May 7, 2010

We have moved to :

Leia Mais…

Feb 3, 2010

Run, Forrest! Run!

There are many instances in life when we feel the pangs of growing up, albeit for different reasons. Every few years, we have some new revelations which bring joy or sorrow to us. Off late there is one thought which keeps haunting me - "Life is a Marathon." Considering my current physical health, I cannot dream of running a marathon, but no harm in giving my mind a little exercise and believing in this thought.

Sunscreen by Baz Luhrmann is the tonic for the nut cases like me... go enjoy it

Leia Mais…

Jan 31, 2010

Curse or Blessing ?

In the year 1930, 26th January was declared as Independence Day of India by Indian National Congress and twenty years later in 1950 on the same day Indian Constitution came into force. And on the same date fifty years later, I was born. It was a mere coincidence or trick of fate that I was born on such a historically important day.

If I were born on any other date in the calendar, things would have been pretty much normal and boring. But god decided to make my birth day interesting, and government of India decided to make it a dry day. Every year along with the usual pangs of growing up, I experience a lot of other mixed feelings because of the date 26th Jan.

When I was in school, I never got a chance to celebrate my birthday with my classmates; I never wore a pretty frock to school like the other girls. On top of it, if my family forgot to buy a cake well in advance, I wouldn't even get to blow the candles, make a wish and cut the cake on my special day. This last bit was the biggest deprivation for a child.

Somehow I managed to make my peace with the situation and outgrew the age of wearing fancy clothes and distributing candies in classroom. But there was no respite from this ill fate in college also. In Delhi, there is a red alert on 26th Jan and no one ventures out of their houses. So I could only spend time at home with my loving family, who tried to make my day special with the best celebration means we all have,"lots of food", but alas! no friends could ever come over.

Well, I learned to live with this too and consoled myself that maybe " with a great birth date come greater responsibilities !! ".

Then with a sudden twist of fate, my curse became a blessing overnight. My first birthday of my working life and I got a much deserved break from office. That day I bowed down and thanked the gods a million times, almost breaking my back, for as long as I am in India I will never have to work on my Birthday.

I forgot all the years I had suffered because of this date, the future looked so liberating and hopeful that I was finally willing to forgo the past.

Leia Mais…

Dec 26, 2009

An honest film

I was no big fan of Mr.Shyam Benegal, till sometime back. I only knew that he is a director who makes off beat, serious, art movies. But when I saw a simple yet captivating movie made by him - Welcome to Sajjanpur, which is a satire on rural life and its tribulations, I could not help but admire his craft and talent. Instead of investing huge amount of money and wasting time running around so called big stars, he did magic with a lesser known ensemble cast. The movie has comic moments and some good humour. All characters are well defined and their personalities clearly outlined. But more than anything else, he did a commendable job of highlighting so many social issues in a matter of three hours.

Mr.Benegal is a true genius, and he has made a wonderful film, which I have seen at least seven times till date. And today I was compelled to write about it. Just a humble attempt to list down some of the many issues dealt with in the film. For the benefit of those who would care to know what still ails our society, here it goes
  • Gender issues like girl child education, Rights of women, remarriage of widows, injustice meted out to rape victims by the society
  • One of the biggest problems faced by India today is that of clean drinking water
  • Changing of city names by regressive and opportunistic people for their political motives
  • Prejudice against Muslims
  • Criminalization of our political system, with money and violence as the basis of success in elections rather than a good manifesto
  • High rate of illiteracy in a country run by a bunch of illiterate greedy politicians
  • Freebies and reservations
  • Still looming large is the evil of superstition, outdated rituals and blind faith
  • Migration of rural population to crowded cities, where the poor & unscrupulous people in absence of employment avenues are forced to sell their organs and blood
  • Ill trained doctors endangering the lives of people.
  • With changing times and advent of technology, there are some new forms of less harmful but equally distracting trends like the chain mails/sms ' forward this mail to 100 people or you will have bad luck'
The list above is not exhaustive; I have only mentioned the ones that I could recall. This film hits you hard and forces you to think about bigger problems in life than just ' I am stuck in a wrong job, I cannot buy the latest mobile phone, I do not have a big car, my friend bought a new house, my life sucks...'

Leia Mais…

Dec 5, 2009

Dazzling star

This story is about a boy who had a magnetic personality and super human qualities. Irrespective of age or gender, he had a knack for winning hearts of all and sundry. As they say in Hindi "Yaaron ka yaar tha woh."

