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Monsoon showers

There is something about rain. As its constant pitter-patter rattles the window and shakes the thin steel sill. It began with a drizzle a while back. As the two arms move with ferocity on the watch dial, the drizzle has morphed into an ominous thunderstorm. Gusts of wind announce their presence by a ‘whoo’ noise that tears in through a crack in the window. Just like a scene straight out of horror movies. The ‘whoooo’ that precipitates the entry of a ghost or a grand ending!

Today, the horror movies run only in the mind, if they run at all. The wind continues to drive more drops of rain to the window with a ferocity that could be compared to the hunger of a famished jungle cat. The tea in the cup is fast exchanging some of its warmth for some chill in the air. The clock ticks in the background. It is surprising how the sound of the ticking clock reaches the ear. Beating the ‘whooo’ of the wind and the incessant pitter-patter of the rain drops marching in random splendour.

In a distance, the leaves sport a new coat of green. The rains wash away the dust and soot to the give the leaves new radiance and energy to the roots. The leaves and branches sway with recalcitrant ease. It’s some sight. A perpetual random sway of a swathe of green like an unkempt ruffle atop a drugged out rockstar on stage. These days the fields that gave the first space for the roots of the trees to spread are now paved with cement, tar and potholes. Potholes that warm up to the season by gluttonously filling up with whatever rain water that they can hold.

Beyond, the hills of Powai sprout patches of green. The washed out brown that was in vogue as the summer collection of sorts, is just about getting dismantled. Think of a mannequin in a fashion sore that’s getting a new set of clothes. The ‘Rain Collection’, if you will, is here.


A single rain drop holds on to the window grill with steely will. When it finally parts company of the grill and heads ground bound, there is almost melodramatic sadness from the separation. Like a lost love.

Meanwhile, children play. For them, the first rain is to be soaked up and wrung well. Not the sophisticated children who live in the air conditioned high-rises, relishing the freedom that ‘3d animated’ video games offer. The kids that are soaking up the rain today are real children, with life, jumping with joy. Raindrops driving away every worry on the brow. Shrill hoots and aimless running to catch other. Its a feast for the eye. The soul’s hidden thirst for such sights reveals itself in the voracious quench.

In a short while, the gusts of wind become a spent force. Suddenly a milder gentler breeze rules, in a change of guard that is smooth. The rain changes from pitter-patter mode to a drizzle-drizzle mode. Nature’s infinite assortment of ringtones never fails to impress with its variety and depth. The tea in the cup has traded its all of its warmth for a dose of chill.

Warming up to watching the rain and getting soaked to the toe is an allure that has held invitation beyond reason. There is something to the rain that elude words.

People, monsoon showers are here.

Role Models, besides the point

Her name was Mrs.DeMonte. She was my teacher in school.

Mrs.DeMonte was a stern teacher. I was of an impressionable age and it troubled me immensely that nothing I did elicited the simplest of smiles from her. I wonder what subject she taught me. That is still a blur. But an apparition of her stern self stays fresh in the mind. To this day.

One day, she announced with a flourish, that there was going to be an ‘elocution’ competition. ‘Here’, I must have told myself, ‘is the chance to impress her’. For I remember rushing home and declaring that I must prepare and all that. Memory fails me if it was a ploy to avoid maths homework or it was genuine excitement about the competition and the small window it presented to impress the lady.

The times then were different. There wasn’t any internet. My parents, like most parents then, thankfully were disinterested in my homework in a very interested sort of a way. If you know what I mean! But my dad, the genial man he was, was as interested in this project, for some reason. I wasn’t sure why, but I couldn’t care less.

The topic was “My Role Model”.

“So, who is your role model”, he asked. Looking up occasionally from a magazine that used to get published then, called “Gentleman”. Now, I hadn’t bargained for this. I thought they would write down a page that I could memorise and go ‘vomit it’ (as was the parlance and accepted procedure) to the silly judges under the watchful tutelage of Mrs.DeMonte. That was the plan.

If life taught me early lessons of mounting a tiger and just being unable to get off it, for fear of it devouring the rider and his audacity, it started with this. My dad would have nothing of the ‘mugging up’ or the ‘vomiting out’ business. Even more, he abhorred those phrases. It was clear, for this exercise, I had to go with him and his laborious questions that popped out in monosyllables.

“Gandhi”. I remember telling him. Afterall Gandhi was an old man. It was drummed into our head that ‘he got freedom for us’ etc. But then, I didn’t have any further answers to my dad’s grand question of ‘Why else’. So was the case with every other ‘role model’ I suggested.

In sometime after my options were exhausted, “Do you know of a man called Nelson Mandela”, he asked. Of course, I didn’t. A silent groan escaped me as I loathed the idea of having to figure out all about a man who I didn’t know at all. Forget connecting. But most important of all, I didn’t know how Mrs.DeMonte would react.

