Friday, September 21, 2012

chennai summer and people

It has been a long time since I wrote any blog post. I say this on and off because I am caught up in a world of my own, traveling and then last couple of weeks finally took respite. After running a marathon with writing and other work deadlines amidst traveling, working out, running and walking and losing three kilos, i have been on a rough yet sweet ride..

It is true though that when you are not in your home, you really know and value your home much more, which is exactly the kind of feeling i have right now. I left Coimbatore last week and came to Chennai and been dreading over for a week with the horrid evergreen summer in the city..I have been a little switched off, tired, and want to be alone, just me and myself, but then I need to be with people right now, that is the situation, but no complaints as in another week I am off to Taiwan, all alone, with no rambling phone calls, no smses and I can walk alone in the city with a feeling that no one knows me and how I love that!

I am just counting my days literally..

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A life changing week?

The whole of last week was crazy and bizzare but had lot of learning in life. I met people who helped me solve a BIG problem, I met social transformers who have dedicated their life about something I can't ever imagine thinking of doing.

So here are is the thing. I have been having horrible tenants and been grappling with that issue since last three months till I completely broke up one day thinking I need to do something. I finally remembered I knew someone locally, a journalist who could help me. I called his number with no hestitation, it was rather an intuitive call. I had met this guy, R, only once before this sometime early this year on World Wetlands Day at Ukkadam Lake. We met briefly for three minutes and since we were in the same profession, he took my number. Little did I know I would call him someday, out of the blue in a panic situation.

R promised to help me immediately. He gave me a cop's number and in half an hour the cop came and everything was sorted. Sometimes I think we just stop ourselves from approaching someone and getting things sorted because we hesitate or because we want to do everything by ourselves or because we would not want to trust someone. Well, this is something I have learnt from my life, I would trust my intuition with people, even if its strangers. My travel journeys have taught me this. In places, where I have been stranded, local people have helped me, taking and accepting me as their daughters and sisters and friends and giving me the strength and support, which possibly even my family would not. And I see most urban people being judgmental about anyone. The immediate thinking is more on- this person definitely wants something from me, thats why he is helping me. Hey, urbanites, you are WRONG! Not everyone are like you, meeting and helping people only with purpose. The small town people are much more trustworthy. Anyway, sorry for the digression. The cop was super helpful and he told me not to worry, the kind of assurance which was so comforting.

So, here are the two strangers who were amazing to me! Sorted.

I have been helping P Manimaran, a boy who has been serving leprosy patients from a young age. He is more a younger brother to me now. I had written a story about him for a wellness magazine. The editor of this magazine is Niharika, who I have never seen but she is one person I can and would pick the phone and call if I am in trouble. So, we help him to organise a press meet on Mother Teresa Day on 26th. Turned out well. Apparently, the article reached out to people, who ended up funding him for his goal to build a hospital for leprosy patients. I had this tiny happiness inside me. Finally, something constructive. So, this boy says someone who read this article wanted to meet me. He was the owner of a huge chain of restaurants here in Coimbatore. I finally met him last week and we ended up talking for seven hours about people, service, family, spirituality and what not. Yesterday, I had gone to the uncle's place to meet his family and we ended up spending the whole day together. There I had an opportunity to meet a lady who was serving 160 mentally challenged kids in Niligiris area. She herself had a girl child, 18 years old, suffering from mental illness but still she was serving other kids like her. Wonder how she did that. I spent an evening listening to her very tragical life story and had tears looking at her daughter and what people go through in life. I hope I am able to be of some help to her.

Met another social worker who spent his salary for the welfare of women. He cleaned toilets to save money after he got retired and puts that money to help women who need it. These are the women who are mentally challenged. I spent some time talking to him. I cant imagine such people exist in our society. And as he says, you do not need a lot of money to do social work. You really dont. That is what people think. And every work that you do need not be associated with monetary help.

It is amazing how one person led me to connect with 5 different people and all of them working on a social cause. It has been an amazing week, with a potpourri of emotions and what not. It has also made me think about life deeply, look at the definition of problem intensely. It is not about the money, gadgets, home or any material thing you may have, it is more with the people, your attitude and if you consider yourself to be a part of a system where you are a part of this change that can alter someone's life.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Caste, religion and all that blah

I have been meaning to write this post since a very long time, again there was so much inside me that was waiting to get out. I have always been an anti-country, anti-religion and anti-caste. I am a human being, a woman and that is my identity in this universe. I don't even want to think I am an Indian, I belong to this globe, to this universe and it is as simple as that.

