Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mars and Venus

When I fall ill, I tend to curl up and draw into my shell. I shun company, especially solicitude and prefer to let the sickness work its way out of my system.

When the Acha falls ill, like a man, he lurrrrves attention, mollycoddling and generally making a mountain out of a molehill.

With our two opposite natures, when I fall sick, the Acha tends to be all over me, irritating me all the more with his solicitude.
When the Acha falls sick, I tend to leave him alone, catering to his needs, but not to his wants, offending the Acha with my seeming indifference.

The refrain is more or less the same in both cases.
When I'm unwell, every ten minutes, the Acha goes- "Jayelteeeeeee, you're unwell, ayyo paavam, what do you want, darling?" And I give him a speaking look and turn over to the other side.
When he's unwell, every ten minutes the Acha goes, " Jayelteeeee, ayyyyyyooooooo, am not well at all, I think I'm dying, darling, come and sit near me and stroke my forehead/rub my back/massage my legs. . . " I give him a glare and after perfunctorily performing whatever requested, walk off, telling him to keep quiet and take rest.

Lol. Whoever said opposites attract should be shot!
Poor Acha! Unwell, and alone, and having to take care of Sonny boy and T to boot! Muahhh, darling!

A full plate

Am in Chennai today and tomorrow. And after that, my boss is going to be in Bangalore on Thurs and Fri.

The Acha has been complaining of a stomach ache for a few days now. Is more when he walks or bends and stretches. Am worried that it could be appendix related.
These are times when I wish I didn't have a high pressure job. I'd hound the man into going to the doc or for tests, cos I wouldn't have much else to think about. But now- I have too much on my plate

1. Am doing good on numbers overall, but one of my team mates isn't doing too well on his numbers, not for want of effort. But somehow the results aren't coming through. ..
2. One of my biggest revenue earners in Chennai is down to half last year's revenue. . .
3. I want to cut down on the travel,, but seem to be having to travel more than ever now. .. .
4. Have been unwell, am better, but now the Acha has caught my nasty cold. . .
5. On top of it he has this nagging stomach pain. . .
6. Am worried Sonny boy will catch cold and get unwell too. . .
7. My usual guilt at not being able to pay Sonny boy the kind of attention I'd like to  is ever present!

With all this, am irritated with the poor Acha for falling sick.
Sigh. Whoever said life is easy?

Sunday, July 28, 2013

T, Tommy, Brownie, Ghost and Blackie

I love dogs. Mine and others' and strays too. T, our Lab, has many canine neighbours who'd like to be friends with her. But since being friends with her requires also being friends with me, Madam will have none of it! Possessive to the core where I'm concerned, she chases away most dogs who come around wagging their tails when we go for our walks.

For starters there's Brownie and Tommy, two dogs who guard our apartment gate and who were already established when we moved in. One of the security guards gave Tommy its name, and the other one is a brown dog, hence Brownie. These two used to be friendly initially, but after T started growling and rushing at them aggressively, they got miffed, and decided to give tit for tat.  As a result, the whole apartment used to get roused whenever we took T out for a walk. Brownie and Tommy's favourite haunt was by the gates, in proximity to the security guards.  We'd have to pass the gate, which is when the rousing barks and snarls would begin. T, normally a most good natured and friendly dog, would metamorphose into her Hyde personality. Incensed at seeing the dogs in what she considered her territory, she would bark ferociously and strain at the leash, trying to get at them.  The dogs returned the sentiment wholeheartedly, grinning and snarling ill temperedly at T.
There was another reason for this, which we found out much later. When our maid used to take T out for her walk, she was allowed to sniff around the dogs' water bowl and food that used to be lying around (something that was a strict no-no with us). Naturally, the strays did not take this kind of intrusive behaviour lying down. Hence the mutual antipathy.
After a time, it grew to be such a scene, that I was forced to ask the guards to shoo away the dogs when we came  for our walk. I hated doing this, but there was no alternative. But even so, we'd still have an encounter on the roads, and Marley like scenes with either the Acha or I running where T led, were quite common. Which is when I decided to make friends with the dogs without T noticing.
Accordingly, the Acha would go ahead with T, while I would lag behind. Initially, I tried with some biscuits or snacks, but later just affection was enough for the dogs. They sensed that I liked them. They'd grin at T, and then once she was at a safe distance, wag their tails at me.  Gradually, the relationship grew to an extent where I'd shush the dogs instead of shooing them away, telling them that it was only us! Of course, this was also over a course of time, by when both T and the dogs had marked their boundaries and liberties, and had settled down into a wary tolerance that could snap at the least provocation.

Also by this time, lots of stray pups entered the scene- probably sired or borne by either Tommy or Brownie. And T got entirely distracted away from her old rivals. There were newer ones on the scene! But somehow, T's motherly instincts came to the fore with the pups, and  though enormously curious about them, she was never aggressive, the way she was with the adult dogs. Also the pups used to scamper away in fright whenever we drew near. Over a period, the pups grew up, but they accepted the suzerainty of T over her domain, and would slink away whenever we came close.

Until, Blackie and Ghost. These were a black dog, and a pale brown shadow of a dog respectively, both quite young, that would materialise out of nowhere when we turned onto a particular bylane.  The Ghost would stare at us unnervingly and keep its distance.  No wag of the tail here to a snap of the fingers or a whistle, just a quiet watchfulness.  As we approached it would disappear into the shrubs by the side of the road, coming out again to stare, once we'd passed.
Not so, Blackie. He was black as the night, and in the beginning, T would almost be on top of him, nosing around for a suitable shrub to pee on, before either of them realised the other's presence. A startled T would bark and make a rush for him, more out of jumpiness than any aggression, and Blackie would yelp and make a run for it, in panic.  After a couple of such bark-and-run incidents, both of them grew used to the other's presence. Blackie started to follow T on her route in his area. But his initial scare remained and he maintained a healthy distance from us. He however was responsive to gestures of affection made by me, though very warily in the beginning. The Acha would scold me for that, saying 'you'll make T jealous of her now, and soon we'll have rousing barks here too'. And the very practical Acha would shoo him off if he came too close.
But something about Blackie was very cute and I couldn't help talking affectionately to him whenever he was close.  Blackie would prick his ears in attention, and twitch his tail, but keep a  watchful eye on T and the Acha. He'd never come and rub himself against me, and lick my fingers like Tommy would. But Tommy was used to affection from the Security guards whereas Blackie was a total stray. Gradually, he came to wag his scrawny tail at my talk, and follow, but he didn't come come close enough for a sniff..

For the last 2 weeks, I'd been traveling and unwell, and had not been accompanying T on her walks. It had been the Acha and T on their own.
Yesterday, having successfully transferred my germs to the Acha, it was he who stayed back at home, while I took T for her walk.  In the distance I saw Blackie's silhouette.  He came trotting forward. His tail wagged nineteen to the dozen.  Clearly he was delighted to have me back. Not so T, who didn't appreciate the sudden closeness.  I was torn between saying a warm hello to Blackie and keeping him at a distance from T. If only the Acha had been there!  Another day, Blackie, soon. Lets just wait for the Acha to get better, so I can hand over T to him and devote some attention to you. . . 

