Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Now Showing...

So three rather four great movies in a row can overwhelm you to the extent of wanting to talk about each one of them and what slice of your own life was in it.  It goes without saying that the more real reel life looks the more chances of it being approved by the mind and thereby the acceptance. Other than educating me about American football the film 'Blind Side' also broadened my horizon on that priceless concept called FAMILY.So whoever said that blood is thicker than water can bite dust now.
 Just when  you begin to doubt everything around you as times are such when even a true act of humanity raises suspicion of vested interests there comes something like this to reaffirm your faith.
More than all this what i personally loved about the movie was that lovely relationship shared by all in the family. The most wanted space that all of us desire in any relationship be it that of a mother and child to that of a newly formed one,  was the warmest part of the movie.
 Further it was so much soothing to notice all the admiration of a husband who was so sure of his wife and had no qualms about her smartness. Don't miss those looks...amusement, adulation, adoration, trust, pride...that look of the man in her life conveys all at one go...

This part of the movie could be predicted though and what couldn't be predicted was how she would do it.
Then again when the lady delivered  without bothering about credits given to her as she inspires her new member of the family to his best performance in the game is an eye opener to all those who want to be showered with praise for their simplest of acts of generosity or charity. Learn something from this all ye who know best only to bang your own drum.

Wonder why the critics have not given 'Everybody's Fine' much acclaim when i found it a very touching movie. But then since it is my choice and choice is a personal thing i have not much to complain.

'Everybody's Fine' made me lachrymose everytime De Niro dominated the screen largely because suddenly i find that he resembles my Papa so much...same age...same body...same predicament but thank God Papa has no health problems and he's happily busy satisfying his lust for travel even when he is 78 plus. Suddenly i was missing him so much and unable to control my emotions i called him up just to find out if he was doing okay. He heard my sobs while he played cards at the club he frequents  every evening and promised to give me a quick visit. Heaving a sigh of relief that he has company  i proceed with the rest of the movie in peace and when the movie is over i ask myself again and again, "What's wrong when as a parent we motivate our children to do their best ?"  When that Papa character in the movie tells his child something like this- If you want to paint then try to be a painter, an artist and not just that one who paints walls because dogs pee on them. Is he being pushy? All parents adore their children and want nothing less than a fine quality life for them. What's wrong in wanting that?
 Why can't kids explain before their parents on their own accidently stumble upon their disappointing state of affairs? Maybe that freeway between the parent and the child is choked with expectations and exasperations. Why can't both trust each other?
Whatever... the film definitely allows a good look on both sides of the fence as against ' Baagbaan ' so much a hit with almost all the in laws i know and badly condemned by the son and his wife clan.

From the acclaimed writer Nick Hornby who also wrote ' About a Boy ' and others there is yet another one that forced me once again to go down memory lane.
'An Education ' is the story about a young and bright school girl Jenny. Now that Jenny could easily be me is what makes the movie so endearing.
That 1960's Britain English delighted me so much that i was trying to speak with a stiff upper lip when i talked to my friend over the phone. She wouldn't have guessed why i was sounding so funny as she was too preoccupied with her own agenda.
Those box-pleated smart neat skirts, blazers, strict classroom discipline and a brisk but crisp headmistress reminded me of my alma mater, the convent where i had my entire schooling. And it was not difficult to understand that for an adolescent who longs for adulthood it is so easy to chuck her aspirations for something that seems so much more beautiful and loads of fun. It was not new at all to see this brightest girl in class fall for glamorous friends, jazz clubs, chic and her own sexual awakening. While all this was happening in the movie i was remembering those brilliant plans that we hatched in between our music lessons.  Just like those girls we were in awe of Chanel and Paris and at least the two of us wanted to marry a French millionaire.
Tell you what, first see the movie and then later glance at the reviews or ratings this way you are saved of the forced prejudice that could ruin your chances of a rendezvous with this "university called life".

Signing off for the time being with this beautiful number from another wonderful movie 'Adam'.Originally i suppose the song is by another band called 'The Weepies'.

Still photo courtesy:http://www.fadango.com/theblindside_124539/movieoverview

Monday, March 29, 2010

His Name was Lakhan

That boy Lakhanwa who handled the spool was too excited to notice her as he was getting ready for that duel in the sky which they were calling 'Payainch Ladana' and his mates were urging him by a sporty aggression of ''Dheel de na re! dheel de"  (let loose! let loose!) .  She was unable to understand much of what they meant but guessed it to be some kite flying jargon however that was not all that important now.  All she was watching was Lakhanwas's shifting feet and the dexterity with which he was handling the spool.  That evening she had found her first HERO her age because as of now no one but her handsome father was the most eligible candidate. When she was much younger than this, a tiny 'German Wali ' ( the girl from Germany) as her father lovingly called her maybe because of her auburn coloured hair on her fair complexion , she had bowled him over by the most hilarious question ever asked.  Watching him one fine morning getting dressed in his suit and tie and she plonked on his bed chewing her morning biscuit she had quipped  " Papa will you marry me when i grow up?"

That evening at dinner time between the clatter of plates and irritating lip smacking sounds from her uncles she put in another request,  " Papa will you get me a latayee and guddi?". Could Papa refuse his German Wali so in between all the sounds into which was another one that of so many chuckles, the resident peon Heera ji was summoned. Papa then instructed, " Heera ji ! kal Sabjibagh se Munni ji ke liye ek accha latayee aur guddi la dijiyegaa"  ( Heera ji ! tommorrow get a spool and kite from Sabjibagh for Munni ji ). Sabjibagh was this place in the city that had a wholesale dealing with kites and it's accessories.  Heera ji looked at Munni ji with the most affectionate smile ever,  nodded his head in an affirmative and uttered  " Ji Sir! '' and left for the kitchen to join the others for dinner but his chuckles could be heard too.  Papa now paused in his eating and gave another set of instructions.  This time to one of the youngest Chacha (Uncle) sitting there " Phani tum kal jara Munni ko guddi bandhana aur udana sikha dena...gaon mein toh guddi champion toh Phania hi hai...''  ( Phani tomorrow teach Munni how to tie the kite and teach her how to fly it too...in the village Phania is the kite champion I suppose). Phani Chacha meanwhile all gloated and also a wee bit embarrassed by this sudden acclaim  answered this time with an audible, "Haun Bhaiya" (Yes elder brother). Ok so Lakhanwa must be Lakhan, Munni thought as she finished the vermicelli pudding without a fuss. She hated Vermicelli pudding but today it tasted different not bad  at all as she normally felt.  That night after lots of hugs and kisses to the best Papa in the world she drifted to a deep slumber of colourful dreams. Dreams in which she could see the spinning spool and lots of brilliant kites.  Dreams in which she saw herself running in a field of green with the colourful kite behind her.

