Monday, October 12, 2009

A Squeeze In Time Keeps The Cancer Away!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
And, it being a cause close to my heart, how could I not devote a post to it?

Cancer, particularly that of the breast, hits a raw nerve.

Maybe it is that I am reminded of my loved ones who have fought losing battles with the dreaded disease.

Two years ago, I lost a favourite aunt.
A lump in the breast ignored for too long, eventually permeated her lungs and claimed her life.
In contrast another aunt whom I love deeply, acted promptly when she discovered a lump in her breast and today, leads a happy, fulfilling life.
Yes, the shadow of uncertainty does hang over her like the Sword of Damocles.
But, she is alive, and, most of us who know her are grateful for that.

There isn't a woman on this planet whose heart goes cold with dread at the prospect of being a victim of Breast Cancer.

For many, the fear of loosing a breast, and therefore being less feminine, is as terrifying as losing one's life.

However, despite the fear, despite the statistics that report on breast cancer being the most common cancer in women (aside from skin cancer), a sizable portion of the female population continue to remain apathetic in caring for themselves.

We women have a plethora of reasons and excuses to hide behind.
And, they come in all forms and tones.....

The self-assured, cocky.......Me & Breast Cancer? No way!'

The defiant challenge.......' If it was all that serious, surely my doctor would have suggested checks'

The weary, I-have-the-weight-of-the-world-on-my-shoulders.....' Where do I have the time? '
The patient, why-am-I-talking-to-a-retard....'I don't have a family history of breast cancer.'

The paranoid ' Because it will hurt...and besides, I hate hospitals and doctors and anything remotely associated with the medical sciences'
Which, I confess, is my preferred response to illness or any such threat to my physical self.

The terrified, ' What if I do have cancer? What if I die? I would rather live my last days in peace and not knowing...'
Not to mention the even more terrifying worries about the financial burden a positive test can lead to

The excuses are dime a dozen...And, so unreal.

It is amazing that a woman who would brush aside all such excuses when the health of a loved one is at risk, would resort to them when it comes to caring for herself.

And, depressing.

Breast cancer has claimed enough victims.

It is time for us to step out of denial and value ourselves better.
To accept our prime responsibilty to ourselves.
And, realise that no one else will fulfill our responsibilities to ourselves.

It is time for us to stand up and take charge of our health and well being.
Because good health is critical for our functioning in all spheres of life.
And, the key lies well within our grasp.

But above all, it is time for us women to free our minds from fear and understand that breast cancer does not necessarily mean the loss of a breast.

Even if it does, it is important to understand that a breast does not a woman make.

Femininity is a state of mind.
And for that to endure, it is important that a woman be alive and healthy.

So ladies, don't be shy.
Go ahead and cop a feel
Remember, a squeeze in time, will not only save that boob, but your life as well.

The Pink Ribbon Graphic used in this post has been designed by Kim West & downloaded from Pink For October

The Pink Ribbon that the Mad Moggies blog proudly sports has been designed by Denis Ryan & downloaded from Carol Sutton's website.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Message On The Auto !

All my life, I have heard people talk about the wickedness of the world we live in today.

This is no one
Pray that God keeps you...
Today's world has no conscience

Parents vs children, siblings at war, friends betrayed for a song, greed, theft, anger, violence...all the signs of a world gone wrong. Not to mention the incidents of catastrophe, natural & man-made, that strike at the foundations of our society at regular intervals.

Yet, there are moments in life, when the strength & generosity of the human spirit overwhelms me.
And, fills me with hope.

Like this morning.
I was in desperate need of fruit, and other such mundane essentials of survival that one only finds in a large supermarket. I confess, I love supermarkets and meandering about a large, well stocked supe is one of my favourite Sunday past-times.

As I stood on the lonely road, scanning the horizon for an obliging auto rickshaw, I was rather surprised to see a vehicle dressed in white heading my way.

It was a rickshaw, seemingly draped in a white dhoti!
Well, a white dhoti with red and blue words and squiggles all over it.
Pretty much like one of those privileged permed and coiffed pets on TV, which is forced into designer clothes by its doting owner.

As I squinted disbelievingly, the auto in white cruised to a slow stop next to me.

And, a young cheerful face popped out of the side, oblivious to my expression of shock and curiosity.

I was not entirely sure if I wanted to ride into town in a shrouded rickshaw, covered in squiggles that I did not understand.
What if it was propaganda of sorts?

And yet, I did not seem to have very many choices by way of transport....

Which is why when he enquired nonchalantly, I could only stammer out my destination..distractedly.

His accepting nod suddenly resolved the conflict raging within.
I had to know before I hopped on.
And so, hesitantly, in pidgin Kannada, I asked him what the message on his auto was.

" Oh, I am collecting funds for the flood victimsin Karnataka & Andra Pradesh. I do not like to ask people for money, which is why I have a banner on my auto and a collection box inside. Anyone who wants to contribute is welcome to do so."

This, he said, in a matter of fact tone which asked neither for applause nor appreciation.
It was merely an answer to a question.
And one, which piqued my curiosity.

As we sped along, I could not resist asking Ramakrishna as to how he planned to ensure that his money reached the intended recipients.

" Madam, I hand this over to the TV 9 office where they are collecting funds for relief activities. It is explained on the banner so people will know I am not a cheat."

And did people contribute? I asked
" Yes they do...In tens and twenties. I collect about 600-700 Rs. each day "

The numbers he cited jolted me.
And, my skepticism about the generosity of the society we lived in.
Are people more giving that I had imagined them to be?
Are they capable of more compassion and caring?

As I mulled over these questions, my eyes fixed unseeingly on the crude collection jar in front of me, Ramakrishna added
" Actually madam, the fares I have received this past week have also gone into that jar. I must set an example, no? So I ask the passengers to put the fares into the jar and a lot of them add a few rupees extra."

The man flummoxed me.
Why would he deprive himself of a week's earnings for people he did not know?
Had never met and probably never would in his whole life.

Maybe he was a mind reader.
Or perhaps, it was the incredulous expression on my face that prompted him to explain his motives.

