Thereby Hangs A Tail!

Sights and scenes from Ganpatiphule and nearabouts:

This is taken sitting inside a train at an unscheduled stop between Chiplun and Ratnagiri. Zoom in and observe the antics of a baby monkey in the center of the frame.

If not displayed above, view it here.


At Chiplun railway station…it’s Sunday morning if you haven’t guessed already.

Waiting for a train that isn’t coming any soon?


A busy street in market place, Ratnagiri


A screen of trees providing cover – women bathing here! (kidding)

On the beach…decked for the evening out!

Folks, am done for the day!



The blasé

The bashful one!

Riot…of colors in the wild!

The flamboyant pair!


Thibaw Palace for a king who did not want to…more about it to follow.


At Ratnagiri station…

Vareli paintings by Aniket Chiplunkar

And finally…


Colorful Royapettah

Ain’t we cute though smallish?


Vetchi in glorious pink (common name: scarlet ixora, scientific/latin name: ixora coccinea)


Aptly called Flaming Blossom!


Erukku (common name: the crown flower, scientific/latin name: Calotropis gigantea). Among other uses, their latex is applied to poison arrow tips!


Perungali (common name: Champa White, Chameli, Frangipani, scientific/latin name: Oleander family). On Marina Beach in the evening – would you believe they stood under the sun all day long without wilting a wee bit?


Walking past without pausing to say ‘Hi’? No chance!

Popping up on small shrubs, from Oleander family?


From Calathea family? The broad leaves make them suitable for low-light environs like indoors.


Like White Angels Trumpets, the flowers hang down from trees in bunches. But far from being ‘trumpets’ they have well-formed petals at the end of a long thin stem. Weak fragrance.


And who are we?


We Did It….Well, Almost

Not many days to go.

When the contractor doing the interiors handed over, it was a flat, small at some 600 to 700 square feet, with nothing but bare walls, smelling of fresh paint.  

Got down to work right away – it was a race against time.

We began with an AC for the bedroom.

Should we get it from Satya at Luz or from Ratna at Panangal Park, both highly recommended.  Brand: Blue Star, Samsung, LG, Whirlpool or…? Capacity: Would one ton suffice or to be safe….Type: Split or window mounted? Power consumption: Two-star rated or three? Color: Would purple go with the rest of the decor?

And then followed, with choices galore, Washing Machine, Fridge, Double Bed with accessories, Couch for guests, Water Purifier, Food Processor and Rice Cooker.

With a kind S-I-L helpfully loaning a few essentials, you can well see, many items were still left out like a second AC, Dining Table, TV, Chairs, Curtains, Ironing Table, kitchen utensils….for want of time, money and energy.

Then came the ‘C’ items: mops, brooms, wash-room accessories and supplies, door mats and a few other zillion things (oxymoron? don’t mind it, pls) one could not live without.

All ordered in suitable models and options after visiting multiple shops for choice, suppliers chased for delivery and installation, by a couple of slow-moving, energy-strapped and flightless old birds, largely relying on public transport in an unfamiliar geography!

If this wasn’t DECISION FATIGUE in all glory…all to get that small space up and live-able with a few basic amenities. If I’m may be allowed a bit of exaggeration, it seemed I made more decisions in those few days than in all my years of professional career. Though there was one important mitigating factor: My experience with systems had taught me not to try optimizing to the fullest a design/plan along all its dimensions at once. In this instance it helped us not pushing hard the price ‘needle’, of course within reasonable limits.

We moved in, all set to receive them at the new place:

Day -3: All packing material, cartons carted away. Food and milk supply services arranged.

Day -1: Everything in its appointed place, working and checked. The bedroom attached toilet was a designated ‘dry’ zone for their use. The wet and paperless second toilet was for us. The mosquitoes were denied entry mercifully by the nets on the windows. The fridge stocked up.

All items on the check-list ticked. We slept peacefully.

Day 1: Daybreak.  No problems there.

10 am: The Moment – the kids arrived.

11 am: Everything going swimmingly. Nothing amiss. Deservedly congratulating ourselves.

02-35 pm: Some commotion in front of the bedroom toilet door

02-36 am: I reach the spot. My daughter seen here, there, everywhere.

02-37 am: She to me: ‘Appa, I can’t find – where have you kept it? S is in there. Need the toilet tissue.’

