Monday, June 22, 2009

My Mother, Head Cover, and Education

My mother used to wear a sari many years ago. She would have only two or three kameez salwar sets-that too when she had to go to her in-laws’ village or her own native village. It was perfectly normal for us to see her in a sari. In fact we associated her sari with her office-formal wear it was. She never used to cover her head with it.

Then she started to wear a kameez salwar and with it, a dupatta over her head all the time. I took some time adjusting to it, but then it was the call of the day and she being the ultra-flexible person, took to wearing what was the demand of the times. Sari had suddenly become a lewd and un-Sikh like dress. She stowed her saris away in trunks and cupboards, only to take them out seasonally to air them. We would wear them for some functions and flaunt our grown up selves in a changed attire. I still have not overcome the scare of having a sari coming untied down to my feet in the middle of an important presentation or a class, so I avoid wearing it. Mom still wears and carries well a sari for some functions where she does not want to cover her head.

Yesterday, we were at a friend’s place. Mom took two of her books for that friend’s family to gift them. The family’s daughter-in- law C and our relative H served lunch. Mom kept talking to the grandmother of the family. Mom wore a white cotton suit and a white dupatta and she kept her head covered all the time. H knows my mom quite well, C was meeting her for the first time. C kept talking to mom quite condescendingly, even sympathetically. After lunch when the customary seating pattern of men sitting separately from the group of women was repeated, we sat in one of the many bedrooms in the house. I left them for a few moments to check on the kids sitting in the kids’ room. When I returned, H was just short of ROTFL. She said, “Didi, C asked aunty (my mom), Thora bahut parhey likhey wi ho? (Have you had any education?)” I was aghast. Mom is a Ph.D, for dear God’s sake. This was the first time mom had been asked a question like that. I didn’t like it, but tried to smile and asked C whatever made her think that she was not? She said it was because of the head covering (dupatta) she wore. She tried to apologize but I didn’t want her to feel bad. She had a right to her opinion too. Mom turned it into a light one by quipping, “No, I aint educated, I just wear them spectacles to give a semblance of an educated woman.”


Below is a video of my mother speaking on Jalandhar DoorDarshan on Female Foeticide. It is a fragment of the program that lasted an hour. Kindly adjust with me for the poor quality of recording. Mampi to be blamed for holding the phone rather awkwardly.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Cheap Honeymoon

No, I am not going on one. I mean we are not going on one. Not that I am against honeymoons, or against cheap things, or against cheap honeymoons, I am just wondering what do these words have to do with my dear dear post about our dear Dev D . Just Just Just now I got an email from almighty God and his representative Joseph that 'told' me that they have just added this post to their website and here is the link where I can see the honors been done to my post. Are they trying to make me famous by linking my post? If they are, why is the post hacked to half its size? What good is it going to serve their cause of giving cheap cheap honeymoons to people? How does Dev help them in their honeymoons? Is it because of the word 'sex' having been found in the post? Come to think of it, is honeymoon all about the 's' word? But then, in my own style, I digress. On a serious note, is Dev going to provide the honeymooners with any kicks? The million-dollar question is, what the heck is THIS post doing there? My blog has 99 more posts. Agar isey samjh sako....

So coming back to the question, are they trying to make me famous? No, there is no free lunch. Why should they make me famous? Alternatively, are they trying to make themselves famous? Should I flatter myself that my post is so so so valuable that it will make them famous by giving them more hits? If it is so good, it could give me more hits at its own home turf. What say? In order to put a pin through my puffed-up ego, I would understand that it is no instrument to make them or me famous. So what IS the purpose?

Also, on a detailed perusal, I found that my neighbour posts deal with cheap hotels, airlines, fat weddings, thin weddings, honeymoon ideas (do they really need them?), Barack Obama, Democrats, cheap activities (now this is the limit), witches (wow, what a kick during a honeymoon), Karla Darocas (yes, I know her, or is it a him?), Paris kisses, Arthurian legends (whatever their connection among each other), army ball (just one?),Caesar salad (if I had known this works, I would have had a cheap wedding too), Groom's guide to keep the honeymoon cheap (sure, ask the pink chaddi gang, they have ideas aplenty) etc. Barring my post and Obama, all deal with honeymoon. What the heck are you and I doing there, Barack dear?

