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Of hartal and weddings

March 29, 2022

The past few days have been hectic, due to my son’s impending wedding on April 28th. Lot of travel, involving preparations, invitations and other allied activities. Last week  my wife and I were in Bangalore. I got a message from my friend aaking me when I would be reaching Trivandrum, the city of the wedding. I told her that we would be reaching on the 26th, 2 days before the wedding. After  a couple of hours, she texted again, saying ‘Govind, are you aware that there is a hartal on 28th and 29th?’. My heart skipped a beat. Hartal on 28th, but the wedding is on the 28th. A lot of things were going through my mind. A lot of preparations had already gone into the arrangements. Where does one start to undo all that and redo them on a later day.

My wife, wiser of the two,said, check the news. I was staying in a service apartment, which had a TV but no valid subscription for any channels. So I had to check the news on my mobile. I searched for ‘hartal on 28th’. There was a news item which said that the tourism industry was unhappy about the 2 day complete lockdown on 28th and 29th, just when business was picking up after the pandemic enforced closure. I was crestfallen. What to do now? I was wondering how the girl’s parents, who were already in Trivandrum, for the wedding preparations, had missed out this news. I had spoken to them, a day earlier, exchanging notes, and they had not mentioned of any hartal. My wife took the mobile from my hand and read the news item. ‘Arre buddhu’ (I had been thinking that it was a term of endearment, but that day I realized that she had been stating the state of my intellect all along) she said, ‘look at the date”. What about it, it is the 28th and 29th, isn’t it, I asked. It is 28th and 29th, she replied, but March not April. In my anxiety my brain had registered the dates correctly but not the month. I let out a big sigh of relief. My friend admitted that she thought the marriage was in March.

Read more…

Balloon of Love

October 24, 2021

It was a time, when there were no social media platforms like FB, Whatsapp, Instagram,Twitter, YouTube or any such. In fact there were no mobile phones, smart or otherwise. Even landlines were rare, maybe there were one or two in each street. Everyone in the street, shared these numbers to all the relatives. Calls would come to this house, informing who they want to speak to and that they would call back after a particular time. People were really sociable. Somebody from that house would inform the family for whom the calls were meant .Usually the calls would be to inform about the birth of a child or about the death of somebody. So there was always a suspense, as one waited for the person to call again. Sometimes you didn’t even know who or from where the call had emanated because the person who would have attended the call, would not have gotten the details properly. In Dickens’ words, it was the best of times; it was the worst of times. It was in such a time, that our engagement took place in Trichur. After the engagement she went back to Baroda, and I, to Madurai, promising to be in touch.

And to be in touch, there was only one way, letters. I didn’t have a phone at home. I think she had one at her place. She had indicated that she would find it embarrassing if I called her at home. So it was letter, letter and more letters. So in the 3 or 4 months between our engagement and wedding we would have written innumerable letters to each other. As the day for her departure to Kerala for the wedding the frequency touched a frantic pace of a letter a day. We also sent greeting cards for occasions and festivals in between. It was so much fun to go select cards to suit the mood, almost getting a high, like browsing a book in a book store. I do not know if greeting cards are being sent today. The creativity of the cards of yore was extraordinary. There was one to suit every mood, funny, sentimental, romantic. One such card I received from her was this. A tiny one in a tiny envelope. The envelope is now in tatters and I still have those pieces. And this was the card.

The card said, “In the balloon of your love, I feel the new horizon of happiness”. Inside she had written, ‘It is with my bindi that I am going to close the envelope of this card. Keep it safely’. She would have found long ago that I was just hot air and not the hot air balloon taking her to new horizons of happiness. But keep it safely I have been doing for the last 31 years.

View from the ground

September 11, 2021

I am sitting in the balcony. My favourite spot for passing time. From where I am sitting, I see him down below going round in circles. He is a regular here. I have been seeing him since I was small. Back then I thought he was odd He was not like others I had seen. He was different. Or rather his head was oddly shaped. There was something protruding out from his head and flowing down to both side of his face. He constantly shook his head and occasionally waved his hands about as if he had come in contact with a live wire, frightening me sometimes. One of my brothers had died like this when he came in contact with a live wire, right in front of my eyes. One moment he was fine and the next he was shaking vigorously before he fell down and died That’s how I came to know about this live wire thing. There was a huge ruckus that day, created by my family and friends, but nothing really came out of it. One of my uncles had narrated an incidence where he had stepped on one such wire and almost got burnt. He lost a foot though. You can sometimes see him hobbling about with one foot.My mother had warned me about the dangers of live wire. Anyways this guy waving his hands furiously reminded me of the day my brother died. I remember asking my mother about his odd shape and she told me that what he had over his head was a headphone and that he was listening to music. I couldn’t make head or tail at that time but now I am a little wiser.

