Sunday, August 23, 2009

Don't I love Tags!!

Hey Guys,

I am Soumya, you can call me that's the name I prefer, it goes perfectly with my personality. I am here to do the tag that mom was supposed to take up ages ago. She was tagged by numerounity. But being the way she is, she suddenly started hyperventilating about tags and awards and how over whelmed she felt, and also how depressed. I don't think any of it is true though, I think she's just run out of ideas, or she's just plain lazy, or its a combination of both. But she can't possibly say that to me now, can she? So before she goes into one of her crabby moods and sulks the day off, I thought I would oblige and be the man, and help her out of her predicament. Well, its not all about her, I too was just waiting to lay my hands on her blog, and this tag sure looks interesting.

I love to travel, unlike her who's just too obviously rooted. I like TV a lot(you see I just have that and an hour on the computer..I am sure she would have told you all about how bad I am at reading, and sitting still, and all that). She has probably lived in more places than me, she keeps ranting about how uprooted she felt each time she moved, but I like to be on the move, I would love to go and live in all kinds of places, pssst my sister is just like her, too much of inertia in the both of them!! I have a huge list of favourite foods too, am not married so mamma's food is not the best for me yet!! I have a long long time to think about death, so that list is also a bit far fetched, but still would attempt. And movies wow!! There is a bunch of movies I can watch time and again.

So guys, it is my pleasure to be doing this tag on her behalf. And I can just about see the beginnings of a smile forming on her lips. The hug and the kiss will follow soon. She is nutty and has terrible mood swings, and all of that stuff that I don't understand.. but all in all shes one hell of a mom!!

Lets rock Guys!! here's my list of fours..

Four places you have lived

  1. Pune, India: I was born there in 2002. I started my life in that city, my first of everything is there, and am glad the house is still retained with all the firsts nicely recorded in a collage just above my bed. The first smile, the first steps, and a whole lot of such silly get the idea don't you?
  2. Muscat, Oman: I still remember the day I was hauled into that flight along with mom and sis. I was a pain and she didn't quite know what to do to make me stop howling. She was as it is, drained off with all that luggage and all the passport and visa formalities, and those tears that flowed endlessly as she left the Mumbai airport for an unknown shore. My sister was all quiet and trying her best to help out.. she is such a 'people pleaser'. I would have loved her a bit more had she joined me in that bawling session. It would have been so much more fun!! I started school here, and learnt to ride my bike here and I learnt to swim here and play the keyboard.. so lots of firsts here as well though no collage, they don't have the enthusiasm any more, I think.
  3. Calcutta, India: See guys, I am too young to have lived in more places, and what with my mom taking a stand of not moving anymore, so I have theoretically just lived in Pune and Muscat. But my winter vacations are always in Calcutta, so its in this list. I love this city, its dirty, and people scream, and there are cows and dogs on the road, there are men selling very interesting stuff in a nice sing song voice in the afternoons. When the entire house is napping, I love to stand on the window sill and call out to them, they even come and give me their stuff, a lollipop, an ice lolly, a toy car sometimes, they laugh a lot and they don't ask for money, I think they take it from my grandma later. I love the puddles and the fishes in the market, I love my walk with my grandfather to the temple every evening. I love the delicious snacks my granny makes, unlike my mom who keeps stuffing cornflakes into my mouth day in and day out. I love Calcutta, I am the king there.
  4. I think I will come back to this later in my life..
Four TV shows you love to watch
If you insist on four..I will comply, but there are so many shows that I love to watch, I love to switch channels the moment I see my sister enjoying a show, I love to listen to the songs of the latest films, I love to do the 'phatak' dance from the film kaminey, while channel V shows it..and I watch tom & Jerry when dad is home!I love to switch channels just for the heck of it, and especially if I know that its annoying my sister..
  1. Shinchan and Marukochan : My mom wants me to watch backyard science and MAD..phew!!let the guy have some fun!!
  2. Ben Ten series: I love the gadgets this guy has, I am so impressed!!
  3. Popeye the sailor : For his muscles and the pipe.
  4. Krishna and Bheema : Are my favourites too, as I can relate with the stories I have heard about them.
Four places you have been on vacation

WOW!! I love everything about vacations, including the flight, however long. The food served, the toys given, the videos played. I just love the flights. Vacations also mean no studies, they mean seeing a new place, they mean lots of ice creams and pizzas and stuff like that, basically lots of food which is not made by mom.

