Friday, March 14, 2014

Reel of Life : The Bioscope Man at India Gate

I have always wanted to experience India Gate in night.. Since both my son and husband were with me in New Delhi yesterday, I thought a visit might just be fun... People flock there for candle light vigils against injustice or sometimes, just to have an ice-cream and to breathe in the hallowed air of official majesty. Few know the fact that India Gate was constructed as a memorial for the 90,000 soldiers who laid down their lives during WWI and Second Afghan War in 1919. Fewer know the piognant significance of the inverted rifle and the helmet which symbolizes the memorial to the immortal soldier that stands under the arch.. But no one is to be blamed, we, as a nation promptly react with emotion and swiftly tend to forget.. As soon as I parked my car and got out, somebody offered to sell some hot coffee.. Ah! Just what I wanted I thought admist glares from my dear husband as I sipped the second cup of the evening..As I walked towards the arch, I realized that the place had a totally different aura altogether in the night! Much different from what I imagined! Melodious tune of " Jo Vaada kiya woh nibhaana padega" was in the air, and my eyes began to search the origin of such beautiful music.. I admit Iam not a huge fan of old Hindi numbers, but this one was too addictive not to hear! There came Abdul Hussain the Bioscope wallah asking my little son to peek into that little machine called Bioscope that looked like a modified wheel barrow.. Bioscope is a handdriven projector, As the handle turns, the reel begins to move. A low watt bulb is placed behind the reel which showcases great people, monuments, and even Hritik Roshan! The songs are played separately in the background. Bioscope once the yesteryear's entertainer, when TV was still a rarity, has now very little takers,except the occasional child like my son, at India Gate who is curious to see what is inside the little machine. Abdul Hussain tells us that he is a gardener in Lodhi Gardens, by the day and a bioscope wallah by the night. He parks his Bioscope in the nursery during the day and manages to earn a little pocket money in the night. As i walked back to my car,I felt the Bioscope was so right in its place at India Gate, it so represented the spirit of our Nation..

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Useless Appliances Hall of Fame

One of my favourite passtimes is to shop for utterly useless appliances. Year after year, I love to clutter my home with new home making( wrecking) appliances. I have seen that a lot of people mute their television when it is time for ads. Iam one of those very few people who loves commercials, and actually look forward to seeing them. I don’t mind seeing those telebrand shopping commercials over and over again . I love seeing salesmen trying to sell products, I actually would like to believe all that they tell ! My husband has issued a clear warning that I need to take his permission hereafter before I get one of these gadgetries home . The other day I made a list of appliances that I have bought in the last three years that I need to get rid of. Here are the top ones in the list:

Five in One Air Lounge:

This one undoubtedly makes to the top of the list. One of the very first useless buys. I don’t know what was I thinking when I bought it . The television commercial promised that it was the most comfortable bed that was extremely light in weight. I had a lot of things on my mind when I ordered it on the phone. I would no longer need to move the heavy leather couch from one place to another( Not that it was ever moved). I could watch my Saturday night movie DVDS lying comfortably on the “air lounge”. I could go camping with my son and husband to the hills and use it there.( We’ve never gone camping in three years). I could inflate the couch and tie it to the SUV and drag it all the way to the hills( Yes, that’s what the commercial said). Plus there was a holiday for three nights and two days worth three thousand rupees that came along with it. Whenever the commercial was aired as I watched tv with my husband, I would deliberately tune in to that particular channel, so that Rahul too got the feeling of what a worthy deal it was. He refused to buy it all the way. One fine day, I could no longer supress my urge to buy it and ended up ordering it on the phone while Rahul was away for a week.
The five in one airlounge was promptly delivered within a week at the same time Rahul had returned home from his travel. I asked him which place he would like to go on a holiday with the voucher that came along with the buy. Though he was fuming, he didn’t want to pick up an argument on the same day that he arrived. I had bought a new movie DVD on the same day for the inauguration of the five in one air lounge. I promptly called up the number on the holiday voucher to make a reservation for the holiday. The executive who received the call politely said that this offer can be availed only on a weekday. When I chose Manali as my favorite destination, he revealed that they were running full on all the places in North India and the only choice that was left for me was Kanya Kumari. Now asking my husband to spend thirty thousand rupees on airfare that too on a weekday to avail the three thousand rupees holiday was too much to ask. Never mind the holiday, I decided to inflate the air lounge with the free elec tric air inflater pump that came along. That is when I realized that it was not as easy as they showed it on TV and I needed Rahul’s help. As I watched Lord of the Rings, I couldn’t really concentrate on the hobbits and elves thanks to the discomfort of the plastic screeching under my load. The movie was finally over and then there was a new revelation. Deflating the airlounge was another ordeal altogether. After trying to deflate it for two minutes, I announced that it would be better to drag it to the study and leave it there so that it saves us the trouble next time of inflating and deflating. Come next Saturday, Rahul says that he would rather watch the movie on the leather couch. I too follow suit. Within three weeks, the five in one air lounge was deflated, neatly packed and shoved into the loft. “May be we could take it to Rishikesh when we go rafting and camping “ I consoled Rahul.