Today is a hot day, and I might have to move to the shade soon. I decide to sit for some more time till the sun hits my face. My sister from yonder shouts to me to be careful of him. She constantly feels that he is about to abduct her new born children and is constantly entreating everybody to be careful. He looks harmless to me, so I just keep quiet , not bothering to tell her that he is harmless. Sometimes he looks up and smiles at me. I have to admit that I feel a little afraid that he would grab me, just like my sister says, he would. But he just passes back to his circling. I have never understood this ritual. Maybe one day I will, but today is another day and the sun has started hitting on my face. Time to move. As I flap my wings, I see him still moving about flailing his arms as if he wants to fly.

Epilogue: The pandemic has forced me to the terrace for my morning and evening walks. As a routine I give rice/ bread/ chapati to the crows and some grains for the pigeons in the mornings. After I started my morning walks, the crows seemed to recognise me better. I would like to think that they are happy to see me or sometimes admonish me for being late in bringing their breakfast. I too have come to recognise some of them: there is this Napolean for the way he walks on the parapet he somehow reminds me of the illustrations of Napolean that I had seen in my childhood, his right hand thrust in his long coat, then there is Nelson because of his one blind eye and the way he turns his head to look for food, there is also the warrior, with feathers ruffled as if he had just come after a fight. They have gotten so used to me, that my proximity doesn’t frighten them. There is also a couple which had built a nest in the nearby tree and laid eggs. They consider me an intruder and keep cawing, calling for help maybe but the rest remain passive to their calls for they know that I will not harm them. The pigeons are quiet, as they go pecking on the grains that i have scattered. Some of they fly away at my slightest movement but most know that i mean no harm to them. i am fascinated with their ability to fly and their simplicity in life. All they need is a tree to live, to build a nest, raise a family, go to sleep when the sun sets and wake up at the crack of dawn. Sometimes I wish I was born as a bird. How simple life would be.Or is it really that simple. I keep wondering what they would be thinking about me and that bird’s eye view is what I have tried to present.

Pic credit:Me (for want of a better picture representing me looking up at the birds in the internet, I drew one myself. Of course, I took the artistic liberty to make me a little presentable, which I am not)

Matrimony

October 24, 2020

My son has reached marriageable age. If you are wondering how I found out, relatives, friends, all and sundry have started asking me ‘eppo kalyana sappadu poda pora? (when are you going to give us a wedding feast?). As if the feast was the most important thing, that a young man’s happin  freedo bachelorhood could be sacrificed for (let it be known that certain words were struck out for want of a better word and not because I was scared of something or somebody). So having discovered that my son had attained marriageable age, I broached the subject with him somewhere towards the end of the last year, he said he was not ready yet. Naturally I was confused, there were a majority of people who thought that the time was ripe for my son’s marriage and here was my son who thought he was not ready. Being a proud citizen of a democratic country I always valued majoritarian views, so I told him, ‘At your age I was married and you were born’, a dialogue I had resolved I would never utter, especially whenever I was subjected to the same taunt ‘At your age…..’. But that is the way the cookie crumbles. He looked at me as if to say, look where it has brought you. I got the message and agreed that I would give him one more year ‘to get ready’.

Then a couple of life changing events happened. Covid 19 and my retirement. Though initially the lockdown , was a welcome change, actually the working hours went up with no tea breaks or any unscheduled breaks at a colleague’s work station etc.  Fortunately for me it ended in a couple of months with my retirement, actually three as even after my retirement colleagues would call me for clarifications, clearing doubts. And slowly those calls too dwindled, so much for your indispensibility. Maybe it is because of my impeccable ‘Handing over notes / Knowledge transfer ‘. Anyways the lockdown had thrown a spanner in my post retirement plans or at least made me postpone them for later.I am early riser, and after my morning ablutions and morning walks, I sit with my tea and the newspaper. I have weaned myself away successfully from the TV news, but the newspaper is a daily fix I need, without which my hands wpuld start trembling.  After going through the news, solving sudoko, crossword, word scramble and other  such, I was still left with a lot of time on my hands. Of course my wife has helped me to kill time, by giving me household chores (and it appears that it is gradually increasing). Even after all this I had time to twiddle my thumbs or stare at the ceiling with occassional peeps into FB and whatsapp.