I remember having read that one of Iya's posts had been linked at a website and she had written a post here. A few days before that NM had written about a whole post of hers having been lifted and plagiarised, and Kiran had also mentioned the same problem. The latter two cases had been plain lifting by the same person who later ran off deleting her blog . I understand that by writing in the open blogworld, we leave our writings vulnerably available -to be used by people as and when they wish. All that we can claim or make noise about is due credits being given to us. In mine and Iya's case, the url's of our blogs have been mentioned. Should we be happy? In this case, would you enlighten me, counsel me, advise me, console me, congratulate me or just call me a phool and run away?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Whose Maid?

She sat outside an examination hall where I was invigilating for the CA exams. We exchanged smiles. I was wondering what she was doing outside this examination. She was only a child-a child possibly not more than 8 or 9 years. Later, I saw that she was scribbling something on her notebook. On closer inspection I found that she was writing from the notes that the examinees had left outside. She saw me observing her and we just exchanged warm smiles. I got busy with the duty inside the examination hall and did not come out for the next about 30 minutes. It was 3.00 PM by the time I came outside. Sitting on the bench with her arm resting under her head on the desk, she was dozing in the warm breeze. I called out to the waterman to carry the child under a fan if she wanted to sleep. She woke up and smiled sheepishly at me, as if ashamed at having been found sleeping. "You want to sleep?" "Yes." I blinked at her and gestured to her to go to the little office, she smiled and we struck a chord immediately. She again smiled broadly and waved to me as the waterman led her to the small office where she could lie down for her siesta. About half an hour later, she was back, refreshed. She resumed her copying duties. This time, I went to her and asked her, "What is it that you are copying out?" "I don't know, I'm just copying for fun." "Its good," I said, "you are doing a good job. Keep it up." ... 'strategic management', 'overview' those were big words slipping through small fingers. But she was writing them down. "Did you come with someone?" "Yes, with ... Didi." "Is Didi in my room?" "Yes, there she is," She pointed to an overweight girl writing her exam. "You work for them?" "Yes" "Do you study?" "Yes, in class three" "Wow, you sure are intelligent. Can I take a picture of yours?" She grinned in response. I took her picture and showed it to her. She gave me a billion dollar smile. "Thank you" I said and patted her head.

I went in, resumed my duty. It was soon 4 PM, the exam was nearing the end. I was collecting the answer books. When I reached her didi, I asked, "That little girl is with you?" "Yes Ma'am, she is my maid." The bell rang and the examinees trooped out, chattering , free minded , for it was the last exam. The little girl was lost somewhere in that loud mayhem.

Her name is Poonam-Full Moon.

Friday, June 12, 2009


This is my 100th post. As is customary in the Blogworld, we mark anniversaries. 100th especially is supposed to be quite a landmark and in a case like mine, it is definitely a big deal, for I have done the vanishing act twice or thrice in the past few months. When I came back from the land of the vanished back to the blogworld, I was really touched to have you buddies around to read me. Me no writer, but the fact that someone reads me, does make me feel good. So what makes you want to come back to my blog? That is THE question I want you all to answer in the comments space. THAT is how I am going to mark my 100th post. I would copy out all your comments and put them here in the post.
So What do you say? Why are you here? What do you like about this blog? C'mon, make my day.


Devaki says: I'm glad you asked Mampi! I don't agree with you when you say you are no writer. I think you are a wonderful writer! Not as good as your daughter but still... :)
I love your cheerfulness and simple and easy style of writing. I think you are smart, witty and also unassuming - a rare combination if you ask me. And very warm and encouraging on other blogs. And how can I forget? I love your choice of music!
Happy 100th btw. :)

Tara from Mindspace says: the writing style has to be the foremost reason... Its simple and has just the right amount of humor for me..
I was directed here thru roop's blog
I liked the music on your blog too.
~my first comment here perhaps, having been around since early this year..

