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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

With Language Politics On, Mumbai could soon give cold feet...


Even as India strives to be one with the global world out there, proving to the world that we are not lesser capable than anyone else, that we have what it takes to be a winner, a few narrow-minded politicos are hell bent on creating a barrier within the country itself.

If earlier forcing every shop in the state to display its name in Marathi was not enough, the Maharashtra government has passed a new rule which says that for any grievance that you wish to bring to the notice of the authorities needs to be in Marathi only. The State Consumer Redressal Commission has issued a circular making it mandatory for all complaints at consumer forums to be filed in Marathi.

I dont know much of Marathi, but I know a hindi saying and this is what I have to say to the 'khaandaan' in Mumbai (or BOMBAY as I will still call it) - 'Tucchh log tucchh vichaar', which, translated into English means - low level people low level mentality.

What is it with these politicos emerging out of this one family that is only pulling down Mumbai into the gutters? Talk about hypocrisy and being a frog in the well (well well its not well in this well for sure).....sending their own children to English medium schools and holding lecture sessions proclaiming that all kids should 'COMPULSORILY' learn marathi....while their own kids learn French as a language.
I have been living in Mumbai for the past 4 years and I have started learning the language out of my own choice. Not because some stupid neta said so over the microphone. I like languages and it is the only way I believe that someone should learn a new language, if you like it you learn it.....

As far as forcing it down the throat is concerned, well, now if the middle finger responds to that, I am not to blame!

Talk of not getting enough work, and if this attitude continues, it wont be long before major players in the Mumbai market begin to pull away their executives to better and more sensible places. I guess the only work left in Mumbai then would be to open Marathi schools and try and teach the language to those left behind....

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Friendly Elevator


Living in an apartment building there are many people you come across everyday. People who may be dear friends, people who are your immediate neighbours, people you meet on and off and know just as a face and people who you don't know at all.
I happen to live on the 23rd floor and everytime I get into the elevator there is bound to be someone or the other who will get in before I reach the ground level. Over the last couple of years I have realised this is one of the best ways to get to know those who live in your building.
Each morning when I take the lift to drop my daughter to her school bus I meet people who are leaving for office. On most days the faces are same. Its almost a routine, so much so that I know exactly which floors the elevator will stop before we reach ground zero. These people generally hold the lift for some time while the wife/maid/mother hands them their tiffin and wishes them a good day. They are usually loaded with a laptop bag/files/folders/of course the tiffin that was just handed and are all set to face a new day, albeit with some boredom. I wish there was more enthusiasm there. A simple smile and a nod suffices in these cases.
Then there are those I meet while going back up after dropping my daughter for school. This time round the traffic is of a different kind. Not the office-goers, these are others who come to drop their children for school, mostly mothers/grandparents, people returning from morning walk/yoga classes/temple/gym, maids coming in for work. They will usually talk about the latest happenings in other families in the building, complaining about this or that, asking me to visit them sometime (to which I politely nod my head and invite them back-of course none of us ever visits each others' home). There is not much to talk here either, but lots to hear ;)
The next session when I go down is when i have to leave for work/meeting. This time round its mostly the college students who enter the lift, their ears shut out to the outside world in the music of an i-pod or the regular phone, their jaws working in a constant rythm with the chewing gum, their eyes on their sneakers. We share a 'hi',talk about which song is playing, nod, smile and thats it.
On days when I return late I usually end up being in the lift alone, or maybe someone else too is returning from work and we end up taking the lift together. Conversations in this scenario will mostly begin with complaints about the trafiic, about how the roads are packed, about a busy day, about the kind of work that we do, about general chit-chat related to work and traffic. Then again a bye and a good-night as each one gets off at their respective floors.
On days when I am at home I usually take my daughter down to the park. Such evenings are fun for both her and me as we almost always meet our friends in the elevator who are going to the park as well. So its my friends and their children who are my daughter's friends and there is always a lot of noise and commotion and singing and talking and chatting and trying to control the kids to which we all fail miserably when they gang up and decide to be naughty together...on such days when we return back home together its a lot of fun.....
Most of these people, apart from our friends, we hardly visit at home or meet on other days or on personal ocassions. We do not invite each other to our parties, we do not even converse beyond the elevator conversations. But on days when someone is missing from that regular schedule, we all wait to see if the person is coming or not, asking them the next day if they are fine, if they had gone on a trip. We hardly know them, yet know where they live, who is in the family, where they work and what is the nature of their work.
Neighbours they are, and if it wasnt for the elevator, where else would we have met?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Wavin' Flag by K Naan



Im sure ALL of you have heard and swayed along to the Wavin Flag by K Naan this year right?

