ME :)

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Bangalore, Karnataka, India
A Homo Sapien :D I am not sure if other species are allowed to blog!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sarangi

      It was business as usual on a bright and sunny Wednesday afternoon. I packed my bags at 4 , left office and walked my way to the bus stop in front of the huge technology park or a small mall whatever people want to call it. The line between work and fun is getting thinner with malls coming up at all work places. Not much fun is expected right in the middle of the week especially when you have a baby looking your way at home. I usually don't even look at the mall while walking out unless I am forced to look around due to delayed buses on my route. I missed my usual bus by 2 minutes and stood there waiting with a heavy laptop bag and shrunk eyes due to bright hot sun. I could hear my favorite song being played on a violin perhaps. I looked around to find the source to see an old man in his 70s playing the song on what I googled to be a Sarangi. The instrument looked plain simple with two strings on a bamboo stick set into dry coconut and he was playing it with a bow. Wow! It was so amazing that he could play any song so effortlessly on that instrument. It took 15 minutes more for my bus to arrive and meanwhile he had already played 3-4 songs.
      Was he just playing as a hobby or was he expecting real business selling that instrument? Is the TechparkMall a good market place for his product? What is his earning per hour? Even after playing amazing songs for 15-20 min, he could not sell even one piece. Will people really buy it just because he plays well? Of course we all know our limitations and we very well know we will not be able to either play good music on it or attend 500 rs per hour musical classes for it. Why is he putting so much effort in vain? Does he have dependents? as I thought through these questions, a voice inside me said -"Instead of thinking, why dont you buy one? May be your cacophony will amuse your baby!" The opposition asked -" What will all the people/colleagues standing here think of me? Will they think I am mad!" "Why do I care? My bus is visible at the corner of the road. Let me decide quickly and buy one." I rushed to the old man and asked him "How much?" He said "50Rs". I dug my wallet to find only 52Rs. I told him I am ready to pay 40 as I need 12 bucks for my bus ticket. He smiled and said "Ok". May be even 40 bucks is too much given the raw materials and he might have thought he got a nice bakra to buy it for 40. But sometimes monetary evaluation is much beyond material cost. May be I paid him for his persistence in playing it for 20 min without break at that age in the hope of selling one piece. Or may be for the entertainment he provided and helped in making those 20 min fly which would have been a long boring wait otherwise. Or may be for he could go home  that day buying a few chocolates or biscuits for his grandchildren who would be as excited to see them as my daughter. Or may be just for the selfish motive of feelgood factor. Whatever it is, it did bring a smile on his face as well as mine. As i took it from him and started rushing towards the bus, he gave me a service tip :) "If the sound is not loud enough, brush the bow against this wax at the back of the head." That was awesome. First of all, I feel the instrument itself is an innovative one given the way it is built from the basic raw materials and then he had a service tip as well. 
     On the way back, I looked at it in more detail. Memories of buying it as a kid near Belur temple flashed before me. Smiled to myself when people in the bus gave a quizzical look as to why I was carrying it. When I stepped into the house, my daughter came running to me and I played this for her. I am not sure if my 1.5 years old daughter can differentiate melody from cacophony, but she definitely looked excited that a new member had joined her bunch of toys. She smiled in excitement and me in contentment that my act was worth it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

