Tuesday, August 31, 2010


i have trouble sleeping in the nights and maybe it's my thyroid.Though i am on medication it has not helped me sleep any better.Maybe i am anxious about a lot many things which is beyond my control.i went to the kitchen at midnight to have a glass of water and maybe to make myself a cup of tea.
uff... looking at the kitchen gave me another set of anxiety.
i have to move shortly into another town where my husband has just joined on a new post on promotion transfer and the thought of all that packing gives me the jitters.Yeah there are movers and packers to do the jobs for you but come to think of how deeply i am rooted to this place i felt like crying out aloud and wanting some miracle to happen.
Something like another order coming from the higher authorities giving him an option in this city itself.

And wrapping the kitchen is going to be very difficult i guess.What should i do with all the oil in the oil can...all those porcelain jars with pickles... and all that non perishable food items...if they have to be packed...or just given away.
i move like a ghost into the dark rooms, all the four rooms and take in every single item that has got to be packed and i think maybe i should give everything away.
The problem is that i have no experience whatsoever of any shifting of any sort.My husband came to Chennai which was his first posting and we have stayed put ever since just as some would say with a stroke of good luck.Of course his is a transferable post where one is required to move every 3-5 years but we were just plain lucky.All the movements that took place was within the city in the various departments.Now i feel i am rooted here.This is going to be my very first shifting and a real tough one i guess not only for my lack of experience but also for my sense of belonging here in this city.
Lucky! my foot!

Don't know why or what is the connection here that it's something past midnight and i am reminded of that poem by Gieve Patel, 'On Killing A Tree'

It takes much time to kill a tree,
Not a simple jab of knife
Will do it.
It has grown
Slowly consuming the earth,
Rising out of it, feeding
Upon it's crust, absorbing
Years of sunlight, air,water,
And out of it's leprous hide
Sprouting leaves.
So hack and chop
But this alone won't do it
Not so much pain will do it.
The bleeding bark will heal
And from close to the ground
Will rise curled green twigs,
Miniature boughs
Which if unchecked will expand again
To former size.
The root is to be pulled out
Out of the anchoring earth;
It is to be roped, tied,
And pulled out-snapped out
Or pulled out entirely,
Out from the earth-cave,
And the strenghth of the tree exposed,
The source, white and wet,
The most sensitive, hidden
For years inside the earth.
Then the matter
Of scorching and choking
In sun and air,
Browning, hardening,
Twisting, withering,
And then it is done.

Or maybe the poem was so fresh because quite recently i had revised the poem with my niece who had this poem in her ICSE syllabus and together we dug out various connotations of this poem.But i alone know that that is not it.i am thinking about the tree because...

i just feel like a tree rooted to this place. Have sprouted, absorbed and was well fed rather nourished for years.My family found all that is best here and they in turn got rooted here.i feel like an old tree with it's family all growing side by side and now this transfer feels like a hack of knife.People around me congratulate me for the much delayed promotion but i feel depressed. i feel guilty for feeling depressed cause as a wife i should be jubiliant and very happy for his promotion the aftermath of which should be this change. Change which has come after 21 years.
Was i lucky or rather unlucky for not knowing what change is like.What all goes into moving from one place into another.People tell me that change is for the good.You grow in many more ways.New surroundings, new people, their cultures and traditions not only amaze and entertain but also educate in so many ways.
So i am told but still i am unmoved.Rather i don't feel like knowing anymore.
 i feel like a tree which is being shaken rudely from it's comfortable ground.The transfer feels like a rope tied which is snapping my roots one by one.

Still sitting in the balcony in the dark and watching the dark silhouettes of the huge trees in front and i get another recall... that story i saw long ago on TV.The programme on TV ' Ek Kahani ' was anchored by Manju Singh (of Bharat Ek Khoj fame and who also acted as a sister to Amol Palekar in the original Golmaal) and it featured great stories by great Indian writers but stories which were never read before or heard before.Every week there used to be this new story and this one was a translated version of a Dogri tale perhaps, i forget exactly but it was a tale of the hills.
There was a young beautiful girl who was loved and cared for by her family and when she came of age the family got her happily married to a young man who was into business but in another town.The new bride was welcomed into her new home and as was the custom she was given a gold nose ring to wear by her mother-in -law.The daughter in law should wear the nose ring given by the husband's family.This was something akin to the Mangalsutra that married women in many parts of India wear as per custom and tradition.Now the family was a happy family as the new bride soon took over her responsibilities and everything went smoothly.Within a year the bride also delivered a bonny son and since it was customary her nose ring was replaced by a slightly heavier one.She was an auspicious bride and her husband flourished in his business.As he progressed into his wealthy pursuits the poor bride had to bear the discomfort of wearing a still heavier nose ring.When it started to get painful she started fearing her husband's progress.She withered as the husband  grew wealthy as he was successful in all his pursuits. He diversified his business and got success in his new venture too.But when he came home with news of his new accomplishment the poor wife with one baby tucked under her arm and another pulling at her saree started weeping silently.A face covered with a saree pallu with tears falling down mercilessly and she finding it difficult to even wipe her runny nose because by now the nose ring was a large one and just too painful for her to bear.
The story ended with Manju Singh giving her commentary on rudimentary and painful customs and the discomforts of a girl which went unheeded even by her husband from whom she has borne two beautiful boys.

My guilt at not being happy about my husband's promotion feels something similar.It feels painful.At least for now.

Lying on my bed and still thinking about how difficult and painful it would be for a tree i ask myself if i am blessed to be a human and that i am not a tree.
For one thing transfer is more like a transplantation of sorts.Maybe if i were a tree the transplantation might have stunted me if not killed me because it is the matter of soil and climatic conditions.Now in that new place  i might sprout new leaves and grow miniature boughs which perhaps will expand if left unchecked so i guess i am better placed. i guess then i should stop feeling apprehensive about this change and stop fearing what new adjustments have to be made because i am not a tree but the most resilient of all beings.
And i must count my blessings that unlike the poor girl of the hills i do not have to wear a painful and uncomfortable ornament that should proclaim my husband's fortune and success.
Before i close my eyes for a sound sleep to sneak it's way maybe i should say a prayer.
Not for myself but for the trees that are being uprooted to make way for human settlements.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Knock Knock Knocking at Technology's Door

It was in one of the books dealing with animals and their characteristics that i read something which has stayed with me ever since.It said something like this-The phrase, ''Don't behave like animals'' should not be used to denote the evil deeds that humans do.Because animals never go beyond what is in their nature and system.They are law abiding and stick to the rules that nature has bestowed upon them.Some classification done by humans makes them distinct no doubt but if left to them there would be no catastrophes related to imbalances in nature.Because it is not in their nature to plunder and kill or destroy anything indiscriminately.They are actually the way they should be but unfortunately we cannot call them law abiding humanitarian citizens.
So the thought has been going for quite some time within me when i see all the technological advances happening around.Mostly all cater to making humans as comfortable as can be thus creating newer problems be it relating to health or environment, in a way that things seem out of control.