" I feel bad when I see the plight of the people in these flooded villages. Imagine that, madam. Imagine loosing every single thing you posses and not have anyone to turn to because everyone you know is in the same desperate situation? And still they refuse to give up. When I see the hope on their faces, I feel I should help them..even if it is a small effort, at least I know I have done something"

His words struck a chord deep within me.
I could not, for the life of me, imagine being in such a plight.
Or, having the courage to cope with a catastrophe of this magnitude.

I don't know how many of us can.

Every single day, the world wakes up to news of such disasters.
Yet, many of us go about our daily lives without a second thought about the people afflicted by these disasters.

We tell ourselves that there isn't much that we can do.
Little realising that every little effort counts.
And that we can make a difference.

We do not need to make extravagant gestures.
Nor, do we need to deprive ourselves vastly.

Sometimes, a little goes a long way.
And this, I learnt from a humble auto driver today.

As I alighted at my destination, I gingerly pushed the fare into the box and then, some more.
Ramakrishna's delighted thank-yous sent waves of shame rippling through my being.

Here was a man who was donating a whole week's earnings, incurring costs to go about his daily work and uninhibitedly urging the rest of us to do our bit for people in need.
And, the grandness of his gesture did not prevent him from appreciating me for having donated just the cost of a decent meal.

What could I tell him?......Other than Salut.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

An Affair Not To Remember?

The times....they are a changing!

Gone are the days, when men like Romeo and Devdas either died, or drank themselves to destruction to forget the pangs of a love lost.

At the movies this afternoon, a friend and I watched with aching hearts as the hero's friend broke his pensive contemplation of his drink, to hold aloft a diamond ring before mournfully informing his friend that his girlfriend had not only rejected his proposal, but had also dumped him.

As we blinked back the early prickles of salty tears at the back of our eyes, we were surprised to hear scattered laughter in the theatre. Despite the darkness, we could not help exchanging bewildered glances.

" People are laughing???" Every syllable of mine, resonated with consternation and indignation.

"New age wisdom, I suppose?" She hissed back at me, sarcasm writ all over her words .

And, we turned our attention back to the silver screen, expecting the hero to console his friend in the time honoured manner of Hindi movies. With sympathy, liquor and maybe, even a song and a dance.

Well, we were in for a disappointment.

For, on the large screen, the hero gleefully gurgled " I told you so..", amidst paroxysms of laughter.
And, the heart broken lover concurred " You told me so", with equal gay abandon.

" You are such a fool..."
They were, by now, rolling around, clutching their sides, barely able to contain their tears of mirth.
" I am such a fool...."

As the duo chortled away the last wisps of tragic romance out of the theatre, the two disillusioned romantics slumped into their seats, grateful for the anonymity of the darkness, as they manfully tried to join in the laughter that now echoed around them.

New Age Wisdom?
The Age of Cynicism?
Or, The End of Tragic Romance as we knew it?

Friday, September 18, 2009

On Shoes & Change

Change, often, is like a new shoe.

At first, the need.
To buy or not to buy?
To change, or not ?

Then, the considerations.
Is this a better shoe than the one I have?
Is it a change for the better?

At what price?
How much, is too much?
How much am I willing to stretch?

And, then finally, come the moments of truth when we wear the new shoes to walk through new ways.
Or, perhaps on old roads.

Who really focuses on the scenery, when one is nagged by a vague, weird feeling of discomfort from a fit which is a wee bit too snug?
Or, if one is nursing angry blisters.

Until the shoes are broken in, or, shall we say, we are reconciled to the change, one has to continously resist an overwhelming urge to shake the tightly encased feet, hoping for a little more breathing space down there.

But, once you get past the blisters...the snug fit....the newness wears off and comfort levels rise, the change is no longer a change, but a well worn, comfortable habit.

And, how would you know when change knocks at your doors?

Just as you know when its time to trade in a worn pair of shoes...

It is time for change when there is an ache in the soul..when the familiar no longer delights us but instead, fills our being with a sense of jaded tiredness and self loathing.

Sometimes, every now and then, we come across a thought that grips our hearts, and fills us with an undescribable excitement and intense yearning to make it a part of our lives.

When this happens, you know that change is beckoning.
And when change comes calling, we can either stay.
Or, we can choose to run as fast as we can, in our old worn shoes till the threadbare soles completely give way, and then, my friend, is when change is gonna catch up & bite us hard on our bums.

Note: Reproduced from Soul-Talkin

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Yogi In Chains

A reputed master of yoga and other such ancient Indian sciences sauntered into office this morning.
Clad in a white kurta-pyjama, he meandered about lazily, examining the art and artifacts with detached interest.

In the distance stood a few admirers, gazing upon the noble guru in awe and veneration.
" 85 and still going strong...Can you imagine..." whispered one, all too audibly.
" He is a true master....even foreigners come to learn from him" hissed another.
Impressed more, it seemed, by the yogi's ability to attract hordes of white disciples than by the depth of his knowledge.

But, much to my surprise, he breezed into my office....The master of all that he surveyed. And, with scant disregard for all else, began to examine the yellow and white lilies in the Japanese vase on my desk.
Any offence I would have taken to this rude intrusion was mollified, in part, by his interest in my precious blooms. And so, when he eventually deigned to notice me from over the vase, I decided to accord him the traditional Indian welcome and brought my palms together in a Namaste.

Perhaps, it was that I did not look sufficiently overwhelmed.
Or, seem as if I would fawn or gush mindlessly.
For, the mystic man's glance flickered casually over me.
Without any interest. Without any acknowledgement.
And, perhaps, a tad dismissively.

With a last glance at my brilliant lilies, he wheeled about and left the room.

As I watched him walk out of the glass door, in surprised annoyance I confess, I noticed a white woman in her mid 50s walk into the office.
American, I guessed out loud to myself.
The master must have spotted her too....For his progress was, suddenly and inexplicably stalled.

To the adoring onlooker, it must have seemed as if he was pondering on a particular yogic puzzle.
Or, an unexplained mystery of life.
But, to my cynical eye, it appeared that he was sizing the entrant with barely concealed delight.

As he stood there, probably wondering how best to make his acquaintance of yet another potential disciple, a dutiful devotee stepped forward.
" Madam, this is one of the greatest men in Bangalore city. He is a famous teacher of the science of yoga. His knowledge is superlative and he may be amongst the best in the country..."