I was born into a Brahmin family (not out of my choice). I can't tell you how much I hated being born into a caste based family system. There were many things that rankled my mind when I was growing up. I never understood why my brother wore the holy thread, the mark of a brahmin. Was it to prove Brahminism? And why? There were rituals and poojas in the house and it all suffocated me after some point, especially today when I don't realise the point or sense in it. What do these religious events signify? When I was growing up, I was told to behave in a way of a Brahmin girl. Focus on traditions. So, I ask what are these traditions and why do we need them to live a life? Somehow, the child in me was always asking questions. As I was growing up, these questions became even more intense and I realised through my very own experiences that these things do not make any sense to me.

I was speaking to one of the brahmin priests (this was when my uncle passed away and the 13 day ritual was happening). I asked him the meaning of the rituals. He was appalled when I asked but was also happy and told me dad, see your daughter is asking questions, very good. I said, listen I want to know the significance of this. After I heard what I did, I completely lost it. Those were prayers to make sure my uncle went to swarglok and those prayers were meant to request people/animals in the path of his swarglok, ensuring my uncle reached only heaven. Now, tell me this, how do I know where I go, and how unless I die and experience it. We do these rituals in the name of religion, blindly, without understanding why and what. Some things in the past could be applicable in days of yore, but not now. This is what I tell my mother.

A simple example. I was at my friend's place in Bombay (she was a tamil brahmin). When I turned to touch the curd, her mother stopped me, don't touch it she said. I wondered why. It was then she told, you should touch water and then touch the curd. I understood. In those days, perishable and non perishable were kept seperately and just so that it does not get spoiled, people washed their hand and then touched the curd. Today, we have fridge, for God's sake and I still find Tam Brahms following these norms. Does that make sense?

When I probed further with spiritual gurus, I found out the concept of primary and secondary religion. Most of people do the secondary religion thing. Let me tell you the difference. Both are two ways to reach God. I think it is okay even if you don't believe in God. People who use the secondary method approach God through the thousand rituals, to appease the form God and make sure their sins are absolved. For the former, they believe in formless God and they just are spiritual people. Maybe they just believe in the supreme form and nothing else.

Dip in the ganges, rituals after rituals, going to various temples, all these are more like done to please God. I don't believe in it but yet I was forced and still forced to be a part of these pujas and rituals. Now, that I know the belief systems I possess, it is impossible for me to accept or abide by it. So, I refrain from it. I do not want to do something without understanding the purpose behind it or due to some obsolete culture or tradition.

I never liked the bindi wearing thing, or sitting and chanting some mantra because I had to. The very thing about all these things were something I could not relate to.

When people ask me about marriage and all, I say, I do not want a Brahmin guy for I do not want to be sucked into these religious things. I would rather be forced into this without a choice if I marry someone from the caste. I am an anti caste, anti religion and I am very very happy about it.

I remember once I had gone to my mother's cousin's house. He was a doctor. When the topic of marriage broached with great intent, I was spontaneous enough to tell that I chose not to marry someone from my caste. He was aghast. You will pollute our genes if you marry an outcaste. I was angered and I did not quit. I was like, how do you think caste system evolved? Basic fact-divison of labour and all this talk of Brahmin comes from head and shudras come from the feet is utter rubbish. Some sick Brahmins from the past who had all the administrative capabilities did this to have an upper hand. Nothing else. You say brahmins are more pure and educated, and what sense. If dalits or anyone else were given the opportunity to have education when brahmins did study, they would have also done well. So, the first thing, denial of basic right. So, we only controlled them, to have an upper hand and we did that by supressing them. What blood line, lineage are we talking about? I had a very healthy argument and then uncle gave up.

I once was talking to a monk who spent most of his time meditating in the Himalayas and he told me the meaning of true brahmin. It means anyone who is a pure soul. Now, tell me does a soul have caste or religion or nationality? No. Does your blood have caste, religion? No. There are only 4 blood groups, be it Indian, American, African or anyone. So, where is this caste thing?

