Saturday, November 7, 2009

Miss You!

My faithful and sometimes cranky companion of six years has finally breathed its last. My PC has finally crashed not to be restored again.

To make matters worse, they have blocked blogspot and wordpress in office. Now that I look back it is quite surprising that we were able to get it for so long. My pal in IT told me when I asked him, "Work Bindu, for a change". Couldn't argue with him considering the time I used to spend on blogs ;-)

So, till I get a replacement for my old faithful, it will be weekends when I can snatch my hubby's laptop when he is busy watching one of his favorite movies. But how I miss the instant high of clicking the refresh button and seeing a few of my favorite blogger's posts coming up. Guess all good things must come to an end. Sigh!!

I miss you all :-)

Hope to be back here soon, daily

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What is important to you?

My daughter turns two and half next month. Time to start her Montessori. So started my second round of school hunting in the past one year.

First one was on the first floor of a house straight out of an interior design magazine. Split level floors, curios from all over the world, and the lady straight out of a fashion magazine. She gave me a disdainful look over. Thinking of how I look like even on my best days, I couldn't blame her. She was trained in the US of A, taught in montessories there, and had been working in one of Bangalore's upmarket schools for 4 years when the entrepreneurship bug caught her. She explained everything in her yankee accent and asked whether my daughter could follow English. We strictly speak our mother toungue at home, the logic is kids will anyway learn English at school. I said, "She can understand." Another one of those looks.

The classroom itself was again out of a book. All the accessories brand new, placed in order, and all imported, stressed the madam. There were 4-5 kids sitting around all beween 2.5 and 4 and they were writing in their notebooks!! I could not but compare this to the kindergarten class which my son went to in Kochi. The teacher did not force him to do anything in the first term because he used to get upset when she told him anything. That teacher took such good care of him during the first two months without even any of us knowing that after the first few months he just blossomed into someone very confident and thoughtful.

Next school I visited also gave me almost the same message. Teach kids as much as possible so that they are ready for their all important interview next year.

When we moved to Bangalore, the common comment from everyone was kids will get a good education. After almost a year I am not so sure anymore. There maybe the so called elite schools where this maybe true. But getting an admission there is tougher than a JEE or CAT and even more expensive. I know a school where they interviewed the kid for three hours for admission to second standard!! A colleague of mine who also got transferred along with is also of the same opinion. Kochi schools were so much better. The teachers knew their students so well and the parents were welcome to approach them anytime.

Our experience with our son is also not too different. In the first three months his class teacher changed three times, we do not know about the other subjects. First open house we went to half the teachers didn't even know him. I am sure there are many other schools which are run in a much better way, if someone can let me know how to get admission to one of those, I will be eternally grateful to you.

I may be biased in my thinking, it maybe a hangover from my upbringing, but from what I have seen and heard in the past few years, I still feel convent schools or those run by priests are the best. They may not have the best of facilities like horse riding or swimming or what not, but the values they instill, the quality of teaching that is a given just cannot be compared.

A parent told me that she is sending her son to a school known for the 'attitude' of the kids, but she is ok with it, since her son will turn out to be confident and sure about himself! Which set me thinking, isn't it us who has turned schooling into what it is today? In our quest for giving the best to our kids are we forgetting the basic things in life? Aren't we going for materialistic achievemnets in place of basic courtesies in life? Is knowing how to ride a horse or shooting a perfect ace on the tennis court more important that learning to treat others fairly without prejudice and getting to know that success and failure are just two sides of the same coin?

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The One Who Walked Out

She is from an aristocratic Syrian Christian family in Kerala. It was surprising that she was allowed to continue her studies after graduation. Soon after her post graduation was over, she was married off into another so called aristocratic family. The guy was well placed, a chief engineer in merchant navy. The perfect recipe for bliss, right?

10 years later....

She is as thin as a skeleton, with permanent dark circles under her eyes. The once effervescent self has given way to a harried and drawn look. At first she would not tell anyone what was wrong. Then the stories started coming out one by one. If she doesn't take the phone after two rings, she was out gallivanting with someone, if she went out it was to meet someone, if she went home it was to complain about him, if she attended any function even that of immediate family it was to attract attention.

She even put up with physical abuse thinking of her kids. But when he tried stopping her from meeting her brother accusing her of something even beyond her wildest imaginations, she decided she had had enough. She walked out on him with her two kids. Her family by then was in almost dire straits. Without losing heart, leaving her kids with her mother, she went to work in a college in the neighbouring town.

The story did not end there. The guy came back, took the kids and went home. All the while, his family turned a blind eye to what was happening. Their boy could do no wrong. She waited for two months for her kids to come back. Then went and lodged a complaint with the Women's Commission. The father had to bring the kids to the police station. She was allowed to take the kids home for two days. On the third day, when he came, the kids refused to go back with him.

It has been four months now. She has no clue where he is. Kids and her are staying in a small rented accomodation. Her father has paid her kid's school fees. She is struggling to make the ends meet. No complaints to anyone, a stoic look on her face, she decided to take each day as it comes. The fact that he has two luxurious apartments in the city and the obnoxious amount of money he is making does not seem to affect her at all. She just knows she is never going back to him.

Dear A, when I think of how you used to be scared to go from one room to another at night, how someone had to be with you wherever you went, how carefree you used to be, I salute you. Especially so when I hear of other so called emancipated women staying put in their abusive marriages just so that they continue to have a luxurious lifestyle.

