Sign

We were going to Ooty with a stopover at Masinagudi for a night. We were travelling by bus from Bangalore. As soon as the bus started moving so did my stomach. At first my stomach was making me feel a bit uneasy then queasy and half way through our ride I was battling  full blown nausea. Whenever the bus stopped for a break I would leap out of the bus  and walk in circles gulping in air trying desperately  to overcome my nausea. I was practically climbing the walls by the time we reached our destination and was so relieved to get out of the bus and feel the  ground beneath me that I had to literally stop myself from kneeling down and kissing it.

We soon found out that we were stranded: the local transportation operators had gone on strike that day and we couldn’t contact our resort because our cell phone had no signal in that region. We made ourselves comfortable in a canteen while plotting our next move. There didn’t seem to be a phone booth that we could use so we asked the lady in the canteen if she could lend us her cell phone to contact our resort. She readily passed her phone to us. We could successfully contact the resort manager and arrange for a pick up. When we offered  to pay for the call the lady refused to accept any money.

As we were waiting to be picked up I noticed an unkempt young chap looking at me surreptitiously. I didn’t know what to make of it. So I kept an eye on him discreetly all through the wait up until we were comfortably seated in our jeep all ready to leave. As we were about to leave, the lady approached us with a request. She wanted to know if we could drop a fellow villager in his village on our way to our resort. We agreed to give that man a lift. As I was profusely thanking her again for helping us out, I was surprised to find the young chap whom I was dubious about  gesturing animatedly to me. It was fascinating to watch him! It took me a while to realize that he was deaf and dumb but could comprehend what he was trying to convey.

I was blown away by how and what he was saying to me! I was so caught up in this incredible moment that I found myself enthusiastically gesturing to let that young man know that I understood what he meant.

Even now I find that encounter surreal! Such profound thought explained to me by someone I least expected it from and in a manner that was beyond words. His message in sign was Hey, you are so caught up in your act of thanking that you are missing the bigger picture here:  the lady helped you and you are helping the man and the man will in turn help someone else and that someone else is going to help another someone and that someone will help another one and that one will ………       

Rubbish

Throughout our drive in Meghalaya; from towns to countryside, bungalows to shacks; all were very tidy and clean so I knew that the above message was for us, the tourist. I instantly liked it because I felt that it hit the right spot! A bit of shaming, boosting or bombing one’s own complex regarding their education and giving opportunity to everyone to flaunt themselves as an educated elite by simply disposing their garbage the right way!

For once instead of avoiding all crowded tourist spots and routes, I eagerly visited each one of them, one after the other, to see if it was garbage free. OMG! I was witnessing the biggest magic of all: I hardly saw any litter anywhere! I was so happy and convinced of this rare reality that I chose to skip the rest of the crowded spots. To my astonishment we found a totally deserted, beautiful waterfall along the way! We enthusiastically jumped out of the car to spend some time there. We were walking towards the falls, admiring the awesome view, when my eyes fell on about half a dozen discarded disposable plates, cups and spoons carelessly strewn around the place……..gosh! What a disappointment!!

Why do you think this message failed to have the desired effect on people in this place?Was I wrong in assuming that all the litter free places were the result of this message?Leave your opinions in the comments.  

 

 

Two Wheeler?

Photo : Deccan Chronicle

A friend called to inform me that one of our high school classmates had passed away in a road accident. My first thought was, was he driving a two wheeler? She went to explain with great sympathy that his motorbike collided with a water tanker and in spite of wearing a helmet he died instantly. He was 42 years old, survived by his wife and two children. As she was saying how tragic this was and how unlucky he was all I could think was how irresponsible he was.  

The following month I was sitting across another friend of mine listening to another tragic road accident. As she was describing how devastated his family members were I couldn’t stop myself from asking out loud as to whether the person was driving a two wheeler. She said ‘yes’ and continued to narrate how in order to avoid a puddle of water he swerved and collided with an oncoming bus. Apparently his horoscope had predicted that water would be the cause of his death and he and his family had taken all precautions to keep him away from all water bodies like swimming pool, beach but puddle of water didn’t even cross their mind. She was amazed at the incomprehensible and unconquerable fate. While my mind shrieked “What?”, I ,in a very matter of fact tone, let her know that I had my own take on it. The current reality is that Indian roads are one of the most dangerous places to be in and being on a two wheeler is like signing your own death warrant.