Mithe says - She introduced me to her blog and a big new world opened up for me...She made me see whats out there through her blog...
For me her blog was a window, a window to the outer world, to the vast plethora of talent actually surrounding me and of which I was unaware and its still that way...I want to keep visiting again and again and again....
Congratulations Ma'am. You have been a friend, philosopher, guide and above all the best teacher...and to think she has not actually taught me!Thank you for your pearls on this blogworld and thank you for being YOU.
PS:She is like that in real life too...Beautiful, Talented, Smart, Vivacious, Witty and Funny:)

How Do We Know says-Its the quality of your writing. And that you personally engage with everyone on ur blog. Your readers get the feeling that they are talking to a VERY real, very warm person. Simple as that sounds, its actually quite a rare thing.
Your writing has just the right degree of humour and most importantly, the posts are not novellas in themselves. They are just the right size!
You make other people feel like real people, in whom you are genuinely interested. Things like that cannot be faked.
So basically, what brings me to this blog is all of the above, and the wonderful person that you are. Since meeting u, i am even more smitten and can start a Mampi Fan Club too! (umm.. i m straight)

D says - What brings me here Mampi is your creativity - not just in the way you use language but in the way you think. It's good to be able to express well what you're thinking but it's great to be able to think well.
Congratulations on your 100th post!

Geena says- Mampi, probably this is my first or second time that im leaving a comment in ur blog site..but trust me i read each and every post of urs and dont miss a single day to visit ur u wanna know why??? remember the days at i was addicted to come and see u to have a cup of tea together everyday and how i couldn't stay without sharing things with u..that addiction brings me to ur blogs everyday..cos at miles apart, i dont wanna feel tht i am away frm you..when i read ur posts, i feel as if ur talking to me face to face..ur blessed by god tht u could make this far with ur writings to 100th post.You are indeed an amazing writer and a wonderful friend..keep it up. love u. GD.

PhoenixRitu says-Hey, I did not say Happy Birthday to my blog! Damn
Happy Anniversary Mampi's blog!

Solilo says -I am a new reader to your blog, Mampi. That means I have read only couple of posts and you touch a chord. I like your travelogues and humor and all the little-big things you weave with the words. That's why I come back.

Hitchwriter says - Congrats on 100 posts... !!
If I recall correctly you were the first blogger I interacted with... and for a long time i was under the impression that you were a guy ... Lol... blame the name of your blog !! lol...
Neways.. why i come to your blog...
1 main reason.. your very original sense of humour.. !! a lot of other too but thats the most important one.. ! :P

Liju Philip says - Congrats on hitting the 100. Why i like to visit your blog is mainly for the humor. Original daily happenings seem much more funny when you write them.
Looking forward to 1000 more posts from you.

UL says - Because I can't get enough....your world is fascinating, you make it do write well ...and I love those poems too- makes me wish I knew your language...

SuKumBho says- Why??? Because YOU are YOU! Simple as that. It was the same for the 1st post and wud be that for the 1000th post. As an honest critic, I wud rather vote for the poems. Not to undermine the posts throbbing with life. As Geena says, I also read all of them but seldom leave a comment. Because it's ME. Simple as that.

XpressCoffee says - Best wishes for hitting a perfect Century !
I know how it feels to be coz jus recently i realized i had hit 150 and was unbelievably elated !
Enjoy the feeling ! :)

Veena says - What hooked me on to your blog is your genuiness and your sense of humour.. :) Its a pleasure reading your blog .. Congratulations on your 100th post.

Pinku says - why do i come back to your blog?
thats one question I cant answer...since I am never away...I log on to your blog as many times as i log onto mine.
what makes me do the smile that you always manage to bring through your posts no matter how bad a day I may be having.
Happy 100th post...keep motivate many...with your simple, down-to-earth, touching the heart posts.
Love your verse creations too...hope to see many more of those in the coming posts.

Sudipta Chatterjee says - Congratulations! Why do I read your blog - well simply put I like the content and your views on stuff. Of course, the songs are a bonus. :)

Quirky Indian says - Congratulations!
What makes me come back? The humour, the simplicity and the honesty.
Please don't change.
Quirky Indian

Life Begins says - O wow..congrats :)
The smiles you spread,
the cheer you add,
the joys you share,
the mood you set,
to life you add
all that is perfect!!
PS: This is my small try at poetry to thank you for being you.

