Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Ever had the experience?

Are these inanimate objects really so or do they have a mind of their own? I sometimes feel that they love to trouble you at the most inopportune moments. Can you explain why these things happen

1) You have almost finished cooking, just a little seasoning to do and your cylinder runs out of gas and you have to install a new one.

2) You are just about to lock the front door with the husband giving you a look that more a stare accusing you of taking ever so long to get ready when the telephone rings. More often than not it is a wrong number or a distant cousin making one of those rare calls. Remember that hubby will not take the call.

3) The day you carry an umbrella it will not rain and you deliberately leave it at home and come back drenched.

4) You keep staring at the milk it will not even start simmering, your attention gets diverted and you turn round for a minute it will spill over and mess up the kitchen.

5) You are already late for work, your father in law will remind you to get his medicines, husband will ask you to get the pass book updated and the child will remind you that his Computer Science teacher wanted to talk to you. You nod your head to everything only half listening and your scooty will add to your misery by refusing to start. The petrol level is bound to be low and there is a mad rush at the gas station with at least 25 people clamoring for petrol at the same time.

6) The day you decide to make do with light snacks always coincides with the day you husband/children are famished and expect to be served a sumptuous meal and this will also be the day when your maid doesn’t turn up.

7) You are exhausted after a hard day’s work and want to relax with a book and the odd power cut will happen at the precise moment and you will never remember where to look for the candle. If you find the candle the match box will vanish and vice versa. Your husband will suddenly decide to be helpful and invariably come in your way and to top it he’ll blame you for blocking his way.

8) The train will be on time on every day except the day you decide to travel irrespective of whether you are arriving or departing.

9) When you try to book your gas cylinder the phone is invariably engaged except when your dealer gives you he good news that it will take at least 25 days to arrive.

10) You have a particular color in mind when you shop for saris and you never seem to find it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Hindu Way Of Life.

Sometime back I read a post at Korrodu’s blog about a conversation he had with a second generation Polish immigrant on polytheism as practiced by Hindus. The gentleman in question was committed to preserving trees and had done some research on the various goddesses in Indian and Greek mythology. He perhaps called himself a ‘Tree hugger’. It would not be fair on my part to try and repeat what has already been said in the post. It would be best enjoyed when read in the original. However, I have wanted to write something on how I perceive my religion ever since I read the piece.It is not my intention to start a debate on religion. These are just a few observations and not meant to criticize or hurt any sect including more serious minded Hindus

I have never been a deeply religious person. The concept of an all powerful God who is waiting to punish mankind for every sin committed does not appeal to me at all. Were it so, how could all those hardened criminals who plan and execute terrorist act continue to do so? Why are innocent children being born with physical deformities? One gets treated to an over dose of crime report in the various news channels which seem to put ideas into the minds of young children more than trying to address the problem. I stopped watching serials long back and now I run away from news channels as well. Why does this all powerful God let all this happen?

Keeping this in mind I started reading God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. The book, I am afraid did not appeal to me and I discarded it midway. Dawkins claims that on a scale of seven ranging from those who have complete faith in the existence of an all powerful God to out and out atheists, he claims that he occupied the sixth position, just a shade above hard core atheists. I rank myself in the fourth position even at the risk of being called a fence sitter. Extremism has never appealed to me and have always been wary of opinionated discussions. Flexibility and a respect for the other person’s viewpoint is what I prefer.

Hinduism as far as perceive it is a way of life. I was just 13 years old when in the girl’s dormitory of the boarding school, I was cornered by a group of girls who insisted that I was bound to go to hell because I followed a religion that worshipped 33,000 gods. ‘You are an idol worshipper’ they insisted ‘and you worship trees and stones, you are bound to rot in hell’. Even at the tender age of 13 I was able to reason that I could never go to hell if I was honest and loved my fellow human beings. But unfortunately my mother had not explained why we worshipped 33,000 gods and I could not refute their claim that we Hindus did indeed worship trees and rivers. Today I am more enlightened and I can understand that Hinduism is more a way of life than a hard core religion. To me it appears to be a means of sustaining one’s self when everything seems to fail and life seems to be doomed. I am truly grateful to our warden who intervened and scolded us by saying that we should respect the other person’s faith and look for good things in their scriptures even if we did not fully subscribe to it. Her words have remained with me ever since.

