Friday, October 27, 2006


For the last two or three years, we have a written ground rule at home. On every important personal occasion, be it birthdays, anniversaries, parents' day of eternal departure, diwali, holi, christmas, new year and sometimes created occasions like new job, new car etc. etc. we all plan a little party for an identified set of people and visit them with our goodie bags - more often than not eats - butter & bun, cakes, biscuits, toffees, fruit, frooti........whatever our moment of inspiration guides and goades us on.

This Diwali was no diiferent but a little more special. As this year, our magic number reached an auspicious figure with a resolution to multiply it further on the next available opportunity. I, with my team of lieutenants, set about planning and executing the task of making this Festival of Lights slightly more bright for three sets of people.

Diwali morning started with getting together on the Dining table and assembling the packs diligently. Armed with our parcels, we first went to our favourite place - a respected institution that caters to mentally unstable and polio afflicted children. Our reward was the animated greetings and smiles on the faces of these children of the lesser god.

The next halt was a Jhuggi cluster of contractual labour laid off by the contractor on account of the work having been temporarily stalled. We weren't quite prepared for what followed next. Clamouring arms reaching out for our faces, pulling at our ears, hair whatever; imploring eyes; pitiable cries and a riotous behaviour to get the better of the other child............. something that we had perhaps seen on TV but had never experienced ourselves. For the next such trip, we are already planning on getting ourselves better organised in order to organise our dole better.

The third set was quite an unlikely one but I certainly felt deserving. It was a bunch of rickshaw pullers. And charity, I believe, also depends on the eye of the giver. Lean frames toiling away through the day, facing rash driving and rude drivers and those driven by them, only to earn a paltry sum at the end of the day and to return to a family that reminds them of their BOPL state every waking moment........I thought they were deserving. And as I saw them opening the packs to munch on tuck, perhaps, better than what they normally eat, I was convinced to feel that my choice was not misplaced.

The last one on the line was a true eye opener. As he stood with his auto rickshaw amidst the lowly rickshaw pullers, definitely a lot beneath his social standing, he first looked away as he saw us hesitating. After a bit of deliberation, as we reversed back to where he was, he with great difficulty managed to establish an eye contact and murmur something of a yes in answer to our question about whether he would be OK with taking the pack. Our reward once again... a glint in his grateful eye and a polished thank you out of his lips................

Monday, October 02, 2006


Grate! Grate! Grate!! Screech! Screech! Screech! On my ears and in my head that is. Cold blooded! Murder! Killing not so softly! Of the Queen, er..... Her Majesty's language that is.

Open any channel - Hindi or English on Indian Television or switch on any wavelength on the radio, right now. And you will be nodding your head in unison with me.

My mom-in-law, a conservative yet widely travelled lady from the Uttar Pradesh lives with us. And the only conflict I have with her is that of her joyous murder of any language - English or Hindi, with an overriding sense of ignorant bliss. Her eyes twinkle and you can almost visualise her rubbing her hands in innocuous glee as she muddles up the sounds of 'z' and 'j'; 'sh' and 's'; 'va' and 'ba'.......... And watch me take offence as if it were a cold, calculated slight to my person. After all, I was born to a mother who even excelled in a foreign language, viz. Urdu - foreign to her native place of origin and learnt to beautifully intonate the varying sounds including the difficult 'kha'.

Pan to the present and watch and hear our current crop of radio and TV presenters mercilessly mutilate any language they wish to speak in. The phonetics, syntax, delicate details of the usage of English language, grammar, pronunciation.....nothing is cared for. To hell with it all, as long as they look prettily made up (both sexes) and are seen on popular channels with high TRPs to their shows.

As for our mother tongue, I am sick and tired of listening to a really nice language pronounced really badly..... 'Hamesa,' 'Aajaad,' 'Aajaadi,' 'Jabardast,' 'Jaroorat,' 'Sukriya,' 'Sayad,' 'Sam ke char baje,' 'Jindadil,' 'Suruat,' get the drift, right!

My sharp reaction is quite justified as I once again spent an elated three hours watching with utmost pleasure the exchanges between Professor Higgins and his pupil Eliza Doolittle this past weekend.

Get the ear plugs, please someone!!!