Cheating. . . a bit!

So we near the end of the month, and I find that I only have 16 posts, instead of 28. And this is including the 2 last 2 posts. The next week, am again going to be traveling again, so I'm going to be running short of posts by the deadline. So, skewing the rules a bit, here's a review of a movie that I did sometime back on another site.  This was written some years back- before this blog came into existence.  I'm posting it as is, without making any changes to it. Cross posting IS posting, in a way. Isn't it?

I read and was touched by Movie Zombie’s review on Parzania.
It reminded me of a movie by a debutante director- Blessy, in Mollywood. The same subject, treated by a different director, which yielded another heart touching classic. 

Blessy, the director of this movie, has dedicated it to the late P. Padmarajan who was was one of the all-time greats of Mollywood and whom he used to assist . The movie is a real tribute to him. It  talks about the bond of love that can spring up and grow, between persons totally unconnected by blood/language ties. But society finds it hard to let that love flourish unhindered....

Madhavan (Mammooty) is a 16 mm film operator, who tours festival grounds screening movies. In the course of his travels, he falls across an urchin, Bhuvan (Master Yash) who decides to befriend Madhavan. Madhavan is initially irritated by the boy, especially as he cannot understand a word of what he says. But gradually he gets attached to the boy and when he goes home, takes the boy with him, as the boy is alone and friendless. He manages to gather that post the quake in Gujarat the little boy had somehow reached the shores of Kerala and landed up with street children.

Madhavan’s family consists of his wife Lakshmi (Padmapriya) and a daughter Ambili (Baby Sanusha). They too open their hearts and home to the homeless waif, especially Ambili, and soon they are like one big happy family, loving and laughing. Bhuvan saves Ambili from drowning in a flash flood and that is when Madhavan, along with us viewers, realises how much the once homeless, vagabond boy has come to mean to him.  Post this incident, the boy becomes a local hero, but that proves to be for worse than for better.

Local politicians get into the act and  question the motives behind Madhavan harboring the boy in his house and ultimately get the child put into a Juvenile Home. The entire family is distraught at the sudden turn of events. Madhavan tries to formally adopt the boy, but for this, he has to first prove that the boy’s natural parents are no more in this world. And so, Madhavan leaves for Gujarat with the child, for only Bhuvan can recognise/remember his home/parents. But Gujarat, once they get there, is nothing like the place in little Bhuvan’s dreams.  What happens next forms the end to the movie- an end that wrenches at your guts.

After reading Zombie’s review on Parzania, what struck me was that almost the same incident forms the base of the two movies- the loss of a child. But while Parzania looks at it from the point of view of the parents who have lost, and are still searching for their son (as a parent myself, my heart goes out to the parents, how terrible an ordeal every passing day must be for them! God grant that they get their son back safe and unharmed); Kazcha looks at it from the point of view of the little son who has gotten lost and is trying to find his way back to his parents, failing which, at least  get back to a family that loves him as a son.

All of the actors have slipped into their roles seamlessly. -Mammooty effortlessly portrays the gamut of emotions from tolerance to affection to the protective love of a father. He won the national award for his role in this movie. It is hard to imagine Padmapriya as a glamorous model which she is in real life- she is the epitome of a middle class Mallu housewife- a loving wife and mother. Baby Sanusha shows you how simply and unconditionally children accept  and love. The countryside scenes are typically God’s Own Country- green and lush, and with undulating backwaters and fields. The politicians are also typical politicians- they cannot see a good thing happening without having their names linked up with it, and in the process manage to muck up the whole thing and create bad out of good. The songs in this movie are a treat for the eyes and ears. The Gujju song Jugnu re where Bhuvan remembers what he can of his folks and his home, and the song Kunhe ninakku vendi which shows the love of a father for his son are especially poignant. Kerala’s monsoons are beautifully depicted in dappu dappu Janaki. Lyrics are by Kaithapram Damodaran Namboodiri and music is by Mohan Sithara. There is a foot tapping number in the backdrop of the backwaters..

But what struck me the most about this movie was the little boy Bhuvan.
Master Yash simply tugs at your heartstrings.any which way you look at it.. As a forlorn, homeless waif in the initial scenes. The way he tries to makes himself useful in little ways and sometimes ends up being more trouble than help reminds you of your own little ones at home. He worms his way into your heart with his cute little lopsided smile and chubby features. Your heart goes out to him when  seeing the happy togetherness of Madhavan’s family, he is reminded of his own mother and father, from whom he has been parted so cruelly, at so young an age. And the scene where after he rescues Ambili, everybody crowds around the girl and he feels forgotten is poignant. He knows he is part of the family, and yet he doesn’t feel enough part of the family to cry and get comforted, but then Madhavan realising this gathers him into his arms and holds him close, never to let him go, almost...
The despair and helpnessness of the household when they HAVE to let go of Bhuvan makes you feel so helpless too. And it is heartbreaking to see his bafflement at the remnants of the Gujarat of his dreams.

The movie makes you wonder about the  humanity of humans, the absolute uselessness and heartlessness of bureaucracy and at the power of love that transcends barriers of geography and language and age. And it makes you ache at the futility of certain things that have not changed in our lifetime, but maybe will in our children’s.

P. Padmarajan would be proud of his disciple Blessy Ipe Thomas’ Gurudakshina.

Finally. .. Tada!

The saga of the shoe rack finally comes to a (happy) end.

My corner stand, in my last post, was an off-shoot  of the search for the shoe rack. Finally after much traipsing around, in shops big and small, we finally found one.

I'd have much preferred a simpler one, without the slightly garish leather with the white stitches, but to tell the truth, I was fed-up and just wanted one that was big enough to hold all our current pairs, and newer ones to come.
I liked one that looked like a tallboy. The husband glared at me and told me that we'd have to maintain the number at whatever it was at currently, and to just buy the smaller one. It can barely hold the pairs of the three of us!

So- here it is- finally. :-)

Something old, something new

The Ganesha in black stone was bought before our marriage. It was bought at one of the exhibitions in Bangalore when I was staying as a PG on one of the bylanes of Brigade Road.

The terracotta Ganeshas are about 2 years old- had bought them at another exhibition somewhere. I meant to paint them, but never found the time, and so they remained in a chest of drawers till last week.

And then, this month, during the search for the shoe rack, ventured into a sale at @Home, found the corner stand.  I didn't get my shoe rack, but the corner stand followed us home.

And thus got ready my Ganesha corner . . .


Saturday, July 27, 2013


This year, Sonny boy has stopped having tuitions. He'd been having them for the last 3 years.

