Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Innocent Laughter

It is said that laughter is the best medicine in the world. But would the same be said if its mindless uncontrollable laughter.

This incident happened when I was in college. My friend and me would go to college in her scooty. Just like you see regulars in joggers park these days, there were few regulars whom we had noticed during the daily travel. One of them was a girl who went to another college nearby. There was this girl whom we saw, every day. Let’s say, she wasn’t the usual kind of girl, and you could notice her in a small crowd very easily. Usually, we saw her in the traffic signal, and the day we din't see her, we would wonder if she was ok, or has she bunked college, and nothing much.

One day, we were waiting for the signal to turn green, as usual, and next to us was another 2 wheeler. And we saw this girl. We were not people who would judge others by their appearance. We were normal looking as well. So I am sure, it was not about how she looked. To describe – She was this plump girl (a little overweight), with a bald head and she wore a hat (like how umpires wear), and fat spectacle (it used to be called Soda glass at that time). We both were looking right. And as her vehicle neared ours and came to a standstill, a few seconds later, we turned our faces to left. The signal turned green, and this girl zoomed past us. We both burst out laughing. We had no idea, what triggered it. It was definitely not her appearance, since, this was her routine and we were used to seeing her this way. Infact, we used to find her cute, cuddly like a teddy bear. So, there we were, laughing like maniacs, on a 2 wheeler. Some elder people on the road were already looking at us nodding their head in disagreement (these shameless young kids).

We laughed till we reached home, and it did not stop there. Every few minutes we would remember the signal and laugh, or look at each other and laugh. We got stomach ache and still couldn’t stop laughing. We were actually rolling on the floor too. When mom asked what it was about, we couldn’t explain it to her, on why we were laughing. The reason – We din’t know.  We seriously did not.

I don’t remember how and why we stopped that ridiculous laughter marathon. But I vividly remember the scene at the signal. I remember she wore a beige colour salwar kurta. Heck!!! I don’t remember what either of us wore or what colour was the scooty. But this scene is etched in my mind.

To the cute teddy girl, we are really sorry for laughing, but it was definitely not at you. We know you din’t know we laughed that day like mad, as we controlled until you drove away. But just in case you saw in the rear view mirror and thought we were laughing at you.. Then its definitely not you. And, yes, every time after this incident, we saw you, you have only brought smile on our lips. Even now when I think about you, I can only smile.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Pop The Corn

What is the main reason which can drag you to a movie theatre. Ofcourse the movie.. but apart from that… Come on.. think about it.. Well let me just bring it out.

A large tub of salted popcorn, with butter as a topping. You spend the entire movie munching on one popcorn at a time. Well, this used to be my condition to go to movie while we were in US. Even if it happened to be the most boring movie, and if G wanted to watch it, I wouldn’t mind, as long as I get my individual tube of butter loaded popcorn.

Once we came back to India, the extra butter wasn’t there, but if the popcorn was fresh, it was still worth it. We used to get 2 large popcorns for both of us and enjoy at our pace. Now, we get 1 tub of popcorn for both of us together. Now, I am totally okay with this arrangement. Only problem is the way both of us eat our popcorns. I take 1 in my hand, and bite into half and relish each and every piece, while takes a fistful in his hand and shoves all of it in his mouth. So while I have just finished a fistful of popcorn, G has already emptied half of the tub, which leaves me furious. How can he just eat all of my popcorn. Alright our popcorn. I give him the ultimatum everytime that this is the last time I would be sharing the tub with him and he has to get his own popcorn from next time. He plainly refuses, saying whats the fun in that. And when I insist, he says, alright I will not eat from your tub.

The next time we went, I reminded him that I will not share my popcorn with him. He agreed, got me a popcorn tub and as soon as we sat on our seats, and I dug into the popcorn tub, I see a fistful of popcorn in G’s hand going out from my tub.

“My popcorn”, I said and pulled the tub away from him.
“Just once”, and he grinned.
“Whatever”, I rolled my eyes.
After a while he dint touch my popcorn, but I couldn’t concentrate on the movie or the popcorn, and ended up sharing my tub of popcorn with G, coming back to square1. Even though I had lesser popcorn, even though I had to share, I was more content and happy with the movie experience.

This doesn’t mean, I don’t create this scene in the theatre when we go for movies now. I still claim for my individual popcorn everytime, and end up sharing my popcorn with him. Sigh!!! Now that I have got used to it, I probably cannot eat a tubful of popcorn alone, and need G to empty the tub. Oh!! Such complicated issues of life!!!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Rice Payasam

Rice Kheer or the Rice Payasam – I hate it, there I said it. I really really hate it.

Payasam or kheer, is as such my least favorite sweet dish. I prefer the barfis, the gulab jamuns, the rasgullas, basically something which can linger in my mouth for a few seconds, and I can squeeze out all the taste in my mouth, before I gulp it in. With Payasam or kheer its just sweetened milk, with something additional in it, either rice or dal or semia or sabudana or rava or even broken wheat. So the moment it goes in your mouth, its gone thru the food pipe. What the fun in that?

I remember, it was always a torture during festivals, when I had refuse these payasams. Mom would give some reason for me drink, and when you visit relatives, they would tell you hundred other things on why you should have this tasty drink. One of my aunt’s even used this wonderful trick. “If you don’t drink this, then it means you don’t love your mother” (Bah!!!!) as if I would listen to that.. I would just tell everyone, I don’t care if you think I don’t love mom, but I do, and I don’t have to prove it by drinking this. Slowly people stopped forcing me to drink it.

Even today, I do make the payasam or kheer on festivals, but I hardly taste a spoonful, just for the sake of it. I don’t mind sevai Kheer to some extent, if its thick enough, like made from milk maid, or if its in the rabri consistency, and I alos don’t mind chilled channa daal kheer, again that’s coz it tastes like icecream to me. I cannot tolerate the khus khus payasam and most of all, I don’t like the famous “Rice payasam”. And I am totally aghast or give a weird experession, when somebody declares. I love Rice Kheer!!!!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Mom or Friend

One day, while I was still in school, I had a small fight with my then best friend. I was upset, but dint want to share it with anyone. Once I was back from school, I went to my room and cried, and slept on the bed.

