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 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...