I wish with all my heart that I get to see the old you sometime soon. Of all people you don't deserve this.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Facts of life

In between some meaningless banter on our way to church yesterday, I coughed and cried out all of a sudden.
Hubby, who was driving, "What happened?'

"Don't know, there was this shooting pain in my lower abdomen"

Son who always listens in to our conversations, though he might look totally engrossed in something else, "What is lower abdomen?"

Touched his lower abdomen on the right side and told him that is where it is.

"So what is above my thingy?"

"That is also your lower abdomen"

A bulb suddenly lights up in my head. Well, he is going to be eight next month. Maybe I should start on some facts of life . What better way to start than teaching him what is what?

"G, do you know what your thingy is actually called?"


"What ?"

"Centre Point"


No need to waste my time, he already knows the most basic fact in a man's life!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

And the award goes to...

Seeing awards being passed on in the blog world has always made me green with envy. I had always longed for one and finally when the moment came, boy how it has come!!

The lady with The Song of Life has presented me with not one or two, but four awards!!

Thank you so much, Swaram. This is one precious moment I am not going to forget in a long, long time.

Now let me pass these on to some of my favorite people.

The Friends Award goes to...

...the first ever friend I've made in the blog world, an amazing human being, an inspiration to so many, a survivor in the true sense of the word, an awesome writer - Alexis. Wish he wrote more often.

....the Sparkling Chef with an awesome sense of humor, with amazing story telling powers (he gets very humble if you tell him that), the next best thing after God (in his own words), someone whom I adore like my little brother - Mathew . He is a great cook too ;-) (Any eligible girls out there?)

.... the first friend I made after my break from the blogworld, a lady with such a wicked sense of humor, you can almost see that grin on her face when you read her posts. Mother of two cutest girls, friend to many of us - Nancy . I know you have this award from Swaram, but my list just will not be complete without you, my dear,

....a friend in real life first and then in the blog world, my wonderful colleague and partner in crime - Sreeram. My life would be so dull without you, Rum,

....her narration fills your mouth with water and the pictures makes you wish you were there with her-mishmash the lady with the golden hands, one fantastic Home Maker, I am honoured to be considered a friend of hers,

... the new friends I have made -Shilpa the lady who adds masala to our lives, Meira the one who created havoc in Landmark with her husband and Solio whose opinionated mind comes out with such deep soliloquies at times and then have us in splits. Swaram. The rules do not say I cannot give it back to you and you most definitely are my friend

Lovely Blogs...

......the word lovely blog immediately brings this Amazing Gardener to mind. It is difficult to decide which is more lovely- her writing or her garden. Thanks to her I now know the different kinds of birds and animals that inhabits Mumbai (i am not referring to the two legged species here)

....a couple who stays in Italy with their heart in Kerala, who gives amazing insights into life - wild and domestic.

....someone who lives on a wing and a prayer. She writes so effortlessly, yet does not agree when her mother says there is a book in her. amazing lady who makes us think one day and then make us howl in laughter the very next day. Her posts are always so thought provoking. This is one Home Maker whom I absolutely admire

I would like have tea with all my favorite bloggers, so this tea cup award goes to all of you mentioned here ...

Their blogs have become so addictive, even a day without checking them out is pure torture.
The Addicting Blog Award goes to...

Alexis, Mathew, Nancy, IHM, A wing and a prayer, Solilo, Sreeram, Swaram, Meira,Shilpa, Sunita and Rocksea and Sarah.

There are two other celebrity blogs that I am hooked on to. Not sure whether they'll accept this award, but then, what the hell! So this award also goes to...

....the spunky lady whom everyone loves to hate, the one and only Shobhaa De. Mohandas Pai of Infosys has named her 'feamle Al Quaida'

....the one who presents an uncut version of India

Phew!! that was one long speech. Now let me take a break ;-)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Holy Mary!!

"Controversy queen Rakhi Sawant is about to take her love for Christianity to another level altogether. She is turning television producer with a show based on the the Bible for a channel that she calls her maika (mother’s home). The serial is tentatively titled, The Holy Bible. And hold your breath. Rakhi will play Mother Mary in the show. "

Hold your breath still, her wish list of actors to play Jesus - Salman Khan, Hrithik Roshan and if they are not available, Kunal Kapur! Kunal would make a perfect Jesus, even Hrithik is passable, but just imagine Salman as Jesus!

Looking at her list of Jesuses, why do I get this feeling that she must have got her Bible stories wrong? I think she meant the other Mary....the one from Magdalene ;-)

(p.s. No offence meant to any Marys :-) )

Thursday, September 24, 2009

In which I am Serene, then go Crazy and finally gets Depressed


Tuesday, 22nd September, 5.15 PM, Bangalore City Railway Station, Platform No.5
Ernakulam Express leaves the station. In it are my m-i-l, maid and the kids. The train has finally disappeared from my sight. Hubby at work, I have a holiday. Ha, the peaceful and serene feeling, how I have been missing this. Nothing to do for the rest of the evening, can read, sleep or just laze around. No one to come calling. That feeling of absolute freedom, no words to describe it.


