Saturday, 13 December 2014

Why my mother waited till wee hours for me

I was always a headstrong girl. So naturally, there were no two ways to my ways. It was only my way and my way only.  So when I decided to join a newspaper, where nights-shifts were common, my parents had not much say in it.

But fortunately my parents were cut from a different cloth.  They accepted my head-strong, quirky ways. My father was a go-getter himself, so when his daughter showed similar traits, he hadn’t much to say, though he had lot to say. BTW, which parent  would want their daughter to do night-shifts. But all said and done, they wanted their kids to be SUPER ACHIEVERS. EXTRA ORDINARY. When my father’s friends emphasized their daughters on doing household chores, my parents barred us from entering the kitchen. Study hard. Work Hard. Their only motto in life.

Little wonder, my siblings are doing super-good in their respective fields, while I am trying to build my career and reputation so that my parents could look up to me, at least someday, if not today.  Marriage has mellowed me. Family has suddenly assumed  priority.

But I was not the same Jini 10 years back. Bubbling with enthusiasm and excitement I had enrolled for a a Pg in Journalism and Communication. Once I was through with the cause, I joined the Asian Age Newspaper. Given that my house was a good 20 kms away from the press, the editor took pity on me and put me on the features team. (For the uninitiated, the newspaper industry demands night shifts, features team can leave early). I was enjoying my time in the features department. I made pages, wrote some frivolous stories, solicited celebrities and all. And, more importantly, I reached home on time, i.e., before 8 pm.

But then after spending a considerable amount of time in the features department, I was shifted to hard news desk. Here the reporters were supposed to stay back and proofread copies when the first drafts were ready. Simply put, the reporters had to stay back till 1.00 or 2.00 am in the night.

Now the actual story starts here. My parents were unable to understand my obsession for Journalism. They wanted me to quit this industry (though eventually I did). But I was stubborn and wanted to continue it at all costs. And my returning late nights literally terrified them, especially my mother.

But then their fears were not unfounded. Once I was returning home around 2.00 am (I can feel goose pimples while writing this) I felt this boy following me. I don’t know from where I got this courage from, but I was absolutely fearless. (Probably, the hymns that I keep singing while riding alone gave me the confidence to take him head-on. I rose above fear). Let him follow, I told myself.  So he followed me for at least 10 kms and then suddenly he speeds his bike and stands in front of me, saddled on his bike. Now, let me tell you, the entire road was deserted and silent, so much so that you could hear the pin drop. But then instead of stopping my two-wheeler and getting frightened, I simply maneuvered my vehicle and went my way.  Luckily the boy didn’t follow. What If he had? I had decided to punch him left, right and center.   Anyway, when I shared this story with my parents, they didn't seem disturbed enough. And that disturbed me, for i thought that they will crack under the weight of my revelation. But what I came to know later on was that my mother never slept before me after that incident.  She would stay wide awake till 1am or 2 am and keep praying for my safety till I returned home. Once she would hear the gates of the house opening in the night, she knew i was home and thereafter she would sleep peacefully thereafter.

I showed the same spirit when there were riots in our city in 2002. It was international news. But I can vividly remember, taking my two-wheeler and riding alone on deserted roads and sometimes with my peer in the curfew hit areas of the city. It gave me a different high.

Those were the days.  I was a rebel, a maverick, hot-blooded woman to the core, courageous from every fiber of my being. A wild, pompous prick to be precise. Nothing could stop me. Neither rain, pain nor shine. If rains flooded our areas, I would take a ride in an open tempo to the office. Literally. Those were the days. 

I still have the same spirit buried in some corner of my heart. 

I will ensure that this blog post remains accessible in an un-altered state for a minimum of one year.

This blog post is written for Mountain Dew 'Rise Above Fear' contest held in association with indiblogger.  

Friday, 12 December 2014

Only if I was born in a king’s palace…

Swachh Homes for a Swachher India. Like Charity, doesn't even cleanliness begin at home?

Imagine… Or even a kingly house, as in the Ambani household, or even the Mital’s household.  There I would have scores of servants pampering me.  From cleaning utensils, to washing clothes, from sweeping floors to doing my make-up, for every small little thing I would have people around.  I wouldn’t have to even lift a finger. And things would be done in a jiffy.

