Category Archives: Whoa!

The Indian lecture culture

Being lectured. And lecturing. The two sides of a coin. We all hate being lectured to. Nothing more annoying than that really. On the other hand, we love lecblablablaturing. When we get the opportunity to lecture, we believe we are wisdom personified. We just go on and on. We don’t get (or maybe we choose to ignore) that the recipient of the lecture is getting pissed off.

I’m Indian and this article is from an Indian standpoint. I’m not sure at all that this applies to other nations. In India we grow up and age on a staple diet of lectures. Everyone thinks it’s their birthright to lecture us. We just don’t know the art of stating things smartly. We need to make everything sound like a lecture. It starts with our parents. They lecture us for everything. If you dig your nose you get a lecture. If you climb a slide backwards you get an earful. If you eat with both hands – God forbid – you’ll be lectured about the demerits of eating with your left hand, until your meal is digested and passed out of your system.

Then we start schooling. That’s really 12 years of unending lecture sessions. Every subject teacher thinks we all need a lecture on diverse topics ranging from tidiness, discipline, running in the corridors, doing homework, presenting work neatly, revising your lessons, handwriting, asking permission to use the toilet or to drink water, doing extra reading on the subjects we are learning, eating healthy food, coming to school on time, polishing your shoes, cutting your nails, how boys should have short hair and girls should have long hair and not the other way around, revising your answer paper before submitting it, how to avoid silly mistakes in exams…and so on. On any given day, teachers can find many exciting topics and they unleash a flurry of words on a captive audience of bored students. I’m sure they are well meaning talks, but the student’s space out and go about their business of drawing nasty cartoons of the teacher in their rough note. Not a word of what the teacher says registers in the mind. Which is a pity, really.

You’d think, we’d be done with lectures once we leave school. But no. It continues in college. Worse still, here even the teachers graduate to being called ‘lecturers’ and they live up to their name! College lectures cover pretty much the same topics as the school ones. Only they are longer and more intense.

hairpullYou graduate. Hurray! And you think you’re done with lectures. You’re about to get into the corporate world. You’re free to do what you like. Think what you like. You’re officially an adult – who earns. But the joke is on you my friend. Because the lectures now come from all your bosses down the line. They get nastier in fact as each one takes out their anger and frustrations on you. Tips on how to do the job right. Do’s and don’ts. Rights and wrongs. These days you get to attend concalls from clients abroad and you hear lectures in myriad accents – on interesting topics like how to plan your work better and meet your deadlines.

If some of you are smirking out there saying, you’re a home maker and these office politics don’t apply to you. Well, I have news for you! If you thought your mother was the lecture expert, your mother in law, takes over the mantle with aplomb and runs with it wholeheartedly. How to cook healthy meals, how to maintain a home, how to manage maids, how to bring up your kids…oh yes the list is endless.

Apart from these regulars, random people also lecture you:

The auto driver – if you dare to argue about the exorbitant fare he demands, he will lecture you on the rising cost of living.

The vegetable vendor – If you so much as raise your eyebrows upon reading the price tag on onions, the vendor will unleash upon you his theory of how the government deliberately hoards onions, increases prices and makes money on it.

The milk delivery man – If you go OMG about the milk prices – you will be subjected to the above mentioned onion like lecture on government atrocity.

The digital set top box repair guy – He will give you the works about how to use your remote and set top box right. So that it never breaks down and you never need his services ever again.

The family doctor – If you come down with the flu or something, then the trusted doctor will lecture you on how to take care of your health. What exercise to do, what vitamins to pop in so that you build better resistance.

Your friends – Oh yes. If you’re stuck with the wrong bunch of friends – they lecture too! If you don’t attend their parties. Or if you attend someone else’s parties. Or if you go off for a movie without them. Or you plan a trip with some other friends…then they give you an earful.

Your housemaid – The housemaid bunks work. It is her birthright. If you question her, she will lecture you about how you live in comfort and get running water in your taps. She has to pump water and carry them in pots and buckets to her home. This makes her sick. How dare you question her!blah_00033341

Your siblings and random cousins – If you forget to make those mandatory calls or write those emails updating them about your whereabouts…then you’ve had it!

Your yoga teacher or gym instructor – Oh boy! The lectures you get! Let’s not even get started on this…

All this while, mind you, the lecture from parents continue. In India, parents assume they need to keep teaching you to do things. Even if you are 60, your 90 year old mother will scold and lecture you on how to do things right.

