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Talking to a Stranger

When Little Red Riding Hood ventured into the Forest to see her sick Grandmother, living on the edge, on the other end, her Mother sends her off with the Words, ‘Don’t talk to strangers’. She did just that, and the rest is a ‘grim’ fairy tale!

My car was due for service, and a female voice at TVS Sundaram Honda, Salem, kept pounding my phone for a date. I finally relented and said 30th May was all right – book a sexy slot at the 8.30am Calendar Table – so that ‘delivery’ can happen by 12 Noon. We had a deal!

So there I am sitting in the Customer Lounge – after handing over the car keys, true to date and having signed on the Job Card – reading the morning Newspaper; in walks a white (clad in a clean white short sleeve shirt and matching well-ironed white pant), surely 75+, old man and settles down next to me. After a few tense moments of come-hither, look-yonder looks, our eyes met and we started a wonderful conversation. It appears that he thought 9am was an early-bird time and with that kind of an appearance he could get back his Car before lunch-time. Sorry, I told him, I arrived at 8.30am and there were already 10 cars ahead of me, and I willed a time of 12 Noon. We both joked about how we could have queued up with our neem-tooth brushes, folded lungi and mug of water – early birds get the worm! We then talked about education – why kids are becoming dumber at Schools and how wider travel would open-up minds, why the environment at home is so important to grow confident kids, how working in Mumbai makes men out of children; the inevitable Jayalalithaa (strong & courageous – he said); of course, Karunanithi (brilliant, clever – he said); Modi Sarkar, and how good governance is what we need – not table fans, cows & goats but roads and infrastructure to go on and buy them of your choice; Ramayana – why following rules is awfully important and how a King decides when & how much of a punishment is enough; Mahabharata – why we need to get over the Arjuna-effect in our lives; Running Power Plants; Building Airports…etc., ending with me demonstrating Modi’s Digital India initiative – asking for his car (actually his Daughter’s) number and by instant return SMS finding the Owner. In between, I quickly slid to the nearby KFC, grabbed a Snacker by the throat – ate it, and returned to continue the conversation. When we finally unlocked our eyes it was 12 noon, and my car was ready. I hurriedly said goodbye and left quickly – dragged by the Service Advisor to ‘pay’ for the ‘date service’ and clear the area. It was all over in a flash. No names, no nothing. I had been talking to a complete stranger… and immensely enjoyed it – felt younger (minus 70 ) Ha!

The Year That Was 2019

IMG_0007We have breezed through the year with so much happening all over the World and I thought I’ll put to word a few that caught my eye and touched my heart.

A Swedish kid – Greta Thunberg – leading the Climate Change Movement, on her own oxygen, changed the climate on Time Magazine’s Cover, riding a cool yacht across the Atlantic and reaching the shore of the Magazine’s Person Of The Year honor. Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, a tropical plant produced male and female cones outdoors for the first time in 60 million years, in an event Botanists say is a clear indication of Climate Change in the wind of Greta’s sails. Many more seas to cross, and travel is looming in the year ahead. Read somewhere that the last four years have been the hottest years on Planet Earth, since record-keeping began. That kid will grow-up on us.

A Japanese Woman, Naomi Osaka, won the Australian Open Tennis Women’s Singles Title, for the first ever time raising her game like the rising sun. I guess she saw the tennis balls shining like the sun and was clever enough to use it to blind her opponent for a courageous win.

American NASA’s New Horizon, seeking new horizons, flew past Ultima Thule, which at 6.5 billion km away is the most distant ever exploration of an object in our Solar System. The radio message takes 6 hours 8 minutes to traverse the great expanse of space between here and there. While the message travelled, India’s ISRO launched its ambitious Chandrayaan-2 Mission to the Moon, hoping to land Vikram, the Moon Lander, on the surface and roll out the red carpet for Pragyan, tucked inside its womb, to rove the Moon. However Vikram caught a cold, just 2.1 km above the surface, sneezed too violently, and crash landed on the Moon. So near, yet so far. Failure is at best a hard-landing lesson: we are already thinking about Chandrayaan-3 and an Indian on the Moon; the spirits of Neil Armstrong willing, along with a fiercely competitive and hardworking ISRO. It’s been fifty years since Man first landed on the Moon and we are still fascinated by its invisible honey.

