Saturday, June 21, 2014


I happened to open the matrimonial classifieds supplement sheet this morning and to my amusement found some hilarious descriptions of requirements.

I have always thought, how do people find life partners with this, me being a happy victim of the socially classified "inter religion love marriage". The concept of arranged marriages with these newspaper descriptions is outright hilarious.

Let me quote a few phrases/words used in these ads -
Seeks fair employed girl - how fair?
Seeks pious beautiful girl - is going to the temple everyday pious enough?
Vegetarian with clean habits seeks fair,  well educated girl - clean habits ?
Seeks highly professional affluent boy - how affluent might that be?
A gentleman 58 seeks sincere committed pleasant lady - committed to?
Seeks soft good nature bride - so she should not shout
Fair qualified brides - qualified for?
Very fair employed in USA seeks professional qualified bride - like being employees in USA is an added feather or extra qualification to filter out the desi employed girls.
Hindu girl senior position mnc abroad, widely travelled, multi lingual, modern outlook, traditional values seeking well educated and settled, broad minded groom - PHEW!
US citizen doctor parents seek alliance for their US citizen daughter, born and brought up in India with strong Indian values - they need the US tag but Indian values !!
Hindu healthy rich active widower 79 needs a healthy beautiful lady life partner around 65 - beauty matters even at 79.
Good family background professionally well qualified and well settled. Honest good human values  clean habits vegetarian tee totaller - aint you asking for an ideal guy who is non existent?

... and the list is endless.. I may be mocking these ads here, but marriages do happen this way, and in large numbers everyday. What amuses me is the first step in the selection process of a spouse are the phrases listed above.
And the flip side is you stand very less chances of getting married if you do not for into these flowery adjectives. The outlook that people enter a marriage with is defined by these phrases and it is none of these things that makes a marriage happy. Well maybe parents think that these are pointers to a happy married life.

Long live marriage and classifieds !!

Friday, June 20, 2014


I don't know what title to give to this post.  That is the reason I have named this untitled.

It was October 1st 2012 - my birthday. I come home in the evening and our family doctor calls from Bangalore. As soon as I finish my Hello, he goes.. "Your father.." my heart starts racing.. "He was here a couple of days back with some blood work results. I asked him to do a CT scan and we found that he has cancer in his stomach... We have to operate on him immediately so you come to bangalore tomorrow."

Cancer was detected in people who smoked, drank alcohol all the time and had unhealthy eating habits. Not in a person who had been a vegetarian all his life, who never smoked, who very rarely had alcohol. Not my father. Not he who was scared of getting a blood test done. Not he who had never been to a doctor except for his cataract.

So we first get and endoscopy done where they show us in colour the vehement devil called cancer. He gets admitted at Sagar Apollo for blood transfusion to improve his RBC, haemoglobin and platelet count before they could operate on him. The date of the operation is fixed. One day prior to the operation they discover through a immunohistopathology report that he has non hodgkins lymphoma, cancer in his lymph nodes and the stomach was a secondary infection. Operation is stalled and we are referred to an oncologist.
After a bone marrow test which classifies him at stage 3, chemotherapy starts. We get him into the executive ward in the hope that he would get the best facility and comfort.

So here we were with my father who had never been to a doctor getting shots after shots for blood tests. All through out my only prayer was that it should not cause him pain.

In those four months of six chemo sessions I saw my father shrivel up to an old man of say eighty years old when technically he was just 66. He looked healthy and full of life a few days before that birthday of mine. And in four months, he lost hair, his skin sagged, muscles were gone, he looked like somebody else. By the grace of God he didn't have any negative reactions after the chemo and took it very well.
So after six sessions of chemo, a PET scan was scheduled and we anxiously waited for the results. It was the toughest exam we had written until then. The result was out and he was not cured. He belonged to that rare % of people who are not cured completely after a round of chemo.

So now the doctor advised radiology and more chemotherapy. My father looked so frail that it was obvious he would not withstand radiation and more chemo sessions.

The doctors told us that palliative care was the only thing we could give him. And on the other side he refused further treatment.

We stayed exploring alternate forms of medicine and on the advice of our homeo doctor who had heard this from her professor while she was studying medicine, gave him a dose of ground neem leaves and raw turmeric paste in equal proportions, the size of a small dice,  two times a day.

He took this regularly for a month and followed up with a PET scan. There was a significant reduction. He continued for another couple of months and he was clean!!

We don't know if he would have a relapse, but for now we are good. It's been about two years now, he still takes the alternate medicine as a preventive cure.

I am no doctor to prescribe anything but I had to share this so that people know that the could be hope. I don't know if this would cure everyone who has this dreaded disease. But sharing information helps and doing my part in sharing the experience, just in case it helps someone...

