Rain retrieves remembrances….

It rained today. A much awaited rain it was. The fragrance emitting from the parched earth when rain drops touched it refreshed not only our soul but also refreshed many memories. Surprisingly all these memories take me back to my childhood. And the smell of frying pakoras emanating from the kitchen of my Amma still fills my nostrils with a never-ending desire to have more and more of crispy golden pakoras with chutney! Electric Mixers and grinders were unheard of during those days and it was the ever faithful Kundi-danda that did the trick of transforming green mint and coriander leaves, along with other spices,  into  smooth  chatni.

Perhaps Amma wanted to restrict us to our small little home by alluring us to lip smacking eatables. With a life bereft of TV, video games, computers or in short all those screens that keep modern kids immersed in their own little world, outside world held greater charm to us. And we would run out of our safe home to explore the outside world. I learnt to enjoy and appreciate little joys of life that didn’t cost a penny but have become a source of happiness to me even today.

Today when I came out in the verandah to enjoy the rains, I was hooked to the sight of raindrops glistening like pearls on the green leaves. Watching the dazzling water drops I was transported to the world of my childhood when we would see the same magical diamonds on green leaves wandering around Shimla green areas.

The Sanp ki Buti would fascinate and terrorize us at the same time. Its proud green hood like a serpent would make us shiver but the water droplets shining on its bright green surface would dazzle us. We would go near it with a trembling heart. afraid that a snake may not be lying hidden nearby, but there would be no snake around. And the child who would go and touch those deadly beautiful saanp-ki-buti would be acclaimed a brave-heart!

I moved close to the ornamental plant whose leaves had retained the dazzling water droplets on it and lovingly touched the water! Instinctively, I moved away, watching around for a snake lying hidden nearby and realized I was much away, in time and space,  from my childhood.

The fist splash of rain in Hamirpur had retrieved many remembrances of my childhood which belong to a period of golden past!

Ides of March

Thursday, 15  March, 2012

The soothsayer’s warning to Julius Caesar , “Beware the Ides of March,” has forever imbued that date with a sense of foreboding, even though I  heard “ides of March”only  when I was studying for my Masters in English Literature. But since then it had always been a day to be wary of! Such is the power of superstition that we start believing in all superstitious stuff whatever country and time it may belong to!

So it was a bit of dilemma for me to enter the room in my office which I had to leave some three years ago. I entered the room with a twitter in my heart but as soon I was inside it, I felt as if the room, its bare walls, the bricks, the window  panes , in short everything was saying, Welcome back! I could feel that “the room” had missed me and all that clutter that made this room my own! The feeling of  home-coming read “room coming” swept me off my feet and I forgot about the Ides of March and the soothsayer’s warning to Caesar. Once I had made myself a little comfortable, I once again started thinking about the ides of March and the negative connotation that once-upon-a-time innocent word has come to allude to!  My emotional self would take me to the dark abyss of negativity but my rational self would get hold of me with the logic that the word “ides of March” held no significance for me till I read the play Julius Caesar and nothing had ever happened to me on Ides of March. Another part of my thought process came up with another logic to support my wavering mind. The logic, as per the new thought process,  was that had Ides of March been a formidable day then why would Akhilesh Yadav decide to take oath as Chief Minister of U.P on this very day. Since Akhilesh Yadav was beginning his long journey in Indian political scene, the Party must have taken care of selecting the most auspicious day to herald his journey in the field of politics, hence the day, ides of March, has to be a very auspicious day!

I was surprised to find how human mind works to prepare any human being with a logic to make him feel that whatever step he has taken are the best according to some logic! When I felt low, I had the negativity of Ides of March further supplement my negative thoughts but when I felt a bit positive then another logic raised its head to fill me with positivism!

But as it was still difficult to shed free of the initial burden about ides of March, my rational mind devised another logic and finally this was the one I believed in! If Ides of March was an inauspicious  day when Caesar was killed, it must have been an auspicious day for  his friends and protégé, among them Cimber, Casca, Cassius, and Marcus Junius Brutus as they were successful in stabbing Caesar to death in the Senate house on  March 15 (the Ides of March), 44 B.C..

As this was a day when a dictator was brought to justice albeit in a tragic manner and as it were his friends who played a role in bringing down the dictatorship of the man, I could feel a sign from my guarding angels about the things to come! 🙂

And I was a much relieved person after all this thought provoking contemplation!

Why don’t I write these days?