Man keeps expanding the boundaries of the known Universe; almost every other month we come across a new discovery of further unkind emptiness in Space and sizzling kinds of life forms in the deep oceans and forests on Earth – why sometimes in our own backyard! January also saw the death of George, the only living Tree Snail of its kind: ‘He is survived by none’, read its Obituary. In July, Scientists were shocked to find that a young female Arctic Fox had travelled over 3500 km from Norway to Canada in just 76 days, and amazingly covered 155 km in just one day, when it crossed the Greenland Ice Sheet. Wow, that’s a real Fox act.

India strikes terror across the Border in Pakistan, in an unbelievable macho moustache strike on terrorists and Prime Minister Narendra Modi romps home to Election victory in a magnificent win. He followed through by making his buddy the Home Minister, and the combo delivered political fireworks, from bringing Jammu & Kashmir into mainstream India by abrogation of a toothless Article; and amending India’s Citizenship Act making it easier for religiously persecuted minorities from the neighboring theocratic States to become citizens of India, inside 5years – without source documents, rather than the norm of 11 years – with documents, provided they entered India before 31 December 2015. In the meantime, people who previously could no understand basic traffic rules, or read to understand, woke-up and read exactly what the Amendment did not say. Fear, and the wrong way to an unreachable place, is the catalyst for not getting things done and making unholy noises.

In Paris, The Notre Dame Cathedral lighted up its past History, probably wanting a fresh make-over; Japan’s Emperor abdicated the Crysanthemum Throne, in a first of its kind in Japan – the oldest hereditary monarchy, in favor of his son who became the 126th Emperor. Banzai (10,000 years) – Should be achievable with the Harvard-educated Empress to help him!

Australia’s Scott Morrison won in a freak Election – period Australia. When it gets too hot in Australia the nectar in certain flowers ferments and turn into alcohol. The Bees that get drunk on the nectar aren’t allowed back into the hive until they sober up (else they might mess with the Queen?). Maybe Scott and his party stayed sober enough for the Queen to approve.

Donald Trump towers to be the only the third US President ever to be impeached after being the first US President to step into the hermit Kingdom of North Korea. One, Two, Three… is a series for winners and losers. Never mind, if Obama caught Bin Laden, Trump hunted down Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi of the ISIS using the best of dog-power he could find. About that time NASA Astronauts performed the first ever All Women Space Walk – cat walking about the International Space Station in their beautiful space suits – without make up. In yonder Britain, Boris Johnson’s carefully ruffled hair may finally ‘Get Brexit Done’. He won on that simple slogan.

French Inventor Franky Zapata crossed the English Channel on a jet-powered fly-board, on a second attempt, while Spiderman was spinning his new web in yet another Far From Home movie.

India’s PV Sindhu won the World Championship Badminton Gold, in one of many firsts, for women in India. Not to be left behind, Boxer Mary Kom continued to defy age and marriage, winning medals more than Gold, while athlete Hima Das become a track superstar. Off the track, Wing Commander Anjali Singh become the first woman to be appointed as Military Diplomat in Indian Missions, abroad. Indian Women are a hard-working progressive lot, for sure. Beauty, Brains and physicals – it’s playing in India to full House; only, the men need to find their place. Beware, the Kung Fu Nuns from the Himalayas and Ladak region are changing the game by up-skilling women in the art of self defense.

Respected, all-round, omnipresent Politicians Arun Jaitley and Sushma Swaraj pass away to the Heavens above: Despite Arun waiving the GST for Sushma’s life; and Sushma, in turn, ensuring special medicines arrive from abroad in double quick time – on a simple tweet request from Arun, they both failed to make it beyond the border of 2019.

Here’s wishing that the year 2020 is at least a little bit better than 2019, in all aspects. Cheers to that!

The Silent Treatment

TheSilentTreatment

With the advent of the mobile phone we have been smartly introduced to the silent mode, which enables us to get along with our work, without worrying about the noise generated by someone nearby, or even remote. I’m sure the designers of the mobile phone must have lifted the idea from our own daily lives.

