I wanted to write about the stereotypical portrayal of Rajasthan – a traditionally attired instrumentalist, strumming his Ravanhatta and playing Raag Maand and perhaps the most popular, and misinterpreted Rajasthani folk song “Kesariya Balam”. But I’ll shut up this one time, and sit with the Rajput royals and look out for the monsoon clouds atop Sajjangarh in Udaipur.
On 15th of August 1947, the British left India. Atleast that’s what we like to believe.
Consider the following:
At a geopolitical level, we stand fragmented, perhaps permanently disabled, fighting against our neighbours, with whom we share a common heritage.
At an institutional level, we inherited a corrupt bureaucracy that mostly enjoys fat salaries for warming the bench; a political structure that upholds the time honoured divide and rule policy; large organisations that spew communal hatred to further their own interests; and a system of reservation for ‘backward’ castes which is supposed to end discrimination, merit be damned.
Even at an individual level, given that we want to teach kids only English (along with other European languages); dream of an MBA from a foreign university; drool shamelessly at NRIs during family get-togethers for matchmaking; and are obsessed with ‘fair skin’, I wonder, are we really independent?
Meanwhile, yesterday, I made some payasam on occasion of a birthday—of a very interesting person. He is quite dark skinned and born to a community regarded as ‘Other Backward Classes’. He has a luxurious palace, but give him beaten rice and he’ll be absolutely thrilled. He used to steal butter as a kid, but I believe he has outgrown that, what with today’s salted low fat, low sodium stuff on sale.
He didn’t have any fancy MBA, but that didn’t stop him from leading a small group of warriors to victory over a mighty army.
His name is Krishna. Perhaps you’ve heard of him. Oh you have! Quite the ladies’ man, no? Please do take a generous helping of this aval payasam—a delicacy made from beaten rice, milk and jaggery.
Of all my childhood memories, our Saturday routine has perhaps left the biggest imprint. Every Saturday, we went to the Vinayak Temple and the adjoining market at Sarojini Nagar.
Appa drove his old Premier Padmini – we used to call it the Fiat – on the near empty roads. The FM radio in the car was always set to All India Radio 102.6 MHz – that was the only station back then. It was our only source of contemporary music, and it was all we needed. We would sing along in loud voices to distorted lyrics that our ears chose to hear.
Years later, the Fiat was scraped. Our Saturday visits continued – with a new in-car radio for company. We retained the Fiat’s radio system.
Apart from the controls on her face, there was little to cover the body of that radio, save a raw metal exterior and lots of wires hanging loose. Anna rigged her up with a set of small speakers and connected it to a plug.
Some years later, we relocated. For a while we continued to visit Sarojini Nagar. But that trip was long and tiring and we began visiting a different temple nearer to our new house. The old car radio, though, was still going strong at home. She became my faithful companion while I prepared for my final school exams, and subconsciously memorized lyrics of John Denver’s songs… Ihearher voice in the morning hour as she called me.
I went to college and got my first feature phone – one with an FM radio. Over the next several years, more sophisticated phones followed. And today, my smartphone has replaced the need for a radio altogether.
I don’t know what happened to that car radio system. Maybe it was given away, maybe scraped, but certainly it is in a very different shape right now as compared to what she was back then – just like everything else from my childhood:
Many shops we visited in Sarojini Nagar have shut down or changed their line of business. The market is no longer our weekly grocery and vegetable market. The roads leading to it are choked, and the mad rush ensures we keep our distance.
All India Radio is not the only radio station in town. It is surviving, but their best RJs have moved on to private stations and even internet radios – including the one I’m listening to right now.
As the internet channel plays a classic, all my memories gather round her…
And John Denver echoes the sentiment
Radio reminds me of my home far away
In response to this week’s Photo Challenge. To see what the world is feeling nostalgic about, visit the Daily Post.
One of the jokes we’ve been cracking about Gurgaon for many years, is that just pouring a glass of water on the road is enough to cause a traffic snarl. So when the clouds above rained down, it came as no surprise that the city of Gurgaon virtually came to a standstill. With vehicles stuck in jams for well over 12 hours, walking seemed to be the only way to go anywhere.
Or rather, with half-covered drains overflowing well on to the main road, we had to…
Jump over puddles
Climb over fences
Swing around car mirrors
Limbo under branches
Crawl sideways on narrow high ground
And when someone came splashing water
Quickly turn around!
…no, in the middle of the main road, we were not walking, we weren’t wading, and we weren’t weaving… we were dancing!
Delhi’s winters used to be chilly*, with icy weather in the peak season of mid December to mid January. But over the past few years, the winter season has become shorter and shorter – no thanks to global warming. This year was a huge disappointment. The New Year was exceptionally warm with many people giving woollens a pass.
The harvest festivals (Lohri/Makar Sankranti/Pongal etc), which usually fall on the 13th-15th of January every year, mark the end of winter and the beginning of Spring. Even as we prepared to celebrate, the lack of a proper winter was a bit sad.
Perhaps the thick air carried our dejection, and precisely one day prior to the ‘official’ beginning of spring, winter finally showed up in full swing. The cold wave has been here for well over two weeks now, and seems in no mood to leave in a hurry!
