Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stealing Time

I enjoy reading literature, novels, science fiction etc. which at times makes me so much engrossed in the book that I am oblivious to my surrounding. This hobby of mine was though kept in the closet as the demands from the job and family grew and continue still, though their nature has changed. Now with a teenage daughter, I have found myself with some time to pursue this hobby of mine during 'my' time which I manage to find when either all are watching TV or I am not in the kitchen. Frankly speaking, I also enjoy watching TV but I am not a couch potato. So I am gifted with 45 minutes or so when I engross myself in the book.

I have read many books on / by Three Investigators, Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Agatha Christie, Sidney Sheldon, Sudha Murthy, Dan Brown, Chetan Bhagat etc.
I also remember the school library where things used to be proper and books were revered. We used to have a library class when the books had to be selected as per our roll numbers. The last of the number students got less popular books. It was one such day when I was left with a book titled 'Scarlet Pimpernel'. The name and author were not known to me but anyways, reading came naturally to me and by the time I had finished reading it, I was glad that I was given the book. Till date the book still remains in my memory and I enjoyed reading it.

The same situation now presents itself these days, when my daughter gets such lovely books from the school library that I read them within a week. In fact, I have started looking forward to Mondays when a new book will reveal to me and I will steal some time from my daily routine to enjoy this hobby of mine.

Along with the reading habit, I have also explored my writing abilities through this blog. Expressing views and opinions and experiences has become so easy and far reachable that indeed one gets heard. But at the same time, the truth is that all want to say, speak and talk but none wants to hear, listen and converse. Blogging is a way out of this and I am glad to be a blogger.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015


My job in academics has given me ample scope to explore, develop and take pride in myself as a teacher, researcher,  instructor, colleague, friend and many more roles that get intermittently demanded when there are events, hectic schedule, examinations etc. As a result of these demands and situations, I have learnt to rely on my patience which in turn has given me opportunity to be a good observer of human nature and actions. The insight into the nature of people from different walks of life, reveals very interesting dimensions to mundane problems. I recall one such experience about a young woman who would sweep and clean our college department. All in the department would call her Alka Tai, though she is very young.

Alka Tai, a very vibrant and smiling woman is not more than 25 years of age. Her tragedy, that she is a widow; is completely hidden by her eager talk and confident exterior. She has a 6 year old son who is the sole purpose in her life. She stays with her in laws and works from morning till evening to keep her home on running wheels. Recently, she mentioned that her brother in law got married and his bride would be like a good friend to her in the house. In fact, after a couple of months, Alka Tai did mention that she now has less work at home and it feels good to talk to another woman of similar age. We all were very happy to know about the developments in Alka's life.

One day, though, Alka Tai was sweeping the floor without her warm smile. We all asked her the reason for her being so glum. Alka was more than eager to talk about her feelings. She mentioned that she had all along wanted to go to see the Ganpati pendals in Pune city since 3-4 years. But she had to suppress all her wishes because being a widow she did not want to ask her then unmarried brother in law and nor her in laws, who were growing old and would have found the long walk trouble some. And though after welcoming her sister in law with all her heart, she found that she would not be able to accompany the newly weds. We all tried to cheer her up and mentioned that the new couple needs to spend time with each other; she might as well take her son with her. But Alka Tai was not to be pacified as she went on that her sister in law would not agree to go for she needed to study for her coming examinations. This was a surprise to us all as a couple of hours of family time would not have made a dent in the examination schedule which was in fact 15 days later. Anyway, we all did our best and suggested that she plan the outing with her few women friends.

The next day, Alka Tai was her radiant self again. Her effervescence prompted the obvious question from all of us. To this Alka Tai replied that indeed she had visited all the Ganpati pendals in the vicinity with all her women friends who all got together and had made plans. The dinner had been simple to give ample time to each woman to utilize time for herself. The best part was that Alka Tai's sister in law had taken a keen interest in the gathering of 'all girl group' and had decided to join them. The sudden shift from family to women friends had been a big boost for every woman. The need to find mutual solution to their individual problems had given each woman a sense of independence as well as a sense of belonging in the crowd.

With this Alka Tai narrated all the happenings and a detailed description of all Ganpati idols and their decoration. I could only smile at her new found happiness and freedom.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Blood : A Murderer it does not Reveal

The recent movie, 'Talvar' on Arushi Murder case, created a lot of flutter once again in the minds of the audience who were already tired of discussing the fate of the unlucky girl, her parents, their servant; the modus operandi of the law and the attitude of the media. The release of the movie followed with the opinion polls of the public on the safety standards to be followed in case of households having servants; has only added to the on going discussion on the actual murder of two unlucky persons.