The enthusiastic eulogies that followed, floated down the hallway to my eager ears.
And I could not resist sneaking a glance at the mystic man.
He sported a benevolent smile. But beneath the modest expression, I could trace the signs of self-gratification.

My examination of his demeanor came to a screeching halt when the lady, who looked suitably impressed, flung out her arms to join her palms together in a rather exaggerated Namaste.
The beaming master, quite predictably, reciprocated with a deep, stately one of his own.

And, to think ,we Indians, take such fierce pride in having freed ourselves from the white man's yoke!!!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Dream Gone Topsy Turvy

Circa 1989
The Mad Moggie, probably aged 19 or 20, day-dreams over an indescribably boring text-book.
She dreams of being a graceful swan, surrounded by a bevy of admiring men, tripping over the other to fawning men, the object of envy of other young women.
Pretty much like young Scarlett at the Wilkes plantation of Twelve Oaks.

Now, if only dreams came true.

The Mad Moggie, aged 36, skips blithely down a crowded road, gleefully dreaming of the succulent kebabs and saffron rice clutched possessively in her hands, that was to be her lunch.

And suddenly, she was down and rolling unstoppably. Pretty much like a road roller sans the driver, sans the brakes.
When the world around her stopped revolving, she gazed up with dizzy eyes at the ring of young, concerned, boyishly handsome faces above her.
And wished that the earth, at that precise moment, would swallow her and her lunch .

Funny, how dreams have a strange way of coming true.
Just wish they would stick with the plan, instead of assuming shapes that one least expects!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dance To The Last

Yet another birthday looms large on the horizon, and, my inner circle is abuzz with questions.
About celebration plans, wish lists and the special gifts that will come my way.
About the countdown to the larger than life '40' milestone, which now hangs over my neck like the sword of Damocles.
And, above all, if I intended to continue allowing the irrepressible child in my heart to manifest itself in my personality...

Most, I am afraid, are a little disappointed by my vague responses and perhaps, more so by my nonchalance about the impending event.

As the questions continue to stream in, I answer them as best as I can. All the while, wondering if the listener has sensed that, at this moment, my birthday plans are the least of my concerns.

This is not to say that I am against birthdays or anniversaries or celebrations in general.
Or, that I expect the rest of the world to slave their fingers to the bone, in making it a special day for me.

What does not appeal to me is the element of contrivance which prior planning brings to these special days.
I would rather go with the flow and take each moment as it comes.

Over the past many years, what made every birthday special was the love and warmth that I was cocooned in.

I love the fact that people care enough to remember, to call, or better still, to drop by for a drink and a giggle.

I am always touched when they stretch that extra mile, to do something that warms me to the cockles of my heart.

And I enjoy the sense of anticipation a beautifully packaged gift offers me.
The excitement of discovery as I rip it open.
It doesn't matter what is inside.
It could be a string of cheap beads or a ridiculously expensive solitaire.
For me, what matters is the element of surprise, the excitement of the moment and the warmth of being loved.

So inevitably, year after year, when friends ask me how I plan to celebrate my birthday or what I have asked for by way of gifts, my answer always is none what so ever.

I look forward to seeing what the day brings my way..the fun, the spontaneity, the discovery and the savouring of the emotions.

For me, this is what life is all about.
And I think I will carry this passion for life, with all its good and bad, right to my grave.

People tell me that everything slows down with age, except the time it takes for an utterly sinful wedge of warm gooey chocolate walnut brownie to reach your hips.

I disagree.

Age does not bring wisdom...Life and its many experiences does that!!!

At 15,I thought 20 was the Golden Age, and just couldn't wait to hit the magic number.
Unfortunately for me, life started at a snail's pace.
By 25, I was a little panicked because I thought I would be semi senile by the time I hit 30 and was haunted by visions of myself rocking away aimlessly on the porch of a geriatric care center.

But then, life in the 30s lane have proved to be incredibly exciting.
Probably because I have shed a lot of inhibitions, don't worry over much about looking like a fool and laugh easily when I do.
And, I am not afraid to demand love, express sorrow and more importantly, eliminate the weeds in my garden of life.

I find myself increasingly open to experimentation and new experiences.
So much so that on my 36th birthday, the only thought in my mind is that if the 30s are so incredibly exciting, then, what do the 40s and 50s hold in store for me?

Would I dare go skinny dipping in the moonlight...Climb a mountain...Tend a raucous bar in true coyote style...or swim with the dolphins in the deep blue ocean...
Would my dream of being a renowned writer come true?
Would my vision of bringing love and hope into the lives of abused children translate into reality?
Who knows?

For all I know, I may be skydiving at 60 or even doing the salsa at the ripe old age of 70.
Because in my heart I believe that you don't stop dancing because of age.
You grow old only because you stopped dancing.

Note: Reproduced from with minor variations

Monday, June 8, 2009

When Life Came A Full Circle!

" I thought about you a moment back", she said, her voice heavy with quiet happiness.
And, after a moment's pause, she blurted almost shyly "I was thinking that the books you read are quite qualitative....And, I felt proud of you"

My eyes suddenly blurred. And,my throat choked with emotion.

This was the mother who had introduced me to the pleasures of reading, much before I could even walk a straight line with my baby feet.

A student of literature and a voracious reader, Amma has had a life-long love affair with books.
A passion which she passed on to me.
With reverence and pride.
As a torch bearer would, his precious flame.

As I went through life devouring Austen, Dickens and the rest of their ilk, before progressing to more contemporary writers, Amma's roles as wife and mother ate into the time reserved for her beloved books. And, even as my love for books grew with each passing day, her passion waned into barely aglow embers.

Years passed by, and, I grew into adulthood.
Into a career, and, life in a big city far away from home.
But, I never stopped reading.

Despite the demands on my time, I read voraciously.
In cafeterias.
On the bus.
Over meals.
And, in bed late at night.

Maybe I was driven by a deep-rooted fear.
That if I slacked, I would loose my passion too.
Just as Amma did.

I came home on visits with bags bursting at the seams with books.
Which I would wave tantalisingly at her face as I danced circles around her in our huge kitchen.

But, Amma was made of sterner stuff.
And, never bit the bait.