02-38 am: Oh sh#t, am out thru the front door.

…After all is done and said, I haven’t thrown out of the window as yet the sneaky thought of offering it all as a packaged service to many others out there similarly placed and needing help, this time tissue paper thrown in good measure:-)


Did He Get It Right?

Real-life fiction:


Time and place: Morning at the temple.

It was goshti time after receiving theertham (sacred water) and sadari.

[Goshti is when at the end of morning rituals, prasadam, usually thayir sadam (curd rice) is distributed to the assembled on plates or small bowls (dhonnai’s) fashioned out of leaves stitched together]

Many sat down and some of us with stiff joints stood to one side.

One of the staff (kiankaryaparars) distributed the dhonnai’s to all in the assembly to receive prasadam (a small part of the food offered to the god is returned to the devotees with blessings).

The cook in his traditional attire followed him from the kitchen carrying on his hip an anda (a big brass vessel) containing thayir sadam. With practiced efficiency, starting at one end of the small arc, he took a handful of sadam, dropped it into the first dhonnai held out, quickly moving on to the next man and to the next…

When he came to G – I see him once in a while at the temple – standing next to me, I noticed him slowing down with a deference, not par for a goshti, and a hint of a smile on his face. And the recipient acknowledging it by gesture and nod.

As the cook moved on to where ladies were, I asked in hushed voice: ‘What gives?’

G whispered back: ‘Only yesterday…he wanted some monetary help for his daughter’s college fees studying back in the South. I gave him’

‘Oh,’ so that was it.

Distribution over, the goshti was dismissed.

As we did the customary pradakshinam (circumambulating the sanctum) together, completing the last round, G went up to ring the kitchen bell!

When the cook came out, he asked if there would be some extra thayir sadam available.

A little strange, it was. This man many a times walked away without waiting for the goshti and the prasadam. And when he did stand in, he would specially request for a small portion. And today, he took it in full in the goshti and now was asking for more!

What was the matter? Perhaps he’s taking it for some guests visiting him?

He saw my nonplussed look and made a gesture for me to hold.

The cook, a bit surprised likewise, appeared too happy to oblige him.

A short while later he returned with a neatly wrapped and tied parcel.

As he handed it over, I noticed – the cook appeared pleased with himself and his demeanor going back to the formal, what it was always, without the deference, even if only a wee bit, displayed visibly earlier in the goshti! Not that he was rude, at any time.

Something nagged me nevertheless. Was gratitude so evanescent?

As we exited the temple, G turned to me: ‘I see you noticed it. Upset?’

Wasn’t he upset? And, here he’s asking me if I were.

Didn’t feel up to responding.

‘You see, my friend, I certainly did a favour to him, he too did one to me, whatever was within his capacity. Now the ledger is balanced, his self-respect has re-asserted itself.’

Weird! Interesting! Is that how it works? No student of human psychology and behaviour, could not agree or differ with G’s insight and intelligence in this matter.

Now outside the temple we were ready to part.

‘Here, take this, I’ve no use for it. Am single,’ he thrust the parcel into my hands and took off leaving me standing.  

When he was a few steps gone, he turned to me: ‘Don’t lose your peace over it, my friend. That’s precisely why I asked for it!’

May be, before I meet him next, I will have sorted this out in my head.



A Matter Of Give And Take

A real-life fiction:


Dinner time.

Bhindi (okra), again?

No surprises there – the girl was asked to eat vegetables. A short sermon on importance of the greens for her health, as always, fell on un-listening ears. For, it is bhindi tonight, spinach yesterday…yuk, and not potatoes, yummy. These folks never seem to understand or ask – it wasn’t she didn’t like vegetables. It was just that cauliflower and cabbage smelled, bhindi sticky, beet-root scary scarlet, spinach sticking between her teeth, beans tasteless, peas squishy, carrot hard to bite…and heaven knows why potatoes didn’t count? By the way, aren’t there any green potatoes? Why, she liked cucumber too, in the raw.

Finally on the promise of a cup of her favorite ice-cream, the task was accomplished……like how – her eyes closed, face screwed into a grimace, the morsel put out on the tongue like vom## and then taken in, mostly swallowed…

All done and over with, they – the father and the girl – set off to the market, he had some chores to complete, she to claim her reward.  

