Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Four years later, we are still trying to make ourselves a marriage that breaks the forecast, unaware of how easily it hob-nobs with cliches and generalisations.
I will refrain from my need to clothe you and your soul with my words: we do our own catharsis everyday. For you, instead, are someone else's words, mirroring much of mine. Happy Anniversary, Da.

For Him
By Merrit Malloy

He's asleep now,
Enclosed in the only freedom he knows,
An unconscious sanctuary
That unites one day with the next,
The fragile province of a mind that has so little shelter.

And I love him so,
I did not mean to come this far.

I've learned to love,
The sound of him calling my name,
Waking to the feeling
Of his body against mine.

He is so familiar to me,
His arms are like my home.
Still...I love him enough
To leave him alone.

Tonight, we tried to say it out loud.
But the words seemed to hit upon our faces
Like small stones.
Feelings, unedited,
Ran underground in us.
Our eyes became transparent
And we were afraid.
The terror or maybe not
Being together anymore
Carried it’s own justification.

I did not mean to contaminate his life
With my own confusion,
To allow his need for me
To encourage the collective myths
Little girls are fed for breakfast
I did not unite with him
So that he must divide himself.

He only meant to love me,
He did not mean to come this far.

I believed in Cinderella,
I even looked for magic dragons in my Nana’s yard.
I grew up believing.
He grew up trying not to.
And we’ve lived long enough to know that
As much as I had been deformed by fantasy
He had been mutilated by reality.

We can translate our silence now,
We know what it means.
Feelings that we kept sealed
And beyond each other’s reach
Are threatening,
But defined and honest.

We don’t know yet
What parts we’ll play in one another’s life,
But we’ve come a long way together
Trying to find out.

Together or alone,
The decisions are beginning to reverberate,
Like noise, ripening.
Our appetites were formed
Before we knew what we needed,
And our experience together is a prism
Through which we see everything differently now.

But are we truly different?
Did we escape the pollution
Of public opinion against the
Cultivation of "forever"?
Do we have enough respect and trust
In one another?
And in ourselves?
Do we have enough life to exchange,
Enough love to pay for what we want?

We do love each other so...
But we did not mean to go this far.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Book time at bed time

Nino loves books. He loves flipping through them, loves having them read to him, loves to read aloud - though he can't really read, he's got pages memorised.

I started reading to Nino when he was six months old - and got tagged crazy by the in-laws. I'd read anything to him - story books mostly, then newspapers, bottle labels, anything - It was a break from coming up with conversation to have with him, and in a way all that reading aloud soothed me. Then he discovered touch and feel books - and conversation made way for questions of inquiry.

Nino usually likes to read a particular book for a long time - a month or more, everyday at bedtime, sometimes asking for that book to be read several times over. We usually comply, but sometimes when it's getting too late Nino gets down to the kind of negotiation tactics that would make his Gujarati genetic pool mighty proud.

There are no preferred subjects - though I have noticed a leaning towards a 'story' - we do books on mighty movers (he loves diggers, dumpers and their kind), colours, wildlife and even numbers and alphabets.

Story times are serious business: Nino props himself in a particular way, you have to give the book your full concentration as you read - and he expects you to pat your mouth and say sorry if you yawn. There is an undeniable twinkle in his eyes - just the kind that books are expected to bring.

Currently, we're reading Poldy flies high by Felicia Law. It's a delightful story about a scarecrow, how he's built and his winged friends who want him to fly with them so he can see the world. It draws out the distinction between the scarecrow's 'standing firm in the ground' existence versus all the 'wonderful countries far away, delicious fruits and fat, juicy insects' in the birds' lives - without making the reader feel sorry for Poldy the scarecrow.

Nino loved the book instantly, we ended up making a Poldy of our own from his old tee and shorts and he has red pipe-cleaner hair. Our Poldy now stands tall and firm planted in a pot in the garden.

I've always loved books too - and I began to read really fast quite young, because I was hungry for them, according to my mum. Sundays in winter were spent curled up on a massive carpet in the local government library, reading up dust-smothered covers. I could see green, lush, Asopalav trees from the window, and sometimes, I'd snooze off, right there, dreaming of the worlds I'd just read about. Libraries eventually became a sort of home to me, and I'd be lying if I dint admit now that eventually I really hope Nino discovers their magic as well.

Some pictures from book time at bed time a couple of nights back:

Yipee! Book time!