My mom came to see what happened to me, and she saw a note in my hand. It was folded, and she could see dried tears on my cheeks. She realized there was something troubling me. She opened the note and in my handwriting were these words “I don’t have any best friend. I am all alone”

She did not wake me up, she let me get my sleep, since I was emotionally exhausted. When I woke up, she was there. She did not ask me why I had cried, or what my best friend had done. Instead she showed the note to me and said. “Never feel alone in life. I am there for you. If you have no other best friend. Always remember, I am your friend. I can be your best friend. If you want me to be.”

I probably hugged my mother and smiled. Somehow I felt I will never be alone in my life, now that I have a best friend in her.

Ofcourse, I grew up and probably don’t share every little detail with her. Sometimes she behaves like my mother and not my friend. But we are in a stage where we can start off where we left kind of best friends. We fight, sometimes don’t speak for days, and when we start speaking, it’s as if we never fought.

Sometimes I accuse mom, that she has completely turned into my mother and no longer my friend. But in a few days, we go back to being best friends. So as a mother or as a friend, I know she will be there for me always.. I can only try J

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Last name or lasting name

I was in Std 10, and it was time to submit our details to the board. This was also the time where if there was any change in the name, we could do it, since that would be the name which would appear in the mark sheets, and these mark sheets were going to be an important document in our future. My name was absolutely fine, it was my last name which I wanted to get changed. It had so happened that in one of the previous schools, when they were to give my transfer certificate (TC), they cut short my last name to an initial. It stayed that way and we never bothered to change it. I was also ok with it, and dint bother much until this time.

So my name instead of was shortened to abc.N

I filled the form where I said my name was to be changed to What senior faculty in my school told me at that time baffled me. He said, why bother to change your name, anyway after marriage you will change your last name.

I don’t know what was in my mind at that time I replied to him “Sir, I might not really change it at that point”. He laughed it off and went his way.

I dint really submit that form at that point, as I was a little disturbed with this conversation.

Anyway years later, when we were about to get married, I discussed this point with G and told him that I will not change my last name, and I am glad he was ok with it. Infact, he said it was my name, and what I wanted to do with my last name, was his wish. I was dreading, if he hadn’t agreed, I would have to fight with him for the same. I even joked to him once saying, if he was ready to take my name as his last name, then I would take his name as my last name too. I don’t remember what was the response. I think we both must have thought “Yeah!! Right!!!”

There have been many people who have questioned me on why I still haven’t changed my last name. And my response is always “Why should I?”. And this is something which my husband and me have to discuss about or choose not to bother about. So who are you to ask me?

I don’t remember very well, why I thought of putting this incident on my blog, but this incident has always nagged me. As teachers, we expect them to give us certain values. This might have been a small incident in my life, but what if the same person had told me, why are you studying, all you are going to do is get married and stay at home serving your husband. How would that have affected my life? Would I have questioned my “Sir”? or would I have kept quiet?

Thanks to my parents and my in-laws for not asking me to change my last name. Its not that I would have changed it. But, yes it surely saved some melodrama in the house J

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hum saath saath hain

Few days back, I was reading an article, where an old rickshaw puller stays in Calcutta, and his wife and kids stay in a small place in UP. He has been doing this for many years. He only visits his family thrice a year, on festivals. I was just left wondering, what kind of life was it, and here I am not talking about rich and poor, poverty or above poverty. How much earned. He was away from his family - His only wife and children.

I have no idea, about, why he left his wife in his village while he came over to a far off place to earn. Yes, initially may be he wanted to settle down, but she has been there all thru her life, waiting for the husband 3 times a year,  and taking care of their children. I am not sure if other family members were involved. Their kids are now pretty much grown up, the eldest working in a factory and contributing to the family, the youngest still doing his degree and a daughter who is probably married. But this man and his wife are still apart.

Its not like I have not seen couples being apart in different places for better income, but I never realized this situation as the couples. There were always kids involved, the dad worked in some place, the mother took care of the kids holding the fort in a place called home. What about her desires to be with her husband? I never thought about it when I was kid.

But after meeting G, I cannot imagine staying away from him. We laugh, smile, roam around, fight, tear apart each other’s hair, sometimes behave like we can’t stand each other, but we are together. In these many years of being married, there were in different places for a few months.. The first time, it was when we were recently married. We would take breaks and stay with each other for a week or weekend, and then second time was a couple of years back, when G was in a different country and I was in India. These months felt like a thousand daggers to my heart.
Wen I think about all those couples who stay apart, not because they can’t live with each other, but because they can’t afford to live with each other, my heart goes out to them. At such times, I thank my lucky stars, and decide to never ever fight with G or even argue with him.
 Yeah right!! Like that’s gonna happen. Neither me or him can stay with each other with such formality. We need all the feeling in little doses. Kabhi khushi kabhi gham.. We need it all, but together (hum saath saath hain).

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Is there smoke without fire?

Magpie entry 282:

“I want to see Magic” Ryan insisted.

“It’s too late now darling!!! I promise, you will see Magic tomorrow”, Celina promised. She had an idea, on what would be the magic Ryan would witness the next day.

Years ago, when she and her husband were just married, he would show her a lot of tricks masking them under the name of magic. And why wouldn’t he, that’s what he did for a living too. He was a magician. He was very popular, and used to travel to lot of places for these magic shows. One of the tricks was the smoke trick. It was their favorite. Celina wanted to learn the trick.

One night, he blindfolded her, and told her to concentrate on what he says. He taught the trick of creating smoke from mouth, without any fire. She followed his instructions, and could feel smoke making its way out of her mouth. When she opened her eyes, there was a lot of smoke around her. They spent all night smoking, without any fire or cigarettes. It was a fun night they had, blowing smoke at each other.

Initially, Celina accompanied her husband on all his shows. Once Ryan came into their lives, she had to stay back on days when Ryan had school to attend. It was one such night, her husband had gone for his shows, and she was alone with Ryan.

The next morning as she promised, when Ryan was busy fiddling his breakfast, he saw smoke coming out of Celina’s mouth.

“Whoa mom!!! You can do magic just like Papa… I love you” he jumped on Celina and hugged her.
For more entries see here

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Forever yours

Magpie entry 281:

He was there buried a few feet under. I was a little girl when this happened. But I remember how fond I was of him and the day he was buried in our backyard was one of the sad moments of my life.