In about half an hour, he assembled a set of books and clippings of Nelson Mandela. He added some of his handwritten notes with handwriting that you would argue was more typeset printing. Along came a blue dictionary with frayed edges. “Read all of this, look up words you don’t understand and tell me the story. You will do well, don’t worry”. He said, and then quietly left the place, in the most matter-of-fact manner there ever was. He wasn’t the helicopter parent that hovers atop the modern day kid.

I dreaded it all. But the story of one man, who fought a Government, and was in jail for several years gripped me steadily. I read and reread all the clippings he left with me. Of course, I had to look up the dictionary ever so many times and often had to run back to him, not knowing what the dictionary was telling me.

In a few days, the speech was ready.

To save you more drama, the speech was done, and I cant remember if I won a prize. (To be read as ‘No-prizes-were-won. Not-even-consolation-prize”). It didn’t matter, for Mrs.DeMonte was clearly unimpressed. Or so I thought. “Next” she said, asking the next kid to go on stage, when I was done. Not a word of “Well done” or even the omnipresent meaningless “good” that got spouted when there was nothing else to say.

But that was besides the point. I was hooked to Nelson Mandela. He was my role model. A hero of sorts. We talked about him at length at home. That too was besides the point. The point really was, I was hooked to reading. Exploring. Imagining and discussing these with dad. My admiration for people and what they accomplished started going up infinitely. Naturally, in a few years, there were several people who came into my world.

My ‘role models’ kept shifting. Moving with elan from one person to another with a sophistication of a serial killer par excellence. Not that the earlier person would be dismissed from the memory or consigned to a place of lesser importance.  It was just that someone else came on to occupy the place of the prima donna. Gary Kasparov. Lee Iacocca. M.K.Gandhi. Ronald Reagan. R.K.Narayan. Shashi Tharoor ( At that time, he used to write a column in the Gentleman whilst being a diplomat at the UN). Rakesh Sharma. And so on.

Several years later, the day Mandela was released from prison, we saw those live pictures on TV. Me and dad. “He looks very different from the times we did the preparation for the competition, appa” I said. “He has changed. So have you”, he said. That was a telling statement. I wonder why, but I took it as a compliment and let matters rest.

At that precise moment, I realised, that through all the fickle changes to my ‘Role Models’ my dad had kept me company. Helping me reflect. Arguing with nothing but a point here or point there. An arched brow while swallowing the delicacies that mom made.

Over the years, I have myself listened to several people speak of their role models. Every story has been gripping. Generally, there are two categories to this. The first category consists of those in the public space. A celebrity. An outstanding sportsman. A politician. Statesman and the like. Generally, well written about and more than well known. The other category of role models is this deeply personal space. Like dad. He was my role model. People who you love. A grandmother. An uncle. A mother. Etc. Known in the context of immediacy and love of the family. Or friendship.

A few years ago while hearing the story of a cowherd in a remote village, as he narrated his life story tending to his cows, I had tears flowing down my face. It was his story that he narrated after considerable prodding. A story that he told without emotion and with no other more an ask other than filling time and limitless curiosity of a traveler and his camera. A story of how he pledged every single belonging save his cows to get his daughters educated.

As much as his story left an indelible impact, the premise of relishing heroes that donned ordinariness as their grand robes seemed to lead me somewhere. Ever since then the primacy of people who have been featured and are famous has ceded ground to ‘ordinary’ people and their stories.

I learnt from many and whoever I learnt from, automatically qualified to become a sort of a reference point for something in life. Giving me new found energy to wade further on in my own life.


Like this man who I met, one early morning, as he whipped out delectable glasses of filter kaapi at a roadside eatery. Making much of whatever came by from his kaapi joint.


c vada

Or this man, his co-worker, who made magic with his fingers and while making vadas that both tasted incredible and also had such perfect shape, that I bet the folks that showcase their ware on Masterchef can build a temple or two in honour of. They posed for these pictures with joy, not for a minute wanting to do their faces up or questioning ‘Why’. In their sparkling eyes, steadfast smiles, inviting demeanour amidst surroundings that you could mildly call ‘less than proper’, they taught me a thing or two of staying happy, doing their vocations well and rocking it even if no one noticed.

If that is not Role Model material, I wonder what is. In the tumultuousness of the ‘ordinary’, many people and their stories plod on, living their lives. In the quest of the spectacular, we miss the grand in the simple. I invoke this contrast in order to dispel it. The indescribable ordinariness that gets dismissively called ‘daily life’, holds extraordinary tales. Tales that other role model chronicles that come to the mainstream must hold a candle to.

May we have the eyes and ears to see and hear these well. May our hearts be grand enough to propel us to share these stories. When the good folks at Blogadda triggered thoughts on ‘My Role Model’ I wondered who really my role model was. It troubled me that I couldn’t come up with one name in a jiffy. Of course, there was dad whose deep searching questions made it impossible to believe what was in the surface was all that there is to life. He played a big part.  But several others have shaped it and continue to do so. Till date. By just living they live their own lives well.