  1. London: I watched the lion King on broad way and was blown over by it. I will always remember London as the city of broad way, and also the wax museum with Shahrukh khan.
  2. Egypt: I loved our guide there, his name was Ramses and he was a lot of fun, he danced and sang and said many stories about the pharaohs and the Gods of Egypt. I wasn't thrilled by the ruins that seemed to move my mom so much, could not understand her fascination for the wrecked temples and pillars, but I loved the cruise over the Nile. I drove a horse carriage in Egypt and made sure that my sister clicked a picture while I was driving it!
  3. Dubai: I love this city. Its my kind of place, its active, its glamorous, its fun and its hep. fast cars and shiny buildings. The best being the water park called Wild wadi, I could spend a lot of days in that park. By the way, my sister liked the museum.. you are getting the point aren't you?
  4. Switzerland: Mom has ranted about the place here I can see, so wont go into railways and waste disposal..why does she think of stuff like that? When there is snowfall to talk about and cows with bells and gelatos and cakes, and breads that are so soft they melt in your mouth..there's lindt and there's spriglis, there's chocolate everywhere and lakes and swans and so much else, there's the exciting rope ways too and the pretty stores selling cute dolls. I love dolls period!!

Four of your favorite foods:

Whatever she might have told you, my mom is not a good cook. I love her very much but I would rather, she didn't go to the kitchen unless to make her coffee. We had a cook for a while, that was a great thing! But now he is not there and I am back to eating regular, boring my list of favourites is quite limitless. I will control and keep them to four here

  1. Burgers: I love McDonalds for their Maharaja Mac and the fries and the coke. Nothing can be more satiating.
  2. Ice creams and fudges: I love the scoops to be mixed and the toppings added right as per my choice and in front of me, I try and make it so wacky that my sister cannot share it with me, I get to have the entire thing by myself.
  3. Chicken: In all varieties, except the stew mom makes at home.
  4. Rice: I love a plate of hot steaming rice with a dollop of butter on it, a hard boiled egg and a potato all mushy. that's one dish my mom makes frequently, she does it because its so easy and quick. However she positions it as a treat for us. ok ok am not complaining, I love this dish!!

Four places you would rather be:

  1. I would rather be home than at school.
  2. I would rather be at a park than indoors.
  3. I would rather be in the pool than studying.
  4. I would rather be at my friend's house than in my singing class.
Thats the best I can think of right now.

Four movies you can see over and over again:

I love to watch all kinds of movies. I am not allowed to that's a different matter, but I try my best to watch as many as possible.

  1. All Govinda movies for his dance and his expressions.
  2. High School Musical all the parts, I admit I fought with my sister when she got that home from the library instead of a Pokemon that I was crying out for, but I caught on to the movie, I love the songs and I love the dresses and the girls. My friends don't know that I watch these movies, they tend to tease me saying I like girly stuff, and my sister at times when she is wicked, blackmails me about this. Nobody lets a poor guy be!!
  3. Spider man I love Parker. He is my hero.
  4. Harry Potter for the magic!!

Four things u hope to do before you die:

Thats a bit too far for me, but I have dreams, ever changing dreams..

  1. I want to own a bike!
  2. I want to fly a fighter plane!
  3. I want to walk the ramp as a designer!
  4. I want to own a red sports car!

I had a lot of fun doing this guys, hope you all have the patience to read through this. please keep the comments coming. Theyswing my mom's mood favourably. I might have ranted about her a bit.. but end of the day.. I just plain love her!

Will see you all again someday, maybe when mom's a bit tied up(read out of ideas)!! Rock on guys! Adieu!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The joy of weekends!!