Thursday, June 19, 2014


My parents took a bold step of paying Rs 50 in the year 1982 to Bishop Cottons for admitting me to Nursery. Then on, their next 14 years of life was spent on raising money to keep me there.

I was this short, stout mallu kid who never had anything fancy. While my friends brought magnet pencil boxes, I brought an ordinary close the lid box. While they brought pen pencils, where the lead from the front went into the back when it ran out, I had nataraj pencils. They brought erasers that smelled of perfume and mine was an ordinary nataraj eraser. Sharpeners were of every kind on display in class and bore no resemblance to the ordinary sharper, the cheapest in the Shetty stores opposite my house in Sampangiram Nagar.

Their bags were fancy which were often pink or some flashy color, while mine was a brick brown bag without clasps, and only had a buckle. When we switched to pens, mine was a local ink pen. My black shoes wore out completely before I got a new pair. My hair was oiled almost always and plaited with black bands. My lunch was always rice. As I moved to 8th std, I got a pair of big spectacles that made me look even more dumb.

Many girls in my class had everything I didn't have for school supplies. They came in a car with a driver or with their dad on bikes. I went with the automan or walked back home with my parents. Somewhere in senior school my mother bought a luna. Boy.. It was a wonderful feeling sitting behind the luna and going home. She was probably scared to death to ride with my brother, me, our school bags and lunch baskets on the tiny pillion.
In Junior school at the Christmas party Santa Claus never chose me to handover a chocolate. I waited every year to get that diary milk or 5 star. Each time I was disappointed and I convinced myself thinking that only Christian girls got gifts from Santa.

Girls in my class took to sports, since this was not important at home, I just watched. In the 8th std, I wanted to become a prefect. I thought I had it in me to lead, not sure how. But I was not made one. The girl who was made a prefect from my class was an athlete. So I thought maybe that's why.

As the years went by and I migrated from one class to the other I grew a sense of inferiority within me. I was not invited to other girls house and I didn't invite anyone to my bare establishment of 300 sq ft of space that I called home. I felt ashamed. I somehow felt I was out of place. I only had 1 best friend all my years at Cottons.

In the 9th I was made class captain ! Phew so I was noticed and I was someone. I loved the title. 10th again, I was made class captain. Double jackpot ! I was an average student all the while, didn't fail in any subject, was not scolded by the teachers, did my homework on time, no comments during PTA meetings. But this inferiority feeling stayed with me.
My true moment of pride was when the music teacher and English teacher called me over and asked me if I could speak on behalf of the outgoing students during the graduation ceremony. This was what I had been waiting for, for many years, the moment of recognition. Maybe my participation in the debate competition gave me this opportunity. I don't know. I prepared the speech and read it out in front of the entire 10th and 12th outgoing students. It was the best moment of my life, until then. I remember borrowing a sari from a neighbour to keep up with the dress code - plain sari, any colour.

I didn't know that the best had been saved for the last. My 10th results. I was the 6th rank in school, missing the 5th by a mark. That was the highest I had scored in my entire years at school!! I had left behind the prefects chosen, the athletes, the captains.. It sounds really silly now, but what I felt on that day was like I had received a present from Santa on Christmas.

My batch is planning for a reunion after 22 years and these memories came rushing back. I have 14 years of work experience behind me now, an Account Manager at an IT firm, published a book, a wife, mother of two kids... I managed without all the fancy stuff I missed to own during those years. But the things I learnt, living in the meagre 300 sq foot house, the years at school, the scarcity of things are some of the best lessons I learnt in life. It took me a few years to realize, I am a little dumb that way.. so here goes.. "Thank you" teachers and girls for the best years of my life !!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Anjali Menon

Anjali Menon - "the" person on my mind for a few days now. More than the person, it is what she believes in and the woman she is.

Anjali Menon is a film director, she rose to fame in the malayalam movie industry with her flawless "Manjadikuru", delicious "Usthad Hotel", whacky "Kerala Cafe - Happy Journey" and more recently her beautiful "Bangalore Days".. I have been enthralled by her movies, no doubt, but it is not until recently that I looked up youtube for videos of interviews with her and I was exposed to the kind of person she is. And Anjali as a person fascinates me more than her movies. What an amazing lady!! Its not that she talks about rocket science or the next space mission or what the various heads of governments are planning to do.. It is plain life. The life of you and me. She talks from her heart, and they are things I can identify with so well. She talks about malayalam serials on her blog and my, the negativity that flows through houses because of those serials is dampening relationships. She does not have the luxury to take a month off to write a script, like you and me. Her kid is running around and when she gets breaks she writes. What she has grown up with, is freedom. The kind of freedom I grew up with. And she has put best use of the freedom she got, no doubt.