I felt like Sherlock without a case. I was getting restless. So I called up my son and told him that I was going to upload his profile on a matrimony site. I told him that with the corona around, it would take a while, maybe a year for everything to be finalized,in line with his deadline. He didn’t object much, maybe because his friends were all getting hitched one by one. I asked him for some recent photos of his to be uploaded. ‘How can anybody make a choice, by looking at photos?’, he asked. ‘ I don’t know,if you can’t  you need to find your own girl, I retorted. ‘ I don’t have the time for that, he said. ‘ Then this is the only way left’, I replied. Actually, there are a great deal of variables such as mutual preferences based on age,height, weight, colour,working status, family status, ancestral origins, parents, horoscopes, eating habits, other habits. The list could go on endlessly.  He wondered about the probability of everything falling into place.  I tried to respond philosophically saying, the girl you will marry is already born and out there somewhere, it is just time to get to her. He said, ‘technically,if I get married when I turn 50 to a 20 year old girl, that girl would be yet to be born.’ Couldn’t beat that logic though I was hoping that he would not wait to get married at 50, even if it is to a 20 year old.

And so I have been busy, scouring through profiles, answering calls from parents of girls, chatting, writing mails, video calls with my son discussing about profiles that have shown interest or those that appear interesting. On one such call he asked incredulously , ‘You guys met once and decided to get married?’.  ‘Yeah’, said my wife, ‘we did and have been married for 30 years’. To the day.

PC: Garnaik Sumeet

Other Anniversary posts:

Bonded Labour Day

Chalk and Cheese

The Journey

Donkey and the elephant (topical due to the US Presidemtial elections)

Riding into the sunset

April 27, 2020

I will turn 58, this June. Time to retire as per my employment terms. Right from the daya-cowboy-riding-a-horse-in-the-desert-joe-dator 2020 started my wife had been asking what our plans were post retirement and I would say ‘let us wait and see what life has in store for us. You will never know what surprises it will throw at you.’ I had promised that I would spell out what we would do by end March. Actually my company is in a flux for the last few years with an ongoing  insolvency proceeding. There were so many judgements, stays, appeals, counter-appeals that is always associated with a judicial process. I was hoping the new management would be in place by March end. I didn’t know whether the new dispensation would want to extend my services or whether they would let me go. I was ready for both. After running around for 34 years (well I have to say the last 4or 5 years have been quite quiet because of the aforementioned reason. More or less like pre-retirement) I was ready to hang my boots. That’s another worry. I normally wear slip ons, how the hell am I going to hang them.

I am a fatalist. It would have come out in some of my posts, if not all. I have seen people more qualified than me somewhere in the lower rungs of the ladder and some not as qualified as me, way above. I have accepted that or maybe it is just a way of covering up my laziness or ineptitude or both. The efforts you put in are just like salt in a dish. Their absence will make the dish bland, but there are invisible hands that add spices for flavour to the dish called life. You can always hold up someone and say look at her/him, for they have achieved success with their untiring efforts. And I am sure, for every such person there are countless others who would have put the same efforts if not more, who have disappeared into obscurity. This is not negativity. Acceptance is a positive thing.

In our conversations regarding my post retirement plans, my wife always would ask me what will happen between now and March. I don’t know, I would say. I was being honest. There were so many possibilities and at that time, I never imagined the Corona virus to be one of them. So here we are locked down in our houses, not knowing when this will end, counting our blessings for the resources we have, worrying about people who need charity for their daily food. My friend jokes that I would have the distinction of the being the first person in the history of mankind to be retired from home. Yeah, it could happen if it was my destiny. I will let you know if that happens.

Meanwhile, about my riding off into the sunset, I think the police would stop me and send me back home. Maybe I can get to convince them not to confisticate my vehicle.

