Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tom & Jerry

Watching Tom & Jerry is an addiction. Every evening between 11.30 pm and midnight. Thirty minutes of sheer fun and joy !

While the stories flash by one after another, one is in stitches, as one story is funnier than the other. But you don't only laugh - when it is over, you are left with a feeling of only admiration for such a creative piece of art.

Every character has a special role to play. Jerry, wants to live in peace in his comfortable little house behind the wall. (His bed is made out of a can of sardines, and the legs of the bed, of match sticks).Once in a while he wants to steal a bit of cheese which he simply loves and cannot resist, from the refrigerator.

Tom has been employed basically to hunt him down. But his skills, speed and intelligence are no match to the little Jerry. So, more often than not he is at the receiving end.

Jerry wants to make peace with everyone. But when cornered, he displays courage, initiative ingenuity of the highest order to beat his main enemy and to save his skin. "Its not the size that counts - its the attitude" they say.

And there's the ferocious dog - 'Spikey' and his son 'Tiny' While most of the difficult and life threatening situations are handled by Jerry independently, he sometimes has to take help from 'Spikey'.

All Tom & Jerry tales are spun around these characters and Jerry's escapades.

You can simply not tire of watching these movies. On the one hand, they can be one of the best stress busters. On the other hand and more importantly you cannot help admire the creators' sheer imagination behind conceiving every story, situation, action, stunts and so on.

The stories don't ever seem to end.

I wish they don't.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

September 23 - Sidhu

As I was surfing the usually visited sites on Internet, I came across a message informing me that Sidhu has added me as a friend on Facebook. About time Sidhu!
Can't blame him though, he's a busy man. (If you search for his name on Google, there are 11,700 results matching his name !).

WPS Sidhu and I came to know each other when he joined my School and Class -8th standard, way back in 1974. He has come from St. Joseph's Academy, Dehra Dun.

Sidhu was a smart and bright kid, and created a favorable impression on all teachers in School very early, for a new comer. He was an excellent debator, with an exceptional command over English language. He chose to pursue Science in Senior School, but at the end of Class XI, concluded that it would be a mistake for him to continue. So he took a bold but what he thought a wise decision to move to humanities for Class XII. We joined St. Stpehen's College together - he as student of History, and I, a student of Science. We studied together till graduation after which he moved across to JNU to pursue a Master's degree in International Relations.

We knew each other casually in School for the first two years and then we came closer. We lived reasonably close to each other, so visited each others homes often.

There were many common interests but main amongst them were music and girls.

He had an extensive collection of western music, meticulously created on his own, through the process of borrowing and copying recordings, many of them rare. We would sit for hours listening to music on his sophisticated music system,also a rare commodity, and exchanging notes on our respective love affairs. A typical visit to the other's home would last one full day.

Sidhu was also instrumental in getting me interested in watching movies. He would go home from School, and manage to reach my home barely minutes away from the matinee show time. We would invariably walk across from my home in RK Puram to Chanakya theatre. I am particularly thankful to him to have seen some of the ever famous movies that were shown in Delhi. Almost all the movies that I saw during my School days, were with Sidhu.

Sidhu got along particularly well with my father. The admiration was mutual.
I was also always welcome in his home, where in the initial years I got to see only his mother, since his father was sailing.

We drifted for the first time when he moved to Mumbai to pursue a career. And then, for many years when we were tied up and preoccupied with our jobs, we lost touch.

I hunted him down three years ago with the help of some friends. Life had moved on by then. I had lost my father, he, more recently his mother. Now when we are some distance apart, contacts are few and far between. However, I know, and I am sure he does that the old bonds of friendship are as strong as they were many years ago..

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sept 22

This evening after dinner, I stroll across the IIM Ahmedabad campus where I am staying for three days. The campus has a modern architectural design, with all buildings having the appearance of a precise geometric shape. It is also immaculately maintained – neatly cut grass in all lawns and spotless clean roads and pathways. Like most others, this campus is also quiet in the evening, perhaps because the occupants are spread all over the vast expanse of many acres. Lights are on in some of the rooms in the students’ dormitories. Across, there is a fitness centre, and through the windows I see vigorous exercise in many forms – some walking on treadmills, others pumping iron. I see at a distance, a middle aged couple on a brisk walk after dinner. In all probability, one of them is a teacher.

