Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ghosts of Newyear Past

New Year 2005
- St.Xavier's College Ahmedabad
Joy of new year dampened by the tsunami tragedy. Chilly winter, Mid night mass, countdown and cheering, cake and wine, long queue for midnight phone calls, joy of new formed friendships

New Year 2006
- College Hostel, Palakkad
Not much of a celebration. In the middle of the night, there was a short circuit somewhere and we all had to run out of the hostel. Adding some spark to the new year!

New Year 2007
- Home, Cherpulasseri
A small small neighbourhood celebration. Few games, little music, cake, food, togetherness, loads of love

New Year 2008
- Campus, Hyderabad
Winter chill, love, Hyderabadi food, long walks in the night, cold winds, a card(which a shredded later on in a moment of madness), VC rocks, friends, bonfire, freedom,

New Year 2009
- Apartment, Delhi
New Year party on a chilly winter night, big bonfires, music, dancing, meeting people, real good food, nice roommie, a tinge of loneliness

New Year 2010
- Hostel, Calicut
New year party in room, two of my all time best friends and rommies, @Ojins with Indu, back to room, stock of real nice food, booze, music, fun, pictures, pointless talk, more booze, food, friendship,

New Year 2011
- Bangalore

Reflections on the New Year Eve

Sense of loss
I was trying to put together words that define the passing year in my life. There were good moments, there were bad ones. There was sorrow, of parting, of losing, of having to move on. Things that leave a bad taste.
I've moved into a new place - my 'hole in the wall' that I've begun to love. I got to read a whole lot of good books and enjoy all those lazy evenings in the solitude of my room reading some nice book. Started loving this city and the life that it offered.
I've travelled to at least some of the places that I've always wanted to see. There was an Udupi - kollur trip that was really pleasant and enjoyable. Then there was this mudumalai-masinagudi-ootty trip which was thrilling and relaxing. Then there are a whole lot of places that I've wanted to visit, but never got to :(
Then there is this endless waiting. Waiting for things to happen. Waiting for things that never happen, waiting for people who never turn up....
There is a pain when people go away, when you leave places, when movies end, when you reach the last page of a beloved book, when love fades away, when your favorite shop closes down, when a journey ends, when you give up things... the same feeling comes up when a year ends. A year that has brought in a whole gamut of emotions ranging from agony to Ecstasy, pain to joy, hollowness to fulfillment is slowing making it's exit.
And then there is hope. Hope that the coming year is going to bring something nice, something memorable. Hope that builds up during the beginning and then goes on diminishing as the days progress, something like the waxing and waning of the moon. Nevertheless, in the beginning, there is Hope...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Happy Ano Sir?

"Happy alle sir?" (You are happy. rt?)
That was the first question Shan used to asked us every morning. It was a rhetoric, not expecting a serious answer. we used to take that in a light vein and answer "yes sir". There was a genuine friendship amognst us and we had time and space to share our joys and sorrows with eachother.

That was quiet sometime back and today we all have moved into distant places and bigger offices where nobody asks (or even cares) if you are happy. Here we meet daily, greet eachother, discuss stuff related to work, and go back home.One fine morning, we were shocked to hear the announcement from the management that one of our managers passed away due to 'health issues'. Much later, we learnt that this man, with a 4 year daughter, who is very much attached to him, has taken his own life. He had a great job, a 6 digit salary, own house in bangalaore, a new car - everything matrial that one can wish for. Why then did he do this? None of us had any clue. Just the other day he had talked with us, took a smoking break with some others and was his usual cheerful self. What was it that plagued him so much to drive him to such a drastic step? we will never know!

We, who spend hours in discussions and meetings called project reviews, team meeting and many other such stuff, do not know a thing about the folks sitting around the same table. Why does it happen? Why is it that we do not have the time or need to know about others, understand the people who work with us? What happened to the good old days when people really cared?

When the management realised something's wrong, they decided to conduct a stress management program. They gor the trainer whose biodata reads "She is a Master/Teacher of Reiki, Pranic Healing, Magnified Healing, Acupressure, Aroma therapy, Yoga, Meditation, Hypnosis, Melchizedek Method of hologram healing, Feng Shui, Tai chi and NLP. Using all the above sciences she has healed over 1,000 people." These are the people who get paid (real huge amounts) to listen to the worries and problems of other people and then give some kind of advice. Something our grandmas and auties used to do all the time, without getting(or expecting to get) paid ofcourse.