 

 

 

Grey Matter

May 16, 2019

In exactly a weeks’ time, the great Indian tamasha would be over. The results, whichever way it goes, is not going to enthuse me. I am a skeptic. I do notgrey matter believe that it is going to make anything better for me. The election results over the last 35 years have not made any significant difference to my life. It does not matter much to me, I am fairly well off, but that, in these 70 odd years of independence, it has not made any significant difference to the lowest strata of the society is what irks me. There has been increments in their lives, but when the base is small, the growth needs to be exponential. 1 becoming 2 or 2 becoming 4 is easier than 1 million becoming 2 million or 2 million becoming 4 million. The former has not happened to the common man, but the latter seems to have happened to the powers that be, be they be in the ruling dispensation or those who seem to oppose them, as is evident in the affidavits filed by candidates of various parties about their wealth. The less said the better about the political discourse. It has reached dismal depths of indecency. Sometimes I feel all of them is in this together and behind the curtains must be laughing away to glory thinking about their gullible followers who would lay down their lives for them.

Some of them followers are my friends both in the real and virtual world. There is one thing common amongst them. They believe that the person whom they support can do no wrong and the person whom they oppose can do only wrong.. They are filled with hate just like the people they support. I have seen best friends not on talking terms because they are both on different sides of the divide. There are some odd cases where family members act like enemies. And we say politicians are divisive. Frankly, they are not. They join together for their own welfare. Have you ever seen them opposing matters that benefit them? Here we are fighting amongst ourselves for them. It is ridiculous that beautiful relationships get lost for such selfish souls. You can have opinions that are or appear to be right for you, but why should you think it will be right for others. It is the bane of the social media. One opines something. There is one group supporting it and another opposing it. And we say the politicians are polarizing. Aren’t we the ones gravitating to the poles?  Black and White. Nothing in between. Have we wondered about the shades of grey in between (I bet there will be more than 50, if we look for it). You are watching a cricket or a football match and would be supporting a particular team, but would that prevent us from going wow over an exquisite cover drive, or a kick-in from the corner that loops into the goal, by the opponent.

There is no leader capable of leading the nation without prejudice. Not one, worth fighting for. That is my skepticism talking. I wish fervently I am proved wrong. Till such time I have to lead my life and as far as possible help at least a few to lead their life. Time to use the grey matter. Or is it irrelevant?

Image courtest: Internet

The game has started

April 11, 2019

The Game has startedThe quinquennial game has started. In right earnest. Of course sometimes the games are shortened due to foul play or referee’s invention. It is a very interesting game because some players will change sides before the game starts, citing that the team they were in is not so good as they thought it to be, or because they are benched and not given a chance to play. Then, there is a team in which the players fight with each other for the first half and play together in the second half. It is even more fun for the spectators for they are given to believe that they are the ones who will choose the winner. The players instead of playing their game usually criticise their opponents for their lousy game and the other side too does the same.

One team is full of right wingers and are not bothered about it because they think the centre is theirs anyways. Whereas in the other team there are no right wingers, but only left wingers. There is centre in this team but are divided as centre forwards and centre backs. The centre forwards claim they are playing for the backwards but the centre backs reject this and say they are the true defenders of the backwards. During play the left wingers fight with the centre for some part of the game and combine beautifully during the remaining time. Coming to goal keepers, one of them says that he is not only the custodian of his team but also of the other team and all the spectators as well to boot. But the other who has still not decided whether to be a goalie or a centre midfielder stoutly pooh poohs that claim stating that he has left a few slip.

At half time it would appear that the right wingers have become left wingers and vice versa. It is because at half time the teams change sides, but the spectators remain where they are. That is the bane of the spectators, but you will not see any regret on their faces. Instead you will see pride as they go about posting selfies to prove that they had indeed been the ones who had played a part in selecting the winner. And there are those who do not want to go the stadium even though they have tickets, scornful of those in the stadium wondering what the fuss is all about. For them It does not matter which team wins, for it is not their ball game.

There will the usual fights on the ground and in the stands. There will be referee bashing. There will be expert commentary. Betting and gambling on who the winner might be. And god forbid if the game ends in a tie. Both teams then try to entice players from the other side who have scored, so that their score can also be added to their team’s. I know it is a bit confusing, but if you keep at it, you would soon start liking it. May the best team win. Be a part of it. Or you may have to wait for another 5 years Good luck.

