Thursday, December 17, 2009

Meandering roads

The heart beat tells me I live,
The pain tells me I love,
I will it to go away
Life is so cruel
‘You will live, and
You will love – albeit not
Always will you win.’

Painful as it is, I live on
Hope heals the wounds as I move on
Love finds new homes
I live on, hurting, hoping
Finding solace in smiling faces
Walking the meandering roads picking up memories,
Living my life – albeit not
Always winning.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The colours of the rainbow...

I just love Sachin Tendulkar!! Well, so do millions of other Indians.... but cricket has nothing to do with my newfound admiration for this guy who is the epitome of maturity. Why, you ask me? Well, look at the statement he recently made on his country and his state of domicile. Could it have been better said than that?

This takes me to the time when there were attacks on the non-Marathi taxi drivers in Mumbai. Delhi was seething (as were many other regions in the country). Comments were varied. From "We should do the same with Maharashtrians" to "We are so cordial with all the other state people.... why are they like that?" many viewpoints and cross comments were raised in every medium possible - newspapers, television and even FM radios.

Fast forward to a party I was at last weekend.... over some delicious fattening stuff we call "snacks" in Saddi Dilli, a few friends were discussing the crime rate in Delhi NCR. Now, we all know that this is the favorite topic among social circles. It proves many facts - that you read the newspaper, that you are a socially responsible citizen condemning the act, that you really live in a posh part of the city, but empathize with the others..etc.

The most garrulous of us decided he wanted some controversy to heat up the discussion - so he goes ahead and says something he would want to kick himself for - "Arre, Delhi was not always like this! Its these immigrants from the other states". Instant reactions are difficult to explain here... lets just say time froze for a few seconds, the only sound that of his teeth chomping the crunchy deep fried baby corn. Then he realized something was amiss, and he cared to look up from his plate. We are a bunch of young, well dressed, pretty looking people; but let me tell you, we looked nothing close to pretty right then.....

Damage control came by way of a stammering explanation "O come on, guys, I don't mean you - u're cool! Its these ricksha-wallahs, and the slum fellows I mean...." Well, conversation slowly came back to normal, but I came back home thinking of the comment..

Lets see now.... my family doctor is a sweet Bengali gentleman; my daughter's favorite teacher - the one who teaches her the exact way to pronounce 'envelope' - is a crisp cotton Saree clad lady called Mrs.Rao (for the uninitiated, Raos are from Andhra Pradesh), my best friend (atleast in this city) is a Punjabi (brought up in Rajasthan and married to a Himachal chap brought up in Delhi....). My domestic help (yeah .... they are in my list of VIPs too!!) is a Tamilian who hasn't seen Tamil Nadu - she was brought up here, the security guard is from MP.... and a million other people who make my life easier each day - the rikshawallahs included - come from all over the country!!

And they all came to better their lives...they have a right to do that in their country, don't they? Wait a minute.... we ARE a "democratic, socialistic republic". ARE we?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sound of Music

Driving on Delhi roads is something I loathe - with every inch of my being. But it is a necessary evil if one wants to do anything here - whether it is to rush to work, or to the many malls, or to just chill with friends...

Well, I discovered a time machine in the midst of the deplorable roads during peak traffic. I caught people giving me strange looks more than once during crazy traffic jams..... and hence discovered that I was smiling for no apparent reason (or at least to them!!) I had discovered music! Glory to the world, I now found time for a luxury like music.

It had been ages (last I remember was in my paying guest accommodation in Delhi that I'd put in a 'cassette' and feel myself melting away...) since I'd been able to just listen to music...Today's version comes complete with visuals and digital sounds. The TV at home has dozens of music channels (or so thats what they'd like to call themselves), but its not the same.

The time machine I discovered was the radio I listen to in the car. One and a half hours of glaring, snarling, hostile traffic just got converted into "my time" - my special bond with myself. And the songs I listen to are the medium through which I go back to special places in my memories.

Whether its Bryan Adams swearing by the "Summer of 69" or whether its Boyzone asking to be "loved for a reason" it brought back smiles. Ofcourse, Hindi songs make the list too - from the awesome 'Masoom' and 'QSQT' songs to the beautifully rendered 'Ma' from a recent movie, the lyrics and the music are capable of transforming my mood..... Life isn't so bad after all....

