A Bali birthday!

July. Call me partial, but it is a lovely month of the year, every year, for more than one reason. First things first, Happy birthday to me!

In keeping with the trend of restful nights, another 8 hour night followed. It would have been the aircon or the phase of nothing-to-do-other-than Eat, Burp and Sight See (Sorry Elizabeth Gilbert!), the nights on vacation days help you catch up on any sleep debts you have from the days on the hamster wheel.

The morning began with the usual machine made coffee at the patio of the room, listening to the birds tweeting, watching the calm albeit high tide sea, gardeners going about what gardeners do, early morning swimmers taking a dip and the man of the house packing used laundry back into our suitcase. We were going back home today.

We wanted to make our trip worthwhile for everyone involved. That included our daughter, who was braving through all the temple relic visits and all the conversations, only with the faintest hope that we would make it up to her by doing something fun at Bali. So we decided to do away with a half day shopping trip to Kuta ( which was what was on schedule) and instead went to Tanjung Benoa, which is where all of  Bali gathered for adventure water sports.  It was a ten minute drive from our resort and we got there early yet there was a big crowd already.

We sat with a slime ball employee of the adventure sports club, whose main job was to convince whoever he spoke to, to think of themselves as the best people who have set foot on the island of Bali. He tried his best to convince us that the adventure sport options he offered us were at a special price. But  having been there done that several times over, negotiating that is, we told him what we thought would be a good price. After the usual back and forth drama, we settled at some price we thought was reasonable. (Restless Wira did not relax till he was assured that we had frozen the deal and heard the cash machine in his brain go Ka- Ching!!)

Yes, that is us on the banana boat!

The first of our adventures was the ride on a banana boat. The ride was just that.  A ride on a banana shaped air float that was towed at high speed into the ocean, without a clue how far, how long or how jerky the ride was going to be. But let me say that it was enjoyable (for me), an adrenalin rush (for Akank) and safe ( for GSR).  If the banana boat had capsized or worse still deflated, the only saving grace was that we were all wearing life jackets and would still be afloat at sea for someone to spot and save us!

The second sport we opted for was more adventurous. In retrospect, GSR says it was the most foolish thing to have attempted. To start with, we were not given any life vests to wear on the motor boat that took us to a  point in the sea (that seemed like the middle of the sea to a novice’s eyes), to a bigger boat. The bigger boat was stationed just over the spot where we had to deboard the boat to get to the adventure. Secondly, the adventure club employees (at home in the rough waters, smoke spewing motor boats and figure hugging scuba wear) never really prepare you for any emergencies that may occur enroute to the sea bed or beyond. As it turned out, the Sea walker,     (which was what the adventure was called) was a half hour walk on the sea bed among the under water sea life and coral reefs. We were given scuba diving suits, foot wear and huge oxygen head gear to wear that allowed us to breathe through under water. Here is a link to a YouTube video of us under the sea!

What really happens when you get lower than 5 meters /16.5 ft under water, is that, your ears start popping (and that hurts) because of the change in pressure. To equalize the pressure, they advised us to keep blowing air into our ear canal. But like all good advice, when you are on your own, 5m under water, and the only sound you hear is your own breathing, the gush of water around you and the awful realization that this may well be your grave, the advice doesn’t come of much use.

But just as I was busy recalling the hand signs that I was shown for emergencies, before I was guided under water, I was swarmed by hundreds of multiple colored fish! The fish temporarily made me forget the discomfort in my ear. It was blissful to be part of their world till the ear pressure and the light headedness of being under water hit me back in full force. I survived the experience and lived to tell the story!

Wira’s eyes sparkled when we handed over a handsome tip, for being our knowledgeable guide and friend for the length of our stay at Bali. I “warned” him that his inputs on the various subjects we talked about were going to be published online and that he would be responsible for the authenticity of the information shared.

Disclaimer. All information shared in these blogs are either my observation or Wira’s. If you have anything to clarify, you know where to reach me (and I know where to reach him)

Emotional rollercoaster walk

A few weeks back, on a beautiful February morning, I was walking Maxx on a familiar route. I happened upon three different situations which made me go from being angry to sad to being happy. The blog idea was born that day. It was a post waiting to be written! Join me on that morning’s journey.

