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Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Morning bird

the first rays of cool mornings wr always dear to me. The first of what comes to my mind when i think abt early morning is apeejay noida's hostel. up at 5 in the morning gong bells to jog to rose garden and back, after which the yoga sessions started. it wud still be dark or just the beginning of the dawn break. then 10 minutes of meditation with eyes closed. by now it wud be past 6am. and when i opened my eyes everything felt so fresh new with a blue outline - clear green grass, cool purple skies - a wonderful day. one could sit there for a while to bask the nature, loads of fresh vitamin d and beautiful green grass adorned with sparkling dew drops. suddenly all the aches and pains of the morning exertion seemed disappearing in thin air. Hmmm the air was also so fresh, i cud smell the fresh grass of the football ground near which we were perched on yogic postures.

After school I din see mornings for qt a while. I jst stopped waking up early like most of my school mates did. I grew lazy to get up. back at with gparents in the cozy anscetral home in kerala, i got enuff and more reasons to sleep as much as i wanted. unlike my mom, my grand parents thought its cruel to call up their first grand child out of her beauty sleep. But as I grew older, my grandmom grew worried of the situation. “what will she do after her marriage, in her new house. Ur mom in law is not going to let u sleep till afternoon.” She would talk to no one while she cleared things in my bedroom at 8 am. 8 was too early still, as I cud, if I wanted, sleep till lunch was ready at 12.30pm.

Once again I had to get up early. This time I was back in delhi in 2000, in the ywca. sona, a fitness freak friend, motivated me to stay in good shape. I had barely any shape then being pencil thin, but I thought it wud help me fight dull/sleepy moments in class n stay alert all day. this was serious grown-up jogging. We used to jog our hearts out on the streets of japath at 5 am. Winter mornings were cruel in the beginning with nose and finger tips frost bitten on heavily foggy roads. but that was the best time on earth - the only time u cud see one of the busiest streets of delhi in absolute peace with itself. No vehicles, no shops open, no one at sight…brilliantly cityscaped... an old woman who was fully wrapped in winter clothing was found brooming through the dew drops - everyday at the same time at the same place…if she was not there we knew we wr late. Sona worked as a manager at pizza hut. She soon got transferred to bangalore. That was the end of my jogging season.

the next chapter of early morning wr shared with a colleague, shubha, in mumbai - we braved cold waters for an early morning swim in the pool. it was wonderful.

mornings taught me all we need is a kick in the butt - to get uo - rest of it is all so wonderful and great to be alive!

Recently, here in dubai, now my office timings have changed. I see everything from 6am to 7.30am…the skies in the desert is the most beautiful sight that nature offers. Dubai is artificially very green…but what I see above is what I like - the blue skies with so many hues early in the morning. Everyday is a new picture. I am not annoyed by the traffic, as I don’t drive and I can while away into random thoughts gazing the morning sky. Its vacant but so full of many things. Every side u turn to, is a new canvass. U can travel miles across the space searching for deeper tint of the colour that u see. I love mornings.

American coffee

American coffee

Travelling from sharjah to dubia is quite a pain if u have to hire a taxi. Actually u have to hire a taxi as the public busses in the emirates are quite infrequent. Another bottleneck is that sharjah taxis have to run back without plying dubai customers. That’s a rule. So these fellas hesitate to take u across. Once I had to threaten a cab driver by telling him that I wont alight. It was an insult for me to alight everytime after I told my destination.

