Sunday, June 14, 2020

Integrity Personified

After almost a month- and half-long lock-down due to Corona virus, my wife and I finally stepped out to the 'outside world', thanks to my daughter's school asking us to collect the books for her upcoming grade. They asked only one parent to visit the school and collect the books. I took my wife along in the car since there were other things to do. We reached school and since it was way too hot to sit inside the car, I asked her to accompany me and sit inside the school premises under shade. She complied and we started climbing the steps towards the school gate.

The guard who was sitting on his chair informed us gently that only one parent was allowed but when he heard my reasoning, he agreed to let us both in. While my wife was searching for the right spot to sit, the guard took his chair and placed it near her and asked her to use it. Even though we refused, he wouldn't have any of it. He insisted and left us both. So my wife sat and I went inside.

It took me a little while to get the books and I finally came out. The whole thing had lasted about 10-15 minutes. And then, my wife and I made way back to the car. The guard was standing near the car, and we thanked him for the chair and told him again there had been no need to give away his sitting position and instead stand under the hot sun. But he just smiled away and said "It's ok, sir. That's my duty."

We smiled back and sat in the car and drove off. But, on reflection, that was not his duty at all. What he did was purely out of his humane character. It somehow felt very odd to show so much respect to my wife and me even though he was several decades older than us.

Our next stop was at a flour mill shop. It was more than a month since we had jowar flour and thanks to the lock-down, jowar flour was not so easily available either. Instead we had got jowar and with the help of the mill, we intended to get the flour. It was a simple 5 minute task and upon asking how much, he said Rs 8. My wife gave him Rs 10 and asked him not to return the change but the owner insisted and gave back the Rs 2. 

As we loaded the jowar flour into the car and drove off, we wondered how people can be so full of integrity. With almost 40 days of no customers in the mill shop, he could have definitely taken anything extra that came his way and yet he refused to take even a Rupee more than what it costed him.

By this time, the sun was blazing upon us. I stopped at an ATM kiosk on my way and withdrew some wads of cash since I had ran out of it during the lock-down. Right beside it was a sugarcane juice shop. We ordered 2 cups for ourselves and a half-liter bottle for those at home. The total came to Rs 105, and he said Rs 100. 

Boink! How come everyone was so nice and goody in this world. We just underwent a complete lock-down and economic impact was tremendous, especially for the small and petty shop owners. And yet, just like any other day, these folks were either taking exactly what they were taking before the economic crisis or rounding off to the lower ceiling. My wife and I just couldn't get it. It was time for us to insist this time around and we gave his due share, and left.

Finally, it was time to head back home. On our way back, we reflected on these three characters we had met today - the security guard who relinquished his throne even though that was not his duty, the flour mill owner who refused to take Rs 2 extra and the sugarcane juice owner who quoted Rs 5 less than the actual price. 

Three simple characters, three simple events and yet what a great and profound example of integrity and humbleness! We were literally dumb-founded at the day's experience.

I remember seeing an old Kannada movie of Narasimharaju's where he is stranded at a petrol station with no money, and some nice well-wisher agrees to pay for his fuel expenses. At that time, Narasimharaju says - "Thank you so much, sir! It is because of people like you that we get timely rain, wind, harvest & crops. Let the Almighty keep you in good stead!

Those were the exact words on my lips for all these three great gentlemen, except that I didn't say it out loud...but I wish them the same.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

The Harpic Man

So, I was cleaning our bathroom commode and my daughter was seeing me. Suddenly she said -

"Papa, that's not the way to do it. You need to put the nozzle inside the inner edges."
Me: "How do you know how to clean the commode?"
She: "I have seen the Harpic Man do it."

At this time, I realized she was talking about an ad on TV. I don't watch much TV and hence was not familiar with any specific ad that she was referring to.

Me: "What Harpic Man?"
She: "His name is Akshay."

I then realized she was talking about Akshay Kumar's Harpic ad (here and here). Although my daughter saw TV to watch her fav kids' episodes, she was still not familiar with the names of all Bollywood heroes yet, so I was curious to know how she knew Akshay Kumar.

Me: "Now, how do you know his name?"
She: "He gets down a bus and one of the ladies exclaim, 'Akshay!'"

Back in the 90s when he started off in Bollywood movies & when I was my daughter's age, he was the Action Hero. And 3 decades later, I get to hear of the same Action Hero as The Harpic Man.


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Stressful Meetings

During Corona lockdown times...

My 9-year old daughter: "Your meetings are so stressful."
Me: "Huh? I am not stressed."
She: "Stressful for me, not you."
Me: "How is it stressful for you?"
She: "I have to wear headphones to watch when you get onto meetings, and I don't like to wear headphones."


Saturday, March 07, 2020

Light & Joy

My daughter was studying for her Computer test and there was a portion in her text book about LED vs CRT monitors. So I started explaining to her about LED and CRT - at least to what extent I knew. And then my eyes fell on the Tubelight in our room and I told her that this was an LED tubelight. I told her about the advantages of the LED tubelight and how it turns on immediately when we switch the light compared to the Fluorescent tubelight that we had in our previous home which used to take a couple of seconds to fully light on. And then this is how our conversation went - 

She: "Yeah, yeah, I remember. I miss that tubelight so much!"
Me: "Huh? Why? Since that light used to take a few seconds to turn on, we bought these LED tubelights!"
She: "Yeah, but in those few seconds, I had so much fun! It was like a dance party!"