The flip side?

By the time we are forty, we Indians are masters at giving lectures on any topic. And why not? We hear it every day from every possible source. So do lectures piss us off. Yes! Do we love to lecture. Yes! It’s a vicious circle. And we are well and truly trapped.

Note: Definition of lecture
– speech read or delivered before an audience or class, especially for instruction or to set forth some subject
- a speech of warning or reproof as to conduct; a long, tedious reprimand. verb (used without object), lectured, lecturing.
- instruct by lectures.
- to rebuke or reprimand at some length

 

Dear Mr. Modi,

I voted. So I have earned the right to write this note to you. This evening is your big moment. You will be sworn in as the prime minister of the world’s largest democracy. What an honour that is! There’s a million people out there waiting with bated breath to see you take on that magic wand and wave it. The masses believe that the moment you wave that wand poverty will go away. Economic inequalities will evaporate.

The toothless old village bumpkin will smile. The village granny with thick, shell framed glasses will grin because she now has electricity. The home maker in a remote village in Andhra will cook happily because she now has water. The farmer in Punjab with sigh with delight as his motor chugs and water spouts into his yellow mustard fields. On a remote highway in Leh, the truck driver will smile because, hey, suddenly the driving conditions are so much better. The roads are good and well lit.

Ok so everyone is happy at grassroots level. Now let’s zoom into the city.

There are young women, wearing just whatever they like, fearlessly roaming the streets at 9 pm. There are no chain snatching incidents or even robberies. Everyone has jobs you see. Jobs that pay good enough. Also people have begun to respect law and order. Cops are no longer corrupt. They do not work in tandem with thieves any more. They cannot be bribed. Every crime is punished according to its gravity. For that matter no government official can be bribed any more. People fear law and order. Ah. How wonderful.

There are no city slums. There are just neat rows of lower middle class housing. They are not badly maintained, garbage strewn places, rather they are neat, dignified places to live. There is no garbage piled up on the roads. Your magic wand has made people act responsibly! They know their civic duties. People no longer treat the road as the dust bin. They neatly throw any kind of garbage into designated bins. (yes organic and non organic matter has separate bins). There is no pollution on the roads, no one honks, no one jumps the red light. Suddenly people have learnt the meaning of the word DISCIPLINE. Jeez what do you have in that magic wand! Oh wait, there’s more. No one spits, pisses or defecates in public places.

Tourists visiting our country are not harassed any more. They are treated with dignity and respect. There is no shady roadside character passing loud and lewd remarks on them anymore. They fear the law you see. And anyways there really are no more jobless people. Employment is rampant.

Which of course means that the population has been magically controlled. No one has more than two children. Government has enforced the one-child rule. There are many benefits and tax exemptions if you have just one child. There are heavy cash fines imposed on those who have their second child. And it just gets heavier as you have more children. To save the citizens all this trouble, in hospitals, they just operate and ensure that you cannot have more children.

It’s the golden era for India. Neat, clean, cultured India, that is once again proud of its heritage. We do not deface our monuments any more. No one scribbles “Rahul loves Paro” kind of things on the walls of Ellora caves any more. People understand that this is part of their culture. These historical monuments define who they were and who they are. Which idiot will then go and scribble on it?

Out past is protected. Our future is bright. What a fantastic magic wand you have Mr. Modi.

But wait. What is that you say? You have no such magic wand? How is that possible? We believe you do. That’s why we voted for you.

Damn!

Is there a ready formula for parenting?

It didn’t hit me at all while I was in the hospital. There was me. There was the baby in her crib. And there were these zillion people – nurses, friends, aunts, uncles, strangers – walking in and out of the room. It all seemed surreal. If I was expected to feel a rush of emotions brought on by motherhood, well, I did not. I felt sort of removed from the experience. And all I wanted to do was sleep away my fatigue.

After 5 days in the hospital, we were asked to go home. So we bid goodbye to the horde of helpful nurses. My mother insisting on thanking them all personally while I waited with the baby in my arms and my husband looked just as lost as me. Then we marched out of this surreal world. After days of being stuck in a dark room, it was good to see sunlight. I looked down at the baby in my arms. I saw her crinkle her face as the powerful sunlight hit her. Instinctively I hugged the baby.

