The harsh clear lines of sophistication

of robot like cleanliness

the brightness that blinds

weakened the eye

closing as if to shut out

the outside world

a mind over tired with pressing futile demands of existence

of offications,of standing ups

of a heart worn out of use

wasted in disuse

of dreams no more

of hopes no more

she bent in kindness

her simple face dressed in smile

she reached forward to touch

the other greeting her in gratitude

the nurse and the nursed

this was a caesura- a short break, a stop

as against the continuous rush

one was in pain suddenly confounded with loneliness

with feelings of betrayal

with the overpowering of the sensations of pricking pain

shooting across the mind and the body

but she the other

young,purposeful yet gentle

forced love,care and a desire to live on

-then we smile, the nurse and nursed

in  a bonhomie untouched by the power of medical bills

doctors advise and a few onlookers prognosis

we, she and I created a smallish moment of otherness

such moments that make you want to go on living

– I got up to go much lighter in my pocket and in my head

until another caesura another break.

Go regional,overcome language barriers

A student from Telegana sought permission to sing a popular Kannada movie song during the introductory session with the class. What followed was a raputurous applause from the Kannadigas in the class. When asked, they explained, ‘mam, his mother tongue is Telugu,still he learnt a Kannada song and sang it in front of the class. We really appreciate this’.

In his address on the Hindi Diwas celebrations, President Ram Kovind encouraged Indians to learn each other’s mother tongue. An India where there are more common languages than just Hindi or English will any day be a better place to live in. More over, learning a new language is said to be one of the best ways to keep one’s memory power intact.

In a muti-lingual, multi-cultural city like Bangalore, the locals speak and interact with any one and everyone in which ever language they speak but to truly be a good citizen of the place you have chosen to live in, you should try to adapt and acclimatize to the local ways of living of which speaking the local language is of foremost importance. While the auto rickshaw drivers in Bangalore comprehend every other language, they truly feel at ease when spoken to in Kannada, even in broken Kannada.

What stops the outsiders who have come to Bangalore and made it their home, like myself, from learning Kannada is the ease with which one can carry out daily chores with a little help from hindi-english-tamil-malayalam-or a mix of everything else here. The locals are helpful and manage to know more than a language or two.

It was when I saw the true love the youngsters have for their mother tongue that I decided to put my heart and soul into learning Kannada. It is not easy but it is not impossible either. Many of my students speak Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada as well as Hindi and English.

The other day Sulagna who hails from West Bengal shared her story of how she used to be mocked for her way of pronouncing words in Kannada. Not one to give in to such taunts, in 2 years time, Sulagna mastered the 4 South Indian languages along with Hindi, Bengali and English.

If you are a movie buff, then,you have all the more reason to put in some more effort to learn new languages. The quality of regional movies is on a steady rise.

Among the many movies I watch on the recommendation of my students or my daughter was one that I happened to watch today, the Kannada movie -U -Turn. Apart from a compelling story line and convincing characterization the movie is a must-see for its very relevant social message.

I remember how I had watched Rangitaranga, another highly watchable Kannada movie and was under its spell for quite some time.

Well, there are enough and more reasons to test your brain and try your hand at mastering a local language today, so go on, go regional!




One question to many

In one of the training sessions held recently, the participants were allowed to ask questions to each other.

It is just a month since the college started, the students of the first semester are still quite new to each other.The class consists of an eclectic mix of individuals from different parts of India and even those from abroad.

When the task was announced with the mandatory rules for the activity, participants looked anxious. Some of them tried to go into hiding and were definitely not keen to stand up to ask a question.

Yes, there were doubts. What kind of questions do we ask? Can we ask the girls too? so on and so forth.

So,the first question to the student from Yemen was how did he find being here in India and he took the question sportively and answered that the culture in India and in Yemen was quite similar and he had no problem in getting adjusted to the place. The participants welcomed the answer with a round of applause.