You haven't? Well then, you really dont know what you have missed out on.

The song that was chosen as the Coca-Cola's promotional anthem for the 2010 FIFA World Cup hosted by South Africa had already hit the #1 spot in places on the globe like Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Canada, Italy, UK and Ireland. And of course by now, its reached almost a cult status in India as well.

The best way to listen to this song, as I have rightfully discovered, is to directly plug it in your ears and pump up the volume - you cant go wrong on that one, the song is literally blow you off your feet and make you sway and dance along with the beats, and beware, you may even put your hands up and start swaying with the Wavin' Flag...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

For You Didan....Rest In Peace.


Didan – a term of endearment. Many in Bangla call their maternal grandmother dida…I called, or rather, will still call mine ‘didan’.
The very first memory I have of didan is when she had come over to Delhi to our home to look after me, while my mother was expecting her second baby. I was somewhere between five and six years of age that time and it was the very first time that I had been away from my ma. Didan had come to look after me specifically for that reason – that I do not feel lonely and that I could get the love and care of a mother – she is my ma’s ma after all.
The first image I have of her is surely from then. I was alone at home with her, and she was telling me a story, trying to make me finish my food spoon by spoon. I remember she would try and try for hours on end and when I still did not listen, she would admonish me with that gentlest of voices, telling me that since I was not listening to my didan, she would have to go away. Most of the time that did the trick and I was back to listening to her. Of course that would be followed by a story and putting me off to sleep in her arms.
As we were growing up, our interactions with didan were more and more restricted to school holidays and vacations. We would look forward to visiting her in the house at Assam. It was always a joy – plunging into that treasure chest of stories that she always had with her, listening to all those childhood memories she would relate to us about when we were small, taking part in some childhood conspiracy and being on our side if we got caught – the typical ‘grandparent’ thing that every child looks forward to. And of course when we visited her, there were always those special dishes that only a grandma can prepare. I don’t remember all of that though, but what I still remember is that on those afternoons, when she would cook up something special for us kids, we would all be sitting together around the dining-table that was covered in an oil-cloth, waiting for her to come and feed us all, and the added attraction being the story to accompany the warm delicious food.
Over time those stories spilled over to an interest in books, and as my ma introduced me to the world of books, didan further helped me understand that world better by gifting me books and making me know how special they are. Today, my little daughter is already a book-addict, and I have didan to thank for playing a part in it.
I used to write to didan in Bangla, a script I hardly used with anyone but didan and maashi, and she would always tell me she loved reading my letters. In later years, the letters gradually disappeared and instead, we would sometimes end up talking over the phone, her soft voice always asking me how I was and what it was that I was doing, always trying to take an interest in my life and understand me better.
Years passed, I grew up and got married. She was very old that time, but still she made it all the way to Delhi, just to attend my marriage and give me her blessings, placing her hand on my head and telling me that her wishes would always be with me.
I remember last year when I took my daughter to meet her for the first time, it was such a special moment - my didan meeting her daughter’s daughter’s daughter - it was a really special moment. And I am glad it happened, she was so happy to meet her fourth generation.
I was planning to visit her again this year, but that time will never come now and I will always have that one regret, that I wanted her to meet my daughter again, to show her how she is growing up, but it was not to be.
The day didan passed away there was a bright moon outside my window, its glow somewhat dimmed by the clouds. I looked out at the sky and as I did so, a touch of that silver came down and settled on my hand. As a child I remember having heard that when someone passes away, they go up there to live in the sky. Was she up there that moment? Was she sending her blessing, her caress, down on me? I liked to think of it that way. And I closed my eyes and talked to her. I told her I am sorry I did not take care to be with her sooner than I had planned, I told her I loved her for all those times she had spent with me and those times she had been away but still her blessings and love were with me, I thanked her for blessing my daughter, and I told her that night, that if again I get a chance of meeting her, I would not waste a moment again, but tell her how much I love her.
That night as I went to sleep I looked out in the dark and smiled, thinking that from somewhere, didan was surely watching me.
I don’t know the truth or false of it, but all I know is, that for me, my didan will always still be very much alive, very much a part of who I am, and when my daughter grows up, I will tell her about didan and how special she was.