The Beautiful 90s

“India Shining” and ”Technology at its best” hit the headlines periodically to distract us from 2G/CWG and Gurujis but all said and done, I think the technological improvements, the era of internet and social networking and the mall shopping hullaballoo has taken away some moments of our “lives” that are worth living. I am not saying technology is not important, of course it is. How else would I be expressing myself on this platform today! I am not a big fan of 60s and 70s either when people had to struggle to go to primary school. I consider myself lucky to be born in the 80s to enjoy my childhood in the 90s.
I must say 90s had an extraordinary charm, warmth, enthusiasm and excitement which is missing now and I am sure would have been missing earlier too. I can make this comment based on the picture of life then I have got from my parents and other elder people I have spoken to. Partly we can say liberalization brought some comforts and improved the pace of progress from the 80s to make us happy. Thanks to PVN and MMS for that! We had best of both the worlds during my childhood where we had not moved too far away from the humanness that exists when we are not crowded with machines. At the same time we had the comforts of modern India. Now when I sit to think how our lives have changed in the past 15 years, it is exponential. When I think of it some make me smile, some bring a tear and some make me say “WTH”.
If we consider a 24 hour window and keep a count of number of people we meet and talk to and the number of machines we see, what do you think would rank higher? The computers, the cars and bikes, the TV, the phone, the tablets and what not. We see people more on TV, Websites and pictures than in real.
There was a time when we used to have enough time to talk with family, friends, teachers, relatives. Thanks to the power cuts which made us sit idle and talk , play antakshari or even come out to the streets and socialize with neighbors. Now the UPS has taken away that too! For instance I don’t even know who stays behind the shut doors in my apartment complex. The 24 hours hasn’t changed over the years. It is we who have! Our priorities have!
There was a time when we knew what was for lunch at neighbor’s place. Now we are happy if we could cook lunch at our own home. Fresh vegetable vendors on streets are replaced by frozen ones in the fridge. Fresh hot tasty lunch is replaced by reheated dinner. Thanks to the purchasing power to own a fridge and a microwave as a necessity that was luxury at some point.
The thought of going to a movie or an amusement park would bring so much excitement in my school days. Now going to malls and movies is a weekend routine and anything in abundance loses its value. Rather I don’t remember when was the last time I was excited about something. Nothing is rare for us to wait eagerly for. Even cricket matches occur every week now.
There was a time when festivals meant good food, new clothes and lot of people. Now they are just “Holidays” to relax from the 24X7 running around. Sometimes they are even shifted to make them “Long weekends”.
There was a time when we received letters from relatives and cards from friends and phone calls on birthdays. But now, letters have turned into emails stores on some web servers. Cards have turned into facebook wall wishes and phone calls into template smses. No longer do you have to remember a friend’s birthday to wish. Even if you do, you would not be noticed among 1000s of people who might have automated it.
There was a time when we took snaps, made an album and shared them with family and friends in person pointing who is who, describing the location and telling stories behind the snaps. Now we can click them on and on till we exhaust the memory card and dump them on a hard drive. We do upload on facebook or picasa and let people make sense of it.
Small moments in life like having an ice cream, sharing a joke or an anecdote, playing with friends, chatting over tea and snacks, an evening walk that needs planning now happened so effortlessly those days that I did not know the value then. Now when I think of it spending hours in the traffic, I do feel something is missing in life. We make advertisements out of the missing moments to make business. We have definitely made progress. Just that our soul is left behind.
PS: Somethings never change. We still spend a lot on weddings :D

