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Monday, 19 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 19: Weird logic from a cabbie

Last week, my aged parents, who had come over for a short visit, were returning home with my sister. A little after they had left, my sister told the cabbie to drive carefully and slowly because both parents have low back pain and sudden jerks must be avoided. There was no response from him.

Noticing that he had plugged in his earphones, and assuming he may not have heard her, she tapped him on the shoulder, indicated he should remove the earplugs, and repeated her request. He got irritated and grumbled something. A little while later, he again inserted his earphones.
Don't talk - fine; what about listening to music?
My sister again politely asked him to remove them, saying that she wanted him to be alert to any instruction that she may want to give.

At this, the cabbie rudely told her, “What, Madam, you people are so educated, and doing so much pooja-paath, you should not be afraid of dying” !!!

He’d probably assumed the pooja-paath bit from seeing the Thiruman Srichurnam (tilak) on my father’s forehead. That’s beside the point. What a shocking statement to make! We all know we’re going to die someday – but that doesn’t mean we walk in the middle of the road, does it?

To this, my sister told him, “Us doing pooja-paath or being afraid of dying or not isn't the matter here. Hasn’t Krishna also told in the Bhagavad Geeta that everyone should do their duty in the best way possible?”

As they went further, my sister suggested that he avoid a particular road because it was uneven and would be uncomfortable for my parents. Rudely, he said he couldn’t do that – that he must follow the GPRS route only, and drove on roughly.

When they finally reached home, he kept showing his irritation and impatience at the fact that it took a few minutes to get my parents out of the cab, and ready to walk using their walker and walking stick.

While traveling with our parents before, we have often experienced that cab drivers themselves volunteer to help them get in and out of the vehicle, suggesting the seat be eased back or front, and doing what they can to make their drive comfortable. When it’s only one of us daughters traveling with both parents, we’ve even had some drivers offer to help with the luggage. That’s very nice of them, and although we don’t expect/order them to help, it feels good when they do. Even if they don’t help with all this, the very least someone can do is wait patiently.

My sister did raise a complaint with the cab aggregator, but she hasn’t had the time to pursue it further. You see, being a physician, she’s too busy saving lives and assuaging the anxiety of those who’re scared of their loving ones dying.

Sunday, 18 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 18: The girl who wouldn't talk

Once upon a time, there lived a family in a small village. The father had to go to work at a far-off place for a while. Not wanting to disrupt the kids’ school routines, he decided to take a small room at that place, and stay there, and return home to be with the family once a month or so, as the job permitted.

The youngest kid of that family was around 2 years old, and because the father was not continually present, found him an unfamiliar person. On the occasions when he came home, this kid would run and hide under the dining table. Laughing at this behaviour that resembled a kid brought up away from civilization, the family had a nickname for her – they called her “Kaad-Paapa” which meant “Forest-Child.”

As that kid grew older, she continued to be shy, and an introvert, not engaging much in conversation with the world around her. The parents never made a big issue of it, they didn’t chide her for being the way she was, or try to compare her with other kids who were more outgoing. In other words, they let her be.

Today, that “Kaad-Paapa” is a lecturer, a speaker, and a writer. She can strike up conversations with unknown persons, and strangers often open up to her on the very first meeting, asking for advice.

Occasionally, when I find someone worrying about their kid who is shy, I give them this example of my own journey. Just to show them that positive changes can happen to everyone. All that the shy kids need is the support, understanding, and security that loving parents and siblings can give, along with opportunities to grow independent.

Today was a busy day, and yet, there were at least 3 different themes I made a note to write a blog on. But the busy-ness of the day pushed this blog-writing to the very last minute, and there wasn’t time to devote to any of those 3 themes.

As I browsed through the pictures from today’s bhajan program at my parents’ house where all 6 of their daughters attended with their families, this blog post kind of wrote itself.

Saturday, 17 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 17: Lost to time...

A few months ago, when I was finishing my purchase at a shoe shop, a man came there with his kids. Speaking in Kannada, he asked the shopkeeper for “Kaalcheela” (ಕಾಲ್ಚೀಲ, काल्चीला). 

For a minute, I was at a loss to understand what he meant; the word seemed vaguely familiar, and I knew I knew what it meant – just that the meaning didn’t come to mind immediately. Then, I got it! 