I began writing to see if writing could clarify what was on my mind. This is where its brought me. With abandon I publish it here. Am sure this is not what they had in mind when they announced the contest. But contests and victories are, besides the point. A brusque wonderful lady, by the name Mrs.DeMonte taught me that well.

I am writing about #MyRoleModel as a part of the activity by Gillette India in association with BlogAdda.com

Developments in the family

So there are some developments. This is as personal as it can get. Sharing them with you here is the most appropriate and pertinent. You will realise why.

Several of you, going by the tenor of posts here, must have guessed that there is something brewing in my life with an accent on the future. Well, it is here!

A few weeks ago a stocky man with matching yellow teeth approached me with a proposal that was too good to be true. First of all, he claimed to have read all my intemperate writing on the blog. Now whenever someone says that, I am filled with a strange concoction of emotions. Of gratitude, surprise with an ‘are you for real’ kind of feel. Worse, he said the blog had a ‘lazy elegance to it’. ‘Lazy elegance’ is something that I reserve in reverence for the cover drives of David Gower. It perked my ears so much that my face had to work hard to keep the ears stitched to their place.

‘We must meet’ he said, on the phone.

So we did. At a five star hotel. ‘I’ll pay’, he said, even before we ordered anything. He gave subtlety such a stretch that it expanded its horizons considerably and got a new soul. His accent was impeccable, the perfume that he wore stood out and there were no creases on the cotton trousers.  These things don’t matter much, you would think.  Well, yes and no.

But what he had to offer, sure did. A job. A new swell job.

“You have to travel to parts of the world, talk to people source stories of their livelihood, click pictures to embellish the stories and tell it to the world”. On his magazine and website that is. ‘ You have a an uncanny knack of connecting strange dots’ he said, revealing teeth that suddenly seemed less yellow than they were half an hour before.

You could well imagine that my heart was at a different ebb. A fight to conceal the height of the ebb ensued. With a certain self effacing grim look, furrowing my brow, I asked, ‘why me?’

‘Oh. I need a fresh perspective. A bloggers perspective’ He said, resuming sipping his peach flavoured ice tea. That was that. His effortless eloquence was wafting in its brevity, when the questions were a tad important. Important to me, that is.

I told him that I had to think about it.

“Look”, he said, “The money is good. It will cover your home loan, pay for a world class education for your daughter and leave you with enough money for your missus to be happy.” And with a taciturn smile added, “and ofcourse, for your books. Unlimited purchases allowed on company account.” I felt my stomach churn. I seem to have shared way too much on the blog. Or he had been reading my mind. He knew the right buttons. Damn.

But more was coming. He was just warming up. “Your first assignment will be in the Nordic countries. You can start next week..I mean, as soon as you are ready. We’ll have the tickets arranged” He continued. In a span of time that can be safely called ‘very short’, he made me an offer and in another fifteen minutes, increased it by 50%.

The feeling of resting on what made you become who you are

I felt like a flower. Floating in the air and resting on a leaf.

Everything was perfect. The only let down was perhaps his sense of humour. Which swung from the sublime to the silly. I didn’t know which was worse. His sense of humour or his own impressions of his sense of humour. But that’s another unnecessary  side-story. Let me not digress.

In another fifteen minutes, he had got me to tamely agree to his terms, making them seem like my terms. “So, see you next week. My secretary Cynthia will reach out to you with the other formalities. She is a lovely lady and you better be nice to her”, he said. Letting out a loud belching laughter, that caused every eyebrow in the vicinity to arch in annoyance. I couldn’t care less. The row of yellow teeth seemed to be glowing white.

My head spun in happiness. We were wrapping up. He was preparing to go his way and to fill in a brief interlude of silence, “Is there anything that you want me to work on immediately?” I asked. More as a matter of courtesy than anything else.

“Nothing at all” he said. In quarter of a second, he jumped with energy filled gusto “As a matter of fact there is. Change your blog. Get your own website. And what kind of a silly name is ‘Kavi’s Musings’? You are not Salman Rushdie, are you? Get a website in your name. It will be good for you.”

I couldn’t connect this bit about Salman Rushdie. But then, my heart was all over the place to pay heed to hideous logic. Plus my head was still unrelenting in its spin  as I saw the cotton trousers disappear into what seemed like a horizon.

I don’t know for how long I continued sitting in the five star hotel. The next I knew the missus was shaking me up. As a strong filter kaapi began to shake each nerve and wake every ounce of blood that coursed the veins, reality struck that the short stocky man with the silly yellow teeth had played the most cruel trick on me by making the offer when the eyelids were firmly shut in slumber.

Of course, the missus laughed on hearing the story as I pranced about the balcony with poise. The silly dream was still sticking.

