Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Lessons We need to Combat Life

When other children ran ahead, he stumbled often and fell, but got up each time, determination brightening his face. “Why can’t I be like other children, Ma?” When the query banished the happiness from his mother’s beautiful face, he stopped asking. Instead he overcame his physical frailties by allowing his mind to encompass the world with one click of his computer.
As his body became frailer, his mind travelled across continents. Through Facebook, he created virtual albums, segregating spaces to family and friends, and browsing to build up his already prodigious knowledge. In his every action was the urge to experience life in all its hues, as if there were no tomorrow!
His doting parents took him everywhere in his wheelchair; his grandfather would discuss interesting topics with him, his father physically carried him around. His cousins spent time with him; each person wanted a little space inside his large heart.
At the age of 23, he invited a large gathering of family and friends to the 25th wedding anniversary of his parents. Joy shone out of his large expressive eyes as he watched, content that those invited had attended, for his sake and for that of his parents. He sang a classical song, and as congratulations poured over him, his parents watched in pride!
Maybe coming events do cast their shadows ahead! Was there any inkling that he would not be around for their next anniversary? For he fell ill, but held on stoically till their anniversary came around again! Ironically he passed away on that day, a staunch little fighter till the end!
His Facebook page still exists, for people who loved him to share their thoughts, being administered by his parents, strong enough to have let him go, taking solace in the fact that he had given them enough love and strength for an entire lifetime!
She was eighteen, born to an adoring family, living an idyllic childhood with no major conflicts! Life was one smooth sail, with no rocks in the horizon, no storms to shake her well- orchestrated world.
A bright and popular student, her fatal flaw, maybe, lay in her over-dependence on her parents. When she got into AFMC, she was ready to move to Pune and start a new life altogether. “I’ll go out in the evening and get sweets to celebrate!” she promised her elated old grandfather.
Lunch over, she went for a nap, while her excited family speculated proudly on her future. In the evening, her mother went upstairs, only to be greeted with the most agonizing sight ever. Her daughter had hanged herself! It was the very end of happiness as she had taken her life, for no apparent reason in sight!
The grandparents were shattered, the parents turned into statues, struggling with the enormity of the tragedy! The light had gone out of their lives, and they did not even know why!
When my mother, a well known educationist, sat in mute sympathy next to the 84 year old grandfather, he said to her brokenly, “Ma’am, I have a request! Stop teaching your students English and History and Mathematics.” He stopped, overwrought, and then continued, “Teach them to have strength of mind to face life and withstand obstacles; only that will sustain them in the end!”
My mother wept at the emotion on his gnarled face, at the effort he made not to break down, at the betrayal he was facing...
Two dearly loved children!
One who yearned to live, clutching on to every joy, a beacon of love and endurance, whose body gave up before his mind did!
The other, with everything to live for - love, family, career, whose mind gave up before her body did, as she took that final step, leaving her loved ones in darkness!

The New Indian Express - July 21st

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Priyanka’s comments...

Reasons Why I Miss Home:
• •Her ‘pun’ny (sometimes awful) jokes, leaving Pa and me to look at each other and think, “What is wrong with her? Sigh!” But we still love her…”
• •Walking into the house screaming, “What’s for dinner todayyyy?”
• •Mama’s lecture on how I should learn to eat everything after I scrunch up my face hearing it’s either Bhindi Sabji or Korma curry!
• •During dinner, the first sentence is always, “How’s the chicken?” resulting in Papa and I rolling with laughter. We would both in unison say, “Excellent, excellent!!”
• •Telling her to stop being such a Face book addict and stop adding strangers to her profile. But according to her, the world is too good and human beings can do no harm!
• •Her late evening jaunts to the super market when she suddenly realizes there’s no bread or eggs or chillies in the house!
• •Her random cleaning sprees, which usually do not affect me. However, the words, “CLEAN YOUR ROOM!” usually made me see red!
• •All the food she used to cook for me
• •Her standing up for me against the whole world and getting criticized unnecessarily.
• •Seeing him on the laptop fiddling with his Flight Simulator like a little boy!
• •Him calling me to the kitchen to show me the meat and asking me how I wanted him to cook it!
• •Telling him to make his super duper mutton curry as spicy as humanly possible
• •Laughing through the tears after dinner because it was so spicy but thoroughly enjoying it
• •Him asking me every Sunday afternoon, “Beer piyega?”
• •Him supporting me every time when we decide to go out for lunch on Sunday despite Mama’s protests to try new places
• •His obsession to buy the best brands always, which I have definitely got from him
• •His innate passion and talent for photography, which I plan to take full advantage of the next time I go home
• •Sitting with him during the News, especially Arnab’s sessions, calling him ‘a bloody idiot’!
• •Asking him if he wants a ‘bit’ of my maggi and his eating three spoonfuls, leaving nothing for me!
• •Him always standing up for me and saying, “Tell them to deal with me. No one is going to mess with you!”

