Durga – a celebration of good over our own evils

Durga – a celebration of good over our own evils

With the commencement of Navratri, how could my next blog not be dedicated to “Durga, the celebration of good over our own evils”?

I dedicate this blog to the “Durga-ness” and the “Durga-ism” in all.

Durga-ness like righteous-ness, firm-ness, sharp-ness, courageous-ness, resolute-ness, etc. and “Durgaism” like hero-ism, dynam(ic)-ism, etc.

Must admit that I was quite tempted to write this blog from a feminist’s perspective…after all there is so much one can write. I had worded around 20 lines to that effect, which I later backspaced. And am I delighted to have done that? Why, yes of course.

So, when I thought about what evil could imply in today’s world, I came up with a whole lot of descriptions – pettiness, selfishness, ego, basically any impediment whether in the shape of a thought or an action.

So let’s look at Durga as our own little triumphs over challenging situations that we face in our lives. And celebrating that triumph could be in any form, literally!

In my journey of life, I often meet people who inspire me. They knowingly and sometimes unknowingly become my “heroes” and sometimes the protagonists of my stories.

The Real Durga

She was more popular as XL (yes, Extra Large) … right from the neighbors in her chawl to her office colleagues, everyone called her XL. They had given her this peculiar nickname because she was tall and obese. Anyone who was introduced to her would be intimidated by her boisterous nature.

I almost fell off from my chair, when she introduced herself as Shanti…I could have easily accepted any other name for that face and body…. but “Shanti”?

In today’s modern world, that name had lost its previous popularity amidst Shwetas, Praachis, Nehas and many more such names.

And there was hardly anything “Shant” i about her. She gauged my expression and decided to explain.

“You see I was a total cry-baby as a baby and when I cried, all my neighbors in the chawl used to close their doors and kept it closed till I stopped. I was a total ‘Ashanti’. So during my naming ceremony, one of the old ladies in the chawl, poured in the advice to my parents that if they name me Shanti, maybe the name would have a calming effect on me. My parents had even done Putri Shanti Pooja when they did a Griha Shanti Pooja…can you believe it? The priest had concluded that there was some fault in my horoscope and only a Pooja could relieve their daughter of all the associated pains. You can call me XL…I am more used to it.” She said with a smile.

I was introduced to her through my sister. My sister shared that XL was married to Hemant who worked in a small jewelry shop. He suffered from epilepsy and whenever he got the attacks, he almost got bedridden for days together. It seemed Hemant used to work in an IT firm, but with the frequent health issue, he was asked to look elsewhere. Hemant was the only child of his parents just as XL was the only child of her parents. Both sets of parents were aged and had their own sets of medical problems. XL was like the breadwinner of both families.

“So what kind of work does she do?” I asked.

“Sales.”

I smiled.

“XL has reconstructed her house…I mean it’s a MHADA house, which was a single-storied house, she has added one more level to it. She has asked me to get you along for a Satya Narayan Pooja which she has organized at her place.”

“But…”

“No, buts…I will pick you up after I return from work, “said my sister.

I was unsure if I should be going at all. We had briefly met only once. But I was in India after 2 years and decided to give in to my sister’s request.

It was 7.30 pm and we left for XL’s house.

“They have been married for 15 years and are planning to adopt a child.” My sister shared.

When we reached the place, there were a lot of people dancing to a band party at the entrance.

“Must be XL’s!” joked my sister. “Everything about her is king-size and loud.”

I smiled and wondered if XL was also among them dancing.

We pushed through the crowd and entered a small house with some chairs kept near the door.

The door opened into a small living room space which had the most beautiful marble temple I had ever seen.

My sister shared, “Do you know she spent almost 10 lakhs of Indian Rupees for the interior decoration work.”

Just then someone patted her on the shoulder.

My sister turned around and I turned my gaze.

There stood a beautiful lady with an orchid flower behind her ear adorning long straight hair, so perfectly matching with the purple paithani sari she had worn. Our jaws opened and stayed in that state for at least 2 minutes.

There stood a very beautiful XL, who could give all the veteran Bollywood heroines like Asha Parekh a run for their money.

“Shanti” a voice called from inside.

