Monday, April 16, 2007

old age?? no please....

Haridas was at it for the past 45 mins, sorting out spinach leaves from a huge pile of spinach. He would spend another 45 mins or so, washing and chopping the spinach fine. Haridas took so long to carry out this job daily as we has a patient of parkinson’s syndrome. His right hand shook and trembled a lot. He was unable to walk properly, while other body movements had become stiff too, and this dreaded disease had impaired his speech to such an extent, that his grand children were unable to understand his narration of panchtantra anymore. A weak eyesight, and diabetes further compounded his misery. At 76, he was anticipating and gladly willing to embrace death, which had so far eluded him. Unfortunately for him, his wife taradevi wasn’t any more fortunate than him.

She too had to spend 2 hrs daily morning, first to sweep the entire flat, and then to mop the floor. And the flat was a 2400 sq feet penthouse in the posh upmarket area of the city. It belonged to their son manish, who was a project manager with a reputed software firm. Taradevi had eyesight and hearing problems, and a cataract operation in both her eyes had further impaired her vision. Like a true “pativrata” she tried to help haridas everyday to cut vegetables, after finishing her cleaning job.

However she was prevented from doing so by radhika, manish’s wife. Radhika as a happy-go-lucky person. Enjoying life. And also enjoyed harassing her in laws. Yes, she made her in laws toil in the house from early morning till late evening. Haridas and taradevi were made to carry out most of the domestic work in the house, and in the night, were made to sleep in the passage. Their twilight years were actually nothing bus misery, anguish, and pain! Hubby manish provided tacit support to his wife by ignoring things in the garb of 12 hours of hard work. The kids were busy with their studies, friends, video games, and TV, and had less time for their grandparents.

This is one example of how the elder generation is abused in India. And this abuse is prevalent in every caste, community, and religion, irrespective of the financial status of the individual or the family. It includes mental abuse by way of sarcastic or tormenting remarks during the day, hankering for property etc, and physical abuse like making the seniors toil hard to finish the household chores, and even manhandling or beating the aged members of the house.

In the mad rush to make or mint money, and to enjoy the luxuries that present day life has to offer, even the so-called educated class has forgotten the basic responsibility that we all have towards our parents and seniors. Of course there are exceptions to this rule, there are many people who take excellent care of the elderly, respect them, even worship them, but such population is dwindling, sadly.

What most of us tend to overlook, or forget, is, that life will soon come to a full circle, very soon we too will walk into the sunset of our lives, our kids will have to cope up and adjust with us. The earlier we realize, learn, and improve, the better for all of us, and society in general.

Sunday, April 15, 2007


dove on left: hi, i am dovey!
dove on right : hi, i am lovey!
dovey: woww thats a sweet name, where are you from?
lovey: thanks, i am from mumbai, i was released along with dozens of brothers and sisters, during the inaugural function at the recent mumbai marathon
dovey: you are lucky i must say, i somehow managed to escape. a few of us were being taken to one baba bhoot nath, beyond the hills of pavagadh. baba bhootnath is known to kill us and sprinkle our blood during some strange rituals, to promise kids to childless parents.
lovey: o my god, thats bizarre! but then human beings are strange. the way they cheat their own kin....i sincerely hope that such humans are not reborn as doves, they dont deserve it. thanks to almighty i am a dove. and that too a peaceful dove!
dovey: what is a peaceful dove?
lovey: our colour......white means peace, some of our brothers are grey in color too
dovey: yes, but they are a part of us, you must have seen near the kabutarkhana outside dadar station in mumbai. we all flock together to peck at grains. not like humans who categorise their own kin into OBC, SC, ST etc......
lovey: yes....imagine reservation at kabutarkhana....shame on these humans!!
dovey: so how come you landed in pavagadh?
lovey: i was in a group migrating northwards, when i saw the hills of pavagadh, and the lush greenery, i felt like taking a look, so swooped down. i want to be independent, want to break free.... from the dove meets dove scene...:)
dovey: ha ha ha, and you met me here
lovey: yes, and nice meeting you
dovey: can i ask you something?
lovey: go ahead please......( i know what you are going to ask, u flirt!!!)
dovey: can i ask you out on a date? theres a huge banyan tree half way up the hill, you have cool westerly winds flowing thru, in the late afternoon, we can select a nice branch, would dove to know you better...oops....i mean would love to know you better
lovey: mmmm sounds ok with me.....later on maybe you can show me around the hill.

