ReNew Year

ReNew Year

Hail Decemb”re”! The final month of the year.

Decemb”re” because we consciously or otherwise, all of us(included), spend a major part of our time in this month reminiscing, reanalyzing, reflecting, realizing, realigning, reassuring, relive – the list can go on and on. And why not?

What does Decembre have in common with an airport and a tunnel? They all signify there is hope ahead, an end of a journey and hopefully a better one ahead. You arrive at an airport, there is a journey out of it towards the city or town. You depart the airport, you are skyward bound! When you go into a tunnel, as you traverse through the darker journey, there is an illuminated one you travel towards.

If you follow formula racing, you would know that a pit stop in a race, is the point where the racing car pauses to refuel. At this point, often a car’s tyres and damaged parts are replaced and the front wings are adjusted. The car is guided into the pit by a Lollypop Man because he holds a similar shaped “stop/ first gear”sign. Decembre is our Lollypop Man!

Even the television channels telecast programmes of what has happened through the year. Reflection!

When I look back at the road I travelled on this year, it was a year successfully completed with a book published and my new avatar as a “Blogger”. Reminiscence!

A friend of mine was unable to land himself in the right job opportunity, after struggling for the last couple of years. He is beginning to flourish as a photographer. Realizing and Realigning! That was his journey from the last Decembre to this one.

Made a new friend and relived her happy moment at the launch of her first book. Relived!

As a matter of fact, I was thinking of including it in my “New Year’s To Do “list – make a new friend, become friend with an absolute stranger. Realized even strangers have many things in common with us. Including a desire to become friends with an absolute stranger! Realization!

And that is why I would like to call it the Renew Year! A new year repeats itself every year….a harbinger of resolutions, hopes.

Meet Amrita. She is very successful in her career and a single mom. None of which she ever dreamed of becoming, as a child or as a young girl.

If you saw her, she would definitely remind you of the actress Tina Munim. There is an enigma on her visage, a poise in her graceful looks and a mischief in her dimpled smile.

She looks the same as she did 9 years ago, except the little crow’s feet lines which have formed near her eyes. She dabs a little of No.7 Lift and Illuminate Triple Action Serum. It immediately tones up her face. Makes her feel better and in control. In control of her slightly ageing-skin.

She picks up her mobile again. Opens a message from Girish. Her ex-husband.

With the mobile in her left hand, she turns to look at her 8-year-old, Aadya. Aadya moved a little and kicked the Dohar( a Jaipuri quilt) which had covered her legs.

Amrita knew it was futile covering her daughter. She would kick it on and off. But that never stopped her from trying to protect her daughter, from the cold. Amrita was very possessive of Aadya. A daughter born from a week of marriage. Girish and Amrita were married for exactly a week.

They had been in love. Contrasting backgrounds created the reason. Both were rebels in their own families.

Girish was an Aiyar and loved eating non-vegetarian food. He was the lead drummer in his school and a person, most girls secretly gushed at. He had a lethal combination of looks and talent.

Amrita Banerjee was attractive. She was not slim, nor did she have a good figure. But her charming face kept all the attention focused there. Though girls in her school used to wonder “why”…why do the boys in the neighboring school go head over heels for her. Amrita often overheard all the gossips about her. But she did not care.

It was an inter-school fest where Girish met Amrita. Cupid struck and before long love blossomed.

Eventually, Girish pursued engineering at a premier college while Amrita enrolled for a hotel management course.

Distance started creating cracks in their relationship. They talked less, communicated lesser. Each interpreted it in a different way. Amrita understood that Girish was busy with his academics and hence. Girish understood it as time’s course of telling them to move on. He had flings and several. But just as he cheated, he got cheated upon too. A blow made him look back, think within. He reached out to Amrita. Amrita picked up from where they had left off. Love letters resumed.

Girish got the best offer of employment on Day zero. He proposed to Amrita formally. Amrita said yes.

The couple had some difficulty in getting the families to agree. But on both sides, they knew they had rebels to deal with.

It seemed to be a perfect love story. A Tam Bram marrying a Bengali beauty. There was opposition. Isn’t a love story supposed to be complete only if it has stiff opposition? At least, that’s what we grew up seeing in movies and believing.

Girish and Amrita chose a destination wedding at Goa, followed by a honeymoon at Seychelles.

And just when the story could wind up with “and they lived happily ever after”, Girish dropped a bomb…he returned alone. He had only his Delsey suitcase for company. And Amrita, returned separately…..hurt and broken but not quite aware what she specifically carried with her.

Nine months later, she became a mother to a baby girl.

Her status changed to that of a single mom.

