.
Manish-For sharing with us the warm memories and experiences.
Zirelda- for making us a part of her everyday life, for taking us to walks with Rach.
Jasdeep-For helping us fly with the best Punjabi poetry of our days.
Pinku-For investing her time and energy in cultivating friends par-blogs.
Roop-For sharing with us, her experiences with her charming sari.
Ritu-For being there whenever I need to share a ‘hey’ moment on Gtalk, besides being an excellent author of wonderful stories.
Oceanic Mirages-For her new experimentation with English Ghazal.
Devaki-For being, through her such apt words, a charming presence around us.

A long while ago, Mama-Mia ( I know she has also forgotten it) and Life Begins, and Monika had given me an award that is given only to Million Dollar Friends. Here is it. Thank you girls. To me, apart from these three, and Pinku and Roop and Ritu and NM and all my friends who come to my blog to read my humble mumbles are a million dollar worth.
But especially
Indian Home Maker, because I can reach her even if she is in her kitchen.
Sumanto, because he is my best critic and a great buddy (and because he tolerates me a lot)
Gazal, because we share our Midnight-Cat-Eating-Experiences too. (did I hear eiiww?)
Guri, because of the collaborative meaningless poetry we sometimes scribble for the old times sake.
Mandira, for really sweet "applogolies" (oh my god, I wont let this be forgotten) she sent my way after her Punjab Trip.
How Do We Know-For speaking such cute Punjabi with me.
Sri-For counting his angels, I mean blessings, and counting me among them.

And I had received the Brillante Weblog award and also had done a post on it when I had gotten it. But later, I got it yet again from Monika, and again from MySpace and yet again from Life Begins. So I had to share it with you.
I think the Quirky Indian, Mithe, and DewDrops deserve to be called brilliant. The first because it talks of us Indians and what we are , the second because it shares the fresh talent of a bright new blogger and the third because of the way it shares with us a hope that HIV vaccine is on the way. Here, I would also like to make a mention of PinknBlu and would like him to accept this award. It is for the vehemence with which he had been posting. And it is for that same enthusiasm to be revived. Who knows, the award might do it. Iya deserves this award because of the sweet and the unassuming stuff she writes on her blog.

Trust me, this post had been bothering me for two days. I was feeling a pressure of not having acknowledged the awards, of not having displayed them well in time. Job done, Mampi is happy now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

On the Price of a Mountain Dew Bottle

Well, I am sorry for the stupid question but I was feeling so stupid after paying the price that I had to bring it to your court to decide if I was more stupid or the shopkeeper was more insistent?

I had paid 60 rupees for both.

He said if you want it without Tropicana, you get to pay 50 rupees. If you want it with Tropicana, you pay 60. I tried to fight it out with him by telling him ke bhai saab cold drink hi chahiye, bina Tropicana ke chahiye, aur 40 ka chahiye, agar zabardasti Tropicana dena hai toh 50 ka chahiye. But he didn’t pity the damsel in distress. And I failed to understand his logic. I was upset, in fact furious-the kind of furious you turn when you find people either too stupid or too smart to understand your logic. It was 10-30 pm and I was going to Amritsar airport to receive mom. I thought by the time I reach Amritsar, it would be well past 11-30 and I wont be able to get anything. And the Airport shops fleece customers as if there is no tomorrow. So majboori ka naam 60 rupees instead of 50. Guess he knew already that the woman would not be getting anything else for the good part of the night.

And don’t think I took it calmly. I created a ruckus, tried to threaten him with dire consequences, dropped names like ‘consumer court’, and ‘insaaf’ and’ blah blah blah’. After about 3 minutes of blah blahing, I realized that the effort wasn’t worth those 10 bucks that I would be saving. I know, I know it is not about 10 bucks, it is all about principle. But then trying to shove principle into people’s unwilling, unyielding ears at 10-30 pm is not a good idea. They are too sleepy at that time anyway. So all my efforts to intimidate him failed miserably. He said in his Majhi Punjabi “Saanu Vaara nahi khanda ji” (hamein raas nahi aata yeh price).

And I ended up paying 60 for both.

And I was right about the Airport thing. There were two miserable shops, one had a costly Lipton Di Chah; and other had some Haldiram Snacks hanging like dead mice. Me and Rasan were drooling like two hungry cats and couldnt do anything because that shop was closed. We shivered a little and then went inside through practically nothing in the name of secuirty. There was NOTHING inside the airport. We had to sit inside the arrivals lounge. Lounge?? What lounge?? And the Government of my state expects NRI's to go investing and fawning over their blah blahing.

That reminds me, this post was about the price of a Mountain Dew.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Any Clue?

This is the label from a Mountain Dew bottle that I bought recently from a small town on the way to Amritsar. Since you know that I am weak at Maths, can you please calculate the price that I was supposed to pay for this cold drink?? Please click on the picture to enlarge it to see the label clearly.

Later I would tell you what I actually paid.

And okay, this has nothing to do with THAT maths. That was only to add some color to this otherwise totally dull, drab and confused post.

Monday, December 08, 2008

PooranMashi (Full Moon Night)

Jaswant Singh Kanwal is a prominent Punjabi author. Standing literally and figuratively tall among all the Punjabi writers, he has his own niche in the minds of the readers of Punjabi literature. As a teenager, I was, like all Punjabi children my age, initiated into reading the works of Nanak Singh-the father of Punjabi novel. Like Prem Chand, he talked about poverty and idealism and appealed to an impressionable mind like mine. Kanwal, according to popular notions, was a leftist and in those days, I hated everything leftist. So, I didn’t really read him. Later, I landed upon his historical fiction Toshali di Hanso, and other novels like Civil Lines, Sacch Nu Faansi and now Pooranmashi. I admit I had been missing out on a lot of my own heritage by being prejudiced about him. I am going to make up for that and will soon be trying to find all his works and read them.

Pooranmashi (Aarsi Publishers, ND, Rs.125/-) has interesting details of Punjabi culture, rustic life, communication, lifestyle, farming habits and mental makeup of people in general. In a romantic plot, Kanwal picturises the day-to-day life of Roop(its protagonist) and Channo (his ladylove) who never get to marry due to a foolish misunderstanding. They meet a couple of times in the course of years even after their respective marriages. Later Channo is widowed. Roop’s wife is in the know of the things between Roop and Channo. The three of them arrange to marry Channo’s daughter to Roop’s son. The romance between Roop and Channo thus reaches its pinnacle. Shamo, another female character does not get married to her love Dyala who dies lonely and addicted to drugs. And then there is Bachno, a woman married to a much older man. She is constantly looking for pleasure outside marriage and as a result plays havoc with the romantic lead of the novel. Interspersed with observations from the novelist himself, the novel gives an empathetic picture of poverty, needs, and compulsions alongside the rich heritage that it reflects in descriptions of marriages and marriage parties travelling by horses and bullock carts to another village and staying overnight.

I loved the Punjabi folk couplets at the beginning and ending of almost each chapter of the novel. These songs, these bolies, these tappas, coming from the endless treasure house of Punjabi folk add a flavor to it. One thing that I felt in the reading of the novel was, the generation of today will probably not relate to the feelings and emotions of the characters. That first blush, that unwilling check on your own communication with your loved one, or the one you marry, the little chaa malhar, the little nok jhok of a rustic (pendu) life-all is missing from today’s life.

The characters Kanwal has created in this novel are highly idealistic. Roop tries to convince Channo to elope with him, she doesn’t agree. Instead chooses a life of torture for her own self. Like many Punjabi wives of her day, she falls in love with her man too late. He is an army man who dies on the front soon after his wife has accepted him mentally. Roop’s wife is totally cool about his past. At least that makes her own life easy. It was kind of totally undigestible to me. But then, a writer, like the Almighty, has the licence to play with his characters as he might please.