Every year, on the anniversary I go near his grave, and mourn for him. Even though I can no longer hug him, I hug the ground where his body was laid to rest. Its been a decade, the ground is no longer bare, there is tall grass in that place, may a few plants which bear beautiful flowers too.

But all I can think of is him.

My parents say, he was very much fond of me, fussed over me when I was baby. I remember growing up with him, eating meals with him, sleeping next to him. And one fine day, when I came home from school, they were taking him to the hospital. I dint know what to do, to reduce the pain which he experienced that day. A couple of days later, what came home in the van, broke my heart. I saw him sleeping in the van, but I could see he was no longer breathing.

Dad dug up a huge pit in the backyard, and said that he now will no longer stay with us in the house, but this will be his new home. And we laid him to rest and closed the pit.

Today, I hug him again on this day, I still cannot get over him. Even though my parents insisted, I promised myself, I will never replace him in my life. I will never get another dog as my pet.
For more entries see here

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Me and my writings

I was probably in 3rd or 4th Standard, when I had done some blunder for which I was punished. I was very sorry about it and wanted to apologize to my mother about it. I couldn’t bring myself to go in front of her and apologize. I did the next best thing which came to my mind. I took a piece of paper and wrote. “I am sorry mummy. I will not do this again”. Of course, I took much more than that for me to pacify mom. But this slowly became a norm. I used to write, and finally would make it up. Ofcourse, I used this technique for good things too.

Slowly, I started to make greeting cards. So, for every birthday of my parents, my brother, I used to make a card, and write. My parents still have the cards I have made for them on these occasions. Somehow, this has stopped in the recent years.

When the time came, to tell about G, I couldn’t muster up the courage to go in front of them and talk about it. (even the song Pyar kiya to darna kya – kept playing in my head… there was no chance that I would go and tell this on their face). So I did, what I did the best. I wrote a letter… err correction, a very long letter. I think it went upto 3 pages. To my embarrassment, mom still has the letter.

There are many reasons I like to write or type. Some of which I have thought of are:
·        Sometimes I write, just because I like my handwriting, and it looks beautiful on paper (this doesn’t happen all the time. Only at times).
·        When I am on the system, I keep typing because I have selected a beautiful font.
·        At times I write, because I like the way, the pen is making an impression on the paper.
·        I keep typing, because I like the sound when I press the keys on the keyboard.
·        Sometimes, it’s also because I like looking at my fingers typing away. (now I am starting to sound creepy)
·        Oh yes… one main point.. I have some thoughts bursting to come out of my system

But all this when I want to write. If somebody comes upto me and asks me to write or make a ppt, I can’t type a word. Even though I could write paragraphs, I wasn’t very great with essay writing in school, especially if somebody gave me a topic to write. Even if someone comes upto me and says, I will give you a month to write about something, I might not be in a position to write a word until the deadline is over.

But leave me in front of an ocean or in a jungle, or like now, in a room where the window is open and the cool breeze keeps my curtains waving, I can write, and write and write, like how I am going on, now - aimless, content less. I wish my love to write, never diminishes… If not for the content, I would like to keep this for various other reasons.

Ok… I no longer want to see my fingers type… So here I stop…Until next time.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Mask

Magpie entry 280:

“This is mine”
“No, it’s mine”

“Give it back, you don’t want to face the consequences”
“I don’t care”

The siblings were fighting for it again.

“Stop this fight right now” Their mother was at the door, with her hands on her hips.

She came upto the mask, picked it up and threw it out of the window.People on the ground could see something falling off from the sky. It was huge.

It looked like a face. Was it a spaceship shaped in this way. Was it an alien who was coming down to earth?

As it came near the ground, people could feel the size was much bigger. They made space for it. In a few seconds, the mask nose dived. The people around couldn’t understand, from where such a huge face came from. All they could do is stare up, at the sky. Since nobody could move the mask from the place, they moved on with their work.

The day was over, the lights on the road were switched off, there was no movement on the road.

From somewhere up in the sky, one of the kids, took the torch and pointed it towards the mask.

On the ground, it seemed like a big flashlight focusing on the mask.

In a few seconds, the lips of the masks curled, and the closed eye opened.
For more entries see here

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Lunch Break

Magpie entry 279:

I keep looking thru the hole, but all I can see in an endless spiral.
I wonder what’s on the other side of the hole.

Somebody once told me, somebody would tumble down the spiral and land in this hole, just as I came in.
But nobody has come here ever since I came here.
Is it really a space where people enter? or is it my imagination, where nobody will enter.

Oh Wait!!! I see someone coming. I see a little girl running down the stairs. It looks like someone is chasing her. There is no worry, she is laughing. It may be a friend of hers. Hope she comes to my space soon and lets me out.

Will she come? Or will the person chasing her catch up with her and take her away.

All I can do is wait and watch. Can I lure this little one in my hole. But does she deserve to come here. It’s a dark hole, a black hole. I had once read people who enter a black hole can never go out.

But that was in the space, this is our mansion. I don’t remember how I ended up in this space. But I want to go out now.
The girl is nearing the hole. She has finally reached the end of the stairs. I have to create some curiosity for her to look into this hole. Then I can pull her in. I will then move out of here.

Before I can think of anything, she is standing below the black hole. She doesn’t have any other place to go to. I will grab her into the hole and nobody will notice. Yes!!! That’s what I will do.

I stretch my hands out of the hole and am about to grab the little girl’s hand, and I hear a voice.
“Sally, how many times have I told you not to come to this place. Next time I see you around this place, I will never bring you to this mansion. Come along, finish your lunch”

Sally ran away. Her mother looked into the hole, she dint see me. But why do I think I know her? Why do I think I have heard her voice?

Just then I heard the voice again. It was my mother. She was standing behind me “Sally, did you not bring anybody today? What will do for lunch today? Anyway we have leftovers for today. Finish your lunch, and resume your hunt after that.” The black was hole was closed.
It was lunch break.
More entries here

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The exchange

Magpie entry 278:

Maria had to reach home before the sun set. Nobody in her house knew, what she did the entire day. She did not intend to tell them either. Her parents went to the nearby town to earn their living. Her mother worked as a maid in one of the rich households, and her father worked in a garage. She was a very short girl when she was young, her parents took her to the fair where she was fascinated by the tall people walking around with long costumes. She dreamt someday, she would be as tall as those people. In one such fair, she met a witch, the one who could read minds.