When ‘just married’, my wife and I, often found solace in the Silent World. We start discussing a topic – often forgetting to listen to each other; each one pinging the mind on what to say next, rather than become all ears, listen, and make a sensible reply; and end up fighting like cats & dogs. In the end, suddenly there is an eerie stillness, not a word, not a sound, and we finally agree to treat each other silently, no confrontation. We find our match in the silence, allowing it to fill the space between us. This may last a few hours, a day or even more, with only the ‘basic sounds being made’ to live the daily grind. Over the years the Silent Treatment has survived, evolved, and taken many avatars, but refuses to become fully extinct.

That takes me back to the School Days when as growing-up kids we fought over boy-boundaries, pencils, rubbers, scales, compass boxes, comics, books… and what not? When the trade between partners breaks-down we end up saying the famous line, ‘I’ll not talk to you again’. We are enemies, and enemies don’t talk to each other, do they? Most often we show the white flag, call truce, patch-up, and are back to talking again. How many times have we done this? I wonder.

When in College and University we follow a similar pattern: there are some people we just cannot tolerate, or simply do not want to talk to, often the end-result of a ‘bare the fangs, rowdy’ first meeting. Here, more than the silent treatment it is a cold disengagement; our personal version of a Cold-War.

When I returned to my Hometown, after a glorious run around India, and some parts of the World, I settled down in my own Flat in a small Apartment Complex built by a close bloodline relative – The Owner. With the confidence of the many places I had lived, I decided to take up the task of painting and re-furbishing the Apartment, dreaming of making it a ‘Paradise on Earth’ (Why, Kashmir?). The Apartment wasn’t maintained well and needed some decent paint work to be done. I went about talking to the stakeholders, planning, tendering, calling for quotes and shortlisting a Contractor. Meanwhile, I sounded the Flat Residents, including The Owner, on the cost involved, secured their approval, made the cash flow, and got the work started. Midway, I had to handover the work to another Person as I was starting my new Apparel Manufacturing Business in a nearby Town. Further, the cash also dried-up as The Owner reimbursement himself on previous Expenses; another Resident, tied to The Owner, did not pay up his share; and in addition, we had to talk to everyone on the need to collect more. My emails to all concerned were on an even keel, and somehow the written word made the Owner testy, and he went into the Silent mode.

It’s over four years now, since The Owner and I have spoken – the last time was, when he was after me to copy-write his Resume, he knew I was a damn good Writer and a storyteller – during which time the talk was primarily over email. We do bump into each other in the parking area or at the few Weddings I attend, but he looks the other way, suddenly discovers a new-found friend, launches into a Chandrayaan orbit; or puts his ear to a nonexistent ‘silent’ mobile call. The relationship is truly broken. We never drew swords, fired a rifle shot or wrestled each other on the mat.  The Silent Treatment continues to this day.

While starting our (my wife & me) Own Women’s Apparel Manufacturing Business, we set up Factory and Shop in a nearby Town, off the never-fully-finished painted Apartment of my Hometown, on the undivided property owned by my wife’s late Father. She thought she had a share of what was left of her Dad’s Estate; the Law said so; until one day her Brother decided to make a new Law, dispatches an Army of Blood-line relatives, led by a  ‘fair’ double-MBA US Residing Cousin, to talk to her on leaving; ignoring facts, and failing to acknowledge that she has an equal share of the property. Girl, there are blood curling debts and issues which the poor rich Brother has to encounter, she was told. They fired a broadside of unforgivable lacerating words, which made wounds deep inside, and stormed out never to speak to us again. They were people we dined and laughed with all these years. The unfinished paint work stuck here and too and manifested into the Silent Treatment. We play the cat & mouse game when and wherever we meet, especially in Family Events, to avoid each other, exercising the neck and back muscles – stretching to the maximum. That’s a Tom & Jerry moment we’ve learnt to celebrate!

Nearer Home, it’s been months since I’ve talked to my Dad; had a proper conversation; a Dad-Son talk. We seem to disagree on everything except the word disagreement. We have now weaponized it into a Silent Treatment grenade, which pin is pulled whenever we meet; the devastation causing us to scurry into our own thick-walled bunkers, for our own safety.

A relationship is surely dead when subject to the Silent Treatment. Isn’t it?