Even the system of arranged marriage- Brahmin, Iyer, again Palakkad iyer, tamil iyer, subdivided into tanjavur, tirunelveli, and what not. Gothram, star and then horroscope, now where will you find a man? Honestly, I am a proponent of intercaste marriages. It opens you up to looking at people for being human, beyond caste, community and other things. And just imagine, you see a person for his qualities and not for which caste he belongs to, you are creating a new thought process. Also, I do not understand, how parents bring this casteism into their children. He is the maid's boy, don't play with him. Now, how will a child know that unless he or she is told about it, right? It is we who seed caste discrimination into the young hearts and we pollute their minds. It is a disgusting thought indeed. I totally agree with Richard Dawkins when he says that when a child is born, we should let them choose their religion, when they are born. Why thrust out religious responsibilities on them? They can choose to be a Buddhist, Hindu or even an atheist.

I see my niece- she cant leave the house without a bindi, my brother would hate it. He has given up on me long back because I turned deaf ears to something I do not believe in. I would do that, not occasion demanding, but me wanting it. I will never do something I am not comfortable for the sake of religious matters.

I have taught my maid's daughter back in Mumbai, gone to their house, but I never became "polluted" because they belong to a lower caste. I even hate that word lower caste. Thankfully, my grand parents, though not educated were much forward in those days. They used to feed the dhobis who came home. In their village in kerala, they had muslim neighbours who used to come to their house and jokingly ask if they wanted fish. Grandpa was always a neat man, with white clean dhoti, religiously praying, and at the same time, a man whose heart was open with no indifference for people from other caste. That seeped into my mother. She thinks brahmin is the worst community. She keeps telling me that. I agree with her. Now, let me say, its not about being brahmin or being dalit. Brahmins should not talk about their superiority or dalits should not feel and express that they are of lower caste. By saying that, they only put themselves down. So chuck all this, lets be humans and do what we want.

So, I say, stop this brahmin talk, this superiority mentality and look at individuals for who they are. I also do not believe that blood is thicker than water. Exposed to traveling international, every individual has helped me to cross a hurdle, and these do not belong to my "bloodline". They are humans with values. Period.

Also, Meena Kandasamy has written a poem on becoming a brahmin. She is a poet, and she calls herself a Dalit. Well, I do not think you got to be a brahmin hater to be a good dalit.

There was an interesting discussion in satyamev jayate today and it was really good. Check it out.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Post for my friend's blog

Hi everyone. First off, my apologies for having disappeared completely. Some personal issues to get sorted out and such-like. Also, this project that began with K's post in the last month, continues with another dear friend Sharada pitching in.

I met Sharada while on assignment at TOI. She was with Outlook at the time. We've been friends ever since. She has also written for anthologies and is a follower of this blog and a well-wisher. Another strong woman who I love and admire is talking about being a girl / woman at home where the men are more vocal with their opinions about the fairer sex.

Growing up in a vibrant city like Mumbai, my future seemed bleak. Well, I did not think that way. It was more a thinking that came from men and society. "Oh, she can’t be an IIT engineer, she is always out playing with the boys and kids, she scores zilch in Maths and science", and then I was a tagged "loser" in my early teens. I was never a typical girl with oiled, long and plaited hair; coy and worried about how a "girl" should be. As a child, I grew up playing football, climbing trees, stealing mangoes, cycling out with the boys, with no worries about the future. Well, I still would, I don’t doubt it.

Even though we lived in a city like Bombay, the men in my family and my extended family had loads of reservations about my dressing, why l did not have a pottu on my forehead, why I never wore saree for occasions, why I never learned carnatic music, why I wore even two inch heels or coloured my lips, and the list was actually endless. Did I do all this for a reason? No. The intention was never to attract men or to go against the family. It was just for me. As simple as that. And why would anyone care? It is my face, my body.

As a boy, my brother did not have to go through any of this. No one would question him why he wore pants or jeans for a family function and not a veshti, why there were no ash marks on his forehead, or if he knew how to cook. We talk about gender inequality in society, but everything begins at home. It is a fact.