The Apple Cutter:

The thought of having beautifully sliced apple pieces for breakfast minus the seeds, prompted me to buy this. My shopping cart suddenly had loads of apples the week this was bought, and Rahul didn’t know why. Very soon the blades of the apple cutter dulled, and I needed to hit an object from the top for the apple cutter to completely slice the apples.

The Vegetable Chopper:

Perfectly sliced potatoes that I could make french fries with, and the curvy spirals of cucumber that I could decorate my salads inspired me to buy the vegetable chopper. Cleaning the chopper took longer than manually peeling and cutting the potatoes. My soggy sad french fries could never taste the same as Mac Donald’s hence the vegetable chopper was duly buried deep inside the cupboard.

Microwave Egg Boiler:

Dropping the egg into a pot of boiling water was getting too difficult. My son was in his growing phase. Getting soft, medium and hard eggs in three to four minutes directly from the microwave was a nice idea, hence this one was bought. Very soon my son developed a liking for eggs, not for eating, but for playing around with them. Imagine my disappointment when I returned home one day to find my son playing a throw ball game with the eggboiler and four to five eggs. I realized this was turning out to be a risky proposition and hence the age old pot boiling method was resumed.

Popcorn maker:

The realization dawned upon me only after I bought it: Who eats popcorn to satisfy one’s hunger? It is way too easier to buy a basket of caramelized popcorn( or just name the flavour on earth) than wait for the popcorn to pop out and put a stick into the machine so that the popcorn doesn’t burn!

Rocksalt Lamp:

I was quite impressed with the rock salt lamp when the salesman enumerated its benefits. Rock salt , apparently, was formed over a 250 million years ago when the light and energy of the sun dried up the original, primal ocean; a cycle which repeated itself for millions of years in the region creating this type of rock. Rock salt, he said, purifies air by creating negative ions and filtering the air By removing moisture from indoor air, things such as bacteria , virus, respiratory allergens and even spores(!) cannot remain airborne. They fall to the floor by gravity and die, especially in an ionized environment. It is known to improve immunity of an individual to repeated respiratory infections
The day I bought the lamp ,I chattered the benefits ( point wise, yes, Iam good at it thanks to my profession) to Rahul and insisted that it be switched on the whole night next to my bed. Ah! The pleasure of reading a book under its golden glow with my chi (life energy) all pepped up!
Unfortunately, for me, I think the forces of gravity acted the wrong way and I think instead of the bacteria falling to the floor ,they settled on me, and I had the worst of my colds the next day which has lasted for a week now, and as I am writing this blog. I am somehow scared to switch the rock salt lamp on again.

Profix Scratch Remover Pen:

Now who wouldn’t want a quickfix for the scratches on a black car , that are so many in number that it would actually cost a little less than the depreciated cost of the car itself to get a fresh paint job done? This scratch remover pen seemed an answer to my problem. It is a resin in the form of a pen that fills in the voids in the scratches and cures in the presence of UV Sunlight. Now there is the catch. The instruction says, you need sunlight for the resin to melt the paint adjacent to the scratch and cure it. It also mentions in fineprint a warning that it should not be used under direct sunlight. The foolish me, tried to use it in shade and then asked my driver to drive the car immediately to sunlight. The scratches didn’t get fixed at all. The next time I tried it in sunlight, but I guess the extreme ultraviolet rays of Delhi Summer cured the resin at the tip of the pen itself and I can no longer use it.:).