If you have watched movies created by the legendary Padmarajan, then you would know that each time you watch the movie you will discover something new that you missed the previous time. Anjali is the only director who has been able to recreate the effect.

"Manjadikuru" is one such example. Its my third time watching the movie and it feels like I have not seen it before. The cast of the movie is the who's who of the malayalam film industry - Thilakan, Kaviyoor Ponnamma, Murali, Urvashi, Jagathy, Rehman, etc.. and each role has its space never enroaching on another and yet such natural appearances. It's a story that many of us have experienced as children. Writing about human relationships and its nuances through the eyes of a child without negatively influencing the thoughts of the child and at the same time taking away the positives from each situation.. REMARKABLE!!

After watching Bangalore Days, I feel Anjali has exemplary ability to space her characters out and carve out a niche for each of them.

Anjali Menon - is a gifted director. A master story teller. A woman like you and me who shuffles through the everyday of life and in between finds time to create magic.

Thankyou.. for.. memorable cinema !!

Venting out

What do you do to vent out ? Big.. Big Question. This is one question you better have an answer to. Well let's see what are the possible ways ?
Scream at someone - as simple as that. This is by far the easiest way to vent out. What is important here is that the person you vent out to understands this angle and therfore strives to keep it at a monologue rather than converting it to a dialogue. The moment it turns into a spat of words what gets tarnished in the process is a relationship. For some reason you got angry and took it out most likely on someone else who was no way involved in the first place.
Keep quiet - the best thing to do. But this has a negative effect, pent up emotions are like a volcano waiting to erupt. There are people I know who prefer to keep quiet, but I have not known them long enough to know if the building up of suppressed emotions has a negative effect on the long run.
Listening to music - yes, that sounds interesting. But you are not talking your thoughts, just passing the moment.
But is that it? Will passing the moment help? After all the need to vent out is an instantaneous emotion.
What am I doing to vent out? I am writing 😊.

All over a cup of coffee

A girl with packed bags waiting for someone. He arrives and she is glad. They order a coffee. Two guys worth a big screen laptop probably making music over a cup of black coffee. An old man with a relatively younger guy with a laptop sharing a few thoughts from his grey hair over hot coffee. Two girls basking in gossip and friendship waiting for their order yet in no hurry. A guy leaning over probably trying to convince the girl about something before ordering coffee. A friend and spouse walk in, tired from the chores of the day to sit down and relax over a cup of coffee. Lots of words flowing around, lots of thoughts being thought.. All over a cup of coffee..

A distant thought

We didn't sit by the beach making plans for the future. We didn't count the waves pledging our love at each crest and fall of the joyous waves. We didn't find excuses to leave home on weekends and make up for the week's separation. We didn't spend nights on the phone talking dirty things that we would do one we would be together. Still we made it. Twenty five years through day and night. Our children grown above our ears ready to carve their names in the vast expanse of time. Our hair has greyed, skin folded with creases, we need glasses to admire each others smile. The strength in our limbs has weakened but the strength in my embrace is as strong as it was when I first held you on the night of our wedding day. You have the years hidden behind your eyes but you look as beautiful as you looked in all your bridal finery. Happy anniversary my love, I hope I can spend another twenty five beside you, loving you.

The rains again

Usually the rain triggers the writer in me. They make m enostalgic and ring in fond memories of the forgotten past, of forgotten people and forgotten emotions. Today it is raining, ferociously. the clouds are striking down as if they were very angry with someone. The clouds seem to be pouring down their hatred at some loved one . Why are the clouds so angry and at whom, me thinks. Their wrath falling upon us humble beings. Just as one cloud quietens down another from a distance roars. Are these mere heated conversations among a group of fellow clouds? Ho! And I was thinking that it is the curse raining down. .. The clouds have softened, the water a quiet drizzle, the land happy at its wetness, the trees abundant with joy and me.. glad that I can still write...


Have you heard the sound of rain? There are o water droplets doing their gigantic fall from the sky, but noise of an approaching thunder. The sound lasts for only a few minutes and then you see the clouds emptying out their load of emotions, dance of joy like the dance of a peacock or maybe the weight of sadness running down as tears. It really depends on your emotion how you perceive rain.
Scientifically, rain is accumulated precipitation pouring out, but poetically or emotionally it could mean a thousand things.

Old friends and good times

Ever yearned to take that trip with your good old friends, a time to break out from the norm? A time where you can revel on gossip, fun and laughter, accompanied by good food on unknown terrains. A journey into friendship, a journey into the known with people you have known for as long as you can remember. This post is for my buddies - Ren and Resh and this is.. our trip.