Tuesday, 22nd September, 6.15 PM, Church Street, Near Brigade Road, Bangalore
I had to find this shop I have read about, heard about, don't know how many times. The first impression was a little disappointing, not the kind of ones I was hoping for. Then I saw an arrow pointing to the 1st and 2nd floors. On the stairs itself, I almost fainted, would have moaned in pleasure if there were no one around. This was a true paradise. Treasures all around, the kids stuff is awesome to say the least. The grin on my face has not yet disappeared. My friends, after 6 months in Bangalore, I finally discovered 'Blossoms', a book lovers haven. The place is cramped, but who cares when you have books all around, even stacked on the floor, with just enough space for you to walk in between. The deals are amazing, you get second hand books in real good shape and even new editions at a discount. So it is goodbye Landmark, tata Crossword and hello Blossoms. Yes, the chain shops are much more comfortable, but I just love clutter (you just have to see my home to realize how much ;-))
Just went crazy, bought 12 books, including 'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory' - got it for 80 indian rupees!!
Now I have to find 'Strand'. Mission next weekend!


Tuesday, 22nd September, 8.30 PM, Home, Bangalore
Walking in to an empty house, no tiny feet running to meet me, no one telling me "Amma, amma, in school today...". The house is as I left it, the cushions stay ramrod, instead of the usual supine, everything in its place and I hate it. I miss them already :-(

Monday, September 21, 2009

True Visionaries

Reading the arguments and counter arguments in response to pareltank's post, I knew I had to share this.

Whenever I visit an instituition run by priests or nuns, I have this habit of visiting their chapel. Most of these chapels are very simple, with a light glowing and a Bible and a few prayer books here and there. Being day time, there would hardly be anyone and I get to spend some serene moments just being there.

A few months back, I had to take a cousin of mine for her admission interview to Christ University, Bangalore. We came to know that students had to face the interview on their own and it would take a few hours. So off I went in search of the chapel. I had always seen the Dharmaram church from Hosur Road and both the college and this partiuclar church being inside the same campus, decided to visit it. The walkway from the college buildings to the Dharmaram campus itself is so peaceful. Surrounded by huge trees and plants and shrubs wild with flowers all around, a pond complete with a tree house and absolutely not one human being around, I was transported to another world. The church or chapel itself was slightly bigger than the normal ones and as usual, I sat on one of the benches and started one of my usual conversations with God. My eyes started wandering slowly taking in the surroundings and drifted to the mosaic on the altar wall. Seeing the shape of a snake on the same wall where the Holy Eucharist was kept, I was suddenly jolted out of my content state. It was then that I noticed the pictures that made up the beautiful mosaic on the wall. The pictures were the symbols of almost all the religions in the world- the 'Aum', picture of Mecca, Star of David -were a few that I could recognize and amongst them was this snake, which was supposed to be the symbol of sin according to Christian faith. Remember, this is a church inside a college teaching Christian faith, preparing their priests for tomorrow.

These instituitions are run by the CMI fathers who are well known in the educational field in South India, particularly in Kerala. My son used to go to a school run by them in Kochi and every year the school day began with a prayer session which included first a reading from 'The Bhagvad Gita', then from 'The Holy Quran' and finally from 'The Holy Bible'. I had always thought that this gave the right message to the kids that even though they are in a Christian instituition no one religion can be deemed to be better than the other.

I was mentioning these incidents to a colleague who studied in Christ University and he told me about another incident. The Principal of Christ was invited to the Convocation ceremony at St.John's Medical College which is another Catholic instituition. The prayer started invoking the name of Jesus. He made them stop it midway and had them pray to 'God' instead, whom everyone in the audience could relate to!

Maybe what we need are more visionaries like them!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Way to go, girl !

Retired from tennis two years back, had a baby, came back, knocked out both the Williams sisters and reclaimed a title which she first won in 2005!

Kim Clijsters is the new brand ambassador for working moms :-)

Way to go, girl!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

When is enough, enough?

[Caution :- A long post]

He was suave, flamboyant and known as a ladies man. She was mature, studious and considered to be level headed. They were classmates and acquaintances in the first three years of their engineering and got close to each other in the last year. Both of them landed in Bangalore after getting placed to two well known IT companies. Considered poles apart, when they decided to get married, most of their friends tried to dissuade them. Needless to say, they went right ahead with their plans since their respective families had no problems.

I was the elder sister she had never had, she used to say. We were hostel mates and I knew what was happening in her life from day to day and was privy to the gradual change in their realtionship from being friends to much more than that. We used to keep in touch on and off after they moved to Bangalore and hadn't met for the last 4-5 years. After being here for more than 5 months we finally met last week.

The first thought that came to my mind when I met her was, "She seems to be so releived than happy to see me." The story slowly started unfolding.

"There were subtle hints here and there right from the beginning. Certain phone calls which he used to take in another room, some missed calls late in the night. I was so hell bent on proving everyone wrong who said we won't survive a year that I just ignored all these signs. But for these signs everything was alright between us. Then came our first daughter. I had gone home after my delivery and I could sense a change in his attitude towards me. There was nothing to which I could actually put my fingers on, but something was amiss. After coming back, we were having dinner one day when he got an SMS and I knew this was it. After he went to sleep that day, I went through his phone and my knees just gave way. There were some explicit messages from his best friend's wife. They were having a rough patch in their life and my husband seemed to have been filling the empty space in the other woman's life. I just could not believe that this girl who had poured her heart out to me was having an affair with my husband."