That camaraderie that developed between Munni and her uncles was a catalyst to her eating, drinking and sleeping kites. No amount of her mother's admonishment on her skin being sun-burnt and she getting too ugly for a handsome boy to marry her, could keep her down.  Who was worried about getting married  now when major milestones were being covered.  Each day a steady progress from tying the kite to getting the kite up in the air,  first with the help of a partner and later single- handedly.  Handling the spool to control the kite and gleefully make them take these twirls in the sky were more important than worrying about the colour of the skin.  Each day after a  hurried snack after school and then hitting the terrace of Sujan Bhawan at 4 post noon when the sun would still be warm could neither dull the enthusiasm of the tutor nor the one that was taught. It was not long when she was finally ready to make that tryst with destiny when she would be the king or rather the queen of the Boring Road skies.
It was the summer of 77 and the schools were closed for the vacations after the final exams were over.  Those days the junior classes had their final exams before the summer vacations which were approximately one to one and a half month long.  The schools would re-open in the first week of July when kids with all things new i.e. uniform, books, bags, water bottles, lunch boxes and pencil boxes would happily return to yet another year of onslaught.  Munni oblivious of everything would have made her demands too of all these including the particular shade of brown covers to cover the text books and notebooks but this time things were different.  When her friends were busy holidaying at their grandparents or elsewhere and others busy with their Enid Blyton's and Nancy Drew's Munni was getting more and more skilled at something which was so much more fun and that was of guddi udana. She had no time to even  give a glance at her English text book or Hindi text book,  the stories of which she would lap up even before the school re-opened.  Maybe that was one prime reason for her to be so distracted in these classes because she always thought she knew it all. So maybe this time her teachers got lucky.

So that particular day in the year of 77,  geared with her kit and her skill Munni was all ready for what she now understood fully as ' payainch ladana '.  Wiping the milk off with the sleeve of her blouse she set foot on the terrace and like a pro inspected the sky.  A solitary one there as of now and it will be a piece of cake when she took it down,  she promised herself.  But just when that kite started stalking hers once again she had the same palpitation, the same fear.  And before she could calm herself her spool felt very light in her sweaty hands.  She now saw her kite sliding horizontally and gradually towards the earth and the tensile curve of the twine falling into a limp zig zag.  She cried out loud  '' Meri guddi kat gayee! Meri guddi kat gayee! Ma! Maaa!!"  Tears hopelessly and shamelessly streaking her face and drops dripping from the tip of her sharp nose to the front of the blouse she ran towards the boundary wall of her terrace.  Her eyes blinded by tears not wanting to leave the sight of her guddi  which was no longer hers now.  Still crying she looked down to see where her guddi had fallen so that she could retrieve it.  Guess what she saw ?  Outside the gates of Sujan Bhawan  stood her HERO whom she had blissfully forgotten as she had forgotten the 26 inch machine that introduced them.  Lakhanwa stood there,  his one hand holding her guddi to his chest and the other flailing vigorously beckoning her to come down and get her guddi.  Wiping her tears and ignoring her mother's questioning " Munni beta kya hua? Chot lag gayee? Ruk toh " she flew down the stairs and within minutes  or rather seconds was face to face with Lakhan who was now neatly rolling the twine that came along with her guddi into a neat criss cross bundle with the help of his little finger and thumb.

If Phani Chacha deserves the credit for her kite flying lessons then Lakhan gets the award for fine coaching about the skills of the duel.
" Aapka guddi kat gaya kahe ki aapka dori Manjha nahin hai '' ,  said Lakhan,  handing over her kite and the twine.( Your kite got cut because your twine was not treated )

''latayee de dijiye hum kal Manjha bana kar de denge",  he again requested hesitatingly ( Give your spool to me I shall bring it back tomorrow after coating it ).

Munni was just happy to get her kite back and without much ado handed the spool to lakhan.  After which he left and she came back inside and went straight to Heera ji to ask what Lakhan meant by Manjha.
Heera ji explained to her how the twine was made ready for the duel by coating it with powdered glass.  This is prepared by making a home made gum of wheat flour into which is mixed powdered glass and the twine is passed all along through this mix as it gets coated. Quite a revelation it was when she learnt that in this process the palms mostly bled if one is not careful in handling the process.  And the twine once ready could easily cut the finger too if one was careless.

The next day 4 post noon arrived after a long time.  She stood near the gate and aimlessly strolled around as she anxiously waited for Lakhan.  When it was 5 and still there was no sign of him she requested Heera ji to go and check at the place where he and his friends pump air into the bicycles.  Heeraji returned with a very dissappointing  '' Ou toh wahan haiye nahin aur uska saathi bolta hi ki ou toh aaj ayaa bhi nahin"  ( He is not there and his friends are saying that today he has not come at all ).  Mourning the loss of her spool and missing the sport she turned around to go inside the house when she heard a loud rap at the gate.  Hopes rekindled she ran  and pushed the gate open to see him standing there panting and gasping but holding her spool which looked full and more sturdy with that Manjha twine. The twine instead of being white looked pale pink in colour and it was neatly tied to a big new colourful kite.

Hurriedly he ranted off the final instructions after handing her the spool and the kite. "Jab doosarka guddi aapke guddi se bhid jayega aur ou apna dori khinchega tab aap DHEEL  de dijiyega "  (When that other kite intercepts yours and you feel his pull at that time let loose your twine) . She was too grateful to him for all his efforts and the extra. She repeated,  " accha thik hai us samay DHEEL doongi "  (Ok i shall let loose at that time).  But she also wanted to do something more so she said, " Thank you!  Lakhan so much ''. This time Heera ji interpreted it for him,  '' Baby dhanbad de rahi hain "  (Baby is giving you thank you).  She was too excited with this timely help and transformation and too much in a hurry to get back her revenge that this time she did not wait to correct Heeraji, " Dhanbad nahin dhanyavaad " .( Correct pronunciation of the word thank you in Hindi). And de nahin  kah rahi hain bolo ( not giving but saying thank you ).