Not that new songs don't have mood-altering qualities... listen to "Ma da ladla" and discover yourself smiling at some funny lyrics, or shaking your head to "desi girl" and the likes...

When it comes to Malayalam songs, well, I am biased. I believe the most beautiful words that have been written for a song have been in that language. And when the words get molded into songs like "Omana thingal kidavo" (a beautiful song sung for Swati Tirunal by his aunt) then one really is left speechless ... I could go on and on about many such songs...

In short, thank GOD someone invented music - and the car radio!!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hum Nahi Bhoolenge.....part 2

College - Life had new dimensions, with new friends and new problems. We seemed to have too many issues, too little money, and too much work (little did we know then that we were in for a lifetime of REAL work later!!). But one thing we had no dearth of were good friends.....

- The toughest girl in the batch was my 'best friend' - she knew how to give a mean glare and whip up admirable one-liners (V.P. - love you!!)... and she was my guardian angel!!
- This other lady K.. with a formidable faith her career choice (she wanted to be a chef - and she did become one!!)
- And yet another one with a profound clarity of thoughts ... she knew what she wanted, where she was going, and I have NEVER seen her hassled..(T.G or S.G...hope you finalised the name)
- And the lady with a golden voice and towering height (A.P.)... both qualities had many admirers...

Here again, the men aren't far behind - the seniors first: the guy with an ape walk and cute smile who has a fantastic view to life's hurdles, the guy with light eyes and a heart of gold (he did not rag anyone..), the chap who scared the daylights out of us, but became a favourite with many of us... and many more who inducted us into the world of hospitality with PDP (Personality development programmes !!) and fun!

- And from my own class there was this garrulous chap who joined the hotel management course to become a pilot (yeah! we thought it was wierd too!)- who incidentaly kept every last bencher in splits (G.N. I know you will kill me for this!!)
- the guy who literally, wouldn't kill an ant (S.V.)....
- the guy who topped the whole damn country in the finals and yet, is far away from being a nerd!!(A.B.)......
- the guy whose height matched his sense of humour and who I guess was the favourite with everyone in the opposite sex(A.N. I see you grinning!)
- the shy chap who can tuck away a couple of pints of beer and a factory-full of cigarettes and still be standing (U.M. has lost a lot of weight proving he has determination if he wants....).
-The guy who would take one look at me and declare war against womakind (P- is one of my close buddies now, and his son, all of 3, just ADORES women!!....
- The soft spoken, assertive guy (J.G. caused mass heart attacks during our group trip when he nearly drowned) who writes up a charm in our group site and has a fanatstic sense of humour...
- this real good friend who feigned stupidity (called Jim Carrey of the class) the whole 3 years, only to be proclaimed as the person with the highest IQ in campus interviews...he went on to prove it by joining IIM....
- This true Mumbaikar (S.I.)- Mallu who spoke every language like it was English
- This friend who was, with me, the butt of jokes for speaking a dialect tinted with a faraway region!! (S.N. and A.A.)
- A chap who has turned out to be the ace event manager of the group!! (hats off, S.N.)
Happy Diwali all of you ...... am truly blessed to have known you all!!

Hum Nahi Bhoolenge.....

Ye Dosti, Hum nahi bhoolenge...
Todenge dum magar, tera sath na chodenge..

Just had to start today with those lines from an eternal song from an eternal film. The minute someone mentions 'dosti' one remebers this song. Well, today I remember my friends. From the little 6 / 7 year old girl (who has a lovely name - Firdaus) who was one of my first friends in school, to this highly professional go getter of a 'pataka' (sorry S.D. - just HAD to call you that!!)who is an integral part of my daily routine today - even if its just through a phone call!!

Girl / Lady (incase i offend some of them!!) friends have always had a special place in my heart. I remember this friend who was with me in high school - we were part of the team that represented the school throw ball team - I was the captain, and she a fiery little thing... the good times were many but the clearest memory is when we lost a match, and she came up to hug me...