Many of my friends and foes (?) might be wondering why don’t I write these days? What stops me from putting my thoughts on my blog which, no doubt, is a big open public place? Well, even I wonder at times why and what stops me from expressing my thoughts. Is it that I have nothing more to write? No, on the contrary I have abundance of feelings, emotions and stray thoughts that I want to share. Then why on earth I still not write anything? It has been a long time, a very long time!
The fact is that I have had so many bitter feelings about many people that I thought to be my “friends” that had I written anything it would have been pure venom split out in a public place so the best thing was to let the feelings simmer down and then to write about them as dispassionately and objectively as possible I didn’t know whether I was ready for objective writing or not and felt that perhaps I was not and therefore kept on deferring giving a vent to my feelings. .
Yesterday at a get-together I looked at many of them and surprisingly I realized that I looked at them not with a feeling of hatred but a feeling of pity that you have when you look at a spineless creeping creature who suddenly is about to be trampled by your next step!!! And finally I realized that what I fool had I been to even let these come near me for many years. You never let a creeping loathsome creature come near you! 🙂
And now I feel that I must talk and write about all those feelings that have now simmered down to give me most dispassionate analysis about people and and their ways in the real world!

25th Raising Day of NIT Hamirpur..07 August, 2011

07 August, 2011

I deliberated throughout the day whether to write a line remembering an Institute that I loved so much or not? And that too when it was the 25th raising day of the Institute?  At this point of time that is 11-12 p.m. I realized that my love for NIT Hamirpur outweighed my despise for many of the people associated with NIT and here I am. People come and go but the Institute must go on… All the very best to NIT Hamirpur!

Slavish Mentality of the Public Servants…

My father’s official communication, written in June, 1947, opened up the visage of an era that we have long forgotten. People of my generation who were born in the early years of independent India had the privilege receiving information about many anecdotes from the first-hand experiences of our parents’ generation. Sadly the younger generation, having taken freedom for granted, have not been exposed to what it felt like growing up in a slave nation. Luckily I grew up listening to stories about the Raj as well as the Gulami of our nation.Looking back, I can see, for sure, the reason and the factors making me the person that I am today. If you look at the official communication of my father intently and read the last closing line of the letter you’ll find that he closes it with the expression:

“I have the honour to be your most obedient servant”

Now this expression, “your most obedient servant” always generated a debate in our home. Though I had never seen this letter earlier but there were a number of English Grammar books and also Essays and letter writing books, belonging to my father, that I would read with great interest. All the official letters, in the Essay and Letter writing books,  had in the signature line the same very odd expression, “your most obedient servant”! As I grew up, in an independent India, inhaling the fresh and clean air of Simla, I would be very angry to see that government officials would resort to use such a language in their official communications. I would question my father, “Do you also write expressions like these while writing to your officer?” And when he would say Yes to it, my little heart would bleed with agony. My Bauji was epitome of dignity for me and the fact that he used such expression of obedience would just be difficult for me to swallow!  “But we were servants of the Angrez Sahibs” he would say laughing aloud in his open style laughter and would add wistfully, “we are servants of the public”. “Why have our books the same expression in all the official letters?” I would retort back, “Are we  not living in a free country?” People of my generation would recall that all our English Grammar books had this kind of concluding line. My father had no answer to it except saying, “Old habits die hard”. and would add. “gradually with the passage of time people will learn to use more dignified language in their official communication.

My father’s dream of  free people living in a free country has, unfortunately, not been realized despite being the fact that we have been free of the slavery of the British rule  for more than sixty four years now. But, sadly, the mental slavery to the master still pervades all walks of life.

I cannot say much about the corporate work-life but in the corridors of Government work-life it still remains, “your most obedient servant” though the style has innovated a little. People address the Director, invariably, in their official communication as “Worthy Director” or sometimes even “the  most worthy Director” and use so many “your kind attention please” in one single letter that would have sufficed my father an entire year of official communication.

Nothing has changed. “Public servants”, in the name of Government, make blatant misuse of power vested in them for public good and sadly no one, I repeat NO ONE, seems to mind. The chalta hai attitude has rotted the fabric of good governance. And under such circumstances persons like me who have grown up dreaming of living and working in a country where there would be no need to write, “your most obedient servant” are worst hit by the powers-that-be!

Bauji, I ask you today, why didn’t you teach me the tricks of the world? Why did you bring me up to be an upright citizen? Why did you fill my little heart with the feeling that all will be well in Free India?