Maxx loves to meet more of his kind on our morning walks. He eagerly looks forward to meeting new dogs, with new smells from new territories. That morning, we saw another walker with her pet heading towards the pedestrian crossing that was already green for people wanting to cross. The early morning traffic was quiet and not many vehicles were on the road yet. The other dog, slowed his walker down because he wanted to say hello to Maxx who had already stopped on his tracks to greet the canine. However, the human, seemed more keen to make it to the other side of the road before the lights turned red again and rushed forward. The dogs leash caught under his body and legs and he fell and turned a full 360 degrees before he scrambled up on his feet and rushed across the road behind his owner, while throwing furtive glances over his shoulders at Maxx. Maxx was left looking at the dog without a sniff of a chance. This made me angry. Angry with the pet owner who didn’t allow her dog to socialize with Maxx and instead rushed him across the road without even a glance at the poor chap who did an awesome acrobatic maneuver to keep pace with his owner.

As we continued our walk, I spotted a host of sparrows, merrily chirping and hopping about, pecking at each other, at the grain or whatever they found on the ground. I was immediately filled with a sense of loss and missed my dad incredibly. Daddy would always feed the sparrows. When my brother and I were little, it was a trick that he kept up his sleeve to impress us.  He would get a bowl of grain and scatter it on the ground and sat patiently for the sparrows to show up. And they always did, much to our delight. He continued to impress his grand kids who watched him in awe. I imagined then, that daddy was perhaps there in that host of sparrows that morning, keeping a watch over us. I imagined him to be happy with his family of sparrows.

We were nearing the end of our walk. That penultimate stretch of our morning walk, has a few ongoing constructions. At that time of the morning, we always spot mini truck loads of construction workers coming in to work, with their lunches packed, their work overalls or a newspaper in hand. One of them was wearing a tee shirt that day which made me forget the anger of that morning, the nostalgia of the loss. I could not help but smile to myself and chuckle under my breath. There it said in big black letters, ‘ Same shit. Different day.’ I nodded to myself in agreement, even though I was doubtful if the wearer of the tee shirt himself realized the succinct irony of it all!

Have you experienced such changing emotions in a span of an hour? Share your thoughts!

Women of grit, my friends.

women of gritThis summer I had the opportunity to spend  some up close and personal time with a few of my women friends. There have been times in the past that I have Thanked God for the blessed life I lead. This summer I realized that I really do. I am going to tell you in detail, about four very special women, my heroes, that I got to spend quality time with, this July.

Woman 1 We had not spent time together after Grade ten. And that was over 25 years back. Yet, when I heard about her loss, meeting her felt the most logical thing to do. She had three young kids, a business to run and she was all alone. I felt guilty. I was not in touch with the reality that was her life. Only when she began to tell me that she felt like a bird out of cage since her widowhood, I realized how unhappy she must have been with her married status. True she has a bungalow to live in and kids who adored her but living in the shadow of a business man husband, who discounted her ability to do anything sensible in life because she was a woman must have hurt bad. True she was not academically inclined to complete schooling like the rest of us did but not being able to give vent to her artistic, interior design skills because she was married off early to this insensitive dead man is unbelievably sad. The little time I spent with her, I saw a spark that had lit her life. Now she could show the world what she was made of. Now, life was beginning.

Woman 2 Her daughter and my child began the journey of formal education together in a different city where we both lived then. The birthday parties she hosted were the best. She managed the house, two kids and yet had time to do more. She coached, mentored,taught, sang and went everywhere on foot. She was fit, she was happy. Or so I thought. Until two years back, she walked out of her happy life with a boxful of clothes and the children’s school bags. I was shocked. When women like her do not speak the truth that was her life, it takes time for people to digest facts. The ideal husband material turned out to be a wimp. He could not handle her need to be recognized, to be financially independent, to be appreciated for what she was worth. He continued to be belligerent and bossy. She kept her calm and went on with life till she could not handle it anymore. It was her sanity that was at stake. She knew she could make it on her own if she stayed sane.

