The Date


The roof had been dripping water. The walls were all wet and the water flowed down the walls to the floor. The two women, mother-in-law (mil) and daughter-in-law (dil) had put rags on the floor, and wrung them out from time to time. After twenty days, the wet walls were now covered with fungus, and the air was heavy to even breathe.
They had found a new house and decided on the move. He was still away at work, and had said he would not be able to come. ‘You have to do it all by yourself, dear!’ He had told her. But like a true soldier, he tried to help her from a distance in whatever way he could. He arranged four men to help with the packing. And thus had passed the three days of intense activity. They had managed to pack most of the items, and had left only the kitchen and the bedroom for the last. Even these, they had retained the bare minimum in the kitchen for cooking, and just the bed for sleeping. So the packing was almost done.
And then the next problem was round the corner. The house where they were to move into, was unfit for occupation which they discovered at the last moment. So they left the packing as it was, and decided to wait till the next house was allotted for the move. They decided to live in the same place for a couple of days more, as they had been promised another accommodation at the earliest.
The house now wore a gloomy look. The source of water leakage had been discovered, and the water pipes shut off. So the leakage and dripping had stopped. But the walls were still wet, and the moldy smell still persisted. The morale was down, and it was depressing.
She sat bored and frustrated. Thinking what to do next. The mil generally kept herself entertained by the television. But the dil was not interested in watching television. She had put a lot of things on hold just for the move, and her plans had gone all awry once again.
As they both sipped tea and sat in that dejected state that evening, the dil’s whatsapp beeped. Suddenly there was a lively look on her face.
‘Hey baby! Heard your hubby away. Come and meet me at Sher pub!’
‘You crooked minded fellow!’ She replied. She was smiling.
Ditch that fellow, just come! I’ll be there in a couple of hours. Will reach and message you’, he said.
‘Sure’, she replied.
She noticed the mil look at her slyly. She decided to get ready and take a bath. As she came out, she saw the mil making dosa. The mil said, ‘You can make your dosa when you feel hungry. I’m watching a serial on TV now, so I’ll eat watching TV’.
‘No, you eat. Please don’t wait for me. I’m going out with friends. I just got a message’, she replied. She saw the look change on the mil’s face. She inwardly smiled to herself.
The older woman quickly recovered, and said okay. She had noticed the change of mood in the dil after all these depressing days.
The dil got ready and in time, she got the message. ‘I’m here, come’.
It was almost nine pm. She told the mil, ‘Please don’t wait up for me. You sleep. I will be late. I’m locking the door from outside’.
She locked the mesh door from outside, and left with a wave of the hand. The older woman noticed the spring in the step. The clothes that had come out of a packed suitcase.
Sher pub was a five minute walk from where she lived. She soon reached the place. Saw him almost immediately. He looked tired. He gave her a warm hug and her favourite chocolate. ‘Hmm, he remembered’, she thought. They sat talking and drinking, and the time passed. Then they went to a nearby joint for chicken roll. Then they both walked hand in hand towards the house.
The lights in the mil’s bedroom had gone off. ‘Mil has slept’, she said. Good.
She unlocked the mesh door from the outside. But the door did not open. It had been bolted from the inside. The light was on in the hall. She told him to hide round the corner, and rang the doorbell. A woman who never sleeps till 2am in the morning, fast asleep by 12? She smiled to herself. Again she rang the doorbell. No answer. After the third unsuccessful ring of the doorbell, she called on the mobile phone. After almost 12 rings, the old woman picked up the phone. She came and opened the door, and said she had bolted the door by mistake. Her look said it all. Then the dil hesitantly said, ‘My friend has come, and will stay here tonight’. The look on the mil’s face was worth watching. She mumbled something like a grunt, and turned to walk away to her room. But human curiosity always wins… she didn’t go into the room, but hovered there. The dil called him inside.
Mom! He ran in and gave her a tight hug.
So, who do you think had a good laugh?