At the shop, another scene was averted – fortunately the mango flavor was in stock. Gleefully consumed – some, dribbling from the corner of her mouth, onto the counter.

On their way back – the girl in good cheer – he paused at a street-side vendor’s and got two vada-paav’s with dry and wet chutney’s parceled.

The girl looked at her father quizzingly.

‘There’s a sight-impaired young man near the bus-shelter. Whenever I come this way, I usually get this or samosas for him.’

Her face did not clear completely.

The father knew enough to add: ‘On the days I don’t, may be the vendors give him or someone else like us buys him something to eat – I don’t think he starves.’

The girl became more at ease – if her father said the man did not starve, it must be so – and soon was distracted.


At the bus-shelter, there he was on the bench.

The hot vada-paav’s were given and accepted gratefully.

The girl looking on nervously keeping herself on father’s far side.

The deed done, the two quickened their steps homewards.

Nearer home, the girl broke her silence: ‘Appa, how do you know he likes vada-paav and samosa’s? Asked him?’


The following days saw new sources located for idli/vada and roti/sabji.


Source: Image from

So A Baba Was Born – A New Tale Of Comedy Of Errors

Part 1

It was about lunch time when Ravi got a call from Mohan.

‘Ravi, there could be a solution, heaven sent, to your problems!’

‘What are you saying?’

‘Look, I just heard a certain Mamooli Baba (a wise saintly man, a recluse) has come in on a bus from some place and is waiting for a bus to take him onwards to Lucknow. The word has gotten around and people are flocking to him to receive his blessings – it seems some of them know him from the past and they swear to his powers to bail them out of difficulties. So drop everything and rush to the mofussil bus-stand (serving rural areas) right away. With some luck you may be able to catch him before he goes away and seek his blessings and advice.’

‘Aren’t you coming?’

‘No, Ravi, I would’ve loved to; unfortunately the guys from HO are here today breathing down my neck. And listen, he…this Mamooli Baba is in ordinary clothes and not robed in saffron, no matted hair, no scared ash smeared on his forehead, no kumkum decked trident in hand, no entourage of chela’s (acolytes)….in fact he looks ordinary in all respects like our fathers. Probably that’s why the ‘Mamooli’ (ordinary). Conversing with him however gets a little tricky, I’m told; for, he talks in riddles expecting you to make sense. Very unlike other baba’s we’ve seen. So, rush…all the best…will catch up with you in the evening.‘

‘Mohan, just a minute. If this baba looks so unlike a baba, how do I recognize him at all?’

‘OMG, how dumb can you be? No wonder…’

‘Oh, shut up and tell me.’

‘Man, the bus-stand is not a very large place. Look for the crowd and there he would be in their midst, I’m sure…Must go now, bye.’

Ravi thought for a moment: Should he go? How can a baba from nowhere find a solution to a problem he could not crack with all his mettle? But then that’s what baba’s are made of, aren’t they? It’s not for nothing people flock to them for succour. What harm would it do if he did go?

Ravi was employed in a small branch of a good-sized country-wide transport company. He along with four of his colleagues reported to a branch-manager. Over the years, by dint of sheer hard work, he had grown to be the key person in the branch. Customers usually asked for him. The manager, new in his post, relied on Ravi to keep the branch going, at the same time keeping a check. It meant working late hours and over week-ends too. It didn’t help that three of his colleagues were women and it was against the company policy to hold women back after regular work-hours. And the fourth was a superannuated old employee charitably retained with some light work. To handle growth, a post of assistant-manager was recently sanctioned by the HO and the search was on to hire a suitable candidate. Ravi was disheartened his well-merited claim to the position was being completely overlooked. While his manager passed the buck to the HO, the reality was he did not make out a strong case to his superiors for Ravi’s promotion. Ravi got this input from his own sources in the HO and mentioned it to his manager several times in several ways. The manager did not seem to get the cue and make the necessary moves. Perhaps he needed more time to assess supervisory capabilities of the aspiranti. Should Ravi go over his head – a risky double-edged manoeuvre with uncertain outcome, should he apply for transfer to a larger branch notwithstanding the disruptive relocation on personal front or should he simply quit and join another player in the same space, negotiating better terms? Ravi remained undecided on the course to pursue.

