Thursday, February 15, 2018

Moving.(House and Story)

 So many things happening. Most important.  Despite everything on my plate I did manage to have my annual  Joy of Giving-Serve Your Servants Day in 2017 as well.  It is the last time Iwill ever have it at my old residence in Shivanand Gardens.  In December I moved from there. Finally found the garden I have been longing for.  A huge 2000+ square feet of garden. Love it.

But buying it was such a horrendous experience I lost all of 7 kilos.  Moving in, all by my old faithful self was harrowing. But finally I am almost  settled.

Yesterday I managed to get out in the SRP campus for a morning bike ride.  The weather is so beautiful, just now, cool with just a hint of the hail that struck Amravati. Stopped at the Vitthal-Rukmai temple to join palms and to stretch hamstrings.  An old man, a really old man came up.
"Look, this is the way you do it," he mumbled through shrivelled gums stretching out his dhoti clad bones in a suryanamaskar.
"How old are you Baba?"
" I will be a 100 years old in 2018. Was born in 1918."
I made suitable noises.
Perhaps encouraged by my smile, the old man put out his hand, "Can you give me some money for tea?"
I refuse to encourage begging. Particularly in a man twice my age and twice as limber.
So it was a firm no.
"Where do you live?" I asked. "No family?"
"I have a house in Azad Nagar. " said the centenarian. " And a son who worked here in the State Reserve Police. He's retired now. He gets a pension, has a few properties, gets rent as well.   But he doesn't want me around. Says, don't stay here.  Nothing for you here.  But where to go? So I come here, to the temple as soon as I wake and stay here till dark," Hawked, shook his head, "And spread my hand out before strangers."

No moral to this story.  

Saturday, May 28, 2016

My Mother Writes a Post

45 years ago

I am 31 today.  My birthday and my 9th wedding anniversary.   No celebrations. Just marking one more year of waiting and longing.

31 years and 1 day.
Mina, my sister and her husband visited.  They say a very holy man -J.P. Vaswani  is going to be in the neighborhood.  I asked is he able to work miracles.  They didn't know.  I am going to go there and get his blessings. After all, I have tried everything. I fast every Tuesday-St. Anthony's Day. I say the Novena every Wednesday-Our Lady's Day and I say the Rosary twice a day.  No sign in 9 years if anyone is listening to my prayers.  Maybe this holy man will work a miracle.

31 years and 7 days:
 I met J.P. Vaswani. There was a huge crowd but I managed to push myself through. When I reached him, he was surrounded by people. In front of all of them I just joined my hands and said very fast,  "I want a baby." He nodded and smiled. Maybe he does that to everyone. I don't know. Maybe it will help. I don't know.

31 years and  1 month:
Mina's husband has landed a job in a very big hospital. He and Mina took me to see a doctor there. The doctor says I need an operation and I should return with my husband who will have to sign his consent.
I asked my husband.  He refused. "I  don't want a child." I pleaded, wept, begged.
He insists he doesn't want a child. His first wife, his love died in childbirth. He says he allowed me to bring 3-year-old Rachel, my niece here and bring her up and isn't that enough?  How to explain that looking after and caring for Rachel just makes me long even more for a baby of my own.  Rachel isn't mine. No matter what I do for her, she still runs away from me the minute she sees her mother.
I want a baby who will run to me no matter who else loves her.

31 years and 2 months:
Mina's husband says he is ready to pose as my husband and sign for the operation. It is Mina's idea. Mina has always been a daredevil.  But I am scared.  If I tell my husband he will forbid it.  If I don't and he finds out?  One time I said don't take another drink, he threw a plate at me. This is much more serious than an extra drink on Christmas Day.

31 years and 3 months:
In the end I didn't tell him but went with Mina and her husband for the operation.  I had to stay overnight. My husband thinks I am staying with Mina.  Mina's husband signed. The operation was a very small one. Don't know if it's of any use. After all the lies and deceit...

I am 32 today. 
I am pregnant. 
Was it my prayers, or J P Vaswani's blessing or Mina and her husband's efforts or the operation? Or did all of it lead to the operation? I don't know. But I am going to have a baby of my own. I told my husband of the operation and that Mina's husband signed. He said he doesn't want a baby and he doesn't mind if he never sees another baby in his life.  I don't care. I am going to have a baby of my own.


