A Pleasant Surprise awaited at our doorstep…

 

29 January, 2011

Saturday

My son stood, smiling and laughing, one fine day, unexpected and unannounced, at our door steps. Imagine my surprise when I opened the door when the door bell buzzed at 10-30 p.m. and found both, my son and my daughter, standing out with a big broad smile on their face! I couldn’t believe it, I thought it to be a dream but it was not.  “Mumma” shouted both of them and I needn’t pinch myself to be sure of their presence. By this time KS, too, had come to the door to hear all the commotion that he felt. Hamirpur being a small town, visiting friends late at 10-30 p.m. is not a common thing, unless it is an emergency. He was worried that who could ring our door bell that late. A look at the duo entering home was enough to make his eyes wide open in surprise. And more so since he had gone to bed at around 9-30 p.m.!

“When did you come?” was all that I was able to mutter.

And then I asked my daughter in a bit stern voice, “and you knew about all this?”

“He wanted to surprise you” she muttered sheepishly! ”

Later we came to know how the duo had changed buses to reach Hamirpur and then had taken a taxi to reach home. That day the NIT students had protested against the Taxi operators and no Taxi-wallah was ready to take my kids to NIT campus but still both of them instead of calling us preferred to request a Taxi-wallah to take them to NIT, assuring him that they were not STUDENTS at NIT! Finally they were dropped at  the Gate no I where from they dragged and carried all their bags and baggage to surprise us out of our sleep!

We all were so happy! My son was at home after almost three years. I was looking at his face, his soft curls and his eyes that wanted to seep in all that had happened during these three years when he was away from home. he wanted to know everything. I knew that the stories of these past three years were painful so I was a bit cautious about relating them. I needed time and so did he to gradually seep in all that he was so curious to know. “Some other day, might be” was all that I said to him when he pestered me to know about so many things on his first day of arrival. I needed time to compose myself as these three years we had seen the worst and the best! I wanted to begin from the best that had happened to us.

That day we all slept in one room as we had so much to share and kept on talking about various things. It never felt for a second that he was away for such a long time. My son was home and my little one, as usual, escorted him!

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Rays of Sun on the Morning of 01 January, 2011

01 January, 2011

The Sun was peeping from behind the pine trees. The Sun of the first day of January 2011. It heralded hopes and dreams of a future full of promises–promises which were long overdue!

The Sun rays bathed everything in golden haze and the golden luster drove away all the black shadows of the previous year, the black shadows that still clouded my mind wiht doubt and uncertainty.

I look forward to the year 2011 as a year to remember as I have resolved to fulfill many a resolutions that I have made to my ownself! Amen!

A Stitching Needle in Time…

Stitching needles

I never thought that such a small thing as a stitching needle would be so important that I would have to write a post about it. I knew well the adage “A stitch in time saves nine” but this adage can work well if one has a stitching needle in hand and that, too, in time. Today I went to the market with just one agenda in mind–to buy stitching needles. And when I asked the lady at the counter to give me 10 stitching needles, she looked at my face, her own face betrayed her curiosity. Why did I need to buy similar sized, round tipped, blunt ended ten stitching needles–passed her comprehension. I explained to her, though there was no reason for explaining, why I was buying these needles in such a big number. Her curiosity was quite right as one has ten fingers but can use only one needle at one time so why should one buy ten needles? In fact I learnt the importance of this blunt-headed needle yesterday when I needed it so badly. I searched all the probable places where I could imagine this needle to be. The safest place to have these needles, securely tagged, would be the paper calendars that adorned the plain walls of our home. But these days paper calendars are so unfashionable that we have only one to look at the dates of the month, that too occasionally!

The other safe place used to be the machine box that had all the paraphernalia concerned with machine work. I couldn’t find it there as well. I searched all the bags where I kept small remains of woolen balls. I thought someone might have a needle that I was searching for but no good luck! I wasted my energy and time in searching for such a small thing as a stitching needle but how important it was to me, I realized only yesterday.