There are a couple of appliances in my mind now that I want to write about, but then I realized I could go on. In dentistry too, I like to indulge in similar useless gadgets that I buy and rarely use. The current one on my wishlist is a Five in One Presterilizer which washes, ultrasonically cleans, washes, disinfects and dries the dental instruments before they can be shoved into the autoclave. I would have bought it by now, the only thing that is holding me back is its price that is a little over a lakh and a half Indian Rupees. For as long as I cannot afford it, the grapes definitely look sour and I just hope it is as useless as my Five in One air lounge cum sofa ;)

Sunday, November 14, 2010


noun,plural-er•ies. 1. a display of driving prowess. 2. showiness, splendor, or magnificence by driving.The Urban Dictionary

I beg to differ when someone says women are bad drivers. But I hate to admit one thing: that I am a bad driver and happen to be a woman. Or at least I was a bad driver until a couple of days ago. Rather let me put it this way: May be I wouldn’t have been a bad driver had it not been for the few incidents in the past.
Scene one: As a child, I was as carefree as I could get on the road, when the wheel of an auto rickshaw ran over my feet. Though it was just the skin that got terribly bruised, deep inside my mind a bruise remained: A fear of vehicles. Since then,even if I spotted a lorry or any tiny vehicle a kilometre away, I would get off the bicycle, wait for fifteen good minutes for the vehicle to pass and then ride the bicycle.
As soon as I turned eighteen, I made sure I enrolled myself in a driving school and had a really wonderful instructor who taught me how to drive. From changing tyres to opening the bonnet to have a peak into the machinery, he taught me most of the driving basics (Though I still don’t know what to do after opening a bonnet and having a peak!).
Under his guidance I managed to pass my driving licence test. Driving test in Mangalore is a serious affair. At least it was to me. There was a theory exam where the first half of the paper was on road signs and the second half of the paper was questions and answers. When I landed in the RTO office in the Maruti 800 that the instructor drove that day (because I was too tensed), I was in for a surprise. I had just memorized a few traffic signs and the significance of red, orange and the green lights. There I see boys and girls of my age with books preparing them for this test with a lot of theory and chapters! I only hoped that my good marks at school would rescue me. Indeed the road signs part of the theory paper was a breeze. And I found myself qualified for the next round of the theory paper. Some of the questions in the paper are still so vivid in my mind. There was this question on what do you do when you see cows in front of you. Do you honk? The correct answer is no, you don’t honk when you see a cow because the cows wouldn’t know that you are asking them to move away. Instead you get out of the car and shoo the cows away from the road and then drive! What a learning!
There was another question on when you are speeding a bike and are on a turn, do you accelerate and turn right or left? I remember writing timidly on the paper “How am I supposed to know?, I have applied for a four wheeler licence!”
The examiner must have been impressed with my wit rather than my knowledge of the roads, I cleared the theory exam. The driving test itself was pure fun. The officer who approves the licence sits by a window next to a steep sloping road. So the test was to drive on the sloping road, stop in front of his window, give him a “ I know it all” smile, then declutch and move ahead, without moving an inch behind. Since I was specially trained for the exercise, it proved easy too!
The instructor had instilled in me the kind of overconfidence that was just needed to overcome my fear. Before I could master the roads, one day, I hear a breaking news that he has run away with the driving school’s money. I sympathized with the instructor rather than the owner of the driving school. More than that, I sympathized with myself for having lost such a good instructor. But teachers are for life! Even now I remember him when i break or declutch, like i remember my dentistry teachers, every time i give an inferior alveolar nerve block or prepare a class I cavity on a maxillary molar.
