Monday, 26 August 2013

My Sword and My Shield

The school ground was teeming with children, parents, teachers, kids, et al. ─ every corner and crevice was chockablock. The who's who among the students were on their toes, rushing about with the last- minute preparations. The sun was blazing down on us, with no sense of mercy. A few hundred selected students, like me, had no choice but get sun burnt. Dressed in our crisply pressed uniforms, we were bracing ourselves up for the most important event of the day: the march past parade. Plus, I had a more important role to play (display) that day. On the other end, the school band was getting its acts together. The harried teachers and the cool PT master were seen busy fixing the flag. The Principal Sister Vera also seemed to be in a hurry; she was preparing for the arrival of the chief guest. Respected parents were trying their best to spot (snatch) the best seat available, just to catch glimpse of their 'under the radar' wards.

I stood there alone; with a lit torch in my hands… the PT master ensured that I was on 'everyone's radar'. Something suddenly shot up my spine then. Was it confidence? May be…I thought. With a burning torch in my hand I stood out from the crowd and looked around at my not-so-lucky seniors and juniors. "I've earned this place for myself," I thought, as I sprinted across the school compound with the lit torch. (Being an all rounder in sports, I had place, position, and praise flowing in abundance). I then proudly positioned myself in front of the group; I was the leader of my march-past group as well. Plus, I had this gold medal to collect. (I had stood first in my class for the 100m dash.)

In no time, prize distribution ceremony was announced. My name was called upon as the winner of 100m dash. With spring in my steps, my airy self scaled the stage to collect the medal. The school principal and the chief guest offered me their heartiest congratulations. My sister stood there among the march past participants silently watching the proceedings. When her name was called upon, she walked up to the stage to collect her medal. As a matter of fact, she too stood first in her class in the sprints.

By the way, she was the school champion: being the frontrunner of our respective classes we were pitted against each other for the final race and she won. I couldn’t take the humiliation. How could I lose to my younger sibling? As deemed fit, I created a hue and cry and put up a fit on the ground. The nuns immediately understood what was happening and took matters in their hands: the race stood cancelled. Thanks to the selfish, sadist in me, my sis lost her medal. How Mortifying? How Awful? You may think. But, did this incident upset her? I’ll never know.

My sister was the elder in the family, though I’m elder to her by a year. Yes, she was the one who won the 100 meters dash, but I was the one who bagged the medal; she was the one who won the prize money for her A grade marks, but I was the one who collected it (thanks to the mistake committed by the higher authorities, for I was considered to be the brighter one); she was one who made it to the school bus stop first, but I was the one who boarded the bus first; she was the one who got to choose the clothes first, but I was the one who grabbed the best pick; she was the one who bailed me out when my vehicle broke down frequently in the dead of the night, while I didn't care to keep the petrol tank filled; she was the one who fed the family on my mother’s absence, while I was left peacefully to feed on my books.

Come to think of it, my sister is a symbolism of maturity and selflessness. She was always mature beyond her years. She always did the hand-holding and shielded me from sorrows of life: when it should and could have been otherwise. Even today she doesn’t confide things in me (I don’t know why?). Her way of managing trouble was to sleep over them; cry over them, when no was around. If that’s not enough, she will figure a way out by talking to her God. Bringing the roof down on non-serious stuff was my forte, not hers. When my marriage was on the edge, her endearing advice to me was, “Jini, mellow down. Keep your rebellious streak in check, because it’s taking your marriage down.” I heard her, for I had implicit faith in her. Who knows me better than her? My marriage was just a year old, while we were blood bond (and still are) for 24 long years. She knew me in and out. While my friends sympathized and shared my sorrow, my sis often snapped at me saying, "Change your attitude and get a hold over your life."

All through the growing years she wore my hand-me-down dresses and hair-clips with no complains. And yes, she was in the good books of all her friends, while I was a loner all my life. Even today, when she has landed a plum corporate job, she doesn't fail to socialize, because friends matter to her. The concept of fair-weather friends doesn’t exist in her dictionary. She stands with them in their thick and thin as she stood by me always. And, today, she's a big support for my parents too.

My sis on the right

If there’s something called rebirth, I want her back, because I want to pay her back. I’ve never tied a Rakhi to her, but she has always been my silent angel flying to me and rescuing from difficult situations - she's my shield and sword.

