Saturday, March 31, 2007

life changes fast........

till the first week jan this year, i was happily working in mumbai, not-so-happily living alone, happily travelling all over the country, not-so-happy with certain issues at work place. and then i decided to quit.

on 11th jan, i landed in baroda.
after reaching home i came across ibibo advt, and started to write, the blogging fever caught up soon!! by 15th feb, i came 26th and pocketed a cool 40,000/-. more than this cash award, i got to know some very good friends here on ibibo. then things took a surprise turn for me. two of my blogger friends teamed up and approached me with a story. they wanted me to write a screenplay and dialogs for this story!!! they were seriously planning an english film. woww i cudnt believe this was happening to me. i have a new passion since last week or so, i am completely engrossed in writing the screenplay. sometimes life changes faster than you anticipate. you never know, if all goes well, the movie could release early next year!

Friday, March 30, 2007

she came, she ate, and she never returned again!!!

Just a few days after we got married, my wife expressed the desire to bake a cake. I was both happy, and surprised! Happy because I have always felt that baking a good or a perfect cake is a sign of an accomplished chef. Cakes are never easy to bake, and have tormented and tested even the best of cooks. And I was surprised because I didn’t know she could prepare a cake too. Mine is an arranged marriage, and the whole process of meeting the girl, getting engaged and then the actual tying of the knot, all happened very fast, and like we both were still in the process of getting to know each other.

I gladly told her that I would extend all possible support to her in this process. We selected a Sunday afternoon, and I had brought all the ingredients as per the list that she had made. And within no time we had the dining table full of the assorted paraphernalia needed to bake a cake. Right from the different sized tiny spoons used to measure baking powder, essence etc, to the spatula, egg beater, a couple of sieves, a weighing scale, and all the ingredients were ready. My job was very specific, to have the egg whites separated from the yolks, and then to whip the whites into perfection. I was also given the job of cracking open a few walnuts. I always liked walnuts in cakes. With every bite, you should have a small piece of walnut crunch under your teeth.

Once the process of preparing the entire mixture of flour, eggs, butter, sugar, nuts, essence, and the orange rind etc was over, she decided to use an oven which we had just received a few days back as a wedding gift. I tried to suggest she should use a baking vessel we had, which we used to keep on the gas burner, but newly wed wives being newly wed wives, she refused. So in went the whole mixture in a cake mould, and into the oven. The oven was gleaming, maybe the inaugural cake made it beam with happiness!! Probably raju shrivastav could have imitated the oven too!!!

We all waited for the stipulated time, our next door lady joining a proud mother in law, and both ladies discussed all the cakes that they had earlier had baked till now. I myself quietly remembered all the cakes I had till now, from bakeries outside of course!

None of us were very confident of the oven temperature settings, but we collectively decided to have a combination of temperature settings, and the minutes on the timer. Meanwhile the aroma had begun to travel, attracting a couple of more neighbours. And then slowly this aroma changed from pleasant to something that seemed to burn. In a haste, the oven was switched off and out came the cake, it had taken a dark brown or almost blackish tint. And when we cut it open, after allowing it to cool down, the insides were fairly moist. Something terribly went wrong with the measures of the essence, and the baking soda too, as both the flavors were very strong . my wife was extremely upset and dejected, I tried to console her, and the neighbours, started to disappear fast, in order to reduce her embarrassment.

Finally after trying out a few tiny pieces, it was decided to feed the burnt baking marvel to the cow, who used to take a round in our locality every evening. To close the chapter quickly, I fed the entire cake to the cow, that evening.
She finished the cake in a jiffy, but rapidly moved her head sideways as she ate. I tried in vain to figure out what the humble animal was trying to say. After finishing the cake the cow left our area in a hurry, I had a feeling she wanted to convey something.

From that day in November 1992, till today, the cow never returned to our home again! I do see her sometimes in our locality, but she starts to run the moment I try to call her. My son, who is now 13, and knows the story, teases his mother sometimes. My wife has since then, baked excellent cakes on quite a few occasions. But that fateful day still lingers on in our memory, when a baker’s initial delight, turned into her plight , and later on became an animal’s fright!!!

Thursday, March 29, 2007

money money money..... must be funny!!!




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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

is there a way out?

I have led a very happy childhood. Its an understatement actually, I have led a dream childhood. When we came to baroda, I was just an 18 month old baby! My father worked in Indian oil corporation, and we came to stay in the refinery township, about 10 kms from baroda city. It was a very peaceful life, typical of any township belonging to a public sector company, with all the amenities, and facilities, for recreation, entertainment, as well as for the basic necessities of life. Ac occasional visit to baroda city was always very exciting, whether to watch a once-in-a-bluemoon movie, to shop and just roam around, or to visit some acquaintances.

School was fun, even walking the three quarters of a kilometer to school, and coming back in the noon, was fun. The houses were spacious and comfortable, and so was the entire layout of the township, with an ample overdose of flora and fauna. Whatever birds, and plants we used to read about, in the books, we had an opportunity to see them in and around our homes.

The other day when my son wanted to know what a babbler bird was, I took my bike, and took him, and we actually searched for a few babbler birds, as I wanted him to see what I had seen all my life, while we lived in the township.

Sadly, life has changed now. We have our own home in baroda city, located in a peaceful residential area, a comfortable home, with all facilities and amenities nearby. However, it bothers me, that life for my son, or kids in general isn’t the same anymore. Starting the day with a huge schoolbag, containing a load of books, and ending with shahrukh khan’s KBC trash, or some such meaningless program on the TV. It is not just the TV. It is everything put together. Its sickening to see kids being drawn into this whirlpool of marketing, money-making mania, and materialistic madness in general.

Every few days, we are shopping with our son, selecting a suitable return gift as he has to attend some birthday party. Kids today prefer lays, and kurkure, and cheese balls, not always because they like this stuff, but because it contains tiny kiddy gizmos. After school there is at least one coaching class to attend, reducing the time available to play. The other day I saw tiny tots doing ramp walking. A local tv channel had organized a beauty pageant!!

Fast food and ready to eat stuff has already taken over our lives. Movie stars, their affairs, and silly news about their weddings has further worsened it. Where are we exactly heading for. Doesn’t anyone feel like leaving the kids alone? I know some of you might not agree with my views here, fair enough! But those who agree with me, do you see a way out?

Monday, March 26, 2007


It has been exactly one year since the Indian team made a not-so-quiet exit from the world cup. As you are probably aware, the BCCI sacked the entire team last year and banned them for 5 years. Of course later on, the opposition walked out of the parliament as usual, some of them threatened the loksabha speaker with stumps, and finally the govt relented to their demands, and sacked the BCCI too. One eventful year has passed, and a new look Indian team is slowly winning matches in India as well as outside. So we decided to find out what happened to those banned band of boys. And this is what we found

Rahul dravid: at the request of the Chinese government, he works as a consultant to advise them on how to prevent cracks from developing in the great ‘wall’ of china. The Chinese have fondly given him a new nickname, they call him rahul ‘cement’ dravid! Every morning he is seen searching for cracks in the wall!

Robin uthappa: he was so frustrated at the BCCI for ending his budding career, that he shifted to tennis and now is set to represent India in the davis cup. A double fisted back hand drive being his favourite shot.

Virender sehwag: poor guy, for a few months he was the brand ambassador for the famous ‘kesh sawaar’ hair oil, but the company lost their business very fast, and our viru bhaiyya lost his hair too. On the najafgarh bypass, he has a small joint selling aloo parathe . He proudly has named his joint ‘princy de parathe’!

Saurav ganguly: india’s pride has now become neighbour’s envy. Dada is now the coach of Bangladesh team. He was last seen perfecting the technique of run-outs! Bangladesh being a conservative nation, dada has been instructed to wear 2 shirts all the time. Even if he sees even street cricket being played, he has a habit of removing his shirt and waving it wildly.

Sachin tendulkar: his restaurant closed down. Clients complained, the order in which food was served, kept on changing daily. Desserts were given upfront , soups came in the end , and so on. But he recently wrote a book called “1001 ways of getting out”, and it’s a huge success!!