That day she did taste her first victory and she knew Lakhan must be watching her feat and applauding her from far.  And  maybe it was not impulsive of her to choose her HERO that day. Aren't heroes supposed to be chivalrous and rescue damsels in distress...even when it is by retrieving her lost kite and going out of his way and means to supplement her with all that she lacked.  Also most Papa's are best for their daughters but when that daddy's girl is in real distress she can't help but cry out, "MA !! ".  Suddenly i want to meet that tomboy of Boring Road and find out if she can still fly kites with panache and can she now manage to slide, run and gain momentum while she jumps over the seat of the 26 inch like she used to,  way back in the 70's ?

photo courtesy: http://freefoto.com (solitary colourful kite against the deep blue sky).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

That Tomboy at Boring Road

Ok i choose this particular video not only for it's music and all that it depicts...the sheer thrill of flying a kite, but for a specific reason which shall come to fore as i progress. The fact of the matter being that something in this video is so much in the memory of this girl but she can't find it anymore. At least not in the city she resides in but she believes that maybe it still exists somewhere and one day she is going to find it and bring it home just like that toy she found in Dilli Haat. The one with wheels having a drum like structure between the wheels and when pulled with the help of a string the stick fixed to the drum makes the drum beat a funny tadaak! tadaak ! as this toy, the drum cart moves forward. This song from an old classic by V Shantaram has this toy that trails behind Sandhya the heroine who is singing this classic number in the movie 'Do Aankhain Barah Haath'.

My story should see this young girl of class 7-8 who was learning how to ride an adult bicycle a 26 inch too huge for her 4 ft frame, in the space provided in her home which can be best described as a pathway leading to the ground floor flats, one on the either side of the building constructed by her father and named after her grandmother Sujan Bhawan. She was using her own methodology as advised by the pros which was called half pedal. Which meant her grabbing one handle by one hand while the other grabbed the front rod of the bicycle, the one which starts below the seat and joins the handlebar. The two legs passed on the either side below this rod to the two pedals as she gleefully demonstrated her prowess as good as boys her age to her uncles visiting from the village. They meanwhile praising her ability and applauding her efforts showing all the amazement a rustic can have to see a women drive a Scorpio or during those times a Mahindra jeep.

It was not surprising then that just a week later in order to prove to her uncles how brave and still more she was, she now tried full pedal just the way the boys do. This by placing one feet on one pedal and sliding in rythmic motion to gain momentum and quickly jump on to the seat of this 26 inch beast just like how men and boys do. How her heart palpitated with thrill and fear when finally seated and her other feet on the other pedal, the machine was in her control. What she was afraid of was the control part not that she can fall and get bruised badly on the concrete. Fear again when she had to stop and alight as there was no more space to move forward. Well, before her uncles could come to her rescue she with her heart pounding did alight which can be best dubbed as the gymnast who has done all her routines well but had a bad one at the landing. So that is her story with the bicycle which brought her closer to what generally people would call urchins...those rugged, unwashed, unkempt boys her age and perhaps even younger seen at the roadside pumping air into the bicycles for a small price and also doing minor repairs that again for a pittance.

These would be thrilled at her sight when she approached them to do the minute repairs and also fill air into the cycle tyre . "ladki hokar cycle chalati hain?"(Being a girl and riding bicycle?) To which she would nonchalantly reply in an affirmative nod and when the task would be done she would hand (that one who obliged) over the 5 to 25 paise as per the work, clearly show her gratefulness by her English Thank You and ride back home happily little caring whether the boy understood the meaning of her thank you or not.

Her association with these boys began with the hawa (air) in the cycle and ended in a passion for her during those days, of that of guddi udana(flying kites). In Hindi it is called patang but this place where her father was posted it was locally known as Guddi. Not that she had never seen kites before but on one particular day these boys for want of anything better to do, were busy flying kites on the side of the road which is not tarred but had dusty ground. Those days did not have this concrete jungle and hence less obstruction of electric poles and wires. That day she forgot her bicycle at which she was now a proud pro even when she was tiny and the bicycle looked huge in front of her. That day she wanted to master another art and that was kite flying and more than the kite it was the spool that caught her fancy then. A roundish cylindrical grilled structure made of bamboo into which was wound the twine which in turn rose up high on with the kite.She wowed at the way the twine forming a curve with tension held the kite. That spool and the twine could manoeuvre the kite into gay abandon and even break the kite into fanciful twirls in the sky as if dancing at the panorama of tunes the world had to offer. The spool looked exactly similar to the one showed in the video Chal Chali re patang meri chali re. And these boys called it letair/letayee. As she held her bicycle steady she had forgotten about the flat tyre and now she wanted to know all about letayee and the guddi. She wanted to handle the latayee so badly that it was written all over her face just like that of a hungry beggar child watching a sethji (a rich merchant) eating hot jalebis ( a spiral Indian sweetmeat).                                                                                                                                    To be contd....

Kite thumb photos courtesy:http://www.freefoto.com

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Find your tribe

My going to a bloggers meet was actually supposed to be an escape. Initially though but on second thoughts it was more of an attempt to have one to one with all the bloggers and i was curious to see and hear, those who are the top most in their ratings/ranks. Actually i get awed too quickly. i am saying that for myself because an honest comment from my side may give the impression of FLATTERY. But then again i don't really mind that.

Then close introspection of why i went led me to the conclusion that i was eager to find my tribe. Because i'm still clueless about that. i am a kind of potpourri of varied interests each so oppposite to the other that i,m beginning to feel a maverick of some sort. As of now my friends and acquaintances are also an interesting potpourri too. That for the simple reason that i see a little bit of myself in everybody. But it's hard when one genre comments something like-"Shivani how can you tolerate ****" or something like "God alone knows what you see in ****". All i do then is to just give a sheepish grin and blabber some stuff to which sometimes i get something like-"HOLY COW". Anyways i just chill and don't go overboard to prove why i'm seen with so and so. i don't really know if that means me being passive but it helps in directing conversations elsewhere and that way i'm saved of much dissection and all that postmortem which usually happens if you stretch a negative topic too long. Plus i land up feeling guilt free as neither have i participated nor allowed anyone of further sad analysis of so and so.

So was i successful in finding my tribe i'm not sure because instead of really talking to each other when the time was allotted to familiarise we got busy passing our URL's to each other. The only easy and happy moments i feel of the meet was when each one of us introduced ourselves on the cordless mike and some of the introductions though said honestly were very funny which made the convention hall reverberate with applause and laughter. Truthful words are often funny if only we care. And this reminds me now of that film "About a Boy" starring Hugh Grant which has truth from his side all the time and extremely hilarious to make one roll of the sofa with intense laughter. No! i'm not talking about the introductions being so funny here but about true mundane things being very funny. Some introductions were simply SO CUTE like this gentleman who said "Hi friends i am a blogger and have no originality". Of course there has to be some introductions which sounded like banging one's own drum but that was also fine. i honestly had no idea how i sounded until this charming lady much younger to me walks up anD says "hi i'm **** and i really loved your introduction.....". Needless to say how good i felt then and it kind of gave a phillip to doing away with my earlier inhibitions.