dovey: wowww that sounds cool

lovey: done! i got to leave now, getting late for lunch...

dovey: me too....see you tommorrow....!!

lovey: peace!!!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

no! no! no means no!!...i wont say cheese!!!

last month we had been pavagadh, a famous hill temple near halol, about 50 kms from baroda. the kalika mata temple at the top of the hill draws large crowds through out the year. the tourism deptt has made decent facilities for pilgrims and tourists. there is a hotel at the base, where you can put up the previous evening. also available is a ropeway, that reminds me of where eagles dare, it takes 6 mins to reach the top. there are also well laid out steps for the more adventurous. i took 2 and half hrs to reach the top, so a healthy person will take less for sure. its an enjoyable climb, esp if done early morning. the entire path is dotted with tiny joints selling assorted tit bits like salted amla, lassi, chaas, pepper mint, chips, toddy, tamarind, and of course gota-n-bhajiya. on your way up one comes across animals, like the langur mom n kid pair. for once the ever hyper active baby remained stable for a few seconds to give me a nice pose...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Mrs Dubey, and the terrifying upma!!

first of all I do not know how true this story is. A very close friend of my father mr ranade, has narrated this several times. I always used to tell ranade uncle that this cud never happen, but he always insists and says it did actually happen. A very jovial character, its always fun when he is around. We see less of him now, as he isn’t keeping very good health. God bless him!

The incident dates back to somewhere between 1961 and 1964, that’s the time my father, and ranade uncle, and several others in their group, spent at IOCL’s Guwahati Oil Refinery, in Assam. Out of a group of 10 odd friends, a few were married. One such friend was mr dubey, who was newly married, and his wife, who hailed from garhwal, had just very recently, arrived from garhwal.
On a Sunday morning a couple of friends happened to visit dubeyjee’s place. And it was decided to have upma for breakfast.

A coy mrs dubey, hailed from the mountains of garhwal, and hadn’t the faintest of ideas of how upma is prepared. So, the two bachelor friends, and mr dubey, explained the entire upma recipe to mrs dubey, and then they spent their time chatting in the drawing room, while the lady went in the kitchen to complete the job. For the first time, she was trying her hand at preparing upma.

She made a strange mistake. Instead of taking ‘rawa’, she took another ingredient having similar physical appearance and characteristics, light off-white color, and similar granular feel. It was a local make detergent powder. I do not know what this detergent powder was doing in the kitchen but that’s how this story goes. So in went some ‘rawa’ into a kadhaai, and for a few minutes, madam dubey religiously roasted it. Later on, once she felt the ‘rawa’ was well roasted, as per instructions, she took boiling water, already kept ready on the other burner, and poured it on the rawa. The moment she did this, there was a huge ball of foam that formed over the kadhaai. This site of so much foam was so scary for mrs dubey, that she dropped the ladle in her hand and ran outside into the drawing room, screaming. I can only imagine how she must have felt, her upma going up in foam!!!

Unable to understand, the three men rushed into the kitchen, and for a few seconds were shocked to see so much foam. When mrs dubey pointed out the tin from where she had taken the rawa, things became clear, and the trio burst out laughing, an initially embarrassed mrs dubey also joining later on.

Actually mrs dubey had just arrived the previous afternoon, was joining her hubby for the first time in guwahati, and wasn’t familiar about where exactly the provisions were stacked in the kitchen store, and hence, this crazy mix-up! I have heard some amazing culinary flops or even disasters, but I guess this, if true, takes the cake.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Meera and Maya

Maya and Meera were two chirpy 9 yr olds. They were neighbours in one of the cities in India. Like millions of Indians they lived in a concrete jungle. Unlike, millions of Indians, they were blessed in a way. As their fathers had plush jobs at one of the most prestigious public sector undertakings, located in baroda. Those were not the days of Barbie dolls, burgers, malls n multiplexes, and SRK n ASH!