Life time of Applique Work: Needle, thread and colourful pieces of cloth

As I do all the stitching at home, I have colourful pieces of leftover cloths–small pieces that, perhaps, have no other purpose to fulfill!  I never could even dream of throwing them away as who knows when would I need one of them! So I literally stuff those pieces in bags and put in some corner of my already overstuffed cupboards. And whenever I  need a small piece of a desired colour all that I have to do is to open bags full of small pieces and search for the required piece! I just love it. The small pieces bring back memories of so many different cloths that I had stitched, the exact time and the mood that had prevailed at that time and I literally immerse myself in a world of colour and dreams! I use these small pieces to embellish plain surfaces of, otherwise, dull looking cloths!

When my Little one had come visiting us recently, we both decided to design an applique work. The bags were opened and colourful small pieces were brought out, the designs were neatly cut and the applique was put on a light coloured base material. And Lo and behold–pretty soon a very beautiful design surfaced brightening up the plain surface. The result was electrifying! The joy of watching the pretty design emerge and adding some more of small pieces to the applique was mesmerizing experience! My Littlle one with her deft fingers hemmed the applique while I was giving my expert opinion about “hows”!

I thought, while looking at the end product, how colourful life can be if we have the art of bringing back the small pieces of remnants of love back to it. The dull and drab life would become rocking only if one could learn to applique it with colourful leftovers memories that we might have put in some, difficult to find, mental block!

Couldn’t I do to my life what I was doing to a colouless plain surface? I could only if I tried! So I am on a lookout for the remnants of pleasing memories of my past that could add to my present and lend colour to it!

Amen!

 

Colours of Holi Brightening our Life…

Sunday, 20 March, 2011

This Holi, unlike some recent Holis, we joined a little in the Holi celebrations. My little one had travelled some fourteen hours to be with us and reached home in the wee hours of Holi Day and it would have been unfair to her had we not dashed in colour on Holi. But at the end of the day it was really cool to have dashed one another, and some others as well in colours of love!

Te pictures that we clicked show the radiance of peace and warmth that colours of Holi brought to our life.

I thought of last Holi when the loud and lewd music blared right under our nose and men and women gyrating to the tunes of music! No, not that I had anything against these men and women enjoying themseves on Holi day but I did feel the inhumanity of some rather most of them. For them it was far more important to please the one that needed to be pleased! And the fact that it was the only Holi on campus, that I can ever remember, when a DJ was blaring music, and dancing or rather moving ones’ body in the name of dance to the tunes of the music went on!

But this year there was no such luck for all those who had, perhaps, practiced hard throughout the year to showcase their talent, to one another. And ther was no luck for other who had waited for this day to watch, otherwise sober, people dancing uninhibitedly.

The celebration this year was a low affair. Please don’t get me wrong if I say that for reasons better known to people, who engage in such matters, Holi has attained importance for wrong reasons. One gets publicly sanctioned chance to move closer to the powers-that-be and attain proximity. How close one can get to the power-that-be seems like a tug of war among the contestants! It amuses me to watch these die-hard contestants focussing their time, energy and colours in gaining attention of the power-that-be! And if you ask me why do they do so, the answer is simple and plain–to gain fruits of labor, thus utilized, for rest of the year!

So for reasons above cited, I prefer to keep to  select few or to move around with great caution so that I don’t douse a wrong person in colour and my well-meaning intentions to play Holi may not be construed in a wrong manner when many around us, even on a Holi day, would come armed with unholy motives!

The best part of the Holi was watching the young students who break free of all, even if it is their upper body clothing, on Holi day! I wonder why do they have to flaunt their muscles (?)! Or do they as well work out throughout the year to showcase their well toned body to impress they intend to impress. Well, I need to ask them for details of such celebrations but watching them was a treat to my eyes!

The sumptuous Dham after the Holi was the bestest best of the Holi 2011.

Reality Bites: A Harsh and Plain reality Show

30 January, 2011

Sunday

Both my kids got up very late the next morning. The surprise that my son had given us was still too heavy for us to take in and  both of us would peep at his face to make sure that it was not a dream. His face was covered in the quilt but his soft and long locks of hair made his presence felt. Our home was a different place today as if its soul and heart had visited.

We were waiting for him to get up so that we could have talked to our hearts’ content but on the other hand I was really finding it difficult to answer his very genuine queries, queries about all that had happened during his absence from home. He had asked various questions during our chatting online and I had tactfully steered him away from uncomfortable questions, questions that pained us all. But now when he was home, I would have to answer all those questions.

“Do you go to the college?” he asked me when he got up.

“No, and why should I when I am no longer on the rolls of the college!” I commented in as dispassionately as I could so that he may not feel the hurt and humiliation that I was made to undergo.

“And who were the persons who played a major role in fabricating a case against you?” He insisted to know.