Woman 3 She married a man she chose. She anticipated that he would give her that perfect life she yearned for; the one that she did not live as a child. She willingly relocated her life to a new country to begin her life after marriage. She was expecting her first child soon. What she did not anticipate was that her first and only child would not know his dad ever. The man she married, the dad to her only unborn child, her lover and husband, walked out on her when she was in the 6th month of pregnancy. He had found yet another love and walked away from responsibility. I was bitter. I always knew her as a pleasant, naive, studious, will-go-any-lengths-to-please-my-mom person. When she cut herself off from the World around her, refused to speak and be spoken to, never responded to any mails, you knew that life had not been fair to her. She sulked alone. She probably blamed herself for not seeing through the facade of the man who pretended reciprocal love. She lived a few years of her life in abandon and despair. Until one day, she saw her child growing up to be a beloved young man. She owed it to him. She owed it to her mom who stood by her, never once pointing out to her for the flaw she could have prevented.

Woman 4  Her parents had never made her feel loved. She was always considered a burden in the family. A specimen of an unwanted species of human kind who was occupying space at home. Her insides hurt every time her parents told her that. They married her away to a man who told her on the bridal night, that he married her because his brother in law desired her. Her fate was doomed. She was meant to have an unhappy life, or so it seemed. She could not live another day wallowing in self pity. She walked out of her husband’s and parents’ house. She was determined not to be dependent on anyone and took strength from her belief in the superior power of God. Her life was empty and loveless until she met this wonderful man. He offered to walk with her in her journey of life. My faith in life was renewed.

To the four of you, my beloved friends, I dedicate this blog post. I salute you for your faith in yourself, in the magical power of self esteem and the strength with which you face your adversities.

From you I learn that you can go on despite the curves life throws at you.

From you I draw strength and check myself when I have the urge to crib.

From you I have learnt not to take anything for granted and to be thankful for every blessing in my life.

Love you all.

Nostalgic Diwali!

Happy Diwali everyone!

I am nostalgic for the olden daysespecially at Diwali.
The days leading to Diwali were packed with things to do. First it was the clothes. The only time we got new clothes was for our birthdays and Diwali. Sometimes when dad had some money to splurge then we were bought clothes for Pongal too. When we were little, our clothes were all tailored. First my mom picked the material after a lot of deliberation. Then the tailor came home to take measurements and gave us a date by which he could deliver the stitched clothes. Amma would always insist that it came at least a week before Diwali, however, the tailors of those days were infamous for the deadline misses. So some years our clothes have arrived the night before Diwali! Imagine how stressful that would be.

When I was older, my mom would take me Diwali shopping to let me choose what I wanted.  I remember a time when a friend and I decided that we will both pick a pair of jeans. That way we could wear them the same day as well and not be laughed at! Those days, being seen in a pair of jeans in Trichy was unheard of and no one dared wear a pair unless you had company.
The women in the neighborhood would wait to show off their ‘Diwali purchases’.  The women knew who was going Diwali shopping on what days. A common question one would get asked in the days leading up to Diwali was ‘Diwali shopping aacha” (Is shopping for Diwali done?). Such was the importance given to the festival. When the men left for the factory at 7 in the morning the day after shopping was done, the women would linger in the compounds waiting to catch the eyes of the other women, who were busy seeing off their husbands and children. No duties around the house would start until the newly acquired clothes were shown to a few neighbors. The woman of the house will then recall how lucky she was to find the colour / pattern/ size of her choice and how there were half a dozen people eyeing it after she had made the choice. She would earn an appropriate collective exclamation from the other women who had been invited to view the buys. Then she would advise the others of the shops that had better choices and value for money spent. The same ritual followed till all the women in the neighborhood completed the shopping.
With kids, especially the boys, the talk was always about how many different kinds of crackers they were going to burst that Diwali. The parents smartly put away a few boxes from the previous Diwali and brought them out a week or ten days before the event. Then there was this ritual of drying the crackers to take away the moisture. So when the sun was out, the family made sure they sunned out the crackers so that they would all be crisp and ready for the D day. Invariably, the skies would turn grey and make sure that the crackers were moist again!

