29 September, 2010

Mr.Helpful



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Pecan seems to be in the Mr.Helpful mode these days. At school, if I may please be specific here. He is intent on being Mr.Helpful at school. It is indeed a different story at home but then again, that is material enough for another post. So let’s not go into that right now.

The other day he was looking all pleased with himself and was grinning like a Cheshire cat which had just swallowed a whole bucketful of cream, when I got home from work in the evening. He looked as though he was about to burst out and spill the reason as to why he was flashing his pearly whites around. “I helped two people at school today, Mummy.” he said, looking pleased as punch with himself.

"That’s really nice of you” said Mommy, as was apparently expected of her. You see, if the response from Mommy is not appropriate enough, Pecan has absolutely no qualms about letting Mommy know that he indeed expects better from her. “Whom did you help ?” asked Mommy while Macadamia, sensing entertainment in the offing, actually looked up from her laptop screen. Nowadays, it does take that something extra to make Macadamia unglue her eyes from her laptop and sprinkle some of her attention elsewhere around her. For the most part, in the evenings, she is loaded with so much of homework that she is invariably found with her eyes glued to the laptop.

"There was this little girl on the school playground today. She was all about to cry.” said Pecan, as he paused for sheer dramatic effect. “She was about to have these big big tears roll down her face, OK” said Pecan, drawing the drama out. “Awww – why was she crying ?” asked Mommy. See, Mommy knows exactly how to respond. She has been rather well trained in that department by her children. “I said she was a.b.o.u.t to cry. I did not say she was crying, Mummy” said Pecan, a quiver of admonishment in his voice aimed at Mommy for not having paid attention to the finer details of the statement. "OK. Why was she about to cry ?” asked Mommy, thinking to herself that she would make a fine circus animal – given the effect that the nutty sibs’ training has had on her. She takes her cues very seriously and responds as she is expected to. Perfect characteristics of a circus animal !!

Macadamia, by now, was leaning comfortably against the cushions on the sofa, half sitting, half reclining and she had that familiar gleam in her eyes and that familiar amused look on her face. All that seemed missing from the picture was a bag of popcorn in her hands. Where there is live entertainment, there absolutely has got to be popcorn !!!

"See Mummy, she had this water bottle which just would not open. I mean the lid would not open. It was so hot and she must have been thirsty. She is a Year One student so she did not know whom to ask. So I went up to her and asked her what happened. Then I took her water bottle and opened the lid for her. Ta Da.” said Pecan, looking very pleased and satisfied.

Macadamia was beginning to stifle serious smiles now. A sign that the volcano was beginning to rumble and that it would erupt in a while.

"Now you can take your shoes off and sit down Mummy and then I’ll tell you about the second person I helped” said Pecan, rather generously, since he’d just realized that he was standing very close to the front door and that the Mommy Incarnate was still standing there looking like the vision of obedience and deference, albeit a rather tired one.

Did I say a while ago that a particular volcano was threatening to erupt any moment ? Well, it did – just about then !!

"See Mummy” said Pecan, crossing Mommy’s path in haste and almost causing a pileup in the living room, as he stumbled over Mommy’s shoes and then onto the sofa. Fortunately, no pile up occurred and the bags of grapes and plums that Mommy had just deposited on the ledge too escaped unscathed.

"Then there was this other little Year One girl who was playing during lunchtime and the ball she was playing with almost rolled off the ground. She was staring at the ball in horror instead of running after it. I was just near the edge of the playground so I just stopped the ball before it rolled off the ground and handed it back to her.” said Pecan.

"Was she pretty ?” asked Macadamia, who, by now, was grinning with glee.

"I don’t know. I did not notice all that.” said Pecan, looking rather horrified at the direction in which the conversation was now heading.

"I mean like …. was she like cute and all that ?” asked Macadamia, who was intent on dragging this as far as it would go.

"I said I don’t know. But she had long eyebrows on her eyes” said Pecan.

"Eyebrows on her eyes ??????” repeated Macadamia. That would have made her look like an alien, she said, to add to the dramatic effect. Now I know. This one did not get all those merits at school in her drama lesson for nothing. She’s good at it !!

"She had long long hair on her eyes which made her look like Bambi” said Pecan, looking rather sheepish that his brain had actually managed to store that kind of information.

"Ah Ha !” said Macadamia, who was quite the picture of amusement, with one eyebrow raised and her lips pursed together in sheer amusement.

"Bambi ???” wondered Mommy. She so wanted to tell Pecan “never trust eyelashes that can bat at you like that. They spell BIG trouble. And they are invariably fake !!” She meant the eyelashes, by the way.

There have been numerous such instances over the past few weeks where Pecan has played his role of Mr.Helpful to the hilt.

In the process, he has been forgetting a lot of his stuff at school. Water bottles, snack boxes, lunch boxes …. all of these have been sacrificed at the altar of helpfulness. Of course, over the next couple of days, with much prodding and reminding, he does go over to the Lost and Found cupboard and get his stuff back but in the heat of the moment, while helping others out, fact remains that he forgets where he puts his stuff.