It was not that he needed extra coaching. It was more that since the tuitions were in the evening, we had found a way to keep him occupied till one of us at least got home. Our house keeper would stay till about 6-6.30 and then she'd have to leave. We'd reach home only post 7 in the normal scenario.  The tuition class - 4 days a week- would start at 6.30 and go on till 8.
The timing was perfect, giving us enough time to get home and for me to get into 'home' mode.  The only pity was that we got to see so little of him, where we could generally chit-chat.
But then, earlier too, there used to be no time for that. After getting back at 7, we used to have an hour or two of homework sessions- gruelling for both of us. The last thing I wanted after a day's work at office was to yell and shout at my easily distracted son. (And I was not happy with the Acha supervising homework either, for he was not bothered about the quality of writing, in the effort to finish the quantity.) It was my Mom who advised me to lookout for a tuition teacher, saying that that would be better than subjecting Sonny boy to the daily shouting scene. Though initially I scoffed at her and the idea of tuitions for a kindergarten kid, of well educated and articulate parents, looking back, it was such a lifesaver. Moms do know best! Always.

We looked out for, and found B ma'am. There's a saying that goes- When God closes a door, He opens a window somewhere. For us, God's window opened out to B ma'am. She's a gem of a person. Sincere, and dedicated to a fault. Sonny boy liked her and had a healthy respect for her. Soon, the Acha and I learned that she was a hard taskmaster, taking us to task if the son hadn't done his work. We didn't have to worry about school homework, but we had a new worry. Tuition homework!!!! And since she would call/sms both of us,  both of us took care to make Sonny boy finish his work on time- as much as possible.
When we had to shift houses in between, we took extra effort to find one on the surroundings and finally landed one in the same complex, ONLY because of her.

This year, she's moving out into her new house, which is why the tuition has stopped.  But we'll be eternally grateful to her for the period in which she took care of our son for us.  Now Sonny boy is 9 years old. Old enough to be left alone in the complex even if either of us aren't around.   But we still try and make that time as negligible as possible. Which is another reason we scouted around for other classes for him.

So now, he goes for
Carnatic music- Mon and Thurs  ( the last 2 years)
Badminton- Wed and Fri ( the last year)
Keyboard- Sat.( this summer)

He has a good ear for music, but he's not too good at the singing part.  He fails to pitch his voice high or low as required.. .  the modulation is not there. I don't know if I'm being too critical. The worst part is that, being laypersons at music, neither the Acha nor I know to tell him where and how he's going wrong. We know he's wrong, but don't want to correct him for fear that we'd be telling him the wrong thing. There has, however, been some progress over the last 2 years.

He's doing good in badminton, and has progressed to the next level.

Keyboard is a very recent addition. He started it during the summer, when he went to spend his hols with his Ammamma. And my Mom being the busy beaver she is, searched around for something to keep him occupied, and found keyboard and guitar classes. He was not too fond of the guitar- said it hurt his fingers. But he liked keyboard and wanted to continue. So- we've just found a teacher and enrolled him for classes.

The music and the badminton are in our apartment complex itself, but the keyboard classes are out. And the class lasts for an hour, which is best spent there itself. . . Which brings me to the question of whether I should also learn keyboard. Or some other musical instrument.  They also have violin classes, an instrument I've always been very fond of. Am very tempted, but am afraid that I'll not stick on. Also- I have never had any formal education in music, so am a bit diffident as well. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dark is beautiful

Stay unfair, stay beautiful, says Nandita Das in her campaign against the fairness fetish that is sweeping India like an epidemic. Till some time back, the fetish unfairly (pun intended)  applied only to girls, but now boys have also been bitten by this bug. Fairness, the great leveller, you could say.

While I was definitely not fair, my sister was darker than me. Thankfully, Mom was not the type to overly criticise us for our looks, and my sister was the lazy kind who couldn't be bothered to use all those potions- be they traditional or modern- to enhance fairness. So Dad's wallet remained intact. All we knew of fairness creams were the ads. (Vicco Turmeric was the more prevalent one. Fair & Lovely was yet to topple Vicco off the pedestal ) Till the time came for my sister to be 'seen' by prospective suitors.  No one specifically mentioned colour as a reason, but of the stream of suitors continued over 2 years. . . ! Finally, my BIL materialised right out of our backyard, so to say. Our families knew each other well, he'd taught her in college, and finally the match was arranged. But then, colour became a REAL issue! He was milk n roses fair while she was dark. The beauty regime started-  haldi, curd, athu ( husk of some plant), punnakku ( to make skin smooth . . . But the genes stuck to their stand, my sister was her dad's daughter alright! The pair got married. And in due time, were expecting an addition to the family. Started the pressure again- Everyone in your husband's family is FAIR, the baby has to be fair too, Drink saffron in milk, drink lots of fruit juices, eat that, drink this. . .  advice poured in from all quarters.

When I fell in love with the Acha, his looks had nothing to do with it. He was thin as a rake, and dark as a cloud. We used to link hands together and laugh at the fact that our fingers looked like zebra stripes. But he has a smile (still) that is literally like the sun breaking through the clouds. And he has a sense of humour ( still) that can brighten up any day, no matter how bleak it may be . Relatives brought in his skin colour, but fortunately or unfortunately, they had a whole lot of other issues to think of, so I escaped the fair-dark angle. And when Sonny boy was on the way, I puked from the second month all the way to the operation theatre, so there was nothing much anyone could advise me to take for the baby's fair skin.
Sonny boy has his Acha's skin. Dry and dark. But though dry skin is an issue at home, and I take lots of effort to make his skin less dry, I'm least bothered about the colour of his skin, which is why, it came as a shock to me when in one of his rare confidences, he said- I wish I was as fair as you. This was some months back, but this memory sprang up just now. I remember asking him why he said that. He shrugged and said- Just like that... everybody in my class is fairer than me. The Acha told him that Krishna was dark, and yet he was so popular and loved by everyone. But Sonny boy was not entirely convinced. Or if he was, I think he wished to be not as special as Krishna.
And I wondered at what went on in class/school. . . At how prejudices were sown in such a young age. . .

I can understand that it will take time in India for the fair equals beautiful  syndrome to be overthrown, as far as women are concerned. It is too deep rooted a belief. But when on earth did our men catch this fetish for fair skin?? I think Shahrukh and Shahid look pathetic in their ads advocating the use of a fairness cream.  Handsome is as handsome does, is an adage that seems to be getting whittled away by Fair and Lovely. Unless we take a stand at least now.
A sparkle in your eye, a smile on your lips,  a glow on your face, a spring in your steps- these are what the young men and women of today need to strive for. And these are things that emanate from within, from being a confident, happy, healthy person. Which is all you need to be. The colour of your skin is- should be- immaterial. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Karkidakam and all that comes with it

It is the holy month of fasting for Muslims.  Hindus and Muslims have more in common than than you know-it is also the holy month for Hindus, starting from July 16th. The Karkidaka masam. Or the Ramayana masam. When traditionally, in most Hindu homes, the Ramayanam gets recited. Most temples have Ramayanam recitals too, during this month.
Closer home, my mother-in-law recites it aloud, and my Mom reads it silently, but read they both do. As for us- we do have a copy of the full Adhyathma Ramayanam that gets taken out and dusted every now and then, but we haven't yet reached the reading stage. However- the Acha's been reading C Rajagopalachari's Ramayan to Sonny boy. As of tonight, we've reached the part where Dasaratha is wailing his heart out to Kaikeyi over her heartlessness in wanting him to send his beloved son Rama away to exile for 14 years. Sonny boy as of now is captivated. While he knows the many stories and myths in bits and pieces, its the first time he's hearing the entire story together like this.