Another lovely moment was towards the fag end of the meet when we broke for high tea. It was here between sandwiches,cutlets,CHIPS,rasmalai,icecream and good tea/coffee that we mingled better and shared some one to one conversations. Of course earlier during the URL signing session i had met my blogdost who goes by the moniker Websnacker but it was between happy munching that we talked on friendlier terms. Quite an impressive blogger and more impressive in the questions and answers round. A beautiful charming writer however was also a winner when she mentioned about the value of blogging how it means "POWER TO THE AAM AADMI". That after giving due credits to Mr Laxman for first coining and bringing to fore the term AAM AADMI(The common man)

The fag end session would've gone trackless of time had my husband not joined the melee asking me why i was not answering my phone. He had come to pick me up from the venue to save me from the rascals of Chennai-the autowaalahs. His arrival sort of made me feel hurried and after quick introductions i would've exited the venue without the return gift had my blogdosts there not reminded me to collect it. In such a short span of time this gesture from their side made me feel very optimistic and looking forward for more.Yeah we all got a hep black tee with the Indiblogger logo and slogan in the front and UniveraCell logo on one sleeve whereas the other had the Indiblogger. UniverCell i believe had sponsored the event in Chennai the second one so far as history goes.

It will be criminal on my part if i fail to applaud the brilliant efforts of the Indiblogger Team for hosting this event with all bon homie. Some who were just names earlier in my mail box were right in front of me all smiling and eager to help me with all my doubts. i hastily accumulated all their visiting cards just in case i need some help later so far as applications are concerned. Sad but applications freak me out and my last attempt to make my page attractive resulted in a malware alert to my visitors. So unceremoniously those attempts had to be done away with.

Smiling and gentle in his manners Mr Anwin J from Indiblogger left his coffee unfinished to help me with my queries. Actually i would've been a real pest to him so in a way my husband's arrival saved him of much agony.

So far so good. Escape or no escape, found my tribe or not, the event saw me all fresh and raring to go. i needn't be afraid of my simple unimpressive writing. So what i can't match up to the levels of the 80+ or 90+ i have something to say and now i'm more sure that i will catch on with my tribe who will hear me out.Yipeee!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let Bygones be Bygones

What would happen to us if we failed in our attempt to recall?  This hit me when i had a hard time recognising a familiar face as i watched that film Precious.  Actually there were two but when i failed in my first i didn't try too hard as the movie itself was making me too grave , too sad to think about anything else other than the child abuse and worse the incest that it talked of. Oh God ! i kept muttering  at each scene and could only control all the sad sighs when the movie ended with a hopeful note.

But then i kept thinking about this strange phenomenon that happens on a daily basis.  How come we remember some and forget most. The painful moments stay with us forever while very few of the blissful ones remain.  Ask anyone of the pleasurable moments and there will be very few to recollect whereas given a free hand one would start ranting off the unpleasant ones,  one by one.

In a way the past plays an important role in making us the way we are today. Some use the past as something they will never have in their life again and others let it rule them.  i get reminded of that line from' Gone With the Wind' where Scarlett O'Hara , the daughter of a rich Irish immigrant plantation owner proclaims  "I shall never be hungry again". She was thrown out of her plush royal life into that of penury and hunger and her proclamation after her suffering was not an ordinary one. Her life later as the novel progressed was a testimony to the fact that people often remember the sad past and it kind of is instrumental in the transformation... good or bad.

It is said that all psychopaths , criminals of all kinds including terrorists have had a very sad past.  If only people could use all that anger and all that sadness to be a hopeful and positive person like Precious the world would be so much more livable and so much a safe place to be.  Inflicted with the HIV Aids virus because of that continuous abuse by none other than her father and two kids later at a very tender age of 16, Precious was an embodiment of everything which i would love to call an INSPIRING SURVIVOR.

So there's Scarlet O'Hara who was extremely beautiful with a 20-22 inch waist who had her past and did everything she could to never be hungry again but finally lost out on one true love and then there was a most unattractive overweight and abused girl from Harlem who suffered all and finally emerged out of her suffering with a strong resolve and love.  Love for herself and her two kids one of which was affected with Down's Syndrome.

Precious with John McFadden (Lenny Kravitz) the kind hospital nurse
Miss Weiss (Mariah Carey) the social worker with Precious

And later during the day as i went on with my affairs i remembered the two familiar faces i had seen in the movie and those two were of Mariah Carey as Miss Weiss, the social worker and Lenny Kravitz as Mr John McFadden, the kind male hospital nurse. Both of them singers par excellence in real life. But the real angel in Precious's life came in the form of an alternative school teacher Miss Blu Rain played by another brilliant actor Paula Patton.

Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) seen here with her other alternative school mates with whom she bonded well.Below right is the saviour angel in Precious's life-Miss Blu Rain (Paula Patton).
We come across many such events in our daily life and often we question" Oh God Why Me?" We forget that life is like that.  Somethings sad and somethings happy and it is up to us to use these to carve out a better life for ourselves. What can come out of perpetuating anger and vengeance nothing but destruction. First others and later of our own. Surely that is not what we really want. Further another point worth remembering from the story is that when one door closes another window opens if only we care... to pay attention to those angels whom we fail to recognise and acknowledge. There is a hymn that is going on inside me now.One that we used to sing in school when we had our morning assembly and it goes like this   "It takes courage to answer a call
                It takes courage to give your all
                It takes courage to risk your name
                It takes courage to be true
It takes courage to dare , what no other will share
To be standing alone , one whom no one will own
To be ready to stake , for another man's sake
It takes courage to be true
               It takes courage to say , what no other will pay
              To give each man his share , though there will be less to spare
             To be seeking no more than the neighbour next door
             It takes courage to be true
Give me courage to answer that call
Give me courage to give your all
Give me courage to risk my name
Give me courage to be true"

Feel grateful and thankful to all those who have more to add in my life in terms of hurt and sadness because that will be my lesson in life never to be that person...ever...and can't quit this page without the tagline  "Life is short. Life is painful. Life is rich. Life is ...Precious ".

photos of the film courtesy: http://www.fadango.com/precious:basedonthenovelpushbysapphire_122469/moviephotosstills.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Love is...

She would want to believe what it says in the Holy Scriptures about attaining the human form,That after so many cycles of birth and rebirth one finally comes into the earth as what the biologists call Homo sapiens. Given the highest form of all creation having a brain which should be able to guide him to live his life righteously so that when this cycle is over he is finally merged with the ONE.