In all, it was a great read.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Hairrible Hair Day

I went for a haircut a couple of days back. It was a parlor suggested by Mudita, my friend. My regular parlor for haircut, AAE is one of the best in the city. But then I wanted to try an alternate parlor too. After a long long deliberation with Mudits, I decided upon going to the SU parlor. It had two floors. The lower floor was for men. The upper floor-about six steps above (thankfully not six feet under) was the women’s parlor. I expected a suave ambience from the kind of locality it was in. But what I saw inside was something akin to a fish market. Six chairs, six clients, six helpers to six beauticians/hairdressers. No attendants were free enough to catch me right at the door to ask me ‘yes ma’am’? Managing to look sufficiently lost (as I certainly am not- maybe I was just pretending I was lost so someone should promptly come to attend to the innocent customer to fleece her of the money in her purse), I looked here and there. They read my intention telepathically; because someone did come; I muttered an innocent, “haircut.” He just gave a small nod. Presently, a senior hair dresser (SH) came. Almost dragged me to the chair. Ok, not really dragged, just gestured me to take that chair. Reluctantly I sat there. Put the book I was carrying and the purse on the glass top in front of me.

On purpose, I threw a sudden glance at the hair brushes lying on the side counter. I jumped up on the chair. The SH (and he was with a small paunch you know, and an overconfident demeanor) jumped up thinking I had seen a snake. “What happened?” Making a very pathetic face, I looked back, “You won’t… u-u-use these (pointing at the brushes) on me, will you?” Unmoved, he said, “Of course, I will. Why? What’s wrong with these?” Same innocent sorry face of mine, now aided by my blinking eyes, “Come on, there are hair in these brushes, and dead skin, and they are dirty.” Now there WERE four/five strands of hair each in all three of the brushes lying there meant to be used on me. “Medem, is time toh aise ho hongey” (Madam, at this time of the day, you will get these only). Did I tell you that it was 5:30 p.m.? I wanted to ask him if I should have come at 5:30 a.m. to be privileged enough to have clean brushes used on my hair. Reading my mind, he looked at me as if I was weird. He actually checked my head carefully for any antennae sticking out. ( I saw him in the mirror checking it out) Not finding any, he dismissed me as just another cleanliness freak and started to start with the job.

Now I got rid of the wretched demeanor of mine, and went into the essentially Durga mode, “What the hell do you mean this time of the day? I will have nothing of these sorts.” “Aapki marzi,” he said in a go- to-hell tone. I actually got up from the chair, meaning to go out. He didn’t imagine a woman could be so stupid to go out just for a petty reason like a dirty hair brush. I said, “fine.” We all know, fine in a woman’s terminology means, “dekh loongi” (I will see you). Not that I wanted to see him anytime later. Now he was a little appeasing, “Arey madam, sit, I will cut your hair, and meantime they will clean the brushes.” “Yeah Motu, now you are talking in my lingo,” I thought; but said, “Okay, get them cleaned first.” Giving up on me, he yelled to an attendant (who I know will ultimately grow to be like him-pot bellied and apathetic to the customers’ need of clean brushes). The boy came, SH told him to go clean two wooden brushes. Duly obeying, the fellow brought two clean brushes. The SH asked him contemptuously to show them to me. I know he actually wanted to shove these ‘clean’ brushes into my face. Not reacting, I checked the brushes. I again found a few strands of hair sticking out. And he rubbed the brushes together. A lot of dead skin fell off those ‘clean’ brushes. YUCK. I was totally put off. And I blurted, “Sorry, I don’t want a haircut”. Now the SH was genuinely irritated. But at the same time, he was not willing to let go of me. The fact that I was carrying Indira Gandhi’s biography with me didn’t help my cause at all. He possibly thought I was one hell of a Nari Mukti types. Or worse, I was perhaps a Press correspondent on a sting operation to catch hold of all dirty hair brushes in his parlor. He told the boy to clean, CLEAN, really clean the brush. And I was suddenly worried about the haircut now. He might snip snap, snip snap allllll my locks and do a Mr. Bean on me. But then the die was cast. Upon instructing the boy to go clean the brushes with dettol (I could sense the sarcasm in his voice), he started his job. Before that, he brought a well scrubbed and clean Dark Pink comb. Usually I like to mentally go to sleep while the job is being done. Today, I couldn’t afford to. I kept my eyes open. He did look antagonistically at me. I wanted to think that he was doing a fine job. He took 10 minutes in re-doing my steps and he was done. DONE. And I was left gaping. “Ho gaya?” “Yes medem ho gaya,” he was already pissed off. So glad to get rid of me he was. Meantime the boy brought those two wooden brushes. I doubt the parlor had seen those two brushes in the color that I saw them in, ever since they were bought. I had a look at them, said “yes,” and three people who were attending to me heaved three separate sighs of relief. I swear, I could hear their distinct sighs. The SH was thinking, “Medem ko pasand aa gaya, brushes ka janam saphal ho gaya.”

I wanted to do a Pappu Dance on my minor victory. Now my head won’t catch any infection and lice (ab ismar mein kaun nikaalta meri juyein?). And then they used those clean clean brushes on my hair. I had originally planned to get a straightening job done after a blow dry. But now I was scared because I had upset too many people. What if they scald my scalp in retaliation? Lene ke dene par jayeinge. I heard SH speak, “Medem-straight or outward curls?” I said without batting my eyelids, “Outward curls.” And thought, Motu, at least you won’t get to threaten me with that hot straightening irons stuff. The three of them then worked on giving me outwards curls, with that big hair dryer and those two brushes of ‘mine’. But they did have their revenge for sure. Pulled my hair once and pulled my hair twice and pretended it was by mistake. I, too, had to do my bit by pretending that it didn’t make any difference to me. Why give them that morbid pleasure of knowing they had given me pain? I wanted to open my Indira Gandhi to forget this pulling at my hair, and intimidate them a little in the process, but with the pulls and the whoosh of the dryer, I don’t think I could have, even if I had pretended I could.

SH did a fine job, with two assistants – and my hair looked awesome. I went downstairs to pay up. “Trimming,” he announced to the receptionist madam and she said absentmindedly, “Three hundred.” I took out three hundred-rupee notes and left NO tip behind…I could sense that the SH was lingering behind for that. I was acting mean, but I meant to be mean. The SH, and the two assistants looked out of the glass doors as I went out. I know they were checking if there was any space ship to take me back to Venus. Relieved, they went back. I am sure they wished they had a life size picture of me to hang in the parlor-just to warn the posterity. And I am sure they didn’t wash any brushes for the following entire week in protest. After all, my hair won’t grow back for another 2 months and they know the weird creature is not coming back for two months at least.

But I know I am not going to go there at all. AAE zindabad.

If you think it was not horrible enough, and if you have more hunger for horror, you can devour some Phool Horrors or Pool Horrors.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mumbai Blood

Rana Bose is a multifaceted personality - aware, awake and alert to the times that we live in. You can read his brilliant take on the Mumbai Blasts here.

Saturday, November 29, 2008


The other day, Mahesh had asked for a back-to-back session of two movies in my company (wonder why he still enjoys it) in lieu of an exchange duty that I had promised a colleague on a Sunday. Actually, Mahesh had been upset that I had said yes to her during weekend-it is his time after all. He demanded compensation. He was right. My very genuine problem is that I cannot say no. When she requested me to take up that duty in her place, I assumed she had a very very genuine reason to request me-and so I said yes without thinking twice. It meant a spoiled Sunday and a day away from Mahesh and kids. But that never happened, she said she would manage to go; my Sunday was saved and hence there were no back-to-back movie sessions.

Over the week, we forgot about it, in the course of long phone talks over what is going on in India; in the course of his efforts to persuade me to watch television; in the course of my dogged ‘no’ to exposing children to the situation for as long as I could help; and we forgot about it in the course of his cajoling that I must keep myself abreast of the current affairs.

Yester night, when the stress levels of the Mumbai shooting reached the zenith, he proposed that we go watch a movie. Why didn’t I say no? I made quick net searches and we decided to go to the PVR. Found that we could get two respectable tickets and reached there at 9:30 p.m. Which movie will we watch? We will see. The movie was slated to start at 10:55 p.m. Result-Two people-two tickets to "Dostana" in Mahesh’s favorite corner of the cinema, a fast emptying mall, an hour to spend in each other's company and perhaps a cup of coffee.