Iya says - What makes me come back:
1. although we haven’t met up in person or even spoken to each other the fact is I seem to really like u.
2. your writings are simple yet so personal. There is this instant connect
3. your writing have the beautiful aroma of Punjab which I so love.
4. Reading u makes me feel as if I am reading someone who has a beautiful heart and that makes me come back 

Mandira says - happpy 100th post mampi!!! i crossed that landmark a while back..dnt even remember if i recorded it!!
why do i come back to ur blog again n again? for the songs!;)and also for the funny posts u throw in the one with the pot bellied officers recently...n the every day events kinda posts..the kids,the husband, the MIL... i like those as well.. so i guess i keep coming back for everything u write!!:D

Jyoti (Imp's Mom) says - Yay!!! Congrats!!
Why I read ur blog? watch my space... u'll soon know :P
patience ok... aur nahi bata rahi abhi.

Sucharita Sarkar says - You shoot straight from the hip, you have a great sense of humour (often directed at yourself), and 'you entertaining-to-read writer'! Also, for me, the name Mampi was intriguing.

Oreen says - arre, you are like a lifeline, bhai... aise kaise likhna band kar dogi?
we come here to breathe...

Ashwani says - Mampi,
One can feel the passion with which you reach out to people by writing your blog.Underneath your TM humour is a genuine concern and senstivity which is reflected in all your posts.
The freshness of the subjects that you choose to write on reflect your fertile imagination not only in prose but in poetry as well,
not to forget the encouragement you provide to the fellow bloggers by appreciating their posts.
A heartiest congratulations on hitting the century!

SS says - Why am I here?
Well, I liked the initial few posts I read and added your blog on to my Google Reader. Now, it follows your blog for me.

Pradeep Biswas says - Mampi,
My heartfelt congratulations for your 100th post but if you are mopping the bids of sweats on your forhead I am not with you. You have a long to go and you just warmed up yourself. Why do I like your blog? good question. It reminds me one of my story in my college days. There was a common heart throb. The followers felt great if she obliged them for a little talk with Tea and a little smile. One day she asked all of them by turn "You said you love me but Why?" There were intellectuals, witty and smart fellows. Everyone gave colorful answers. The most unsmart,timid boy scratched his head and said "I donot know, i shall try but I am sure I may not find any. I am sorry" The bill for tea came up, she held her hand tightly and did not allow him to pay. From the next day that unsmart fellow had a single follower, that was our common heart throb. Now do you follow why so many of us like your blog? I and we like it just like that I and we do not know "why"

Soulsafar says - Congratulations on your 100th post. First time here. Will definitely have something to say when you cross 200 :)

Kiran says - congrats!! happy 100th =)
i love your writing style and the simplicity...always brings a smile to my face! keep writing!

Monika Manchanda says - congrats!!!
*walks away in a combination of anger and bhaav*
but I love ur blog.... love reading it because I feel connected to my land because of u... I can sometimes feel the smell of punjab in what u write
I can feel the warmth of a genuine person u are in the simple words I read here
And last but not the least... I love love the humor....
Hoping many 100's from u Mampi
and u better ask me next time

Himalayan Adventurer says - Hi Mampi, congrats on being a centurion! It is amazing how many people have responded to your challenge and narrated their reasons for visiting your blog. But sometimes, you do something and yet it is OK without specifying any reason. Best wishes for your forward journey and more and more companionship.

Mama Mia says -100 posts! how awesome is that?!
me read your blog because it has a l'il bit of both, sense and madness! :)

Alankrita says -SO you hit a century!!!!!
I come here, just to think. And to turn off that music there.

Lazyani says - Congrats Mampi on your century; a century similar to that of a true blue test match player. Your innings has class, character and a lot of peace in its making. That's what makes me return to your blog, albeit quietly.
My first comment on your site probably, but I am a regular reader.

MySpace says - Likhtey raho...
why do i come back...for your humour and honesty...apna connection hain koi shayad issliye???

Balvinder Singh says- Oh my good God, i missed your centenary post in this rigmarole of my transfer. Ok belated congrats.

Now why do i like your blog ?

It the substance which is the cocktail of intellect, compassion, fine language, and so many other ingredients which go on to make a fine writing and which is garnished with lots and lots of polished humour.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Peaceful Co-existence...