Later on, as growing up took a toll on our skin, self esteem and hormones, girlfriends were the only others who understood ... they had the same problems, after all!! We had detailed 'solution meetings' for every problem - from guys to grades.. In particular this lovely lady (now - then, she was a freckled but beautiful young thing with long pigtails and unruly curls all around her face!!) who was my 'best friend' (oh we all had them then!!) had a sensible answer for every question. Also another 'best friend' was the class topper - but hey that didn't stop her from scaling the locked gate along with the whole bunch of us,to play badminton (and later getting caught and interrogated along with all of us) ..... Chethu, Rejna, if you ladies are reading this, I just wanted to tell you I miss you all sometimes...

Have to mention here that boys did make the list too.. there are many memories. This shy person who only spoke if spoken to, who was ever willing to help anyone, who became a dear friend after a class trip .... the highly intelligent, talented but quiet performer, who I acted with in a class skit, the fabulously talented singer who would be coaxed into singing at every possible occasion. And the chap with the light eyes and silly smile, but an endearing are all such wonderful friends - all the way from school!

College - ah .. the sweet smell of freedom, of innocent jibes and silly fights, where friendships attain a new meaning!! More to follow....

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mirror mirror on the wall .........

Whats it with weight and women? I mean, just when you think the worlds just begun getting fairer to you, someone just has to come by and say, "Oh Hi..... so good to see you. How are you? And you've PUT ON WEIGHT!!"

A college reunion, a long lost friend, a relative you really despise, or one that you love - it really doesn't matter..... those words mean the same coming from any mouth .... it spells hours of mirror watch to spot where EXACTLY did she see the extra weight. It means you were unsuccessful in hiding those extra kilos (attribute it to the valentine chocolates, the diwali sweets or the excuse that we love to believe - babies!!).

Also takes me to the next thought behind the whole obsession behind weight. Do healthy people (oh yeah! I am being polite!) think we are being judged by our size? I believe so...

I have come across two kinds of well endowed women...... those who constantly work at diet plans, calorie meters, exercise regimes and special slimming wardrobes to wish away their excess kilos. They may come across as less experimental when it comes to clothes, colors or food. They may also be very sensitive to the issue of weight. Example one liners : 'Oh no, I am on a rice free, potato free, fat free, etc. diet.' "Do you have diet coke?" "Just eat one roti - God knows why I put on weight - must be genetic."

The other kind are the diametrically opposite version of this. They joke about the weight problem they have, display audible and visible protests to Type 1 making futile attempts at changing their dress sizes. Their love of food is obvious, and they make all kinds of digs to make the obvious connection of food and weight. Example statement : "See the size? Well had to work hard at it." "Are you serving inversely proportional to size?" .... and a million other jokes.

Does that mean Type 2 is less concerned about the image they might be portraying? I think not - I should know - I am type 2!! I think we just want to take the attention AWAY from the weight thing...... what better way that to state the obvious just so that someone ELSE doesn't state it???

Having said that, why do we healthy chaps think that its inferior to be tipping the scales a little more than the average? Well let me just take you through a conversation that happens between a good friend and me:

FREIND (A) : I just cant stand her. What a hypocrite!!
ME : Well, she's ok I guess... talks well...
A : Ha!! atleast she's got that!!
ME : Whaddaya mean? she has one of the most motivated teams ....
A : What a loser! See the baggy things she calls clothes? All that to hide the tyres, babes!!
ME : Hey!! So what? I have tyres too....
A : Yeah.... but you are my FRIEND........

Well, my well meaning friend of course meant no harm to me..... but she manages to reinforce some kind of hate drive thats happening here.....unwittingly, I am sure, we all do so, don't we? Drive home the assumptions such as "no control", "Loves food", "lazy", "sad", "no discipline" etc.etc..... But hey, it takes all kinds to make the world interesting, doesn't it??

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The alphabet song - An ode to us......

The best skill my Hotel Management college, and subsequently career, gave me is the ability to laugh at myself, which explains why I am able to collect all the perceptions the rest of the world has about us Keralites (a.k.a. Mallus, Malayalees, Malabaris....)and present it here...

The fact that I got married to a chap whose knowledge of the geography of the country was restricted to Delhi, Faridabad and Gurgaon did wonders to my already tolerant demeanor. (Ofcourse, he can now give a lecture on the districts, sub districts and postal codes of my homeland - the place they call "Gods own country".....)