Yuvraj singh: he, along with his girl friend, acted in a movie recently ‘lassi ke side effects’. Though the movie barely ran in india for a couple of days, it was selected for the Caribbean film festival. He is in Barbados, to promote his film.

Mahindersingh dhoni: after modeling for practically all the major shampoo brands during last one year, his female fans have somehow prevented him from having a hair cut . Now, with knee length hair, he was last week offered a lead role by mira nair, for her latest production ‘hair today, gone tommorrow’!

Ajit agarkar: he has bought sachin’s restaurant, and is confident or reviving it back to its old glory. The Nepalese cricket board recently rejected him as their bowling coach, as agarkar wanted to sign a long term 30 year contract.

Anil kumble: he produces cricket related software in Bangalore. Frequently resists offers from politicians, who want to learn from him how to throw googlies.

Harbhajan singh: he produces music videos, albums under the banner of “ball-le ball-le entertainment”. His old friend muralitharan recently inaugurated his latest album aptly named ‘teesra’.

Zaheer khan, munaf patel, irfan pathan – they started a modeling institute called ‘baroda ke bande’. There is a long waiting list to join their institute.

Sreesanth: he runs a dance academy in ernakulam, called “ the unsteady samba”. also supplies cheer leader teams on contract for cricket matches, all over the world!

Dinesh karthick: his recent book ‘behind the wicket, it was not cricket’ turned out to be a best seller. He is thinking of writing his autobiography now. Too early for him in life, to write an autobiography.

The drama begins....

The drama now begins within the next few weeks. As my friend sammy fears, there will be jerky reactions. Once the team is back from the Caribbean, the BCCI will get down to announcing some tough measures to please the fans, senior cricketers, and public opinion in general. It will be very interesting to see who makes it to the Bangladesh tour coming up in may.
In all probability greg chappell will be given a farewell. As such majority of public opinion is already against him, including some ex-cricketers.

There will be a huge debate over whether the next coach should be of foreign or Indian origin. The cricket crazy nation forgets that a good coach is a good coach, irrespective of what nationality he belongs too. World over foreign coaches have done well, but now the Indians will be in no mood to relent. BCCI will be in a hurry to show that they have taken some concrete action.

A few senior players will have to say goodbye to one-day cricket. 2 names that immediately come to my mind are kumble and harbhajan. Kumble is over the hill, lets admit, and bhajji hasn’t done anything remarkable in the recent past.

Agarkar probably might be dropped too. From the batting side, I have a feeling that sachin might announce his retirement from the limited version of the game. Sehwag might be dropped once again, this time he might be considered only after some consistent performance at the national level games. Captaincy could go back to either ganguly or yuvraj. There are some who want sachin to take over the captaincy. Sachin has been a great player but not an aggressive captain at all.

There are chances that some old faces will come back. Kaif, raina, dinesh mongia, and maybe even vvs laxman could be seen in the team soon. Pawar could return to the team too. It would be interesting to note now what would be the steps taken by the board, once the team returns. Selectors might face the sack too.

My suggestion is to scrap the zonal selection pattern, and have a 3 man selection committee consisting of any 3 former players with maximum experience at the international level. One such combination could be gavaskar, venkatraghavan, and vishwanath. Let them have a free hand bring in their team and use the Bangladesh tour as a sort of experiment. There are a billion cricket crazy fans out there, and I guess there will an equal number of aspirations and dreams.

All said and done, coming few days could change the face of Indian cricket with some major and surprising changes. I only with the BCCI members are accountable in someway too.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

should we legalize prostitution?

Yes! That’s my single word answer to this question that has been endlessly discussed in the print and electronic media, at various platforms, by hundreds of people before me, that includes both, men as well as women.

I will narrate a routine observation that I happened to make last year. I spent a week in Singapore last feb, and was put up in a hotel, located in an area known as ‘little india’. My evening routine was pretty simple, after taking a walk in the markets, and shopping malls, I used to frequent one of the open roadside beer joints, to have a couple of tiger beers, and then have a lavish dinner at a nearby south Indian restaurants, and then it was bedtime, back at my hotel. And every evening I used to visit a new place to have beer, and a new restaurant as well.

One such evening, as I finished my beer and was strolling around to search for a restaurant, I walked into a red light area. And once I knew this was the flesh market, I thought of at least having a look around. There were about 6 parallel lanes, with small row houses on both sides. Each lane was around 50 metres long. Al these houses or brothels that they really were, were open, with a pink colored tubelight in the porch. This pink light was an indication that one could buy sex here. As I walked slowly along all 6 lanes, one by one, I saw girls and women of different age, shapes, and sizes, sitting inside, or standing by the doorway, enticing clients. From their features, I could see that these girls were from different nationalities as well. In one of the lanes there were a few policemen, who had parked their bikes and were chatting amongst themselves, maybe on a regular patrol duty. A few people were operating small box like stalls selling all the sleaze stuff, CDs, magazines, posters, post cards, and various other gadgets sold in a sex shop! On the whole it was very routine, all the prostitutes carried a license, as prostitution is legalized in that country. No brokers visible anywhere, no one came after you, and I didn’t notice any shady happenings either. This surprised me, here too Singapore was ahead of us:)

Let us accept one thing. However strongly one wishes, flesh trade is never going to end completely. So why not legalize it in our country, and provide some amount of system, sensibility, and respect to this trade? These girls are humans too. There are many factors that forces them to enter this trade. But it doesn’t mean they should be subjected to constant fear, and inhuman treatment from the brothel owners, the police and the middlemen.
Legalizing prostitution will considerably reduce trafficking of girls, probably make the brothel owners and “dalals” redundant, and the lives of these women will become less painful. Their living conditions will improve to a large extent.

This is strange, but when I sit down to do some serious writing, I see a solution to every problem. And when I look around, in real life, the problems remain as they are. As a civilized society, does it reflect our unwillingness to solve these issues or our incapability? Or is it just that, collectively, we simply don’t care?

This is not just cricket

It will be a sad and gloomy weekend in india. We are out of the world cup. Some die hard cricket fans are still hoping Bermuda to beat Bangladesh. We hired a foreign coach almost 2 years back. He has made a mess of Indian cricket by constantly changing players with his stupid rotation policy. So why should we hope for a tiny nation like Bermuda to defeat Bangladesh? And why should Bangladesh get beaten? They wont. They have national pride. This is a huge problem with us Indians in general. We always hope and depend on others to do things for us. It amply displays our lack of confidence and makes a huge hole in our ability. Look at the tv channels, they are all discussing a remote possibility of Bermuda beating Bangladesh.

While teams like Australia, windies, new Zealand, and south Africa are blazing their way ahead with emphatic wins, all that we are left with is bitter feelings, introspection, hatred against the coach and a few non performers.

Yes, introspection is a word that will be in demand now. Politicians use it in India every five years, its time for the board, and the selection committee to instrospect. First of all was it really necessary to have a foreign coach? Greg chappell with all his unconventional techniques and trials, could make us beat only Bermuda. Look at it this way, for beating Bermuda, the Indian team doesn’t even need any coach.

So what has gone into these 2 years? Just rotation of players on a regular basis. Sadly, rahul dravid always supported this rotation policy. Too many players have come and gone, the confidence level of existing players looks down. Its time for a few seniors to seriously think of retiring. Yes, I am hinting at sachin tendulkar. And look at someone like harbhajan. I have always felt this bowler is highly over rated, he has rarely performed in a oneday match, very recently. Does anyone remember when he last took 3 wickets in a one day match?

After the initial euphoria, dhoni’s chinks in the armour are out in the open. After being touted as the ‘find’, sreesanth wasn’t tried at all. Why was a just recovered pathan taken in the team if he was to be kept out of all the league matches? Did ignoring kumble in the match against the lankans proved to be a costly mistake? Should karthik have been tried yesterday instead of uthappa? Dissection is easy, and putting this post on my blogsite is easiest.