Crazy thinking, huh?

Yes, I know, only if you are out of your mind, you would think this way. Not everyone is born with a diamond spoon in her mouth. Not everyone has the opportunity to sail through their life smoothly without performing their basic duties. Karma, I suppose. Ambanis and Mithals may have done some good karma in their previous birth.
And since I and you are born in average families, the task of keeping ourselves and surroundings clean is upon us. Depending on others will only disappoint you, for instance Mr.Sharma’s family. 

With every member busy, every day seems to be a whirlwind in the Sharma household. The family members do not find time to talk to each other, let alone find time to clean the mess that’s created in the rush of things. 

Mr. Prime Minister’s chant of Swachh India may have reached its crescendo, and Indians might be literally pouring their energies out to make this campaign successful, by cleaning the galli, mohallas, but what about our own homes.

This is what happens in the Sharma household, which unfortunately the members of this household are oblivious too.

1] Shweta Sharma is a beautiful college going girl with lovely long tresses. She loves to flaunt her asset by keeping it open. So obviously, she oils and shampoos her hair regularly. So far so good. But then the tragedy is that her shampooing only makes the bathroom more untidy. The shampoo pouches and hair clog the bathroom drainage so much so that the water from the bathroom seeps its way to the bedroom. Despite being aware of it, Shweta forgets to clean up the mess her shampooing has created. Despite telling her several times, Shweta seems to take the situation with a pinch of salt. Anyhow, Shweta’s father is sensitive about the situation and cleans up the mess, which his daughter has knowingly or unknowingly keeps creating.

Learning: If the opposite party has turned deaf ears to your preaching’s, take it upon yourself to clean up the mess. 

2] Sharma household has three little bathrooms; one bathroom for every room precisely.  To keep the users from slipping, there are doormats  placed at the doorways of every bathroom. So far so good. But these doormats gather dust in enormous amounts.  Just lift these doormats up and you’ll see the amount of dust these doormats manage to hide within themselves. Of course the doormat is doing its job well. But then it has its limits too. If it’s not cleaned regularly, its capacity to hold dust won’t be the same as before. So it requires constant cleaning. But who cares at the Sharma household.  However, the newly arrived daughter-in-law seems sensitive towards it and cleans it up occasionally, if not on regular basis. Hopefully, it would become regular, going forward.

3] Sharma aunty is a working woman. Despite all the education and exposure, she has failed to figure out the basic difference between the cloth that’s used to clean the kitchen cabinet and the cloth that’s used for mopping the floors. She alternates between them. Man. Yes, a cloth used for mopping is being  used  to clean kitchen stand and cabinets as well? Stop ummming and ahhhing …that’s too much I know. Again, the DIL intervenes, and makes her aware of what is she doing.

4] There’s Sharma baby as well in the household. Too small to walk, it crawls everywhere. Despite being aware of this fact, there are many members in the household who walk around the house in shoes and slippers  that are meant for outdoors. So what happens is that all the dirt and dust from these shoes get struck in baby’s hands and it unknowingly licks it. What will the baby know? So naturally, the baby suffers from diarrhea and other diseases on a constant basis. 

The baby’s mother to dissuade the use of outside slippers at home has time and again requested her family members to cooperate and leave the slippers and shoes in the outside shoe rack. However, things haven’t improved much, despite regular requests.

5] And whenever the mama of the house visits, one can see broken bidis and ash lying all around, including the bathroom. The whole house smells like hell. But in the name of relationship the members of the house tolerate him.

Like charity, even cleanliness begins at home. Hopefully, the Swachh India campaign will inspire people to keep their homes clean as well and hope even the Sharma family gets its together.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

My College Years: A Truckload of Tears N Hail Mary’s Said In Hundred folds

The year 2004 was one helluva year. I, Jini Maxin Fernandez, just-got-married-and-just-got-pregnant had committed the biggest crime of the year. I had dared to pursue my marriage, masters and a baby, all at the same time, very much against the conventions of the society. Not surprisingly, my in-laws suggested:  drop the baby, which was met with a vehement NOPE from my end. My father suggested: drop the degree course, and I gave him same answer as well. NOPE.