And he wondered how would the baba know enough to guide him.  Finally he decided to check it out for whatever worth.

busstandWhen he reached the bus-stand, he could easily spot his target sitting on a cemented platform raised around a tree on a kerb.  Indeed he did look like a mamooli villager. And he was kind of getting ready to leave, collecting things about him into a bag he was carrying. As Mohan said, a little away from him there were clumps of people standing around, seeming to have had their meeting with the Baba and perhaps now pouring over his intriguing pronouncements.


Part 2

Ravi had no problems reaching his unlikely saviour right away.


Baba, pranam. (Salutation to you, Baba)


Mujhe raashta bathaiye na. (Won’t you show me the way?)

Kahaan jaana hai? Wahan deko, information counter hai, jaake pooch lo. Abhi meri bus aanewaali hain, mujhe jaane do. (Where do you want to go? See the information counter out there – go and ask them. Now let me go, my bus is due any moment)

Sirf do minute. Badi ummedh lekar aya hoon. Aap to jaante hai man khi bhath, muje badi kursi chahiye. (Only two minutes of your time, Baba. Have come to you with great hopes. You very well know what’s in my mind – I want to occupy the big kursi (the big chair))

Kursi? Lucknow jaane wali bus pakdo, Kursi me uthaar denge. Aur, ek hi Kursi hai, badi choti do naheen.

(Kursi? You catch the bus to Lucknow and they’ll drop you off at Kursi. And, there’s only one Kursi, no small or big).

A word of clarification may be in order here: Kursi is also the name of a place (in Barabanki district of UP).

Majaak chodiye Baba aur kuch tharkeeb bathayiye. Ghar me yeh bol aaya hoon ki jab tak kaam nahin banega, ghar nahin lautoonga. (Please don’t make fun of me; and instead, show me a way. I’ve come to you telling my wife I’ll not return home until I’ve had a solution)

Arre, kaise aadmi ho tum, aurath se ladkar bhagte ho? Kursi vursi chodo, ghar jao aur biwi ko kush karo tho sab teek ho jayega. (Hey, what kind of a man you’re – quarrelling with the wife and running away? Forget going to Kursi and all that, get back home, make your wife happy and everything will be alright)

Sab teek ho jayega? (Everything will be alright?)

Shaadi karke kitne saal hue? (How long have you been married?)

Panch. (Five years)

Abhi thak seekha naheen? Jao. Jaise kaha waise karo. Paagal kaheenka. Jao, sab teek ho jayega. Sabka ilaj biwi ko kush rakne me hai. Chalo, meri bus aagayee, my chala. (You still haven’t learned? Go and do like I said. Crazy guy, go, everything will be alright. The cure for all ills lies in keeping one’s wife happy. Leave me now, the bus has come, must go)

Dhanyavaadh, Baba. (Thank you, Baba)

‘Obviously this Baba, if he was one, was out of his depth in dealing with professional matters. Here I’m talking about my long-overdue promotion and he’s telling me to make my wife happy. Is there a message hidden in it? Doesn’t seem so. May be he had his successes sorting out domestic squabbles. But my problem is different,’ Ravi thought to himself as he made his way to his office.

That was that and all was forgotten until the following morning….


Part 3

At the breakfast table, hot ghee laden mooli-parathas (flat bread with radish thrown in with a glistening coat of clarified butter on top) sat piled up on his plate with a katori of dhal (lentils).

Abs heavenly – Ravi devoured the three-high pile at one go before one could say 1..2..3.

Smacking his lips, he let out a belch – what the heck, there wasn’t anyone around save his wife – and for a reason scripted by fate – it could be attributed to nothing else – Baba’s not-so-profound words came to his mind as a trigger for what ensued. Quite uncharacteristically though justifiably, he went gushing over the parathas:

‘At this rate, meri jan (my life), I can safely kick my job off and start a takeaway tiffin-service. We’ll be all-sold even before the stove cools…and be the talk of the town in no time…Of course, we need to dish out more kinds like methi (a kind of spinach), aloo (potato)…and soon we can do with some hired help….’

This was from a man who never looked away from his morning newspaper while eating off his plate at the table.

The wife was not very amused at the compliment and the visions of airy castles of entrepreneurship. The parathas had been the handiwork of a kind neighbour.

