Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Marriages are made in heaven?

Recently (read as within a span of 2 days) I have come across incorrigible stories. Three stunning stories, from my Motherland. Alas.
Here goes the first one.

JALPAIGURI: A 36-year-old man married his teenage daughter and made her pregnant, justifying his perverse act by claiming he had divine sanction for his incestuous lust. What's even more galling is that his wife was the prime witness in the nikah of her daughter to her husband. Full Story.

Damn, is it just me or can somebody perceive what's happening. When I first learned about the concept of homosexuality, I have wondered, how on earth such feelings even existed in some. Now I have come to terms with it, I assume they are genetically different in their brain wiring and its not like Newton's 1st law which everyone can understand and appreciate. But this is beyond blasphemy. For christsake that's his daughter. The guy got released with no charges. She is 15 years old, wasn't that an offense? This is polygamy at its extreme. Killing in the name of god. We have come to terms with it. Polygamy, pedophile and incest in the name of God. Here's a logical question: the kid they are having, how will he/she call the bearded man, dad or grand dad? His wife is now a Aunt as well as a grand mom. These are, usually funny, except that this is an exception.

Here goes the second.

CHENNAI: Smalin Jenita (23), a seven-month pregnant girl from Tiruchi in Tamil Nadu, is fighting brain injury and multiple fractures in a Chennai hospital after being allegedly pushed out of a moving car in the US. The reason, according to the girl’s father Sebastian Antonysamy, Jenita discovered an incestuous relationship between her husband Christy Danius and his mother Chellam, even as she was being harassed for dowry. Full story.

Sad is an understatement. These type of characters, I thought only existed in mega serials, extremely wicked villains, the ones who walk down the long regale stairs, always well made up with shiny lipstick and grand silk sarees (Sorgam villain). Yet again I'm wrong. To do such a deed, you have to be a psychiatric patient, something like a serial killer. I don't want to talk about other details, that the story touches. I don't have the words nor the courage.

3rd is a funny one.

MADURAI: A 33-year-old man in Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu has married a dog in a bid to ward off the ‘curse’ of a canine couple he had killed 15 years ago. Full Story.

They get married. Then they drink the "aphrodisiacal" milk. Then Sit and watch Scooby doo all night?
Wake up and he would say "waadup dawg?" and then break ghost myths. (I would like to get into the shoes of Kushwant Singh, but I wont spoil my blog for it.) This would be a teaser to feminine activists, who fight to protect the ill-treated wives. The guy can call her 'bitch' as often as he wants and feminists cannot even say a word about it. Cost of running the family is less. Just old rusk and some chicken bones. He can have homosapien mistresses and yet 'she' would be loyal to him. The poor thing doesn't even understand what has happened. Someday the dead dog couple would talk to this dog wife, and they would seek revenge. Dr. Dolittle, we need you!

Somebody said marriages are made in heaven. Heaven doesn't seem to be a nice place. God save India. Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Perfect Stranger

Walk a busy street, meet a million faces. Some tickle your hormones, some befuddling, some bring sympathy and almost always feeling felt is not apathy. Some, we watch regularly, on a daily basis. But they aren't just there, they sneak in your agenda, your life, without your permission. They not being 'there', transforms your eyebrow into a 'tick'.

I remember million such people, perfect strangers. One such strange old man who used to sit in the platform selling his hand made crafts. Almost for 8 years, he was just there. Just there. All the time. In the night, under a torn motor bike water proof cover, the closest he got to shelter, the only possible private times. But yeah he was there alright. Mind you he was easily in his 70's, very lean, pathologically lean. Diseased.He was shirtless, his bare brown skin, butter papered, un-ironed, white hair wisdomed and hid the phlegmy balloons which expanded noisily to a size which would be surprising to a first year med school anatomy curious student. He sold hand made baskets made of those thin plastic wires, mostly. If I think long and hard, I have seen him once in those 8 years,with a customer. He wasn't in the top ten richest in India, never became one, FYI, this is not an inspirational true story blog post!. If there were 11 humans grouped together and him being one, 99 out of 100 times he wouldn't rank in the top ten richest. In fact he defined poverty. Sadly he isn't quoted for it in the reference section of Indian census.

He had his moments. 1130pm mega serial mami, boasts her philanthropic deed, "neythi kootanjoru"(yesterday's mix vegetable rice) shouting. When a thoughtful stranger gives him a free pair of slippers, which he sold after polishing for 10rs(not to be found in craiglist!). When a small kid walking, pulled too fast by her mom, turns back and smiles at him, and he would smile back as though saying, 'life's like that, fast and un-understanding'. Other wise, his life was focused on that coir basket he was making, meticulous and diligent. He was 'perfect' alright. I never knew him by name and he did neither and hence 'perfect stranger'. tada.

My dad, said he never knew a man who is more dedicated to his work than that old man. A casual statement, heartfelt albeit, but defintely not meant to penetrate my cranium. Probably the best 'good thing' he could have taught me, it just went thru me. After those 'diwali-prostration-money' spent, some remained, as though for a cause. I needed a lunch basket. So the next day morning, I walked by the platform where he would sit, and buy one of those baskets, mostly to appreciate him, help him. He wasn't there. Weirdly he chose the previous night to inspire, retire and expire for good.