Yes, the road towards my masters’ degree was one roller coaster ride that went only downwards. There was a glitch at every step of my way, as if the universe was conspiring against me. But then God took pity on my truckload of tears and Hail Mary’s said in hundred folds, and sent me a guardian angel in the form of Malti Mam, our programme coordinator, who eventually became my torchbearer in those two grueling years. She compelled me to go on. Pronto.

My marriage and masters happened almost at the same time. It was the year 2004: three years after the Gujarat earthquake, two years after the Godhra riots and one year after my stint in journalism.  It was the year, I elected the goal of my life. Pursue a degree in communications and be the next Barkha Dutta in the making.

Little wonder, my masters and marriage were @ loggerheads. Both couldn’t and wouldn’t live together. On top of it, I got pregnant. It simply seemed out of character, to my in-laws especially, for a married, pregnant lady like me to pursue her masters so wholeheartedly. So happily – unhappily, with no other way in sight, i walked out of my marriage to marry my Masters. Though part of me wanted my marriage to work, but part of it couldn’t wait to put everything behind me.

My masters was all that mattered to me, after all.  Okay, i accept. My masters was rather more important to me than my marriage. Nothing could or should get in my way towards my PG. So, i landed myself at my parent’s place to finish my masters and have a baby at the same time.  

Amidst a growing rift in the marriage, and birthing a baby, i did my Post Graduation. It was year 2006, (second year of my college) when both my baby and study trip to Hyderabad were scheduled. As expected, my mother was at the gears and decided to take care of the baby so that i could make a peaceful trip to Hyderabad. And what a trip it was? (And sadly it was the only college trip i had so far.) Our college admitted only 12 students at that time and all of us got together for this trip. It’s almost 8 years now. When i look back, Malti mam, our trip coordinator, had scheduled us to visit a series of places. There was Char Minar, Ramoji flim city, Golconda fort and lot more on the cards. And, of course, we made it to all the places in our five day long visit. However, of all the places, Ramoji film city was impressive of all and for obvious reasons.

Our class of 12 students on the farewell day of our college

This film city is any filmmakers’ paradise. Replicas of world renowned architectural wonders can be easily found here, from Taj Mahal to Qutub Minar to  Delhi's Mughal gardens to Vrindavan Garden, Mysore and much more. The flamboyant locales, picturesque avenues and excellent flim-making infrastructure are sure to turn any sane person insane. Such is its beauty and splendor. Spread in 2000 acre, the film city is certified by the Guinness World Records as the world’s largest film studio.

If you haven’t seen it, get going. Better late than never.

Even the visit to Golconda Fort was quite fascinating. The lighting and the laser show was a sight to behold.

I would always be grateful to my college for organizing this mind-blowing trip to Hyderabad. The best of all was to have the Hyderabadi biryani in Hyderabad. BTW I didn’t get to taste it, for I saved all the money to buy gifts for relatives at home.
As part of our curriculum we also made a field trip to one of the remote villages in Sabarkantha.  This was an emotional trip, a complete opposite to the former trip I undertook. What hit me hard on this trip were the poverty of the villagers and high rates of metal retardation being experienced by children over here. Only if I had a magic wand, I would’ve loved to wipe away all their pain and sorrow with a single whoosh.   

PS. – I have don’t have many firsts to my credit, but then I don't know whether I should be proud of the fact that I maybe the only mother to have successfully completed her Masters in Development Communication course from Gujarat University. Anyway. Luv and a huge hug to my generous mother without whom life would have been a real hell in my post graduation days. Of course, later on, i made peace with my enemy (read hubby) as well.

PPS - This post is my entry for 'My College Diary' contest held by travel blog My Yatra Diary in collaboration with' 

I would like to tag Ankita, Vishal Bheeroo, and InderpreetKaurUppal for this post.

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Lobo's Howlidays - Picture Book Review

Folks, it’s Christmas time.  And, I tell you, no other time could be better than this, to catch on C.L Murphy’s ‘Lobo’s Howlidays’. The story is all about Christmas, Santa and his troupe of good-hearted artic friends.