My brother was allowed to take his bike and go out late at nights, spend nights with his friends, bring them home, go on a travel vacation without having to worry about hearing a ‘no’ from my dad. The case with me was different. Even on days when I was working for an NGO, coming home at 9.30 invited chaos. I was never allowed to watch MTV or Channel V like my classmates from my posh South Mumbai college. During those times, I used to sit alone in a room, listening to old English classics on FM Rainbow. I was not allowed to dream, to choose my career, but my brother could do all that. I had to break this shackle - being a woman and still choosing my independence and way of life.

Tag me a tomboy, tag me a brash girl, or someone who does not follow traditions, it does not matter to me. Honestly. When the point came to choosing my education, my brother rather ruthlessly dragged me into commerce when my mind dreamed of doing literature and economics and pursuing journalism. Writing was my biggest emotional outlet and it gave me a sense of freedom. Enough was enough. I took a decision to break this indiscriminate inequality right at home.

Think about this. There are two people at home and one is given all the freedom because he is a man and one is stripped of even basic freedom because she is a woman and she is to be married someday. So the girl, in essence, learns Palakkad Iyer cooking, maintains long hair, doesn’t raise her voice, gets up early in the morning, cleans and mops the house, does not mingle with the boys and take a career that is ‘safe’ for women.

When I wanted to make a career in fashion designing or hospitality industry, I was not allowed to give entrance exam because these careers were apparently not good for women. So, I ask what is a good career for a man? And you will hear - "a man can do anything". If a man can, then why not a woman? I hate being typecast into something because I am a woman.

I did become a journalist. I remember the days when I used to come home late in the night after working for a newspaper. My father would be scoffing at me every morning for getting up late and how I would carry off a marital life, if I was like this.

The essence of the thing is control-over the clothes you wear, over not being allowed to go out with boys and party, late night movies, job, everything needed a nod from the men in the family. So who am I in the world, in this godforsaken society and what is my real identity? It was after I ventured out, listening to my heart, that I realised that it was something I had to create from within, and it was something I would live with.

Years have passed, times have changed, people have changed and so has society, and I have evolved from a tom boy to a woman who loves draping sarees, celebrating festivals, cooking and all the other things that women are ‘expected’ to do. The difference is - I am doing this because I love and enjoy it.

It is for ME, not to please anyone. It is not to show off culture, or to prove that I am ‘God fearing’ (as portrayed by matrimonial profiles), or to prove a point that, “Hey, look, I have challenged you and proved to be successful.” Nothing of that sort. I am not here to prove a point. I am not here to argue that I made it.

The feeling of being yourself, making your own decisions despite a hundred odds makes you stand up for yourself. It is as simple as that. After a successful career and moving across cities, I cherished the independence of meeting new people, getting up when I wanted to, keeping my home messy at times, cook for myself, go on a long walk to the beach at night, without having to worry about who will be waiting at home to churn my mind. I breathe freedom. It has elevated me in many ways.

I can take care of myself, without having to counsel my family on every little thing, I am super confident about all the decisions I make, and I have no regrets. If I was the one who would succumb to family pressures of being a homely woman, I would not have reached this far. When you ask a man, why you draw these lines for women about time factor, dressing, going out, you are most likely to hear this - "we care for you", or "we are scared something might happen to you".

Concern is fine, but in the name of ‘we care for you’, you are only imposing and not allowing us to explore the world on our own. We all have our own judgements about people and surroundings. As women, we also know how to take care of ourselves, only if you give us a chance to let that experience enter our life, rather than saying - "don’t talk to this boy, he will dump you, don’t take this as career, you can’t do it, don’t go out at night, something will happen". How long are the women going to be in this cobweb of not choosing to feel and live her life in the name of security, safety, care and protection? Give me a break!

Be it a man or a woman, let’s face it, we make choices for ourselves, not for the family and not for society. As I always like to say individuality is much more important and essential than just bending down to rules of men and society. And to recognise and realise this individuality mandates independent thinking, which can only come when you make decisions, not someone else choosing for you, be it life partner, career or even your way of living!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Home exchange, anyone?