Amrita’s mother had the harshest reaction, when her daughter returned back to them sans husband sans a wedded life. But she gathered herself and decided to be the rock support her daughter needed.

Amrita immersed herself at her job at Taj, Kolkata. Aadya grew up more in the laps of her grandmother.

Aadya looked like Girish. She constantly reminded Amrita of what had gone terribly wrong in her life.

The first couple of days at Seychelles was as blissful as could be. They clicked selfies everywhere – right from the beaches, to the restaurants to the bed where towel swans welcomed the couple on their honeymoon.

The third day, Girish was a changed person.

“What’s wrong, Girish?”

“You are wrong. Look at you. You are fat. All those tires. Even the bikini is ashamed.”

Momentary silence.

“But I have never been thin. You knew me this way, always.”

“And you have no ambition either. How could you leave your job?”

“Huh?”

“I always wanted to have a smart and attractive wife.”

“So why did you marry me? You are the one who came back.”

Momentary pause.

“And, I put in my papers only because they did not have a suitable role for me at their Delhi office.”

Girish turned his back towards Amrita, his left palm reaching his forehead.

“It’s over!”

He hastily reached for his things, packed his bags.

Amrita sat down in stupor.

She still does it sometimes. Was it her mistake re-accepting Girish…

When she learnt about her pregnancy, her gain after the biggest loss of her life..she reached for the small jar of Paroxetine, the anti-depressant medicines her mother was prescribed. She had taken one and was about to take another, her attempt to forget or flee from the new big problem.

Her mother saw and almost made a Superman like dive and snatched the jar. What followed was a slap, incessant tears and Amrita tightly holding her mother at the waist. Just like she did when she was a small girl, when she did not know how to deal with a problem and worse, when she did not know how to tell her.

Amrita looked at the message yet again. Girish wanted to come back again. After vanishing for 8 years, he had developed a strong yearning to meet their daughter Aadya.

Amrita clicked on her FB profile pic. She now had short hair. She thought she still looked the same, when she was in a relationship with Girish. Only a streak of hair undecided if it should turn full grey. And that did not bother her.

She zoomed in the pic. For a change she was wearing a sleeveless black dress nicely teamed with stilettos. Of course, they were borrowed. Her colleagues convinced and coerced her into them, last Christmas.

Amrita had immersed herself in Handloom kurtas and salwars, after Girish left her. The loose clothing protected her from prying eyes and further body shaming.

She always felt good when she saw that particular photograph of hers. She wondered if Girish had seen it and hence trying to re-establish the relationship.

Amrita clicked on the friend request and the message Girish had left for her on the messenger.

Girish had developed double chin. She scrolled down. Relationship status showed Single.

Aadya coughed in the background.

Amrita decided to reply back to her ex-husband.

I can’t fathom why after all these years you want to meet our daughter. Biologically you are her father, so I can’t stop you. But while you were away and I struggled to juggle between a career and being a mother, Santa gave Aadya, a very loving father. I would like you to meet her…..my mother! My mother has cared for Aadya, yes that’s what we call her…..So, even if you want to introduce yourself as the father, it will only further confuse our child.But if you insist, I will not stop you.Before I conclude, sorry for not being able to accept your friend request. We both know, that we were not even good friends, else we wouldn’t have parted ways the way we did.

<Enter>

After a long time, Amrita smiled. Her phone rang.

Amrita had been selected as the new Head of Operations at the Taj.

She updated her app. Leaving for Spain – with my girl gang.

She sat in the car. When she had just rolled up the pane, a familiar hand touched the pane…and the pain. He tried to stop her.But she looked ahead.

Men love shopping too

Men love shopping too

Would you agree with the comment – Men buy, women shop?

When I say “buy”, I refer to the precise act of paying money in exchange of a particular product or service. Shopping expands to the vast experience associated with the act of buying.

In a study titled, “Men Buy, Women Shop,” researchers at Wharton’s Jay H. Baker Retail Initiative and the Verde Group, a Toronto consulting firm, found that women react more strongly than men to personal interaction with sales associates. Men are more likely to respond to more utilitarian aspects of the experience — such as the availability of parking, whether the item they came for is in stock, and the length of the checkout line.

This trend still applies to approximately 85% of men, who do buying or shopping in one form or another. What then happens to the remaining 15% of the male community?

With the plethora of choices that modern age marketing has thrown up, even our “Men” get confused if they should pick a brand-loyal product or try something new. Online shopping, seasonal offers have emerged as strong points of consideration, when a man is buying or shopping.

