Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Friend 'The Alchemist'....A Tribute

It was not with shock but a sense of closure that i received the news of my friend passing away.Magnanimous as he was, he had given all of us, who cared for him , time to prepare ourselves for his final departure.As always , he remained isolated in his suffering, which he faced with great fortitude and dignity. But nothing had prepared me for the shadow which cast over my within, on getting the news.I remember, once on having argued vehemently against his statement that 'grief is unneccessary on Death',he had smiled at me indulgently and told me that i was blessed with a rare sensitivity and generosity of spirit,and someday i would figure it out(he had this habit of making radical statements and then inspiring you to apply yourself ,think and figure it out !)..I know now, what he meant was, that we are so preoccupied with our personal loss that we take away the worthiness that belonged to the person when he/she were alive .Even in Death( which is inevitable) we have to rejoice Life!!
I called him the 'Alchemist' for the chemistry graduate he was, (IIT Delhi,Princeton) and for the spiritual companion and guide that he had become..I last spoke to him a few months back.Anguished by his feeble voice and pain i had cried out WHY???Gently, he had said,"Think of it this way , how many people in their lifetime get an opportunity to experience the love and caring of all those associated with them..I have the good fortune of getting a glimpse of the legacy i am leaving behind".That was Ravi,at 50 he had the wisdom of the hills.
To my music loving 'rocker' friend i say.....
Ledzep(his net pseudonym) , you have found your 'Stairway to Heaven'...Enjoy the gig buddy!
To the cricket lover i say...
Your inning was short, not for lack of skill or will to play on, but because the umpire made a very hasty decision!
To the film critic , a student of film and media(Mass Comm, Jamia Milia) , i add..
Your vision was acutely perceptive, your script eclectic your execution , unique and non conformist!
To the one who loved books i say...
Your biography was not voluminous but meaningful and rich in its brevity and content!
To the chemistry teacher who loved his subject and students , i say..
You have influenced and inspired so many young minds, put them on the path to find their own 'Pot of Gold'.You were truly the 'Alchemist'!
To the Thinker, and Spiritualist i say...
Go explore the 'Alternate Universe', at leisure my friend..Its gain is our loss!!
To the devoted father i say...
You taught them well,you will live on in them and from where ever you are, always watching over them!
For my friend ,i quote a few lines i had written a few years back which he liked..
'Like my young wards , i am spellbound when a beautiful flower suddenly appears my way.
I am delighted by the colors that abound and the fragrance which fills my senses.
When the flower starts to wilt, i dont cast it away , but preserve it gently in my book of thoughts.If perchance ,i come upon that page, i take a while and once again savor all the moments when the flower was in its full bloom, and.... Move On....'

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Wayward National Leaders

The past few weeks has seen me,like most Indians outraged at the absurd levels of corruption preceding the CWG, making the headlines.I personally felt that at 63 the Nation was displaying the energy of the old and the wisdom of the young.My observation seemed more or less accurate as i witnessed an impromptu, unrehearsed and spontaneous drama ,an in house production by my preschoolers on the occasion of Independence Day yesterday!!
15th August, like every year saw me greeting my little wards indulgently,as they trooped in as National leaders (4 Jawaharlal Nehrus , 2 Indira Gandhis, a M.K Gandhi ,Bhagat Singh etc etc.)There were few excited patriots dressed in white kurta pajamas and of course as it happens every year, a few 'liberal, apolitical, followers of the 'Non Cooperation Movement',( much to the despair of their enthusiastic parents), in civvies..
As is customary, i went in to check on the children and settle them down before we started the celebrations.I noticed that 'Gandhiji' was sandwiched between a sulking Indira Gandhi and a 'hangdog' looking Bhagat Singh. ( The real Bhagat Singh too would have sported the same look, seeing the state of his beloved country and his sacrifice going in vain).Kasturba Gandhi,sat far away from M.K.Gandhi , not even acknowledging his presence!!(Not surprising, Gandhiji was a great leader but a rather difficult and demanding husband).A very spiffy Jawaharlal no.1 sat next to a very graceful Sarojini Naidu .J.Nehru no 2 scribbled on the blackboard( a rough draft of 'Discovery of India , i presume!!).Subhash Chandra Bose looked completely lost ( rightly so, the mystery of his being lost and located deepens with every researcher..)The regular patriots ,were the most comfortable and active of the lot, as they did not have a role to play and did not have to live upto any expectations ...So they pranced around the room ,waving their flags and shouting 'Jai Hind ' from time to time.In short , the stage was set.
The action started with a loud war cry from 'Gandhiji, who to our dismay had turned violent and was brandishing his stick rather menacingly at Indira Gandhi who had patted his head and Bhagat singh who had put a finger through his glasses which did not have a lens!!My staff moved quickly, (we are an extremely vigilant task force trained to handle such attacks especially on 'Important occasions'!)and extricated the walking stick from a rather aggressive Gandhiji and diffused the crisis.A very sad Gandhi,threw away his glasses and started weeping silently with his head tucked between his bent knees.(As i consoled him i saw no point in explaining to him that our 'Father of the Nation'too must be reconsidering his non violent stance and really wanting to beat some sense into the leaders of today!)..
Meanwhile our dashing Jawahar no 1 was sprawled on the floor most inappropriately, throwing a real tantrum!Sarojini Naidu had taken away his rose ans was now sitting chewing on the rose petals!!(Panditji, however fond he was of Sarojini Naidu would have found her public display of affection ,'politically incorrect' and reacted !!).My innovative staff moved in swiftly and somewhat managed to pacify an indignant Nehru , by tucking a rather tacky plastic tulip in his buttonhole!!(Very reminiscint, of the famous' Indian Jugadh'.)
Fearing , a deeper National crisis , arising from more differences of opinion, we fast forwarded the proceedings, calmed our agitated leaders and managed to lead a Peace March for the flag hoisting!I looked on with immense pride as a very disciplined and mature motley of 3yr old, leaders patriots and the 'aam junta', sang the National Anthem ,and performed other patriotic songs with great dignity and enthusiasm..
Completely exhausted, i reflected over the mornings proceedings and realized ,that our country and its people ,may be far from perfect, have glaring flaws ,are completely chaotic but we do manage to overcome adversities and 'Rise to the occasion'! JAI HIND !

