Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Aal Eezz Welll...Not completely..

The last week was a mixed one. Ups and downs but not all that bad. Grade XII exams are so far so good. The brightest spot was the video of my new infant grand niece, gurgling and cooing at her mom. Could be the cutest and sweetest video in the world. This baby is special....She is my sister's dream come true, a dream which became a reality only after the deadly cancer took my sister to death's door.

So my journey during the Easter break is going to be very mixed. The joy of seeing the little one, intertwined with the emptiness of my departed sister's house. It will be difficult to see the bed where she once lay, her purse, her sunglasses, clothes, shower cap, dressing table with her cosmetics, her slippers....Gosh, its going to be harder than I thought.

But there is joy in shopping for her grandchild...clothes, bibs, rattles, teether, medicine feeder, ethnic baby clothes, fancy party baby wear... I've bought them all and not to forget the tiny gold earrings for the miniscule shell pink ears...:))Needless to say, my daughters are thrilled at becoming aunties for the first time and have pointedly written so, on the gift cards.

Easter break will also take me to the place where I love to be...my haven of hope, peace and even miracles...the mazhar at Ajmer Sharif, the resting place of Khwaja Moinudeen Chisti, where devotees from all over the world, irrespective of religion, caste and creed converge to pray for their loved ones and themselves. The prayer itself is for God, but we request the soul of the Khwaja to join us in our prayers. A great line from one of the devotional songs at the mazhar....'Maula, maula, maula mere maula, marammat muqaddar ki dar de maula'...(Meaning ...God please repair my fate). See, ultimately, its all about the soul.

Steeped in sufism, the place exudes universal love and transcends all barriers created by man. I just love being there. I shall go twice to the mazhar during this visit.

On the down side, the week was marred by a client who runs a phony company in the neighbouring state and is a political strongman. An obvious fake, who runs several shady businesses now wants to get into an immigration racket under the garb of investments. Obviously I have seen through the game and have gone completely slow on it. This has resulted in repeated nasty, hostile emails from this character. I have apprised my bosses accordingly and of course, they are on my side. While the emails are rather annoying, it takes more than some shady bloke make me lose my sleep.

So maybe aall eezzz not wellll....but it is as well as well can be!

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I love this song and video

Takes me back to my trips to Cambridge...lovely...
And the lyrics are just awesome!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Gender Bender

I think I have this uncanny ability to be the universal agony aunt for most of my ilk. I ran into an old acquaintance during the Prince's visit. She heads a PR firm here and I have know her for long since my media days. After the initial hi, she took me aside and told me she was in deep personal problems. She walked out on her husband of 27 years recently and moved in with the man she loved. Her 23-year old son was right behind her, supporting her and her aged mother too and all of them had moved in with this man in her life. She said she had tolerated 27 abusive years and her son gave her the strength and confidence to take the final step. Strange, but an unusual story. You would expect the husband to be abusive to her, maybe physically and mentally cruel to her in a way most husbands are. But this guy was a different ball game. He was abusive to himself when things went wrong between them. He would hurt himself, scrape his entire hand with a knife, burn himself with cigarette butts just to punish her. It must have been hell for the poor woman. When I sympathised with her, she dissolved into tears, something which seemed strange for a woman who I envisioned always to be strong and in command. The husband now had a new fixation...he would take new cell numbers unknown to her and make threatening sms to her throughout the night. She was at her wits' end.

She is the new addition to my ever expanding circle of separated-divorced-unhappy-independent-strong-women friends.

Since this is a gender-specific post, I thought I will put down some thoughts on the 33% reservation of women in the Indian parliament. To me, this is meaningless. In one stroke, the government has created a large votebank, across caste and religion. Ironically the muslims want to extract their pound of flesh by agitating for further reservation within the 33% quota.

This reminds me of Tagore's line in his poem 'Where the mind is without fear'....'Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls'. Reservation has done exactly what he feared...and our world is further broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls, more vested interests and less unity. I fail to understand what is so 'positive' about this kind of discrimination. Moreover, it would hurt my pride to win an election through a quota. So it impinges on the self-respect of women.

The only way to help the women in this country is to create enabling conditions for girls. If there has to be reservation for women, it must be done for girls at the primary and secondary school level in remote villages. So that they too get a chance for decent education along with their brothers. The disease has to be dealt with by striking at the roots and not trying out half-baked remedies at a superficial level. Only one thing that has surprised me, albeit in a pleasant way is the 15-year time frame for this reservation. Whatever desirable social change has to be effected, it should come within this period. A good thing, but lacks measurement of success tools.

However, being a fan of Sonia Gandhi, I am happy for her. After all, this is her master stroke against the Opposition and may do a world of good to the flagging popularity popularity of her party against the backdrop of price rise and rampant inflation.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Travel, trivia and a royal visit

Why does a raven seem like a writing desk?....this does not make sense but a question which the mad hatter keeps asking Alice throughout the movie, one of the best 3D movies of our time. How I loved all the characters....the Smiling Cat, the Blue Caterpillar, the Queen of Hearts and of course Alice herself. The Mad Hatter's Tea Party was intriguing and so was the rabbit who seemed even more insane than Hatter himself. Loved the way this story ended. All about slaying your demons and deciding your fate and future. Aaah lovely, and anyone who does not like this movie??? Well....Off with their heads!!

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The last three weeks have been hectic with travel to Dhaka and a serious viral infection which put me out of action for almost a week. Dhaka reminded me of Calcutta perhaps 20 years back...unending traffic snarls and frequent power cuts, ramshackle buses and taxis. However, the city had several pluses. People were gracious, more polite, almost affectionate and definitely better looking than their cousins across the border. Women specially were neat and trim packages, dainty, impeccably dressed, pretty features and carried themselves well. Quite a few of them had light coloured eyes, something which I adore. The best part about the place was the food and fabric. Food which made me break my vegetarian vow and I feasted on the gorgeous meat khichri, hilsa jhaal, and hilsa pulao, come of which I even carried home. The hotel we stayed at was to die for....Platinum Suites in downtown Dhaka where each room is a luxurious suite with the plushest of settings. The high point of the place were the lovely Jamdani sarees which I carried back home and a shop called Aarong was a favourite haunt to buy sarees, bed and table linen, leather stuff and Dhaka pearls. All together a beautiful time at Opar-e-Bangla.

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Last week rounded off with the official visit of a British royal, the best looking son of the Queen. I especially liked the way he walked with a swagger and carried his height and weight so well. Quite a royal bearing and great balance between seriousness and joviality. Made working on the royal visit a real pleasure.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Pace and space

Its been a never ending roll...a hectic three-day visit to Dhaka, back home grounded with a severe infection and fever (I cannot recall a more runny nose in my life)with a mother of all colds which refuses to go even after 10-12 days. Has thrown my schedule off gear and have been laid up at home for four days. Life still not on track. To top it, am handling an official royal visit, grade XII boards exams for my elder one, the dad of my kids now assumed an all-important position in the state to combat its enemies and my ageing mum with a debilitating shoulder pain.

So what does an overworked-ill-single-mother-of-a-teen-taking-the-boards write?

Plenty I guess.

But strangely its life as usual to me. I was quite oblivious to my unenviable state till my sister pointed it out to me. But does it affect me? Not in the slightest, I guess. I have ceased to take the day to day pressures into my system and have, I guess, become used to life's little drills.

Only thing I regret is that my book has not got conceptualised as yet. I need peace, space and stillness within me to plan it out. The time is yet to come. Only God knows when the time will come, but it will, from within me. Once I have collected all I have to give to the book.

So help me dear God....