Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Being Homesick

I have stayed away from my folks for more than 14 years now, ever since I stepped out of my hometown for further studies. I remember being homesick twice during my student days.

The first time, it was my first month in the college hostel and I had a hard time coping with hostel life (to be more precise, the utter lack of amenities there) which was nothing short of a military camp! After spending a week with a roomie who was sooo much the silent type, I was soon bawling away. That night, I missed home so much, missed my parents, my grandparents, and my easy schooldays with friends back from kindergarten. Sigh.

The second time, it was during the hectic DU admission time in the summer of 1999. I had some documents which needed attestation and little did I know that some doctors actually attested your documents for a paltry sum of 15.00 INR per copy. With the last date being the next day, I went from office to office trying to get my docs attested with no luck. So much for ignorance! I was tired and didn't know what to do. Friendless in a strange city, I couldn't help missing home and how Dad used to take care of such mundane stuff. Of course, after a lot of trials, I did get my docs attested by a lady schoolteacher who was obviously moved by my plight. God bless her.

And now, I feel homesick again. Homesick for the days when Mom and Dad would hover around whenever I was unwell, trying to cheer me up with my favorite books and magazines. Married life brings you a new set of people who fuss after you: my Mom-in-law gets up in the middle of the night to give me a hot water bottle and my sisters-in-law fuss after me and force me to rest...but I still miss my childhood days and I miss home...sigh...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Back to Delhi!

Back to Delhi and back at work! The first day at work post-wedding had me wearing a phanek and then it was back to my staple of jeans (couldn't have kept up the phanek-wearing for long). Phew!

Life hasn't changed much in Delhi, except that my work commute has been reduced by an hour! Thank God! I now have all the time in the world to have breakfast with hubby before work. It's another matter that I chose to sleep an extra wink or two instead! We'll get to having breakfast together soon. Maybe next week...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

To honk or not to...

Yesterday, on the way back home from work, I saw a cab with a sticker that read, "Do not honk." this wouldn't have warranted comment had I been living elsewhere in the world. You see, "don't honk" stickers at the rear of automobiles are as rare as they come in India. Instead, it is quite commonplace to see labels like 'Horn Please" or "Blow Horn" behind buses and trucks. As a kid growing up in India, I used to think it's quite normal to ask people driving behind you to honk, so you know they are coming behind you. In fact, my first driving lessons included tips like honk before turning a corner, when you come up next to another vehicle, at pedestrians trying to cross the road, and so on. It all made sense then. You had to had to announce to the world that you are coming. Watch out! Sigh.

I realized that it's likely that this common traffic practice is likely to be unique, if not strange, when someone from the US remarked about it. He found it very surprising because it's considered rude to honk elsewhere in the world. More surprise when the logic behind "please honk" labels were explained to him. Come to think of it, it's quite annoying to hear blaring horns. But almost everybody honks in India!!! You just need to be stuck in a traffic jam to see this (and endure the pain of hearing the noise) for yourself. Another place to encounter this is at a traffic signal. No matter that the light is still red, the motorist behind you has to honk. And then everybody starts honking on cue. Is this symptomatic of a culture that shouts for attention, a me-first culture? Possibly...or maybe it is a live example of the saying "when in Rome..."

Well, whatever be, I loved the "Do not honk" poster. It is a symbol of changing mindsets, of being more conscious of our environment and our fellow beings, and of being more polite. As some wise person said, "I do not shout at others with my automobile horn." I am gonna get a similar poster. What about you?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rain rain come again...

So much has been written about the monsoons and how it wreaked havoc in the capital. We read stories of commuters caught in traffic snarls and of buses submerged in a flooded underpass. I braved the traffic and the rain too--what was a 10 minute commute turned out to be a ninety minute drive, and the usually one hour drive to office stretched to four hours...what a pain! But what bliss too--the hot and clammy weather had gone and we had cool rain laden breezes and winds. You could enjoy it if you were at home with a cup of hot tea and a plate of pakoras...or better still, if you could sit by the window and look at the raindrops. How pleasant it was to go for a stroll in the neighborhood park or just go up on the terrace to enjoy the weather. Some people danced in the rain. Sigh.
It's hot and humid in Delhi again. The launrdry gets bone dry in a jiffy and the traffic moves smoothly unless disrupted by accidents, a procession, or a vehicle breakdown...but the weather is all clammy.