“So, the next time, you meet the short stocky man with shiny white teeth, who offers you a pot of gold in exchange of you having to visit the most exotic places on earth, carry a camera around and write about them all, negotiate a better deal”.

“Like?” I asked. In irritation, with a ‘whats wrong with you’ tone. How better can the deal get?

“Well, tell him that your stories come alive better when the family is around with you in your travel.” She said that with great poise and without bating an eyelid.

I gave her a grim steely glazed look that I reserve for those moments where I have been conscious enough to realise that whatever I say could be held against me later on.

With the reflex action of a kid who has lost an argument to the class bully and goes around kicking the cupboard, I decided to do away with the blog and launch this website in my name. www.kaviarasu.com !

I hope you like it. Please tell me you do.The next time the short stocky man arrives, I must be prepared. To negotiate a better deal, you see.

Smiling Neigh #WINS

These horses hold their sway at a small temple in the interiors of rural Tamil Nadu.  They convey colour and sense of raw presence through the lens of the camera. 

Through the lens of the eye, the statues almost jump at you with a neigh of a horse in motion. Especially when you see multitudes of people thronging the precincts with hope and fervour. Cooking the traditional pongal , dancing to hard beats and an alien but alluring tune.   All in reverence. In honour of the lord.
For the ill to be warded. A child to be cured.  Or even a prayer of thanks, for all that has been and in subtle way, asking for the ‘nice’ to perpetuate! 

Today, for some reason, these horses with their vibrant colours and reverberating neighs come before my eyes as I review an assortment of thoughts that I want to share at #WIN 

There are a heap of real cool people coming in today. I have had great fun putting my thoughts together, not to mention dealing with the countless memories that came rushing back of Sundar, Ghost Particle, Manu and several others! People who I aspired to hang out with on blogs ten years ago and who went to become wonderful friends. Yes. Its I hope My Story will resonate with a few that come. 

Follow #WIN on twitter today. And of course, wish me some more luck! 

Renewal Time!

A brand new year has come our way. Yet again. Like it always does. Here is another opportunity to seek renewal of promises made and conversations had. With others and ourselves too.  ourselves too. 

Here is a wish. Actually here are a bunch of wishes for you. For me. And for the rest of the world. A set of disparate wishes that perhaps form an incoherent bouquet of sorts. Delivered with love, which is its only redemption. Perhaps!

Here is a wish for moments stolen from the frenzy of daily living to pause and ponder. At the marvel of creation and the simple joys of life and living too. 

A wish to keep reality of the large world firmly in our midst even as detest even the slightest seconds that we are disconnected, from the internet that is!  

A wish to stay healthy in the mind & body, with a resolute belief that ‘things have a way of working out’. A wish in tow for good sleep. Good habits. And great choices! 

For patience with our fellow people. For acceptance. For passion, consistent effort and zealous work to strive for progress.  

I look at my daughter and the words flow on to the screen with greater ease. 

A fervent wish for each of us to be filled with curiosity about what’s possible. A child like laughter. Togetherness. And a devout hope for a better future. 

And then, to look around and pass these, better wishes and some cheer, at the first available excuse to our children. And their children. Year after year. 

For now though, its Happy New Year 2014. Heres wishing you the best! 

Prayers On A Pad

If you were born in a time when exams held their tyrannical sway over young lives, you could never forget those swarthy exam pads. The very sight of them used to cause me to quiver in my well worn Bata shoes. Scared frenzy propelled sweat would populate every conceivable pore. 

It was but logical, that I turned to invoking God on to my exam pad.  Over a period of time, a variety of stickers of every conceivable God on Earth were pasted across the pad. On my pad there were Gods with spears. Another on a tiger. All of them with myriad weapons and paraphernalia. Some with ten hands, dazzling crowns, halos around their heads. Jesus was there with blessings seemingly streaming from his palms. A picture of the grand mosque at Mecca. Buddha. Every conceivable God that you could think of was there. 

I couldn’t care less which of those Gods would lend a hand. I just needed a hand. Incredible things were reported of every single God. As a young lad who just needed to clear his exam, religious difference were silly.  

Two days before the exam, my dad spotted the God sporting pad!  Not looking up from the newspaper he was devouring along with his filter coffee, he let go of a suitably loud guffaw and said, ‘God is just an idea’. 

My head reeled. An idea? I mean, here were chaps with bows, arrows, crosses and array of mystical powers that debilitated enemies with precision, were paragons of kindness and generally oversaw the ways of the world. All I was asking was some help with the math exam. And my dad was calling it a giant hoax. Almost. 

He followed it up with “If you don’t believe in yourself, God isn’t going to believe in your prayer. He is a busy man. He sure has other things to do than solve your math exam. Don’t you think so?” 