Suddenly I found a long and ever-growing list of the ‘Silent Treatment Fund’ in many other Groups, beyond mine; and when I silently turned around, opened my ears,  and listened to the neighborhood I found about the same silence. So silent I could hear my beard growing!

Why do we – the thinking and talking Homo Sapiens, do this? We have disagreements, opinions and judgments that vary as much we are all so different. But why can’t we accept this and move on? Agree to disagree? Become better listeners; listen to understand instead of listening to respond? I remember, Aristotle famously said, ‘It is the mark of an educated mind to entertain a thought without accepting it’. Why cannot we just entertain thoughts, and not chase them to destruction?

This Diwali season, maybe a bust of crackers would make the right noises; the sounds to be heard beyond our individual walls!

The Return of Modi

 

 

TRMOver the past few months we’ve seen – what many effortlessly called a polarising, gruesome Election – Chowkidars Sticks, Tea-cups, Aircraft Fighters and Navy Ships being thrown about in gay abandon by so-called jobless liars, thieves, fascists, Hitlers, Dynasts, over the brave voters who seem to have calmly made up their minds very well and voted back the 52 inch-chested (the Chest of seats grew larger than anyone predicted) Narendra Modi as Prime Minister of India. While the North of India queued North – as far as choking Mount Everest – to support Modi, the South of India, riding a severe Hate-Modi Cyclone blown by the regional satraps, went deep South and hardly contributed to the expansion of the chest.

In Tamil Nadu, the Party of the Rising Sun which incidentally has a ‘forever rising son’ as its brand new Chief, capitalised on the Hate-Modi winds; he even briefly threw away his red-black border white dhoti and high collar white shirt, wore  Red T-Shirts and Black Pants and danced on the dirty streets to convince the voters that the Challenger, Pappu, can indeed become Prime Minister and learn new dance moves; more than he himself becoming a scorching hot Chief Minister-which should have been the primary goal.  Ultimately, for the Rising Sun Chief, it was a case of, ‘Operation Successful: but Patient died’. He won by convincingly pandering to narrow-mindedness and regional pride instead of looking at the big picture of India as a country where multiple cultures co-exist and thrive peacefully and where we should integrate this differentiation and move ahead with the strength of unity. Of course, if he does this kind of integration how would he keep alive his Tamil base?  The ‘Rising Son’ wears a Russian name and has a habit of tarring any Hindi words – on name boards – he comes across. Claims his Dad taught him the basics of rubbing. What about Russian? I guess, it’s more like English. Is Hindi more foreign than English and Russian? Ask any Tamilian and they will tell you about the misery they face when confronting someone speaking Hindi in the course of Business or even when dining-out in Chennai; or still more when they move outside the State riding on a Tamil tongue!

When I attended a Christian Wedding in Kollam, during the Elections, the father of the Groom simply and firmly said, ‘Modi will not return as Prime Minister’. He had the weight of religion behind him and navigational expertise in his domain: I was struck by the firm confidence, as if his God had made-up the minds of India and mysteriously told him so. I said, ‘I do’ believe that he will return as PM. Now, I have the last laugh! Meanwhile, he has decided that the Earth is not enough and has plans to land on the Moon and settle in faraway Mars.

Over the Election period, most of who I spoke to in the South – Tamil Nadu in particular – for some inexplicable reason wore a visible Hate-Modi mask. When I asked them why, many were unable to convincingly explain. Who is Modi? Where was he when Cyclone Gaja was ravaging Tamil Nadu?  Reminded me of Ayn Rand’s, ‘Who is John Galt?’ The motor of Jallikattu runs all over Tamil Nadu and fishermen find fewer letters about them being written to the Prime Minister, from a Chief Minister who out-witted the Rising Sun Chief in keeping his throne.

While all this was happening down South, in this epic Lok Sabha Election, including breaking Temple Scales by a Wordsmith – millions of blue blistering barnacles – Congress Member in God’s own Country; and a French bearded Son-in-law of a famous saffron-clad-Actor-cum-Party-Founder spewing the choicest venom on the Prime Minister, there was a silent pro-Modi Wave gathering storm in the North which many failed to detect, despite high-tech gadgetry; some got a whiff, but could not put a cigar to it!