To cut the long story short, I bought ten needles and came back home. When I was on way back to my home, I met a few of my erstwhile “colleagues”. With beaming faces some of them extended a smile in my direction. I was astounded. Did I need that smile today? No, I didn’t need it. I had badly searched for  it, at one time, when these very people had so shamelessly and spinelessly signed fictitious papers against me. Today, I am capable of looking after myself. I don’t need their support. I laughed aloud. It was so similar to finding a number of needles when one doesn’t need them as one has nothing to stitch.

And when it comes to empathy and smile, these two ingredients, stitch the shattered relationships and soiled souls but can you stitch something which is beyond repair. NO, I seriously doubt it. I am thankful to my search for a stitching needle that taught me this great lesson otherwise, sentimental fool as I am, I would have forgotten about all the daggers in my back that these very people had stabbed me with and had reciprocated their “smile”!

My Stamped Impressions about Peter Ronald deSouza…

Friday, 12 November, 2010  http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20101111/himachal.htm#8

The news in the Tribune dated 11 November, 2010 about Prof deSouza getting another term as Director of the prestigious IIAS, Indian Institute of Advanced Study made me really happy. The detailed news speaks about Peter writing to Ministry of HRD much in advance to appoint someone as the new Director so that the work at the institute does not suffer owing to vacuum created after his term came to an end in December, 2010. Now this particular aspect is very important keeping in view the kind of pressure that is exerted by some other “Directors” to have an extended tenure at some other Institutes. I believe that this is an appropriate time to write a few words about my first meeting with Prof Peter Ronald deSouza at Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla!

Spreading Radiance

It was in December, 2009  when Prof deSouza shared with me the good news about my selection as a Fellow at the Institute. I was so overwhelmed at the news that I must have uttered a few thank yous and the stuff but making little real conversation. What I remembered later on was only the tone and the quality of the voice which I found to be very genuine and humane. Perhaps the teacher of Communication Skills was assessing a person through his voice! If I remember correctly, it was on Monday the 28th of June, 2010 when I had the first opportunity to meet and converse with Peter, as he is affectionately called by all the Fellows and friends of IIAS. Though, I have talked much about this meeting with many of my friends but I think this is the time to share with my readers how this meeting went as it would show certain qualities that make a person a good “Director”. And don’t we all aim for excellence, may be even in words and logos perhaps!

I was in very bad shape physically, mentally and psychologically at the time when I went to Shimla on 27 June, 2010. The Institute I had worked at, whole heartedly, had shown me the door by making a peon deliver a paper at my door saying that I was not fit to be retained as an employee of that Institute. The last date to join my tenure as a Fellow at Indian Institute of Advanced Study was over, Rather, looking back I can see more objectively how some people had meticulously worked to see to it timed liked that. I had, simply, nowhere to go. The Institute I worked for, had done away with my services and I could not join at the Institute that had offered me Fellowship because it was late! I

I wanted to make another request to IIAS to give me some more relaxation keeping in mind the special circumstances that unabled me from joining in time. So it was under these circumstances I was to meet Prof deSouza. Ashok Sharma Ji was so very kind and helpful in arranging the meeting. I had a long talk with Sharma Ji and apprised him of all that had happened at my parent Institute. He was very sympathetic and advised  me, when I was about to go to meet Prof deSouza, to not to speak about the allegation I was implicated in. Honestly speaking, I myself was not very comfortable as my self-esteem had come down to ground zero level.

Finally at the designated time, the PS to the Director announced my arrival to him and made a sign to me to go in. Woh! the spectacle that greeted me was wonderful. Deep blue patterned, two inches thick, carpet sprawled in a similarly elegantly decorated spacious room! I looked around to see where the Director is, and I saw another spectacle that took my breath away. In a sunny beautiful small office, at the west end of the sprawling room, was another room and there stood a man whom I had seen during my presentation at Delhi. What had taken my breath away was not the grandeur of the room, which once upon a time used to be the office of the Viceroy of India, but the unassuming simplicity of the man and that he was according welcome to me by standing from his chair! Now, those of you who have any inkling about how some of us the children-of-the-lesser-god are treated at most of other places, it was nothing short of a miracle to me. To my soul, starved for some esteem and dignity, it was a very pleasant surprise. Extending his hand to take mine in his, he said, “Welcome to the Institute!” I was shaken to my very being. I was on verge of crying as such compassionate treatment and that, too, from a person I barely knew, was enough to shatter the semblance of indifference that I had tried to mask myself in. Prof deSouza asked me in a very kind voice, “Sharma ji has told me about you,” and added, “I would like to help you.” These words opened the barrage of all that was lying so heavily on my soul. I told him plainly what I have been accused of. “I have been allegedly said to have caught my Director from his collar,” I said in non-challant manner. When I uttered these words, I was fully in control of my emotion though before this moment I would start crying at the allegation that was levelled against me. I don’t know where I got all the strength from but I felt so strong. It was Peter’s comforting presence, his warmth and succour that transformed me into an epitome of strength. I told him all that had happened. The expression on his face changed from disbelief to anger for the blind system and empathy for my situation. He didn’t sympathise but he empathised. And this was what I needed at that time. “I am with you,” he said. “Fight your case and don’t ever give up,” were his words to me. He promised to take the matter of my joining at IIAS with the higher-ups and assured me of all his help.