As a kid, Friday was the most awaited day for me. Two art periods, One Mass P.T, one singing period and the rest quickly finished. End of the day, end of the week! The ride home was a joyride in its truest sense. The afternoon was spent making soap bubbles with a straw or bouncing the lone ball in the veranda, all the while spinning tales to myself, incessant dreams, unlimited horizons. There was nothing better than a Friday evening, it brought home tickets to a movie! Saturday was about tidying up the room in the morning after a nice breakfast of luchi torkari(puri/bhaji) followed by a walk to the library at the end of the street for a few comics and a thick book. the afternoon was spent sprawled on the bed or floor with this book, till dad was free to sit with me and all my school work of the week gone by. Homework done, doubts cleared, sums solved and I was free to go out to play. There was Rupal of course and our bikes, there was a play ground and a few other kids, and we played everything from 'house-house ' to 'catch me if you can'. Sunday was market day, this was my mother's favourite day of the week. She loves the market even today, and I have never liked it one bit, even now grocery and vegetable shopping is a necessary evil for me. So as my mom bent over the fresh veggies and fish and all those sneeze inducing spices, Baba and I sat in the parking lot, a safe, sneeze free distance away from the frenzied bazaar, talking about nothing important. Those ordinary Sunday afternoons spent talking unnecessary things are the most vivid images in my mind till date. Sunday evening was about gearing up for the week to follow, it was about polishing the shoes and ironing the uniform, packing the bag and sleeping early. Computers and video games were unheard of and Television was not a passion yet. Weekends meant outdoors, they meant friends, they meant books , and they meant a lot of time with Baba. I did not comprehend the word 'boring' then.

Now, weekends mean sleeping in late. waking up with a bored look. fighting over the remote control, some precious thoughts from the daughter as to why we cant have two TVs, like most of her friends do. There is some lecture from me on sundry topics and on the idiot box, which is promptly ignored by the daughter and vehemently responded to by the son, who in turn talks about his deprived life. A boy his age without play station or even a gameboy, he goes on till he feels the point is drilled in till the far end of my brain. A book glued to her face my daughter manages to eat what is put in front of her. My boy, happy with the end of lecture and his full control over the remote, eats too. Attempts at conversation are groggily responded to in monosyllables or largely ignored. There is no outdoors apart from the club swimming pool for them. There are malls and indoor games, there is coke and popcorn. There are endless phone calls, there are sentences that begin and end with the word 'boring'. There is a lot of solitary activity like sketching or playing the keyboard, there is also the usual homework and the crafts and the projects that need to be done. There are a few cuddles too and a few laughs, there is the phone call from the grandparents, that till now is more heartfelt than customary. I am sure kids today enjoy their weekends too, just that the perception of enjoyment has changed.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Honour thy freedom!!

I have never been able to dance to any body's tune! I am a bad dancer (leave that apart), but even figuratively, I cant make myself dance to any body's tune. As a child when I was ordered to do something my mind plummeted me in the opposite direction. Its like a reflex.. The moment I am told to do something, I don't want to do it. I think most of us are like that. We hate being ordered around, bossed around. But not many of us realise the value of this freedom. I don't. I feel its my right. Do you?

India might have many ills, but its strongest virtue is that it lets us be just as we are. We praise other nations, we leave India and settle abroad, we joke about our leaders, we rally, we march, we don't have to send our boys to the army at the age of 21, they are free to go to the USA or wherever they please. We have free press, A Tianamen Square does not happen in India. That's freedom, I think. Weather or not we honour that freedom is a different story. Read on friends and feel as proud as I do of our beautiful homeland...

(A Repost)

I had no idea that there was a panel that judged National Anthems..but something like that does exist, and its in the headlines these days that the Indian National Anthem has been judged the best. As Indians we are all proud of this fact..but am sure we don't need a panel to tell this to us. I might not be an authority on National Anthems but I can say without a doubt in my mind that each time the first notes of Jana Gana Mana float through the air, every Indian's heart soars with love, respect, pride and bonding to the motherland, such is the beauty of the composition. As a child it was just a song that had to be sung at the beginning of each day in the school assembly..we, most of the times never got the words right..but the tune even then kept us glued to the spot.

Now as I see my children singing it along with their peers, I often wonder do they feel what we felt while we sang the anthem? Does their heart surge with pride at the ebb and tide of each note? Do they picture the beauty of each state as visualized by the poet? Can they see the lofty peaks, the beautiful rivers, the bounty of nature..or do they just see a land which has lost its way? Ravaged by internal wars and terrorism, ever changing heads of state, Corruption and immoral politics, underpaid masses, record breaking inflation rates, a land which even their parents have given up on!!