But one thing is certain, our players are not extra ordinary performers, we love them yes, but we have to realize, that on the world scene, they are ordinary stars. A few behave like shining comets once in a while, sparkling for a brief period, and taking the country to temporary glory, but they still remain average players. They are all 2 match wonders, and unfortunately, our cricket crazy nation, the media, and some silly sponsors have created demi gods out of them.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


The title of this post might sound very harsh, acidic, repulsive, and violent too. But then I thought, if I am writing on the horrific acts perpetrated in our society, let the title be as horrifying, as the act itself.
This happened just yesterday, a lady in ahmedabad, fed up by the incessant demands for dowry from her in laws, and her husband, and the inhuman, and constant torcher by them, went to a local park with her 6 year old daughter, doused herself and her daughter with kerosene, and within the next few minutes, the small crowd of people were witness to a shocking scene of watching a screaming praveena, and her 6 yr old daughter dhwani, as they both burned to death.

Dhwani was deaf and mute, and praveena was blamed by her husband, 4 sisters-in-law, and the in-laws, for giving birth to a disabled child! i was both, angry and sad at the same time, at my helpness and inability to do anything to prevent such inhuman acts, that seem to be increasing by the day.

And we call ourselves belonging to a country that has an over 5000 years of rich culture and heritage, the land of rama and sita, a legacy of pandavas and draupadi, the rich values left behind by the likes of satyavaan, savitri, dhruv, eklavya, harishchandra, and dozens of saints, kings, warriors, leaders, philosophers and idealogues. Shame on us!

I still believe an average Indian child is brought up, listening to stories of panchtantra, isapneeti, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and so on. It is only the advent of a very stark materialistic attitude, sometime later, in his or her life, that brings in this mad craze for more, more, and more money. Its perfectly fine to earn more money, but to display so much greed for money that you go to the extent of burning the bride of the house? The same bride who was brought home with so much love and pride? The same bride who is also referred to the lakshmi of the house? Aren’t we defeating and demeaning the sanctity of an institution called marriage? Aren’t we worse than even the wild animals, who have their own code of conduct, and strictly remain within its framework?

Sadly, in almost all the cases of bride burning, the husband, the inlaws, and other family members are involved. This evil in our society shows no sign of decreasing. This barbaric and inhuman behaviour is, unfortunately , on the rise.

Basic education and awareness is badly the need of the hour. Subjects like moral science should be given much more prominence during the primary education, or the formative years.

Media can play a big role in creating awareness against such incidents. Much harsher anti dowry laws have to come into force. It’s a mammoth task but has to be achieved. It is only when our country is free from rapes, bride burning, and female foeticide, can we sincerely and proudly say “ Mera Bharat Mahaan”

Monday, March 19, 2007

english is a phunny intended!!!

Why only english, all languages are funny at times. It is like this, if people are not fluent in a certain language, they can unknowingly create laughter, whenever they communicate in that particular language. And when people are fluent in a certain language, they too can create laughter sometimes, with a slip or two. A friend of mine always used to narrate this. Their PT teacher once was heard saying this to all the students, who were loitering on the ground rather aimlessly. He said to them “students, please don’t just rotate here and there. If you have nothing to do, then go and understand the tree” its amazing really, too what levels one can stretch a language.

I had a room mate in Kuwait, and we often used to discuss politics, which was his favourite subject. Many a times, while we were engrossed in a sort of heated discussion, he would say this to me , getting very excited. “you will see anand, one day history will repeat himself”. I tried telling him in a very subtle manner so as to not offend him that history would normally repeat “itself” and not “himself”. But he always loved to personify history.

This guy was a strong right wing person, and for some reasons, didn’t like rajiv Gandhi at all. Once he told me “ I am really surprised why indira Gandhi wants her son rajiv to join politics. Rajiv is a pilot, and as far as politics is concerned, he has a complete lack of ignorance on the subject!!!” it took me a few seconds to figure out what he meant.

Or take this story, I am sure this is made up. A teacher in our school, once had a visitor, who was standing just outside his office. This teacher then said to him from his chair, loudly, “ please income, why are you outstanding?” I was into splits when I first heard this. Or this one about a girl who wanted to attend her friends’ “welding” (read wedding). Such distortions in the English language, or just plain lack of English have helped a lot in creating jokes too, the most famous one being……upon hearing this announcement on bandra railway station “ the fast local to churchgate is about to arrive on platform no 1”, a guy standing on the platform, at once jumped on the rail tracks. He thought the train was coming on the platform!!

at times, just one spelling mistake can make things hilarious. once my wife got a recipe for kachoris from somewhere. this is how the recipe went........" once the stuffing mixture is ready, start feeling the kachoris!!!

someone in our hometown once remarked that he didnt like to watch english movies, as they didnt have any interviews!!!

The great Big B did create a laugh or two with his famous dialogue “english is a phunny language….” in the movie namak halaal!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

manual auto!!!

I know hardly anyone is going to believe this. But this incident actually happened. Now why such amusing incidents keep on happening only in my life, is a topic that needs a discussion some other day. But one thing is certain, I have a few very unusual anecdotes to narrate, and I will be using this platform to share them with you all.

Someday when I am in my sixties, and my grand children are after me for a bedtime story, I know where I have to look for. No need to stretch my memory then! My only worry is, with the kind of lifestyle we have now, what would happen after say 20 years. Would bedtime stories still exist? And would the siblings fight for a place next to their granny, to listen to a story?

This one goes back to sometime in the early 2001, I was on a routine sales visit to ahmedabad. I had to visit the Lawrence and mayo office near parimal gardens. From baroda I traveled by a bus, got off at geeta mandir bus depot, and from there, hired a three wheeler, an ‘auto’ as it is popularly known in Gujarat, to go to parimal gardens. Just as we were crossing ellisbridge, one of the 7 bridges that ahmedabad city has, to traverse the sabarmati river, the auto driver suddenly took his vehicle to the left and halted. The clutch wire was broken he said. I was a bit upset, as I would lose time. But the auto driver was a lively character. He said he didn’t carry a spare wire, but he did have a trick up his sleeve, and said he would manage.

So he pulled the clutch wire, and tied one end to one of the bars, which are there in front of the passenger to hold, while sitting in a 3 wheeler. We were on road within 5 minutes, it was a funny site, with the driver holding the handle with his right hand, to control the accelerator, and with the left handle he was holding the clutch wire, pressing it, when he wanted to operate the clutch. I smiled to myself, admiring his resourcefulness, and his knack. As we continued our journey, some thing unimaginable happened, just after we had crossed the NID building. The accelerator wire broke too!! I started to laugh!! The auto driver too, though a bit embarrassed, couldn’t hold a smile back. I then asked him, if he ties the accelerator wire too on the other side of the bar, and then holds both the wires with both his hands, then who will hold the steering handle??? This was hilarious, and we both had a good laugh. But then the driver was a smart guy, he told me, he still had a solution, and he will see to it that in the same auto he will reach me to my destination.

Then he pulled, and tied the accelerator wire to some support down below, so that he could press this wire with his right foot. I asked him what about the rear brake? And he asked me not to worry, he would go slow, and use the front brake.
And of we went once again, this guy pressing the clutch and accelerator with a left hand-right foot combination, but we did safely reach the L&M office. I then asked him to wait for a few mins, called my friend devang vyas outside, who worked with L&M, as I wanted him to see the whole set up. He couldn’t believe what he saw! The three of us then had a ‘chai’ at the nearby tea stall, and I thanked the auto driver, who departed with a smile on his face. I thought to myself, this amazing guy was one step ahead of what amitabh bachchan did in ‘roti kapda aur makaan’ !

Thursday, March 15, 2007

shirish, shakira..... and the hips wont lie!!

The moment I opened the door, my brother shirish zoomed inside like a cruise missile, which has gone out of control due to wrong programming, and started to randomly and recklessly run inside the house, all the time shouting at the top of his voice SHAKIRA…SHAKIRA….SHAKIRA!!!

he bumped into our 80 yr old grandma who could neither see or hear shirish properly, but must have felt the impact of all of his 100 pounds, evenly distributed along his 5’10” frame, because she let out a muffled cry for help. Shirish then held her hands and did a small jig with her, leaving her in a half spin !