There is a retail joke, which is in context and worth sharing. So, it goes like this – 6% of women shoppers are estimated to get lost in a shop if there is no sales associate to help. Whereas, the reason for men folks to get lost in a shop is, only when the product is out of stock! We can clearly imagine a man pick up his car keys, drive to the nearby supermarket to pick up his after-shave. He reaches the exact shelf where all the after-shaves are neatly arranged. He spends 15-20 minutes rotating his eye-balls from one after-shave to another, wondering where his product is, till a sales associate approaches to help him out.

But are all men cast in the same mold? Well, not really !

Ladies, step back….the new league of men shoppers have arrived. These men, sometimes look for an excuse for shopping and not necessarily out of need. With this, I would like to introduce the two protagonists of today’s story – Ballu and Chari.

Balwinder Singh Dhillon aka Ballu was a Sardar. I wouldn’t be lying if I said he looked exactly like Ranbir Kapoor in the movie, Rocket Singh. Ballu was trying to uplift his colleagues’ mood.

“C’mon Charu, forget it! You know boss rants after every appraisal.”

“Look Ballu, don’t call me Charu. I am not some Charulata that you keep calling me Charu. My name is Charitra….atleast call me Chari!”

“See this.” And Ballu looked around to see if there was any curious onlooker.

He quietly rolled up his sleeve and flaunted a Rolex.

“Have you gone mad? With no bonus and a measly increment, you dared buy a Rolex?”

“Hey, buddy! Look ( pause)…life has to go on. I was very demotivated after boss’s speech and the salary that we received. I needed an outlet. As usual, after I reached home, I picked up the phone while simultaneously warming my dinner. It was a steal deal.”

“Hmm….you are lucky. You are a bachelor.”

“No, I am Ballu!” Sardarji winked trying to lighten his colleague up.” Ok, bro! Do you want one too?It’s Black Friday!”

“You are mad or what? I have a wife and daughter to take care of too.” an agitated Charitra responded.

When Charitra got angry or agitated, Ballu teased him by calling him “Rakht Charitra”.

At the end of working hours, Ballu and Chari said good-bye to each other and left for home.

As soon as Charitra entered home, his wife informed him about the online sale on a popular shopping portal.

He did not have the heart to tell his wife that there was no bonus this time.

And increments? Well, enough to buy a paper-cone of peanuts sold at traffic signals, he thought.

Well, if its peanuts that I am getting, I ought to become a monkey.

He leapt up on the sofa and asked his wife to get her phone.

His wife was pleasantly taken aback by his behavior.

The next half an hour was spent in some needed and some indulgent and over-indulgent shopping. Charitra breathed deeply after he checked out from the shopping portal. He looked happy and felt happy too. No wonder they call it retail therapy, he thought.

Next day, he shared his experience with Ballu and both of them had a good laugh.

“See, bro! It’s a human instinct. If a person has the money, he will like to spend. It’s a thrill. Why should only women enjoy that thrill?”Ballu whispered to Chari.

“Ssh….people may not perceive what we did as normal.”

“Everyone knows women gossip, so they can do it openly. We too love to gossip, but are scared to be labeled so we do it in a hush manner. Just like that, the world jokes about women and shopping, so they even unabashedly use that pretext to check out a product, even if they don’t have any immediate plans of buying it. But what happens to men, who love and want to shop. I am sure there would be many like us.”

“Phew….Ballu, that is a million-dollar point you made today.”

Mobile indicates a message notification.

“Oh wow, it seems my toolkit is on the way. The courier guy should reach any moment.”

“Toolkit?”

“Screwdriver, hammer, spanner,….”

Ballu cuts his friend short.

“Hey listen, don’t do that. You may get accused of attempt to murder.”

“What?”

“On boss right?” Said a worried Ballu.

“Good lord, no! Well, on seconds thought, not a bad idea! In you, I have a perfect alibi.” Charitra winked in the usual Ballu style.

The two men –  two friends now bonded yet again, this time through a journey of discovering happiness through retail.

 

 

Monkey Business

Monkey Business

When monkeys get down to business, it can be really serious stuff. So, monkey business ain’t any tomfoolery any more. It can be a very serious and calculated way of doing things.

It seems, this incident only happened recently, in Mumbai. My mother-in-law was watching television in the living room and totally oblivious that a monkey had entered one of the bedrooms through the window. And before you start thinking, yes! the window had a grill. We live on the 3rd floor, above a level of parking, so that essentially makes it a height equivalent of four floors. Added to this, no trees in the immediate vicinity.

The monkey felt at home and helped himself to a couple of packets of dry fruits, which it found in that room. Only when the doorbell rang, and the watchman rushed in, was my mother-in-law alarmed of the uninvited visitor.