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Frying Pan Saga

Oh no, I groaned as I flew out of the house. “What a way to start the day!” My wife stood at the door, brandishing a frying pan, a non stick one at that, which she maintained in its immaculate condition.
However, there were times when she did forget about taking care of it, as now, a moment ago, when it descended on my head more than once. “I’ll fry you, you worm!” she screeched at a glass shattering pitch that would have done an opera singer proud. The worm squirmed. I cocked a wary eye behind me, and thankfully saw her retrace her steps. She would never come out on the street minus her lipstick. The storm had abated for the present. I was so occupied in sneaking a peek behind me, that I failed to notice the paper boy sailing along merrily on his shining paragon of a bicycle. He saw me too late and we came together with a resounding clash.
I picked myself up gloomily and dusted my poor rear which had come off the worst in the encounter. Maybe I should acquire a suit of armour for days like these, I thought distractedly as I looked around for the culprit. However, he seemed to have taken to his heels, faster than a streak of lightning, before I could nab him.
His cycle lay glinting in the sunlight. I don’t know what prompted me to have my cycling ‘arangetram’ right then. The cycle beckoned like a sultry temptress, and I picked it up gingerly, and lifted one foot over it. After a couple of false starts, I got it moving. People around scattered at the fierce scowl on my face, as I concentrated on getting my feet to move and keep my balance at the same time. I found myself going down a gentle slope, and had I been a bit surer of my balance, I would have almost enjoyed the ride. In reality, I was now wondering how to get off. Should I let go and tumble off? Or should I hang on and clutch on to something solid like a branch and heave myself off? I felt both ways were rather undignified!
I wobbled past a jewellery shop, and this brought back bitter memories of the spat with my wife. The crux was that I had forgotten her birthday, which had landed up a couple of months too soon (or so I thought!). The day also happened to be Woman’s Day, which she had pointed out sweetly, even smiling when I parried that by asking her if every day didn’t belong to the fairer sex.
As I sat sipping my filter coffee, after an unusually sumptuous breakfast of my favourite ‘upma’ done to a nicety, with tiny vegetables and aromatic curry leaves, and finished off with a bowl of rich carrot halwa, she had waited expectantly. I had belched in enormous satisfaction and complimented her on being the best cook in the world. What a wonderful way to begin a day, I had thought.
And then, the day had blown up in my face. A simple question about what the occasion was, and she had turned into a regular Godzilla. Her eyes flashed, her nostrils flared and her ears waggled. And that is how the frying pan episode took place!
Now here I was astride a cycle, and I had no idea how to stop the darned thing. The wobbling was becoming more noticeable, and suddenly a huge pothole materialized before me. I grabbed onto the right hand brake, and suddenly found myself whizzing through the air at full speed. After a not so gentle flip, I found myself flat on the ground, my nose in a handful of dust, with nothing bruised but my ego. The day seemed to be going just the way it was meant to go! Was it true about getting up from the wrong side of the bed, and straightaway getting onto the wrong side of one’s spouse?
I hobbled to my feet, my bones creaking in protest as I straightened up, and turned my face towards the way back home. As I limped along, I suddenly found myself in front of the jewellery shop I had passed earlier. Here was the perfect solution to appease my Lady Godzilla. I walked in, only to find myself bedazzled. There was a little bridge within, with water running below, and bright fish darting to and fro. The counters sparkled as light fell on the different varieties of earrings, bangles and necklaces strewn around in perfect order. Eager sales ladies converged on me, sensing a kill.
“May I help you, Sir?” trilled a particularly musical voice, and the charming young lady beckoned me to her counter. Dazed as I was, I was astonished at the alacrity with which she whipped out a dozen or so trinkets, and soon the counter overflowed with glittering, eye catching articles. I sent up a silent prayer of thankfulness that my wife was not with me. In the end, I chose a charming bracelet that was as charming as the salesgirl, and left for home, my wallet as light as my heart, now that I had done my good deed for the day.
I stepped out jauntily into the balmy day, sunny side up. My mood had lifted miraculously, and I felt like singing with the birds, but refrained from doing so as I did not want to alarm people enough to cause a traffic jam. I tripped along merrily, imagining a pleasant reunion with my spouse. I straightened my collar, and brushed an imaginary speck off my shirt. “God’s in His heaven/ All’s right with the world”. Browning’s words seemed to fit in with my mood, as I hummed a tune beneath my breath, this time to avoid scaring the birds.
As I neared my house, the gate stood open, invitingly open. The sunrays were falling on the roof, turning it a mellow yellow as I quickened my step and made my way in. This was my home, my haven!
Ah! What a tender moment – tender enough to awaken a poet’s senses. I stepped in carefully and looked around for HER – my Muse! She came gliding down the stairs, as beautiful as a queen and looked at me with a raised eyebrow. She seemed to have got over her blues.
I was in fine fettle, and going along with the romantic mood of the moment, I knelt before her and presented my offering (I mean, offered my present) to her, expecting nothing less than a bear hug in appreciation. I closed my eyes for a quick moment, and then opened them again.
I was never sure about what happened next. The lights flickered for a frozen moment, and my wife held out a delicate hand. My mind whirled as I saw a familiar bracelet nestling on her slender wrist. The penny dropped as I looked on in dismay. I had made the supreme mistake of giving her the same present twice over. A grave folly indeed in her eyes!
Her eyes blazed fire and she reached out for something on the table behind her, and to my horror, out came the frying pan for the second time today, and made contact with the same spot as it had done earlier.
“Oh, no”, I groaned, as I flew out of the house yet again. “What a way to end a day!”

