August 28, 2001

everybody likes to hear something new

…be it about how someone, however remotely associated to them or their family, suddenly met with a terrible accident and “miraculously” escaped being crushed or run over.

i remember reading a line in richard bach’s illusions where the messiah in the book, don shimoga says crowds love to see miracles — like “going to the auto races to see the crashes.”

life’s like that even outside the book. my sister‘s slowly recovering in the hospital, and the world wants to know how it happened, why it happened, and how she’s doing now.

not to offend the concern that everyone’s been expressing till now, but i have been answering phone calls since 7:00 every morning, right up to 11:30 at night. people i have never met — it’s been just three days since i’ve shifted home, and i’m just getting to know my neighbours gradually — mom’s club members, daddy’s rotarian circle, uncles, aunts, friends….and all i do is repeat the same lines again and again. now i know why news travels so far and so fast.

i suggested to mom that we install an answering machine that would have updates-on-deepu in both english and hindi:

hello, this is the home of the janardhan’s.
deepika has just met with a scooter accident and so our bangalore trip has been cancelled.
– for more details on how it happened, press 1.
– if you know about it already and are wondering how she’s doing, press 2 for updates.
– for the same info in hindi or malayalam, press 3 and 4.
– if you want to know the hospital and ward number where you can find us, press 5.
– to leave your name and phone number, press 6 and wait for the beep.
your concern is appreciated. thank you and good bye.

August 26, 2001

ban the almanac; dates belong to calendars

we were to leave for bangalore this morning, but all our plans for shopping and the kerala detour have been cancelled indefinitely.

i find it strange, no, perhaps more amusing.

my parents insisted on leaving this morning because they considered “auspicious” the period between august 16 and september 3. any date after that again falls into a bad phase or the pitru paksh, they said, which is connected with the dead, departed souls and decay.
september 18 onward again, according to them, marks the beginning of a “good” period.

what is auspicious? what is good and what is bad? who decides these dates and for whose convenience? will someone come up with an answer then, to why my sister fell off her scooter and hurt herself at such an “auspicious” time?

in the year 2001, the people in this country, why, my own parents are bound by these blind beliefs, thanks to the household almanac… even if they happen to house a trendy imac, or nurse a ‘revolutionary’ business like network 21 or amway.

and i am supposed to grow up?

August 25, 2001

finally, i’m home…

4:30 pm.
last day at b-7, 302, safal complex, sector 19a, nerul.

i can’t help being honest with myself. it’s something that comes to me naturally.

as my father helped me shift some of my stuff this afternoon, i realised that i’m going to miss coming back to my home in nerul, perhaps even more than leaving for office everyday.

but there’s no time to brood over it now. it’s almost 5:00 pm. after achchan drops me home, i have to unpack and then pack again for our little shopping vacation for tomorrow…our itinerary will be something like bangalore-kerala-bangalore. i’ll be meeting my cousins and friends…gulnar and umesh plan to join us for the kerala trip.

right now, my back is killing me, but i’m very excited 🙂

7:45 pm.
amma, i know you have been waiting for this day. i am home.

it’s been almost six years that i have been working…coming home at wierd hours, just to eat, sleep and leave for work the next day. then i moved to bangalore and then to nerul, reducing even our few hours of interaction.

well, now i’ve quit, and moved back home. i know i’m here just for two more months, but that’s not on my mind right now. i’m hungry, excited and want to spend some quality time with you all.

let’s get packing 🙂

9:30 pm.

my sister just called. she’s met with an accident.


like a bridge over troubled waters…

mahesh left for bangalore early this morning. after he returns, things are going to be very different, because i’m going home too. i quit yesterday.

mahesh and i have been more than just colleagues or ‘best’ friends…we have had our great moments, and we have battled our cold wars too… we patched our differences often thinking that the other had come to make up first, and then we laughed our hearts out, crying, scolding and calling each other names.

at home during my engagement in june, we exchanged surprised glances when my mother introduced him to family members and friends saying “he’s so much like a brother to her. they know each other since three or four years now.” actually, we met just a year ago as colleagues at zdnet india. but that’s how well he knows me, my strengths, and my weaknesses…

one day, he said he’s going to change me. and that he’s decided to adopt larry ellison’s ‘drill-down’ “management-by-ridicule” method to teach me to grow up and be independent, and guess what, it worked (well, ok, at least 86.236 percent, right?).

