Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sonny Speaks

My reticent lil babbler said his first phrase the other day.
He said "Offo A(his name)" a la the old Promise ad. The verdict seems to be that these seem to be the 2 words I use most often with him! Its probably true - coz the only other word he says clearly is 'hi'.
And no, he doesnt say it on demand. So dada-dadi, nana-nani (paternal & maternal grand parents) who yearn to hear him speak on the phone - dont hear a peep out of him, but random strangers in the mall are told 'offo!'

Monday, November 27, 2006

Black Friday!

Black Friday!! Just those 2 words can make my hair stand up at end, blood pulse faster in my veins, heart beat quicken and breathing become sharp! All that in a good way. For that is one day – when hubby and I go berserk shopping. Black Friday being that day of the year – when all retail stores in the US – offer enormous discounts to their customers – just for shopping at their stores. And by enormous – I mean ENORMOUS. It would not be difficult to find clothes selling for 25% of their retail price. Like this year, Best Buy was offering a 40 inch plasma TV for $1100. Hubby just couldn’t stop salivating!

Thanksgiving typically falls on the last Thursday of November, here in the US. That is one of the 2 days (the other being Christmas) when stores remain closed. The next day – is when US goes crazy shopping. They say, this is the day, US retailers move from red to black (into profit) hence the term Black Friday.

In our household (all of 3 yrs) Black Friday has special relevance – reverence too. A month in advance hubby starts to scan his fav sites to figure out – who will have the best deals in electronics (a.k.a. hubby’s toys). Sites actually put up deal comparisons for you to make your call – on which store to visit first. Door buster deals (very limited articles – at ridiculously low prices) are discussed, analyzed, dissected and recommended. On the other hand, I start making lists of the things we need (need being a word, I use loosely here). We compare our needs (again loosely used) with the weight of the deal and a plan is drawn up. Clothes, electronics, household articles, toys – we shop – like the US economy needs every bit of our effort! (and who knows, maybe it does!)

Well, all this, until last year.

This year – since we have been hopping all over the US – we decided to keep our shopping to the minimum – to keep our weight light. Hubby fought hard and won the right to first visit Best Buy (a.k.a. hubby’s Mecca) followed by some outlet stores. Sonny and I sauntered all over BB trying to look interested – while hubby enthusiastically looked around. After a while, we found hubby stuck onto one of those 40” plasma TVs. He was whispering sweet nothings in the TVs ears – promising to make a date for next year. Pulling a lovelorn hubby out of the store – I promised him – soon – he would be able to bring her home.

We headed next towards some outlet stores in the neighbourhood. Typically a large number of brands have their company outlets where they sell for less than retail. Black Friday further sweetens the deal. Hubby and I were pretty charged about finding some good deals there. As we neared the exit to the outlet mall, a horrendous sight hit us. The line of cars from the outlet stores entrance stretched out a mile long – in 2 separate directions, in a 2 lane street. Parking would be next to impossible, hubby pronounced. Not wanting to waste any more time, we reluctantly turned away. We decided to head towards the mall. Driving 20 miles – we reached the mall. Those deals made my eyes shine and hands tremble. Finally, I thought – this is where we ought to have come first.

That’s when I heard a loud piercing shriek. It was sonny. Demanding his afternoon siesta! With a heavy heart we turned homewards.

Our net purchases this Black Friday – a couple of pants for sonny and a music CD.

Truly a Black Friday!!!

P.S. My fellow shopper-bretheren apparently had a good Black Friday. Check this.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Whose Fault?

In a large well known and flourishing company, a young employee is hired. He is eager, sincere and wants to contribute and learn. In his first year, he is told that he is entitled to some “medical expenses” as part of his perks. Our young man is in good health and doesn’t claim any expenses.

In his second year, the office Accountant, reminds him again, that his medical expenses are yet to be claimed. Young man explains his situation and his inability to claim “medical”. The Accountant then explains to our young man – the modus operandi to claim the money. “Go to a chemist cum general store, buy some home use articles, and ask the chemist for a bill for medicines and claim the money” Our young man does exactly that – and gets his money. Needless to add – he continues his practice year after year. Not just that – he “helps” other young men like him to “claim their rightful dues”

So whose fault do you find here?