Wonder what the post is about..but hey before I get to that I must tell you the last ten days has been pathetic. Why? I had tenants downstairs who called me and ringed my door bell for the tiniest possible thing. Irking me of course. So, I took this nice little break from them after showing bouts of anger (the patient me lost it). Shomita came home after a blissful three weeks in Arunachal's Eagle Nest Wildlife Sanctuary. I quickly get ready on a Sunday morning, grinding the sambar masala and putting the rice in the cooker to make her an awesome lunch. I head to the airport, lazily and then excitedly. I wore my latest John Players 'Miss Players' I got from Bangalore, was so much in love with it..Off I go to the airport and give Shoms a big hug and ask her what cats she saw in the jungle. (she is a small cats expert) We come home, watch a silly hindi movie and laugh, we talk about relationships, family, food and what we will do for my birthday. Get drunk, get sloshed (I really want to do it someday, never done it before), or do what..just freak out as usual..After a nice meal that Shoms ate without any complaints, I set off to sleep after many sleepless nights. I needed a break, what better than Shom's home? Sunday evening we head home and I am surprised to see Sheeba..We all had a nice time, went to naturals and had a nice hair spa (heaven after all the messy week). All the heaven turned hell when on a fine monday morning, I got a terrible cold and a running nose. As awful as it sounds, I sit back and sleep, cancelling all my appointments for the day. The next morning at 7 am, the crazy call of tenant came! There I go..Shoms, I gotta go. Maddening morning I tell you! When I went home, I realised that things were normal and I had to come back for absolutely stupid reason. Last few days, after banging my head against the wall, I called it quits. Can you please find another house, if you can't be self dependent? Well, I don't like constant door bells rings, no 7 am calls or questions on if I am single or my brother was married (what the hell man), why should I answer where I am going, when will I be back. And not to you oh newcomer. Bah!! Gosh, even my folks don't do it! Ok, I am ranting, but hey this is something I gotta tell! I spend the day taking medicines, pushing myself to cook something to fill my hungry stomach, trying to read and nothing works! I still sob and my BP is shooting up (this is so unlike me). Today, I go for a meeting and look at my phone. 15 missed calls from my so called tenant waiting to ask me when the plumber and electrician will come. Come on, give me a break. I gave a quick call and told them this is not done and they cannot think they can call me like 15 times and I will just shut up and not say anything. I dialled the panic button-mom. She did not take my call. I dialled the next obvious number- brother. Hey, are you in a meeting, need five minutes..Go ahead, he says..Then I go nonstop for ten minutes and then breathe. My brother said one thing-ignore and that's exactly what I did. I was tired when I came home and just when I thought I needed a cat nap, door bell rings. Oh, no, hope not the tenant again. It was the electrician. I have repaired and sorted. And he looked at me and my face said, now what? Money, he said as she shrugged. Well, it was the problem of electricity board, why should I pay, I shrugged, the typical journalist in me, and questions shot out. No, we actually don't get money, blah blah. My mind was running fast, nooooooooooo, no sob story now! I have enough. I took out a note and gave it to me. I did not sleep after that. Made myself a nice cup of ginger tea, slowly sipping it and went out for a walk. A familiar face smiled at me, "Hi". I was so happy. I parked myself at friend's place and let out my sob story and she and her parents totally empathised with me. So, I come back home, after a nice dinner and do a channel swap on my tv. I stopped at Zee Studio- The Holiday. Perfect. The holiday even sounds good. The movie was fantabulously fantastic. Two women who break up with their respective boyfriends, wanting their time alone, go home swapping. One goes from LA to London and vice versa and what happens the movie.. So, here it is..You swap your house with another person. Go and live in a nice house and experience a change, and come back with a fresh mind. Now, this crazy idea has already crept into my mind. I want to do house swapping. So, I go to and see what's in store. It is amazing! So, I can advertise about the beautiful birds that come to my trees, the breeze and the kind of solitude you get here. I want to probably do this in an Asian country to start off with. And of late, my dream place is Pakistan. Ask me why. I did a wikitravel search and Pakistan is really out of this world. My father and grandfather lived there before partition. I want to feel the place. So, I am going to check that out. Sorry for the long post. May peace prevail. Thanks for the patience! Last but the best, my brother called to tell me that he ordered an exclusive collection of calvin and hobbes for me and its coming home tomorrow! Love you brother, for this and more gifts in the years to come. This is the best and only pre birthday gift of my life.. Signing off

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Valparai, misty meadows and a Russian couchsurfer