Scene 2: With my newly acquired skill of “drivery” , I offer to reverse my dad’s car out of the gate. The only next thing of the incident I remember is a loud thud noise and a huge dent on the side door of the serviced and polished car. My dad didn’t say a word. May be, had he scolded me for it, I would probably not have developed the fear which lasted ever since.
When I moved to Gurgaon, I hired a driver to drive me to the college that I teach in Ghaziabad( UP). Now driving in UP is a totally different ball game even for an experienced driver by profession. Reaching the college at eight thirty in the morning bypassing all the trucks that carry potatoes and onions is a new challenge every day. The first week that I went to college, there was a red colored bus that hit my new sedan from behind. The entire bumper was destroyed; the chassis of the car bent! I was new to the city, but I did not want to give up. I remember this incident happened in a placed called Khichripur. I knew the amount that would have to be spent on the car would be much more than a few months’ salary, but I had to do justice to the car. I couldn’t spot a cop around, but I managed to click a picture of the bus driver on my mobile, and managed to send my driver to find the nearest police station. In the mean time I also managed to deboard all the passengers of that privately owned bus. Not bad for a first time in the city eh? Now it’s the question of a brand new sedan! My driver managed to find a constable after a good one hour, and we drove to the police station along with the red bus. Exactly four days before this accident, I had also managed to get robbed of my new Nokia N72 at a mall. All my contacts were on that phone, and it meant a lot to me in terms of my professional and personal life. A cop in Gurgaon absolutely refused to file an FIR, so I already had an experience.
The cop in this police station in Delhi was quite nice to me. I told him that he better file an FIR, and that i have lost trust in Police. I remember his words even to this date “Hum Dilli Police hai ji! Dilli aur Haryana Police mein faraq hain” He filed an FIR, seized the documents of the bus and made the bus park outside the police station. Though there was a very deep sadness inside, I was quite pleased with what I managed to accomplish.
The next day on the same route to college at fifteen minutes past eight, I was in for another surprise. The same red bus was behind my car, this time at a distance of five meters away from my car! I realized that I cannot beat the corruption in the city, and that was one of the lessons that I learnt for the day!
For another three years, my car managed through the roads, after sustaining a few major dents every month. I also realized that the maximum any person who has caused a loss of 50,000 rs. would pay up would be 500 rupees!
Scene 3: Ten days before my son was born, my car got hit by a truck on the side that I was sitting. My car was again crushed on the side, this time in the middle of the maddening traffic in UP. I got out of the car, not minding the huge traffic jam that it had caused, and started scolding the driver of the truck. When I turned to my right, I saw a convoy of vehicles belonging to the faculty of my college. I was so proud to have their support, when one of them asked me to get back into my car, as they were more concerned about me than my car. That is when I decided it was time for my maternity leave.
Drivers have come and gone over the years, I am not sure, if it is my HR skills that I need to hone or that of my driving! But not being independent has really crippled me. I break out in sweat when I get a call at seven thirty in the morning from my driver to tell that he is not going to turn up for work. Rahul has asked me, what am i afraid of? Death? He’ s been telling me to get independent. But I don’t know what scares me.. The thought of getting crippled, or may be, more than that the thought of getting dents on my car.. Rahul’s even offered that he would repair all the dents that I cause if I start driving.
A few weeks ago, i happened to read a book called “Many lives, Many masters” by Brian Weiss. I call a self help book good, when I am able to relate the book to my life. After realizing that we all go through so many lives, I decided, I have to overcome my fear, and I started taking my car out. Two weeks ago i also bungee jumped. The whole exercise was to overcome my fear.