I was speechless! Because at that instant I realized what we think as a technological advancement is actually burying our kids' joys! I mean, in a few years' time she is going to completely forget about the Fluorescent tubelights and their flickering. In fact, we as kids used to have so much fun & giggles calling our classmates as 'Tubelight' in case someone is slow in grasping just for this exact reason that a tubelight takes a few seconds to fully turn on. All those jokes are no longer applicable now with the advent of LED tubelights! 

In fact, even the Salman Khan starrer Tubelight is also made on this exact concept. Speaking of which, now if someone Googles Tubelight, the only thing we get to see on the first page is about the movie, not the electrical light emitting device! Poor Tubelight (the fluorescent one, I mean) is getting whacked down and down to the point of extinction! 

This also reminded me of what my wife always says how much fun she used to have when the power used to get turned off. In my childhood, when the BESCOM turned the power off which was a regular thing for months together especially in summer due to lack of water and hence lack of Hydroelectric power generation - usually called as 'Load-shedding' - I used to get irritated. Because that meant, I had to study under the candlelight, get bitten by mosquitos or even miss watching cricket on TV. But on the other hand, my wife apparently always had fun whenever there was load-shedding. In fact they were waiting for the 'current to go' - as we say in local language - because all kids could enjoy in the dark night under the moonlit & starlit sky. 

That's when I realized that the kids nowadays hardly get to see moonlight nor starlight. Stars yes maybe here and there some nights, but moonlight & starlight so rare. With the technological advent of Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) and Inverters, especially in apartments, kids hardly experience loss of electricity and power outages. And as such, they never get to see the dark night and amaze at the beauty of it nor even play in moonlight/starlight. 

Lo and behold, there goes one more childhood joy due to technological advancement...



I was just scrolling through my latest posts and I see nowadays it is mostly about kids and their wonderful talks! And here goes another...

A couple of elderly grannies were sitting on the porch of our apartment lobby in the open air with apparently one of the granny's two-year-old granddaughter who was walking here and there, pointing at moving cars, autos, etc. And right there, another mommy happened to cross by with her own two-year-old daughter in the toy-like pram which the mommies can easily push around and at the same time go walking. So, this first one pointed at the second one and the second one's attention too got withheld by the first one - which seemed like a common setup because kids get usually attracted to one another for some reason and start playing around! 

Looking at this scene where the kids are trying to point one to the other, the grannies prodded the first one to say 'Akka' (Kannada translation of 'Sister') which is a common term used for other girl kids. And the mother tried to say the same thing to her daughter and prodded the second one to say 'Didi' (Hindi translation of 'Sister'). While the adults are trying to make the kids get accustomed to learn the customary greetings, the neurons in the first one's brain finally clicked and she pointed to the second one with renewed confidence and blurted out:


While the grannies were still trying to make out why she said that although they were trying to make her say 'Akka', it was time for the mother's neurons to click now: Sammy was indeed her daughter's name and she realized that Sammy and this other girl were actually classmates in the daycare! So the first one actually recognized Sammy and even Sammy had actually recognized the first one - in an ambience outside of the usual classroom, which is actually remarkable - although not to the extent of having remembered the name as quickly as the former! So, now that the mother understood the context, she then started explaining the whole thing to the grannies who finally got it too!

I was waiting at the lobby for my elevator while this whole thing got played out right in front of me, and it seemed fascinating to me how couple of toddlers who did not even know how to talk could make the adults understand what they had already recognized and how, even as adults, we so easily fail to understand our kids sometimes. 

Here, the adults were trying to teach something to the kids but the kids finally ended up teaching something to the adults...!


Sunday, August 04, 2019

The Paranoia of a Cab

One fine weekend evening, my wife and I were sitting in the driveway of our apartment, enjoying the breeze when a cab came and stopped just about in front of us. Obviously, it was either an Ola or a Uber waiting for the passenger.

At about the same time, an aged lady whom we knew in the apartment, was walking close to us, carrying her 9-month-old grand daughter in her arms. She smiled at us and we returned the smile. The grand daughter was happily looking here and there, and enjoying the general ambience, being pampered by the granny. And then, her eyes fell on the cab, and suddenly she started sobbing. She pointed her hands to the cab and shook her head while her crying increased. Her tears welled up, she became absolutely restless & started wailing. She was almost furious with the cab while at the same time realized she was helpless. The very presence of the cab in the apartment was causing her immense distress. While this sudden change in the emotions puzzled me and my wife especially because the child was crying looking at a cab which seemed so unusual, her grandmother explained it to us:

Apparently the child's mother goes to office every day in a cab in the morning. And the presence of this cab made the child think that her mother would go off once more in this cab! And hence - the anger directed towards the cab & the helplessness of the inability to stop the separation from her dear mother all of which resulted in a desperate outburst of tears...

Aah, such a heart-wrenching sight. Poor child, what unimaginable pains she would have gone through every morning of her life when her mother left to office for the emotions to come out like this just by seeing a cab...

Like so many other times, Sadhguru's speech on motherhood came to our thoughts.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A child's question

I was walking in the park when I saw a child who was maybe about 3 years old. She was swinging on the swing. Her eyes were roaming all around the park and she was talking to her mother who was right in front of her. 

When the path on which I was walking came close to her, I heard her ask her mother, "From dinosaurs?".

As I was about to go out of earshot, I heard the mother reply "No; from other human beings."