Shirish was my younger brother, and I called him a braying mantis! Yes that’s the only way one could have described his singing abilities combined with his skeletal frame. Cos once he was trying to imitate eminem, and was embarrassed to find a herd of donkeys passing along the road just outside our house, broke into a synchronized HEEE – HAWWW chorus.
After the samba with granny, his next destination was the dining table. He jumped on the table, moved his arms rapidly in Brownian motion, and at the same time wiggled his so called hips a la shakira, threw back his neck to face the ceiling, and attempted to croon the legendary ….ooooh I’m on tonite… hips don’t lie!!!

Before I cud get my nikon in place, to capture our very own “fakira”, shirish had descended from the dining table, and then cooled down a bit, but still, his hips continued to be in the shakira mood, as they jerked about slowly, to a rhythm.

When my mom asked shirish the reasons for his elated, yet erratic entry, shirish thrust his hands in his pocket, and out came 5 tickets, and he gave us the broadest of smiles. He held those 5 tkts close to his chest, just as a migrant Indian worker clutches to his passport, when he is on his first ever flight to dubai.And now, even I could’nt believe my eyes, shirish had got tickets to the 29th march “shakira live” concert in Mumbai, to be held at the bandra kurla complex..

Wowww! Me, and mom were excited now! The sensuous, sexy, sizzling, and seductive shakira…..would soon shake her surreal hips, and set the stage on fire in our "amchi mumbai", and we could watch her sensational samba from a distance of few metres. unbelievable ! Our entire family was a huge fan of this latin american singing diva. My sister sheetal, and dad would be excited too, to know that shirish had managed 5 priceless tickets for this “mother of all shows”!!

that evening the atmosphere in our house was full of hip wriggling shakira, sheetal came home from college, and straightaway started to play the “hips don’t lie” CD for the nth time. For the first time in many days, dad patted shirish on his back, for managing this impossible feat. and in her excitement, that evening, mom laid out a lavish menu of chicken biriyani, cucumber raita, and in the end we all had some delicious caramel custard. 29th march was just 14 days away. While at the dinner table, the only topic was what we all were going to wear on the big day. Finally our grandma had to intervene to ask us as to whether we were going to perform on stage or it was this “shameless” lady as granny wud address all present generation singers. To her, Britney spears, beyonce, and shakira were one and the same!!

As night drew close, and lights went out, at our home, for a brief few seconds, I stood on the bed, and tried to wiggle my hips, dreaming of me, and shakira, on some remote island in the Bahamas…….

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

is it a lesson for most of us?

i belong to baroda, and ever since i remember, have been getting my clothes stitched with a local tailor . the readymade stuff doesnt fit me well. my tailor, his wife, and two sons, both are hearing and speech impaired, right since birth. we are now used to communicate with him, using very basic sign language. he operates from his residence, and as far as i am concerned, he is an absolutely top class tailor.he has a habit. whenever i give him shirt or trouser length of cloth, he wud return me the balance piece of cloth, once the clothes are stitched. and he insists that we take those small odd shaped pieces of cloth back with us.

curious, at why he does this, once i decided to ask him. as usual he refused to explain, but i insisted, and wrote on a piece of paper, that i must know the reason for his returning the balance pieces of cloth back to us.he then took a piece of paper, and wrote down his explanation. what he wrote that day, shocked me, and shook me out of my senses.

this is what he meant " during our past births, its certain that me and my family must have committed some grave sins. thats the reason we have been punished now, and are unable to speak or hear. in the present birth, i do not want to perform even the slightest wrong - even if it means keeping these leftover pieces of cloth that do not belong to us. cos, in the next birth, i would like to experience the joy of speech and wud love to hear every sound with my ears. i would like to laugh and cry and chat like everybody else. so i always insist that all my customers take back those left over cloth pieces "

i leart the lesson of my life that day. a tailor without any degrees, or qualification to his credit, one who is speech and hearing impaired, had understood the essence of life. and millions of qualified and educated wise men and women, like the rest of us, we spend years reading, attending lectures, following swamis and saints, performing satsangs, going on pilgrimages, indulging in charities and so on, and yet fail to understand what it is to live like a good human being.

this man had learnt the theory of karma without maybe opening a single page of bhagwad gita. hats off to him

we can create our horoscopes in the next birth

an astrologer friend and his wife had come over to our place last week. after a while, naturally the conversation veered off in the direction of astrology and the planets and so forth. incidentally that was also the day when saturn was nearest to the earth, and this event got plenty of media coverage. i asked my friend to have a look at my horoscope, and he promised to study it in detail and provide me with some sort of career guidance, which is much needed at this stage.

while we were discussing the effects of shani (saturn), he made an unusual statement. he said " anand, we can very much decide our horoscope for the next birth." my first reaction was to casually laugh it off, then i gave it a serious thought, and given below are my conclusions in brief:

1) as per the law of karma or the theory of karma, all our actions in this life will be paid back equally in this + the next birth. assuming this -

2) lets say a person commits sin after sin after sin in this birth, then in the next life he takes birth in a family where he will have to face absolute misery, and immense problems, be it health or finance related. a stage might come in his life where, out of frustration, he curses the surroundings, the govt, the country, the circumstances etc etc. but the fact remains that by getting a miserable life in this birth, he is in fact paying for all his sins in the previous birth

3) exactly opposite of this, a man/woman of 100% virtues, cud take birth in a noble family where he or she never falls short of luxuries, a moral upbringing, and the best amenities and opportunities at his disposal. in short it would be extremely fortunate, and a privilege for a child to take birth is such a family. here again, all his good deeds in the previous birth have paid off one can say.the more i think on this the more convinced i am that it is in our hands to decide our horoscope in the next birth.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

are we humans, the most selfish race? OFCOURSE!!

first of all, let me admit, confess, and accept that i am a selfish person like every other human being on the face of this earth. from time to time, and depending on the situation, the selfishness varies.

sometime back, i was watching one of those wild life documentaries on the national geographic. i just love those movies, they are so well made. a lioness, single handed, chased, and brought down a zebra. and then, within a few minutes, an entire family of about 20 odd cats joined in the feast. the entire lunch went of peacefully, except a few skirmishes, considering the fact that these were lions, one of the wildest and strongest animals of the forest.this concept of sharing is so unique, and yet, to a large extent, missing in most of us.

it brought back to memory, a very minor incident in my life, i was in 8th class then, i am tallking of 1975 here, it was summer, and on a lazy sunday afternoon, a couple of friends, and me decided to go on the outskirts of our township, into the open area, to find, and "attack" a mango tree, so that we cud together collect some raw mangoes. just one out of the three of us (wont give his name here) was a good tree climber. he went up, and slowly started picking off mangoes, we both stood below, and collected them in a large cotton sack that we were carrying with us. after about an hour or so, we had collected a bagfull of mangoes, must be 100 odd. then we asked this guy to come down as we all had enuff. he came down, and to my surprise, divided those mangoes into 3 parts. me and my friend, who was down with me, got 5 mangoes each, and he kept the rest....almost the entire sackfull. and he coolly said that since he went up the tree and did all the hard work of climbing up the tree, he would keep most of the mangoes. hahaha.....we being kids, that was the last day of our "pakki dosti".

