Saturday 11 February, 2017

In the Name of Tradtition!

Vitamin-D-walk is my this year’s new year resolution. Feeling good that it has sustained more than a month. Walking on the terrace has its advantages—you don’t bump into people or have to worry about vehicles—but it has pitfalls, too. A few days back, something sharp grazed my left cheek. I had just begun the walk, so the pace was slow. I could stop midstride. The sharp thing turned out be a manjha, the nylon string made razor-sharp with glass powder and used for flying kites.

Makar Sankranti—the time when Mumbai skies are dotted with kites and you get astonished at kids darting through busy roads, oblivious of traffic—was two weeks ago. Eating til-gud and flying kites are all people seem to think about when it’s Makar Sankranti. That the festival’s significance is lost in these rituals is sad.

Leftover from the kite-flying ritual, the sharp manjha, is a death trap to birds, and sometimes for humans. I have seen reports of bikers’ throats getting slit by this almost-invisible string. Maharashtra government had banned its use this year. But who are we to respect bans? Our rituals are important, right?

I tried in vain to pull the cord and put it away, but it was endless. So I cut it by scraping it on the edge of the parapet and bunched it in one corner where it couldn’t obstruct anyone’s path. Had no choice but to let go of the other end.

Later, through the kitchen window, I found a pigeon swinging on a chord. Am no fan of pigeons, but the poor bird entangled in the sharp string was a gruesome sight.
Pigeon hanging on manjha

It could have been me with my carotid artery cut.

In the name of tradition!

Saturday 23 January, 2010

‘Muhurat’ babies

I had heard about this earlier. But never thought it would become so popular. Delivering babies at an auspicious time, apparently, has become a fad.

A few days back, Hindustan Times had an article on this. Gynecologists working at odd hours to do C-sections during the ‘muhurat’ fixed by astrologers and taking rest during ‘raahu kaal’! Once followed only by the affluent class, this nonsense has now been picked up by the middle-class. Great! Way to go!

Safe C-sections are possible because of advances in science. We are using the science to follow unscientific practices!

I hope someone will do study on these ‘muhurat’ babies and find out how they excel in their lives. Just curious. :-)

Tuesday 17 November, 2009

I clean my house and dirty yours!

Last Sunday. Got up late. Spent some time sipping tea and browsing newspapers. A luxury not possible during weekdays. As the tummy started grumbling, I went to the kitchen to make dosas. The counter looked like there was a splatter of rain. Peeped through the window. Dirty water was still trickling down from top. It fell on the open window and splashed inside. Yuck! Water mixed with pigeon shit! On my kitchen counter! Quickly closed the window. Pushed all the vessels on the counter into the sink. Cleaned the counter and window sill.

I could not leave it at that. Marched up to the next floor. Contained my anger and politely asked the immediate top neighbour if they were cleaning the kitchen. They were not. I believed them. Went to the next floor. Same question. Yes, they were cleaning, but it was only inside the kitchen. But I got dirty water inside my kitchen. And there are no more floors. The lady said it could be from the overflowing overhead tank. I knew the outlet for that is not above my kitchen. Still, I collected the key from the watchman and went to the terrace. From there, I could see her open kitchen window, which was still dripping. And the portion outside the window was black in colour, covered with layers of pigeon shit.

I went to her again and said with a smile plastered on my face, “I saw water dripping from your kitchen window. So the water had come from your house only. I know you did not do it purposely. Maybe your maid washed the window without you noticing it.” She flatly refused this, still arguing that the cleaning was limited to the inside of the kitchen. I could not convince her. So I came back requesting her to inform me before she cleaned the kitchen again.

This is not my first experience. I had got my clothes sprayed with dirty water when the top neighbour washed her balcony. My almost-dry clothes had got drenched when the neighbour’s maid hung their fresh wash without wringing. Another intelligent neighbour, diagonally above my house, could not understand that when she dusted her carpet from top, the dust could get settled on the clothes hung outside my balcony. It’s not directly below her house. How can dust travel diagonally? She’s a diploma holder in engineering. The worst was when my tea got sprinkled with dirty water when the top neighbour’s maid hung the washed carpet on their balcony grill.

My experiences are similar in two cities – Chennai and Mumbai. In most cases, people are neither ready to admit the mistake nor apologetic about it. Or they blame it on the maids. Shouldn’t we be responsible for whatever our maids do within our house? I think so. But not many are of the same opinion.

I can never understand why these people fail to understand the inconvenience caused to others. Why can’t they wipe the window/balcony instead of washing it? It’ll save water also. If they can’t prevent the maid from pouring water, can’t they at least warn others?

I am outraged at this insensitivity!

Monday 9 November, 2009

Editor’s choice!

“I don’t like penetration,” she shouts. He blushes. Heads turn.

“But madam… it’s so common,” he grumbles.

“So what? I don’t like the sound of it,” she fumes.

“Share?” someone offers.

“Yes, use market share, not market penetration,” she decides.

“But the meaning…,” he mutters.

