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Monday, January 24, 2011

Death at twilight

What can you say for an eighteen year old who died? that he was handsome and brilliant? that he loved basketball and swimming and music?  and life ?  Death came unannounced to Adhivraj on the terrace of a mall. It folded him up and took him away -from his mother who was landing just a few hours away, from his elder brother to whom he was a son, from his dad, from us-  leaving  us with  only memories of another day.Oh yes ! certainly nothing to complain about that. Enough memories to last a lifetime -and beyond.

Memories of him as a child, darting in and out of our house ; the house resonating with the laughter of the children ;Adhivraj going to Mayo; Adhivraj coming home for holidays; the agonizing decision of-will it be commerce or science . And in all these memories , always the image of his mother. Laughing, proud of his accomplishments, worried about his maths -the eternal mother.

She is sitting quietly,looking down into nothingness, her fingers fold a tissue and then unfold it and then again,ever so gently, fold it again. My dearest friend , I am sitting next to you and I have nothing to say. Just like I had nothing to say yesterday . I will come and sit with you again tomorrow, silently.The little one has left us.

I will always remember the day ( Sunday, the day of rest) and the time. I finish my class and leave .I call up home to say hi and that I will be reaching soon.My daughter's voice gives everything away. What's happened ,I almost scream. Ma, Adhivraj is dead.

 Earth to earth, ashes to ashes,  dust to dust.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

lunch at spaghetti kitchen

I love winter afternoons-in Emily Dickinson's words 'there's a certain slant of light' which teases you and invites you .On just such a seductive january afternoon i step into Spaghetti Kitchen with my lunch companion. The restaurant is on the first floor of the main Sundar Nagar market. It is early afternoon and we are the first customers .The first impression is of polished wood, white linen ,sunlight streaming through big glass windows-definitely pleasant .We are shown to a table near the windows and we settle down.

 My companion is on the phone and so I manage a quick look over. Again , definitely pleasant. The effect is of casual elegance ( always the most difficult to get right).The phone call is over and we get down to placing our order.A spaghetti (but ofcourse ) and pizza ordered we get down to the serious business of catching up (euphism for gossiping). My companion says something and it makes me laugh. The tone is set .The food comes.The pizza is amazingly well made .The crust is thin and the toppings marvellously well put together.The spaghetti (my first reaction is; omg, is that all) is al dente. We dissect our lives,and some other interconnected lives too. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirrors (yes, mirrored walls) . I look as if I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I look affectionately across the table. Some sixteen odd years separate us but nothing else comes in between .There are no pretences, or pretensions ,or cloying closeness or affectations. She is wise beyond her years ,very humane, incredibly well spoken, an architect who has 'arrived'.I ask her advise on a small matter ( my non existent career).It is readily (and with great candour) given . We signal for the cheque .By this time the restaurant has filled up .

The service was great (unobtrusive) and we are thanked thrice on our way out. We step out into an afternoon that is still sunny. The farewells are quick . She turns left . I go right.Why can't everything in life be just as uncomplicated?

Monday, January 17, 2011

a letter to manmohanji,India's prime minister

Dear Manmohanji
Sasriya kal ji.I hope i am not disturbing you ji,by writing this letter.After all ,you are getting so many letters- and that too from prominent citizens asking you to 'govern'. Huh ! I like their cheek ji. What do they think you have been doing till now? I am fully on your side .People bhi-they expect too much ji. And after all ,what is wrong ? just a few minor issues :CWG ghotala( what ghotala? the games were a spectacular success.It is very churlish to want accountability of a few hundred crores) ;the 2 G scam ( i think it was worth it because of the tapes- so much gossip it provided us-total paisa vasool ;and also to, in any which way, involve you in the 2G thingy when we all know that the only 2 Gs in your orbit are Sonia G and Rahul G- very uncalled for ji ); inflation (i like that other economist you have on your team-Montek-he is so brilliant ,how he linked inflation to prosperity! he obviously believes in the KISS philosophy.Nahi,nahi, manmohanji,don't blush so .It only means-keep it simple stupid ; onions (so much being made of a silly vegetable.)And what do 'they 'mean by expensive? after all now that Montek has certified our prosperity  the junta should just go ahead and buy and buy and by the by' they' will stop finding them expensive.As Shahrukh Khan said in a memorable film" bade bade shehro mein aisi choti choti baatein hoti rehtein hain,senorita".Oh.!senorita brings me to the Italian connection in your life.How is Madam? she is such a considerate  employer.Always tells the media-' everything happening ,and everything not happening, is mamohanji's baby.The party has nothing to do with it'.Purrfect. And talk of the GOP brings me to the party spokesperson,Manish Tiwari. How i like that fellow!his media briefings are such a delight to watch( and hear). He speaks in such a clipped accent( Eton, i bet).The more he has to brief about the scams the more clipped his accent gets.