Eves Times Magazine

Monday, July 12, 2010


The waves lap around the parent vessel
As it cuts its way
Through the azure carpet;
The little life boats tied to its sides
Are guided through the stormy waters
In a snug cocoon of protection
Against the swells that threaten
To engulf them!
The gentle mantle placed on them
Creates a halo in the ripples around,
Cushions their falls, every little bump
Makes them stronger!
The day arrives,
When each little life boat is cut adrift,
Sent on its way, to meet new challenges –
New dangers, in the world of chaos outside!
Each traces its own path
Through a sea of change, yet below the surface,
The lifelines stretch out,
Leaving room enough to move on,
But they remain tethered,
The invisible bonds under the surface,
And the age old links continue, unbroken.

Picture courtesy: Gopi Menon

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Wodehouse - wish you were 'In-House'!

“Get me an autograph of Dhoni’s!” my sister ordered. “And one for me too!” chimed my daughter, as I nodded like the cat that had got the cream! Hadn’t I just been invited to the IPL party after the home team had won magnificently? ‘No problemo!” I said, brimming with confidence. That would make it three autographs in all; one for yours truly as well! And so I left, armed with a notebook, a pen, and oodles of confidence, all set to meet the Chennai Super Kings in my Sunday best. A misnomer, as I stood out like a sore thumb, in what seemed to be a spiralling out-of-control collection of PYTs in micro minis, healthy cleavages, and flurries of giggles! But more on that later!
Security guards seemed to be the norm, as I got to the counter at the venue, and a pretty lady asked me to wait, as I had got there much too early. A terrible habit that was a relic of having been part of the Indian Army! It was 9.30 pm, and I crawled into a safe corner, pretending to be part of the ornamental potted plants! 10.30 pm and guests had begun trickling in, the lucky ones able to waltz in with their huge smiles and huger connections.
I got back to the counter, only to have the pretty lady say, “Oh sorry, Ma’am, but you will have to wait till the guest list arrives!” Obviously the said list was supposed to arrive only after most of the guests had! Back to my safe corner, as avid photographers took up their positions, hoping to catch celebs in action, and even more so, PYTs in double action! Around fifty five guests having walked in, I went back to the pretty young lady. “Ma’am, you are on our guest list, but not on the IPL list! So you’ll have to wait till that problem is ironed out!”
My safe corner was waiting for me with a warm smile. After all, we were old friends now! More flash bulbs, more bling, more micro minis and white teeth, and when suddenly I remembered I did have a contact inside, a very important lady, who had supposedly invited me. My mobile phone bowed in deference as the dulcet but firm tone came across, “Sorry, but I really can’t help you. You will have to get in yourself!” The meaning was crystal clear. Please don’t bother me with unimportant details, including yourself!
I don’t really remember what happened next, but close to midnight, when I felt myself slowly turning into Cinderella’s pumpkin, a miracle took place. A very genial young gentleman, who was part of the IPL media, managed to get me in; the magic doors opened, a blast of music almost swept me off my feet, and I was in! Alibaba’s cave had ‘Open Sesame-d’, as I hobbled into a mass of bodies, all sizes, shapes, colours and proportions, almost like Alice falling down the rabbit hole, and finding herself immediately at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party!
As my vision cleared, I looked around. Burly security guards stood between the milling crowd and the few cricketers who were present by the ramp. And suddenly models began sashaying across the ramp, teetering on their high heels, as watchers-on teetered at the length of their skirts. They were uniformly beautiful, apparelled and automated. Truly beautiful!
The designer came out to brief applause and vanished so quickly that as Wodehouse once said, he almost met himself coming out! By now my throat was parched and I looked around desperately for a Diet Pepsi! The bar beckoned, but the way towards it was unrecognizable as I bumped, goose stepped, nudged, shoved and stepped on a few toes, before I could get anywhere near it.
By now the music was at a crescendo and the bartender’s elbows working at double speed to catch up with the orders. My faint bleat did nothing to his eardrums as I clung on to the bar to avoid being trampled over. My height has never been a cause for worry, even if most mortals tower over me, but there comes a stage in every person’s life when they long to be seen and heard! So it was with me at that moment!
Around one in the night, after having been at the job for over an hour and a half, I emerged, frazzled but triumphant, holding a tall glass of Pepsi[unfortunately, not Diet, but then I figured that I had lost enough calories at the counter earlier]. The next half hour went smoothly enough. I found my hand shaken by a ex cricketer who said, “Hi, nice to see you again!” having mistaken me for one of my seven lookalikes somewhere in the world, a lanky model who told me she loved the cricketers, the modelling and the excitement of it all, and a foreign player who was trying to hide himself away, but who ultimately gave me an autograph which I desperately tried to decipher in order to figure out who he was.
What was more fun was meeting two top Chennai designers who were obviously having a great time checking out the models and soaking in the ambience. One girl looked vaguely familiar and when I asked her if she was one of the models, her accent almost rocked me off my feet. She happened to be a cheerleader! So much for the sense of familiarity! I had seen her cavorting on TV, and then it struck me like a jolt of lightning. All these folks looked so different when they were not sporting their uniforms. No wonder that I was having a tough time identifying the players from the crowd, and the models from the average underdressed girl!
The night ended when I made it end... for it could have gone on for ever, with all the celebs, and the mock celebs acting out the famous song ‘I Could Have Danced All Night!’ Having downed my solitary glass of Pepsi, and having missed dinner under the sprawl of humanity, I homeward plodded my weary way, footsore and heartsick... with absolutely nothing to show for my pains! No friends, no photos and worst of all, no autographs!
And at two in the night, as I drove home, I looked back at the evening gone by. Was there anything I had achieved? The answer stared me in the face, as clear as the Pole Star! I was not meant to be a creature of the night, a reveller of giddy social whirls, a tippler of the finest wine, an air- kisser, a vital statistician! And thank God for small mercies! After all, wasn’t it Warren Buffet himself who hit the nail when he confessed that his pastime after he got home was to make himself some popcorn and watch television? I was in exalted company, after all!