I want to be her shield and sword someday.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Fishterians In My Family

Have you experienced a ‘Fish High’? What??? A Fish High??? Yeah! A Fish High! Ask my pa-in-law about it. He experiences that often. Just request him to get some fresh fish from the market and he is already on a high. Then the routine that he follows is something that keeps him hooked on his high − gingerly cleaning up the fishes, chopping them into small fine pieces and then rustling up a yummy meen curry for the whole family. UMMM! (My pa-in-law is a handy cook and he doesn't mind exhibiting his culinary skills once in a while.) His fascination for fishes is a given thing in the family, so much so that he won’t mind paying a king's ransom for some quality fishes. He shares a deep, deep bond with his fish friends (and this is no exaggeration). In fact, he can have fishes in any form: curry, fried, pickle, chutney,with coconut, without coconut, so on and so forth.

In case you don't know, every mallu worth his salt is a die-heart fish fan. And if you are a mallu, and that too from the southern part of Kerala like my pa-in-law, the craze for gorging on yummylicious fish curries and fried fishes come inherited. People here won't mind having fishes in the morning, fishes in the noontime and fishes and more fishes when the sun goes down’. My people in Kollam (Quilon) eat, speak and breathe fish, day in and day out. Kollam abounds in backwaters and so do fresh-water fishes. You will find them all year around (except during monsoons). The families here own both small and big boats, and most of them are involved in fish trading. My mamus, in fact, can catch fishes with bare hands, while my hubby’s uncles and cousins are proud owners of life-size-boats used for fishing in high seas.

Apart from fishes what makes Kerala so endearing to the Keralities, and probably to the rest of the world, is the carpet of greenery. Each and every inch of our tharavadu (ancestral home) and surroundings perfectly resonate with the theme, ‘God’s Own Country.’ Tall coconut trees, jack fruit trees, teak wood trees, etc., make it almost impossible for ordinary mortals like us to peak heavenward. Forget about figuring out flying aeroplanes in the sky, even the sight of the sun and moon become a priceless moment for us. Only when the natural light wills it way through blanket of greenery, you’ll come know there’s a sun or moon shining out there.

So, for my pa-in-law relocating to a dry state like Gujarat was more of a nightmare than a dream come true. But his survival instinct kicked in and Ahmedabad has been a home for him for over three decades now.

Kerala though rich in flora and fauna, has the largest number of migrants because of lack of industrialization. It would be better off living in Ahmedabad than going Gulf, he thought. But, though he managed to put Kerala on the back of his mind and decided to stay put in Ahmedabad, thanks to the flourishing mill industry here, he was unable to forget his fish friends. He would get up as early as 5 a.m. and reach the market before anyone does, so that he could lay his hands on freshest fishes. He would go around the city scouting for fresh fish supplying destinations. Fishes such as prom frets, lady fishes, surmai, sardines and so on were on his hit list.

Once he's home from the market he fills the freezer with his priceless treasure. Of the many kgs he has got for the family, he would choose the best of them, clean them, cut them and then pester his dear wife to make a spicy curry and even fry some. His passion for fishes is so infectious. that everyone in the family looks forward to a sumptuous meal flanked by fish curry every Sunday.

Fish weekends are a smiley weekends for my family (a breakaway from the everyday routine of dal, roti and rice); however, it turns out to smelly weekends for our neighbours. Not just our next door neighbours, even those living two floors above us can smell fish being cooked in the closed walls of our homes. The one living above is Swaminarayan. I don’t know how does this family tolerate us? They don’t even use garlic or onion in their food and imagine them smelling fish. Well, we have been living in the same flat for over 8 years now, but our beloved neighbors have never uttered a word against us, let alone complain. I appreciate their generosity. Even the security guard downstairs knows when fish is being prepared in our house. The smell (read: aroma) spreads far and wide. We do our best to put away the so called smell by lighting incense sticks all around the house, and by burning natural mosquito repellants. But all these traditional methods of doing away with the smell doesn't help much. As a last resort, we use room sprays, etc., just to make visitors, who drop in out of the blue, feel comfortable.

Considering the consternation our poor society people suffer(how can I not sympathize with them in their sorrow?) I feel it's high time for companies to introduce sprays that has a far-reaching effect −something that would act as a breath of fresh air for the majority of the non-fish eating community. Nevertheless, I do dread the day, when someone from the society orders my family to stop making fish and do them a social favor. Undoubtedly, that would be the doomsday for my pa-in-law.