The Accountant – who really is the door-keeper, yet knowingly misguides the young man. He probably eased his conscience by thinking that he was “only helping”?

The young man, who probably was in need of the money? Yet he ought to have realized that he was doing wrong. Perhaps he thought, he was entitled to it anyways.

The chemist who made a faulty bill? Probably he has made countless such faulty bills that his conscience was buried far too deep under them.

The Company for setting its rules so loosely and not having any check posts to catch wrong-doers? Or did the Company ‘want’ its employees to claim some ‘tax-free’ money? Just its way of rewarding employees. But doesn’t that mean that the Company is cheating the government?

Or all of them, in varying degrees?

Leave me your opinion...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

And Action!!!

Itchy tagged me a while ago to do a post on favourite scenes. Here are a few of my fav ones:

Andaaz Apna Apna
So many fav scenes here. The slow motion fight sequence at the end. Or the one where Aamir and Salman say "hands up" coz they have guns - and the rest follow them with their hands up.

Golmaal (old one)
Amol Palekar's mouch coming off - as he feeds on aloo parathas and Utpla Dutt saying in his trademark style "Khaao khaao - ab tumhe dande bhi khaane hain".

"Tumhara naam kya hai, basanti" Unforgettable!!!

The building kids teasing Anjali, tormenting her rather - and her bro and sis standing up for her. Really cried during this one.

Mr. India
The kids are hungry coz there is no food in the house. Sridevi brings them cakes, samosas, the hungry look in the eyes of the kids - but the self-respect which stops them from taking the food. Then Sri calls out to the youngest of the kids Tina - who looks at Anil Kapoor for approval. Woah - real tear jerker this one!

My Best Friends Wedding
The 2 best friends - Micheal and Julianna (Dermot Mulroney & Julia Roberts) take off a day before the wedding - take a cruise - and their song plays on the boat - and they dance in the afternoon sunlight.

Satte pe Satta
After Hema Malini takes a lot of effort to clean the house and cook a meal - she lays it out and calls the brothers. they all rush out - then wait for Amitabh to take his food. After he has served himself - they just break loose on the dinner table. Or the one where she throws away all the clothes for washing while the brothers sleep - and they have to come out of the room using props to cover themselves.

After their first fight - Rani Mukherjee makes a big cross on the calendar to remember the day they had a fight. Every time hubby and I fight - I remember this scene.

Dil to Pagal hai
Right at the end Akshay Kumar (who loves Madhuri Dixit) points to Madhuri and SRK and then indicates by getures that the 2 of them are meant for each other, then he points to himself and Mads and makes a fluttery kind of motion - we're just kind of ok. Even thinking gets me a lump in the throat.

Khamoshi - The Musical
The one with Salman Khan - when his parents come to visit Manisha Koirala's parents - both of whom are deaf and dumb - that dinner scene is sooo poignant.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Places to visit

Artnavy tagged me last week to do a post on places I'd like to visit.

Here's my take on it

Places I’d like to visit

  • Not too warm, not cold either
  • Comfortable clean hotel, good food options available
  • A little scenery, some culture and lots of history
  • Preferably not a land of thugs and thieves
  • Where there’s enough to keep sonny enticed, hubby busy(Best Buy within 1 mile radius –BIG plus, free high speed internet – another BIG plus) and therefore me relaxed.
  • Where the American dollar runs a 100 miles (am I or am I not a cheapie?)
  • Where the sun shines not too hard, where the wind blows not too soft, where time stops not too long, where there was a civilization not too short, where the people smile not too much, where rain patters not too little, where food is spicy not too much, my heart longs to be there- o so much!

And if I have to define the places - Europe – all of it.