She politely excused herself and went in. There was a Durga changing roles to suit the environment and situation.

I later complimented her and said she was looking very beautiful.

“Ask your sister. We spent 4 hours to get this particular shade of sari and the matching accessories.” There was a childlike excitement in her at that moment.

“This is the first time, I spent something on myself.” Her eyes got moist.

“We all deserve our own moments of happiness.” I hugged her as I said.

“In today’s world, where we are often in search of some respite while struggling with our every day’s madness, sometimes vanity becomes the much sought sanity.” She concluded.

One Two Cha Cha Cha

One Two Cha Cha Cha

Happiness is warming your hands with a hot cup of tea. Then gently place them on your closed eyelids. Do you sense the warmth? I say it’s good for your eyes, too! Try it and do let me know how you felt….

Oh no…that is not something that a tea-drinking yoga guru taught me…. it’s my own little ‘getting to know each other game’ with tea. It is capable of warming you internally and calming you externally.

As per Chinese legend, the Emperor of China was drinking a bowl of hot water while he sat in the royal garden. The wind blew a few leaves, and a couple of them fell into his cup and changed the color of water. The Emperor took a sip of the colored water and was thus introduced to the aroma and taste of tea.

On a rough estimate there are 1500 varieties of tea…though if you ask a normal tea drinker in India…they know that there are only typically three types of tea

  • Chai – Powdered Tea boiled with milk, water and sugar
  • Adrak (Ginger) Waali Chai – Same as above with the flavor of ginger
  • Masala Chai – Normal Chai with concoction of cardamom, cloves, cinnamon etc.….

Again the first category can be further categorized into “Ek Cup Chai” usually offered to guests in Indian homes or the ‘Cutting Chai” which finds more reach into commercial establishments. They are like elixir to most people as they start their day with their “Cutting” …. it’s as regular to them as the sun rise, opening the shutters of their shops and anything that forms part of their daily routine.

The second category or the Adrak Waali Chai is supposedly considered to have medicinal properties…it soothes you if you have a sore throat.

The third category is the most popular of all! Not only in India but also overseas…you can see them being offered in most desi joints. Probably they are as popular as our Bollywood stars overseas, but with far more reach!

Then there are combinations and variants of the three too.

Well, if you go the south, they have the Nilgiri tea…a type of black tea which boasts of great medicinal benefits.

If you move towards the east, the Chai loses the i and becomes ‘Cha’. There are two very popular types of tea – Darjeeling Tea and Assam Tea. The flavors and appearance are distinctively different and loyalties are dramatically divided between the two. Darjeeling Tea is a hot favorite with the intellectuals while Assam Tea has a wider reach. A hardcore fan of Darjeeling tea casually remarked that Assam tea is good for washing your hands after an oily meal, you should try it!

I should not forget to mention that there is a roasted category which supposedly gives a stronger caffeine impact…. not for the weak, they say!

Then again with teas like Darjeeling, you can moderate the brew to your liking…. make it light by straining the tea leaves quickly or let it settle down at the bottom, if you like the slightly bitter taste. Not to forget the permutation and combination with and without sugar and or milk.

For the occasional tea drinkers, you can also settle down with some lime tea, peach and other fruit flavored tea…cold with some teasing by ice cubes. Perfect when you just want a cold sip.

It was in the month of April, 2008. My husband informed me that he would pick me up from near my office. I started walking towards the circle in Hiranandani Powai…. the circle was encircled by the Arcadia which housed a food court and some quaint eateries and shops, then.  It has been 8 long years since, so I wonder if time stood still or if things have remained unchanged.

I decided to step in to a small cafeteria for a cup of tea while I waited for my better half.

“Aaaanchooooo…Aaaanchooooo…. Aaaanchooooo…. Aaaanchooooo…7 times!”

This sounds familiar, I thought. I turned around and saw the source of those loud sneezes.

Vitthalrao Ghode (name changed) was more popular in our office for his sneezes than for anything else. When he started sneezing, his colleagues who sat near him would start counting aloud…for they were sure he would not stop till he reached the magical number 7. Ghodeji was a very pleasant natured man who always sported a smile on his face…even when we declared a no increment year in lieu of the slump of oil and gas industry and resulting no business.