He was full of zeal, excitement and love. Talking about passions, he had two of these which I can recall, one was a beautiful girl with blue eyes (he was only sixteen at that time), and second was his fixation for body building. He was obsessed about good physique and would stand in front of the mirror, always trying to figure out if he has a perfect "V" shaped body. But, his charisma was in his big expressive eyes, and an attractive face with a light chocolate coloured complexion.

A popular guy in the neighbourhood, even his parents were known by his name. Inside the house also, he was the beloved clown, bringing smile to everyone's face. But he was more than a funny guy, he had a golden heart.

The boy had a younger cousin who was an average student, but he had a lot of trust in her abilities. Always encouraging her to study hard and come at the top of the class. I remember that year when he was very sick and confined to bed, he was still worried about her performance. The girl eventually followed his advice and did very well in her exams . In fact, her academic results never went down again. But before she could share the success with her brother, he was already on a different journey.

It's been more than a decade now that he left his grieving family for heavenly abode. Losing a child is the biggest loss for any parent. But his parents were no ordinary people, they were brave, strong and special. They not only continued to live life, they even gave a young girl a chance and an opportunity to live.

This is a tribute to the boy and his parents; together they symbolize the spirit of life.

Leia Mais…

Oct 25, 2009

A visit to hometown

Being the proud owner of a blog comes with a lot of responsibilities. I started full steam, with eight posts in August, and then managed only one in September and full stop in October.

There are so many things to write about, but I feel my mind is preoccupied and I just want to sit in a corner and think. Thinking and dreaming is all that I have done in last two months, in addition to visiting Delhi. I travelled in a train, something which I love to do, twice. But both the times, there were noisy kids in my compartment and they kept howling and crying. So the peace and serenity that I usually cherish in a train journey, was converted into complete chaos and racket.

Weather in Delhi was also not very kind to me. All through my stay, it was extremely hot and humid. I had to go around meeting my friends & family and also go shopping in that bad weather. And to add insult to the injury, it started raining heavily, the moment I boarded the train for my journey back to Mumbai.

The only respite was travelling in the Delhi metro. It's a real boon to the city. The capital may not have an uninterrupted power supply to boast of yet, but metro has taken the travelling experience within the city to international standards. The stations are clean; the trains are cool and comfortable. Surprisingly people behave in a civil manner and so far there has been no vandalism. I wish that we have a metro running in Mumbai soon. Journey in Local trains here can only be compared to transportation of livestock.

Whenever I visit Delhi, the experience is full of nostalgia, peace, excitement and energy. This time around, I guess my timing was wrong, coz even though I met my family and friends; I could not take pleasure in my stay to the fullest, whereas in the past I have always enjoyed my romance with the capital city.

Leia Mais…

Sep 5, 2009

Recipient of a bequest

I realized a longtime ago that books are my window to this world and its varied complexities. Every word written in them is my philosopher, teacher, guide and a soul mate. Most times I enter a bookstore, looking for a particular good read; I inadvertently stumble upon and end up picking some unheard of book. In the end I always get this weird feeling that it's a book which decides who should read it, rather than the reader deciding which book to read.

There is certain romanticism in reading an original, albeit old dog eared book with yellow pages, one which has passed through generations. It hides in its margins, the rich inheritance of diverse views and feelings. It's as if the reader has captured the passing moments in his remarks & interpretations. I have a collection which belonged to my father and before him to his father; their thoughts, youthful energy, and ideas are hidden inside these works. I believe these are my timeless possessions.

"To sit alone in the lamplight with a book spread out before you, and hold intimate converse with men of unseen generations - such is a pleasure beyond compare." ~ Kenko Yoshida

Leia Mais…

Aug 30, 2009

Buried Treasure

All my fond memories of Delhi revolve around the different seasons, filled with the elaborate preparations to welcome a new one every three- four months. The change in seasons from summer to autumn to winter and from winter to spring to summer was defined by the weekends spent with the family. The monotony of the year seemed dispelled by the varied seasons.

Come October, there would be a slight chill in the air, Diwali would just be around the corner, and you would realize that it was time to welcome the winter season. All the members of the family would be summoned to keep a weekend free; after all everybody had to be at home to help with the unpacking of winter stuff.

Just like ants work together to stock their supplies for winter, we had to open the trunks and boxes, and dig out those old woolens, quilts, hot water bottles etc. For the whole year the treasures in those boxes would have been forgotten about. But now everybody would look forward for the little surprises to spring up.