The planning for the trip started over a cup of coffee on any normal day, and that the trip turned out to be extraordinary. There was no disagreement about the fact that all of us wanted to breakfree from the mundane and just be us. So we started with Goa which Ren thought was boring and common. Then we moved to Kolkota, but Resh's uncle lived there. Next was Mumbai, a place that Resh and I had never been to, but again Ren had family there and we could not visit either of these places without paying a customary visit to family. So I rejected both the options. We then moved to Hyderabad, a neutral choice, but what would we do there. That is when we went international. Why India? Why not out of India? So what were out options, let's see - Andaman - too expensive, Laskwahdeep - not exciting, Thailand - Urggh, Sri Lanka - YESSS!!

So the decision was made - we were going on a trip to Sri Lanka in February sans family - the best part :)

I booked the tickets the next day, lest they change their minds. Ren was a little surprised - so we are really going - is what she said. I took charge of the visas, delegated the where to stay to Resh and what to do to Ren. Resh and I knew that Ren wouldn't start looking for what to do until we boarded the flight. Now this was the topic of conversation at every lunch and evening tea - what we would take, what we would wear, how many pairs of shoes, the list was endless. Resh the manager sent out calendar invites and set meeting times to discuss our upcoming trip and these meetings were serious.

So finally the day came - Feb 22 when our spouses dropped us off at Trivandrum International Airport, with the biggest smiles on their faces happy to be free for a couple of days. If it was evening, they would have celebrated the happiness with clinking glasses. We tagged along with our luggage which was quite a lot for 3 days and 4 nights. As we waiting to board, Resh got into a conference call to keep the lights on and Ren was seen leaning against a pillar kuchikooing with Subz - she did this so many times during the trip (aaah!)..

Finally we hopped on Sri Lankan Airlines and sat next to each other with a gleam in our eyes and smiles stretched from east to west - We were actually on a flight to Sri Lanka and just us! We observed everything and passed comments on everything. The air hostesses were kind of plump and dressed in Sri Lankan attire - seeing that Ren wanted to dress up in their costume and take a picture. We thought they showed off too much skin ;) The men on the flight looked a bit scary to us, but probably they were scared as surely we must have appeared as aliens. After an hour of flying, during which Ren claims she saw the tip of the Sri Lanka, we landed at Bhandaranayake International Airport, Colombo.

The hotel we finalized was Galle Face which is a 4 star luxury hotel founded in 1864. We got our on arrival visas stamped and went on to convert some Euros (courtesy frequent flyer Jayan) to Sri Lankan Rupees. We also bought a calling card to inform our families that it was sad but true, that we had arrived safely. While Resh and I were doing this, Ren hooked up with a travel agent who gave her his number and promised to call to book a day's trip to Kandy (more about this later). By the way, Ren did finally find some places for us to visit and also conjured up some Sinhalese words, which she alone knew.

As I was the hotel in charge I called them to find out about the Airport pick-up they had promised on arrival. After walking up and down the terminal, a 6 foot dark guy walked up to me and said - Galle Face Airport pick-up. We hopped onto his dirty, stinky, dusty car which had no A/C praying that he was genuine and would take us to the correct place. After an hour long drive, which seemed like forever, we reached Galle Face Hotel. On the way, we felt we had been transported back to Kerala. There were road-side shops, traffic with no idea on who went where, honking and people jaywalking.

We checked in and and went to meet the person at the travel desk to arrange a tour of the city. He arranged a chauffeur driven Merc to drive us around the city. We went to check out the room, and boy it was HUGE!! With colonial chairs, a huuuge bed and wooden floors, it was just perfect.

We changed to dress #1 and went down to have lunch. It wasn't lunch, it was a feast!! One of the best buffets we had eaten. The restaurant was sea facing with the Sri Lankan flag hoisted on the beach. A lighthouse, the sea, the flag, benches on the porch and the endless ocean filled the view. Bliss!

After lunch the travel desk informed us that our car was ready, and we hopped onto the Merc, and the driver - old chap, showed us around. He spoke pretty good English and this was a blessing. He drove around the World Trade Center, Independence Memorial Hall, Bank of Sri Lanka, Indian Bank, the President's house - with the army guarding his residence, on the streets where cricketers lived, war memorial and to Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple. We got our first jolt here. This place was on Ren's list of must see places, and as we entered there was an old guy who demanded that we leave our footwear with his agent who charged an exorbitant price to take care of them. Our instincts got the better of us, and we decided to leave the premises. We stood outside and watched the other entrants into the temple, and they kept their footwear in a separate place where they didn't have to pay money. That is when we realized that we were FOREIGNERS and we could not go by local rates.