Though learning never ends, Iam quite happy with my progress. I have been instructed by Rahul to keep on the left side of the road. That’s the side that I hate the most. You have the slowest vehicles in front of you, cycles overtaking you from your left and overspeeding vehicles overtaking from the right. That's why i have decided to be on the extreme right on the fastest lane. I drive at fifty five kms/ hr on the fourth gear( because my first classes were on a Maruti 800,and it did not have a fifth gear). Never mind the dirty looks the drivers of other cars give me because I am slow. A few days ago, they would lower their window glass, pop their heads out and give me looks. Now they just give me looks through their rear view mirrors: A clear sign that I am improving each day. When they honk, I just lower my window glass and yell “ Uncleji horn kyon baja rahe ho?” I hope to be a good driver very soon, and I will still beg to differ!:)

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Joy of Giving

Working towards a social cause: My opinion on the same has changed over the years. It is no longer about fraudulent NGOs and donations made to save taxes. I have seen acts of kindness in my everyday life that have moved me and inspired me. A lot of people who I know do a lot of generous gestures without any expectation of a return or recognition. I believe they do understand Life’s most basic Law that every single act of kindness love and generosity will multiply and return to you many times over.
The other day my driver was asked by a dentist friend of mine to deliver a carton full of biscuits to someplace. The driver then gives me the details:
Most of the children of the labour class are unable to afford education here in Gurgaon. There is this lady who in the confines of her two bedroom apartment has a school for such children. During the day when her family is away, each of the room in her apartment is converted into a classroom from 1 to 5. In the afternoon, the house gets converted into classrooms 6-10. People in the vicinity send goodies in the form of food, books or clothes whenever possible.
After I dropped my son at playschool, one day, I decided to visit one of my very dear friends. I called her up and she said I could come over. When I entered her home, I was in for a surprise. There were huge containers containing kheer, apples and puri sabzi spread on the dining table. Her mother- in -law tells me that every year on the day of her husband’s Shradh, she personally cooks food for the children who are educated in her garage. All the food was individually packed by my friend and her mother- in- law to be sent to the children. Now this kind of a gesture, I believe is enjoyed twice, first by the giver who revels in the pleasure of doing this act of kindness and then by the receiver who receives these acts of kindness. Any child( rich or poor) would love to eat hot kheer once in a while after school.
After I give an inferior alveolar nerve block before I start a root canal, I get chatting with the patient just to open him/ her up and make her relax. A conversation with one of my patients opened my eyes to this wonderful world of giving. He is a part of a foundation that organizes tree plantation drives in Gurgaon. The citizens who enrol themselves as members plant trees around the city and his foundation has people to look after those trees. I always felt very strongly about this issue and how nice it would be if each of us planted one tree and looked after it! By the end of two years, whole of the city would turn green! They also run cloth bag campaigns where they hand over free cloth bags to people and educate them to carry their own bags before they go shopping.
Another of my patients is the founder of a prestigious foundation. He believes that the only way we can make a huge change in the society is by bringing a change in the young children. The foundation runs schools where the children are personally taught by him to wash their hands before eating and also taught the right brushing technique. This has automatically brought a change in the childrens’ parents’ hygiene habits too. And thus they have brought a major change in the grass root level.
Our driver who has been enthusiastically taking part in the durga puja this dusshera decides to forego half of his salary to feed young girl children as a part of their festivities. I wonder what it takes to be that generous when you don’t even have enough food for your family!
After reading a very inspirational book, I have realized that giving doesn’t have to be materialistic all the time! When you come across someone, you can silently wish them happiness and joy. This kind of giving is very powerful, and after having done that I have seen people suddenly opening to me in joy and happiness.
As I type this post on my net book , my baby’s nanny comes to me and asks me how much does my netbook cost. When I mentioned the price, she said she too wanted to buy a white small netbook for her brother. I told her that it is going to cost her a few months salary. She replied that two of her sisters and she are going to contribute to buying this net book as they are very fond of her brother. Since she could not afford to continue her education, she wants her brother to study further and not miss out on what she missed in her life.
Giving and happiness are so inexplicably intertwined. Go out and give! Even if it is a smile! And see the change in your life yourself!

“Do not stand on a high pedestal and take 5 cents in your hand and say, “here, my poor man”, but be grateful that the poor man is there, so by making a gift to him you are able to help yourself. It is not the receiver that is blessed, but it is the giver. Be thankful that you are allowed to exercise your power of benevolence and mercy in the world, and thus become pure and perfect.” Swami Vivekananda.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

My first ride on Delhi Metro to the Qutub Festival.