That holiday, I remember taking walks with him. Discussing God. Man and most importantly, exams! He stood tall. Not in a physical way. Not even in a literal way. But in a shy, unobtrusive, middle class way where all change and soaking up had to happen by the dint of effort, respect and quiet fortitude. And any action remotely akin to showmanship without substantial substance was despicably pejorative. 

From him I learnt taking walks and sorting things out in my mind. By the time, I had come to my Board exams, the exam pad sported cartoon characters. I had come full circle. I had taken many walks. I thought too highly of God and a trifle too funnily of exams. That notion has stuck for life. 

His ways were woefully unobtrusive. There were times you would expect a clear answer and all that I would end up having, was a smirk. Or an arched eyebrow. A punctuated guffaw. Following which he would dive into his collection of books like a chef searching for the choicest of ingredients and return with two books. Or more. ‘Go read’ he would say. Sometimes with an afterthought, add, ‘The Dictionary is in the cupboard’. On hindsight, I should have  deciphered that code as as  ‘this-is- a-@*#%*$&-tough-book-to-read’

J.Krishnamoorthy. Shakespeare. Milton. Kannadasan. Biographies. Judgement copies. Constitution. Economics. Osho. The Gita. It was a time when not reading the Reader Digest was a sin only slightly lesser than daylight robbery. We argued. We questioned. Sometimes he would answer. Many other times he would just stay silent and say ‘think’. 

From him I learnt the indelible virtue in reading. A virtue that necessitated respect for multiplicity of points of view. He never insisted that I study any subject, save Math and Tamil. For which I remain eternally grateful. He had such a surfeit of generosity in his invitations to read and talk, that I would often end up playing cricket, citing difficulty to choose from all that he had to offer.  Or so I told him. And he would play along.  

Back in school, one fine morning, I was told I was going to be the next School Pupil Leader. It came with a few duties. One of which was to get on stage every morning and sort of compeer the prayer ceremony. Every morning.  This was the unkindest of blows to a chap who suffered from tongue-gets-pasted-to-lips-the-moment-there-is-a-crowd-in-front disease. 

No way was I going to do that. I made a deal with him. He would talk the school out of it and in return, I will work hard and come amongst the top three rank holders in school. I mean, that was the best I could offer, given the unbelievably studious chaps that I think could have out beaten Google! Or so it feels now. 

He thought about it and said, ‘deal’. I was happy as a blissful pig who found a new ugly spot to roll in. Even if you had offered me three ice cream Sundaes I wouldn’t have been happier. If you offered me four, well, that is hypothetical, and let’s not go there.  

He dutifully came to school and met the Principal. That evening over dinner, he was beaming. I was happy that this School Pupil Leader thing was put to rest. With a small portion of a dosa in his mouth he spoke. ‘They made me a better offer’. 

My world collapsed. It was a teenage moment when seething anger gives way to blinding rage at the injustice meted out to ordinary people. ‘AND WHAT IS THAT BETTER OFFER’ I thundered like a Tamil hero. (May I request you to please add an echo and a thundering background special effect sound as is the norm). He continued munching his dosa, nonplussed. Paused for a brief moment, and said, “They said, It will be good for you.” And that was that. 

From him I learnt ‘to persevere’ is more important than ‘to perfect’. From him I learnt that as long as you are still standing in the ring, you haven’t lost the fight. 

He used to come to the plays I acted in, but would never tell me he was coming. (“You should perform for the sake of performance. Not for who is in the audience”).  He never wrote a letter of recommendation. He insisted that we always lifted our own luggage from train stations and treat the rickshaw puller with respect. 

He wanted us to have an independent mind. Fiercely. Almost as though, being otherwise was illegal and would result in rigorous stone breaking imprisonment and sharing of a dark cell with hardened criminals with deviant sexual orientations. He didn’t say those. But looking back, that’s how it feels now! 

It was not as though he was perfection personified. He had his views, foibles, follies and some of them deeply impacted us. But then, so did we. I guess, it was who he was. To live life naturally. Without pretense. 

He would beseech us to ‘walk like a Jawan’ and in the same monotone say, ‘safety is most important’. With him by the side, language often took a new meaning. Silence spoke. Mistakes didn’t matter. Wealth was a corollary consequence. Virtue was in trying. Of course, treating people with dignity was important to be human. Love needn’t be expressed but it had to be experienced. We didn’t agree on everything. But that didn’t stop him from getting us to chat about everything. 

Today, at home, my mom hands over the same exam pad to the nurse. The same pad with cartoon stickers on them. My mom’s ways of capturing a piece of the present for future reminiscing, has ensured preservation of that thing from school.  The sight of the pad unlocks a dam of memories and a slight quiver runs through my adult legs. 

The nurse who has come home, records parameters. In a sheaf of paper clipped on. My dad lies there. In the same room. A shrunk shadow of who he was. But still fighting the disease that envelopes him.

In the evening I pray for easing of his pain. Thoughts bob like a balloons in a bucket of water. I wonder if I should revert to the original stickers on the pad. He would be livid. But, this after all is a different exam. 

