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.

Monday, May 25, 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!

Sunday, May 24, 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.

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....