An honest confession-when I was readying myself to move out of the house, subconsciously I was preparing myself for a hostage situation. What if, while I and Mahesh are in the PVR, some terrorists lay siege to it? Consciously, I kept a hairbrush, wore a shawl and sneakers with thick cotton socks. Why, for God’s sake? Mad, wasn’t I? Consciously I wanted Mahesh to wear his warm clothing, he catches colds very easily. Took out an old cell phone, put it on charging mode, and kept it by Rasan’s bedside; just in case she wants to talk to us. Just in case we want to inform her that we are trapped. I wished I could keep a firearm with me. Should I take my red torch too? But the PVR people won’t permit that. But then, those supposed terrorists would have all the ammunition and they won’t wait for the permission of the PVR people. Hmm, I am not as smart as them to be able to smuggle it in. So, the idea was dropped. Kissed the half-asleep Rasan-did I linger a bit longer on her cheek? She wondered what had happened to Mom. She said, “Mmm, you smell like strawberry. Did you just eat one?” I laughed, put another blanket over her favorite pink one, said bye and went out. “Have a nice time, mom.”

Paranoid? I am not. Why this preparation then? When I and Mahesh move out on such nightly jaunts, we lock the house from outside so that no one is disturbed in case we choose to return by 2 a.m. Last night, I put a very small padlock-just for the sake of locking the house. In case, we are trapped inside the mall, I should be able to communicate to mama that they can get someone to break the lock easily. No, I was not paranoid, I was just preparing for an emergency. Downstairs, in the car, I double checked if I still had my cell phone with me, if Mahesh had both his phones with him. If I had a little extra money with me… but what would money do? No idea. Nothing perhaps, it could do nothing.

"Dostana" started at 10:55. Finished at 1:30 A.M. Total value for money. Had good laughs and moments of craziness. Came out of the Mall to a total empty parking lot. Why was I a little afraid?

No, no terrorist could have anything to gain out of taking hostage a solitary car and its two occupants.

We drove around on the deserted roads till 3 a.m.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

India, My India

It was in those days when parents could not hide the newspapers from us. It was in those days when we had hardly any distractions. It was then that YOU decided for me what course my teenage will take. You sent letters of open threat to my house, my parents, and my friends’ parents. We grew up in times of utter anarchy. We grew up looking at our 15-16 year old classmates dying horrible deaths as ‘those boys’ running for their dear life in the open fields of Punjab. As children, we were awed by the museums featuring the pictures of ‘boys’ yet unbearded and already garlanded in ‘encounters’. You decided when my friend’s father, who shaved his beard and lived without a turban, would die. You decided how much scare could I take before my father came home. You decided that I would cover my head when I go to school, would not visit a beauty parlour and will not get my hair cut. You decided who I would meet, how I would live-because it suited your plan of action, it suited your religious fundamentalism. You decided that my parents tell me about the ways to save myself if you or your mates happened to come hold me and my home at ransom. You decided that I live with a burning tyre around my neck for the rest of my life. You decided that I grow up hating India.

I won’t allow you to corrupt my child’s mind.

“Mama, Is India unsafe?” “Mama, Should we be living here?”
“Why not child?” “India is our home. India is safe. Where do we live if not here?”

You WILL not decide for my child if her country is safe for her…
You will not gloat thinking she is having nightmares after watching the bare bloody footprints and shoes scattered in civilized wilderness.
She will watch Tom and Jerry for as long as she wants.
At least till she has children of her own.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I Drive All Night

I drive all the way
In the middle of the night
To smell you-
Will you drive me away from the road?
Will you open your arms and
take me into your house?

That empty bottle
Of armani black code
Keeps you on my shelf.
You do not even know
What keeps me
in love…
To drive me crazy enough
To drive in the middle of the night to reach you.

Long silences of absence
of stealing looks,
and turning away…

What became of
That drive through the night
To reach you?

Thursday, November 20, 2008


This was originally thought and written in Punjabi. Original version in Gurmukhi is here. I am not very good either at Maths or at Hindi-kindly bear with me.

kabhi kabhi
hisab kitab kartey
samikaran asantulit ho jatey hain.

swaal suljaatey
kitna dhyan rakhti hoon
barabar ke nishan se
is paar ka tol
barabar ke nishaan se
us paar ke tol
ke barabar rahey.

jama, manfi kartey tang aa jati hoon
varshon ke abhyas ke baad bhi
jab samikaran sahi nahi hotey
gussa aata hai hisab ke teacher par-
mujhey kyon nahi sikhaya
yeh samikaran samaan karna?
barabar ke nishan ke is ore ko
barabar ke nishan ke us ore ke barabar karna?

bhag, guna, ghatao, jod-mere bas ke nahi shayad...
mere samikaran shayad
youn hi doltey rahengey?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Saturday Tag

Once upon a time, I was tagged by Devaki. I was required to write about characters – real or imaginary - in literature that attract me enough that I can identify with them or remember them from past to share them with you. Yes, once upon a time because it was in June. The heat in the North overtook me so badly that I absolutely forgot about it and now when I was trying to finish my long pending tasks in short days of winter, it popped up as an admonishment. Not that the graceful Devaki ever reminded me. But Bandey ko khud bhi toh sharm aati hai na ji. So here I am.

I love Anne Frank as we know her from The Diary of a Young Girl for her guts and for the very fact that she was for real, that she had the courage to bring to us the horrors of war as she and the people around her lived it. I admire her because she was innocent enough to feel blessed even during the times of trial. Another character that I love for her innocence is Tess from Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. Joan of Arc in Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan always leaves me speechless because of her sheer faith in what she believes in, in her courage in the face of opposition by the forces that were literally and figuratively a whole lot larger than her. Her innocence in her impatience to perform while the so-called wise ones preferred to wait for her to prove the existence of the “voices” that talked to her.

Two characters that I admire despite the lack of innocence are Lady MacBeth (Macbeth-William Shakespeare) and Scarlett O’Hara from Gone with the Wind (Margaret Mitchell). Lack of innocence, yes; but not lack of courage and grit. These two female characters tried to get everything by hook or by crook. The singleness in achieving their respective aims is what gets them my admiration. However it does not mean that I approve of Madame MacBeth’s bloody decisions. But yes, a Scarlett tearing the emerald green curtains off her windows to stitch a formal gown definitely has stayed on in my mind.

A naughty demon Mephostophilis from Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus is my darling especially for turning up in the costume of a Franciscan friar in all his naughtiness and evil. This reminds me of the cute little imp Tom Sawyer from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain too.

Ayn Rand never fails to fascinate me with her characters like John Galt and Howard Roark who are a symbol of human power over mediocrity and Gail Wynand for being as real as he could . I admire Dominique Francon too but somehow I feel she could have done without the destructive streak-but then like my torchlight, what would the story be without a twist. Kira from We, The Living has been a wow character in my memory.

A few more characters that come back to me again and again from the past readings are Thomas Shadwell (Cos he was the king of the dunces. And we adulate kings, don’t we?) from MacFlecknoe by John Dryden, and Shylock for the sheer evil that he represents. I have always imagined the latter with long protruding canines with inbuilt straws (Yaar, to facilitate drinking of blood). And how can I forget Lucky Santangelo? I like her because she is the ideal mixture of richness, smartness and looks-Thank you Jackie Collins.

Milkha Singh, after I read his autobiography Flying Sikh-Milkha Singh in class 8th, is the earliest hero that I remember in my life. This book is in Punjabi, it contains the memories from his earliest days to the struggle he had to do to make both ends meet while also trying to realize a dream to run in the Olympics. And run he did, barefoot. Though he has no Olympic medal to his credit, he is my hero. Hero-for having a supreme survival instinct, for having made the best of all the opportunities life offered him. The one paragraph I remember the best from his autobiography is his memory of defeating death by a hair’s breadth. During the Partition riots he, an orphaned child of merely 12-13, happened to board a train to get to India. Now this compartment had some Muslims in it. It so happened that Muslim rioters also came there in search of sundry prey. An old man in his compartment hid him under his seat and saved him. We are grateful to that old man for gifting us our Milkha (treasure).