P.S. Like all daughters the baby does run to me no matter else who else loves her.
That the baby also turned out to be the apple of her father's eye is a different story.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


1. Watch heart-in-mouth as your plane prepares to land -wingtips brushing the mountain sides.

2. Admire the quaint golden airport nestling amidst those same mountains with all of 2 tiny wonderfully colored planes bravely holding their own. (The airline serves delicious snacks and you should stock up on these for reasons explained in point 9)

3. Travel long hours over roads under construction (by India- Hindu-Bhutani bhai bhai) with one eye on the mountains rolling into another and then another and then another... and the other on the car's wheels slipping into one ditch and then another and then another...

4. Scream excitedly at the sight of snow topped mountain ranges- Jomolhari and other unpronounceable names, some of which you have seen before but which enthrall afresh.

5. Watch mountain streams gushing down the above mountain slopes ice cold, sparkling and unbelievably clean (the natives insist they are rivers. Don't you know you ignoramuses, rivers are 5 times the size and 5 times the volume and either dark brown/ dark green/covered in hyacinth)

6.  Buy a Kira, pride yourself on draping it gracefully; discover when you triumphantly emerge from your room, that you have worn it the wrong way round and also that nothing is going to make you look as graceful as the natives. Ever.

7. Visit the very clean and disciplined Thimpu and curse your home town for the filth, the traffic and the disregard to traffic rules.

8. Cross over ravines on a wildly swinging rope bridge with unevenly darned patches specifically put there to trap your feet.

9. Starve. The food is horrible. See expression in pic for veracity.

10. Go shopping and find each and every thing is made in Bombay. Not Mumbai.

11. Love love love the pear trees in flower and the peach blossoms and the rhododendrons.

12. Stuff your bags with pine cones that leave even your dirty laundry smelling sweet and piney.

13. Run Mary Poppins-like down the mountain slopes, trip over hidden roots and fall full length. (Natives' day made.)

14. Soak in the solitude, lack of tourists, the lack of locals and the plentitude of yaks. ( Pop 7 lacs -people not yaks)

15. Visit Haa the sweetest and most delightful village you will ever see out of Europe, with air as clean and sharp as the local  peach wine. (Keep in mind though: Pop Nil; shop nil; food disgraceful )

16. Visit the fertility temple, the road to which is paved with little hotels and littler shops all festooned with penises in every size with one about 5 feet. This one seen in the washroom is more realistic. (Really? Who am I kidding? )
17. Visit the Dzongs.  They are beautiful and ancient (and one Dzong is much like the other and all involve much climbing, so spare your feet. )

18. Learn that a god portrayed in a sexual pose with a goddess implies not the enjoyment of the baser pleasures of life but that the god is engaged in imbibing wisdom and peace from the goddess.

19. Attempt to climb up to Tiger's Nest. Fail miserably.

20. Discover that the fact that Bhutan has a high Gross National Happiness Index is true. This is based on the principle that ignorance is bliss. Sorry all you Dorjes...

Warning: Some of the above matter may be influenced by the fact that one of the museum staff did not return my misplaced cell phone.

Saturday, October 31, 2015


This year too I celebrated October 2nd- Gandhi's birth anniversary as "SERVE YOUR SERVANTS DAY". What with my work load and having the 'flu, had been wondering how I would make it, but everything fell into place perfectly.

There were 65 guests-the maids of course and the gardeners and the security personnel and the municipal waste collectors and the painters (who were incidentally painting the Society buildings). After 5 years all my guests know that this is their day. They came dressed in their best and participated without any shyness in all the games.

Touching moments: The man who delivers flowers to the building, this year too had brought a 50 feet long string of jasmine and 2 dozen red roses for the maids and refused payment for them.

The gardener (who I call Baba; don't know his name although I quarrel with him daily over the tending of the garden)  and Jitendra the watchman who made sure everyone knew of the date and time and had an invite and cleaned and decorated the club house for the event.

The Chairman of the Society who unlike previous years, did not charge me for use of the club house.

My dear friends came without being asked to help in managing the games and serving the food. (biryani, cutlets and jalebis). (Thank you Devika, Beena, Sapna, Preeti, Sujata although I seriously doubt you busy society gals will ever see this page.)

My dear old friend Jehanbux Desai who gave me a small discount on the food. A very very very small discount. (You miserable Parsee!)

Sadly this year, forgot to take pictures. My niece Sonam did take one (she says she was too busy eating to take pictures) but I look so well-fed in that, I refuse to upload it.

Here's hoping for many happy returns of this day.


Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Christmas 2014


6 years down, our office Christmas Party and its accompanying activities have become something of a tradition.   A week before Christmas we bring out the tree and the tree ornaments that were packed away the year before.  

Once it's up someone or other begins putting the finishing touches to it.  It's never very clear who, because at some point we have every staff member except the lugubrious Lalan, going up to it and fixing/adjusting/adding to it.  

The annual "work station dressing up" competition is another tradition. It tends to uncover rivalries never seen before.  Dinesh is an annual winner at this one with the rest frothing at the mouth each time he wins. 

However,this Christmas,  we had a very young, very new joinee,who among all the other decorations at his work station, also hung up a disreputable looking black sock . This boy is a final year law student, who decided to work while studying in order to make ends meet.  


When I approached his desk to judge,  he asked anxiously, 
"You do know Ma'am that stockings are hung up at Christmas and then Santa puts gifts in them?" 
I nodded solemnly.
"See," he said pointing to a slip of paper peeping out of the mouth of the sock. "Santa has already put a Christmas gift in my stocking".
I peered at the paper. It read, " Job at Law Allies."
Touching, no? 

He shared the prize with the not-to-be-beaten Dinesh, whose work station was truly a glorious sight!

Another Christmas Party tradition is the "Lucky Dip".  A carton of small gifts is placed at the bottom of the tree and every staff member, including security personnel, cleaners, and office boys pick a gift. Since some of the gifts are really good ones and some are as silly as a jar of Amrutanjan pain balm or a kilo of rice, no sooner is the carton in, people begin casting speculative looks at the wrapped parcels, trying to figure out which parcel looks more promising.

A new game at this year's party was "pick-up-the-packet" .   It involved picking a small paper packet off the floor without touching any part of your body to the floor- just with your teeth. No one except the lathe-thin Anuradha could manage it. 

However, what made this game and this year's party truly unforgettable was my Project Manager's tight formal trousers exploding wide accompanied with a loud rending, as he bent to pick up the paper packet. A memory to cherish forever.....(yes I have the video but will not share it)
If he is reading this, remember Friend, that I do love you and forgive me.

Incidentally, this post is dedicated to Shree Laxman, the invisible Santa at our Christmas Party.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014


2014 -Servants' Day Celebrations .  This is the 5th year I'm celebrating Gandhi Jayanti as Servants' Day. By now everyone in the area knows about and waits for 2nd October and so this year I had more guests than ever before . About 70 domestics, municipal sweeper staff, security staff turned up. All word-of-mouth invitees.  We had games, lunch and take away gifts for all. Some pics.
Urmila, my help for 12 years, now has a grandchild Samruddhi who also attended.
Fun and Games

 Fried rice, aloo subzi, sheera, sabudana wada, and barfee.

Surprise gifts!
The guests and volunteers.

Hopefully, next year too!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rest in Peace Prakash Bhai...

He never did anything for me. Nor did I ever ask for his help. And yet he did so much, that today every time I think of him, I am in tears.
Every morning as I took out my bike for my morning ride and he trudged his way around the walking track within the society grounds, he was the first person I would see. He never failed to lift an arm and wish me a good morning. He greeted everyone. Today, I saw that same arm, by some freaky coincidence, still raised, palm open, stiff in death. Maybe that arm, stiff in rigor mortis is not a coincidence or some mortuary error. I could fancy that he died greeting someone!
Whenever we met, mostly while I was dashing off to work or on some chore, he would say, " You are so busy, always running around...Tell me, if I can do anything for you."
Like all working, single mothers, I am run off my feet.  Life is so hard, I can understand why not many people can help. Nor indeed, would I presume to ask for help. But to have someone so earnestly offer to help, is itself, to me, something to treasure.
Yesterday as I was driving to work, he met me at the gate and stopped my car. Once again he repeated,
"You are so busy. Tell me if I can help."
He had his family in Mumbai and was frequently traveling there.  So this time I replied, "Really? You keep dashing back to Mumbai, how will you help me?"
He stopped smiling and said, " No Ruhi, you just tell me what you want done and I will cancel going to Mumbai." He was so much in earnest, that I was moved.
He died 12 hours later.
I have nothing to remember him by except  his morning smile, his wave and his earnestness.
These are small things, I know.  But 2,014 years ago, a wayside Simon helped to carry someone else's cross for a few minutes, and the ages remember him!
Whether all those you did help, remember you or not, my friend, you will always remain in my memory.