Until my last visit home.

When I left Kakar's 'Mira and the Mahatma' behind.

A month later, I sent home some books for a cousin, who was to visit.

And now, this call.

As I struggled to recover my composure, my mother went on " Mira and the Mahatma was riveting. I enjoyed it tremendously. Even the Ice Candy Man looks interesting, so I thought I would read it before passing it on to your cousin. In any case, she is not due to visit in the immediate future"

" Sure Amma".
And then, crossing my fingers, I held my breath as I asked her the million dollar question " Shall I send you some more books from my collection?"

For a split second, she hesitated.
" Well, not immediately. But, maybe when you come home next."
" What kind of books will you get me? I am interested in good books...good language...strong storyline..."
Again, a pause
" I leave it to you to decide. Bring me what you think I will enjoy......"

And, then she was back to her impressions about Miraben and the Mahatma.

As she gushed excitedly, a voice from the past rang loud in my ears. Of Amma reading out to the wide eyed, baby me about the good king Richard or Richard Lion Heart as he was known, who went on a crusade leaving his kingdom in the hands of his evil brother John.

Sudhir Kakar may never know.
But, I will always remain in his debt.

For not just writing a book that closed the circle of life between a mother and daughter.
But, also for leveling the playing field between us.


On Criticism

Two roads lie before a person criticised.

One is the high road, where she can examine the critical words for merit before reacting.
And, if she finds even an iota of truth in the harsh words, then, it is up to her to choose to change for the better.
Or, try brush it under the carpet of one's ego.
But, at least, she would have done the right thing of having looked within with brutal honesty, and introspected.

The second, which is the refuge of the weak and shallow, is to react like a cornered animal and lash out in rage. Without any thought what-so-ever.
To heap abuse and lies on the offender, making it abundantly clear to all and sundry that a raw nerve has been hit.

The first is the path of the wise, and, the strong.

And, the second, ....
Well...Now, what was it that the wise old men said about empty vessels and a cacophony?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Seriously, Why Archie?

So, the latest to clamber on board the marriage bandwagon is the Andrews lad.

If reports are to be believed, the famous carrot top is
all set to wed the rich Lodge brat leaving Betty, the adorable girl next door, clutching at the pieces of her broken heart.

In the eyes of the world, the Good Girl has lost out,and, the Bad Girl gets to take home the trophy.

But, even as disbelieving fans the world over continue to ask, why Archie would pop the question to the 'live life queen size' Veronica and not to the 'sugar, spice and all things nice' Betty, I cannot help but wonder just what the fuss and bother is all about.

Let's face it.

Archie is no trophy husband.
He is a very ordinary guy, with an average IQ and no special talent to write home about.

In all the stories I have read, Archie shows no ambition.
No inclination to work......Well, except his roving eye that is.
And, truth be told, he has not the good sense to see a good thing for what it is, as is clearly evidenced by his treatment of poor love-sick Betty.

In short, Archie Andrews is just a lazy, skirt-chasing dork!

Correction: a goofy-looking, lazy, skirt-chasing dork!!!
For a moment, I forgot the carrot head and bushy eyebrows which works well in a comic strip, but, in the real world, well, that would be no Brad Pitt we are talking about.

Sure, he is a fun buddy to hang out with when you are in school.
But, as a life partner, it beats me why any woman would want to fight it out for Mr. Vanilla Andrews!

And, here we have two beautiful, intelligent women, each a catch in her own way, doing just that.
With the world split down the center, debating who would make the better bride!
Rather than ask, if Archie is the right husband for either girl.

Even in a comic strip, shouldn't women be settling for men who are more their equals than an ordinary Joe?

Well, the way things stand.
Whoever gets to walk down the aisle with carrot top...Betty or Veronica.
Me thinks, this is one story which is not going to end with 'And They Lived Happily Ever After'

Sad, isn't it?

Monday, June 1, 2009

The Ten Catmmandments!

Catmmandment # 1
The World is a Cat's Oyster

Cats own it all.
People. Places. Possessions.
In short, everything!.

What humans think they own, is, only due to the kind graces of the cat/s they serve.

Catmmandment # 2
Cats, being the more intelligent species, are born to rule.

As all cats know, there exists an inverse co-relation between altitude and brain power.
The higher the grey cells from ground level, the lesser its effectiveness!!!

So, now you know, why human slaves so easily controlled by a crook of the claw?

Catmmandment # 3
Humans, though the high priests of the feline religion, are still slaves.

Every cat is the un-anointed representative of Gods on Earth.
They, therefore, do not socialise with lesser life forms.
Including their human slaves, no matter how endearing they may seem.
Or, how much they grovel.

The purpose of every human life form is to serve cats.
It falls to the human slaves to feed, groom, protect, to tend to, and, indulge felines in all their eccentricities.

A good human slave eventually attains Nirvana, and, becomes a cat companion in the
Rainbow Bridge. While, the human oddball who professes dislike, and, even hatred, of the feline race is cursed to an eternity of cleaning cat poop!

Catmmandment # 4
All other life forms - dogs, birds, creepy crawlies, rats - have only two purposes in life.
And, nourishment.

A corollary to the Third Catmmandment, this commandment reinforces the need for cats to refrain from socialising from lesser life forms.

Catmmandment # 5
Cleanliness is next to Feliness.

Every cat must groom herself/himself atleast 5 times a day.
Regular grooming not only sets a good precedent for slaves, and, other inferior life forms, but, it also offers a convenient way of saving face.
Say, when a cat chances to slip off the sofa.
Or, is startled suddenly.
Or, horror of horrors, may have let a stinky rat slip through, to freedom.

Catmmandment # 6
Catnaps -A feline's secret weapon to world domination.

Cat's don't nap.
They meditate.
On taking over the world,.
On further taming their human slaves.
And, about exterminating, or, enslaving, all other life forms.

Catmmandment # 7
One World. One Language.

Referring back to the second Catmmandment, the mental prowess of the human slaves is limited.
It, therefore, falls to the cats to simplify the common unifying language to a single syllable.

Miaow, depending on the intonation, can be used to communicate a gamut of instructions, ranging from 'Leave Me Alone, Bald Face' to ' Come To Momma, Little Birdie' to ' Got Milk?'