Those living in Mumbai can agree or disagree – a local newspaper had published that 3 monkeys had been ably trained to conduct theft and burglary, and their area of operations is Dahisar. They know how to cut through grills or squeeze themselves in.

This reminds me of my friend’s experience with a monkey when she was in Hyderabad. There, the monkeys are a step ahead in terms of capabilities. A monkey used to sneak into her kitchen and open the fridge and help herself. If she sampled a food which did not appeal to her taste buds, she would bang the bowl or dish on the floor. So, my friend made sure she double locked her kitchen and fridge before she left home.

During my hostel days at Varanasi, our hostels were also frequented by the monkeys. We attributed it to the vicinity of the Sankat Mochan temple. I lived in an all-girls hostel and the only men who were allowed in the hostel were, if I remember correctly, the electrician( bhaiya) and the mess waale( bhaiyas).

It was a routine for us to wash our clothes and put them to dry in the lobby outside our rooms.

And if you think, what I am about to share is a joke….it is not!

We were relaxing outside our rooms when a senior came and warned us about a group of monkeys who are visiting on and off and stealing essential clothing. We thought it was a prank by the senior, part of ragging. But we became a victim to the monkey menace who were stealing our necessities. Gosh! And it was only that segment of clothing that they targeted…God knows why, though!

So, now do you agree that Monkey Business can be a serious and well calculated way of doing things?

With that begins my short story.

The first set of aliens have arrived to build up their establishment on earth. They are in discussion with the CEO of Monkey Business Corp.

Monkey CEO: “Where did you hear about us?”

Alien CEO: “When we were doing the rounds around Earth during Super moon, the transmission of our UFO detected a conflict. We realized that it was your billboard which had a sound device, that was the source of the conflict. We disembarked our UFO and the rest is history.”

Monkey CEO: “Clever huh! You knew that the humans would be busy taking photos of the super moon that they would not notice you!”

Alien CEO:” Precisely!”

Monkey CEO:” So, where would you like to build your establishment?”

Alien CEO: “How about Uncle Sam’s land? Heard it’s the most advanced and sought after.”

Monkey CEO:” Wouldn’t recommend that…they are just recovering from an unexpected election result. The humans themselves are not so sure if they want to continue living there or migrate to Canada.”

Alien CEO:” Oh I see! Is it that bad?”

Monkey CEO: “Yes, Bro!”

Alien CEO:” How about the Queen’s land?”

Monkey CEO:” Oh don’t even think about it. If you visit them for a week, they will tax you. So, all your friends and relatives visiting you will hate you for all the tax they might end up paying.”

Alien CEO: “ Ohh….how about India?”

Monkey CEO:” India is a country we can never understand. Recently, the monkey para military forces had trained the forces to sneak into people’s houses and get all the cash they hide under their mattresses and jars. Our monkeys did an excellent operation in getting 90% of that cash. But, what a blow it was when their head of Government demonetized the Rs.1000 and Rs.500 currency. We had to abandon all the efforts and dumped the cash near Thane. That was covered in the local newspaper. Thank God, they did not realize that we had done it. Hee!hee!”

Alien CEO: “Now what? Which is the best place for us? How about China”

Monkey CEO: “That country is not within our area of operations….we have heard of rumors of monkey brains being consumed there. So, my employees refused to travel there for research and consulting for your prestigious project!”

Alien CEO:” Then do we have no chance at all to create our very own establishment on Earth? We wanted to collaborate with humans and create something big.”

Monkey CEO:” Ha..ha…you must be joking! Our greatest hero of all times, “Hanuman” helped the humans so much, but what did his descendents get? Till today, we get peanuts from them. When we demand equal treatment by entering their houses, they shoo us away. That human race….they forget they evolved from us. Now by holding long selfie sticks they spend most of the times in clicking photos and uploading their profile pics and DPs as they call it. You want to collaborate with such a species?”

Alien CEO:” Err…looks like it’s a bad idea. Well, then…we dissolve the project here itself.”

Alien CEO takes leave and the UFO zooms away from the earth.

Monkey CEO laughs and concluded….” Everything is a monkey business afterall!”

Of meanings, interpretations and synonyms

Of meanings, interpretations and synonyms

I could not think of a more relevant title for this blog, one after a hiatus of more than a month. A month is a long gap in between blogs for a blogger.

Just as November was about to begin, my daughter asked me, “Mamma do you know that November and December are the happy months of the year?”

“Who told you? Your teacher? Did you see something on TV?

She smiled with a look of educating me.