Two times, please. Say it's okay?

Papa forgot to read that Poldy flies high is written by Felicia Law and has illustrations by Steve Smallman and Shirley Tourret

And there, we've lost him to the story. Yes, that's my hairband!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Of milestones and thanksgiving

I've been wanting to do this post for two days now, but I've held on to my joy like a miser, savouring it, content in holding it out till it's but about to fade in the jungle of everyday images, and then I promised myself, I'd write it out, live it all over again.

Something changed that joy today, made me shiver at my inability to fully enjoy a moment in hand instead of storing it away, not acknowledging that this too shall pass, that I've this now and for now alone. I'll come back to this cause, but first, the joy.

Nino saw his first movie (and his first movie in a theater) over the weekend, a choice that I fought hard over - with myself ofcourse - even as the other me reiterated the decision to keep him away from mass marketing as much as I could. But the decision was easy - I'd settled for a go-between. We took Nino to see a 3D film on the awe inspiring creatures that call the oceans their home. And while I was totally split on whether he was old enough to watch 3D - the 24/7 shrink that is the world wide web said it was okay, my dad was livid and said NO as loudly as possible over the phone line, my m-i-l recounted her nauseous state while a relative (come on, opinions are free!) spoke about how her daughter, almost 4 when she saw the movie, had gotten very disturbed with the experience and had sleepwalked - what finally did it for me was a nice and quick chat with the guys who run the damn theater.

The Science City is one of the many institutions that Ahmedabad is proud to be home to, and I added my self to its fan-list after experiencing a kind of service and ambiance that we don't expect from public institutions in India. When I called the IMAX theater at the City on Sunday morning, I never really expected that the phone would get answered. It was answered by a polite, Hindi-speaking gent, who patiently listened to the various theories I'd heard about children and 3D, venturing an opinion once I'd done ranting. Well, its perfectly fine for your kid's age, he said, you might want him to sit with you though, sometimes they get scared with the sound effects.

Okay, I thought. This I can handle. So Nino, very excited, dressed in a shirt and jeans and wearing his 'big boys' shoes that he usually hates, along with his parents, drove down to see this beautiful place filled with huge geometric shapes, a windmill, a massive globe-shaped planetarium and the movie, ofcourse. 'I'm going to a movie', he kept chanting all through the ride, following it up with 'Can three-year-olds see this movie?' (we usually tell him he can't accompany us on our once-a-month multiplex trip because he's not eighteen yet).

The movie required us to wear special glasses to be able to experience the 3D images, and Nino's swallowed quite a bit of his cheeks as well. He loved the whole experience - the huge screen (and IMAX screen is nearly 10 times larger than a regular multiplex screen), the 30 minutes movie, the fishes and the sharks. And like the friendly guy on the telephone said, he was slightly uncomfortable only when the sound effects came on as a pair of nasty predator fishes came on screen. Nino was an angel - spoke softly when he wanted to ask a question, held his own ticket, waited patiently in the long queue for the exit. It was the kind of behaviour that wants you to promptly start breeding again, but for the wise dame of wisdom who sits in my head.

We walked around the fantastic campus for a bit, running down massive ramps and playing hop-scotch on squares and circles. It's a place that makes you feel free and child-like again, and curious too, which is why I think its planning has been such a success. We also caught a musical fountain show - said to the biggest in India - and while Nino eventually tired of the 20 minute show, I sobbed unabashedly during the finale as water jets soared high to AR Rahman's Maa tujhe salaam. No country like this to raise our children, and I mean that even more today.

It was such a beautiful evening - we had so much fun, and I was able to enjoy Nino experiencing a 'new', a 'first' - something I've become obsessed with because I missed many firsts of his when I started working. He talked non-stop on the way back, describing the movie and exclaiming how the fishes 'came right here' (showing the space near his face) when he wore the 3D glasses. This was the first time Nino's Dad was seeing a 3D film too, and for a few minutes, it was like having two boys, all excited and yakkity, sharing their me-too's, bonding the way only experiences allow. And I was so nervous before we left that I forgot to take the camera - but in a way, it was good, because I could not have gone hands-free with all the hand clutching the three of us did in joy. It was a major milestone - and it went picture perfect.

