Friday, July 30, 2010

Sweat the small stuff.

When one is young, one rages against secrecy, sealing love with the promise of no-secrets, all dark nooks and corners revealed and inspected.

As one grows in time, and gathers more nooks, corners, crevices and cracks, some darkness escapes the torchlight of words and intent, and bores itself inside your soul, so deep, that somehow sharing seems like a task unto itself. And maybe perhaps, because with time, the ears that sought your secrets out, change too.


The symbolism enjoyed by pebbles in our collective cultures is intriguing. One of my first symbolic references to a pebble was that of pain: I remember reading in 'moral science' class at the convent I studied, about how Jesus stopped a crowd that was stoning 'a prostitute', with words that forced them to reflect before they act. I did not know Mary Magdalene then, but when I discovered her through Jose Saramago, I often wondered how harsh, the smooth pebble must have felt like, for Jesus.

Whether for anecdotes about how full or free to keep life (friends and family are the pebbles in the jar, work is but the smooth sand around it); to how to be more giving or adapting; from images of smooth pebbles skipping over tranquil waters; to being symbolic of a Zen state in life, the pebble is both humble, and primordial.

Did you know that when Nino was in my belly, and I saw him (at that time I did not know the baby's gender) the first time during sonography, I though he looked like a pebble, one smooth surface, one part rough. He was called Pebble by friends and family for the rest of the pregnancy.

And now, as I sit typing this, next to a glass jar filled with white, grey and black pebbles that Nino has picked over his years, everything, every symbol, every anecdote has come rushing to my mind, tugging me along, making my path.


What stories have the pebbles made for you?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Did-too list

The past tense to my to-do list for the month.

1) Watch-ed lots of movies.
Curious Case of Benjamin Button (super). 3 Idiots (all over again). Inception (crazy. intriguing. tad over rated). Salt (from the first row at that, the crink in the neck was worth the second half though). The Last Airbender (need to have a chat with m night shyamalan, and rap his knuckles). I Hate Luv Storys (the first time I saw Sonam Kapoor on screen. Pwetty girl. Pwettier Imran Khan). Kung Fu Panda (love it every time). A dozen more, maybe. Also, every single James Bond movie ever made.... seriously. (courtesy the Bond film festival on Star-Movies every night at 11:00pm. With Nino's Dad, this construes part of our couple time. He's a Bond addict, and our arguments are largely Roger Moore versus Daniel Craig versus Sean Connery.

2) Raise-ed a big family
I'm mothering three boys right now. 13, 8 and 4. Over the weekends, I play mother to an adorable five year old girl too. The first two boys are not mine, and neither is the weekend angel :) The two sisters-in-law and a bunch of cousins are tripping over Leh like perfectly post-card Gujju tourists (khakhra and snack boxes and bottomless shopping prowess!). So we're holding the home fort. Between the questions, and the pillow fights, two school car-pools and the trips to the doc for a patch-up or a stitch-up, it's been entertaining :D

3) Play-ed tennis with Nino.
Not the game. The to and fro of the ball. First he gets viral fever. Then I get migraine. Then he opts for ear infection. And I choose dysentery. Then it's his turn for a bad cough and cold. Then mine for tonsillitis. Now he's at laryngitis. And I'm waiting for my turn.

4) Start-ed working again.
Freelancing from home. Translates into crazy hours and alarmingly little money. But also means a little sanity, and 'private space' where Nino can't scream at me!

5) Post-ed on the blog again.
Did-too, din't I? :)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Hungry Brown Tiger

Our teenage nephew who lives in the US is currently visiting us: and as with every year I weave through what India means to him through the fast onslaught of his accent, questions and many appointments.

Just a while back we were talking about the inherent 'hunger' in the Indian psyche, that which fuels our economy, keeps us sustained through half-hungry stomachs and parched farmlands. This rush, this hunger is not something he understands very well: but he is a patient listener, and I'm a persistent talker.

Our collective aspiration is a unique and incredible phenomena, perhaps the one thing that is common to the millions that live here, a common ground that has come nearly a hundred years after we found the first one: the thirst to be free.

Wanted to share this blog post by Shekhar Kapur, one that touches upon the entrepreneurial spirit that is beginning to assert itself in a generation that has broken free of their parents 'successful employee' oriented mindset. Good read.

A Blackberry addict discovers grassroots enterprise in India

A greater ‘hole in the wall’ you cannot imagine. A small fading sign on the top saying “Cellphoon reapars” barely visible through the street vendors crowding the Juhu Market in Mumbai. On my way to buy a new Blackberry, my innate sense of adventure (foolishness) made me stop my car and investigate. A shop not more than 6 feet by 6 feet. Grimy and uncleaned.

‘Can you fix a blackberry ?”

‘ Of course , show me”

” How old are you”


Bullshit. He was no more than 10. Not handing my precious blackberry to a 10 year old in unwashed and torn T shirt and pyjama’s ! At least if I buy a new one, they would extract the data for me. Something I have been meaning to do for a year now.

‘What’s wrong with it ?”