“The weather is at its best in those months. When our environment gives us the most conducive conditions to be happy, these 2 months definitely have to be the happy months of the year.”

As adults, we often complicate our thoughts and try to find a reason behind everything. I assumed December = Christmas = Gift from Santa Claus = Happy Child, hence probably the conclusion of happy month.

Thus, my mind discarded her “happy month”, but my heart probably bought in.

Synonym of November and December = Happy months

November on a global scale, saw a lot of surprises – the US elections, demonetization in India, the launch of Dubai Canal…yes, it is big for us, residents of UAE!

Synonym of surprises = Hopefully good!!

If we were to give a thought to how synonyms are presented, there are clearly 3 manifestations – a.) Dictionary/ Thesaurus/ Lexicon, b.) Implied c.) Assumed

Category a.) is simple, so I shall move on to the other two.

Implied. Also, fairly simple.

Examples, a tortoise = slowness, a midnight rush to ice-cream parlor = pregnancy cravings, potholes on Western Express Highway (Mumbai) every monsoon = money making and corruption, people mis-judging you = their truth, your lie…and the list can go on.

Assumed is the most interesting category of all.

If you are overweight, people will assume you don’t exercise. Even if you vouched, they will give you a look…. how is it even possible!

If you are listening to music on ear phones and someone tries to talk to you, you will invariably end up answering back loudly.

If you see a glass containing white liquid, you will assume it is milk.

And with that begins my story.

It was a November morning. Samira called for a taxi from the RTA in Dubai. She had recently relocated from India and did not yet have her driving license.

“Can I please request a big Hala Taxi (Innova Car)? I need to drop my kids to school.” She spoke on her mobile.

(Pause)

“Ok. In case it is not available, a regular taxi will do.” She concluded her taxi request.

Within 5 minutes, Samira received a call that the taxi driver was waiting at the entrance of her building.

She picker her purse, followed by the school bags and called out to her kids, who were busy in the adjacent room.

The taxi driver gave a blank look at his approaching customer, he was expecting more.

Nevertheless, he started the taxi but started grumbling.

“Madam, why did you request for big taxi? Big taxi is for people who go to the airport with lots of luggage.”

“Why? Is there a problem?”

“If people like you book big taxi, then the big taxis will not be available for the people who really need them.”

“There is no dearth of taxis here. I am aware of private taxis like Uber, Careem, also providing service.”

“I don’t like driving in these small areas like Bur Dubai. I usually ply in Jumeirah and Marina. In future, I will not take passengers in these areas”

“Are you Indian? What is your name?” (Samira almost made up her mind to lodge a complaint).

The driver got a whiff of her intention.

“No name Madam.”

“If I am paying the fare, what is your problem? ……..Well then, you should only focus on servicing your passengers with utmost safety. I don’t need a name, a complaint can be done without that, also. In Hindi, “Aap munh mat chalaiye, sirf gaadi chalaiye!””

Pin drop silence followed till they reached the destination.

The driver picked up a Malayali newspaper and did not utter a word. Samira paid 20 dirhams and left 1 dirham change.

Samira did not complain, she never would, she told herself. She did not want to punish that driver’s family for his attitude problem.

The taxi driver left from there. He received the notification for his next passenger pick-up. It was Burjuman Shopping Center, Bur Dubai.

Both Samira and the taxi drivers had their set of notions and assumed synonyms. For example,

Big Taxi = Only for airport transfers.

Big Taxi = Relatively more comfortable ride for kids to school.

Taxi Driver’s service expectation (Key Performance Indicator as perceived by customer) = Meet customer’s requirements with safety.

Taxi Driver’s service expectation (Key Result Area as perceived by Taxi Driver) = Target areas where the Western Expats live, for more fare with lesser number of rides per passenger and less Khich-khich (Nagging).

A taxi ride of only 20 minutes threw up different understandings of the same thing. The same thing meant differently to the taxi driver and his customer. It resulted in conflict too! But then the beauty of conflict is that sometimes we see more sense in adapting to the point we opposed and fought against.

The next day, Samira requested for a regular taxi.

And would you like to know what happened to that taxi driver? He literally followed Samira’s advice.

He stopped giving his opinions and advice. He almost felt that he would have lost his job the other day. His daughter’s wedding was only a month away.

Guest Blog : Reading and Knowing More by Soham

Guest Blog : Reading and Knowing More by Soham

Soham is a 10-year-old boy who lives with his parents and grandmother in Sinhagad, Pune. His father, Ajit Vaishampayan and I have been colleagues and friends from my first employment.

Soham is a keen observer and has an opinion about everything. And why not? If you are well-read, you deserve to have that, isn’t it? His writing below tells you more about that.