There’s one little thing I’ve noticed though. When it comes to helpfulness, so far his sentences have always had feminine Subject and Object Pronouns in them.

"She needed help. I helped her.” etc. I am yet to see a masculine pronoun being the recipient of the said helpfulness.

Where am I heading with this post ?? Nowhere, actually. Just thought I should put this note down for the future. Because, you see, a few select posts might actually end up as a wedding gift for their respective spouses.

Hmmm …… now that should be fun, don’t you think ???



28 September, 2010

Ud Ud Dabangg Dabangg Dabangg Dabangg ....

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Ud Ud Dabanng Dabanng Dabanng Dabanng Ud Ud Dabanng Dabanng Dabanng Dabanng …………

It’s almost as if this song is stuck somewhere inside my head, playing in what appears to be an apparently endless loop.

I was at school today, teaching the kids English Grammar and all of a sudden, with no warning whatsoever, this song suddenly starts humming inside my head. Good thing that I’d started the kids on a writing assignment already because I found that my feet had started tapping to the tune in my head, rather automatically. Horror of horrors, this !! Of all the places, in school, with a full class to handle. And my head is full of Hud Hud Dabanng Dabanng …

I had to tell myself rather sternly and in absolutely no uncertain terms to stop thinking about the song. “But you were not consciously thinking about it” argued my sub conscious mind, which apparently, is not so sub conscious when it comes to the soundtracks of Dabanng. With both, my sub conscious and unconscious mind in the grip of these soundtracks, the conscious mind which was full of English Grammar, was indeed finding it a tall order to stay in control. The sub conscious and the unconscious mind were threatening to run riot.

My mind was already conjuring up an image of its own. If, inadvertently, I ended up humming one of the soundtracks which were, by then, racing inside my head at Grand Prix speeds, it would indeed be fun with these kids who are already in the grip of a number called “I want nobody nobody but you” by some Korean group. Imagine a “Munni Badnaam Hui” in the midst of all that. Trust me, all the local munnas and munnis would have been dancing on the tables !!

I found my conscious mind telling its counterparts to stay put until I was safely ensconced in the bus, heading home, before giving in to the mad urge to plug in those earphones and go absolutely D.A.B.A.N.N.GGG !! It did seem like the conscious mind had gained control. The songs, the soundtracks receded and the adverbs and adjectives started prancing around, as they were rightly meant to. It was their playtime inside my head and not Dabanng’s.

All was well until I gave the kids a break for five minutes and they wanted to play Hangman. I was trying to conjure up words for them when a word flashed through my head. “Munni”, said my head. I shook my head to clear it of those last vestiges of the soundtrack which apparently had still been holding on to my mind for dear life. “Chulbul” was the next word that popped into my head. “Oh God !” This is terrible” I thought to myself and totally diverted the kids to playing Hangman with the names of countries on the board. “It will also help you improve your Geography” I said, sounding a lot more confident that Dabanng would not interrupt something as important as playing Hangman with the names of countries at stake.

It did work. By the time we’d finished with the Hangman and moved onto the next assignment for the day, my mind had totally divested itself of all the Dabanng cobwebs. It was running full speed ahead on pure English Grammar fuel.

As the kids were busy with the Grammar worksheet I’d set for them, I was walking around the class, quietly monitoring the kids My gaze settled on a bunch of books on the ledge of the classroom. They were in a complete state of disarray. Compulsively, I moved towards the books with every intention to straighten them. “It will also give me an opportunity to see what books are being read in class” I thought to myself.

As I was piling up the books, one little flyer caught my eye. It was an order form for a book called “The Big Bang Theory”. That was it !! My mind immediately equated “The Big Bang” with “The Bang” with what else but “Dabanng”.

“Dabanng ! Dabanng ! Dabanng !”

Well, that was nothing but the sound that was created when I banged my head against the walls at school, in a rather futile attempt to keep those songs at bay !!

It worked !! It did keep the songs at bay. Just until I stepped out of school. Once I did, it was as though my hands had a life and an instruction sheet of their own. Out came the pod, the earphones were plugged and in a matter of seconds, my sub conscious mind was dancing away to the tunes what else but – DABANNG !!!!


22 September, 2010

Writing Prompt : The Fire Escape

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"The smoke was all around me. It was all over me. The fire had, by then, spread all over the building like an undulating monster, totally unforgiving, consuming everything in its path. The oxygen tanks that were stored in the building were feeding the fire, for, I could hear the loud “boom” as cylinders exploded in various corners of the building. The smoke, thick, white and billowing, seeped into my body through my nostrils, clogging each and every pore in my body. I had never known such terror in my life before.

But, they say, terror is sometimes the greatest of inspirations. A small voice inside my head told me that there was no point in cowering in a corner in fear. The fire was an enemy that knew no fear, it was an enemy that could not be subdued with knives or guns. It knew just one thing and that was to destroy everything and everyone in its path. By the sheer force of nature, I knew that the fire would only leave a trail of ashes, cinders and human bones behind, if it had its way.