‘Well, the roller track ball does not respond. It’s kind of stuck and I cannot operate it”

He grabs it from my hand and looks at it

“You should wash your hands. Many customers have same problem. Roller ball get greasy and dirty, then no working’

Look who was telling me to wash my hands. He probably has not bathed for 10 days, I leaned out to snatch my useless blackberry back.

” you come back in one hour and I fix it’

I am not leaving all my precious data in this unwashed kid’s hands for an hour. No way.

“who will fix it ?”

‘Big brother’

‘ How big is ‘big brother?’

‘big …. umm ..thirty’

Then suddenly big brother walks in. 30 ??? He is no more than 19.

‘What problem ?’ He says grabbing the phone from my greasy hand into his greasier hand. Obviously not trained in etiquette by an upmarket retail store manager.

‘Normal blackberry problem. I replace with original part now. You must wash your hand before you use this’

What is this about me washing my hands suddenly ?? 19 year old big brother rummages through a dubious drawer full of junk and fishes out a spare roller ball packed in cheap cellophane wrapper. Original part ? I doubt it.

But by now I am in the lap of the real India and there is no escape as he fishes out a couple of screwdrivers and sets about opening my Blackberry.

“How long will this take ?”

” Six minutes ”

This I have to see. After spending the whole morning trying to find a Blackberry service centre and getting vague answers about sending the phone in for an assessment that might take a week, I settle down next to his grubby cramped work space. At least I am going to be able to watch all my stored data vanish into virtual space. People crowd around to see what’s happening. I am not breathing easy anyway. I tell myself this is an adventure and literally have to stop myself grabbing my precious blackberry back and making a quick escape.

But in exactly six minutes this kid handed my blackberry back. He had changed the part and cleaned and serviced the the whole phone. Taken it apart, and put it together. As I turned the phone on there was a horrific 2 minutes where the phone would not come on. I looked at him with such hostility that he stepped back.

‘you have more than thousand phone numbers ?”


‘backed up ?’


‘Must back up. I do it for you. Never open phone before backing up’

‘You tell me that now ?’

But then the phone came on and my data was still there. Everyone watching laughed and clapped. This was becoming a show. A six minute show.

I asked him how much.

‘ 500 rupees’ He ventured uncertainly . People around watched in glee expecting a negotiation. Thats $ 10 dollars as against the Rs 30,000 ($ 600) I was a about to spend on a new blackberry or a couple of weeks without my phone. I looked suitably shocked at his ‘high price ‘ but calmly paid him. Much to the disapointment of the expectant crowd.

‘do you have an Iphone ? Even the new ‘4′ one ?

‘no, why”

‘I break the code for you and load any ‘app’ or film you want. I give you 10 film on your memory stick on this one, and change every week for small fee’

I went home having discovered the true entreprenuership that lies at what we call the ‘bottom of the pyramid’. Some may call it piracy, which of course it is, but what can you say about a two uneducated and untrained brothers aged 10 and 19 that set up a ‘hole in the wall’ shop and can fix any technology that the greatest technologists in the world can throw at them.

I smiled at the future of our country. If only we could learn to harness this potential.

‘Please wash your hands before use’ were his last words to me. Now I am feeling seriously unclean.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Free book

There's nothing like a free ride, my husband assures me, and although most practical logic does rarely apply to the realm of the written word, I'm tempted to state that I haven't read 'The Choir Boats' yet.

But it's free for you to download, seems interesting enough (if you're the kind that finds young fiction interesting) and has a beautiful cover. Oh, and Pratham recommends it too.

Quote - The Choir Boats by Daniel A Rabuzzi has been described as 'vibrant' and rich with 'verve and wit'. It is a seagoing fantasy yarn that is like Gulliver's Travels crossed with The Golden Compass and a dollop of Pride and Prejudice. - Unquote

For downloading a free pdf of the book, go here.

I'm staring to read it now, so tell me if you like it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Return to Innocence.

I saw an extremely interesting movie last night: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. About a man who is born old and dies young. It was an intriguing movie: one that touched upon so many concepts that have at one time or the other eaten away at my soul - and the most incredible solution that the movie offered: would it be easier for us, and for the ones that we loved, if we grew older in our minds, but younger in terms of our bodies, as time passed?

There's a dialog that Brad Pitt says in the movie, when he returns to the place that raised him, technically his home, after nearly a decade. Everything is the same, he says, the way the place looked, smelt and felt. What's different, is that I've changed. Reminded me of this home, this blog.

I'm back to writing my 'me-mail', the diary that I'd abandoned when I found this blog. Wanted to leave an excerpt here:

July 19, 2010.
Everyday, a better person and mother. Maybe I’m not ready to be a better wife yet. ‘But I just want to do masti’ Nino's accusing voice and tears still ring in my ears. And I wish for more from him, just as I wish for more from me. Should I work on the more from me part before it is fair to expect it out of him? Or should I acknowledge that both more’s are against what we are, naturally? Motherhood is not easy: childhood even less so.

Hope you're well. Love.