In situations of urgency, a rapid sequence of Miaows can be used for action oriented communication.

Catmmandment # 8
Occasionally, practise kindness to dumb creatures

Every now and then, throw a bone of feline kindness at your slaves.
Acts of kindness can be a perfunctory grooming session.
A nap on an available lap.
Indulging the slave in a short game of catch.
Or, offering the remains of a decapitated little rodent, or, birdie.

Catmmandment # 9
Furniture was born to be scratched.

It is the responsibility of every feline to help furniture, regardless of size and pedigree,to fulfil its destiny on earth and attain furniture nirvana.
And, yes, cushions, books, papers, bed covers, and clothes left about on chairs, beds or tables also fall within the purview of furniture.

Catmmandment # 10
Exert The Iron Fist in the Furry Paw

A cat is the lord and master of the house.
No one, and that really means no one, will take precedence over him, nor, will he be ignored.

To test and monitor obedience levels in their slaves, every cat must have a programme designed to provoke reactions from her slaves, and, test their love and devotion to the feline species. The programme must be extreme and can include random acts of aggression, eating of plants, spraying in the house, mountaineering on a slave leg, ignoring the fawning human slave, scratching , biting, and, cat walking over the sleeping slaves in the dead of the night.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

If 'Modern', Then What?

The all too interesting topic of 'modernness' cropped up in a conversation, last evening.

A friend, talking about her sibling's undesirable state of singledom, was trying to explain the dilemma her brother faced, when it came to the choice of a bride.

The lad, in question, possessed all the ingredients, that, went into the making of a modern day prince charming

He was educated.
And, reasonably good-looking.

That, he was settled in the U. S of A, only served to enhance his appeal to the fairer sex, back home.

And yet, he remained foot-loose, and, fancy-free, at the ripe old age of 31.

His problem, it appeared, was not, a dearth of eligible brides.
For months, his family had been staving off hordes of eager parents, armed with horoscopes, and, portfolios of their daughters in various attires and poses.

But, the lad, shied from a walk down the traditional aisle, because he hankered for a modern lass.

He probably would have found one, as well.
If it had not been, as his sister succinctly put it, for the nagging question of, If Modern, then what?

The pregnant pause, which followed, spoke volumes, about the misgivings that lurked in this young martian mind, about the dark side of the Modern Indian Woman.

I should have been outraged.
And, knowing her, she should have been too.
But, strangely, neither of us were.

The myth of the Modern Indian Woman, is one, which, I suspect, is deeply ingrained in the minds of quite a few martians.
Not, to mention a sizable portion of the Venusian population too.

Perhaps, it is because the concept of the modern woman, challenges, the stereotypes deified in our myths, lore's and legends.


These, are, just a few of the epithets, that are attributed to her.

Fact or fiction?
Who cares, right?

She is perceived as being too forward.
Of lacking in values, and, principles.
In the understanding of 'Indian culture.'
And, often, in 'decent' attire, as well.

Myth or reality?
Who cares?

It almost always, is, a case of give the bitch a bad name and hang her!

Tragic really.
Because, spirits, denim, cigarettes, words and demeanor, do not, a modern woman, make.

It is the mind that maketh a modern woman.

Modernness, according to me, has everything to do with a woman knowing her mind, and, having the moral strength to act accordingly.
It is about her being in touch with her needs and emotions, and, doing what it takes to express herself in the way she thinks fit.
But, above all, modernness means having the gumption to take her happiness where she finds it, without guilt weighing down her decisions, or, being plagued by an overwhelming need to justify.

In my mind, the modern woman would have to be a careerist, because financial independence would enable any woman to be independent in the fullest sense of the term.....If, she so wished it.

Perhaps, I think this way because I am one.
Although, I am only too aware that financial independence does not necessarily bring freedom in other spheres.

But, I digress.
This post is about a young man's dilemma about the Modern Indian Woman.

If only I could, I would tell him to throw caution to the winds and give himself a chance.
To, not judge the women he meets, at first glance.
Or, try fit them into stereo-typed moulds.

I wish I could tell him to go beyond the surface, and, look beneath.
And, judge with an open heart, than with a mind conditioned by society.

Because, while there are women who slip off the beam, while trying out the popular trappings of modernness.
There, also, are diamonds in the rough, whose outward appearances belie the good sense and heart that lies within.

And then, there are the rare polished gems, who, have dared to take charge of their lives, define their rules & pave their own unique paths in this world, with their own special brand of values, ideals and principles, which are guaranteed to last.

When, it comes to the choice of a woman, as a friend, lover, wife or partner, I say, a man should never give up.

After all, diamonds are forever.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Desperately Seeking Obama !!!

'The Truth About Obama', screamed the title.
But, that, was not what jolted me into wakefulness.

It was the, 'You'll be her night driller', in fine print, that did the trick.!!!

I rubbed my eyes in disbelief.
And, checked once more.
But, Obama stayed put, in the title field.
Without, transforming into the more appropriate Bill Clinton.

A fine way to start one's morning, you may say.

But, not, when there are, close to 100 odd of such mails in the spam box.

Now, before you ask, I was scanning my spam for legitimate mails, that may have strayed in there by chance.

A habit I cultivated, ever since, the chance perusal of the spam box, one fine day, yielded a mail from an old acquaintance, who went on, to become one of the most important people in my life.

But,today, all that I found, was a pile of cyber-trash.

Be a Better Man - For Your Meat Missile!
Be her Mighty Night Predator!
Be a Love Rhino!

Fortunately, there was no more bandying about, of, the American President's name.
Or, of any other world leaders'.

As I hastily skimmed through the page, it turned out, that, not all were about performance enhancement.

There, were, those that promised to augment one's vital statistics to wondrous proportions.
Yes, even larger than Pam Anderson!
And, her male counterpart, whoever he is.

Some, promised to, melt down the assets to nothingness.
Pretty much, like, Christopher Reeve's x-ray vision in Superman.
I specifically mention Reeve by name because, Superman, quite naturally, put in a spam appearance in an entirely different role, than as a lard buster.