In the East, a Bengal Tigress, wearing a permanent scowl caged herself to the Hate-Modi Group and when the Prime Minister called to enquire about a Cyclone that was knocking at her door, she refused to open and answer, saying she will talk to the ‘new’ Prime Minister. Well, sometimes the old becomes the new – Jai Sri Ram! Oh, Mother Kali!

In the Northern ravine-ridden Hindi heart-land, a fierce Woman with a permanent hand bag, almost an extension of her hand – even in the statues of her in the State, tried to put her Elephant on a bicycle and ride to Delhi – we know the results of such foolhardy daring, don’t we?

To cap it all, the scion- the Challenger, a dimpled Prince of the Royal Ruling Family of India -popularly called ‘Pappu’ had his hands full, mouthing a ton of lies on an imaginary sum of money finding its way to a real Business pocket, which just could not hold any at all, and required a nearby Brother to stitch-up and make it count. Pappu, along with every known Politician in the Opposition, thundered that Modi will not return, and on the sly found himself a safe seat in the South, to sit on, knowing that the Northern Amethi will kick him out – driven out by a gutsy lady, of the Modi clan, who fought tooth & nail, over a period of five years, to see this day. That was the first indication of a Modi Tsunami!

India’s own Games of Thrones, and ascending the Iron Throne in Delhi, was finally over, this season.

The  reasons for the Return of Modi will be analysed and dissected in times to come, but I think the reason why India voted for him is that this man means business and there is a certain trustworthy sincerity, honesty and bluntness in his style – like it or not, which tells us that he will make India a better place to live. Given his innings of the first five years, where some sound path-breaking changes such as the GST and Swachh Bharat Mission (among others) was introduced; besides showing that India has real muscle, he deserved another shot at the goal post.  India is tired and fed-up with the ordinary Politician who keeps showing us something that is not there – Modi can be felt and is a visible presence; wears his religion up his sleeve and has brought a sense of National Pride. Some say this is a New India, which went beyond caste, religion and regional vote-bank politics. Hope the South goes North soon and fuses into one seamless Country. The Lotus requires sunlight and water to thrive, grow and bloom; floating on the lake of a wonderful India.

 

 

 

 

 

Two Monks; a Motorcycle and a Car

TwoMonks

Over the past weeks I’ve been visited by two modern-day Monks: one, an University Engineering batch mate, came riding on a borrowed motorcycle; and the other, a past Engineering Consultancy Job Colleague, came driving a newly minted Car having purchased it recently – after selling his version of a Ferrari. They hustled into Town, alone, in a span of two weeks between them.

The Motorcycle Monk was over fifty, bespectacled, balding-with a clean middle, guarded by short cropped border bushes; and the once lavish spread of beard of turning-white hair, was now shaved-off, brought down to display a clever lush Gandhi-moustache. We used to call him the Gandhi of our circle, due to the obvious looks, and spartan lifestyle – except the topless part. He was once a gone-far-beyond Computer Engineer and gave it all up under a Big-Brother-Is-Watching Syndrome.  He tries his best to keep away from the Google, Facebook… and other super-sleuth, beneath the surface social media automatic monitoring systems. He warns me about the state of Surveillance Capitalism we live in, and that a carefree, untagged world does not exist anymore.

He contributes, in whatever manner he can, to Non-Governmental Organisation work and maintains a low ground-level profile. Somebody needed a motorcycle  to be transported from Bengaluru – where Tamil Nadu Licence Plates are a horror – to Madurai and he grabbed the opportunity to discover more of himself on a solo ride and do a ‘motorcycle march’. Other than the mandatory Helmet, he arrived with nothing much of a riding gear, bending-off from the normal route, to see me at Attur. I had to give him the typical Indian style directions: go straight, turn left, then right, then straight, then right… and nevertheless dispatched my Manager to escort him to my Office. I was blessed, and treated him to a good vegetarian meal and some sparkling conversation. He thanked my mother-in-law for the wholesome delicious food (he said so)  and touched her feet to show respect. I saw him off after more than an hour – only after issuing another set of rumbling directions to curl him back on to the original route to Madurai.

