Hope lives on

Hope lives in the vast swathes of lands sheared of green

in the lake beds, rivers and oceans breathing their last

in the failed escapabilities of  2 lover chimpanzees from a Bengaluru zoo

in the many living awaiting auction in the slave markets in far off lands

among the many girls living under fear with Boko Haram and such

amidst the women who live in the hope of seeing another day

among the multitudes of children who lose their way home

among the men who lose the purpose of living

amidst those whose sole end is to end

in the orders of leaders who fight to fuel more fight

in the  hypocrisies of love and yearning

in the pain of  education and ignorance

in our ability to expend on luxuries

when existence is a question

in the efforts of those who give voice to the unheard

in the ways of those who glean success in failures

in bonds that hold against being held

in a universe that hears,sees and responds

despite the numerous forwards and uploads.

Diapers Vs Toilet training for kids

4 year old Minku walks a little unsteady. His diaper is heavy. Till he reaches home, there is no way of changing it. Ever since he was born, he was dressed in diapers. There was not much time in his life when he was off it. Minku has visited doctors numerous times for urinary infections. So was the case with his sister, though she has outgrown the habit of wearing diapers. She is six years old.

Last time Sarala, Shama’s maternal aunt had come for a stay over. A brawl had broken out in the house when Aunt Sarala scolded Shama, her niece for imprisoning her kids.”It’s because of these diapers that your kids are constantly suffering from urinary infections”, she had said. “I don’t have a choice, aunty”, Shama had retorted angrily.

Shama, a working woman struggled to manage her home and office. Yes, diapers were expensive and not very hygienic, perhaps. But did she have a choice? If she were a house wife like many other women in the apartment, then perhaps, she had more time on her hands. Managing to reach her work place, was no less an ordeal. Added to that was the constant needs of her family. She got little or no help from her spouse in taking care of her children. She depended on the maids. If it were not for them, she would not be working today.

The maid who looked after her kids and sent them to school and collected them back, took care of their food and play needs and charged a hefty sum  for what she did. She was not someone you could order about. As it is, when she reached home after a hectic day at office, she was at her edgy best. She certainly had no time for Aunt Sarala’s dictum.

Shama hardly had any  choice in the diaper matters of her kids. The dirty diaper would remain where it was for hours together. The kids never complained, the nanny was not bothered and Shama was in the office.

When Sarala arrived in Bangalore,she was shocked at the dirt the kids carried around. Body waste deposited  in the diaper stayed for more than 3-4 hours. Who had the time to change it? Shama had advised the nanny many times to take care and change diapers on time. The nanny instead accused Shama of not toilet-training her kids. “Where in the world did 6 year- old wear diapers? It’s time the kids were trained.” Well, of course. But who had the time for that?

Aunt Sarala worked her way around with Samitha. the 6 year old. Through stories, discussions and demonstrations, she convinced Sami to use the toilet and slowly Sami discarded the diaper. It was a new learning and when Shama, her mom came home Sami eagerly demonstrated her toilet skills. “Amma, see I went to toilet alone. I don’t need the diaper.”Sami had always disliked the heaviness around her waist.It was never comfortable. She learnt to change her panty after she came back from school. This helped and Sami never had to go to the doctor for urinary infections again. Try as she might, Sarala could not convince the little boy to change his habit. He would heed only to his mother.

Sarala worried about broaching this subject with her neice. She knew how difficult it was for Shama to manage home and work. She kept quiet but  she was concerned for her grandson.

She did not want to start off with the old story “In our times….we never”, she knew her niece will have no patience for such ‘gyan’. One day, she brought up the issue as gently as she could. To her surprise and relief, Shama agreed, “Aunt, I understand. I am worried about Minku too.” Well, the two women had a plan and together they worked with the little boy. Slowly buy steadily, Minku learnt to communicate his toilet needs with his mom and grand aunt. That was the beginning.

In a few days time, Minku was enjoying the  independence of using the toilet seat under the careful watch of Sarala. Soon Minku was so independent that he did not need diapers any more.

Shama smiled to herself at the ingenuity of her aunt. Why did she never think of this? Any ways she had decided to help and counsel new mothers against trapping their kids in diapers 24×7.

So, when Emin complained, ” You know, akka, my neighbour thinks I am uncouth because I don’t use diapers for little Neil”, Shama replied encouragingly, “It doesn’t matter dear. All that matters is the health of your kid.I am happy you have made a choice, a healthy one too.”

While diaper makers  entice young moms with reasons like more hygienic, more up-market, more comfortable, more loving and caring than her own sweet hands, it is important to take the message with a pinch of salt.

 

Sujatha – A Bimal Roy Film

Sujata-1959-Hindi-MovieThe divisions of caste and creed never seem to lose their significance in our society. As elections come and go, fanning communal anxieties and fears gives enough fodder for this age old shame to continue even to this day.