As she is going on with her chores of keeping the house euroclean her husband chuckles and says-"You must've been a safaiwala (a professional cleaner who brooms,dusts and mops)  in your previous birth. Hence your obsession with cleanliness."
Normally she would've grumbled and given back but not today.She is trying hard to take it in her stride sportingly and not to react to snide comments which she feels is unfair. She is trying hard to tame her anger which gets the better of her. Into one of  peaceful self and mulling over what she had read in the Holy Book she smiles faintly and looks at her tormentor and says-" Safaiwala ? nneVer ! i know i was the Jacaranda tree."
"What brings you to that conclusion dear?" asks her husband his demeanour now emanating something of surprise and bit of affectionate amusement."
She stops comes nearer to her husband who is hastily tying his shoelaces now and she  removes his spectacles from his face to give it that squeaky shine and says "i shall tell u later in the evening if only you promise not to laugh it off and just listen".
"Oks dear , evening then when I return and i shall hear your story","and yes i will listen without dismissing" says her husband allowing her to put back his glasses on him. Giving a hurried peck which in it's manner said take care, he then says bye to her and pushes off to his daily grind. She too gets busy after closing the door behind anticipating little of what afternoon has in store for her.

During the day when she is all clean and done and as she sits with her lappie checking out her mail she finds this beautiful e card from her husband which conveys all . It is no ordinary e card sent with the click of a button rather the one which entailed snatching time out  from the hopelessly manic Monday and searching the world wide web to find the most apt the most suitable. Apart from the above picture of a resplendent purple among the greens was something more refreshing. Something that reached out to her and refreshed her and as if in a reverie she was transported as she recited aloud the poem by an unknown  (unknown definitely to both of them till now)  poet called Ann Beard.
                                                               A Jacaranda Tree
                                     A Jacaranda tree stands tall, and sways as if to say,
                                     Look! at this magnificence, i'm bearing blue today
                                     forgive the way I shout out aloud, my lack of modesty
                                     but nowhere in this troubled world is finery like me.
                                     Light rays slide between each leaf, to settle on the tips
                                     to lightly kiss your face with a hundred million tiny lips
                                     you only have to lift your eyes to greet the filtered sun
                                     a sight i guarantee will warm the heart of everyone.

                                     Though very tall, my leaf is small, it's form is one of fern,
                                     large panicles of bluebells swell to trumpet unconcern.
                                     A bee collecting nectar from an ample deep white throat,
                                     takes flight to join it's family, and of it's feast to gloat.

                                     Look up to see each fern like leaf, floating up on the high,
                                     like footprints of a centipede that stroll across the sky
                                     See how far my branches reach, admire their greenery,
                                     I am beautiful and strong, I am the Jacaranda tree.

 Oh! darling! darling! thank you for the lovely poem she says to the sender, almost choked with emotion . An eye catching glow of happiness radiated from her as if she was in love all over again. She decided what she was going to serve him for snacks with tea and more importantly to do a bit of makeover to surprise him pleasantly. Probably wear that new dress, put on some eye make up and a bit of gloss on her lips and then between his admiration and tea with fresh snacks tell him about the Jacaranda hypothesis. She must not let him guess that she has received the love and the apology already and fake ignorance of the mail.This time she will have her dig. She is not at all bothered that at best she might be dismissed as a beraham (insensitive to feelings) and there is a possibility of her makeover going unnoticed which she seriously doubts as he will notice when she opens the door to usher him in. He might listen to her and call her pagal ( insane) but that too will be said affectionately with a hug she is sure of that. She had reasons to feel thus as when she had mentioned it to her best friend she had got a hysterical laugh, an affectionate pagal and a suggestion to sign up for that TV sitcom Raaj Pichale Janam Ka (suspense of the previous birth ). She stars humming and making plans for the evening and this time she hums the easy one so that she prevents herself from going off tune.
 ''Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket and save it for a rainy day....
...  Catch a falling star and put it in your pocket never let it fade away"...She hums and starts imagining a beautiful green where she could take him and show him enough and tell him all so that he is able to understand why she feels she was a Jacaranda tree. Now that he has shown through his gesture that he was wrong in calling her a pichale janam ki safaiwala and that he loves her and was just having a dig at her.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Give me more !

   [ image borrowed from www.sadashivan.com]

You might think that this is the picture of a small girl child you encounter on the streets doing what you detest most while commuting or elsewhere- BEGGING. At the outset it may seem so but to me she seems to be saying-"Give me more,bananas aren't enough for me".

Mother, Manager, Caregiver, Career builder, Today's woman ,You Wow us !... And now this passing of this
33% reservation for women in Parliament. This along with the other cliched phrase for the women of today is really getting on my nerves. i fail to congratulate myself and others belonging to the same gender because i don't see how this alleviates my kind and causes emancipation of the sort it claims.

Not when i know that the she is still considered as the paraya dhan ( wealth belonging to others ) . As this being the mindset of the educated class too who talk about equal rights but when it comes to real execution of plans they fail and fail miserably.
Not when i know that between the battle of the sexes it is their own kind that is the real reason for their sufferings. i didn't agree back then when my father had pointed this out to me but  through my own experiences and others i know now that he was so true and not chauvinistic.

Personally i feel all this emancipation is only happening to those already emancipated and is not doing much to where it is most needed. This came as a shocking truth to me way back when television had made it's foray into our homes and in this black and white promotional and enlightening documentary  before the black and white Phool  Khile Hain Gulshan Gulshan ( name of a tv programme with Tabassum as the anchor which showed clippings of popular hindi movies with experts comments by the anchor later ).That documentary brought out the stark naked truth loud and clear. i was very young then but not too young to feel hurt and pained at the discrimination happening with me and others just because we were not boys.What was shocking was the fact that i was on the same footing as the poor village belle shown on TV whose mother has offered her hard baasi roti with pyaaz ( left over night bread with raw onion ) after she has returned home tired and hungry from the hard labour whereas the son who was happily playing marbles all the while is given a plate which looks quite like a well balanced meal. Not many know this but so far as nutritional food is concerned the woman was not even considered by her own kind because the boys/male definitely needed the best and more.

Povery, Government policy failure, lack of schools for study, overpopulated family, weak laws to protect and protest...the list goes on and we keep discussing issues how to bring about that desired revolution. i feel nothing will do the wonders more than opening the closed doors of our minds and giving our lady that status she deserves of that of being another human being.This entails asking a lot of questions and then finding answers and then moving to the desired GOAL.
There seems to be some rays emerging with all this.But i don't want to make any promises not yet because to me these seem transitory. "  Roshini tab bhi thi
                                          Roshini ab bhi hai
                                          Farq sirf itna hai
                                          oos roshini ko kashti nahi thi
                                         aur iss roshini ke paas saahil nahin hai"
                                        ( There was light then
                                           and there is light now
                                           the difference only being
                                           that light did not have a carrier
                                           and this light has no destination )

i have to ask myself why i was afraid of having a girl child when i was in confinement.
And if i had a girl child would i have given her the same amount of understanding to her needs and aspirations as i would've to my boy ?
Maybe i would've doted upon her and given her all but would i too ask her to make compromises and adjust because she was a girl and a second citizen ?

