Saturday, May 28, 2011

Shri Venkateshwara Suprabhatam

Late 1980s. Time: 8 am in the morning. Place: Bangalore, India. Summer holidays. Me –a school-going boy - drowsily sleeping in the makeshift mattress placed in the middle of small living room. I could hear my maternal grandma in the kitchen, busy cooking breakfast for the entire household. She would have been already 3 hours into the day. I could hear my grandpa vigorously moving – he would have called it ‘exercising’ - his oiled body before heading to bath. Somebody else in the household would be busy sweeping the house. I knew that I will be woken up soon and the makeshift mattress had to be folded too so as to complete the sweeping process. Amdist all these, M S Subbulakshmi chanted the celebrated Shri Venkateshwara Suprabhatam in the dilapidated tape recorder.

I liked the setting.
I liked Subbulakshmi’s rendition of the Suprabhatam.

Mid 2011. Time: 8 am in the morning. Place: Boston, USA. Summer. Me - a 31-year-old employee in a prestigious firm - walking on Federal Street in crisp blue blazer and Raymonds trouser, amongst hundred other people in equally if not better attire. Some are running to catch the connecting transport - be it bus or train. Some are tourists – carrying in their hands Boston map and tourist guide, drinking in the history all around them. Positive energy all around, strangers smiling at one another and commenting on what a fine day it is. Tall buildings on either side of the street making a canopy of comfortable shadow. The breeze from the Atlantic Ocean causing a tingling but nice chill. In my ears are the headphones from ipod. M S Subbulakshmi chanting the same celebrated Shri Venkateshwara Suprabhatam.

I liked this setting too.
I still liked Subbulakshmi’s rendition of the Suprabhatam.

Some things change so drastically.
Some things never change.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bundle of Joy

‘Bundle of Joy’ is the right phrase for a baby. For they bring much joy and make life an endearing prospect. I guess even at the very end of life, when one has almost renounced all worldly pleasures, a baby brings so much joy into the spectrum of life that one does not want to get out of the life and death cycle.

Paavani is now 7 months old and she is very much a bundle of joy. She spreads happiness everywhere she goes. Her very presence made people walk up the stairs to our house in Bangalore when before not many relatives ventured. Decade long neighbors visited us for the first time just to see her. When we used to take her for walks in the road, people used to stop us and talk to her. Strangers in the road started smiling at her. Some even commented on her cute appearance.

It is fascinating how an infant can change the face of the world. Without Paavani, the world was different altogether. Neighbors were just there to be smiled at, strangers remained strangers, relatives remained far and so on and so forth.

Whenever Paavani is with her great grandparents, there is much joy in their lives. As my grandma points out, she and her hubby will be in a big argument and shouting at one another – which she says is a daily affair after one is married to a person for 70 years – but the moment they see Paavani being brought in, their fight will melt away and both start instantaneously enjoying the precious moment with her by cuddling her and cooing with her to which she responds with grateful bursts of joy much to their delight.

When the time came for me to leave to US, I was feeling a little sorry to be taking the joy out of so many lives. When relatives came to know of the departure, their first reaction was to repent the fact that Paavani will not be amongst them. It was as if the news broke their hearts. I felt like giving a toy (Paavani) to a child (relatives) and taking the toy away. It is amazing what infants can do. It can turn a strict septuagenarian into an imitation elephant (on all fours), it can turn a lethargic octogenarian into an enthusiastic superwoman and a nonagenarian into a dancing doll.

Once in US, the human interactions which Paavani had as compared to before have lessened. She can now only connect to her septua-, octo- and nona-genarian friends only through electronic medium – a microcosm of being physically with the person. Alas, nothing much can be done about that but appreciate technology for allowing at least this microcosmic interaction.

However, a walk in the streets of US brings its own set of joy to fellow pedestrians. People here are far more expressive about their compliments and appreciations than in India. Many a time, we have been stopped and told how beautiful or how pretty or how cute she looks. We have to go through the entire routine of telling her name, her age and thanking on her behalf for all her own compliments.

Our neighbor in US was so full of words upon seeing her that she said she wanted to clone her. She mentioned that Paavani (she pronounced it right) is the cutest person she had ever seen and how much of a doll she resembled. Of course, the ear ring and the anklet add more to the conversation and prettiness.

As a parent, it feels nice to hear this. It feels nice to bring smiles into lives. It feels nice to make this world a better place of smiling individuals. To an extent, this even reduces the guilt of taking the joy out of some Bangaloreans:

After all, even folks in US need some joy! :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Duration in USA

Myth: For some reason, perhaps because I have traveled four times, it is a myth amongst many who know me that I have been in USA for about 4-5 years.

Fact: My total stay in US, as of today, is 2 years and 5 months.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

America: Fourth Innings

Its been 8 working days in US for me, and I was involved in 6 installs - with one of them being an emergency production ticket!

I hope this is not a sign of things to come…