  • Specifically Rome with all its churches and cathedrals and museums,
  • Paris – I’d love to sit and idly have my coffee in the corner cafes – but I know that’s not possible with sonny around, potter around Le Louvre, take in the grandeur of the Versailles…
  • Spain – go during the tomato harvesting season and watch the tomato fights
  • Italy – the men….swooooonnn
  • Istanbul – people say it’s very beautiful
  • Egypt – mummies here I come
  • London – and say hi to the queen
  • Maldives – apparently local cuisine is something else
  • Bangkok – people tell me – street shopping is divine here
  • Russia – just have got to see St. Petersburg
  • Kashmir – but not at the cost of safety

    O yes, all these places in summer. I hate cold!

But most of all I’d like to go home – where I haven’t been – in the last 2 and half years!

Teething Troubles

At the very onset – let me tell you my problem.

Of the last 10 nights – I have slept through just 2 nights. All the others I have made do with 5 hours of sleep – the rest of the 3- 4hours, I have rocked, patted an extremely sleepless sonny. He doesn’t cry – just sits up in his bed – and tries to crawl out. Things came to a head on Sat, when he also developed a raging fever. It would come down with medication – within a couple of hours the fever was back, along with temper tantrums, irritability and of course lack of appetite. The funny thing is – I don’t know what’s causing the fever. No cold, no cough – nothing!
Last night for example, sonny sat up at 2.30am. He seemed soo sleepy but just wouldn’t sleep. I checked his diaper, checked the bed to see if he was too hot or too cold, checked his forehead to see if the fever was back. Negative on all counts. What could it be? He points to his mouth. “Is he teething?” hubby asks me.

Teething – the saga of my life.

There are some kids, who get teeth and parents don’t even realize when the pearly whites emerge. In our case – every tooth has been a story by itself. 5 to 7 days of irritable baby, not sleeping for hours at end at nights, food being rejected, the works.

I still remember when sonny was about 9 months ago – we’d just moved to a new city. One day sonny just decided to stop eating. I thought “at least he’s having his milk”. And what do you know – 1 week later he stopped drinking milk too. Nothing. A 9 month baby on strike! And I panicked. It was Friday evening and his doctor’s office was closed. The nurse I spoke to only fuelled my anxiety. She just couldn’t believe how a 9 month baby could go without food for 8 hours at end. And we tried everything, love, pleading, forcing, yelling. He just wouldn’t open his open. When 20 hours passed without food or drink – on the nurse’s advice we rushed him to the ER.

And then began the worst experience of my life. Sonny was mildly dehydrated. So they had to start IV. And they couldn’t find his vein. 3 nurses aides held him down while 2 nurses groped with needles to find a vein – while his hapless parents just stood helplessly as their baby yelled and screamed. IV started and sonny fell asleep – all that screaming tired him out. Suddenly a nurse appears. “we need to give him a painkiller” she says. “Surely it can wait for a while – he’s sleeping” I counter, “yeah, I know but we gotta wake him up” and before I can say a word, she’s grabbed his mouth and poured the medicine in it. And he’s up again – yelling, screaming and now tugging at the IV drip too. And still not eating.

Over the next 2 days, this cycle repeats itself endlessly. Sonny still not eating. Apathetic nurse after nurse waltzing in to pour medicine down his throat. Day 2 his lips were so dry – that the moment the nurse tried to pour medicine down they cracked. But hey, that’s not her concern – she just walks out – a job well done. As a parent I have never felt as helpless as I did those 2 days. The doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with sonny – so we couldn’t take him home. And he wasn’t doing good in the hospital either. Over those 2 days we heard all kinds of far-out stuff, “your child has an eating disorder”, “maybe because you forced your child to eat, you’ve psyched him”, “maybe the problem is you – not him – let someone else feed him”. Worse were the questions – “does he eat jello?” “How about popsicles?” “Can he suck on candy?” My mind is screaming “which 9 month old eats jello, popsicles or candy? In the land of the Deranged Uncaring Mom, maybe.”