Picture courtesy:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Forget about Incredible India, can we have a Clean India?

Are you on the side of those who make India hang her head in shame or those who raise her head in pride?” asks Aamir Khan in an ‘Incredible India’ advertisement. I am as big a patriot as the next person, but sometimes, queries buzz about inside my head querulously. Is there any harm in talking about those aspects of our country that could be wished away!
Do you need that big gob of spit that just misses your big toe on your way to an important appointment? Or that red-flecked liquid spewed out so casually in a traffic snarl? What could be worse than that giant phlegm-filled hawk that begins from deep inside a champion ‘spitter’, making you wince and shut your eyes and ears in anticipation of the actual event? And those artistic red squiggles on pristine walls, winding staircases, and ironically, below signs which scream “Please do not spit here!”
What about male members of the human species with undoubtedly canine habits, when they sight a vacant wall, and proceed to let loose in public? The movie ‘Three Idiots’ has a funny yet effective way of dealing with this, where the culprit receives a gentle jolt, just enough to bring him to his senses, yet do no permanent harm! Pedestrians are often caught between the devil and the deep sea; is it safer to sink into excreta, or step off the pavement and be hit by a bus! Tread on mush or turn into mush, as it were!
The tagline of Lays Chips [no one can eat just one!] rings true as one perceives bright wrappers forming part of the vast garbage dump that our roads have turned into. Plastic bottles, cans, fruit peels and groundnut shells turn the picture murkier! On one memorable suburban train ride from Guindy to Chetpet, I walked in confidently to a deserted corner in the Ladies’ compartment, only to be assailed by a stench that made my insides churn. Someone had let her child squat on the floor and left the evidence behind! ‘Incredible India’, anyone?
On occasion, people do clean up the beaches, a laudable task indeed! But more important is to drill the idea into heads that littering is damnable! If there were no litter, there would be no need to clean up either! And no bubble gum under bus seats or used sanitary pads clogging up public toilets! Keeping one’s home clean is all very good, but throwing one’s trash into one’s neighbour’s compound is unforgiveable!
Historians, film makers and teachers turn blue in the face, trying to inculcate respect for ‘India’s vast cultural heritage’! Yet modern Lotharios go down in history, using sharp implements to etch their names on age-old structures. Thus ‘Rahul loves Sunita’ hits the eye, as you walk in with reverence, and are forced to imbibe history with modern romance. I say, increase the entrance fees to our valuable monuments! Art is meant for the common man, not for the man who is ‘common’ in behaviour! The money earned could help maintain the said monument to ensure history does not become the dead past!
Anna Salai came alive when the side walls were adorned with paintings - from Ravi Varmas and pastoral scenes to flora and fauna. Unfortunately, down came the rain, and washed everything clean! The mammoth effort went down the drain literally, along with loads of money and artistic labour. Now more paint is being brought in, and hopefully the masterpieces will be made waterproof! The concept to turn Mount Road into a Manhattan, or to link the various canals to create a Venice in Chennai is appreciable, if only concrete foundations could be laid down to crystallize the same!
For the crimes mentioned earlier [for they are no less], stringent fines should be levied, and a talking-to by a stern policeman or a night behind bars, for those who cannot afford to pay. Couldn’t we make a start in our own backyards? The earlier our minds turn clean, the faster our habits will follow suit! Which brings to mind a quote that went something like this; I saw a stone on the road and wondered why someone did not shift it, till I realised that I was also someone!
Deepti Menon

23rd May 2010 - The Hindu

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Deep Ties

Don’t we sometimes wish we could remain children
All our lives? Nestled under the wings of our parents?
Isn’t it ironic how they nurture us till we are able
To stand on our feet, then let us go, content;
Is it really worth it, showering love on a child
Who has to leave one day?
Is it worth the pain, the tears, the smiles, the joys,
The anguished hours of growing up
The lessons of defeat and triumph
That strike an echo in their hearts too?
Or is it that the very threat of separation
Gives sweet poignancy to the relationship,
Making the ties as delicate as cobwebs,
Yet, at the same time, strong enough
To withstand the ravages of nature?
Ties – unfathomably deep, the bonds of a lifetime!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nalini Miss