On our way the driver told us that we should probably have dinner at one of the restaurants at the Dutch Hospital Complex. This was an open quadrangle with various restaurants offering a bistro style dining. The entrance smelled of cigarettes and liquor. We paused to think if we should enter, and we even walked up to an army guy and asked him - is it safe for three girls to go in here? He laughed and said, yes. We walked in an OH MY GOD - this was going to be one of the best dinners of our life. It was not only the food, but the ambiance was just so good. We sat on one of the cement benches in the open air quadrangle, ordered food from one of the restaurants and felt the cool wind in our hair. The world trade center rising up to the sky right behind, lit up brightening up the dark sky. It was noisy yet peaceful. We were in a place many miles away from home, in the company of each other, just having a good time. The icing was pending. We walked back to the hotel, on the walkway alongside the beach, late in the night, the mellowed sound of the waves, stars shining above us and world to ourselves. We yapped, we laughed, we sat in silence on one of the benches looking out at the sea. One of my fond memories from the trip.

Day 2

This was a day of adventure, not so much for the places we visited but for the mode of transport to Kandy. Remember the guy from the Airport who told Ren he would call. Ren set up a cab with him to take us to Kandy. So after breakfast this guy calls Ren and says that he driver was waiting outside the hotel. We gave him a few instructions and to each one he replied with the word OK. We three were off to an unknown place with a stranger in an unknown country. Some courage we have! Just to feel safe, like in the movies, I told Resh, 'hey my uncle is on duty at the military post today, but said that we can call him if there is a need'.. For people who have watched Kilukkam would recollect Revathi telling Mohanlal that "Uganda-de pradhana manthri ente ammavan aanennu".. After all this bantering we understood that the driver apparently spoke no English - except for the word OK! Ren called the travel agent and gave him instructions, which was translated to the driver in Sinhalese.

Our first stop was the Elephant Orphanage at Pinnawala. It was overpriced, but we were phirangi and had to pay a heavy price to see the orphanage. The skeleton of the elephant was a sight. Apart from some real phirangi's we were the only visitors there. And like the original phirangees we too rode an elephant. Ren and me on one, Resh by herself. This thing is really huge, how does it carry its weight.. ? After sweating it out in the hot sun, we called the Sinhalese driver and hopped on his cab and continued our sight seeing trip. Next stop was Royal Botanical Garden which turned out to be acres of green carpet. Pine trees towering into the sky, orchid garden, a huge park with kids running around like the bogies of a train, couples romancing in hide-away corners - it was all there. We had lunch at a restaurant inside the garden overlooking the pine trees.

Outside the garden we bought 3 identical bracelets as a keepsake from the trip. Our next stop - Buddha's relic temple - Kandy.

A huge temple, four time bigger than the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Trivandrum. After climbing some steps, and passing by a narrow alley we reached our destination. The place where Buddha's tooth is stored. The architecture and surrounding was no different than a temple in Tamil Nadu. Most of the people there were praying, and we were looking around. We sat on the steps of the temple and took in the peace and tranquility of the place. Around the temple, some steps led to another hall. The opposite side had a door to exit this hall. We entered the hall and looked left to find a HUGE statue of Buddha in white. Standing there looking at the statue of Buddha descended us into a state of peace and calmness. Just looking at the image, we felt the strain of the day, stress of our life drifting away. Another fond memory from the trip.

There was a cultural show in an adjacent auditorium, comprising the dances of Sri Lanka. We jumped in there and more than the dance what we liked was that we found a place to rest our bottoms :). After the hour long show we left Kandy for an adventurous ride back to Colombo. It was dark, and although we were with this driver since morning, not one instance in the entire day led us to trust him. His driving had turned rash, and we took turns in taking a nap. We were scared - shit scared, but on a brave front and sat firm. At 9.30pm we reached the hotel and thanked God that we reached back safely. After dinner we went to see a stage show opposite the hotel. There was this girl dressed in a red flashy dress singing songs in Sinhalese.. made no sense to us but still we stayed on and listened.

Understanding the power in you

Many a times I have thought that I want to be born as a man in my next life, if there is one. Dont think that I am a staunch believer of rebirth, but since I dont know the possibility of one, I am not denying it. This thought crosses my mind when I see the kind of freedom men have in our society. They go anywhere they want, any time of the day, are not answerable to anybody, except themselves. I like that kind of freedom, I like living that kind of carefree life. Why cant I live that kind of carefree life as a woman?