Its been a while since I walked across a campus like this. Memories come flooding back. And foremost amongst my thoughts, is all the teachers who taught me, not only in College but in School.

Amongst those who come to mind are Mrs. Davis the class teacher in 2nd standard who bid farewell to all us 6 or 7 year olds with two toffees and a kiss on the cheek. She still remembers me, and wants to talk to me, and I am guilty of not calling her..

Then Mrs. Caprihan in the 3rd standard who, to an eight year old mind, seemed to be so pretty. Back home, I often take out from my well preserved class photographs, this particular one and re-affirm my belief that she was beautiful indeed. And I remember the times I went across to her home to play with her son and her equally pretty daughter.

The list is endless. But each name and face crystal clear. All my teachers from School and most in College have retired since. And some have crossed over to the other World. An entire life devoted to teaching hundreds of children. In primary school, less of teaching and more of managing little bundles of boundless energy and nuisance value. And the teacher tearing her hair apart in sheer exasperation.

Rushing from one class to another three floors above or below, at the stroke of the bell signalling the change of period. Piles of corrections, invariably carried back home, and dealt with in between household chores. Hndreds of examination answer sheets, yet each wrong answer painstakingly corrected and elaborated in red color. In the hopeless belief that the effort will be useful to the child who will read it. Shouting and sweating in the heat in class rooms, yet concentrating and making the children concentrate
Yet coming back the next day to relive the experience. Deriving immense satisfaction and selfless joy, seeing a whole class graduate to the next one. But only momentarily Then turning around to prepare to usher in the new set of boys and girls.

Such selfless devotion. And expecting nothing in return. Not from the student, not from the institution. The only reward in the form of a smile and a sense of immense satisfaction , on seeing their pupils growing up, moving from School and College, making a success out of their careers, and settling down.

I thank each one of them in my heart, as I return from my walk. For shaping me up into what I am today. And I promise myself to thank them in person when I meet them next. And to call up Mrs. Davis who wants to talk to me....

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Sept 15

Landed in Luxemburg at 1000. Endless queues at Passport control and baggage claim are the not very different from back home. What is refreshing is the pleasant weather, the clean air, and the lush green surroundings.
The train journey to Paris provides a breadthtaking view. Endless expanse of greenery, neatly cut plots of farmers' lands, almost geometrically done. Healthy cattle grazing. And all this rushes past me at 300 kms an hour which is the speed of the TGV train. We arrive in Paris at 5.30 in the evening, and quickly settle in, in our Hotel rooms, and relax first time in 19 hours....

Monday, September 15, 2008

Sunday September 14, 1130 pm

The 'D' day has arrived. Time to leave home and travel across 'seven seas' to distant lands. In search of prospective business.
I wait at the airport to board the flight. The airport is an ordeal. Meanwhile I wish my sons the best for the exam tomorrow. And to my wife. And all near and dear ones - friends near and far. The World has shrunk, and we are just a call away. I rest with that thought...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

September 13, 2320 hrs

Its happened again.

Five bomb blasts in various corners of Delhi. About 20 dead till last reports came in. More than a 100 injured. Blood shed, panic, desperation, frustation and despair. Innocent people gone, some lives lost at the prime of their youth.

The news spread across the Globe like fire. Indians overseas anxious to know about the welfare of their near and dear ones. Freinds advising each other not to venture out. Who knows - your colony market might also be a target.

And amongst all this, the Government machinery sleeps. Despite a clear warning from Gujarat, that after the Agmedabad blasts, Delhi is the next target. That everything has been organised. Final plans frozen. Only instructions from the high command awaited.

There are intelligence agencies - no intelligence. No clue. No semblance of damage control measures. 

Life is cheap in India. Amongst a 100 crores Indians, a few lives lost - doesn't matter. Nature's way of population control?

Life goes on.

Saturday 13th September

As soon as I wake up let  myself get occupied with the time cosuming task helping my sons with their preparations for the examination on Monday. Science it is. A subject, which on the face is intimidating. But as you dwell deep, most fascinating. When I assume the role of a teacher and go through the very fundamental principles of Physics, I get more and more involved...

I am gripped by a sense of growing anxiety as I embark upon a 10 day long tour, first to Europe, and then on return to IIM Ahmedabad for a training program. 