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fairness for the Fairer Sex

It was Janmashtami day when the whole household fasted waiting for Krishna's birth. "You need not fast ma" said her mother-in-law. "You are gonna be a mother very soon. The Lord Krishna in your womb should not starve." For a moment she wondered how on earth could her mom-in-law be so sure that it was Lord Krishna and not Goddess Lakshmi! Was it a guess or a wish? She would not bother much about a confident guess but a hidden wish could bother her a little. Soon the Pooja started after the Priest arrived. She prayed all the time for the arrival of her little one to be smooth without hurdles as she was damn scared of the dreaded delivery. After the pooja she was forced to exercise all the reluctant muscles of her body and bend over with the heavy weight to take the priests blessings. "Suputra Praptirastu" blessed the priest. She asked him why the blessing could not have been "Suputri praptirastu". The priest answered "I thought this would make you happy. If you want me to bless the other way, I would do that". Though "Suputri Praptrastu" would not have increased the "Dakshina" the priest would have got, it definitely made her think all over again as to how widespread the preference for a male child is in India. She had not given a thought when she had to answer questions on Female infanticide in her social studies exams for getting the highest marks in the class. But now she was indeed giving a serious thought.
Why would anyone want a male child instead of a female one? Is it the paternal system to blame where the parents are left with no one to rely on once the girl is married off? Or the multicrore marriage market where the parents have to spend all the earnings of their life on a day of hullabaloo? Or the rituals of Hinduism where the son is considered the sole owner of the right to set the pyre ablaze? Or the responsibility of protecting the white sheet of a girl's reputation from every black mark? Or the calculation of negative ROI on a girl's education and bringing up?
She could come up with counter arguments for every reason that is to be blamed. How many sons have stayed with parents till the end of life without moving out into nuclear families? What is the need to have a fancy wedding when all one needs is a marriage certificate to prove the marriage? Even if one needs to celebrate why cant both parties share the cost? Doesn't the daughter have strong enough hands to hold the funeral torch? Isn't the boy's reputation equally important for a girl to accept him? Cant the girl earn enough to take care of her parents in old age? But all these were just questions. At the end of the day she knew we haven't moved much further in India to answer these questions. Thanks to the randomness in nature. If everyone's wish to have a male child comes true, that would be the last generation in the world!
She remembered her friend at office sharing the happy news that she was expecting. - "Our daughter is three now. So we thought we could try again for a son. We went to Tirupati to offer prayers last week". She wondered - "Doesn't 22 years of education have any effect on the thought process? How long would these people try if the X chromosome triumphed every time? Isn't the risk more than reward for such people? Now I know how my friend at school had 3 sisters and a baby brother. This pattern is very common in Indian families where a set of girls is a followed by a boy." These realizations did not make her very comfortable but she moved on.
The day arrived when she held the little one in her arms and kissed "her". Yes the baby was a "Suputri". She was happy and sent an invite to her friends and relatives to celebrate the arrival of the new member of the family. There came her uncle with a dazzling gift in his hand. He looked at the baby and the baby smiled at him. He said - "DId you not have enough Saffron milk while you were carrying? She is not fair. You will have a tough time marryign her off." Her blood boiled to hear that comment and she retorted - " There is scientific evidence that saffron does not make any difference to baby's colour. If anything is responsible, it could be our genes and the genetic recombination. It could be you or your father or we can go back till Adam and Eve if you have enough time." His face turned red. Not that he was very fair for anyone to notice the redness. He left the place in fury. She did not bother to stop him. But she felt surprised about her new found strength to speak up. Thanks to her baby.
That night she thought lying on the bed - "Why this madness about fairness when nothing is fair about the fairer sex? Why the stress on marriage so early when the baby has just learnt to smile? Would there have been same comments if it was a boy?" She knew the answer. She looked at the little angel sleeping peacefully beside her unaware of the worldly complexities. She smiled with a tear in her eye. For the first time she wished that she had a boy. Not because of any of the reasons she knew about till that day but for the fact she knew that her girl would go through the Indian cycle of comments,comparison and unfairness. She brushed her tears away and decided with a strong resolve that she would protect her girl from all those people who wished she was a boy, from the ones who don't think she is fair or beautiful, from the ones who are reluctant to provide her the love she deserves, from all those who think "Girl is a liability". She would bring her up to be a confident woman who would break all myths.
When would that day come in India where foetal sex determination is no more a crime!

Disclaimer: All the characters in this post are are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Joys of Life