And since we were following ( or trying to ) an age-old tradition with Sonny boy, it got me thinking back to how the practice of Ramayana recitals started.

Karkidakam is the last month of the Malayalam calendar. And this used to be a period of torrential rains, when farming was an impossibility, and there would be a steep decline in crop production. The scarcity of crops led to the term karkidakapanjam (panjam meaning scarcity). This also being a period when people were prone to water borne diseases, traditionally people would sustain themselves on karkidaka kanji (gruel)- a concoction of rice and various herbs, ( my guess is that there would also be no vegetables, owing to the heavy rains, hence the kanji!) And that is how people started praying to God, and reciting his name, hoping for an alleviation in the monsoon, and for better health and better crops, and better days.

Since farmers wouldn't have much of farming to do during this period because of the  rains, this was also the month where they took rest and gave their bodies and health some good attention. Hence the custom of karkidaka raksha.(protection)  in ayurveda.

The association karkidakam has for me however, is of one of the tastiest meals I've ever had. This is because karkidakam is also the month where we remember our ancestors and offer prayers to them. While the rites and prayers are offered in the temple, more tangible things are done at home for the souls of the dead. We prepare the best loved items of the dear departed, and offer them a feast on the day of karkidaka vavu. ( new moon day) . A full 7 course (and more) sadya. With pickle and chips, and rice and curries and fish and mutton  and papad and payasam. . . . Mouthwatering, it is, always. Families get together on this day if they can to jointly prepare a feast for their loved ones. This time, when I remember my family that's passed on to the 'other side', I shall remember to click pictures and post.

The other, more recent association karkidakam has for me is of big lovely discount SALES everywhere. For karkidakam also  corresponds to the Tamil aadi, in which month it is believed to be inauspicious to start/buy anything new. Bangalore having its fair share of Mallus and Tams, every brand worth its name, comes up with a discount to entice the customer to buy. This continues to be most delightful, as all my Onam purchases (Onam, the harvest season of plenty comes immediately after karkidakam- all those prayers do indeed bear fruit) are made out of these SALES. I can afford to buy lovely stuff for my assorted relatives, and still not end a pauper. As long as the sale goes on, karkidaka panjam at least is a thing of the past.

Malayalam and me

I can read, write and converse most admirably in Malayalam, but, I have never ENJOYED reading books in my native tongue, as much as I do reading in English. Maybe because as a kid, there WERE more English books and novels that I was exposed to. Even now, I don't think that there are as many books for kids in Malayalam as there are in English. Which is sad, because I realise now that there are some beautiful writings in Malayalam as well. And I can hear the stories they tell so much better than a non-Malayali, because I know firsthand the setting, the mileu, the culture. . .

The earliest light reading that I did in Malayalam was of my Language non-detaileds. And I think a larger amount of my disinterest in the language was because of how my earlier teachers used to handle the subject. Their objective was to make us write the relevant answers in our exams. While this was admirable, and in which goal, I think they succeeded to a great extent, as far as a feel for the language was concerned, an appreciation of the felicity with which the writer expressed his views, feelings.. . they did nothing to develop a sense in children of that.This is true of my earlier English and Hindi  teachers as well, but thankfully, my Dad inculcated in me a love for the English language, that continues to this day.
In college, one of my cousins had to study a collection of Malayalam short stories in translation. Malayalam Short Stories- An Anthology , had gems by stalwarts of Malayalam Literature- Thakazhi, Uroob,Basheer and so on . I loved some of the stories in this- Rachiamma, Steadily Flows the Yamuna, A Blind Man's Contentment. . . but this was because they were a translation. I doubt if I'd have read them if those very stories had been available in Malayalam.

The next best exposure I had to Malayalam writing was the mallu weekly magazines. Any mallu who reads this would laugh, and with justification, for some of them were quite trashy. But to the best of my memory, the first Malayalam writing that I savoured was a weekly serial in Malayala Manorama- Upasana by Mallika Younis. Once this had been pronounced a hit by my Mom, grandmom and aunts ( we lived in a joint family then), I collected all the earlier magazines and thus read quite a bit of the entire story in one go.  Towards the later days into the story, there would be a rush for the paper boy, by all of us, to land hands on the magazine first and read what had happened to Lathika. . .  It was a lovely story on relationships, and even had a movie - Ente Upasana- made on it. Though the movie was a runaway hit, with popular actors Suhasini and Mammootty, I remember feeling a bit disappointed with how it did not do justice to the feelings of the protagonist, that were brought out so well in the serial. But then, that is the power of words, A picture may well be worth a thousand words, but equally, there are some writings that cannot be picturised.
However, that was about the only one that I savoured. Other writings did not hook me, and the reading was desultory,just  because the magazine happened to be handy.

Then I went on to University, to do my MA in English Literature. And paradoxically, it was there, while learning more about English language and literature, that I had my next exposure to the Malayalam language, in all its beauty. I had a Senior, and her room mate, a Junior in Chemistry, both of whom were excellent in their respective subjects, but shared a passion for Malayalam literature, and who took me along with them in their love of the language. But sadly, this did not last long. The Senior left, and the Junior had to concentrate on her Chemistry ( she also got another Zoology or Botany room mate who certainly did not appreciate an English senior coming and plonking herself in the room) . And  I went back to my English books, which was definitely easier reading for me. But the University was where I learnt to enjoy Malayalam poetry.Because till University, honestly, I did not appreciate much of English poetry either.

I left (had to) my MA incomplete when I got through the MBA entrance exam. After that, I met and fell in love with, and married my husband who enjoyed English and Malayalam writings with equal felicity.  I can write Malayalam better than him and have scored better marks than him too, but his teachers have given him a better education!  And it has been one of the things on my wishlist ever since- to read some Malayalam authors in their language, in my language.

Later, when Sonny boy came along, and started along the path of learning, the Acha, more than me, wanted to get him to learn the Malayalam letters. Maybe because he'd seen how I did not enjoy the language, inspite of having learnt it formally till the eighth standard.. . .But Sonny boy does not even have the advantage of being in Kerala, for him to learn his mother tongue. Its difficult enough for us to teach him Hindi (!!)  looks like he'll be following the same route as his mother. But I'd like him to be able to read and write Malayalam Its no mean thing to be able to converse and read and write in your mother tongue, no matter how accomplished you may be in other languages. And both the Acha and me are far from being one of those people who look down any language other than English.