None of these advancements seem to make the desired changes that is a pre-requisite for a healthy society. i see that even education has become mindless in the sense that one is getting the necessary qualifications to just get a good job which eventually should be able to provide them with a good life.As the rat race gets tougher all the values that should support a good society seems to be getting eroded.Wise people saw this coming and send out the warning signals.i remember Oliver Goldsmith who said ,''Ill fares the land,hastening ills a prey,
  Where wealth accumulates,and men decay..."

i have visualised something which could be a panacea to all this.Only that it seems too fantastic and even wierd.But all inventions when concieved  were once thought to be thus.Right from the first thing invented at the start of the Industrial Revolution till date.
i have also had an imagination of a something but if i say it is a GUN you would shoot me instead.
Funny but every time my Mother-In -Law acted smart with me i thought about this GUN.
My nearest family knows about the kind of GUN i am talking about and just like how people would've done eons ago to all brilliant ideas conceived, it was not surprising that their reaction was exactly the same. 
They just laughed.Brushed off the idea with more laughter and dismissals fully confident that such an idea can never see the light of day.
Because not only is the idea vague but also IMPOSSIBLE.

Who would have ever thought of all these happening... cloning...satellite systems to track enemies...cosmetic surgery...body sculpting and quite recently some device in your cell phones which tell your friends and family just where you are positioned at any particular time.Moreover people are buying plots on the moon now because soon even moon will be having human settlements.
Just like my imagination of this GUN all these would have first germinated as ideas and who knows with all this technology which is going nano now, my imagination sees it becoming a reality in the near future.

This GUN should be the kind that preservers of nature and wildlife use on animals.Something like a tranquilizing gun.

This GUN would not kill neither will it leave any injury. But one shot and man should come to his senses.i mean it could be a woman too like my MIL who wanted me to fund her to buy gold bangles for her of the type that would have left my husband and me bankrupt.
''Chalis Bhar ka chudee" she said and since i don't understand much of this bhar system i asked her to tell me in rupee terms. Considering that 1 gram of gold equals to 12 bhars she  then started calculating and i swooned at the rounded off figure that she gave.
It was then i desired i had this GUN.
Not that i am prejudiced but everytime i act smart with her she could use it on me too.
Afterwards we would stay happy as bum chums.No ill-will, no remorse,no regrets and no ANGER.

From that day on every time some meanness, smallness, selfishness...envy...malice... surfaces in me i keep yearning for this humanity saving invention. Of course people use guns to shoot themselves.Don't they?
Maybe the guns need not be bought by all. Just a few owners can go a long way in making the desired changes.
How to choose these people can be decided by another brilliant idea which is bound to happen soon.

Picture this -Your neighbour's dog has just pissed in the lift and you happen to be there in the lift.One shot from the GUN and you not only see your neighbour sanitizing the lift but the neighbour later taking the stairs with the dog every time the dog has to be taken out.
You acting like one tight-assed Hari Saadu and terrorising your employees and Dhin...Choo ... you are the most inspiring boss ever to have walked on this planet.

The Gun can be named anything but as for now let us be simple and call it a REALISATION GUN.
Can technology do this please?

It is so wonderful to imagine a world where people become simple and clean hearted.Because the ills happening around us is not because technology is at fault.It is the way people handle the technology.That which is supposd to make life better.
And most ills in the society are germinating from the sick minds of the people...technology or no technology.
With the best technology in hand, are we getting any better or are we plunging into an abyss?

REALISATION GUN should be able to trigger off the nerve cells which should enable a positive response to a stimuli.Meaning thereby instead of having people reacting to situations there would be positive action.

DHIN...SHOO and you are in this EDEN with all around you living in harmony and peace.

i know it is wishful thinking nothing more but this is what i would want from technology. At least with all the resources spent on destruction weapons i think it would be a justified investment where instead of trying to create matter something is invented to preserve the matter that was created ever since the first life form appeared.
With so many species and values already gone and many on it's way to extinction i guess the REALISATION GUN should be able to put a sudden halt to what we know as destruction.
Destruction of values, morals and hence of mankind.
Hope i am able to reach out to someone...someone with such technological skills who can work on this idea of mine and make it a reality.

i shall now return to Oliver Goldsmith.
Care to join in?


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Aruna Needs No More

The phone rings and no it is not her cell phone but the landline and with the agarbatti in hand and still chanting,''Daivaisthavam nirvitta purvam...papam har Hari Priye" she hurriedly picked up the phone thinking it must be from home.Dad is not keeping well and she was a bit anxious.
Hello!- she says.
Hello  Aruna -replies a lady from the other side.
 Aruna : Oh Didi, can i call you back after finishing my pooja, the agarbatti is in my hand still?

The lady on the other side: What is this even last time when i called you, you had the agarbatti in your hand ?

Aruna : Yeah but i just came home late and had not lit the lamp and i am doing it now, i shall call you back shortly.

The lady/Didi : Yes better do it quick because i have to go for my evening walk.

Aruna hung up and hurried through her lighting of the lamp and all the chants that she does to invoke the Gods in her pooja room. But she did it half heartedly because instead of being calm which should happen when one is offering prayers she was agitated because she actually hurried through the evening prayers.Why be phoney with the Divine one? Either do it or just leave it. Why this farce?
And for whom...for what?

After her hurried pooja she dialled the lady's number and talked with the lady and blurted out everything right from her Dad not being well to her being busy on a new project that has come her way by some stroke of what people might think good luck.The chat went on for about 15-20 minutes and when it was over Aruna was really annoyed with herself.
Why does she have to explain everything?
Was there any need to make that call after all ...when she has just had a tiresome day...coupled with anxiety.
She got angry for being a puppet to someone's whims and fancies.
And worse why did she ever have to buckle under pressure and say yes to Ms Bakshi/Didi/ Ms B when Ms B self invited herself to her house the coming Wednesday?
The fact of the matter being she is not too fond of Ms B.

"Ms B's evening walk should not be disturbed but her pooja can be", grumbled Aruna to herself
and felt anger start welling inside her. No! she was not angry with Ms B .This anger was directed to herself.
So many experiences...yet she is unable to come to terms with the fact that she doesn't have to please everybody.
Especially those she herself is not pleased with.

Ms B is a talented lady who paints.Of late she has turned her hobby into the kind of profession which keeps her busy. After retiring from teaching school and with her husband also retired although officially only because just like the trend these days he is into some consultancy of his own, she made sure that she still has her connections in a way which enables her an invitation to all the cultural events organised by the Officer's Wives' Welfare Association.She revels in the fact that people still treat her with respect and talk about her talents with much admiration.Talents yes there is no doubt but respect...
Aruna knows along with others who know Ms B that more than respect people try their best possible ways to be polite and not to appear rude.
Aruna is no different  and she does not hold much respect for Ms B either.Neither does she feel the need for Ms B's company.

Aruna often wonders why she along with others who suffer Ms B are hell bent on pretending.
Wouldn't it be easier to just break free than to go on a self-agonising trip everytime Ms B forces herself on to her?
But some things are easier said than done.

So what is about Ms B that displeases Aruna and many others who have known her well ?
*First and foremost her very accusatory tone succumbing to which Aruna forever runs to the defensive.As if being available for Ms B should be her prime concern on which her life depended.

*Then her pushy nature and wanting everything her way...even if it's a self invitation to someone's house.
Pushy of the kind that goes about in the bureaucratic circle where a senior officer's wife demands and expects some protocols from the junior officers wives.
One has to tell this incident here which should bring to light the typical nature that Ms B sports without any realisation whatsoever that it can be hurting and painful to others.
Mr Bakshi her husband frequents the club every month for his Kerala Ayurvedic massage at 4 pm. His wife Ms B then self invites herself to the ladies residences near the club.There from 4-8 pm she would hang around much to the chagrin of the ladies who have neither been too keen for this get together nor would they find the rendezvous to be any refreshing.They would fix a brilliant high tea for her and by the time Ms B would leave they are tired.
Not with the high tea but by putting up a pretence.