Then on Tuesday we crossed another big milestone. Nino chose not to wear his diapers to school, after some prompting from this teacher. And he was fine - even used the loo by himself - and totally confident when he walked out after school. It's a big deal - this diaper weaning affair - and I can go on about it, but instead will say that pride filled my chest and I smiled my way through a deadlines-filled day. He got ice-cream after lunch, and I got a round of claps at work from a team that had overhead my joy over the phone as I shared the news with an equally proud extended family.

And then today I found this heart-wrenching story of a little girl in Congo, her journey to find her missing mother, even as she carries her infant niece along. It's a common tale all around us - this opportunity cost. In our protective Indian family system it often crops up as the sibling syndrome: elder siblings bearing the brunt of novice parents, before the systems are perfected for the younger one. 'The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action'. And increasingly, children are becoming the world's opportunity cost in our attempt for political or religious freedom, racial expression or just pure capitalism.

Eleven-year-old Protegee cries while she carries her sobbing niece Reponse, 3, on her back as they searched for relatives in a sea of people in eastern Congo. Photo credit: Jerome Delay, AP

"Hundreds of children have been separated from their families since fighting flared in eastern Congo in August and more than 1,600 children in the province were seeking their parents last week alone, according to UNICEF. The children's young ages and inability to give detailed information — plus the lack of official records in the Congolese countryside — make it even more difficult to track down their families," AP said.

Those who will read that story in full will have to face the same questions the photographer, who is a father of two daughters, faces - accepting the fact that Protegee was willfully abandoned by her mother driven by despair and poverty. It's a thought that seems so alien to us - giving up our children - we who are fed on the heroic tales of mothers who lay their lives down for their children. Did Protegee's mother really have no option? Is there a state of 'no options' when it comes to children? What are we trying to make/achieve/strive for/survive for, if we have no children to share it with?

But today there are no tears, just a growing resolve to say thanks. I'm glad I live in a country, in circumstances that protect my son, albeit currently, from Protegee's fate. I'm glad his tears are only about a nick on the knee, about force-fed breakfast, about an itchy sweater, about a book not being re-read, of granparents who visit only on weekends.

Monday, November 17, 2008

For OJ

I'm not much for motivational mumbo-jumbo, and while I loved the Chicken soup series when I was a teenager, I've come to abhor much of the spiritual bestsellers that prompt you to bring out the best in you. Mostly because, I'm increasingly jaded, and mostly because, I've always argued that growth - spiritually and emotionally - had to be sustainable. Of course, that means that I myself have never personally grown - I've gone back and forth on philosophies and principles and things I swear to hold sacred.

But just sometimes, you get a forward in your mailbox teeming with junk mail and lovely brochures from Anthropolgie that you can never afford, a mail that sends small pinpricks in your eyes, and goosebumps in your nape. And suddenly you stand in awe of how much the heart is yearning for the good to believe in. Sometimes it happens like that with people also, even those who you've never met - and really don't even know. This is one such fantastic story. And it is for one particularly die-hard Obama fan, OJ.


The Norwegian newspaper VG has reported a truly amazing story about a newly-wed trying to get to Norway to be with her husband, and the stranger who helped pay an unexpected luggage surcharge. The blog 'Leisha's Random Thoughts' has translated the story.

It was 1988, and Mary Andersen was at the Miami airport checking in for a long flight to Norway to be with her husband when the airline representative informed her that she wouldn't be able to check her luggage without paying a surcharge.

-You'll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.

Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.

-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.

As tears streamed down her face, she heard a 'gentle and friendly voice' behind her saying,

'That's okay, I'll pay for her.'

Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.

-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?

Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.

-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.

She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

Who was the man?

Barack Obama.

Twenty years later, she is thrilled that the friendly stranger at the airport may be the next President and has voted for him already and donated 100 dollars to his campaign:
-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.

She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.

Mary even convinced her parents to vote for him: In the spring of 2006 Mary's parents had heard that Obama was considering a run for president, but that he had still not decided. They chose to write a letter in which they told him that he would receive their votes. At the same time, they thanked Obama for helping their daughter 18 years earlier.

And Obama replied: In a letter to Mary's parents dated May 4th, 2006 and stamped 'United States Senate, Washington DC', Barack Obama writes: 'I want to thank you for the lovely things you wrote about me and for reminding me of what happened at Miami airport. I'm happy I could help back then, and I'm delighted to hear that your daughter is happy in Norway. Please send her my best wishes. Sincerely, Barack Obama, United States Senator'.