I don't know about others, but for me, all I need to manage stress is someone to ask me the good old question, "happy alle sir?". And, would actually wait for an answer.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Are We Safe?

Just the day before we were all reading the verdict of the Prathibha murder case. The newspapers were full of articles regarding how this shocking incident changed the whole approach to providing a secure work and travel atmosphere to women employees. Many It companies changed their policies, many rules and regulations were established regarding this. Today, after all these, how women-friendly are our cities?

This very shocking and humiliating experience happened to a girl I know. She is working in one of those bing Indian multinationals in Bangalore. One day she left office at 8 p.m. and was walking home. It was not a very isolated or remote area, there were lot of people around. As she walked, a man who was stading at the roadside moved closer, took a sip of water from a bottle in his hand and spat the whole thing on to her face. She was shocked, scared and humiliated beyond words. As the man laughed out aloud, people around made a half-hearted effort to catch this guy. He threatened them with the bottle in his hand and ran away.She walked home with tears of hurt and humiliation streaming down her face.

We are not speaking about remote villages where women still remain inside the four walls of the house. This is Bangalore, and we are speaking about a professionally qualified girl who would probabaly have a fat pay cheque. Does education and high paid jobs really make things easier for girls?

We take things seriously when something as big as rape or murder happen. The newspapers get a sensational news item and they run the story for days together. Nobody really cares for things like these. Many girls put up with things like these - wilful acts of humiliation. For newspapers, policmen and spectators these are 'minor incidents'.

Why is it that in this country some bastard could do this and then walk away just like that? Why do we always lead our complacent lives believing things like that happen to someone else?

All in a Day's Work

location: my workstation
Time 10 a.m.

Hp: good morning ma'm
Me: Good morning. Why are u late?
HP: Ma'm my mom's not well. She is admitted in a hospital.
Me: oh really? What happened? How's she now?
Hp: She had a fall. She had an operation yesterday. her leg is bandaged. Now she will have to be in the hospital for a month or so.
Me: Is it? Then who is at the hospital?
Hp: I'll have to go. There is nobody else.
Me: That's fine. You can leave. Do you want some cash or anything?
Hp: No thanks. I guess I can manage.
Me: ok then. take care.

Location: Boss' cabin
Time: 10.30 a.m.

Me: Good morning sir
Boss: Good morning
Me: Sir did you know about Hp's Mom?
Boss: Yes I did. That was so unfortunate. What would be the effect of all this?
Me: He will have to remain in the hospital. I have already told him he can leave.
Boss: What I meant was how would this affect our projects?
Me: I can't ask him to work in this this kind of a situation.
Boss: May be he can take the laptop to the hospital and work from there.
Me: !!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

On Turning 25

Turning 25 is a kind of turning point in your life (They say that at the time of your class X board exam also, but believe me, that doesn’t turn anything). At 25 you are supposed to be grown up, mature, free and all that. Well the way I walked into the turning point is a bit amusing so I thought I’d share it with you.
Two weeks back:
On a daily basis, I get up early in the morning and frantically search for that huge wrinkle which was supposed to turn up when you are 25. At least Nilufer said she got a big wrinkle on her face when she turned 25.
One week back:
The much dreaded wrinkle has not yet appeared. Was planning to do some shopping in honor of the birthday but my mommy dearest gifted me dress etc which saved a trip to the mall. She has a way of pampering me and thankfully turning 25 has not brought about any change to it.
One day back:
I get this wonderful book “Electric Feather” as a birthday gift. Wow, people started considering me grown up enough to gift me something like that. Great! (At least a week later I finish reading that book and find out that the difference between erotic fiction and porn is 350 bucks! But that comes much later and now I’m all so happy and proud of the gift)
Later in the day. Dinner at a Chinese restaurant with a friend. I loved that seat near an aquarium.
The day:
Mails, wishes, gifts as usual.
Someone called up and said something about being grown up and I was extremely happy and pleased with myself. (In less than a week’s time, I managed to fell of a silly chair that too in plain view of half the office staff. I did look quiet childish when I tried to rock that silly chair I guess. Well that again comes much later, right now I have this grown up air all about me.)
A friend of mine gifted me a book on how to improve the leadership skills. I try hard not to take that as a hint on how well I’m managing my team. At least none of my team members gave me a book on how to manage a team.
The evening went on with the usual cake cutting, smearing the cake all over the face and other stuff like that. More of usual gifts, chocolates etc.