No one wants to be impolite or rude.After all she is the talented wife of an officer who retired from a very high post.Some even fear that he may still be having connections. Some visualise these connections to be helpful. As for Aruna she is way down the ladder in the hierarchy to bother about these connections.She is cheesed out with the Me My Way attitude of Ms B.
Now one fine day this particular lady who fixed grand high tea for Ms B went on rounds to give an invite for her daughter's arangetram (First and introductory dance recital by a student learning Bharatnatyam). She had to go all over the town and when she neared Royapettah where Ms B lives she called up to inform Ms B that she would be dropping by at Ms B's place.What she heard next was too hurting for this lady who was arranging a very warm welcome for Ms B for some couple of months now.The poor lady happened to stay right next to the club where Mr Bakshi went for his Kerala Massages.
'' No i don't think it is possible now because i am tired and have to take my nap", Says Ms B asking quickly if the visit was  for something urgent.
The lady should have just declined and said her goodbyes instead she said,"Actually i wanted to give you this invite for my daughter's arangetram.Just wanted to hand it over personally.My husband is also with me and we thought it best to invite you together as we are both near your house right now."
"Oh ! if you can make it quickly then i shall wait,'' says Ms B and hung up.
The lady and her husband felt awful and thought for a second if it was worth inviting such people.But now that they have already told her they had no other option so they proceeded but with less enthusiasm, some hurt and more annoyance.
That day onwards the lady makes some excuse or the other every time Mr Bakshi goes for a massage and before Ms B can invite her own sweet self the lady cooks up some fine story informing her that she will be unavailable.

Thus the abrupt end to the forced rendezvous.
But as they say everything happens for the good.
This brought temporary relief also to the other junior officer's wife who too had to join in this dumped on the head tea party.That junior officer's wife happened to be Aruna who unfortunately was staying two floors below the lady who finally found it in her interests to stop pretending and just move on .

Although the tea party stopped Ms B was not finished with Aruna.
She would often call Aruna accusing her of being too caught up with her own life to even say hello.Bombard her with questions asking her what kept her so busy.And Aruna like an obedient junior would oblige.She didn't have too but it is difficult to say,"I didn't call you because i didn't feel like."
It was easier to tell Ms B about her travelling, about the never ending stream of guests that come to Chennai for Apollo, Shankar Netralaya and Tirupati.No lies here but only half truth.Aruna did find time to chat up with her small group of close friends and compare notes about family life and mundane matters.

It is difficult to say exactly what you feel about the person point blank on his or her face.It is as difficult as shooting from a revolver that is if you are not a criminal or a deviant.
It is difficult to say,"Didi stop being so pushy all the time.
It is difficult to say,"Didi when you find it so hard to entertain anyone why do you have such huge expectations from others?"
It was not easy either to hear that there were some paintings ready and maybe she could buy them for gifting to friends.
Once she even fell for it and regretted later because that was just one unneccessary expenditure totally uncalled for.

*Then the worst of all, her lacking basic Indian courtesy. Ms B considers it below her dignity to serve even water to her guests. She will offer water and maybe juice provided the maids that she has employed are there for her to do it on her command.Ask those who have been to her house and have sat there on a hot and humid afternoon to look into her paintings and perhaps order some and they will tell you something that will displease anyone the way it  has displeased Aruna. And mind you these people are not strangers walking into Ms B's house to buy paintings but known ladies from the department who have been courteous enough to inform Ms B and ask for a suitable time that would cause her no inconvenience of any kind.
Some who don't know Ms B personally but want the painting that Aruna has in her living room.Aruna bought it from Ms B earlier because that was what she could afford.The original ones available at the emporiums were way too costly for her.

But how is one supposed to make those trips to Ms B's house being fully aware that the maids are there?
From all everybody knows through Ms B herself is that Ms B does not cook.She'd rather paint than enter the kitchen. Her precious time should be spent qualitatively not in anything as drab and thankless as cooking.
Her breakfast arrives along with good filter Kapi from the famous Ratna Cafe.
Then she has two sets of maids...one for cleaning and one for cooking.
The cook arrives pre-afternoon and cooks for the lunch and the dinner and leaves.
The cleaning lady arrives something around 4 and everyone knows that before that Ms B takes a must nap.
So you are lucky if your browsing time coincides with the maids .That is if you don't want to exit Ms B's studio with your throats parched dry.
That no amount of being an acquaintance works in your favour because Ms B is professional about her prices.For the sake of friendship or anything it is pointless to haggle with Ms B.
"Look I sell paintings only for recycling", pat comes the reply to any requests about bringing down the price lower to a couple of hundreds.
Before you connect selling paintings to recycling she would help you out of the chaos by adding,''After all I need to buy paints and stuff and some of these are imported and too costly so basically the money I earn is just recycled.
Aha! that's the connection you failed to see.
And you also fail to see how an unprofessional duplicated work can cost you if not the same but something near and a bit lower than the original and professional ones.
One should give her the credit to make all these speeches sound like she was a genuine charitable painter all set to redeem the badly stuck middle class of the rut they find themselves into.
If it was not for her how could they even dream of owning a Tanjore painting or a Kerala Mural the prices of which start with thousands and depends on sizes and the number of characters used. The larger the size and characters the higher would be the price.
For one thing her Tanjore paintings lack the finesse as her Gods and Goddesses look a bit distorted.As for Kerala Murals she is better and instead of using vegetable dyes uses enamel paint.
True  however for someone whom affordability is a major issue like Aruna herself, these suffice.These look more colourful and shine too unlike the original Kerala Murals.

Then coming to the lift asking you to bring in more customers for her she will say with the most lovely smile,"Sorry haan did not offer you anything."
To which these pitiful guests who are dying for a sip of chilled water would nod and say,"Oh not at all Ms B maybe laters'', and wish the lift moves fast and they settle down to the comfort of their car and  more for the bottle of mineral water in their car.Everyone carries water in Chennai because of it's hot and humid climate which makes one thirsty quite often.

Ms B comes from an  affluent family in Kerala.Her husband retired from a prestigious and very high post if not the top most.
For years she was used to that bureaucratic way of life where the higher you go the more you shall have in the form of an escort to do everything for you.Right from bringing a glass of water up to someone opening the door of the vehicle you would be riding in.Unfortunately all this stops all of a sudden when the husband retires.
A lot many ladies have cried on the grand finale farewells not for anything but for all this which would no longer be.
But some settle down eventually and accept the escortless/helperless life ahead and decide to lead it with utmost humility and dignity.
But some like Ms B would not relent.
She still demands official vehicles to be sent if an invite for a function has gone out to her.
Would it make her penniless if she takes an auto and arrives?Her husband can drive her to the venue and later pick her up.
Perhaps it is not a matter of money but just a super bloated ego.
After all her husband has retired from a very high post.She deserves such preferential treatment.Even when that means  making so many adjustments for so many people including the poor welfare officer who has already to look into the hierarchy and be answerable to the current ego ridden ladies whose husbands are still reigning high and mighty.
Aruna is aware of all this but what pains her is that although Ms B is having an association with her it is not as if she is included in Ms B's coterie.She senses that distance which says,"These are your bounds...no further than this."

Aruna has come quite a long way now where she has  begun to understand the futility of such associations. She wants to move away.She is fed up of being nagged by Ms B and her kind.
You cannot force an association. 
She feels incapable of tackling Ms B and that's why she is angry. How to convey it to Ms B.
Her not calling Ms B should be an indication but that indication has not worked.