And it was at that moment that it hit me.

I was a MOTHER. This baby was now MY responsibility. I had to protect her. I had to teach her to decipher right from wrong. I had to bring her up as a morally and physically strong individual. It was a mind boggling thought. Suddenly I felt frail, incapable and so so so scared. I cried.

My alarmed mother and baffled husband had no clue as to why I was crying. I don’t think even I could articulate why.

I think I know now why it was so frightening. It’s because there really is no set formula for successful parenting. It’s not like you follow a time tested recipe and viola! – it comes out right. I’ve seen remarkably wonderful people go wrong with parenting. And I’ve seen the most disorganized people raise amazing children. So what works?

Also, what works for my child may not work for someone elses’. I know that stern voice and yelling at my daughter will fetch no results. It will only get her to be more stubborn. So I have to keep calm and explain things to her. Always explain, explain, explain. Pros and cons. We have managed to lay one clear ground rule – if there are things you don’t want other people to do to you (like messing your bed, or throwing your lovely ironed clothes on the floor, or teasing you, or laughing at you when you fall down…) then you cannot do the same to other people. This seems to work for us – by and large. But I know that some kids need discipline drilled into them. They will not listen until you scream at them. There really is no one-size-fits-all formula.

A friend of mine has twins. A girl and a boy. Sure enough they are poles apart by nature. The girl is calm and mature and needs to be handled differently. The boy is simply hyper all the time. So she has to talk sweetly to the girl and slap the boy when yelling does not work. She goes crazy trying to balance this yin and yang in her life. There are people who are quick to judge and scorn at her ways of raising children. She loves the girl more than the boy they say – because she is always yelling at the boy. But I know for a fact that she loves them both dearly and it’s just that they both need to be handled very differently.

If I’ve learnt anything at all after becoming a parent – it’s to not judge anyone’s parenting methods.

I know only one formula that works when it comes to raising children. It’s called instinct.

 Instinct – is a mother’s magic wand.

Don’t let it get clouded by well-meaning advice that pours in, hearsay, parenting articles, real life incidents in other people’s homes and a zillion other frightening distractions. And you’ll do just fine.

When you are confused, wave that magic wand. Search within yourself. Your very own, unique, parenting formula will present itself to you.

Where all that glitters IS gold.

Jaisalmer in Rajasthan is called the golden city. All the buildings in the city (yes most of the new ones too) are made with locally available golden yellow sandstone. When you view the city at sunrise or sunset, it simply takes your breath away. The entire city takes on the hues of the sun and just glows. Golden. I was there for 2 nights and 3 days and felt like I could live there for a lifetime and not get tired of this sight.

Well, that’s about the buildings.

What really amazed me was the people of this city. In a world where people are getting more selfish, self-centered and extremely busy, the people of Jaisalmer come like a breath of fresh air. They smile readily and seem to have all the time in the world to talk to you. No shopkeeper tries to push his wares on to you. They are happy to just talk – even if you don’t want to buy anything. They gladly offer you ‘chai’ and ‘nasta’ two seconds after you meet and greet them with a smile. You stop to ask someone for directions and within minutes you’ve exchanged your ancestry with them! If a shopkeeper does not have what you need, he will happily give you his competitors’ location where you can get exactly what you seek. I found this the most endearing trait. Live and let live.

We stopped to have breakfast at a restaurant called 8 July and formed bonds of a lifetime with the incredible couple who run the place. Jag Bhatia with his cowboy hat, Cary Grant smile and constant chanting of Jai Shri Krishna heartily welcomes anyone who walks in and is full of stories about his travels and life experiences. Rama Bhatia – his wife, is a personification of all maternal impulses. She loves to feed and fuss over people. She personally made Rajasthani special ‘Dal Bhati and Churma’ for us and literally fed my daughter. I can’t imagine any restaurant owner anywhere in the world ever doing that! The next day Rama and my daughter disappeared into the restaurant kitchen where they made waffles together – much to my daughter’s great joy!