Santa has screwed up this time. His misjudgment while charging his modern sleigh has led to major power outage in the northern hemisphere. (Yes, Santa is no longer using his old means, the reindeers, to pull his sleigh. In fact, he has switched over to new-age technology to power them. But the outcome is disastrous.) Consequently, the area is left with no lights. So it has become a major cause of worry, for he won’t be able to deliver Christmas gifts to children in northern hemisphere without lights.    

But we all know Santa well enough to know that he could salvage the situation quite easily. Santa immediately shoots a letter to Lob, the wolf pup to come to his aid. In no time, the Arty, the artic mouse, Roxy, the raven and Lobo are on their way out to help Santa. They are supposed to follow the rainbow sky (northern lights) and rainbow trees to reach their said destination. Once there, Santa shares his plan-of-action as to how reach the children in the extreme darkness. Enough of spoilers here. 

So, come on, get howling …ho…ho…ho. What's that?

Go ahead, read the book for your kids.

Lobo’s Howlidays is a colorful picture book and is sure to leave a lasting impression on the minds of young readers. I am yet to share this book with my elder one. But, I know for sure, the pictures and the narrative are sure to take his breath away and is will surely stay with him as well for a long, long time. 

Friday, 28 November 2014

School – the best grooming ground in cleanliness for kids

 Schools are our second home, and so if teachers take a greater responsibility on their shoulders to instill civic sense in our kids, so much the better. If parents could contribute to the civic sense of their children in good measure. However, school teachers can influence kids to a greater extent, which in turn may have some positive effect on their parents . Hope, all our teachers join hands and raise their voice for a cleaner India.  

Bits of Paper, 
Bits of Paper,
Lying on the floor,
Lying on the floor,

Make the place untidy,
Make the place untidy,
Pick them up,
Pick them up.

This is not just a nursery rhyme for my nine-year-old Aryan.  He has been following this poem in true letter and spirit. Everything, including chocolate wrappers, pencil wastes find their way into his bag, if not the dustbin. So when I empty his bag in the evening, upside down,  all kinds of wastes keep appearing from nowhere. When I start questioning him, all he answers me is, “Mummy, I didn’t find time to throw them in the dustbin.”

For Aryan throwing wastes in his bag is much more easier than the dustbin. And I've reprimanded him for this more often than not. However, I thank God, for his sensibility towards environment and its cleanliness, for he never throws waste on the way or on the ground. For him, it’s the bag or the dustbin. No where else. I thank his school teachers for instilling this sense of cleanliness in him.

Though parents have a primary role to play in  building character of their children, a teacher’s role in student's life cannot be underplayed, considering that kids spent a good 6 to 7 hours in school premises. A school, is after all, a kid's second home. Aryan goes to school that has acres and acres of playground. And, believe me or not, you won’t find a piece of paper lying here or there in the school premises or on their ground. That’s the kind of cleanliness policy the school authorities follow. Naturally, the children follow suit. If it’s was not for his teachers, specifically the PT teacher of his school, it would have been a daunting task for me to instill such civic sense in my son.

So much for my son’s civic sense. But the same doesn't prevail in our neighbourhood. The aunty in our neighbourhood is good 20 years old to  me, that bring her age to 55, has a tendency to keep her house spic and span at the cost of the common plot in our area. As in, all the waste paper, colorful polythene bags, plus all the dirt and dust inside the house makes it to society's common plot. Her 'damn the common-plot philosophy' has landed us in a catch 22 position. Whether to confront her on this topic, is the question that we keep asking to ourselves every other day. For all the waste makes its way into our garden area and we with painstaking efforts end up cleaning all the mess, which she seems to create so painlessly and effortlessly.  Only if she had gone to a proper school, or at least had some good teachers to guide her towards proper civic sense. Sigh…Sigh…But what pains me more is  that her children, who are probably going to better schools and learning  all that is required to keep the environment clean, seems to be equally blind towards their mother’s ways. Just hope, that our PM Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan probably will bring them to their senses. Or probably, we can bring her to senses today itself Kyuki Bin Bole Ab Nahi Chalega.

