Monday, January 29, 2007

Sari Sorrows

The Sari clad woman is the epitome of feminine grace and beauty. Poets over the ages have waxed eloquent about the absolute loveliness of a lass in a sari. Little do those fanciful fellows know….Behind the velvet softness of the sari-ed woman there lies an iron endurance and incredible skill.

Actually I can’t blame them. At one point I was actually one of their idealistic league. (Judge me not, ye harsh ones!) My folly was nurtured by my own mother- who could transform a pile of cloth into a perfectly draped sari within minutes. Could I be blamed for supposing this common place?

Well… the illusion was shattered soon enough.

Stranded without Amma the Sari Super- woman, I was faced with the task of tying a sari for a function by myself. Piece of cake? Think again.

Before leaving home, I had done the smartest thing and asked Mother dearest for a total instruction manual of sari-wearing. But no one warned me about the practical difficulties!! The sari-which looked harmless enough when folded neatly – turned out to be a cloth Charybdis! Unfurled to its unending length, it gave me images of Draupadi and the sea of cloth! “Well,” I thought “let’s face this like a man…er… woman.”

And thus began a battle of lengthy proportions (literally). The funny thing about the sari is that when one thing is finally settled the other thing-that was previously ok-decides to become undone. The greatest killer though, is the pleats! When done with expertise, the pallu (that’s the part that I prefer to call the tail of the sari) hangs in a graceful, straight, silken cascade. When I was finished with it…well the nicest way to put it was that, it definitely did hang…only like squashed handkerchief. And then of course there are the front pleats. It’s supposed to fall in a nice straight fan that flatters the figure (or at least gives one the semblance of owning a figure). The nicest thing to be said of mine was that it did not fall…off.

But all said and done, my sari did have one outstanding feature. I had created a scientific miracle- A gravity defying Sari!!!(Thank you! Thank you! I’d like to dedicate this honor to the several hundreds of safety pins that helped me in my endeavor). Sure, it appeared to be a little…er… lumpy, and a little…er… elevated… But hey! The effort mattered!

At least that’s what I thought.

“Hey boss…I think you’ve tied your sari wrong side out...”


The next time you see a woman wearing a perfect sari, recognize it for what it is- a badge of endurance, patience, skill and unbelievable dexterity.

‘Frailty thy name is woman’?


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Tears of a Tree

 Hear me-I'm the Tree!
And I sing of Nature & Irony.
I sing of tenderness
In the bark of a Tree
Of Cruel Fates and Reality.

Look at me!
Observe my stance.
My arms wide open,
I hide Nothing.
Yet you ignore the tears in my Bark.

You are blind to the Truth you see.

I have in my core
A twin Torment
That circles around itself.
Unable to rest,
Within this tortured Tree.

See here- my roots
That kiss the Earth.
Drinking Her tears when She cries.
See here- our bond
Like the umbilical cord,
Without Her there is no Tree.

But see also- my brown arms
That stretch towards the Sky.
Straining against my solid trunk
To sip the Sun's golden wine-
The life blood of the Tree.

The Earth pulls me down.
The Sun pulls me up.
I'm caught in this Tug of War.
And Nature laughs
In full-throated glee
At the plight of a torn Tree.

Oh soil! Oh Sun!
Two halves of my troubled heart-
Can't you see?!
If you tear at each other
You tear apart this Tree!

You are different-I know.
That is an undeniable truth...
But I know this too
That no matter how different,

Neither can I let go.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Invisible Man

When God wants to punish you, He answers your prayers.

The wailing of the ambulance could not shut out the screaming of his heart. All around him people buzzed in activity. But he saw only her. Just her.

He remembered the first time he'd seen her. It was at curb.In that orange salwar, her hair standing out in cloudy uncontrollable wisps around her face. She'd kept unconsciously pushing it off her cheek. He'd thought she was pretty. That's all. Just pretty. But then, she'd smiled. It was like some sort of Super nova blasting in his eyes. It wasn't merely the beauty of it, it was the life in it. Like the delicate, dramatic beauty of a blooming flower.
And then, she left.

He forgot her. Didn't think of her. Until a month later, he saw her again. Somewhere.He couldn't remember. Still the same-A small thing, a figure far from perfect, with a smile that spoke the language of humanity. He'd seen her talking to someone. She spoke as much with her face and hands as with her lips. She had fire and grace.Like a dancing flame. Something, unexplainable.
And then, she left.

He couldn't forget her.But he couldn't do anything about it.He didn't know anything about her. And she didn't know he existed. But perhaps, serendipity is reality. He saw her again. This time, he actually saw her face. She'd turned to someone in his direction. He'd thought there could be nothing more beautiful than her smile, until he saw her eyes.
And then, she left.

He couldn't get her out of his mind. Everything reminded him of her. The sunshine was her smile. The nights were her eyes.He yearned to see her again, touch her, talk to her-Just once.Prayed for it.