When I had gone to his office, I was a shattered, broken and bruised person. I had lost all faith in humanity but when I came out of his office, my faith in humanity and human values had revived. I felt stronger and empowered. I knew that I had reached a place where I would get support instead of sneers. I was, suddenly, among people who seemed to be my own though I had never known them before.

So the news in the Tribune that Prof deSouza had got another term as Director of IIAS made me so happy. I am happy for the Institute as it is in good hands, in able hands that would nurture it with love and care the way they extended warm welcome to a bruised person. Thank you Kapil Sibal for this brilliant decision!

The Warmth and Glory of Nature…

I decided to get up early today and go for a walk. It was 6-20 in the morning when I started. I straight way walked briskly to the ground. The sports ground looked so fresh and virgin in the morning as there was no one on the ground. Putting off my shoes I let my bare soles touch the earth and the green grass. It was pleasantly cold and the dew drops touched my soles. The touch was divine. I wondered and realized that it was after a life-time that I was walking bare foot on the plain earth. Gradually the strength from the mother earth permeated my very being, through my feet, and the simple touch was to fill my body with energy that I had forgotten, I ever posessed! I started running, gradually at first and adding momentum in a while. Ah! my old bones had to work so very hard. I was panting after half the circle. Taking control of my breath, I resumed brisk walk instead of running as I had gathered the momentum which  I didn’t want to bring to an abrupt end by stopping dead in the tracks. Having completed one full circle, I started with the second and then the third. I was full of self-achievement that I could walk, run after such a long period of inactivity. It was a blissful experience. My feet had become accustomed to walk on earth and the dew drops had washed them of any impurity that could have been there. I felt like a new person and walked back home. This time, on my return walk, it was gentle and slow. I wanted to enjoy every little thing around me.

The Sun had risen in the East and it looked so glorious. I missed my camera. The Golden Hues of the Morning SunWhen I opened the door of my home, the golden haze of Sun welcomed me in. Our Drawing room, that is the first room close to the entrance was bathed in golden hue of the morning rays of the Sun. It was as if the warmth and glory of Nature had bestowed on me all the love, warmth and glory. This time I could fetch the camera and capture the moment of pristine and divine beauty.These pictures will remind me of running bare foot on the dew wetted grass and then being warmed up by the glow of the morning Sun.

Let the Light come inAll those objects that looked so dull and drab to me and which I had barely noticed since last one year looked, bewitchingly, new and welcoming. Even the old drift wood, shapeless and formless, seemed so full of life to me. I realized that it was because it was I who was filled with a new energy, a new vigour, a new life that my perspective towards things, old and discarded, had changed. And to cap it all, the golden hues of Sun had added a magic to the lifeless objects. The drift wood, the image in stone, the brass Natraj and the plastic flowers in a bamboo basket all had suddenly come to life.Everything seemed bursting with life energy and seemed to invite me to take this life energy from Nature that is so bountiful and benevolent!

I thought if Nature can do such a miracle to lifeless things; what miracles it can do to us human beings, that is if we take the energy of the Nature in the right stride. Some deep message indeed! How strange that in the rush for sitting at our work area, screens to be specific, we forget to notice such small and invaluable gifts of Nature! I learnt a great lesson from Mother Nature today in the blissful early hours of the day! How divine!