Rather every time Ms B calls and sarcastically says,'' Hello madam ! have you forgotten me?'' Aruna starts pretending otherwise.After a bit of just this and that Ms B never fails to remind Aruna that some paintings are ready and if some one shows interest she should be directed to Ms B right away.
Aruna did that a few times and suffered in her own way.The added burden being that of bringing the painting home to be delivered to the lady who asked for it.Each time paying from her own pocket because the lady who asked for the painting would be out of town and Ms B would be in a hurry.
It did happen late for Aruna for the matter to sink in. Ms B  had some intentions and just like any other business lady was simply using her .What Aruna did initially in her naivety became a task for her.
She was being manipulated by Ms B into being an unpaid agent.
No not that she wanted to be paid but the fact that she was being manipulated by Ms B for being one, hurt her own self esteem.
Why did she fall prey to that again and again and again?
Why couldn't she see it coming?
There are so many junior officer's wives that Ms B knows. How come Aruna was the chosen one?
Ms B saw through her vulnerability and picked her from the lot.
That realisation struck Aruna like a knife and she was now cursing herself.

Now that she knows much that needs to be known and with all the realisation behind her Aruna fails to understand what is stopping her now.
Is it because she is afraid of antagonising Ms B?
Would that antagonism be harmful to her in any way?
Is it because she still has not learned the fine art of making bitter pills sweet coated?
Will it be rude to just tell her once and for all to back off?
Why pretend to be sweet to someone whose whole attitude actually stinks?

Aruna respects humbleness and honesty.
Both of which she finds lacking in Ms B.
Strange but all along she was trying to appease someone whom she is not an ardent fan of.
Her own life with her own routines she is happy with.Why should she make it complicated with the likes of Ms B who is just using her to market her products.

Today she is anguished not with Ms B but at her own vulnerability.
Of not being able to say No! to that forced invitation.
She is trying to break free and thinking of ways to tackle the pushy lady.
Thinking how best to convey without hurting.
And finally stop pretending.
Because more than anything in this whole wide world it is the pretence that frustrates to the point of being agonising and tiresome.You don't get fed up of people but by your own pretences.
Try and be honest if not with others but at least to your own self.
Maybe for starters she should stop explaining and gather enough courage to say,"Didi why don't you keep a garage sale or something to sell your paintings."

But some devil got the better of her and instead she did what most people do.

 She picks up the phone and dials Ms B's number and informs her that she is going to be busy the whole week on her new project.
"Oh! but thats bad because the following week I am flying to the States to be with my son and won't be back till December", said Ms B sounding disappointed.
Aruna was thrilled to hear that.But she concealed her happiness.
Gently but keeping her voice steady she says," I shall get in touch with you when you return.You see I may not call but keep in touch through mails. Will that be okay with you?"
Aruna was in any case moving to the other town where her husband was going on promotion transfer.
"Yes that will be okay, Bye then Aruna", said Ms B.
"Bye Didi", replied Aruna and hung up.

She was now relieved that finally this Wednesday she will be pretending no more.
Sad and mean what she did but sometimes you got to be dishonest with others if you want to remain honest with your own self. Sometimes subtle indications don't work...and sometimes you have to lie.

"Richness is when you need no more.''  Khushwant Singh

 Image courtesy: www.iclipart.com

Friday, August 13, 2010

Neel Chaudhuri's Re imagination of Satyajit Ray

As i procceded towards my known destination with confidence i looked like a cat that had just polished off a jar of cream.The fact of the matter being that i had done my home work well before setting out to see a play by none other than the Master of cinema himself.The mere mention of Satyajit Ray evokes in me an enormous sense of awe coupled with immense respect as regarding his works i wouldn't say i know it all but am familiar with and have an honest admiration for most of his works.
So since it was known to me that 'Taramandal' the 3rd day's play at the festival was based on Satyajit Ray's 'Potol Babu, Film Star' the first thing i did was to search my best source for the original play, the Internet.And boy was i glad to get the story as i would have wanted it to be...that is not in the form of a play but an easy re-readable story.i would like to bring it here as he would've written it so that my blog is not a poor repetition of the Master's artistic work. http://www.satyajitrayworld.com/rayfiction/PatolBabu.pdf.
That was my homework done with utmost diligence and i thought i knew substantially well to feel confident.
But i was wrong. At the time after the end of the play when the announcement was made to meet the director up and personal i scooted out of sheer panic.The kind that grips you when you realise that the homework felt short of many nuances and that what you knew was just the story. i did pause to see how Mr Neel Chaudhuri looked like and unable to face him due to my ignorance about his works i did what i thought was best...i hurriedly ran out of the theatre.
Sitting in the car my focus was still on the Director, Mr Neel Chaudhuri. Maybe it's takes art to be intellectually portrayed in an original form when one is re-imagining the work of a master. That his direction would be responsible for Taramandal winning The Metroplus Playwright Award 2010 would not be an exaggeration. What was unique about reimagining Ray in Neel Chauduri's way ? The news media has reported aptly,
"The play constructs parallel narrative that set up and mirror Potol Babu's story in younger versions of himself or people just like him."And since i fell short of words like this i second the reporting.Needless to say then that i was sure surprised as well as impressed with a play in this form which in an explorative style dealt with a very real subject - HUMAN AMBITION.
                                                                    Neel Chaudhuri
So coming back home after relaxing a bit and still disturbed about what i needed to know i searched the net again. But this time it was that young intellectual i was looking for.Maybe next time i will not panic and would like to see him closely as he talked to the other connoisseurs.
So what i got first hand was this http://www.hindu.com/2010/04/01/stories/2010040164352400.htm which educated me not only about him but also the rest in the genre of having won this award previously.
What impressed me about his direction was how he was able to retain the pathos of Ray's protagonist to include more characters from the same story and intertwine it to present it as a fantastic bouquet.
In between the play the monologue by Abhishek Majumdar kept the audience in splits and thanks to my curious nature i know that he was the first one to win this award.

Coming to the play i must agree that i was touched by Potol Babu's story mainly because it could be anybody's story including me.How we nuture dreams even when leading our not so interesting day to day life.When we get slightly close to achieving those dreams even if it is not of the magnitude in which we have dreamt it yet amongst us how many will have the free spirit to grab it with honesty?
It was touching to see the fifty plus protagonist get into the character when after asking for a cup of ginger tea he sits in silence in a dark room listening to the music he had just bought along with the daily sundry items he was supposed to get from the bazaar. The character he was to act in the film listened to Mozart in the dark he was told on his enquiry about the character.
And then to see the same enthusiastic Potol Babu get a script which did not even have a single word instead just an exclamation, OH.
As the awarded director experimented with the sequencing not letting it remain Potol Babu's entirely but also exploring the ambitions of others in day to day life it was equally heart rending to see how hopes are dashed and in reality we succumb to what ever is coming our way.Like this aspiring model who puts her baby to sleep and rushes to the studio for her shoot only to be told by the new but very arrogantly sure photographer that her face will not be shot for the phone which she endorses.Instead gave rude instructions to the make-up assistant to do her hands.The model disappointed and in between begging her husband over the phone to rush home as she could be delayed, finally gives in to the rude shock that is inching her away from her aspirations.

When i read Potol Babu's story i was only thinking about him but after seeing the play my thoughts were for everybody shown in the play.Even if it is a successful doctor invited to give a lecture.Because now i know.
i just saw as a third party a reflection. Not only in the form of excellent delivery of an honest monologue about how parents doctor the success of their child making sure that the child should live not his own dream but their dream but also in the parts played by the rest.When performed so wonderully delivered with quirky humour to keep us in splits it is refreshing to laugh out aloud but in reality when you think about it you can sense the '' sadness that has a lightness'' to it that is when you get to see it as a third party viewing a common drama that is life.
The story of Shitolokanto Ray aka Potol Babu is reflected in various hues throughout the play.Ambitions struggled for and later settled for due to various reasons.Sometimes pressures from family, or else subdued at work place and most commonly for the needed break.Just one chance to prove.
Even if that chance means just saying OH for a dialogue after dashing against the main actor accidently for action.