so coming back to the main topic now, our hindu mythology has a concept of trinity - meaning brahma , vishnu, and mahesh. now let us see the facts or rather lets face the reality, brahma is the creator. he created this 'srushti', and this 'sansaar'. and look at what we have done, we have conveniently forgotten the creator. there are hardly any brahma temples that exist in india. the explanation that i give is...who cares about brahma anymore, we are already born isnt it? now whether we thank brahma or worship him in temples, how does it matter. we cant be "unborn" anymore. so, forget brahma, and lets look further.
vishnu comes next, he is supposed to maintain this cosmos. here, we arent too bad, there are a few vishnu temples in the country, there are vaishnavites, but less in comparison. we havent completely forgotten lord vishnu, as we have forgotten brahma.
and the last is shiva or mahesh. now he is reponsible for destroying the universe. oh my god ! so my death, or the manner in which i will die, is in his hands. hmmmm, i must worship him daily then.......look at the reality here. every nook and corner in every city, town, and village, you will find a shiva temple. the entire race is after lord shiva, we all want immortality, we all want to live a loooooooooong life, and even in the end we all aspire for a natural death. as is said in the mahamrutyunjaya mantra "URVARUKA MEEVA BANDHANAAT...MRUTYORMUKSHI YAMAMRUTAAM" O LORD.....JUST LIKE A RIPE WATERMELON GENTLY , AND SOFTLY BREAKS AWAY FROM THE CREEPER, WHEN WE PLUCK IT, IN THE SAME WAY......TAKE AWAY MY LIFE GENTLY AND SOFTLY.

i dont know how many of you will agree, but the above thoughts of mine, are i guess enough to impress upon your minds that we humans have conveniently forgotten the creator, pay some attention to the one who maintains us, and run after the one who is going to end it all. ample proof that we are the most selfish race amongst all living beings on this earth.dear friends, just thought of sharing whatever i feel some usual, am eager to read your feedback !!

appearances are deceptive!!!

many years ago, we had been on a trip to rajasthan. also happened to visit the nathdwara temple, and a small incident just outside the temple is etched in my mind. as we came out of the temple premises, a sadhu dressed in a loin cloth, with ash smeared on his forehead, and a few rudraksh malaas strung from his neck, sat on a small parapet, cutting an apple with a small knife, and distributing pieces to devotees as prasad.

we accepted the apple pieces. just behind us was a group of college students, all young boys, eager to display their "collegian" status at the very first available opprtunity. they not only refused the prasad, but one of them rudely remarked in english, "what a crazy guy, giving out apple pieces.... why doesnt he sit and pray instead, to get rid of this poverty he is in...."and to their shock, the sadhu gave them a very polite yet stern rebuke in excellent english! all present were stunned.

the essence of what he told them was two things. 1) never judge a person unless you know him completely, and you will never know a human being completely, so never EVER judge anyone. 2) if you cant spread positive vibes, remain as you are, at least do a big favor to this world by NOT spreading negative the students left, embarassed and ashamed, this sadhu smiled at us. he later told us that the younger generation in this country at times does behave irresonsibly, and sometimes need to be corrected a bit.we all do tend to judge people all the time, dont we?

Monday, March 12, 2007


we humans are very funny! hilariously funny!! yes, i coined this new word just now HILARIOUSLY, cos i am not worried about my english teacher anymore, now she wont say - " anand, ur grammar is simply atrocious, u better work hard on ur english haan-- i am telling u, dont use ur own words........"

now i am 44, and peacefully free from the emmas and the prides and the prejudices, and she must be nearing 70 i guess, and god bless her always!!coming to the point, we are very funny...yes we are, dont you think so? look at this, for instance. two adults are attracted to each other, and naturally come together. and this attraction is not new, M/s adam-n-eve pvt ltd started it, eons ago.....tho' as a child i always felt brooke shields and chris atkins were resonsible.....LOL........... so..... apple ka to sirf bahaana thaa..............

now as a matter of fact, these two adults are roughly 55 to 60 kgs of pure biology. yet, we say -- wow, there is such nice chemistry between them na? without a single chemical reaction, we effortlessly join chemistry with biology. not to be left behind, very soon physics comes into the picture. physics plays an important and passionate role in the lives of these 2 adults, and then after 9 months, its mathematics time when there is an addition to the family. our country, such additions are happening at an uneconomical rate, thereby changing the entire statistics of the country every few years.

so much load on statistics..........millions of couples every year show lots of love to maths(everybody's fav subject) , and in the process, change the geography of india. hmmm and then we say........kya karein, historically india has always been over populated. come to think of all started with 2 different biologies.................

6 a.m, 2nd august 1990, kuwait !

It was like any other normal Thursday, I had planned nothing specific, with 48 degrees temperature, one cant even go to the beach, as you get exhausted pretty quick. Though it was an off day for us, I got up as usual at 6 am, the sun was up, and I just lazed around in the bed, looking out at the calm sea, from the the large window of my 3rd floor apartment, located in Mangaf area, quite close to Fahaheel, a small southern suburb of Kuwait.

As my thoughts slowly shifted to the lavish breakfast that my room mate Mr Natarajan would prepare today, that would basically be a good start to an off day , a huge explosion occurred, shocking me like hell! I jumped out of the bed, shouting at the same time to my other flat mates, opened the window to look out, and that was when I spotted a fighter aircraft flying southwards. Just as I wondered whether this aircraft had anything to do with the explosion, I saw a gleaming silver colored object being released by the plane, and this object flew past our apartment building very rapidly. Within seconds there was another ear shattering explosion. All this happened very fast, in a matter of few seconds, and the aircraft was gone, suddenly everything was calm and quite. But all my other flat mates were up, and as we gathered in the hall, we all were anxious, worried, and damn scared. We picked up our phone to call a friend and the phone was dead. It is then that we sensed some thing was terribly wrong. In my 3 and half years stay in Kuwait till then, the phones never went out of order even once. We switched on the TV, and it was dead too, no channel appeared at all. I looked out of the window to find activities in almost all the apartments in the nearby surrounding buildings, some people were out on the streets, everyone looked nervous.

Very soon, we tried our last and the only option left to us, switched on the transistor radio, and tuned to the BBC. And it was already in the news. Exactly at 12 midnight, Iraq had invaded Kuwait. A million strong army, amassed at the border, had started to pour into Kuwait from the northern border town of Rumailah. BBC reported pitched battles being fought at the border, in fact the 7 am news said that Iraqi armored vehicles were on the outskirts of Kuwait city, and in an early morning missile attack, the TV, and telecom towers were hit. Very soon our friend Mr Jacob arrived, and he had brought us some first hand news, he said the tall telecom building, next to the telecom tower, on our way to Shuaiba refinery, had a huge gaping hole in it, that must have been the explosion we heard. Jacob also confirmed that the Gulf Bank, and the Al-Ahali bank ATMs were dead. No money! We were constantly listening to BBC updates, by afternoon, it reported heavy fighting outside the royal palace in Kuwait city, by late afternoon the Iraqi troops, tanks, and armored vehicles were spotted in a large number in Kuwait city. By evening, we got the first glimpse of Iraqi military, as a jeep carrying 4 soldiers, passed by our building. It was then that we realized the gravity of the situation.

We were in a foreign country, which was just invaded by a large neighbouring nation. Our only means of communication with the outside world was dead, and except for the cash that we carried, we had no way of getting any fresh cash from the banks. It gave me an eerie feeling, about how our families back in India must have reacted. That night I slept late, bracing myself for the next 27 fateful days of my life , that would take me thru the most extra ordinary experience in life, till the day I would eventually land at Mumbai airport in the early hours of 29th august, 1990.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

fish curry........ as never before!

When I announced on a Sunday morning that I was going to prepare pomfret curry, (my first ever attempt), my son rohan, who was just 6 yrs old then, was very excited. More than having home made fish curry for the first time, he was more excited at the prospect of going to the fish market, and selecting and buying the fish, and at the idea of me being in the kitchen. He is always happy when I am in the kitchen as I allow him to do certain things, like collecting and throwing the onion peels in the trash bin, fetching the knife for me, washing the tomatoes and so on. With such rich culinary experience by his side, he has now grown into an experienced cook, at the age of thirteen. He can prepare excellent maggi, and that too in two minutes ! ! !

So off we went, father-son duo, to the jetalpur road fish market, also my first visit ever to a fish market. Here, readers will note that I can prepare excellent mutton curry, have done it dozens of times, and that’s my only experience with non-veg cooking. Had never tried fish till this day. As we entered the fish market, I noticed there was so much noise and commotion, generated out of the customers who were haggling for prices, and for select cuts in some cases, and the fish vendors trying to shout, and market their stock at the top of their voices. It was then I realized why our gujarati teacher always entered our class room, stood at the entrance, and waited for us to become silent, and then remarked “ oh I am so sorry, I am looking for my class room, and I seem to have entered a fish market.”