It’s been more than three years in Delhi and till yesterday I haven’t taken the metro. Delhi has been in a festive mood ever since the opening ceremony of Common Wealth Games , and it pinches me to think that i haven’t been a part of this historic event.
Out of the blue, at six thirty in the evening yesterday, i decide to be a part of the celebration.
” Lets attend ‘Delhi celebrates’ festival!” I tell my husband. “Let’s take the metro and explore Delhi, it’s going to be fun!” For a change, he agreed to my sudden plan and I checked the newspaper to see what’s in the schedule after eight pm. Qutub Festival suited us perfectly. The festival is famous for showcasing talent from different cultures across India to the backdrop of the classic victory tower built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
Most of the best moments in life happen when you don’t really plan. After we parked our car at Guru Dronacharya station Park and Ride, we bought a metro travel card each. I wonder when our next ride on the metro is going to be; nevertheless I hoped to travel often to Delhi to explore the place and culture I am so much in love with. Buying the travel card instead of the regular tickets proved to a wise decision. Besides the privilege of bypassing standing in queues (not that there was any huge queue), you also save an additional 10 % every time you travel. Moreover, you don’t have to be a frequent traveller to buy the card! Saving a rupee while travelling on the metro gives me a strange sense of satisfaction of being money wise. Never mind the splurge of thousands on a shopping spree in a mall when you save on things like this.
Having battled the bumper to bumper traffic on Mehrauli -Gurgaon Road for three and a half years now, what a breeze this journey turned out to be. I couldn’t appreciate the much raved about greenery of Gurgaon that you can see on your ride, as it was dark. The incidents of broken rear view mirrors, bent bumpers and innumerable scratches on my car which couldn’t be eliminated unless I repaint my entire car again, flitted through my mind. The sheepish look on my driver’s face when he hears a thud, the feeling of blood draining to my legs as soon as I hear the noise, the hopeless arguments that you have with the driver of the other car on whose fault was it anyway : I was so glad, that it was all going to be over!
In no time, we hopped off the metro at the Qutub station and hopped into an auto rickshaw waiting for us at the entry itself. The driver said he knew where the programme was held, so he would drop us right at the gate. I had a chat with the driver, and asked him a variety of questions ranging from the traffic at Lado Sarai to the significance of the number 786. Rahul was more than eager to answer my last question, when I told him that I wanted to hear the driver’s version. “Yeh hamara lucky number hota hai ji” the driver answered with a smile. I was happy that i brushed my skills in hindi and i learnt that 786 is saath so chiyasi. It is good to revise once in a while.
As soon as I reached the venue, I walked straight up to the cops at the gate and asked them where to buy the tickets. Imagine my disappointment and the look on Rahul’s face when he said “ Passes tho Dilli haat mein milenge aur ab tho bahut late ho chuka hai”. I cursed myself for venturing out like this unplanned. Rahul turned around and started looking for another autorickshaw. Looking at my disappointed face, he asked me “What do you want to do now? “. I didn’t dare suggesting going to Dilli haat only to find the place closed.
“There’s no harm in trying at the gate once” I suggested. I walked to the same cop and told him that we have come all the way from Gurgaon, and weren’t aware that you don’t get tickets there. The cop just smiled and said “get in”. Wow. This is so cool. I was a gatecrasher for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We walked through the Qutub minar complex . Qutub Minar looked all the more beautiful in the night. I wish I could capture its glory on my camera, but there is something I need to figure out on my Canon night portrait settings. As we walked a hundred meters we were stopped by another gentleman at the Complex gate. I just smiled and told him that I didn’t have the passes and the cops just let me in. He smiled back and said ‘ Koi baat nahi hai, you are welcome!”
Now this is what i call Forces of the Universe working for you.! After a usual security check we were let in and greeted with two cokes! There we were at the Kailasa concert which hadn’t begun yet. The open ground was so crowded that I thought, only if i were Sheila dixit, I would manage a place somewhere. For once I wanted to turn back. It is only then that I noticed that the left corner of the stage was empty and uninhabited. I wondered why people weren’t standing there when the whole ground was so jam packed. Probably because there were cops with automatic assault rifles dangling on their shoulders.
“ Ladies and Gentleman! Kailash Kher has just arrived” and there was a huge applause from the audience. The entire crowd was waiting there for more than an hour to get a place to sit and to listen to Kailash Kher. I slowly made my way towards the left corner of the stage hoping that no one would shoot me. Surprise surprise ! No one stopped me. I noticed a large wooden trunk which carried some equipment for the concert. It could accomodate two people and I gestured Rahul to sit with me. We both looked up at the cop who was right next to us. He smiled and said “ Abhi yahan se uth math jaana!” Other people who got there were chased by the cops and we waited for our turn to be chased out as the concert began. What an atmosphere it was. Just then there was another lady cop who asked me to get up from my self- made Gallery seat. This cop who was next to us stared at her and asked her not to trouble us. I wonder who this cop was in my past life that he was being so nice to us. She said” Sorry madam, CM saab aa rahe hai “
Before i had time to think or get up I see people being shoved around and there I see Shiela Dikshit one feet away from me. Now I realized that the left corner was unoccupied to make way for the chief minister! As soon as she was seated in the front row, we continued sitting there. I suddenly remembered the conversation that i had with Rahul when we were watching ‘ Zangoora the gypsy prince’ at Kingdom of Dreams. Rahul had told me that the most privileged seats in any theatre where the gallery seats on the side. That’s where Abraham Lincoln was shot when he was watching a play. That’s were we sat. Kailash Kher arrived and showered praises for the CM and that she was a true rock star. Sheila Dixit asked him to stop the praises and move on with some real music. His first song Teri Dewani sounded better than ever before. There is this sheer magic in his voice that has the ability to move people. The atmosphere was electric. He sang most of my favourite numbers like Allah ke Bandhe, Dhol vajda and the new number for the common wealth games. There’s this number called Babam bam that I heard for the first time.. It sounded ten times better than what it sounds here on youtube.