"Why didn't you confront him then and there?", I asked.

"Whenever I have confronted him on anything, it has always turned out to be a major fight ending in listing out what is wrong with me and how he made a mistake marrying me."
I just could not believe my ears. This was a couple everyone considered ideal. Both of them well settled in their careers, two beautiful and smart daughters, is this what was happening inside their closed doors?

She continued with her story, "I checked the messages which were going up and down for a few days. Then I asked him. He didn't say anything for a day. He then said it was an old friend of his and it was nothing. I knew he was lying but wanted to believe that it was not so. Next day I called up the number and one hello from her and I knew he had lied. As soon as I confronted him, he apologized for causing me so much pain and like a fool I thought that was the end of it."

I still could not believe this was the same girl whom I knew years back, who used to be so strong willed and not willing to compromise on anything that was against her beliefs. In her own words, "I loved him so much and I was so desperate to make my marriage work. I just could not accept the fact that my husband loved someone else. Somehow, I used to feel that all this happened because I had failed him some way. Moreover, he was a very good father to his daughter and she was also very attached to him. Anyway, one day I just told him that I cannot accept the fact that he had someone else in his life. His answer stumped me- "Why are you so worried? I am not going to leave you and marry anyone else. I love you just the same and you are the most important person in my life." Like a fool, I did not argue any further. Somehow, days went by, I used to get upset whenever I thought about it and sit by myself and cry."

A few months after this, she got selected for a six month assignment in the US. She did not discuss this with her husband, just informed him that she will be out of the country for the next few months and that her mother would be there to take care of their daughter. He didn't say anything. The day she landed and called him, he again started to blame her for everything and even said he could not put up with her mother. The verbal trauma went on for two months, finally she could not take it any more and she came back.

Things were kind of calm for some time after that and they had a second daughter. This time she didn't go home after the delivery. A few months later she again sensed something amiss. One day she got to see a few mails of his by chance, he had forgotten to log off. She saw a mail which he had sent to the same female telling her how the day spent with her was one of the best days in his life, how much he misses her etc. What shocked her even more was another mail to a friend of hers whom she thought was very close to her. She had discussed almost everything in her life including her husband's affair with her. And now she sees some mails going up and down between them. She was shocked beyond words. That was not the end of her shocks for the day - the same evening she got a call from her brother. A massive heart attack had snatched away her till then hale and hearty father.

The next few months passed in a numb state. When I met her, she still hadn't got over her father's sudden death. I asked her, "So what happens now?"

"Chechi*, after my father's death, I sat and thought a lot. Finally I have decided that I do not have to take it. But for these mails and messages, I don't have much to complain in my marraige. He loves me, depends on me for everything and will never leave us. But then, is that enough? What if I had done the same things to him? Would he still have continued to love me? I don't think so. I have decided to give my life one final chance. This time I am letting it go. The next time something like this happens, he is out of my life. I will never poison my kid's mind against him since they adore him, but I have had enough. I am so glad I met you today. What would you have done in my place?"

What answer do I give this girl who was so full of life, brought up as the darling of her three brothers? But I knew I did not even have to think before replying to her question. However someone might profess to love you, if he or she does not care about hurting you, the answer will always be a no. Beacuse it is never love, just a convenient way of living. There might be people who are happy with that, but not this girl. She would be crippled for life, she was half way there anyway. Yes, it might be unfair to her daughters but then it is more unfair to bring them up in a place where the trust is lost between their parents. I don't know whether anything that he does can make up for the pain that he has caused her. She will never look at anyone with the same innocent eyes.

For her sake, I keep hoping she does not have to take that final step. It is so obvious that she loves him so much that the mere thought of leaving him almost shatters her.

Why do people hurt the very same ones that they love? What exactly is this thing we call love? Is it really death do us part in spite of anything that happens? Why does someone risk some very precious things for momentary pleasure? What makes a husband or wife seek something out of their marriage? Where do kids stand in this equation? When is enough, enough?

* Chechi - Elder sister

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Praying Hands

Most of us pray with our hands folded as in the picture above. Whenever we think of a prayer, an image of these folded hands would most probably come into our minds as well. But did you know there was a story behind this picture?

Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen!

In order merely to keep food on the table for this big family, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder's children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.
After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines.
They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht's etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.
When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht's triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, "And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you."
All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, "No"

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, "No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look ... look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother ... for me it is too late."

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer's hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver point sketches, water-colours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer's works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother's abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply "Hands," but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love "The Praying Hands."

The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one - no one - - ever makes it alone!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Of rivers, boats and some childhood memories

picture courtesy -

Imagine a place where there are no cars or buses or even roads. Only water everywhere you see - rivers, lakes, canals, ponds, wells. Yes, I am talking about Venice- not of the west, the very humble eastern sister - Alleppey. Now a picture comes to mind - backwaters, houseboats and lakeside resorts. That is one place which has remained almost the same even after twenty years