In the meantime, Mayyazhi Puzhayude Theeram still awaits. . . . for the day an old lady will come strolling along.  . for her Randam Oozham at Malayalam Literature.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Delhi could make Chennai look down shamefacedly last week, when it came to the humidity levels. It was HOT and sweaty. I'd thought that the worst of the heat was over. Not quite so!
A colleague and I got out of the airport terminal onto the concourse on Mon, and the heat made me think I was standing in front of an a/c vent. I moved, but the vent moved with me... which was when I realised , there was no a/c vent. It was humid hot Delhi air.

Had a recce and various meetings across the city, and kept moving the whole week from the humidity into air conditioned cab and office interiors and it took its toll. Attended an office party to celebrate a gold medal we'd won,  and took time out to meet a good friend. By Fri when I had to leave, I had the beginnings of a sore throat.

In Bangalore, we were welcomed back by pelting showers, and we got drenched before getting into the cab headed home. To keep the windshield from misting over, the a/c had to be switched on. (Otherwise normally, I do not insist that the a/c be switched on, on the drive back home, except in those stretches near Manyata TechPark and KR Puram bridge, to escape from the noxious fumes of other vehicles).  That was it. The soreness took a stronger grip on my throat.

And on Sat when I woke up, I had a throat that was majestically sore. By afternoon, I started feeling cold, and in the evening, I shivered like with the ague, for more than half an hour.

This is the second time that I had a fit of the shivers. I remember the first time was in my previous office. It was my first job, after having taken a 3 year break for Sonny boy, and since I'd just joined, I didn't want to take leave. I sat in the boss' cabin, in the a/c ( hadn't told anyone that I had fever) and started to shiver. LOL. It would have been funny if it hadn't been a bit scary. I just couldn't stop the tremors. I went back home.  The boss thought I trying to be dramatic or whatever, I got no sympathy from him. Of all the bosses I've had, I count him as THE Hari Sadu. No one else comes close. It gives me great pleasure to write that I have moved on and ahead of that guy. Ha!

So now, am at home on a Monday. Ages since I've been on leave, and that too, on a Monday. The fever's left, the sore throat is better, I just have a head that seems to be carrying all the continents on it. And all the oceans too. Its that heavy. If only that would clear, I'm good.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


In my last post, I mentioned that this week, I was going to try and catch up with movies. Well, I certainly meant it. My flight was at 10.30 am, which meant that I did not have to wake up at the normally unearthly hours I have to wake up on, on the days I'm traveling to the airport. And so, I did not go off to sleep either. It also helped that we were flying by the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. It really is a dream compared to the other domestic flights in India.

So I got to fiddling with the screen in front of me, and finally settled on Traffic. There is this thing about Malayalam movies- when they are good, they are excellent, and when they are bad, they can be pathetic! This one, thankfully, belongs to the former category.

The movie is about how entirely unconnected families and people are connected by a bizarre set of coincidences one fine day- 16th September- at a traffic signal. And how that tenuous connection binds a spell on an audience for 2 hours.

Rehaan (Vineet Sreenivasan) is a young man who's just finished college, whose ambition is to become a journalist and make a difference to at least one life through his reporting, and who's just landed his first job in a reputed TV channel. His first assignment is to interview the Malayalam superstar- Siddharth Shankar.
Rajiv (Asif Ali) is his best friend. And Aditi (Sandhya) is his lover, who has just gotten her divorce through.
He has a doting mother (Fathima Babu), and his father (Saikumar) is an extremely successful surgeon, who loves his son, but  is very clear that he's not going to use his connections to get him a job. But once he's on his way to his first assignment, he quietly makes a few calls, to make sure that the interview is watched by those who matter.

Sudevan (Sreenivasan)  is a traffic constable, who got caught in his first ever attempt, towards the latter half of his career, at taking a bribe ( in order to fund his daughter's education), and was suspended for the same. A friend takes him to a politically connected official to get his suspension withdrawn- by paying him a bribe! After two months of staying at home, he's finally off to work, and offers his daughter a lift to school, but she turns down the offer. A hurt Sudevan comments to his understanding wife that she must be ashamed of a father who got caught taking bribes.

Abel (Kunjako Boban), a doctor, has taken the day off to celebrate his first wedding anniversary with his wife (Ramya Nambeesan). On his way home, he gives a lift to 2 friends, one of whom is an inveterate womaniser, who delights in extolling his exploits with his latest ladylove.
Maria, (Roma)  Abel's sister is a hotshot senior executive at a radio channel.

Sidharth Shankar (Rehman)  is a superstar, for whom wife, daughter, family-everything else pales into insignificance beside his all important self.  His uncomplaining, long suffering wife (Lena) is the one who nurtures their bright young teenaged  daughter through his absences at home. The daughter is unwell, but the self centered star father goes about his busy schedule  inspite of his daughter being in hospital.

On 16th September, all of them are on their way to their respective assignments.. . .
 Rehaan is getting dropped by Rajiv to the television studio.
Sreenivas is on his way to office to join back after the suspension.
Abel is on his way to join his wife for the anniversary celebrations.
Siddharth gets ready for the release of his new film. . .
 when . . . .
A  lady driver nervously speeding away from dangerous eve teasers on bikes jumps a red signal. Her car sends Rajiv's bike flying and along with it, the riders.  Rehaan, the pillion rider sans helmet, is seriously injured, and goes into coma.

This accident brings another set of people together.

Siddharth's daughter in a hospital in Palakkad, can only live if she has a heart transplant. Rehaan is a matching donor, but the distraught father refuses to take him off the ventilator. However,  Aditi and Rajiv convince the parents to donate.
Then arises the next complication. There are no flights, and the only way to get the heart  ( from Cochin to a Palakkad hospital)  is by road.  All traffic on the route would need to be called to a halt while the vehicle sped at a crazy  pace through crowded towns and villages. 150 km , in under 2 hours, in rush hour traffic.

The city Commissioner Ajmal Nazar ( Anoop Menon) refuses to endanger the lives of millions of citizens for the sake of one life. The risks involved are too great, complications that could arise numerous, chances of success minimal. However an old and venerable Dr.Simon D'Souza ( Joseprakash)  convinces him to do so.
Sudevan offers to drive the vehicle carrying the heart in an effort to wash away the stain of dishonour that clung to him post the bribing incident. Rehaan's best friend and Abel, a doctor, accompany Sudevan.
The minutely monitored, frantic race against time starts.
All goes fine, and the trio make good time, better than expected. And then, the vehicle just-disappears. It is totally untraceable.

What happens next, why the trio go off the radar, how they manage to get back on track, but then lose their way, how the Commissioner cancels the mission in despair, and how the mission gets revived again... whether Rehaan's life does indeed make a difference . . . is the riveting second half of the movie.