Hinduism encourages the worship of nature. A practicing Hindu waters Tulsi and Peepal early in the morning. Aren't these two plants of immense medicinal value? Is it not important to keep rivers that are our main source of water, clean? It was perhaps not possible to explain the medicinal value of plants to a layman who toiled hard to make ends meet. It was easier to say that the scriptures expected him to do so. The same applies to the worship of rivers too.The Hindu religion as I see it advocates the conservation of all biological and environmental resources. Our sages had understood natures contribution to our well being from time immemorial.

Turmeric and kumkum prepared from turmeric were exchanged by Hindu ladies during festivals and auspicious days. Is it not true that turmeric has a natural cosmetic value and a daily application of turmeric keeps your skin glowing?

Each of our deities have a different animal as their ‘vahan’ rats and snakes included. Environmental studies warn us of the dangers that are likely to be encountered if the food chain/web is disturbed. Herbivores, carnivores, omnivores and scavengers are all important for ecological balance. Is it any wonder that animals like the lion, tiger, monkey and the elephant and birds like the eagle, vulture, parrot and peacock as well as a host of other organisms are accorded importance?

Then the question of polytheism-

Hinduism sees God in every living organism and a closer look at the different deities will reveal that each one is worshipped for a different quality. A combination of all such qualities symbolizes an almighty God but a proper understanding of such a God requires a highly seasoned mind. It has been taken up step by step and one’s perception varies according to one’s understanding and all levels are acceptable.

Wealth and valor, health and happiness are all collectively essential but do not individual requirements vary? What is the purpose of having wealth if one does not have the health or intelligence to put it to good use? Worshipping Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati during Navaratri perhaps indicates that each of these are important and one needs to thank God for a combination of the three aspects, each one important in its own way. Navaratri was also a time for social interaction among ladies and a time to give small gifts to the needy. It is important that this purpose is kept in mind while celebrating the umpteen festivals according to the Hindu calendar.

Finally, it is important to understand that the triumph of good over evil is the essence of all religions including Hinduism. Hindu Gods have had their share of troubles and have ultimately come out in flying colors. Does it not signify that one should not be deterred by setbacks and victory tastes sweeter when one has worked for it? And should one fail despite all effort what better way of gathering strength to start all over again than by attributing failure to past misdeeds and considering it important to do one’s duty and not worry about results?

I do not know if there is really a heaven or hell awaiting me but I do know that I find solace in Hindu way of thinking. Korrodu has summed it up beautifully. I quote-

“Thus becoming a Hindu is a life long unceasing process. This is precisely the goals of Hinduism according to my current level of understanding.”

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Teen Troubles

It must have been around midnight when the phone rang. I woke up with a start and my first thoughts were ‘I hope all is fine’. My mother had just survived a stroke and hadn’t yet fully recovered. My children were away from home – two in Bangalore and one in Ranchi. I picked up the phone and it was my son on the other end.

“Mummy! Note down this number and ring back”

“Is anything wrong? Why are you calling…”

He cut off the line mid-sentence. I hadn’t noted the number because he did not give me any to note down.

He rang up again and when I responded he began to straight away dictate a number.

“Wait a second. Let me get a pen and paper.”

“What were you doing all this while? I’ll call again.” The line went dead. I got a pen and paper when he rang up again and gave me a mobile number.

“What’s the matter Ra……..” He cut off the phone again.

I was fuming from within and decided not to call. My husband was fast asleep and why wouldn’t he sleep through the night? After all he had a super woman for a wife ready to tackle phone calls at midnight. The phone rang again.

“Mummy! Ring back, it is urgent.”

I was wide awake by now and rang up. He immediately picked up the phone.

“Our principal wants you and daddy to come here next week. He is threatening to throw me out of college if you guys don’t turn up.”

“What did you do?”

“Nothing mummy. Absolutely nothing to deserve this punishment. I’ll give you his phone number. Talk to him.”

He gave me a number which I noted down. I remembered the time when my father in law would chase him with walking stick in hand threatening to break his bones but this was something serious.

“When did he tell you this?”

“This evening”

“Why did you wait till midnight to tell me?”

“I am calling from my friend’s mobile. Incoming calls are free after midnight. I asked you for a mobile connection. You didn’t get me one.”

“Listen very carefully Rahul” I said, “I am not talking to anyone unless you come out with your side of the story. I need to know the facts. Otherwise you can ask your father to do the talking”

“Not daddy, he’ll never be able to deal with our princy. Actually what happened was that he fined me 200 rupees and I did not have money to pay up. I went after him apologizing like mad. He left without saying anything. He is now accusing me of not paying the fine. How am I supposed to know that he hadn’t forgiven me?”

“How did you assume that he had excused you?”