I had to come to dubai for an interview. I was lucky as this cabby did not change his mind after knowing my destination. All the while on my way, I was thinking of the right things to say. It was 80 bucks. I pulled out the notes and handed over to him. Exact change. Ah! I thought. “hello madam!” the cab driver’s call pulled me back in to the seat. He fanned the notes I gave. They were Indian rupees - not dirhams - to my shock and surprise. wondering hw i could do that, fished for dirhams and realised there was no enough change. before I cud open my mouth, the car behind started honking continously as if the ill manered driver had some emergency…like a nature’s call to attend to…or his bladder wud burst. I thrusted the dh50 note to the cabby as he asked if he cud collect the balance from me the same evening - what a wonderful man! I was more that relieved to hear that. I thanked him as quickly gave his mobile number while fleeing the scene.

the meeting place was a café. The smiling bar-tender asked if he culd help. I ordered an american coffee with milk. And sank into one of the soft couches in the lounge. the newspapers display had a lady holding up a dirham note - a shop and save ad… and jerked back to the truth. I have no money on me. no dirhams!!!

the bar tender was already there - smiling behind a huge mug of the American coffee. I took it. Added the sugar. Stirred. Took sips one after the other. I felt better with the sudden rush of nicotine in to the blood.

thought of calling my husband to rescue me out of the café by paying the bill. But something stopped me from doing that. And there he come - the person i was waiting for -my interviewer. One look and I decided I did not want the job. we had a nice chat though. while he was walking me out of the café i saw the philippino bar tender smiling at me with the bill book. And I cud not help but instantly ask this interviewer if he could bail me out with 10bucks.

He was more than willing. The end.

Monday, 19 February 2007

two nidhis - treasure troves

yes i have two very good friends who share the common first name. nidhi means treasure in sanskrit. and truely they r two treasures of a kind. bold n beautiful.

i met the first nidhi in delhi while studying journalism. she is a punjabi from jammu. she was the first person i was drawn to on the first day of the course for some general query. but we actually got closer during the last few months of the yr-long class. she came to rescue me from the claws of a reckless woman in my class, who shall remain unnamed for stupid reasons. nidhi is a journalist, based in delhi and is going strong n single. we chat everyday. she is very dear to me. i visited her home in jammu. i love the kahwa (saffron tea) they make.

the other nidhi is a manglorean bunt. bunts are a small community that speak tulu. we have a famous bunt on the world map - aishwarya rai. anyway this friend of mine was completely my soul mate for the one year we lived together in mumbai. we wr truely in love with each other. she has helped me in so many small ways that it is difficult to put it all together. she saw me 24x7...we ate, slept n roamed around like free spirits - those wr the days. both us wr seeking some answers in life. we lived the perfect spinster life.

we could board a train at 11 in the night and cling to each other for we had no enuff warm clothing to beat the rough cold breeze nor the courage to fight something bad that cud potentially happen. but we wr well protected by none other than the one above. beggars...night policemen - all of them looked errie from our squashed little corner.

once we both left early morning on a train to pune, 2 hrs from mumbai. we spent the night at talegaon...at one of nidhi's frnds. had the best home made brk fast ever there and left for karla caves near pune. it was such an amazing trip. truly rake n rambling. we came back home with dry fruit sweets from lonawala n dirty shoes. nidhi got married and is now a happy mother of a 'baby monkey' - that's what she calls her baby girl.

amitabh bachan

me n sharat used to go to the same school...he was 5 years junior. his mom, my mom's good friend used to help me crack algebra.

7 yr old sharat was a huge fan of amitabh bachan, the super star.

i cannot forget this dialogue he told his mom was yelling at him..."mummy aap mujhe maro mummy...par mard ko dard nahi hota" (mom pls hit hit me...but men do not get hurt)...[courtesy amitabh bachan's blockbuster movie mard (the man)].

i searched for sharat in orkut. but i guess he is too busy with studies in some corner of the world.

cherry blossom

when cherry was born, dad shrieked in joy - she looks like mao zedong. she had chinese features. the huge baby 'drank mummy's water' said the doctor.

she was the cutest baby i had ever seen. she was my live ice-creame doll. we were inseprable for two n a half years. i used to cut her hair n make clothes for her and sing lullaby till she slept sucking her thumb.