The Car Monk, having studiously learnt the ‘Art of Living’, was on a mission to serve humanity the Ramakrishna and Vivekananda way; and was on a solo drive to touch the various Ramakrishna Mission Math Pins on his Google Maps, by which he sweared his way-finding and sense of ‘direction’.  I sent him my location on Whats App (and a detailed left, right, forward direction, which he completely ignored) and behold he was at my doorstep, arriving from Madurai.

When he entered my Office I introduced him to a pretty Customer – who was looking up to me- that the new entrant was a friend and previous Work Colleague. The Customer then gently reminded me that two weeks ago I did the same kind of introduction, of another friend. Same-same, but different; there’s a connection, I guess, in the small things. He sat on the cushioned chair like Swami Vivekananda – legs folded in the  standard meditation pose and I could see the stirrings of a predominantly black and white beard on his shining brow. He wore brown beaded strings on both wrists and similar beaded necklaces, which seemed to weigh down his neck; otherwise it was a blue jeans and a blue-checked shirt attire.  He was clutching a smartphone, which kept sending notifications every once in a while, which he ignored. He began his discourse and we talked about garment design and fabrics and then transcended into sensible eating and healthy living. His wife, a learned and decorated Doctor of Nutrition – a Wellness Coach, had put him and the family on a natural path of saving Humans and the Planet, besides educating the World on how to live better by swallowing the right kind of food. He declared that his grown-up healthy sons (he showed a photo of a pair of beaming muscular boys) have to this day not drunk any kind of milk other than the original mother’s milk. His normal diet consists of a careful mixture of fruits -wet and dry- in the morning; followed by vegetable salad for lunch and a small helping of non-white rice  and vegetables for dinner. Snacking and oil-fried food was a strict no-no, as were most ‘white’ foods.

I lead him to the Dining Table for Lunch, and when I introduced him to my mother-in-law. He touched her feet in reverence: when I did I last do this kind of a thing? That’s a faded memory. We keep the conversation going over a simple vegetarian meal which we washed down with ease. I had the oil-fried appalam repaired with a direct-fire cooked one and we talked about how it tasted so different.

On the way out I, by habit, told him again about the left, right, centre directions to Salem Ramakrishna Ashram, to which he cooly said, GK I ain’t listening and do not intend to, my Google Map directions will take me there. It did!

Once the breeze of Monks had moved to less-greener pastures, I reflected on the emissions generated by them. I found myself wary of revealing too much on social media and started looking at food in an Adam-Eve sort of way. Apples, oranges and green organic vegetables danced in my dreams – away from the glare of Big Brother. Period!

Last but not least: I had written this Article a few weeks ago and was looking for an opportune moment to publish, when the Indian Air Force Balakot Air Strikes happened and another friend, an Army Major, native of a village near Attur, walked-in, even while I was trying to grow my spiral Abinandhan moustache. We spent the next one hour talking about heart-full meditation, talking trees and how we can live better lives. That’s Monk number three… and he too came alone, riding a car and this time there wasn’t that pretty Customer around!

Have a mindful meditative weekend ahead!

Kalyana Mandapams and Stadiums

kms

In the region where I live, I’m surrounded by tens of thousands of square-metres of Wedding Halls – Kalyana Mandapams, of various hardware facilities and operating systems. Basically, all have two main functional areas: the Main Wedding Hall, were the religious-or otherwise, marriage ceremonies actually take place; and a Dining Hall where guests are treated to a mind-boggling array of sweets, savouries and the best of foods of the season.

While the Wedding Hall is decked-up to be a visual feast, to exercise the eyes, the Dining Hall tests the limits of the taste buds and the digestive powers of the stomach. The Main Hall decorations are theme-based and Professional Adorners or Wedding Planners are often called-in to work on a concept so that the awfully well-dressed guests themselves adorn and complement the beauty of the venue, making it a memorable photo-opportunity. Guests move around coyly greeting each other; and there are chairs, invariably the hard plastic kind, where you can sit back and the survey the ‘Wedding fashion cat-walk’. Many guests must have spent months ‘planning their red-carpet entrance’ and the layers of cloth, the metres of silk saris with matching bejewelled blouses (a small area of great intricate work) speak their own language. Sometimes, you can catch a girl so beautifully dressed that you wonder whether she is the Bride (or a would-be Bride, drawing attention with come-hither looks), or charmingly trying to steal the Bride’s Day. Whatever, many a heart skips many a beat!

The Dining Hall, by the standards of the Main Hall is a dreary room with never-ending lines of tables and chairs, and seriously-uniformed Attenders running around in file-formation, like food-carrying ants, loading the banana-leaf plate, neatly laid on a paper table-spread, and ‘first sprinkled with holy water’ before applying weight. When one comes down to sit for the meal, one is baffled by the network of rows and columns of rainbow coloured food on display, guarded by the mandatory towering water bottle…and a courteous Attender waiting to serve more! Most take a quick little peck off each item, neatly fold the leaf (remember, always in your direction – as a sign of satisfaction) and quit to make merry at the open Food-Court where ice-creams, fruit salads, coffee, tea and the kind are in full flow, and thronged by the After-Main-Course-Food-Eaters. Lotus-Eaters?

One of the best scenes of the Wedding Halls, is the long queues lined-up to greet the Just-Married Couple, on stage, sit-in for the photo-moment and make Kings of the photographers who command the proceedings. I often wish the couple get down from their high perch and mingle with the guests in the Wedding Hall, leaving the stage to the Musicians and Photographers, to fill the voids.

The only conversation that I can recall, and rings often, after leaving a Wedding Venue, is the host, with folded hands, sheepishly asking, ‘Have you eaten?’ God bless the couple!

While all this is happening in the neighbourhood, I can hardly find a place to play a Wimbledon Tennis game, kick a World Cup Football, basket a ball, do an Usain Bolt dash, or prepare to run a Kenyan marathon. Why cannot we build as many Indoor and Outdoor Stadiums and Play Grounds as there are Kalyana Mandapams? When children come home for the holidays, there’s hardly a place for them to play, resulting in them getting betrothed to the mobile screens, wedded to smart phones and flirting with mobile-app games. We have pushed them to that level, haven’t we? When I get a chance to talk with these kids, I find that many are into some kind of a physical game, which is encouraging, but they struggle to ‘find a match’ to exercise their interests or kindle their playing passions. No wonder India fails to find and send awesome talent to the Olympics, despite millions lurking in the shadows (and perhaps enjoying a hearty meal in a Kalyana Mandapam)

Maybe, we could organize a Wedding as a Cricket Game with the Groom trying to bowl-over the Bride while the Bride’s Father keeps wickets, the Groom’s Father doing the Umpiring, and immediate relatives spread on the field, while the guests watch. They can mingle over field drinks and after the tiring game, create enough inner-space for a filling gorgeous Lunch or Dinner. Maybe the Couple can be dressed in tennis gear and play a love-game of Tennis about the nets with appropriately-dressed guests swaying their heads as the game unfolds! Maybe the Stadium itself can be turned into an Open-Air Kalyana Mandapam with the stage erected in the middle and the Guests watching and cheering from all sides. Gladiator Weddings?

I beguiles me that while we create so much facilities for people to get married we fail to think about the kids they will be producing, in the long run. Play they must, on the open grounds and fields, build up reserves of strength and energy to run and play the game of life, before they themselves head to the nearest Kalyana Mandapam!

I’ve deeply resolved that when I get the chance and wherewithal I shall get involved in creating a Play Stadium for the young chaps, as well as the old guys (to walk their tired legs), in my locality! Hope, you do too!

 

 

Bewitched; and Spider’s Milk

 

 

 

BewitchedOver the past weeks we’ve been bewitched by stunning visuals of the World’s now Tallest Statue – Unity, built taller than Liberty; and the Celebrity Weddings of Actors Deepika Padukone – Ranveer Singh, and Actor Priyanka Chopra – Musician Nick Jones. While the Indian-made couple chose to wed across foreign shores – in Italy, the foreign-going Baywatch and Quantico Star nicked precious space in India. The Wedding dresses ensemble put together over tens of thousands of man-hours could dress-up more than Lady Liberty and Sardar Unity (Lord Ram – when he does arrive on the scene in Ayodhya – doesn’t need them at all). Here’s wishing that the Stars stay united for years to come, else they are at liberty to request the services of Sardar Patel – again, coming down from his statue, to stay united.