Since the one who answered the question had to choose another to ask the question to before he could sit down, he came up with an interesting question, ‘Do you think people from other nationalities are welcomed positively in India or not?’. The girl who replied said that since India was multi-cultural in itself, people from different nationalities are welcomed here.

She then went on to ask an all important question to one of the boys about a ‘crush’ on any of the classmates. What I found very stimulating and bold was when a student from Nagaland was asked, if he faced any discrimination in Bangalore, especially in the university. The class was silent considering the intent and the impact of the question. The student who answered said that, yes, he faced a certain discrimination in Bangalore but not yet in the university. This was followed by a discussion on such instances and the idea of tolerance and intolerance in the society. After some discussion, the class reached a conclusion that if the student faced any sort of discrimination in the campus, the class would stand with him and ensure that it does not happen again.

That the class was discussing a topic like tolerance at a time when Rohingya refugees are being asked to return to their homeland was perhaps not lost on anyone.

Slowly the class was warming up to the idea of asking questions and facing them. Some one who was asked why he was very late to class every day, replied confidently, ‘I travel 57 kilometres  each day.’

Another person who the class thought was a geek was asked what his hobbies were? When he replied that it was hanging out with friends, the class did not still look convinced and suggested that he become a lecturer.

Young people need to be have time to discuss what is happening around them, beyond the text books, beyond the classrooms, way beyond their curriculum. Providing time to the youth to discuss and deliberate what happens around, what happens within and among them will probably be a good idea to let the steam out, build rapport, feel comfortable and make better relationships in life.

As a nation, we complain about the growing indifference towards socio-cultural situations and events among the youth forgetting the fact that we bring them up so secluded, so isolated from everything happening even in their immediate neighbourhood. How can we expect any one who has been told to focus only on his/her studies throughout to suddenly take cognizance of what is happening around?

If education was truly linked to real life then the repair of the roads, the throwing of the garbage, the collection and its disposal. the traffic, animal welfare, health, corruption and so many other so-called social issues could well be handled by our school and college-goers,don’t you think?

Signing off, the Sun

Dangling legs

dipping into the dirt, wet, sticky

they sat

man and woman

little shrieks of laughter escaped

a scoot here and a hoot there

she did not move

nor did he raise a finger

or  his voice

instead  throwing their heads back

they lost themselves in laughter

catching each others eyes

they laughed again

loud, louder, loudest

the sun was setting

a glorious day he wound up

beginning to sign off

he stopped to watch

such joy, so pure, so true

and sighed

my days are brighter said the Sun

when love is true and pure.

Staying in the now

Alone she sat

brooding over what was nought

and all she got

was ennui

thinking over and over

till he came forward

to gather her in his arms

holding tightly

he whispered

you, my thought

you, love

shall live in the present

stay with me, stay in the now,stay here

and she turned to see his nose dipped in tomato sauce

bright,salty and red

and she burst out laughing

-the perils of a long nose, haha,she roared!


That fat girl in a short dress!

So Ahilya wore the short dress she always wanted to wear to college. It came up to her knees. She looked at herself in the mirror. Her face shone with confidence and a spirited sense of life.

She walked out to the bus stop to catch the college bus. She wore stockings because, you never know the local thugs, might just comment and spoil her day.

She headed to the college where she among the others who wore the best dress they had took to stage and rocked. Literally rocked the stage!

On her way home she heard someone mutter, “Look at her,so heavy and wearing a short dress!”. Ahilya did not pause to comment.

The day before, however, she was in knots. Her friends had told her that she will be the MC for the event and she did not have a suitable dress, you know a smart one.Ahilya ransacked her wardrobe and her eyes fell on this cute little black dress with sleeves and coming up to her knees.

“This is ideal,” she thought while slipping into it and finding to her delight that she fit in.

Some of Ahilya’s friends and seniors though had some nasty comments for her. Ahilya ignored them until she met a teacher who literally glared at her and asked her to go and change.Ahilya was shocked, there were others in short dress then what is the problem,she thought.

That she is fat ok. If there is sexism and racism, surely there is weightism, she said to herself.