I could add more, but I think five months is a long time to do a tag. I cannot give myself another five minutes now to think.

I do not dare tag anyone now. Kis muh se tag karoon??

Monday, November 10, 2008

Torched Tiger

The situation:
The White Tiger - Shamelessly Borrowed
Eveready Torch-Rupees 70 only
Experience-Out of the World

And now, The Story:

I was in New Delhi today. Pinku mentioned she had Arvind Adiga' s novel. I started to drool. Requested her to lend it to me. Very kindly she brought it to lend me the copy. It was still daylight when I left Delhi and I started to read it while enjoying the luxury of not driving and of sitting in the backseat of the car. Travelling alone, I was not obliged to talk. I knew it would soon be dark and was conspiring inside my mind and wishing for a pen-light. Stopped at Murthal for a tea-break. Had a sandwich, and a nice masala tea and asked the Panchranga Achar guy to find me a torch to buy, but not before I had spent 150 odd bucks on achar. You see, anything to read this book. He was such a sweet guy ( was he?), went three shops away and found me this nice red torch. My driver has been wondering about the health of my brain but has also been kind enough to ignore my quirks. Mahesh called up on the way to ask where I had reached. I said I have been reading. "Reading, how? In the dark?" It had totally slipped out of my mind that he didn't know I had been reading by the torchlight. I told him and giggled. "Now I know where Rasan has inherited such stuff from." "From which side, Mahesh?" "Of course from you."

Result-6 hours, two traffic jams, countless naps, two nippo batteries in the torch and 250 out of 321 pages finished. The torch still going strong for another novel !

And now I hit the bed. Been up since 3 a.m. Last night I had slept only for 2 hours.

Normal Life!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Once Bitten, Twice Phooled

Why do we go to watch horror movies? We spend money to get scared. Life is so scary anyways.

Well, I was a fool to go watch ‘Phoonk’ on the instigation of little baby devil KiranG and she kept clinging to me all through the movie. Then, on the instigation of my personal devil Mahesh, I went to watch ‘1920’ and I kept clinging to him all through the movie. Now, if you commit a mistake once, you are forgiven, arnet you? Anjaan baccha samjh ke… But when you commit the same mistake twice, you are labeled as a Phool. That’s what M calls me. Well, the fool is back after watching the movie 1920 (This post was written a few days back and the fool forgot to post it). Both ‘Phoonk’ and ‘1920’ have many common points. Both talk about a soul sauntering inside a human body. Both talk about an atheist protagonist who, in the end, takes the shelter of God and exorcises his loved one of the devil’s designs. The devil works overtime in the form of a bad soul inside the loved one’s body. I won’t say which one I eiwwed better because I have not gotten over many scenes yet. While ‘Phoonk’ was monotonous in its angles, cinematography and was very average- going by RGV’s previous crime record; ‘1920’ was rich in wow scenes shot nicely in Europe, and the capturing of the period mood of the 1920s. Not that 1920s featured much in the movie anyways, except the heroine’s dresses and gloves and parasols. She is a cute one. The girl who played Gayatri (another pic here) resemebled Majaz to such an extent that I kept on boring into Mahesh’s ears by whispering , “I gotta IM her to ask her if she has acted in a movie.”

Phool, Phool, Phool.

I wont argue on the theme, if it encourages superstition, if it supports exorcism, if it supports the presence of after-life, if it ….

Coming back home at 1.45 a.m. on wide, lonely roads with loud music blaring in the car (that is my devil's favorite way to unwind), me and Mahesh as logical beings concluded that

one, The power of love can do anything-yes that makes the two of us, Phools.

And two, that one must believe that Supreme Power called God at all times. That again makes it the two of us-totally incorrigible believer-Phools.

Disclaimer-This post is not an effort to shake the atheists’ lack of faith. I respect their choice while I defend the right of believers to maintain their own faith. As you can see, this post is about Phools alias flowers.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Dear Mama

You retire today. But I know that you never tire, so you will never re-tire. You are off from your regular duty of administering. I know how much you relished doing it. You have practically thrown yourself into the task of making the surroundings, institutions and everybody around you visibly better than when you first find them. I use the verb ‘have’ instead of ‘had’ because you will always remain this way. There is no past tense in your life nor your career for there is nothing undone, nothing that was wished for and not achieved.

If there is a life packed with action, action and more action, it has to be yours. No travel has been too long, no hour too late for your work. I have looked upon you as a super-human and a super-mom. Life literally threw stones at you and you used them to build a house for all of us to live in. When I look at you, I see you dancing with joy at my wedding; I see you at the gate of our house on a scooter with loads of groceries in the dicky of the scooter; I see you walking into government and non-government offices and commanding respect; I see you leading your staff onto welcoming the chief minister of the state with élan; I see a life so full that there is no room for emptiness. Weathered, conditioned, beaten by the winds, your face today reflects the strength that you have achieved over the decades, the strength you want me to have. Whenever I am low, whenever I feel I am not getting my due, I think of a woman who has worked overtime (without that overtime allowance) to give a better opportunity to her students, her staff and to do more justice to her job. It is then, that I think that I have a long way to go. Your life, your history, your study-career is an example so close to home that I have never been able to think beyond it.

You are not the resting kinds, I know you will take up another administrative assignment. It would hardly matter if it is paid or honorary. What matters is that it must afford you the opportunity to do something radical and different-otherwise it wont be exciting enough for you.

I came into your life clad in that saffron dress when you were close to reaching the peak of your career. The happiness that you exuded at my entry in your life has always been with me-through shine and through rain. I remember you got your PhD degree a couple of months after I came, and we were all one proud family. Your daily routine of getting up way before everybody else, giving me a dose of ‘work hard, it will help you’ and banishing me to the roof-top to study alone has actually led me to finish my own PhD project. Living with you is a daily challenge, of having to prove myself close to what your expectation of ‘perfect’ is. It has worked wonderfully to my benefit.

There is so much that I wish to say today upon the superannuation of a brilliant service. I feel I have not been able to express even half of what I had to say to begin with. Perhaps this is how we all are-lost for words when we need them the most.

But I have found the words that I wanted to say.

I am proud that you are my mother-in-law.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Samskara-A Rite for A Dead Man

I finished reading this novel (Oxford, Rs 195, 138 pages) a couple of days back and have been immensely impressed with the work. This book by U.R. Anantha Murathy is in Kannada and a gripping translation by A.K. Ramanujan has brought it to the non-Kannada readers.

Written in the 60’s, it is a short novel about a figuratively and literally decaying Brahmin system represented through a Brahmin colony. It gets abandoned after a bohemian Brahmin, Naranappa dies of plague and is refused a proper cremation because he had been living with a prostitute, and had been enjoying pleasures of life and eating meat etc. The ‘leaders’ of the traditional system of religion are unable to decide about what to do to the body which decays overnight. Their dilemma arises from the fact that Naranappa had not yet been excommunicated due to his misdeeds, so he was technically still a Brahmin. They are undecided if he should be or should not be accorded a Brahmin cremation. Naranappa’s woman Chandri, ironically seeks the help of a Muslim cartman and cremates Naranappa unceremoniously because of the rising stench.

The death and later the avarice of the community leaders (men all) exposes the real selves of the so-called twice born pure segment of the society.

Samskara literally means a rite for passage or life cycle ceremony. The other meanings of this word are ‘realizing of past perceptions, preparation, making ready’ etc. The main acharya, Pranesacharya who has tried his best to earlier redeem Naranappa’s life and soul by sermonizing, finds himself in the arms of Chandri and gives in to lust because he has never known this aspect of physical pleasure. He feels that he has lost the right to judge Naranappa and accepts that he had, on purpose and to attain salvation, married an invalid woman who in the entire novel sounded more on a vegetable existence to me. He bathes her; he feeds her-almost like a child. Though he tries to attain penance by serving her, he fails miserably. She falls prey to plague and he leaves home in search of his own self, his honesty, his salvation. On the way he meets a low caste happy go lucky youth Putta who shows him the real path of life.