We travel abroad and take our kids to the Swiss Alps for the summers, The USA, and The UK fight with The South East Asian countries for enlisting themselves into our travel plans..but as parents we never somehow plan a trip to Kaziranga, or say the temples of the south, we even keep the Taj Mahal on the back burner..saying.."Ohh we can do that any day" But does that day ever come? Definitely our children are citizens of the world..they need exposure, they need to know the different cultures all around the globe..but before that don't they need to know their country better? why not take them to Gujarat and show them how Amul revolutionized the milk industry? Why don't we give them a chance of being proud of their heritage by showing them the robust farms of Punjab..Why don't we have the courage to take them to Kashmir and show them that this land is worth protecting with your life!! Each soldier standing in attention at the LOC definitely deserves a salute form each of our kids.

Left to the news channels all they will ever hear about our country is negativity, its up to us, their parents, to point out the beauty of a nation that's still too young to be given up on.. Let them feel the splendour of our nation, to be able to feel proud of the National Anthem, to be able to relate to it, to willingly stand up in salute to a song they sing everyday at the beginning of an assembly.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Menacing Malady

A well to do family. Parents and two kids. One boy and one girl. A metropolitan city. Good school. Swimming at a posh club each evening. Various other activities to keep fit and busy.

One morning the little girl complains of a slight fever with headache. The Mother worries about the ongoing swine flu cases. She is taken to the best paediatrician in town by late morning. The doctor offers cal pol and advices rest for a couple of days.

Mother: "That's it? No test for the flu? There are so many cases in town, it's spreading like wild fire, lets do the test, she has fever, she's just come back from a holiday, she has headache, lets do the test."

Doctor: "We don't have the kit! we don't have the medicines either, its available only with the ministry of health. Wait for a couple of days, let's see what symptoms she develops, as of now its just fever, don't worry, give her cal pol three times a day."

Mother: "Can I take her to the Ministry for a test then?"

Doctor: "No, they have their own system based on a flow chart that they are following, they won't test unless referred."

A helpless feeling. Stories of the 14 year old from Pune who succumbed to this disease causing havoc in the mind. What if we get late? How long to wait? why is there no way out, why is the testing kit not available to all clinics? Endless questions. The day goes by with the mild fever and headache staying. News comes in from various sources of a lot more cases being detected in the city, many from the same school, from the same school bus even. The helpline numbers for H1N1 cases are called, only to be met with the 'on hold' music.

The second day dawns. The fever is less. By afternoon the fever has completely gone, just the slight headache remains. The little girl is getting bored at home. She calls up her friends, who are also in the same boat, suffering from fever and body aches, unable to attend school, missing out on portions covered and also on the lively chit chats. The small boy keeps going to school, though reluctantly.

The third days also passes without fever. Parents are breathing easy now. The girl is studying at home, the little boy is angry that he doesn't have the flu and so he has to go to school, while his sister can be at home. A call from the school, the teacher informing that the little boy has high fever. He needs to be collected from the school immediately. Panic rises, the throat is dry. A rush to the school, there are other similar parents collecting their wards who are red with fever. The little boy smiling mischievously through his bloodshot eyes. The mother hugs him to her and carries him to the clinic.

Mother: "Please refer this case, the fever is so high, he is too small to talk about other symptoms."

Doctor: "Lets see how he responds to these medicines, a lot of ordinary flu cases also happening, people are panicking unnecessarily. Bring him back to me after 36 hours, he should be fine by then. Its the heat, temperatures are soaring. How is his sister?"

Mother: "She does not have fever since the last 2 days, just a slight headache."

Doctor: "OK"

The little boy is brought home. He is asleep by the time he reaches home. The daughter has in the meantime vomited two times. She complains of stomach cramps and slight breathlessness. There is no support of relatives, just friends to count on... The boy is left home in the supervision of a neighbour, while the daughter is again rushed to the clinic.

Mother: "Now what? are we supposed to wait till she dies for the test? or can we do it now?"