So lets begin to wreck some myths:

A stands for "Apple" which gives away the true Mallu when he says the word...also stands for 'Avial' - one of the favorite dishes in a feast!!

B stands for "Bess" (or 'bus' as the rest of the world knows it) which is the favorite mode of transport.

C stands for "chaya" which is the beverage that we are proud to produce, package, brew and sell to millions. Closely follows "Chayakada" which is where the famous One meter tea can be found.....And how can one forget - the 'coconut'!!

D stands for 'Da' or 'Di' wherever applicable - its the equivalent of 'tu' in Hindi (see - we have gender differentiation too...)... also stands for 'Duubbai'... where 'yevryone' dreams of going one day!!

E stands for 'yevrrywhere' which is where you will find our clan...

F stands for "forrin" which is where someone in everyone's household is....also stands for 'fish' which is a staple in most homes....

G stands for "Gold" which we love to wear, buy, gift, flaunt, hoard, and when we get bored of the designs, exchange it for a new one in the current fashion....

H stands for 'haluaa' which is made from every known fruit to us... bananas, jack fruit, mangoes, apples, figs and am sure there are more......

I stands for "Iyyoo" - the equivalent of the Hindi 'Arre...."

J stands for 'jolshyan' - the family astrologer (or jyotshi...)... who is consulted for everything from wedding dates, buying cars and houses to names of children....(even know a remote aunt who calls for the jolshyan when she has to go visiting relatives - who stay in the same city!!)

K stands, ofcourse for 'Keralam'.... which is what we call our land... also stands for the 'kanji' ...... the stuff you get to eat when you fall ill and can't eat anything else!!

L stands for 'lolakutty' the caricature of the Mallu girl..

M stands for 'Madrasi' - which drives every true blooded Malluu up the wall if used to denote him/her!! Also stands for the 'Mundu' - the white dhoti we all love....and how can we forget - MOHANLAL and MAMMOOTY - the two demigods of mallu filmdom??

N stands for 'namaskaaaram' which is the age old greeting in malluland....

O stands for 'Oil' (more specifically, coconut oil) which we use on hair, body, massages, and Cooking!! Closely followed by "Onam" - the time when every Keralite remembers to wear the 'Mundu'

P stands for 'payasam' - we have a hundred varieties of them, and each one has a different taste....

Q stands for Quwait (actually, Kuawit but cant think of anything else)- number two in the wishlist, after Duubbai...

R stands for 'rains' which is like, forever in Kerala

S is for 'Sadya' which is a feast every true Keralite remembers fondly - either in marriages or in festivals...

T is for 'teacher' which is the occupation most wannabe brides opt for in Kerala!!

U stands for 'umberla' (or umbrella) - every self respecting mallu has one safely tucked under his arm or, in case of women, nicely folded and put in purses!

V stands for 'Vishu' the other big festival of Keralites - falls on Baisakhi day....

W stands for 'what' and 'water' - pronounced 'vhat' and 'vater' by the true Keralite

X ofcourse stands for X-mas which we celebrate with lovely homemade rum cakes sent in by the Christian neighbors (if we aren't Christians ourselves)..... must mention here that we have almost equal number of Christians, Muslims and Hindus in Gods own Country, and we have a ball enjoying each other's cultures and festivals!!

Y stands for 'Yesudas' - or Dr.K.J.Yesudas to be precise - the pride of Kerala's lovely music - from classical to rock, from Malayalam to Arabic - the guys done it all!! Yet to find a mallu who doesn't swell in pride when his name is mentioned...

Z stands for the last letter of the alphabet (lost here guys........ can't think of anything!

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Umbilical Cord.....

The earliest memory I have of my Dad is that of him hiding behind a crowd to see if I could spot him after a month of vacation without him. I was 4, and I did spot him. He beamed with pride and joy when I ran with little steps towards him, my mother trying to keep pace with me.

The earliest memory I have of my Mom is when she caught a taxi and followed the school bus when I missed it the day of my school picnic. The harassed taxi driver managed to overtake and stop the bus, my Mom (who was a homemaker can in no terms be called assertive.....) convinced the traffic cop that it was urgent to stop the bus and hold up traffic, while I climbed up the steps to my seat, every child in there admiring my Mom!! I was beaming with pride and happiness. I was 5.