One week into the new year, I just can’t feel the difference. I still manage to do all the silly and stupid things I used to do before. That wrinkle hasn’t turned up yet (sigh of relief). People don’t consider me more matured or anything. More important than anything else, Life still sucks, Big time!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Live and Let Live

I happened to visit this huge temple complex in Mangalore called Kudroli temple. This temple complex, inaugurated by Rajiv Gandhi, has the normal temple structures and additional stuff like a marriage hall, park with fountain etc. After the visiting the main shrine and offering our prayers, we entered the, park.

Now this is a park with a pool, a large number of sculptures and paintings of Gods and Goddesses. There are these really magnificent sculptures of Siva at all corners of the pool and I was told that they have this wonderful display of light and water there on special occasions.

And then there is the park with grass, a smaller pool, rocks, small trees and shrubs etc. There, they have made life-like statues of animals and have tried to recreate the natural settings in which these animals occur. Mostly these are animals with some kind of religious significance like the tiger, lion, snakes, rat, peacock, cow etc. Well, there are a few ‘secular’ ones like the crow, spotted deer, egrets etc. Then I found this very interesting item. They have kept name tags for each of these statues just like they do in a zoo. I found it pretty amusing. Had it been a live peacock or crow, it made sense; but keeping a nameplate near the cement statue of a peacock? I found it funny.

Later on I was thinking about this. I was wondering what made these people do something that looks as silly as this. This was the time when the reports on “0nly 1410 tigers left in India” were beginning to come out. Then I realized with a start that if things go on at today’s pace, this kind of cement statues will be all that we have of all these magnificent species. We will have to make parks full of statues like this replace our zoos.

It is time for us to start doing something about saving our forests and its denizens for the generations to come. If we don’t do something, that too pretty fast, these painted figures will be all that our children, and their children, will have as a proof off all the wonderful creatures that used to inhabit this earth.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


The train that brought me all the way from Kerala, into this big city was whistling its way into the next station. Just getting down in this station is making me nostalgic. Twenty years ago, getting down here, catching a local train to my college, all that was a routine we all loved. And now, I am back to the place so dear, back to the memories – alone. Let me sit on this cement bench and wait for the local train.

Today, I, Meera turn 50. Yes, 50 years since that dark, rainy night of June, when I announced my arrival into this world with a fierce, defiant cry. The fact that I was the first child of the third generation in the family did, to a small extent, reduce the disappointment of my being a girl. And I went on to disappoint another family 23 years later by delivering twin girls. Well, that is another story, for some other time.

My married life was not exactly what you’d call tough. Hari was a nice man who used to do all the right things. He used to buy me gifts at the right occasions, pays all mandatory visits to my house, and was a nice dad to our twin daughters; he was pretty good in his own way. I had a nice job, a ‘respectable’ marriage, two beautiful daughters – everything that a woman could hope for.

My life was so smooth and ‘normal’ until that day my daughter told me that I had breast cancer and I need a mastectomy. I was only 42 and I felt God was being unfair to me. Now, I loved my breasts, I loved the way they made me a woman. The resentment that I had for my breasts in the adolescent days was gone. Back then, as a child who grew up a bit too soon. I was pretty unhappy with my breasts. They drew a hell lot of unwanted attention – groping fingers, hurting nails, from all places – crowded buses, visiting ‘uncles’... Well, that was long back; I’ve grown up now.

I survived the fear, the pain, the agony of loss, everything related to the operation. I felt of myself was being taken away from me. But my daughters understood, I would not have made it but for their support. Hari also tried his best to be supportive. But somehow, for him, the change was a bit too much to come to terms with.

After I came back from the hospital, I could sense the difference in his attitude towards me. In our bedroom, he kept his distance from me. The loss of a breast has made me unappealing for him, I guess. I, his wife of twenty two years, have suddenly become a Stranger, a not-so-wanted woman. Day after day I found the resentment, the disgust, taking shape and choking me with its cold fingers in the dark confines of our bedroom. He thinks I cheated him, purposely denying him his rightful happiness, by losing one breast.

It was one of those terrible, isolated and miserable days of my life that I saw His face in the obituary column. It is shocking, you know, to get up on a lazy Sunday morning and glance through the newspaper to find that someone who had been so close to you have passed away. Never before had I felt a more acute sense of loss in my life. Well, that too for a man I haven’t seen in last fifteen years. Still, the face in the newspaper looked so very familiar. As I traced my fingers over the picture – the hairline that has receded much farther, the shaven face that once had many pimples, the thin framed glasses- memories came flooding. And then I decided I am making a trip to that far off city, to visit my college. A trip would definitely do me good.