Well i would congratulate myself the day that happens when on being questioned i would myself give an affirmative answer with conviction. The kind who feels this equality from within me...that  apart from being a XX in my DNA configuration i am human and thus should remain only humane and nothing less or nothing more.The kind who is more like this mentor and friend to the main character Aditi in the film Astitva .When i am able to be that Revathi or Meghana who enable Aditi to find her true identity i shall truly feel elated and that will be the day i join in the celebrations. Amen .

Monday, March 8, 2010


Those slightly thick  brass disks hung in village pathshalas (schools)  and sounded with the help of thick wooden sticks or even crude iron rods i suppose was called school ki ghanti (school bell ).These were sounded at the start of the school day , at the end and of course during the day to notify the end of the particular period. Tung ! tung ! tung ! tung ! tung ! tung! tung ! Tong !. The rhythm and the sound of this very typical to be a school sound. Well the same kind is used in many temples called thakurwadi ( home of the Gods) in my native Bihar where these are sounded in a rhythmic mannner tung tung tuung ! tung tung tuung !. So all those present  would be hypnotised by the sound and would immerse themselves in the Aarti  ( Chorus song sung to seek the blessings of the Almighty )  and to those  believers who were unable to attend, the sound would reach out . These also were the blessed ones who could pay their obeisance from where ever they were,  finding comfort and refuge  in the sound heralding the beginning of a new day with blessings of the Lord . Tung tung tuung ! tung tung tuung ! and this was not called ghanti but ghanta (gong).  i wonder then how this word has come to be a slang in hindi meaning NOTHING.

My Tulsi Vandana ( prayer for Holy Basil ) is  halted in middle as it is interrupted by the  familiar sound  interspersed with the sounds of crackers being burst randomly and very irritatingly maybe to the signal of the Om sound of the conch.  This sound is flat and has no rhythm and just goes insipidly tung, tung, tung ,tung . i quickly get back to my prayer to finish the shloka ( prayer in sanskrit ) and the rest and turn to take into account the spectacle offered by this orchestra. i see it and now i offer another prayer.

Along with the lead man who is the ghanta man there is a procession of sorts. Those busy with the crackers moving ahead leaving a  protected and comfortable gap for the rest to follow. The ghanta man is followed by two others on either side of the celebrity,  mercilessly plucking flowers from thick garlands and throwing them onto the street  which the celebrity is passing. Then there are others who dance in mimicry to their popular cine heroes at that sound of the painfully slow tung tung tung tung. No dearth of talent here who can find the beat for dance to this dirge offered by the tung tung. Next comes the celebrity of the occasion all bedecked and completely covered from head to foot with a confusing assortment of fragrant flowers- tuber roses, red roses, ( these are a cross between magenta and red in colour and for want of a proper name i call them red ) jasmine and marigold. Lots of garlands too. The celebrity can't be seen only flowers outlining the body can be seen and finally there are others who walk behind the celebrity talking to themselves about mundane matters. None least bothered about the celebrity instead feeling important themselves for halting the traffic on such a busy road . The road in between the cracker gang and these mundane talkers is covered too now with rose, marigold, tuber roses and some green leaves too probably betel.  A chaotic fragrance of mixture in the air as the smells of flowers and incense and death intermingle. This funeral procession with the hearse was definitely not the reason for my last prayer. The poor soul bedecked in flowers triggered that-"hey Bhagwaan ! Inki Atman ko shanti mile" ( oh God may the soul of the person rest in peace ). Here too the ghanta had to convey a lot to a lot many people those near and those far, including me.

More than this sound i hear something else . Something more disturbing, more irritating and utterly digusting . Is it the same thing what Sudhodhana heard? Maybe yes and maybe not. He heard more than the sound of Ghanta and that made him Bhagwan Buddha. i am getting a cacaphonic sound of celebration of passing over. This definitely is not the sound of Mukti (freedom).  i  feel  so helpless . So devoid of anything but pity for my own self and the rest.

What deludes me is the second series of questioning , a sudden sense of insecurity and a fear of losing my dearest ones as death is inevitable along with a deep sense of remorse for not having done anything for those i lost. Dada ji, Ma... Emotions are getting the better of me now as i say to myself- "Do we give the passed overs their due when they are alive? Do we give them this adulation, this respect when they are flesh and blood between us?" It goes without saying then that apart from taking them for granted, many a times we do even worse.
This jubiliation, this revelry for the one when one has breathed the last, is it any worth? To me now all this looks vulgar and obscene reeking of decadence.
Now i am saying this Ghanta ! passing over  ritual !! huh!!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Where do you go my lovely? Where do you go? I wanna know my lovely.I wanna know

My flask of tea tucked into my shopping bag along with the list ready in my mind and thrilled with what is in store for me today, i just hit the road quite at ease with the traffic at 7.30 in the morning. And guess what song was i humming to myself as i drove happily waving to the school kids who were waiting for their school buses talking animatedly to each other.What else could it be other than ''....and these are a few of my favourite things...dhin chak chak chak chak din chak chak...".
Ok this is what i feel.There are places and then there are happy places.Places where anyone you see will be having that lovely fulfilled smiles.That smile which conveys only happiness pure and simple nothing else.This is how that smile will look like.(pic above)
So what is this place? Does it exist here somewhere near ? It sure does where a person  like me hopelessly resists these urges on being a compulsive buyer. Sometimes i just lose track of time and pester the owner of the place to tell me the names of those that i have taken a fancy too.The poor creature not to hurt a regular customer like me while attending to other clients will blurt out intermittently mispronouncing the names nevertheless clear enough to get me educated . i am successfully able to point out now to Maranta,  Lantana, Gaillardia, Ipomoea, Caladium, Coleus and the names of various kinds of lilies.One thing for sure the chappie never ever looks hassled at my constant enquiry and obliges me returning to be by my side, after he has dealt with the rest. He then suggests me to make my pick. This after enquiring about the placement ie whether i want them indoors or outside. Needless to say then that  he actually doesn't mind when i take nothing at all sometimes and just keep to my enquiry.That is another reason why this place makes me wanting to go there oft an on even when i don't have a list.This place makes me happy.