Am I an anti-national?

March 21, 2019

10-best-Inspiring-Quotes-from-3I am happy. This is my 100th post. I have done it at an astounding speed of about 0.8 blogs/month. I started blogging (if you can call it that) somewhere in October of 2008. It has taken about 126 months to complete 100. I can only comfort myself saying it has been quality over quantity. After all you must be knowing about the story of the dog and elephant. So even if there is no earth shattering tremble when I ‘deliver’ my blog, there is always a thud and shatter of my ego breaking when there are no readers. Anyways, I am happy, not because it is my 100th post. I am happy all the time. Well, most times, to be precise. There are times I have to pretend that I am sad and I am a pretty good actor, even I would not be able to make out that I am just acting. It is not that that there aren’t anything that makes me unhappy. Right from the moment I step out of my house to the time I get back, there are a myriad of things that make me unhappy- roads, pollution, traffic, people on the roads, people in office to name a few. There are also things and people inside my house that are capable of making me unhappy. Before you jump to conclusions, that it is my wife and children that I meant, it is actually the television, the Dish, Arnab, Rajdeep, Nidhi, Navika that I was referring to. Let’s leave it that. Nevertheless I am happy. There are a lot of people who are unhappy about this fact. But I remain happy. Truly happy. Period.

There is one problem though. It makes me an anti national. No, I never asked for any proof for anything. Maybe a couple of days back I had asked my friend Gulshan, the limerick queen if she really knew if Morarji Desai drank whatever he drank instead of vodka. It was just for clarification and not asking for proof. Then why? Recently UN’s Sustainable Development Solutions Network had published the World Happiness Report as of March 2019. It ranked countries based on happiness index. And India is ranked at 140 among the 156 countries that were part of this survey. It was ranked 133 last year and 122nd the year before. So here you have it, in a country where the citizens are becoming unhappier and unhappier, there is this guy who is happy and doesn’t that make him an anti-national. Though I have to admit that I am statistically insignificant.

Life is simple. It is not very complicated as most make it out to be. It is as simple as posting your 100th post 126 months since you started blogging. Really.

Indians, I will leave you with this.

Image courtesy: http://www.byniharika.com

Why can’t she be like Chanda?

March 13, 2019

newspaper

It is usually when I am back from my morning walk, sitting and reading the newspaper with my morning cuppa that she barges in with, ‘hey, how is the security guard’s mother?’ She is referring to the security guard at my office, whose mother is afflicted with cancer and had been admitted in the hospital. Or ‘Is the HR guy harassing his junior? Can’t she take it up with anyone?’ Or, ‘Is that Finance guy still having an affair with the intern? Does his wife know? You said she worked in the Plant, didn’t you? She surely must have got wind of it now.’  Or, ‘Did, whatshisname, the Marketing guy, go see the girl? He will be, what 34, 35, this June nah? What does he want actually?’ Or, ‘Is that Purchase chap, still making money in the side? Is there no way for anyone to find out? I think, it must be traveling all the way up.’  The great mumbler that I am, I usually mumble something, engrossed totally in the newspaper.

All this reveals one thing, my penchant for office gossip. But how the hell did she get to know all these? I am not much of a talker, really. There is no way I could have disclosed all this to her, in my right mind. And then it hit me. It is the newspaper. No, no, no, I didn’t mean all these were reported in the newspaper. In spite of all the news in the paper being already available in the many apps on my hand phone, some of them a day earlier, I still need my daily fix of the newspaper. If for some reason the newspaper is not available on a day, my hands would start to tremble. Such is the addiction. It is with the aid of this intoxicant that she had been able to elicit all intelligence, present and past.

There is more to this than meets the ears. I have found myself asking our maid, how her daughter’s first board exam had been. About her husband’s health after his typhoid episode. On both occasions it had caught both of us in surprise. There was a time when I was talking to the aunty next door, whom, for the record, I get to meet sparingly, complimented her on her dal makhani recipe; and congratulated the boy living on the first floor for winning the chess tournament. I also knew that an employee in the salon that my wife patronizes is planning to start a parlour on her own. I had absolutely no idea how I had known all this, till I cottoned on to the fact that all these inputs were fed into my ears by my wife, just when I was nodding off to the land of nod. Another strategic time, when these tidbits are seeded into the sub conscious and  ready to spring up when the appropriate time came up.