Somehow many of us are blind to this reality. In the past few months four people whom I know have lost their lives driving a two wheeler on Indian roads. Only one person while discussing one of the above deaths was pissed off at the person for driving a two wheeler when he could have easily driven his car or taken public transport. Two of the above mentioned deaths could have been avoided by getting their job done online.

Everyone knows that today road accident is the leading cause of unnatural death. Or don’t they? Are there people like my mom whose perception of reality is screwed up? She gets carried away by sensational news about a plane crash or a sinking boat or natural disaster or terrorist bombing, sympathizes with the victims and sends a quick prayer up for being spared from such a fate without realizing that she literally hands over her life to fate each time she is on the road.

I get the impression that many are obstinate about driving two wheelers. If one asks why, affordability is the reason usually thrown at you. This applies to few. For many it is just a matter of PRIORITY! I guess I can conclude safely that for many in India staying alive or remaining functional is not their priority.

 

Water Project

A year ago……...

Our aim: To make our fourteen year daughter drink at least a bottle of water a day…

Our latest strategy: We had set the first alarm at a particular time of the day to remind us to fill her bottle with water. The second alarm was set halfway through the 24 hours window to check progress and accordingly remind-or rather push-our daughter towards finishing the bottle of water before the deadline. I had suggested to my husband that we let our daughter take the responsibility of filling the bottle herself. However he felt it would be better to concentrate on one task at a time; first, we focus on getting one bottle of water inside her every day. After we nail that, we  move on to the part of taking personal responsibility.

Second day into the strategy the alarm rang and I went to check her bottle. I was disappointed to see that she had hardly drank any water, maybe just half a cup! “Will you ever grow out of it?!” I snapped and continued with my rant, ” Do you remember that I was cooing over your baby photos and videos some time back? You then asked me if I would have preferred  to have you as a baby lifelong. I immediately replied “NO!” and explained to you that it was amazing to have you as a little one for some time but the demand of taking care of you as a baby for a lifetime would have killed me! I enjoy watching you grow and become more and more capable. You are an amazing kid! But you know what? I am totally exhausted!! I feel like I am stuck forever with the same old problem of convincing you to drink enough water!” My daughter stormed out of the room.

I was left standing there alone wondering about my bizarre outburst. It was my hopelessness speaking up after yet another failure in what I called our “water project” which we had been working on from time immemorial. I even started thinking that maybe I should stop pestering my daughter about her water intake. I had read somewhere that the necessity of drinking a particular amount of water every day was a myth. Each body requires a different amount of water and your body will let you know when and how much it requires. In other words, don’t fret over your water consumption. I even heard an actor say in an interview that she hardly drank any water and she seemed pretty healthy to me… I knew that the demotivated part of me was just trying to take the easy way out. However, the nagging mother in me refused to give up.

I thought some more and this time all fingers were pointing at me and my husband; our inconsistency to follow a plan through to its conclusion. We would fret over her not drinking enough water, would come up with a plan, follow it till we got distracted by some other issue, and conveniently forget about the water issue till we are reminded of it again by chance or some happening. Again we would come up with another plan and… you can guess the rest. That time around we hoped to break the loop and see the plan through to its end.

P.S : Hurrah! Today our daughter drinks a bottle of water a day!!!

It

I was sitting in front of my laptop staring at it, wondering how to begin my search. This time around I was going online in search of it.

I remember the first time my husband and I went to get it. That was soon after our marriage. Both of us had thought the other would have arranged for it, but soon realized the misunderstanding. We needed it latest by that night so we both hopped into an auto and asked him to take us to the best vendor in our little town. We bought the best he had, it took all of ten minutes for us to choose.

The next time around we visited one showroom after the other to find the ideal one for each of us. The salesperson tried his best to convince us to get one big one instead of two smaller ones. His romantic sentiment was that couples needed to share one but we, being the customers, overruled his suggestion and got ourselves two, one for each which made our life more comfortable and joyful.

As I said earlier, this time around I was searching for it online. I googled it up to find many vendors offering a wide variety of them. I was bombarded with jargon like Pocket spring, Bonnel spring, Foam, Memory, MDf, Latex, Rebounded foam……… oh, come on! Couldn’t anyone simplify it for me by labelling which is firm and which is soft? At last with the help of my daughter I managed to find a vendor who labelled them as hard, semi-hard, semi-soft, soft and extra soft. After extensive research and thought my daughter went for extra soft, my husband picked semi- soft and I chose semi-hard. All our choices got delivered intact. We have been using them for some time now and are thoroughly enjoying our chosen mattresses.