It is almost a year since I went to Valparai with Jo. I was waiting to get to Valparai after months of constant work. I set off with my mother and my first couchsurfer from Russia, who lived in the US and now is in Pollachi (coconut capital of India). We met up for a random coffee meet in Coimbatore. He wrote in to me after seeing my profile on couchsurfing. We chatted up for long before he left for Beijing. When he came back, he stayed with us for a day, relishing home made Indian food. He got me some nice souvenir from Beijing-an old coin, some flower seeds and tennis balls! We saw some of his documentaries of Africa where he spent 16 months traveling. It was amazing to hear his story. Anyway, so I decide to go to Valparai and Sergey wanted to join me and I was happy to take him along. We stayed at the forest guest house. It is paradise, trust me. You just stay bang opposite the mountain and you can watch the mist floating by. Sergey was waiting for us at Pollachi bus stand and we took a bus to Valparai. 40 hair pin binds, glimpses of vast green tea valleys, forest patches, sounds of birds and we finally reached at about 12 pm. We had a nice tea at Valparai town and Sergey had no problems having roadside tea! I was quite excited. Kandaiya (guard and cook) is someone I absolutely respect, for his humanity, honesty and being soooooo extraordinarily kind. I soon gave him money to buy veggies and we sat outside watching the mountains. I am so happy that Valparai isn't as touristy as Ooty. Sergey and me got talking and my mom took a nice nap. We had a nice glass of black tea and spoke about our travel.
After sometime I dozed off, pretty much needed after long working months. In the evening, had another glass of tea and we went off for our evening walk. We met many local people and some interesting kids who chatted up with me. The road was calm and I could hear whistling of birds. We went to the other side of the mountain. A long winding path and then we came back and chatted up on Sergey's India travel plan. Sitting with a map and another glass of tea, I told him where all he could go. It was almost like a small geography lesson. Soon, it was dinner time and then I settled down with a book and went off to sleep after that. The next morning, I woke up late but woke up with a view of mountains. A small walk and then all I wanted was sleep and books. I could see the huge verdant mountain from my room. It was so soothing to the eyes. The evening Sergey and me decided to walk to Valprai town (about 5kms). The view was breathtaking. Rolling meadows, manicured mountains and tall teak trees. There was no one on the road. We got a lot of fruits, had dinner and as we came back it started drizzling. The long walk was very refreshing. He stopped by a temple and asked me if I knew the Gods there. I went about explaining Gods and Hinduism to him. We sat outside watching mountains in the dark. He spoke about his days in Brazil when he was locked up for a week in rains and all they did was play cards and sing. Sergey had traveled to Africa, South East Asia, South America, Europe, phew! He was talking about his amazing trip to Burma. I love people like these, backpackers, no attitude and are open to living in a small town like Pollachi and rather rejoicing it. Much better than sobby Indians who live in the US or abroad for few years and can't bear pollution in India and walk around with Bisleri bottles dying to go back to foreign nation. How disgusting they can be! And here was someone who lived in the US for long and living in a tinsel town! How amazing! Inspiring too! He came to Pollachi for job just to travel across India. I wish I could do that too! Sergey left on Wednesday morning, but I stayed on with mom, going for long walks and eating good food. I went walking with Sergey for 4 kms to see him off at bus stop. The road was totally empty and I could not see one person walking or going on bike. In the evening I was hearing stories of leopards from local people and then went to a house and had a nice cup of coffee. The rains were heavy and it suddenly became cold. After eating hot dosas, I read and slept off. I left early morning and some kind people gave me some plants that I could keep in my garden. I bid adieu to Kandaiya and the wonderful amazing local people promising to come back. Next time, I hope to stay with locals and hear more from them. Sergey and me have made our next travel plans-staying on tree top at Parambikulam Tiger reserve. Can't wait for it! The best thing about this whole journey was my mom who was so open to having my firang friend along with us and she mingled more with him than me. I am back, rejuvenated and all set to work and looking forward to my next trip!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Face to face with spectacled Indian cobra