“You are arguing for the heck of it mummy. Half the money you send is used up to pay fines. Someone breaks a bulb and the entire floor is fined Do you know I am so broke that I do not even have money to call you from a booth. Here I am trying to make do with the amount you send me and get fined for the silliest of reasons. You don’t even try to understand.”

My heart melted at the thought of my son staying in a hostel in far off Bangalore stranded without a penny in his pocket.

“Now that you’ve told me, go to sleep in peace. I’ll talk to your Principal. I cannot come in person though.”

“That’s my mummy. I love you soooooo much.”

“What happened?” this was my dear husband who had been listening all the while. I repeated the conversation that I had with my son.

“Okay try talking to the Principal. If he doesn’t relent we can put him in a local college. It is not as if children who study here do not fare well.”

How very practical of him I thought.

The next day I did talk to the Principal. It was not as easy as I thought. The first time I rang up he was in a meeting. The second time he had gone on his rounds. The third time he was taking a class. Finally around 3:00 PM the next day I managed to track him down.

“Sir,” I began “This is Rahul’s mother. I was told that you wanted to speak to me.”

“Ma’am, please come over and take your son away. I am giving him his TC. We don’t need him in our college.”

I did not know how to react when I suddenly realized that he was dealing with the same age group as me - Children in their late teens. I decided to appeal to the teacher in him.

“Sir, I am sure you have valid reasons for taking such a harsh decision. I deal with college going teenagers every working day. And believe me sir, it is not an easy job. They are just out of school and are not able to deal with their new found freedom. But can we afford to be harsh on them? They are after all children and even if we scold them they still have no one else to turn to and will come back to us. I will stand by your decision but is there a possibility of letting him off with a warning? I for my part give him strict instructions to abide by your rules.”

That did it! The Principal found an ally in me and went on to tell me that he wanted the best for his students and did not want my son to get into bad company. He went on to say how difficult it was to tackle these teenagers. He finally ended by asking me not to worry about my son. It was the responsibility of the college to bring out the best in him. He expressed his desire to meet us in person and I promised to meet him as soon as possible. I had the rare advantage of understanding both the Principal’s perspective and the plight of a parent.

I rang up and asked my son to pay the fine and be careful in future. This was the first of many episodes that drove me nuts when my son was at college. Today he claims that he'd like to send his watrds to the same place if and when he heads a family.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Judgmentally Yours!

The judgment tag is doing the rounds and I’ve been tagged by Just like that to come out with a few things that I Judge. Well I am a very bad judge and will end up giving the petitioner and the defendant equal marks only to be hated by both. I’ve had the experience so many times that I’ve stopped feeling bad. So here I go ‘judgmentally yours’!!

1)I judge those who make unkind remarks about a physical impairment and crack vulgar jokes referring to skin color lack or excess of height, stammering etc utterly disgusting. If you have chiseled features and a graceful gait thank your parents for handing the right set of genes to you. Here again it was chance that played a part and it could have been the other way round for you too. One can take credit for a good nature but certainly not for good features.

2)I judge those couch potatoes who not only monopolize the TV every waking hour but also imagine that they have a right to comment loudly and disturb others who may not share their interest.

3)I judge parents who approach examiners during/before or after a practical examination. In my experience the roll numbers given are thrown into the dustbin and every student who appears for the examination is marked on her performance. But parental approach undermines the ability of the child and she ends up feeling that she deserved less than the marks awarded to her. Stop approaching us parents. You are harming your child’s career in ways that you do not understand. LEAVE THEM ALONE.THEY”LL BE FINE.

4)I judge people who spit in public places. The wall of the stairs leading to our flat has paan stains at almost every turn. I hate it. Are you listening?

5)I judge teachers who take personal affront to their student’s behavior. They are children and lack experience. Very often they do not even mean what they say or do. I have it from experience that if students realize that you don’t bear them a grudge they go out of their way to make amends and end up loving you all the more for it. I am not suggesting that they should not be corrected. Once they have been reprimanded forget the incident and forgive them. It yields wonderful results.

6)I judge those who remain silent spectators when you make mistakes and are quick to point out when things go wrong. The ‘I thought as much’ look annoys me.

7)I judge mothers who do not tell their daughters that marriage is not what one reads about in Mills and Boon novels. Girls who enter matrimony struggle more than their counterparts who know what to expect of it.

8)I judge husbands who watch TV or read the newspaper when visitors arrive and expect their wives to entertain them. “I don’t know what to talk is” the common excuse. Mister! Please understand that your wife is no superwoman. She was not born holding a microphone in her hand. If she is preparing tea or taking out snacks it is your job to hold a polite conversation with the guest/s. More so if he/she is your relative or office colleague.