Monday, August 9, 2010

Forget And Forgive

The much touted, often preached'forgive and forget' has never made sense to me as i personally think that it is unneccessary to hold anything against anybody in the first place.BUT,as a parent to forget(in the middle of nowhere)an adult over 6ft son, i am told by all, is unforgivable!
First, a brief insight into my second born sons',first rate habits.Eversince he was born, if left idle for more than 5mins he goes into'stand by' ,longer than that invariably he switches to'sleep mode'.On vacations we have to put up with some sort of a heap of human form lying untidily in some part of the house, dead to the world!Our natural anxiety makes us check on his vitals from time to time.My maternal instincts,many a times have considered putting him on a 'drip' fearing a malnourished child.Other than that, he is the only person i know, whose laundry basket contains clean and dirty clothes.His apartment is known to have reached such critical levels of (in)sanitation, that the building had to be evacuated and fumigated! In the kitchen he is a hazard to himself and mankind, and for some strange reason takes 'baby aspirin' for severe burns!To cut the very long story short, lets just say, that he has turned out exactly how i have brought him up to be 'highly individualistic'!It is no surprise then,that, he was the one chosen for an experience which only the script writers of 'Home Alone' and 'Everybody loves Raymond' could think of...
A few years back,when i was visiting the boys in the US,we were invited to my nieces Graduation.After partying the whole day , we excused ourselves and left early as we had to leave for California on a week long road trip.
I settled my somewhat 'high spirited' and weary self on the front seat of the car for a rather long uninspiring drive.My younger son , as is his habit,consigned his wallet, phone and other such essentials into my bag,put on some music ,stretched himself out like a boa constrictor on the back seat and switched on his 'mute' button.We made a brief stopover at a gas station and moved on.I promptly dozed off and my elder son (probably reflecting on the complex philosophy of existentialism to keep himself awake ) drove on , as the most alert member of a rather sluggish family.
I was awakened by the shrill sound of the phone ringing and a conversation which ended in my son saying rather animatedly'Hold on , we are just turning around'.A little confused at this sudden change of plan, i asked my son the reason.He told me to look at the back, which i did and to my
extreme horror saw nothing !!!!!!!Deep in thought,with very ambivalent feelings and in complete silence we retraced our route.Without any warning, my elder son started chuckling and then laughing hysterically, not believing that his most frequent dream had come true!?!(Both my boys, for reasons best known to them,have fantasised with alarming consistency and are almost obsessed with the idea of being an 'only child'!)
All this while, my younger son feeling totally abandoned,was riding probably the worst emotional roller coaster ride of his life at the gas station!He had returned from his very secret and private visit to the restroom to find the car missing.It took his idle brain, sometime to register that he had been left behind.The many disadvantages of relinquishing responsibility of personal possessions at the first instance dawned on him.He narrated his tragic circumstances to the lady at the gas station to borrow her phone and call up the brother.She apparently remarked incredulously'Your own brother and biological mother have left you ????'
On reaching the gas station after almost two hrs(we had travelled a distance of almost 80 km)i ejected out of the car to give my warmest ever hug to my coldest ever son!Giving the nature of our relationship,the 'killer' looks were not translated into action.The elder brother(giving the nature of their relationship)was not spared.I was aghast to hear my sons most colourful repertoire of multilingual abuses!!(I realized he had grown up , for as a child i had only once heard him call his brother a 'bloody basket'!!)
Fortunately, this appalling drama of sibling affection ended with Act 1 itself as the lady from the gas station came running out to greet us.Gleefully she exclaimed'Man i have to see this family'!(I think 'dysfunctional' was omitted deliberately).We gave her our broadest and fakest ever smiles(vanity runs in the family, and we want to look our photogenic best when on public display!!)
After a brief family huddle ,we huddled into the car.My elder son showing extreme maturity and putting his grievances aside( to be dealt with at another more appropriate time and place) requested the younger brother to keep this a 'family secret', which of course never happened as in the next 1 hour every one he knew on this planet was informed !!
PS..This post is meant as a public apology to my son, for having abandoned my special 360' mothers' vision when he was 10!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Black Out Queen