The first thing we did was, we took a round of the entire area, that gave me a bit of confidence, and I tried to make myself look like an experienced buyer, lest the lady selling fish charges high price from me. And yes, why are the fish sellers always ladies? I have always wondered….cant men handle ‘fishy’ business?

Finally after taking one more round of the market, my son began to ask me as to why we weren’t actually buying !! my next step was to check a few pomfrets for their freshness. I had read somewhere, that one is supposed to check under the fins, and you would see bright red color if the fish is fresh. I went near a big pomfret, and tried to lift its fin, rohan partly hid behind me, and looked from there with inquisitive curiosity, and a bit of anxious fear too. He must have had a feeling that with their gaping mouths, and listless, yet wide open eyes, the fish would jump at him anytime. My clumsy attempt at lifting the fin was noticed by the lady at once, and she realized I was a first time buyer. She then pushed two of her thick black fingers under the fin and lifted and thrust the whole fish towards me, “dekho saab, ekdum taaja maal hai”. I said “ haan theek hai….isko saaf karke dena”.

A few customers, mostly Bengalis and keralites, gave me a queer look, making me feel worried whether I was getting a fresh pomfret after all. The lady then expertly cut it up into a few pieces, cleaned, and gave it to us, wrapped in a plastic bag. And we then returned home with our ‘catch’. Once home, we cleaned the fish once again with lots of salt, and then washed, and tap dried , and kept on one side.

The first step over, I got down to get the other ingredients ready. Curry leaves, lots of garlic, coconut milk (which I had asked my wife to keep ready), chopped onions and tomatoes, a few cloves, red chilli powder, a spoonful of ‘fish masala’, tamarind paste, and turmeric.
I then took the pressure pan, my favourite cooking utensil. Once the oil was hot and ready, I added the mustard seeds, curry leaves, oinions-n-garlic, cloves-n-turmeric powder, fried for a while, and then added chopped tomatoes. Another few minutes of frying, and in went the fish masala, tamarind paste, and finally the coconut milk. Then I let it simmer for a few minutes, and then added the fish pieces.

And now came the big blunder of the decade. Since I had never bothered to see a fish curry recipe, nor listen to sanjeev kapoor, I hadn’t the faintest idea in the world that fish takes just a few minutes to cook.

relying purely on my mutton curry experience, and since I had always used the same pressure pan to cook meat, I just fixed the lid of the pressure pan, and adjusted the whistle. I then asked rohan to monitor the situation, and remind me when 5 whistles were up. Rohan promptly did so. And everytime the pressure released, the kitchen was full of that exotic fish curry aroma.

Finally the big moment came… was time to take the lid off the pan, and have a first look at the feat we had achieved. Rohan was there besides me, doubly excited. Once I opened the pan, the first whiff of steam came all over my face, I closed my eyes, and absorbed the aroma, and then opened my eyes to have a look inside. What I saw inside gave me a rude jolt. The fish pieces were not there!! Nothing AT ALL. Me and rohan looked at each other. For a second I couldn’t believe my eyes. I hopelessly thrust a spoon inside and tried to rummage thru the curry, searching for the fish, and then I realized my mistake. The fish pieces had all simply dissolved under so much of pressure. That day we had an unusual lunch. “ Steaming basmati rice with disintegrated and dissolved fish curry”

Friday, March 9, 2007

the hospitable "sri" family

He: hello saar
Me: hello sir
He: I am srinivas rao
Me: I am anand patankar
He: going to rajkot or ahmedabad?
Me: baroda
He: u r working?
Me: yes, I work for a hyderbad based company, had come for the annual sales meet, now going back. What about u? taking a vacation?
He: no saar what vacation… my wife’s brother is getting married, in rajkot, so we all r going there.
Me: that’s nice. What do u do for a living?
He: yes yes! We are living in Andhra, tadepalligudam
Me: no… I mean do u work or have ur own business
He: oh yes! I have government job, senior laboratory assistant in pesticide testing lab in tadepalligudam.
Me: nice….u belong to t.p.gudam?
He: no….my wife is from there, I am from west godavari district. Heyy srikumar….dont disturb uncle, and sit nicely!! He is my eldest son …srikumar. Srikumar….say hello to uncle.
( a 5 yr old srikumar gives me a sweet smile with twinkling eyes…but doesn’t say a word, he has a whistle in his mouth, and he had been intermittently blowing thru it at different air velocities, at times, sucking the air in, andin the process, creating weird noises, for the past 20 mins or so, ever since we left secunderabad stn )
me: hello srikumar how are you?
The response is a sharp and short whistle this time
He: hahaha, srikumar is always playing with whistle, he sees the traffic policeman everyday from our balcony, wants to become like him one day. And these are my twin children srikala, and sriresh. They both are 10 yrs old.
(The well behaved twins say a polite hello to me. They both are sitting at one of the window seats, chatting in hushed tones, giggling softly and looking out of the window. Very well behaved I thought……….most cpls have one child, and while trying for the second, sometimes get twins. Here it was reverse. Oops….why shud I bother? Different couples….diff equations….diff theories…..:)
me: you have nice names, all starting with SRI…..
he: (laughing loudly) yes…and my wife is sripriya.
Me: oh .. is it?
He: Mr anand, after the kids are born, I cannot call SRI loudly, otherwise everyone answers my call….(saying this , he lets out a rocking laughter)
( a demure, and docile looking mrs rao, is partly shy and partly embarrassed at the joke her hubby just cracked…. She just gives me a fleeting smile, and looks the other way )
he: how many kids do you have mr anand?
Me: just one son…rohan, he is 9 yrs old.
He: only one child but you should have one more child, and by god’s grace, it will be a girl, your son needs company
( oh god….not again, I say to myself…..but like the others, mr rao too was genuinely concerned )
me: yes I know….but then right from the beginning, we sort of decided to follow the Chinese system.
He: then you must be liking Chinese food very much!!…. Ha ha ha ha
(another booming laugh…….one more embarrassing smile cum look from madam SRI)
he: mr anand, what about your dinner?
Me: I will order curd rice, I love curd rice!
He: no no….dont order please, you have foodd with us. This railway foodd is not good. We have brought enough. But I don’t know whether you will like Andhra food.
Me: I have lived in Hyderabad for 3 months, in 1983, for a company training, and my sincere opinion is nothing can beat Andhra food, for sheer taste, flavour, and variety!!
(this genuine statement of mine, brought beaming smiles on the faces of rao couple, and lot of pride too. Our light banter cantered along, keeping pace with the train, and soon it was dinnertime. Now mrs rao took charge of things, out came a huge shopping basket from under the berth. And I had a wonderfully delicious Andhra dinner, homemade of course. We had pooris, kurma, curd rice, tamarind rice, and my favourite gongura pickle. Mr rao went on to explain at length how each recipe was prepared, while mrs rao’s satisfied face supported him with a sweet smile every now and then. This was the only time when srikumar removed the whistle from his mouth. After a lovely dinner, me and mr rao stood in the doorway, and chatted some more, as he wanted to smoke. Finally I said a goodnight to a very jovial and hospitable mr rao, and his family, and went to occupy my upper berth. During my numerous journeys, I have often come across some very warm and nice people, and I will always remember these few hours spent with this cheerful family from Andhra Pradesh.
As the secunderabad – rajkot express entered solapur station, srikumar said a goodnight to everyone in his own style, blowing a long and final whistle

Thursday, March 8, 2007

womens' day ....... and the hidden genocide!!

According to figures, for the last 6 years, on an average 3,000 girls are killed everyday in India, because of foetal sex determination done by unethical medical practioners. Today, we are celebrating womens day. Sadly, there wont be any reduction in these figures, neither today, nor from tomorrow.