With a newfound sense of purpose, I began to look for some source of water around. When I finally found a water faucet which was working, I managed to wet a couple of thick towels, for I had read somewhere once that smoke is the biggest of dangers in the event of a fire. Having covered my mouth and nose with a wet towel, I gingerly inched through the doorway and across the connecting path which led to the part of the building where the inmates were housed.

There were ten of them, at last count. Most of them were delusional. They had wild dreams and fantasies which they believed were absolutely true. Getting them to leave was going to be a huge effort. But I had to try. I simply could not give up on them.

I got them to line up in a single file, pretty much like they do with kids at school. They were all wide eyed and frightened. Taking advantage of that very fear, I told them in absolutely no uncertain terms that they would have to follow my instructions. If they did, we could all get out of this raging inferno alive.

We began to slowly move towards the fire escape. Progress was slow, for some of the inmates had pulled off the towels from around their mouth and nostrils. Time and again, I had to either remind them to replace the towels or had to put it back in place for them. Delusional as they were, they simply did not understand the gravity of the situation.

Tongues of fire were beginning to flick through the doorways now. Just as I led the way, a part of the window sill came crashing down, narrowly missing me. It took me a couple of seconds to breathe deep and try to slow my heart which was, by now, trying to pound its way out of my chest.

We had just three floors to walk but it seemed like a lifetime. The banisters were beginning to get really hot to the touch. Just as we thought we would all make it out of the building, disaster struck on the first floor. So near and yet so far, I thought to myself as one of the door beams splintered and crashed down, trapping me underneath.

Having decided upon me as their saviour, to see me trapped under that beam was the last straw for the inmates. Their delusions completely took over and I guess they were imagining all sorts of scenarios within their minds. I had to do something before the situation got completely out of hand. The fire, on the other hand, was merrily making its way towards us, much faster than we were moving. I could almost sense the glee as those flames leapt towards us, mocking at our helplessness, gloating over what the fire assumed would be its final victory.

I had to talk a couple of the inmates into helping me get that door beam off me. Else, we were all doomed for sure. It was slow going but I got Smith and Wesson to heave on the door beam with all their might, as the two of them were the strongest of the inmates there. By then, Mrs. Woodpecker, who had apparently taken the towel off her face, fainted without a care in the world.

After much heaving, I had enough room to just squirm out from under the door beam. Once again, in a single file, we made our way cautiously down the last flight of stairs. I had to, by now, carry Mrs. Woodpecker as she was unconscious. Why don’t you carry me too, my handsome prince ? screeched Ada, who, delusional as she was, constantly thought she was Rapunzel and that her prince would one day come and rescue her from this mental asylum, which she assumed was the castle where the ogre had kept her trapped.

My head was pounding, my heart was threatening to jump out of my mouth as I crossed my fingers in the hope that the fire had not beaten us to the main exit, through the other hallway.

I only remember depositing Mrs. Woodpecker into the hands of a waiting fireman and then dragging the other inmates out just as the flames crashed into the main hallway through the very same fire escape that we had taken. Phew !! That had been a mighty close shave. I never knew I had such courage in me but it so turns out that I did. Imagine rescuing ten people out of a building with a fire raging within. That too, ten delusional people whose only pastime was to hallucinate and create fantasy images and mirages of their own. Everything they did were just figments of their imagination. Imagine rescuing ten such people. Not many people could have done that. But I did. ”

The other cab drivers in the office of City Cab Services stared at Sam in awe. Sam, was a young cab driver with City Cab. City Cab had just opened its office in this state and all the cabbies there were new. Strong, healthy and handsome, Sam projected quite the hero image as the other cabbies stared at him in awe. All except Bill and Henry, who looked totally skeptical, with cynicism written all over their faces.

“Yeah Yeah” said Sam to the other cab drivers. Bill and Henry never believe me, ever, mates !” he said, as he walked out of the room with a swagger.

“Why don’t you ever believe him ?” asked the other cabbies. Bill and Henry exchanged looks, then a long sigh. They handed the other cabbies the number of the local telephone information service and told the cabbies to go ahead and call and ask for details about the mental asylum, from where Sam claimed to have rescued ten delusional inmates.

“May I help you, Sir ?” came the cool, collected, poised voice over the telephone. “Yep. Could you give me the number of The Solace please. You know, that’s the mental institution out here. I need the number urgently” said Jason, one of the new cabbies.

A long pause later, the voice on the other end now had a tinge of confusion and uncertainty to it. She sounded rather bewildered as she replied “But Sir, The Solace has been closed down for more than 5 years now. It is no longer a functioning unit. No one lives there any more.”

As a perplexed Jason pressed the disconnect button on the phone, he saw Bill take out his cell phone. Jason and the other cab drivers heard Bill say “We’ve finally located him. It took us over a year, but we’ve finally found him. He now goes by the name of Sam and he’s a cab driver. We know where he lives and we are heading there right away. We will get hold of him and have him back in the asylum by today evening.

Turning to the other cab drivers, Bill said “We are not cab drivers.  That was simply our cover.  We have been on his trail for quite some time now. It has been a year since he escaped from the mental asylum in the nearby state. He had been undergoing treatment there since he was very highly delusional.”