A Dalit man was beaten up because he rode a horse to his wedding. Ill treatment of the ‘so-called’ lower castes by the ‘so-called’ upper castes appear in the media on a regular basis. Rarely do we hear any condemnation of such atrocities by the high and mighty in the society. What are they afraid of?

With digitization providing equal access to information and knowledge and better opportunities nothing can stop the desirous from achieving what they want, neither the social class,nor religion  nor geography. Several attempts have been made by the writers, film makers and other artists to give voice to the suppressed.

Tagore’s Chandalika published in the year 1938 beautifully captured the feelings of  Protiki, a poor chandal girl who refused to give water to a wandering buddhist monk for fear of polluting him. The buddhist monk, Ananda convinces her that all men are equal in his eyes.

A self-realization awakens in Protiki while she also desires Ananda’s love and companionship. Protiki’s mother at her daughter’s behest resorts to necromancy to bring Ananda in front of her. The story ends with Ananda blessing Protiki and moving on to continue his life as buddhist disciple.

Sujatha(1959) is a  movie though didactic in purpose is entertaining and touching in its presentation. The story written by Subodh Gosh has been adapted to screen by Nabendhu Gosh and is directed by the legendary Bimal Roy. The lead role of Sujatha is played by the ethereal looking, Nutan, the grand mother of the famous actress Kajol and the mother of Tanuja. The hero, Adheer Babu is played by a young Sunil Dutt who is impressive in performance as in appearance.

Sujatha is an orphan raised by Upen and Charu an upper caste Brahmin couple. While Upen quickly and easily accepts Sujatha and learns to love her as his own, his wife Charu never really owns  Sujatha who is introduced as ‘beti-jaisi par beti nahi’, a taunt that scars the heart of little Sujatha. While the couple send their biological daughter, Rama to school, celebrate her birthdays with pomp and lavish attention on her, Sujatha is confined to the house to do house hold duties. She, however, is respectful and loving to her parents.

Sujatha’s life changes forever with the arrival of Adheer Babu whom Charu was hoping to marry off Rama to. Adheer falls in love with Sujatha. Educated and progressive, Adheer does not believe in untouchability and argues with his grand mother that Sujatha who was brought up in a brahmin household is a brahmin herself and insists on his decision to marry her.Torn between her love for her parents and her desire for Adheer, Sujatha requests Adheer to give up his love for her and marry Rama as desired by her parents.

The story ends on a positive note where even the stubborn old grand mother and Charu, herself realize the worth of Sujatha and look upon her as their own.

Is it the charm of the old that makes the movie such a treat or is it realistic portrayal and the sincere enaction of the roles by the actors it is difficult to say, but if you are in a contemplative mood and are willing to slow down the pace of life a bit, take some to watch ‘Sujatha’ and you will not be disappointed.

Krishna Samaksham/ In front of Lord Krishna

the temple bells ringing

the incense sticks burning

many heads bowing

tears down my cheeks streaming

eyes closed

i stand in thoughts

of one who touches me invariably

of one who lifts my spirits

of one who lived,loved

teaching to love and live

the player boy

the endearing child

the man

the protector

and the destroyer

the king

the cowherd

the man of many hues

the man above every man

in the temple

dressed in chandan

adorned with tulsi leaves

the Lord blue

Sree Krishna

he who is everything

something to everyone

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The significance of the seemingly insignificant

Adhyapika

I hold a button in my  hand

I am thinking of the person who had it on his shirt or pant

what did he think

what did she dream

I hold a button in my hand

small round and white

I found it lying on the ground

a little thing from long ago

with stories I will never know- AMY LV

Steve Jobs apparently hated them and hence  apple products do not have  them . This rather tiny winy little thing – the button that acts as a fastener , holding pieces of fabric together .. the seemingly insignificant something you notice only when you lose it ,like the love and care of  that special someone in your life  , like the air you breathe, like those numerous  little things you and I always take for granted .

The use of buttons has been recorded as early as some 5000 years…

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Lion-The Movie

Lion movie.jpgIf one has to watch movies and television shows for preparation for exams, I would say that is the best course for study one should be doing in the world, that is , if you,like me enjoy doing it. So, I watch ‘Lion’, with my young girl, the  movie based on a real life story of a boy who gets lost, Saru, brilliantly played by the chota (little)power pack of talent-Sunny Pawar, his elder version essayed by the famous Dev Patel.

Young Saru is a spirited little fellow, the son of a stone cutter whom he fondly calls Ammi, the younger brother to Guddu and elder to Shakeela. Even in the poor, dilapidated house where staying alive was a challenge in itself, the closely knit family of 4 is bound by a circle of love that seemed unbreakable.