From the literal meaning, by splitting the word into two – in Kannada, kaal means leg and cheela means bag. So – literally, a bag for the legs (or the feet, rather) – that is, socks!

I wondered at how my mind had almost forgotten the word because it had been a really long, long while since I had heard someone say “Kaalcheela” and not “socks.”

A few days later, I heard my father ask my sister to give him some “Mulaam” for his leg. I had never heard this word before. (For those readers who don’t know my multicultural/hybrid background, my parents are Karnataka Iyengars, so we grew up with a patois made up of part-Tamil, part-Kannada that some people say sounds a little like Tulu; besides, I was born and brought up in Goa, so I learned Kannada itself much later in life after coming to Bangalore.)

But from the context of the rest of the conversation, and the fact that the Hindi word “Malham” means an ointment, I knew my father was asking for a pain balm.

When I asked my sister, she confirmed my interpretation, and we spoke of how it’s not very commonly used today – people mostly say either balm or ointment or cream.

This train of thoughts led me to realize that there are so many words/concepts in our native tongues that are getting eclipsed nowadays because people have begun using their English equivalents more often.

Pondering this, I remembered how amazed I had been about a year ago when I saw this in a supermarket.

Frankly, I won’t be surprised if, in10 years time, some kid comes to my house, he/she won’t know what this is!

Friday, 16 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 16: Sowing the right seed

Last year, I had invited my readers to share their stories of some positive quality they have cultivated that has made a difference in their lives. I had put up many of those stories, but one reached me on the last day and stayed unused. Today, suddenly, I remembered about it, and am presenting it here, because it's very relevant for us to know how we can do our bit to help our less fortunate fellow-beings.

This has been written by Shri. Suresh Venkatarao, who is married to Vidya, my husband's cousin living in Chennai.

We know the saying, “What we Sow is what we Reap”. This is very important from the perspective of young ones today. Gone are the days when we as kids obeyed our parents in silence. The modern-day kids want to know why a particular thing needs to be followed and practiced. Believe me, if we can make them understand, they are such wonderful kids, who would practice what we teach. This is where we as parents need to sow the right seed in our child’s mind.

I am narrating from my personal experience. I am going to talk about one good practice which I have inculcated in my son’s life.

Helping the needy

To help the needy, what you need is the intention rather than how much money you have. I want my son to be compassionate towards others, understand the difficulty faced by many and how blessed he is. 

A couple of years ago, he would buy chappals, but use only some and not the others. Sometimes he used to say that I don’t want this food after giving it to him. To change this and make him understand how others are not getting food, we showed the Somalia poverty to him. He was shocked to see people who looked like skeletons, kids of his age so weak and wearing water bottles as chappals etc. This really impacted him, and I still remember the day vividly as he started crying seeing the plight of people. His habits changed, and he wanted to know how this could be changed.

We told him that we could do our little bit by donating whatever possible to the needy people. He wanted to understand how so I explained to him about the Trust concept, UN Organizations etc. I took him to couple of charities which I support on my mother’s death anniversary every year. In their school, they started Karuna Club two years ago where they collect money, food items, reading materials and clothes two times every year. He would actively ask my support for that Karuna Club.

We wanted him to go one step further.

Every year we celebrate his birthday by inviting his friends and neighbours followed by cake cutting etc. He enjoys this very much and he gets very much excited and takes part in decoration arrangements etc. Last year we told him that we will do away with this and instead we would use the money and give sweets and cakes to an orphanage. We explained to him that all his friends and neighbours coming for birthday party can afford cakes/sweets / return gifts etc. whereas the boys and girls in homes will get them only when someone like us gives them. He did agree to our idea and was ready to give away the usual celebrations. I am very proud of my son, as, after all, he was just ten years old when we asked him to forego this practice.

His aunt presented him with a money safe (Piggy bank) with a condition that whatever amount he saved in it, 25% of it, he should use it for charity and the rest can be used for himself.

The first opening is done, and the amount counted and contribution to charity is done. Hope with God’s Grace he keeps up this habit forever and helps the needy.

Thursday, 15 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 15: Why two posts today?!?

I’ve put up one blog post for today already – my short story that won the runners-up prize.

Maybe you’re wondering, ‘Okay, so why another post today?’

Because technically, that story was written some other day. Not today. And my commitment is to WRITE one post every day, and not just PUT UP one post every day.

I’d like to say a heartfelt “Thank you” to everyone who reads and encourages me.