She did not want to tell the gentlemen and the ladies who were busy criticizing her that her health conditions will never allow her to become slim or skinny or whatever and does she have to wait that long to wear her favourite dress, well, she is not going to do it.

So she wore it to the college and that was it. Some commended her, others mocked but you see, no one could dim the glow on her face.

That fat girl in a short dress is just another girl…

Of Questioning

So does Bangalore have hard water?

How’s the traffic around the place?

How’s the community?

Is there space for washing machine?

My baby is too small and will I get a maid there?

The barrage of questions that came my way today were from a prospective tenant. She mentioned that her husband was throwing some angry looks at her but she went on putting me through a grilling session.

My crime was that I  own a flat which I bought with much effort and great love and which now I had to vacate to maneuver the menacing traffic of Bangalore.

The interrogation that my prospective tenant put me through made me wonder about my own poor questioning skills.

How many people do I question on an average? Do I ask enough questions to myself?

My daughter is now convinced that ‘deep thinking’ is the way to success. Do I practice deep thinking?

How many questions did I ask the owner before agreeing to the rent and the deposit he demanded of me? How many questions did I have for my employer before I joined the institution? Do I ask my family enough questions? Did I ask my parents any relevant questions? Did I question the choices they made for me? Do I ask my partner why he does what he does or why he does not do what he should do?

I like to believe in the goodness of things and that the world is in general a great place. I also like to believe in the power of the universe and her effort to get me what is best for me at any time.

But I do find myself of being of quite a ‘questionable’ character, I mean, random people shoot off questions to me.

So what do you do?

What does your husband do?

How old are you?

What do you have for breakfast?

Have you had any accident before? Yes, this literally took me aback, coming from someone in my team. She wanted to know how long I have been driving and how many accidents I have had.

I was like, goodness, what a great question to ask someone first thing in the morning!

Honestly, I rarely ask questions to others. I am very interested and usually find it offensive to ask too personal a question.

I have had to tell some of my ‘questioners’ to take a break and quit questioning, questioning me!

Now are the questions relevant, are they in the right spirit, are they even sensible?

My philosophy about questioning is that ask only if required. And ask personal questions, I ask them too rarely.

Asking a random person, so you never thought of a second child? or you never bought a house for yourself? or you never wanted to give up this relationship or you never wanted to consult a doctor can be as annoying as giving unsolicited advice to strangers.

While I understand the prospective tenant’s interest in getting to know more of the place, she is getting to, I am not sure how much an owner can be responsible for the weather, traffic, climatic conditions, quality of water etc. of the place.

But yes, I must thank her for getting me to rethink my questioning abilities. Perhaps it is time to relearn the ability to ask a question before getting into a situation. Perhaps!

But do you shoot random questions to random people?

Have you had people asking weird questions to you?

Cooking Comfort

In the most intimidating and frightening of moments when I am worried and right out of my mind due to tension or anxiety, I turn to my kitchen for solace, for comfort, for love, for joy and for the happiness of living.

What does the kitchen do? It helps. It comforts.It heals.

Yes it does. When I relish crispy, immensly delicious parathas that I cook and watch my daugther bite in to them with joy, my stress levels reduce drastically.

The way to cook comfort is simple and easy. All I need to do is decide what to cook. Until a few years back, it was baking that I loved. The aroma of my kind of healthy cookies and cakes filled my home and drove away huge mounds of anger, unhappiness,disgust, jealousy and whatever else I might have had in my mind at that time.

But I also cook for the love of cooking and feeding those that I love. I do sometimes go beserk in my enthusiasm when I have a beloved guest at home.Once though, I cooked up extemely handsome looking delicious cakes and watched in horror as my guests gulped more and more water. I found out much to my emabrassment that I had used rice flour instead of ‘maida’ or all purpose flour to make those beauties. Well, no one can complain that what I cook is unhealthy after all. It rarely is.

Tomorrow is Onam and I am going to cook some delicious palada payasam for home!