I loved his common wealth theme song too: Yaaro Jashn Manao! I don’t know how he manages to sing better live than these recorded videos!

The cop who was standing next to us started chatting with us. He asked us how we managed to get the passes. We repeated our story and he said that getting passes was extremely difficult and if we wanted any help we could contact him in the future. He even gave his phone number! As soon as he found out that i was a dentist he took my number and I more than readily offered him a complimentary orthodontic consult for his daughter: All this on the left corner of the stage! “Aap thanda piyenge? “ He asked. I am very sure Shiela Dixit must not have had the kind of treatment that we recieved! I can bet we had a better view of the stage! What more can one ask for?
As soon as the chief minister felicitated the band, Rahul wanted to get back as soon as possible. We had to find an auto rickshaw again. I walked back sipping my coke, smiling to myself thinking about the wonderful evening that we just had.
At the exit, a gentleman walks to us with a Namaste and a smile “Sir, do you want to reach the metro station, we have a complimentary feeder bus to the metro station for you here” :)
The turn of events that evening would probably happen only in India, in Delhi. Probably we are “like that only “!. But i would rather prefer us to be that way. I would rather see the smiling face of the cops than a grumpy old face shooing away the patrons of art and culture such as us. The evening turned out to be extraordinarily special because of the bada dil of the Dilliwalas. True to their name. What an evening it was!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

On letters, facebook and others..