Most of my childhood memories are entwined with water and boats of all kinds - motor, country, large, medium, small, tiny. Both my parents hail from Kuttanad*, the Holland of India (see how exotic we are - actually, the similarity begins and ends with the fact that both Holland and Kuttanad are below sea level). Those days, instead of the customary boundary wall, most of the houses there would be separated by a waterbody - a small canal like waterway. Can you believe this small canals used to be our 'car sheds'. Instead of cars and jeeps, we used to have boats of our own - most had country boats and the more affluent had motor boats. The house boats as you see it today were not really unseen then, but instead of air conditioned bed rooms with modren furniture, they used to be filled with goods being transported from one place to another.
The main livelihood of the people was farming. As everywhere, there was the landed class and the mass who used to work for them. You might have seen fields being watered for cultivation, but have you ever seen fields being drained of water for cultivation? Well, that is what we are, a set of quite contrary people.
One day at the beginning of the last century, one particularly enterprising 'janmi'* was travelling in his country boat through the vast expanse of water that was Kuttanad then. Oh, I forgot to tell you, we had our own version of drivers too. The person who used to drive the boat. Steering a country boat is an art in itself. When you are watching it from the banks, it looks very simple. Try directing a ,medium size boat, slightly larger than that in the above picture, with a long bamboo pole. Climbing Mount Everest might seem easier. Well, let me not digress here. The driver of this particular 'janmi' saw some mud sticking to the bottom of his bamboo pole and noticing something special, tasted it. Then he gave a little bit of that mud to his 'muthalaali'* to taste. To cut a long story short, thus was born the below sea level farming in Kuttanad. This smart fellow created bunds from sand and mud around thousands of acres of water and then pumped the water out, planted paddy and created an agricultural revolution of his own. That is how you find velvet green fields wherever you look at. The plight of the original paddy fields is story for another post altogether.

Realtors in cities put a premium on waterfront apartments these days. For ordinary folks like us, water in front of our houses was taken for granted. How can I forget all those summer holidays when some 10-15 of us used to rollick in that small canal in front of our mother's house for hours. We used to kick up so much mud that finally we had to have a proper bath in the bathroom to make ourselves presentable. Our parents never used to bother what we were doing. Come to think of it, the parents were never there. It was the grandparents and the unmarried aunts and uncles who used to be our care takers. Then there was my great grand mother whom all of us were petrified of. The last resort for my aunt if any of us refused to get out of the water was one call, "valyammachiii..."*

Every morning my grandmother used to go to church in the mini version of today's house boats. It was called a 'valavarayan vallam'. Medium sized, with a roof over half its length, high enough for a grown up to sit and a toddler to stand, this and the vallakkaaran - the driver - was a symbol of affluence those days. The vallakkaaran was the Man Friday to the master and mistress of the house.

I don't think I had got into a country boat in the past few years. Somehow, as you grow old, all the charm disappears or we turn a blind eye to it. It takes a child to make you see again. That is just what my son and nieces did last December. They were after my brother to take them on a boat ride and I am still not sure who enjoyed it more, the kids or their mothers. While writing this, so many childhood memories come rushing in to mind. I think I'll have to dedicate a post on each one of those.

kuttanad - an area between Alleppey and Kottayam districts in Kerala, mainly known for its beautiful backwaters, paddy fields and houseboats
janmi - land owner
muthalaali - master
valyammachi - grand mother

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What the...?!!!

Have you had one of those moments where you didn't know whether to laugh, shout or curse yourself? Well, it happened to me yesterday.

I am one of those who have to keep time with our brethren (or sistern) on the other side of the globe and work when all you lucky guys would be sleeping. So normally when I get back home, rest of the souls at home would have entered their second or third phases of sleep. It so happened that I was not feeling too well yesterday and decided to go home early.

There was absolute silence when I creeped in and that meant two things - kids have gone to sleep and hubby is working late. I peeped into the kids room to check whether they were asleep and saw a light under my son's blanket. On a closer look, I could make out it was my mobile which I had left home. As usual, he must be playing some games on it and I called out sternly, "What are you doing in there with my phone?"

"5 minutes, amma, I am watching a movie"

What the....?!!!

The little brat had recorded his favourite cartoon from the TV onto the phone and was watching it under his blanket!!

I started with my usual sermon
"But amma, you said you will never shout at me if I tell you the truth"

What the ..... again?!!!

Friday, August 21, 2009

What is this new word?

Off late, I have been hearing this word "humongous" quite often in conversations and whatever I read, but had no clue what it meant. Guess my vocabulary must be seriously outdated.

Anyway, it reminded me of another term that was quite a craze a few years back - "Paradigm Shift" . This was the favorite corporate jargon at that time and I wonder whether half of them actually knew what it meant. There was a hilarious reference to this by Anitha Nair in one of her articles in Sunday Express. Not exactly the same words, but the gist is here - "These days everyone is talking about this new thing called Paradigm. I have never been able to understand what it is, but one thing I know- it is always shifting"

(P.S. - If anyone is as ignorant as I am, humongous means "extremely large", "Huge ", "perhaps alteration of huge + monstrous" - courtesy Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

True Leaders

" A leader is best when people barely know he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say, We did this ourselves! "

Lao-tzu might have said this in the 6th Century BC, but it is so applicable even now. Each of us irrespective of what we do are or should be leaders in our own right. But how many of us are ready to forego the credit for something which we have done? Especially if it is something that garners a lot of positive attention?

A few incidents over the past few months have been nagging me and forcing me to think who you would term as a leader and what are the traits a of a good leader. What is it that some have and the others don't that the world calls them great leaders?