As I continued my walk, within a few seconds I came across some other kids running around the park as a warm-up. They were all wearing Taekwondo uniform. 

And that's when I understood the full conversation between the child and her mother...

Saturday, March 09, 2019

The Strange-Looking Fruit

I was driving on my two-wheeler with my family near Banashankari bus stand one day, and was about to take a left turn when I noticed a mother crossing the road, dragging her child behind her who was struggling to keep pace. I stopped my vehicle to let her cross the road despite getting honks from behind me. While the mother was looking hither and thither to ensure she was not in the way of any vehicle, the child who was about 4-5 years old, had absolutely no care in the world for all the traffic around him despite the road being heavily occupied with all sorts of vehicles. He had absolute faith in that hand which was held by his mother; and his legs just kept moving one feet after next following his mother. To be honest, it was definitely a tough road to cross even for adults what with all the vehicles enjoying the erstwhile green signal, and having to drag a child too in the complex moving maze was a challenge indeed. 

And while he was following his mother, his eyes were looking high above the sea of vehicles. His eyes lit up and he tugged at his hand to catch his mom's attention. But she didn't pay any attention to the tug. Her sole aim was to cross the road. He kept tugging and indicating her to look at the top of the tree which was at the corner of the junction. But she couldn't take her eyes off the road. At that instant both my wife & I followed the direction of the boy's attention and then we saw what the boy was seeing: a strange-looking fruit!

It was big in size, rectangularly-oval-ish, with maybe some spikes & brownish. It was something I had never seen before. And there were lots and lots of them. I was astounded and so was my wife. In fact, my wife asked my daughter to see that bunch of strange-looking fruits too! I am not sure if the mom finally paid any attention to her son's tugging or not but it was as if that whole episode was for my family and me to witness Nature's inexplicable existence: a massive tree growing a large bunch of weird looking yields in the middle of a highly polluted crossroad!

I have driven over that road thousands of times having never once paid any attention to that tree nor its fruits - & here comes this tiny being who just took the tree and kept it right in front of my eyes! What a marvelous experience! And look at the innocence of a kid: in all that cacophony of angry honks, amidst the waves of vehicles, he calmly looks at a tree while crossing the road, sees it in entirety a way an adult never does & appreciates it to such an extent that he wants his mother to acknowledge too!

It is such simple things as these that we as adults miss but kids do not. And unfortunately when kids highlight it to us, we brush it off lightly and yet these are the gems of the Creation that we ideally ought to wonder about. The whole scene might have lasted less than five seconds - and it occurred about 4-5 months ago and yet I cannot forget it.

Nor did I want to miss blogging about 'such a simple incident'!


Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Family Tree

My daughter just uttered "Amma" as a way of "Good Night" endearment while she was about to head to sleep, without wanting to say anything else - when the below interesting conversation ensued. Much of it was in Kannada, and it is imperative that I retain the local language because the conversation churned out certain gems only due to the Kannada words...!

Daughter said, "Amma...
Mommy replied, "Magu..." (but pronounced it as 'Maggu')
If pronounced as 'Magu', it means baby; if pronounced as 'Maggu', it means a flower bud.

D: "Naa Maggaadre, Nee Hoova." [If I am a bud, then you are a flower]
M: "Naa Hoovaadre, Namma appa amma are seeds." [If I am a flower, then my parents are seeds]

D: "Then Ajji thatha are roots." [Ajji thatha = grandparents]
M: "Mutthaatha has transformed from roots back to Earth, from where all Life originally comes up!" [
Mutthaatha = Great Granddad (who died recently)]

D: "So, I am a bud!"
M: "Yes, from Magu to Buddy - thats how parents ought to treat children as they grow up!"


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Body & Mind Calibration

Mind, as we know it, never stops churning. It rambles on and on and on - at least when we are awake. Unless you are a master at it, it ain't that easy to stop it from rambling. Now, the body, on the other hand, is a different thing altogether. When we were kids, the body is hardly still. Slowly, as we grow older, the body starts to become stiller and stiller. 

This imperfection of the calibration of the pace at which the Body & Mind works is what I believe to be the cause of Man's sub-optimal way of living. 

Let us see this with two examples: 

a) Sub-optimal: 

A primary school-going daughter and a father both wake up at the same time. The father goes to office & the daughter goes to school. When the father comes back home, the daughter is still full of energy but the father is exhausted. Mentally speaking, both would have had almost similar "amount" of rambling thoughts, ideas and emotions. Physically speaking, the child has spent more energy playing one full day whereas the father sat in his office chair almost 90% of the day. And yet, why is the parent exhausted...? That exhaustion could be due to the lack of physical activity which did not go hand-in-hand with the mental works. Perhaps it is for this reason that offices now have sports lounges & gyms...?!

b) Optimal:

In any sports, the athletes competing are all thinking only about the game and they have an equal amount of physical activity to go with this thinking. So, during the game, the pace of their body & mind is just perfect to get the best out of each of them. And hence this grandiose display of human potential is a major attraction for the general population.

We will now consider another angle - 

We have all heard and read so much about the benefits of meditation - which, as per my understanding, is to calm one's mind and make it as still as the body. Once the body and mind are still (I am as yet unsuccessful in doing so), we are supposed to feel the bliss of Life. And whoever is blissed out in life cannot be unhealthy, right?