Those were the early seventies, the days of dev anand, waheeda, vividh bharati, and tons of masti in vacations. The life in the township was fun filled and full of amenities.

Maya and Meera were together right from the moment they left for school till it was time to say goodnite. Completely inseparable. Very similar in their likes and dislikes, yet strikingly different in their nature. Maya was gutsy, with a sort of never-say-die attitude, very generous and protective of her near and dear ones. Meera was softspoken, sweet, and extremely charming. They were probably the closest of friends that I have ever seen. During vacations it was impossible to separate them, even during the nights, which wud be spent at each other’s place alternatively. To the delight of their parents, they excelled at studies too, with the top 2 ranks sort of reserved for them all the time, exam after exam.

One afternoon they were walking back home, from school. The school was centrally located in a way so that almost everyone from the township walked down. Those days the school bags were much lighter, maybe the brains were more full. I am saying this as a few days back I had been invited at my son’s school to assess/judge some projects done by class VII, a science project, and a computers project. In the computers project, the students had prepared websites, with lots of info about themselves. I was shocked to see that almost 100% students had mentioned SRK, hrithik, abhishek, rani, preity, kajol as their idols, and their heroes, while everyone seemed to like pizzas n burgers. Anyways I always feel sad when I see the new generation totally focused on movies, malls, video games etc. it bothers me a lot.

Coming to our story, as meera and maya reached near their home, just about 50 feet from their home, a stray dog, probably rabies infected, which was passing by, suddenly lunged at Meera. Meera let out a terrifying scream. His fangs baring, the dog was about to bite her, when suddenly Maya pulled Meera, with all her strength, and flunged her to one side, and jumped in front to face the dog, trying to scare it away. The dog, not to be scared away, jumped on her and clutched her thigh. All this happened in a couple of seconds. A few vegetable vendors who were resting under a mango tree nearby, rushed to help, shouting at the same time, to scare the dog away. Meera’s mother who was outside near the verandah, also rushed out, and so did a few more neighbors, listening to the commotion.

Fortunately for maya, the dog sensed danger, and let go of her thigh, running away, but not before inflicting a deep wound on maya’s thigh. Maya was rushed to the hospital, was treated there, and subsequently had to take 14 painful injections. Eventually she got well, back in shape. We lived 3 blocks away from maya’s house, that evening we had gone to her place to find out how she was doing. My mother asked maya if she wasn’t scared to face the dog, and mentioned that she was a very brave girl to save her friend meera from a certain dog bite. Maya confidently replied to my mother, that the previous night her granny narrated to her, a story about rani laxmibai, and how courageous she was. Grandma also told her in the end, that in case of danger to one’s family and friends, one should always show the courage to face the danger, and shield and protect the family and friends at all costs. In less than 24 hours, maya had put her granny’s teachings into practice. As maya sat in her grandma’s lap, a proud grandma had tears in her eyes.

Today, dr Meera Mehta teaches laser physics at the university of Wilmington, Delaware, in the US, while dr Maya Ghosh heads SEWA, an NGO from ahmedabad. She was awarded a few years back for the exemplary work that her organization carried out in the wake of the Gujarat earthquake. And today I also take pride in telling people that this brave lady, and a wonderful person, also happens to be my ex-classmate.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

time to 'provoke' our law makers

Did you see 'provoked'? Aishwarya rai is brilliant for a change, yes…she has actually lived the role of kiranjit ahluwalia. I would love to meet kiranjit someday. After watching the film I began to wonder…
There are dozens of kiranjits probably in every village, town, and city in India. Many of them can be provoked. However, will even a single of them get justice in the end?

Kiranjit is free today, primarily because of progressive laws in the united kingdom.