It is a day in my life that I will remember forever. There are many a times I have seen snakes, either in the wild or somewhere while traveling. I have heard many stories as well from people like wildlife scientists, forest officers and commoners, and I have always wanted to know more about snakes. I knew snakes are shy and yes there are only 5% of poisonous snakes in the world. I read it in Romulus Whitaker's book common snakes.
The last time I saw a snake was a year back when I was in Top slip, Indira gandhi wildlife sanctuary. An adult green vine snake beautifully camouflaged and sitting on a bush. It was there peering into my eyes and I stood there admiring its beauty. In the next five minutes, when my forest guard tried to catch it, it slipped away and all through my journey I just was thinking about the beautiful creature.
Today as I was stepping down from home..just the last step and I came face to face with a spectacled indian cobra. I had no time to even react or think. It was hardly two feet away from me. I froze, not knowing what to do. I thought maybe it is just a juvenile. Without wasting any more time, I quietly paced back home. What happened, my mom asked, curiously..I said..ssnnnaakke..there was a snake..I just left it undisturbed, may have strayed somewhere and came here. I tell you the snake did not harm me, not even for a second, it put its hood up and said, look im gonna bite you. It was surprising I was unruffled too. It felt magical to see the snake and my love for it has grown more. I did not bother him, he did not bother me. We went our own ways. I did not call anyone, for I feared they might kill my little cobra. In the evening when I went out, it wasn't there. He must have found his way and gone long back.

I called my friend who is a scientist and asked him what I need to do. He gave me the number of a guy who was a snake rescuer. If the snake is around, call him, he said. Put salt to prohibit it from coming near, he said. I had to do nothing. He went away.
I felt divine seeing it. truly divine and even now I can't believe it actually happened.
I hate to see people killing innocent snakes. I want to learn to rescue the snakes and tell people here not to kill them when they see one, but to call rescuers and help these creatures survive. The earth belongs to them as much as it belongs to us. Amen

Friday, March 16, 2012

My last few weeks

When I started this blog post, I was pissed, damn angry, upset, and what not..A myriad of emotions was overflowing. I was sitting in a cubicle with blasting AC a cup of hot south indian filter coffee which turned into a cold coffee and plenty of bisleri bottles. Yeah, I was on my corporate assignment and was working out of an office. One of the top companies in the globe. I signed an NDA, so shhhhh on the name of the company. :)

It was a great place to work, for sure! But I was kind of caught up with being in the "office". As a journalist, I always used to be out on assignments and never liked being confined in a cubicle, but work demanding I did it. It was painful lot of times, I did not see the sun, I didn't know what time of the day it was, I was cut off from the outside world.

My task was to finish a book of 30,000 words and I had seven days to finish it. Impossible indeed, that is precisely what I thought but when opportunity knocks your door, do you say no? Especially when you are on your own, there are very few times (either in case of pittance money or shoddy work) that you say a clear no! I was kind of thinking and asked my friend and confider Priya, if I would be able to do it. She instantly said take it. Sometimes, all it takes it a yes from someone who knows you well to do something confidently. It works very well with me. With no doubts, I committed and here I was..I used to travel 30kms everyday to go to work. There was an AC bus that picked people up. I was the only one without the dog tag..Eeks, I mean the company tag..I HATE it..Do you hear that..I HATE it..access cards, id cards..WTF! :P But I thought maybe some people really enjoy doing work like this..Passions are different for different people right?

Harita was a real savior in the company. She was an intern and from day 1 she was more interesting in knowing my travel stories. We used to sit in the break out room and have south indian coffee from the coffee dispenser..I was mentally calculating, how many chapters a day and how many hours of work. People in the office wondered why I never got up and went for a stroll, I was just so focused on finishing the task and there was no other go.
Typing for more than 8 hours a day, my wrist started paining by the weekend. By then, it was too much but I was done with version 1. The best thing was the HR director of the company told me she did not have to look at my work because she already knew I was a good writer. These things really move you and also ensure you give your best for the kind of confidence they have in you. Though I had a few issues with a few people, things ironed out. I know when to put my foot down and say full stop and enough is enough. I realised over time unless you do it, people will trample you, yes they do.