While going from pre-primary school to primary school, I was very much excited about the new things I have to learn.

Then I asked my father, “Baba, there are many new things and new topics to learn in higher classes, isn’t it?”

He said ,”Of course yes  but for that you have to study and read a lot.”

So the next day my mother and I tried to read newspaper.

But oh! It was just boring n dull!
Slowly n steadily I started to read various topics such as headlines, jokes and even tried some of the puzzles.

During that period my mother used to bring the periodical ‘Magic Pot’.

It was very colorful n interesting having short stories, puzzles, information about science and nature.

I liked to read them and was waiting for every alternate Wednesday for the new Magic Pot to come.

Aaji also encouraged me to read Marathi Balmitra to enhance my Marathi vocabulary.

Due to studies, extracurricular activities ,TV n net, we are so occupied that reading newspapers and books is very less.

But because of my Baba I want the TOI newspaper after I brush my teeth daily.
It is becoming my habit now and I know it is going to benefit me lifelong for my studies and in my development.

I enjoy it thoroughly. I read sports page regularly and other pages. Sometimes I get full information of EPL and football details.

Now I got lot of details about intricacies of US elections.
As I went on reading the newspaper, I started to know about US President elections and came to know about Donald Trump n Hillary Clinton who were the nominees.

I also got to know about the electoral college system and how it works.For example, Florida has many seats. So, winning Florida is like winning the half of the election. Every state has a particular number of seats and when you win that state you get a certain number of seats. When you get 270 seats you will win. As I was watching the live updates on TV, when Trump won Florida it was almost clear victory for him. I really enjoyed reading about elections.

The sports page of The Times of India newspaper is my favorite. My football coach used to call me Wikipedia as I almost know many things about sports like football, cricket, kabaddi, etc.

Of course, because of reading, my vocabulary is increasing. My confidence, my contribution in discussions on various topics in school as well as at home also. My general knowledge is increasing and I know it is going to have good long term effect on me.

I know in Marathi is rightly said,
“वाचाल तर वाचाल.”

Guest Blog : Positive Disciplining by Aayushi

Guest Blog : Positive Disciplining by Aayushi

Aayushi is a 10-year-old girl from Mumbai. Her mother, Amita Mishra and I have been friends from our University days.

What I liked most about Aayushi’s writing was that it had a unique style. I re-read some lines and was surprised at some of the poignant points she raised. Well done Aayushi! Keep writing and am sure your parents are already proud of you. And, I would definitely like to meet you some day.

And here is what Aayushi wrote:

Children do mistakes, everyone does;

Elders wonder what children ponder with rage, after they do a mistake.

So I’m here to reveal that secret, so think, think, think

What I’m going to say

You shall be surprised what I ponder all day!

I do make mistakes, but do not think if I’m a silly girl

You’re not a parent, nor am I

What do your parents do when reach a pitch and you wail?

Do they smile, they scold or hit you with a stick?

My parents do not do such a thing at all.

They ground me that means they give me punishment such as no games, no play and what is left is study all day.

If I were a parent, my grounding rules would be study moderate, eat moderate, play all day and… MANNERS?

Well that too not be a goody- two-shoes at all

So, this is my History, Civics, Geography, and I’m in a hurry to know about yours!

Mis taek

Mis taek

It happened with me for the second time . Today afternoon.

“Ding, dong, ding, dong! (3 times)”

Followed by the sound of someone trying to open our front door by turning the handle vehemently.

Right at that very moment, I was busy placing a pillow on one side of my kid, as he lay fast asleep.

Couldn’t be my husband, I thought as I turned to look at the clock.

3 pm.

“Ding, dong, ding, dong… (6 times)”

I quickly rushed to the door. As soon as I opened, an Arabic lady hurried to enter my apartment very spontaneously….

Then she sprang back as I firmly stood with no intention of budging. She became very apologetic and then went away.

Last week, it was an Arabic gentleman who mistook our apartment to be his.

Let me give you the reason behind all the confusion and chaos. Our building management had recently established it as one of the many rules and regulations for the tenants. We could not hang anything near or on our front doors anymore. So everyone had to do away with name plates, the blue eyes, torans( Indian style decorations) and any other door accessory which previously distinguished every home from another.

Just got reminded of the Ali Baba and 40 thieves story! In the story, the thieves were left confused because Morgiana had marked all the houses in the neighborhood in the same manner. In my real life, tenants like me, if in a hurry, went to a wrong floor or even otherwise, were getting confused by the identical looking doors.