This is all so frighteningly eerie. Why the hell can’t she be like Chanda? My wife, that is. Or why shouldn’t I be like Deepak. Yeah, the Kochhars is about whom I talking about. It transpires that Deepak Kochhar is absolutely clueless about what his wife Chanda Kochhar was up to, in her bank and she was equally unaware what her husband does. For a living.  I know I am stretching it a bit, but as days goes by this will what we will come to know of them I am pretty certain. Much like the movie True Lies (I really like the tagline of that movie ‘When he said I do, he never said what he did’). We have  to give it to the Kochhars for showing us the way to be successful. More importantly a way for a successful marriage.

PS: This post was triggered by a news item in today’s issue of the Times of India Chennai edition which reported that Chanda Kochhar had told ED officials that she didn’t know that her husband was doing business with Videocon group and that Deepak Kochhar did not know that Chanda’s bank had given loans to Videocon. Yeah, you can say it all started with the newspaper addiction.
Image courtesy: Getmages

Who do we bank on?

March 7, 2019

bank

When I thought of writing on this, I didn’t mean to write on the bank scams, even though I was appalled at the way the perpetrators cocked a snook at the governmental agencies by refusing to cooperate with the investigations, saying they are in the middle of doing business or middle of massage or the older guy saying that he is in the middle of a CPR- cardiopulmonary resuscitation. There is one more guy, who says he won’t come back because the jails in our country are substandard? What does he want it to be- a 5 star hotel suite? It is another matter that we do have special cells for privileged crooks replete with library, air-conditioner, couple of cooks to cook food to your taste, a couple of masseurs, but the basic qualification would be that you should swindled a couple of thousands of crores (10 millions).  This is also not about them.

I learnt very early that it is good to have some connection in the bank. Way back, when there weren’t debit cards or ATMs or online transfers of money, we used to get our salary by Draft. There were fewer banks (Private Banks were non-existent) in a locality. Invariably the first week of the month was a very busy period at the bank, it would take half a day to fill out the pay-in slips and get the counterfoils stamped and signed. It would take a couple of days more for the Draft to be cleared and the money to be deposited in your account. It would take another half a day to write a withdrawal slip or a cheque, get a token, wait for your turn to withdraw money. Invariably, just when it is your turn the cashier will close the counter and go to the loo or for a coffee or for a smoke. This is when I realized that a lot of time is being spent in the bank. I made friends with one of the employees. He would collect the Draft, deposit it in your account and get your cheque/withdrawal slip encashed. I could collect the money at will, before the bank’s closing time. As a medical rep, most days I would have to start for work before the bank opens and will be back only after the bank’s transaction hours. All he asked for was a couple of paracetamol syrups for his daughter or a few bottles of cough syrups for his father as quid pro quo.  This is not about him either.

Today, the Enforcement Directorate had alleged that Chanda Kochhar and family, had gotten kickbacks to the tune of ₹500 crores and that their assets will be seized. Earlier she was terminated with all her entitlements and benefits revoked. Not long back, she was the brightest new kid in the block, credited with making ICICI bank the best retail banking in the country. Her rise had been meteoric, making it into the Forbes list of ‘World’s top 100 powerful women’ and other equally prestigious international acclaims. What a fall from grace! I fail to understand the mindset that makes one to amass wealth much more than they, their children or even their grandchildren ever will have need for, at the risk of losing all the good things in life- peace, respect & happiness. In such situations my thought always goes to the children of the perpetrators. They would have been devastated, surely. I would be.

It is not just her. There is a whole lot of them in the political spectrum too. Like termites in the woodwork. Successive governments always claim to root out corruption or accuse the other of corruption, especially during election time. And whoever comes to power will just forget about it till the next time around. I am bemused by the negative energy in the social media, as people go about fighting for or against someone, not realizing that it is them who are being taken for a solid ride. Such a waste of time and energy. All you can do, is not expect any help from the so called messiahs, instead try to help people who need your help and whom you can help. At least they will have someone to bank on. You. We do not have anyone else to bank on except ourselves.

Pic courtesy: Manjul, First Post

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