Getting a good experience of The Tadpole Repertory (New Delhi)  proved in every what Neel Chaudhuri wants from people like us," ...compel people to return to the theatre expecting something new, strange and unusual, stimulating them beyond the confines of television and the LCD..."
 There are so many people who agree with me and are equally impressed but have better words to express. So lets hear them out.

Image courtesy: The Internet.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Close Encounter With an Adaptation

                                     METRO PLUS THEATRE FEST PRESENTS Ms MEENA
Ladies and gentlemen please switch off your cell phones as Ms Meena an iconic star returns to her native village Peechampura after twenty years and would not like to be interrupted as she addresses the home gathering.Thank You.

The lights are dimmed and all we see in the spotlight is a man who looks like a statue erected on a spherical base. The statue remains on the stage motionless as statues should be , till the lights are dimmed again and then the play starts with what looks like a song and dance rehearsal by village folks.

 We see a gathering of village folks rehearsing a welcome song for Ms Meena and among them the ex-lover of Ms Meena now the owner of the one and only Gomti stores which stocks everything from televisions to  furniture and even costly perfumes.

                                       Anish Victor- sitting in the centre striking a pose plays Ravi  

As the play progresses and so does the story it is now known to the audience that Meena the famous cine star was a beautiful village belle earlier known as Asha  in love with Ravi a young boy of the same village.Together they had a lovely filmy romance by the side of the waterfall amidst the natural sounds of cuckoo and other birds during daytime with Ravi singing,''You are my hammer" and she cooing back,"And you are my spanner" with all the gyrations they could manage to mimic from all the films they have seen.
But during night amidst the sound of cicadas beneath the lovely moon and beside the waterfall they dreamt of having a beautiful life together.Ravi would tease her splashing the water on her and chase the coquette Asha with all his promises.
All this should see them living happily as husband and wife and enjoying a warm and satisfying conjugal life.But it was not to be. But unlike the tragic separations in the usual love stories this one meets with a rather sinister end.

Scene keeps shifting between then and now.To what had happened twenty years earlier and the present day where we see Ravi sporting a paunch of a typical middle-aged happily fed man and Meena more mature now but way too glamorous for the village folks who now hailed her as "The nightingale of Peechampura! The Venus of Love!...."
We see the past in the form of a movie now made by Ms Meena using all the village folks as the actors portraying her past life when she was Asha . Indeed a unique way to have the filmy flash-back!.

Way back when they were young  and so much in love.When the village folks were against their marriage as it would be an intercaste marriage, they decide to elope to Madras, the city.
Naive Asha was tricked by Ravi into taking the bus alone. He promised her that he shall join her soon so she should proceed and that his cousin Gopi would be waiting to settle her in the city.Desolate and lonely in the bus Asha meets another lady who was working in the films acting for supporting roles .Together they develop the kind of camaraderie in the bus which sees Asha taking shelter in her new friend's home as Ravi's cousin Gopi  was no where in sight even when they both waited quite long at the city bus stop. The kind stranger friend who had acted as sister to many famous stars later takes Asha to the studio one day to get a job for Asha in the films as the broker she knew recruited extras.That eventful day lady luck smiled on Asha as the director who was in search of a new face spotted Asha and found her to be perfect for the role.A new star had risen in the film horizon known now as Ms Meena .
                                                  Miss Meena/Asha played by Karuna Amarnath

It is not known to us now that Asha was at that moment pregnant with Ravi's child when she had eloped. Asha comes back to the village looking for Ravi hoping that she would be re-united and that together they could go back to the city and get married.
In a chance meeting at the village Vinayak Temple Asha intercepted Ravi and pleaded to be accepted only to get a cruel denial. She begged that her plight was pitiful because no one in the village would like to marry her as everybody knew of their supposed indecent association.Between tears of anger and frustration she informed him how she had also lost his child while she battled separation alone in the city.
All her anguish and pain were dismissed by Ravi who not only proved to be a gold digger engaged to be married to Gomti, the daughter of the wealthy store owner, but also accused Asha of being a philanderer in the city and trying to dump some irresposnsible conception on him.
Jilted in love and alone in her suffering Asha falls at the feet of the deity in the temple seeking justice.

Twenty years later she returns to the village which now is in the throes of abject poverty and disrepair and promises to be the savior of the folks who are knee deep in debt and unemployment.But she has not returned as the true daughter of the soil.It is evident from her demeanour which is typical of one who has money and fame to feel powerful enough to rule arrogantly. The kind which bends to being dictatorial and savage.

The sinister plan that she has hatched for her vendetta, makes sure that Ravi pays for having wronged her twenty years back, with his life.The folks killed Ravi in lieu of all the money and job given to them by Ms Meena who is now directing a film in the village based on her own story starting with her young youthful days and her love life and how she was duped into eloping and later how she makes her standing in the cine word .

After his death Ms Meena installs a statue of Ravi with a sad expression of remorse at the entrance of the village square for all to see.For all those who came on a visit to Peechampura and all those who stayed in Peechampura the statue of Ravi is a grim reminder of a love story gone wrong and how justice was meted out.
The fury of a woman spurned and jilted in love has no bounds. If she could she would go on a rampage.Like what Ms Meena did. The gruesome vendetta on Ravi was just the concluding part. Angry with the village folks who did not support her when Ravi jilted her, she made sure that the village too dies a slow death later to be resurrected at her own fancy through her evil planning.
As and when she grew in fame and fortune she robbed the village of all its means of livelihood. Got the factory shut down and bought off all the tilling lands leaving nothing for sustenance for the village folks who did not allow her to get married and later did not come to her rescue when Ravi spurned her.The knell was struck when Ravi was pronounced a death sentence to be killed by the folks if they wanted to survive and bounce back to living their lives the way it was before with jobs and money needed for survival.
Sad ending.

Once again the statue resurfaces on the stage not in dim lights but with spot lights focussing not only on the statue but also on Ms Meena who is seen strolling the countryside next to the waterfalls and finally approaching the statue delivering her last dialogue amidst some humming of her yesteryears songs that she had sung when she pranched with Ravi.This time she holds an umbrella over herself and strolls casually off stage quite pleased with the way things turned out...just the way she had desired and planned.
The spotlight now remains on the statue as the village folks get busy with their chores when slowly the light is diimed entirely to announce the end of the play.