"Quite apparently, he still is !!” said Henry, as they got up to head towards Sam’s house.

The Prompt : What if you are going to write a story about self-expression with a cab driver as the main character and a fire escape as the main object. ? Set your story in a mental asylum. 

(OK.  The prompt apparently said "set your story in a funeral home.  But my mind started to race once I'd read the first two sentences and me being me, the last sentence simply did not register.  It was only after I'd finished writing that I went back to the prompt to append it to the blog post and realized that it read "set your story in a funeral home".  But since I'd already set the story in a mental asylum, I decided to post it just the way it was instead of changing the setting to a funeral home.)

20 September, 2010

Happy O.N.A.M !!!

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"I so HATE Monday mornings” said Macadamia, looking to throw sparks just about anywhere, this morning.

"I don’t like Mondays” said Pecan, squirming defiantly into his quilt rather than out of it when it was time to wake up, today morning.

"I don’t like Monday mornings anymore either” said a rather droopy and wilted looking Mommy.

"No one likes Monday mornings. I don’t either.” said Daddy.

YAY !!!! thought Mommy to herself. There’s still hope. There’s still hope. We finally have something that all members of this nutty family concur with. Wholeheartedly, if I may add !! This is not something that happens very frequently, especially in the case of Macadamia and Pecan. Like I’ve said in several of my earlier posts, they agree to disagree on just about everything.

So yes, there is indeed a silver lining to every cloud, albeit figurative.

What we needed was to add a dash of colour here and there to Monday mornings. I mean, just blue is in Macadamia speak “SO BOARING” (That’s how she says it not how she spells it. I’m clarifying because she now makes it a point to read each and every post of mine and if that clarification is not in place, then I’ll probably have hell to pay.)

"SO MUSH” Pecan would say. I honestly don’t know what he means by MUSH in many situations that he uses it with but then again, I always have the generation gap to blame it on )). See, I’m very enterprising that way !!

"MONDAY MORNINGS BELLYFLOP” he said this morning. Yet again, the picture my mind conjured up was that of three belly dancers I’d seen at someones wedding. That was not a belly dance – it was indeed three adipose laden bellies flopping away to glory. Ewwww – not exactly a thought or a sight that one needs at any given time of any day. I was later given to understand though, through the kind offices of who-else-but-Pecan that BELLYFLOP is a polite term. The rude counterpart of BellyFlop, which Pecan rather self-righteously said he never uses, is “It s.u.c.k.s”. To his credit, even while explaining it to me, he did not say it out aloud, he spelt it out.

I can tell you one thing for sure. I am getting old !!!!

Anyway, by now, we needed a whole bucket of colour to wash away our Monday blues. That was when Daddy had an inspiration and he walked into the living room wishing us all A Very Happy ONAM !!

"But Onam is already over” said the ever-analytical Macadamia while Pecan had that look on his face that said “Yeah, Right !!”

ONAM as Daddy went on to explain, is, in this particular case, nothing other than “Oh No !!! Another Monday !!!”

Macadamia smiled and Pecan grinned. The two adults in the family did find the acronym funny too.

Henceforth, we have decided to wish each other a very happy ONAM every Monday morning.

Stay tuned, I’ll probably let you know how project ONAM goes.

Oh ! and while we are on the topic, let me wish you all A Very Happy O.N.A.M too !!!!

19 September, 2010

Writing Prompt - The Locket


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He waited until the person on the other end put the phone down. He waited until he heard the rather eerie sound that a telephone line makes when it’s been disconnected. That sound which symbolized the end of something.

It reminded him of his days in the hospital, when he had been used to hearing that sound all around him, in the Intensive Care Unit. It reminded him of the day his life had been shattered – yet again because of that very sound. That very sound which played in an incessant loop inside his head, right to this very day.

His fingers, rough and callused through all the years of working in a factory, automatically sought the chain around his neck. They ended up where he knew they always would. They instinctively clasped the locket at the end of the chain, the locket that now housed his beloved Joan. The locket, in which he took Joan around with him, wherever he went. The locket in which were trapped memories of about twenty five years of his life.

Joan had been his childhood sweetheart. He had been busy building a plane with LEGO blocks in his kindergarten classroom when Joan had stepped into the room. He could still recollect that moment when she’d stood shyly at the door, in her pink frilly dress, clutching her beloved little doll close to her. Right from the time she stepped in through the kindergarten door, he had known that she was the one for him. By some quirk of fate, or maybe a whim of nature itself, she seemed to have known too. He still remembered her shy smile and the unseen spark of electricity that flowed between them then, fusing their souls into one. They had attended school together and then college.

It all began on that fateful day when they had visited their neighbors, The Watsons, for dinner. There had been four other couples there and somewhere along the way, they formed a cozy little group of their own. What started off as a friendly game of poker between the men soon took a serious turn when money came into the picture. An addiction never knocks and waits for you to open the door – it just pushes its way in and barges into your life and before you know it, it has you in an iron grip that shows no signs of loosening. It was pretty much the same with him and his friends. Very soon, they had taken to gambling every Friday night.