Then there was the planning for the sweets! Sometimes, families in the colony where I grew up, got together and decided to have sweets made at home in large quantities to be distributed to 20 to 30 families.. So they pooled in their resources and got ladoos, mysore pak, jaangri, mixture, murukku, jamoons , ribbon, kaara sev, made at home by professional sweet masters.
On the night before Diwali, my dad would get the kerosene stove ready to heat up water for the traditional, “oil bath”, not before Mom had helped scrub the bathroom floors clean and adorning the stove and the raised platform on which the kerosene stove was placed, with rangoli. Amma would then draw a huge complicated rangoli outside the front gate of the house and allow us to colour the design with our choice of colors. Sometimes, it would rain in the night and wash the entire effort with just traces of where it was drawn, the next morning! She would then make sure to smear the new clothes with turmeric, placed on a tray along with the oil and crackers, and the lehiyam in front of the Gods’ sanctum. The family would be so excited that we would hardly sleep a wink!

That was another something that we discussed on the morning of Diwali. Who woke first at each house? Who woke up first in the neighborhood? Who burst the first cracker? My dad would make sure that one set of crackers were burst when one of us was in the bath. It was a ritual! The house would smell of heady aromas – the oily sweets, new clothes, smoke from the crackers being burst and the sounds of nadaswaram on radio.

Among the girls, we competed on who would appear first, with new clothes on, the morning of Diwali. So we hurriedly washed our hair with shikakai powder and rushed out before the oil totally washed off. Much against amma’s wishes and warning not to wear new clothes before she wiped us dry, with dripping oily wet hair, we quickly wore our new clothes and ran to the front gate to look around and announce that we were first!

Then began the noisy crackers that lasted till the sun was overhead and past noon. The Christian and Muslim families in the colony were the only ones that would wait to taste the sweets and savories that the Hindu’s brought to share.


Diwali over the years has changed so much…
Today we buy clothes every season, without rhyme or reason.
Today we avoid sweets because of diet or diabetes.. Or indulge in it without reason.
Today we believe in going green and not contributing to the already polluted air…
Today we have no time for neighbors.. nor do they have for us.
Today we use branded shampoo and use geyser heated showers..

Wish Diwali from my childhood days were here again!

School memories

Some memories from school that were discussed in one of the alumni get togethers in the October 2005

 

The Jayabalan Teaching Technique – Recalled by Swami

 

Swami’s experience with Mr.Jayabalan’s way of differentiating the consonant sounds in apna hindi was hilarious. There was this once when Mr.Jayabalan demonstrated that ‘Ka’ was different from ‘Kha’ and Swami was more than convinced. Ask me how? Mr. Jayabalan, actually asked Swami to place his hand right in front of his (sir’s) mouth and demo’d  the plosive sound of ‘kha’ with a blast of air mixed with generous amounts of saliva that bathed Swami’s palm (or so he claims)

 

The Scandalous Incident at Kurla Station  – Narrated by Swami, Harisha and Sajid

 

Now, hold your horses. Its not as vivid as you imagine. But I called it that, so that you will read along further! There was this once when Sajid, Swami and Harisha missed the last train outta town from where ever they were doing whatever they did, and had the only option to sleep on the platform benches at Kurla station till where they managed to reach. Sajid opted to doze off on the closest bench available while Swami and Harisha yearned for more ‘immoral’ exploits! It was wee hours of the morning which was when “lady” bar- tenders (as aptly named by Swami) return home. Swami and Harisha spotted one such and followed. Kahaani mein twist hai. The poignant moment of the situation was when they found that the woman turned out to be a Eunuch. ( Woo- Man!)

 

PS- Harisha claimed that he followed Swami to ensure he was safe!

 

Ok!

 

Heres more sleaze!