A few days back i was jolted into consciousness by a loud 'THUD'!It took me a while to comprehend that it was 'my' head which had thumped hard and it was 'me'that was lying ,rather awkwardly on the floor..I lifted my battered , bruised Self, called for help and a BP instrument..All those who are marvelling at my composure, must be made aware that I have the dubious distinction of being titled the 'Black Out Queen' by the family.
Many years back,i had found myself similarly sprawled in front of a shop at a local market!A crowd had gathered around me and i could hear an experienced bystander saying"Bhenji(?) ko Miranda pilao"!(in India we have this rather widespread epidemic of renaming certain things, like..espresso coffee is express coffee, similarly mirinda, an orange soda is often referred to as Miranda).My son who had accompanied me was standing in one corner shedding copious amount of tears, as he was convinced his mother had rather dramatically, literally and figuratively 'Dropped Dead'!Rather embarrassed at having made a public spectacle of myself, my bruised body and ego,made a somewhat hasty exit back to the car.My son ,very indignantly asked me 'Ma what do you think you were doing?"..My feeble state did not allow me to tell him that i was definately not 'swooning' over the new range of toiletries at the rather uninspiring 'daily needs' store!!
Once attending to my mother who had undergone 'angioplasty', i had found myself with a drip,lying on the attendants couch with my anxious mother attending to me, her recently unblocked arteries threatening closure once again..A couple of years back,making a rare public appearance at a local clubs' charity show of 'Rang De Basanti', i passed out in front of all the distinguished citizens and the cameras!As i was (un) ceremoniously carried out , it 'hit' me 'hard' that my 'Basanti' act had completely taken the edge off Aamir Khans 'colourful' performance!
But the top honours goes to an incident which happened more than a decade ago in a small cantonment of Punjab..My system, as it had done, many a times in the past, went through its temporary state of shutdown and once again i went through the celestial drama being played out at daytime(aka as seeing stars and facing total eclipse !!)
I was alone at home, with a gurkha 'sahayak'in attendance..In my subconscious state, i could sense that i was being dragged,on the floor, from the study to my room, with someone holding one finger each of both my hands!!(propriety prevented the johny from lifting me up )..My omnipresent survival instincts, fearing two fractured fingers , alongwith other injuries sustained, as also not willing to go through the indignity of being dragged like a sack of potatoes, managed to stand and walk on my own, only to pass out again on reaching my bed..I have no idea how long i lay unconscious.When i finally came around, i found a tearful gurkha standing at the edge of my bed asking me 'Mensaab doctor ko phone karoon?'!! I passed out once again ...in horror and amusement.
Till date, i wonder how much time our sincere sahayak had given me and himself before he could call the doctor , if i had not gained consciousness on my own !!

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Affair with 'Camille'

In the recent past,'house lizards' have become the bane of my existence. A couple of months back there was one crawling on the floor next to my bed, with a certain sense of belonging which irked me immensely.If i can respect their space and have not taken to crawling on walls in extreme frustration , heat or as adventure...why should they be taking a leisurely stroll around my room!
I shared my angst with my friends , and my very quirky friends(who display their extreme affection and sense of bonding by excavating dreadful memories , long buried in the mental archives)reminded me, that i have always had an affinity to these cold blooded creatures.They succeeded in bringing back the horrors of the most bizarre experience of my Life!!
It was one of those days in college, when my friends threatened me with dire consequences,(not getting my breakfast for me in the morning,sharing their notes etc)if i bunked the scheduled lecture.True to ourselves , we arrived late to find the lecture room full.The back benchers as a result were left with no option but to occupy the front steps.Five minutes into the class i felt something crawling up my leg( flared trousers were in fashion and i was unfortunately, trendy).I brushed away the crawling object and made some cheesy remark like "something electrifying went up my legs' to a friend sitting next to me.Our professor , distraught by our front row presence and distracted by the shuffling, told us to pay attention or leave.We were practicing 'reverse psychology' those days so we stayed put..
After the lecture and lunch i retired to pursue, what i till date like doing best, Sleep!!!I felt a little uncomfortable , not surprising since we were in the habit of partaking enormous amount of food(anorexia was unfashionable in the 70's )which led to tight clothing become tighter,so i decided to unbutton my jeans.As soon as i unzipped... A head of a 'Chameleon' popped out !!!!!!! What i went through cannot be put into words only imagine the most earth shattering 'SCREAM'!!'Camille' the prot'agoni'st of this affair , also reeling in shock and going through its own emotional trauma lay inert on the floor..
I stripped off my trousers and started running around the room..My two roommates screamed even louder and then froze..In my frenzy i made an exit from the room and started running in the corridor of my hostel.One of my friends, with a certain presence of mind , or rather propriety chased me like a matador with a counterpane.
So here i was running in all my immodest glory, with my friend trying in vain to cover me with a bedcover..Hearing all the commotion ,our chowkidar ( one of the two males in our all girls hostel)made an entry.My rather petite , docile friend suddenly took the form of a champion wrestler, lunged forward , wrapped me in the bedspread and pinned me down..Meanwhile the hostel warden came down , fearing a catfight in progress she tried to seperate us in complete vain( my all of 35kg friends' sole purpose in life by then had become to protect my outraged modesty).Mercifully my 'frozen with terror' friend and the only other witness , thawed out enough to narrate the incident..
My asphyxiated self was finally extricated from the confines of the bedcover and the determined weight of my friend..
The hostel quack , doused me in savlon and put me under sedation..I alternated between hysteria and sedation for the next few days..Life slowly crawled (UGHHHHH) back to normal..A lot of , 'unmentionable' jokes (at mine and Camilles expense) did the rounds for several months...
PS... I know the readers will have a lot of questions to ask me , believe me i dont have the answers!!!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dead Man Talking