So, here we get one equation: 

Body still & Mind still = Bliss
Hence Healthy

Now the most common thing any doctor advises these days (for good health) is to exercise regularly, go to the gym & work out, go for long fast walks, etc. In other words, this indicates to me that - "Since you cannot keep your mind still in tandem with your body, better keep up the pace of your physical body with your mental pace!" 

So, we get another equation by going to the extreme end of the hypothesis:

Healthy if Body pace = Mental pace

So, essentially, what this is indicating is that as long as the pace or the stillness of the Body is matched with the pace or the stillness of the mind respectively - or in other words, if the Body & Mind are calibrated correctly to go hand-in-hand - Human Beings have the ability to reach their optimum mode of operation - and also free from any sickness or disease! 

Phew, what-a-thought, da?!

While I am thinking all this, the only physical activity I am undergoing is typing! So, to match up to my mind & be optimal, let me stop this typing & do some push-ups!!


Friday, October 05, 2018

Sri Raghavendra Swamy Darshan

Ok, so this happened many many years ago but the event remained etched in my mind and I had always wanted to blog about it but kept putting it off. Each day I saw Sri Raghavendra Swamy's photo in the morning, I vowed myself to write about it as soon as possible but I never did. So here goes...

I had visited Mantralayam with my parents and my brother's in-laws. The morning darshan went as planned and so did the lunch at noon. While my parents and I had booked for the return journey the next day, the in-laws had planned for a night bus departing on the same day at about 8 pm. Them being aged, we thought it was courteous on our part to bid them farewell by going to the Bus stand instead of just from the hotel room. The only glitch was that at about the same time, there would be Rathotsava (chariot ceremony) in the temple premises which we had to miss. Nevertheless, we thought perhaps we can bid them adieu at about 7:45 pm at the bus stand and return to the temple to have a glimpse of the Rathotsava too.

Unfortunately, the bus was late. While the in-laws asked us to "Go, its ok, we will take care", we continued to stay on knowing fully well that we would indeed miss the Rathotsava in its entirety. Finally the bus came and it left at 8:30 pm - and with anxiety, we returned hastily to the temple, hoping the chariot ceremony would still be underway. Alas, it was over. In fact, the temple itself was being closed for the night and many pilgrims were asked to leave the premises. With a lump in our throat, we realized that the opportunity was lost, and we felt an inexplicable grief.

At that time, my mother's relative (Sri Parimalacharya) was amongst the few priests who were give the responsibility of doing the daily rituals (such as floral decoration, abhishka, etc.) to the Brindavana. He happened to see us just while we were getting ready to depart and he asked us if we watched the Rathotsava to which we told him how unfortunate we were to have just missed it. He then asked us to accompany him to the sanctum sanctorum where the final rituals of the day were being conducted to the Brindavana such as removing all the flowers, other clean-up, etc. This was happening when hardly any other pilgrims were present & the temple premises was almost empty save for a few priests and other temple attendants. So it was both an honour and a privilege to be present to witness the final rituals of the day - and this offset our grief greatly.

Sri Parimalacharya took off all the remaining flowers from the Brindavana and did the final Aarathi of the day. He offered this Aarathi to all those present including us. And then he did something I hadn't seen anyone do. He stood directly in front of (and facing) the Brindavana and with the help of both of his palms he leaned on it and touched his forehead to it. He stood like that devotedly, resting his palms & forehead on the Brindavana for a few seconds as if to intimately bid goodnight to Rayaru, and then he walked back towards us with a smile. 

We then offered our namaskaara to him and thanked him for letting us inside the sanctum sanctorum despite it not being the time for devotees to be within the temple premises. He waved it away as if it was nothing. We then offered our final namaskaara to Rayaru and walked out of the sanctum sanctorum and then out of the temple towards our hotel room.

Thats all that happened.

But this incident remained in my mind all through these years. And recently, there is this one special quality about it that suddenly dawned upon me whenever I think about what happened that day. After we offered our namaskaara to Sri Parimalacharya & looked at him, his face had this strange brightness, this unique inexplicable glow that I now think that the great Sri Raghavendra Swamy Himself had entered the mortal body of Sri Parimalacharya and was offering grace to us. It was as if everything was pre-planned: the in-laws bus being at 8 pm which deliberately got delayed, the Rathotsava that we had to miss - and all this was just so that we could get Darshan of Sri Raghavendra Swamy Himself "in-person" & get His blessings directly from Him!

It was a mind-boggling event, and I still cannot forget the way Sri Parimalacharya leaned on the Brindavana with great devotion, & that glow he had while he blessed us. This constant belief that I have that it was Sri Raghavendra Swamy Himself who blessed us that night "directly" is suffice to make me think that my this life has become sacred. 


Saturday, September 29, 2018

The JiraLe Scare!

I was in Central Mall yesterday, sitting with my daughter in one of the rare couches that was empty, while my wife was shopping. 

Just then I noticed a small cute little girl, maybe about 3-4 years old walking amidst the multitude of dresses that were folded & placed neatly on shelves. She was holding the hand of an elderly gentleman, who probably was her grandfather. Her other hand was idly touching all the dresses that she was passing by to which the elderly gentleman remarked in Kannada, "Adhella mutbeda, alli JiraLe iraththe" which translates to "Don't touch, there will be cockroaches.

Obviously he was kidding and just trying to scare her just so that she will stop touching the dresses. And she did stop touching the dresses with a mild fear in her eyes as if those roaches will come flying out of the folds. Just to confirm she got the message - like how we all do with such tiny tots - he asked her a question: "En iraththe?" (what will be there?) She dutifully & fearfully replied "JiraLe".