The thought of absence from home has never been so distracting in the past, as it is, this time. Leaving the boys to fend for their own during the exams? The burden on Mani's head, with the driver's sudden disappearance, for an inexplicable reason?  And when  she too travels later during the week, how do the boys manage?

I try to push the distractions out of my mind by delving deeper into the wonders of 'time and motion' and the simple pendulum. And seek inspiration and solace in my faith  in the Unseen, Universal Force.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Sea face

I would give my right hand to stay by the sea. I say so, because I have had the good fortune to have lived by the sea face some years ago.

It was at Worli, that I set up home. It was a  spacious two bed room flat, right on top of Worli Hill, less than fifty meters from the Arabian Sea. On the third floor, we had an unobstructed view of the vast expanse of water.  Each moment that I stayed in the house, I marvelled at the idea in the mind of the person who designed the house.

Every window in the house, that of the kitchen, bedrooms and even the bathrooms, faced the sea. And then there was a huge balcony.

In the evenings, I would take my wife and my toddler son right up to the sea face, to go through an experience.

As far one could stretch one’s vision, there seemed to be an endless expanse of water under a huge open sky. The gentle churning of the water, with only periodic gains and lows in the intensity, would provide a soothing sound, and a certain kind of calmness and serenity would prevail for as far as one could see.

The setting sun would contribute its own bit to this experience, leaving its last fading light to reflect on the surface of the sea which would then appear to be covered with silver.

Far away a few ships would be anchored. One could make out the form because of the innumerable small but bright lights on them. These would set sail from the Mumbai port, veer around the Cuffe Parade, and turn right to begin their voyage in a Northerly direction. But just before proceeding full steam ahead, they would stop and anchor once again briefly. As if, for the crew to set sight on the distant Mumbai coastline, and keep that vision  marked in their minds for the long, lonely and arduous journey ahead.

As darkness fell, you could also see small dim lights bobbing up and down on the water surface. And you could guess that fishermen had begun their day’s work, when the rest of the World had returned home.

What couldn't be seen but only felt was the cool, pure sea breeze blowing steadily into the mainland. Nature’s most unique and noble deed for mankind. Inviting all the dirt and pollution unto its fold, in a most forgiving manner, day after day, and replacing it with cool, pure air for all. And  thereby granting human beings a big favour.

A spectacle that I would experience any number of times at any time of the day or evening, and never tire of it.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Mr. Raj Thackeray - you are at it again!

 You and your team - The 'Maharashtra Navnirman Sena' seem to pursue you vision of a new ‘re-built’  home State with a missionary zeal.

 And what is your vision of the new State?

 Your new Maharashtra will –forget welcoming, not even tolerate a non- Marathi.

Doesn’t matter that in the years of its history, Maharashtra has only gained and prospered thanks to the millions of ‘outsiders’ who landed in Mumbai and other parts of the State and due to sheet dint of hard work, made success stories out of their enterprise. Yes they came to pursue their dreams, and realized them. But they gave to the State in equal measure. They were industrialists, film makers, actors, corporations.  It is by no small measure due to them that Mumbai today is regarded as  the financial and industrial capital of India, and Bollywood is the largest film industry in the World.


Your new Maharashtra loaths anyone who speaks in any language except Marathi. In a new found machoism, you and your missionaries will not spare anyone who violates this norm. Or should we call it the law? And that includes the Bachchans. And you will not tolerate his wife speaking in the National language in a public function, in Maharashtra. For this you will punish Amitabh Bachchan by banning all his movies in Maharashtra.


In fact your new Maharashtra will not tolerate any form of communication that is not in Marathi. Bill boards, retail store signages, movie posters – anything that is in Hindi or English is a strict no-no. Does your list include news papers also?


Whether you possess even a basic understanding of the term ‘democracy’ which was taught when you were in School, or, in the process of constructing a new State you also want to change its basic political fibre and that of India, can be debated.

 But one thing is clear. In the newly built Maharasthra, you are the law.  And you will expect all Mumbaikars and non-Marathi residents of Maharashtra to cow down in front of the terror that you and your self proclaimed law makers create.

The age old law and order and administrative machinery will sit on the fence and watch will great admiration, the crafting of a new State by the most loving son of its soil.