life tore us apart. she is far away from me. now a teenager. beautiful. i am sure she is as brave boarder far away from family. i miss u a lot cherry. i pray for u every day. i keep wondering when n how we will meet next.

umwah

mango pickle

it was a class mates's story entry for a creative writing assignment in post graduation days. the story was unforgettable. let me re-create it here. there were three central characters- three good friends.

sasha (archie comic's veronica like character), mini (betty) and kabir (archie himself)...so u know the equation as it stands. but mini was gripped in inferiority complex and thought she was not attractive. she had a crush on kabir and kabir seemed to be mesmerised by sasha. the story stretched into twisty tale. many class fellas felt the story was auto-biographical. they identified the mango pickle lover mini as the author herself, and the other characters. that was qt an alarm for me to know i was none other than sasha?
i din think much abt it. wanted mini's miseries to end. and simply disappeared from the mango pickle plot. i am happy i did.

bush and the doodlebug

doodlebugs are also called ant lion!...they eat ants. they live in small cup/cone-sahpped mud homes... that help slide in naive ants n small insects that become bug's fresh meal. they used to fascinate me a lot when i was a small kid. maman introduced me to them in the estate's car shed. we would drill inside their homes and catch em out. mostly to see how they walk. an amazing thing abt them is that they walk backwards. u can say their head is in the rear end. we [me, sis and maternal uncle... picture this as two little children and an over grown child in a rubbers estate in kerala during their summer vacation] wud hunt them down and once we got three or four we would float them off on colocasia leaves to the next shore - go my friend find ur new home - what r u doing in our car shed. it was like the wicked game of good intentions. smwhat similar to what bush did while spading into afghanisthan n iraq hunting for unknown something. but thank god we did not harness bush-vian interest in this context but i hope those doodlebugs forgive us.

i went to the estate two years back. it is a different scene all together. i din find the car shed, the doodlebugs or my maman [maternal uncle]. all had vanished in thin air. time is such a storyteller.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

ayurdeva n reiki

live reporting

it was not tsunami. just a high tide at the marine drive. the ob van, the peeping n peeking crowd. blowing wind. make up. touch up. micro phone. ear phone. wind. delay in transmission. not ur questions. its all sent from the news room. what r u then? a reporter or a parrot. yes u got it right. u r a parrot with no colourful feathers.

another time it was india vs england. some match at some forsaken corner of the world. but there is a huge plasma screen at 'all that jazz' by the sea. all drama n no news. r u cricket reporter or an entertainer? u got rt u r n entertainer with no sporting spirit for the sort of visually tormenting frezy.

life is on a different side these days, i do miss that crap somehow... have just no idea how i manage to do all that ;)

edda n eddie

they are my pet lhasapsos. a friend and old colleague gave them to me when i was leaving bbay in 2005. i cud never own one and live with them cos i was always sharing space until then.

i was to travel to kerala. a friend booked a second ac ticket for comfortable journey. there but i was on waiting list - third from the top - on the notice stuck on the boggie's wall. but i had to go. and with the two puppies. barely 20 days old. i checked with the railway authorities in advance on a pre-approval letter for the dogs to travel with me. in india u can carry pets only in a separate coupa. they need to b caged all thru the journey...far far away frm passngers, near the engine room. isolated. i cud not even think of it. i took the challenge of keeping them with me. they fit well into a picnic basket which i layered with very soft, used clothes to keep warm. it was june n not really that cold...but they wr so tiny i had to keep them tender.

my seat was not confirmed. bad luck. i sat with all my luggage at the entrance waiting for the tt. i was moving out of the city for good. i had an overwhelmingly extra large bag and 4 others. huge canvass boards and a basket that needed tlc - the secret! now open. they started squirming. i was advised to feed them on gripe water for any stomach troubles...and the vet had given a small dosage of passifying tablets. it was task to make the pup swallow a tablet. u had to thrust it into its throat and hold the snout until it swallowed. and they wr so tiny. u had to use gently hands. i did all this in the train's toilet...after placing my luggage at 6 different places across the compartment that had no seat for me, inspite of paying a full fare. this is how travelling can b. i was standing for 9 hrs. only place to sit was on top of the puppy basket...it had a lid. a strong one.