What actually happened on the fateful day, one cannot say; but what transpired afterwards is for all to see and analyse. Sure there was blood, but no murderer has been captured ! Sure there is a case of chaos and nobody to blame !

Two souls lost their lives and the culprit(s) is (or are) yet to admit the guilt or are waiting to be captured. Isn't it strange that the human conscience would not permit the concealment of such ghastly deed and yet none would dare come forward to admit the crime that would haunt the soul till death made the escape more easier ? Has the society moved to such a brink that there is no conscience left ? As a citizen of this world, we all witness the plight of refugees. The photograph of a motionless baby boy on the beach did evoke a huge world response but who is to blame for the tragedy ? We are mute spectators when the carnivores devour the herbivores; calling it an act of nature. Surely, the humans being done away with by the humans, is not an act of nature. Is it then something to do with the individual fate ? If so fate gave an equal chance to all, those who helped others lose lives are content with the fact that blood spilled does not reveal the murderer at times. Those who sacrifice themselves for others are contented with the fact that they were of help to someone. The feeling of contentment and discontentment is what distinguishes the good from the bad. This quality of the human nature does not need to reveal, it can only be felt and believed.

It is aptly said that 'Truth is stranger than Fiction'

Friday, October 9, 2015

Gods love contemporary

Image result for dancing boy cartoonThe 10 day Ganesh Festival in Pune brings with itself lot of planning, arrangements, processions, dhol tasha preparation, decoration etc. Having a darshan of the elephant God or its display results in a crowded street with people jostling past each other and shouting at the top of their voice even when there is a loud music system. The same fervor can be seen in festivities across the country where traditions and culture are on full display.

In this gaiety, it is worth to mention the enjoyment as well as distress caused due to the loud music system. The occasion may be any, but the songs being played out are keeping in tune with the public choice and not as per the suitability of the festival. So whether it is Ganesh festival, Navratri festival or any other, you would normally find God being entertained to disco songs, rock music etc. which is a pain for the human ear (medically proven fact).

It was one such occasion that I saw one such over enthusiastic crowd dancing to the tunes of latest songs. God had no say in this except for watching the people. The serenity on God's face and the happiness of the crowd in a ear tearing loud sound, was contradictory and confusing to me. My eyes were now fixed on a young boy of not more than seven years who was in his own world trying to mimic the dancing steps of famous Bollywood heroes. His accomplishments were lauded by the onlookers and other dancers. Their cheering was only too drowned in the loud sound system. The boy's dance and his energy kept on building with every new song. The smile on God's face also made me see that indeed He loves contemporary. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Watching a movie in theater ...

Image result for watching movie in theater cartoon

Watching 'Jungle Book' at the age of eight, along with my mother and her friend and her children; is the earliest of my memories on watching a movie. I vividly remember that we all were treated to Gold Spot, a soft drink; which provided a cartoon character as a stamp behind the soft drink's cap. Each of us were happy to receive a character each which also invited discussion on their individual traits. The movie itself is a distant memory but the entire experience of selecting one of the three frocks, dressing with care, hiring a rickshaw, standing in a queue to buy the movie tickets, enjoying the treats, crying at the slightest discomfort to the hero and finally returning home in a rickshaw; is what is my earliest memory of watching a movie in a theater.

This experience was even more enhanced after attending college. Instead of the theater and the treats, the general issue was elaborate planning, forming a group, arranging for transport, pooling pocket money, bunking classes and then finally going to the theater where comments and teasing were the accepted norms. It is even more interesting to mention the fact that every year the 'Traditional Day' was celebrated in the college which saw everybody in their best attire, looking their best. Our class used to go to the movie on such days where we all would be cynosure of all eyes. The important aspect of this situation is not the movie or the treats but managing your traditional dress, trying to look your best, asserting your individuality in a group and finally bringing your personality out into the world. The entire experience was retold to the family with lot of excitement.

After completing education, individuals who later took up jobs, would plan for movies along with their colleagues strictly after office hours. Here the concept of bunking office is nearly non existent. People in such situations go for enjoying the movie; the concept of elaborate planning, managing yourself etc, takes a backseat. Buying the luxuries offered by a multiplex is more lucrative than the actual story of the movie. The fun part of the movie shifts the focus to the point where situations or people get associated with the central characters of the movie. Couples visiting such places are more into imagining themselves as hero or heroines and spinning their own yarn.