“Ghodeji!” I called out and waived to him. All the other tables were occupied, and I did not mind his company.

Without ordering, a veg thali promptly arrived before him.

I was curious, but did not probe.

“Chai?” I offered.

“No thanks, a quick dinner for me. Actually err…I come here for dinner every day…have a monthly deal with these guys. My wife is very busy and I don’t think I should trouble her further.”

“So your wife is working too?”

“Yeah…she works after I return. She gives tuition to Class X students in Maths and Science subjects. So I eat here and go home every day so that she doesn’t have to bother about my dinner. We hardly talk to each other too.”

“Wow…. she must be a very intelligent lady…. I was never good in those subjects.”

Ghodeji smiles in acceptance of my compliment to his wife.

“I have two children… a son and a daughter…the son is in Class X. His teachers say that he is brilliant in his studies. Don’t know when he studies and how.”

“And your daughter?”

“She is 8 years old….and suffers from cerebral palsy.”

I realized how much pain and struggle this colleague was concealing behind his ever smiling face.

He continued, “Ever since she was born, my wife and I have never gone out together. Life has changed. She doesn’t look like me…(pause)…nor like her mother…her face is so different (pause)…. I have read and heard about how daughters share a special bond with their fathers….and(pause)…my daughter does not recognize me. She does not smile at me when I return home everyday.”

For the first time, I saw him crying.

I tried to look around for some tissue to offer, but there wasn’t any in the cafeteria. They expected the customers to walk up to the wash basin after a meal.

“Sorry for bothering you with my worries.”

I felt awkward doing it…and I reached out for his hands to say I understand. But the awkwardness took the better out of both of us…and we leapt back in opposite directions and looked elsewhere to just shrug it off.

I began, “I can never feel what you are going through…. since I don’t even have a child. But I sense deep pain in what you have just shared……being blessed with a special child, makes the parents special too…. (pause)…can I advise you something? (Pause)Sometimes a husband and wife start leading lives separately even though they live together. I was not very happy to hear that you hardly talk to each other. Please…if you can…sit down over a cup of tea every day.”

Weeks passed away with office workload at its peak…. but not a day went when we were not an audience to the “7 loud sneezes” and the smiling Ghodeji as he shuttled between deadlines and his family commitments.

Knock. knock.

I looked up to see who was knocking at the door of my office.

“Aaaanchooooo…” it started.

I smiled and waited till it reached the magical no.7!

Ghodeji walked in with a box of Indian sweets.

“Wanted to share my happiness with you. My son has topped in his board exams at State level.” He was beaming with pride.

“That’s great news. You must celebrate.” I said.

“I had tea with my wife after 8 years (tears rolled down his cheeks) …. never before did it taste so good…thank you!”

“ ??”

“Sometimes God sends an angel to remind us of the good things in life.” He said.

“And some good tea to celebrate it too, “I replied with a smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doppelganger

Doppelganger

Have you ever heard someone comment, “Oh…I know someone who looks so much like you or you look just like ‘so and so’!” especially if they are meeting you for the first time? And the people they draw your similarity to, could be totally unknown to you.

It is fun to momentarily believe that we have not one, or two but 7 doppelgangers around the world. Scientific research says that the odds of it happening are flipping a coin 64 million times and getting the tail always.

So could cloning have been experimented long long ago? Well, maybe!

There are various contexts available for doppelgangers. In most places, it means a lookalike or a double of a living person, though in some places it is linked to paranormal phenomenon and a forewarning of bad luck. History shares that Abraham Lincoln, Queen Elizabeth I, Poet Shelly and writer, Guy De Maupassant had found their doppelgangers.

Story has it that Maupassant’s doppelganger sat down beside him and dictated a short story, which the writer admits was ghostwritten – written by his very own ghost!

Another interesting anecdote has it that on the night of his first election, Abraham Lincoln looked at a mirror and his reflection had two faces.

Oh no…. this is not one of those scary blogs…my blog will be all about doppelgangers with their humorous angles.