i found sarita, she was also sailing in the same boat. her ticket was not confirmed too. she was also on the waiting list. she was number 4 on the list. she was a railway cop [oops!] on leave [thankfully]. three months pregnant n standing! i offered her my seat - the basket. i confessed to her my lil secret. she was shocked to know there wr puppies in them and warned me that it can turn against me if anyone complains.

i was prepared for anything [i think so].

the journey had entered into the night. almost 12 hrs after we started from mumbai, we wr some wr in karnataka...i guess. i was growing hungrier but the mild hungry squirms frm the basket got me into action. was qt a ritual to feed puppies - cerelac n milk.  i wud layer the toilet floor with newpapers n then let the puppies run around. pee n poo... n make noise - that wr not audiable in a fast train. then i took one of them at a time-  balancing while the train shunted in full speed is qt a skill that leart that day. in 30 mins the work is done. i put them back in the basket n removed the papers from the floor. flush them down the english commode. washed hands and got out. sarita wud nod her head in dissaproval but wud smile like i did something unbelievable.

now edda n eddie are two years old and they live with my granmom in my favourite home...they have the company of my mom and younger bro n sis too. they r happy. flee free and snowwhite. edda is the male n eddie the female. she is smarter. and he is a glutten. but they r vegetarians like the rest of them at home. they love bananas, fresh green beans, carrots. my grandmom gives them egg once a day. i miss them a lot. i feel like they r my kids. jokes apart. my dramatic stupid self miss them with teary eyes - the truth remains that i still don own a pet, nor can i live with them - even if i may b now sharing space with no stranger, but in another city for work - far away frm home.

my mom wud break into fits of hindu philosophy ...that i will turn to a dog in the next birth, if i miss them so much. i donno what she means by that. and in case i do am born as a dog - i can at least howl n get away from being just a dog on a looney day... hehe

Saturday, 17 February 2007

paati i miss u

she was my great grandmother, my mothers grand mom. she was short, cute and always clad in white saree that had Pears soap's odour. she used to collect the small sandalwood paste dollops that the poti (priest) gave at the temple, in an old st ives' body scrub bottle, that one of her sons got from Kuwait some decades back. when these these sandal balls dried, she would powder them to smear all over her body. she was qt a beauty, though she was very very old. and she was my best friend.


she used to sing songs… mostly self composed ones… they had no meaning but rhymed so well. like the item numbers by ar rahman. one of them goes like this ‘sorry this is my saree… o my dear doctor of gundachari’... it makes no sense but rhymes!?

she wud break into gibberish nothings like this on sober evenings, especially during powercut hrs. she was a great story teller. she told me her love story. she was 13 and her cousin was 28. he asked her 'shall i marry u?' and she said 'ok!' like it was some deal done while playing kho kho…‘will you be in team’ sort. and they got married after parents talked. she was married to a man who was 15 yrs senior to her. she gave birth to my grandmom when she was 14. but my grandmom was the father’s pet and got married qt late during her times...she was 24. and pati's youngest son was just 2 years old at the wedding. can u believe it? I can. cos there are snaps that recorded all the history in all its glory!

after paatan (pati's husband...my great grandpa) died, pati lived all alone in blore. she told me a story of fighting rogues who tied her down on a chair and stole all valuables in the house. what upset her was not that they stole the belongings but that they came in to the house telling they wr her son's friends. she made coffee for them. and then they did all the loot. this incident was, of course covered by newspapers...she had clippings of them in a file. this file had lot of things. photos, birth certificates, old letters...and such odd things.

she loved my mom a lot. and always thought i wud grow up smart n beautiful like her. she had a green transmitter radio...which we wud blast in full volume when there was power cut...we thought it was a good idea to trick people into believing that we had electricity...he he.