A Picture speaks much more than words…

Tuesday, 9 November, 2010

Yesterday I posted some pictures on my blog and I am sure my readers would be intrigued by those pictures as to an outsider these pictures are just ordinary pictures but to an insider these pictures are of a historic moment. Here is the context:

Descending Down into earth...

It was late afternoon. The time for me to take a long walk to the town. These long walks have become a routine for me as otherwise I sit throughout the day working on my Laptop. I was getting ready when was suddenly surprised to hear the ringing of the bells. Where could the bells be ringing. The sound seemed like the temple bells. How could there be a temple on the campus, a temple that I was so ignorant of. The sound of the bells seemed very near to my residence. I peeped out of the window and was surprised to see a number of vehicles parked on the road. To my amazement, I saw a group of devotees ascending the stairs to the temple, the stairs which still were under construction. My curiosity was aroused and I moved to a position where from I could capture a better view of the devotees. it is not just everyday that you come across devotees lining for a temple which is still in the process of being completed. While waiting for the entourage of devotees, I wondered how could an educational institute get a temple constructed in its boundary and that too officially inaugurated by the Institute’s Head? Some miracle of the God, for sure.

As I carry my camera on my long walks everyday for who knows where and when would I get a marvelous picture, so the camera was with me. And believe me I did get some best shots that day. It was not a group of devotees but some people about whom less I write better it would be but still the pictures tell more than my word would say. And honestly I started believing that a picture speaks more than words especially if it is a picture taken of a moment when there are no other photographers around! :0

Diwali Celebration: The New Dimension

 

Happy Diwali 2010

With Diwali celebration over and everyone back to their routine life, I can safely write my very banal and commonplace observations about the new dimension to Diwali celebrations in the recent times. This new dimension added to the simple and rustic way of celebrating Diwali has given it a new face which I find not very appealing. Perhaps I am an old fashioned person and advancing age has made me more of a censorious person than I used to be, once upon a time. Lets start with the sweets that are distributed on this festival of lights. In our days, that is in late sixties, when I was around 10-12 years old and capable of forming my independent opinion about Diwali celebration, it was very different. Nathu Halwai of the Lower Bazaar Shimla, a very famous sweet shop on the west end of the Lower bazaar catered to most of the people of Shimla when it came to purchasing sweets. The other famous sweet shop was Mehru Halwai at the east end of the lower Bazaar. It seemed as if by mutual cooperation both the sweet shops had an agreement to supply sweets to people of Shimla based on the geographical location of the buyers. As I don’t find any other convincing justification for the location of both the shops at two very strategic ends of the Lower Bazaar. Every family in our neighborhood would bring sweets from Nathu Halwai as nothing less would ever be acceptable to anyone. it seemed sacrilegious to bring and distribute sweets bought from any other sweet shop, though special Karachi Halwa from a shop  ( sorry I am not able to recollect the name) near Sabji Mandi was specially acquired!  And in the evening when we had offered sweets to Maa Lakshami, Maa would put some Kheel, Patasas and sugar Khilonas along with some pieces of sweets in a thali which would be covered demurely with a white crochet rumaal. Some akhrots and badaams would also, very proudly, accompany the sweets of Nathu Halwai in that thali. It would be a job assigned to us, the children, to gift this thali to all houses in the neighborhood and to bring back the thali. The receiver would empty the contents of the thali but always keeping something in the thali and return it to us. All households would do the same. And late in the evening each house would have variety of sweets along with all that they had initially bought from Nathu Halwai! Such variety in mouth watering colours and shapes!

 

These days people buy different kinds of sweets. One which they HAVE to gift to their big boss. This gift pack has to be unique as your annual confidential report, plum assignments coming your way and promotions etc. etc. all would depend upon the kind of Diwali gift that you present your Boss with! The bigger, oops, the costlier the better seems to be the reigning Mantra. And the worst part is that you never aspire for a return gift in the form of sweets from your Boss. It is one-way-entry zone! But it surely brings  prosperity to you as you have pleased the big Boss!