Feeling hot under her ‘collar’ and not being one of those vocal kind, the lady of the house presently decided her man – who remained completely oblivious of his blooper effecting quite the opposite of what the Baba had suggested – deserved nothing more than vanilla rice upma for lunch. For those of you not in the know, it’s an easy-to-make dish in South Indian kitchens, prepared by near-dry frying of broken rice embellished with, in its plain version, mustard seeds, finely chopped green chili and a smidgen of asafoetida for taste and flavour – a dish lowly ranked in preferences in many households. However what made to the lunchbox finally was more than rice upma and chutney, it was a left-forgotten-on-the-fire-for-a-while-longer upma along with – yes, you got it or rather Ravi – all those thin burnt scales lining the insides of the khadai (khaandhal in Tamizh, eaten with relish by some!) scraped out with evil-laced glee.

rice upma pinterest

It was a very busy and trying morning at the office. Finally when a completely exhausted Ravi dropped into his chair and pulled out his lunchbox, he was thwarted. The office attendant cum helper informed  him, in a manner of not-my-doing, of the manager’s new decree of the day – there was a reason you’ll see later for it to be issued on that day: lunch should be had in the small meeting room and not at one’s desk – of course after the manager had had his and cleared. To be fair to the authority, the reasons were reasonable – the scents and scraps left around were an open invitation for the rats to invade from outside, sure to cause havoc in that paper-inundated office.

The sharp edge of authority did nothing to improve Ravi’s foul mood. Visibly irritated, nevertheless left with no choice, he asked with faux politeness if the manager had finished his lunch and he could go now. The attendant could only shrug his shoulders to say don’t-shoot-me.

He took his box to the meeting room and opened it to find upma topped with khaandal.  Today he didn’t feel up to it. Closing the box and pushing it aside, he stomped out, in an apparent show of defiance against agents indeterminate, to find an eatery.


Part 4

Nothing unusual happened post-lunch at the office. Ravi returned to work with his steam somewhat spent seeing reason and time doing its trick.

At end of the day, he decided to shut shop – no extra hours today. When he packed up, he forgot to collect from the meeting room his lunchbox.

It was also the time for the manager to leave. An attendant, a different guy this time, collected the manager’s lunch-set from the meeting room, taking it to the latter’s car – managers in our land, like politicians, are wont to let someone else carry their stuff except when cash was involved.  New to the task, he could not tell Ravi’s box from the manager as he gathered the lunch containers from the meeting room; result: box too got a ride to the manager’s residence.

As it happened, the day had not started off well in the morning for the manager. The matter had been smouldering for some time now raising its nascent ugly head now and then. Just three months into the new posting for him, the wife did not like the town. She wanted him to move out. That organizations don’t move their people around so fast because their spouses did not take a shine to the place failed to make an impression on her. The manager was obviously reluctant to pop up the request so soon on the heels of his promotion-posting. These blow-up’s – had not moved to the centre-stage yet – always ended inconclusively with a promise to be back on the agenda at no notice.  This was it – the bad start, and the reason for those decrees to go out on that day. Happens to even the most seasoned among us, no?

While cleaning up the lunch-set for use the following day, the wife spotted the interloper. When she opened it and saw its contents, she squealed in delight recognizing it for what it was.

‘You mean you got this just for me? How? You don’t get them around here. Who gave you? So sweet!’

The positively-not-sweet easy-to-make rice upma, a poor cousin of the more seductive rava upma, with its kaandhal was/is not a commonly served dish outside of a South Indian kitchen, ironically making it a rarity. Forget about being served anywhere, none but an ardent gourmet, outside the community, would not even know of its humble existence.

Our lady, a first-order foodie, took a mouthful of kaandhal right there, crunching and savouring it to its last, scaling new heights of sensory bliss. She also saw immense possibilities beyond the immediate.  It was a no call to Holmes to deduce the presence, in their circle of acquaintances, of a hitherto unknown household preparing authentic South Indian dishes. In this ‘Ah’ moment, even the discovery of an alien civilization on a distant planet would elicit no more from her than a raised eyebrow. Obsessed with South Indian preparations, she was already seeing visions of idli-molagapodi, vada-sambhar, chutneys, adai, sevai, puttu, kai-mrukku, payasam, bisibela, pongal…All –  products of a thoroughbred South Indian kitchen that had become a distant dream for her thanks to this woebegone new posting far removed from all those South Indian friends she had to leave behind.

si snacks.jpg

Now it was the manager’s turn to see potentially interesting possibilities. He would, first thing in the morning, rework the case for Ravi’s promotion. For a price, of course – nothing as crude as money changing hands, only an extra lunchbox even if small and occasional, for him from Ravi’s kitchen. House visits and woman to woman tête-à-tête would not be far off to happen.