pati died in 2001 august at my favourite home...just two months before pappa, my granpa passed away. they wr two pillars of my life, while growing up.

no more chapters

i am done with chapters, text books n schooling long back. i don like this style of chaptering my blog…

this is just a blog. not a novel. then why the hassle.

i like arundhati roy, she saved me so many words… by giving the most vivid picture scape of kerala.  if i wrote my best i would come only second to wr she left… but my story may not have such controversies until i reach a point where am ready to reveal them all.

i have a great story to tell. like someone said that karma is not a deed but the direction. my story might just the way i get going with telling the story ;-)… the story has no chapters. no characters. no place.

when i write it is not often kept in mind that you are the person who is reading it. well then why do i write? simply becos i cant do otherwise. excuse moi! 

chapter two - backyard

i am still stuck in my granpa's house. there is so much to tell but what to do, i have my limitations. there was this septic tank on the right courtyard of the house. it had a huge coin like cement plastering on it. once a mason [mind you this a 2-decade old story] told me not to jump on it. he said, it wud brk n i will fall into a heap of shit. since then...whenever i wud trip by that side i wud stare at that plaster and feel disgusted. there was a neem tree by this courtyard and it was qt a huge one. it generally attracted lot of people for some medicinal use. but i never liked anyone climb our trees. i felt sad when people step on its branches and broke them. this house i am so fond off...was build in three different ground levels. so the inside n outside were equally interesting for me. and i never slept in the afternoon. so had so many things to do always. so when everyone was taking their mid noon siesta...i wud sneak out and take the right courtyard to reach the back yard. i cud not take the left side of the courtyard as our dogs wr tied there...and they wud make friendly noise if they saw me. sometimes if i felt too lonely i wud unleash them and then we wud together go down the backyard. and then it was just pure fun - cant explain better. i cud never explain to anyone how it felt there. we wud all run back home when our maid servant visited her toilet outside the house, at around 3.30pm...that was the signal to wind up fun. our dogs wr equally understanding...they wud never make me yell for them...wud quietly get into their cages n lie down like they had not been out at all... cos of course they knew that was the best way to get out again tomorrow. smarties.

nostalgia

Of course I am nostalgic like most bloggers. Sometimes it’s just a long memory that brings you down here.. or takes me up there. My earliest memory is around my ancestral home in Kerala – God’s own country [ruled by devils – don’t ask me why I hate communists ;)].


Today the house is very different from then - but my memories run clear through those old corridors – I can almost recreate an auto cad version of the entire house’s old plan in my memory. The most wonderful thing about the house’s old plan was that it had random rooms interconnected to every other room - a common hall [actually two], a pooja room that had so many things [ideal place to play hide n seek], a long kitchen which had firewood storage and a large pantry where raw bananas hung until ripe.

I have played my hearts full in this home as a child. Outside the kitchen there was a corridor that had wooden pillars. I remember swinging and jumping from one pillar to the other absolutely like a monkey. Outside this corridor was the well –so deep that even kuttampilla, our estate watchman could not get down there if something fell in. Between the well and the kitchen there ran metal wire lines that held smelly rubber sheets to dry. There were plenty of storage space for grains and other produces like coconut, ginger, yams, plantain etc. There was also a cow-shed that had no cows since milma came to town. it used to store fertilizers and other oddly smelling things. Adjacent to the shed was the smoke room for the rubber sheets to tan until black! The next two rooms were a bath and a toilet for outsiders and helpers.

And if you ran down the slop between the kitchen and the well you would reach the backyard – grandmom’s lush kitchen garden. Beyond the garden was the cliff edge of the whole plot that over looked a petrol pump down below on the national highway – beyond that you could spot plenty of hills, lush green trees, winding roads up hill and panoramic view of the town dotted with the electricity tower lines that were used by the cawing black ravens to pause and jump off to the sky in groups.