Rain rain come again...
Go away another day
Please take away the pain
And the heat and we'll pay
the price
Of being stuck in traffic jams
Just to be able to dance again
in the rain...
Rain, rain come again.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A greeting ritual

I walk in the corridor, meet a colleague from the other end of the bay, and we greet each other. Sample conversation:

Colleague: Hey! What's up?
Me: XYZ project/ Meeting with ABC / Running to Building A for a meeting in 5 min!

Basically, fill in whatever you are preoccupied with then. If you are working on *classified* or *confidential* stuff, say something like "Nothing much. You?" And you know what to expect from the other guy! If you don't wanna say anything or have little time, keep on walking with a rejoinder, "Hey there! What's up with you?" Dont be surprised when the other person says "Nothing much!" or something mundane.

This kinda greeting ritual happens near the water cooler or in the elevator too...well, anywhere... The other day, a colleague and I were in the vicinity; so we decided to go for the ritual. She opened with the expected, "Hey there, what's up?" I said, "Lotsa things!" Smile. We had just added a new dimension to the ritual, and it was no more just another meaningless ritual, but a conversation starter.


Thursday, June 11, 2009


Can hostels and ghost stories ever be separated?

I was staying all alone in a 2nd floor flat in north Delhi. The landlord's family stayed on the first floor, while some more tenants stayed on the ground floor. It was summer. 1999. Being a poor student, I couldn't yet afford a mobile phone with its exorbitant call-rates. The landlord and his family were going to the hills for a week. They had an interesting proposition. I could stay in their living room while they were away--that way, I could attend to my dad's calls. I didn't mind sleeping on the sofa and watching TV. So it was fixed.

Every night, I'd finish my dinner by 8:30 pm, lock my flat up, and park inside the landlord's living room before retiring at 10:00. I'd peep downstairs to check if the other tenants were in or had gone to work. If they were in, I'd feel better that there were other humans in the house and sleep a good night's sleep. On the nights they weren't in, I'd pray more and buck up for a night all alone in the house.

It must have been the fourth or the fifth night. It was a moonlit night. 10:00 pm. I checked all doors and windows were bolted, the heavy iron gate closed, and the tenants were out. Of course, I didn't have to worry about the terrace door. It was an iron door bolted from the inside and the house was virtually impregnable once you bolt the gate and the terrace door. I switched off the lights, lay down on the sofa, closed my eyes, prayed, and then opened them again. My hair stood on end at what I saw. A young man was walking down the stairs from the 2nd floor and he looked straight ahead and walked silently down. He looked like a north-easterner. He was bespectacled and wore a T-shirt that could have been blue or gray. The glass window at my foot could easily be broken into if he wished! Who was he? How did he get up there? Why didn't he make any noise? Why was he walking like a zombie? Had he seen me? I froze and lay immobile for minutes that seemed like ages. I was so scared! After a while, I mustered up enough courage to peep downstairs. As expected, he was nowhere to be seen. Strangely, the other tenants were back just then. Why didn't I hear the gate opening? It usually made such a loud noise. Why didn't the other tenants find anything strange? Who did I see--man or ghost? I will never know. But either ways, it was one of the scariest moments of my life. I can only thank God that the lights were switched off and he didn't seem to have noticed me. The next morning, I went up to my room and found my flat was untouched. I checked the terrace too. It was still locked. All I know is, I had a narrow escape and I am really thankful.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


One day, I was invited by one of my friends to her room. This was when I was a grad student in Lady Keane College, Shillong, and putting up in the hostel.

I obliged. And then A.A. sat me down, smiling mysteriously all the while. Without a word, she hands me a photograph, face down. I turn it over. Shock. What am I doing in that picture? Who were all these other folks there? And where and when did I buy such clothes? Was I suffering from a split-personality syndrome?

"Where did you take this picture?"


"But I have never been there!"

"I know. That's my cousin."

OMG. The resemblance was too striking! Never in my wildest dreams had I imagined looking at someone's face and wondering whether I was looking at my reflection. And here was I.

Couldn't help smiling, wondering, "How?"