The second type of sweet packs are meant to be bought for the people living in your neighborhood. You know that you’ll get back what you gift on the Diwali day. Smart as the people are, they buy only few sweet packs and then wait for the neighbors to come with the sweet packs. And very cleverly gift the sweet pack gifted by A to B and the gift pack gifted by B to C! I find it so funny as all they have to do on Diwali evening is to keep track of who had brought which gift pack! I am sure that you learn os many business tricks by dealing in this exchange offer that throughout the year you remain vigilant in give and take situations and bring prosperity to you and your family. A good bargain!

The third type of Diwali gifts concern the left-overs. After the doors are securely closed, people peep into whatever gift packs are still left with you. You open it very cleverly, peep inside and evaluate the kind of sweets it has. if it is of some reasonably good quality, it goes to your big fridge compartment so that you may offer it later to s guests who come visiting you, if not eat it yourself, and earn accolade for being a good host. And if the sweet packs are not of good quality, you can still gift them in the morning to you maid servant, the mali and your mil-man! You earn their gratitude and good will and get rid of all that you wanted to get rid of.

I have detailed all the reasons how and why Diwali sweets are distributed these days. And it is for this reason that I don’t ever gift sweets either to my Boss, or in my neighborhood or to any of the maids! I am an anti-social element anyway! I prepare some home-made sweets and offer them to people I really care about.

I have not written about Diwali gifts which are in fact a publically sanctioned form of open bribery that exchanges hands on Diwali day! Long live Diwali tradition of exchanging gifts!

A new day, a new beginning…

03 November, 2010

My little one was angry with me, rather very angry for writing about things and persons who have no place for them. Even my son, in his own way, said so little yet so much about my obsession for writing about certain incidents. Rather he reminded me of the part of Fountainhead where Howard Roark says to Toohey, “But I don’t think about you,” when Toohey wants so much to have Howard’s opinion.  According to him I was, unnecessarily giving importance to some persons who, so much so, didn’t even deserve my contempt. He was right. He had experienced all the pain along with his mother, whole of my family had! And he could sese my pain even today so he so strongly wanted me to come out of it.

Both my kids are right in their own way but even I am not wrong in writing about certain happenings where I saw the lowest that people can stoop down to if it serves any of their petty interests. And when these very people come and say to me, ” we had so many compulsions” ,  ” how could I not sign the paper if the Head himslf brings it to me” etc etc. I feel like shouting back at their faces. But my good rearing stops me from that though I feel that even if I shout on their very faces they would take it as so used to they have become listening to such a language. But I won’t do it and then the only recourse left to me is to write, rather record for posterity the life at the Institution. who know some years from now someone might undertake a critical discourse analysis of all writings about the Institutions and may read what mostly is left unwritten in the posts!

But even I realize that I have to maintain a balance between writings that give me pain and those that give me happiness. So now on I would be focusing on a balanced approach. Another reason for this resolution is that it is officially over today and now I leave it to God and to Law to take action as per the deeds of the mortal men thinking them to be immortal. it is a new beginning today!

Compulsive religiosity on Campus? Part-2

Jogging and the Sermons from the Post

Dear Chaps,

My itinerary for November, 2010 has two dates marked in the calendar. One is my nephew’s marriage and another is retirement of my husband K. S. Though I never plan for any function but this time I decided to wear a chiffon sequined saree for this wedding in the family and for the retirement day of K S my daughter bought for me, an exquisite Kurti from Fab India as a gift. She wanted me to put on that Kurti on her dear Papa’s big day. The stylish Kurti is quite shapely and perhaps is meant for some young female having hourglass figure. But the Kurti was so tempting that I tried to squeeze in my bulging tyres in it. And when I was, finally, able to somehow fit in the Kurti, it seemed like a big jute bag filled with more than its capacity with some ungainly mass. To call it a human body, from any angle, seemed sacrilegious. Now I had to choose between  two options before me. Either to gift the exquisite Kurti to someone who could grace it or to shed few kilos from my un-shapely body! I made a choice and decided to shed few kilograms and reduce the bulging tyres. November has thirty days, I thought, and I could easily get in some shape if I jog a little vigorously in the morning and keep a strict check on my diet.