Finally Day 2 – an Indian doctor walks in. We pour our woes out to him. By this time sonny was afraid of every stranger who wanted to poke into his mouth to see what’s wrong. He pronounced – “the child is teething. I’m going to prescribe a gel – use it 3-4 times a day and he’ll be fine”. Its takes 5 hours for the hospital to procure this OTC teething gel. Had we known – hubby would’ve just rushed to the Walgreens across the parking lot to get one.

Gel does its job – in an hour after application – sonny takes his first bite in 2 days. Our ordeal has ended. I can’t tell you how fast we rushed out of that place. It took a full week before sonny got back to his regular schedule.

They say babies don’t remember traumatic experiences. Mine does. He still wont lie down on strange and unknown beds – until we’ve held him for a while. He’s still scared of doctors – every doctor visit is a traumatic experience. He still wont let us feel his mouth – whether it hurts or otherwise. I wonder when he’ll get over it. Medicine dispensation is a Herculean task for us – no matter how it tastes (yes I have tasted his medicine, before I gave it to him).

“Is he teething?” hubby’s question breaks my recollection. “I think he is”. Teething gel application is a process, I shall reserve for another post. Suffice to say, its takes both me and hubby to get the job done. At about 6am sonny nods off. I wonder if the last 1 week’s drama and fever were a result of a new tooth coming in. If it was, I thank God – for this relatively smooth teething experience.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The World This Week

This is this week's news headlines with my comments:

News Report: Soilder admits to raping minor Iraqi girl and then killing her and her family.
Wonder when Bush will admit to raping the country.

News Report: India improves its 'corruption ranking'. India less corrupt according to new study.
And exactly how much did we bribe to get that story?

News Report: Climate change an economic issue - Kofi Annan
When will the climate change on this issue? About time we did something to bring pressure on world leaders to take this seriously.

News Report: OJ Simpson to explain 'how he would have allegedly murdered his wife - had he done it' on a TV Show.
Time to drop the word allegedly and know the truth.

News Report: Suffering Husbands seek pro-men law in India
Ekta Kapoor's next serial will be a saga of the long-suffering man (aye aye - says hubby!)

News Report: Pakistan makes ammendments to Hudood Act. Raped women can now bring charges to a civil court too.
One small step for Pakistan, one giant leap for (wo)mankind.

News Report: Segolene Royal wins primary and seeks to be France's first woman president in 2007.
With Angela Merkel already Germany's Chancellor and Hillary Clinton looking set for US Presidency in 2008 - woman power sure is on the rise.

News Report: Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes become man and wife in a medevial Italian castle
Ah fairy tale weddings in the 21st century!

News Report: Blair admits war in Iraq 'has been a disaster'

News Report: Dutch government bans the 'burqa'
Wonder what 'face-saving' measure the Muslims will adopt now.

News Report: Indian team loose to South Africa A team - in a practice match.
Practise makes one perfect - and Indian team has perfected the art of loosing!

News Report: FDA gives go ahead for silicone implants. 2 companies to study the safety & effectiveness for 10 years.
More booby traps ahead!

Friday, November 17, 2006


Artnavy tagged me a while ago to do a post on heights. I put it in her comments section too – since I dint have a blog of my own. Now I do – on artnavy’s recommendation here’s my expanded list of heights.

Height of being offensive:
People taking one look at my sonny and saying "O he's such a beautiful boy. He must take after his father!"
Yes, thank you for noticing that I am the ‘not good looking one’ amongst the 2 of us

Height of taste:
Sonny refusing food, but chewing on the paper napkin used to wipe his face.
Or is it that - he prefers the taste of paper to the taste of my cooking!!

Height of intrusiveness:
An acquaintance visiting our home takes one look at the curtains and says "these are lace - how do you guys do it, without the whole world being able to see through the windows?"
Seriously, what will you ask me next?

Height of happiness:
Sonny’s giddy laugh, when we put him in the bucket swing at the park and give him a shove.

Height of blues:
Celebrating festivals just by yourself, far far away from your parents.