This entry is part of "Smelly To Smiley!"contest on

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

My 60-second Addiction - Priceless

Today's Prompt is priceless: What's something wonderful you have in life that can't be bought, sold, or traded for money? 


Priceless Treasures

My son’s laughter;
My mom’s love;
My father’s drive;
My hubby’s support;
My sis’s patience; 
My bro’s selflessness;
These are my prized possessions;   
Not worth trading off for anything in this world.

Pure relationships are always priceless : no room for price tags or status tags


Monday, 12 August 2013

My 60-second Addiction - Mom

"No man is poor who has a Godly Mother" - Abraham Lincoln

Divine Love

She is the light of my life;

She is the flame of forgiveness;

She is the best friend who’ll never turn her back on me;

I may bury her existence, bruise her soul; but she will always bless me.

My diabolical deeds and my abominable words doesn't stop her from loving me.  
She is none other than my mother.  

Sunday, 11 August 2013

My 60-Second Addiction- Shine

Am lazy, but what keeps me awake is my desire to make myself shine; to be the extraordinary among the ordinary; to leave a monument of existence for my kids.  

Craze for Crazy Looking Cartoon Umbrellas

It’s been raining heavily in Ahmedabad these days. Wait, it's pouring. Roads are water logged, plus there are a network of potholes that one  needs to meticulously maneuver, (or else you know what); and added to that, there’s cow menace all over.  (Ah! It's on a wing and prayer I make it to the office daily.) However, there’s a flip side to this monsoon fury as well. First off, I managed to take a few unofficial days off from the office (that’s was a breath of fresh air). Plus, the fresh patch of grass you get to see all around is a pure visual delight.(In fact, the blanket of greenery that one gets to view from the terrace of my 12th floor office building is quite breathtaking.)

But, first things first 'Aryan’s craze for cartoon umbrellas'. Yes, with monsoons in full swing, Aryan’s craze for a new cartoon umbrella has heightened. (Though, I don’t mind indulging him most of the times, what I dread are those deadly attacks from my hubby dear accusing me of spoiling his kid, by giving in to his demands all the time; well, he is right, by the way.)     

Aryan's cartoon umbrellas

“Momsy can you get me a new umbrella,” my cute little Aryan begs, and then goes ahead and does the inevitable. He keeps on bragging about the benefits of owning a new umbrella. And, yes of course, he has got all the right expressions on his face that could melt any mother’s heart away. Anyway, I decided not to give in this time. (Don’t know from where he gets these crazy ideas from, most probably from his crazy class mates I believe; he already has a raincoat and an umbrella, then why in world…? I gave into his demands last year and bought a Thomas and Son’s umbrella for him. But,  that only seemed to have whetted his appetite further; and this year, unsurprisingly though, he has started waxing eloquent on the importance of a acquiring a new one.

But as his momsy failed to pamper him this time, so he immediately turned his attention to daddy dear. And, surprisingly this time his daddy gave in, though it required weeks of persistence pestering and some serious explanation doing from his end. The final result: Aryan’s pleadings paid off and he got hold of yet another brand new Angry Birds umbrella. 

Aryan is a huge Angry Birds fan, and his collection includes two pencil boxes, a key chain, a card album,etc., all on the same theme.

It may as surprise many, but you will find an array of cartoon varieties lined up on the S.G highway. (I know Aryan won’t mind having them all.) First, he decided to go for the black Spiderman umbrella; but went back on his decision on seeing the blue-toned Angry bird’s umbrella. He couldn’t resist his temptation on seeing this umbrella, despite the fact that he had a similar blue type with him already.

I know, next year he would conjure up a new excuse to demand a new one and am already having ideas on the same . Probably he’ll say,  “Momsy I’m grown up now, so buy me a more mature-looking umbrella. I simply hate the look of this one." Yes, I don't know, what will I answer him then. Probably, I might end up scolding him, and then given in (as always.)

Mother's out there how do you handle such situations? When you child is begging, pleading and sometimes banging his fist on the floor and crying his heart out. (Touchwood, my Arayn doesn't attempt the later part.) I know, it isn't that easy to put your foot down in such times, but then giving into your child's demands is not always done. What say?

The White Tiger - Aravind Adiga

This Booker prize winner was on my bookshelf I don’t for how long. Attempted reading it before, but then dumped it because t...