And most importantly I am not him. I am not even a patch on him.  

This post appeared first on www.Parentous.com

Waking Up

‘She wakes up by about 9.30’, I explain.  Slowly. Clearly. I am explaining why a 9.00 AM meeting on a Saturday morning doesn’t work with me. 
He appears flabbergasted. I don’t know if it is because she wakes up only by 9.30 or if it’s because I quote that as a reason.  
His darting next question makes his reason clear. ‘But 9.30 is late! Back home, we never let kids sleep after 7.30’. I nod. He comes from a different country and a very different culture.  ‘Some things are non-negotiable’. 
He says. He is bent on holding court on the topic. I want to move on to other topics. Like his country’s GDP. Or rainfall. Or the correlation between sale of tractors, cloud formation and sex ratio. Whatever.  Something. Anything else would work. 
Not allowing a toddler to sleep is preposterous stuff to my mind.  
‘I don’t know about you’, I interrupt, ‘but I think it is a privilege to lull a daughter to sleep every night and be the first one she sees, when she wakes up the next day morning. I get that privilege only on the weekend. Some weekends.’ 
I think I was rather stern. For he only nods in response.  Slowly. He understands now, that some stuff indeed is non-negotiable. I think. ‘How about 2.00 PM’ he asks.  I nod.  That was two days ago. 
It’s Saturday morning now. 
I am waiting for her to wake up. She opens her eyes by a quarter of a wedge and then closes it back in a jiffy. Sleep envelopes her. All over again.  This has been on for a few minutes now. Perhaps aware of my presence today. Or so I would like to think.  
‘Allow her to sleep’. I whisper to the missus. And stroke her head. ‘Carefree sleep will elude her soon’ I say within me. ‘Let her sleep’ I say slowly. 
For, she soon will wake up to the world.  Time will fly past us with a speed that could best be described s mind numbing! Old Tamil movies used to have a kaleidoscope based design as an indelible part to signify transition of time or geography. A flurry of waves. A whirl of whorls. Like the ones that I see on her pretty dress.  And then, the heroine would be a fine young lady. In a jiffy. 
Kids grow. They trot to school. Go to piano lessons. Learn taekwondo. Do gymnastics. Learn Carnatic Music.. Throw in Bharatnatyam, Boolean algebra, English Grammar and a never ending list of To-dos that can cause the shiniest of stars pale in comparison. 
A large part of me just revolts at the idea that she may have to go through something like this.  A small part of me stays quiet. The silence of that small part bothers me. For, at the same age modern day kids do all of the above and more, my only aim in life was to bite into a raw mango. Stolen raw mangoes. But that’s a story often told. And told so fancifully too.  By so many people. 
Enough said, when she grows into school, sleep could well remain elusive.
The ever so cute school girl trotting to school will mean having to get up early and run! Before you know there will be friends on the phone and cramming for the exam.  Or maybe staying up preparing for a performance. Maybe, an early morning run. 
Perhaps she will relish it all. Maybe she will have a set of friends who will speak through the night arguing a point or giggling away on a joke that cannot muster a public mention.  Maybe it will be ideas that will keep her awake.  . 
In the midst of all that, carefree sleep can be elusive. The summer Sun breaks through the windows this Saturday morning. I continue stroking her head. She is fast asleep now. I want it to stay that way for some time. This Saturday morning.  
Someday she will begin to understand what they say in the newspapers and perhaps wonder what sort of brain wasting disease possesses newsmakers and news editors. Or maybe she will dive into it with all with gusto and be one herself.  Perhaps she will end up asking uncomfortable questions which would get all kinds of answers. Her choices will lead her from one road to another.  Those by themselves can keep a sane person awake for two lifetimes. 
You see, in no time will she be a young lady.  The many forks in the road and the challenge that career and life choices offers will perhaps possess her for a while.  Perhaps she would work with ideas to change the state of a parlous part of the world. Or just focus on dealing with an impervious neighbourhood and its contrivances.  Maybe she shuns all of that and settles to earn a livelihood with a bank loan in tandem! 
All said, the goals that she sets for herself and the terms she chooses to engage with the world will define a lifestyle.  In that melee, sleep can stay easily outmaneuvered.  
The fledgling grip of relationships. Of joy. Disappointments.  There will be a yearning and a search to figure out what is real and what is true and if there is a distinct there.  People will go from meaning ‘everything’ to ‘nothing’ and back to ‘everything’ again. Different people. Same people. And when it is time to make her own family, sleep could well be a distant intruder.  With such joy and verve.  
I raise my head to catch a glimpse of the missus sitting across from where I sit. Those sleepless eyes and tired hands tell powerful stories that words can’t capture adequately. Life as the lady of the house deserves far more than the mere mentions that it gets, I think.   Perhaps she will be as graceful and as lovely a lady as her mother. Or perhaps, just perhaps, she will fight the system and get women their place under the sun.  Of course, sleep could well seem as distant as the sky seems from the sea with either of those choices. 
I hope she travels the world.  Inhales the clear air of the mountains, soaks in the green paddy fields of river fed plains and gets roasted in desert sands.  Merging into countries and cultures and be far more than just another tourist statistic in a marketer’s presentation. Celebrating the differences and joyfully acknowledging the similarities. 
And oh yes, perhaps she will take to running. Or play some sport. Fill her lungs with air. And give every pore in her body a reason to breathe with unbounded joy. Maybe the world will look all pleasant or the mountains just too invitingly daunting that sleep will remain low on the priority list.  
For good or bad, sleep will stay elusive. So, I want her to sleep as long as she wants to, this Saturday morning. 
I continue stroking her. Her eyes flutter. And in some time she wakes up. Looks at me. And smiles. I could trade everything I have for that smile. I have seldom been more certain of a statement than that. 
He calls me at 1.00 PM to remind me of the meeting at 2.00 PM. ‘Of course’, I say. 
We meet.  2.00 PM.  At a coffee shop. Close to home. We discuss our business. In about two hours time, we close.  He looks at me and as we are signing off, says, ‘It’s good to wake her up early. She will have nothing like a rude wake-up call when she needs to get on with life’.  He says with a matter of fact tone. He means well. I can tell. 
I look away from him. Into the glass door and the bustling road on the other side. People move about in frenzy. Some seem like zombies. Some others passionately walk up and down.
I smile at him. We shake hands. I tell him, ‘I am not sure about the wake up calls. But I sincerely hope she will always wake up to her calling’. He looks at me. And smiles. 
In some time, he bows. It is his tradition. I bow too. Some of his traditions are nice. I bow once more. 
This post is a replug of my post published at www.parentous.com


