Sunday, November 4, 2012

My dad's memoirs- Episode 3

(Chronicles of my dad in his own words down the memory lane)

Today whatever I’ve achieved, I owe it to my father. In the SSC examination I secured 80%, standing first in the school and third in the university. I wanted to join Maths group in Intermediate course and ultimately become an engineer.

During those days unemployment was rampant among engineers. Postal department was directly recruiting  those students as clerks who secured good marks in the SSC exam. There were no interviews and appointment letters would be issued based on marks. My father’s friends and well-wishers told him that my good marks would surely fetch a job in postal department as a clerk. They also added that later I could get promotions by appearing for the departmental exams. My father was a school teacher and got a humble salary. He was finding it hard to make both ends meet. My joining as a clerk and earning money would have augmented his income. But he didn't heed to their advice and encouraged me to pursue intermediate course. After completion of intermediate course, again the same predicament was faced. I could join LIC based on intermediate marks and get decent salary. But, he saw to that my aspirations were fulfilled. Today if I’ve achieved additional secretary rank in Government of India service it is all because of his determination to make me an engineer. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My clever sister and unsuspecting dad

My sister had maths exam the next day and wanted dad to come early so he could tutor her for the exam.

My dad was busy in an office meeting.

She called him from her cell phone.
No answer.

From mine and mother’s cell phone.
No answer.

From the land line.
No answer.

 She went to my grandma’s room. She stealthily picked up her phone while she was reading a religious book and called my dad.

Seeing my grandma’s number on cell phone my dad picked it up at the first ring and said anxiously, “Yes amma?” She knew my dad would yield only to gandma.

My sister imitated my grandma’s voice and said,” Come fast son! I can't find my diabetes tablets.”

My father sensing mischief laughed heartily in the middle of the meeting. He concluded it early and arrived home.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My dad's memoirs- Episode 2

 (Chronicles of my dad down the memory lane in his own words)

I remember this incident during our stay at Ghaziabad. I was evaluating answer papers of the departmental competitive exam.

A burly Haryanvi man who took the exam tried to offer me a fat bribe to give him good marks in the exam. He was very influential and gained information from birdies of the whereabouts of all the five answer papers which were sent to be evaluated all over the country. He went to all those places, offered bribes to the evaluators and persuaded them to give him good marks. His fifth paper was sent to be evaluated at Ghaziabad, to me. He called me constantly for two days on the phone and started harassing me. I thought I would give him grace marks if he wrote something but his paper was blank. I had to fail him. He invited himself to my home. He saw two-year-old Aparna playfully running about here-and-there. He threatened me saying, “You seem to have a small happy family today. Just take care that it might not be the same tomorrow.” He was a hefty man and in no way I would have matched his strength. He threatened me saying that he would carry me and push me off the terrace. My wife got scared listening to his ultimatum. She called her brothers and everyone in the family panicked. I avoided venturing out alone on my scooter and stayed put safely inside home. He would hover under the apartment, pacing angrily and watching out for my posting of the evaluated papers.  I managed to parcel and send away the bundle of evaluated papers secretly and safely.

I even considered contacting the police. After a couple of days all our neighbours came to know about the problem. They had a nice chat with him saying that I am a man of scruples and would never fall for a bribe.  They told him to ‘fix’ some corruptible higher authority in the examination cell so that they would change his result and that there is no use trying to ‘grease my palms’ as I would not be so easily bent on principles. They told him that I am a hard working, innocent and an honest man and it would do him no good by threatening me except wasting his time. He came to know that I already parceled the papers. He finally saw to that his physical strength is nothing in front of my honesty and left us alone.

Friday, October 12, 2012

World's best dahi puri!