Hari was a bit suspicious of this official tour that came up without a prior notice. And if he realized I am lying, he chose to remain silent about it. There must have been something about the way I told him that kind of scared him into silence. In our 28 years of marriage, he had never seen me this stubborn, this firm. And now, I am sitting on this cement bench in a crowded platform, waiting for that train which would take me to the college.

I get on to the train and manage to find a window seat. The train moves fast and I get a glimpse of a city I fail to recognize. 30 years is a long time.

A whole gamut of emotions ranging from nostalgia to immense joy hit me the moment I entered the campus. 30 years did not do much to this place. A new building here or there, a few trees cut down, few others growing up, new faces all around; but in general it was the same. I couldn’t stop myself from rushing to our old haunt – a flight of stairs leading to an old pond near a dilapidated building.

All I could think of were the shrieks of joy, laughter, relaxed chatter, gasps and sighs of a young boy and girl. These sounds used to fill this place, years ago when we lay down beneath on those giant trees that covered the area. This was the place where we explored each other – bodies, hopes, dreams, fears. I couldn’t stop thinking about the boy who taught me to forget and move on in life, to love, to dream, to live, and then again, much later, to forget and move on. I tied to recollect the smoky walls of the small hotel, where we met for a spicy biryani for the first time. Many plates of biryanis later, our bond was strong and passionate. He could understand me in a way which Hari never could. Now, that is a bit unfair to Hari; he was also a victim in this system that matched horoscopes and ignored people.

Hot tears that welled in my eyes – for the memories, for the man I used to love, for my doomed marriage? I really do not know. It is getting dark and I need to get up. One last look at the dear place and I leave. On my way back, I enter the college chapel. I pray for some time and a sense of peace engulfed me. I light a candle in the chapel and walk back. A candle lighted for love, for memories, for peace. The flame flickers in the wind and then steadied itself. And it is time for me to forget and move on.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Love is No Longer Criminal!!!

These days I've started believing that our judiciary is the best thing that has happened to the Indian Democracy. Our judges have time and again proved through various rulings that we are actually in 2010 and not stuck in 1947. At first it was Delhi High Courts repeal of the objectionable clauses of section 377. Now it is the Supreme Court ruling on the Kushboo case. This verdict is a huge boost to all of us who believe in the freedom of thought and expression. But more than the verdict, what interests me are the observations made by the court in this regard. India is waking up to changing values and new moral codes of the 21st century.

The bench has made some truly progressive and modern remarks on Live-in relationships. Here are couple of observations made by the court.
"When two adult people want to live together what is the offense. Does it amount to an offense? Living together is not an offense. It cannot be an offense."
"Please tell us what is the offense and under which section. Living together is a right to life,"
The court also noted that there was no law which prohibits live-in relationship or pre-marital sex.

This is truly historic for country whose people are too steeped in pseudo-moral codes,hypocrisy and age old and meaningless customs. In this country, we still have neighborhoods that would take up arms to "discipline" people who choose to live their life differently. we live in times when pre-marital sex in becoming a part of life for most of the youth but then again, these are the times when hymenoplasty is becoming more and more in demand. Well, we are still obsessed with the idea of virgin brides and we can not tolerate comments like the one made by Khusboo.
It is in this kind of an India that our Supreme Court makes this radical judgment. They even cited the example of Krishna and Radha - so much culture and tradition fanatics.

It is not as if the Indian society is eager and waiting for this kind of a remark. Protests and criticisms have come up from various quarters on the society. Individuals, groups and political parties have come up with their protests and reservations on the remarks made by the court. And I'm sure it will take ages for the general society to come to terms with the reality. For most people, pre-marital sex or live in relationships is something done by 'those' people, the kind of people that they can frown upon. Daughters from nice families do not indulge in these kinds of stuff, they believe.

It is high time we started facing the new reality. People have started questioning the once invincible institutions of family and marriage. A new moral code is being formed at least in the cities and I believe that this new morality has come to stay. Let's applaud the court for upholding the values of democracy and more importantly for knowing the pulse of the youth. Let's hope this need for respecting the other person's privacy, this need for looking at our friends, bothers, sisters and daughters and individuals, this need for a new moral code, this need for acceptance of change will spread to all parts of our society.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


"Today I lost my love
Today I lost my heart
Today I lost my world"
I got up today morning and found this message from a friend who lost is first love and is terribly upset. Then I came to office and found this status message in another friend's gtalk.
"Girls and boys these days fall in love due to misunderstanding and when they understand, they start hating each other."
Well somebody is heartbroken someone else is philosophizing. In almost everything that we do, we cross and recross paths of love in some way or the other.