I am amazed at the advancement communication has made. Forget the day Graham Bell invented the telephone, I am amazed at how things have changed over the last two decades that I have lived.
Class Five: There was a concept called “pen friends” then. I would eagerly wait for letters from my pen friends in that red little letter box . The postman used to arrive home at half past eleven in the morning. Come Diwali or birthdays, there was more excitement. The sheer joy of seeing more than two greeting cards in the letterbox was something i always looked forward to. Computers were an unknown entity then.
When i was in class six, my father enrolled me for computer classes during my summer vacation. The first class of two hours was on how to switch on the computer. You first switch the cabinet on, and wait for green light to appear, then switch the monitor on, wait for orange and then the green light. At the end of the day they had a test, which every one had to clear, and i proudly told my dad that i had cleared the first test in computers. They taught me something called MS DOS where you typed a hundred commands( i still am not able to figure out its application: switching on the laptop and typing google is just fine) and then you took printouts of the commands in brown colored paper..The computer instructor would then correct each of the commands one by one, and award marks accordingly.
The landline telephone connection first arrived in our home when i was in class five. And how life changed after that! I would eagerly wait for my mom to go for that evening walk so that I could chat with my best friend for at least an hour. I discussed social studies with my friends, and also took telephonic viva just to check on how well prepared we were! There were other times, when my best friend and poetess recited poems and I used to be her best critic!
Within few years, I moved to Dharwad to do my dentistry, and the landline telephone became the most important means of communication. During my first year there was only one telephone booth in the campus to cater to five hundred plus students. We waited endlessly in queues (overhearing each other’s conversations) for hours, and finally when my turn came to make that call, i would run out of words because of the sheer worry that somebody else is waiting and staring at you through the tinted glass of the phone box. “Ok mama, everything’s fine, say hi to papa” was the only conversation that i mostly ended up with.
And then came the india telephone card. The funniest of the lot. There was one extra telephone in the hostel where you could use this card. You dial atleast twenty numbers atleast ten times spending atleast ten minutes only to realize that you have dialled the last number wrong! Please try again later. There was no “again” as there was somebody behind you holding another telephone card. By this time the only postal letters that i would get were from my father on how to prepare for an exam and how to relax before an exam by doing breathing exercises and eating healthy. The only letters that i wrote were to my father on why i needed that extra little money for the month.
By the time, i was in third year of my dentistry, emails arrived. The prospect of getting replies to my email within two hours thoroughly fascinated me. And there i was, at the college cyber cafe spending 20 rupees every three hours to check whether there was any new mail in my inbox. It is interesting to note that the first account that i opened with yahoo, is still my main email account. Internet explorer had just arrived, and i continued exploring the world wide web.
It was not before my internship that i got my first mobile phone. The mobile phone, if i were to describe it was slightly smaller than an ac remote control and had an antenna an inch and a half long. The brand was alcatel. One of my college mates felt it was large enough to stall the wheels of the dharmasthala temple chariot! Nevertheless it saved me the time and i spoke on it till the last fifty paise of the prepaid service was used. And then another recharge of fifty rupees.
Alcatel changed to Samsung, Samsung changed to Nokia and i was back in Dharwad for my post graduation. If there is one thing that i would vote as the best technological innovation of the millennium, it would be google. I felt empowered by this search engine. I could find all the pdf files that i wanted, download the best journals in the world, find all the favourite music that i wanted without having to buy any music cds, use wonderful images for my powerpoint presentation. How did they ever manage typing a dissertation with a typewriter i wondered. By the end of final year of MDS, my mom replaced my desktop with a laptop, so that i could study in the library. And what a boon it turned out to be. Though i had my desktop in my room, i became too lazy to turn it on as i could browse whatever i wanted on my laptop in the comfort of my bed.
At around the same time, social networking arrived. Orkut was a big rage then during my examinations. Social networking made it possible to connect to my friends world over, share pictures with friends. The time that i spent searching for scientific research articles, now was also spent on replying to scraps from friends.
Any technology or application, i have noticed, becomes popular or obsolete at the same time with all people. By the time i thought it was better on facebook, i noticed that most of my friends felt the same too. And most of the orkut accounts became inactive. I have also noticed that about Farmville. When i started playing the game, most of my friends too were on the same game trying to fertilize each others crops and posting their farm pictures on facebook. When i felt that iam wasting time, my friends too felt the same, around the same time.
My hp pavilion laptop now felt a little too heavy to be carried around. I am wondering if it has anything to do with the number of images i have stored in its hard disk. It is now replaced by a vaio netbook, but i would rather prefer checking my mails and facebook on my blackberry. I would rather browse the internet on my blackberry than switch on my netbook wait for half a minute for it to boot. Browsing on a blackberry has its own disadvantages. First of all, since it is so accessible you are so hooked on to it. I rarely watch television these days. The other day i spent half an hour watching a programme on discovery science and i felt thoroughly enlightened. Whoever called television the “ idiot box”. I wonder what he has to say about facebook!
As soon as there is a comment, i get a notification on my phone. Ten notifications in an hour is enough to keep you wasting the whole hour on the phone. A wise well organized dentist friend of mine only browses for twenty minutes in the evening and twenty minutes in the night. I wish i was that disciplined! These days you have an option of liking a comment. So instead of ten notifications you get twenty.
There was a time when people managed without any phones at all, and these days everyone has two mobile phones each. One for office, one for personal use/ One for patients, one for personal use/ One for local and one for STD: reasons for carrying two mobile phones are plenty. There were days when there were no phones at all and people got lost in the melas to meet after good twenty years, and these days you feel insecure about going to a grocery store without a mobile phone!
With all the changes that have happened over the years, the way we communicate with each other has drastically changed. But there is one thing that has not changed at all over the years for me. The excitement, whether it is another letter in my red letter box or another notification on facebook, has just been the same. Though I would love to receive a hand written birthday card with a postal stamp on it

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

Every year on the 24th day of September i set out in search of a gift for my mom. This year i just found a priceless piece of photograph in one of my photo albums, twenty seven years old!

Happy Birthday to you, Mom!

Each year I’m extra happy on your birthday;
Your day reminds me of God’s gift to me--
A mom who gave her all to raise me right,
A mother like the one I want to be.

By Joanna Fuchs