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!”?

Bambi

Bambi came to our house on Deepavali carrying wishes and good luck. She was a surprise!

The doorbell rang on the morning of this special day. My husband attended the call, took the box that was passed to him by the courier boy and without a second glance placed it on the table and went on with his business.

After some time I pick up this rectangular parcel and notice that the address on it is ours but it has someone else’s name on it. When I rebuke my husband for not checking the name before receiving the parcel, he points out that the address is correct and the one who was sending it was a vendor that we very frequently use. The vendor is sending out gifts to all his preferred customers, us being one of them and somebody just goofed up the name.

I was reluctant to accept the gift which I felt might be for someone else. I left the parcel back at one corner of the table so as to return it if the courier boy came back for it. No one came or called asking for it. We were divided about opening the parcel : my husband and daughter wanted to open it and see what it was and I didn’t. I wanted to be sure that it was meant for us.

We anyhow looked on all sides of the parcel to get a clue of what it was. We didn’t have to look hard. There in bold print were wishes of good luck and a paragraph about the good luck bamboo plant. So they had sent a bamboo plant!

I had a bunch of them in my previous house because it’s an ideal indoor plant and all it needs is some water to thrive. They were doing quite well until I had to leave them behind on a one month vacation. I placed them in a much bigger bowl brimming with water which I hoped will be enough for them to live till I came back.  Sadly that was not the case; there was enough water but almost all of them were dead except for couple of them who were barely hanging on. I was puzzled, I didn’t know what was going on so I googled to find out as to how to care for good luck bamboo plants. It said how frugal their needs were; just pure clean water. It then struck me that my dirty impure tap water killed them!

Now I was all the more wary of accepting the gift because I wasn’t sure that it was meant to be with us. I decided that I would put it away for a couple of days to hand over if it were to be claimed, else I would accept it as ours.

I completely forgot about the plant until my daughter reminded me after a week  or so about it. I rushed to open it thinking that perhaps I killed this one too. There were two of them; one was healthy enough and the other was almost dead. I placed both of them in the small container and pebbles provided in the parcel to support the plants. This time around I fed them with pure mineral water. Soon the almost healthy one became greener and healthier but I lost the other one. It took me some time to let it go.

Our Bambi is growing well. I am happy for her but at the same time I am worried that she might one day get too big for her container. Then I will have to shift her into a bigger container but I am shit scared to do that. What if I end up killing her ? Now when I water her a part of me pleads her to slow down, to remain little. That part of me feels guilty for being a coward which wants to stunt her growth, her potential. But the other bigger and braver part of me had decided to put my fear aside and instead rejoice and support her in whichever way she wants to grow.            

Toilets

I was visiting an older relative of mine in India with my one year old daughter. While we were there my daughter pooped. So I asked my relative as to where I could change my daughter’s diaper. She immediately guided me to the washroom. As I was about to  ask her if I could use the dry bedroom floor for changing the diaper, the image of her grossed out look or her comment at using wet wipes to clean my kid’s ass instead of water flashed through my mind which made me seek the privacy of the washroom. I stepped in with my daughter and the diaper bag with a smile pasted on my face.

As soon as I closed the door behind us my smile vanished and I desperately looked around to find a way to change my daughter’s diaper. As I had suspected the floor was wet! The bathing area wasn’t enclosed. It was a typical semi-modern Indian bathroom; a portion designated for bathing with an imaginary line separating it from a lone wash basin at one corner right opposite  the toilet and the hand faucet (in case you are wondering, hand faucet is used for washing your bum). In India we use water to clean up our ass. We don’t use toilet paper.

When my husband and I shared this piece of information with a Canadian friend , she heartily agreed with the fact that water would do a finer job of cleaning than toilet paper does.

Her next question was:   “So what do you use to clean the area with while using water?”

Our reply:    “Our hand”.

We hear a grossed out “What? Doesn’t shit smudge all over your hand?”

We say:    ”No, not  if you do it properly. And the squatting position we use while using an Indian style toilet(can see the pic above) leaves nothing or very little shit behind to be cleaned.”

I personally like the Indian style toilets  in public washrooms because none of your body parts come in contact with any part of the toilet which makes it hygienic.