Under the piles of blankets you'd find that new lovely fur coat you had bought last winter, it wouldn't be very cold, but you'd still try it on and admire yourself as a royal duchess in the mirror. Suddenly, in the background, you'd hear your mother calling out, to stop goofing around and help her. You would feel a little sting of disappointment for giving up being a duchess. To top it, you would find yourself making endless rounds to the terrace, "like a mere commoner", spreading the clothes in open air to get rid of the funny smell of moth balls. Now there was no fun in this, the only consolation was that after a few weeks, you could sit on the terrace, in the winter sun, with everyone in the family, joking and making fun of each other and enjoying goodies like peanuts with jaggery, dry fruits,oranges etc. Without giving a dime for calories, you could enjoy mouth-watering gajar ka halwa & gulab jamuns.

October and November had a mild winter; the true fun began only in December, what with rising up in the foggy mornings and having steaming breakfast in your warm & cozy beds. Soon it was January the coldest month and by February you were already bored of the cold weather and warm clothes. Your rising discontent at the end of the four months of cold and a longing for a warmer climate was fulfilled with the arrival of spring.

But alas! it was again time to get back to work. The woolens were sent for dry-cleaning, the quilts carefully folded and hot water bottles properly dried. Once again you had to spend a weekend repacking the things in the trunks. But it was also time to rejoice, because by now you would have forgotten about your summer stuff and the small surprises were ready to be discovered. A forgotten summer dress, a new top which you had bought during the Diwali sale and never got a chance to wear... The moment of revelation was here again.

Year on year, this cycle went on, but you never got tired of it. Instead you looked forward to those weekends, spent working together with the family.

These memories will always be special for me, as would the haggard furry thing that might still be buried somewhere deep in the old rusted trunks at home !

Leia Mais…

Aug 27, 2009

A passage through cultures

One fine evening in the month of September last year, I was traveling from South Bombay towards the suburbs. Little did I know, that this seemingly innocuous journey would take me through the cultural potpourri we all call Bombay.

I'd always known that India is the land of festivals. But, I realized its true meaning on this fateful day. The revelation began as soon as my cab entered Dadar. I suddenly found myself mesmerized by the beautiful sight of people dressed in their colorful fineries, carrying huge idols of Lord Ganesha and singing "Ganapati Bappa Morya, Purchya Varshi Laukariya" which means *Lord Ganesha, come again early next year*. The whole atmosphere was charged up with the beating of the drums and people dancing around. Ganesha Chathurti is a Hindu festival which is celebrated over 10 days with lot of fervor, enthusiasm, devotion and fanfare. People believe that during this period Lord Ganesha descends from the heavens to visit them. On the 11th day the idol of the beloved Ganpati is immersed in sea, symbolizing farewell for his return journey to heaven.

I was still reeling under the captivating smell of jasmines & marigolds and the delightful sight of colors & celebrations, when I reached Mahim. Here I heard the Maulavi's call from the mosque to the faithful Muslims for praying and breaking their day long fast. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar which is considered holy. The Muslims observe fast from dawn to dusk for 30 days, at the end of which, they celebrate Eid ul-Fitr. The food jaunts on both sides of the road were filled with people who were about to have their first glass of water and first meal called as Iftar. Being a vegetarian, I could not appreciate the smell and sight of the non-vegetarian delicacies. But I was happy to see the excited kids running around and the calm, peaceful faces of the devoted elders getting ready for their night long celebrations.

My spiritual journey continued as I finally entered Bandra. Here another kind of faith was waiting to be embraced. In Bandra, situated near the sea, is the Basilica of Our Lady of Mount Mary. There was a festive mood at the week long Bandra fair where people of all faiths had come to seek blessings of Mother Mary and revel in the heady atmosphere. Mother Mary is revered for her powers to heal the sick and grant wishes. For the Marathi speaking community she is "Math Mauli".

As my cab pulled out of Bandra, I found myself exalted by the cultural concoction I had just witnessed. Three adjoining areas, three stations of a local train and three worlds. The whole experience was so enthralling that it has stayed with me for over a year now.

Well, as they say, it can happen only in Aamchi Mumbai!