I used to love Dahi puri at Kadamba restaurant, Basaveshwarnagar (B’lore). Four times a week, I would go there after college and relish on this chat. I would closely watch the chatwala while he prepared this chat. The hygiene standards of Kadamba are good unlike at the road-side vendor’s.  He uses larger than mouth sized gol-gappas and I love the challenge of gorging on them without spilling the masala pani. The stuffing is made of moong dal sprouts, mashed potatoes and thick curd. The curd they use here is not sweet unlike the ones I tried elsewhere. It is spicy, sour and tangy. Then he garnishes with sev, coriander, beetroot and carrot shavings.

I know all the ingredients which goes inside this and tried to replicate a few times. But it could not match the taste of his dahi puris. May be he uses a secret ingredient. You know, kind of just like blood. We know all the components making up this essence of life, but no scientist could create it artificially. Clever analogy, isn't it?

After spending a month in my hometown during summer holidays, I eagerly went to Kadamba the earliest after coming to Bangalore. The dahi puri I had this time didn’t taste at all like the one before. The curd was sweet. As told by the waiters there, I learnt that my favourite chatwala went back to his village and would never return. My search for the perfect dahi puri continued but I was disappointed everytime. 

The center of an entrance exam was at VV puram, which is far from the place I live. On the morning of the exam, I seriously considered skipping it.  But then, I went and attempted it anyway. After the exam, I went to Dosa mane nearby, which is famous for 100 varieties of dosas. The masala dosa was not as good as  expected. I saw a man in the chat counter and I did a double-take. It was my favourite chatwala! I was thrilled at my discovery. He was happy to know that I missed his dahi-puris. We chatted for a while and he told me that he came to Dosa mane as the pay was better and it was closer to his home.  I gorged on till my stomach ached! I thought I could never eat the dahi puris made by my favourite chatwala again. If not for the exam (which went really bad) I would never have come to VV puram. I was happy to be united with the world’s best dahi-puri! And I know where exactly to head to for evening snacks!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The wedding woes

My parents could not wait to get rid of me see me settled in the name of marriage. The constant nag of my parents made me break down like the soggy-runny-dal in the pressure cooker that they prepare in my hostel mess and I finally gave them a green signal to hunt down for prospective grooms.

But they are having a hard time in the matrimonial search as I set my preferences sky-high, that they are impossible to be possessed by any one ordinary man. Only a vampire like Edward or a Greek God like Hercules might fit the bill. The longer I delay, the longer I can enjoy my single-hood and freedom.

My father pesters me to learn devotional songs and cook culinary dishes and be ready to showcase my prowess of complete home management plus entertainment package, to the groom’s family on the day of 'match-seeing'. Seriously, if the groom wants to listen to music, why can’t he buy a damn I-pod like I did? My dad is asking me to watch my weight and skip sweets till marriage. Even after having an account for six months in I couldn't finalize on a match. My dad was cross at me saying registering there is nothing but a waste of money if I won’t relax my criteria and paid cash again to renew the account for another six months.

My mother spread the word like fire in our apartment, among her friends and our relatives. So all of them, milkman and watchman included, constantly ask her when they will be able to hear the wedding bells. She told the milkman to be ready with extra supply of milk as any day I might get married. Aunties who come to our home don’t leave without suggesting suitable boys they know, like of their sister’s brother-in-law’s cousin’s neighbour’s friend’s son. The hot topic of conversation for my mother to talk on phone is my marriage. She doesn't end the call without asking to suggest well-educated boys from good background and the person at the other end comes up with two or three boys about whom she jots down in her special ‘prospective matches book’. Oh yes! She is specially maintaining a book for noting down the bio-data of grooms.  Near and dear ones enquire my mom about good news if any and my mom looks at me and sighs with a long face. I am sure all our relatives are beginning to wonder if I am a cursed spinster whose horoscope has doshas  and shanis as they call us to offer suggestions to perform graha-shanthi -poojas  and sympathetically offer advice that groom-hunt is a pious mission and that it will take atleast an year to finalize the match. I have begun to avoid relatives like plague.

