Monthly Archives: April 2016

This is not me

My son came to me yesterday, asking  for a passport-size photo of his, for his class soft-board.

I took out the pouch, where all our passport size photos are usually kept. I pulled out one and gave it to my son.

Out of idle curiosity, I browsed through the photos, and my face fell. Why do passport photos make me look so ugly?

In each one of those photos, I look consistently bad. The photos are taken too close for comfort and the caricatured features are so prominent.

In some photos, my face seems to have been enlarged and then shrunk into a frame, making it look like my face is spilling out of the photo’s borders.

Since you are not expected to smile for passport photos, and if your smile is your only redeeming feature, then you have a real problem.

From photo to photo, over the years, I seem to have stared into the cameras, blank and listless.

“Are these me?” I ask myself. I look so serious and lifeless. Looking at these photos, people would put me down as outright boring. But maybe this grave look is needed to prove one’s true identity when travelling.

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Courtesy – http://www.shutterstock.com

I close the pouch with a gentle shudder. I am not those photos. I am not.

Do you feel the same way?

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Look up

We are so busy these days that we don’t have the time to look up at the sky and enjoy its splendour. As we go through our day, the sky above is also changing. So much is happening up there, clouds are lazing about or seriously gathering to bring us some showers. The sun is busy travelling across the sky, silently casting shadows, both short and long. The sky is a kaleidoscope of colours through the day.

We only seem to have time to bend our necks downward and keep texting,  or to keep inclining our heads at odd angles to answer calls on our mobiles, while trying to complete other chores.

We never ever look upwards.  Because, if we do, we may actually get to see the absolute deep violet of twilight or catch a few twinkling stars that are almost invisible in the cities, where skyscrapers grab the skyline.

Or like I did, one may get to see something like this –

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A merry jet streaking across the morning sky, hints of pale yellow reflecting off the clouds.

Another day to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.

Memory wiped clean

Certain combinations do not work well together. I am a self confessed obsessive compulsive cleaner; combine this with a dash of forgetfulness, and you have a crazy woman running around in a clean house looking for things.

Recently, we revamped our furniture. The kids are grown up and less likely to spill, soil or tear or doodle on the walls. All these years, our upholstery was in various shades of brown. Shades that effectively camouflaged chocolate and all other kinds of stains.

When our new furniture arrived, I put away everything and arranged all the pieces. A place for everything and everything in its place. Or so I thought.

This last week, I had to burn some music on a DVD. This was my last thought before I slept that night.  I put a reminder on my phone for 6 am in the morning.

When my phone reminded me, I walked straight to the cupboard where the blank DVDs are kept.

Unconsciously, I had gone to the place where the old cupboard containing the DVDs used to be.  In my state of semi-sleep, I was shocked. Where was the cupboard? It took a few seconds for the fog to clear. Oh yeah, new furniture and all that. I sighed in relief.

But then, a few seconds later I realized that I could not remember where I had kept the DVDs.

So opening and closing cupboards, the  crazy hunt began. So many things neatly organized, but no sign of the DVDs.  I had to go buy new ones.

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     Courtesy – http://www.openclipart.org

A few days later I found them safely tucked away, in a carton, with other cables and remote controls.

What’s to blame ? My cleaning skills or my memory. I decided to blame it on trying to start a day without coffee.

My Grandma’s Water Bottle

My mom’s generation was lucky enough to have grown up without knowing too much about plastics.

While my grandmom’s generation mostly used brass and bronze vessels and utensils, my mom’s generation used stainless steel.

Today plastics are in. Colourful trendy water bottles of different shapes and sizes, milk cans, lock and lock boxes, and so many more.

Last year my mom distributed all the bronze utensils she had received from my paternal grandmother.  She had earmarked a few pieces for my siblings and me.

I got the cutest looking 100 year old bronze water bottle – we call it a ‘Kooja’. My grandma used to carry milk or water in this Kooja, when she travelled. Most people of the time had Kooja water bottles.

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I so love this beautiful water bottle. It is made of bronze. It is also quite heavy. It brings back memories of my grandma. I can imagine my grandma in her saree, carrying this Kooja.

My Kooja sits on one of my corner tables, constantly reminding me of our lovely traditions and history.

I love my Kooja.

Do you have any such thing from your grandparents? Would love to know.

Doodling Days

Thanks to mobile phones, our lives have changed so much. Most people do not use their landlines all that much anymore.