The taxi driver who drove us to our camp in Thar desert was just as endearing. He kept us entertained with stories and local folklores. There is a little government authorized ‘Bhang Lassi’ store in the market and this became my husband’s favourite spot. The guy has a range of lassi’s – baby lassi, medium, strong and super power (he says after you drink that no toilet no shower – only sleep!). The store owner too became a good friend and we watched with fascination as he interacted with tourists switching with ease from English to Spanish to French to Hindi – depending on the nationality and region of the tourist. The guys who hang around this store also became our friends. One of them directed us to a local puppet show and we had such a lovely time watching this quaint show.

Jaisalmer will always hold a special place in my heart, not just for its majestic fort and ancient havelis but also for its burst of colour, its music and above all its golden hearted people. If you’re visiting, be warned that most places here do not take credit cards – we spent almost an entire morning bouncing around in a rickety auto, navigating between cows, going from ATM to ATM – trying to find one that spews money!

Let me sign off by saying, if you’re looking to reinforce your faith in humanity – do visit the place.

 

The neighbourhood trees

It dawned just like any other day. The koyals nesting in the tree next door cooed endlessly urging the world to wake up and get on with life. Squirrels let out startled little squeaks and flicked about restlessly from one branch to another with their tails in the air. Dogs, tired after a busy night, curled up for a snooze under the shade of the 50-year old tree, oblivious to the call of the koyals.

Everyone went on with their routine. Sleepy kids left for school. Office goers mumbled their way to work.

And then it happened.

A brood of lungi clad men came with saws and starting hacking branches of the tree. My neighbour upstairs saw this happening – as did all the neighbours around. She along with her daughter went and protested. The men were there to cut two 50 year old trees on our street – to make way for a storm water drain. The two ladies argued that the path of the drain could be curved around the tree. Why cut two lovely, full grown trees? The men insisted that they had orders to cut the trees and they would do so. Even as they argued, one large branch of the tree collapsed under the tyranny of the saw. The two ladies persisted, argued, screamed, raved and ranted. Finally, the men gave up and went away threatening to come with greater force on another day. Surprisingly, not a single person from the neighbourhood went to support the two ladies. In fact, one of our neighbour asked the two ladies to move away and let the men get on with their work!

When I came back from work that day I saw the mother and daughter sitting by the gate of our building. When queried they told me the entire story. I promised to support them in case the men came back again.

And they did.

This time, fortunately, on a Saturday morning – when we were all at home. Once again, the two ladies were the first to go down and protest. The men were prepared for them. They quickly tied ropes around the tree and were all set the to uproot the trees forcefully. The mother went and held on to the ropes and refused to allow the men to cut the trees. This is when the rest of us heard the commotion and rushed down. It was a ghastly sight! The lady had the rope around her waist and was literally being manhandled. At this point we all rushed in and the men had to back off. A heated argument ensued.  The men called the cops who came and admonished us for obstructing their work. We stood our ground and said that we want a chance to appeal and save the lives of our trees. When the cops and the men saw that we had all joined force and they did not have much to defend themselves, they backed off!

The men went away grumbling that it was just a handful of us protesting and not letting them do their work. To prove them wrong we printed out an appeal and collected signatures from all the houses in the vicinity. Around 50 of our neighbours gladly signed the petition. This was then filed in court and we got a legal stay order on the cutting of the trees.

The media also got the wind of it, thanks to some friends and this report was published in the papers the next day. Also check out page 8 of this report.

Meanwhile, we also contacted Ms. Shoba Menon of Nizhal who adviced us on what to do and gave us immense moral support and the right contacts. It really helped.

A few days later, the men resumed work, this time they started to dig around our trees! There was no more talk of cutting the trees. The work is now almost over and our trees stand proud and tall. The koyals, the squirrels, the crows, the chameleons and the entire ecosystem built around the two trees continues to thrive.

We salute the courage of the two ladies who had the gumption to stand their ground the fight against those men. We thank our neighbours who joined us and supported us in this initiative. Without their support we could not have saved our trees. We also thank Shoba for her support, advice and encouragement.

It just goes to prove that when we work together as a community, a lot of good can come out of it. Hope this is the start of many more good things to come.

To be or not to be?

I have a good life. Great in fact. Nothing to complain about. Really. Except the usual minor grouches here and there. So then is this all I want out of life? Or is there a higher purpose to my existence. When I start thinking this way it bothers me terribly. For me higher existence is that Booker Prize winning novel that’s locked up in my subconscious and will one day gush out of my being for the world to go gaga over.

Until then, I shall just – Be. Or not?