Today morning at 8am,when my father came to deliver the morning newspaper (his own passive and devious way to check whether i am awake or not),i was concerned to see the somber expression on his face.With great gravity he informed me that one of my ex students rather young father had expired.
I went into instant mourning...My three yrs old cherubic face with twinkling eyes, his mothers ever smiling countenance,the very quiet persona of the deceased played like a black and white flashback of a tragic hindi film.Tears welled up in my eyes at this untimely departure of the sole breadwinner of the family.With a very heavy heart i dressed(i noticed later that my grief stricken being, subconciously had pulled out a white attire from the closet),unable to eat my breakfast i went up to the school.After my morning rounds,in an emotionally devastated state i called up the widow.A male voice answered, on politely inquiring about the identity, i got the second shock of the morning...It was the 'Dead Man Talking'!!!I hastily put down the phone and quickly reflected over the events of the morning.It did not take me very long to figure out that my father had done it again!!In the past one year this is the third time that he had done away with perfectly healthy,still in their prime ,very alive people..
A few months back he had informed me that a very dear family friends'son (a childhood friend of mine)had expired.Deeply saddened,i asked him if he had called.I was told that the fathers phone was not answering and he would try again.Later that evening, he sheepishly stated that the 'dead son ' had picked up the phone to announce his 'alive 'fathers death !!
I am now much wiser and have decided that any news being delivered with my morning newspaper needs to be crosschecked,for that is the time father is without his hearing aid and in a slightly mentally dormant state as he wakes up at 4.30am..My word of advice to all those who love me and receive the news of my 'expiry' from my father before 9am in the morning, please call me and react only after i have confirmed the news!!!!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Miss Pronounced

G.B.Shaw once stated that'England and America are seperated by their common language'.If he were alive and adventurous enough to travel across the length and breadth of our country, i am sure he would be a trifle confused at the legacy left behind by the British, making English the first language of the literate Indians today.The accent and pronounciation prevailing across the country would undoubtedly leave him mother tongue tied.
I have lived in several States of the country and in terms of mispronounciation, Punjab and Bengal topped the charts..In a small town of Punjab i had the 'plaiyer'of interacting with some S-kool teachers.I was told that while naming the parts of the body , a five yr old child pointed to his leg when asked where his 'tongue' was.Tung in punjabi means the leg!!On another occasion while being taught plurals a child retorted the plural of duck was ducka!!To my amusement a Bengali clerk was always handing me a 'Shit of paper',and believe me he was not referring to toilet paper!
When i started my school six years back , i was on the lookout for a facilitator.The applications i receieved and the interviews i conducted convinced me that the top honours belong to my State of Residence..
Mostly all applications i received were addressed to 'Dear Sir/Madam,as the case may be!They were signed off with your humble servant,genuine regards as also requestingly yours!The one which caught my eye was someone 'humbly offering her humble self to your gracious self to put into services as you please , I will obey and live up to all your expectations'!!For a longtime i wondered if it was a proposal or an application!!
An English hons graduate from a local college had cited 'Bedminton' as one of her hobbies.Her favourite author was 'Sexspeare'!She told me she liked'Romeo and Juliet', and when i asked her what really appealed to her about this play she mumbled..'means, it is like Laila Majnu'!
When i asked a History topper to tell me the historical significance of the town, she failed to comprehend the question and after delving into her mental archives for a longtime came up with what can be termed as the briefest answer in history 'Buddh Bhagwan!
After many such responses I decided to keep my line of questioning simple and related to the school,so i asked one of the candidates to recite their favourite nursery rhyme.The rhyme went like this..'Chubby chiksh, deempel cheen';Rojee leepsh tith weetheen.Curly hayer bhery fayer. eyej are blue lubhly too,teachers pate is that you, yase yase, yase!! My whole being cried out No, No No..But looking back i am grateful for this recitation as it introduced me to the rudiments of 'Bihari mispronounciation'.
In this State people throw sleepers at each other and fall aslip.The most popular animals in the joo are ziraffe and jebra!The favourite mode of transport is a bhan.I had a girl who spelt her name as 'Niva', her parents had named her 'Nibha'.The brightest from this State is capable of winning a Nobel Prize only if he pulls up his shocks! If you really want to seek vendetta just ask them to say'she sells ,sea shells on the sea shore'.
I have taken it upon myself to work with my staff on their pronounciation and everytime they pick up a book and read i have a 'hurtattack'!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