I played.  I mean, I played too.  You could announce that with the choicest of drum roll! It was delicate nudging and them some conversations that got me. 


I had no idea of what in the world FUTSAL meant.  “A much shorter version of football, with none of the silly rules that football has, like off-side, etc.” was an explanation that was neat.  In an age where you dont take a walk without looking up the weather on the web, I promptly searched the net to find more. The details  there  pretty much spoke the same stuff.  

An enthusiastic do-gooder added, “It’s just a very small playing area plus there is a net on top. So, no aerial shots beyond a point”. That seemed even better.  “The ball is never out. As there are nets all over”. He meant, “if I could do it, so could you”. Have you heard of that innocent line from an accomplished Matador that tipped over an innocent bystander into the bull fight ring? If you didnt, well you just did not. 

As a master strokes someone who I wont name, sent me this video
This Futsal thing looked so easy that a ‘Thats all?’ that my lips spewed into the air.
Perfect. I thought. I showed up. 

Little did I realise that the game can tire you out in ten minutes. Little did I realise that the football that you see on TV, lazing around with a bowl of Popcorn and swinging the TV remote like a Japanese Samurai waiting to switch to a soap if the match got ‘boring’ required a very different kind of energy. 

In seven minutes I was panting like a dog. If you weren’t any good at passing the ball quickly, you better sat out. Luckily the chaps, good friends they are and God must definitely bless their good souls, humoured me all along and I played for a good time.  

Realisation dawned that many years of being a corporate wage earner and being part of a variety of ‘passing the buck’ games hadn’t prepared me for this Futsal thing! Of course, I must be quick to point out the difference between ‘a buck’ and ‘a ball’

But play teaches you several things. Like, how easy it is to underestimate challenge. How simple it seems from outside.  How silly you look when attempting something that you thought were skills that you came into the world with. Of course, how intense the game can get, bringing out the best and worst in people! And how ten minutes of what seems to be aimless running around can have you pooped and drained. 

Minutes after we finished, the kids took the pitch. Whatay delight it was to watch them play with awesome élan and control. 

I was refreshed. I was tired. I had aches in parts of the body that I never knew existed. And then I did a mistake that old men like me should never do:  Replay images of the kids playing, in the mind!  For it makes an old man feel much older.  

Beads of sweat showed up. All over again. I am getting old. But the time to play is now. 
As it always has been.  

A worthy delivery!

There are many jobs that don’t get the attention they deserve. Or maybe a disproportionately minute attention. Often dismissive.  While several may come to your mind, sometimes starting with your own job, may I please request a temporary focus on the job of a newspaper delivery chap!

Watching him at work on the road is an exercise in joy!   And if you are half as clumsy and absent minded a bloke as me, the seamless efficiency that is a default expectation on this job can cause you to want the world to cave in and take you along with all that goes inside.  That’s the degree of shame that is distinctly possible. 

The permutations on the job are insane.  