Every now and then something jolts me. And I say – what am I really here for?  I’ve been given so many blessings – am I using them well? I watched this talk by Sheena Iyengar yesterday. A scholar. A scientist. Who despite her disability (or because of it?) seems to have achieved so much more in life. So am I under-utilizing the resources gifted to me?

Alter ego: You feel that way because it’s always about you. Your book. Your happiness.

Me: Well, it’s my life. It has to be about me.

Alter ego: That is where the problem is.

Me: What’s wrong with that? If I don’t think about my happiness, who will.

Alter ego: Happiness is in giving. To others I mean. Not to yourself. That’s like giving yourself a Christmas gift – and feeling happy about it.

Me: So what do you want me to do? Go to that beggar on the street and say…hey buddy I want to help you! Where shall I begin?

Alter ego: Don’t get all sarci on me. You know what I mean.

Me: No I don’t. You want me to give happiness to others. I don’t know how to do that.

Alter ego: You’ll figure out a way if you stop thinking of your clothes, your hair, your nails, your meals, your footwear…all the time.

Me: So you want me to be a saint? Give up all the lovely things I have…for what?

Alter ego: No. But everyday in some small way you can make someone’s life better. Just by smiling at a street kid. Or buying someone a meal.

Me: Easier said that done buddy. No can do.

Alter ego: Ok tell me why do you enjoy doing things for your daughter so much?

Me: She’s my baby! You fool…

Alter ego: Because the love you feel for her is pure and selfless. You simply want to give and expect nothing in return. Except of course that she love you back.

Me: Hmmmm…yeah maybe. So what are you saying?

Alter ego: If you can feel that kind of selfless love for others…you’ll get there.

Me: Where?

Alter ego: On the path to finding the higher purpose of your existence.

Me: Oh…ah….hmmm…hey look! There’s a sale on at Metro Shoes!! I need to go see that. We’ll think about this later.

Alter ego: Sigh!

(pooof)

Squishy upma and squishier heart

Mom in law is away for almost 20 days. Now the kitchen is my domain (beware!!). It’s not like I can’t cook – for the first 10 married years of life – I did. But ever since we’ve moved back to Chennai I only get into the kitchen when special things like Biryani or pasta or pizza have to be made. Not for me the daily mundane stuff! So the result is that I’ve almost forgotten how to make a lot of dishes. I also make a fuss about using too much oil or ghee and I take pride that all my dishes are virtually fat free. I’m of course oblivious to the fact the no one at home really loves the oil-free stuff! They’d rather have their onions fried a bit in oil instead of simply boiled – if you know what I mean.

Anyways my adventure began yesterday morning with breakfast. I spurned the usual idly and dosa fare. Everyone needs more fiber and less fat in their diet I advocated. My father-in-law and husband bore my rants patiently. FIL had to go out somewhere and he smartly ate his breakfast outside. Meanwhile my daughter M decided she wanted to cook too. She considers herself a dessert specialist. Everything and anything with chocolate is her forte. She puts bournvita in cornflakes with just a dash of milk and sugar and…ta ta dai dessert ready! But I firmly put a stop to that. No junk early in the morning I croaked. “So what dessert do I make?” she complained. We decided to make fruit canapés for dessert and oats upma for breakfast. So while the upma was stirring. We chopped up fruits – apples, bananas, mangoes and grapes. She took toothpicks and poked the fruits into that. The grape followed by the juicy mango, followed by the banana and finally the apple. It looked lovely – really! She diligently did that till her collection of fruits got over. Then we neatly arranged it in a plate. And it looked awesome.

My upma in the meantime got done. It tasted pretty good – but I guess I’d put too much water in it – so it looked all squishy. (Almost like a kanji!). M went ahead and presented her dessert to everyone – even before the main course got done. Everyone ate her fruit canapé with relish. And she was oh-so-happy that she had made a healthy dessert for everyone. Then it struck her that she had presented the dessert before the main course. So she pulled in her father into the kitchen. He saw the upma and went “ugh!” and ran away. I begged that he at least taste it before declaring it as bad (fair request right?). But he absolutely refused. So I was angry and told him that he could go ahead and cook all his meals himself.

M was watching all this. She quietly took the plate and started eating the upma. I could see that she hated it – just from the way she was eating it. (She hates oats and hates upmas even more!) She told me “It’s nice amma. See I’m eating it – don’t be sad.”