Thousands of students have passed through her loving arms and gone on to create niches for themselves the world over. For them, Nalini Miss is the person who held their tiny hands and walked along with them through their school years, whispering words of hope, but chiding them when they slackened! She is the mentor who smiled encouragingly when they did well academically, but smiled even brighter when they did something good. She boosted their morale, and built up their self confidence through various co-curricular activities, which made them hold up their heads against a competitive world outside.
For each of her students, she is Nalini Miss, the one teacher whom they treasured deep within their hearts, especially when they won laurels and collected bouquets, when they met friends and talked about the good old ‘Hari Sri’ days. She represented the mother, the guru, the mentor and above all, the friend who could create magic in their lives. Today there are students around the world, who have blossomed forth, thriving in their careers, and others who have created families in perfect love and harmony... in each of their hearts, Nalini Miss reigns! May her tribe increase!

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Father, Eshwara Chandran

Whom the Gods love, die young...
What can I say about my father, Lt. Col. K.R.E. Chandran, who, despite being an Army officer of exceptional calibre, was yet the gentlest man that I have ever known? The eldest of three sons, he was the favourite and the most loved one in his family. What one noticed first about him was his smiling eyes, punctuated by a jerky laugh that came straight from his heart. When he joined the Indian Army, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind that he was the epitome of an ideal soldier – patriotic, straightforward and chivalrous to the hilt. His penchant for the written word, and the beauty of his calligraphy, made his letters unique, especially in a time when people tended to speak more and write less. Even today, when he is no more with us, it is these letters, much read and frayed, which truly capture his spirit on paper.
The Army was an ideal backdrop as he set out to use his engineering skills and agile mind in various ways, both in peacetime and in war. His men adored him, fellow officers swore by him and ‘Sam’ Chandran, as many knew him, was slated to go far in life.
He was the balm to my mother’s fiery nature, always the quiet tensile strength behind her. Nalini was effervescent, like quicksilver. He tethered her down with his steadfast nature, taking care never to quell her myriad flights of imagination. Together they made magic, as they sat out to do everything they loved together, be it in the realm of entertainment, music, dramatics or literature. It was as if they were one soul in one body. When the children arrived, they only cemented the beautiful bond further. There was so much to be done, so many mountains yet to be climbed together!
Then came ‘the most unkindest cut’ of all...
Fate decided to take him away from his family at the young age of 42. There were many things about him that we missed – his quirky sense of humour, his wonderful writing style through which he imparted nuggets of wisdom that enriched me personally, his devotion towards his loved ones which made him the ideal son, the committed husband and the exceptional father... and above all, his steadfast presence that always made us feel that all was right with the world! On the 29th of January 1979, he passed away, having ensured that my mother would be able to face the world in her own forthright manner, but even today, after thirty long years, the void and the ache in our hearts remain. If there was one wish in all our hearts, it would be this...
“Would that he were still with us, his crown full silvery grey,
Would that his face were a map work of wrinkles, and that we could watch him age;
But we are denied this pleasure, only a photo remains,
To remind us of what he was, but not of what he would have been!”

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Colored Folks!

This was written by a black gentleman in Texas and is so funny. What a great sense of humor and creativity!!!

When U Black, U Black!

When I was born, I was BLACK,
When I grew up, I was BLACK,
When I went in the sun, I stayed BLACK,
When I got cold, I was BLACK,
When I was scared, I was BLACK,
When I was sick, I was BLACK,
And when I die, I'll still be BLACK.

Now, you 'white' folks....

When you’re born, you're PINK,
When you grow-up, you’re WHITE,
When you go in the sun, you get RED,
When you're cold, you turn BLUE,
When you're scared, you're YELLOW,
When you get sick, you're GREEN,
When you bruise, you turn PURPLE,
And when you die, you look GRAY.

So who y'all be callin'

Picture courtesy: Rogue Design and Image's photostream

Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Minefield of Extramarital Affairs!

"When a man steals your wife, there is no better revenge than to let him keep her".

Sacha Guitry

Marriage is two hearts that beat as one and two souls that crave to be together... all very poetic and pleasing to the ear! Often this gives way to the seven year itch, when after the first stormy onrush of emotions, replete with Valentine's Day gifts and outpourings of love, signs of ennui seem to set in. The husband begins to stop pretending that his wife is Helen of Troy and begins looking around, albeit discreetly. The wife is likewise occupied, emptying her spouse's pocket to line her cupboard, buying expensive clothes, perfumes, accessories, in short, everything to stay attractive and ahead in the race.

However, the first step is always the most difficult as there is the blasted conscience that has to be reckoned with. Once that is quashed, with the little red devil patting one on the back encouragingly, the actual affair begins. What is ironic is that one has to travel the same path of flowers, chocolates, jewellery and romance to strike lucky again!

The Tell Tale Signs: Cupid, don't be stupid! Women have very strong instincts about their husbands. A straying hubby tries to hide it by turning extra loving towards his wife. Jyoti, a beautician, found her husband bringing her roses, and acting very romantic all of a sudden. He had never been so, and her suspicions were aroused, and she set a tail on him. The act fell apart when she discovered him with his boss' daughter, who was about sixteen years younger than him! She walked out on him, unable to stand the idea of being thrown over for a younger woman.