End of the day, 2 weeks, project over! Yipee and I will have a fatter bank balance. Cool? I want to party now. No sooner, I reached back home, I was happy to see my newly painted house. My home looked amazing. Soon, another urgent deadline project landed up and I had to do it. So, was there a break? No! I finished it, sorted out editing issues in the book and when it was getting too much, I had to say I cant do more. I was mentally saturated, upset, stressed and what not. But I was looking forward to a day- the day when I was meeting my college friend after 8 years. The last I met her was when she got married and now she has two kids. I was so much looking forward to one day of no laptop no phone. Meeting her was fun and we laughed and relived our college life. Viju's daughter (5 yrs old) grew so fond of me..Dad, I want to be with mommy's friend. Mommy's friend, I wanted to hold your hand and you left me :( Aww...She was amazing, I just hugged her and I felt so close to her, much more than my niece. She had this cute american accent and she spent hours talking to me..How I love kids!! Viju's brother just got married and how much I loved ragging bhaiyya. He was so protective about us during college days. I spent a beautiful day with Viju and her family esp her daughter Rhea and her 7 month old son Vedant.

Another college friend of mine has come to Trivandrum. I plan to meet her too, after 12 years. It was quite a surprise to get a call from her. she took my number from Viju-seemed like a mini college reunion.
"hello sweetheart" she said and I was surprised..Sush you? OMG!! Sushmita has a way of talking, sweet. Her hello sweetheart is enough to know its her! :)

It has been three working weekends, but no complaints. I am having fun.

Last weekend, Me, Shoms, Nikhil and mom went to see Kahani and it was a stupendous movie. We went out shopping, had some bit of outside food and fun. Now, I am relaxed, having my dose of Calvin and Hobbes, City of Djinns by Darymple, Tinkle and a few other books and not to forget my evenings of tennis. Where is stress..It all passes with time..Time to have fun!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Memories of childhood after years

It was after a very long time that I called my childhood friend Krupa. I wasn't even sure if her number still existed. I called her, heard her voice and I was so thrilled. I could literally feel I was going back to my childhood days as I was talking to her. Are you plump still, I asked teasing her. I remember I used to call her batata (potato) in Mumbai hindi. Poor thing! I know I used to tease her so much! She was no less. Oye Madrasi, oye chashmish..I remember every little thing. Childhood days were so much fun! Krupa, me and Mithu were a trio. We were always together doing the most craziest things, playing and most importantly laughing. I was always out of the house with these girls, cycling or playing. It was a kind of freedom being with the two gals.

In those days, I did not have a cycle. My brother taught me how to ride a cycle when I was in class 3. Those days we lived in a small rural area where dad had his bank posting. I fell on thorns as I learnt to cycle but took it as a part of learning. Didn't cry. Later, when my brother got his cycle, I started riding it after fighting with him for many days. Initially, I remember me, mithu and krupa would go and hire a cycle-Rs 2 for an hour. I used to save up the coins from my bus trip to school. In the afternoon after school, I used to buy 50 paise ice and eat it. Every day!

Krupa was a tomboy and she reckons she is still one. Loved everything that boys did. We used to play cricket, fly kites and even beat boys in the kite flying game. I rather learnt kite flying from her.

In the building where we stayed, people used to mock us-always playing don't know if they study. Sometimes, we used to go to Krupa's house to have amazing delicacies made by her mom, sometimes to Mithu's house to watch tv. My neighbour aunty was such a pain, she used to yell at us while we were playing at the building compound because she could not see the passerbys. We used to get angry but continued playing ignoring her. Sometimes we used to leave cockroaches into her house and balcony. Lot of times, ring the door bell and run away. Small joys of life. I remember once, we three were playing Holi. We were at the roof top throwing water balloons. During the days of Holi, we used to play so much. My face would be smeared with so much color that my mother would not recognize me. Krupa's house had a huge swing. We used to spend some evenings having hot chai and talking nonsense. We used to roam so much in the cycle. There were so many times my brother yelled at me and even beat me up for not studying. I used to HATE studies and school. Even at nights I used to be out playing. My building people and my family used to wonder what I would do in life. I hated anything conventional, rather I never understood why school and studies were important in life. I absolutely never thought of future. Sometimes dad used to scold me a lot for not focusing on studies, but my innocent mind would never understand. I lived a life like there was no tomorrow. Of course, today, when I look back, none of those grades or marks..nothing ever mattered. Maybe I was really right! :) Lovely days, beautiful days. I was super thrilled to talk to my friend after ages and reliving all those memories. Mithu is married and now lives in Pune. Krupa is still the way she is-plump, cute and adorable and me, still the same free spirited girl that I was, but yeah quiet and composed.

Now, I am waiting to go and see my friend in Bombay and sit in the swing and have a chai..and maybe a matured conversation. :)