In all, it was a gripping read. I admit that I had been avoiding reading it because of an unattractive title but an hour long discourse on the various aspects of this novel by my esteemed Supervisor resulted in me crazily looking for this novel.

I am glad I found it and read it.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Phone Call

My parents-in-law and I sat with the three guests as we waited for Mahesh to turn up. I knew none of them, but one of them happened to be a brother of my long lost classmate (whom I confess I didnt remember even after trying real hard) . He was from Canada, while the other two men were from his native village and were accompanying him to our place. A while later, Jai came to me and slipped my cell-phone in my hand. I asked, “What is it for?” He said, “You forgot it in your room and there might be a phone call.” Thereafter, he ran away. I wondered a while about his sweetness and then forgot all about it. About 60 seconds later, my cell phone really did ring. I was amazed at my son’s concern. I took it out of the pouch and looked at the caller. It was my home landline phone. So, the kids were calling from the other room. Nothing unusual, it often happens. Kids like to dial us even when we are home. Gives them a sense of control over their parents. And also gives them an opportunity to rant about each other. I picked up the phone expecting loud yells and war cries-which often take place when I am out of picture and they both sit/play/ watch television away from my eyes. My suspense had to end when I said hello. It was Jai on the other side. Very coolly he said, “ This is Inspector Jai speaking. Out of these two men sitting in front of you, the one with beard and mustachios has run away from our jail. Beware of him.”(ਮੈਂ ਇੰਸਪੈਕਟਰ ਜੈ ਬੋਲ ਰਿਹਾਂ। ਇਹ ਸਾਹਮਣੇ ਬੈਠੇ ਦੋਨੇ ਬੰਦੇ ਐ ਨਾ ਜਿਹੜੇ, ਉਹਨਾਂ ਵਿੱਚੋਂ ਜਿਹੜਾ ਬੰਦਾ ਦਾਹੜੀ ਤੇ ਮੁੱਛਾਂ ਵਾਲਾ ਐ, ਉਹ ਸਾਡੀ ਜੇਹਲ ਵਿੱਚੋਂ ਭੱਜਿਆ ਹੋਇਆ ਐ, ਧਿਆਨ ਰੱਖਿਓ ।) Imagine my plight. I looked at the man, and wanted to laugh out loud but somehow controlled myself and very quietly, seriously whispered into the phone, “Okay, I will take care and will beware. Thank you sir, for cautioning me in time.” The phone call ended. Blissfully unaware of the criminal background of the guest, my parents-in-law were talking to the same man. I now wore my glasses tinted by Jai’s declaration and saw that the guy really looked like a criminal. I could not control my laughter anymore and quietly stole away to my room where me and the kids sat giggling till Mahesh came.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

We Are Indebted

Tears, yes; misery, yes; poverty, yes; regret, no. This is what these Punjab families feel despite having lost their police cop family members in the black years of militancy in Punjab.

This woman is Parkash Kaur. Parkash in Punjabi means Light. I do not see any light in her eyes or life. Looking at the face of this woman, I am moved to tears as soon as I see the newspaper this morning. She belongs to a family that lost a son protecting someone. When alive, they stay awake so that we can sleep; when dead, they are conveniently forgotten.

While the Indian Army still holds a lot of respect in the minds of civilians despite the presence of black sheep in its cadres, the police have slowly lost this respect in society due to this same reason. Today, they inspire awe, fear, and even hatred in some parts of the country. But they deserve a better deal. Their contribution to the defense of the country from inside is no less, and that of their families is even more. The children of the martyred cops are not afraid of going into the force. My favorite cop tells me that the face of Police is changing fast with community policing and police-public relationships being taken care of. I believe him. I used to hate cops at one point of time, now I feel bad when I see one of them standing in the sun on a hot tar road awaiting a VIP's arrival and earning the wrath of one of us for holding back the traffic till the VIP passes and he himself heaves a sigh of relief. Their life is not made easier by the peanuts of a salary that they receive for being on a 24-hour duty. The nation expects a lot from them. They also expect a lot from the nation.
May children like Madhuri retain their idealism long enough to serve their nation!

Picture courtesy-The Tribune

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day-To Pick or not to Pick

It is Blog Action Day today, and the topic is Poverty.

Jasdeep introduced me to the site and IHM inspired me to do a post on the issue. She has done an excellent post. You can read it here. I am travelling in about an hour and would have loved to do a post on the matter. However, IHM is kind enough to suggest that I re-do a post on the child I saw on the road.

The child was barely 11 months old. She sat in the middle of the road to my place. She was clad in a thin frock, she had dirty patches on her skin and her nose was running. Her eyes had big blotches of kohl. A small Ziploc bag having 5 or 6 mangoes was lying close to her. There were a couple of pieces of Indian bread (roti) wrapped in a piece of cloth lying next to her.

I was coming by car, I saw her from afar. I thought someone with her would pick her up just in time. I stopped the car very close to her; there was that fearless look in her eyes that you associate with innocent ignorance. There was enough space for me to drive by her , but I was afraid I might hurt her in case she suddenly lunged towards the car. I came out of the car looking for the mother, or a possible guardian, which I presumed was a beggar. Finding none, I picked up the child as lovingly as I possibly could. There was a little room on the side of the road. I make her stand there and sat near her, asking where her mama was. She was dazed, she didn’t even cry when I picked her up. I touched her cheek, I m amazed it didn’t take much effort to touch her dirty cheek though I am always finicky about my kids being always clean. Then I picked her mango-packet and placed it next to her. As I went to pick the pieces of bread, I saw a scooter coming from the other side. The young boy might just have crushed the bread and rode off. I almost bullied him into stopping and picked the bread, wrapped it in the piece of cloth and placed it next to the child. My car in the middle of that small approach road - I sat with the girl, painfully aware that in case she was an abandoned child, I would not be able to leave her like that and go home. In that split second, I tried to weigh all the options I had, in case I had to do something about an abandoned child. Once again, I tried to look for someone who had left her there.

I wondered, hungry myself, who could have the heart to leave her like that? Meantime a waif of a woman, carrying another infant, a girl less than 2 months, on her side, came there. I was so angry that I wanted to slap her. I think I was louder than I normally am, “ Kaun hai tu? Yeh teri bacchi hai? (Who are you? Is this child yours?)” She had an expression of a dog just kicked. Sheepishly she pointed towards a gate, “ Haan, woh main wahan se kapde lene gayee thi. (yes, well, I had gone to get clothes from there)” There meant two girls standing near a bike. I guess those girls had promised her some garments some other day and today was the day of the fulfillment of that promise. I was least interested in her donors. “Tumne bacchi ko beech sadak mein bithaya houa tha, koi kuchal deta toh? (You had made the child sit in the middle of the road, what if someone had crushed her?) She again mumbled an ashamed answer. My anger was mounting up, I don’t know why. I almost shouted at her, “If you couldn’t take care of her, why did you give birth to her?” Immediately I regretted having said that. If she had a choice, she wouldn’t be a beggar. If she had a choice, she would probably not have given birth to a girl child. After all, then she would have had the choice of Pre-Natal Sex-determination.

Seeing me shouting at that woman, a man came towards me. He tried to add fuel to the fire. “A couple of minutes ago, when I came with my car, she had made the younger one sit in the middle of the road.” I was so full of my own wrath that I hardly paid any attention to him, which I know he didn’t like.

I wanted to yell at her, “If the wheels on the road leave her alive, the predators roaming about won't. She would be raped, maimed, abused and left to bleed and die. Why did you leave her alone on the road?” But I didn’t say that. I just said, “Dhyan rakha karo is ka” (Please take care of her). My voice was sounding more like a request than an angry shout I had meant it to be.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

English Comes to Me Also

I just finished marking exam-papers from different courses and I found some gems in the grammar section of a few brilliant answer books. How could I return them without sharing with you? After you finish reading them, I am sure you would, like me, be convinced that English and its grammar would have to change its paradigms in order to accomodate everybody who can write an ABC.