Another sign that is a giveaway is when the spouse begins to take special care of his appearance, wearing sexy clothes, spraying on that extra bit of aftershave, striving to lose weight or dyeing his hair, more so if all these changes are brand new. He turns secretive about his whereabouts, switches his mobile off, starts working overtime and yet, is not in the office when his wife calls!

Thus, there are examples galore of people seeking excitement outside marriage. However, most times, the blame must point within... the excitement and the love have smouldered and died down, and no attempts have been made to stoke the fire. It is time to identify the threats to one's marriage when this point arrives. There are certain values that must not be forgotten, that actually enhance the sacred bond of matrimony.

Being honest with each other is all important. Respecting each other's views is paramount. Giving each other space within the relationship without being possessive can make life more exciting. Doing things together, like going on a vacation, spending a night out at a restaurant, communicating feelings and most important, trusting each other are all core values that can make your marriage work, and how!

Published in 'Just For Women'

An Epic Reversal

There are moments in life when a quick wit and presence of mind work wonders.This incident was no different. The play practice was going on in full swing, the theme being the evergreen epic, the Ramayana. As all the participants were physically or mentally challenged, the roles had been chosen with much care to make sure they could be essayed with ease.The young hero, Rama, was a hearing impaired child, who guided his little spouse, Sita, tenderly across the stage as she was blind. In return, she paid heed to the music in the background and the ensuing dialogues, prompting him at opportune moments.

Hanuman performed his antics wonderfully, despite being afflicted with cerebral palsy, and the audience rooted for him whole heartedly. The rehearsal was really going well, especially as all the little actors had memorized their lines and knew their cues perfectly. Suddenly a high pitched voice piped up. “Ma’am, ma’am!” The teacher looked down only to see Ravana, tugging at her dress.
“What’s the matter, Rohan?” she asked, for the little fellow’s lip was quivering and he looked as though he would burst into tears any moment. Though he was mentally challenged, Rohan was excellent as Ravana, performing his role just the way his teacher had coached him. When he twirled his fake moustache and guffawed, everyone would clap in appreciation.
Yet today he did not seem his normal chirpy self. The teacher knelt down and brought her face down to his level. “Why are you upset, Rohan? Did anyone say anything to hurt you?”
Rohan pouted as he struggled to explain, tears flowing down his cheeks. He wanted to say something but his emotions were getting the better of him. Wiping his tears for him, the teacher smiled, and said loudly, “Ok, children, take a break!” As the youngsters ambled out, she made Rohan sit down beside her. “Now tell me what the matter is, Rohan!”
“Ma’am, why do I have to die every day in our play? Why can’t Rama die instead?” The little boy’s question came like a thunderbolt, even as the teacher struggled to answer. What could she tell him? “Nobody dies but me all the time!” he wailed. “Why can’t Rama die instead?”
The teacher listened to the young boy’s reasoning patiently. How could she solve the dilemma? What words could she use to console her Ravana? Suddenly a brainwave struck her, one that was simple yet effective! It was as though God Himself had decided to intervene. Drawing the little rebel towards her, she caressed him on his unruly mop and said. “I agree. Why should Ravana die in every performance?” he turned to the other actors who were looking on, raising her voice.
“Listen, all of you! Ravana here wants a change of plot. He does not want to die today.” She smiled as she continued, “So today Rama will die instead of Ravana.” There was a gasp, followed by a silence when she stopped talking. The other teachers who were helping out looked at her in amazement. How could Rama, the hero die? How could the epitome of good be defeated by evil?
The teacher’s next words solved the enigma. She turned to Ravana again and asked, “If Rama dies today, will you allow Ravana to die tomorrow for the stage show?”
The little face brightened up as Rohan nodded enthusiastically. After all, Rama would die today! He did not know the difference between a rehearsal and an actual show. The so-called insurmountable problem had been cracked through the patience and sagacity of an understanding teacher!
Needless to say, the show was a huge success, as the children performed beyond expectations. The audience members had tears in their eyes as they watched, and little Ravana got a special encore and a round of applause for his enthusiastic portrayal of the Lankan king!
Picture courtesy: Shailesh Nanal -

Your Children are not your Children

Who exactly is a new born parent? Just every parent with a new born child, groping in the dark, even as he or she marvels at the God given gift before them! Perfect fingers and toes, delicate pink nails, round little eyes, a nose uniformly flat till it perks up later in life, every part a miracle of life! Benjamin Spock deafens with his ubiquitous advice, as well meaning friends and family members offer long homilies on what to do and what not to do. Most of the time, these opinions clash, as do titans who have booming voices that drown all else!

New born babies are smarter than their inexperienced parents. They know the right buttons to push to reduce the latter to blubbering masses, much akin to the Chinese [or is it the Japanese] form of torture that ensures that they do not sleep at night. So new born parents end up, bleary eyed and cranky, fighting to keep their peepers open even as Baby dear sleeps the day away in blissful oblivion, emitting tiny snores intermittently. Food has to be conveniently ready at the touch of a switch, and the switch of a bottle, to prevent the emergence of a baby Ghatotkach, all set to prove his rakshasa identity.