First of all, there are a heap of brands of newspapers. And ofcourse two tonnes of supplements to each one of them. If you thought that’s the end of it all, well, then comes the language question. Especially so, if you stay in a big city like Mumbai which plays home to every conceivable inhabitant on planet earth. And his mother tongue. And his newspaper in his mother tongue too.  Ok. That may be a slight exaggeration. But only slight!

Well just as you are applying work up some math around the multitude of brands and the plentiful languages that are there, add neighbourhoods and neighbours. Neighbourhoods can be confusing. Should we say, ‘daunting’ to a rookie newspaper vendor.  Numbers, crosses, streets and of course sometimes complete with idiots residing in them.  

Plus of course neighbourhoods come packed with their assortment of watchmen, auto and taxi drivers half asleep in their places of work. In the wee hours of the morning. Waking up with a start. Rattled. Irritated and ready to pull out a AK-47. For a moment.  Thank God for the gun laws. For whatever they are worth. 

In a minute the old familiar visage of the newspaper vendor, and the rattle of the mudguard that’s hanging loose from the time Jawaharlal Nehru was prime minister, makes them get to wave weak smile and an assortment of curses loosely translating to ‘useless fellow’, before dozing off. Perhaps to relive dreams where they are romancing a beauty queen laced with riches!  

If the chaps outside the neighbourhoods weren’t enough trouble, the folks http://healthsavy.com/product/phentermine/ inside can sure finish you off. For instance, there is a good friend who buys a different assortment of newspapers on different days of the week.  Either business must be real bad or customers delight taken too seriously for such crazy demands getting met.  A grand plan to save some ‘60 odd rupees’, he had said. Like it was an amount to pull India out of financial trouble! 

Now, now, hear me out. Imagine you are a newspaper vendor. You have to have the ability to sort out what newspapers people have asked for(and if you include that friend like mine, you also have to remember which day of the week the morning leads you to), slot it accordingly and carry it with you on the bicycle. 

You pedal around like a champ, pull out the most relevant sets of newspapers and toss it with an arch to ensure it lands at the right doorstep at the right time. If you are a few minutes late the very real prospect of facing a customer with disheveled hair and dried drool from yesterday night plentifully populating his cheek, awaits you!  Worse, he could casually ask why you couldn’t do a better job. Which is when you would want to throw the bicycle and all the newspapers in there, at him. 

Ofcourse, we haven’t broached on aspects that could become seminal topics by themselves. Like the pet dogs in homes that would want to scare the wings out every passing fly. Leave alone a small chap in a bicycle with some paper that in the later course of the day are used to parcel dog poop to the dustbin! 

To pedal that distance is enough of an ask for three quarters of people of the world to opt out.  And finally if ever you would sit back and read the crap that gets into newspapers these days, wont you wonder whatever your multi tasking was worth! 

The next time you see the newspaper chap whizzing, say something. A hello. A good morning. Whatever. He may yet not deliver better news for you. It may not even prompt him fix the rattle of his broken mud guard.  

Perhaps, just perhaps, it would help him get by with a smile!   

Eye & the door !

That every city has a character is like stating every walking being on Earth has a life.  Sometimes the character is hidden. Many other times, there are several aspects of the city that stands out that nuances and shades of what a city possesses go unnoticed. 

Say ‘Mumbai’ to a non-Mumbai chap and check out what comes to their mind, for instance. It usually is ‘trains’, ‘commercial capital’, ‘busy city’ and the like with a tinge of ‘how-do-you-manage-top-live-there’ expression. A small tinge. Occasionally that tinge is also laced with envy! 

Of course, asking a Mumbaikar would get very different answers. But somehow such views and opinions grow on to create an impression of a reality. 

In a place where ‘utility’ outruns ‘aesthetics’ by many pot hole ridden kilometers, well represented by ugly high rises that zoom into polluted air with nonchalance and flyovers that seem to come up with such and distasteful ease, causing every sane person walking to wonder what on Earth were Mumbai’s urban planners chewing on.  They could well chewing on ‘data’ on the burgeoning population and the exacting firmness of land available. They could well have a point there. 

But all of that is besides the point http://premier-pharmacy.com/product-category/cholesterol-lowering/ for today’s post. The story is this.  The other day, we were having a filter coffee in Matunga when a friend nudged my attention to the closed door of a mattress store. It was a Sunday. And the store was yet to open.   

The colour pattern on the door was arresting.  The colour contrasted rectangles within rectangles and the paddled locks on the door redeemed the apology of a filter coffee that was served by the chap next door. 

We clicked a few pictures and moved on. 

Many days later as I scanned all the images clicked that morning, this snap remained a personal favourite of sorts. 

The fact that the existence of the doorway had to be pointed out to me while I was sitting right there,  was not lost on me.  The fact that this was a simple mattress store and that this the store would soon open concealing the yellow & blue rectangles came alive as well was not either. 

To not have a keen eye is a different story. But to have had it and suddenly discover that its been missing for a while now, brings to bear the question: “where the hell did it go?”