Other times i sit in my car and sip tea watching those who come to actually buy. i am able to figure out by their purchases whether they own their own house or live in some apartment. It is very heartwarming to specially see young couples who come with dreams in their hearts.That so deep in love and so much caring for each other's choice and the amount of time taken to make a selection of sorts  is enough to convey that they are new in their alliance.While they fuss around i keep imagining their new and happy life so full of anticipations and expectations. i imagine the sitting pretty pots in their verandah where they would have their morning tea together. i am still smiling.

There's also a store nearby which sells these terracota pots and when my tea is finished i will pester the lady there to  show  me some pots. And sometimes after the selection of a rather cute but unusual pot i will go back to my chappie  who within seconds  would get busy potting the one i had shown interest in earlier. All the while congratulating me on my pick and explaining the care to be taken regarding sunlight and watering. This being done i should be hitting home now but how can i. There's something holding me back still. The spring flowers all blooming and beckoning while i keep telling myself -"What's the use they are char dinon ki chandini ( just for a few days) not worth getting addicted to" but then that last look and i succumb to temptation. Oh coming back home with all the excitement and happiness and the wonderful thoughts of the transformation is rather quicker lest the sun gets too hot for the new plants to steal their freshness and the leaves getting limp with heat.

As i hurriedly start placing my babies in the shade i could hear the phone ringing. "hello Didi?" says that sweet voice to my hurried hello. "Oh hi" says me the tone a bit settled now, "how's life ?"
"Didi i am saturated ready to condense now" says my sis on the other end. She then appraised  me of her well being and that of her kids. Also explained the reason for her anxiety. Exam season in full swing and with one kid appearing for the board exam  i could very well understand my poor sister's stress who was handling two kids all by herself as her husband was posted in the other town. Just like a typical elder sis i offered my sincere advice to which she reluctantly answered " Will try didi and thanks for talking to me " and then she disconnected. Saying a silent prayer for her and the family i returned to my babies.The very same evening i get a cheerful call from her once again thanking me for giving her a cure for all solution.This is what i told her earlier "Do something that gives you happiness and you'll feel better" and it worked for her too. i guess then that some solutions are universal. i feel blessed that we both know for sure what gives us this pure happiness. For me it is a trip to this happy place called a Plant Nursery. It is fun , brings joy and has always helped me get rid of stress. i know what she would have done.She would've taken Buddy her pomeranian for a walk and later played with him in the lawn.

What comes next has a magical feel to it. To watch them grow just a little every day, every week, until you get that sight of an emerging new leaf or perhaps a sudden sprout from a plant you never thought has flowers.i just remember that AHA moment when one morning as i walk into my balcony this bushy foliage which resembled some variety of ornamental grass had blooms. In one it was white, while the other had yellow and still another had mauve pink blooms shooting out from slender tubular stems. Dainty and oh so pretty.My inquiries helped me call them by their original name Storm Lily  and the best part THEY FLOWER MAINLY IN CLOUDY WEATHER . Just look at the happy faces which transcends age boundaries and imagine that relaxation when back from a hard day's work you and your mate drop by into a nursery and decide to feel that joy together.Kiss or no kiss  but i bet u will feel happy because a Plant Nursery sells only happiness.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

My own Shaamu Kaka... My Vasanti Amma

She has just started washing the dishes and her face looks angry.i know if i ask her to make tea for me she is going to grumble audible enough to be a warning of some sort, an array of strong Tamil words asking me to back out when she is busy doing other things. Funny i can make better tea for myself so why am i being such a sloth. Maybe offer her too which shall be my serious attempt to humour her so that the day is peaceful. The fact being that i am more terrified of my own impatience which turns into anger on being provoked repeatedly. So armed with tea i approach and ask her in my colloquial Tamil "Yain moonji le kopam irrakku,Amma?" (why your face looks angry Lady)(Any woman you want to give respect in local language you call her Amma) She looks at me and if looks could kill i would be dead but this time i choose to ignore. She continues with her work grumbling now paused. So the hot aromatic Tea had that Midas touch after all. Taaza ho le! (get refreshed) i said silently and saunter off.
Later during the day as i sit comfortably with my lappie checking out all my mails and also eager to blog i hear sounds of vessels banging and of murderous fights emanating from the outhouse.

Male yell slurry but clear-"Neeng saav adikirain" !! kezhvee !!! (i will kill you !! old woman !!!)
Female yell in the highest soprano-"Neeng yenge na po! chatte !! yeng porral sapt variya! thevadia payya !!!(Go somewhere ! and die !! coming back after drinking my hard earned money ! you drunkard rascal !!!) Thud! Thud! thud! Craa.......aash!

Oh!no! not again! and not when my husband is away? It takes no time to figure out that the paramour Vasanti Amma has chosen for herself has once again splurged her hard earned money in booze. Not surprising then as this happens on such a regular basis specially either on pay day or a few days after that which rather explains my indifference, immunity and the surety that no one is going to kill anyone. Come evening and they will be seen happily sipping tea together presenting an interesting sight in which he so much younger looking and she much older to be his aunt if not his mom will be discussing the natakam (their nomenclature of the soap operas in Tamil shown on TV) ,as if nothing happened just few hours before.The perfect picture of that calm after the storm. As you can see bruises on both which are forgiven and forgotten as they were not too serious. Before bedtime however there will be a humble request for a marand (medicine rather painkillers). So i get up quietly and shut the doors tightly so that the vituperations from both sides don't disturb my flow of thoughts.

This far from being a chalta hai (just let it be as it is) or a self centered attitude to the issue is rather a deep understanding of my own hopelessness and inadequacy at putting a stop once and for all this drama which unfolds at the drop of the hat.

How do you help someone who is absolutely impervious to help. Both my husband and i have tried various means from offering help, sound advice and even threatened of lodging the paramour in police custody but nothing works. Vasanti Amma begs to let it be and assures us that she will deal with it her own way. Her way is then reflected by her sudden departure from devotion and complete non- adherence to instructions given, also doing things at her own will, what to talk of her absconding from the outhouse without any prior information. Neighbours often talk in hushed tones as to how we are putting up with this kind of nonsense for the last ten years. Initially there was resistance and i was asked to get my outhouse vacated but thanks to the wonderful construction of the apartment which sort of soundproofs and conceals, the resistance dissipated once the neighbours realised that other than bruising themselves these people are quite harmless to them and their surroundings.

Umpteen number of bruised appearances,antiseptics,Volini sprays,and sometimes even trips to the nearby clinics later, now i wonder what is there in Vasanti Amma that has prevented us from evicting her? What is it that stops me from saying-"Enough is enough!"