The movie has been excellently scripted and edited.  All characters are equally important, and bring their own nuances to the table.Their performances linger on in memory-
the sensitive, idealistic young journalist...
the long-suffering housewife who finally flares up when she needs to secure the life of her daughter... (the role got Lena Best Supporting Actress award )
the anguish of  mature parents who stand to lose their son, at a time when everything is full of promise...
the heartbreakingly difficult decision to finally donate their son's heart

Anoop Menon needs special mention as the cop who needs to make tough decisions under pressure.

Sreenivas excels in his aam aadmi roles, and this movie is no different.  I especially loved that scene in the beginning, when after getting the suspension withdrawn, the politico guy berates him for taking a bribe. Sreenivasan mutely listens, and then is prodded by his 'experienced' friend to give the guy some money. He diffidently hands over the packet, for he's just been warned NOT to give a bribe. And the guy coolly smiles acknowledgement of the amount. Is such a satire of our times. :-)
The special appearance by veteran JosePrakash is indeed special, for the succint way in which he convinces the Commissioner into carrying out this mission.

Rajesh R Pillai , the director has indeed done a commendable job, as also have Bobby-Sanjay- the script writers. The pace of the movie keeps you glued to your seat. It is a total entertainer- with bits or romance, adventure, comedy, tragedy, villainy.. Racy to the last minute, the unexpected twists, if a little far-fetched, still add to the movie. Your heart is in your mouth as you wonder what will happen next, if Rehaan's heart will make it through the Traffic.

The movie won a host of awards- best film, best director, best script, best screenplay, second best actor, trendsetter award(!). It is apparently based on an actual incident in Chennai, and has been remade in Tamil as Chennaiyil Oru Naal. It is now going to be remade in Hindi as well. Quite a tribute to the success of the movie, wouldn't you say?

So slip on the seatbelts, and get ready for the ride, people, Traffic is indeed a movie to be watched!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Movie time... yes? no?

Once upon a time, a girl had all the time in the world, but was yet to have a laptop of her own. Ergo, all the movies she saw were from the theatres- at her workplace or her hometown. Inspite of having to book tickets in advance, dress up and get out, she saw a fair number. Which led to empty wallets at the month end.

Some years down the line, the girl got married, had a kid, moved up in the rat race. In her laptop now, she has some 10 movies at least- Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu- all hit movies, that her friend at office has downloaded for her.

The bank balance still get depleted by the month end. But not because of the movies. The movies- they have been lying un-viewed for the last 6 months.

This week, hopefully, when the girl will be traveling for 4 days in the week. . . .
- she will not have to cook after getting back home from work,
-  she will have her own free time post dinner (not have to read a book to her son, or hug him close while he     makes his way to Dreamland),
- her dog will not paw her insistently to get up and walk her, talk to her
- her husband will also not be there ;-)

 . . . . she will hopefully get to see at least 2. She has
Rock On
O My God
GAW I and II

Neethane En Ponvasantham
Ethir Neechal

Arundhati ( Telugu- with subtitles)
Ala Modalaindi

Any suggestions as to which I should start with?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

How green is my Keralam!

I had to go to Kerala the last week- to Trivandrum and from there, onto Cochin. 
Bangalore was clear blue skies at 9 am, when the flight  took off. Having woken up early to roll out chappaties ( for the Acha to make for Sonny boy’s breakfast) , I fell asleep shortly after we were airborne, carefully pulling down the window shades to block out the sun. I woke up to the air hostess requesting me to raise the window shades. I raised the shades, straightened my chair and went back to sleep. The sun was most unhappy at this. Beating fiercely on my hand and neck, “enough of sleeping, lazybones, rise and SHINE!” it seemed to be telling me.  So I finally rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, yawned, stretched, and sat up straight.

Over the last 2 years, I’d been used to the  view from the skies over Delhi Mumbai, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. While there used to be spreads of green and brown at a distance from the city, nce you came near the city, it was the same story everywhere- an unendingly bland landscape of buildings, houses, apartments, roads, traffic….   There was no view to look out for. I glanced out casually. 

And was entranced by the green that I beheld below.. It was a virtual kaleidoscope of green. Any way you looked, a different green met your eyes. The sight took me back instantly to my childhood, to the return journey from the summer holidays, spent with my Dad at Tamil Nadu. We spent it in various places over the years,  as Dad had a transferable job, but one thing remained a constant on all our train journeys back to Kerala. The overnight transformation of the landscape. You went to sleep in Tamil Nadu, viewing dry arid brown. If there was any green, it was a rather strained, struggling-to-remain-so green,  And you woke up in Kerala to an exuberant, lavish, exultant green.  Fresh and thriving and glistening. Because we always returned at the onset of the monsoons.

I’d always known Kerala was beautiful, but when you live in Kerala, you tend to take all that lushness and beauty for granted.  Having been away from 'home' for more than a decade, the beauty of my land was breathtaking.   Once again, it was monsoon time, and as we drew closer to landing in Trivandrum, there were only glimpses of roads to be had. One would have to move the fronds of palm leaves in order to see the roads in their entirety. Not for nothing is it called the land of coconut trees.

And this time, another first, I saw the beachline from the plane. Beautiful, the waves lapping the shore. Thus far, had only seen it during the Chennai and Mumbai flights. . . 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

lost... and Found!!!

I was going through my old posts, and came across this one, My dearest girls, where are you..where I was bemoaning the fact that 3 close friends had lost track of one another over the years.

Its not for nothing that I am pretty active on facebook.  I've FOUND *gleeful smile* TWO of them! My hostelmates. Ap and My.

Ap is in Quatar or some such Gulf country, she has a daughter, P who sends me mails once in a while... We spoke to each other for over an hour, the first time we spoke to each other ( she'd gotten my number from My) It was as if the intervening years had disappeared, as if we were chatting to each other after coming back from a day's work from opposite hostel beds.... :-) Ooooh, it was lovely!

And My- she's in the US. She's had one more baby- another daughter, and is witnessing sibling rivalry and affection in turns.  We are in regular touch over facebook, she's grown prettier.... :-)

Now all that's left is to find what's up with Ar. Soon, I'm sure! :-)

Rape- the rape never ends...

Recently there had been a furore in the newspapers over a Malayali med student in Manipal, who was raped while she was returning from the library to her home, at night. She was grabbed and bundled by 3 men into an auto...and returned to the hostel unfortunately not intact
The media made the requisite hoo and haa.  The alleged rapists were hunted down, and at the end, 2 of them attempted suicide, fearing consequences of their heinous act.

It seemed like justice would be finally meted out...
But then, in an anticlimax, the victim said that she did not want to press charges.

While I wish that the girl has all the support to enable her to come out and press charges against the accused, I understand the girl' s side too...
You never know how long the case will get dragged on...it could go on for years,  the whole unpleasant incident will have to be thrashed out all over again, each time she needs to go to court.
The barrage of questions from the cops, the court, the prosecution, can subject the girl to a virtual rape all over again...And you never know what tangent the questioners could go off on.
There is no guarantee that the victim and her family will be safe from other violent attacks against them, physical or otherwise, by the culprits' family/friends.
The poor girl can never put her horrendous past behind her.