'Cog'nitive Abilities

There is a certain static, a buzz in the air during examinations in this state which is second only to the election fever which grips everyone during assembly and general election.Not surprising since we are talking of the most politically volatile State with a defunct education system.Fortunately the present government has been proactive and are taking desperate measures to revamp the system.
Till a few years back, those assigned with invigilation duty were sent off by a tearful family with instructions that 'life comes before duty'.A similar scenario was witnessed in the household of an officer assigned on election duty when the family went into mourning and neighbours got together for a preemptive condolence session!
However ludicrous it may sound i am just stating facts.Over the years i have heard appalling tales of mass 'cogging'.The wards of the examinees burnt the midnight oil practicing the art of almost writing on rice and ensured that their loved ones were not taxed and got a goodnights sleep.More audacious ones sat next to the candidates armed with weapons and books to help them through the farce called 'board examinations'.There are unrecognized colleges without a faculty that enroll the students and then send them to a local recognized college to attend classes!!There have been incidents of an SP being taken to task as his wife had acquired a degree from the local university without taking exams as also a prominent citizen arrested and put behind bars for printing fake degrees at his brothers' printing press!!(They were not caught by vigilant authorities but were booked due to personal and politically motivated vendetta!)
There are reforms being made now.All the teachers employed by the state government face termination if they are not present to take the classes and cheating is now a criminal offence in the State!This has resulted in a certain tragic hilarity..I have a friend who has been teaching English for over two decades lamenting that she remained exhausted as she had to be in college from 10am to 4pm.I was once completely distressed to see that my drivers son had failed his inter exam,when i expressed my displeasure the driver told me it was not the sons fault it was because he was not allowed to cheat! A couple of years back i heard gunshots from a leading college which is located right behind my house.I was told it was the parents of the students taking exams, protesting as they were not allowed to help their children!!The protest got unruly and the police had to resort to teargas and fire shots in the air to disperse the crowd.'The shot in the air' apparently fatally injured one person(a flying in rage parent, i presume!!)
Very recently ,i saw the most absurd video on a local tv channel.Brains and brawns had been replaced with acrobats and gymnasts!There were shots of two young 'spidermen' climbing three floors to throw a chit into the classroom.A young boy was running on an 8" narrow parapet of a neighbouring house with a bamboo pole with a chit stuck at the forked end. After strategically placing himself in front of the assigned window he tapped the pole and someone from inside extricated the slip of paper!!!
Is there no way to change the mindset of these people, to let them know that rather than risking their life and limb or go to juvenile prisons it requires just a little effort to sit and study, take exams but most imporatantly to make them aware of the true meaning of education!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


It is very painful to see the Mighty Sun struggling hard to make an appearance.The athiest in me is moved by its plight and has started praying fervently to Nature to put its Elements in order and work in harmony again.
My Life too stands eclipsed!I am unemployed for one..The schools have been closed down, and now i am anxiouly waiting for the state administration to thaw out.
Physical and mental health is bearing the brunt as well.'Suryanamaskar' performed to the mute and uninspiring concrete walls is proving to be totally ineffective.Deficiency of Vitamin D is on the anvil,not to forget the cervical pain due to too much clothing and a backache due to the horizontal position one has taken to in the past few weeks!The only object not missing any warmth is my overused hot water bottle!!
A few days back , i found myself precariously seated between two blooming dahlias inside a flower bed. The only place i could spot the sun, with my eyes which have got unused to natural lighting.
To add to my tale of woe, my father is taking his love for a sport to a whole new level.Yesterday, when i asked him , from the confines of my bed ,how the weather was...I was delighted to hear 'Bright and Sunny'..With a song on my lips and music in my heart i moved my weather beaten being into quick action.Dressed in a canary yellow pullover to festively herald 'Basant Panchami' and the sun i stepped out.To my utter dismay i faced a completely fogged out bleak morning! I stood their perplexed,asking my gardener and driver rather accusingly, 'Dhoop kahan Hai?'They looked at me very sympathetically,probably assigning me to the famous'Kanke mental hospital',in the neighbouring state of Jharkand.I was informed that there had been not a ray of sunshine since the morning! My father came out at that very moment to leave for work, feeling extremely betrayed, i asked him to explain his weather miscast.He casually stated that he was talking about 'CHITTAGONG'(The Venue for the ongoing cricket test match between India and Bangladesh!!)
I watched him drive away ,as i looked on with some very ambivalent feelings..For a longtime i stood , in my canary yellow pullover,eyeing the rusty,'spring' of a broken appliance lying in front of me, the strains of 'Jai Mata Di' ,in the background, hoping 'Saraswati Devi', would make it easier for me to learn the strange behaviour of my kin..