I am now 33, I have 2 children who are my universe today. I understand what it means to be a parent. I now know the pain of a parent when the child is hurt. I now understand the "NO"s that were doled out to me when I was a naughty child. I now feel the same fear and anxiousness my parents did for every 'first step' of my babies - the first little steps, the first day at pre-school, then school, the first fallen tooth, the first scraped knee.......... million other firsts to come.

I also understand the joy of giving. Every tangible movable item was first looked at with the thought "Will it be of use to my daughters?".... If the answer was 'Yes', the item promptly found its way into a remote corner of the cupboard, lovingly wrapped in plastic wrapping. Sarees, jewelery, books, pens, watches, perfumes..... the list is endless! My sister and I, at a younger age, would love the way my Mom packed up the stuff for "us".....

When we were older, we stopped noticing. I remember us telling her to take out the lovely jewelry she had, or the beautiful china she cherished....... and she'd smile and say "not now..... when you are older, you take it..."

Then came a time every parent dreads. We became young adults, with hormones, emotions and egos running wild. They were 'old-fashioned', 'strict' and 'unfair'. We were 'hep'and 'misunderstood'. We liked everything they did not..... then they began to adjust to the burgers meals and party wears..... I know those are the times I dread the most - when my kids become young adults.....

Marriage changes everything for a daughter..... I got everything I set my eyes on, and more. It took me geographically away from my parents, but emotionally closer to them. I became responsible for, and accountable to, a lot more people. My parents now stopped monitoring my clothes, my friends and my exits from home......but I would call up everyday to tell them every little detail of my life......

I am in a double income family with a successful career, able to afford reasonable luxury today. But some things don't change. Every time I have one of my precious meetings with my parents, I am showered not only with love, but also with gifts....... Earlier they were for me, now they are for me and my family.....

They say the umbilical cord never really gets severed......... maybe that explains the happiness parents feel when they keep doing things for their kids.... Maybe I will understand better when I reach their phase in life.

Dad and Mom - I love you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Growing up in the Mango Orchard.......

The earliest memories I have of my ancestral home is the huge mango tree in the front yard. The mango tree was the first of many symbols welcoming anyone who came to this traditional Nambiar home. (Nambiars are a clan of rulers in the fiefdoms of North Kerala or Malabar region).

As kids, we learnt very early on that nature is man's first deity. All adults (and most kids) knew everything about mother earth and the bounty she held in her heart - which she so generously gave out to her dutiful children.

Vegetarianism was the general norm, though there were instances of patriarchs hunting and eating the kill - which then justified the hunting.

We learnt how to swim in the backyard pond .... older cousins using the insides of the banana stem to create a makeshift floater for the younger ones. We would catch little fish in knee deep water with a muslin cloth held in little hands on all four sides....just to let them back into the water in a few seconds.

We learnt to climb all kinds of trees - the sturdy mango trees as well as the slippery guava tree. Our imaginations took flight on our beloved mango tree. It became a bus, with strong little arms shaking branches for effect of the ride on bumpy roads; it became a household with different branches taking on the role of different rooms in the house. It became a beautiful classroom where young minds questioned everything all the time....

And when friends from neighboring homes came in to play, adding on to the army of 10 to 15 cousins in the family, the elders merely smiled and added more raw ingredients into the cooking pot.... a good meal was after all, a must for growing kids.

Dusk was when we ran back into the home, where some aunt or our grandmother would get every child scrubbed clean and into clean clothes. We then were promised some delectable snack ........ after the mandatory "Nama Japam" or evening prayers.

The lady of the house would light a beautiful brass lamp with cotton wicks, and place it at the appropriate location where all of us would gather round on the floor, and with hands folded sing out the comforting prayer songs which we were never taught - we just knew them !!

Of course the promised reward prompted even the naughtiest child to keep his eyes closed for the benefit of the watchful grandparent. Then came the reward. Steaming hot sweetmeats made with all the love in the world, along with a huge glass of warm milk.Needless to say, the pleasure of eating there, sitting cross-legged on the floor, in the company of playmates and grandparents, with not a worry in the world, is an experience I will cherish all my life.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Little drops of heaven

This entry is a part of the contest at in association with

Ever wonder why this oh-so-scientific phenomenon of evaporation and condensation (which we call rain!) causes many unexplained emotions in people?