During my vacation to Kolkata this summer, my husband insisted that we both go and treat ourselves to some “Phuchkas” (the Kolkata cousins of Paani-puris, Gol Guppeys and Paani Pataasheys). The Phuchka waale bhaiya as we refer to the vendor, who strategically stood at the crossing of major roads of the Southern Avenue, got very agitated seeing me. I guessed that could have been a result of a bad day, poor sales.

He could not contain his anger and after a minute or so blurted out in a very Bihari tone, “why do you nowadays go to my cousin at Lake Market for Phuchkas?”

Oh I see…. feel of loss of customer loyalty, was the reason…I thought. Hmmm….

I was zapped initially and then politely explained that was not possible since I had just landed in Kolkata and did not live in the city anymore.

He would not believe me and insisted that he had seen me regularly going there to eat Phuchkas from his cousin.

“The same face, the same mannerisms…I know I am not making a mistake,” he justified himself.

Fact was I was feasting on his products after more than 5 years.

Till the end he did not believe….and I just let that incident pass with a sigh.

Though my husband teased me and asked if I was indeed going to Lake Market to eat Phuchkas !

My doppelganger had seriously upset the Phuchka Man.

Last week, I went to the nearest shopping mall to pick up some shirts that my kids needed at school. And I saw two women walking in front of me. One of them had long hair which was light colored. She was wearing an electric pink dress which contrasted with the color of her hair. With her was a lady, whose hair was golden and short. She was casually dressed in jeans and a white top. I was walking behind them and a general assumption was probably they are from Europe, one a Dutch and the other possibly anywhere from Europe.

I heard them giggle as they headed for the elevator.

Then what I heard took me by surprise.

The supposedly Dutch lady asked “Jyare Navratri Che (When is Navratri)?

Her friend answered, “October 1 – 9.”

I paced my steps and took a turn. They were both very fair.

Did I actually hear them conversing in Gujarati or was it only an imagination? Maybe they are Europeans who have picked up the Indian language. Why not? If Tom Alter can deliver dialogues in Hindi movies with so much of proficiency, then this could also be a reality.

Or maybe, their mothers are Indian and possible Gujarati.…. I shall explain this comment.

Once a friend of mine narrated this incident…her cousin Rajesh Nair went for an interview. The interviewer was a Nair himself, so he started the discussion in Malayalam. Rajesh excused himself saying his mother was from Assam and hence his mother tongue was Assamese…. he could only converse in English, Hindi and Assamese fluently.

All kinds of theories started buzzing in my mind ……I decided to approach them.

I started off, “Hi…I hope you don’t mind. But you speak Gujarati fluently…. have you been living in India for some time or……?”

“We are Gujaratis from Ahmadabad.” Answered the blonde lady.

I looked at their hair and then at their faces as if I was not able to connect the two.

The light haired lady covered her mouth and chuckled.

The blonde lady spoke up again, “My name is Sejal Ben and she is my sister Hetal Ben. We both work in the nearby bank. After a hectic day, we decided to go to the salon to color our hair. There were two more customers with the same requirement at the salon that day. We did not realize that we would become victims of errors that day…after all we were their regular customers. But that had to be the day of “Comedy of Errors” and we now look as Europeans…ha! ha!”

We exchanged some pleasantries and parted ways.

I had to go to the supermarket to buy some flour and when I returned to my building, I spotted Sejal Ben and Hetal Ben near the lift.

Wow! Small world…I thought…. never knew that they lived in the same building or probably they are here to visit someone.

I walked up to them and said, “Hi…we meet again, Sejal Ben and Hetal Ben. So, do you live here?”

“Zorry Habibi…err.do I know you?” said the light haired lady.

I shook my head in disbelief and then realized they were wearing different clothes, yet the facial features bore an uncanny resemblance……a clear case of mistaken identity.

A Lebanese doppelganger!! And what a coincidence they were a pair… a pair of doppelgangers together!What are the odds of finding them in pairs?? Seriously!! Was I dreaming?? I pinched myself and realized I was not.

Have you met your doppelganger yet?

If not, maybe you will someday………it could be fun and eerie too!

Man Maid

Man Maid

Having a domestic help overseas is a semi-luxury that only a few privileged ones are able to avail. Being in “Land of Sun and Sand” only makes it somewhat easier compared to our NRI counterparts in USA or Europe, or for that matter anywhere in the western hemisphere.

