Friday, August 29, 2008

Travel Light

Dalai Lama Checks into Lilavati Hospital for a medical check-up with ELEVEN suitcases.

As I read it out to my darling husband he grins like the cat who got the cream.
“See. And you are always cribbing about my stuff” grumbled darling husband.
Crib ,I do and rightly so. Read the scenario to understand the phenomena of Men and Vanity.
My darling husband (DH for convenience) is leaving for a trip overseas for 7 days.
DH: “ Where`s my suitcase- no the bigger one.”
Me the harried wife (HW for convenience) :“This one?”
DH: “Aha! Ok Let me see. 8 days and 7 nights. Hmm. Ok give me 7 formal shirts for daywear. No ,No make it 8 just in case.
HW: Just in case?
DH: “Ya , in case I spill something or one looks very crumpled. That reminds me put my portable iron too”
HW: “Arrey but the hotel has laundry services and am sure they will have a iron board in the room”
DH:“Put it na-just in case. ok 7 formal trousers. No make it 8 you know just-“
HW: “I know just in case.”
DH: “8 pairs of underclothes, socks and handkerchiefs`. Haan put a couple of basic neck ties”
HW :“Neckties. Why? You are not going for board meetings-just going to check out the fair”
DH: “What if I have to meet the company head or someone? You know just in case(JIC for convenience).
Hmm. Ok now night clothes. Three sets. See I will be repeating one of them for 3 nights! International flight have to travel light”
HW :“Huh! What else?”
DH :“Hmm. No casuals? I`l take a couple of shorts and T-shirts-its more comfortable to lounge around in my room and I`l take those Tracks also-you know JIC these guys come over to my room.”
HW: “The bag is already full-you still need to take your toiletries and medicines.”
DH: “Hey that’s hardly anything. I`l take my shaving kit, talc, aftershave, perfume. Haan pass my medicines. Put bandaid, crocin, D-cold, my BP medicines, that packet of gums-I am not going to buy the minute I land. I need them na after my cigarette. Oh! I will take a pack of that also”.
HW: “God!’
DH: “Stop grumbling. I need all this. Its full 8 day trip. Hey shoes! My black ones should go on all of them na? Chal I will take those Nike`s too. You know I can`t wear the formal shoes to the market .And I will need my bathroom slippers. Should I take my floaters? You know it rains there sometimes. I think last year it poured one evening .”
HW :“ Grunt! Take what you want.”
DH :“Ok .I`l take them too. You know JIC.”
HW meantime is truly harried.
DH : “Sweety get those biscuits na.I like to munch on them while watching TV. Give me few munchies na. Little more.JIC the guys decide to hang in my room during evenings”.
DH: “I think I have forgotten something. Ya ! arrey pass that book na…”
After all this HW still lives in hope Afterall His Holiness Dalai Lama too travels with ELEVEN suitcases.I If nothing at least DH shares something with the spiritual leader.
Aah men and vanity..can they ever be apart??

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Good deed of the day

This is a feel good post. We must do at least one good deed a day.

Today I rescued a damsel in distress- actually a damsel who was trying to reverse her car. Crrrrthukkkkk she went!!! Banged into a honda city that was demurely parked next to her old Santro. Fortunately no one came running/screaming but distressed she was.So I stepped in as her Knight no make that Dame in shining armour..reversed it out neatly for her and asked her to scoot before any one would spot THE DENT.
And I must say it was a great feeling. Try helping others for no reason- it really is a great feeling not to forget a great ego-booster too.
So what`s your good deed of the day??

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Couture for God

Pic Courtsey
Janamashtmi celebrations at Iskcon.
Manish Malhotra has designed Lord Krishna `s costume.It is velvet and silk with gold sequins hand embrioidery .Sri Radha`s Costume is designed by Neeta Lulla.
Move over Karisma`s Kareena`s and Aishwarya.It`s now Krishna and Radha- the latest style icons.
So how are you celebrating Janmashtmi? Don`t forget to wear your Rohit Bal or Ritu Kumar. Ok?

Shawls any one?

A couple of days back I attended a concert by Pandit Jasraj. He was welcomed by one of the sponsors on the stage with a big beautiful bouquet of flowers and a shawl. Another Dignitary did the same. Nothing unusual. Almost everyone who is welcomed or felicitated get a bouquet and shawl, in India at least.
It got me thinking. Flowers, maybe Panditji will put in a vase or pass on to a secretary who may do the same. They may end their journey in a vase or a dustbin. But what about the shawl?What does he do with them ?He gets minimum one shawl per show (he got 2 that day).He must be doing at least 5 shows a month(a very conservative estimate considering his stature).That would translate to a minimum of 5 shawls a month, that is 60 a year. Assuming he has been holding concerts for at least 30 years the number goes to 1800.Now even if he passes them on to his driver, cook, maid and their extended family, his own family, distant relatives, students etc stc,1800 is still a big number. This is a very conservative estimate as this does not include awards that he has received. Again at least 1 shawl per award.
So where do these shawls go? Are they displayed on shelves just the way his awards are? Or they occupy his old cupboards or trunks? Or do they get recycled the way coconuts do at various temples? Any clue anyone?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

One Monsoon Morning

9.30 a.m. A local bank in Mumbai.
The bank has just opened after a 2 day break and there is a long queue at the cashiers counter. I am waiting for my turn.

Enter: two human beings .To be precise two eunuchs /Hijras/hermaphrodites.
They walk upto the clerk and hand him a form.

Clerk: “Ye idhar angootha lagao.”

Hijra/eunuch no.1- “Main sign karti hain na.”

She signs. She is actually quite nice to look at. I notice her smooth hairless arms with green, red and gold bangles tinkling. She has a gold chain around her neck, a shining diamond nose ring, hair tied neatly in a bun. She is actually neat as in hygienic. The other one is tall, lanky squarish face. Red sindoor,her hair tied tightly in a bun. She notices me staring at them. She gives me a small smile. I smile back and she winks back.

Cashier: “Next.”

I pay the bill amount and just as I turn to leave H. No. 2 asks me-“Ye idhar light bill lete hai”

I : “Haan.”

H.No. 1 to H. No. 2: “Neksht time idhar hee aane ka na”

H.No.2 to me : “Thank you. Bye”

I : ‘Bye see you.”

This seemingly inane conversation draws quite a few glances my way. Some smirking, others disgusted.
I walk out of the bank and realize that this is actually the first time in my life that I have interacted with a Hijra in a bank. I have encountered them earlier only at 2 places. Either a traffic junction or a wedding/mundan or any such celebration. They are always loud and in your face. I have somehow never associated them as fellow beings. They are simply Hijras.
It set me thinking. These people are marginalized and ostracized by the society. If educated urban people like me have never even thought of them as a part of our social milieu how would they be treated in rural areas?
I remember as a kid we grew up thinking that hijras forcibly take away children they consider their own. There were quite a few myths associated with them. For E.G. Don’t mess with them. Inki baddua lag jaati hain.
When I met these two people in the bank I wondered where do they shop. I have never seen any of them at any shopping mall, multiplex, Bazaar, Vegetable market, Retail store etc etc . How and from where do they get their basic nessicities ?
We talk of a evolved society. Here we are blatantly discriminating between people on basis of gender. Forcing them to live in subhuman conditions, denying them dignity that each human being deserves.
Just yesterday I read a small snippet in the newspaper that said Ellen Degeneres marries her partner.
Ellen hosts her own talk show on Star world(2 p.m. everyday India time).I always found her a little boyish .Delicate , pixie like in a pant suit. She has now married her partner who looked really pretty in a white gown with a huge train. The picture stayed with me and I try to fit in Hijra 1 and 2 in the same scenario. Can`t but help wonder…Where would Ellen be If she were in India? Any guesses?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


How well-read are you ?? ......TAG
Reflections has very kindly rescued me with this TAG

The Rules are as follows:

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.

2) Italicize those you intend to read.

3) Underline the books you really love (and strikethrough the ones you hate!).

4) Reprint this list in your own blog.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen

2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman

10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy

13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller

14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier

16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger

19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger

20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell

22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald

23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens

24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck

29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame

31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy

32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen

36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne

41 Animal Farm - George Orwell

42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving

45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins

46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding

50 Atonement - Ian McEwan

51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert

53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons

54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth

56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley

59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck

62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt

64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold

65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas

66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac

67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy

68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding

69 Midnights Children – Salman Rushdie

70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville

71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens

72 Dracula - Bram Stoker

73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett

74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson

75 Ulysses - James Joyce76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath

77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome

78 Germinal - Emile Zola

79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray

80 Possession - AS Byatt

81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens

82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell

83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker

84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro

85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White

88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom

89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad

92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks

94 Watership Down - Richard Adams

95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole

96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute

97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas

98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare

99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl

100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Monday, August 18, 2008

Baby Oh Baby-II

Niketa Mehta had a miscarriage.A small column in the newspapers said so.I have mixed feelings.I don`t know why but I feel deflated.Lost.Sad.Relieved.I have nothing to say to Niketa..

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Daddy Dearest

Abhinav gets Gold!
Abhinav Bindra is the new poster boy for India. He has won the first gold medal ever in Olympics for India. A proud moment indeed. The newspapers are full of snippets about him. Rightly so. It`s not every day one wins a gold in Olympics.
But what caught my eye was this little feature written by another shooter Shimon Sharief from India. He has trained with Bindra and played against and along with him in the past. However at one point he says that Bindra went away abroad to train, while the rest of us would struggle with poor facilities and bad weather conditions. Bindra`s father has spent a close to one crore annually for his training. Abhinav also went for a week long training in confidence building in Germany to relieve mental stress .The newspaper says the trainer is the best and the most expensive in the world.
All this set me thinking. There is no doubt that Abhinav has the talent but talent coupled with a rich dad equals to gold medal! Now I wonder if Abhinav was just a Mamuli Indian with no Dad with deep pockets backing him ,where would he be? Slugging it out still with poor training facilities, pathetic shooting ranges where even basic amenities are a luxury.. What if Daddy dearest didn’t train Puttarji and put his foot firmly down. “What is all this betaji-shooting-phooting.Kirkit khelo ye sab kya faltu cheej hain?”.
The gold medal rightly belongs to Daddy Bindra for two reasons.1st for his unstinting support or should I say financial backing.2nd –for having the courage to go against the tide –i.e. cricket and betting his money and hopes on a not very popular sport -shooting. Now only if we had more such Daddies. India would be swarming with Abhinav`s..

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Baby Oh Baby

Everyone and anyone wants to pass a judgement/comment/opinion on Nikita Mehta.Nikita Mehta who?? Well Nikita is a 30 something lady from Mumbai who is 25 weeks pregnant.Her baby has a congenital heart problem and will not lead a normal life.Also the parents will have to incur heavy expenses for its survival and still will not be able to ensure a normal healthy life..So? So this Lady decides to abort the child legally.
Well, the court says," Sorry you cannot abort a foetus."Various reasons have been spouted.Some say this is a case of Euthanasia-mercy killing.The child has a right to birth.Who are we to take a call on his life?A senior doctor from Mumbai says that science has advanced a lot.Maybe in a few years the child will get better treatment and may lead a normal life.MAY..that`s the keyword.
Now I have been trying to make sense of this all.Honestly I too keep swaying.But a past incident has tilted the balance in favour of a abortion.This very close relative of mine who lives abroad came to India in her 30th week of pregnancy.She was told that the foetus had layman terms a abnormality in the spine due to which the child is severely physically and most probably mentally challenged too.She was heartbroken as she had conceived after 7 years.We consulted many Gynaecologists and prenatal specialists.The prognosis was grim.One very famous Gynaecologists bluntly told her to abort asap.He painted a very grim future and the lady went ahead with a abortion.I was upset and so were many of her close family people.
Till we met a cousin who has a child who is severely physically and mentally challenged.Her life has come to a standstill.She adores her child and will go to any length to see a smile on her child`s face.But she is constantly worried.She tells me ,"What if she survives me?Who will take care of her?I think I am the only mother who prays everyday for her child to die.I cannot bear to see her pain anymore.Why can`t God just take her away."And I feel in retrospect that what is the point of saving a life and prolonging its suffering?The Lady doctor talks of Foetus rights.Does she mean to say that only when it is 25 weeks old that it can be granted rights.Even a 10 week foetus has a heartbeat so why doesn't that qualify as a human?I strongly disagree with the court.I wish sometimes that Niketa had just gone to a doctor without getting into all the legal hassles.I can only pray for a miracle for her.Everyone has a right to a healthy normal child.The law definitely has to change with times.
Niketa all the best pal.You need it.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Its drizzling outside..very pleasant weather. A small bird sits on my window ledge( its the humble sparrow-Gorraiya in hindi I think )Believe me that`s a rare sight in Amchi Mumbai.She has a small piece of something edible-looks like a piece of bread.In my hometown I remember keeping Bajra and Jowar for the pigeons and crows but in these modren times guess even the birds have graduated to bread! She keeps chirping every now and then-didn`t her mother teach her not to talk when she has food in the mouth?? Mine still hollers if I do.I wonder why isn`t she eating the piece ? Holding it in her mouth just like my son would do as a baby when I fed him Cerelac. Is she hoping to share it with a friend/child or her mate?? Or is she like my 16 year old neighbour- counting calories. What a wonderful way to pass a lazy monsoon afternoon...

Friday, August 1, 2008

RIP Ishmeet

RIP Ishmeet.
Ishmeet is dead..I am sure most of us have heard him or at least heard of him. The popular singer from a reality show Ishmeet was the winnerof VOI. And a winner he is-even in death. Millions of fans all over are mourning his untimely death. I never could comprehend the meaning of untimely death. The time of death for everyone is pre-ordained say all scriptures. Then how can it be untimely??I am digressing..Back to Ishmeet. Politicians are not losing this great opportunity. Unfortunately that’s what this is. Mourning the great tragedy. Somewhere in all the brouhaha the innocent boy is lost. As I pen this there are loads of people thronging his house and mourning Ishmeet. Politicians, top notch officials are all there to pay last respects .He is being awarded a state funeral. Pray tell me for what? Winning a reality show? Putting his state on the world map-give me a break. I know his fans will rip me but I am sorry to say that this is totally uncalled for. People are milching the opportunity for their own personal vexed interests.We are really sad about his death and pray for his soul.But please lets keep this dhakosla of granting him state funeral aside..

Of Butterflies

Of Butterflies..

I went into hibernation. Started my blog and suffered from Major Blog Fatigue Syndrome (MBFS) immediately. I had to lie low ,conserve my energy and hope to bounce back later. While doing Grade V Science with my daughter (Haan main Panchvi pass se tez nahi hu) we read about the lifespan of a butterfly. And I realized how close it is to my life. The idea of blogging germinated, just like the egg. The egg cracked and out came a caterpillar inching its way out. So did I, slowly and cautiously wrote my first draft. And then weaves a shell to form the Pupa. I did that too. Went back to my shell as I needed to grow at my pace. Out comes a butterfly slowly and painfully breaking the pupa. I am in the process too. Hoping to fly and hover around in a sudden burst of colors. Catch me if you can..