They are genuinely interested in their team

"Leadership is not so much about technique and methods as it is about opening the heart. Leadership is about inspiration—of oneself and of others. Great leadership is about human experiences, not processes. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine.More than anything else today, followers believe they are part of a system, a process that lacks heart. If there is one thing a leader can do to connect with followers at a human, or better still a spiritual level, it is to become engaged with them fully, to share experiences and emotions, and to set aside the processes of leadership we have learned by rote" - Lance Secretan

You might have the best processes in the world, your technology might be cutting edge, but getting what you need and more are dependent on the people you have. Many leaders forget that what they deal with day to day are real men and women with very human emotions, needs and aspirations. To understand this, you have to have a genuine interest in your team.
The best leaders know what makes their team members tick, what motivates them and what are their issues. For this level of empathy with the team, first and foremost, the leader should own his/her team, in every sense. You can easily make out teams whose leaders have this sense of ownership and pride about them. Their members have a feeling of belonging and the faith that things are and will be taken care of.

Being genuinely interested is also a lot of responsibility. You are no more responsible for yourself, you have to take care of an entire team's needs. This is not as difficult as it might seem. Once others feel that your interest in them is genuine, it builds the confidence in them to come and discuss things with you, which are positive as well as negative. You start getting different perspectives on the same situation.

They are absolutely Ethical

"In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And if they don't have the first, the other two will kill you." - Warren Buffet

What lead to the mighty fall of many a buiness empire, be it Enron ealier or an AIG and Lehman Brothers recently? The discussed about causes might be numerous, but at the root, it boils down to just one thing - lack of ethics or integrity, the feeling that my returns today is more important than the lives of thousands tomorrow. Almost always, it starts with a small thing. When they get away with it, comes the next slightly bigger step. It keeps compounding and when the fall happens, many an innocent is crushed underneath.

It takes a person of a very high level of integrity to resist that first step. To know the real spirit of an organization, it is enough to know its leaders. As they are, so will be their followers be.

They have a clear vision and they share it

"Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion" - Jack Welch

Imagine a wonderful journey in an extremely comfortable vehicle with all amenities and your favourite food, but you have no clue where you are going. You will enjoy the journey in the beginning, get bored after sometime and then frustrated. That is what happens with teams where the leaders have no vision.

It is not only important that the leader has a clear vision, but also that he communicates it down to the team. A team that knows where it is going and why and how gets there really fast and in the shortest time.

They delegate and believe in freedom to work

"Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity" - General George S. Patton

The biggest mistake a leader can commit is not to delegate at the right time. If a leader has to spend time on strategies, he has to learn to entrust the practical mattters to others. The catch here is knowing when, how and who to delegate to. Going wrong in any of these could spell doom for the whole team.

Delegating does not mean that the leader is not involved in what is happening at the ground level. It has several sides to it. For one to grow in an organization, it is vital that a back up is created rightly. There are leaders who are control freaks who are scared of letting go, but they do not realize, they can grow only if their subordinates grow to take up the leader's current responsibilities. It is a win - win situation for everyone.

Another trait of the best leaders is that they don't intefere too much in their team member's work. You recruit a person after being convinced that he / she has the requisite knowledge and expertise for the requirement. To get the best out of people, good leaders tell them what is wanted and not how it is to be done.

They are quick to praise and slow to condemn

"I praise loudly, I blame softly" - Catherine the Great

If something goes wrong, I take the blame, if something goes right, it is the team - who wouldn't want to follow such a leader? The absolute faith and respect this attitude generates cannot be described. It is not that these great leaders do no take their team members to task. They know how and when to do it and without hurting the concerned person. Nothing is personal here. It is the conduct and not the person that is being judged.

A timely appreciation for a job well done, that too in front of others many a time maked an ordinary person great. And no one knows this better than a true leader.

They know and they are competent

"The leader must know, must know that he knows and must be able to make it abundantly clear to those around him that he knows" - Clarence Randall

You may love your team, give them absolute freedom to work, great motivators and so and so forth, but if you do not have the requisite knowledge of the job athand, you will still not be able to lead your team successfully. The passion to know, know more and to let the team also know is what makes the leader and the team he leads succeed.

"The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on" - Walter Lippman

And this is what I aspire to be - a leader who is not visible with a team which is visible, and finally leave behind a team of true leaders!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


some me time.....

a break from work and home.......

a steaming hot cup of coffee in bed every morning....

shoulder, back and foot rub every evening....

eight hours of my beauty sleep without any break in between, at least once a month.....

something to stimulate my rusted brains....

trek in the mountains, just me and wind and streams and trees and grass and flowers and birds and butterflies....

my mother....

Friday, July 10, 2009


Carried him for nine months...
Tied myself to the bed for three months with my legs up in the air....
Bore all that pain for getting him in my hands....
Didn't sleep at a stretch for more than 2 hours for more than 2 years...
Cleaned all his poop....
Swallowed his left overs....
Kept vigil when he was not well....
Played silly games with him....
Carried him wherever I went, even though he was a riot....
Cooked his favorite food whenever he wanted (well, almost always).....
Read out to him since he was 3 months old....
Took him for sports classes at 6 in the morning after coming home from work at 2 in the night...
Was the one stop shop for all his projects....
Been his trouble shooter for anything and everything....
Spent my weekends on his workshops....

And then he writes in his school essay-

"My favorite person in the family - My Father"


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Why did you have to go?