Anyways, today will be a day of some more tamasha across the country. A listless and expressionless sonia Gandhi, aided by her trusted woman Friday, ambika soni, will remain busy throughout, inaugurating programs for women, gracing podiums, receiving bouquets, and reading some more so called ‘extempore speeches.’ Prominent female politicians from other political parties, will do their bit in achieving nothing constructive.
Not to be left behind, the male politicians will also show off their capacity to contribute towards the well being of the Indian woman. There will be plenty of activity at all levels, across the country, and the media will be at its busiest.

And the “aam naari” will wonder…is this all really necessary? Will it help where it is needed most? Will the 1-per-day rapes in our capital, and those taking place elsewhere, stop? Will greedy animals stop burning brides? Will village panchayats stop parading a woman from the lower caste, naked in front of all village folks, for committing a small “mistake” like entering a temple, or expressing her love for a man of the upper caste? Will child prostitution and female trafficking to middle east countries stop? Will eve teasing stop? Will the women folk of these country EVER have their lunch earlier than the men? Will the woman get the respect from the opposite sex, that she very much deserves? And finally, will she ever be treated at par with a man? I guess, as a general statement, the answer is a sad NO to all the above questions.

Just 2 random examples – most of you know devchand from my yesterday’s post. After he got married, when he resumed office, I remember asking him casualy whether he was enjoying his married life. And his reply shocked me. He said “ anandbhai, I have told my wife, that if she wants to live in my house, she should never raise her voice against me, should obey me always, and she wont have any say in any kind of decision making!” and this was within a few days of getting married ! !

second – my maternal grandmother used to tell us, when I was a kid. She was born in karad village in maharashtra. When she was a kid, I guess in 1930s, during lunch time, only the menfolk used to get the chapattis, later on the women would eat rice, and maybe a few chapattis, if they were left ! ! doesn’t it say a lot about the way we treat a woman? One who is supposed to be a ghar ki laxmi?

I have an unusual idea, I wrote this to a national daily some 2 years back. Instead of carrying out with the useless activities on womens day, take a radical decision. Let people call it outlandish, always remember, every revolution in this world, however big or small, started with one small idea! Dissolve both the houses of parliament, and for a complete 5 years term, allow an all women loksabha, and rajyasabha to run and manage this country. Forget 33% reservation, make it 100% reservation for a full 5 year term. I am confident, the fairer sex will do a much better job, and quite a few problems that have been ailing our country for long, will have permanent solutions.

Do you know why this will never happen? Cos our men are worried, that after 5 years are over, people will want this womens’ government to run for another 5 years. The phrase “anti incumbency” will go for a toss!

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

intution? .... this one takes the cake, for sure!

This true incident dates back to june 1994. I had just returned from Saudi Arabia, and was happy to be working for a baroda based company called sigma instruments. I was into instrumentation sales, and once had to visit a client in vashi, Mumbai. On the previous evening, in the office, as I was getting ready with the preparations for the meeting on the next day in vashi, our despatch clerk, mr devchand, came to me with a cover,

“ anandbhai, this is to be sent to a client in vashi, quite near to where you are going. Why don’t you hand deliver it, since you are going all the way upto vashi?” I said to devchand “ arre yaar why don’t you give it to our regular courier guy, it will reach there in 20 rs, tomorrow morning, and I don’t have to go to this place specially for delivering a cover”.

“anand bhai, have a look at the address, it seems very closeby, looks like the next building to where you will be going…..and since you are going upto vashi…..” devchand was his usual persistent self. I wasn’t too keen to argue with him, so tried one last attempt, by casualy saying to devchand, “ come on devchand….i am leaving by tonite’s train. What if, while going to baroda rly stn, my auto suddenly overturns? so let the cover go at least by courier.....” “hey bhagwan!! anandbhai, don’t say such strange things, has your auto ever overturned in last so many years? Or have you heard autos overturning, just like that….?”

“ ok ok devchand….give me the cover, and I will do the job, first thing tomorrow morning”
I then went home, spent some time with family, packed for my 4 day tour, and as I have done for n number of times, and finally hired an auto from just near my home at around 10 pm, to go to the rly stn. This might sound bizarre to most of you. Just as we approached race course circle, the auto had to take a right turn, and there were black-n-white divider stones kept in the centre of the road. While taking a turn, somehow the driver erred in his judgement, took a sharper right turn, and the rear right wheel hit the first of the divider stones. I heard a loud thud and a jolt too, and before I could react, the auto, getting lifted from the right side, turned turtle within a second. Me and the driver were upside down.

The traffic near racecourse circle at this time of the hour was sparse, and as we tried to get ourselves out of the tangle, help arrived in form of a few passersby. I had badly bruised my forehead, right side of my face, and right arm, elbow and all. After primary inspection of myself, I realized I needed medical attention, and there was no point in going to Mumbai now. The poor auto driver was bruised too, and was trying to figure out how he could do this.

I came home, and,accompanied by my wife, went to our family doctor, woke him up in fact. He attended to me with some dressing, an injection as a precaution etc, and I went to bed. Next day I was feeling a bit roughed up, but still by afternoon, decided to go to the office. As expected, everyone in the office was shocked to see me. Devchand was the first to ask what had happened. And when I told him my auto did a flip-flop the previous night, I wish I had a camera to capture the expression on his face!

Monday, March 5, 2007


I distinctly remember it was a December night. As baroda is at its chilliest best in December, with night temperatures hovering around 10 degrees, and dropping at times to as low as 7 or 8 degrees. I was coming back from my second shift. I was in IPCL, then, my first job. The company bus, dropped us at the southern main gate of the township, from where I had to walk about just over a km and half, to reach home.
I decided to take a short cut, crossed through the stadium ground, and went around the stands. From here I had to reach the club, which was across the road at the end of the stands, and from there another 2 mins and I would be home.

The entire stretch of about 100 metres of narrow road behind the stands, was sort of eerie, with almost 5 feet tall shrubage growing on one side of the road, and only one dimly lit tubelight to provide some relief, to less fearless people like me, especially on dark no-moon nights, which it was incidentally. I attributed this co-incidence to murphy’s law, smiled at myself, and started to walk, humming “pal pal dil ke paas………” to keep me some company! I was halfway down this narrow road, when I heard footsteps behind me. A bit nervous, I turned back to see a tall and lean man, limping slightly, walking towards me. In a flash, I had images of all those limping guys, from those suspense flicks, thanks to Hitchcock, Ramsay and the likes. A bit anxious and tense, I hastened my steps, and was shocked to see over my shoulders, that he did the same too. Now I was scared, and almost broke into a run, and a hanuman chalisa, at the same time! And then I heard him call me, “anandbhai !” a guy from the horror movies, knows my name too??? I stopped, and gathered some courage, and decided to check him out.

As he neared me, I was surprised to see it was gopalbhai, our gardener! Gopalbhai, was with us for last almost 20 years, and knew me since I was a baby literally. He was almost like family, doing other odd jobs for us as well. I asked him what was he doing at this hour? He told me that he just wanted to meet me, was going home late, saw me cross the ground, and so came after me. He said “ anandbhai , I am sorry I am not able to return the 600 rupees that I had borrowed from you last month”. I was amused, and told him that it was ok and he need not bother about it, and this was neither the place, nor the time, to mention that. But he somehow expressed his regret at not being able to return the amount on time, and said sorry repeatedly. I finally told him not to bother much, and go home, and pay me back whenever he had the money.

Saying this, I continued on my way, and saw him turning back too, it was then that I recognised his familiar limp.Wondering as to why gopalbhai was so repentant today, and that too at this strange hour, at not being able to pay on time, I didn’t realize when I reached home. I rang the doorbell to find my father open the door. He was wrapped in a towel, just out of the bathroom. Ii queried "baba! How come you are having a bath at this hour? Its almost close to midnight!"

With a sombre face, he replied “ I just came back from the funeral. Our gopalbhai expired this morning!”

Sunday, March 4, 2007


As I waited in the bus, already packed, there was still some time left before we would depart. My friend, a keralite, had gone to pick up a news paper. We were at ernakulam central bus stand, and the destination was koothatakulam. I could never pronounce this name, the way keralites do it, but then I asked my friend to write it down for me, and now after so many years, 17, to be precise, I still seem to remember the spelling. I have always felt that all names have a sanctity of their own, and should never be misspelt.