Talking about Statues, I quote a recent Twitter tweet from Harsh Goenka, Chairman of RPG Enterprises, that I liked, “Indians when in Paris: Look at Eiffel Tower. Why can’t we build such structures? Indians when in New York: Look at the Empire State Building. Why can’t we build such structures? Indians when in India: Look at Patel’s Statue. Why can’t we build a hospital or school instead!” We cannot level everything in this World with one big scale, can we? I read an article where someone argued, ‘Can we eat statues?’. Well, we can’t eat Movies, Music, Wedding Dresses…yet, they have a purpose, I’m sure!

Event before these Stars started throwing their light, we were enthralled by NASA’s robotic InSight carefully landing on the Red Planet and settling down to a live-in relationship with Mars, at least for the next two years. InSight was dressed for the occasion and it was a delight to see it spread its solar panel ‘train of wings’ and soak in the energy of the Sun. We are still waiting for the Official Wedding Album to be released. Will there be many Receptions (Mumbai, Delhi)? Many ‘eight-minutes’ of Time Distance will tell!

Romance – in every dimension, is definitely in the air despite Nature blowing cold through Cyclones and Hurricanes.

While the star and moon-struck kind succeeded in their missions, an American who was bewitched by Jesus and Christianity took it all too seriously, stripping down to the bare essentials to try to hook one of the World’s most enigmatic, particularly vulnerable Tribes – the Andaman Sentinelese, to the Bible. They took him down with their primitive bow & arrow and left him dead on the beach – Jesus calling. The Sentinelese have lived isolated from the outside World for almost 60,000 years living the ancient hunter-gatherer life and have strongly resisted all attempts to bring them in to the mainstream of our kind of civilization. India has decided to let them be; and it’s a line no one is allowed to cross, which ought to be respected.

Meanwhile, in India, Ornithologists reported sighting the rare, shy Ortolan Bunting – a pale-yellow throated Bird – whose breeding range stretches from Spain to Mongolia, and migrates to Africa (Ethiopia and Uganda) via the Middle East, for the winter. It is a monogamous (the newly-married Stars should look here) bird laying and incubating eggs in a ground level nest built jointly with its partner, who stands guard over the nest. The migration of birds is a fascinating subject and maybe our Stars are also doing their own bit of migration – to warmer nests, across continents, to lay their eggs and propagate the Human species. That’s evolution happening right in front of our eyes!

Our eyes are having the sight of our lives, with so much to see; and girls may finally rest theirs on British heart-throb Actor Idris Elba – being voted the Sexiest Man alive. He is a celebrated Deejay, Producer, Songwriter, Rapper, Percussionist, and Vocalist, besides being awfully handsome. We may know him from his portrayal of Norse God and Asgardian Gatekeeper Heimdall in Marvel’s (Comics) Thor franchise. He has a 16-year old daughter and a 4-year old son – from previous marriages – and is now in a relationship with a Model to whom he proposed in February this year. That’s another sexy Wedding coming up, for sure!

While we near the end of the year, this December 2018, we think about cozying up in our woolens, around some fire-place, and curling around loved ones at home, to ruminate the year gone by and think plans for the year ahead. Reminds me of a species of Spiders that suckles its young and takes care of them so well that the young fellas just do not want to leave home. The mother spider deposits a milk-like fluid around the nest for the hatchlings to drink until they are about 40 days old, after which she suckles them directly; and we thought that only mammals breast-feed their young! Scientists have discovered that this milk contains four times the proteins found in cow’s milk. I’m all for drinking spider’s milk in the year(s) ahead.

I’ve not finished with the Spider story, yet: when the Spiderlings become sexually active adult spiders, they return home for more milk (the taste lingers on and is a big draw, I guess) from Mom, but are driven out as Mom is onto the next round of production and is careful to segregate brothers from sisters. Brothers and sisters cannot marry, even in Spider World. Wonder, whether Stan Lee thought about all this when he passed away to the Heavens above leaving us with Spider-Man, Iron-Man… and the kind, to marvel about! May be, he spinned the web of his stories on the secret strength of Spider’s Milk. Let’s drink to that!

Have a wonderful end-of-the-year time! Life can be bewitching!