“Ok Appa. No…. I am going to go home now. (Pause)……Ok. But I am not going to start unpacking all the cartons right away. Weekend starts tomorrow, so I guess just waiting for a day won’t make much of a difference. (Pause). No, Amma need not come. (Pause) It’s ok, Appa. Right then. Will call you over the weekend.”

Dhruv Iyer had just moved to Thane from Bengaluru. He was 27 years old and looked like Ranbir Kapoor with a moustache.

Once when he woke up from sleep and realized that he was late for an important office meeting, he was so sleepy eyed that he shaved off almost half of his moustache on the right side. And then he was compelled to shave off the remaining much to his dislike.

When he reached office, he entered tiptoe, with his fingers trying to cleverly conceal the new look. But he could not do it for long. And then came the volley of comments…” Aila! ditto Ranbir Kapoor, same face cut to cut” and jokes associated with having the same face as that of a Bollywood celebrity began.

Dhruv was considered a high potential high performer in his Company. As a part of the succession planning that Human Resource had included him in, he had to take up stints in the Company’s various office locations. That’s how he landed in Thane.

His Company had provided him accommodation in Hiranandani Estate, Thane. Dhruv was quite impressed with the community living which had sprawled up from one end of the Ghodbunder Road and reached up to almost near the Ulhas river.

His car had not yet arrived, so he took an auto rickshaw to reach home in Goldcrest building.

It was 8 pm and Dhruv felt a tad famished. Amma had packed some South Indian sweetmeats for him. He decided to have a couple of them while he steamed some idlis in the microwave. Dhruv used to plan every small thing in his life. It helped him to save time. It helped him to act faster.

Dhruv exited the elevator and walked up to the door at the end of the corridor. Took out the key and opened the door, when he realized that his apartment looked different. A big Raja Ravi Varma painting adorned the wall facing the door and there was furniture in the living room. He was confused. So err…did my Company arrange for all this…difficult to believe with all the cost cutting measures that it’s been up to, he thought. He stood for a moment with his palm cupping his lips, an indication of being thoroughly lost. He looked at his keys…. the keys did open the door.

“Kon (Who in Marathi)?” came a voice from inside.

Dhruv made an about turn to leave. Clearly this could not be his apartment.

“Excuse me.” The voice called him from behind.

Dhruv turned around and found himself standing in front of a very beautiful lady.

“Wow!” he exclaimed in his mind.

“Err…I am extremely sorry…I thought I had opened the door of my apartment.”

“Funnily enough, doors of some apartments in this building can be opened with the same key. Hi, I am Geetanjali “she replied.

Geetanjali seemed to be 5 feet 7 inches tall. She was dressed in a sleeveless white top and a handloom printed blue cotton pajamas. Her hair was long and a few tresses from the left concealed her left shoulder and left arm. She was fair and as she spoke, Dhruv could not help but  notice the cute dimple on her left cheek.

“Would you like to have some coffee?” she offered.

“Err…no thanks. I need to rush home…to the right apartment.  (A silly grin) …I am hungry, need to catch up on something to eat.”

“Don’t worry, I can offer you some biscuits with the coffee,” she said with an impish smile.

And then we know what possibly happened. Before long, Dhruv Iyer was having an impromptu coffee date with a beautiful lady in his building.

“Your apartment is very tastefully done. Are you an artist or painter yourself?”

“No.” she smiled.

“Architect?

“No.”

“Interior Decorator?”

“No.”

“Then?”

“I am a curator.”

“Wow. Did not expect that.”

“Why?” she asked with a smile.

“Well, for a curator, one would expect to visualize an elderly man with thick lensed glasses walking slowly across an old museum….” He laughed as he made that comment.

“Stereotype.” She replied.

“Honestly!” He said in defense.

“But tell me, what is this funda (colloquial for fundamental) about same keys for different doors? I mean how do you know?”

“One day, when I had just returned from my parents’ place at Aurangabad, I realized I had left my keys back at Baba and Aai’s place. It was quite late in the night. The neighbor aunty was kind enough to offer me to stay over the night at their place till I found a locksmith in the morning. Then she remembered how she had the same tryst with destiny a couple of years ago, though in another building. So we tried her keys for my door. And it clicked.”

“But…mmm, isn’t that unsafe…it could lead to theft, burglary.”

“Guess no one shares this secret with them, I mean the robbers and thieves…. but only to help neighbors on the floor or in the same building.” She said with a smile.

Dhruv realized he had finished drinking the coffee.

His eyes went to the potpourri on the center table. It was all black. All along he knew that they were a dried collection of fragrant plant parts…but black?

He looked at his watch. 9.30 pm.