Applause...from all corners...everybody gets up from their seats...and i too did the same...still appauding when the actors come on stage and take their final bow.Then immediate attention to their respective cell phones by the general public as they started shifting towards the exit while i waited for the actors to go off stage.
i started towards the parking lot mulling over the play which kept me engrossed and because i am a late starter i cannot tell what impressed me more.
Whether it was an excellent adaptation of the classic play 'The Visit' (1956) by Swiss-German playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt of whom i had not known ( not until now) by the director Mr Rajiv Krishnan who turned the story written by Rashmi Ruth Devadasan into an entertaining and engrossing play which had echoes of a film in progress.
-or was it the message he was giving through his play,'' The lure of cinema and it's untold prosperity and fame exert a fatal attraction on the entire village, and lead it gradually into moral and ethical compromise." When i thought that the play not only depicted a saga of revenge of a woman betrayed in love but also the distinction between reel and real life.
-or was i taken up by the histrionic talents of the feature cast of five actors who donned multiple roles.And whether i was so thrilled because the performance was by Namma Chennai's own Perch Theatre?
-or the creative yet innovative use of props?
-or the smattering of other languages such as Tamil, Kannada and Hindi between all the dialogues which were mostly in English...which gave the play a natural and homely feel?
- and last but not the least was it the combination of laughter and pathos which seduced me enough to be watching the dark comedy without getting least bit distracted with guilt? ( of actually enjoying the sinister tale of revenge)
Hard for me to tell.But surely it should be a combination of all these that i felt that my second day at the festival was total paisa vasool ( justified spending).
Also i can say is that this run in the mill story which was a saga of revenge kept me engaged as i thought about that Machiavellian move of Ms Meena so far as the story is concerned.Then about how the actors performed comfortably and entertained us with their acting and singing in various languages which i read later that  these were live but evolved improvisations by the actors themselves. Finally my amazement at the clever but creative display of both talent and props especially at those three scenes-first the scene where an ordinary transparent plastic packing wrap was used to give the effect of a falling from a height of that of a waterfall which later becomes a gurgling stream-then of the bus and finally the reconstruction of the temple with the simplest of props. i was pleasantly surprised and amazed to an extent that i feel like saluting the creativity of the human mind which reconstructs with almost anything even if it is a broom, a winnowing straw plate, an ordinary straw basket , a plastic packing wrap and last but not the least an ordinary piece of cloth to look like Ganesh ji's trunk.
 The creative use of props-two brooms have become the handrail of the bus and the winnowing frame the steering wheel.                                                                                                      
The brooms and basket have become the temple while a dark towel twisted in the form of an elephant trunk to resemble Vinayak.
Now after knowing what a non-verbal presentation is http://shivanidiwani64.blogspot.com/2010/08/eye-popping-dance-magic.html  and how an adaptation turns out to make a dark comedy colourful i can feel the enriching experience of savouring what had hiterto been unknown to me . Now i shall tell with confidence to all who are blissful in their ignorance,"Try it cause until you try how will you know what you are missing.''
My only concern at the moment being that i should not sound like a pompous, fake braggart.Chances are that i might...
Anyways let's have a look at all the reviews in one of the paper which is synonymous with Chennai as synonymous as the filter kapi...yeah THE HINDU

Image Courtesy: The Internet...where else...photography inside the theatre is strictly prohibited.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Eye-Popping Dance Magic

Being free of responsibilities and commitments can definitely give some people the heebies-jeebies but not to me. i seem to be having that time of life when i can just do what i want and at my own sweet pace.That time of life when you can really choose without making time out and grab a bite of all the things you missed in your earlier phase. When home and then job left you with neither the inclination nor the patience to even miss those that you missed.So even when i was in this art and culture hub called Chennai where an entire season is dedicated to satisfying rasikas (art and cullture enthusiasts) i was helpless.i would read in the newspapers and sigh but had faith that my time would come.And that time has indeed arrived.
So for starters i got myself a season pass to the Metro Plus Theatre Festival and indulge into adaptations, re-imagining, monologues, duologues and even something called non-verbal presentations.An eccelectic mix, of which, three are from abroad should keep me teased and very engaged for those promising seven days.
Actually after having covered three i cannot deny that i am glad i did not have to make any forced adjustments
at least this time for such an event, which not only brings smiles and arrests the eye but also engages the mind even after the show is over.

So coming back to what tickled me was this opening show from abroad called 'Break -Out'.The brochures announced that it was an "Extreme Dance Comedy"from Sevensense and Yegam Theatre Company Korea.My reading the pamphlet about the show educated me about the theatre group Yegam and if i do get a chance i have promised myself that i should not miss it's Broadway and West End hit 'Jump'.This not because the pamphlet said so but because i was much impressed and awed with Break-out.And 'Jump' is a bigger hit as the international reviews say. Not that i blindly follow the reviews but i kept thinking if 'Break-Out' kept me  wowing at the dance, music and drama what would a martial arts performance which is what 'Jump' is evoke in me.

Break-out was indeed extreme in it's portrayal through break dance of a non- verbal presentation of five prisoners who inspired by a mysterious text break out of jail and enjoy a brief moment of freedom.
As one who was witnessing a dance drama i was just too captivated by 'fighting gravity' being depicted with a well established choreography.Getting carried away by the applause and hoots this cocktail of dance, acrobatics, gymnastics, drama, humour and puppetry arrested me to such an extent that i was only concentrating on my senses which were mostly visual and audio and not taxing my brain because the storyline was clear.What more can you expect from a late starter like me.

That Break Out was symbolic in it's portrayal only dawned upon me when i read the director's cut in which Mr Sang Hoon Lim explains that the message that this profound display of teamwork, flexibility and timing had. Which i guess could be nothing less than the mantra for survival.For each one of us want to break out of some jail of our own.
In his own words,'' B-boying, or street dance and hip- hop music, represents most powerfully the dreams and ideals of young people, expressing the common thirst for freedom and liberty.
Break Out... shows a way of escaping from the routine- bound grind.It visualises the challenges in longing for a new world and trying to find it."
So while i followed just the story and admired everything about the dance drama right from the performers to the grey hooded sweat-suits, the excellent spotlighting which was also an interesting part of this dance drama and the way the play so seamlessly shifted from the stage to the audience, it was much later that i realised that just like any other purposeful story this was having a message too.The message of hope, peace, transformation and rebellion in the face of oppression.

 i was hoping after this that i had someone who was knee deep into theatres to give me that intellectual enlightenment of the nuances in a manner that can prevent me from late reactions.
But that in no way dampens my spirit for more because this one i enjoyed in my own unbiased way. Or perhaps it is just that i have tremendous respect for all that training, hard work , innovative style, creativity that goes into bringing forth a delivery which has an uncanny timing. Where not a single move or gesture comes late.
And while the clever use of props and judiciously constructed sets especially at the scene where puppets are used to portray the actual breakout through the underground tunnel overwhelmed me, i was touched by the joy and enthusiasm of the performers who acted out the most seemingly difficult part with much joy and ease.

Now i am no connoisseur of art who can judge what makes a good theatre performance.All i know is that i felt the 75 minutes to go past me like it was much less and i came out refreshed, smiling and happy dying to tell my husband what he had missed. He was eagerly waiting in the car back from his office wanting to know if i had a good time.
My beaming smile and happy shake of the head gave it out all-a non verbal presentation which proclaimed,''Swell ! i had a blast!."

