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 !!