Height of wonderment:
When I look at people with 8 or 10 kids, instead of thinking 'how do they manage to raise so many' I wonder 'when and how did they manage to conceive so many?'

Height of possessiveness:
Sonny pushing his father aside, so he can hug his Ma instead.

Height of neatness:
Sonny neatly arranging into piles the contents of the dustbin he has just knocked onto the floor.
What is it, that attracts kids to trash??

Height of peace:
When Sonny sleeps zzzzzzz....

Height of materialism:
My 16 month olds clothes occupy more shelves than my husband and my clothes put together.

Height of depreciation:
My mom lamenting how she hasnt seen her grandson yet- and now he's 16 months old. The fact that she hasn’t seen her own daughter since the last 2 and half years is completely forgotten.

Height of divine justice:
The girl who invariably gave dirty glances to parents of noisy kids at restaurants, is now blessed with a noisy brat herself.

Height of morbidness:
Dried flowers. I just don’t get how people can have dried flowers in their houses. Its such bad Vaastu too.

Thursday, November 16, 2006


We’re doing our weekly groceries at Meijers – when I sense someone staring at me. I surreptitiously glance over my shoulder and I see a young man, seemingly of Indian descent looking in my direction. As I turn to him, he looks away. As I move onto the fruits section and then onto meats, he’s follows us there too. When he catches my eye in the seafood section, he nods a hi – I nod back politely. I wonder if he's following us and then I notice, he's been pushing an empty cart.

While I am picking up baby food – I overhear hubby talking to someone. Since hubby is not exactly very friendly to strangers – I look to see who he’s talking to. Ah! Its guy who’s been following us! He asks hubby for phone no. Hesitantly hubby hands it over. He instantly rings back – as if to confirm. As if on cue – baby yells and hubby excuses himself. I ask hubby who he’s been chatting you – and find out its Arun Iyer – just being friendly. Strange I wonder – what’s an Iyer doing in meats and seafood?

Couple of weeks later – Arun Iyer calls hubby. He has an interesting proposition to make money “in one’s free time”. Hubby politely fobs him off, saying he’s not interested.

2-3 weeks later, a lady we’ve met once at the park calls me. “Where have you been?” she asks. I start my saga of viral infections hitting the family. She’s sympathetic. “So how’ve you been?” I ask. Wrong question to ask – she spouts the magic words “A friend of mine has a very interesting business proposition” and she hands over the phone to a friend. A very affable Rahul tries to give me details of “a profitable way to spend your free time”. Like a sentinel, hubby hovers close by mouthing “hang up”. Since I’m not too good at saying no, it’s a while before I can stop Rahul and tell him I’m not interested.

I’m wondering what’s going on. What is the whole Indian community in Chicago trying to get each other interested in? I talk to a couple of friends and they’ve had similar experiences too. Some had to be really rude to fob off their pursuers. “You got off easy on both occasions” says one friend, who’s been here longer and seen much worse. A friend was once apparently chased across a parking lot by one of these “A Company” people.

Sufficiently warned, I head off to Meijers again. As I am contemplating what brand of shampoo to buy, I hear someone behind me “Hi! Are you from India?” Barely glancing over my shoulder, I squeak “No I’m Canadian!!” (technically true) and I rush off.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

One More Star

Yesterday, my dear friend C lost her grandmom. Grandma lived a full life – she was 92 when she left us. In the end her heart just stopped beating – and she went peacefully.

My memories of grandma are pretty limited. She mostly kept to herself. However when we did land up at C’s place she was always bustling in the kitchen with C’s mom to make sure our hungry stomachs were taken care of. Or the fact that C’s hubby S called her ‘meri girlfriend’ – of course it took him a lot of effort to get to that stage. Or the fact that she hated ‘dal’ (lentils) cooked in a pressure cooker – she wanted them her way, open cooked.

She didn’t exactly have an easy life. Married at a young age – she was widowed early too. Life without a husband or child was rather bleak. And remember this was somewhere in 1940. She then adopted her younger brother – C’s father. She lived the rest of her life with them – helping raise C and her brother. Fittingly, C’s father was with her when she breathed her last.