Memories that make me nostalgic but may not happen again.
  • Summer vacation in my 3rd class when Anand, Arvind and myself climbed trees to pluck fruits and eat them.
  • 4 people playing choukabara on the floor and the excitement to see what my next throw of die shows up.
  • Staying out of the house 10 AM to 10 PM playing with the children of the colony.
  • Having dinner just to have that mango supposed to be had after dinner.
  • Studying for the last exam every year imagining the days to come after 12 PM the next day.
  • Small fights with Megha everyday.
  • Going to movies with mom every Saturday.
  • Jumping the wall separating the primary and secondary school with Aparna.
  • Sharing the PJs as the greatest comedy in life with schoolmates.
  • Combine-study with Savita with intervals of kobri mithai and puliogare.
  • Waiting for the games period to play In-out dodgeball with classmates.
  • Anxiety of April 1st every year waiting for the exam results.
  • Sharing secrets with Arpitha with promises of truth.
  • Power cut times in the night where the whole street is out with kids on road and parents at the door. I loved dancing in the night on the street :P
  • Endless games of carrom and lagori played with Ashwini,Ashish,Seema and Alok.
  • Cool weather of June and the hangover of the summer vacation.
  • Sharing lunch with classmates at school narrating the stories of endless number of movies I watched.
  • Sharada madam tuition classes with loads of fun with Sunil and Sanju.
  • Hoarding 10000 coins in game of Monopoly.
  • Stealthily eating sweets and chocolates in classes. Sorry to the teachers. :)
  • The walk to the maths tuition with Arpitha and Shwetha.
  • Planetarium visits and discovery channel discussions with Melonie.
  • Night stay watching movies with Shilpa.
  • Letter writing to friends far off - Nidhi and Ashish.
  • Eating churmuri at street corner.
  • Waiting for summer to have JOY ice cream.
  • Talking diaries of the daily chores to Ashwini.
  • Van gang to BASE and abundant fun. especially jokes cracked by Venkat intentionally and Meghana unintentionally.
  • Bunking classes with Deepika and Kavita at college to have chat and chikki at Hanuman stores.
  • Star-gazing with Archana.
  • Watching SRK movies at home with a group of 10.
  • Bulbing at the Titanic movie munching stuff through out.
  • Mugging the freedom struggle with Gowri.
  • All the groups of three that I always had.
  • Mugging for quizzes at IIT library one day before.
  • Preparing for dance shows and failing on stage.
  • Forest-trek throughout the campus.
  • Early morning visits to the beach and the murugan idly.
  • Night-out mugging for the quiz and night-out chatting after the quiz.
  • Open air theatre movies.
  • First year of job - the fights, the chats and the movies.
  • Stay with Nitika at AECS.
  • The three musketeers.
  • Age of SMSing the fiancee at the drop of a hat.
  • Endless shopping, eating and movies in the engagement period.
  • The hurry of arrangements of marriage.
  • Thrill of the honeymoon.
After the honeymoon, you stop. You have grown up. You have responsibilities. The next time you come back to this list is when you have your kid. I had a very happy childhood. I shall add to this list when I re-live the childhood of my kid :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thank You Series - Episode 2

A good measure of maturity is to remind yourself the prejudices and notions of childhood. I had my own set of those.

· Fair people always had a good first impression. I don’t exactly think it logically makes sense now but back then when I was a school kid, I did like to hang around fair people. I admit.

· I also had this notion that “North Indians” are fairer than “South Indians”. And what did North mean to me? Anything North of Karnataka where people can speak Hindi.

· Tenants need to respect the landlords more than vice versa. May be this got imbibed because my parents always made sure they showed some extra respect for the landlords.

Ranju

When I think back now, I don’t hold any of these notions now. But it is nice to remember the lady who shattered all the notions right when I was in the seventh class. That was when I got the opportunity to be the landlord’s daughter for the first time. I was all excited about it. I did rehearse the first few lines I would speak when they would come home the first time. To add to my excitement, my father had told me that they were Hindi speaking north Indians. Now that increased my expectations of “fair” complexion and also the pride of being a KV student who could converse well in Hindi. I remember the day August 1st, 1996 when the family first landed at out place.

A journey started off from that day – a journey that left such a lasting impression on me that I would never forget that family, especially the lady of the house- Ranju Aunty. First is always special as they say. The first time I met her – my expectations of fair complexion was shattered. I came back home and told my mom. –“She is not North Indian. She is not fair.” Little did I know while cribbing that she would be one woman who would come close to my mom in terms of how much I would love her? As days passed she did win all our hearts. Not only my family but the whole colony used to love her.

What set her apart was her cheerfulness while talking to people of any age-right from a kid to a 70 year old man. The genuine concern that showed up while she enquired – “how are you?” We do ask thousands of people on a daily basis the formal question – “How are you doing?” But how many of those do we really mean? How many times would we call them home and serve dinner if they said they were hungry? But she would. She really meant that trivial question. She was ready to help people any time in any situation which was one of the outstanding qualities that attracted people to her.

I don’t know how many times I have stayed back at her house not missing my parents. To reiterate how much of a big deal that is, there has never been a place other than her house where I have not missed my parents. I still remember the way she used to feed her little son and me the same way saying “Kha goda Kha. Khaye bina mein tumhe jane nahi de rahi”. Probably that was when I put up those few kilos :P She was a great company for anything – Chatting over Chai, watching a movie, cooking. Literally anything. Those 2 years of my life were the most fun-filled ones. There are no words to explain how much of a help she had been to my mom. More than a sister, More than a mother.

Finally when the day for her to leave to go back to “North India” arrived, I could not speak. But my tears did. It has been 12 years since that day now and I still miss you aunty. You were a magic that never fades.