Image courtesy:http://www.thehindu.com/arts/theatre/article560951.ece

Friday, August 6, 2010


She often wonders about the strange tastes that she had and still has.Everything about her was different from what normal girls her age would prefer.For instance when girls loved to play with dolls she would be happily playing goollee ( marbles) with the road side urchins never minding one bit the dirt that would make it's way into her clean clothes, and also her hands and nails while she squatted and used her right middle finger as a catapult to propel the goollee into the hole.
Ecstatic with joy if she won as she would greedily count her looty and morose most of the times as it was often that she lost many of her favourite goollees.
Fussy about clothes she would with the help of her doting father give endless instructions to the tailor about how the cut should be or how the dress should fall...just up to her knees...nothing more...nothing less.Meaning thereby that the silhouette would always be a feminine one but the body that wore it had strange and weird boyish tastes.People definitely found it weird because according to them none of the colony girls did what this sandy haired fair child of Mr Singh did.Which was that she would be seen hanging around with the urchins and doing all that they did...climb trees and steal guavas or mangoes...play lattoo (top), goollee, learn even more games with tamarind seeds, another with pieces of broken bangles called chayan churee, also play cowrie sometimes with shells if someone owned shells or else with just plain chips used for construction.
Unlike the decent girls who would stay indoors in the afternoons and come out to play langdi taang with the other girls or just simply keet keet or budhiya kabbaddi in the evenings she had no such routine.One would see her gallivanting around up and down the lanes with these urchins while a serious game of goollee danda was in progress. A scar on right eyebrow is a a testimony to the fact that that God was on her side those days too or else in her bid to catch the speeding goollee she would've lost her right eyes forever.Instead she got a nasty cut right where the eyebrows start...a rather deep one and instead of whimpering she was delighted to see the blood oozing furiously cause it gave her the title of a brave sport and how she loved every bit of fussing that went on later.First from her friends and later by her parents.
Today she lies to her only son about that scar and misguides him by making up a totally different story lest the boy should feel how bawdy his mom was when she was a kid.
 By the way this mom has always demanded primness and discipline from him forgetting all that she did as a kid.

Perhaps her love for BEESCOOT had also originated with that nasty cut when in an attempt to make her feel setlled one of the urchins had offered her one.While the other went indoors to get some water for her.
That was the first time she munched into the pale coloured biscuits that were visible from the jars of the roadside tea shops.The elongated oval shaped but very melt in the mouth biscuit which neither tasted sweet nor salty but unique.That taste hit her palate only to stay with her forever.And it was called BEESCOOT.That's how the boy had pronounced it offering her one in a crumpled, old , Hindi newspaper.
The fussing went on for days with a difference.At home she would gulp her horlicks with much irritability on being nagged by her Ma then hurriedly take a bite from the Brittania Glucose biscuit and just when Ma would leave to attend to her other chores, out she would scoot calling to the urchins from behind her gate not only to play but also to swap her biscuits with BEESCOOT.
There was something so delicious about the Beescoot that no matter how hard she tried she could never get to love the factory made biscuits which come golden browned and in fancy packages cause she feels they are missing something very special which perhaps could be the key ingredient.These smell artificial and miss the smell of the earth.

Even today she wonders how many people cannot simply do without these fancy biscuits because she has yet to develop a taste for it. Instead she craves BEESCOOT which she can find no more.

She remembers the smoky and earthy flavour...the flavour which had a faint hint of wood smoke to baked flour and the crusty bite which would reduce the piece to micro granules instantly...some still lingering on the lips unless brushed away with the back of the hand.Some were irregularly oval as if just flattened with hand and not rolled while others were not so round and the colours ranged from being off white/ivory to light and not dark brown.Some were even oblong and had nigella seeds.

As her car speeds through the lanes of the busy metro she still peers through the window and tries to spot the Beescoot in the jars of the roadside tea stalls. But all she can make out is the perfectly rounded, golden brown bakery biscuits. Oh yes she has tried them but they are nowhere near to what BEESCOOT was.

Those beescoot days were replaced by serious convent education and soon all the fun laughter and all those games were gone with the wind.Her elder brother had warned her menacingly that if she is even seen around the gate she would be clobbered well and no one would come to her rescue.Not even Ma as even Ma was not in favour of her mixing with the ruffians of the road.
Although her being seen on the road with urchins stopped once and for all, her love for Beescoot never ebbed rather it grew in it's magnitude in a way that she would ask her kid sister to go to the chai shop and get it for her.

A rupee coin was given to the kid sister with specific instructions like, ''Each Beescoot is for 10 paise so bring 5 oval ones and 5 round ones."
The kid sister 10 years younger to her would nod with sincere obedience and run these errands for her for a long time till the kid was grown up enough to venture out of the house gate unescorted.

Later the job was done in utmost secrecy by the maid who would come to wash the dishes.This to prevent all that reprimand that would turn into shameful bashing as Beescoot was the most unhealthy thing to eat.
The dough of which was kneaded by foot and had maggots which would be baked along with the dough.So one could be affected with afflictions of all kind.
But she continued eating them with relish as her kid sister watched in amazement at how her didi would dip these bland stuff into water and gobble the 8 beescoots reading the Indrajaal Comics...Phantom. Two beescoots were given to the kid only to be returned to her graciously with an honest,"Didi if you want you can have these too.i don't like them so much as you do."
Never did she ever fall ill because of the so called junk she ate on a regular basis. In fact of all the 4 kids that Mr Singh had this sandy haired bonnie girl of his never fell ill ever.The only ailment she had as a kid was just a bout of tonsilitis which was taken care with a few days of pills and some throat drops that tasted terrible.

Oh yes there there was this day while she was in college doing her graduation in Economics and her kid sister was in 5th grade.The kid sister came rushing out to the balcony at hearing the most strange yell from her didi.
Her didi was yelling out to the seller that was seen passing on the road.Trying desperately to get his attention and yelling at the top of her voice not a bit minding how her yell sounded or how she had invited glaring looks from the people of the colony who were finding this to be too odd from an English- educated- grown- up daughter of Mr Singh.
The kid sister who was very much into her convent English was truly so embarrassed at her didi.How so vulgur didi sounded and that particular day kid sister sulked because she was too young , too obedient and too polite to vent it out on her elder sister.Some people in the colony were looking at her sister, her didi with so much of amusement as she yelled and now all these people knew what cheap stuff her didi ate.
It was much later that the kid sister told her didi of her intense feeling of shame. Only when shame was replaced by the feeling of humour about the entire scenario in perspective.

Today as they move about as inseperables with her didi full and mature enough to look like her mom to all those who don't know their true relationship, they laugh out aloud recollecting that incident and that typical shrill that sounded as if a rustic lady from the village was mispronouncing a very English word.Something that sounded so oddly funny.

And as they haunt now the chai shops searching the oval/round/oblong pale coloured stuff of yesteryears they still approach the jars longingly looking for what they still call BEESCOOT.Sometimes they get lucky and can be seen sitting on the terrace munching away to God's glory from a newspaper packet.The younger sister combining it with tea while the elder one still dipping  the stuff into what looks like water in a glass and both giving each other that warm smile...the kind that comes with understanding, satisfaction and happiness.

Meanings of some terms used :
Langdi taang- a game in which one has to hop on one leg and catch or touch the rest.
Keet keet- hop scotch.Squares drawn on the floor and a pebble used to mark and start from the first square and end on the ninth square all the time hopping on one leg and making a sound of keet keet with the mouth without drawing breadth.
Goollee danda-the rustic and very basic version of rustic cricket also known as gilli danda.
Chayan churee- The entire collection of broken bangles being first thrown in a small square on the ground and then bangle pieces to be picked out of the square singly with the help of one piece in such a way that a single piece is dragged out of the square without touching or moving any other piece.While throwing into the square even if one piece is out of the square you lose your chance.The winner would be the one who could collect the maximum pieces of bangles.
Budhiya kabbaddi-Kabbaddi in which one of the paticipants of the defending team would be the old lady who would be guarded in a circle. She had to be rescued sounding Kabbaddi kabbaddi without drawing breath.Meanwhile touching the rest who are guarding her and running back to your own team without getting caught before the midddle touch line. All those that have been touched sounding kabbaddi kabaddi without drawing breath would be considered out.If while trying the rescue one gets caught by the guards and is unable to come back to the parent team crossing the middle line then that person is out.
Cowrie- Sea shells used for this game invovled throwing the shells into the air and catching them in as many skillful combinations as possible.
Lattu-Top which is spinned with the help of a thin rope.
Didi- Elder sister

Image courtesy:http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthieu-aubry/521454094/sizes/m/in/photostream/
                       :cybershot photos of Yajnaseni (my niece)

Monday, August 2, 2010

My collections-Final Part

This post had to be for i had to finish what i had started. Although i feel there can be no end to my collections which of late seem to have diversified into rocks and right now i feel lost without one which i had found while i was at my sister's place.It was a beautiful ochre coloured , transluscent and smooth to touch very cool piece. i had picked it up from the roadside, brought it home and washed it and placed it on the grilled planter ( a rather large contraption which held at least 4 large pots and was fixed to the boundary wall) to dry. My sister tells me that the ochre rock still sits there pretty and bright but only visible to her and those who knew i had placed it there.
Now that should be my latest hobby...collecting rocks and pebbles.