The process of recruitment typically starts with receiving a CV, shortlisting, Skype interview, background check through Facebook…. I am serious!!

When we were contemplating hiring a full time live-in maid, our friends advised us to do a check on Facebook and seeing how many posts were posted by our prospective maid…. if she was regular with posts and comments, chances of her spending time at doing your household chores would be replaced by more time on the mobile.

Other aspects to look at were if she had an ailing family member or a small child back in her country….it could imply that the maid would be always be bogged down with worries of her family back home.

If that was not enough, there is a nationality aspect to it. Filipino maids are considered the most courteous and hardworking, but please don’t take me otherwise, my Dil is totally Hindustani. Indian maids are not so courteous and are averse to doing work as per your instructions…. they come with a mind of their own. Also they seem to have an opinion of everything, rather they feel themselves competent enough to coach you…and I am not joking! It is an experience that most Indian women in “Land of sun and sand” have shared with me.

So it got me to do some research….in Philippines, the Government trains its people before they send them overseas…. this has been vouched by all my Filipino maids. They are trained on etiquette as well as laws of the country where they are expected to take up employment.

And what do their Indian, Bangladeshi counterparts get? If you mention the word “training” …they will ask you what is that, madam? They seemed to have drawn their immense experience on-the-job.

Typically, my Indian maids interviewed me more than I did them. Their first question would typically be…which part of India are you from? They know how to market themselves well…. if I say, Mumbai, they start referring to their previous employment in a Maharashtrian family’s house and their expertise with Varan-Bhaat, Poli. I have had my share of fun sometimes, when I changed my stance and said, “Also Kolkata” …you should see the expression on their faces. Boomeranged! I have done it vice-versa also.

You might be wondering if I hired a maid for every month of my 8 years stay in “Land of sun and sand” …ha-ha!

Not really…. but how I wish, I had one consistent maid. But that has been as much a myth for me as those of you struggling with your “Bais” in Mumbai and “Kaajer Log” in Kolkata.

Some of the live-in maids here, for want of more money and not being able to take the stress of work run away. Here we call them “Khalli-Balli” …. this category of domestic help is always playing hide and seek with the Police and recruiting them can invite heavy fines and even imprisonment.

But you would be surprised at their emerging population. They say, “No problem, madam, if caught, they will put us in jail, where we will stay in AC rooms and get biriyani and when they deport us, it means free air ticket.”

When I shifted to a new neighborhood recently, I had to bid farewell to a Sri Lankan maid, who was very efficient but would not shift near my new house. Her reason…she had a bus pick-up for her Church service every Friday from near our old house. She was divorced and had been working in Saudi for a long time. Her only interest and aim in life was to be religious and not miss her Church services, she had shared. I believed her and let her go. She cried profusely as she had got emotionally attached to my children. My children too loved her…. but alas, they were also learning that people will come and go in their lives and nothing is permanent.

Entry of the Protagonist. A 40+ Indian man maid from Andhra Pradesh.  He introduced himself as Aaryan…which I believe is an assumed name.I was expecting him to be a “Srinivasa or a Bala or a Raju “. I hope I don’t sound stereo-typically parochial, but even today asking a person named Aaryan to do mopping for instance, doesn’t come easily to me.

My neighbor recommended him….” Hire him…. man maids are stronger and capable of cleaning better, they are more regular and they don’t indulge in any gossip. They only have an ego, which we need to pamper to get work out of them, like I make him a cup of tea everyday…so he works Fridays also for me.”

Now that my children have started going to school and I did not need a full-time live-in maid, he almost fit the bill. And a good recommendation from my neighbor, at least prompted me to hire him.

My encounter with Aaryan was when I returned from my vacation in India.

The moment he entered my house, he started rattling off with his terms and conditions of service.

“Madam, you cannot interrupt me in my work and assign another chore to me. I don’t like nagging and once you have hired me, you cannot terminate my services with immediate effect. You cannot tell me anything. You have to be just like the next-door madam. Do you know they are Brahmins that is why they are very good people?” I was amazed at the expression on his face when he mentioned the last line…there was a look of being blessed for getting that opportunity.