For one good reason, the society we live in is not safe, it would be more apt to say that the men in our society igniting the spark for social evils in the society makes it an unsafe world for us. But its not only that. The true reason is that many of us women dont tread the path to discovering the power within us. We seldom celebrate life, instead are burdened by the responsibilites we are "supposed to be carrying out", which often suppresses our spirit to live happily.

Why is it that we dont understand the power in us? Why are we born to be submissive? The nasty truth of the world. Somewhere down the line, someone during our growing years would have told us atleast once, that 'you are a girl'. And almost all the time we have not learnt /have been taught to ask "So what?"

Stupid women.

If you understand the power in you, will you be able to celebrate life? Maybe; maybe not. But looking at the mirror everyday and telling yourself that "I am special" makes a difference.

Give me one man who will do everything you do as perfectly as you, from the moment you open your eyes till the time you fall asleep any single day? I can bet that there wont be even one. And that makes you special. The unique being made to do a thousand things, think a million thoughts, go through unbearable pain to bring life into this world. Its the goddesses within us that we should worship. For the power within us makes us strong and no way inferior to men.

I still want to be born a man in my next life and see the world from the other side of the fence, it definitely looks a lot greener from this side. . :)

Dad and his boys

Today morning, while I was sitting on my sofa sipping milk (yes, I still drink milkJ) looking out at the beautiful lake outside my window, I saw this heartwarming sequence of events.

I see a Dad and walking along the trail around the lake followed in a short distance by a boy who must be six or seven years old. When a sharpened my focus I saw a little walking beside the father holding his hand.

Scene 1 – Little fellow stops to fix something that crept into his shoes. Dad continues walking. Older brother walks up to the little fellow and waits for the little fellow to finish up. The little fellow after fixing his shoe runs up to his Dad leaving the older brother behind.

Scene 2 – Older brother is too slow and cannot catch up with Dad and little fellow. Little fellow stops and urges older brother to run and catch up. Older brother runs and catches up with little fellow. Dad continues walking. When older brother catches up with little fellow, little fellow runs to catch up with Dad. Older brother still trails behind.

Scene 3 – Little fellow is tired and stops. Dad continues walking and realizes that little fellow is missing. Turns back to look and little fellow has stopped. They have a conversation and Dad continues walking. Older brother has now caught up with Dad. Little fellow trails behind.

Scene 4 – Little fellow runs to catch up with Dad and older brother. He catches up, holds Dad’s hand and walks away. Older brother again trails behind.        

I watched this until the Dad and boys disappeared behind the bushes. The little fellow was kind and wanted the older brother to catch up with Dad and him. Nevertheless, he did not want to lose hold of his Dad’s hand. The older brother on the other hand, wanted to catch up with his Dad and little fellow, however was happy walking at his own pace. The Dad had to complete the walk with the kids.

It was a beautiful sequence and the first thought that came to my mind is that that is how life is. Life is like the older brother, we choose to trail behind and at other times speed up our pace to catch up with someone or something. At times, life is like the little fellow, when we pause to help boost someone, so that, they speed up. We also keep focus and sometimes run to catch up with others. However, at the end of the day, life is like Dad, we keep walking and it goes on.

Aamir's Show

Satyamev Jayate - the phrase India's aam aadmi is chanting. The phrase every Indian who wants to see a better India is chanting. The bringer of this wave - the perfectionist - Aamir Khan. Initially when the promos were out and trailer of the song was out, I was attracted to the promos because it is Aamir Khan. The ever handsome hunk who has the best smile and is so down to earth. Adjectives fail me when I have to describe Aamir Khan. You would think that with my rattling I know him personally, well no, I am just another ardent fan of the man. The promos were out, I googled every bit there was and was smitten by Mr Perfectionist all over again until the first show aired on television.

Wow! He took my by surprise. It was not a show, it was reality. Nobody is putting up an act, nobody has learnt any dialogues, it is all straight from the heart. After I saw the first show, the heroes where the people who appeared on the show and Aamir Khan took backstage. There are thousands of people like Harish Iyer, who struggle through everyday, hoping for a better dawn. Mothers' who wish they did not have to make that trip to the abortion clinic and have to go through the pain - physical and mental. Fathers who wish they didn't have to spend their last penny to get their daughter married. So many untold instances of so many people, the unsung heroes living in our society, around us, amidst us.