He was not to be seen. The cobbler, untidy women who was never sober and was always paan mouthed, who sometimes sits besides him, said 'poitaaru' (he's gone). Blues. He was Martin Luther King's ideal basket maker.

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” - Martin L King

I have always wondered about him. What he thought when he made those plastic baskets ? What motivated him to work like that ? What was his goal ? Did he have any ? May be some people are just born to inspire, by sheer existence. I'm too human to attribute this to 'vicissitudes of life'.

"Yaar yaar Sivam, Nee naan Sivam
Vaazhvey thavam, Anbe Sivam"- vairamuthu

P.S Photo by Pandian, source flickr, one of my favorite pics ever.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

DDiwaalee DDiwaalee

Back in 2000-01, IIT coaching classes were abundant. L.V or L. Venketaraman was the Professor. He seemed like a genius, who did every problem that existed using progression - AP, GP and HP. Me and few other big losers used to attend his classes. It was close to diwali, he persisted that we attend his class regularly. I knew I was no good for IIT, lost hope and was wasting time and money there, warming those benches. So I bunked one, went to buy new attire. Next class he called me up and said "I know why you bunked... you were not ill.. its DDiwaaleee DDiwaalee"
stressing on D and ee. What did I do, smirked, blushed in embarrassment, surprised by his ESP and amused by the way he said DEE- WAAA-LEE twice.

I don't remember clearly what happened that diwali. The usual potato bonda, idli with gatti chutney and of course sweets and savories for breakfast. My moms cherubic smile when she says "sooper" on seeing me in new attire. Crackers then. The usual ritual of going to my aunt's place must have happened. Mostly I would hesitate to go, to stay with friends in neighborhood but the good food and the 100 Rs pocket money I would receive on prostrating in front of my aunt and uncle was irresistible. 12 std was not like your 12 std, were you might have had a hero honda or at least a kinetic honda, well... I just had bonda. My dad thought 'mentally' I never matured. I felt I never matured(be it physical, mental and spiritual). Pocket money was almost nil. He had a reason, he was a doctor. He knew mentally unstable people are not supposed to have cash.

me: Appa, 10 rs....
my dad: edhukku? (for what?)
me: hm.. er... summa (just like that)
my dad: hmmm adhu summa yen purse la irukattum (let it be 'just like that' in my purse)

A whole 50 Rs was like cheese to Jerry, a whole 100 Rs was like soccer world cup victory. So I would eat the amazing food my aunt had cooked, meet the other aunts and uncles, get embarrassed, make other cousins blush in embarrassment. Fight for the hard earned (in 3 seconds of prostration and letting some real estate in my forehead for lease to my aunt and uncle for the viboodhi - sacred ash), elusive money with my dad on our way back to my house...err.. my dad's house in the Auto, sitting on that side bars, with my butt(if any) protruding outside. He wouldn't budge. So did my butt. He would probably give me 20%. Not cheese, not the world cup but some 'eese' n the 'world'.

Then see the Rajini movie on Sun tv (mostly, almost all the time baasha), watch Prakash uncle and his family burst the crackers in our flat/apartments terrace during the news interval. Get back to the movie, come back to terrace to see the Chugani family burst some crackers as their diwali just started and continued until the next day night. Go back home and sleep. Every diwali back then was not comforting. It was a weird feeling. More like a boy sitting in wet jeans in an excursion having a ball shouting. Fun was omnipresent but the occasional feeling of the moisture, cold and irritatingly uncomfortable.

Nov 7th, 2007. 3:30 pm pst, Palo Alto, VMware - I sit in my cubicle, bleeding c++ code. Intermittent pondering on things - when exactly is Diwali, 9th or the 8th ? The damn thoughts.
Googling resulted in nov 9th. Later realized and thought of Chugani family who always celebrated diwali the next day - me and other southies have it on ettaan thedhi(8th), north Indians - onboaadhey! (9th). With that insulting revelation or rather a painful self realization I headed to the gym around 5pm. Frustrations and the happiness shaped hole in my universe, MADe me spend 90 mins in the gym. Head back, had a 6 inch sub in the omnipresent subway. Called up home, My dad was boasting his Kurta and his jeans, his other son had bought him, un clear due to the potatoe bonda in his mouth, my mom bragging about her 4.5K silk saree paid in pounds using a plastic card by an aspiring neurologist aka my brother. Called up my aunt and uncle. They said they missed me, they wished that they handed me that 100 Rs and paint my forehead.

100 Rs is not world cup victory (time with family is). Fun is not omnipresent(subway is). Happiness is hard to earn these days. Miss the embarrassments. Yearn for the enthusiasm I once had. Regret the physical and mental maturity that has spread into me like the tea from the tea bag. 3 years of DDiwaalee outside India, away from home will show up, show up like a pop-up in IE7. It has left a scar. One of many lessons that Prof. Life continues to teach. Its ingenuous. Hopefully I will be with the my family for the next DDiwaalee.

To quote Andy Dufresne "Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies"