Sunday, August 24, 2014

Madras memories. . .

Yesterday, I was awaiting a client, watching TV at their office reception when I got to know that there was a Madras Day, which was being celebrated yesterday. Apparently it's celebrated on 22nd Aug, every year, and has been prevalent from 2004 and more actively, 2008. . I'd never heard of it till yesterday tho'.

But it brought back memories. . . .

Going back to those mad, glad days of MBA, Madras was where the Acha, another friend and myself had gotten our summer projects.. .  I had to do concept testing among specialist doctors, for a dietary fibre supplement that was being launched. The Acha had industrial vaccuum cleaners as his product and he had to cover hospitals, among other establishments, as part of his research. The other friend, D, was doing hers in an IT company, but she started earlier than the 2 of us, and so finished her assigned project at about the time the Acha and I started. To say that the 3 of us had a lovely time would be an understatement.

D and I were staying with our respective cousins, at Velachery and Kodambakkam, and the Acha was staying at the World University Service Centre, Chetpet.  Either before, during or after our respective sojourns for the day, we'd  meet up and sometimes, the Acha and I got to club our journeys, as hospitals formed common ground for both of our surveys.
Having spent all my school holidays in Tamil Nadu, I could speak Tamil pretty well, but couldn't read. The Acha being a pretty resourceful fellow, learnt to read and speak Tamil enough to understand/make himself understood in the 1 month that we were there. While Madras had a very admirable and  reliable system of bus numbers, there still were some places where we needed to know the destination written on the bus boards. Once we had to go to some industrial park near Aadambakkam, and the Acha scoffed at me when I expressed my reservations over how we'd get there. He said all we needed was to get on an Aadambakkam bus. Since it was wayyy too far, we agreed to go together. We waited patiently, but the Aadambakkam bus just wasn't coming, and we were getting late. Finally there lumbered up a bus.
The Acha looked up at the board, and read-
"Aa Aaa,. . " The 2 of us got up from our seat at the bus stop.
"Aaa  da. . ."  We went eagerly to towards the bus.
"Aaa dam ba. . ." I looked at him irritatedly. "Read FAST, the bus is about to go!!"
"Yeah, wait!! Aadam ba kka..  .   AadambaKKAM!!! come on. .. !! its our bus!"
But the bus had its own idea of whose it was, and had gone its way, leaving me convulsed in laughter at the Tamil reading efforts of the Acha.

The Acha had some other experiences too.
Once we were at Kilpauk Medical College, and the Acha finished his vaccuum cleaner questionnaire with the Hospital Admin guy pretty fast. But me- I had to visit at least some 5 specialists, and await my turn with the patients and sometimes I'd feel sorry to see some of them pretty unwell. I did manage to get in before the medical reps tho'. My last stop was at the Gynaecology Wing. The Acha was asked to wait for me outside Gynaec OPD, but it also happened to connect to the Labour Room from another side. And while he was waiting for me, the Acha was confronted with women in various stages of labour,  in various states of undress, with multiple moans and groans, walking about between their contractions!!! After that, he flatly refused to come with me to the Gynaec Dept of hospitals.
So hospitals were out, but there still were some specialists who consulted from home.
There was this lady doc who was supposedly famous, and much in demand, and of course she was there in my list of doctors to be met. It was at the fag end of the day, and it so happened that once again, only the Acha was with me. This was soon after the Kilpauk incident and the Acha said that he was NOT coming inside with me to the waiting area.  I agreed, said I'd be back soon; and he waited outside on the road, while I went inside the gates of the house. The compounder gave me a smile. I smiled back at him warmly, I needed to get in ahead of any other waiting patients if possible, right? Thankfully, there were not many, and I requested the compounder if I could go in, as I'd not be taking much time, and had only a few questions to ask the doc.  He smiled and agreed, and I went in , had a good chat with the doc, and came out happy with my visit.
Not so, the Acha. Apparently, the compounder assumed that I was pregnant, and moreover, that the Acha was the father, as he was pacing restlessly up and down outside the gate. He'd gone out and asked the Acha to come in and have a seat, when the Acha declined politely. At which the compounder smiled reassuringly, and asked if it was the first one or something to that effect, and asked the non-smoking Acha if he wanted a cigarette. Coming out beaming, to greet a harried-looking Acha, I bid a warm goodbye to the friendly compounder, albeit the Acha's goodbye was rather strained.
I collapsed in gales of laughter when the Acha related the incident to to me.
Years later, when I was really pregnant and we were waiting to see my gynaec, we were to laugh over this memory, but at the time, I had no inkling that this guy would turn out to be the father of my child.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sharing the Language of Love indeed!

Some months back, I'd participated in a Google Hangout to support Johnson's Baby's 'Share the Language of Love' campaign. Couple of weeks back, I got a totally unexpected call. And earlier this week, the pleasantest surprise met me at home. . .


I loved that it wasn't an impersonal courier, but hand delivered. I beamed delightedly at the delivery person, as I thanked him, and he beamed right back at me.
Being evening, Sonny boy was also home, and after the man left, he opened it. What wafted out first was that familiar, ever so  loved fragrance. It brought back memories of baby cuddles and snuggles,  and warm, soft baby skin, and all things baby. Mmmmmmmm. . ..  It made me wish I had a baby again. . . almost!

Sonny boy laid claim to the mug and the pen and the notebook. All the rest, he magnanimously allowed me to keep.
Thank you ever so much, Johnson's Baby! Its a most thoughtfully put together hamper.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

From Sarjapur Road to HSR Layout.

So, end April, we moved- from a spacious 3 bedroom  in a sprawling apartment complex with all amenities; to a cosy 2 bedroom house in a peaceful layout. This, because we invested in another apartment- which hopefully will be ready to welcome us in Dec- and we needed to balance the EMI and rent with  the monies being deposited in the bank at the month end. We had been in the earlier apartment for over 6 years, and initially, all 3 of us, especially Sonny Boy, had some trouble adjusting, but a house has its delights.  

In this house, we don’t have a swimming pool, or a clubhouse, or a badminton court, or a big play area. But the first day itself, neighbouring kids came in search of my son. There were no small groups, just one large group, which welcomed Sonny boy into their midst.  The road is their playground. Cricket is the all time favourite, but football was all the rage  during World Cup season. Here, Sonny boy learns to tackle traffic on roads while he cycles.

Here, we don’t have a long paved pathway for morning and evening walks, but instead, the criss-crossing roads in the layout are wide, with shade giving trees on both sides, and peaceful dogs snoozing outside houses next to each other.  From provisions, to veggies, to momos, to curries, to dosa batter, small shops a walk away, sell anything you could think of, at economical prices.  The nearest little petty shop 2 min away, is only about the size of 2 aisles in the supermarket opposite our earlier apartment. But the lady/husband/neighbour there has everything at their fingertips. 
Tarkaaaari, paypaaar, sopppuuuu, hoovuuuu- I can hear all the local vendors going past, and can run down if I’m interested.  There even is an ice cream man ringing his bell invitingly as he passes by in the late mornings.. which brought back memories of my childhood summers. The only thing missing was the nelakadala man.

Maids cost a fraction of what they used to at the earlier complex. Neither do they dictate terms as to what will be done and what will not.

For more than a decade, we’d forgotten what it was like to have un-water-stained bathrooms, and taps and buckets.  With Cauvery water, we welcomed back clean bathrooms, and unspotty vessels.  Unsticky hair and clean white clothes. (as clean as can be expected of a 10 year old boy). Water ran in taps 24/7.
For more than a decade, we’d also forgotten what it was to not have electricity at times. Here the first time power went, we had to search out 10 year old candles. It reminded me of power cut times back in Kerala that we kids would look forward to.  We’d sit out on the verandah steps, enjoying the night breeze, swatting away the ubiquitous mosquitoes, chatting, playing word building, or making shadows on the walls. In this house, we don’t have a verandah to sit on, and the doors and windows have meshes, so thankfully very less mosquitoes, but once in a while, we do have a cande lit dinner.

We have 2 neighbours- one downstairs, and one next door. The downstairs family is nice- a family of 5- a couple, 2 kids( boys) , and the MIL-, but can’t say that about  our next door neighbours- a young couple. I have never seen such anti-social people! They have a particular antipathy towards the downstairs family the reason for which I’m unable to fathom. They complain that the kids make noise but in the 5 months we’ve been here, I’ve never felt it so. Our common maid told me that they complained to the downstairs lady, of the noise her mixie made, and also of the din her cooker whistle made in the morning! The house has a spacious car park, where all 3 families can park their cars and bikes. But, in the evenings, the next door man takes his car outside the car park and parks it on the road,  to prevent kids playing outside our house. That’s how nasty they can be. So far, we’ve not had any run-ins with them ourselves.

The only thing I miss here, is the click of paws on the floor. Sigh!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The 'Modi'fication of India

 Election Results Day, and the country seems engulfed in an orange haze. Change, they say is good, and Indians seem to have taken this very much to heart.

Like someone commented on FB, there was no Modi wave, rather, there seems to have been a Modi tsunami! All I can hope for now is that this tsunami spills well being and progress among the citizens, instead of destruction.

I had not been a Modi supporter. I did not vote for BJP, only because I didn't want BJP at the helm of the country. This was NOT because I wanted namby pamby Rahul Gandhi,(what a sad excuse for ANYTHING he is, unless it be a good Mama's boy!) or because I wanted Kejriwal either. Like I was commenting to a friend who was aghast that I hadn't voted for BJP, it was just that I was not comfortable with the fact that there were people in secular, tolerant India, who were AFRAID of Modi getting into the PM 's seat.  They may not have wanted a Congress or an AAP. But they certainly had no FEARS regarding either of them coming into power. Whereas there were strong fears over what would be the state of the nation with Modi coming to power. These fears to the best of my understanding were over secularism and the status of women.

But now that he has come to power ( And how!!), I hope that he is blessed  by God with powers to make our dear country powerful- economically, militarily, culturally, socially. That his tenure remains stable and that it can be remembered as a golden period for Indians. ( Like how in our history lessons, we learnt about the Golden Period of various emperors, I hope the next 5 years are his. For he has been projected as nothing short of an emperor these last 2 months. With men bowing to his lightest whim.)

1. I hope in his tenure, women across each and every state feel proud to be women. And are empowered to be equal citizens, walking shoulder to shoulder with men ,  in every sphere.

2. I hope that temples, mosques, churches, synagogues, gurudwaras, dargahs, all thrive in harmony. I hope religious fanatic cronies are kept on the periphery of matters, and not given undue powers or importance.

I do not profess to be very knowledgeable on the  economic and military strength of our country, but-
3. I hope that economically and militarily, we grow into a nation to be reckoned with. That Modi is able to let us blossom into a country that is prosperous, and self reliant. That we will be able to look any potential detractors in the eye, and make it very clear that aggression in any form, will not be tolerated, or taken lying down. No more Devyani Khobragades, please.

4. That we learn to be proud of our heritage. That as much as we take pride in our past, we go on to create newer landmarks, spiritually and materially.

5. I hope we hear less of corruption and scams, and more of meritocracy and efficiencies across all departments. That we have less of the super rich and super poor. That the gaps are lessened significantly between the haves and the have-nots.

6. I hope that every Indian, irrespective of caste, creed or sex,  gets water, food, electricity, and last, but not least, right to freedom of expression. Unshackled in any way.

Its a tall task, and there will be people waiting for you to take a step wrong ( as will always be the case when there are others vying for the same position).  
Here's to a good rule over the country, Mr. Modi! May you have good, capable advisors, and less of sycophants around you.  May you show your naysayers  ( I was one of them) that their fears were unfounded, and may you take our country to heights of prosperity.  God bless!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Of Gods and Goddesses

Today had a visit from our landlord, a good man, who in the course of other conversation, asked who our family deity was. And I told him that we worshipped all deities. Indeed he could see for himself that my puja room held a Vishnu and a Krishna and a Shiva and a Devi and . . . . lots more. But he was not satisfied. He insisted- you must have an ishtadevathai (favourite God)- all of us have one. . . I could see that he wanted ONE answer from me,  so I told him Shiva. He nodded in appreciation and told me that his was Lakshmi- Narasimha.

And then he told me, See, when you dig for water in a well, if you dig in the same place, even if you have to dig longer, you will ultimately get water. This saves you the bigger effort of digging in 3-4 different places. Same is the things with Gods. If you pray consistently to one God, you get more results.
I smiled, and agreed with the well-digging logic wholeheartedly. But after he left, I mulled upon that logic.

My principle is to not put all my eggs into one basket, I guess. When I pray, I pray to ALL my Gods. Starting from when I was a kid, to now when I'm the mother of a kid, from the mundane to the profound,  . I have changed allegiances, made joint petitions, I have prayed to Gods of a different religion as well, with as much faith as I did to my Hindu Gods. . . .  but never have I been consistently faithful to only one God. Some prayers were granted easily, some not, and some after a long wait, but ultimately, He/She has answered most of  my prayers. And if there has been a delay, I believe that He/She has a bigger plan for me.

The God of my childhood prayers used to be the Sundareswara in the local temple. The temple used to be the one I went most often to, and He was my fave deity, all through school and college, but even then, during exams, Saraswati used to occupy prominence.. .
When I went to University, Sundareswaran  changed avatar to Sreekantwesara, the deity at the temple in Calicut that I most often went to. And then there was Kadampuzha Bhagavathy, how can I forget Her?

Calicut University was in Malappuram district, and this temple used to be an hour's bus journey away. But the deity was a powerful one. . . The story I grew up on goes back to the days when Shiva and Parvathy were wandering as Kiratas ( tribals/hunters) . In the course of their wanderings, Parvathy developed a thirst, and wanted water. They searched some way, but couldn't find a water source. Parvathy was thirsty beyond words by now and  looked appealingly at Shiva. Shiva told her to wait there, and went hither and thither, but could still not find a river or lake or brook or spring anywhere nearby. He came back and reported to Parvathy that there was not a drop of water to be found anywhere near. A disconsolate Parvathy sank down to the ground and said she couldn't take another step till she had some water. She looked beseechingly at her husband. At this, Shiva the kaadan (forester) strung his bow and aimed his ambu (arrow)  into the ground. Lo and behold a puzha (mountain stream) gushed out. . he cupped the delicious water and gave it to Parvathy, who quenched her thirst happily. Belief has it that this place is where the Kadampuzha ( kaadan+ambu+puzha) temple is located.  The deity is Parvathy as Vanadurga. And the lore goes that here - since this is where Shiva overcame the impossible and got water for his beloved at her asking- if you ask the goddess for your heart's desire, she will prevail upon Shiva to grant it. . . The main offering here is breaking of coconuts- muttarakkal. The deity is a small idol on the ground and there is a wedge'opening in the floor in front of Her. The priest breaks the coconut and lets the water flow into the earth below,  symbolically quenching the Goddess' thirst all over again, and pleasing her. Hundreds of coconuts are broken here every day, but all that water miraculously disappears into the earth. The priests also have their way of reading the coconuts. At times, the nut does not break into 2 halves or is a nut gone bad, in which case it means that there is an obstacle to your request. To get the Goddess to overcome this obstacle, you are directed to go and get another coconut  and break it again. .  People come there in droves, to break coconuts for multiple reasons- marks, job, marriage, house, kid, overseas posting, tackling enmities. .. you can break a coconut for a non -Hindu friend too, ( you have to give the name and reason for the offering)  tho' they are not allowed into the temple.
Needless to say, along with the rest of my classmates, this was a Goddess that was visited very frequently during the 3 odd years I spend there, doing first my Masters in English Literature, and then my Masters in Business Administration.
There is another legend also, around another main offering- poomoodal- of the Kadampuzha  temple. Since Arjuna got the Pashupatastra from Shiva and Parvathy here, with which ultimately he prevailed over his enemies , the Kauravas, this legend is the reason why so many people come there for resolution of their shatrudosham ( harm from enemies). Booking for this offering however, are closed temporarily, since this has been booked for some years in advance.
Last year, during one of our trips to Calicut, when we'd been there, the temple was being renovated and we could not enter inside, nor could we break coconuts.  The Goddess has her moods, and only if she wishes it, do you get to meet her and offer her coconut water to appease her thirst. . . 

Monday, April 7, 2014

without you. . .

Tomorrow will be the 40th day since you left us.  Officially  40 days is a period of mourning for us mallus. I wonder if it ever ends, unofficially. . .

Not a day passes when you haven't been thought about, spoken about, LOVED, even more so than when you were with us, if that is possible.  There are time when my heart literally aches with wanting to run my hands over your fur. Feel your warm, live, breathng  body beneath my hands. Was this how you felt, my darling, when we left you behind at home on our Cochin and Kannur trips?

And the nights. . . those times when it'd be just you and me, either watching tv, or facebooking, or blogging (long back) and you'd curl up cosily along with me in whichever room I happened to be in. And then when it was finally time to go to bed, I'd get up and stretch, and you'd lift your head up sleepily from wherever near me you were, and thank your doggy Gods that this woman had finally seen fit to go to sleep. And we'd go together and join the Acha and Sonny boy. Where were those Gods, my darling, when you were being misdiagnosed?

Do you know that nearly every day when I get up and go to sleep, I wipe a few tears off? Do you see those tears, my darling, that no one else is allowed to see? Do you ache to lick them off my face and comfort me? But ah, there is no comfort. Only emptiness.

The Acha groans every now and then as something or the other reminds him of you. . .a fallen morsel of food, the crinkling of polythene packets that never failed to get you up and running to check enquiringly as to what was being opened. I don't think he ever expected to miss you so. But then, he'd never loved and been loved by a dog like you before. Never seen that unconditional love shining out of melting brown eyes, spread  in the house by the happy wag of your tail.

 These days when we open the car, a fragrant perfume wafts out. . . and I'd give anything in this whole wide world to have it smelling of you, and to have it looking totally unkempt with your fur peeping out from all nooks and crannies.

Sonny boy has his summer holidays. He's home with his Ammamma. He talks every day about the puppies at his Moothamma's and at the neighbour's.
About how they jump up till his knees, like you.
And how they nibble his shorts just like you.
And how they are jealous, just like you..
He told me tonight that he dreamt of you last night. Of you coming back from the dead, and that you grew flesh and then fur. He told me that you freaked him out when you came back from the dead.  but then, that you grew all that golden brown fur, "just like Trinity, and there was no patch also". And it was when he mentioned that patch, that it struck me how MUCH he misses you too.  Both of us kept quiet after he said that, each lost in our own sweet memories of you. And he said- 'she didn't deserve to die but". I couldn't agree more.

Can you come back from the dead, darling?