Which is precisely why I admire the initiative. I cannot say that I like the show, because it is not one. There is nothing to like about it, because it involves somebody's life and their hardship, so how can you like someone's hardship? That is why I say I admire the initiative that Aamir has taken to spread awareness of the multitude of common man's issues thriving in India, often hidden under the idiosyncrasies of our upscale bureaucracy. A Government which is more bothered about filling their pockets and proving their point than bringing up the basic living standards of every Indian. Just how much does it take to ensure that every Indian has three square meals a day, children have education, are safe from the perils of sexual abuse, have jobs to earn a living and give their family a safe and clean environment? Crores and crores of money wasted on idiotic deals which top notch officials deposit in banks for a future which may or may not come. It is extremely sad to see what has become of a country which was given to its people to build and flourish more than 60 years ago. Yes S-I-X-T-Y F-I-V-E years since the British left us, and we imprisoned ourselves within the bars of corruption, poverty and greed for power.

In such dwindling circumstances an initiative like Aamir Khan's tells the Government - Hello, now how about some real development? I would applaud Aamir Khan for using his stardom in such a manner, where he is creating an awareness of the social issues that has been crippling India. His initiative will feature as a yardstick to measure the growth of the country in terms of social behaviour and human outlook.

Hats off to this man, who perceived this idea and implemented it to showcase to the people of India, their own problems and tell them that stop, there is a way out... there is hope...


Marriage - What does this word mean? On the other hand, what does everything under the sun, which constitutes this word, mean? tells me - the social institution under which a man and woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments, religious ceremonies, etc. I do not intend to delve into gay marriages here.

So, marriage is a social institution that a man and wife enter by legal commitments and religious ceremonies. What is important – the legal commitment or the religious ceremonies or none of the above? I belong to that stratum of people, who believes that the answer is none of the above.

I define marriage as a mutual understanding between two individuals to stay committed to each other, when they have a common or explainable understanding of the below seven key elements. When most of the below is shallow, the commitment breaks, the understanding disappears and marriage see a dead-end.

Acceptance – this is first on my list. Accepting the other person for what-who-how they are. This is of prime importance. The moment you consciously try to change the other person, you are creating a conflict in their mind about themselves. This is the biggest harm you could do to your marriage. So can you accept everything? May be yes, may be no. Therefore, what do you do about the things you cannot accept? You talk it out. If there is no way that you can reach an agreement, then my friend, you will do yourself and the other person good, by letting go.

Space – The second most important aspect is ‘space’. Yes, I understand you are at the doorstep of merging your worlds, but this is the set diagram, we learnt in school. You have two sets, Set A and Set B that are intersecting in the middle. Nevertheless, there is some part of set A which is independent of Set B, and vice versa. This is the exact nature of any happy relationship. Let your partner be, and give them the space to be themselves. The sets intersect anyways.

Change – change is the only thing that is constant in the world, somebody said. This is true of every human being. A person’s circumstances change and there is some change in the person when he/she tries to adapt to the situation. If your partner said they prefer coffee in the morning and after a few years start drinking tea, do not grumble. This is a lighter example, but what matters more is the change in emotions. If a person tends to behave different, emotionally, accept it. Every person is unique, and a single creation. How a person reacts to a particular situation would be different from another. Be prepared to accept change.

Thoughtful – this is something you need to determine before tying the knot. How important is it to you, that your spouse is thoughtful? If being thoughtful makes a world of difference to you, then you should ask this question to your “could-be” partner. If you expect a gift or expect a “Happy Birthday” greeting on your birthday, and your partner does not care, then this is a definite rift in the relationship. It is similar to the - I am good-you are good, I am not good-you are not good situation.

Communication – open communication. If you cannot have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner, then let go. You need to be able to emote, talk, and speak your mind without fear. If fear starts setting in, then normal human behavior is to cave in. Once the caving in starts, the person falls deeper and deeper into the abyss. Do not instill fear in your partner. Be a friend. I believe that Friendship is the basis of all happy relationships. If you can be a friend to your child, you will have the strongest bond with them. Similarly, in marital relationships, your spouse needs to be your friend.

Food – I would not rank this as important as the previous elements, but this is an element, I would not ignore. Food habits! How important is it for you that your spouse has similar food habits – the kind of food they eat – vegetarian, non-vegetarian, table manners, food cooked at home. Again, this is not a very difficult thing, but I have seen relationships where this matters. The spouse tries to push his/her food habits on the other person. Let be. There are people who are willing to change, to them, I would say, “Nice”. However, if your spouse is not willing to change, let it pass. Accept!

Parents – I am sure parents are a treasure to any child. The Indian system tends to believe that it is important for the wife to honor her husband’s parents and wishes, but the vice versa is not as important. Girl, if you are ready to follow the Indian system, so be it. However, if that is not the case, then ensure that you clear up the cloud around this, before taking the plunge. After a while it hurts to see how disrespectful they can get, and expect respect in return.

So don't marriages survive without the above 7 elements? They do, they "survive".