First, the translation question and its diverse answers:

Dharti sooraj duawaley ghummdi hai/Dharti Soorya ke ird-gird ghoomti hai.

Main kaee saalan toh videsh jaan barey soch reha haan/
Main kaee varsho’n se videsh jaane ke barey mein soch raha hoon.

Simla wich barish ho rahi howegi/Simla me baarish ho rahi hogi.

Tussi os da mazak uraa rahey ho/Aap uska mazaak uraa rahey hain.

Shatabdi express samey de mutabak chall rahi si/Shatabdi express samay ke anusaar chal rahi thi.

Manukh galti da putla hai/Manushya galtiyon ka putla hai.
HUMAN BEING IS THE EFFIGY OF MISTAKES. (use of the word ‘ effigy’ was highly impressive)

Then there was the baap of all grammar problems:
The students were supposed to fill up, MAKE HAY ­__________

And apart from other fill ups, what had me laughing like crazy was:


Now go extract it if you can, out of the hay, I mean.

After all,
Mujhey bhi English aati hai,
English comes to me also.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Agar Isey Samajh Sako Mujhe bhi Samjhana

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Hehehehe, I know you are all cursing me. Actually I HAD to share it with you all. I received an email, not in spam but in my inbox and I opened it by mistake. Its subject line said 'Warum Vi.' I made all the same confused faces that you just did, and thought of bringing it to the wider world-view to ask you all if you can make any head or tail out of it. Not that it is a life or death issue, but please attempt to. Just for fun.

Thursday, October 09, 2008


Rasan has updated her blog. She had been asking me for long to put up a post. She had given me a handwritten page which I had misplaced somewhere. Today I found it among my papers, slaved for her, typed it out and put it up on her blog. It has only very minor editing and a couple of spellings corrected by me. I had to put it up because she had been accusing me of "making her lose her 'readers'." I was amused and loved to see her so concerned. After checking out that I was genuinely typing it out, she was assured that her post would go to her blog and then she slept peacefully. Now, I request all my friends-to go to her blog and give her some comment, even if it is a brief one. She would be delighted and it would make my day to see that gleam in her eyes.

Don't leave any comment here. It was just to inform you all.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Jai's Worries-Yet Again

Jai one day discussed with his dad about how cars run. Then they talked about where people get petrol from. His dad told him that the petroleum is limited and that it might be finished one day. Now the little man is worried that the entire petroleum would be finished off the face of earth and we would be stranded in the middle of the road. I have been telling him that there can be an option of cars running on water, air pressure, nuclear energy, electricity etc. He wishes to know if someone has invented a way to run our car on anything except petrol/diesel.

Today, while I was going to drop them to school, he sat in the front seat-very serious, sombre and was in his thinking mode. Suddenly he checked the fuel indicator in the car and asked if we had enough diesel. Then in a totally matter-of-fact tone, he asked me, did someone invent/ discover something yesterday that could make this car run on anything except diesel/petrol. I did not know whether to smile or be worried at his worry.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

I Walked on Landmines

All night
I walked on Landmines.

I had buried over my life

I died or lived after last night?
I don't remember.

I lived perhaps...

I am maimed
Or complete?
I don't remember

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

My Life-My Addictions-Pinku's Tag

The dictionary meaning of Addiction is “condition of being dependent on some substance, interest or activity.”

Pinku tagged me on telling the whole world about 5 things to what I am addicted. Hai sharmaoo, aise kaise main bataoon… Ok, ok, I will cut it out... here I am. But only five? Hell, my life depends on addictions. I survive on addictions-addictions like coffee, all sweet things, chaat papdi, gol gappa-nothing healthy. I am a bad example, told ya.

1. Talking – I am a talker by profession, by addiction and by compulsion. Cannot help talking-in the class, in the gym, in the pool, in the car, in the day, at night, to the kids, to strangers. I can talk people down, I can talk people up. I can talk on the stage, I can talk on the radio, I can even talk on the TV. I don’t remember my mom telling me when I started talking but since I did, I didn’t stop. Sometimes, Mahesh has to tell me, “Oye Chotu bass kar” and I am forced to say, “kee karan, Petrol Khatam ee nahi hunda.”

2. Internet-“What would you have done without Google, Mama?” says my daughter whenever she asks me a question and I take Googlebaba’s sharan when I don’t know the answer or when I want to be more specific. Internet to me is now my lifeline. I can do without a cellphone (my internet doesn’t depend on cellphone yet) for a lifetime, but not without internet. What did I do before internet? I don’t remember. Much to Mahesh's chagrin, I am admittedly addicted to checking my emails at least twice a day, and now addicted to checking all your blogs for new (and old) posts.

3. Reading-My mom in law often wonders why I need so many books around me. She has very benignly (rather forcefully) suggested me to donate these books to some library. I, on my part, go on buying and borrowing newer books for me and my children. Because I have grown up among books, hundreds and hundreds of books-old and new, so I cannot help but stand and sit among them for hours altogether. Somehow, I cannot digest a life without reading. I am also addicted to reading all the Sunday features of prominent English and Punjabi dailies.

4. Checking out newest gizmos-I went to the iStore the day before, and had a long dekho at the Apple lappies. The dekho was long enough to prompt Mahesh to inspire me to check out only the top-of-the-line stuff if I wanted one. How I wish for one. Narcissist that I am, I went to their biggest desktop and opened this blog there. Boy, it looked huge, wonderful and very ego-satisfying to have seen this on the big 24 inch screen. I am also eyeing Nokia N96 but I wont, I wont, I wont buy it, not for another couple of years. For now my N95 is doing really well. I have practically forgotten to carry my camera due to its 5 MP camera always in my hand ready to click.

5. Self Clicking – Whenever I have time, and a true or false impression that I am looking good, I’m almost addicted to smiling into the phone-camera and clicking myself. You check my phone image gallery and about 40 percent photos belong to me-most are self clicked. Mahesh often asks after having a look at these pics, “Did you click them yourself?” “Did you smile for yourself?” Now what to tell him?

Before finally posting it, I asked my daughter what she thought I was addicted to. She said and in the same order I repeat, “Reading, internet, papa and sanu pyar, obsession about not wasting your time.”

As a second opinion, I asked Mahesh what he thought my addictions were. Now I wish I had not asked him. He said, “You are addicted to internet, downloading and listening to music, reading books, doing stuff for kids, enjoying junk food, eating chatpata, living in AC, talking, at times being silly, and at times talking like an intellectual, brushing your teeth at night and so on and so forth (okay I know they are more of quirks but he is allowed that).

Now I spread the malady. I invite Ramanujam, Mandira, ( I know, I know I am yet to do your time wala tag, but you will do it, won't you?), DeeplyDip, Balvinder, Nova, Manish, and Nidhi/Kiran to tell us their addictions in life.

And also all the visitors to my blog are welcome to do the tag. Let me know if you wanna, it will be a pleasure to link you from here.