Ilicide

A friend of mine was visiting India after a long time. He is a research scientist and works for a prestigious company in the US. He was invited for dinner at his cousin’s place (let’s call her M). She is known for her wry wit among her circle of acquaintances.

He had called M and asked the question we generally get to hear from those returning from the US – ‘What do you want from here?’ M was of the opinion that these days the world has truly become a global village, and we can get anything we want in a big city in India … especially in Bangalore. So she politely declined, saying she wanted nothing. But he insisted so much that she finally said, ‘I have all I need, but if you can get me some ilicide, it would be really nice!’ the man was confounded as he had no idea what an ilicide was. But he did not dare ask for fear of ridicule and also of appearing ignorant. Big mistake.
A few days before he left for India, he made enquiries of where he could find ilicide, and was met with either blank or hostile stares. He wanted to buy a present for his cousin M, and it was the first time she had openly expressed a wish to have something. He had no luck, and therefore landed in India sans the gift M had wanted.

At the dinner, he sheepishly presented her a box of chocolates (you can’t go wrong with that most of the times) and apologized for not having got what she had asked for. M was embarrassed in front of all the guests, and hastily accepted the chocolates with a big smile. But our friend could no longer control his curiosity. He pulled her aside and asked her, ‘What is this ilicide, and where do you get it?’

It was her turn to look sheepish. She hesitated. ‘No, it was nothing… I was a bit upset at that time! I really am sorry about that!’ But you cannot give that kind of an answer to a research scientist and get away with it, now, can you? He persisted until she finally gave in. With a quick look around to ensure she was not being overheard, she said, ‘You have heard of insecticides and pesticides? Those are for insects and pests. This ilicide is to keep away pesky in-laws. It has not been manufactured yet in India. So I wondered if an advanced country like America had already thought of it?’

I’m sure our research scientist has something new to invent in his lab after his return from homeland.

 

Childhood revisited

The other day, I got unintentionally enrolled into a clay workshop that was being held in the city. I reluctantly agreed to go.
I reminisced about the time we played with clay as kids … we would find small lumps of clay in the heap of sand when there was a construction going on in the neighborhood. We would collect them and give them different shapes, based on our imagination. Those were the days when Barbie was not born – or may be still unknown to us. Though I was fascinated by the artists who created beautiful dolls from clay, I had no experience with making these dolls except those during my childhood.
Now I was suddenly enrolled in a workshop! The day dawned, and as I reached the venue, I saw that 99% of the participants were kids. I felt like I had landed on the wrong planet, and was almost about to turn back when I saw a couple of ladies enrolling for the same. This gave me some relief that I had not entered kindergarten at middle age.
The programme started with some games and kid talk, which again was a pricking to the senses – ‘Am I in the wrong place?’ Later they distributed the clay. And that was when I was transported to a different world. I was oblivious to my surroundings and gleefully put my hands into the soft clay. The clay beautifully refused to obey my every whim and fancy … whatever I wanted, was there for me to create. But with some effort! And if I didn’t like the image, I could re-mould and create a new pattern. The rule here was to create the image before the clay hardened. That was the only criterion. Time flew, and hunger forgotten. Kids and grownups alike, were all engrossed in the simple act of moulding clay. And I could see that each person was enjoying every minute of it. Happy place, happy people.
At the end of the session, these lessons I took back home with me – I will never haggle with a roadside vendor for a ‘better’ piece of craft. I will learn to appreciate the effort that goes into the making because each handcrafted piece of art is beautiful with all its flaws. Second, whenever stress knocks at the door, just get your hands on some clay! Get back to childhood for a while.
For those who are interested, and for those who got curious to know more – This workshop was held by the popular Kannada cine artist and art director Mr. Arun Sagar and his wife Meera Arun, along with the kind support of Mr Malliarjun and Mrs Gangambika, without whose help this event would not have been such a success.  The Aruns also run Vruksha School of Fine Arts in Banashankari II stage, Bangalore.
Group pic uploaded with the kind consent of Mrs Meera Arun
Clay models: Author’s experiment