In fact, I know of friends who have done away with their landlines.

Why am I saying all this ? While we have reaped the benefits of technology,  a few, cute things have gone missing from our lives.

I just realized this today, when I saw an old notebook of mine from work. For some strange reason it seems to have survived the onslaught of time. Can’t remember why I did not throw it away.

Anyway, I’m digressing. The book is filled with my doodling. Leaves and flowers, cubes and cuboids, little birds and houses, rabbits and trees, abstract shapes, many squiggles and spirals, my name and signature repeated in various styles.

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I laugh out. I can imagine sitting at my work desk and talking to customers and colleagues. I can see myself nodding and doodling, pen at the ready, capturing important points to act on, as also expressing my creativity on the side.  I am sure now that at the time I had no idea that I was doodling so much.

During my childhood, we had a small notepad next to our landline, and a pen, to jot down numbers. All of us left our mark on that notepad with our doodles.

Today, I don’t see anyone doodling all that much. Paperless offices are in, people send contacts through their mobile phones, no one seems to write down numbers.

I feel nostalgic for the doodling days, when we had elegant leather phone books, indexed by alphabet, where we wrote down people’s numbers and addresses.

Life has changed for the better, yes, but I would love to doodle again.

The simple and the familiar

Mother Nature has her own rhythm. The universe is unfolding as it should. The sun rises, day dawns, the sun sets, the moon rises, the tides change, stars twinkle and night arrives. The cycle keeps repeating – there is a comfort in this rhythm, in this routine; whatever be our problem, we believe that a new day will bring new hope and light into our lives.

While this is the global rhythm, each of us also has an everyday rhythm. Things that are familiar and keep repeating in our everyday routine. Things that we consciously or unconsciously look for, and derive comfort from.

It can be the gentle thud of the newspaper hitting your porch, or the old man who walks around the area below your home every morning. It can be the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning, or the way a particular bird visits the tree near your house at precisely the same time every morning.

It can be the woman with the red handbag, whom you meet on the train every morning or the security guard who  shouts out a cheery hello when you leave the building everyday.

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It can be a tilted roadsign, or a curve in the road. It can be that cheerful little cottage on the way to your office or the noisy bunch of teenagers who board the train everyday.

It can be the way the office smells when you sit at your desk. It can be that blank feeling as you wait for your laptop to boot for the day.

It can be the familiarity of walking down with your colleagues for lunch, or walking back to work with a cup of your favourite coffee.

These are the small everyday things that give shape and structure to our day. When things are not going too well, these familiar tasks and sights give us something to hold on to.

Simple, familiar things.

The Recycling Men

During my childhood, every Indian street had a ‘raddhi wala’ – meaning the ‘man who collects old newspapers’ from one’s home. They exist even today in many parts of India.

The raddhiwalas usually had a shop in the town’s main market –  a small shed stuffed to the brim with newspapers, tied into bundles with coir ropes.

We usually called the raddhiwala once in a quarter. He usually came with a simple balance for weighing, and an assistant to help.

My sisters and I helped carry out the newspapers. The raddhiwala usually sat at the entrance, near the porch, weighing, and loading the paper into his gunny bag. After the newspapers and magazines were weighed, the bargaining for the ‘per kilo rate’ would commence. Back and forth, back and forth till both parties pronounced themselves satisfied.  My mom usually made tea for the raddhiwala and his assistant, after the job was done.

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            Courtesy – http://www.thehindu.com

The raddhiwala exchanged small talk with my grandma and parents, sipping his tea and smiling at us, asking us our names.

Sometimes, when the newspapers were being sorted, we found some long lost treasures such as drawings that we had made or bits of craft paper that had hidden themselves snugly  between the folds of the newspapers.

The raddhiwala’s shed was always overflowing, and we often wondered what he did with all the newspapers. My Dad told us that he sold them to other businesses.

The other important ‘recycling man’ was the plastic man, as we called him. He usually came during our afternoon siesta, calling out loudly, “Plastic, plastic.”

This man accepted anything old that you wanted to throw away – from clothes to old pots and pans to newspaper  and books. He accepted all kinds of old material and would assign a value to them. He would then allow us to pick out any plastic item from his bicycle, such as buckets, mugs, cans, boxes etc, for the same value.

All the women were happy. It was a win-win.

These were the two ‘Recycling Men’ from my childhood.