There, were, suggestive invitations from seductive women.
And, handsome studs.
Some of which, even claimed to want to discover one's inner beauty, than, worship at the temple of flesh on the surface!!!
Oh yes, snigger on people.
But, going by the number, and variety of course, of spam flowing in, it appears that spamming has emerged as a serious choice of career in the modern world.
How else can anyone, and that includes perverts of every kind, have the time and resources to churn out crap in sustained manner?

The only thing that beats me, is the motive.
IS THERE, indeed, an overwhelming section of the population, so prostrated by performance and size driven anxiety attacks, that, they would resort to anything, and, everything to revive a flagging libido or organ?

Or, are the weirdos self propagating at an accelerated rate?

I really would love to know.

But, is anyone spilling the beans?
I guess not.

And, until someone does, it seems, that,the Obamas and Gordons of the world, will just have to continue with their unwitting endorsements of pills, powders, and, natural bed blazing techniques.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where Has The Passion Gone?

Another hard day at work.
Of emotionally wrestling, and, of, trying to coax initiative, out of people.

Infusing positiveness into people, can, be exhausting.

Especially, in the times, we now live in.

It is, almost, as if, the recession has, churned to the surface, all, that is negative in people.
Fears, insecurities, frowns, withdrawals...mark the visages around me.
On strange faces on trains.
On the roads.
At homes.
At work.

When did people stop following their hearts, and, dreams?

When did money, and, status symbols, begin to matter more?

Where has the passion gone?
Or, is it that, it didn't exist at all, in the first place?

I wish I knew!

The '3 Gen' Moment

The 'Three Generations' theme seems to be rather popular these days, especially, when it comes to photographic sittings.

I have seen very many of such shots, in the recent past.
In albums, photo frames, and, on networking sites.
But, today, was the first time I witnessed a genuine '3 Gen' moment, in real life.

I was at the local coffee shop, killing time, as I waited for my roast chicken sandwich to materialise.

The room was abuzz, and, my eyes roved around the room, drinking in the sights and sounds around me.
Children, with their noses pressed against the glass-case, gazing in wondrous covetousness at the pastries on display.
Adults, ordering cakes, in various shapes and sizes.
Love-birds, giggling, as they held hands, and, shared bites off each other's treat.

As I sat absorbed, a little lad of, perhaps, 5 or 6, tripped in merrily.
For some strange reason, he reminded of Red Riding Hood.
Albeit, a male version.
And, in a blue hood.

The little imp paused by my table, glanced back, and, beckoned urgently at the door.
And, then, with a smile, he skipped back.

Moments later, he was back, leading a frail, elderly gentleman towards the delicacies on display.

As I watched them weigh their choices, gesticulating, and, guffawing noisily, I was struck by the easy camaraderie they shared.

It was obvious that they were having fun.
That, fun was, their, way of life.
The open-hearted, uninhibited kind, that, one normally enjoys with peers and friends.
And, not, the kind of fun a young un, normally, has with his grandparent or parent or an figure of authorithy.

Occasionally, they would glance back, almost furtively, and, giggle afresh, conspiratorially.

I wondered why.
And, had to draw on my my last reserves of self-control, to not turn around and stare.

Thankfully, the suspense was short-lived.

The two-some at the counters, burst out into loud laughter, as a middle aged man in shorts, strode in.
Grinning broadly at the mischievous duo, he thumped them on their backs, demanding to be let into the joke.

As they laughed and joked, I, shamelessly, stared at the trio, from a distance, basking in the warmth and love they emanated.
There is something so very infectious about happy, loving people, isn't there?

Eventually, little Blue, and, his elderly friend, decided to find themselves a seat.
And, much to my delight, they headed towards the table next to mine.
Where, they were soon joined by the middle-aged man, who balanced three plates in his hand.

Setting the goodies on the table, the father tenderly removed the foil from around Blue's pastry, before, setting it in front of his son.
But, greedy little Blue had, already, impertinently, dug his spoon into his grand-father's treat, drawing mock protests from him.

Once again, I was staring unabashedly.
But, the three engrossed in their merry making, were, quite oblivious to those around them.
Rather fortunate for me, as, I was finding it difficult to repress my smile.

My delightful voyeuristic experience ended all too soon, and, rather rudely, when the waiter unceremoniously banged my packaged order, on the table, in front of me.

As I paid the bill, and, reluctantly, dragged my unwilling feet, and, heart, out of the cafe.

There was just one dominant thought echoing, over and over, in my mind.

Only....If only...One saw more of such '3 Gen' moments in real life, than on the reel ones!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

One Rainy Night

It was 6:30 p.m, on a Monday evening.
And, miraculously, I was done for the day.

I had a zillion things on my mind...
Packing for my trip, the next morning.
Last minute shopping.
A tete a tete with Amma, who, has newly discovered the joys of texting.
Storage of stuff.
A verbal night cap, with my best friend.

So many things to do.
So little time.

But, as, I grabbed my bags, muttering hurried good-byes, the skies above opened up, effectively arresting my departure.

I stood, watching the rain pelt the building.

Impatient as I was, I could not help, but, be entranced by the fury of the elements.
It must have been on a dark, stormy night like this, that the legend of the mighty Thor was born!!

30 minutes later, with the show still on, I was ready to consider other options.
Not, that there were very many. In fact, there was, just one.

The ubiquitous auto-rickshaw!

Not, the most sensible of ideas, on a stormy night, I confess.

But, desperate times call for desperate measures.

The truculent guard at the gate, who was enlisted to find me a rickshaw, must have thought, I had slipped over the edge of reason, and, was hurtling, at break-neck speed, towards absolute insanity.
However, hierarchy, forbade him from proffering, either, advice, or, protests.

A further 30 minutes later, and, I was still waiting.
It appeared that only, the very brave, or, the extremely foolish, would even consider plying his vehicle against the fury of the elements.

But, I was in luck.
A carriage, eventually, materialised.

For the second time that evening, I grabbed my bags, and, rushed out, madly yelling goodbye at anyone, who, chanced to look my way.

And, for the second time that evening, my departure was arrested...
By, a semi-soaked driver in khaki, who seemed to be draping the rickshaw in plastic!!!

A fool, or, a valiant???

As I debated the question, the man turned around with a broad smile.
" Madam, 5 minutes. I am tying these plastic sheets over the open sides, so that you will not be drenched."