I decided to give an early start to my plan of shedding weight and kept it as an well-hidden secret from KS. I had decided to go for jogging early in the morning at 6 a.m. To have a full night’s sleep, I went to bed quite early after setting the alarm in my cell. I had kept my jogging shoes ready by my bedside. Suddenly at about 5-30 a.m. I heard the faint sound of someone reciting Hanuman Chalisa. Now we are so conditioned to pray to God whenever we hear anyone chanting His name that unconsciously I, too, said, “Jai Hanuman Ji” and looked at the time. It was 5-30 a.m., not the time for me to get set and go! Wishing to steal a few more moments of sleep, I covered my head and ears under the quilt but the sound of someone chanting Hanuman Chaleesa would just not go off! Exasperated, I got up and putting my shoes on, came out in the open. It was pleasant outside. I looked around to find the person in the neighbourhood who had been chanting Hanuman Ji’s name but found, to my dismay, all lights off in the neighbourhood. Who was this devotee, I wondered. I, once again, prayed to Hanuman Ji to give some of his strength to me so that my resolution to shed a few kilograms is attained in the stipulated time. Off I went with a mission.

 

Akashvani: Voice of the Gods

I had barely reached the road when a voice in English caught me unawares. Someone from somewhere was now reciting Kabir Bani! And it was in English language! Mesmerized and perplexed, I stood still and watched around. There was no one in sight. Could it be some ghost? I shivered involuntarily. I watched here, there and everywhere. Right, left, forward, backward , but there was none in sight. I tried to gauze the source of the sound. Lo! It was coming from upwards! I looked up and saw a speaker, a sophisticated one, emitting Kabir Bani, the message of soul. It was ironic but true that the moment I looked up the words came from the speaker:

“PANI KERA BUDBUDA AS MANUS KI JAAT
DEKHAT HE CHHUP JAEYEGA JO SAARA PARBHAT.”

I stopped still in my jogging shoes. What a futility this life is! Why am I trying to shed a few Kilograms to fit myself in that Kurti if my very existence in this world is so short lived, I mused. My rational mind reprimanded me for being so fickle minded and somehow I dragged myself away from the source of such de-inspiring Bani! I started to jog but had developed a dead footed gait! A little away from this point, I tried to gain a little momentum and started to briskly jog. But another voice came from above and said, “What had you brought with you that you plan to take with you…” and I thought of my Kurta. I had not brought it with me, I was born, neither had bought it myself!  Why had  Ibecome so possessive of it a d was I trying so hard to fit into it when in the words of Kabir:

“lakri jal koyla bhai kaoyla jal bhayo raakh”!

As if on a cue the speaker delivered the message to me and me alone. I was about to faint and looked around. Ah, “they” had [put so many green iron benches on the roadside. How very thoughtful of them. My spiritual quotient was so aroused that I needed to sit to contemplate and these benches were so handy and comfy. Thank you, whosoever thought of this visionary planning.What could my poor sould had done without a direction from you who set the goal for my life, a life that was focused on Roti, Kapda aur Makaan?

In nutshell, I got enlightenment under the speakers’ post on the campus. I was an enlightened woman though when I started from home I was deeply immersed in ignorance. All cheers to the speaker posts erected throughout the campus and the religious sermons that they broadcast early in the morning and in the evening from 5-30 to 8-30 a.m/p.m. everyday!  By 8-30 a.m. when the Institute begins its routine work, all the “Sadhus and Sadhvis”, courtesy, the sermons from the posts, do their assigned work in a non-attached manner, a la the message of Geeta!

But as I am a stubborn and foolish person and despite having been enlightened under the Posts, I still had some nagging questions at the back of my mind. I wanted to shed them away but they would return with extra vigour.

If as per the Constitution of India, we have right to liberty, expression and life among others how could “they” force me to listen to what I may not be interested at that point of time and place?

I have a right to choose the religious sermons that interest me and no one can force or decide the kind of sermons that I HAVE to listen whether I desire or not.

I may have to exercise, meditate or to write some serious scholarly work when this sermon from the post is broadcast, over which I have no choice to even switch it off.

And above all it is the tax payers money that has gone into creating such infrastructure on the campus and thereby  it is MY hard earned money being utilized or misutilized to force down my ears that I have no option but to listen to.

And lastly what about the Preamble to the Constitution according to which we promise to make our country a SECULAR country?

If you have any answers to my nagging questions, please post your replies.

Yours truly,

The Roving Eye