An Engaging Ride

On the drive to the airport in Victoria, Canada I got to know some interesting facts from our cab driver, Ravi. He told us that the cab we were travelling in was previously used by the Canadian police force for chasing fleeing suspects. Once these cars get worn out they are auctioned to the general public and they go cheap due to the rough treatment they go through! Ravi bought this car at one such auction. He said he was overall very satisfied with the car except for the little fact that it didn’t run on regular gas and required some specific kind of gas which was only available at certain gas stations.

Talking about his cab and his profession made him reminisce about Raj, the first Indian who a few years back fought hard to procure the license to run a taxi when the taxi business there was predominantly controlled by the whites. His initiative, determination and courage opened up the market for many more Indians to join this profession.

Ravi could comprehend how human pettiness, ignorance and close mindedness can turn even a seemingly little task into an insurmountable problem. His reflection on human nature made him recall his days in India when he and his community would make fun of the members of other communities for talking in a different accent. He said he didn’t realize how insensitive and ignorant he was then until he faced some hard times trying to make a life for himself in a foreign land. He then added that the remedy to cure superiority complex and discrimination is by relocating every individual from the comfort of their hometown to some foreign land for some time.

But I don’t agree with him on this point. I see many Indians who while staying abroad would have patiently lined up whenever and wherever it was required, don’t bother to do so in India. People who would rather stuff the garbage in their purse if they fail to locate a garbage can there, will not hesitate a second to throw their rubbish anywhere they please in India. We don’t imbibe anything, we just adapt to our surroundings so that we are not ridiculed and looked down upon.

Bursting Bubbles

I was watching an interview of the famous singer SP Balasubramaniam on TV in which he narrated an incident regarding singer K Chitra. She was new to Telugu industry so SPB took the onus upon himself in dictating the Telugu lyrics to her as he would be better able to help her jot down the nuances in her mother tongue Malayalam. As she was sincerely following him to a T he was busy feeding her garbage lyrics ridiculing all the people in the studio. When it was time to sing, Chitra started singing and soon found the whole studio rolling around with laughter. She sang for some time, puzzled, before quietly asking SPB why everyone was laughing. He continued to don a serious expression and pretended to have a serious conversation about it with everyone there in Telugu. The charade continued for some time till the music director clued Chitra in on what was really going on. As soon as she realized she was singing nonsense she burst into tears (which surprised SPB) apologizing profusely to the director and later complaining and lamenting to SPB for pulling such a horrible prank on her.

This reminded me of what my husband (let’s call him  “junior” as he was a newcomer to the office fresh from college) and his senior did. It was during the time of CRT terminals with mainframe computers. One of their colleagues, Priya who was diligently showing her presentation to her clients suddenly found her terminal screen go bizarre; the colour reversed, the background colour became the foreground colour and vice versa.  She panicked, not knowing what to do next and soon dissolved into tears. Her breakdown shocked the senior and junior into damage control mode; while the senior got busy consoling and encouraging Priya, the junior quickly fixed the problem by typing in some codes. Though the terminal got back its original colour in no time it took a while for Priya to get back hers. The prank played by the senior and junior on Priya didn’t go completely unnoticed. One of the senior’s colleagues suspected them to be the pranksters  and she mercilessly blasted the senior for it.

I have seen right from my school days how the conscientious and the easy-going ones consciously or unconsciously keep bursting each others’ bubble. There was this girl in my class who took her duty of writing a proverb on the board every morning very seriously. She would get extremely annoyed by some of our classmates who would be creating a ruckus in the class while she would be diligently writing. She would glare at them hard to convey her displeasure at their frivolousness which in turn would encourage them to rile her up even more. But sometimes she would completely lose her temper and end up screaming at them. This sudden outburst of frustration would shake them up enough to sober down for some time.

One can tell that both the conscientious and the easy-going ones shock each other by their respective behaviour and reaction. What, I wonder, are their afterthoughts? Do the conscientious ones go “ARSEHOLE!” or “Maybe I should lighten up a bit”? Do the easy-going go “Gosh I grossly underestimated the seriousness he/she attached to that task. I got to be careful in future not to hurt these kind.” or “Geezzz LIGHTEN UP!”?