9)I judge men/women who do not share their mental agony, financial or otherwise with their better halves. I have known men who would borrow money at absurd interest rates rather than admit they do not have money to spare to buy new clothes for a festival. “She would not understand” is what they say. Be honest with her and may be she will. You are not doing the right thing by not telling her at all. Similarly wives hide their health related issues from the husband and very often the problem aggravates and the entire family suffers.

10)Finally I object to my husband treating me as if I were a teenager just out of school. He asks me if I have enough money every time I leave the house and reminds me to fill up the petrol tank of my car after a stipulated lapse of time. Agreed, he is 8 years older than me but if he has retired am I also not close to retirement. Why not let me run out of cash and petrol once in a while? May be I’ll learn from experience. Please don’t take his side. Remember that after all you are my friends!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

An Admirable group!

Getting there now has tagged me and asked me to mention those whom I admire. I admire so many of them that it was difficult to short list the group. I managed to pick out 10 and here is the final list.

I admire the following people-

1)Mahatma Gandhi for treating his family members and fellow countrymen at par. The father of our nation stands tall among politicians whose sole purpose is to curry favors for their family as well as seven generations to come.

2)Our outgoing President Dr. Abdul Kalam, for making himself available to the common man despite his busy schedule. I learnt from a reliable source that he wrote a personal, hand written letter of appreciation, to a person who sent him a book of Tamil poems written by her. He is known to have advised farmers in Bihar on farming techniques and has a soft corner for school children.

3)My husband, who otherwise drives me crazy, promised to look after his parents, unemployed brother and unmarried sister at the time when his father’s retirement was due and his own job was nowhere in sight. He stuck to his word against all odds. Hat's off to him.He doesn't read my blog so let this be our little secret.

4)My children who rose to the occasion and started taking public transport back from school from the tender age of 7 and 5 without a complaint when we decided on saving the money spent for their transport by rickshaw. My heart would melt on seeing the pride and joy in their faces when on an odd day I’d be able to pick them up on my way back.

5)The servant maid who slogs all day with her family feeding on left over food given by her employers but is still large hearted enough to share a part of it with a beggar woman in the street corner.

6)With corruption being the norm rather than an exception the class IV employees of our college, drawing a mere Rs.2000/- refuse to indulge in underhand dealings and still nurse hopes of a solution to their problems.

7)The mother who lets go her son and stays away from his life so that the uncompromising daughter in law may let him live in peace. Actually there a number of them.

8)My ex servant who is not only able to forgiver an employer of hers for swindling more Rs. 35,000/- of her hard earned money that she trusted him with, but is also grateful that he helped with the hospitalization of her son who met with a serious accident.

9)My friend Prema who is physically handicapped having survived a stroke, but yet finds time to ring me up and enquire about my welfare if I fail to contact her for more than a month. I am truly put to shame by her concern.

10)Last but not least I admire the patience shown by the common man who struggles to make ends meet, the housewife who has to walk for miles to fetch drinking water and the millions who have no access to basic health care. They survive by sheer will power with nothing but hope to fall back on.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Good and evil?

I sometime wonder what makes a person good or for that matter wicked? I feel one is made that way. I am good to people because I find it easier to be so. It is not as if I don’t want to be mean. When ever I find myself at the receiving end of some atrocious behavior of a really mean minded person, I do resolve to pay him/her back with a similar if not worse behavior. I rehearse my dialogue and think of some absolutely mean things to say. I try hard to remember how hurt I felt and announce to anyone who cares to listen that enough was enough and that I was not taking it any more. Days go by and within a few days I find myself looking for excuses to justify the person’s behavior. I decide that she perhaps got up from the wrong side of her bed or that her children –brats that they were- must have given her a tough time. He/she must have had a quarrel with his/her spouse and if not anything else the sultry weather was enough to drive one crazy. Finally I end up deciding that the poor thing considers me a close ally. After all one cannot feel free to yell at strangers. If one can feel relieved by venting out their frustration on me I should be matured enough to handle it. Those younger than me ‘know not what they do/say’ and those older than me ‘have a right to’ be so. I now realize that I should have taken up law. I am rather good at finding excuses for people and I seem to defend my offenders better than they would do for themselves. Too late anyway!