All this was happening as they were walking right in front of me and hence I could hear every bit of it. I even smiled at the gentleman knowing fully well what he was doing and he acknowledged the smile back. And then she came to the section where there was Jeans pants folded neatly. She pointed her finger to the "fashionably" torn section of the Jeans pant and told the man innocently with a slight scare in her voice, "JiraLe Kachbittidhe!" (The cockroach has chewed!")


Sunday, August 12, 2018

"The Best Friend"

One of the most awaited times during a "school working day" for me is the time to pick up Paavani from the school bus after her school gets over. As soon as she jumps off from the bus door, she is all bubbly to offload the latest information about her "best friend". 

Below is an excerpt of a "real conversation" on any typical week (days specified are fictional):

She: "Pappa, Roshni is my best friend. I have so much fun with her in the bus!" 

She: "Pappa, Madanika and I were playing bunnies today, and we were laughing so much!"
Me: "Who is Madanika? You have been going to school for almost 9 months and I haven't heard her name till today..."
She: "Oh she is my best friend!"

She: "Pappa, I have decided I will take Charanashree with me on my birthday to distribute chocolates to all the teachers."
Me: "Why not Madanika?"
She: "Oh Charanashree is my best friend!"

She: "Pappa, today is Karnitha's birthday and she gave me chocolate even though we are now no longer classmates."
Me: "Oh that is so nice of her. She was your first friend in this school."
She: "Yes, she is my best friend."

She: "Pappa, I miss Pragathi."
Me: "Last time you met her was about 4 years ago in your pre-school."
She: "Yes, she is my best friend."

And so it goes: Paavani & her long list of Best Friends...!


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Rebirth as a House Fly?!

At times, there are a few house flies (commonly called in Kannada as NoNa) flying around in our house. These creatures don't really cause any nuisance like mosquitoes which bite and go ummmmm near our ears while we are sleeping - but they are annoying in their own way. It tends to make us shoo them away by waving our hands and legs and what-not whenever we see them.

My daughter has suddenly shown interest in these flies. This happened once when a fly sat on her finger for a long time. When a fly sits on your finger or toes, you wont even feel it - it is so light. So, she didn't really feel it but she saw this fly sitting on her finger. At that instant, she declared the fly to be her pet and she will play with it. [This could also be because she kept asking me for a pet (like a dog or a cat) and I kept refusing!] So she asked me not to shoo away any of the house flies from the house because they were her pets now! Boink!

Be that as it may. That alone is not the reason for me to blog this post. 

She had nicknamed the fly as NoNi and used to call them so until one day she changed it suddenly to 'Mahatma'! I asked her why she was calling the flies as 'Mahatma' and she replied that anyone who had achieved great success in life is called 'Mahatma', and who knows these flies might have achieved great success in their past life! A big BOINK!!

Now, this was good enough reason to blog!!

I had never thought about what she had said! What if our very own Mahatma Gandhi himself had turned into a fly in his next life?! I mean, can that even happen? You achieve great many successes in life only to turn into a fly the next life! Oh Jeez - that is so despairing to think about! After all those struggles, the sacrifices, the Satyagraha, the fasting and then sweet success of a Nation's Independence - only to be turned into a house fly in the subsequent life! Surely that cannot happen?! 

But then he should have been born again by now really. I have read great many philosophical theories now to firmly believe that there is definitely rebirth but no one has told me yet that the rebirth will be as humans only. What I have understood is that the rebirth is from animals to human beings but, to be honest, I have never thought that we might be reborn as animals in future. That is like going back in the Process & Fulfillment of Life as we know it, like getting demoted instead of promoted. What if it might just be true - that we might not be reborn as human beings?! Now thats a scary thought!! My mother always used to tell me when I was a boy that we will be born as lizards if we refuse water to folks who ask for it and I always used to think that it cannot be true - but what if it indeed is?!

But what if we are indeed reborn as human beings? Our generation has depleted this Mother Earth so much that when we are born again, there would be hardly anything for us to live upon. Men are cutting down generation-old trees in this life to make furniture and doors and houses and when these same men are reborn a century later, the Earth would be so much hard to live with soaring temperatures and depleted water due to all those fallen trees cut by the very same men! Men are throwing garbage and trash into oceans & rivers, illegally mining the sand off the river banks, and not worrying about now but when born again, they will see the impact it will have on the ecology which in turn comes back and affects the same men. But they would then just blame their fathers and forefathers for not taking care of Earth but in reality, due to rebirth, they are actually experiencing the results of their own actions in their own past life! Like right now - what if I am experiencing this era of 'no-water', 'rising-temperatures', 'polluted-air' because I used to cut down trees, burn up the fossil fuels, waste electricity, waste water, etc. in my own previous life?! What if people in Africa are suffering massive famine because they used to waste food in their own previous lives? This is what Karma is all about, right?

Even on the positive note - again, what if we are indeed reborn as human beings? All the achievements and successes achieved are forgotten by us when we are reborn. They would only be associated to that name and person of the yesteryears. So, amongst us, there could be Mahatma Gandhi, Einstein, Ramanujan, Newton, Mother Teresa and all those great folks but just that they wouldn't even know that they were those folks in their own previous life! Unless, of course, they had reached that state of Enlightenment which apparently takes them out of the lifecycle of Birth & Death but then again, who really knows?!