Little Saru loves to help his brother, Guddu as well his mother, Ammi. He insists on doing his best with all the might of a little 5 year old. He proves his worthiness as a formidable partner in petty crimes like stealing coal from a goods train to help their mother cook for them. In the evening  when Guddu gets ready to go scrounging in the railway compartments at Khandwa Railway Station, Saru insists on joining his brother. He proves his strength and usefulness by lifting various objects, until Guddu agrees to take him along.  On the way though, Saru falls asleep and refuses to budge. Guddu then lets Saru sleep on a platform bench and promises to come back to collect him after his work his done. Saru wakes up and is terrified by the loneliness of the platform and enters a coach to search for Guddu. He gets locked inside and the train moves ahead.He is carried to Calcutta, West Bengal where he has to fend for himself.

Saru’s desire to reach his mother in Ganesh Thali is the only thing that helps him evade dangerous thugs and crooks every time to escape to a relatively safer place. In Calcutta, Saru is later taken to the police station by a good samaritan. An advertisement is placed in the local newspapers. Another do-gooder, hopefully so identifies Saru for adoption by an Australian couple.

The story of Saru’s being lost and found is  heart rending. The portrayal by the actors like Nicole Kidman, Sunny Pawar, Abhishek Barate, Diwian Ladwa , David Wenham and others is exceptional.

It is nothing short of a crime to be poor in an unjust world but to be child who has no one to fall back on is even more so.

One gets to hear numerous stories of children lost every day.  Face book posts and whats app forwards show pictures of children and adults who  go missing each day. Even today in the busy junctions we see small children carried in blankets and paraded for evoking moolah read cash in the form of alms.

As a people,its time for us Indians to rethink our attitude to begging , to the way children are exploited. The story  also underlines the fact that though we can boast about the Mangalyan and other scientific triumphs, our truest triumph lies in being able to alleviate poverty in the country.

The way forward is in lending hand to help,to educate, to create awareness, to build better public infrastructure and to ensure better law enforcement.

Gheelicious…

Nothing beats the rich aroma of ghee as it spreads on your thin crisp dosa turning it brown while melting on the tawa leaving ships sailing in your mouth.

What ghee can do to any dish is just beyond expression? I mean you add ghee to hot cooked rice with a tinge of salt and top it with your favorite-st pickle, mine being the delight of andhra -the king of pickles-called “avakkai” and dig in your fingers into hot rice, give the rice a swish and a swash, watch the rice turn yellow, red and a delightful orange, your fingers sticky, your nostrils widening to take in the aroma and off you go….start eating it, I mean! Your face brightens with a divine smile, the presence of the lord god himself on your lips, and all that you manage to do is to coo..hmmmmmmm…….

Ghee is that special item which is given liberally to kids and frugally to adults, that wonderful delicacy causing every child to say no to chutney or the fiery gun powder and turn to grand moms pleading… ghee and sugar please….and surely the pleas are heard.

My grandmother, silver locks, kumkum, kajal, chandana kuri and all would sit in the ‘naduppura’ churning butter milk for hours together to extract butter. A little of this fresh butter would be given to the youngest in the house and those who impress grand mom with their youthfulness or I am still a kid argument! The extracted butter would be preserved in bharanis or clay jars and accessed only by seniors in the house.Twice a  day as grandfather goes to milk the cows, he takes with him a pinch or more of butter, dancing in a bowl of water. Every two to three days the dollops of butter would be melted in a kadhai or pan and what you call clarified butter or ghee is made. The ghee then is partitioned in such a manner that it is available in the kitchen, in the secret hoarding place-‘kalavara’ and with grand father who uses it for his ayurvedic medications.

I always complained that due to his misleading angelic looks and the sweet boy appearance, my brother always got the best of everything…moms’s love, dad’s affection and lots and lots of ghee.

I was always teased for eating too much, including that of my brother’s share.Added to this was the regular stupid taunt that I was bought from the market in exchange for a hay stack-this taunt never failed to bring tears to my eyes as a kid. My mom is an excellent cook and would prepare delicious unniappams, payasam,murukku, ada etc. for evening snacks. Amma knew the value of her cooking and always forbid us from over-eating, saying, “What will you eat for tomorrow?”This, of course, didn’t stop me from stealing a little more than my share. My brother, being the good boy, rarely did anything improper.

When I started cooking, I always used ghee to my advantage. For that perfect tadka or the laddu or the sooji ka halwa, ordinary cooking oil cannot do the magic that ghee can do. And of course, dosa  which becomes the royal ‘Nei Dosa’ with a spoonful of ghee.

I am especially pleased with the famous dietitian, Rujuta Diwekar who advises regular use of ghee for good health. Didn’t I know it already?