Before that i collected anything and many things that people would generally throw away. So you would find all kinds of empty bottles...dried branches of trees and shrubs...fused bulbs...cleaned and washed pots of sizes ranging from a tiny one which came along with the Amul Kulfi to slightly larger ones ( which come with syrupy sweetmeats) as being an integral part of my collection and these are generally only visible to people after i have done something with them. Something could be just anything done with the object in a way which satisfies me tremendously.
No! none of my creativity is original though because in my mind's eye i have already seen versions of it elsewhere and what i do is generally a serious attempt to cut boredom. The fact of the matter being that i get bored too easily with settings around the house.
 i look at glossy pictures of well done up rooms with expensive objects and the only thing that comes to my mind is,''Gosh! i would be so bored to see the same thing over and over again,all the 365 days in a year. "
 So what i do is an inexpensive way to deal with this weirdness of mine.And what i do is very simple and really price less.
Which is to place things in an attractive way for few days and when i am bored replace it with something else.While the replaced item hibernates in the store room or garage to be used in some different configuration later.
But of all things i get bored with easily, it is rather strange how i can never have enough to do with fused bulbs.
 i am anguished when i see that now i might not have enough as the entire house is replaced with power saving bulbs which are too twisted and too new for any creative flash to occur now but i'm sure with my weirdness intact i might later discover a novel way to exhibit it later.Or maybe i am saying this to console myself and do away with my anguish which was magnified by one email forward which informs me that the fumes inside are poisonous. So i chide myself never to attempt messing with these in a way that i normally do with the other plain bulbs.

As i look disdainfully towards my basket which contains my limited collections and my favourite tool, memories of childhood and my convent school comes flooding in. Memories of how and where i had my first encounter with ubiquitous bulbs used as a decor. i saw them first in the lounge next to the principal's office and was taken away completely at the sheer beauty and enigma of it.
 i was still in the primary school and the class teacher had sent me to the principal's office on errand.So while i waited to be called inside i  fidgeted and looked around and my eyes caught sight of the bulb hanging there with a brilliant foliage of cheerful bunch of Pothos/Devil's Ivy/Money Plant/ right next to the wall unit that held the school shields and trophies. i remember being mersmerised by the mystery that surrounded the bulb and the beauty of Pothos to such an extent that the assistant to Sister Theckla,(our Principal then) Ms Bona had to come and jolt me to back to alertness and remind me of my duty for which i was there.
Back home Ma could not have enough of my story as i narrated to her how our sisters in the convent had created such a beautiful decoration piece with bulbs and i nagged her to irritation demanding explanation from her as to how the bulb was made empty to be a container that could hold the plant.
Ma could only shake her head and tell me with not much conviction though that the carpenters at school who looked into the school furniture had prepared it for the school exclusively . i know now that it was her only soft way to get me to shut up once and for all and to leave her in peace so that she could attend to her other chores.
i never had the courage enough to ask at school because we were mortally terrified of our sisters.At school a mere sight of sisters hushed us to pin drop silence what to talk of approaching them freely with a question that did not pertain to academics.This was then and i am doubtful if class 3 or class 2 kids still feel that way in a convent or it could be that i was too inhibited and scared of NUNS who seemed to loom large in their habits and found them inaccessible to inquiries due to my own silly beliefs and prejudices.
Anyways Ma gave all of us a pleasant surprise one fine day.
i come back home from school to be greeted with these beauties at the landing near the entrance door. She had asked one of our carpenters to do the job with the fused bulbs and soon the house was seeing these hung in all those places which needed some greenery to spruce it up.
But not only did those areas look attractive, the Pothos surviving in just water soon became the exhibition gallery of sorts for all the colony aunties who would on seeing them would be amazed at the art form and exclaim with joy at my Ma's green thumb and  good fortune.
For it is a belief among the locals that Pothos only survives in homes which is blessed with plenty of money.i guess then hence the name -Money Plant.
 i grew up seeing these all around the house and also later in my own room when i was in college and i remember my friends getting attracted by this piece and asking me how the bulb was made thus to which i would just shrug casually and tell them how Ma got it made from the local carpenter. i never made an attempt to learn or to know even how the carpenter did the job. i assumed all the while that he may be having a specific tool to accomplish the delicate task with much ease.

Much later as i settled down into a busy family life for my child was a toddler then, i realised one day that i needed something more to keep me cheerful and brush away my tiredness.Just a small nap in the afternoons with the child would not do.i realised that other than weaning and cooking i loved doing up the house.And because i never had that much free time for myself to conjure enough creativity i decided one fine day to try my luck at the fused bulbs that had accumulated in the store room.
As my first step to beautifying the empty narrow walls, i thought of  creating the lovely planters on my own with the help of that tool of mine which had a heavy pointed edge...just adequately heavy to make a hole and later get rid of he bulb's contents and make it fit and proper for his non fussy and cheerful creeper that only needs enough water to thrive.
Needless to say then that success was not achieved instantaneously. After a couple of broken bulbs and a few nicks here and there i managed to get the hang of the rhythmic beat and the force/pressure that is required to first make a tiny hole and keep jabbing till he hole is completely free of the sealants and is wide enough for the tube with the filament to slide out.
i cannot say that even now i am successful at all my attempts as sometimes though i may have the bulb intact in my hand, the holder too comes out like this bulb that i was preparing recently.
But i never give up. Not on this holderless bulb which is still lying in my basket for my sudden flash of creativity nor my attempts at making planters out of fused bulbs.
Yes the house does have many of these placed directly or otherwise where all my branches and twigs come to my rescue so far as creativity is concerned. Just like this thrown away branch of a guava tree which was varnished and hung on the wall to be an amazing holder for my bulb planters.
Then there is this dry Cycas branch picked up from the terrace that looks so pretty. Solitary and turned naturally at an interesting angle in an empty dry wine bottle it looks artistic on it's own.Actually i was meaning to convert the wine bottle into a lampshade which is taking more time than i had anticipated so for the time being this arrangement suffices.
My collections have never once deserted me whenever i have this sudden urge to change.There is always something to be done with these and some area in the house always has an exhibition space for these .So out they come into my eager hands from their hibernating grounds to satisfy my restless self and brighten a bleached and naked area.In a way that even a boring staircase landing looks attractive with ordinary rocks,  dry branches and some greenery.
Thank God i get bored only with sights around the house and nothing else...
Thank God that i am one crazy collector who feels everything and anything has a potential which is latent and can be best brought out with one's crazy ideas.
And thank God my tool keeps me going at it...for i am one happy soul to see Pothos hanging everywhere around the house...rich and oh! so brilliantly vareigated and such an adorable green that does not ask for much... just plain water and one casual look to make you smile.