Every evening, Maria took the train, which would take her back home, in time before her parents arrived. They would wonder what she did every day, but would not question her, since she was always busy with the household chores. But that day, she had seen him, and was mesmerized by his golden eyes. She could help but stare at him, and lost track of time.

The witch she had met in the fair years ago, had granted her wish, although Maria had a price to pay. She was made tall and thin, so tall that she resembled a pole now. Her parents were worried on how she would get a suitable boy for marriage, but Maria was not bothered. It was her secret dream to be how she was now. She was happy. She went to the fair, and was given the job, she was so fascinated about. First day when she came home, she heard her parents discuss about her future. She wanted to disclose about her job, but was scared if her parents would reject it, they hated the fair and never let her go. She decided to reveal it to them when the time was right.

She wore colourful clothes in the fair. But on her journey, she preferred to wear black, so that people couldn't identify her much. She changed her hairstyle, with 2 thin plaits, and a hat to cover. Even if somebody met her in the fair, they wouldn't recognize her if they met her elsewhere. That fateful day, when she met the guy with golden eyes, she couldn't think of anything else. All she could do that day was to keep track of his movements. She knew she had seen him, his eyes seemed familiar. When her friend interrupted her thoughts, she realized, she would miss her train.

She ran behind the train, on the tracks hoping to catch the train. If she couldn't catch the train, she would be late and her parents would question her. She couldn't afford that, at least not that day. She wasn't prepared to tell her parents. She ran on the tracks, she could see in a few minutes the sun would set. She managed not to get her heels stuck in the tracks, and hopped on the train in the next station.

She reached home and heaved a sigh of relief, since the door was still locked and nobody was home yet. Half an hour later, her parents came in and along with them, came a handsome young man. Maria recognized him instantly. He was the man with the golden eyes from the fair.

“What’s he doing here? How do my parents know him? Will he recognize me?”, all these thoughts engulfed her. Before she could ask anything, her mother came running to her.

“Maria, do you recognize him? He is your brother. We had lost him in the fair years ago”

The memories came rushing to her. The witch had agreed to grant her the wish, if only she would part with her golden eyed brother. And Maria, who couldn't tell right from wrong at that age, had agreed for the exchange. Every day after that, Maria went to the fair, without her parents knowledge to find her brother.

Today her brother stands in front of her. She wants to hug him and apologize to him, but she is also worried. Does he know what she had done to him? Would he tell her parents if he knew? Although she was happy that her brother was back, her guilt kept her busy in a different world.

More entries here

Saturday, July 11, 2015

The Giant

“Mom, look at that”, Sneha nudged Swati, as they were travelling in the bus. Swati had promised her daughter, to take her to the village, where she had the best vacation of her life.

“It looks weird. Isn’t it?” Sneha asked her pointing her to the farm. Swati was already lost in her thoughts.

Swati was new to the village environment. Her parents worked in a city, and during summer vacation, she visited the village. Since she was the youngest of all her cousins, it was evident; she was the source of their entertainment. Her elder brother, along with his cousins enjoyed teasing his 7 year old sister.

“Good Morning Amma” Swati was still rubbing her eyes. She had just woken up

“How is it that you are up so early today?. It’s just 6.00 AM. You are usually in your dreamland at this time, during vacation” her mother hugged her and kissed her on the forehead.

“Amma, I want to walk around in the field. Can I please go?” Swati pleaded her mother.
“Early in the morning, I won’t let you go alone. You can go with one of your cousins or brother, once they are awake.” was her mother’s response.
Swati went to the backyard sulking, where Leela, her grandmother was drying her hair, after the morning bath.

Leela was in her late 50s. She usually would be in the kitchen at 6 in the morning. But the previous night, she slept late as her sons and daughters, with their families had come to the village after long time. She was too excited and too busy, and slept past midnight.

“What happened to my darling? Did Amma scold you? Come here, I will give you something special” she tried to cheer up the little girl

Swati was least interested in what Leela had in store for her. “Why can’t I go alone to the field? Amma doesn’t let me go” Swati was complaining.

Before her grandmother could answer, one of Swati’s cousins who had just woken up, came to the backyard, and interrupted the conversation “Hey Swati, do you want to see the cow being milked?”

She was so excited at this thought, and ran with her cousin to the cowshed.

Swati had arrived the previous night, and this was the first time she had a look at the village in daylight. There were no limits to her excitement. Every small thing had her exclaiming.

The front yard had a lot of shrubs, which bore colorful flowers. As they passed these, and crossed the gates, the kids reached the cowshed. There were atleast half a dozen cows which she could spot from where she stood. She instantly fell in love with the one which was black and white. It looked just like the one in the butter packets, they got back home. She wanted to touch the cow, just then, one of the cows mooed. It was a fantastic experience for all the kids to see the cow being milked. More so, for Swati, since this was her first experience. She was tempted to drink a glass of milk at that instant, which was surprising as she was not a great fan of milk. By this time Swati had forgotten, her wish to visit the farm.

After lunch, one of her uncle’s announced that he would be going near the farm, and all the kids, who wished not to sleep and wanted to visit the farm, could hop on the jeep. Swati ran and sat in the front seat of the jeep. Two other cousins joined her, the rest of them were too tired of the travel, and wanted to stay indoors. Another reason, they stayed back was Leela had promised to make some yummy savories for them, and they wanted to be the first ones to taste them.

Once they reached the farm, uncle held Sawti’s hand. He had a firm grip, so that she wouldn’t slip on the mud. There was a smile on her face as soon as she saw the Greenland, bordering them were the huge trees. She saw that the farmers were having their lunch under the tree. She wanted to go and play in the shade, but did not want to disturb the farmers there. But seeing her uncle, a few of them came up to him and reported on the happenings. He gave them some more instructions for the rest of the day.

“Are you their teacher uncle?” Swati asked him. He was amused by this question “Why do you think I am their teacher Swati?”
“This is just like in school. When we have a free period, our teacher comes and gives us instructions” was her reply.