Even the priest in the temple near-by knows that I have reached a marriageable age and he advised my mother to do Swarna Gauri Vratam which is supposed to confer heaven’s blessings to marry me off sooner without any obstacles.

Once or twice some nice guys did come my way.

Education, job, salary-Check.  Looks,height,complexion-Check.

Caste, sub-caste-Check.  Gothra, Nakshatra, Rasi- Check.

Family background- Check.  Computer horoscope compatibility-Check.

The profile of one guy did manage to successfully cross all these filters. But then, there was another mega filter. My mother took the horoscope of that boy to an astrologer and he contemplated it with utmost seriousness and pronounced that we are not compatible according to some distant stars and planets and that troubles and hardships will constantly crop up claiming peace in our relationship. So that put an end to that prospective profile then-and-there.

Everything in our home is being linked up to my wedding even though it is atleast a year away.  If the tailor is late to deliver my mother’s stitched clothes, she scolds her saying, ‘My daughter’s marriage will be fixed soon. What will she wear on the mandap if you won’t deliver stitched blouses on time like how you did now?’ Or if the servant-maid doesn't dust the ceiling properly she goes, ‘My daughter will be married soon. How can I trust you with decorating the aangan with mango leaves at the time of marriage? Will you clean the house in this same manner when the guests turn up for wedding?’ A couple of tiles of the marble flooring in our dining-hall broke open and so she urges dad everyday to get it repaired immediately, as according to her,at any time the groom's family might turn up for lunch to eat the dishes I made and assess my cooking skills. She got a huge discount in the jewellery shop after she said – ‘ If you be conjoos in reducing the price even by a few hundred rupees, how can you expect me to give you the order of designing wedding jewellery for my daughter. She will be married in a few weeks. You know, you have been our jewellers for years and I will trust no one else for such an auspicious purpose. So be considerate and give me a discount now’.

Once we went to a discount mela of saris in Kalanjali showroom to purchase saris for the wedding (which we already knew was a long time away). Seeing one expensive sari my mother exclaimed loudly, ‘This Kanjeevaram sari is so grand! This so will be the sari I will wear during your wedding!’ This the shopkeeper heard and guessed that my mom would be a promising customer and upturned his whole showroom patiently and painstakingly unfolded 100+ saris in front of us. My mom after a very long debate to choose what-and-what, finally decided upon two saris for her and one for me despite the shopkeeper constantly urging her to take more- what aunty ji? Your daughter’s wedding and you settle on only this! You both should deck in a new sari for every two hours for such an once-in-a-lifetime occasion!’

Later on, my mom already wore all those saris for parties and festivals ( Varalaxmi vratam, Gauri vratam, Ganesh chaturthi …..) without saving them for the wedding. Time and again she asked funds from my dad to buy expensive saris on the pretext of my wedding. But then, she kept them for herself and could not resist beyond a couple of days without wearing them! My mom and her fad for new saris!

Friday, September 28, 2012

A slip between cup and lip

I am saturated with the marathon holiday break that I have now. An idle mind is a devil's workshop. I pestered my parents for almost a month to grant me money for buying novels to pass my time. I prepared my wish-list of all the novels that I wanted to read since an year. My town doesn't have a good bookstore. So I waited till we went to a two-day trip to Kolkata. The itinerary was tightly packed and both the days were reserved by my mother for trips to Kalighat Durga mandir and Dakshineshwar Durga mandir. I requested fell on my parent's feet and begged to take me to college street, where I heard that there is Asia's largest book market selling novels in second-hand. Finally, they obliged. I went hysterical with so many options of novels available. I picked 13 novels and waited for the moment I could come to my hometown and devour them page-by-page. My mother purchased infinite Bengali cotton saris at New market.

I and my mother had to return to our hometown while my father had to stay back on office purpose. Our luggage weighed more than the prescribed limit of 40 Kgs specified for cargo on the flight back to home. My mother made me leave all the books with my dad but did not reduce even one sari of her's though I was repeatedly pleading her. It will take two months for my father to return from his official tour.