I cannot talk for all the rape cases in the country. But at least 2 cases are not encouraging to say the least.

The Suryanelli girl is still where she was two decades ago.  A promising young life has been scarred irrevocably. A young girl's character has been dragged through slime, time and again, by all and sundry. Even after she's been given a govt. job, the tentacles of her past do not spare her. She's been subjected to continued dishonour and shame... and not just her, her family has to suffer along with her. A happy married life, a loving husband, children, grandchildren.. these are normal dreams, of ordinary girls.  But the Suryanelli girl will never have all those. She will forever be Suryanelli Girl.Interrupted.

More recently a courageous young mother decided to come out from the shell she'd been forced to cover under by an unforgiving public. The Park Street victim decided to discard the name her rape had christened her with. And to go back to being Suzette Jordan. To try and pick up the pieces of her life, and try to help others who've had their lives similarly wrecked. Its not easy to read her story, I can't imagine how much harder it must be to live her life. I wish Suzette a happy life.

I wonder how long it'll be before a rapist get his just dues. Till then, there will continue to be rapes. And till the time comes when rapists are brought to trial swiftly, efficiently and mercilessly, their victims will go on getting raped. In court rooms, in doctors' examining rooms, in the market place, in discotheques. . .
It is one thing to wish to change the legal system in India. But it is entirely another to behave humanely towards the victims. It is entirely upto us to stop  treating her as a museum piece. A not-so-attractive one at that.  And stop subjecting her life to curious stares and comments.

One hopes the Medical student ( and other girls like her) gets justice, but more than that, I hope the girls get to build their lives all over again. That they are able to bring their dreams to fruition. That they can continue to be the unsullied pride of their families. God willing....

Friday, July 5, 2013

To aid and abet, or not

A colleague in office has fallen in love.   I act as a sounding board for her anxieties about the guy and the parents and other stuff, being a) a friend b) older than her c) having had a love marriage myself, with its share of teething problems. She is extremely close to her family, especially her dad and right now is torn between her boyfriend and her parents. Her parents are not for the guy, for various reasons, some of which reasons I empathise with.  Her mother consulted an astrologer about the match, and he came back with first a NO. Then, when the anxious mother found that there had been a mistake, he re-calculated, and came back with a YES.

The colleague doesn't believe in astrology-shastrology herself, but she's glad for the positive verdict, because now she'll have an ally in her mother, if for no reason other than the fact that the marriage is not 'doomed to failure'.

I don not know if astrology is really such a great forecaster of whether a marriage will be happy or not... I have 5 relatives in my family, all of whom have had arranged marriages, with their horoscopes matched to perfection. One of them was widowed after 5 years of marriage. 3 of them are divorced. And the one has issues. And this is just couples I know. There are many more instances of people whom I don't directly know who've been cheated by the stars that foretold a happy-ever-after ending.

I married the Acha without any matching of horoscopes.  The Acha's parents rigidly opposed the match,  for various reasons they considered important. One of the reasons was that they consulted an astrologer, who said that we would have no peace in the house, as there would be constant strife between us.  LOL. I am yet to see a couple who do NOT fight. My parents did. His parents do. My sister and husband do. My aunts and their husbands did/do. The reasons for and the intensity of the fights and the way they got resolved was different, but they all were/ are happy. ( I say were, because, my dad and one of my uncles are no more).

Its difficult enough to live in a hostel and adjust with various room-mates/inmates. And you do not have to share a bed / loo / towels with them. There is no social conditioning that ONE of you always has to cook/clean and generally take on responsibility for the collective happiness. In a marriage, all of this applies. So it is but natural that there will be some(lots) of friction at times. The wife of today, rebels against having to burn both ends of the candle herself. The husband of today is coming to terms with the fact that he will have to pull his weight equally around the house. Stereotypes die hard, but the old order is indeed changing, albeit slowly. Mutual adjustments, not one-sided compromises are the order of the day.

But I digress. Once during the courtship days, when I was really upset at the way matters seemed to be heading, I confided in a priest of a local temple I used to go to regularly.  And I told this old man that as per our horoscopes, there was to be no peace in our house, if we got married. And that the required number of  poruthams  (this is one of the terms in horoscope matching, where you are supposed to have a minimum number of matches of certain variables, for a successful partnership) was sadly lacking. At which that wise old man said that what was most important was manaporutham - a matching of minds/thoughts. And that so long as we had that, all the rest of the poruthams would either fall in place or didn't really matter.

Which brings me back to my colleague.  She's known this guy for a short while only. She does not know his parents/family. She's only seen him at his best. It is kind of a whirlwind courtship, where after some 4 meetings, the guy proposed to her on his knees in front of the Taj. Enough to turn any young girl's head.

I've heard and ready enough about love at first sight, but in real life, I am a little sceptical about these grand gestures. I like people to get to know each other really well before they decide to commit to a lifetime together.I believe family and family background, matters to a certain extent. Roses and stuff will of course be a-plenty in the initial days. But there will come a day, when they will peter out (or am I being a cynic here?)
 And so , I am torn between wanting to offer my young colleague support in her love affair, and wanting to caution her against getting overwhelmed.

I have as of now told her not to commit to the guy, but get to know him better. (They're not in the same city, and so this would take time) To get to know his parents as well.  To try and get her parents around and not rush into anything on impulse.What would be your advice, people?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The shoe rack that wasn't to be

 I've been meaning to get us a nice big show rack for quite some time now. We'd had a nice spacious shoe rack made when we had our own house. But after we shifted to our rented place for the proximity to Sonny boy's school, all our shoes/sandals have been getting accommodated on erstwhile TV stands and book shelves and cardboard boxes! With all the Rs.200/-a-pair sandals I guiltily buy  from Commercial Street every time I pass by on my way to a client, my shoes seem to have multiplied rather like rabbits. To add to it, Sonny boy has his school shoes, his badminton shoes, his going-out shoes, and his sandals ( in our days, we had a shoe and a sandal/chappal for the year!) The poor Acha just has 3 or 4.  But every time I bring it up, the Acha would say- let us get our own house, and then we can have it tailor made for the space there.I bought that logic for 3 years. And then I decided that enough was enough , and set out shoe-rack shopping with a vengeance.

I scoured all the online stores first. But my problem was that all of them were too small. I needed one that could store at least 20 comfortably. Besides, I am big on touch-and-feel before I buy. So my colleague and I physically scoured Shivaji Nagar's galis. I found a couple I really liked, but then when I came with the Acha to 'buy', and we got the things moved into the limelight, I found that they were a bit too narrow and would not hold 20. So we decided to compromise and buy another small one from Zuari to accommodate the 4-5 odd pairs that would get left out. But then, we ran into a roadblock. The same shop did not have both racks. Which meant that we'd have to pay transportation to both guys. A strict no-no from the husband. So we were back to square one!