The call came on a Friday morning. The usually chirpy voice was extremely weak, "I had a fever last week. For the past two days my back has been hurting like hell. We are going to Chetthipuzha hospital. Thought I'll just tell you" The pleas to get on to a taxi to come to Cochin where we were fell on to deaf ears. She was admitted on arrival. Her BP went low in the night and she was transferred to ICU. An ECG later, they asked to shift her to a hospital with better facilities.

Saturday evening, it was Pushpagiri and straight into ICU. M and I reached in the evening and she was her pleasant self, though visibly weak. My cousin who is a doctor there assured us there is nothing to worry, but her doctor gave us a different picture - myocariditis , possibly caused by the viral fever she had the previous week or sometime before that. Monday was M's first day in Bangalore office, so I insisted that he go back to Cochin. The first call from ICU came at 10.30 in the night.

"BP is going lower, she is in a critical state, we are injecting the medicine directly into the vein on her neck, please sign this form", and that was the beginning of a number of forms that I signed throughout the night. Sunday did not give us any hopes, except the usual umpteen opinions each one in the family has regarding the hospital, doctors, shifting to another hospital, getting expert opinions from all the doctors in the family and in turn whoever they knew as well. My poor brother who reached there not knowing the seriousness of the situation, my youngest sister who was crying over the phone and wanting to come down from Dubai, B who was already on her way, none of us knew what to do.

Sunday evening, the doctors said her kidneys had started getting affected. For this particular condition of heart, there is no treatment, it has to heal on its own, the only thing that we can do is give maximum support to the other systems. One of them suggested a rarely used machine, which when checked was available only in one hospital in Delhi.

Slight improvement on Monday, bad news again on Tuesday, we were desperattely waiting for the machine even though the doctors had warned us not to expect any miracles. My youngest sister also arrived by then. Wednesday morning, situation was the same and the machine was supposed to arrive by noon. Four o' clock, my brother and I were in the billing section to pay for the machine when my sister calls up and says the doctors have called us to the ICU.

"She had a cardiac arrest a few minutes back". That was it and a part of our life gone, just like that.

It has been seven months now, that heavy stone on my heart has not moved an inch, and it is as if someone is trying to choke me when I think of her. The questions still remain, would it have made a difference if she was in some other hospital, was there something we should have noticed earlier, the list is endless.

She had gone through a lot in her life, but no one had seen her without a smile on her face. She was the conscience keeper of her elder co-sisters, they left the keys to their homes and hearts to her and she guarded it with her life. For someone who came from a village, had not even graduated, had not travelled beyond Chennai, she thought ahead of her times. In a conservative town where her daughters were brought up, she welcomed their male friends home without the slightest of hesitation. In an orthodox Syrian Catholic family, where working women were the exception rather than the norm, she stood by her eldest daughter when she said she doesn't want to get married early and got her second daughter married off. One thing that she never recovered from was her youngest daughter's demise.

Without fail, almost everyone has told us, "It is not you, but I, who have lost. You don't know what she was to me." To her aging parents, she was their life line. To her brothers, she was the rock on which they leaned on. To her sisters, she was their dearest elder sister. To everyone who walked in and out of her home, she was the solution to all their problems.

To the four of us, she was our mother.

Monday, June 22, 2009

First Tag :-)

Thank you so much Nancy, for my first ever tag!! I know it's been delayed, too many things happening in my life :-(

Thinking of 10 things that tax me emotionally has left me totally taxed. Unpleasant memories are such a drain on the mind and heart. Anyway, here goes -

1. Manipulative people who gets things done on the sly and then pretend that they didn't do anything - I just hate them

2. Unruly kids and parents who behave as though there is nothing unusual about it.

3. Men who still think anything and everything at home is the lady's duty irrespective of whether they are working or not, tired or not. Forget about lending a helping hand, if things do not go as they want, they raise hell as well.

4. Hypochondriacs

5. People who keep talking about their rights and turn a deaf ear when someone tries to talk to them about their duty.

6. Friends and family who expect you to be there anytime, anywhere, at their convenience.

7. Having to suppress my anger for the sake of domestic peace (grrrrr...)

8. Infidelity. Especially those who think a so called harmless fling is alright. And they say they love and care for their partners and that they cannot live without each other. I can never understand this. If you love and care for someone, how can you do something that will hurt them to the core?

9. People who go overboard with showing off their piousness but are not so saintly inside. Sometimes they honestly think there is nothing wrong in anything they do, the whole fault is with the others.

10. Drivers who go slow on the right lane on highways. If you overtake them, they suddenly wake up and then it is do or die race. If it is a woman who has overtaken them... the less said the better.

The tag now goes to....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Willow Tree

How many times in our life have we been totally awed by the sheer simplicity and beauty of a work of art? I for one am insanely jealous of people who churn out paintings, sculptures, stories, songs with ease.

Of all the pictures and real pieces of art that I've seen, one that I go back to time and often are the 'Willow Tree' figurines and plaques. The grace and poise of these sculptures are to be seen to be believed.
The first time I came across one of them was on my visit to a client location in the US, in a small shop dealing mainly with Christian artefacts. I stood there dumbstruck and wanted to buy the whole range. The next day we went to the client Main Office and there were a few more in their shopping center. The look of joy and longing on my face must have been very evident. Next day morning, there was a small gift box on my table and thus came the first angel into my life and the angel collection is my favorite till date (thanks J for that wonderful gift).