“Whoa!” I thought.

He started doing his work and then after sometime gauging the silence I had held up till then, he asked…” So Madam, is it ok?”

I replied, “I am scared of saying anything after the heavy-loaded dialogue you blurted on just entering my home.”

As we say, in any relationship there is norming, storming, forming and performing. Norms have been laid, the storm blew in before the norms, now there is an overlap between forming and performing.

I don’t make him “a cup of tea” while my Brahmin neighbor enjoys the luxury of his cleaning services on Friday.

He is a Man Friday for her but for me he is my Man Maid.

Huff and Puff

Huff and Puff

You must have read the story of “The Three Little Pigs” as a child and re-read it to your children or multi-read it to your grandchildren. Well, here is a small recapitulation for my friends who missed reading a wonderful story, around which my blog revolves.

Once upon a time, there were three little pigs. When they grew up, they decided to make houses of their own. The youngest brother built a house of straw, the middle one built his out of sticks and the eldest one built his house of bricks. A big bad wolf plays visitor to the youngest and the middle pigs’ houses and he “HUFFS and PUFFS” and blew their houses down. The younger pigs seek refuge in their elder brother’s house. The wolf “HUFFS AND PUFFS” but is not able to blow the brick house down. So he enters through the chimney and falls into a large cauldron of boiling water. Though there are various versions that a storyteller opts to narrate the story in, I continue with…the wolf’s tail and back get burnt, but he manages to run for his life. The elder pig had conveniently kept the front door open at the turn of events.

Then began the real story…the After story.

There was an ambulance waiting outside with a queue of TV Reporters, who were reporting the incident. Since it had occurred in the outskirts of Mumbai, how could the media not reach on the spot at the right time?

Far TV, Chimes How, you name any TV Channel and you would find them all jumping at the wolf to interview him. The Wild Animals Rights Protection Group emerged with all its power and managed to pull the burnt wolf into the ambulance and rushed him to the hospital. Overnight, the wolf became a star. He derived immense pleasure in giving interviews to the press and media.

A prominent Bollywood director spotted BBW (Big Bad Wolf) giving interview and boasting how bravely he escaped from the pigs, who he referred to as the mafia. The Director felt that the wolf was handsome and wanted to cast him in his next thriller movie. Soon the wolf was romancing one of the most sought after heroines of Bollywood in a lavish apartment with French windows and candles lighting up every space. The movie became a blockbuster hit and made a record as the first entry in the RS.500 crores club.

The wolf focused on his career in the movies and he prided himself at leaving his day with the pigs far behind.

The wolf is a septuagenarian now. He selectively does movies, takes a second look at the script only if it’s a meaty even if small role. He dubs for other characters and even does advertisements. The hush word is he charges a ransom for featuring in advertisements.

His autobiographical book became a bestseller. Let’s say, he became Midas. Anything he touched, kind of turned into gold. He is the social media’s favorite child too…he blogs and tweets and communicates powerful messages to his fans and well-wishers.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what happened to the pigs. The elder pig immediately was flooded with offers for his hand in marriage. He leapt at the opportunity and took advantage. He married the daughter of a real estate tycoon. In a couple of years, his brick house was replaced by a 50 storied high rise building with the best of amenities in the city.

The middle pig lost no time and completed his engineering degree from one of the premier institutes in the country. Through campus, he bagged a job in an IT Company. Within a year into the job, he applied for a 10-year bank loan to buy an apartment. He reminisced how easily land was available when he built his house of sticks…but alas! Population, inflation had reduced his opportunities…and all he could afford now was a 650 sq. ft. apartment in the suburbs. He was alarmed when he read the terms of agreement offered by the Builder…everything seemed in favor of the Builder. With his back to the wall, he reluctantly took his pen out of his pocket to sign.

Well what can I say about the youngest pig, our protagonist? His parents who continued to stay in the village gradually succumbed to old age and associated illnesses. The youngest pig decided to be with them.