Doctor: "She is showing the symptoms, don't worry, let me call up the ministry"

The Ministry of health takes long to reach. A thousand forms follow. the little boy is also brought to get tested. Queues and red tape make the wait frustrating to say the least. Numerous parents with kids in tow, waiting for the test. Money might get the best doctors, but in this case its proving so useless. Nothing seems to be working. the officials chat, smile, crack jokes, they have their tea, they have their masks, while the family waits... and waits some more, with children who are burning with fever.

Finally the turn comes, both the kids get tested, both the results are positive. The appointment has to be made with the doctor in the ministry who alone has the medicine that can cure the kids. The mother is on the verge of tears, the father is silent. the kids still burning. The appointment is for later that evening, masks are provided for the parents and the kids. The little girl has rashes now and is slightly delusional, the little boy making friends with other boys, unmindful of the seriousness.

They say its late for the little girl, she cannot be taken home. She has to be admitted to the ICU. How late? why late? we came to the doctor the first day itself? what now? The parents mind get tizzy with fear and worry, the despair is too much to bear. the little girl is being taken to the ICU, the father is strong no more, he breaks down and starts abusing the authorities, the mother just cries, the little boy is scared into silence.

Its been two days now. The little girl is still in the ICU. The little boy recovering with medicines at home. he misses his sister and wishes to go to school.

Again, a fiction but based on the frustrating situation that I along with many parents are facing to get their kids tested in private clinics for Swine Flu. Why is the kit not available with our regular doctors? Its said its treatable when medicines start within 48 hours, then why the wait?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Entwined Journeys...

It was 1986 and I had a new red BSA SLR. Those days we lived in Baroda, Gujarat. School was a half an hour ride from home and cycling to school was the most common thing. Half way to school on my bike that first day, I saw a class mate of mine riding a few meters ahead of me, looking for company, I pedaled faster and drew up to her.

Me : "Hi, do you cycle to school everyday?"

She : "Hi! yes its almost a year now. Haven't seen you on this road before, new bike?"

Me: "Yes, new, staring today, earlier it used to be the school bus, where do you live?"

She: "Karelibaug, and you?"

Me: "Me too, well we can do this everyday together then, let's fix up a time and start together, it's a long ride"

She: "Sure, I would love to."

Till then we were just class mates who bumped into each other every now and then. Ever since that day our journeys have entwined for life. We were both 13 that day, and we are on the wrong side of 30 now. The rides to school and back were innocuous compared to the roller coasters life has thrown at us.. but we have stayed abreast and together, side by side through all the ups and downs.

Another morning in the same year(1986):

Me: "Have you noticed the Nepali watchman in the EME complex? He's cute."

She: "He's old Sujata!! What cute?"

Me: "Of course he's old, I mean he looks kind and he seems to be waiting for us to ride by, I have been smiling at him for the past day or two, and he returns it"

She : "I have not noticed that, will see today"

As we near the EME gates, I wave to the watchman, who as usual was waiting for us to pass by, he smiles and waves at us.

Me: "Saw?, isn't he a kind looking fellow?"

She: "Yah looks kind, maybe he has children back home you know, they leave the families and come for work here, maybe we remind him of his daughters.."

Me: "Yah.. maybe..alright lets race to the end of this road okay? who ever loses will pay for the canteen!"

And we raced. Each day we smiled and waved at the watchman and he returned our gestures!

Till the day he came behind us on his bike and it didn't look right at all, The memory of this incident is vague now, but the fear that we both felt at him rushing behind us on a black cycle, waving and making gestures that were not at all cute, cannot be driven away from our conscious even today. Breathless and hovering at the highest speed possible, we kept going, not exactly knowing why? Not even having the time or breath to discuss the sudden incident , we just knew things were not right, and we also knew we had been stupid. What scared us that day, I don't know, it seems silly in hindsight, but we had felt petrified then. He never followed us again.

Journeys are made real by memories and our ride to school each day has innumerable such memories. These long past treasures regale both of us even today.

She lives in New York now, has three kids, a lovely job and a great husband. We start our days with mails to each other, we chat whenever time permits, we sigh, we groan, we still play mischief, we laugh, we joke and we bitch. We can share with each other what we can't with any body else. We carry on biking the bumpy roads together. From sharing chocolates and crushes to sharing the ravages of gravity on our bodies..we have come a long way!