He refused to acknowledge the silent, accusatory looks that Joan sent his way. He preferred the oblivion which the bottle helped him achieve. He could not bear to look at those dark eyes, brimming with tears, silently pleading him to change his ways. As he left home on Friday nights for a game of poker down the street, he was well aware of Joan’s muted sobs. Yet, he did nothing about them, for he was well and truly in the grasp of his habit.

One fine day, when Joan had finally brought up the issue of his addiction and the brochure of Gamblers Anonymous, he’d thrown a mighty fit. Screams and tears later, Joan had threatened to end their relationship if he did not mend his ways. He paid no heed as Joan stormed off with the car keys.

The harsh flat tone of the telephone brought him back to his senses. His rough fingers were still clasped around the locket. From where he was sitting, he could see the newspaper where he had left it. He could see the red circle around the advertisement. The advertisement had called for volunteers for an experiment to be conducted by Professor Smith - the very same Professor Smith, who claimed that he had perfected the art of time travel, the very same Professor Smith who claimed that he could send people back in time, to the date and time specified by people. No one knew if it would work. No one knew exactly how dangerous this experiment was. It was a gamble of the highest order.

That phone call earlier had been from Prof. Smith’s office – confirming that he had been selected as one of the candidates for Prof. Smith’s experiment to travel back in time.

 
The writing prompt was : What if you are going to write about 'letting go' with a factory worker as the main character and a locket as a key object.  Set your story in a small apartment


15 September, 2010

A whim and a writing prompt .....


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I know it is going to be my turn soon. There is nothing much I can do about it right now. Oh ! For that matter, there is nothing much I can do about it in the near future either. I know my fate, I know my destiny. It is a total feeling of helplessness that is engulfing me right now. Ever wondered what it is like to be frightened ? Truly frightened ? Trust me when I say that it is not one of the best feelings to have.

Ever wondered what it is like to face death, to stare at death every given minute of your existence, knowing that it will come for you soon ? It is frightening. It is scary.

I drift off very often, towards my early days. I still vividly remember that exact moment of my birth, when I was brought into this world. I remember feeling so fresh, so healthy and so very tender.

I came home and home, as I knew it then, was indeed such a beautiful place. The living room with its long French windows through which the sun filtered in everyday.

I still remember sitting in the living room and feeling the warmth of the sun spread all over me. I still remember feeling the harshness of the very same sun as it rose higher in the sky during the summer months. I still remember sitting on the window sill looking at the lovely blossoms in the garden - the fiery reds of the tulips, the bright yellow of the chrysanthemums, the muted pink of the roses, the pristine white of the lilies.

Then there was the study. I vividly recollect sitting on Dad’s lap in the study as he went through the day’s stock market quotes. Even though he would be busy staring at the screen, in the aim of trading stocks and making more money, those were some of the coziest times I had with dad. For, no matter how busy he was with his work, he always loved to have me around. I used to love the way he would place his hand on my head, for, it gave me a such a strong sense being wanted, of being needed.

Then there was always the kitchen - that bright, sunny place which brings back memories of all things good. I’ve spent many a wonderful year with mom in the kitchen. She would be in the midst of baking a huge batch of wonderful cookies or turning out an absolutely delectable cake but she would always remember to ruffle my head affectionately, every once in a while. “Whatever would I do without you around, huh ?” she would ask me, looking at me with those all too familiar warm eyes, which held a thousand smiles in them. Those eyes, which overflowed with love and laughter. Those eyes which made me feel incredibly cared for. I would sit in the kitchen with her while she spoke to me while she tackled the chores.

(sigh) All I have left now are memories – distant memories but precious ones. For, I now sit ravaged by time. Time and age, which have devastated my body. Time and age which have wreaked havoc on my skin. Time and age, which have landed me here. Here, which is a far cry from the lovely home I once had. Here, which is bleak and desolate. Here, where I lie helpless and unwanted. Here, where the atmosphere is most dismal and depressing. Here, where I know the fate that awaits me.

Like I said earlier, to have to stare at death and oblivion from this present body of mine, is unsettling. I do wonder if it will be quick and merciless. I do wonder if it will hurt – those final moments. All the same, I do hold and hang on to that tiny little sliver known to mankind as “hope”. Hope for myself, hope for my existence in this very same body.

I know I am old and that no one has any use for me anymore. But I long for a home like the one I had during my younger days. I long for that feeling of belonging, that feeling of being wanted.

For, you see, I am a very old notebook. A notebook that has seen much better days. A notebook which carries the aroma of the kitchen where countless recipes have been logged into me. A notebook which carries with it the ups and downs of the financial world, as the same have forever been etched into me.

That’s what I am. An old notebook, sitting in front of the paper shredder.

(It so happens that I have a Creative Writing class to teach today.  I was going thru various possible writing prompts to give the students when this particular prompt caught my attention.  It simply said : write from the point of view of paper which is soon going into the shredding machine to be shredded !) 