And just when the parents feel that they have mastered everything that they need to manipulate their wee offspring, off he springs, turning into a human dynamo, crawling on his knees at full speed or wobbling his way, clutching on to everything fragile along his path, be it glassware or crystal. A parent suddenly grows a gimlet eye, taut nerves and a supernatural sleight of hand, all weapons to control his little ball of energy, and stop him from eating anything and everything in sight.

The next age is even trickier, as mental faculties need to be sharpened along with physical endurance. This is when one’s little girl begins to speak her mind. She cannot help experimenting, whether at home or outside. A big toy store seems the perfect place to check her lung power, as well as stomp on the floor in a strident tantrum. The parents’ normal reaction is to wish they were invisible, or that they could switch their daughter off with a remote control. This behaviour is better nipped in the bud with suitably firm action, as the little miss is only testing the waters. One helpless nod, and her parents find themselves floundering in hot water! As one old adage goes, many smart children do not smart at the right places!

Teenage is the age of rebellion! Parents know next to nothing, nothing that makes sense to their rapidly growing youngster. In the words of Gibran, “You may give them your love, but not your thoughts, for they have their own thoughts”. Peer pressure increases till the sun and the moon revolve around that one gang of precocious badly behaved adolescents, who wear tattered jeans and unruly locks, sporting tattoos and rings God knows where. They are ultra ‘cool’, the ‘YO’ gang, the rappers and the ragamuffins, who wouldn’t be caught dead in well styled clothes. College days are meant to be lived out in enjoyment, and cutting classes, sitting in the canteen, going for movies and paying money for adequate attendance to be able to write the examinations, are all the best part of growing up – at least that is what it is called!

Then one day, the young person suddenly grows up. The torn jeans and scruffy T shirts give way to smart trousers and semi formal shirts. The locks are mercilessly chopped off, the tattoos carefully stowed away, and the butterfly emerges from the chrysalis, a vulnerable maturity in sight. The dreaded interview season is looming in the horizon, a natural consequence to all the exams and tests that go into making men and women out of raw clay. Salaries and job contracts pop eyeballs, as the brand new generation white collared employee moves into his new mode smoothly, reversing into a parking space all his own, and a sanitised cubicle the size of a cubby hole, as his soul dwells “in the house of tomorrow”. A whole new world awaits him, or her, as the case may be, as proud parents fluff their collars and preen, even as they are bewildered at the speed with which their children have grown, and how! Child is father of the man, in Wordsworthian parlance, and the parent still gropes in the dark, as life comes full circle once again, “for life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday”. And suddenly Kahlil Gibran’s words make perfect sense...

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

Could anyone have said it better than that?

Picture courtesy:
The original of the article published in the New Indian Express on 13th April 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010

A Luscious Slice of Goa

“Wow, we’ve been married for almost 25 years!” exclaimed my husband in the first week of February with a note of surprise that I didn’t quite savour. He made up for it by booking us at the Ramada Caravela Beach Resort, Goa. We left behind a bemused daughter, a happy mom and a grinning dog who felt he too deserved to go along!
Despite its fortress-like exterior, Ramada Inn, quite off the beaten path, has a reception area that takes the breath away. As we waited to be chaperoned to our rooms, our spirits lifted at the sight of the large colourful frieze that depicted a slice of Goan life... and the sight of the Atrium Bar brought a further twinkle into my husband’s eye.
The golf cart trundled along as we rode in solitary splendour to our room, taking in high archways in white and rust, edged with yellow, green and red motifs, green palms swaying, the dome shaped roofs, cool water bodies, and an infectious spirit of bonhomie as passersby waved, faces wreathed with smiles.
“A sea facing room!” I screamed, as hubby dear grinned, Cheshire-cat like! He had booked it, after all! The view was picture perfect, as the lush green of the lawns, and the darker shaded palms, gave way to the clear blue grey of the sea. Ten minutes later, we had crossed the spectacular courtyard, traversed the aquamarine lagoon shaped pool that lay strewn with bodies [all live ones luckily!], glanced longingly at the Island Bar which sat cosily in the middle of the pool, picked up our blue and white towels, and ensconced ourselves on two deck chairs, all in record time.
It was then that the thought hit me that foreigners have no inhibitions; whether shaped like walruses or Kipling’s Mowgli, they throw off their outer layers with a shrug, waddle into the water and stand there in all their glory, caring two hoots about what people around think of them. People around have better things to do – ogle at nubile young things with never ending legs , shaded glasses, well oiled bodies and oodles of attitude! Which reminded me of the quote that went something like this... 80% of the women think that bikinis are indecent! Others have good figures!
I loved the way the names of the various restaurants tripped off my tongue... Castaway by the pool offered us our first club sandwich, the buffet lunches and dinners were laid out in the Lanai lounge, and Cafe Cascada had that peculiarly Agatha Christie ambience with cream armchairs, white and blue table cloths, and a restful atmosphere into which I expected Hercule Poirot to stride in, pointing a finger at an unlikely murderer.
At twilight we settled down by the poolside, tempted by the dazzling lights that entwined themselves round the trunks of the palm trees, as the blue waters threw their reflection back like so many fairy lights. A crooner with a particularly enchanting voice made the night even more magical as she sang old romantic numbers. “A loaf of bread... a flask of wine and thou beside me, singing in the wilderness...” Omar Khayyam couldn’t have said it any better!