Freaked out, but couldn't help wondering at the coincidence. A.A. tells me, "You both are very alike. You look similar, talk in the same style, and buy similar clothes." Well, since we both--my doppelganger(?) and I-- were born in different geographies and speak different languages, I wondered how similar we could be. But I tell you, the similarity in physical appearance--that was too much.

I don't know whether doppelganger is the right word. But it will have to do for now. I was impressed. I still am. Nature works in mysterious ways....

Saturday, March 28, 2009

United We Stand

United we stand.

The verity of the statement is timeless. It has been the mantra behind India's independence and the credo of many organizations. It has been the guiding principle of many a family and many groups of friends who have stuck together through thick and thin. It is also something that people with common goals (but not necessarily of similar outlook) have used from time to time. I stress on the word used. This is when the statement becomes a mockery and is subsequently reduced to mutual back scratching for mutual benefit. You might wonder what's wrong with that. Aren't we all inter-dependent beings, living in society as symbiotic creatures bonded to each other? Sigh. How or where can I even begin to explain? Look around. You can find examples everywhere, in every aspect of life.

Experts who study group dynamics have a term called cliques. It's supposed to be a high school phenomenon, but some of these extend into adult life as well. Hindi TV soaps gave examples of sisters in law ganging up against the newly wed bahu. It's a group with restricted entry. And they have targets. And they are mean. (Not that cliques are confined to soap operas or chick lit novels).

So...what's the big deal?

A lot actually. Cliques are damaging--they erode self confidences, they create silos and unhealthy competition, and they stop growth and independent thinking. Suddenly, the group is making all the decisions: who to talk to and how, who to admit into the group, and how to spend your time.

Probably unexplored is an aspect that's scary, to say the least: the clique can potentially get away with bad decisions and tardy work if it's an influential group in an organization. Birds of the same feather flock together. Another saying whose truth rings out far and wide, and has been reduced to a cliché. Indeed, sometimes, this becomes the motto of members of a clique whose sole aim is to get ahead and gain influence. That's when the seemingly childish phenomenon rears its ugly head in diverse forms elsewhere, to the detriment of society.

Hopefully, each one of us will examine whether we are becoming part of a clique, whether a clique is exerting its influence near us, and whether there are victims and collateral damage. Hopefully, we are sensitized to the dangers involved and take appropriate steps.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Life's a sine wave...

Life is a sine wave--
You ride high
On the crest sometimes.
On some days,
You hang out
In the valleys...

Wherever you may be,
Don't forget:
Better days will come.
Hang in there
For when the storm is past
The sun will shine bright again
And flowers will bloom
And bring you joy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Ain't it lovely? Took it from a recent Delhi to Imphal flight. It was amazing...

Monday, March 2, 2009

What I didn't like as a kid... and still don't

I have been a pretty opinionated kid as far back as I can remember, and there are quite a few things I didn't like at all. My pet peeves, as I would call them, are listed here in random order.
  • I didn't like adults who talked down on you, simply because you are a kid. A patronising tone that says "I am older, have seen the stars and the sun before you; therefore, I know better"
  • Adults who say "Chhooo cute" and pinch your cheeks hard (don't they know that kids can feel pain?)
  • Adults who'd call you into the living room to have you recite nursery rhymes in front of their friends
  • Having to take afternoon naps just because you are a kid and because it's supposed to be good for you
  • Having to say namaste to those horrid unclejis and auntyjis who talk down on you anyway
  • Having to tolerate stupid comments like, "You are actually my kid, and you are going to stay in my family from today." Well, I guess the adults get a kick out of seeing the look of alarm on a kid's face at this. But what a horrid thing to say! Ugh!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Analysis Paralysis

I was reading a post on, a blog I follow when I chanced on the term "analysis paralysis" and I liked it. It really describes my state appropriately these days...

Am stuck in analysis paralysis
With no idea where to begin
Action is but a dream
Not forgotten, but surreal
Pies for every finger--
Which one should I eat first?
Which one to discard?

Start small they say--
Don't care much for the outcome...
"करम करो...करम फल की इच्छा नहीं"
हे भगवान....what do I do now?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Holiday Pics

Back in Gurgaon after a break in lovely Imphal. Didn't do too much sight-seeing, but visited lots of relatives and met up old classmates. :)

And I attended the wedding of very dear friends...The wedding album is here.