 And the continued feverish zeal and with your sense of patriotism, your ‘nav nirman’ of the State will be finally completed. This new State will be a fort. Very well fortified. No one and nothing will dare come near it. No one will be allowed to go outside. No trade, no industry no employment no nothing.

 And the day will dawn when the people of Maharashtra will gather to forever remember your invaluable contribution to the State.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

A Tribute to my Grandmother

My grandmother was born sometime in the beginning of the 20th century. Like most of her generation, she did not know of her exact date of birth.

From my earliest memories of her, till the time she passed away, I remember her as a short very frail woman, not more than 5 ft tall, and very thin. The outward appearance was however deceptive. For I have not known many people at least amongst my own family, who had a personality close to hers.

My grandmother had studied up to Class X, an accomplishment of sorts in her day and age.

The formal education however was a small indicator of her level of literacy and general awareness. She read the daily English newspaper from the front page to the last, and updated herself on the latest happenings around the World. She had an excellent grasp of all current affairs, politics, India’s relations with her neighbours, friendly and otherwise and so on. This, she managed mostly by reading on her own, and very rarely, she sought help and clarification from my parents, on some issue unresolved in her mind.

I remember clearly, numerous occasions, when she would very intelligently debate and discuss India’s relations with China, the daily happenings and progress during the India – Pakistan wars and other events, not only with my parents, but with many of my father’s friends and colleagues who would visit our house. This was a matter of great pride for me, as a child, because I did not see any other grandmother around in the neighbourhood appear to be so well read.

My grandmother’s written communication skills were exemplary. Not so much in content, but in form. Her hand writing in both languages was nothing short of a calligraphers work. Some samples mainly in the form of old letters are still preserved by my cousins, and every now and then, when we look at those, we cannot help but marvel at her handwriting skills.

Our ancestral home was in Dehra Dun, which belonged to her. But for most of the time she stayed with us in Delhi to look after my younger brother and me. With my mother working full time, it was my Dadi who took her place at home during the day. And for some time she would visit my Uncle and stay with them.

One such trip to Doon seemed to be unusually long. My father then took us to Doon to show to us what was going on. My grandmother had decided to have the old ancestral house demolished and construct a modern larger house in its place. Instead of handing down this project and the responsibility to her sons, she chose to manage it herself. One memory permanently etched in my mind is that of my grandmother perched on top of a step ladder which she had climbed to supervise and approve the quality of construction on the roof top. She was around 70 years old then.

Like all elderly people my grandmother spent a major part of her mornings offering her prayers to God. For this, she had a beautifully decorated ‘Mandir’ in one corner of her room. Every day, after we left for school and my parents for work, she would sit in front of her ‘mandir’ and complete her daily routine of prayers which lasted about two hours or more.

My grandmother’s mission in life was to make sure all her grandchildren study and perform well, and finally chalk out a successful career path. For this she started working on me (and one of my elder cousins) very early. She ensured that most of my time at home was spent in studying. And if enough of the school curriculum was covered, it would be hours and many, many pages of handwriting practise. The rigorous work schedule was too much for me, and I remember usually ending up crying in utter frustration. But that did not deter her. It was largely due to her efforts that I managed to secure among the top three positions in every class in school.

Similarly, she seemed to be after my cousin’s blood, but from the day he cleared the entrance examination for admission in an engineering college, she switched off completely, now comfortable with the belief that his career was secure.

When I was in class 10 she was more nervous and worried about the board exam than anyone else, least of all me. The ICSE exams came and went. My grandmother was not satisfied as usual, and was convinced that I would make third division.

My grandmother had a chronic bronchitis condition for many years. This worsened one particular year. She knew she did not have very long to live. But one of the worldly aspirations she had to fulfil was to see her granddaughter getting married. Despite her failing health and a very weak constitution, she made sure she attended all functions, customs and rituals before and up to the marriage. This took a further toll on her health.

One afternoon, in March 1977, she passed away at our home. Quietly, and without a fuss. This was ten days before the ICSE results were declared. She didn’t live to see that my marks were far better than she said I’d score. I am sure in her heart she knew I’d do well..

A shade over 30 years have flown by. Writing about her is my way of paying my tributes to the one person who brought us up cared for us and inculcated in us, the right value systems at a young age. For this, I shall forever be indebted to her.