...with lizards, ants, moths, dogs, frogs is what we are practising in the new house. Remember, I told you that it is an old old construction with old fashioned high ceilings and lime plastered walls?

The first night we stayed over in the newly distempered house, I kept an all night vigil for any lizards falling from the ceiling. In the weirdest of my imaginations, a lizard would fall onto the fan blades and would cut itself and its pieces would fall on me. Scared, I covered myself in a white sheet-thinking it would double up as a scary sight for the old girl and make it retract into its house high up. There is one particular lady who lives in my drawing room and somehow lifts her head in the typical dinosaur fashion and sways to and fro. Possibly it enjoys Abida on my blog as much as I do or possibly it is threatenting me as if it is going to jump down from the wall straight into my book-cupboard. I often wake up with nightmares of lizards jumping out of my almirahs. However, a month into the house and they have gotten used to me just as I have also gotten used to them. Only yesterday my mother in law and I celebrated the birth of new ones of the lizards in the house (she was actually in the favour of celebrating their lohri-since she is now the official flag bearer of the NGO that fights female foeticide) by chasing a few out. I am sure they will return with the same scary pomp and show as the Return of the Mummy. And mummy and I will go on fighting a losing battle with brooms in our hands and war cries in our throats.

The ants in the house are such patient beings that they adopt the same old paths that they are used to following generation after generation. I use the insecticidal spray on their regular routes, they mourn their dead and again resume their day-to-day life. After all they are Indians too. We raise a hue and cry post incidents like 26/11 or gruesome deaths at unmanned railway crossings, tremble a few times at the repeat shows on the television and then start our day to day life – as if nothing ever had happened. One thing more, the ants in this house are so desperate that they don’t even leave the salt container alone. I mean their attacking the flour container, the sugar container, ghee or stuff like that-is traditionally acceptable. But my ants are a little hatke you know. I love them. Now I’ ve gotten used to cleaning the kitchen counter (if you can call the 2x3’ shelf a counter) about 200 times a day. The ants are actually angry with me and are biting me on my feet as I type this.

Moths felt almost at home when we had just shifted. They actually resented our presence. They tried to attack the youngest of my brood. I remember Jai was so scared of them that he refused to brush his teeth in the verandah wash basin. I told him that actually they themselves were scared of him and that they would not dare attack Inspector Jai. But he believed in the theory of ‘better safe than be sorry’. The very next day he was so irritated with their continued presence around the tubelight that he started to stamp his feet. When asked what he thought he was doing, he said I am trying to scare away the moths. Wow, by stamping his feet about 4 meters away from them. The moths have since taken a flight, due to the heat, or due to the scare of this brave guy-but gone they have. Till it rains.

Then there is a black emaciated dog who has attached itself to the house. She lingers on outside the door and sits under the sukhchain tree right outside my gate. In extreme heat conditions it moves inside to the verandah. Now I hate dogs. Sorry, dog lovers, but I had had dogs once and they caused me much heartbreak. Vowed never to have a pet. However, this dog has attached herself to this house and Jai has attached himself to this dog. He ensures that the dog has three square meals a day, enough water to keep herself hydrated. In return this stray dog has pooped in the lawn, snooped in the dust bin to scatter away all the rubbish and has expressed love when I threatened it with a stick. What do I do folks?

Frogs-their music is our everyday food for the soul. The other day, in a post dinner stroll, Rasan and I found a big fat dodo kind of a frog. I tried talking to it, it didn’t respond. Today, post dinner, we strolled and talked about that frog to Jai who was very curious about its looks and its persona. By chance we saw it again by the roadside. I insisted that it was the same frog. Rasan disagreed. I said, “ Let’s check.” I again talked to it, it didn’t respond, I called it names, “You dumbo, deaf fella, idiot, don’t cha hear I am talking to you?” It didn’t respond. Proven that it is the same.

Oh, by the way, there is a big fat rat that sneaked into the washroom from the lawn today. Here goes the lady with the broom to chase it out.

Some Co-existence !!! Till the ants die, the moths fly, the dog yelps, the frog jumps; the lizard falls and the rat crawls.... away...