he’s been a serious teacher and i, a willing but very difficult student. ummm, for my part, i put sincere effort into cooking (since three weeks ;-), and he’s been an obedient guinea pig…trusting me completely with what i cook, encouraging me with wishlists for paneer dishes and packs of ready-to-make caramel custard for dessert 🙂

it is not easy to define our “laurel-and-hardy” friendship. but, as our friend swapna puts it, “…it’s the ‘purest relationship’ i have ever known”.

hmm, i know things will be very different some months from now, even more some years from now. i also know, that people come, and people go. but mahesh, you’ll always remain the only best friend i grew mad at so often, and i think i am going to miss your classes for a long time to come.

thanks mattoo, for everything 🙂

August 5, 2001

spare the movie, spoil the child?

i wish there was an option on tv that gives you a preview of all the channels on a single screen. how else would i know what i’m missing … there could be an excellent movie on HBO while i’m watching my favourite re-run of f.r.i.e.n.d.s (that’s right, they just play re-runs now) or a cartoon filler elsewhere.

i was channel-surfing again after haqueeqat and i landed on star movies. they were playing ardh-satya, or the half-truth. it was a movie i had wanted to see many years ago, but my parents did not let me watch it because they felt it was too violent for my system.

the movie was about this honest and quiet policeman who got into the police because his tyrant father forced him to — and then found oppression everywhere. unable to hold on to his idealistic principles for too long, he turns murderer and kills two people. the first victim is an innocent thief that he vents his frustration on, and the second is a corrupt underworld don who offers to ‘buy’ him in exchange of his job, and life. the irony here is that our policeman goes to the don for help in the first place because he sees no way out of his guilt and shame.
read a better review here.

just a few weeks ago, i encountered an irate policeman who no one, not even my father wanted to mess with, and wondered why we make beasts out of them.

i guess the half-truth attempted to give us a fair idea.

this brings me to another issue…

i realised that there was not much violence depicted in the movie. enough perhaps, to shake my ideals of “truth” in the age of blatant corruption. so, my question is:
are parents justified in not allowing their children to watch such movies?

by letting children grow in pseudo-concepts of satyamev jayate (truth alone triumphs), aren’t they shielding their face away from the real truth?

ps: here’s a confession that might help you look at this question in a different light — to this date, i cannot sit through a violent or noisy movie without squirming in my seat nervously, biting my nails or going white with fear.

my parents, as would anyone’s, meant well. but should i be grateful, or should i be sorry?

what does a war bring?

i watched the last 45 minutes of the classic hindi movie haqeeqat last evening. directed by chetan anand (dev anand’s brother).
the movie was based on the 1962 indo-china border war.

sometimes i wonder…for those of us who have not been subjected to any circumstance of war (yet), is there some lesson in life being denied to us?

ps: the internet never ceases to amaze me. while i searched for more details about the war and the movie, google threw up ugly news that the pretty actress in the movie, priya rajvansh was strangled to death in her bathroom in real life.

more of saturday to continue…

August 4, 2001

rakhi sans the brothers

for the first time in many saturdays, i woke up at 7:30 am. and i had one nice long day….

9:15 am. LP bus stop.
Having waited for the thane bus for over 30 minutes, i decided to take the bus#512 to mulund, which is a slightly longer route. or at least i thought it was!

though the detour proved very time-consuming for me, i enjoyed the ride through the fresh rain-washed areas of sanpada, turbhe market, vashi, kopar khairane, the cidco flyover (at the end of which i discovered a beautiful three-storey architecture — the helen keller institute for the deaf and deaf-blind), ghansoli, airoli, mulund and finally the chek-naka where i had to get off.

as the passengers got off along the way, the ticket collector (or ‘conductor’, that’s what they’re still called) in the bus seemed to get restless about where i had to get off, and asked me at least thrice at intervals of 20 to 30 mins each (the entire journey lasted two hours). finally, at mulund, when the bus was almost empty of all passengers, he picked on the young gentleman sitting next to me.

after asking him to show his ticket, he took him aside and i could hear him uttering some stern words. the boy soon seated himself ahead on another seat. shaking off my curiosity, i got back to observing the busy streets of mulund when i heard the conductor call me again…

i almost told him that if he didnt want me on the bus, i could get off rightaway, when he leaned closer to me and said: “madam, if you feel uncomfortable with someone sitting next to you and doesn’t vacate the seat even when there’s place elsewhere, you must feel free to complain. we’ll see to it that he’s thrown out.”

i could see that there was no point in explaining to the smugly smiling conductor that i did not experience any such problem. he seemed to be stubbornly concerned about my safety.

obviously, my intincts warned me otherwise.