A Luscious Slice of Goa [Continued]

The sea at night was strangely overwhelming, with the stars out in all their splendour. We sat at the Sunset Bar, lulled by the murmur of the waves that rose in intensity with every hour, as a nightcap appeared from a Goan boat serving as the bar, and a magician turned up to thrill the children with his card tricks.
At dawn, the Dolphin Cruise beckoned us as we got into life jackets, along with two other couples, on a boat with two crew members. Picturesque trawlers dotted the horizon, and suddenly there they were, a family of dolphins that bobbed up, did their somersaults in perfect unison as we squealed in excitement, and then went under to reappear at a totally different spot. It was like a match at Wimbledon with all of us swivelling our heads every time they surfaced.
Breakfast done, we decided to leave our footprints on the sands and take a stroll along the beach, the sun beating down on our backs. The little waves lapped at our feet, as the larger breakers surged in, salt crystals on our lips, and every time the tide ran out, up would pop tiny shells, with glittery bits of mica diamonds, as hermit crabs scuttled away into temporary shelters. Just as I was about to pass out, we discovered a little beach shack. “Chilled drinks and magnificent fried prawns!” got rid of my exhaustion rather effectively. Alongside was another shack selling trinkets, bright T Shirts, shell necklaces, and a saleswoman who slashed costs when I spoke to her in Hindi.
The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa is as famous as butter chicken in Punjab. As I walked down the Francis Xavier aisle, my eyes turned as big as saucers. Talk of having a saint on every wall, and in such mint condition! The workmanship was superb, the flooring marble and the features divine. Blue and gold, a typically Christian combination, works beautifully adding to the glory of the creation. The magnificence within kept us all in a state of awe, a state that lasted even after we got out. “Cat got your tongue?” was what got me out of it!
That evening was an enchanted one. Even as we sat savouring prawns and fried rice at the Polynesian Hut, three gentlemen came up, strumming on their guitars, and serenaded us with the most romantic songs possible. The scent of the sea, the shimmering sands in the moonlight and the heady wine – and this was “Paradise enow”!
In our room we found a reminder of our silver anniversary - a luscious chocolate cake that the hotel had so kindly rustled up for us. And as we left the next morning, our luggage seemed unusually heavy, with many wonderful memories we had been burdened with, and the one solemn promise that we would be back one day!

How to Open a Can of Worms

The proverbial can of worms has proved to be the easiest thing to open, judging by the plethora of events that have stormed the public bastions over the past few weeks. While cricket has largely dominated the eyeballs, a few other games which had been simmering alongside, have now boiled over and taken the centre stage. So how exactly does one open a can of worms in the most public manner possible, in just a few easy steps? The essential premise is to believe that you are god, or above the law, actually a law unto yourself and that no one can touch you, as you are hovering so far above them all.

Identify the can of worms. Choose the one most juicy, most rampant and most likely to catch the public eye; popular categories being sports, politics, business, all of which can be made more interesting with a hint of spicy scandal. Identify your opponents. These might be celebrities, always useful as they are already in the limelight or people who are more popular, wealthier, bluer-blooded or merely better looking than you are. Pull the rug from under their feet by all means, but make sure that you are not standing on the selfsame rug yourself. The tumble in such a case can be embarrassing, even fatal, at times.

Begin crawling up the social ladder, rubbing out evidence of any base intentions, and whitewash your actions till squeaky clean. Use every foothold you can, even if it means stepping on your best friend’s back. In addition, as an old sage said, be nice to people on your way up. You never know when you’ll meet them next, maybe on your way down.

Filthy lucre talks loud and clear, and is the easiest medium to make friends with. Make sure you throw money around in such a way that it bounces back, destroying enemies by making fair-weather friends of them. However, if they are not in an actual position of power, just squash them underfoot, making sure not to lift your foot up thereafter.

VIPs are crucial to your plan of action. Overwhelm them with your smarmy generosity, chuckling evilly within, pick up all their tabs, walk their dogs, buy gifts for their loved ones, and watch your future open out magically. Feather your nest discreetly. Never put all your eggs in one basket, place them in different nests like the cuckoo, and stow them so far away that you yourself need a reminder to locate them discreetly in the future. Make sure that there are so many layers of subterfuge that even the most avid newshound gets tired of digging for that particular bone, however juicy.

Put down your misdeeds in writing! Now that pen and paper are a thing of the past, and the World Wide Web is waiting to swallow you whole, go ahead and exhibit your opinions for all and sundry to read. Make your entries salacious and mind boggling enough to buttonhole your readers. And always choose a topic that is capable of snowballing into a huge controversy.

Finally, if you want to avoid all the above steps and slam that can open, just tweet! Tweeting, if not done with utmost care, should be left to birds, or the bird brained, and one tweet can prove lethal! So open your blog, put down that momentous tweet, and sit back to watch the worms slither in sheer glee across your page, to take over your whole life as well! Congratulations! You have just joined the league of Tweeters Anonymous! And you didn’t even need a simple can opener!

11th May 2010- The New Indian Express

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