The previous day I stacked all those novels into a tall tower and was jumping with joy at my acquisition  The next day I was dejected at the airport as I had to leave behind my bag full of novels.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A little bit of honesty goes a long way


From Rajiv Gandhi International airport, Hyderabad, I had to catch a morning flight to Kolkata. Not wishing to eat the bland breakfast served in flight I decided to have breakfast in the airport. I ordered a plate of Guntur-Idly in a food joint at the airport which costed a whopping price of Rs.85! In a hurry, unable to yield to a large queue of customers, the cashier gave the bill to me but surprisingly, got confused and did not take money for the order. I tried to tell him but he refused to listen to me and shooed me away saying I was holding the line of customers.

Oh shoot! I thought the restaurant won’t suffer losses if it didn't charge one plate. I had the free breakfast triumphantly, happy that I saved a lot of money. Seriously Rs. 85 for two idlis is too much!! I planned on eating soon and slipping away lest he realizes his mistake later. I was gulping down the idly and then midway I had my guilty conscience probing and disturbing me.  I could not eat any further. Then and there, I got up, went behind the counter and explained to him that by mistake he forgot to take money from me. He was very happy at my honesty and thanked me. He said that his boss would have chided him at the end of the day if the cash and the bill accounts did not tally and he would had to pay from his own pocket. It might not be a big transaction, but I felt very good with my sincerity and ate the rest of my breakfast in peace.

I was shopping with my family on a hot mid-afternoon.  My father was very tired and hungry. He wanted to buy a plate of fruit salad from a vendor on the street. The vendor handed over the plate to my dad but my dad was unable to hold it properly and so it fell on the road strewing the pieces of fruits here-and-there.  Disappointed and hungry my dad gave the vendor his money and we proceeded to go home. But the vendor called us back and gave another plate and did not accept money for the second plate which was totally unexpected.

He earned my respect as he was a man of strong integrity, who didn't feel greedy for money though it was rightfully his, only because his customers were not satisfied. 

Monday, September 3, 2012

The solitary blue stiletto

I and my blue mate
Encrusted with Swarovski crystals
Snake-skin leather, lace of velvet fleece
Heels pointed slick and shiny
Couture of Jimmy choo
Trend setters straight from Milan
Meant to see the glitz of glistening parties
Mind you... not any ordinary footwear we are
We often mock our neighbours-the dirty pair of sneakers
Of their futile existence, sans, style or substance
Regret why you keep us beside them
Being worn to drab unglamorous places
Biting the dust on potholed roads
Next to us they don’t even stand a chance
Because we are The blue stilettos

I and my blue mate
Endured your weight
Transformed your awkward gait
into a cat-walk on the ramp
Treaded and pranced miles
Made you stand inches taller
Elevated your confidence
Enhanced your persona
Fashionistas complimented you
Appreciated your style statement
 Designed to impress a woman’s vanity
We were your fad
Addressed to your whim
Jumped in your gambol
Pity you! Though we discomforted your feet
Ignoring the shoe-bites we gave
You suffered us stoically
Because we are The blue stilettos

But as my mate is lost.
I stand alone. Blue. Neglected.  Jaded.
A lonely sole in the closet
Waiting to be picked
Waiting to be dusted
Waiting to be worn again
Meant to see the glitz of glistening parties 
Missing the tick-tick rustle when tapped on the floor
The dirty sneakers stand proud and sturdy
They mock at me that I am all alone
Alas! You abandoned me in the shoebox
Choosing the dirty pair of sneakers over me
Ordained to a twist of fate
I know it wouldn’t be late
that you would totally dispose me off
Because I am the solitary blue stiletto

Saturday, September 1, 2012

My dad's memoirs – Episode 1

(Chronicles of my dad down the memory lane in his own words)

When I was posted to Dimapur, Nagaland, on CGM promotion, initially I was taken aback. It is 2600 kms away from home and is considered unsafe as the problem of insurgency persists in north-east India. Then, I remembered my father who took transfers as a challenge and readily accepted them without grumbling. He, without a second thought, went to even those places which were backward with little amenities.