What if I myself was - in my previous life - a famous personality that I studied so much about in my History books in this life?! 

What if that fly indeed was Mahatma Gandhi?!

So many thoughts and questions just by a simple conversation with a seven-year-old on a house fly!!


Friday, January 12, 2018

English & Me

As a child, English was a foreign language to me. I was never comfortable with it. I couldn't speak as well as I would have liked to nor could I get my hands around it. Not that I do now (!), but I am way better compared to, say, when I was in my 3rd standard! Any given day, I would resort to my mother tongue - Kannada.

But that didn't mean I was averse to it. In fact, I used to do crosswords and puzzles from a very early age and was quite adept at it. I remember my 2nd grade teacher asking me what 'Satan' meant and I was the only guy in a class of over 60 people to know it. But I was too shy to raise my hand and say the answer. My relationship with the language was more with the hands than with the mouth!

In fact, I remember when I was probably 8-9 years ago (around late 1980s) arguing with my mom - who was coercing me to speak in English so as to become comfortable & fluent with it - that one shouldn't speak in the language which belonged to our invaders. My point was - why should we speak the language of our erstwhile rulers after we got independence from them!

Gradually, I started getting the feel of it though. But it wasn't easy. One day, a cousin (elder brother) of mine had come to our house. This cousin was studying in a real English medium school - by that I mean not the one where people just study in English but also talk only in English with an accent that is hard to understand AND in the 1990s. I asked him about the visit and what prompted him to come, for it was not everyday that we get to see him. To this day, I remember his reply - "I was in the neighbourhood and I thought I will just drop by". I remember gaping at him, with my jaws dropped. I mean, I knew there was a word called neighbourhood and it meant something but I never knew till that very moment that it can be used in a sentence!

And on one another instance, me and my neighbour (another Bishop Cottonian or Baldwinian school) were talking about something, and he remarked - "It costed me forty bucks". I remember distinctly asking what bucks meant. He gave me that kindly paternal look which contained shock as well as amusement that I didn't know "the most commonly used" word.

And then there were some really embarrassing moments. During a visit to my cousin's (elder sister) house, I looked at the wordings she had scribbled on her room door and asked her with all innocence, a complete blank and neutral face, the face of the illiterate - "What does this thing that you have written mean? No Farting." I will leave it to you to imagine the look on my sister's face, the pregnant pause before she replied to me back with the same innocence in the language that I could understand. I will spare some adjectives and leave it to you to imagine the look on my face when I realized what I had asked and what I had made her answer.

Another one of those embarrassing moments was when my father's colleagues had come to our home. Most of them were known to me and we exchanged pleasantries after which one of them remarked "Sunday is longer than Monday." Now, how can a guy like me understand such a cryptic statement if I am not taught?! I tried to understand the statement literally and wondered why this person was telling me that Sunday was longer than Monday. With nothing else to reply, I said "Oh ok" and smiled back. Only then my father told me what it meant and I hurriedly corrected my attire. In fact the subsequent questioning by the same colleague also left me stupefied: "Are you studying for the exams hardly or very hard?" And thats when & how I learned the difference!

Added to this was this really great uncle of mine - the same one whom I mentioned in the driving post - who always asked me the English words for things I never thought had English words! Like the mirror-like reflection on the road when we are driving on a highway (mirage), the thing that joins the two coaches of trains (vestibule), the rectangular lace-like same-shaped same-sized horizontal pillars that form the bed for the parallel rails of the railway track (sleepers) and many more. 

Although my grasp of the language increased and improved when I started reading novels (which kind of happened suddenly in my high school) - not because my mom was forcing me to, but because I was enjoying it - I still wasn't in anyways great in talking. I could never get on the stage and talk in English. My English teacher forced me to do that for a debate (Pros and Cons of Television) and I was having all these butterflies in the stomach while I read out loud what I had written on the piece of paper. 

Me and my friends used to call all those who were talking only in English as Thames - that iconic river in England - metaphorically. It used to amuse me a lot - and sometimes even irk me - when I was seeing parents talking to children in English. By doing so, they were killing their own mother tongue and its associated heritage, culture, literature, poetry, etc. It was like the baton not being passed from parents to offsprings and thus triggering the possible extinction of a language!

At the same time, my English writing and speaking skills improved automatically, thanks to the novels and Star Plus & HBO channels that suddenly invaded the Indian Television during mid-to-late 1990s. I became a great fan of Pierce Brosnan, and his Remington Steele became my favorite. I got acquainted with the American accent. 

Slowly but gradually, even without my knowing, the English language was enveloping me and I never realized it. I was talking more and more in English than in Kannada now! I suddenly was more comfortable in English than in Kannada. All those events 2-3 decades ago - me fighting against my mom about not wanting to learn English - suddenly seemed so superfluous! 

Despite the knowledge and confidence of being English-friendly, there were some mild shocks during my initial days in the US (mid 2000). My first 'For Here to go' was an absolute blinder! And there is no such thing as 'Plastic Covers', we had to just ask for 'Bags' at the retail stores! And 'Overtake' meant nothing to the traffic cop, it was 'Pass'; and 'Indicator' didn't mean anything to the car repair guy, it was 'Directional', and the list goes on!