The entire individual focused experience takes a tumble after the birth of kid(s). Watching movie becomes more of an ordeal when the kid(s) are of kindergarten age. The constant nagging fear as to when a kid may start bawling, completely smashes the silence of the mind and the movie hall. A more comfortable situation is when your kid allows you to watch the movie provided you answer all their questions. So the focus now shifts to more of a question answer round for the kids and parents where at times you feel happy when the movie ends. Having enjoyed (or got traumatized) all these forms of movie watching, I have now shifted to another gear altogether where I am watching children's films like Minions, ice age etc. or sci fi films like Gravity, Interstellar etc.

My teenage daughter now makes plan for movies along with her friends which is appreciated by me and my husband. The difficult part is in understanding how my daughter and her friends spent the three hours at the theater. Her narrative of the film's story and of their group is jumbled up to the point that we almost lose track of who is who in the entire experience. So, after watching 'Welcome Back', my daughter took to narrating the story; in between trying to tell about herself and her friends. Till date, I neither felt the need to watch the same movie nor have I understood the movie; not because its confusing, but because I could make neither head nor tail of my daughter's narrative. One thing that I am happy and content about is the fact that I enjoyed the entire experience of watching movie through the eyes and perspective of a new generation.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Soft to touch

Image result for children with a puppy cartoon

Anika was busy planning summer vacations for her two children aged 9 and 4 years old, when the shrill voice of her maid jolted her from her thoughts and brought her to the present where the advertisement on 'Mahindra Holidays' was being played. "Kai ga bai, apla desh kiti chhan distoe !" Indeed, Anika agreed, with the diversity of flora and fauna, the assimilation of Indian traditions and festivals into the local people and the presence of tours & travels to cater to the customers' needs; the places to visit kept on their marching stride. The advertisement beautifully captured the feel of sand for the bare feet and the exclamation of amusement at watching the conch shell moving and tumbling towards the sea.

The pleasing visual and her energy channelized into planning the summer vacation, Anika drifted back the memory into her childhood; that always cropped up now and then while watching her children grow. The cooker's sharp whistle followed by the hot steam jet, brought Anika as a nine year old visiting her grandparents during the hot summer season of Nagpur; which is known for its heat, oranges and the zero mile stone. The vacations spent along with cousin brothers and sisters and most importantly eating mangoes and plucking guavas from the tree, added excitement, jubilation and contentment in spending the day, carefree. The wait for getting a sweet cigarette (a sweet mint chocolate) from grandfather was always fulfilled on arriving at the big house and brushing teeth. All kids would love the pampering shown by grandmother who prepared delicacies ranging from 'sheera', laddoos, chivada, etc.

The afternoons would invite lot of imagination and innovation from Anika and her cousins in whiling away time. Their favorite activity was to water the guava tree first for it was their best source of interest and then they would water the lemon tree that grandma instructed to water. The watering activity itself invited lot of fun and frolic which ensured that all would get a second bath. At times, instead of watering the plants, the kids found it thrilling to burn papers and dig up stones from the garden; which was big and full of promise of providing nature's surprises. The garden also was home to a litter of puppies, a month old.

The evenings saw friends getting together and playing outdoor games; where boys and girls played various games in different groups. The nights; at 8:00 pm were interesting for grandpa would tell engrossing stories which all children listened with rapt attention. Grandpa ensured that the characters in the story were named after his grand children so that all would learn the good manners and behavior. After the story telling, it would be the duty of all kids to make arrangements for sleeping outside below the open starlit sky where cots were already laid out; mattresses and covers had to be put. This was the best experience as the exhaustion of the day, heat of summers and the breeze of the night would ensure a sound sleep for the kids. Anika would sleep near to her grandpa as her sister was small and would be near to their mother. Grandpa would not let his grandson to sleep near him as they would be playing football in their sleep and kick him really bad. And so Anika would be snug near her grandpa. The early morning light would always wake her up and one day, she found herself listening to the sound of the puppies. Excited, she went towards them and brought them to her cot, placing them between herself and grandpa. The comfort and warmth of the bed, ensured more sleep for Anika and the puppies. In the morning, grandpa would wake up touching the soft fur of the puppies and he would be surprised as to how they got there. He was very loving and caring towards the animals and he would be pleased to see his grand daughter behind the mischief and would proudly say that he wakes up in the morning after touching something soft.

Anika remembers her grandpa's way of informing everyone of getting pleasantly surprised and the memory touches a chord in her heart that reminds her that it is now she who has touched something soft.