He worked as a headmaster in Zila Parishad schools of Ananthpur district. He was a strict disciplinarian and a man of principles. One of his students was riding a bicycle without heeding to the national anthem being recited in the morning school assembly. He considered this disrespectful and punished the boy for his lack of discipline and patriotism. Whereas, my father would stand up and salute the flag whenever the national anthem was being sung, no matter where he was and what he was doing. The boy that my father punished turned out to be the son of a powerful local politician, who felt insulted and saw to it that my father was posted to the remotest village in the district. He also sent a message across, that if my father would apologise to the politician, he would consider the cancellation of the transfer order. My mother initially asked my father to meet him and sort out the matter appealingly.  But my resolute father took a firm decision and accepted the new assignment. In the new village, we faced a lot of difficulties and challenges. I and my siblings would study in kerosene lantern due to lack of electricity. Medical facilities were deficient. My father had to commute long distances for fetching even basic commodities.

But he never repented his decision and never compromised on his principles. He used to say that Lord Ram was happier in the forest than in Ayodhya.

Recollecting this incident on retrospection I took inspiration from my father and relocated to Dimapur although I had to be away from near and dear. I decided that I will bravely accept any challenge that would come in my way. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stages of our microwave oven

STAGE 1: The day we bought a microwave oven, my mother read the oven manual thoroughly and arranged for a demo from a trainer of the shop to get herself familiarised with all the functions of the oven.

STAGE 2: Immediately after its arrival, the oven stole the limelight from all other electronic gadgets/equipments in our home, be it, our new plasma television, or the new treadmill, or the split A.C etc. Mom excitedly would show the latest ‘hero’ of electronic gadgets to all the neighbours and relatives who walked into our home.

She donned gloves and baked pizzas, grilled sandwiches, cooked idlis and curries in the oven. The entire kitchen process happened within the 4 walls of the oven and she became the expert of microwave cooking The stove took a ‘back-burner’ and was shun to the attic of the kitchen.

STAGE 3: Weeks later, she still used the oven but only to re-heat the left-overs of the previous day and recycle them the next day.

Usually I and my dad try to go for extra helpings and finish the items that day itself, lest my mom refrigerates the left-overs and presents the same items the next day also, which we manage to gulp down without grumbling but with long, sad faces.

Before the oven, my mom used the stove but finding it little cumbersome to heat on the stove, she would mostly give away the old food to the maids. But with this oven, my mom found re-heating easier and quicker. I and my dad found ourselves eating stale food every other day and mom would take a lot of holidays from cooking. How we would curse the oven then!

My mom reasoned with us that ‘conventional cooking’ is the best, and cooking the food over the flame rather than using ‘some rays’ enhances the taste of the food. The stove was dusted clean and put into use.

STAGE 4: When my mom resorted to conventional cooking, the oven lost its identity and the real reason of its existence. It has been many months and now my mom uses the oven, only as a cupboard to store her purse or to hide things from us.

Once, my neighbour brought expensive calorie-laden cream chocolates. My sister ate only them and skipped food. My angry mom hid the chocolates safely inside the oven. My sister searched the fridge and entire house but she never was able to guess the hide-out place.

STAGE 5: Lately, she thinks the oven is very bulky and occupies too much space on the kitchen platform. It won’t be late before my mom banishes the oven into the storeroom alongside the miserable and neglected equipments such as vacuum cleaner, electric kettle, electric roti-maker, toaster etc, all of which lay idle, rusted and redundant, leading a futile existence. 

My mom has a fad of buying every modern gadget and is amused in it for a few weeks, then her transitory interest diminishes and the poor gadgets are ordained to rust in the murky corners of the storeroom.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...