14 September, 2010

The AFV "formula"


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P.J.O'Rourke once said "You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they're going."

Well, kids nowadays have many other ways too, of letting their parents know that they're growing up.

Take the other day, for instance.  It was a Saturday and America's Funniest Videos was playing on TV.  As is normally the case, the nutty sibs were watching people fall down and hurt themselves, people breaking things, people setting their own hair on fire and all that.  You know, stuff that is normally dished out on AFV.  But yeah, the kids are pretty much fascinated by it and all of us do make it a point to watch the same every Saturday.
The other day too, they were glued to the telly and I had just about begun to fade (yeah, that happens to me when people around me are falling or getting hurt all the time !!) when Pecan suddenly perked up.  The nutty siblings are normally found guffawing during AFV or grinning at the telly (in the hope that it is going to grin back at them, I guess !) or finding loopholes in the programme segments.  But that particular day, the way he suddenly sprung up from the sofa meant there was something somewhere that had caught his attention - big time !!  Something out of the ordinary.

I did not have to play the guessing game for long, because a few seconds later, Pecan yelled "Hey ! She's got breasts ! "

At that given moment, I knew exactly how cattle feel when they are prodded with an electric prod !!!  You actually get an electric shock that races through the length of your body and you stare in horror and wonder whether it is the electricity that's making you "hear" things or whether you actually "heard" what you heard !!

"Hey !  She has breasts !"  Goodness Lord !!  And this, from a seven year old.  Help !!!!!!!!!!

Detour
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Now if you're thinking that I was worried because of the vocabulary, that's precisely where you are wrong.  For the amount of reading that Pecan does, I'm sure he has come across the word "breasts" in a lot of places and I know that he knows exactly which part of the anatomy it stands for.  I was more worried about him throwing questions at me about breasts - throwing questions the way only Pecan can !!  To the point, a rather relentless downpour of questions which demand to be answered.  And at the fag end of the day, with my brain already fried after a whole day's work, to be at the receiving end of Pecan's queries can be pretty much exhausting.  Simply because he can just go on and on and on and on and on and on.  You get the picture, right ??  And quite probably, having started out on the topic of breasts, by the time Pecan is through grilling us for answers, we would probably have ended up somewhere in the middle of the Amazonian rainforest, wondering why there is so much of deforestation going on there. 

But then again, Pecan is Pecan.  His brain makes connections that I would not have even imagined about in the wildest of my dreams.  Add to this the fact that Pecan makes it a point to start the day by reading the newspaper.  So those connections inside that head of his have many new "connecting points" each and every day, thanks to this penchant for reading the newspaper.


End of Detour
--------------

Macadamia seemed to be in a state of shock too, watching her younger sibling staring at the TV screen, all wide eyed and acting as though he had a bee inside his clothes.

Just as she looked at me and rolled her eyes heavenward (yes, that famous Macadamia look), Pecan chirped once again "Hey look .... they're showing it again.  She's got breasts and she's so young". 

So young ??!!  he says.  So young !! , says a guy who's all of seven years old himself, mind you !!
Now that made me really look at the screen and sure enough there was this little girl who was prancing around with a couple of water balloons stuffed into her bikini top.  That explained all the hullabaloo.

"But how did that happen ?  She's so young." exclaimed Macadamia, who has, by the way, been officially crowned "The analyst" in the family.

"Simple" retorted Pecan.  "I'm sure she must have drunk that milk made out of the milk powder that they were selling in China" came the rest of the statement.  That's why she's got breasts when she's so young."

Who in God's name establishes a connection between AFV and some obscure formula milk sold in China ?

(sigh) Who else, who else but Pecan indeed !!  Such Pecanese "connections" are totally beyond me, I say !!

09 September, 2010

Forty !! Yeah, that's me !! :)))

(Image Courtesy : scruffymoo.com via Google)


This is it !! I’m here ......... finally !! ;-)

Are you wondering what this is all about ?

Well, I turned forty today. I’m stepping into a whole new decade in my life.

Over the past few days, quite a number of people have asked me how it feels to be turning forty soon. They set the ball rolling and my thought processes too. I’ve been thinking about how it feels to be turning forty. Believe it or not, it does not feel any different. As far as days go, this is yet another day. As far as birthdays go, this is yet another birthday. As far as milestones go, this is yet another milestone. But there is nothing that screams out aloud saying “Hey – You are all of forty.” For one, I’ve never been good with Maths :D so yes, this is just another number to me. Nothing more, nothing less.

Life, so far, has been a very interesting journey. It has been a very satisfactory journey, a very equitable one. And I’m pretty sure that what lies ahead is going to be equally interesting, if not more ;-).

Life, I’ve realized, is nothing but a journey – ones own very personal journey. This journey sometimes takes you in circles, it sometimes is a very straight path with your destination right ahead. This journey, at times, takes you along roads that are bumpy enough to rattle you and at other times, it takes you along roads that seem to be like some of the major freeways of the world. This journey sometimes gets one stuck in a rut and encompasses one with the feeling that this is what it is meant to be like for the rest of ones life. This very same journey makes life feel like a trampoline on some other days.