And then last month, we found this furniture shop NEAR our home. He didn't have a ready made piece. but he had a bed, the head-board design of which we liked.  We asked him if he could make our shoe rack with that design. He said he could - it would be a plain shelf, with the design of the bed headboard for the doors. We liked the idea. The bed had been manufactured at his factory, so we could see how our shoe rack would look.. and we found it decent. But we were still worried about the space inside- width, depth etc. What if after he made it, we found that it was not upto the mark?
 'Full money-back guarantee, Sir!' the man said.
We were a little unhappy about that, it would not be nice to get something made FOR us and then not take it....At which the man said- 'Sir, I will make the piece, if you don't like it after I make it, no problem whatsoever, I will get other customers for it. I am confident about my work. You don't worry about that.'
Finally we agreed that we'd go ahead and get it made to order. He said he'd deliver it to our place in a week. Advance given of 5000/-.

The week came, and went, without the shoe rack.
We called up- what happened to our shoe rack?
The man said that since it had been raining hard, unexpectedly for the last couple of days, the polish was taking time to dry, and he'd deliver it in a couple of days. It had indeed been raining hard the previous 2 days, so we agreed to wait.
A week passed and still no sign of the shoe rack. We called. The man picked our call, pretended he couldn't hear and hung up. And refused to take our calls thereafter. Which is when the husband smelt a lot of rats.
We kept calling the whole of the next week, without any result. We called from a land phone, the man picked up, and , recognising the Acha's voice, hung up again.
Then we went over to the shop, and found that there was just a boy there, kind of caretaking. Really pissed by now, the Acha told him to tell the owner that we'd consider that the money had been given to a beggar, since obviously, we were not going to get it back. That unkind remark struck home. Another man called the Acha up shortly. And asked what the problem was, that he was the shopkeeper's brother, and that he'd ensure that the item was delivered in a week. We said that he knew very well what the problem was, and that if he meant to do business in good faith, he'd do well to either deliver the piece or return our money.
He said he'd deliver the piece in a week, ( this was well over 2 weeks from when we were supposed to get delivery). Since we'd didn't have an option, we agreed and said that we wouldn't call for a week, and that we expected to have the piece delivered then.

The week came and went without the shoe rack again. At which an irate husband decided to haunt the shop. He finally found the shopkeeper there on a Saturday ( he only came there on weekends!) Caught face to face, the man gave excuses, saying he'd run into some unforeseen losses, and was in a tight place financially, which was why the delay. At which the Acha said that if he'd mentioned this in the beginning and asked for a grace period, we'd probably have understood, but now it was too late, we just wanted the money back.
The man said that he didn't have any money with him. The amount was 5000/-
The Acha said- how can you sit there and say you don't have the money? I need it.
At which the man just sat wooden facedly.
After some more words, finally, we got a cheque for the amount- to be cashed the next week.

Today was that day. On presenting the cheque to the bank, we were told by the cashier that the account hadn't been used for over 2 years. Clearly there was no money in that account. The Acha told the lady that he wanted to present it. The lady said that  it would bounce. At which the Acha said that that was the idea, we wanted to give a police complaint.And he went on to the shop where, wonder of wonders, he found the man once again. And after a brief discussion, the man handed over cash in full to the Acha.


A highly suspicious Acha is still doubting his good stars. And is wondering whether the notes will turn out to be fake
And at the end of all this, I am still wanting my shoe rack. I think I will have to get a carpenter to make it from home... Sigh!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Between Enid and Roald..

We've been member of justbooks.com, the local lending library for the last couple of years. Our deal with them entitles us to take 3 books at a time, and ever since Sonny boy started reading, we've been encouraging him to take one as well. All of last year, he used to browse through the Chotta Bheem comics there, while the Acha and I squabbled over who got to take the third book. But this year, things have taken a turn for the better.

I had  introduced him to Roald Dahl last year, and he really liked them. He liked the writing, he liked the fact that he could share what he'd read with us, and I think one additional factor that also swayed him is that his best friend's sister is an avid reader who was suitably impressed when he said that he too had Roald Dahl. Helped him earn brownie points with his friend. Anyway, Roald Dahl is his current hero and that is that.

But then one day he came back from school all indignant. In English class, they'd been asked to share their favourite author. And on his naming his naming Roald Dahl, his teacher refused to believe him, saying that Roald Dahl books were for adults. I empathised with her- she had most probably read Uncle Oswald, or those chilling short stories that the man also wrote.
I tell you , his skill for straddling the child's world and the adult's in unparalleled. I know Uncle Oswald was how the Acha and I got introduced to Roald Dahl. The wicked writing certainly wouldn't have made us believe that he also wrote for kids! I got to know of Matilda much later...Anyway, we pacified Sonny boy saying that Roald Dahl also wrote adult books , which kids wouldn't understand, with lots of big words and all that.

Was reminded of it when, at the library, he saw Dahl's short stories ( certainly not for kids!) and grabbed onto them. Having dissuaded him from taking that, we showed him other books we'd loved as kids.
Wishing Chair? No.
Famous five? No.
Adventurous Four? No. Amma, I don't want any adventure books.
Malory Towers? Amma, I DON'T want Enid Blyton!

It seemed the skies had fallen down on my head. Not like Enid Blyton? Sacrilege! How could he not like Enid Blyton? Who was going to read all those books in our library at home, which we'd bought thinking they could be enjoyed by us and later our kid as well? I still love reading them...Sigh!

Sonny boy's favourite book is a Science Encyclopedia! My Dad would be thrilled and I'm happy too, but I don't get it. Isn't science something you study? What can you pore about for hours in an encyclopedia, for heaven's sake? The other day he was even showing something in it to Trinity, who politely tried to indulge this family member of hers who was giving her a book, instead of food ( very weird, but that's life around humans for you) There was a snippet in it on barnacles, Sonny Boy was delighted at having found out Captain Haddock's (Billions of) Blistering Barnacles and was trying to share this prized information with the dog who wandered off with a desultory wag of her tail after ensuring that there was no food involved in the exchange!

Thankfully he loves Tintin and Asterix and Amar Chitra Katha too, so all is not lost.  

July blogathon

This year, one of my resolutions was to blog more regularly, and this seemed a golden opportunity. While this blog started off as a mommy blog, I've been wanting to write about more general stuff too.
Whole sections of my life in the last couple of years have gone by undocumented, and along with it, lots of Sonny boy's growing up too, with the associated delights and non-delights. Facebook has contributed in no small measure to this irregularity too. Lots of nights, am guilty of logging into FB after I take up the laptop ostensibly to blog... what to do- it IS addictive!!!
But with all that, I miss writing, I miss the flow that comes when I finally DO sit down to write.... and I don't feel like sharing too much of me over FB with all its privacy issues...so here goes, every day of July, I shall try to faithfully keep to blogging at least one post..