The last year of her life was particularly tough. Doctors had detected a clot in her brain a while ago – and early this year she suffered a stroke. Parts of her brain stopped functioning. Like, she kept thinking that C and her brother were still little children who had gone to school. She kept urging C’s father to bring them back – since it had turned dark. The fact the both were married and settled in the US – meant nothing to her. Her movements got restricted, appetite dropped and pretty soon she became a mere shadow of the person she used to be. Always a strong headed person her demands became child-like. I remember C telling me – how they had to plead, cajole even try to hoodwink her just to get her to finish half a chapatti. I’m sure it was particularly tough on C’s mom who had always seen her as a strong, determined person.

On 4th Nov she suffered another cardiac arrest. This time it was even stronger. According to the doctors attending to her – she lost 90% of her brain’s powers. She had to be put on life support. She was probably suffering, being in a coma. And there was no saying how long she would stay in this state.
She’d lived a full life, seen mostly all she wanted to see. It was time to let her go. Time to ease her suffering. She passed away in her coma itself.

I’m sure the family will miss her presence terribly. As C said, “if there is anything as an after life or next life – I hope she has peace”.
Wherever she is, I'm sure, her prayers and blessings will always follow C and her brother.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

The Price of War

I still remember September 11, 2001.

I was in Mumbai, India. It was a little after 6pm IST – and I was returning back to office after a long and tiring meeting at Levers. Bumped into a MH at the elevator and he told me there were news reports that a plane had rammed into the WTC. Incidentally, our office in Mumbai – was housed in a building called Trade Centre (freakish or what?).
Dumped my stuff on my table and walked into the TV room where a few people had gathered and were watching the broadcast over CNN. The big-boss PP walks in. “What’s going on?” he enquires. Someone fills him in. He too settles down. There is a silent agreement amongst those gathered, something isn’t quite right here. The presenter herself sounds confused about what’s going on. People chatter amongst themselves, “What do you think is happening?” “You think it’s an accident?” “Weird thing to happen”. Everyone has their own theory.

And then it happens. As we are watching, we see the second plane ram into the second tower. Someone shrieks. The presenter on CNN shouts. An eerie hush descends over us. And I still remember, a chill just went down my spine. We all watched completely paralysed. “Maybe its just a re-play” someone offers. “there cant be 2 of this happening” We hope that’s true. But we just saw it. The first building is still smoking away – and now the second one too. “Hush, you guys” PP says “I wanna hear this”. The CNN team has gone berserk – expectedly. No one knows what’s happening.

I still remember that day – clearly with every detail. The way people rushed out of office – to call near and dear ones in the US. I called home, asked my mom to turn to CNN. Completely shaken I left the room.

I experienced the same feeling again yesterday. We were watching United 93 – a movie that recreates the happening of United Airlines Flight 93 from New York to Los Angeles. This flight never reached its intended target – thanks to the efforts of its passengers. It crashed into a field in Pennsylvania.
As for the movie, I must say, it has re-created the confusion over the lost planes, the shock at the events, the resolve amongst the passengers pretty well. It re-creates in real time as the events unfold, on land (in the ATC offices, military control rooms) and in the air.

As we finished the movie, I couldn’t help but brush off the goose bumps on my arms.
Unlike most movies of this genre, it didn’t leave you with a closure – there just wasn’t any. Like there isint any justification for so many innocent people dying – be it in the WTC or in Gaza. No one wants to forget the dead. We cant even if we tried. And so we seek retribution. Some seek it by taking up arms. Others seek it by sending their military to completely unrelated countries. And then more people die. And more people take up arms…….

Just when will this cycle end???

Monday, November 13, 2006

The World This Week

Here’s my take on some of the news events that happened over the last week.

  • News report: Britney Spears Divorces Kevin Federline. Oops she did it again!