A valiant, I firmly decided, as I hopped in.

Minutes later, I was encased within the plastic contraption, and, on my way.
Through broken, flooded roads, and, barely moving traffic.

At times, the muddy puddles stalled the rickshaw, requiring the driver to step out in the pouring rain, and, push the vehicle.
But, my brave charioteer remained unfazed, and, kept up a steady flow of chatter, all through the journey.

His name was Vishwanath.
And, he was a native of North Karnataka.
Gulbarga, to be more precise.

He was yet another face in the crowd of rustic aspirants, who throng our cities, year after year, with hopes of building a better life for himself and his loved ones!

As we rode along, the story of Vishwanath's hard life unfolded.

He worked as a dental assistant, during the day, for a meagre salary of Rs. 2,500/-.
And, drove an rickshaw by night to supplement his income.

Even so, life was tough.
Especially, with an aged mother, and, a baby girl to care for.

How much did he make?, I asked him curiously.
"Oh, in a good month, I make about 5,000. Sometimes, even more. At other times, much much lesser."

How did he manage?, I asked with feeling, deprivation, having been, no stranger to me.
The only difference being that, unlike Vishwanath, I had never had any dependents to fend for.

" My house rent alone is 2,000 Rs, Madam. Then comes groceries, other essentials of life, medication for my mother and also, caring for the baby. Truth be told, I work hard, only, for my baby girl. I want her to grow up to be a big person" said he, his leathery face, aglow, with hope, and, determination.

" What do you want your daughter to be, when she grows up?"

" I want her to be like the big doctor I work for. Today, a girl has so many opportunities, and, choices. I want my daughter to study and work. And, not marry young, or, stay at home like my mother and wife. God willing, I will be able to fulfill my responsibilities towards her"

I could only nod mutely.
And, in my heart, wish him well.

An hour later, I was at my destination.
Reasonably dry, and, overflowing with gratitude towards this diminutive man, who had got me home safe and dry.

But, he brushed aside my thank-yous airily.
As he did the crisp 500 note, I extended towards him.
"Madam, it was my responsibility to bring you home safe. Tomorrow, it might be my daughter who is in the same position, and, I can only hope that someone will also bring her home safe and dry."

For the second time that evening, I found myself lost for words.
And, could only look on, mutely, as he cheerfully started his vehicle and roared away into the darkness.

Somewhere, in a hovel, on the fringes of Bangalore city, lives a little princess, who, I am confident, is destined for success.
Maybe, our paths will cross.
Maybe, it won't.

Either way, I do hope, she inherits her father's talent, of making a difference to the lives of people.

Especially, rank strangers in need!!!

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Cross She Bears

" Your mother has asked for a pair of gold earrings, and, necklace, for your brother's wedding. She says, the ladies in the neighbourhood have been urging her, to flex the mother-in-law muscle, and, demand jewellery from her daughters-in-law, so that, she will not look unadorned at her own son's wedding"

" Hmm..."

" She does have a point, you know. It reflects badly on the family, when, the mother of the groom wears no gold at all, at her son's wedding. All the more so, when her daughters-in-law are dripping gold"

" The gold prices have sky-rocketed, and, it would be foolish to buy now. Once it falls a little, we can think of getting her something"

" But, what about the wedding? If, this has become a topic of discussion in the village, I, don't want, to bear the brunt of every-one's questions at the wedding. Maybe, I should lend her one of my sets."

" No, no. That will only lead to more gossip, and, scandal, especially since we have never gifted my mother anything so far."

" So, then, let us give her one of my old sets and you can buy me a new one later. After all,
she is your mother, and, she did sell her jewellery to educate you and your brothers. You do have a responsibility towards her, you know?"

" Well, I have two other brothers also. And, they are supposed to be as responsible as I am. So, what is the big deal?"

" The big deal, is that, SHE has asked me, and, if we do not give her anything, then I will be portrayed as the mean daughter-in-law in the village. Why should my image take a beating? After all, she is, YOUR, mother, not mine. It is your responsibility, not mine. She should not even be asking me in the first place"

" I do not have money to waste right now, especially when we are trying to survive this God awful recession. As it is, our expenses are soaring with your family living with us in the city. This is the problem with my mother. She does not understand how difficult life is or even, what a recession is!!! "

" Well, we have to do something"

" Hmmmm..Maybe, if she raises the topic again, you can give her one of your lightest chains and earrings too. You know, one of those which you wear to work. I will get you a much better one in a few months. But, don't say a word until she, or, one of the elder aunts, raises the topic"

Silent tears of pain coursed down her wizened cheeks, as she huddled into her little nook, shielded by darkness - her lone, trusted ally

Not even in her wildest dreams had she imagined this scenario.

To think, she, had, once, been the richest bride in five villages.
And, the most beautiful too.

Today, she, had to be, the poorest mother in five villages.
And, the most aged too.

Sometimes, motherhood, can be, the toughest cross, a woman has to bear.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Funny How Life Turns Out....

My father, where ever he is now, must be laughing his guts out!!!

At 17, he and I, had one of our fiercest fights ever.
Over my choice of career.

Achan's fondest dream was to see me an engineer.
And, he wasn't picky.
Any kind of an engineering degree - Mech, Computer Science, E &C, Architecture....
Just, anything would have sufficed.

But, sadly for him, his beloved first born had inherited none of his mathematical skills.
Nor, a yen for the sciences.

But, all she had, was, a head full of outlandish dreams.
Of being a writer. A journalist. A radio jockey.
Or, a T.V personality, at the very least.

Much to his dismay, I was almost always meandering about, aimlessly, with my nose buried deep in a book.
Or, was scribbling away, in a raggedy diary.
That is, if, I was not sassing him, about wanting to enroll for arts.

To, maintain peace, we made a pact, when I turned 16.

I would pursue the sciences as an undergraduate, and, give engineering school my best shot.
BUT, if, I failed to make the grade, the first time....
My father would allow me to pursue the arts.

Fair as it may sound, I must confess that, it was a deal, which, neither of us had any intention of keeping.

As I slacked at my studies, smugly thinking of the regret letter from Engineering School, my father was busy trying to secretly book me a seat in a famous South Indian private college!!!