Yoguru ji

In the recent past, my father known for his very moderate views has taken a rather extremist stance on the benefits of Yoga.He is probably the most ardent long distance admirers of Baba Ramdev.If i told him i had a headache, stomachache, insomnia,work related stress ...he would state 'do Pranayam'!The fact that he remains bald and hard of hearing notwithstanding, i did notice he had lost a lot of weight and was physically agile for his age.
In my pursuit for a 'Zen' like existence in this otherwise hard to exist place i decided that yoga should become a part of my daily regime.It was doing away with a lot of birds without throwing the proverbial stone .Make myself , physically and mentally fit, pass my time constructively and make my father happy..
The big advantage of staying in a small town is the availability of affordable home tutors, and the ever helpful residents..I was soon informed that a yoga teacher had been organised and that he would be coming over to my place sometime during the week.
A couple of days later, i was awakened from my afternoon siesta and informed that 'yoguru ji' had come to meet me.My semicomatose state had me wondering how a japanese buddhist tourist had strayed into the house. I asked the helper to ask the visitor the purpose of his visit! I jumped up from my bed as i was told that he had come to teach me yoga!
Standing before me was a thin gentleman , of medium height,a very long neck with a pronounced adam apple a square jaw and a poker face.(I am deliberately omitting estimating the age as i am told that yoga renders you ageless!!).He bent down in an ostrich like fashion, with his hands folded and his elbows forming perfect triangles facing east west..'Pranaaaam', he said in a deep voice which had a reverberation of a gentle rolling of drums afterwards.My own pranam seemed hopelessly inadequate and incomplete in view of the very elaborate greeting being performed in front of me!
We sat down for a vartalaap(conversation), where i was asked about my avastha(age), if i was roggrast( suffering from any ailment).After it was established that i did not have madhumeh(diabetes),raktchaap(blood pressure),reedh peedha(backache)and many such incomprehensible and unpronouncble ailments( which had me doubting and biting my mother tongue, which is hindi!!), he agreed to take me on as his 'shishya'.
It was decided that we would meet everyday at 4.30pm.(I thought everyday was excessive but i was told rather curtly that'vyayam mein vishraam uchit nahi hai'!)that it is not advisable to give a break to exercise..
My gurus punctuality i had not contended for either.Once when he arrived at 4.40, he proclaimed 'vilamb ke liye shama prarthi hain'(he was apologising for the delay).Another time there was incessant rain, the town had come to a virtual standstill and i was rejoicing, for finally i could sit back and vegetate at 4.30..As i ventured out to tell the helper to make me some tea, i was stopped in the tracks by a hooded apparition in black!!On closer inspection i saw it was my yoguruji offering his elaborate greeting..I dragged my restless mind to the peaceful regime of yoga.
I have unfortunately lost out on my yoguruji to my irregularity and his popularity .He is now being felicitated by all the local clubs of the town and is also the most sought after male as all the unfit women of this town want him!!!
I met him a few days back and as he bent down to say 'pranaam', i realized i missed the discipline of my everyday yoga and also my hindi was not as 'sashakt' as it had become thanks to him!!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Musically Challenged