“I don’t care. I don’t want penetration,” she yells.


Based on a real incident. :-)

Thursday 29 October, 2009

When joy of giving turns sour ...

The Joy of Giving week was celebrated a little before Diwali. The students from Akanksha’s Lower Parel centre (an NGO involved in teaching less privileged kids) decided to experience the joy of giving this Diwali instead of the joy of getting. They celebrated Diwali in a home for cancer-affected kids. As the students performed dances and distributed gifts, the faces of those tired-looking kids brightened. A warm hug from all of us added to their joy.

For me, Diwali is the time to get out of the city. If possible, I would like to spend every Diwali in Kerala – the only state that does not celebrate Diwali in a big way. Or has it changed? I am not sure. Though I don’t celebrate Diwali, I happily accept the sweets and gifts offered by friends and neighbours. To counter the joy of getting, I give some money (Diwali baksheesh) to the people who do some service for me regularly – the security guards, milkman, cleaning woman, and so on. This is a usual practice; I am not doing anything out of the ordinary. For a housemaid, usually one month’s salary is given, while there’s no fixed amount for others. If I don’t give, they will come and ask for it. Anyway, I do not wait for them to ask. Before getting out of the city, I make it a point to meet each of them and give the baksheesh.

This year, however, I refused to give baksheesh once and another time, I had to give it without any joy of giving.

For the past one year, I complain regularly to the newspaper agent about non-delivery of papers, late delivery, missing supplements, excess billing, and what not. But there was no improvement in the service. One or two days after Diwali, two boys, whom I’d never seen in my life, rang the bell at around 8.30 in the morning. They claimed to be the newspaper delivery boys and wanted Diwali baksheesh. I refused saying I’d never seen them. One of them said the other boy had just joined as a delivery boy and he was teaching him. Both the trainer and the new recruit wanted baksheesh. I asked if the trainer was teaching the new boy to deliver the paper late and then ask for money. Sorry, I don’t pay for regular bad service.

After a week, two postmen came asking for the same, equipped with a notebook. I can’t say their service is bad, but very rare. But to think of two central government servants, who take good salaries home, doing rounds with a begging bowl (figuratively)! It looked like they were noting down the amount paid by each house in the notebook. I imagine that they would decide the quality of service for the next year based on the amount! I paid them sourly, without the joy of giving. Some time back, there was a newspaper article about postmen’s complaints – that they are no longer welcomed with warmth as it used to be. How will I welcome them happily if they come and ask for money for delivering a letter or two in a year?

Now I think I should’ve given the baksheesh to the boys. They earn less and maybe they would have wanted the money badly, not like the government employees who get regular salary and bonus. I’ve not seen the boys again. Paper delivery is as bad as ever.

This is where we went during this Diwali – Nannaj Bird Sanctuary, near Solapur, Maharashtra. The image at the beginning of this post is also from Nannaj.

Sunday 6 September, 2009

Saluting only the dedicated ones

One more Teachers’ Day went by, praising the entire teaching community. I could not bring myself to blindly eulogize all teachers. I remember many of my teachers fondly. But there’s an equal (or more) number of teachers I could never appreciate - from the fourth standard Malayalam Miss who always ground her teeth in uncontrollable anger to a professor who declared that if the sun rose for 30 days a month, he would get salary, implying he was not obliged to teach us. I remember with disgust and contempt. There are a few, who never taught me or rather I was not lucky to be taught by them. The talk about their teaching capabilities as well as charisma left me longing to become their student.

Apart from my personal experiences, I’ve met some teachers who work against all odds to change the lives of the students. The teachers at the tribal school near Nagarhole National Park in Karnataka are a dedicated bunch and do their best in the challenging environment. During our 10-day trip as the Great Driving Challenge finalists, we dropped in to the school hearing a chorus prayer by the kids. It was a pre-lunch prayer. Though the teachers were also about to start lunch, they were happy to oblige our curiosity.

Many kids find the school attractive because of the mid-day meals and the attendance has drastically improved after the programme has been introduced. So is the performance of the kids. Even with the limited facilities, the teachers appeared enthusiastic and committed. We hope their hard work would give the kids a better future. There must be many similar establishments and dedicated teachers across our country. A salute to all of them.

Another two teachers I personally know for more than a year are Mamta and Rohini, teachers at Akanksha, an NGO involved in teaching less privileged kids.

I’ve witnessed their dedication and daily struggle to get the 35-odd kids equipped for a bright tomorrow. And they are there by choice. Another salute to all the teachers like Mamta and Rohini.

Sunday 9 August, 2009

From top 12 to top 3!

After three days of audition comprising driving test, travel documentation, and route plan discussions, we were selected as one of the top 3 couples in the Great Driving Challenge.

We are on road now. Today is Day 3. Could not update the blog as we were flagged off soon after the results were out. Since then, it's been 300 km of driving and another 5-6 hours of blogging.

Do check out our regular blog updates at Follow and cheers us through this journey. Hope you'll enjoy the blog posts!

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