I should have smelt a rat when, I came home with one bad report after another, and, my father blithely patted my shoulder and urged me to not give up.

The truth, eventually, saw the light of the day.
When my near sub-zero, end-of-the-year grades in mathematics, physics and chemistry, had the school authorities, and me, begging my parents to re-consider my continuance.
And, my father still remained determined.

He, had to, let us in on his plans.
Which, was when, all hell broke loose.

To cut a long story short, there were tears galore.
A lot of yelling.
And, finally, the sulks.

Much to the beloved parent's dismay, I went ahead and followed my heart.

And, a decade later, here I am, working for an true blue 'brick and mortar' engineering company.

Not one of those uber cool 'IT' companies Bangalore is famous for.
Where people are paid insanely with all kinds of bizarre benefits to work in swanky, luxurious offices.
But, for a technology company, which, makes real products.
For cars and tractors and aeroplanes and battle tanks!!

It is a tough place for a non-engineer to be in.
But, do I have any regrets?
No way.
I get to do what I love.
I get to ideate and implement the ideas.
And, I am challenged every single day

But, every now and then.
When I am poring over an impossibly technical document which, has an army of unfathomable jargon attacking my poor grey cells...
I swear, I can hear my dad, somewhere above, chuckling away in glee....

Friday, April 24, 2009

There's No Fighting The Shoe Goddess

"Let's go shopping" purred, a dear friend of mine "I need new shoes. And, there are SO many sales about town!!"

Unholy glee, crackled through the lines, and, hit me with the force of a giant tidal wave.
I rolled my eyes, in despair, as I struggled to stay afloat.

Not the easiest of things, I assure you.

My hand phone, was wedged, precariously, between my burning ear, and, aching neck.
The desk phone, screamed loudly....rudely....insistently...for my attention.
And, what was more, the dratted EPSON whats-its-number, stubbornly refused to print, a document, of the utmost importance!!!

I, was having, a rough morning.
I, was hoping, to get to the end of my day, with my sanity intact.
And, my friend, wanted to, of all things, go shopping!
Shoe Shopping!!!

"You want more shoes???" I trilled at her, trying to sound, as incredulous as, was humanly possible. "You have so many of them, that, you can give Imelda Marcos a run for her money"

The skepticism, I confess, was, purely, for effect.
I, was hoping, to get her on the back foot, and, out, of the shopping spree.

However, I, had not, bargained on, the fighting spirit of a woman in love...with shoes!!!

" A woman NEVER gets enough of shoes, my dear" She retorted, rudely nudging me on to my back foot.

My plan, clearly, stood a lesser chance of success, than, of keeping the Easter Bunny from the painted eggs at Easter!

I wasn't entirely sure, if, I liked the subtle implication of her statement.
Was that, a, round about way, of, telling me that, I was not true to my gender?
For, a few boxes of shoes?

" Not, EVERYONE, has a shoe fetish, you know" I protested, thinking of my trusty trio.
The black wedges.
The white mules.
And, then, the rather plain brown sandals, which, puts in an appearance, when, the other two just won't do.

I, do, have a few other boxes of shoes, stashed away in my cupboard.
Not, Manolo Blahniks, or, Jimmy Woos.
Or, even our desi designers, for that matter.
It's footwear that I liked, for a few fleeting hours, and, picked without a second thought.
But, haven't, gotten around to unwrapping.

Do not ask me why?
My trio serve me pretty well, and, I, have had, no just cause, to seek fresher pasteurs.

" Hah, you must be the only woman in this planet who is not interested in shoes. It must be, because ,you don't like your feet"

"No way", I retorted back.

But, my protest seemed, a wee bit feeble, even, to my own ears.
Probably, because, she, did, have a point.

Of all the disproportionate parts on my form - thick lips, thin hair, the legendary Indian thunder thighs, so on and so forth - my feet, take, the cake!.

Truth be told, my feet, could, give Red Riding Hood's big bad wolf, a run for his money.
They, are, giant-sized!
In fact, I, could, even, pass off, as Big Foot's kid sister.
Well, if I had been hirsute enough, that is.

My train of thought came to a screeching halt, as, my friend decided to dangle, what she assumed, would be, the proverbial carrot
" Oh, come with me today. Let's get you a pedicure, and, have those toe nails painted too. I am quite sure, that, will make you want to get some pretty sandals for yourself"

Would it?

I raised my bipeds up for a closer look.
To assess, if the exertions of another, or, the chemicals, that, came out of bottles, could redeem them.

My feet, most definitely, looked neglected.
And, it seemed to me, that, my not-so-white toes, glinted reproachfully at me.

Pangs of guilt shot through me, as I looked down at my long, shapely, manicured hands, which presented a stark contrast to my rough, callused, feet.

The poor orphans, deserved a lot more, than the occasional pedicure!

Walk, before, you run, urged the voices in my head.
Tend to your feet, before, you embark on a shoe shopping spree.

My mind made up, I politely turned down my friend.

That evening, on my way back from work, I hit the cosmetology section of a posh departmental store, with a vengeance.
And, came home, with a basket full of goodies - foot scrubs with AHA, a pumice stone, foot creams for cracked heels and rough skin, essential oils, and, a moisturising foot mousse.

I was pleased with myself, and, called my friend to gloat!

She heard me out, as I, proudly, reeled off my list of goodies.
And, then, when I was done, she asked, not without some bewilderment,

" But, why the foot mousse, and, the creams?"

" Well, the creams I need, to get rid of the cracked heels, and, the rough skin. The foot mousse seemed like a good idea, because, it moisturises the skin"

" If you need more moisture, why, can't you just use your regular moisturiser? Or, the essential oil?"

" Because, neither, HAS, the urea this mousse has. And, the literature said, the urea, in the mousse, gives the feet extra moisture"
I could, barely, keep the exasperation out of my voice, and, was hoping, that, the UREA would seal the discussion.
Once, and, for all.

" UREA????"
" yes, UREA"

But, all, in vain.
For the second time, in the same day, my friend, turned tables, on me, with her " Darling, if you wanted urea, you should have just peed over your feet"

As some smart aleck once said, never, mess with the shoe goddesses, of the world.
They, are, as tough as old boots.
And, you, never know, when, they'll drop the shoe on you!!!