Mary says that when her friends and associates talk about the election, especially when race relations is the heated subject, she relates the story of the k ind man who helped out a stranger-in-need over twenty years ago, years before he had even thought about running for high office. Also, remember this was 1988, when 100 dollars was quite a bit of money, compared to today's value.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Civic rage

I'm seething with rage - the trembling-body, tears-threatening-to-spill-out kind of rage.

We moved to these flats that we currently live in a year back, uprooting ourselves from what was home and familiar to a new place where we're yet to make acquaintances, forget friends.

This morning, as I walked into the compound after my morning workout at 7, I saw a bunch of men mercilessly beating a young boy, who was surprisingly not wearing any pants. I enquired and nobody bothered to answer. So I walked ahead and saw a few women standing, silent spectators to the on-goings. What happened, I asked them. Two gutter covers (sort of like a manhole covering) - those non-descript dark grey metal rectangles that we drive/walk over without a second thought - had gone missing. It was the first time something has been stolen in our flats in 15 years, the lady said, stressing 15 years. This young kid was on duty as the security guard the previous night. And because of this, he was stripped, and beaten repeatedly.

I walked on to home and getting Nino ready for school, that young boy's face like a silent intrusion that crept in everytime I gave up my guard of routine. Eventually, routine gave way, and anger started to build up, at that particular bunch of men - most of whom are semi-retired, who sit on the benches in the compound gossiping, with whom Nino's Dad and I have individually had a few run-ins about those mundane issues that are the small print of living in a flat - lift etiquette, leaking water pipes, unaccounted for maintenance money, etc.

I walked back down purposefully from my 10th floor home - the security guards having stopped the lift till the flat's committee members apologized for the beating - and walked down to see one particularly rude man who'd been involved in the beating, bellowing. Next to him stood the police, hands on their hips, their expressions plainly stating that they'd seen this before, and couldn't wait to get it over and done with. The kid - now clothed - was crying, and was eventually manhandled into the waiting police jeep. 'Wait', I said. 'You do know that he was mercilessly beaten, right? That he was stripped and robbed of his dignity? That people here took the law into their own hands?' Everyone froze, and then, the cop nonchalantly stepped into the jeep and drove away. The same group of men who had participated in the beating stood around, watching me. 'Savages,' I said, breaking my resolve to use foul language. 'He was a kid'. A committee member came up to me and asked me to calm down. 'I'm a journalist,' I said. 'I'll have you hauled up for beating up that kid black and blue.' I asked them what police station the kid had been taken to - and I received silence as an answer. 'You're not the only ones who know how to beat up people,' I said, willing my words to shame them, willing them to try me.

It's the first time in my seven years as a journalist that I've used the press as a threat. And while it seemed like a great idea when we horsed around about wielding the power of the pen, it dint work in real life. There was no fear of me or my opinions - the bullies won in the end. I've no illusions about must have happened at the police station - the kid must have been beaten some more, the cops and the flat guys must have sat together and talked about how 'outsiders' are ruining Gujarat's 'safe state' image - most of the security guards in Ahmedabad are migrant workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, sometimes Rajasthan - and the actual perpetrators of the violence must have driven back home, feeling all ballsy about their adventure-for-the-day.

Was it that I thought the beating was undeserved considering the petty nature of the alleged crime? Maybe. I remember watching a friend beat up another teenager - this time a lift boy - because he had fondled his four-year-old daughter and kissed her on the lips. At that time I felt none of these feelings. How different am I then from the bunch I condemn?

What is it that prompts us to resort to physical violence? Are we merely frustrated individuals, passing the rage on, like some psychological variant of Darwin's chain of evolution? What satisfaction does whacking someone, repeatedly, give - there must be something to it, so many people seem to enjoy indulging in it these days. And are we, who watch, sometimes speak, but give it up after venting a few emotions, any different? A perpetrator is one who indulges physically in the act of terror, as also the one who has the power to stop it, but doesn't. And also the one who may not have the power to stop it, but refuses to speak up, attempt to stop the crime. What deserves to be addressed with violence - and what does not?

Fists have become a language everywhere in my once-secular city - from traffic snarls to sectarian issues. Are we angrier as a city/state/country? Half a dozen people have been greviously injured or murdered in the city in the last year, in arguments over parking-lots.