Whatever little time he got, he started writing fiction stories for little piglets…the category was known as PIG LIT (Piglet Literature). He approached renowned publishing houses and submitted his manuscripts…but without success. He personally went and followed up with Dome Books, Plastic Kids Books, but he realized that they were only interested in publishing books written by celebrities like the Big Bad Wolf. One day he sat and did some brainstorming…. he realized he needed to market himself. His friend, Freddie the frog advised him…Any publicity is good publicity.

The youngest pig changed his approach. He took an appointment with the Senior Editor of Ostrich Books and in the meeting introduced himself by saying, “I am that very pig who built his house of straw that the Big Bad Wolf huffed and puffed away.”

“So?” asked the Senior Editor.

“So my book will sell like hot cake, when you market it that way.” Replied the youngest pig giving an expression as if that was implied.

“What proof do you have that you were that very pig? Can you show me the straw house and proof of residence? Is that address mentioned in your telephone bills? Do you have a WAN Card? How about Sudhaar Card?”

“But how can I prove that? Err…don’t you remember that the Big Bad Wolf blew it away?” said the pig.

“Mr. Pig, we appreciate your efforts in writing this novel. However, at this point in time, we are not entertaining manuscripts in this category. Should a future opportunity arise, we promise to get back to you,”communicated the Senior Editor with a wink and vanished out of the meeting room before the pig could even blink.

The youngest pig felt very dejected and disappointed. His mail just beeped…you have got new mail.

He reluctantly opened it…a reject mail for a blog submission to Puff Post. “Now my blog gets huffed and puffed too!” he said to himself, as a couple of tears rolled down his cheeks.

He decided to give up writing. But what would he do if he did not write? He was not as well educated like his middle brother nor a successful opportunist like his eldest brother.

He decided to go to the Himalayas, because he really wanted to run away from all his failures. But to the world, he said he was going on a journey of self-exploration.

A year later.

Big Bad Wolf, our tech savvy Anti-Hero was browsing through the net and came across a new bestseller. It was titled “The Pig who sold the Straw” and the cover picture showed a pig sitting in the Himalayas surrounded by multiple copies of the book.

He quickly called for his Manager and inquired more.

The Manager provided all the information about how the youngest pig sold all his straw that had been huffed and puffed. With the money that he got, he went on a journey to the Himalayas and on his way back, started a self-publishing house at the foothills. With very little investment, he is publishing literature across the globe, including his own. In a very short time, he has even made it to the list of the top 20 Richest Entrepreneurs under 30 published by the popular business magazine “Game Starters”.

BBW turned on the TV and no matter which channel he switched on, it was the youngest pig everywhere.

Years had flown by and BBW thought bygones were bygones.

He reached for his smartphone and tweeted

Congratulations #YoungestPig..We were two sides of the same coin, when it was “heads”, I had my days of glory, today its “tails”, your day is now! Well done for creating a story…a story that the world will remember.

 

SpongeBob

SpongeBob

Sometimes our aspirations for our children don’t match with what they have in mind. This blog captures a small boy questioning his mother, who wants to send her kids to the west for further education:

“Mamma, what will Santa Claus give me this year?”

“Ask for something not expensive, my dear.”

“What does ‘Expuhseev’ mean my dear mum?”

“When we have to give away a lot of money to buy something!” sighed the mum with a glum

“Is that not good, mamma? But it makes me glad.”

 

“If we had been in the West, we could have had

Saved the money we spend on your school and college fees

And not bothered about the medical expenses, which sting us like a million bees

So we try and save every money that could possibly be an unnecessary expense

To control the urge to overspend, we build in our minds an imaginary fence

That controls us and help us save

For your careers and a bright future, a path it helps us pave.”

 

“But mamma, why is it not north, south or east, why only the West?

Is it because the sun sets in the west? Does that necessarily make it the best?

Is it because they have more daylight that works in their favor?

If we go there will it makes us stronger, intelligent and braver?”

 

“No honey, my child you will become what you want to become, no matter where you go

The West has good education to offer, and opportunities much much more

When you earn in dollar or the Euro or the pound

And convert it into our currency, the difference will be found

You will see with the same effort you can earn 70 times or more

For a medical expense here, you would be paying many times more.”