Is it my own self centered attitude or my compassion ? Sometimes the guilt weighs down heavily and there are times when i feel complacent that this is the best i can do by patiently putting up with the disturbances and inconveniences. Her tantrums which is her way of venting out and making me the victim of her misfortunes is reason enough for me to feel evened out.

Well the answers are all there but we choose to ignore. Who is exploiting whom?. i sit to weigh these out and let me see how i fare.

My attempts to get a replacement failed miserably as the replacement wasn't good enough.He stank to the extent that when he stood in the kitchen the entire kitchen would stink and when he came near to serve we had to keep ourselves from breathing. Admonishing him and reminding him of hygeine and cleanliness was met with cool indifference.
Then there was this dumbness to deal with which was hard to ignore. Even after 3 months of extreme internship under the tutelage of Vasanti Amma, he waited for each and every instruction to proceed or else he would stand like a dyspeptic calf.
Anticipating lots that could happen in our absence, we were quite horrified one particular day to learn that he had entered our bedroom in our absence and fiddled with the TV and DVD player while we shopped for our monthly provisions. Worse still, had left the back door open and gone home happily after completing his chores locking the front door with the duplicate keys we had given him. We did thank the Almighty for saving our house from the theft that would have left us bereft of our meagre but important belongings. But more than the Almighty we were in our silent self but not silent hearts feeling grateful to Vasanti Amma who in all these years has never resorted to such irresponsible and sneaky behaviour.
Of course the cooking was too basic and nothing so marvellous to make that compromise of installing the skunk in the kitchen. So he and the others that we tried were unable to meet the standards set by her. Nobody is perfect and so Amma has her imperfections too but her suitability to our needs is unmatched. i do have my own share when i have to redo the utensils which still has traces of grease or dried specks of food. i don't mind not asking her to make the famous South Indian Sambhar in which she is utterly lousy and instead getting it from Raj Bhawan the restaurant just round the corner as i myself have been unable to hone my skills in making that Mrs Reddy ne banaya hai Sambhar (Sambhar made by Mrs Reddy) inspite of the readymade spices available. Rest is all fine apart from this occasional maar peet (physical duels/ fights) which she has with her paramour and her tantrums which follows later when she feels she performed less in her vindictiveness.
Her occasional pilfering of onions,tomatoes,sugar and tea,cooking oil i really don't mind when they vanish without any cooking being done.No other edible item is lessened in it's proportions than these.This for the simple reason that there have been instances when she has handed over the Rs 500 which would have carelessly remained in my husband's shirt pocket the one he had given for wash.Also any jewellery forgotten in the washroom remains where it was even when Amma has frequented it. And there have been times when she has come back with the stuff reprimanding us to be careful. But the most endearing aspect comes shining through especially in times of distress be it illness or otherwise.My husband's terrible cold and cough vanishes after that lovingly prepared Kashayan (a kind of herbal decoction made with Holy Basil,Oregano, Margosa leaves,ginger and pepper).The devotion with which she prepares and offers this all the time holding a spoon of sugar to wash away the bitter taste of Kashayan exhibits the same sicereity to it as the Japanese Tea ceremony. Can't explain the emotions that come flooding in when she will perform a drishti (warding off of evil looks one may have acquired during the day). This ritual done during seasonal illness and even when i get dressed and come back from a social outing because she feels that her bommai Amma(the doll like beautiful lady of the house) definitely would have got so many evil eyes as she is the most beautiful of the lot.A fistful of 3 red chillies,some mustard seeds,salt and 3 broken broom sticks are first circumbulated round the face and body 3 times and then doused in the fire muttering something which sounds more akin to abracadabra. When loud cracking sounds are heard of the spices bursting in flame there is a beaming smile on her which proclaims -"See i said so" and a loud utterance "rumba drishti" (lots of evil looks).All this when i run away from the kitchen feeling asphyxiated. Often she is my soul mate to my emotional upheavals and i can't forget how she actually helped me with my empty nest syndrome after my son left home to pursue his Engineering outside the country. She cried with me feeling the absence of her Chella Kutti (dearest baby) and her words of consolation ranged from reminding me of the love and care of my husband which will wash the temporary pain to thoughts of happy reunions when he comes for his semester breaks.She would sit with me patiently and comfort me with words which have the healing power. That my son is a Simha (Lion) a boy who has to go out and make a world for himself, that he is a winner and i should rejoice and have no fear because he is going to bring much more happiness and much more pride...drives all my pain away as she tries to subside my loneliness with steaming cups of tea without even asking for it but wanting it nevertheless.

As i sit and recollect all this i can't help remember reading such an instance in Ramcharitmanas in which Lord Rama explains why those who serve us are more important to us than family.He elucidates that these should be very dear to you because they are the first ones to come to your rescue when you are in actual need and in actual distress.So He says that these are precious to us as family.

So much of my Vasanti Amma makes her very priceless for me. What to tell about the stoicism with which she faces the atrocities of that drunkard nincompoop, Mani. My husband once enlightened her about the vulnerability of drunkards and explained to her that she need not fear as she in her full senses can knock the daylights out of him. Strange but true when all my pleas to washing clean has gone on deaf ears this one has stuck. i know now that in his drunkenness Mani would be throwing the food around along with the plates and that Amma will be ready to strike with aplomb after which Mani will cow down and go off to his drunken ,deep sleep,and wake up to a quieter sober self. And no one is exploiting anyone.It is more of a mutual interdependence . i need her as much as she needs me. Settled into my life she is as dear to me as the tea which she brings to lift my spirits every time i hit the blues.
She has been with me since my son was in 6th grade and has done all to deserve brownie points from my son who never ever feels annoyed with her even when she serves him milk with bits of malai(slivers if cream) floating which he detests completely. Instead walks to the kitchen calmly and taps her gently and says "Amma vedikatti kudunga please" (Amma filter and give it to me) to which she responds equally gently "saari Chellum,saari Kanna nee po vodne vaing ke kuduk karain" (sorry baby, sorry little Krishna, you go and i shall get you this immediately). Meanwhile he tries to smooth my annoyance and asks me to take a chill pill and relax.It is my son who always gently whisks me away from the kitchen when i'm ready to hit the roof at Amma's bickerings and cribbings after she has defaulted repeatedly.When he leaves after his Semester breaks he makes equal pleas of peace to both the parties and whispers into Vasanti Amma's ears "Nalla irunga Amma, yenga Ma ka nalla patonge" (stay nicely Amma and please take care of my mother)

Now when i watch these 70's or 80's Bollywood films which has this fiercely loyal cooks the names of whom could be Shamu Kaka or Raju or Bhola i never fail to acknowledge that i too am blessed with one and can't imagine my life without her.And nobody is exploiting any body. It is more of mutual interdependence. i need her as much as she needs me.