Edited to add:

Gandhigiri never fails. Gazal and Vinay have volunteered to do the tag.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

ToDay in Bits

Today, I attended a seminar on Indian Writing in English. No comments on speakers. I left the seminar midway considering that much of the knowledge they were imparting was lifted straight from any book on the topic. The papers presented were not introducing any new insight. I came out. Standing near my car, I looked for car keys. I was a common sight. A woman-standing near car/scooter with a hand in the big handbag-misplaced keys-confusion writ large on face-thinking maybe I left the keys on the reception desk. But here is the twist. An old beggar who came near me, said some incoherent words about needing money to eat a meal. I glanced at him-was in two minds-whether to shoo him away, or to give a couple of coins. I still could not locate car keys, but my hands located my change pouch, thought its his kismet, took out change for 5 rupees. He refused, he actually refused. Said he wanted ten rupees. He wanted to eat daal-chawal from a hotel. I was angry, I told him, “Go to a gurdwara, they would feed you. Go find some work.” He said, “I’m running fever, blah blah blah.” I wanted to get rid of him. Took out ten rupees, handed over to him, he went murmuring some blessings. The moment he left, my hand touched my car keys hiding away in a corner of the handbag. Providence?? As I sat in the car, I eyed three rickshaw walahs, standing there watching the whole tamasha. My mind churned out a fear. Wouldn’t these rickshaw walahs think , “It is so easy to make ten rupees. Whats the use of our rickshaw pulling?”
I was a bad example.
Reversed the car. Ran the AC full blast. Suddenly saw the fuel indicator and it was on below zero. Oh my God! How did it happen? I’ m never this negligent. What if I run out of diesel and there is no filling station nearby? As it is, filling stations are acting pricey about selling a tank-full of diesel. What a nuisance I would be to my currently crusading qunbaa!
I reached that blind right turn near my house, screeched on the brakes, and barely managed to escape hitting a golden Scorpio coming from the opposite side without caring for any ‘keep to the left’ rule. Within seconds I gained my composure and rolled down my window. The other fellow too did. I was angry as it is, and then I saw a cigarette stuck in his fingers and a cell-phone sticking in his hand. Whew, he was talking while driving. I was about to come out of my car and stand on the road to abuse him, but then I changed my mind. Got hold of the bhenji act, thought of not getting down on the road (imagined someone imploring, "Paon zameen pey mat rakhiyega, mailey ho jayenge..." though I was in my sports shoes) and willed him to come out of the car. He seemed to be a spoiled brat with his costly glares and spiked up hair - there are such samples aplenty in my city. I pushed my hand out of my window and gestured him to come. I doubted he would. But wow, very obediently he came. I gave four big pieces of my mind, one after the other, to him in chaste, angry, loud Punjabi. He acted equally angry. I managed to be the louder of us two and dismissed him with a shake of my head. He kept grumbling expletives but nonetheless got the message and climbed back in his baap-wali-scorpio and reversed it. I went my way, he went his way. I went abusing him in my mind for being a reckless irresponsible youth; he drove talking to the same someone on his mobile, probably making fun of a ‘woman-driver.’
One thing is clear after today, I CANNOT carry open hair for an entire day.
It was my today in bits.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Yeh daagh daagh ujaala, yeh shabguzida sehar
Woh intezaar tha jiska, yeh woh sehar to nahi.

-Faiz Ahmad Faiz

(This black smeared light, this night ridden morning
This is not the morning that had been waited for)

Delhi weeps the tears of blood,
Islamabad cries and bleeds...
Whose God is happy?

We could not share our joys,
We have lived nursing our suspicions,
Isn't it time for us to unite in sorrow?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

For Sanity's Sake

Writing it in the middle of the page does not automatically make it a poem. It is just a jumble, a confusion of words.

The sound of blasts
the rumble of hearts breaking
joints cracking
cries of faiths bleeding…

The religions swell,
in the name of a God
who sits in his heaven
pretending all is well with his world.

Tyres-meant to
take us places,
burn in our necks
to char away
the foundation
of our existence.

Trains-meant to take us
to destinations
become burial grounds
and crematory fires
of life.

How long will be
till we realize
the answer lies in us
to value our own selves
to value the lives
around us.

Till we wake up-
bombs will blast
fires will blaze
children will cry
pyres will burn
Life will be desecrated everyday.

Monday, September 15, 2008


It was a couple of days ago that Parry Singh (incidently, I have two blogger friends sharing this name) left a comment on one of my poems and expressed his wish to 'make it into a song.' I had just smiled it away thinking that my poems or whatever they are, are not lyrical enough to be sung. I keep my Punjabi poems away from this blog because not all the friends visiting this blog understand the Gurmukhi script.

Nonetheless, he took the trouble to email me the musical version of my words two days ago. I was wonderstruck. My poem perhaps is not very great, but his gesture took my heart away. That you thought of giving music to a Punjabi writing means a lot, Parry. I request all my friends to go to his post and listen to this and to leave comments there. It is not very lengthy. Even if the words are in Punjabi, you would definitely enjoy his music. You can read the text of the poem here.

Monday, September 08, 2008

The Monster Slayer

It was the beginning of the swimming season. Five days into it, and Jai and Rasan resumed their early morning swimming lessons when their exams finished. Jai did not want to go into the pool without Papa –his idol, his friend, his philosopher, his guide, bah! Rasan was to get into the big pool because she had already graduated from the ‘Training pool’ last year. We had even thrown an elaborate party in celebration of her “cap-change”. In case you don’t know, the beginners are required to wear red cap and once they graduate into the big pool, they can wear any colored cap. So, she had been into the big pool with a bang the previous season. But this season, she insisted, presumably for Jai’s sake, and I know for her own sake too (she found big pool too overwhelming this season I guess) that she would stay in the small pool for a day or two. I gestured her to move into the big pool because I was sure she would not be able to overcome her hesitation once she got too comfortable in the small pool. She grudgingly moved into the big pool and Jai, among other trainees was in the small pool. I had been keeping a hawk-mom’s (I am sure there are hawk-pops too) eye on both of them in their respective pools. These were the days before the submarine started invading the pool. After a while, Rasan started to do what the kids call “bubbling” and Jai was just busy splashing water but he was kind of morose with no Didi to share the little things with.

A little while later, I saw him come out of the pool. He was running towards me, sans his bath robe, shivering in the morning cool and running real fast. Before I could even start worrying, he was by my side. With his teeth chattering, he said, “Mama I am not going into the pool.” “Why, Bachhu?” I asked him. He said, “There is something in the pool.” “Something like what?” I thought he was making excuses to stop swimming already. “ Possibly a leaf, Mama” said he, vigorously nodding his head to convince me. In his Punjabi, it came out to be, “Shayad koi patta shatta hai,” And opened his eyes wider to convince me. I said, “Yes, Beta, with so much of wind today, the surrounding trees must have shed some leaves and one of them might have gotten into the pool.” He insisted, “Noooooo, the pool is dirty. There is something moving in it.” Now I know it is not, the managers of the pool change the water every now and then and I know there is a treatment plant working for these pools; and the season had just started. I tried to send him back. He refused to go. I planned to threat him with dire consequences, but gave up the idea before a tussle could ensue - with me coaxing him back into the water and he refusing to budge an inch and thus making a family show of extreme mushy-crushy love. I finally told him to go get his bathrobe from the peg and get into the washroom to change. I was angry with him. We both remained sullen and swollen faced. Finally Rasan finished her swim and came along. I did not talk to him all through the way because I had woken up at 5 am for God’s sake to take them to the pool, and all I was getting in return was a sulky kid complaining of funny things. During the day, however, we kissed and made up.

Next day, upon waking up, he categorically refused to get ready to go to the pool. I said, "Okay, at least come with us to the pool." Reluctant and suspicious that I would again ask him to get into the pool, he obliged upon the promise that he would not be forced to go the pool. I thought, we will cross the bridge when we come to it and laced the comment with Tere ta waddey waddey wi jaangey between my teeth. Off we went to the pool. I tried one last time. He put his little foot down, “No I am not going to the pool.” Rasan said, “Ok, I will go to the pool with you and see what’s the matter.” I didn’t like the idea because it gave Rasan a chance to avoid the big pool. But Majboori ka naam chota pool. Reaching upto her ears upon tiptoe, and very secretively he whispered, “Ok didi, I will also show you those sea monsters too.” She said, “Ok, I will see what’s bothering you.” I eavesdropped upon their conversation. And chuckled to myself, “Wow, SEA monsters in the swimming POOL! Only mera munda can invent them.” She got into the pool with him and remained with him and kept talking to him while he splashed. The coach came and found her swimming among the trainees and told her to shift the pool. She rarely gets into argument outside home. She did not try to disobey or explain. She moved out. Jai was again left alone but now he seemed to have come to terms with his monster buddies in the water. (He has never forgiven the coach since; and keeps calling him Khadoos with a double K) He now splashed water around, enjoyed himself and came out laughing. What sister-therapy Rasan gave him, I have no idea. But I am grateful she did.