We practice Indo-Canadian methodology in our home. The first step is to wipe the ass with toilet paper, second step is to wash it with water and the third to wipe it again with the toilet paper which leaves us feeling totally clean and dry! 

PS : If you are wondering whether I managed to successfully change my daughter’s diaper, the answer is yes; but I don’t remember how. I guess all the thinking that I did (god alone knows for how long) in that bathroom fried my brains enough to instantly forget all about it!

Ladakh with Motup

The view from my plane window was breathtaking! I was awestruck by the lunar landscape: brown rolling mountains. I had never seen anything quite like this in my life! We would soon be landing in Leh airport, Ladakh, the highest civilian airport in India.

Complementary to the landscape was the hotel manager, Tsering who had zen like quality: serene face with a gentle smile and did every task with great poise. He introduced us to Motup who played a key role in the next few days of our lives.

Motup drove us through Khardung La , a high mountain pass at 17,582 ft to Nubra valley. While returning back the next day we got stuck at North Pullu check point . They weren’t allowing any vehicle to pass through until they had cleared the snow along the pass. The first snowfall of that season!

While waiting I experienced my first and only altitude sickness; difficulty in breathing. As I was trying hard to breathe in more air I could sense  the sudden shift in the mood around : from everyone looking bored or chatting in groups to everyone rushing to get into their cars. Motup jumped into the car, revved up the engine while informing us that the snow has been cleared and that they are letting us through.

Everyone was in a great rush to be among the first ones to cross the check point and start climbing the mountain. People  went to great lengths to overtake one another. We saw an Innova  climbing up the hill bumping and jumping along the rough patch from the road below to the one above while the rest of us were sane enough to take the proper U-turn. After all this drama of rushing and risky overtaking soon we find cars stuck at various points due to snow! I was so happy to see the hop step jumping Innova stuck  on our way up. But soon we got stuck too.

The guy behind us helped Motup dress our tyres in snow chains to prevent skidding.That’s when we got enlightened by Motup about the mad rush that went on. It was simple, you can’t be the last one to get stuck because then there will be no one to help you with the snow chains. Now that the snow chains were on Motup wasted no time in cruising along the climb steadily.

We were all relaxed, taking the scenery in and enjoying the snow when all of a sudden I felt the car veer off towards the deep deep valley. For a minute there my heart plunged and my mind in a flash went through our ending: the car with all of us (my daughter, my husband and me) in it nosediving first and then rolling down violently and endlessly into the valley. Thankfully LIFE decided to stick around with us. Motup regained control over the car. Our ride from then till we reached our hotel was a very silent, perhaps very reflective one for each one of us.    

The next day (our last day in Ladakh) we were having second thoughts about going through Chang La to Pangong lake considering our little misadventure the previous day. But Motup convinced us otherwise and we found ourselves standing on the shore of the lake taking in the beautiful view.

I was surprised to see Motup early next morning ready to drive us to the Leh airport! I thought he did only long trips. He promptly dropped us off at the airport, helped us unload the luggage and acknowledged our thanks with a nod and a smile before disappearing into the car and driving away.

Guru Dutt

Sahib Bibi aur Ghulam knocked me off my feet some twenty five years back and I am still under its spell. The character Chhoti Bahu was awe inspiring and I fell in love with Guru Dutt for making such a progressive movie!

Until a few days back I had thought that Guru Dutt had directed the movie but was surprised to read that Abrar Alvi won the Best Director award for this movie in the book GURU DUTT A Life in Cinema written by Nasreen Munni Kabir. I also hadn’t  known till then that it was based on Bimal Mitra’s Bengali novel and that it had been already adapted to the screen in a successful Bengali version..

Another thing that struck me was how much Guru Dutt cared about what the audience felt.There were some scenes in this movie which the public did not like so he cut one, re-shot another and took an additional scene and inserted these new scenes into every print in town!

My daughter asked me as to how I felt about Guru Dutt now. I thought about it and realized that before I considered him a superhuman who was unreachable, a person who followed his passion with great ease and such confidence that he wouldn’t have cared about a commoner’s opinion. Now I admire him as a person who didn’t let his own insecurities and indecisiveness stop him from becoming a brilliant film maker! His vulnerability makes him very endearing!