Resolutions and dealing with clutter

The bug had bitten me in spite of trying to avoid it. I did not want to make any resolutions this year. For the simple reason that I didn’t want the guilt of breaking them later on. Then a sudden wave of ‘cleaning’ swept over me.
I love reading. Even the occasional torn bit of newspaper that wraps the peanuts bought from the roadside vendor. And as you might have guessed by now, my treasure includes books, papers, magazines, paper cuttings of various articles… saved links to ‘read later’ (the later which never comes anyway), word files with ‘beautiful’ articles – yes, to read later. You get the drift. And yes, the clutter can get to you at times. So I targeted this pile of magazines and books that occupied space – precious space which could be otherwise used beneficially, I thought.
And one fine day last week, I sat down to it. Rather, after some meaningful looks at the pile followed by some sighs from mom, aimed pointedly at my treasure. I pulled out the pile of old magazines. What all have I collected? I chided myself as I started sorting out the books. Then my eyes fell on the cover of a magazine… ‘Don’t throw that dress away’! Ah! That’s why I had kept this book aside!! Precious one! As I flipped the pages, I found a beautiful embroidery pattern that I wanted to try out. Further ahead were some quick recipes. Ah. I would read this soon after I cleared this pile! I need this magazine! The next one had an article on how to use small spaces to the maximum for storage purposes. Yes, of course the book goes back on the shelf. Another edition of the magazine had advice on how to look good in the rainy season. The next one had golden nuggets on how to take ten years off your face. Where would such valuable advice go? Definitely not to the pile of raddi!
And thus went my entire morning and afternoon, by the end of which the ‘want’ pile was way higher than the almost unnoticeable ‘dispose’ pile. I neatly dusted the magazines and kept them in a nice place where I will be reading them. Soon. Yes, that’s what I have been saying since so long, mom!!!

Chai, anyone?

Looks like the world has discovered a new hidden benefit of tea.

This comes after the recent sensation on the Internet … I’m talking about the tea-seller who shot to fame just because of his blue eyes and good looks. Now he might be good looking, I grudgingly admit. But well, he looks like one of those Kashmiri hawkers who come selling carpets door to door here, in south India. Such a hullabaloo!! I’m sure if we walked the streets of Kashmir, we might find such blue-eyed boys out there … Yes, I am a bit cynical because the latest sensation is from across the borders, and from enemy territory to boot!

My loyalties are quite clearly with my country. But a thought strikes me. Selling tea has benefited this young man. Not to speak of our very own national hero who shot to fame from humble beginnings selling tea and later headed an entire nation. So now when kids don’t pay much attention to studies, we can confidently say don’t worry, son! I will put up a tea-stall for you. Who knows …

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The right keys

I was busily typing away at my laptop at top speed, without looking at the screen or the keyboard. Having learnt to type on the traditional old typewriter, this wasn’t a difficult task … and speed was not a problem.

After a short while, I just happened to look up at the screen. What I saw shocked me. It was full of gibberish. Was this my typing? How did I do that? Had I lost it? Well, not really. Once I recovered from the jolt, I realized that my fingers were not on ‘asdf’ and ‘jkl;’ to begin with. There was nothing wrong with my typing skills. But I had pressed a wrong set of keys because my fingers were on the wrong keys!

Well, this was an ‘aha’ moment for me. It suddenly struck me that this was somewhat similar to life. Like, there are times when we think we are doing the right things, but if we are not at the right place at the right time, things don’t turn out the way we want them to. No matter how ‘right’ we are. Another similarity being buttoning up the shirt wrong with the wrong buttonhole. A redo moment. Effort is always rewarded when it is placed in the right direction.

Especially when in a hurry, we do things that we don’t intend to. Do things we don’t have time for. And then we redo things for which we cannot afford that extra bit of time.

Hmm. So, I went back to my typing … with fingers on the right keys, of course 🙂  Deep, huh?