Meanwhile, the bougainvillea plant in our balcony seems to follow a different calendar altogether. Even as the other plants geared up to brace the winter chill, this plant began flowering for the first time in our home last autumn. Throughout the season, there hasn’t been a single day without a shade of pink amid the grey haze and fog.
On a lazy Sunday morning, I peep out from under the rajaai**. The curtains are only half drawn – there’s no need for them. The fog and frosted glass guarantee privacy. And the sun hasn’t been showing up for work for a few days. I coerce myself to get up, if only to wish my friend. I walk up to the balcony door. It’s all white and grey. A few plants are struggling to keep warm. Most of their leaves have dried and fallen. But one thorny plant stands there defiantly. I step out gingerly and wish her a good morning.
She wishes me in her own way. It’s cold for both of us and she doesn’t mind me going back inside. As I turn around, she smiles knowingly.
If winter is here, can spring be far behind?
* No, we don’t have snowfall or blizzards but day time temperatures of 7 degrees C are quite ‘normal’
** a thick blanket, usually stuffed with cotton
For more optimistic pictures, gather around the cozy fireplace of The Daily Post.
You must see this old bungalow, before I leave. There’s also a beautiful park nearby. You’ll love it!
The rooms of the old bungalow were given out on rent to college students, and we had a chance to see the room occupied by my cousin and a few other girls.
On the wall next to one of the beds was a post-it note with the words ‘Veni Vedi Vici’
* * *
At the beginning of this month, I took up a challenge – to post something every single day of November. It’s what they call NaBloPoMo. A blogging friend wrote several inspiring posts and a fellow blogger whom I hadn’t known at the time gave me the courage to participate. But I did not believe I would be able to successfully complete it, and so I never registered for the Official Blogroll.
To motivate myself, I began drafting the last post of the month – celebrating my achievement. This note, an affirmation of conquest before really conquering, seemed most appropriate.
Today is the 30th consecutive day of blogging. The past month has been a fascinating creative experiment – completing long forgotten drafts and reliving stories from my childhood; recalling random conversations and writing poetry about mundane events. When the words dried up, I dug into reserves of virtual archives and pictures from travels. All of my posts were published on late nights. And I almost never knew what I was going to write till the moment I began typing. Even when I returned home late from work, despite the heavy eyes, I made it a point to write.
And tonight, I can say with pride, I have succeeded.
* * *
‘Veni Vedi Vici’
I never met the girl who wrote that note, but I imagine she has big dreams. She has come to the biggest city of the country. She’s most definitely seen many days here. And making it through her graduation may well be the beginning of her conquests.
I’m guessing the girl has no idea that I snapped a picture of her note-to-self. If you are that girl, I hope you have made many a conquest.
* * *
Even with weary eyes, the view from the top is beautiful.
“Veni, vidi, vici” is a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar, who supposedly used the phrase in a letter to the Roman Senate around 46 BC after he had achieved a quick victory in his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela. The phrase translates to ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’
And now it’s time for a short break!
Many many thanks to all the wonderful people who have been a part of this journey, for reading, liking and commenting. I’ll see you soon!
“A friend of mine married her driver… Hey! What’s wrong with that? Drivers are humans too!”
Indians, in general seem to segregate people into two categories. Those in desk and white collar jobs are considered elite. Labour and blue collar is somehow substandard. And people are given very low wages for performing these tasks.
Professionals and consultants bill their clients by the thousands for every hour. Why can’t skilled workers also be called professionals?
The other day, a mason who was fixing a crack on our wall said, “I believe in doing a good job. If you are satisfied with the quality of my work, you are likely to recommend my services to others.”
This mason took pride in his job. He didn’t go to a business school to learn about customer satisfaction and the difference between good marketing and cold selling. His charges were slightly higher than ‘normal’. We didn’t negotiate – much. After all, why shouldn’t he be allowed to?
I am certain that there is scope for individuals to charge a premium for a job well done. In other countries, a construction worker can lead a decent life — and by decent, I mean socially, not just financially. Isn’t it time we start imbibing those values in our society?
This is post #15 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano
NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging
I often find myself scribbling along margins of diaries during meetings. I think that is an indication of boredom, which is not really a good thing. Wikipedia, though, claims otherwise:
… doodling can aid a person’s memory by expending just enough energy to keep one from daydreaming, which demands a lot of the brain’s processing power, as well as from not paying attention. Thus, it acts as a mediator between the spectrum of thinking too much or thinking too little and helps focus on the current situation.
My doodles are usually in the form of lines. The lines are usually placed close together to create a gradient from dark to light (or vice versa). Sometimes they radiate from a central point to look like fireworks in the night sky.
There are certain doodles that take on different shapes and patterns. This one turned out quite interesting, and I hope to recreate it digitally at some point of time.
What about you? Do you doodle? Do you think it’s a good thing? Can you interpret doodles? What does this doodle say to you?
This is post #6 in this year’s NaBloPoMo, or as Ra calls it Nano Poblano
NaBloPoMo = National Blog Posting Month = Thirty straight days of blogging
Thanks a bunch to all the cheering peppers who have been tweeting and liking posts across WordPress 🙂