And then a decade later (late 2010), here I am with a 7-year-old daughter who is most comfortable talking English, thanks to the first 2.5 years of her schooling in US. I feel funny now - me and my wife talking in Kannada and our daughter talking & replying to us in English. This is just the kind of family-language-thingy I didn't like and didn't want about 2 decades ago looking at other such families, and here I am in the exact same situation! But, thanks to my wife and my daughter's new friends & new classmates, Tontu now talks in Kannada more than she used to talk when we left US for good - which is nice. It is amusing to hear her talk in Kannada just like how we all used to talk in our childhood. In fact, I am to be blamed more now since I resort to English words very often for the sake of convenience.

Suffice it to say that although I am trying to get back to "Kannada Days", the English language has become very much a part of my life. So much so that - 

This is my 600th blog-post in Kaleidoscope!!


Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Missing Steps

About a decade ago, I had written a post about After Dinner Walk (ADW). 

This habit of ADW continued on even after the birth of my daughter.  And when my daughter was just about learning to walk, she started giving me company. Those were unforgettable times - she would trip over, fall down a couple of times thud on her bum, but again get up and carry on along with me. We used to live in a hotel-like accommodation in Woburn, MA, USA and the whole corridor was carpeted, so the falls were not affecting her much:

Couple more years later, she was my talking companion during ADW. She being a 3-year-old, whatever came to her mind used to come out unadulterated through the mouth! By this time, we were in a sizable apartment in Walnut Creek, CA, USA, and our ADW was within the confines of our living room. Below is an excerpt of one of our classic conversations:

She (looking at the digital clock display on the Comcast cable box): Time is one hundred and seven.
Me: It is not one hundred and seven. It is 10:07.

A pause.

She: I am still a teeny tiny baby. So maybe I dunno how to tell time.

I am silent, just listening to her talk and walking.

She: When I was a teeny tiny baby I was mumbling. But now I don't talk like that. When do you think that I grew up? At 3, I grew up?

I said yes and continued walking, wondering what she will talk next. Her eyes fell on the Dora pyjamas that she was wearing.

She: You know I am wearing Dora pants because of winter tonight. Tomorrow it will be summer. In summer, we will have swimming party. For swimming party, we should have that round, colored donuts kind of things.
Me: Tubes
She: Oh tubes. Yes.

And so on, the conversation used to go on and on - childishly beautiful. Unforgettable and always cherished!

But now, I don't walk so much after dinner. Over the course of years, I have realized that the ADW is only a necessity if I eat brimful. Eating brimful had become a necessity because of Mom's over-cooking and wanting to finish off stuff to not keep it for the next day. 

Now, with marriage came wife, with wife came new style of cooking and this new style of cooking was all per measurement with a CMM level 5 of continuous improvement & calibration! Thus, we have now reached the stage of cooking just how much is needed; hence there is no 'over-cooking', no 'brimful' and hence no real 'wantingness(!)' of ADW. Which is good - because I also read in many places that eating brimful is just not the right thing to do especially during dinner. Leads to overweight and obesity and bulging tummy and what-not. So alls good, I guess. 

But I miss the night walk & things that came along with it: the conversations, the flow of thoughts, the terrace, etc. 

The 100 steps are missing in my life and I miss the 100 steps!

Monday, November 20, 2017

If you want to spend the rest of your life in one city...

Much has happened in my life since I last blogged. My family and I have now moved back to India for good, as I have recorded in my travelogue. I guess my travel blog was more active over the last few years than Kaleidoscope! Me and my wife spent a lot of time discussing on whether we should go back. After almost 1-2 years of back and forth discussions, poring over R2I forums, jotting down pros and cons, we finally decided to head back. 

Next came the big question "When". There were positive and negative ramifications if we left too early or too late. I will spare the elaborate details of "why" but the timing had to be just perfect. Thankfully, I was assisted by the Hands of God, for giving me a project till end of Dec 2016, so that I could quite perfectly plan for departure in the second week of Jan 2017 - exactly as I wanted. Things fell right in place and the day of departure came nearer. 

While I had taken a big decision of moving back to India for good, I suddenly decided to take another huge decision of quitting my job, which was not really necessary, considering I was working for a company which very well had its roots in India as well as in Bangalore, and it was just a matter of asking him and her to get me a project, so that my work (and more importantly, payroll!) would continue. Yet. I decide to go out against all odds and put down my papers and decided to take a long break.

In some ways, it was a very clean exit. I was quitting after my project got done. I had notified my employer as well as my clients about two months in advance of my departure unlike the typical two-weeks notice which tends to get very messy. So it wasn't a shock to anyone. This also allowed me plenty of time to perform complete knowledge transition to my successors. I was in this account for over 3 years and I had achieved a lot. I was the single point of contact for a gazillion things and I had enough time to recollect and share with all the parties concerned. 

The farewell lunch given to me was heart-warming. I have already written a blog about my past farewells but this was extra special - it was a farewell from US and even from my regular day-to-day work/office: almost like VRS! Over 20 people attended - even those remotely associated with me on day-to-day activities. And this was from the client-side. Being a contractor, and getting a warm send-off from 20 of the best folks in the industry, that too on the Christmas Holiday week, was a great honor to me, on both professional and personal front. It is a moment I would cherish all my life, as I would the farewell card too.

So then. My 'Last Working Day' - quite literally, almost like my early retirement day! - was Dec 30th, 2016. I was quite tied up with a number of things and I ended up being the last person in my team to leave office - or at least my floor. It was 6 pm. The floor was deserted. It was, after all, the last working day of 2016 too for everyone and all were in a holiday mood. I took a selfie - which is so, so rare; ask my wife! - of me at my office desk. I wasn't sure when and if I will be sitting at an office desk again...