Her uncle then explained to her. “Let’s say, this is like school. I am their head master. So I take care of the school and the teachers and ofcourse the students too. There are a few farmers, who have been doing this for a long time, so they are the teachers. There are some new farmers, they are the students”

“Wow, I would like to be in such a school too uncle” Swati was admiring the farm. The so called students were back to work. It was fascinating for her to see them in the field. As she was walked around, she spotted something far away. She came back running to her uncle, and enquired. He was busy with work, hence told her, it was a dangerous place in the farm and that Swati or anybody should not go near the place without elder’s permission. She kept staring at it and decided she will ask her brother if he knew anything about. Initially, she thought of asking her mother, but later decided against it, assuming that was the reason she wasn’t allowed to go to the farm alone.

Once they were home, she had fun with her cousins. They played until the daylight faded away giving way to a beautiful sunset. All the kids were on the terrace, and loved the orange red combination in the sky. To give them company were the munchies their grandmother had prepared. They ate until their stomachs were ready to burst out. Everybody claimed, they wouldn’t have dinner that night. But all that running around in the frontyard and jumping around had them in the dining room, much before dinner time.

After a sumptuous dinner, they resumed playing. The elders too did not interrupt them, as this was the only time, they could enjoy without any school worries.

They were just about to sleep, when Swati told her brother about the weird thing she saw in the farm. He couldn’t understand what Swati was trying to explain to him and told her to remind him about it, the next time they went to the farm.

The next day, Swati woke up to the smell of something delicious. She saw Leela preparing breakfast for the entire family. While she stood, watching her cook, her mother slipped in a glass of milk, which Swati drank without any fuss. All kids were up in the meanwhile and were ready for the breakfast. All of them had planned to spend their day in the farm.

The farmers recognized Swati, and smiled at her. She too smiled and waved her hand in response.
“You are already friends with them, Swati” teased one of her cousins. “Ofcourse they are also students right” she said which surprised the other kids. But they dint ask for any explaination from her. As they walked, Swati froze for a moment. When her brother, who was holding her hand, according their mother’s orders, tried to drag her, she refused to go any further. On probing, she mentioned that uncle had told her not to go, as it was a dangerous place. The elder kids looked at one another, and smiled.

“Yes Swati, only kids who are above 10 years are allowed there. You stay here, we will come back in a while” saying this, all of them ran, leaving Swati and 2 others at the same place. After an hour, when Swati did not see any of her cousins coming back, she panicked and decided to call some of the farmers. Just when she turned around, she heard her brother’s voice, from the direction all of them had gone. She ran that way, and as she neared, she saw the weird creature standing tall.

She was at the back of the creature, she wanted to run away, but she thought about her brother and cousins, and this gave her the courage to stand in front of it and question. As she went to the front, she couldn’t see the face. It was very sunny and since the creature was huge, the glare of the sun prevented her from looking at the creature. She was scared. Her eyes were brimming with tears. She tried to scream at the creature, when she realized her voice had deserted her. Her mother’s voiced echoed in her head, about listening to elders. Why did she not listen to uncle? Why did she have to tell everyone about the dangerous place. It was now her fault that everybody was in trouble.

Tears which filled her eyes had now started to roll down her cheeks. She wanted to be brave, save her brother and cousins, but felt helpless. She dint know, what the huge creature was, blame it on the sunlight, she still couldn’t spot the face. But she did notice that the pant worn by the giant was shabby. The pant had loose ends, and did not even smell great. The shirt also seemed like an old worn out shirt. He must be a kidnapper she thought. She spotted few sticks nearby. She ran to pick up a couple of them, and started hitting the legs. She was amused on why there was no noise from the giant. She hit harder, and she could hear a bone break. This did not stop her and she continued to hit the legs, this time the other one. She again heard a bone break, and in minutes, a huge pile of sticks fell on her. The shabby clothes also were on her head. She was surrounded by her brother and cousins, everybody holding their stomach and laughing at her.

Like a hero who rises from the ashes, Swati rose from the heap of sticks, and gave a long stare. Everybody stopped laughing and apologized. She started throwing the sticks at them. It took time for them to pacify her and also to convince her not to complain to the elders about their prank. By the time they reached home, she knew the giant which she had fought was a scarecrow. At home, they had to come up with a story to tell the elders in the family, so that scarecrow could be back in its place.

As a punishment, for a week all her cousins satisfied all her wishes for a week. She did not stop smiling all those days.

“Mom, why are you smiling? And what is that weird thing?” questioned Sneha.

Swati kept her hand on Sneha’s shoulder and said “Let me tell you a story, then you’ll know what that is”

Friday, July 10, 2015

A Day Trip to Devrayandurga

Let’s go somewhere, anywhere, was the first thought on Sunday Morning. At 9.00 AM we decided, we will go to Devrayandurga.

The place is near Tumkur, its around 70kms from Bangalore.

We started around 11.00 AM from Bangalore after a heavy breakfast. From BTM Layout – Banerghatta road – Nice Road (toll road). We took an exit for Tumkur road (Nice Road Toll – Rs.120). The nice road was fairly crowded, with most of the crowd taking a deviation at the Mysore Road. Once we got off the Nice Road, we went to another toll road. We took a day pass here (Rs.30) and continued on the Tumkur road.

As we reached Dabbaspet, we had to get off the Tumkur road, under the flyover, towards Devrayandurga.  From here it was 20kms. There are directions boards everywhere. We anyway had our GPS on too. We reached the Urdigere junction, where there where the vegetable market was on full swing. We were 10kms away from our destination.

You could see a huge difference between the city and these areas, the people, the driving, the shops. Surprisingly, the roads were very good. There were few patches were the road was yet to be laid, but apart from those, it was smooth driving.

We finally reached the entrance around 1.00 pm, where we paid for parking (Rs.10). There is a fork, we took the fork leading to the temple of Bhoga Narasimha, this is at the base of the hill. We parked our car very close to the temple, and walked in. There was a queue, and we were in the queue for 15-20 mins. If there was a senior citizen who couldn’t wait in the car, they were allowed inside with a accomplice.

After the darshan, we next moved to the Devi Lakshmi temple, which is next to the Narasimha temple. We were given the teertha (holy water), after this darshan, and we headed out. Next to the temple is a hall where free food is served. We weren’t hungry so dint go there.