Needless to say Ravi became a convert overnight and swore by Mamooli Baba. Amazing, how his not-so-profound words – in fact downright ordinary – when followed changed his life like a miracle! May be it was a miracle. How appearances could be so deceptive…this Baba packing power like a dynamite and yet…!

He hoped he would be able have Baba’s unhurried darshan once again someday.


Part 5

About three months later, one day, Mohan called. Ravi was thrilled to hear Mamooli Baba was coming into the town for a visit.

Ravi with his wife carried a tray full of offerings (fruits and flowers) to where Baba was put up. When they reached the head of the queue, they humbly laid down the tray at Baba’s feet, paid their obeisance’s with bowed heads and had darshan to their heart’s content. Pressed by the queue from behind, they had to move away, his wife suggesting they seek a private audience with him, if possible.

If this was Mamooli Baba, Ravi wondered, whom had he meet. Surely he too was no less a baba after the miracle he had wrought in Ravi’s life.

That instant marked the birth of Anjaan Baba (Unknown Baba), collecting over time stories of his immense grace and prowess.

While Ravi kept his eyes peeled out and ears pricked up for any news of Anjaan Baba’s whereabouts, the man last seen sitting on the cemented platform at the bus-stand months ago, perchance taking Mamooli Baba’s place moments after the latter had taken off to continue his onward journey, was presently playing with his grandson in a small village to the north of Lucknow.







Images: Himachal Pradesh – Chamba – Bus Stand from Flickr, An old man in Vrindavan from  Flickr photos tagged jitender, Upma from Pinterest and South Indian snacks from

Jottings From The US: A ‘Storm’ In A ‘Tea Cup’


Ani’s election promise: ‘If I’m elected, one day a week you could wear to school without a care a dress that didn’t match!!’ At one brilliant stroke she did away with the nerve-wracking task, for most parents and kids, at least for a day, of finding that elusive one of a pair of socks or the green hairband…with the school bus announcing itself outside. If that isn’t turning a disadvantage to an advantage, a problem into a solution…Well, I can, right-off-the-bat, recognize a potential board-room consultant when I see one

What was the election about? Well, she stood for the post of class representative to the body of student council. A position ‘hotly’ contested for with as many as eleven aspirants out of a class of twenty-two third graders! Also the class was ‘deeply’ instructed one cannot vote for oneself or one’s best friends.

And who was the winner? A US-senator in the making – no way he could lose when he promised longer recess times between class periods! Of course, I’m assuming folks in US are not very different from our ‘neta’s’ here swearing during the electoral process to banish unemployment, poverty…

Unfortunately my attempts were not successful in finding out what other promises were made. Apparently a few said ‘I’ll be a good leader for you if you elect me,’ and that didn’t impress.

Ani had no tears for the outcome.

Levity aside, it’s interesting to see how kids in school are introduced to these democratic processes and institutions at an early age. May be these are the first steps to induct/shape new joiners into a society that still stays together despite being polarized increasingly on various issues.

In another exercise with older kids, a virtual UN was constituted and kids were assigned different nationalities to represent their countries which meant learning about these places. Would love to know what is the lasting impact of these initiatives on the kids. Does it make them better global citizens? Why then is the general impression – not entirely ill-founded – that an average American’s world ends at the end of his street, town or state?

At the back of the mind the question nagged me while jotting this post: How well are we doing it back home? In searching for a suitable clip for this post, imagine my thrill on finding the one shown above featuring our kids from a The Hindu report about a few schools exposing the children to the process.  However it was such a let-down when I read the details: the children were being taught the mere mechanics like how to handle the ballot paper, etc. Aren’t we true to form missing the grain for the chaff? The subject schools, I suspect, are ISO 9000 certified:-((



Jottings From The US: If You’re Jaded For Fun and Surprise, Try This…

…You wont be disappointed! Of course you’ll need…

For us, talking to/engaging this eight year old was an endless source of fun and surprise.