With such an attitude is it any wonder that I cannot remain angry with anyone for long?
Jokes apart I really wonder what makes people mean? I know from experience that people like me are a majority. Absolute angels are almost non existent and really wicked people are also few in number. The problem with those who come across as mean is that they nurse a kind of complex that prevents them from acknowledging that they were wrong. Some of them are in reality absolutely smart people, good organizers, and meticulous planners and have many good qualities that they deliberately cover up. They are basically diffident people who cannot take a set back and what better way to hide their lack of confidence than by throwing tantrums at the drop of a hat.

I am so glad to be what I am. I was never a beauty queen and no amount of ‘malish’ and ‘polish’ could ever make me different. It has been such a luxury not having to worry about my appearance all the while. I had a friend who would go back to the hostel and change her dress if someone in the class wore something similar to hers. She had to be told how good she looked each and every day and as teenagers we had fun at her expense and took turns to say so, while the rest of us suppressed a smile or giggled when she was not looking. She was a topper but could not take it, if on a good day (bad perhaps?) someone else got half a mark more than her. I always felt that her energy ought to have been better utilized. Unfortunately she had no friends when she left college and no one bothered to keep in touch with her.

I feel sorry for such people who actually suffer a lot despite having the best in life. They are wary of losing out on non issues most of which are imagined. In their effort to remain supreme they deny themselves the simple pleasures that life offers. I would really like to help them realize that life is too precious to be wasted on trivialities and little acts of kindness fetch great rewards. But here again I must add that what seems trivial to me may not be all that trivial to them. It may be best to let them lead their life the way they want to because I can neither hope to understand their viewpoint nor expect them to understand mine.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Year 1940: Father to son – “ do you know? We went to school only after working for 2 hours in the farm. We ate left over food for breakfast and walked 10 miles however inclement the weather. We learnt multiplication tables before we turned eight. Evenings would be cool even in peak summer and having worked so hard we’d doze off under the baniyan tree after studying for a while. There was no electricity and we used kerosene lamps to study.

Year 1970: Son to grandson – “do you know we walked 2 miles to the nearest bus stop and took the available public transport to school. Five of us sisters and brothers would sit in the courtyard under a common light and do our home work. My mother would make us fetch rice from the ration shop and my sisters would help in the kitchen. We could study in peace only after doing the allotted chores. Tuitions were unheard of and we worked on our own. We used old news papers to fan ourselves in summer.

Year 2000: Grandson to great grandson – We went to school by auto-rickshaw It was only when he failed to turn up that my dad would drop us off at the school gate. My parents took it on themselves to help us with our studies and it was only in higher classes that we dared to ask for tuitions in a subject or two. The study room doubled up for the guest room and most of the time we studied in the bed room or dining space. The only room with a ceiling fan was used by my father to receive friends.

Year 2030: Great great grandson to his friend – “Can you believe this. My father actually went to school to study. So what if he drove a two wheeler from the age of twelve. Online classes and video conferences with experts were unheard of. My great grandfather had to learn multiplication tables by heart and used his fingers for adding up. My father had a calculator with the most primitive features and it was as good as not having one. And people had to actually clear all papers for a pass certificate. To counter this they took tuitions in almost every subject right from Grade 1. Attendance was a must and there was no flexibility in the choice of subject, school timing and timetable. They wore uniforms to school like army men and on top of it carried books to school since online versions were not available and not all children had access to computer education. What a loss of man hours. There was no central AC and it was a rare facility to have an AC in the mmaster bed room. People actually switched off lights manually and locked cars and doors with their hands. I feel really sorry for them. Even if they had been given the facility they could not have put it to use!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Failed Mission

Till last month I used to pride myself on being an expert in making dosais. In fact dishing out paper thin dosai was the first culinary skill I mastered when I became a full time home maker. So much so I would offer to make dosais at my friends’ places whenever we had a get together.

“How do you manage to make them so effortlessly” my good friend Meera would ask.

I’d be gloating from within but in the most humble tone I’d reply that it was no great achievement and with a little effort she’d be able to master the art herself. She was never confident and I’d offer to make them for her family when time permitted. Those were days when I was not working and TV had not made its entry into our homes. This was a form of entertainment and I would help Meera grind the batter in my manual grinder and prepare masala dosais for her family on many a Sunday evenings. To my children those were days when they could run up and down the stairs, scream at the top of their voices and behave like prisoners on parole. I do long for those days when there was a healthy interaction between neighbors and we could walk in unannounced as and when we pleased. My children practically grew up in their house.I sometimes wonder when it all changed. Ours is a small township and Durga pooja was an occasion when the entire town would dress up and visit the various pandals along with their families. Meera’s sons would come running to show me their new dress and the joy one saw in their eyes when I approved of their appearance and their pride when I remarked how smart they looked……… well those days of simple pleasures are never to come again.