This post is written for #AbMontuBolega campaign held in association with Indiblogger and Strepsils Tweet about the campaign here:
We know that raising our voices against all that is dirty in our country is a power that we all have. Let’s exercise the power of our voice & work towards a Swach Bharat.

Kyuki Bin Bole Ab Nahi Chalega #AbMontuBolega. 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Daddy I am coming

My bro's family. The young one in my bhabhi's hand is Joel, almost two now.

  My bro is a SAP consultant, and is posted in Germany right now. And he is very close to his son Joel. The conversation between Richard and Ryan is woven around them.

“Whoohoo!” Daddy i am coming to see you.”
“Whoa.” Now tell me howz my lil son going to land here.”
“Daddy, mummy didn’t tell you?”
“What? That you and your helicopter uncle have come to an agreement to help you fly down here?”
"No, no daddy. You are such a...such a..ummmmm."
“Ah! Nut case?”
“Yes, of course, you are a nut case.”
“Didn’t  Mummy tell you that Airways has come up with a daily flight schedule from Delhi to Frankfurt.” And mummy says, we will board their biggie commercial aircraft. In fact, mummy adds it’s biggest in the world. It’s called A 380. Doesn’t that sound great?
“O Oh! That calls for a big wow? BTW baba, you made a boo-boo; its Lufthansa A380 and not Luftsa."
And BTW, tell me, “When is my darling son flying over to meet me.”
“That calls for a double wow.”

Connecting with your closest ones - Lufthansa A-380 makes it easy.

Daily flights from Delhi to Frankfurt

“Start early from home, my lil Tendulkar, so that you can catch a cab early and reach the airport in time.”
“Ofcourse, daddy, we’ve already summoned a cab and are leaving straightway.”
“And no worries. We will reach their safe and sound.”
Suddenly Richard turns nostalgic and thinks of those days when he and his son Ryan played cricket and soccer together. He turned himself into a dedicated coach for his favourite pupil. A complete puppy, infact, Ryan followed his father everywhere he went, sometimes to the office as well. He was a darling son to his darling father. For Richard, Ryan was his world. But then this Germany posting came in the middle of their relationship.  It was very hard for Richard to explain to his son why he was leaving him. It was heartbreaking for both of them.

Being a SAP consultant, for Richard, living in foreign destinations for work reasons was nothing new. He’s been to Brazil and France before the Germany posting came by. But this time it was different. This time he and his son had developed a deep, deep bond. He was the rock of his life. And then he wanted to be a Monument of Existence for his kids. ( This reminds of Randy Pausch of The Last Lecture.) So work was work and commitment towards work was something that he would never pussyfoot around.  And, more importantly, the package the company was offering for the German posting was handsome. Though he tried as much as he could, he couldn’t ignore the pay factor. And as much as he craved to stay with Ryan, he simply couldn’t forgo the carrot dangled in front of him in the form of handsome package. So eventually, he left for Frankfurt, Germany. Now father and son met only through web chats. However, a thoughtful initiative by Lufthansa German Airlines, has been able to bridge this distance between them. Lufthansa A380 literally scripted a a new dawn in Ryan’s life.  

With globalization being the order of the day, even the system nuclear families seems no longer in  existence. In search of better lifestyle, better future and better packages, people are willing to travel far off distances. As much as they want to stay with their families, they simply don’t want to lose their competitive touch and wish to rough it out in the big bad world to prove themselves and sometimes to others as well. However, it’s the kids who suffer the most in this separation.

Negatives apart, such flight initiatives help bridge the gulf between close relations. And considering India’s rising population in Germany and vice-versa it’s always nice to have better and bigger airlines flying to India. And Lufthansa A-380 being the biggest, we as Indians indeed feel honoured to have it here.   

Bridging Barriers, Soothing Sighs,
Spreading Smiles, Across Miles,
We welcome you with open hearts Lufthansa A 380
You’re a New Symbolism of Indian Pride

This post is for Indiblogger contest held in association with Lufthansa German Airlines. The  airline has launched #Lufthansa A380  services to India. 

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...