I’ve realized that this journey of life brings about an awareness in each and every living being, at some point of time or the other. And awareness, I would say, is where it all begins. With awareness, comes the need to change. Be it a change in our attitudes, a change in our feelings, a change in our perspective. With awareness, comes a feeling of freedom. A freedom of choice, as we realize that it is up to us to make ourselves happy by focussing on the positives and making the best of every situation. And yes, this does come with age.

I’ve realized that the maturity which consistently sets in with age goes a long way in eroding and blanketing the brashness of youth. Looking back, I can remember vivid instances a couple of decades back when I barely had any control over my temper. It was my temper which used to control me. Over a period of time, over these past couple of decades, I’ve become aware of the fact that somewhere along the way, that equation has indeed changed. I do honestly feel that it has helped me metamorphose for the better.

I’ve realized that with maturity comes humility. Humility, which is such an important component in life. Youth often confuses humility with timidity. Once upon a time, I did too. But like I said earlier, life does teach you a thing or two. And this was one very important lesson that life imparted me too. Once upon a time, the brashness of my youth would have said “humility is nothing but debasing yourself”. Over the years, life has taught me that humility is nothing other than maintaining our own pride about who we are, what we are and what we’ve achieved in life – maintaining that sense of pride without arrogance, without conceit, without a feeling of superiority.

A decade back, what people thought about me or would think about me did mean a lot to me. I now realize that it is no longer the case. Somewhere along the way, I’ve realized that I’m no longer concerned about what people think of me or say or talk about me. As long as my conscience is clear at the end of the day, I’m at peace with myself and the world around me.

If there’s one thing I’d made a pact with myself on, it is this. Many years back, I’d promised myself that if there was one thing I would do, it would be to age with grace. I’ve never felt more strongly about that than I do now. And this feeling gets stronger by the day.

I do notice those little crinkles around my mouth and my eyes. Each and every time I notice one of those wrinkles, I remember to thank God Almighty. I remember to thank Him, for, those wrinkles remind me of the times when life has made me laugh. They remind me of times when I’ve had the sheer luxury of laughter, for, life has indeed taught me that there are many in this world who do not have that luxury . Those little wrinkles – yes, they are my laugh lines and yes, I carry them around with pride.

I do notice many more strands of silver in my hair. Each and every time I notice one of those grey hairs, I remember to thank God. I remember to thank Him, for those strands of silver in my hair remind me of little children playing hide and seek. A strand of silver peeks through the black hairs and with a tinkle of laughter says “Hey ! Here I am” :-). I do carry my grey hair around with pride, for I’ve earned each and every one of them. They remind me of times that I’ve spent worrying. Worrying about the children, worrying about loved ones, the family or the world in general. Worry that has stemmed out of caring. I would like to think of those grey hairs as a gift that life has chosen to award me, a symbol of having “lived and loved”.

I do notice that I seem to be forgetting a lot more nowadays. Senility, I guess :-)) But then again, a person like me does not have to age to grow senile. I’m a person who was born senile. Jokes aside, If I am indeed growing senile, I’d still remember to thank God, for it only means that He has given me so many rich, colorful memories to hold, to embrace and to cling to. Probably, in all that tussle for space inside my head, a few things get knocked out of the picture :-)

I have a beautiful family who mean the world to me and then some, I am in a profession that I care deeply about and enjoy thoroughly, I have a whole bunch of friends all over the globe who care about me, irrespective of the fact that we live far away from each other and there have been a lot of old friends I’ve reconnected with over the past couple of years. There have been numerous instances in my life when I’ve felt His hand on my head. In some way or the other, He’s made his presence felt. What more can I ask for ?

Truth be told, as I leave my thirties behind and step into my forties, I find myself feeling much more confident and much more at peace – with myself, with the people around me, with the world in general – than I did a decade ago, when I left my twenties behind and stepped into my thirties.

W.B.Pitkin once said “Life begins at forty”.

I’d say “Amen to that. Bring on the forties.”

I’ve never been more ready ! :-)

01 September, 2010

Little things that lift my heart

(Image courtesy : stickergiant.com via Google)

In the fast paced life that we lead today, do we ever stop to think of all those little things that give our heart that lift. There are so many “uppers” that we have but in the mechanical life that we lead today, these get pushed to the sub conscious and at times the unconscious mind. They are there in the periphery of our thought consciousness but more often than not, we fail to realize it.

This tag from Scarlett made me think of my little “uppers” – those little things in life that definitely make my heart sing, bring a smile to my face and lo and behold – the world suddenly seems to be a much better place. The eyes light up, the heart sings and the feet long to dance to an unknown, unheard tune and the eyes paint a picture of their own. And I do have to thank dear Scarlett for having made me take this delightful trip within the recesses of my own heart.

What are these things that make my heart sing ? Well, here are some .....

A baby cooing, gurgling and grinning one of those toothless smiles. Oh ! The sheer beauty of that innocence is breathtaking and makes one want to believe in the goodness of life, all over again, each and every time.