Near the temple, there were lot of small shops which sold waterbottles, cool drinks, mirchi bajji, various other bajjis, churmuri. Since we were very thirsty, we had cool drinks and water and started for the temple on top of the hill.

Note: There are free toilets to use, it is was clean.

The drive to the top was very scenic, and roads were again good. You have to be careful since there are hairpin bends and it’s a 2 way drive. Also, there are steps too which can be taken to reach the car park on top. We reached the car park. We could see the temple in between the rocks.

We walked till the entrance of the steps, and since it was very hot, we had cold badam milk (Rs.50 per can, too expensive).

We started climbing the stairs, and the moment you feel too tired, you can just look around and the scenary gives you the energy and the enthusiasm to climb the steps ahead of you. We really dint count the number of steps, but it might be around 200. There were several rest points too. There are too many monkeys around, so be very careful with the things that are taken there, especially if they spot any eatables, you will have to let go of them.

There is footwear stand as soon as we reach the temple, which asks for a nominal fee. This temple has the Lord Yoga Narasimha, and Devi Lakshmi. We decided to climb on top of the rocks after the darshan. We collected our footwear, and moved towards the starting point.

It is a very short climb, but yes, there are lot of thorny bushes, and rocks in between. At times you have to cross bushes, and walk as if you are walking on your fours. There might be monkeys lurking around too. But as mentioned earlier, if you are careful with the things, and don’t bother them, they don’t distrurb you. We did not have problems with the monkeys around.

We reached half way, and there was this huge playground like rock which gave us a spectacular nearly 360 degree view. The view of the kalyani (the pond) was mesmerizing even though the water was green. We took the customary pics, and sat there for a few minutes enjoying the breeze. We still had to reach the mantap on top, and we had reached half the distance.

The Kalyani
Yet to reach the top

The route to the top was again filled with some rocks, gravel, bushes. A little bit of energy, and you can reach the top easily. The final part is where you have to climb a rock like structure, which might be slippery in the beginning. (If you have climbed Savandurga, this is nothing)

Once you reach the top, the mantap provides the much needed shade and a beautiful view. All you would want to do here is to sit and gaze at the view nature has provided.

Temple from the top

We spent a good 15-20 minutes in that place, and ofcourse the usual pictures, but what we enjoyed the most was the peace and calm in that place, and that’s what we did, sat in silence soaking in the calmness.

We hadn’t taken water with us, and the thirst was increasing, forcing us to leave from the place. Also, to add to it, a big group of friends could be heard coming to the place. We started our descent from there. We had come down in 15 minutes. 

After a bottle of water, we ran down the steps. We had some cut mangoes with salt and chilli powder. Around 4PM, we started from the car park, and reached bannerghatta road around 5.15 pm. After wading thru the traffic in Bangalore, we were home around 6.00pm.

A very good day coming to an end.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

The Red Post Box

“Wow, it’s so beautiful. I will also send my drawing to tatha” Anu rushed to her room, to bring her drawing book.

“Which one should we send Amma?” she started browsing her book.

“I will get you a sheet of paper. Why don’t you draw something new? Then we can send it “her mother gave her an idea.

Couple of days later, Anu came up with a drawing. It wasn’t a beauty, but for an effort of a 10 year old, it seemed wonderful.

“How can we show this? We will not go to Bangalore until my exams are over” Anu had started sulking

“Why are you sad? We can just post it darling” Her mom

“Post! What’s that?” and that is when Anu came to know about the postal system and how being so far away from her grandparents, she could still share her thoughts and her drawings with them.

The next day, Anu and her mother went to the nearest post box and dropped it in the red box. This post box was located opposite Anu’s school.

In 2 weeks, when Anu went back from school, her mom had great news for her. She had a letter in her hand.

“Is it for me? Did you read it?” Anu was extremely excited.

“I haven’t read your letter dear. I thought you should open your first letter, especially from tatha”. As she opened the blue inland letter, she read slowly

Dear Anu,

I am proud of you my dear girl. Your drawing is very beautiful When you come to Bangalore, I will teach you more. Keep up the good work. I have showed your drawing to everybody in the house. Pati is also very happy. I even showed it my friends. And everybody loved it. For this I give you 4 golden stars.

Lots of Love,

Anu was extremely happy that she got a letter from her grandfather. She wanted to reply to it immediately. She got the inland letter from her mother, took out her pencil box, sharpened her pencil, and wrote a long letter. Her mother helped her in getting the letter to be posted. Anu volunteered to post the letter as she knew where it had to be done. Her mother allowed her to since it was on the way to school.

Months passed by, and the chain of letters between the them continued.

One day, Anu’s mother came to pick her up from school. She had a letter to post. As they were nearing the post box, Anu pointed elsewhere and said “But, there is where I usually post it amma”. She was pointing it to a letterbox in one of the houses.

Her mother was shocked, “Anu, But that’s a letterbox”.
“But its red in colour Amma. You said I should post it in the red box”, reasoned Anu.

Both of them went to the post box, and dropped the letter, and her mother explained to Anu, the difference between a letterbox and a postbox.

Anu realized her mistake and told her mother that she wanted to apologize to the people in the house for the inconvenience she had caused. Her mother took her to their house, and explained why they had come to the lady of the house.

“So you are the little one, whose posts we were receiving. Its ok my dear, we realized it was a mistake and put all your letters in the post box. Hope your grandfather got all those precious letters” the lady patted Anu’s back.

“I am sorry once again Aunty” Anu was embarrassed and they left from there. Her mom smiled and at her and said that it was ok, and that Anu had learnt her lesson very well.

And it was true, Anu always remembered this phase of her life, everytime she came across a red post box or a red letter box.

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Pleasure or Poison

“Mr & Mrs Ray, The doctor will see you now” the receptionist interrupted the couple, who were deeply engrossed in the magazine kept on the coffee table in the clinic.

As they made way into the doctor’s cabin, there were horrific photos of the mouth cancer, lungs and all those ads which they watched on TV, discouraging people from smoking. At those times, they had mocked “who would quit smoking watching these ads. If people really wanted to, they would quit”. But today, there was no sarcastic smile on their faces. They had the reports in their hands, which would decide the fate.

Holding hands, they entered the cabin, the doctor was looking at the report. They knew in a few minutes, they would get the news officially from the man himself.

