Monday, 30 April 2007

Heavenly Abode

The gateway to heaven. The builder stands in front of the infinite-powered one, his hands folded in supplication, his eyes cast down, his heart fluttering expectantly.

“You” growls the infinite-powered one.

“Yes, master, me” says the builder, in a soft voice.

“You, you have destroyed my beautiful creations, my trees, my hillocks, my little lakes of water. You have made ugly tall buildings in their place. The blue colour of your buildings is a mockery of my powers. And now, and now, you dare stand in front of me seeking entrance to my home?”

“But, but, master,” the builder pleads, “its not I who wanted such buildings. It’s them, they needed a place to live. They, they said that houses cannot be built of straw or dreams. Wolves would blow such houses down. I was sought by them, master. I was the only one who could save them from the wolves and also give them good plumbing.”

“HMPH” growls He.

“Master, I am their saviour, ask anyone. In my houses they are secure, safe in the knowledge that they will not be eaten up. In my houses they grow, their mind seeking high planes of wisdom.”

“Oh all right” relents He, “Pigs, all of you. Pigs.”

He spits, gashing a red line across a fluffy white cloud.

Monday, 23 April 2007


Hanuman’s tail snakes up in large fat coils. High on top of the coiled tail he perches, surveying the land below with a smug look on this face. The builder is incensed. He whips his workers who quickly pile bricks and fill with cement. Another floor comes up in nanoseconds. The building is now higher than Hanuman’s head. The builder is satisfied, but worried, after all, Hanuman is a god, is this the limit of his powers? Or can he rise higher? Hanuman laughs and shrinks down to human-size. “Really,” he says, “at that size, I would have to drink the whole ocean to quench my thirst. This is better.” The builder is left scratching his head and wondering who to whip to create water.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A birth...

It was, you might say, the dawn of middle-age for her. At least going by her chronological age. Surely it had begun to show in the texture of her skin (a tad rough in places, the face marked a bit with small but clear brown spots), the creaks (like when she got up after sitting down for a while), in the time to recover from minor illnesses (she did not bounce back so fast, took a week to seven days), and a million other things. Miraculously the hair retained its original black colour. Not a strand of white or gray in the profusion that covered her head. It would have pleased her a lot if you said the same of her mind, that it retained its youthfulness, the years notwithstanding.

Life had been rich, it had been full. Countless experiences to look back upon with fondness. Countless people to remember with fondness, a few with regret about not speaking to for years now, but mostly a fondness. Current life was settled. Job, check. Career, check. Husband, check. Child, check. Good Friends, check. Family, check. No extremes, neither a genius nor an idiot. Neither a real stressful job nor a too easy-going one. Not obscene amounts of money, no pecuniary worries either. And so on.

Now came the question, what else? Really, after you have finished your education, completely, with no thought in the head of signing up for another degree, once you have a job and a career that is a keeper, once you have a family and a household set-up, and things running smoothly, what else? What is a bite-sized end point that gives meaning to daily life? Tough to see! Of course you could blame her for making this a complaint; so many millions struggling to have that level of comfort, making ends meet, forever thinking with frustration of who to marry, when to have kids, how to settle family squabbles, how to this, how to that. And here is she, all done, apparently. Biding her time, clicking seconds and days off a wall clock-cum-calendar, just completely all done.

A million books to be read, but after a point they all seem to say the same thing. A million movies being made every day, but wait, that’s not of interest to her. A million new people she could get to know…A spiritual awakening…A re-emergence of god…Another child…Volunteering…Change fields…New job…

What? What? What?

If every birthday is to be treated as reaching a crossroad rather than a milestone, surely she was there. Which road to take now? How many damn roads are there? What is she going to do now? How is she going to do this?

How? How? How?

In the middle of it all, the light clicks. Click. All of the externalities of life are meaningless. Everything. Food, hunger, skin health, black hair, elevators, load-shedding, shiny floors, Wifedom, Motherhood, Friendships, all ephemeral. The only thing that survives is inside, inside the heart, its love. So that’s the road she decides upon. All of life the same, except when lived with complete love. They do say that names are special, even if they repeat, they are unique. She was named well, cause at the end of it all, or perhaps right from the beginning in real fact, what she does best, young, middle-aged, or old, is that. Love. Like her name says. End.

Tuesday, 3 April 2007


Well, regular programming to resume next week. I had, as usual, some revelations in the past week thanks to my illness, and friends visiting, and so on.

1. Women cannot get any rest. Indian women for sure. Housewives, career chicks, masala mommies, all of them, have tendencies to martyrdom. Its nothing noble, in fact, it is quite stupid of them (us). But deep-rooted.

2. Bandra is a jungle. Powai is a jungle. Both places have, of course, non-traditional set-ups, like in place of the thick undergrowth we have drains and feet. In place of the overhanging trees and greenery there are the buildings. Like insects and other creatures teem in tropical jungles, so do people throng in these urban jungles. Like animals pee to mark their territory, so do people pee, though not always to mark their territory, but just to show that they have the requisite plumbing. Now what are the cars, trucks, autos, push-carts? Poachers with guns and hats?

3. Summer is upon us. Amchi Mumbai is breaking spontaneously into sweat. The fans whirr ineffectually overhead. We balk at the pedestal fans which can fit little fingers in. We seek cold water (NO! DONT DO IT. That is probably what causes soar throats). Its time to think longingly of hill-stations, Antartica, or at the very least, of some place other than Mumbai where parents or other such relatives/friends one may impose upon, live. Just make sure the place has only a reasonable amount of load-shedding.

4. Have handed in form with immunisation certificate, birth certificate, service-book record, and what not in school#2 with dusty floors. Teachers have looked longingly at me, they have smiled. I have carefully dressed so as to look responsible and so on, office staff has responded better. It takes three minutes along a shady, tree-lined road to get there from my office. The school-yard has ancient trees. It has the smell of summer-time, exams, results, P.G.Wodehouse, visiting friends on my red bicycle, those are recalled with a pleasant ache.

5. I am teaching Kannada to child, why lose a language? I say bollocks to people who tell me that its confusing for children to try to pick up a lot of languages. I say don't tell the kids that they are languages. Teach them songs. We are all about songs. Recommendations on good kiddie books in Kannada/Hindi/Tamizh are also welcome (I cannot read Tamizh but might be a good time to learn, or others in the house can read them to her).

6. One friendly visit happened on Saturday. The night stretched out almost into day. Was nice. Wish I could remember what we talked about. But the biscuits left with us are yummy, they remind. Like Ashima and Ashoke in The Namesake, we may be accused of parochially hanging out only with friends we went to college with. Yes, I think that would be a fair accusation.

We are off to Phuket tomorrow. Wish me patience! Night flight, change of airports in Bangkok, hyper-active child, and so on. Hope to visit Zoo, Aquarium, and Elephant something. And when I return I will be a year older, hopefully endowed with a few white hairs.