I now no longer come from Gandhi's non-violent Gujarat, and instead hail from a state that, to use a friend's words, annihilated its own. I wrote on generalisations attached to a region sometime back - does this now mean that instead of Gujaratis being entrepreneurial but docile banias, our future generations will be referred to as a violent race whose rage boils over periodically? Historical monuments have disappeared overnight here - their cultural significance diminished in face of religious sentiment. We're the new Mahmud of Ghazni - a historical figure who children in the state have come to abhor after countless folktales about how he repeatedly plundered and butchered the state and its people. It's like the Crusades all over again - just that this time we're fighting for and against a bunch of self-perpetuated misconceptions instead of a single one.

I sit here, typing this, tears pooling on my chin, ashamed of myself. Of my inability to having taken up the cudgels for this kid. This is not what my parents, righteous government servants who seemed like a misfit in a world that worked on the power of money, raised me for. This is not what my son will look up to me for. This is not what you, my unseen friends, have to come to read me for.

Monday, November 10, 2008


When I started the blog, I promised myself I'd put up atleast a once-a-week post on some of the activities/projects I do with Nino - only because there's a great deal of joy I get out of these times with him, and I wish to pass the joy around - sort of like a random act of kindness because I picked these ideas from other mommy blogs who put so much time and effort into raising their kids the creative way.

So far it's not been a commitment that has worked: we've damaged our camera - and I've never gotten down to borrowing one and get clicking when Nino gets hands-on. But there's always a start, and here's one for this week. Hopefully, I'll be able to make this an every monday affair after a weekend of projects!

Getting kids to cook often sounds so much better for mums abroad then it does for us in India. Our spices can be lethal (yes, there is a murphy's law about how hands get into eyes) and kitchens are not really a safe place for little children. But that said, most kids love to cook - and apart from the little dough-roti/shell the peas affair, there are some seriously good child-friendly recipes for some cooking delight for mum and baby both.

What better a way to start off a saturday than with a good chocolate cake, especially if there's a cousin around to share the goodies with! I got this recipe from a blog that I turn to often, one that chronicles ardent montessori mom and teacher, Laura, in her everyday efforts at her school and home. Needless to say, I'm a believer in montessori methods, and a system that I've come to respect every since we put Nino in a montessori playschool.

Preparation time: 10 minutes - to as long as the little fingers want to take!
Cooking time: 3 minutes

You need:
A mug
4 tbsp sugar
4 tbsp flour (3 tbsp white flour + 1 tbsp wheat flour)
2 tbsp cocoa
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp oil
An egg

How to:
Combine all the dry ingredients first.

(Nino and Karanbhai busy mixing the oil and the egg)

Now add the wet ingredients to the dry mixture. Mix well. Be prepared for plenty of finger-licking too!

Grease two mugs with either cooking spray or just a few drops of oil Pour mixture into mugs (should reach about half of each mug) and cook in the microwave for about three minutes. The cake batter will rise nearly to the top of/over the top of the mug, so it make for great viewing too!

Pat out cake, sprinkle some powdered sugar and enjoy. Also tastes great with vanilla ice-cream!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lessons in anatomy

So I'm putting Nino to bed after a rather long drawn reading of Poldy the Scarecrow, and he lays there in my lap, hugging my belly tires and running his hand over my arms, and well, chest. Yes, I have always called my chest a chest. It is the only way we (the nino family) refer to my rather generous udders.

He gently pats them, chanting "Lumps, lumps, lumps", all to the beat of his hand.

My drowsy ears perk up. "What did you just say?"

"Lumps, lumps, lumps."

There's this very unnerving tune that's running in my head as he answers, and I see Fergie gyrating to My lumps, my lumps, my little lady lumps - and alarms bells start ringing immediately.

"Who says lumps?" I prod gently.

"S" (name of teacher)

In the quiet that ensues, I imagine a heated verbal discussion with the said teacher who has been teaching slang anatomy to my not-even-three-year-old.

"S says we breathe with our lumps."

It takes a few second to sink in and then I'm laughing hysterically, Nino looking as me as if he's finally understood the meaning of crazy.

The bloody Gujju kid meant lungs.

"Lungs," I tell him, when the laughter is reduced to a bubbling in my throat. "Lungs."

"Lungs, lungs, lungs," he says, patting softly.

"Why are mummy's lungs big and soft?" pat comes the question.

"I'm different from you and Papa that' s why."