The next week went quickly and if I have to use one word to describe that week, it is 'Dispose'! The whole house with all its belongings had to be disposed off, including the car. It is just not the material things that got disposed, it was the emotional bag that was associated with each of those things that we lived with and loved so much. Like Tontu's scooter, her cycle, our mattress, sofa, dining table, TV with which we watched over 100 episodes of Vishnupuran, the beautiful living room Ikea lamps, and a million other things.  The 'disposal', however, was just one of the 70 odd items in the 'US' checklist. There was over 100 items in the 'India' checklist that I had to look into after I moved back to India!

Many thanks to our neighbours for helping us out. The last day was very crucial in many aspects - sleeping overnight, food, tranport to airport, etc. and they helped us in ways unimaginable. I guess I can never repay them.

Cometh Jan 11, 2017 and we were back in Bangalore. We had left on April 30th, 2011 with 6 suitcases and we came back with 6 suitcases. 

There are many reasons why we took this decision to head back home but I guess the thing that tipped the balance was the question that we asked ourselves - 

If you want to spend the rest of your life in one city, which city would that be?

Namma Bengaluru.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Enlightenment from Milk

Teenager, India

Early in the morning. Go to the milk store and get a liter of milk packet. Daily.
“This is the way of life.”

Mid-twenties, USA

Weekend. Get 2 gallons of milk from supermarket. Refrigerate and use daily for entire week.
“Wow, what a comfort. Why don’t they learn this ease of life in India?!”

Mid-thirties, USA

Knowledge about common diseases such as cancers, et al. Enlightenment: Fresh food = Best life & no diseases.
“India knows best! Why don’t US learn from India?!”

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Screen

I was standing at the grocery store payment line and there was a young mother ahead of me. Her daughter was sitting on the cart watching a video on the smart phone. The daughter was about 2-3 years old, no more. It was the mother’s turn now and the grocery store cashier greeted her. The mother greeted back in turn and the daughter continued to be engrossed on the phone.

While the mother kept all the items from the cart onto the conveyor belt, the daughter kept looking at the video on the phone. While the grocery store cashier billed each item, the daughter kept her eyes fixed on the phone. While the mother placed all the items back onto the cart and paid the cashier, the daughter continued to look at the phone. The cashier greeted the mother to have a good day and the mother greeted him back, and still the daughter continued to stare at the phone. Then the mother started pushing the cart out to the exit and the daughter still had her eyes fixed on the phone. Soon, she was out of the store wheeling away to the car in the parking lot and I could still see daughter looking at the phone.

I was aghast and literally my jaw dropped. Right in front of my eyes, in a matter of couple of minutes, I saw how the daughter was completely robbed off her favorite childhood game of ‘Pretend-play shopping’. I know this because I have seen how my daughter can pretend play grocery shopping for hours. In the house, my daughter acts as if she is shopping for me and my wife;  and sometimes she is the cashier, taking all the items and scanning the bar code, punching imaginary buttons, taking cash and returning change or using visiting cards in place of credit cards, greeting people, etc. Not only is this fun for her, she has also learnt about the real-world human interactions. In a few years, I am confident she can do the same things that anyone is expected to do in a grocery store.

And in this instance, the daughter of this mother completely missed the whole thing. It was as if she was inside a movie theater all through. She was so much into the video that never once she lifted her head. She totally, totally missed the environment - the transactions, the real-life scenario, the greetings that was happening all around her and was so lost in the digital world that she will have a hard time coping up with the true life in a few years if this is what she keeps doing!

Pretend play is one of the most important stages of childhood. It gives children a huge opportunity for imagination and the only way we can fuel the young mind’s imagination is by giving them the experience of real-world happenings. I have been to couple of really good Pretend Play museums such as the ones in Irvine and San Jose and these have miniature grocery stores amongst many things. Children like to play forever at such places – but only if they know what they are in the first place!! 

And here, it was as if a crime was happening right in front of my eyes and I was about to shout out to the mother! The child was robbed a little of an essential part of her childhood and the mother was the culprit! The child had to know what just happened and the parent totally denied this experience just for the sake of keeping the child quiet! Seriously, these children are our future and it is parents’ responsibility to raise the next generation the right way and this definitely was not the right way!

Of course, this is just an iota of an incident. The book ‘The Big Disconnect’ showcases an alarming amount of such experiences and a trend that is threatening the entire next generation due to the digital world. To quote from the book – apparently, youngsters are having challenges in attending interviews because it deals with hours of human interaction and the teenagers are so caught up with screens now that even a 30 minute continuous interaction with another human being itself is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with! I am like….'Wow, really?!!

Sadly, the digital “screen” is actually screening away the real world from the next generation. For all the parents out there – go easy on the “screen” with your kids. It just isn’t worth it.

Friday, February 27, 2015

HVD 2015

A piece of hand-written poem given by me to wifey on 14th Feb 2015...

You have cough.
I have lumbago.

I give you cough syrup.
You massage my back.

I give you kashaya
You apply moov to me.

You have subconjunctival hemorrhage.
I have running nose.

I put eyedrops to you.
You give me tablets.

I apply small ice packs to your eyes.
You give me coffee.

No, we are not old.
We are in our early 30s

Celebrating our 7th Valentine's Day
The way we ought to celebrate our 70th!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!