“leave it”, I said and immersed myself in my kitchen chores. he followed me to the kitchen and asked, “please tell me, I understand how painful it must have been for you to go through all this.” KS joined him at this point of time and said, “Show him the paper signed by those nineteen persons who your mother loved so much!” I could sense the feeling of hurt in his voice but shrugged off the suggestion of showing the paper. It was not the proper time for this.

“But why do you want to know?” I asked, exasperated of his entreaties.

“How can I still smile and greet the ones who treated you this way?” he said painfully. “Those uncles and aunties, I grew up respecting.”

“Oh! My God!” I thought. I was so much immersed in my own pain that I never thought for a second what a painful experience it must have been for my son to come after three years and to have found the changed equation among all those who used to be our loving friends and neighbours! He needed to know it all, to experience it for himself a part of the humiliation that false accusation puts one in!

The harsh and plain reality show at work at NIT and the aftereffects of the shock were there for so many persons to bear and for whole of their life! Once again I wanted to shout at the top of my voice, “Et tu, Brute?

And not only I but my son also would have joined me in saying in utter despair the reality bites if I unfolded the names of his “uncles” and “aunties” –“Et tu, Brute?

Gift from my son–my first NIKON DSLR…

And then he started opening his case, his suitcase, and we all sat around it like curious kids. I thought of the Faujis who came on annual leave with bags full of gifts for all the members of the family. We felt the same. With a childlike curiosity I was waiting with a throbbing heart for my turn for a gift. Though, as a family, we have never inculcated a culture of gifts to the members of our family but I could feel the excitement of receiving a gift. Handing me a camera, my son said to me, “this is for my Mammu to take pictures and then to write.”

“But I already had a good camera and never needed another one”, I protested feebly though my strong but wrinkled  hands had started to fondle lovingly the beauty! “And I am too old to learn to handle a DSLR”, I added.

“You,ll learn”, Ashu said and then added, “next time I would bring lenses to add on to this camera and you can take professional-like pictures.” He added dreamily, “I would bring a big bag-pack for this camera with many compartments which you can use to carry all the paraphernalia.” He even talked about his intention to buy a Tripod for taking excellent pictures. I thought of carrying a bag-pack only having a camera and its accessories and burst out laughing. I am a kind of person who travels very light carrying just bare essentials to harp on a bus or walk by myself. The big bad-pack with only a camera didn’t suit my persona but I didn’t it to my son as he had so many dreams about his gift to his Mammu!

It was not the camera, truthfully, that touched my heart but the account of how and why did he buy it for me that touched my very soul. I  might have mentioned in my blogs that my Sony DSC H-1 was not working and might have lamented the loss of a faithful companion on my journeys that made my son think of gifting me a camera. He was a student at that point of time and had not much money to spend on such frivolities. He never asked us for any money for his maintenance when he was studying in the US. The job scene was not very good at that time and he, like many other students, was saving money from his part-time job to be used at the time when he would be staying in the US searching for a job, though he never shared this with us. Whenever we would ask him whether he needed any money, his answer would be a firm No.

In about less than three months he got his first job. He was happy. We were happy. And that day when I sat fondling the DSLR, a gift from my son, in my hands, he said to me, “Mumma, the first thing that I did when I got the job letter was to order online for this camera.”

My eyes filled with tears of gratitude. He said,”I had saved money from my part-time job on campus and now when I had full-time job offer, I wanted to buy this camera for you.”My son had saved money to sustain him in the US during his job-searching time. “We could have sent you the money, why you had to cut on your basic expenses?” I said him with a feeling of hurt in my voice. The fact that my son might have lived almost frugally pained me a lot. “But your job was gone and Papa was to retire in a few months so  I didn’t want to burden you anymore”, he said in a mature voice. My little son had matured a lot. He always had valued money but now had learnt to use it judiciously. His mother’s travails had made him wise beyond his years. I could see how devastated he must have felt, in an alien country, when he must have learnt that his mother was suddenly out 0f job! A man of few words he kept his feelings to himself but became more determined to get a suitable job as soon as possible after his graduation. And when he finally got the job he wanted to buy a gift for us!

He had seen this camera and had wanted to buy that for his mother when he would have money. The fact that the money spent on this camera is the money my son had saved from his hard earned money makes it very precious to me. I can imagine him cutting on his expenses to save money when many of his friends were pampering themselves with the money that they earned. I thought of a chocolate that he may not have bought or an ice-cream that he may have deprived him of! I think of him cooking his food late in night after working at ITS when he could have dined outside. All these thoughts make me look at this camera with an added love as it symbolizes his love for us. It is not just a simple gift, it is his love personified!

Amen!