And then comes the call from the past. Accusations, complaints, obscene language, expressions of hate that hasn't died out even after two long years. I wonder how human beings are capable of hurting each other so much. Like that single cancer cell that remained out of the surgical blade's reach, its grown back into full strength with all the malignancy possible. That is how hate is - it possesses immense powers, power to grow back, power to strangle, power to kill. And the strangest thing is a germ of hate lies dormant inside every seed of love. As long as the love is there, or rather as long as you think there is love, this germ remains dormant. But once seed of love disintegrates, hate takes over, it grows, it smothers the heart. I strongly believe that the deepest hate we can have is for people we love that most at some point of time. Keeping all these theories of love and hate apart, I believe human beings have immense capabilities of hating and hurting each other.

This can be seen as a confession for messing up a very much avoidable situation. This could also be a general statement of my perceptions of love and hate. But for some reason both love, hate and messed up situations are becoming a part of my life. And in any case I don't regret any of these. For me, these are the things that make life livable.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Things I Miss About Calicut

There are a few things that I really miss about Calicut. The order has nothing do with the importance of these items; it’s just the order in which they came to my mind.

Paragon Biryani: There is nothing like it. It's special right from the aroma that fills the whole area to the taste that grows on you. They have this special date pickle to go with it. This pickle again is something that is not readily available everywhere.

Street book stores: There are these book sellers who spread their ware on the streets. They have this irresistible offer of “Pick any book for Rs.10”. It is a fact that most of these book are just pulp, but if you have time and patience enough to search and sort through the junk, you may come up with some real good finds. I got stuff like “Raisins in the sun” from one of these shops. Those shops are too good. Sunday shopping for us invariably included a trip to those shops. I miss them like anything. 

Ice Floe: This is the small fresh juice and ice cream place located at the corner of Focus Mall food court. Their fruit salads are simply too good. When we were just acquaintances, when we hadn’t discovered the common interests, likes and dislikes of each other, Anju and I used to drop in at this place for a fruit salad with Vanilla. Later on it became one of our favourite haunts and from then on, birthdays meant ice cream from Ice Floe, New Year meant bigger ice cream from Ice Floe. Now, I miss that place like anything. And I miss it more when I think of the two idiots I left behind having ice creams at Ice floe.

Indusree: Indu… well I really do not know what to write about this one. We come from different backgrounds, do entirely different kind of work, and don’t even have common interests or anything. The only thing that brought us together in the beginning was love for food. We used to roam around sampling food from almost all available places in Nadakkavu from Salakara to Choco Tree, Ojin being our favourite. Ojin was on the verge of issuing us a “Gold Membership Card” when I left Calicut. I miss her, one of the best companions I have ever had in life.

SM Street: No shopping experience in Calicut is complete unless you take a trip to SM Street. There are shops, shops and shops there. You can shop for clothes, footwear, accessories and most of the stuff is reasonable priced.

My crazy roomies: I have been staying in hostels for more than 5 years when I moved in with these weirdos. Never before and I’m sure never again will I get roommates like these two. Staying with them is what you call once in a life time experience (not many can take it twice). Achu the romantic kiddo and anju the cynical auntie would never look anything like the terrific combo that they actually are. The numerous shopping trips, eating outs and parties we had were too good to be forgotten. I miss this crazy pair more than anything else in Calicut.

Calicut Beach: It is definitely not one of the best kept beaches; there are times when it does stink. In spite of all this, a walk along the beach on a lazy Sunday evening is one of the best experiences that you can have in Calicut.

Autos of Calicut: You may wonder what is special about a rick or a rickshawalla. They happen in all cities. But in Calicut you have some of the most fair and well behaved rickshawallas. No fight over the fare, no taking the longer routes, no misbehaving in rickshaws in Calicut.

Well there are many other places and things and memories like all the silly things that we used to do, all those places which serve real good food, all those silly messes we got into and our anecdotes like "Varkey's", "Irish Coffee", but then each of this is another story, for some other time.

I miss all these and much more about Calicut. It was one of the best places I've ever stayed.