The family collection conveys so many feelings and emotions without as much as a word. Especially touching are the 'mother and child 'ones.

Each original sculpture is handcrafted by the artist Susan Lordi. Pieces are then cast from the original carving and individually painted by hand. The amazing thing is how each one resembles, yet is so different from the other.

Makes me marvel about how God created each of us with so much and love and care and with an individuality of our own.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Three Wishes

Yesterday's story was 'Three Wishes'.

There was this old man and his wife sitting around the fire one cold evening talking about how life was tough and how they wished a fairy would appear and grant them some wishes. And lo, there appeared a fairy and told them, "Well, I'll grant you three wishes and not one more nor one less. Be careful what you wish for, for you won't get it back again. The story goes on as usual about how they wasted the wishes on something silly etc. etc.

After the session is over,

"Georgie, if you had three wishes what would you wish for?"

Pat came the reply, "Money" (omg, have we created a monster? ok, leave it for now, will come back to it later)

"The second one?"

"I want to be a Power Ranger"


"I want to be Aaron Stone*"

Thank God, he is still a 7 year old boy at heart.

Now back to the first question, "Why would you wish for money, don't you want to study well?"

"If I have money, can't I study well?"

"It does not work out that way. If you have money and not educated and wise(he is too young to know that the two need not necessarily go hand in hand. anyway..), money will be of no use. See, your achachan and amma studied well and that's how we got good jobs and we have money now."

"But whenever I ask for certain things, you say we don't have money for that. That's why I wished for money"

Uh Oh!!

(*for those of you who don't have kids, Aaron Stone is an action series aired on Jetix. It is about a teenaged boy who takes up the role of his favorite video game character to protect his family)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Friends and Friendships

Preethi's post about friends set me thinking again about friends and friendships. She has mentioned about different kinds - ones you can't live without, ones you can live without and the ones whom you should live without.

What happens when a friend whom you thought is for life, one day turns out to be someone you should avoid?

I have noticed that as you grow old, you just don't feel like taking that extra effort to make and maintain friendships. If you find someone whom you like, good for you. If you find someone who is on the same wavelength, better still. And if you find someone as crazy or even crazier than you, it is nothing short of a lottery.

She was someone like that. We gauged each other intially, made some small talk for days. Both of us do not remember when we actually started hitting it off. She could find a joke in anything or anyone. I was like the sister she never had, or so she claimed. For me she was a gift straight from God in a new place and through some of the most difficult times in my life. Even after moving to another place, we called each other to talk about the silliest of and the most serious of things. I have discussed things in my life with her which I've never told anyone before or after.

One day, I get to know just by chance, that behind my back, she is someone else. And she betrayed my faith in the cruelest of ways.

It's been more than two years now, I have not been able to talk about it with anyone and I still cannot. While going through the contact list on my phone, I have thought about deleting her name many times, but always decided against. Probably because the good times we have spent with each other were too many. Did it yesterday, finally.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The most beautiful feeling in the world!

Father and son normally bonds over 'Autocar' every night. Yesterday it was an Audi Q7. The fact there was one of these chasing us last week on our way back from Kochi added more interest to it. I pretended to be asleep listening to their conversation.
"Achacha, can we buy an Audi Q7 next?"
"It's very expensive, mone. Only people like film stars and big businessmen can afford it."
Son, after thinking for a while,"You are not good looking, so you cannot be a film star. Amma is beautiful, we can ask her to act in movies and get her to buy one!"
I shot up from the bed and hugged my son tight. Who else but a 7 year old can think that his fat old mother is beautiful enough to be a film star?
Got him an extra 'Kinderjoy' today :-)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

After an year and a city away

A Christmas and an Easter have gone by since I posted my last blog. Life has gone through so many twists and turns and a very painful loss over this period. And here I am in Bangalore, after four years.

My friends back in Kochi keeps asking 'How is Bangalore?" What do I say, "Ok", "Good", "Crowded", "Colourful"? I guess, it is a mixture of everything. The one thing I love absolutely about the city - its trees. They are so divine. In Cubbon Park, you can't see the sun, they form a benevolent canopy over you. In Lal Bagh, you see them all shapes and sizes, the trunk of one is almost as big as our apartment. And the ones that line the roads, they are such a pleasure. I particularly love the ones in Jaya Nagar. In the busier parts of the city, there is a stretch on the old airport road where you are suddenly transported into a surreal world you almost don't hear the incessant honking from the drivers behind you.

Then there is the shopping (can you see that excited and wicked gleam in my eyes?). I am a compulsive shopper and ardent mall-o-maniac. Every road you take, there is a mall and there is some sale or other going on. The little bit of bank balance that I have dwindles day by day, but who cares!

The best part about the city - the people. Don't raise your eyebrows. No one cares what you do and how you look. Absolute "bindaas" is the way to be here. Walk around in your pajamas right out of your bed, no one bothers. Maybe the only thing that might get a second look might be a two-piece bikini. Sometimes I wonder about that too.

Yes, the weather too. Extremely hot during day, you feel as if you are roasted alive, dry. The slight breeze that comes in every evening is heavenly, especially after the sultry Kochi evenings.

Not everything is picture perfect and hunky dory, but today I am in a mood for good things only. And I promise myself to blog more often.