Five kilometers from the house was our estate - rubber plantation by the lake side that was cashew grove before grand dad realised the potential of rubber. The most attractive thing about spending vacation with grandparents was this latch-on trip to the estate in pappa's 'ash' ambassador – one trip in the morning and one afternoon.

Our maman [maternal uncle] was our guide and best friend those days – our hero - who would take us all around the town in grandpa’s car. The estate’s huge gate had 'chandra' etched on it. It flung open to a never-never land with pin drop silence – a place wr the trees spoke in eerie silence and we could spot plenty of nameless birds. The drive from the gate to the car shed was over a kilo meter - it was a steep and winding slop down the hill – the car rolled down with the engine switched off. Sometimes the crickets' chorus would be deafeningly loud and kuttampilla would look up squinting his eyes to predict ‘it is about to rain’ or say 'today its going to be very hot - no clouds'.

I remember vividly catching small insects and wickedly float them on colocasia leaves – bidding them good bye  [utterly insane and dramatic] imitating how maman would ‘go my friend - find the new shore!

My little sister was on the heavier side those days and I was pencil thin – so petite that my granma used to rag me calling names - my dear stick insect u must eat more to be visible. She used to love calling me all sorts of names including a weird one - ‘my little pocket edition’. I was found dragging my sister everywhere I thought we had to play. We were the perfect laurel and hardy duo. As I was hyper active I cud not wait for anything for long - my sister had no choice but to move before I got into a rotten mood. I couldn’t stop running, climbing, hunting for more fun. I hope now she forgives me for all those days - of course she must have – those were our true days of bonding. She has grown up to a fine lady today and is a super active adult who keeps a close watch on my inch wise growth to the sides and drives me mad – to keep running to keep fit. Far away from my ancestral home that is nestled in nature’s bounty, I run in a well maintained park’s rubberised runner’s track. Jogging down the memory lane is a refreshing habit when the mundane bugs you. I feel lucky I can close my eyes and land myself in an auto-cad like vision of a place I love so much – thank you almonds for keeping my long memories fresh and sound!



preface/disclaimer

I know I am late...but I believe it is never too late...to start blogging.

I used to write letters to myself as a child. Back then as a bored hosteler i had a different life altogether. I always had lot of friends but too many secrets to share. So din know what to do with them – the secrets. Stumbled upon writing - a good habit for a school-goer – who soon became topper in language classes [sorry a saggi will never hide the truth on the grounds of humility/modesty ;)].

One day my roommate cherry [I loved her name so much for it was my favourite’s fruit. I started calling my baby sister so], asked me what i keep scribbling all the time and to whom!? 'To a pen pal' [imaginary one or a white lie]. Sometimes the urge to pen down something was so severe that in between a chat session I would rush out flashing the small finger. People obviously thought i had a bladder trouble that kept me running to the loo all the time. They giggled but i din bother to correct anyone cos it was my big secret – right!? i was happy i had secrets no one knew, all by/for myself.

Years later when we wr moving home amma asked me to junk my ‘old crap and greeting cards’. i found few of those notes to self – giggled through my scriblings and not-so-easily recollectable instances from junior school. Realised that I had evolved from a stupid fearless kid to a stupid fearless as well as shameless adult – a total misfit and a pretender in the sophisticated grownups world. a few years after chucking those notes i watched an episode of dr.phill, [dr. phil is oprah's sociologist friend who had his own show]. the doc said the best way to solve a problem is to write it down. i felt wickedly happy to learn that.

And i am happy i am a blogger. Blogs wr designed for crazy hearts like me – who pretend a lot and keep plenty of secrets even while spilling out many jaw dropping ones. but i confess no saggi can be secretive for so long. i think i must read da vinci code closely once again to get some ideas to b secretive. is that what I aim to do here? You are watching channel blu - your complete source of entertainment and torture ;).