Even as I’m typing this post, I wonder if this is what I’ve done to my readers
Spot the reader!

I really hope not. But I suspect it may turn out true unless I do something fast. That is, stop writing right now because I’ve written enough for the day, to keep the vow.

So, you can go back to whatever other stuff you were doing.

Unless you were smart enough (or irritated enough) to not even click the link to this post.

The class is over. Let off time.

I know – it’s three (or is it four or five) sentences after saying I’ll stop writing. You just can’t take the lecturer out of this writer😁

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 14: Do you listen to the little ones?

The other day, I chanced on this picture somewhere online. 

The caption read “Someone give this kid an award already!” I couldn’t help laughing out.

But in real life, one can be pretty sure that this kid’s teacher wouldn’t have laughed. In fact, she would only have imposed some other punishment for this work of art. No wonder then that our workplaces are filled with too few creative-thinking people, and we need to have ideation workshops and innovation training to inspire them.

First, you terrorize children to conform to the norm; then you want them to suddenly show up with bright new ideas and impeccable problem-solving skills.

Ok, I agree I’m generalizing here, but the fact remains that our ways of interaction with the young – as parents, and as teachers – leaves much to be desired.

I remember an incident about 7 years ago when my son was in Class 4. He’d come back home quite upset. One of his friends – let’s call him K – had brought 100 rupees to school on his birthday. It was a gift from his parents, and the kid took a few of his friends to the bakery near the school, to give them a small birthday treat.

The next day, the Principal summoned these kids (my son was part of that group) and gave them a dressing down. The bakery and the school had an agreement that the Principal would be informed if kids from the primary section came there. So, the bakery guy had duly informed the Principal.

K and his friends were grilled for 2 reasons – first because they’d disobeyed the rule. Second – and this rankled the adults more – K had spent 40 rupees on the snacks and then, dropped the remaining 60 rupees into a box the bakery had, seeking donations for the blind. How could he do such a thing! How ungrateful he was to waste his parents’ hard-earned money!

My son said the friends had all tried to dissuade him from donating. He had silenced them by saying that when he saw blind people on the road, he felt very bad, and wanted to help them in some way.

Not for a moment am I suggesting that the kid be applauded unconditionally. Of course, K needed to learn his lessons about not breaking rules, not spending money without telling his parents, and not chucking it away on a whim.

But not one adult had bothered to ask K about why he had done such a thing. No one had said, “Yes, I understand you,” before proceeding to make sure he learned his lesson.

On this Children’s Day, can we decide to really LISTEN to the little ones before sticking labels on them?

Tuesday, 13 November 2018

NaBloPoMo 2018: Day 13: Lessons from a saree pallu

During the blogathon, I find my mind constantly hovering around the thought of what to write. Some days, there are few thoughts; other days, there are many. And on some days like today, all the thoughts that had occupied my mind throughout the day, sounding like promising leads for the post, suddenly fly out the window because I’ve been struck by an epiphany (which is a complicated word to describe a striking or sudden realization).

As I clear up the room, I look with fresh eyes at a saree spread on the clothes stand.

I’m struck by the simplicity of the design. Just tiny flowers and yet, so beautiful.

As I begin folding the saree, I glance at the reverse of the same part of the pallu.

And I realize that what appears so obviously simple, has been achieved only after some pretty complex work on the other side.

This reminds me of how we see only the success of famous people and not their hard work that went into it. That singer or dancer on the show who pulled off a flawless performance didn’t do so by chance – it was the result of hours of deliberate practice.

We want to be successful like X, Y or Z; but are we prepared to take on challenges the way they did?

As I continue staring at the saree, there’s another fact that strikes me.


On the side that’s on display, the flowers stand apart; but on the reverse where the stitches have been formed, everything is interconnected. Often, when things happen to us, we see the incidents in isolation, but it is quite possible that there may be some common thread linking them together.

For example, I know a person A who gets blamed at his office for shoddy work. He is left out of group activities and not given much importance. His relation with his family is not too good either. Three different things, happening to this person, all arise out of his nature of not taking his responsibilities seriously.

Being able to connect our actions to the results that follow is not as simple as it sounds. As long as you continue to look superficially at the display side, you won’t notice anything. You have to make the effort to shift your gaze and view things from a different angle to be able to understand the reality of how one thing leads to another.