“I think you already know what I am about to tell you Satish. But let me confirm. Your lung congestion is getting worse, and we have a doubt it might reach a stage soon, where the route to recovery is not possible. We will have to do a few more tests to see how it goes.”

Nirmala’s eyes were full of tears. She had it under control though. She blamed herself for this situation.

“Doctor, we are ready for the test anytime. But please save my husband” she started to get emotional.

“You know the situation as well, Dr. Nirmala, you have counseled, so many smokers. There is nothing I can hide from you. Once all the tests are complete, we will have a better picture of the situation.” The doctor tried to console her.

Dr. Nirmala was a specialist in psychiatry. She specialized in counseling patients addicted to smoking. There were a lot of patients who gave up smoking after attending her sessions. She did not expect this to happen in her family.

“Satish, how could I not see this coming? I, knew this will happen someday. I give sessions to so many people regarding active & passive smoking, and this happens at our home.”

As the driver pulled out the car from the parking lot. She dragged a cigarette out of her purse, flipped it out, and put it in her mouth. As she took a drag, the smoke reached Satish, and he started to cough.

“I have to give a presentation on Passive Smoking tomorrow. I am yet to prepare the presentation for the same” she had another puff, and the smoke ended up in circles.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Take the Dive

“Mom, Dad, you guys are coming this Sunday right?” Tina asked her parents at the dining table. The family was having dinner together after a long time.

“Of course my dear, we wouldn’t miss it for anything in this world” answered her dad.

“Mom?” she wanted her mother to answer and waited for a Yes from her too.

“I will try my dear. You know that this month has been very busy for dad and me. But I will definetly try to be there my dear” her mom was trying her best to keep the option open for her daughter, yet not hurt her.

“Yeah like last month, where you guys dint come” Tina got up from the dining table and stormed into her room.

“Couldn’t we have just told her we will come” Stephan grumbled

“Yeah, and when she finds out we were not there. What happens then Stephen? She is a growing kid. We cannot keep her protected all the time. And it’s better she understands us now, than blaming us for the lie, don’t you think” Rina was saddened that Stephan was not supporting her decision.

“But what is the point of telling her half the truth. We don’t tell her why we can’t go with her, it will make her hate us even more, rather than understand our situation.” Stephan was trying to reason it out.

Saturday evening, Rina knocked the door of Tina’s room.

“Darling!!! Are you ready for tomorrow?” she looked at Tina’s bag which was packed.

“Yes mom. Can’t you guys please come tomorrow. I know you both are very busy, but just this once, I really want you guys to come there to support me” she pleaded.

“Tina, remember this my dear. Your dad and me love you. We want to be with you in all your milestones in life. We really do. But sometimes life puts you in situations where you can’t do anything but let go of your choice.”

On Sunday morning, Tina was ready to leave. Stephan and Rina kissed her forehead and wished her luck. She reached the venue and went into the changing room. It was a big day for her. She was going to dive from 15ft. She saw her friends, her competitors. There were some beginners on one end who seemed to be  more nervous. On the other end she saw some who were to jump from higher altitudes. They were as nervous as she was or more, she wouldn’t know.

Tina found an unoccupied bench and sat there with her bag next to her. Just then some one entered the room, and announced, the event will commence shortly and all the participants were to assemble near the arena in 15 mins. Tina quickly changed into her swimsuit and left with the others to the arena.

As she reached, the backstage, where all the participants were in a queue, and she saw lot of families in the area. They had come to wish their kids, siblings, and here she was alone. She knew today her parents would come. She could feel it. But where were they? Why were they not giving her their time? She did not understand. She did not want to either. She just wanted them there at that moment, encouraging her.

As they stood in lie, everybody was facing the arena, and she alone was looking back. She pulled the towel she had wrapped herself, her eyes still looking for the most important people in her life. She was close to the door. Once she entered that door, there was no looking back.

A minute later, she stepped in. Now all she could see was a huge crowd around the swimming pool. As she climbed the stairs to reach the 15ft high, she could feel rushes of memories. The day her parents bought the swimsuit, first day in the swimming pool, first lesson, first dive. By this time she had reached the top, it was her turn next. She took a couple of deep breaths, and walked to the tip. She adjusted her cap to cover her ears, put on her goggles, looked down at the water. She smiled at the water.
Her hands were up in the air folded, and she took position. She jumped, and everybody in the stadium saw the rotations and twists in awe, and they heard a splash in water. It was a perfect dive. When her head came out of water, she was thrilled to see the entire area applauding her. She ran towards the drying area.

“Mom, dad, you guys came… Did you see? Was I good? When did you get here” she ran into her parents who were holding the towel for her to dry her up.

She dint care for the answers anymore. She was happy. Her parents had come to see her dive. She dint care about anything else anymore.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How punishments shape our life

In the recent years, I have friends who have kids, and sometimes I get to hear anecdotes from their life. Most of them are hilarious, smart and witty for a 4 year old, you must think. And then, I also get to hear on certain days

“I am feeling so guilty, I shouted at my kid”

“I am feeling so bad I scolded my kid”

“He/she has become so naughty. I actually threatened to hit him/her”

This makes me wonder, how would our parents have reacted, every time they scolded us or even better when they gave us those bruises.

Well, to be fair to my mom, I have disobeyed her so many times, lied to her, back answered etc, which has resulted in me getting punishments.

One day, when I was in 2nd standard, it was a daily activity of me going to a friend’s house which was in the next road. My deadline was to be back home at 6.30 pm. But that fateful day, we went to another friend’s house and we forgot about the time, and mom had come searching for me, along with the aunty (mom of my other friend). That day I was locked up in the Toilet, reason – I lied to her about going to Friend A’s house and not Friend B’s house, and also not adhearing to dealing. Well, after that I was really scared about skipping the deadline.

Ofcourse, later she made me sit on her lap and explained what my mistake was. Also, I lost the fear of being locked up alone in a room.

Another time, by this time I overestimated me to be super smart. I thought, “Everytime mom hits me I tell her, not to hit me and I am sorry. So if I tell to hit me, then she might get all senti, and stop hitting me.” Wonderful idea I patted myself.