Now that I have shared my two cents on Marriage, let me tell you, there are thousands of books out there that tell you how to make a perfect marriage, how to fix one, how to keep up with one etc. From my perspective, this is what I perceive as important. If you have these elements in place, “everything” else falls into place.

Wish you a happy married life!


"Pataaki" - the Kannada word for Firecrackers. The word I learnt as a kid to signify what it signifies. Diwali was not about pooja or about sweets. It was about a holiday from school and firecrackers. A week prior to Diwali, my brother and I would start nudging our father to buy firecrackers. There was a budget session first. Rs 100 was almost always the maximum. Anything you can buy for Rs 100. Our neighbours bought for five or ten times this amount and shared with us too. However we got enough for Rs 100 back then (approximately 24 years ago!!).

Once the budget session gave the clearance it was a wait and daily reminders to buy firecrackers on his way home. We even scared him by saying that the firecrackers would be over by the time he went to the store and we would be left watching others and not having any of our own. After some persistent pushing, an evening on his way back home, he would come home with a box of firecrackers. My brother and I leaped at the box to uncover the treasure. Happy at some exciting crackers and sad at some that he missed. We would also manage to sneak in some toy gun firecrackers (I forget what we called them), but they came in half inch wide long red strips, with bumps of concealed flash powder.. yeah "Roll pataaki". We fed the roll into the toy gun and boom boom started the fire roll. One variant was to rub the firecracker against a rough surface with your bare hands.

Come Diwali and the first step was partition, fifty-fifty was the rule, with our mother as the referee. We opened each box and split everything in half. This was to avoid fights. The long wait for darkness and planning with neighbours regarding what time we would go down and start the ritual. We planned and planned and talked and discussed like this was the most important activity in life. As soon as the sky darkened, it was our mother's turn to be target to our nudging. "Come on Ma, lets go, everyone is going".

We carried candles, agarbathi (incense sticks) matchboxes, our respective bag of firecrackers. FIrst step was to find a place to establish the candle without the wind blowing it off. And then we get set go..

Lot of kannada terms here - Sursur bathi of different lengths and colours , bhoo-chakra, flower pot - small one and big one, pencil, snake, pataaki in different lenghts, lakshmi bomb, eeruli bomb, rocket, double shot, sarra.

All the diwalis where I have burst firecrackers have been with my brother. And today as I see some kids enjoying their Diwali on the street, I miss him and wish for another Diwali with him.

Happy Diwali!!

The Photo Adress Book

What is it about Facebook that people are drawn to it like bees? I wake up in the morning and open Facebook to see who said what. I sit down for breakfast in one hand and in the other hand I am scrolling through Facebook on my smartphone, this repeats at Lunch, evening, dinner and bedtime. If I have nothing else to do and even when I have a lot of things to do, I dont miss checking Facebook. But WHY?

I know, your first answer could be "because you are jobless", I'm afraid, that's not quite true. Even when I am busy the urge to login is constantly there. What drives the urge? Curiosity to know what happening on Facebook or in other's lives and sharing whats happening in yours with your extended group of friends? Everyone I know is not addicted to Facebook, but the majority are. And I wonder.. All the people on my Facebook "Friends" profile may not be my friends, they could be people whom I have just met once or known for a long time. Then what is the need to let everyone know "Whats on my mind?"

All sorts of things happen on Facebook. Who married whom, who broke up, whose daughter is doing what, whose kid took its first step, who is pregnant, who traveled where, its an open book. A world of people who seek privacy and crib at the smallest infringement of one's privacy are opening their hearts out on Facebook. People use it to express their thoughts, maybe to specific people in their life, or to the entire world. This definitely bridges the geographical distance between people in a very simple form. In a world without Facebook you had to pick up the phone or exchange emails to talk to people and share life events. With Facebook, you post a single message and Voila! your whole world knows.

There are people who browse Facebook when they have nothing else to do. There are some (many) who breathe, live, eat, sleep Facebook. And there are a lot of diligent users who keep posting what's on their mind. I wonder how much time the world spends on Facebook. Probably that is the next statistical survey results we should see. I am sure we would be alarmed by the number of hours even a particular strata of society spends on social networking via Facebook. Could all these hours be used productively doing something else? I am sure the answer would be Yes. Having said that, am I going to stop using Facebook? NO.

Facebook is an addiction, and Mark Zuckerberg has so successfully got the whole world addicted to. The young, the old and everyone in between is on Facebook. It has opened a new world of connecting possibilities for the elderly folks and made them computer-savvy. They may have not used a computer in their life before, but with Facebook they are learning the tricks of the trade.

One of Mark Zuckerberg's favourite quote from his Facebook page -
"All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once you grow up." - Pablo Picasso