Leia Mais…

Aug 23, 2009

A Divine Encounter

A few days back, standing in a line at the passport office, waiting for my turn to get an ECNR stamp on my passport, I became a believer in god and a babu-fearing mere mortal. The lady at the counter seemed no less than an avatar of a goddess , a force which could give me moksh in the form of a stamp. This was my first visit to this shrine (passport office). I was warned that it was impossible to please the goddess with just one offering and that I would have to visit many times before she would even look at my documents. Still I was optimistic, miracles do happen in real life. I was happy that after standing there for 3 hours (7.30 to 10.30 - when the shrine actually opens) finally I could get darshan. I saw the queue in front moving fast. But as I was approaching the counter I realized that the goddess is in no mood to grant wishes today. She was rejecting the forms with the speed of lightning. My happiness gave way to nervousness and fear. I had taken an off from work, got up at 5.30 and travelled in a local train to reach the shrine. Earlier I was confident about my meticulousness, but now I was afraid that I may have missed out on some document. Finally it was my turn to give my form. My hands were shaking and I was sweating. With a lot of difficulty I took out the papers from my file and offered them to the goddess. I had missed out a few details on my application, which very politely (surprisingly) she asked me to fill in. I regained my positive thinking... but alas ! it was to last for less than 10 secs, because, one fleeting glance at my documents and she told me that "you don't have the Xth class passing certificate". I was crest fallen. I told her that I have all the mark-sheets from Xth till PG to prove that I am an educated Xth pass female. But she would have none of it. My humble offerings just didn't seemed to appease to her holiness. My mind became numb, still I gathered some strength, but no, I could not garner the courage to question her for the fear of offending her. I simply collected my documents, stepped away from the window and tried hopelessly to pull myself together. I called my friend who was waiting outside to give him the bad news. Hearing my almost sobbing voice, he forgot his pain (he too got up early and took off from work) and consoled me "don't worry, we will come better prepared next time. Before the next visit to the shrine pray to god every morning and fast on Mon,Wed and Fri..."

I hope my penance will bear the fruit & I shall one day see an ECNR stamp on my passport....but alas! when will that day come!!!

Leia Mais…

Aug 21, 2009

A Love Triangle...

This is no ordinary love triangle. Its the love between the three most striking identities of Mumbai. Let me introduce the characters -

1. Congested roads of Mumbai (ugly like a Bollywood heroine sans make up)
2. Traffic (the spoilt rich brat hero)
3. Beggars and poor migrants (incapacitated, poor, frail second hero)

Now their love story goes like this...

Roads of Mumbai, like a good Indian heroine are silent, taken for granted, abused, not or under paid and get botchy patchwork maintainence done (poor nose jobs like Koena Mitra's).
Traffic (which actually meant movement of goods before it was used in the context of humans) consists of cars, two-wheelers, auto-rickshaws, BEST buses etc.

"Rich people" sit in their ac cars and look down on two-wheeler riders (who swish swash between lanes) and rickshaws (which are like cockroaches on road). Buses still are given certain forced respect out of a fear of their sheer size. Rich are worried that Rs.1 lac car Nano will increase the traffic and it would be impossible to drive their BMWs,Mercedes' and Ferrraris on the ever congested roads ( as it is I don't understand how people can abuse these lovely cars on Mumbai roads, its a shame to drive these beauties at 20km/hr) .

Then of course, we have the beggars and poor migrants who seem to occupy each and every inch of available space - foot paths, dividers, under flyovers etc. Its appalling to see them sleeping with their kids between the narrow dividers. Their whole house; living room, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom is confined in the 1.5-2 feet gap. But they sleep so peacefully in spite of all the noise and pollution ( I was surprised to know that some rickshaw drivers use kerosene as fuel )

Now I am sure many of us would have thought about this many a times... When a beggar approaches us, whether we are sitting in a car or a rick, we tend to look away or behave as if we cant see him or hear him. Are we ashamed of facing him ? May be, but mostly we tell ourselves that giving him money would encourage people to beg. Let me tell you...this is just a way to placate our conscience and absolve us of any passing guilt.

Stuck in a traffic jam for 2-3 hrs everyday on congested Mumbai roads, sitting in a car, looking down upon two and three wheelers, shying away from poor kids who are begging... I feel that I am shamelessly enjoying or at least passively watching this love triangle everyday....

Leia Mais…

Aug 16, 2009

"wassup" !!!