One of the major drawbacks of residing in a smalltown is the lack of options after workhours.All i did till a few years back is read and think.Excess of both proved to be detrimental.My reading glasses changed numbers faster than a lotto machine and well too much thinking almost saw me in a strait jacket.To combat the problem i read some more and thought even harder!!It dawned on me that i needed to develop interests other than reading and introspection.I homed down to learning music.I love music (listening to it)and its always known to be therapeutic.
The next logical step was to find a music teacher.As i sent out feelers to the good samaritans of the town ,i found myself face to face with an 'inconvenient truth'..simply put... my earlier aborted attempts at learning music and singing came back as a flashback of a horror film!
I was 8 yrs old when my mother(an accomplished singer) enrolled me in a music school of some repute.I do recall my first day, when our guru started us on sa,re ga ma...i was wondering how disjointed hindi alphabets qualified as music and i repeated ha,he ha,ha..The class was amused my guruji definitely was not! After a few weeks, i saw him rendering an alaap AAAAAAAAA.His eyes were closed, his mouth could take in the whole universe and with his 3 strands of hair flying,as he vigorously nodded his head.. i thought it was the funniest rendition ever and laughed a very spontaneous and musical HAAAAAAAA.I never went back, i think i was expelled.
My next attempt was at the age of 14 in my boarding school. By now i desperately wanted to sing and was very envious of all the nightingales who sang at various school competitions.My dream of a performance came true when i was selected for the school christmas choir.We were at least 50 of us singing Valerie, partridge on a pear tree etc.All was going well ,till our music teacher told us that we have to change our pitch!Till then ,my pitch had only altered when i was truly animated and i was sure that,that particular shrill sound did not qualify for singing.To my dismay i saw all the singers around me effortlessly switch their pitches while i vascillated between the tenor of row 1and 2 to the soprano of 3 and 4 to something which was uniquely mine.Fearing that i was going to be deprived of my first and only stage performance i lip synced my way through.To add to my misery, two of my dearest friends were very good singers.Being a very bright science student i sat glued to them whenever they sang waiting for the process of osmosis to take place.Needless to say it was an exercise in futility!
I accepted defeat and my musically challenged status in my first year college.Having lived in an all girls boarding school for 6yrs i was ecstatic when i stumbled upon a young man all of 18 yrs old who found me really worthy of attention and affection.We had one thing in common ,our love for music..Spent hours listening to it , talking about it presenting cassettes to each other etc.Till one day ,which at hindsight can only be termed as some misplaced sense of overenthusiasm i decided to sing 'Annies song' to him.I distinctly remember sitting in broad day light on the steps of the Lodhi tomb unaware of the impending doom, singing'you fill up my senses like a night in a forest'.The mortified expression of the object of my affection told me i had assaulted all his senses ,he silently walked me through the daylight of lodhi gardens and vanished forever.I am quick(?) on the uptake and realized, that i could be cerebral but never musical!
As i made this rather uncomfortable journey into the past, i decided that the music teacher who tutored 3yrs old at my playschool was apt for the task! He had the patience ,limited music skills and i was convinced that only he could remove my vocal block.We were to meet 4 times a week at 6 in the evening in the furthest soundproof room of my house!
Determined to succeed i put my heart and soul into my singing..gargled,chewed 'mulatti' ,did riyaz everyday and thought i was doing a good job.The problem remained with the sur, taal and multitasking.I was handling a casio and my vocal chords.If i got the sur and taal right couldnt play the casio, if i got the casio right my sur and taal suffered, but not to be deterred i sang on..After two months i acquired a harmonium.Now there was another task to be accomplished...sing, play the keys and pump air into the instrument!! Unable to accomplish this feat, i bullied my sir to pump while i jabbed at the keys which were more complicated than the casio.By now my Sir was looking a little stressed out,he would tell me very politely from time to time that i was not concentrating on playing the harmonium and my singing( believe me i was)!!I was genuinely happy with my singing and it was taking care of my time.6 months lapsed and neither me or my sir had quit!Until one day i was informed that my seemingly healthy music sir had suffered a heart attack and been advised complete rest!
Till date for some inexplicable reason i feel responsible for his medical condition!

Friday, January 15, 2010

My Dramatic Birth

I am often referred to as a 'drama queen' by many a friends.As a protaganist of a very dramatic life it is hardly surprising.The script is a trifle convoluted though and does not conform to any genre.The likes of Shakespeare, Wilde,GB Shaw would regret their limited repertoire and applaud the playwright of my Lifes drama for its sheer ingenuity.Act 1-suspense,Act 2-tragedy,Act3-comedy etc.Well, the confusion and intrigue started at my birth itself.
I was born at Doon Hospital,Deharadun on the 25th of March 1960 at 2am.I was declared dead at 6am 24th of March 1960.The least exaggerated and the most dramatic statement i will probably ever make !The story narrated of my expected DOA by my grandmother goes like this...
One week before her due date , my mother realized that she had not felt my movement for over two days.She informed my grandmother, who with all her experience( she had 10 children in her kitty) realized that something was amiss.On the evening of the 23rd of March the anxious duo reached the hospital.The gynaec pressed down the stethescope on my 'to be' mothers stomach and could hear no heartbeat, feel no movement! (No ultrasounds in the 60's ,no devious ways of female foeticide either !It was the era of flower children).A team of doctors was summoned ...the prognosis was grim .My tearful grandmother was informed of my ill-fated status and my mother was induced to go into labour.
My grandmother cheerfully sat at my mothers bedside and tearfully ran out of the room in grief from time to time( a la Nirupa Roy in zillion films).A messenger of very bad news was dispatched to fetch my father who was posted in Roorkee at that time(thanks to the primitive communication in the 60s, mercifully the pigeons had been replaced!!}.The nurses of rm no 1 were in deep sympathy as they watched my beautiful 20 yr old mother go through her labour ,blissfully unaware of the storks changed plans!
My poor mother after almost 20 hrs of labour was ready to deliver.(C-Sections were carried out in extreme emergencies.Since my mother was going to deliver a stillborn, it was considered unneccessary to make her go through one!)At the unearthly hour of 2am, a very grim hospital unit were taken aback by a robust cry of a healthy female child of 6pounds !!
I am told an ecstatic nurse went yelling in the sleepy corridors of the Doon Hospital..'No 1 ka baccha ro raha hai'!!!My grandmother wept copiously( tears of joy this time).My father arrived in the wee hours of the morning and promptly fainted on hearing the news..(I think he is to date reeling under the shock of his first and only born child)..
So, what went wrong or right???My birth almost created medical history.It was later discovered that my mother was developing a tumour alongside of me.The tumour weighed down on me restricting the movements and as also drowning out my heartbeat!The tumour also ensured that i remained the only offspring of my parents.
Looking back , i feel that the way i have shaped up is directly related to the event of my birth.Born lazy ,(Could have kicked harder!), a survivor( how many stillborns live to tell their tale??),inadvertently agonize my loved ones( my moms labour, my tearful grandmother my fainting father!!)and ultimately make everyone really happy wherever i make an appearance,( the jubliant nurse, my joyously tearful grandmother, my fainting with relief father!!!!)..
No explanations are needed when i state that i love life and look forward to it every moment as an adventure, a very precious gift bestowed upon me...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A hysterical hysterectomy