 

“I know mamma, you are making a difficult choice

In trying to plan a future for us, both your boys

So I will not ask you to buy anymore toys

I promise not to make any more of a noise

Santa is rich and powerful too,

He can easily in our problem, see us through

Maybe I can ask him to buy something small this time and even in the years to come

And with the remaining money, make the education and medical expenses less of a headache for some

I want to hold your wrinkling hands when you grow old just like grandma did

And scold you to take your medicines if you gave them a skip

Just like Papa, I want to do a 9 to 5 job

And come back home every day to watch my favorite Sponge Bob.”

Perspectives

Perspectives

“Ouch…., “screamed my father in the middle of the night. Through the very light that a zero-watt bulb provided in my parents’ room, I could make out a silhouette of my father enacting as if he were playing hopscotch. My room was right opposite theirs only partitioned by a narrow corridor.

“Ki holo (what happened in Bengali)?”

By then, Ma had managed to get up and put on the main lights in the room.

“Again? Sumita?”

“What happened?”

“I don’t understand why you keep moving the furniture in the house. The corner table…where has it gone now? At least inform me so that I don’t end up ripping my toe nail in the middle of the night, when I get up for a glass of water.”

“But we discussed about it last evening. You saw it in the verandah and opined that it was a better fit there.”

My Baba seemed like the fussiest kid ever. He had forgotten about the new arrangement.

My mother liked moving the furniture in the house from time to time. She thought it gave us a new perspective of looking at things.

“But then why call it corner table, if it is not going to be in the corner anymore?” said Baba disgustedly.

He had managed to sit on the bed still fussing about a small portion of his toe nail that had come off.

My mother knew it was useless to argue at that moment.

They are clearly the chalk and cheese of my life.

My father liked everything technical and orderly while my mom was someone who took pride in putting up Monet paintings about the fireplace mantle in our living room…. she was not as much a stickler for order though.

Clearly I had inherited a combination of their genes. And much to my mother’s surprise, I had inherited the characteristics of being orderly and surrounded by orderliness around me.

I wanted to get a clear picture of how hurt Baba was. So I tried to find my slippers to go and take a peek in their room.

“Oh Maa……!” I shouted.

I had fallen down. Not hurt but more shocked with the impact. I had bumped into the chestnut chest in my room. A victim of darkness and Ma’s change of perspectives, clearly.

Click. The main lights were on in my room now. My parents had made a dash to my room when they heard me scream. I turned to look at them. Baba was still in hopscotch pose.

“Ma?? When did you shift the chest near my bed? I always keep my slippers near that wall.”

“Shona, you asked me to give you something where you could store your important papers. The chest was lying partially unoccupied. So yesterday, I cleaned it with the wooden polish that your Mashi got from the States and kept it for you to use.”

“Hmm…” I murmured.

I had returned late last night because of some presentation I had to make for an inter-school competition. My mother was still awake when I returned. It was 11 pm. My parents usually hit the sack by 10 pm. But yesterday Ma was reading a book and waiting for me.

When I returned, Ma wasted no time in serving me some dinner and retiring to bed.

Twenty years later.

“Mamma you have moved the toy organizer to the kids’ bedroom now? Wow!” exclaims my 4-year-old daughter who has just returned from school.

“Do you like it, Oony?”

“Yes, mamma, I love it. If you did not move it, we would not have realized that there was so much of space in the playing room. “

Silence.

“But mamma, what will we do in the playing room now?”

“It has been converted to a study, where you can sit and complete your homework and your younger brother will not disturb you. He can be busy with his toys in the kids’ bedroom.”

Clearly time had flown past. I had realized that much to my surprise I had inherited my mother’s genes after all. I felt happy in creating new perspectives and enjoying them.

Meanwhile, when I visit Kolkata now, it’s a whole new story. My father still keeps grumbling about furniture being shifted around and concludes, “Sumi now we are old man and woman, what new perspective do you keep looking for?”

My daughter defends her grandmother, “I like it, any change is new and good.” She hugs her grandmother as she teams up with her.

No one can overrule the little boss now. Clearly a position that my daughter has occupied in her grandparents’ hearts and minds.

Baba smiles and says, “Oony Shona, you are right. The nest of tables looks perfect in front of the wall with the Tanjore paintings now.