Walking barefoot on grass that is still damp from the early morning dew. Revel in what nature has to offer. There is something so soothing about walking on grass barefoot. I cannot quite put it into words here. It is a very mellow feeling, the damp grass feels as though it is sensitive to your need to commune with nature, which contrasts so nicely with the kind of insensitivity that one comes face to face with, at almost every nook and corner.

Walking in the rain – without an umbrella. One of those simple pleasures of life that is missed more often than not – simply because we humans mechanically reach out for our umbrellas every time the sky is cloudy while all nature wants is to wash away all that tiredness and act as a soothing balm every time the skies decide to open up and pour their hearts out.

The sight of Macadamia and Pecan, just awake, still sleepy eyed, hair all tousled. Children may grow up, they do grow up – they don’t remain babies forever. But one look at them early in the morning and one is convinced that however old they may get – they’re always going to be “your babies”.

Solving Crossword puzzles and Sudoku puzzles. There’s nothing like a good challenge to get those brain cells buzzing and then there is always that pleasure, that enjoyment of having solved a puzzle that seemed to be just out of your reach. They make you stretch beyond what you thought was possible and in that very contest, lies the fun.

Birds cheep cheep cheeping furiously in the early hours of the morn. These little creatures are so inspiring, are they not. They are up at the break of dawn and they are so full of energy that it is difficult to sit around moaning, groaning and griping about all that’s wrong with the world when these little creatures are chirping all around you. They uplift not just the heart but the very soul itself.

Music – soft, soothing, a balm. Music is another one of those things that never fails to comfort and grant solace. When I’m alone at home, music also acts as a companion, affording the comfort of a fellow traveller, if I may, within the confines of my home. Music, many a times, also acts as a travel companion, for music carries my heart to places afar, places I’ve never visited but within my heart, music carries me away and tucks me into a cozy corner.

Cooking yummy food / Baking – cakes, cookies, brownies – you name it. There is something so awesomely therapeutic about mixing a batch of cookie dough or cake batter right from scratch. As the batch of baked goodies begin to take shape and as the aroma of freshly baked goodies begins to fill the entire space of home, the world seems an infinitely better place to be in.  The same goes for cooking.  As you watch a recipe take shape and smell the aroma - the spices distinct yet blending in and fusing with each other to perfection, it's a comfort zone par excellence.

The way Macadamia and Pecan’s eyes light up at the sight of freshly baked goodies / yummy food. Nothing, absolutely nothing can beat that gratifying feeling that fills the heart when I see them whooping with joy or grinning with what I can only describe as sheer pleasure at the sight of freshly baked goodies. Not to mention the way their eyes close in contentment and a smile plays on their lips as they bite into a freshly baked cookie or a brownie. Totally makes my day.

The nutty family playing UNO together – The simple pleasure of playing UNO together, as a family.  Since school reopened, UNO has been relegated to weekend evenings only, for the nutty siblings are way too tired on weekday evenings to even contemplate a game of UNO. Guess who misses UNO most now on weekday evenings ? No two guesses, huh ? !

Hugs, Hugs and More Hugs. I don’t think I need to say anything more here.

The aroma of freshly baked bread. It reminds me of Sundays during early childhood. Sunday mornings meant a visit to the local bakery. I used to walk to the bakery with my father, my hand in his, to buy some freshly baked buns. I still remember the aroma of freshly baked bread in the bakery then and the way it used to encompass and fill my senses even then. More than anything, it was the walk from home to the bakery and back. We would talk about all sorts of immaterial things while walking to and from the bakery and now looking back, those were some of the happiest moments of my childhood.

Babies toddling around – like vehicles without brakes. Very adventurous lot, these. What makes me smile is the fact that they take the world by its horns, not a care in the world as to the consequences. What carries them on that toddle around, what keeps them going is nothing but sheer faith. These babies have faith in themselves and in the world around them. Something we adults could take a page out of, every now and then. Faith – what a ring of strength that little word carries.

Breeze – ever so gentle that it feels like Mother Nature is out to caress all your worries away. And what fun it is when the breeze turns into a gust of wind – it makes me want to spread my arms and take flight, soar in the open skies like a bird. The body may not but the heart definitely soars when it senses Mother Nature beckoning with open arms.

Sunshine – automatically lifts my spirits. It is instinctive, it is unconscious. The spirits soar unthinkingly when it sees a sunny day and blue skies. It creates a feeling of cheeriness that simply refuses to give way to grumpiness, even if one tries really hard.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee – no better way to start the day. A whole load of goodness and decadence – the very aroma makes the heart sing.

Daily prayers – they fill me with a sense of peace. The mind becomes still and in that stillness I find it so much easier to find the tranquillity, the serenity and the harmony that I seek. It nourishes and fills the soul with a sense of purpose and provides the soul, strength.

I can go on and on, for there is plenty more to say. But I’ll stop here for now, for I run the risk of putting you, dear reader, to sleep. We wouldn’t want that to happen now, would we ?

So tell me, Dear Reader, what are those little things in life that uplift your soul and makes you believe in the fact that this world is, after all, a happy place, if we choose to believe and make it so.