 

The Legendary seedy sleazy BHEL Guest house Catastrophe– Recalled by Swami, with affirmation from Sajid

 

Ah! I bet you didn’t hear of it when it happened. But as legend has it ( Swami’s claim, again!), it has been talked about even today. As archetypal of Sajid (oh , you didnt know?), he was with his lady cohort in a guiltless discussion about the birds and the bees in a parked car. That didn’t cause the trouble he got into. The hitch was, that he chose to park in the environs of the BHEL guesthouse where a VIP was stationed- The then prez, R Venkatraman. The president’s security objected to his locale of choice and what followed were Sajid’s misfortune and a topic of our euphoric reminiscences!

 

PS- Sajid saluted Swami for his unbelievable supremacy in total recall!

 

 

The agile tutoring formula used by Mr.Susai Michael – Recalled by Arthi

 

I bet most of us in the group would have experienced this at one time or the other when Mr. Susai Michael was handling Chemistry. Or should I say, most of us who were not so inclined to learn the difference between methyl and ethyl alcohol. He once paced rapidly with such velocity to where I was seated and bent double to elucidate the dissimilarity- especially since I was busy wool gathering in the unknown zone.(Day dreaming,  for the uninitiated)

 

The Jesudass modus-operandi for Humiliation – Recalled by Ramarajan

 

Ramarajan did not mind securing zilch in his physics paper till the day Jesudoss decided to exhibit the scores on the notice board for the junior’s to see and scorn- to his utter disapproval! After all, what do rookies know!

 

The Infamous episode that made Bro.Paul anxious – Recalled by Mini and Arthi

 

And then there was this time when Mini and I jumped the main school gates after a PT session before sports day at the grounds outside school and were caught by the watchful fretty Bro. Paul (Peace be to his soul!). The damage was done when we pretended not to hear him calling us to stop dead on our tracks and instead sprinted across the ground hoping we would not be recognized. (Who were we trying to con- Mini was the shortest and I, the tallest from the junior school and we always hung around together!) .He unswervingly ordered for our parents to be at school on Day II to meet him at the ‘Prinici’s’ room.

 

Later, he anxiously enlightened our parents how misbehaviour leads to delinquency in grown ups! 

 

The class leaders (Pradeep, Paddu, George)

 

The group also fondly remembered the characteristic dexterities of some renowned class leaders like the mentioned. Pradeep with his way of allowing a minute to chat with your neighbour and not putting your name down on the list of ‘talkers’; Paddu’s compassion for class mates who did not want to comply with rules till the princi came walking by; and George’s  ( It was George right, Swami?) distressing habit of breaking into tears when the class didn’t comply!

 

 

 

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My daughters blog entries

My daughter who is seven this year, is savvy about blogs. She began writing some content a few months earlier to publish in her blog- which hasn't seen the light of day.

 

 

My Tracing Book

Today, I traced a picture from my TRACING BOOK. It was a   pig. When I finished it, I gave it to Kassi, an American. She has a little sister. And her name is . I actually gave it to Kassi to give it to . Kassi told me when saw a pig, she grunted. This time she actually didn’t when she gave it to her.

 

My Dance

I am in a dance for the ANNUAL DAY at school. There are seven teams in my dance. One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six and Seven. My team number is four. COLOURS OF LIFE  is the name of my dance. I love being in the dance.

 

Lizards

Kassi told me that lizards are our friends. They help us get rid of small insects flying in the house. I am not going to be afraid of them anymore.

 

The Cocker Spaniel Pup 

I was at airport to board a flight to , when I met a family with a cute cocker spaniel pup. It was so ,so ,so, so cute that I wanted him. His name was Simba. I carried him and took pictures with him.I can send you a few of them if you want some.

 

My Sports Day

I am practicing for my Sports Day, and I am in a running race and guess what? I CAME FIRST!! My friends came second and last. We had to do three things in the race. First, I had to colour a circle on a sheet of paper with a crayon. Secondly, I had to fill a bottle of water and lastly I had to thread a bead before I ran back to where I started.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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