There are quite a few random questions which I always fail to answer. People may call these questions a way to initiate conversation, precisely small talk. But I mostly find it difficult to respond to these and always seem to be at a loss for words. There can never be a simple straightforward response to these inquiries. And I am sure that the enquirer would mostly be disappointed with the reply. Some of these I am listing below :

1. Whats up ? What's new? How's life ? .... Gosh! you can't summarize your life in few sentences for the benefit of the questioner.

2. What kind of music you like ?.... Now in my case there is no fixed answer, there can never be, cause it depends on mood, state of mind blah blah blah..

3. What kind of books you read? .... Anything that I can borrow from friends and colleagues.

4. What are your hobbies?.... Now this one takes the cake, cause I never pursued any hobby and this question reminds me that I haven't done anything worthwhile with my leisure time till date...

Don't get me wrong, I love everyone who ask these question. Sometimes I too ask these. But I would really like to find some innovative ones to make the conversations more interesting. And till then if ever I am caught asking the same old questions.... kindly ignore..

Leia Mais…

Aug 9, 2009

Looney Terrors !!!

When I was a young kid, before the advent of satellite television in India, my life was fairly simple. During weekdays due to lack of any interesting program on Doordarshan, I played with other kids of the locality. Kiddish games like hide & seek, stampoo, pithoo and kho-kho. I used to look forward to Sunday morning. It was a ritual to get up at 8.30 am and sit glued to the TV to watch Disney Hour, He-Man,Duck-tales at 9 am. But now I cant help but sympathize with my nieces and nephews. These guys are so confused with 24X7 cartoon channels, and with Tata Sky giving option to watch in any language -English,Hindi or regional. The cartoons are no more Superheroes or cute characters, they are like Shinchan , who is a five year old kid who uses inappropriate language and shows disrespect for elders. Parents are terrorized and don't want their kids to watch TV. Many parents think they are smart and put child-lock. But they miss the point that today's kids who use laptop and play games on X-box can't be easily fooled with a child-lock.

Now to an outsider this may just seem as a generational gap or technological advancement. But on the ground level kids are losing their innocence and childhood. Watching T.V. all day is as it is bad, but watching disturbing and aggressive animated programs results in restlessness and aggression in kids behaviour. Their sense of reality and acceptable social behaviour is blurred.

I guess good old days of Doordarshan and DD metro were really not so bad after all.

Leia Mais…

Aug 8, 2009

Woes of a single woman

Few days back a friend informed me via sms "I am hooked". So officially I lost one more good friend (I have very few) .The speed with which my friends are getting booked and hooked.. I guess I will have to give a ad "Looking for a friend" . I am always afraid when any of my friend gets engaged... don't get me wrong I am not jealous .. but I always feel that things between us will change forever. There will be no stopping.. first a husband will enter our lives... followed by 1-2 kids... and that's it... before you know your discussions will be centered on the husband and there will be kids howling and crying in the background.

Earlier I was part of a large group of unmarried people(cousins and friends) and I could always get lost in the crowd. But now that people are getting married so frequently the population on this side is thinning and I am exposed to the elders in the family. Most irritating part is that its not only your family but all the aunts, neighbors, and even the people on the street you sometimes bump into who are keen to know why you are still single. I have to constantly keep a guard on their attempts to get hold of me. Its a difficult task, but I am managing somehow. But God knows for how long.. soon I will be hooked and cooked for life :(

Leia Mais…

Aug 6, 2009

Obituary for an Inland letter

I don't know how many people in my generation remember what an Inland letter was... As a kid I used to write letters to my Daddy(that is what I call my grandfather) in a blue Inland letter.. now the name of my blog Elizabeth is actually the signature that I used in my letters to him. Daddy has preserved all my letters carefully more than any treasure worth millions. I always feel glad that somewhere my thoughts are written on a paper and kept safely... coz writing with hand is the last thing that we do in the emailing days. I don't remember when was the last time I wrote something on a piece of paper and took the pain of pasting a stamp , going to the post office, and posting the letter in the red letter box. In fact I have not seen a red postbox which used to be the landmark for reaching those nooks and corners of the locality for a longtime.. like dinosaurs it has become extinct.

Everyday I force myself to write a letter to my Daddy.... but somewhere I have lost touch with my thoughts and feelings... I have forgotten how to express myself in words. That is why when today a friend insisted that I should start blogging.. I forced myself to write these few words. The truth is I felt good after a longtime.. less guilty . I hope my grandfather had a computer so that he could read my thoughts and save them with a click of a button...

This one's for my grandfather...

Leia Mais…