Thank God for her. What would I do without my wonder girl, my super-heroine?

Cartoon courtesy-

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A Day That is Me

It is a beautiful tag created by Thought Safari. I salute the spirit of the originality of this tag and its creator. It requires me to tell what kind of a day would I want to be.

S.M.A.R.T., I am honored that you thought of me while tagging friends onto this beautiful and creative one. Here I am.

I would want to be a balmy winter day, when you wake up early, before the sun rises. You want to go back to bed but rather would tie up the jogging shoes to go run out on the abandoned road. On the way back, the sun starts to shine, promising a warm me. You come home and after a warm shower, take up a book to sit in the sun, listen to the FM radio, open a book long pending completion of its reading; and then surrender to the languor introduced by the warmth of the sun. A loved one then comes to wake you and finds the book lying inverted on your chest. You then give him/her that look which is reproachful but inviting. You sit and talk about things happening in your life and also of things to come.

As I progress, the sun goes down, bringing a little chill in the air, and you take the chair inside the room. And then I merge into the night.

I think Sujata, Pinku, Gazal, RiverSoul, Vinay, LifeBegins, Oreen, Majaz, and Manasa would enjoy doing this tag. Tell us what kind of a day would you like to be?

I request Sujata, Pinku and Manasa to add their wonderful clicks to the tag write up. Majaz needs to do this tag because she needs a change from the Zardari bashing that she has been reveling in lately. LifeBegins, I want you to do it asap, no grace time. Period. You need to be punished, he he he. Gazal, girl you have not done a tag in ages, so before someone else tags you, let me take the opportunity to do it. I know you did a self picked tag today, but an imposed tag is a different fun. You want to break the head of the tagger, you want to yell at her and you want to tear your hair off your head. How would you have all this fun doing a self picked tag? Vinay and RiverSoul, you are requested to write poems in response to this tag. Oreen, you will do it in your own inimitable style. Pigs, poems, pilgrimages - all allowed.

Do I sound like a Bhenji who has given the homework? But then, remember Once a Bhenji, always a bhenji. But it is okay, no time limits, take your time.

Thought Safari, did I do justice in passing it on??

Saturday, August 30, 2008

And Jab We Met

That weekend we were to meet Pinku and Parry. They were breaking their journey in Chandigarh on my request on their way to Delhi from KairiGhat. We were to pick them up from Tribune Chowk. How will we identify each other? I wore a sharp yellow kameez salwar and told Pinku on the phone that when you look around, the prettiest female will be Mampi. Hehehe.

Sure enough, she located me across the crossing with the prettiness factor being the biggest hint. There she was, in a white kurta and jeans, with a bag slung over her shoulder; and with her was Parry, in a cool kurta and jeans himself, sweating profusely and with more luggage. Brave couple! Welcome to Punjab. Pinku has a sweet voice like that of a bird. Parry has a million dollar smile. Mahesh was waiting near the car to say hi to them. A perfect Bong Couple meeting a Perfect (errrrr???) Punjabi Couple-thanks to the blogworld. Jai was upset at having to squeeze himself in because he wanted me to go back to my seat in the front which I had given to Parry. Me and Pinku sat on either side of the back seat. Jai thought he was being squeezed in too tightly in his usually comfortable seat. He also took a great exception to our constant chatter. Rasan giggled at his remarks and told Pinku not to mind what he said. They both talked about other things. P and P had been in the bus for a couple of hours . And I knew they would be hungry. So, first things first, we went to eat at Aroma’s and had great fun catching up with each other’s lives. Not even once did we have those awkward moments you have while meeting someone for the first time. Six people - four cuisines- Rasan talking nonstop. (I have never seen her so animated with someone she is meeting for the first time) Usually Mahesh also takes time but he too was soon friends with Parry. He later commented that Parry is a cool guy.

We planned to go to the Chattbir Zoo but ParryAnka were short on time, so we decided in favour of the lake. It was a hot, sunny day that we had to brave. But we were all excited. Basically the aim was not sightseeing; it was to talk our hearts out. Jai constantly acted the spoil sport. He is one hell of a possessive guy. I often joke to Mahesh that he is stealing you away from me. Usually it is the husband who complains that the children are stealing the wife (in mother) away from him. Hopeless, that’s what I am. Hehehe. The lake, the heat, the crowd and then we started to walk away from the crowd. Talking about our lives, our jobs– we walked on. And boy, I was in for a surprise. On the foot of a lampshade was written a sentence in Punjabi. Parry stopped on the way. Read that sentence aloud. I was left gaping at him. “What? You can actually READ Gurmukhi?” I mean it is understandable for someone in India to understand Punjabi, but for a Bengali to read Gurmukhi, it’s amazing, it’s stupendous, it’s actually impressive Yaar! Pinku had earlier told me that Parry had lived in Punjab as a child owing to his father’s transferable job, but it was splendid to see him remember the script. He told me that he had worked on it consciously. How many people do that?

More talk, more dekho around, and suddenly a young man about 23-24 yrs old came. Said, “Excuse me, Ma’am.” I thought it was some student from the past. He said, “You look wonderful.” I was stupefied. What is this? He read my mind and immediately let the cat out of the bag lest he should be slapped, or in extreme circumstances, the lady be flattered enough to jump into the lake. Pointing at his friends he said, “Well, I had been dared by that group of mine to go tell the lady in the yellow that she looks good.” I said, “Well, you actually made my day, thank you.” And we all laughed. The talk freak that I am, I told Parry-Pinku that it has happened once before with me.

I was in M.A. II and we had been invited as guests to the welcome party of the MBA I semester by some friends in that department. The whole of the big University auditorium was full. The MBA deptt’s party used to be one to be enjoyed. The invitation was rare and much coveted. Obviously, we were really honored to be there. A set of giggling, unassuming type of girls, that’s what we were. Freshers of the new batch were being invited to the stage and asked to do weird things. There was this guy Abhishek, not Abhishek Bacchhan yaar. This one was a short, thin childlike boy who was told to give a flower to the prettiest girl in the hall. There was a stunned silence in the Audi. Now who would he go to? Jiske pas bhi jayega, maar khayega. And can you believe it? He came straight to me. Arrey, lambi lambi nahi chorh rahi hoon. Sach mein aya. I was flattered, scared, embarrassed. I was nowhere close to what the MBA people would call pretty. Well, nobody in their right senses would go give the flower to a plump girl in a 6-metre kameez salwar with full sleeves, spectacles on the nose, a thoroughly studious look and absolutely no experience in receiving flowers. The game required him to bring the girl back to stage and gift her a pen. Now that part was okay, I needed a pen anyways. I went with him to the stage, and courageously brought back the pen. I was not exactly on cloud nine, but flattered I definitely was. Because that was the first and the last flower I ever got from a guy. After the function, he came to me and said, “I hope you didn’t mind. Well you seemed safest to give that flower. You see, I knew who you were. My dad is Principal in ….. College, and he knows your mom (Mom was then Principal in another college in the same university). So I thought I would go give you the flower, and later apologize. I hope you dint mind ”

Mind? Were you kidding, Abhishek?

Coming back to Pinku, Chandigarh and Parry (poor dears, they got to hear this story then and there), our meeting was soon going to come to an end. Parry was expecting his dynamic friend P whom he had told that he was in the city. I tried to threaten him with dire consequences because I had planned something else. But then I had to abandon my Punjabi ways because “the friend” had a more towering personality than me and Mahesh put together. As soon as she came, I accepted my defeat and let them go. With a heavy heart of course. Because I had planned some more hours in their company, but then friends are friends, and friends need to be with friends even if the friends are with other friends. Sob!Sob!

The meeting with this blogger couple is definitely the beginning of a bond that is beyond regions, beyond languages, beyond limiting factors that divide people.


Pinku's post on this meeting is really wonderful. Parry has taken these pictures and they both together have proven how powerful people's backs can be !!