2:00 pm. lunch at chitti’s house
i had woken up with the realisation that this would be my last rakshabandhan here in bombay.

and it was also not going to be one of the happiest. but i guess this had to happen some day. we’re all growing up and (geographically) apart, and rakhi day will never be the same when all of us cousins used to get together at least once a year.

anyways, this year it meant a simple lunch at my chitti’s home and later in the evening, snacks at another aunty’s place. what made me blog this day is something i always observe when women get together in the kitchen. be it mothers, aunts or even you (perhaps in a few years), they just *have* to have a grudge against someone who did not turn up, or, if he or she or they did turn up, why it had to be the way they did.

surely, women must have better things to talk about, better things to share and teach. so do all of them have a gossip tongue that surfaces later in life? which reminds me…what language do men use to gossip?

late after lunch, i was back home browsing through an international magazine. i found it surprising that most non-working women are referred to as house-wives in india, while abroad they’re called home-makers. hmm, big difference.

more of saturday to continue…

August 3, 2001

reason vs (blind) tradition

indians are known for the family values they cherish, and perhaps learn to ‘maintain’ over generations.

children are taught to respect their elders by touching their feet every time they meet, women are ‘expected’ to wear a bindi and cover their head in their in-laws’ presence. apart from the mandatory visits to the temple or lighting of a diya at home in the morning and evening, women are also expected to pray to god for their husband’s long life and prosperity and maintain fasts for the same reason. more often than not (read, always) these traditions are based on blind superstitions.

i too was brought up with the same indian values. somewhere along the way however, i drifted apart, and i began to reason them. in spite of many instances when i have questioned these traditions, i never got a convincing reply. i should not be surprised, if i’m labelled (for want of a better word) a ‘rebel’ of sorts. why, just last week, my sister covered up for me when my chitti (aunt) asked me why i did not want to visit the temple. she told chitti that i was having my periods (the superstitious among indians consider women ‘impure’ during this time). she wasnt lying, but the real reason was that i don’t believe in worshipping idols, and i cannot pretend to be what i’m not.

however, as a human being, i hold due respect for every other. in people, i look for teachers who i can learn from, and i seek blessings of those who bring out that emotion inside me. since a little over a year, my grasping of religion made me realise that i do *not* need a god to fall back on. if god is being true and god is being sincere, i look for that god within me, not outside…

i think i am a fair human being. but in a few months from now, as i am an indian, and also a girl, many things are going to change for me. i’m getting married.

after november 25, 2001, i will belong to another family. i have been told that i will have to learn to abide by their customs and traditions. hopefully, one of us will learn soon enough. but i am afraid and i hope i don’t hurt them in this new role.

…like i might have this morning.

prasanth, my to-be brother-in-law brought in some gifts that praveen sent with his friend who was in india for a vacation. prasanth had left his home (badlapur) as early as 4 am and reached nerul after a detour at vikhroli and chembur, from where he had to collect the gift. unfortunately for him, i had been unwell all of yesterday… i also had had a very late night, so i was half-asleep and totally disoriented when i opened the door to him at 7 in the morning.

he gave me the packet. he left. i went back to sleep. after about 90 minutes of sleep i woke up with a start. i let him go without offering him even a glass of water!!

it has been the most embarrassing event of my life. had he informed me earlier, things would surely have been different, but what happened today cannot be undone either. (sorry prasanth!)

my family, quite understandably, is very concerned. and i am too, but for a different reason. they say i’ve been independent for too long, and i’ve been given a lot of ‘freedom’. perhaps they would be surprised to know, that i am only too grateful to them for having broadened my mind.

as for values and religious teachings…aren’t they just an attempt to bring out the good in a human being? so in my new family, if i fail their expectations of a very ‘homely’ daughter-in-law, will i be qualified as a bad person?

can’t i just ‘be’?