And it happened.

It was late evening. The auto she was traveling by had stopped at the curb. The same curb. The driver had stepped out for change when the truck skidded and rammed into the vehicle.

He had run to her. He had managed to pull her out of the auto. Somebody near him was calling the emergency number. The white of her dress was stained red with her blood. Her brilliant eyes were shut in pain. He could see now that her hair was actually a dark brown. And her skin was not really perfect. But she was with him. He held her closer for a moment, jerking a cry of pain from her.
"Don't worry help is on the way" he said. For a moment he worried whether she knew English.
"Thank you." he heard the faint reply. Her voice was young and fresh like the life that was flowing out of her. "Someone should inform my parents . My phone is in my bag." She was growing paler.
"Where is that ambulance!" his panic seeped into his voice.He felt a soft touch on his arm.
"Don't worry." she said " I'll be fine." And she smiled that heart breaking smile. "Don't cry."
She smiled.

And then, she left.

Turkey Travails

Every Christmas, my mother is faced with a huge problem. Literally and figuratively. My father's effervenscent gourmet friends lovingly and regularly present us with a large turkey the size of Australia. This wouldn't really be a problem if my mother knew what to do with it. As wide as my mother's culinary expertise is, the turkey is beyond her. Whether she curries it or fries it or even puts it in biryani, the result still falls short of that Elysium of "yummy".
Well, this time she was ready for the battle.
As always the turkey made it's solid presence felt in the freezer by the 23rd and amma had recruited excellent reinforcements. Jalaja Aunty. Second in command to Amma, she was the one who executed. Where Amma was the Crusoe, Jalaja was the Friday. The battle was set- the women vs the turkey.The dynamic duo confered.
This brought the family into the kitchen-to find Jalaja aunty fearlessly battering the monstrous unyielding turkey into pieces. Chunks. Parts?
The result of the bloody tug of war between tendons and tenacity, was a triumph of human spirit. The turkey was chopped up!
But what to do with it?
Another heated discussion.The decision was to boil some of the pieces, then shred the meat and add it to either soup, rice or make sandwich filling out of it. The very fact that my mother was going to such complicated ends to get rid of the thing reflected her desperation.
They boiled it and they shredded it.At this crucial juncture, Amma lost her trusted ally to the forces of getting-back-home. Now it was just her and the turkey.
She put all her skills to it. She painstakingly cooked the meat with varied spices, added lemon and pepper and God knows what to it. She'd have done Sanjeev Kapoor proud.
Finally the end result arrived at the table. She waited with bated breath for the consensus.

"Amma...why is it slightly sweet?"

The treacherous turkey had done it again. Maybe it was the taste. Maybe it was the sheer quantity.But the turkey became leftovers.And Amma beat her breast in frustration. But the gleam of stubborn determination shines in her eyes. She WILL rid her kitchen of the foul fowl! The question is how?.....I guess it's bird watching time at the table.

Playground Politics-A slide show

You know it's true what they say- The youth are the polticians of the future.

It is evident when a person steps into the teeming mix of primary school kids. When they are through bawling their heads off and pulling braids, their acumen for politics is astounding!The social hierarchy and intricate webs constructed by these young minds would put our "established" biggies to shame.

Observe, a general conversation between two kids.
"Sandra,you're a bad girl."
(social ostrasisation)
"No No!"
"Yes, you are a bad girl!"
"But why am I a bad girl?"
"Because you are Ammu's friend!"
( groupism and strained allegiances)
"But you are also Ammu's friend."
"I'm friends with her only when she is here."
(Backstabbing- traits of a great politician)
"If you want to be my friend you shouldn't be her friend."
(Sandra considers.Two can play at back stabbing)
"Ok, I'll be your friend."
"So you'll be katti with Ammu?"
"Say it to Kezzie also."
(In the kiddie circles, reconfirmation to a close compatriot is equivalent to evidence in print. Of course the close compatriot can change sides.But that is not important.)

"Kezzie, I'm not friends with Ammu."


"Come on lets play house."

Such promising political skills in ones so young,should allay all doubts as to where the nation is heading. It all gets spoiled when we the elders start bringing in stupid notions of loyalty, integrity and all that hogwash. But I guess we right the wrongs when we expose these "filtered" children to our hypocrisy and The World News.

A Generation Awakens.

Monday, January 01, 2007

my Animal( grrrowl)

You're a Dragon!

Noble, regal, and highly misunderstood, you're a bit of a loner at
heart. You like caves, the sky, and other vast expanses of air where you can blow
off steam. You and people like you got a lot more respect in the old days, but now
your type only shows up in songs about young children. They're the only people who
really believe in your potential. As long as you believe in yourself, and don't
breathe directly at anyone, you'll be okay. You have a strange liking for string and

Take the Animal Quiz
at the Blue Pyramid.