  • News report: Fed-ex(that’s what the news media is calling Kev Fed) isint going to get anything from Britney’s estate – thanks to an iron-clad pre-nuptial agreement the 2 signed.
    Britney, you’re not that innocent!

  • News report: Democrats gain control of the US Senate. Indian diplomats worried.
    Well they ought to be. They’ve wasted 50 years cozying up to the USSR. Manmohan Singh government decided they couldn’t not-be-friends with the US and so started cozying up to the Republican government. Looks like they’ve gotten themselves a white Republican elephant!

  • News report: Umrao Jaan hits Indian screens. Damp squib results.
    Is Umrao mein koi jaan nahin (This Umrao has no life in it)

  • News report: Saddam Hussein sentenced to death.
    Saw that one coming. But at least he was tried.

  • News report: A new Bond movie set to hit the screens. When asked how he would like his martini, this Bond snaps ‘Do I look like I give a damn?’
    Critics both shaken and stirred.

  • News report: Cell phone usage may affect male fertility.
    News report: India adds a record 6.6 million subscribers in October alone.
    Looks like the Indian government is using new technology to reduce its 1bn population.

  • News report: Aussie players push Sharad Pawar off-stage after accepting the Champions Trophy. Ricky Ponting “Hey Buddy’ –ies Pawar.
    Seriously I am soooo miffed at this juvenile behaviour – I cant think of anything funny. To his credit Ponting later apologized and Pawar accepted the apology.

  • News report: Abu Salem to stand for elections.
    (Once a Dawood henchman – Dawood being India’s most notorious underworld don – Salem was deported from Portugal – after protracted legal wranglings)
    This can happen only in India.

  • News report: There’s trouble in Gaza again. Israeli forces open fire and kill 50 civilians.
    There’s never going to be peace – where there are 2 nations fighting over a piece of land.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Wheeling, Dealing & Sealing

Over the past 10 days or so – the news from India has been about something called “sealing”. The visuals accompanying the news are all of people protesting – as we know best in India. Burning vehicles, stone pelting, road blocking, disrupting normal life – what else is new?

A quick search on the internet revealed that traders in Delhi are protesting against a Supreme Court order which says that all commercial establishments operating in ear-marked residential areas ought to be sealed shut. So I’m wondering, what’s wrong with that? It’s a designated residential area, the traders were wrong to set up a commercial establishment there, it ought to shut down. Agree? As a matter of fact – these guys ought to be persecuted for flouting land laws so openly. And finally when they are being taken to task for this illegality, not by the administration but by the courts, they have taken the law into their hands.

What’s worse is that the Delhi government and the government at the centre is so spineless that it petitioned a stay citing “law and order problems”. Is the Delhi government trying to say – it is so defenseless, that it cannot handle a few hundred protesting traders?

At this juncture I must say, kudos to the Supreme Court of India for showing some resolve and strength in refusing to budge from its position. It seems to be the only institution with some spine!

I do realize, everything is not as Black & White as I have made it out to be. There are a number of issues at hand here

  • The social cost of the sealing: The livelihood of the traders, their employees, their families and by extension to all those who were servicing these establishments is in jeopardy right now. Who is going to bear this cost?
  • What about all those authorities that turned a blind-eye all these years to these establishments? The ones that benefited from them? How are you going to penalize them?
  • Vote-Bank Politics: Of course, everyone knows traders are rich vote-banks, in all senses of the word, rich. The party that fails to care for them, will undoubtedly pay a price in the coming elections.
  • The Common Man: There seems to be no end to his suffering. Daily bandhs and protests have jeopardized daily life making attending school and work difficult.

A true sign of a living and healthy democracy is ‘people power’, where people are willing to let their protests be known to the government they have elected. And the government is forced to take the wishes of the people into consideration. As far as this issue goes, I think we have crossed the limit from democracy to ‘mob-ocracy’ where violent mob behavior is forcing the government to enact a change in the legislation. The Central government, for example – has hurriedly passed the controversial Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Act, 2006 — a piece of legislation specifically designed to circumvent the judiciary's orders. It suggests that the Central and Delhi government are willing to let off the hook those who have already flouted land laws. The governments seem to be flirting with the idea of wanting to stand up against the Supreme Court – a dangerous practice. With matters coming to such a pass, it is difficult to see an immediate way out of the logjam.