It was family time for watching TV, after dinner and all school work duly completed for the following day. Usually it’s a movie or a serial picked in deference to our – visiting them – likes.  And sometimes it’s what the children wanted.

Today it was an English serial with a smattering of violence and romance.

It also let me witness the play of an unusual but purposeful parental ‘rule’:

‘Close your eyes,’ the dad said when one of those scenes came up.

This was easier done and less stressful for the adults, I thought, than remaining alert all the time and fast-forwarding past whenever it popped up.

Ne (the 8 yo) this time did something more. She got up from her seat with alacrity. Keeping her back to the TV, she quickly marched up to where I was seated, climbed up next to me and, considering me as equally ‘vulnerable’, shielded me by closing my eyes with her small hands!


On another occasion her dad was talking to her on evils of procrastination and advising her against it. He summed up finally: ‘You know, Ne, time and tide waits for no man.’

She looked contemplative, nodding her head in agreement. However there was a solitary crease on her small forehead as she inquired tentatively: ‘Dad, but this time and tide…may not be such a difficult thing for us, girls?’




Jottings From The US: Anytime Is A Good Time!


Though it has to do with our recent the trip to US, strictly speaking, this is more about after our return.

travelguideindia org

I finished my chores in the market and finally planted myself before her usual busy self in her office.

Despite feeling a little dizzy after a sleepless night on the flight, I had not lost my cool. Making light of it, I said: ‘Out there, I bragged how efficient you guys were and then…you let me down.’

‘Why, why? What happened?’

I knew she knew she had goofed – she had not got me an isle-side seat for me as expressly requested. Also, she had not acknowledged or apologized for it when I brought it to her notice later by email a couple of days ago.

A few more words exchanged – all polite. She came up with some clumsy explanation about how sometimes airlines on their own alter…

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Take Those Candies Back, Will You?


We were on our evening walk – about thirty minutes up and another thirty minutes down the sidewalk lining a main road in Rockville (Washington DC).

For an urban area, there’s a lot of greenery on both sides interspersing prim-looking townhouses, apartment blocks and single-family homes set back from the road by their foliage-and-grass front-yards. Sometimes we even sight a deer or two lazily grazing in the open spaces between the houses.  The only anxious moments are given by those tethered dogs straining at their leash menacingly baring their teeth and barking at us as we hasten up past those houses.

Usually sharing it with us are a few other ‘oldies’ out on walk like us, some joggers sweating it out causing the green-eyed monster to well up in our hearts momentarily though, young parents pushing their little ones in carts…yes, and a few walking their dogs that we stay clear off – smaller they’re more aggressive they seem to get.

Presently we were gone a little beyond the pretty little cottage when my wife a few paces ahead – for many years now I hopelessly trail behind her in these walks, forced into a single file to make way for the odd biker pushing ahead at break-neck-and-a-few-limbs speed – turned back: ‘You saw those children?’

Obviously I had not.

‘They were waving to us and saying something.’

On an impulse, I turned around and walked back to see a couple of small children of Chinese origin standing on the porch looking happy and still waving hands. Keeping watch on them was an elderly lady seated at the back in a cane-chair.

As I neared them, an older boy (10 to 12 years?) rushed up to me from somewhere at the back of the house inquiring nervously: ‘What’s it? What’s it?’

‘Nothing, not to worry,’ I pulled out a couple of chocolate-candies from my reserve stock I always carried being a diabetic and handed them to him, ‘just these…for them’ pointing at the children now curiously looking on.

The boy took it from my hand.

Then it struck me. I rummaged my sling-bag and found the last piece: ‘This is for you.’

I gave the elderly lady at the back – I thought I saw a smile – a friendly nod and walked away to join my waiting wife so far left wondering about my sudden detour, though it was only for a couple of minutes.

And, man, for the rest of the walk I listened to: ‘How many times do I have to tell you not to go near strangers…You’ll learn your lesson only when you get reported to the police…’

Mind is a strange device often dredging up on a cue unconnected memories – for some reason, I remembered  what I had learnt several decades ago on how a small signal applied at the base was amplified beta times at the emitter of a transistor!

Yes, she had told me before and I understand this is not the ‘done’ thing in these lands. I suppose one of these days this would be drilled hard into me in a manner not very pleasant and I’ll be cured of my impulses.

You can say it again: Life, these days, is different for sure.