When will we have progressive laws in this country? When will we have plain simple law in this country? When will law abiding citizens feel proud at doing so, in this country? When will law makers stop turning into law breakers?

Just 2 decisions by the courts in the last 10 days, one by the supreme court about staying the govt order on reservation for OBC in the elite educational institutes, and second by the UP high court about muslims not being minorities in the UP, these 2 decisions brought such huge protest by the govt, in delhi, and the one in UP, that the judiciary must be wondering now whether it makes any sense to pass judgement any more.

The only law that prevails in this country now is the law that helps to catch votes, by crook or crook, and by crook only.

This was evident in another shocking sting operation carried out 2 days back by IBN-cobra post. Shocking is an understatement, for the first time I felt sad at being an Indian.
Sometimes I wonder….dont our PM, and President watch these sting operations. Are they so helpless that forget about taking action, they refuse to say a word in public against such politicians.

I am sure many women, who identify with kiranjit, will go and watch ‘provoked’, and they might get provoked too, but they should not have any false feeling that they too will get justice in India. For that, we need to sufficiently provoke the law makers, to bring in path breaking laws in our country.

Friday, April 6, 2007

there is a bit more to just "work is worship"!

I am responding to the post below, written by my friend rambabu. Instead of putting a comment I thought of expressing my opinion by way of a small post. There are many many people that I have come across in life, both men, and women, who steadfastly believe in this age old saying “work is worship”. To some extent I also regard my work as worship.

However I have seen that some people are too rigid in following this principle of work is worship, that they don’t see anything beyond their work. And since they feel that their work is the ultimate worship, they slowly turn into atheists.
After carrying out some practical observations, I have seen a few men in the family as well as amongst people known to me. Till retirement age, work is worship for them. And one fine morning, work stops. Their only anchor in life, which was their work, is no more. They had never visited a temple, participated in a satsang, or bowed their head before a saint. These people are severely affected as soon as their work stops, and they are on a shaky ground. The first thing that grips them is the fear of death. And once this fear begins to live with them, their health is affected rapidly, the confidence levels going down pretty quick. At this juncture it is meaningless to advice such people to turn towards meditation, or prayers, or any other form of worship, as they have never known any other form of worship for all their lives.

Contrary to this, there is another category of people – the women folk!! Most women don’t stop working at the age of 58 or 60. so you will always find them more stable even at the age of 65 or 70 than their male counterparts. The reason is simple. For their entire lives they have carried out the daily pooja in their homes, as well as taken care of their responsibilities towards their homes. and secondly, since they dont really "retire", they dont have to relate to a condition of what to do for the whole day.

I do not know if the readers will agree with this, there are exceptions of course, but look around in and around your homes, friends, relatives, and you might agree to the same. To conclude, I would ask all men to engage in some form of spiritual worship in addition to their work, which of course is worship!! stability of mind is most needed at a later age i guess...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

a squeaky date!

i go to a nearby garden called sardarbagh every evening, for a 40 mins brisk walk. as usual, after finishing yesterday's walk, i spent 5 mins on the bench, before leaving for home.i noticed that 2 squirrels were running around the bench in circles. i began observing them.i assume one was a male and was chasing a female. unless they are different than us humans!

this rapid and random chase went on at a fast speed, and suddenly they froze, facing each other! then something funny happened, they came close and kissed each other, just a brief momentary touching of mouths, and then again the female started to run, while the male followed. both of them happily making squeaking noise too. every few seconds they wud stop, a few brief kisses wud take place, and start running once again. they were completely oblivious to a few people sitting on the benches, and a few more who walked along the track.

these squeaky characters were not worried about the time or the location, and merrily went about enjoying their date. and then i saw a couple enter the park, very concious, looking around for a good place to sit. and the bench sitters, as well as the walkers, started to give them some uncomfortable stares, trying to assess them. both seemed to be just 15-16 years old, maybe that was the reason they got unwanted attention from the older generation in the park. as i got up to leave, i saw my squeaky friends continue their kiss-and-run routine. and i thought to myself.... we human beings were just independent, while the animals were free, in every sense of the word!