I know friends who, at the very sight of heavy clouds, get instant memories of a special "someone". I also know friends who become the "Shayar" of the century, doling out Hindi/Urdu words I swear you wouldn't have heard...I become the mushy, lost young adult I was in college - with a silly smile I just cant wipe off! Whether it is a serious meeting, or a time to have a deadpan expression, I still have a grin that won't come off - all because I can feel the rain in the air! (yeah - even in an air conditioned office!!)

What causes this transformation in the highly practical, (read that as mechanical, robotic) materialist world that we are in?

Is it because the hostile weather (especially in Delhi) suddenly seems hospitable? Lets face it - we are far better people in temperatures that give our sweat glands a break.

Or is it because everything looks so green and clean (well, atleast not the drains, but what the heck..!)- just like when we've walked into a newly scrubbed room?

Maybe its because we are nicely snug in our cars with windows rolled up or in our homes with a nice hot cuppa - while there ARE others out there braving the rain. Is it that we start counting our blessings then?

It was in such a reverie that my little one comes running into the house shouting "Its raining! Its raining!"

A-ha! The perfect oppurtunity .... the aquarian scientist in me decides to prove my theory of "Rain syndrome". So I ask my 5-year-old... "Princess, why are you so happy when it rains?"

"Its so nice... drops fall from the heaven. God is playing with water...." Well, better not burst her bubble of happiness I think. But I still prod, wishing her to come up with a practical solution to my theory... "And what else ?......"

She hesitates, looks at me - gauging my temper levels. She must have decided it was safe..... then the apple of my eye says "Also, Mamaa... you come late from office, so we dont have to eat what you cook...Papa orders out!!"

Friday, September 11, 2009


It is so easy to forget what we hold dear to our heart, in the pursuit of what we consider most important to us in life!! It takes a really jolting moment to whack you in the head and tell you - "Hey!! Duniya gaya tel lene, this is important to me!"

I mean we work our butts out trying to get that elusive thing called success. It can be high grades in class for some, a "white collar" job (which automatically elevates you to the 'sir' or 'ma'am' category), all the money that comes with the job for some, being socially and politically correct always....etc.

But there comes a time when suddenly, you are faced with the hard hitting reality that you would give all that up for that SOMETHING / SOMEONE in life - but maybe we are just a tad late..............Is this what they call 'nirvana'? Is this some kind of self actualization that we keep hearing of in motivation theories?

I was in hospital, trying to keep myself free from guilt..... I am what they call a mother. There probably are zillions of poems, songs and stories glorifying my species.

But there is a difference - I am a human!! I make mistakes. One of them can cause so much pain to a one and a half year old baby, sleeping in drugged sleep. Drugged from medicines given to him to get rid of his "germs" - the virus that was causing the dehydration. The hospital staff were giving me dirty looks - i can almost hear what they are thinking..... "How irresponsible!" ....... "Poor child."

- True I am a busy mom (Ping! Point to Guilt)
- But also true that I loved him and did it all for him. (Now, why wasnt that so convincing?)
- He wouldn't be so ill if I was at home, caring for him all the time (Ping! Point Guilt)

........ I was fast losing the battle to guilt. I got a call. The voice at the other end said "I know you must be beating yourself up..... dont do it!" Thats my sister, my friend. The one who made me feel 15 again...."He needs you to be human. Just snap out of it, get your priorities straight, and make those decisions you need to make. But right now, enjoy your time together. He is getting better, right? So thank God, and start living!"

I took a long time off from work..... thought the office guys can go fly a kite. I surely would lose my job.Well, what do you know - the whole team came to see us, assure me they will keep things ship-shape till I join back.

The boss told me to take it easy....................... I was surrounded by optimism...... and I had kept worrying about things that might never happen, only to have things happen I never imagined!! I love my job.......but you know what - I love life much more.

I still have a job I love, but that doesn't make me lose focus on life. Am I compromising on that elusive thing called succes? Finally I realise now - I AM SUCCESSFUL!!