I'm a great believer in Freud, especially when it comes to gender obsessions (hello, it's a great conversation starter: plus he laid bare all the 'unmentionable things' about the male pshcye). Needless to say, it was Nino, who proved the law.

When he was about two, we took him to a mall in Chennai while visiting family. While he was being 'minded' by atleast two family members, I took off for the dressing room, to try some much needed bras.

I emerged to find the family in major panic: Nino was missing. Two minutes later, I found him in between racks of padded bras, standing quietly while feeling the smooth surfaces.

Since then, we've had our share of kids-say-the-darnest-things-kind of moments with various parts of the anatomy, though Nino's resolute favourite remain, ahem, my lungs. Told you Freud was right.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mere do anmol ratan: ek north Indian, ek south Indian

Forgive me my melodramatic Bollywood-mother-esque blog title today. So much has happened in the real and blog world since I took an enforced sabbatical due to an unpaid broadband connection bill. And while I plough through a reality that throws up serial blasts, hate crimes, an important election, and the end of a graceful cricketer's career, I must lend my lungs to the bellowing against Raj Thackeray.

A forward that I received from some Mumbai friends this morning:

This is a wonderful mail circulating in favour of RAJ Thackerey. Have a look
We all should support Raj Thackeray and take his initiative ahead by doing more....

1. We should teach our kids that if he is second in class, don't study harder.. just beat up the student coming first and throw him out of the school

2. Parliament should have only Delhiites as it is located in Delhi
3. Prime-minister, President and all other leaders should only be from Delhi
4. No Hindi movie should be made in Bombay. Only Marathi.
5. At every state border, buses, trains, flights should be stopped and staff changed to local men
6. All Maharashtrians working abroad or in other states should be sent back as they are SNATCHING employment from Locals
7. Lord Shiva, Ganesha and Parvati should not be worshiped in our state as they belong to north (Himalayas)
8. Visits to Taj Mahal should be restricted to people from UP only
9. Relief for farmers in Maharashtra should not come from centre because that is the money collected as Tax from whole of India, so why should it be given to someone in Maharashtra?
10. Let's support kashmiri Militants because they are right in killing and injuring innocent people for benifit of there state and community... ...
11... Let's throw all MNCs out of Maharashtra, why should they earn from us? We will open our own Maharashtra Microsoft, MH Pepsi and MH Marutis of the world .
12. Let's stop using cellphones, emails, TV, foreign Movies and dramas. James Bond should speak Marathi
13. We should be ready to die hungry or buy food at 10 times higher price but should not accept imports from other states
14. We should not allow any industry to be setup in Maharashtra because all machinery comes from outside
15. We should STOP using local trains... Trains are not manufactured by Marathi manoos and Railway Minister is a Bihari
16. Ensure that all our children are born, grow, live and die without ever stepping out of Maharashtra, then they will become true Marathi's
This mail needs to be read by all Indians.
So please help in this cause.
JAI BHARAT! ...___

And while I may not agree with the intended sharpness of all those barbs, the sentiment is in the right place. As if living with the divisions of evolutionary races (me Aryan, you Caucasian?), economics, gender, religion and caste were a cakewalk, we add regionalism to it.
We were having some friends over a couple of nights back and talk veered towards the MNS and its despicable political tactics.
'I hope they stop soon,' one of the friends said. A lawyer, he's not always on the same side of sentiments as me, so I was pleasantly surprised because I had been ready for another fight.
'If they throw all the Biharis out, they'll end up in Gujarat, and then we'll go downhill.'

Interesting that Nehru had to say Unity in Diversity when he should have actually said we need to maintain our diversity in our unity. We are judged on the generalisations fed to us about our regional ethics. Marwaris are pucca kanjoos Jews. Gujaratis are cunning. Bengalis are elite snobs. Punjus are loud but fun. Tamilians are very orthodox. Kanadigas are humble. Keralites hate everyone but themselves. Biharis are uncouth buggers. Suratis curse like kingdom come.
We stone each other for belonging to a geographical area that has changed every couple of millenia, uttering every region/language's favourite curse: of-the-cunt-born. Interesting that the 'bad word' is the most popular when it's 'good version' is also equally popular: Maa ka laal.
Now's the time for Raj's mum to give him a good hiding.


And also, since I'm part Gujju, I like to end things on a sweet note. Try this one. Why Raj Thackeray should be thinking twice about labelling someone North Indian. God forbid what should happen if he lands up in Karnataka: who's the northie now, huh?!