So that day when I did something worthy of getting a beating, I did something which mom never imagined I would do. She hit me with her hand. I went to the room, got a belt from inside handed it over to her in a filmy style and said “You want to hit me, then take this and hit me. Atleast your hands wont hurt Ma”

Now what happened next was totally opposite to what I had imagined “My mom took the belt and hit me”. The reverse psychology theory did not apply here. And all I remember was never to use my smart brain when mom is angry. I never told her ever again “hit me”.

Much later, she checked if there were any wounds and I never even felt that I was beaten some time back. It made me stronger, everytime I would get hit by accident or even if I bumped into things. I could just brush it away and continue with my work.

Once, only because I lied, I had to wash vessels, including idli plates, milk vessels etc. May be that’s is why I love washing vessels now. The shine in those vessels brings a smile to my face. Any I digress. So, if you see, my punishments were not always getting hit, they were some essential things which we need to know.

I have not washed many clothes, may be that’s why I am not very fond of it, and let the washing machine handle all the stress.

Today, if I have sweep, or clean the floor with water and a mop, or wash vessels, or do dusting. Basically all these household chores, I have learnt it as a part of some punishment, and when I do any of these activities, I do it perfectly. So any time our maid is on holiday, and I do these chores at home, the floor is sparkling like a mirror and no dust, and the vessels are sparkling clean.

And I must admit,  inspite of all these punishments, I have been pampered a lot, loved a lot. A small sneeze or a cough will result in multiple calls from my parents, and even though it becomes annoying, it feels nice to know that you are being loved by them.

May be my mom, also felt guilty when she was punishing me. And everytime I get punished, I could see her in more pain. So I am sure, it was more of a punishment for her than me.

So for all the punishments, which have helped me shape up, I would really like to thank mom.

“Like every after every storm, the sky is clear
After every incident like this, I could see the love for me in my mom’s eyes more clearly.”

“Like how a goldsmith, shapes his gold
Every incident has shaped me into what I am today”

Monday, June 29, 2015

Chitradurga : Rural Reach Program - Part II

Part 1 is here - Chitradurga RRP

The students were divided into groups of 50 (on avg), and finally I was allocated to a set of girls. They were seated in a circle, and I was at the centre. I had the feeling of a performing artist, and that I would be judged by them .

I uttered my first few words (in kannada, ofcourse) : “Yellarigu namaskara. Nanna hesaru Arathi” (Greetings everybody my name is Arathi)

I heard a few girls in chorus “Kellastilla miss” (we can’t hear you miss)

“Oops” was my reaction. Then I did what any sensible person would do…

“Oh ok.. Lets come a little closer shall we”. And it was a feeling of the earth moving, closing in on me, if I can say. All the 50 chairs moving towards me.

And then I asked them: “Can you hear me now”…. Again a chorus “Illa miss”

I now decided I dint want a circle… It’s not circus, and I cannot look at half of them. So I made them sit in 3 rows of concentric semicircles. And then asked them the same question. A little louder this time “Iga Kellasta idiya” (Can you hear me now). And in chorus again they answered “Yes miss”

I remember how in school, we would wish our teachers when they came inside our class “Goooood Morning Miss”, I never thought somebody would call me miss J

Anyway back to my class. I repeated my name and told them that they were going to learn about computers alright.. but before that they had to tell me, what they knew about it.

When I asked them the school name. I got an answer alright.. but again in chorus.. “fndsklncfffsfksdlk” is what I understood. I requested one of the students to answer “Priyadarshini Girls High School”.

I now understand, why teachers asked us to lift our hands… You just can’t understand what these kids tell you when in chorus J

I divided them into 4 groups so that I could get different opinions… They first told me what they knew…

“It’s an electronic machine”

“You can play games”

“You can talk to each other and also look at each other, face to face, even if you are countries apart”

“You can communicate easily”

“You can get lot of information”

And much more… I was trying to formulate my plan, on how to tell what to these kids.

And, I also tried to get what goals these kids had. Some wanted to be teachers, doctors, police, software engineer, military, district commissioner and some of them had no goals. So I tried to tell them how computers would help them in any field they wish to take up.

We started off with switching on the laptop. Only why laptop is called a “LAPTOP”. How a monitor looks. What a keyboard and mouse does.Then I made 4 of them come front to enact as monitor, keyboard, processor and a user and showed them how a computer does simple things like addition of 2 numbers.

And then after a lot of anecdotes and examples, I now let the kids use the laptop. The moment everybody were waiting for. I opened up MS-Paint for them. They went crazy over it. It was as good as how the toddlers feel when you introduce them to the actual paint.

I felt a bad, since there was only 1 laptop and so many kids, so rationing the usage time was very difficult. It had already been 2 hours and we hadn’t realized.

One of their teachers came upto me asking if the class is over and if he could take the students. The students dint want the class to get over, I did not want the class to get over. But the time was up. Infact we were supposed to have the class for some more time, but it seems the students had to leave since they had to have breakfast and also, their teachers were waiting.

This was the pic.. my students created in ms paint.

With heavy heart, we had to let go of each other. With a lot of good bye miss, and then shaking hands (I felt like a celebrity), we took a couple of selfies. “Bye miss” “Bye miss” was heard continuously for a couple of minutes. As I was packing my bags, I could feel “Inner peace”, if only for a few minutes. One of our collegues came and asked me, how I felt. Though there was a flood of feelings in my mind, all I could muster at that point was “Amazing” (with thumbs up). The “Bye Miss” brigade was still on, and I was waving to the kids.

The moment reminds me of the song, from the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”
“der lagi lekin…maine abhi jeena seekh liya..
aasuon ke bin.. maine ab hai jeena seekh liya”

We returned to our rooms, and then thought of going to the park which was right next to the Math. As we were near the entrance, we saw some students leaving the campus. A group of girls came near me. These were the same girls in my class. So they asked me where I was from. Then one of them asked me for my phone number. I oblidged. And then another girl asked “Miss, can I have your autograph”. I was in shock. Somebody is asking me for my autograph… I don’t remember anybody ever asking me for this. So I did give my autograph to 2 of them.

After all this, the students left for the day. We roamed around the math, then the park. If anybody is going to Chitradurga, the fort is a must visit, and if you have some time, do visit the park too.. A very good theme park, on showing how human evolution has happened etc. There were lot of people visiting.

Around 4.30 PM, we started from the place, and finally reached our homes by 9.30 PM. It was a day very well spent.