I am reminded of the “hawker-free” zones that the Municipal Authority wanted to create in Mumbai. It designated some areas where hawkers could not operate. I still remember, hawkers being evicted, the protests that followed – and the fact that a couple of years later – when the governments changed the hawkers were right back. I wonder, if the nation’s capital is going that way too.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Kyon Kii....

Marriage and motherhood have bestowed a new past-time. Serial watching. On Zee TV. It started with watching Zee TV in our hotel - yes, our hotel had Zee TV amongst it channels! Somehow we got hooked onto it strong enough to subscribe to it – when we moved into our own home.

Be it Bani (Kasamh Se) and her all sacrificing nature or Saloni (Saat Phere) and her didi-dom, we watched them all. After watching them for a while, I have distilled the ingredients that go into making one of these super-hit ‘K’ serials.

  • The central protagonist has to be an-all-good-doer. No matter what the circumstances, she will ‘do-good’ for her ‘parivaar’ (family).
  • She must have either an evil or a mis-guided sister (the raah se bhatki behen)
  • There must be an evil sister-in-law, one who catalyses all mis-fortunes for our protagonist.
  • There has to be a character, who is unable to conceive. Her lack of issue will foment some more problems for our heroine.
  • Husband-wife relations will swing between absolute understanding and absolute hatred.
  • The mother-in-law is now loving, caring and understanding, even co-operative. Never before in the history of hindi serials have MIL-DIL relationships been this good. An all-time high.
  • Career, achievement, have no importance for our protagonist. Parivaar is everything. In most cases, the female character who steps out of home to get a job, is the one who will turn out to be the evil one.
  • The family always stays together. Married sisters included. Patriarchal and Matriarchal systems inter-twine. In fact ‘ghar jamaai’ (house husband) is the order of the day.
  • Re-birth or look alikes will save the day, when a character has to be killed off and then brought back again to extend the serial.
  • The father, father-in-law or a father-like figure (taaya, chahcha, mama - or some uncle) invariably takes on a second wife and our heroine has to get this evil woman out of her life.

So this is my list. Then again, I only watch Zee TV – maybe the other channels have some other formula.
Will someone take up this tag and do one list for some other channel. Meanwhile, its time for Kasamh Se for me.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Something to Say

Picture This:
Its 1944. The Second World War has dragged on for 5 years now. The Japanese army has been seriously depleted. Allied Forces are banging at their doors. Japan has lost any pretext of having competitive fighter aircraft. They were hardly able to service the ones remaining. In this scenario Admiral Tajakiro Onishi
suggested expending them as bombs. The plot was simple. Ram the aircraft into enemy ships. Hereafter, this desperate use of ramming surviving aircraft into Allied ships came to be known as Kamakaze or Kamikaze. Post this Japanese operation, any suicidal mission requiring desperate measures came to be called Kamakaze.
If you break the words – ‘Kami’ means God or Divine and ‘Kaze’ means wind. Kamakaze therefore means Divine Wind.

Not that this has anything to do with me. Except that, somewhere along the way people bestowed this title onto me – by altering by surname. And the name stuck. And now I’ve decided to adopt it too for my blog.

For a while now, I have been hearing of friends who publish their own blog. For a while, I even flirted with the thought of having my own space, with something to say. Then it all got buried in the midst of diapers and changing pads and washcloths and the rest.

I seriously got hooked onto reading blogs – thanks to artnavy’s blogs. And then the infatuation with writing my own blog began. I mean, where else will I have the space to say what I have in mind without a pair of sticky hands pulling onto my dress or a pair of chubby arms around my neck wanting a lift (but more about the owner of those hands later).

So here I am - with my first serious attempt at blogging. Sit back, relax and enjoy the trip!