It is no state secret that i have always longed for a daughter. I am not a hardcore feminist and love both my sons dearly but i do believe that a certain female sensibility is essential in every home. This fact was driven home in abundance as i went through my hysterectomy recently.
As soon as my sons were apprised of the condition i got very concerned calls from both of them.The younger one assured me that he would love me even if i grew a beard and my voice cracked!Without doubt the most male chauvinistic member of the family he naturally assumed that the male hormones would take over!!As also the procrastinator of the family he failed to get an appointment at the american embassy for his visa and then sent out an emotionally charged letter for an emergency appointment citing his mothers impending surgery and himself as the sole caretaker.He killed two birds with one stone...got his appointment as also obliterated the existence of his elder brother.(something he has been trying to do eversince he was born!)
My elder son reached a couple of days in advance to take me for a pre-op check up and tests.The wise and knowledgeble one of the family he looked visibly distressed at the mention of a chest xray.He told me he was sorry that i have to go through a mammogram (!!??!!)
The day of the surgery dawned and my entire family in a rare gesture of solidarity and punctuality drove me to the hospital.They deposited me in the room and went on to make inquiries as to where thay could have the best 5 course breakfast in town!!!I had to remind them not to go very far.When they returned i was on a drip and a nebulizer as i had a mild cough.The younger one stood perplexed at the edge of my bed as i was sitting up with my mask and asked me why i was not passing out with the anaesthesia being administered!!Banging my head against a wall seemed a better option for passing out..
Post surgery , my aunt , a gynaec who was present in the OT went up to the room to inform them that all had gone well and if they would like to see the uterus.My sons told nani to look at them, the finest specimens to be lodged in that womb and they were celebrating as there was no threat of another heir !!!
Back home, i received some very sporadic attention and affection from both of them.On one such occasion ,with both of them cuddled on either side of me told me that my insides are in mourning for their birth(pun intended) companions had been extracted.Since i have had my gall bladder also removed , my elder one quipped that it was truly recession time for my organs and that my appendix must be really insecure.
Few days later , the night before my sons appointment i told him to carry the discharge summary incase they check since his appointment had been expedited due to an emergency.He told me he was going to take along the real proof preserved in a jar to show ..
I was beyond reacting by now but i did go to sleep every night dreaming of a daughter holding my hand and telling me that "all is well"...

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Post from Within...3

Like everyone else i go through my share of low spells and when they pass and i am buoyant again i am completely intrigued at the working of the mind and heart, at the disharmony and then the perfect synchronization.
Just like the high and low tides of the ocean emerge and submerge in the vastness and tranquility of the ocean ,our emotions are similar, they too are contained in the sublime ocean that lies within.A life of acrimony or harmony is ours to choose.I believe we suffer because we sacrifice simple at the alter of the complex.Lifes' uniqueness lies in that no two consecutive moments are the same.We overlook the beautiful moments as we are resistant, resentful and reluctant!There is a calmness , a quiet joy to a life lived in gratitude.
We seek love , when what we need to seek out and breakdown are the barriers we have built against it.Much has been said about giving but its equally important to accept graciously what is being offered.
I have made my way through this labyrinth of ups and downs many a times and now that i am aware that only i am in control i rest easy.When the waves come crashing , i do not get swept away or view with apprehension ,nor do i wait to get consumed as a bystander on the shores..I travel deep into the ocean to experience and then wait for the tide to ebb...