As I looked out of the window, absorbing the noisy scenes, and the chaotic commotion, typical to all bus stands, a dapper looking girl, wearing a typical keralite dress resembling a gujarati chaniya choli, entered the crowded bus with a bunch of cards. She must be in her early teens, and had bright doe like eyes. They all have those dazzling, poetic eyes in the southern part of the country.

One of these days I will dedicate a full post, on the crush I had on all those attractive acresses from the south, once upon a time, during my Kuwait days…… from suhasini, shobhana, to revathy, amala, to gauthami, ambika etc. and all because of those inquisitive, and talkative eyes…!!

This girl distributed all the cards amongst the passengers in the bus.I also got one card from her. She then left the bus. I tried to figure out what was written on the card, it was all latin to me. So, not knowing what to do, on an impulse, I let the card slide out of the window. To my surprise, this girl returned after a few minutes, and started to collect the cards back. All the passengers, silently gave the cards back to her, some also offering 1 or 2 rupee coins with it. woww what a novel way of begging ! this too was an effect of the high literacy rate this state enjoys, i thought to myself, and this high tech begging was new to me. When the girl came to me, I was a bit stumped, but then I indicated I had thrown the card out of the window. At that moment, this docile looking creature turned into a chandika, and started to abuse me in the choices of malayalam explicitives, she kept on and on for a few minutes, till a fellow passenger talked to her in Malayalam, he must have asked her to pick up the card from outside the bus, and close the chapter. It was only then that she left, but not before she gave me a long and acidic stare, with the same doe-like eyes, that looked so attractive to me a few minutes ago.

And then my friend entered, carrying the local English daily, and 2 huge bananas. Or banana pakoras I should call them. They were slit length wise, stuffed with jaggery and grated coconut, and deep fried in a batter made of rice flour. Its an ultimate delicacy, you must try them someday. So then, I explained the whole episode to my friend and he had a hearty laugh, at my expense. Finally the rickety bus departed, and very soon we were going past chequered paddy fields, dotted with palm trees, swaying gently in the December breeze. An amusing incident in the bus, had kick started my divine 6 day journey into god’s own country……..

Saturday, March 3, 2007


In a not-so-short career spanning almost 24 years, I have travelled to half a dozen countries, and seen most of india too.. Being into sales and marketing, for over 15 years now, it has given me ample opportunities to interact with people from a variety of cultural background, and visit many many places. Fortunately for me, I love to eat, so it has been a satisfying gastronomical experience too.
Out of all these cities, and towns, and vilages, I have really enjoyed my stay in indore to the fullest. Mainly due to 2 reasons. People are good, and food is excellent. 2 major reasons for me to vouch for indore.the common man on the streets, be it the autowallah, or the shopkeeper, or just a passerby, is very friendly, and nornally treats you with a smile. something which is rare in a generally conservative nation like india where breaking into an impromptu smile at total strangers is considered a crime!
i was in a british county, called oxfordshire, last july, for a few days. After having a traditional and sumptuous english breakfast of bacon & friend eggs, we had some 20 mins with us before our host wud come and pick us up. as me, and my friend stood on the roadside, in the pleasant morning, absorbing the inclement english sunshine, i was stunned to see that most passersby nodded their heads at us very courteously, putting up a tight lipped, yet warm smile at us, many of them very old, both ladies, and gents. I find this trait simply amazing! I hopelessly wish we could pick up some courtesy from them.
coming back…., i have been to indore dozens of times, and the second thing i like about this city is the roadside eatery. Eating out is simply a pleasure here.You get some delicious and tasty stuff like aloo tikki, chhole puri, kachoris etc. the major attraction for me is the delicious "pohe", and jalebi made of asli ghee. If you venture out in the mornings, every 50 feet or so, along the road, you will see a huge kadhai heaped with a mountainfull of pohe.and one plate of pohe comes in a wide variety, accompanied with "usal", plain dahi, or namkeen sev, topped with coriander, anardaana, and lemon juice to add to the zing, and make it look very attractive.for people who have a sweet tooth, the fun of eating out doesnt end there. one can visit the saraafa area after 10 pm, and you can get the best of sweets, gulab jamuns, rabdi, especially badaam-pista-kesar flavored piping hot milk, and a thick and heavy shikanjee.

"chappan dukaan", as it is popularly known, is another area for foodies. it is literally a row of 56 shops serving a wide variety of food from chaat to chinese, to sweets to south indian, all at a reasonable rate, and everything is simply mouth watering. Everytime I visit this city of holkars, I anticipate an increase in these shops to more than 56, but it is still “ab tak chappan” !
any visit to indore is always eagerly awaited, i can just feel the aroma of fresh pohe run up my nostrils. so much for this nice n cool place, with some lovely food, and with people, carrying a generous smile and no attitude!

Friday, March 2, 2007

wisdom, wadas, and weekend with natarajan!

i spent 5 wonderful years of my life, in kuwait, from 1987 to 1992. worked in an oil refinery, looking after the maintenance of online process gas analysers. we lived in a 3 bedroom flat, and everyone else, other than me, in this flat, was from tamilnadu. by the time i returned to india, my mother cud never understand how can a guy return from a 5 yrs stint in an arab country, and be so used to sambar-n-rice! i owe it all to the excellent, and exotic culinary skills of my senior colleague mr s natarajan. i was a 25 yr old bachelor then, and natarajan was in his early forties. a man of wisdom, and exceedingly good at conjuring up some amazing traditional tamil recipes, i loved to spend time with him. we had a 5 day week, and on thursday mornings, natarajan used to prepare a huge pile of parappu wadai, or daal wadas, made out of chana daal, for all of us. i used to be with him during this whole process, in the kitchen. every minute spent with natarajan was a learning experience for me. he was an ocean of knowledge, whether u ask him anything from our religious scriptures, communism in russia, the civil war in the usa, our independence struggle, etc etc.weekends in kuwait were thursday n friday. we would get up early on thursday mornings too, while every one else slept, the preparation for the wadas wud begin. it wud start with him bringing his cassette player in the kitchen, and play some lilting ilayaraja numbers, or at times, he would play "suprabhatam". then he wud begin the wada process, first he would meticulously chop the onion very fine, grind the daal soaked in water overnight. next he used to grind black pepper, lots of it, coarse. he said one shud feel the pepper cracking under our teeth while eating the wadas!! mix all the above, along with salt, chopped coriander, finely chopped ginger, lots of curry leaves, and grated coconut. believe me friends, i am yet to forget the aroma of these divine wadas.and while the process wud go on i used to ask him questions, mainly on our scriptures, since he knew a lot. i remember asking him once, the reason behind hindu women putting kumkum or a bindi on the forehead. was it just to do with fashion or was there more to it? he gave me a wonderful analogy. this is what he said to me:a woman was the head of the home. lets compare the home with the universe. look at what happens in the mornings. the head of the universe, the SUN, rises early in the morning. as the sun rises, there is a crimson glow at the top first, as if nature is laying a crimson carpet for the chief guest to arrive. and then slowly the sun appears, it is crimson too. and once the sun rises, the whole world rises with it. the sun provides the energy to everyone, as people go about their daiily chores. it controls everything from the top, it is the undisputed boss for the entire day. finally at dusk, the lord decides to call it a day, taking away the red carpet, and the crimson ball with it.similarly, early morning, the lady of the house gets up first, puts a red bindi on her forehead, which resembles the sun, puts some more sindoor at the parting of the hair, this resembling the crimson glow, and goes about taking charge of the home, waking up everyone, providing them with energy(food), being in control of things, managing the entire home,and in the evenings, or at the end of the day, a job well completed, the lady goes to bed, taking off the crimson bindi, along with the sindoor. a very unusual, but an interesting comparison. you know something? sharing a secret with you all here. my respect for the lady of the house increased after hearing this explanation from natarajan.incidentally, natarajan and wife now live in trichy. with both the sons well settled, he has now retired from service. and i do miss his wisdom, and his wadas. weekends will never be the same.....