Rupal, this one is for us!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Just a thought...

Holidays are over! Schools have started again. Home works and projects, assessments and assemblies are all coming up and making mundane life blissful by its sheer predictability. My kids occupy a lot of my brain and soul space. They make me laugh, they make me worry, even anguished and tearful, they are the reason of most of the things I do or decisions I take. My world revolves around these two kids completely. Maybe its not correct, maybe even not completely normal, maybe I am too involved.. but that's the state at the moment.

It started with them being too tiny to fend for themselves, and then it became a habit to look out for them, and then a pleasure to be a part of them. Long back I was asked by a friend, "What are you first, a woman, a wife or a mother?" I didn't have to think at all, I am confidently a mother first, the last two have no fixed place value I guess, they depend on the mood and the circumstances.

A recurrent thought lately is about women who leave their children for love. Who take the plunge and never look behind, or maybe they do and live in pain forever, who's to tell?. It could be a sad marriage or a genuine love that calls, it could be a frustrated existence, a stale relationship.. it could be any of these or something else, but does it justify leaving your kids, does anything justify, even death?

I do not believe in right or wrong, whatever can be dealt with is right for me. I am not moralistic or judgemental, and I also believe that love can happen, anytime any place, beyond age and marital status. But I cannot understand how a mother can turn away from her children in pursuit of her own happiness or dreams. It is possible, for it has happened many a times through each layer of society, but I fail to understand it. It takes a brave heart I am sure to live without the routine pleasures of grubby hands that make the home untidy, of home work left undone, of remarks in school books, of the numerous PTA meetings and the smiles that warm your heart in spite of the turmoils life throws at you.

To have dreams about myself is an option that my motherhood doesn't allow me. Does yours?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I just throw waste in a bin...

After all those perfect snaps from the land of mountains lakes and chocolates..a minute detail that cannot be left unmentioned... Waste Disposal - The Swiss way!!

Have you worried about what to do with the fish bones after a hearty meal? I had not till I traveled to this land. Have you worried about where to dispose your empty bottle of Scotch and Liqueurs and the cans of beers after a party? I had not...until I traveled to the alps. Phew!!! I had an inkling that India had spoilt me silly when I landed in Muscat and had to do most of the household chores by myself without the support system that's abundantly available in India.

But the waste disposal/recycling concept that's prevelant in Switzerland is a thing which was beyond the wildest imagination of my illiterate and non recycling brain! Here's just the tip of the ice berg...

No plastics period!! Highly commendable..but ohh so difficult!

Recyclable plastic bags of different colours have to be purchased from the supermarkets to dispose different types of waste, categorized as follows:

  1. Green bag for waste including vegetable and fruit peels, seeds etc
  2. Blue bag to dispose fish bones, chicken and mutton bones or any other non vegetarian left overs
  3. A separate bag for papers
  4. Another one for disposable plastic plates, cups and spoons or any such items they feel is non recyclable
  5. Five different sub categories of bins for five different colour of glasses available..meaning that a green bottle has to be disposed off into a bin that is precisely for green bottles and a blue in a bin for blue the scotch bottle and the beer bottle cannot go together, and the cans , definitely need a totally seperate bin..
  6. burnt oil that we so easily and mindlessly dispose off through the kitchen sink..cannot be done! No blocking of the arterial pipes by fat!!Only pure water allowed please!
  7. Batteries and other inflammable objects, I think need to be hand delivered to the town hall!!

There were even others which my brain could not assimilate, am sorry to say. So these are the only ones that I can share with you. There is a terrible irony here, the Indian community that lives in this country though small religiously follows these rules to the T. I being what I am..tried to put ideas into their brains..saying , " Night ... dark.. lots of streams... plonk it in!!" They were scandalised to say the least.."What are you talking about! Absolutely not done!!" I just hoped they have the same conscience in their next visit to the homeland!!

I cannot imagine living like that, I would never know what to throw where for one and secondly, my reducing grey cells would run haywire every hour just doing waste management!! I am not against recycling but this is too much, really!!

I wish I had taken pictures for this post..but sorry, I was just too overwhelmed by it all to take the camera and click and the official photographer was busy doing the course on waste no pictures apart from the one I took courtesy the net!