Before i end, just a question i have been wanting to ask you,and now that we are on letter writing terms i will take the liberty ji of asking.Who kept your name ? and such a lovely name too-Manmohan. I googled out ( google-hindi) the meaning.  It translates to -a person who binds others in his spell. Literally,man ko mohne wala.What a well thought of name!And you have done full justice to it. You have actually cast a spell on us!We are spell bound by your thoughts(seemingly non-existent);deeds(absent); words( meaningless)academic credentials-read as an economist-yet to be unleashed ! Manmohanji, please dont think these are my views(such middle class views at that). Nahi ,yeh toh aam junta ke views hain. Thank God you are comfortably ensconsed in your ivory tower and above such lowly things as the common man's views. Where i am concerned, will forever be grateful to you. Why? because of my slim,trim( some jealous souls are calling it anorexic) look.What all the slimming centres couldn't do, your food inflation has done. I have lost all the flab!Now, every morning i slink to the nearest forest( read park) and forage for edible leaves, flowers and grass and come back and brew my very own herbal tea. I sip this throughout the day and voila! no worry about double chins ( or even single ),no worry about onion/tomato/cauliflower/pulses/sugar,et al prices. Shukriya,shukriya ji.

Please do come to our house.I may not be able to give you coffee ( milk prices have gone up) but will definitely make herbal tea for you.

Warmest regards ji
Anju Gupta

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My recipe for green tea

This is what I do  to make my very own green tea - and have received rave reviews for it from visitors, friends and family.
The recipe is for 4 cups .

  • Put a pan on the stove with 4 cups of water and add :

                                                       1 tspn freshly grated ginger

Tulsi leaves
                                                       1/2 tspn green cardamom powder
1 stick of cinnamon
5-6 blades of lemon grass( may be omitted if not available)
1 tablespoon honey
7-8 leaves of 'tulsi'
a pinch of saffron

  • Let this concoction boil for 2 minutes. Close the burner and then add the juice of 1 lemon.  Cover the pan. Serve hot /cold .

Lemon grass

Cheers to healthy 'drinking'!

Friday, January 14, 2011

shaping up

I visited my regular beauty saloon yesterday. Nothing remarkable about the fact. What set the visit aside is that i came out with a host of resolutions made- all leading in one direction-i HAVE to shape up.Let me share with you what transpired between me and my regular attendant( lets give her a name and call her Sweety ).
Me: good morning.I will go in for the works.
Sweety: good morning maam. Seeing you after ages.
Me: ( blithely) well,you know, its been just too cold...
Sweety:-  we have a new range of facials- slightly high end -but very popular.
Me: how are they priced
sweety: x amount( mentions an astronomical figure)
me: i think i will skip it for now and settle for my regular
sweety: (smiling ever so sweetly) well i just mentioned it because i thought you need it- with your skin showing signs of aging ....
me: (reeling under the shock of the above cut but trying to put up a brave front)well thats news to me .Nobody has ever said so before.
sweety:oh, maam.Just yesterday your best friend was here and we happened to get talking and your name cropped up and she said EXACTLY the same thing.

I tottered out some couple of hours later- all shaken up and emotionally mauled. But one resolution made- I have to make sweety AND my best friend eat their words!!!

A 'Happy' New Year

I spent all of 30th and 31st december 2010 before the television,transfixed by the sight of benign,and not so benign,looking men( that reminds me-why no women?) intoning the forecast for 2011. I was mesmerised by the deft manner in which they were forecasting for each zodiac sign.The optimist in me rejoiced at all the good things being spoken about my sign(virgo). 2011 was promising to be 'The Year' for me. Health would be robust; wealth :bountiful; partner: loving(here i looked doubtfully at my spouse of 22 years)career: upwards trajectory ;enemies: trounced. Went to bed on 31st with a smile on my lips and a song in my heart.Woke up to a beautiful morning. The sun was out, the maid had woken up on time, husband was smiling ,God was in heaven and all was well. This(and all the benign men and their benign prophesies)called for some thanksgiving. A temple visit was definitely on .Stepped out of the house. Walked a few steps .Greeted some neighbours. Saw some dogs. Kept the smile on my face.They were only playing. Saw the dogs bounding up to a neighbour. Smile still on my face.Saw them bounding away. Saw them come back again. This time they were barking. Next minute they were all over me(or i was under them).Was i still smiling? No. I had two dog bites to take away the smile from my face.If anybody out there ,in the big blog world, can find those benign men for me maybe i will get the smile back on my face. Till then i have plenty to keep me occupied .The vaccination visits for starters.