They say pride goes before a fall. But having cooked for the past 34 years I take it all for granted and the sense of achievement when a preparation turned out well is no longer there. So when I went to Trichy I offered to make dosais.

It was a hot snd sultry evening and the lady of the house welcomed my help and leaving me to deal with the batter she joined the rest of the family in the portico.

I was glad that she had a non stick tawa and with great confidence I poured the batter and started spreading it. But wait a sec….. I thought I was supposed to make dosais and the batter had rolled itself into a misshapen lump that looked more like an idli than a dosai.

‘The batter is too thick’ I thought and added a little water and tried again. This time it started flowing even before I could spread it and when I tried to give it a shape it looked as if it has been nibbled at by a rat. I was not the one to giveup easily. ‘The proportion must be wrong so let me add some rice flour’ I thought. I looked for the rice flour and was about to add it to the batter when my cousin in law came to check if I needed help. Seeing my plight she said that I was perhaps taking a long time to spread the batter.

“start spreading it immediately and don’t over heat the tawa” she said.

I poured another ladleful and spread it as if I had enrolled for a marathon. This time the batter rolled up into four lumps instead of one and parts of it remained stuck to the ladle. I was convinced that the quality if rice had something to do with my bad performance. Luckily I did not air out my expert opinion.

“Let me try” offered my cousin in law. I was kind of sure that she would not succeed where I had failed. But no!! Here she was spreading out the same batter with practiced ease into a paper thin dosai while I stood watching like a fool. How do I convince her that in my own set up I do a good job of it and that her cousin (my husband) is not starved to death in my hands? I give up. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The leader I resemble.

There was a mention that the more qns answered the more accurate the result.Well I answered 18 qns and I resembled Abraham Lincoln.I answer 27 and I am more like Mother Theresa.What if I go on and answer 45??No time now will check it out.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

My Extended Family

It was after a gap of 13 years that I visited my husband’s extended family this summer. I have always known them to be friendly and accommodative although my interaction with them has been very limited. Had my mother in law been alive we might have visited them more often but unfortunately that was not to be and with my brothers settling down in Mumbai all I could manage were hurried trips to Mumbai to visit my ailing mother when she was alive or to attend the marriages of my nieces and nephews. It is my regret that my children never got to know a whole set of second cousins who may not speak fluent English or chat ‘online’ but are not only warm hearted and genuine but caring and affectionate as well. Having met them only thrice in 34 years I was touched by the way they made me feel as if I had been meeting them on an annual basis. They wanted to know details about my children and grandchildren and insisted that we bring them over when they next visited India. The contrast between the superficiality of urban life and the simplicity of these village people was evident and believe me when I say that I found myself longing to be part of such a culture.

It is not as if they do not have problems. I was treated to so many family stories – some touching, some hilarious but underlying the sorrow/joy behind the information was a kindred spirit that is conspicuously absent in the hectic modern day schedule where parents can barely manage to take care of the demands of their children. I heard of a grand aunt who assisted a grand nephew who was planning to take up a job after his 10th board exams to do his post graduation and today he is a successful biology teacher with his students scattered all over the world. He is being invited to conduct work shops on how biology may be made interesting to students in different schools in Tamilnadu and his coaching classes are so popular that he is finding it difficult to accommodate all those who approach him. His students have formed associations using his name – no mean achievement for a boy brought up in a village and having had to walk 5 kilometers to school however inclement the weather. Equally impressive is the fact that he has not forgotten his days of struggle and does his bit to help meritorious students so that at least a few students who come in his contact do not have to drop out for want of money.

Another nephew was about four years old when I first saw him. He was a slow learner and never went to school. He makes himself otherwise useful to all his relatives in general and his brother’s family in particular. The entire family dotes on him and he reciprocates in equal measure. With people wanting to have nothing to do even with close relatives unless they find him/her equal in status and standard it filled my eyes with tears to see the concern shown by one and all to this young man.

More than anything else I was touched by their accepting me as one among them rather than an outsider. We stayed with my husband’s aunt who is herself childless and has been staying with her sister’s son for the past 30 years. The four days I spent in Trichy had an energizing effect to my mind and I returned to Jamshedpur with pleasant memories of my stay. I do wish we have more of such people who make one forget the ways of the wily world we live in. I did make a fool of myself trying to make dosais. More about it later.