And this brought tears to my eyes. My little princess had grown up enough to care for me! She looked at me – really concerned “Are you crying? I’m eating na! I told you its nice.” She said

At this point I gave her a big smile and a big hug. I took the plate from her. “Are you angry?” she asked, worried. “No baby…I’m just too happy!” I said and made her a nice, hot crispy dosa for breakfast. I can tell you that my heart still feels squishier than my upma. And it’s these squishy moments that make life worth living. Sigh…

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Glossary

Dosa/Idly – Traditional South Indian breakfast fare

Mango king and pineapple queen

Last week was a friend’s birthday and it’s almost an annual ceremony with us to call each other up on our birthdays to yak. I lived up to tradition and we caught up on gossip – starting from our eccentric college professors to our kids growing up faster than necessary.

She, being a teacher, had much to tell me about adolescent behaviour these days. Kids have no respect and no fear for anything she insists. Their callous attitude is fuelled by the guilt of their working parents – who believe that their child can do no wrong. The teachers get yelled at by the parents for no fault of theirs. What’s more with this new grading system, she says, discipline has gone completely awry. The average students get away with high grades because they score more in sports and other extra curricular. They don’t even care to submit their projects on time anymore. And then the ‘good’, hardworking students get lower grades because they can’t seem to do anything other than mugging lessons. My cynical views of course did not go down well with her.

This new system requires a complete change in mindset of parents, teachers and students. Thanks to our current very academic based system – we have stopped giving importance to arts. I salute Mr. Kapil Sibal who has been bold enough to make these changes and face a lot of flak! But this hopefully will mark a positive change in our education system. Children are not mugging machines – rather they are individuals with several hidden talents. If the education system does not help them unearth these talents – then what will?

Bad enough our children grow up ahead of times these days thanks to all the exposure. I feel if we curb their natural skills then they will become muddle headed idiots. While they feel like singing and dancing their momma’s are sending them off to tuition classes. They get no playtime. No avenues to expend their energy. They start functioning like robots. They become mugging machines. But they are capable of so much more.

My friend does not agree.

She feels Indians shine abroad because they are so knowledgeable. I feel Indians are only capable of doing mechanical work that simply requires them to follow an established procedure. No wonder we are thriving in the IT industry. But where are Indians when it comes to sports and performing arts? We do not seem to excel in anything that requires physical application, imagination and creative manipulation.

It’s incredible how imaginative and creative kids are… Shoes worn wrong look like butterflies on the feet (ha… ha… bet you never thought of it that way!). Rainbows happen when God blows his nose after shedding tears of joy. (Ok this one’s a little gross – but think about it phlegm is coloured!)

I have great hope in today’s little iPod generation. They are way too smart. Ten steps ahead of us. Way too perceptive and mature beyond their years. Just the other day my six year old and I were discussing fruits. We said Mango the king needs a queen. We kept thinking of a suitable queen – I suggested pineapple as she has a crown. “No mom,” says my little one, “but she is so thorny. Then the king will never be able to hug her.” Err… point taken!

I hope this generation of smart, imaginative, perceptive kids…save the day.

My name is __________. And I’m not a terrorist.

Hating is easy. Loving so tough. Because loving someone demands time, attention, compassion, selflessness, honesty, faith, integrity…

Hate simply feeds on finger tip emotions like anger and irritation. I could hate the world in a jiffy. But I can’t find the energy to love the world just like that.

Sad. Strange. But true.

This is the profound lesson I learnt from a movie I watched recently – My Name is Khan (MNIK). The latest Shah Rukh Khan movie that was released ironically amidst anger and protests. Ironical because the movie gives us such a profound lesson on love.

I think the director (Karan Johar) and actor (SRK) duo must have really believed in what they were doing. From scene one it was not SRK out there but rather it was the protagonist of the story – Rizwan Khan. A man afflicted by Aspergers syndrome (a form of autism). I’m not really a fan of SRK but I wish I could give him a hug for his heart rending performance in this movie. For living and breathing Rizwan Khan. For walking with that stiff stoop. For not meeting the eyes when he spoke. For hating yellow colour and loud noises (I can so empathise with that!). For not being able to cry. For speaking in the drab monotone all through the movie – regardless of the emotions he was conveying. For the innocence in his thoughts. For his disarming honesty. For that simple, pure, very non-SRK smile…for those zillion little nuances that transformed him into Rizwan Khan.