On goodbyes

bridge-826540_960_720[1]Change is the only constant in life. We have heard this innumerable times. Yes, we have heard all those sayings and proverbs. We are adept at remembering and repeating them at will. Yes, people change. The dynamics change. This is real. It happens all the time. It has been, and will continue to be till man walks on earth. Till there are humans and relationships. Only, we react when it happens in our own backyards. When it is closer to home, it hurts.

Friendships have a way of ending. But then, if it ended, it never was friendship. We meet such ‘friends’ after a very long gap, with all the eagerness. But then, something has changed. These are not the same people I said bye to sometime ago, with hopes of meeting each other again. The faces are the same, but the vibes are different. The feeling is that of looking into the eyes of strangers with familiar faces. What do we do in such cases?

There is no place for bitterness or sad feelings here. Bless them. God bless you. Be happy. May you have whatever you wish for. Thanks for all the lovely and happy times we spent together. Some people come into our lives for a season. The season is now over, I guess. Life takes a path of its own. So our paths diverge. I go my way. Adieu.

I hate dogs

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I hate dogs. Especially when I see those stray ones on my evening walks in the park. What business do they have in the park, I wonder.

I looked at them with disgust as I passed them every evening. Two or more stray dogs, and I changed my route. It went on for a while as the dogs recognized me every day. And I did not dare step into their territory.

Last month, as I was walking on my regular path, I tripped and fell. It was a twisted ankle and it hurt. I was in great pain and there were tears in my eyes. Suddenly I felt something wet on my feet. I jumped and saw a tiny pup. I looked into those melting eyes. Shoo! I screamed. He was taken aback and scampered away. I somehow made my way back home.

The next day, I hobbled my way to the park. I did not want to break my fitness routine, I told myself. I carried a pack of biscuits along. I would sit on the bench and nibble some, I thought. My eyes searched for that pup. Ah! There he was! I threw a biscuit at him. He happily came and ate the biscuit. I was rewarded with a few licks and a quite a few wags of his tail. As I walked home, he followed me. I shooed him away once I reached my house.

This continued, and soon became a routine. And now, my walks are interrupted with bouts of sitting on the bench and feeding bread and other food items to this pup. He faithfully walks me back home, like a gentleman.

I hate dogs. I thought I was feeding a stray pup. But it was the pup that gave me the sense of contentment. I thought I was a giver, providing him food. But he was the one that was giving me something valuable – unconditional love. I hate dogs. Because this little fellow stole my heart. Now I am adopting him.

Fighting them devils…

They popped up from nowhere, these little ugly gremlins. The minute I was about to start, up sprang one. He came from somewhere in the head region, a place I did not know existed until now. It is called the land of doubts and fears, I believe. He had the most convincing list of doubts and fears. As I tackled and finished him off, the next one was ready. This fellow had a totally different set of thoughts that made me wonder if he were right? Oh! The torture! No sooner than I had put this one to rest, there were a couple more that had appeared. This went on for quite some time. I was totally exhausted by the time I had demolished the thousand-something-th one. Heavens!

I finally confided in a friend who suggested I use the spray ‘self-talk’.  This seemed to work and I was inspired again. I was full of bright ideas. They were brimming, no, spilling and overflowing out of the head like a river in full spate.  Fully inspired, I now sit down to write. Yes! I have loads of topics! I have the most wonderful words coming up in the brain space, straining to be let out and spill themselves on to the paper, or rather my word file on the computer. Yes! I have got it all planned out. I spray a generous dose of gremlicide, called confidence. I sit down in front of my laptop. And I start. What? Well, these words seem shy now. They were doing such a jig in the brain just a while ago, and now they are shy and reluctant to come out. They seem to hide for cover behind other words. ‘You go first’, ‘no, you go’, they seem to say. So I sit for hours in front of the system, trying to coax them out onto the word file. Then after quite a long wait, I log off, as I have other things to do and I’ve got to feed myself! Ah, these wicked torturous words!! You just wait till I catch you all! Just you wait! And until then, I will try and pass this experience for my Day1 of the thirty-day challenge! I’m keeping my fingers crossed, and hoping they’ll be kind to me soon … and I’m ready for Day2 