“Err…Geetanjali, it was a pleasure meeting you.” He offered his right hand for a handshake.

“Same here, Dhruv. Do drop by whenever you feel like.”

“Good night.”

“Good night.”

Instead of going to the 7th floor, Dhruv had pressed the no.8 floor button. That’s how he met Geetanjali. Surprisingly the apartment number plates were obscurely small and placed above the door hinge. Visitors had to hunt for the apartment numbers because of this peculiarity.

Before he went back to his apartment, he decided to see the watchman and tell him that the flush in his washroom was not working.

“Bro, where is Bhatkhande?” Dhruv asked the man sitting on the watchman’s chair.

“He is day shift, Sir and I am night…my name is Prakash…you can call me Pakya.”

Dhruv asked the watchman to send the plumber over the weekend, when he was at home.

But it seemed the plumber did not work over the weekend.

“Sir, you leave the keys with me…. I will get it done.”

Dhruv was a bit hesitant. But then he decided that the problem had to be addressed urgently.

“But, bro…make sure you don’t open some other apartment.”

“What are you saying Sir? Every apartment has a unique key…so what you are saying is not possible!”

“Doesn’t 701 and 801 open with the same key?”

“Sir, I have been working in this locality for 10 years now…. not to my knowledge, at least.”

Dhruv got curious.

“Ok tell me something…who stays in 801?”

“That apartment is vacant Sir. Vacant since the last one month.”

“801! Are you sure?”

“Yes Sir, last month, a lady committed suicide from that apartment. No tenant has yet occupied it.”

“What was her name?”

“Geeta Madam…she was a very nice lady. Could not fathom why she took such a drastic step.”

A chill ran through his spine. Dhruv could not believe what had happened.

He quietly went back to his apartment. That night, he slept with the lights on. Fear still loomed of the same key opening multiple doors of multiple apartments.

Next day morning, Dhruv decided to meet the watchman again and see if some alternate plumber could be arranged to get his flush repaired immediately.

“Good morning, Sir” Bhatkhande greeted him with a smile.

“Bro, I need a plumber urgently. Pakya told me that the plumber does not come on weekends, but….”

“Pakya, who?” Bhatkhande gave a surprised look.

“My friend, your counterpart…. the night watchman, Prakash.”

“He is Hiroo. “

“But he said his name was Pakya. I met him sitting on your chair at night and he introduced himself as the night watchman. Small statured guy with a moustache?”

“Sir, Hiroo is 6 feet tall…he is known as Lambu in this complex. He sits in that little shed near the entrance and takes rounds once in every hour to see if everything is fine.”

“You are not joking, right?”

“Sir, maybe you saw some dream and you imagined that you came down and…”

“Wait a minute, I gave him a post it on which he had jotted the plumber’s name. I did not give him my keys, instead took the plumber’s number to speak and convince him to come home over the weekend.” Dhruv pulled out a tattered piece of paper form his shorts’ pocket.

He handed over the post it slip to Bhatkhande.

“Where Sir?? It is blank…” said Bhatkhande with a blank look on his face.

“Tell me about 801….is it vacant?”

“Why Sir? You want to take that too? Many people take apartments above or below them and convert them into duplex, so if you…”

Dhruv cut him short.

“A suicide case?”

“Yes, Sir.”

A few hours later. Dhruv decided to run for relief…. he decided to go to office.

All kinds of thoughts were running through his mind. Did it really happen? Who was not real? Geetanjali or Pakya? Or both? Obviously Bhatkhande was real…nothing could deceive his eyes and senses in the daylight.

“Good morning Dhruv, what are you doing here on a weekend?”

Dhruv moved his gaze from his laptop. It was Seema, the Human Resources Manager.

“You should be enjoying this well-earned break from work. Employees like you earn us an ill reputation …no balance between work and personal life.” She said with a smile.

“Hmm…. I wish I could. Err a quick question….my apartment keys are unique, right? No other apartment keys can be used to open them, right?”

“Most certainly they are unique, Dhruv. By the way, you had asked me to help you with a name plate for your apartment. Geetanjali has done a good job. Your nameplate is very artistic and unique. It is in my office. Would you like to pick it now?”

“Geetanjali???”

“Yeah, my sister-in law, Geetanjali… she designs name-plates.”

“Thank God!” he said out loud.

Seema looked puzzled.

Dhruv shared his experience with her.

Seema looked up in her system and said, “Wait a minute, will you like to shift to another accommodation. There was one in Waldorf, which I guess got vacated by another employee. Let me check with my assistant.”

She reached for her smartphone, “Hello Geetanjali? 801, Waldorf available?”