Rizwan believes (as taught by his mother) that there are only two kinds of people in this world – the good and the bad. There are no greys in his world.

Fate takes him to America and there he meets Mandira – a Hindu, single mother. Despite his condition, or perhaps because of it, he wins over Mandira’s heart – with the purity of his love and honesty. They get married and their little family is happy until 9/11 happens and throws their life out of gear. Suddenly the sir name of Khan is not safe any more. Mandira and her son face discrimination and it eventually leads to a tragedy for which Mandira (in absolute grief) blames Khan. She tells him to go away and get out of her life. At this point he innocently asks her when he can come back. In anger she tells him to go meet the President of America and tell him “My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.”

Incredibly – he sets out to do exactly that! The first half of the story is told in flashback and Rizwan writes his dairy while he travels from one place to the other in the hope of meeting the president. How he undergoes this journey, how he transforms the lives of people he meets during this journey and how he finally does meet the president – form the rest of the story.

His is a quest for love and peace. While on the other hand – for Mandira it is one of anger and revenge. She seeks to avenge the wrongs that have been done. She is led by her anger. And she finds herself lost and alone.

Khan is led by love. He has no hatred for anyone – despite all the ridicule and torture he undergoes. For him there are only good or bad people – no Hindus, Muslims or Christians.

The movie is a rollercoaster of emotions. The script is so moving and you walk out of the movie with this very powerful feeling that love, honesty and faith can indeed move mountains.

Yet I cannot shake off the feeling that to love despite all odds – is tough. Or is it me who feels that it is so? But if this were so then wouldn’t the world be a happier place? In a sense we are all terrorists because we walk around killing someone’s faith or bombarding others with our anger or lashing out at what we think is injustice. If we could all truly love, then anyone could fill their name in the title of this blog and it would apply to us. Right?

The love affair continues

Rain and I. We had one of our deep, quiet moments this morning. I sat there in the balcony with my cup of tea and felt his tender kiss like droplets on my cheeks. I watched as he dropped down on the puddles in the road and created busy little whirlpools of happiness. Tiny droplets of joy that grew bigger and bigger and merged into yet another growing whirlpool of joy.

You really love to spread the joy don’t you? Now I’m ashamed that I ever doubted you. How could I have ever suspected that YOU would ruin my little princess’s birthday party! How could I? I don’t deserve those kiss like drops, what I need is a lashing for doubting you!

Thank you so much dear Rain God. (Or whatever forces that are up there. I do not understand why, but I’m so so grateful that you are being really nice to me and allowing me to indulge in my little whims and fancies.). Thank you. Really. I mean it.

In case you’re new here and don’t have a clue as to what I’m blabbering about. Please read this one first.

It was like the Rain God held his breath for my little princess. A tentative sun shone through the clouds on Friday. And we kept fingers crossed. Saturday morning dawned bright and sunny and cool! It was really a perfect winter day in Chennai! Not warm. Not cold. Not raining. Not humid. Not hot. Just perfect! So it stayed all through the day as we gleefully got the terrace cleaned, summoned the electrician and got extra lights fitted. A cool breeze kept us company all through the afternoon as we worked to make the terrace presentable. By evening – it looked dreamy!

The party itself? It was incredible. It just took off from the word go! My brother – the sweetheart that he is – was in glorious form. He had the kids running and dancing and screaming merrily. He organized impromptu games and twisted twenty odd kids around his little finger. They were ready to do whatever this funny man said!

It was absolutely perfect. The music and my brother set the mood. The kids were dancing, singing, running, laughing, giggling, playing…and my brother was the hero of the day. He really pumped up the spirit and kept the high octave maintained right through! Princess Mahima had a ball so to speak. She could not stop grinning from ear to ear. It really was her happiest day to be surrounded by her best friends and to be having so much fun!

Sigh! Yes it was perfect. I could not have asked for a more fabulous day. Thank you to all the forces that made this day perfect. Thank you to all the friends who remembered and called. It simply was an amazing day. And yes…my love affair with the Rain God continues…

Did I tell you…at around 12 am on Sunday morning it started raining again and has not stopped ever since. Call that uncanny? I call that a ‘out pouring’ of love! :)