Flashback – Of Books and Sharing with Papa…

My paternal grandfather had a great collection of books…books that many in the family fought over at the time of selling the ancestral home. My brother got a chance to retrieve a few for his library.

Father was very fond of reading, and the germ bit my brother and then me. The brother went on to do his bachelor’s degree and the masters in English from the Delhi University. I did Science — Zoology to be exact.

In school, the top three students of each class could buy their choice of books as their prize. I remember collecting abridged versions of various classics each year till about eighth standard. Subsequently, I graduated to reading my brother’s collection. There was ‘Emma’, ‘Huckleberry Finn’, ‘David Copperfield’, ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’, ‘And Quiet Flows the Don’ and more.

Those were the days before the cable network and we depended on Doordarshan, which would acquire English language programs from BBC. So, there were Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister among other things. We would also get some American programs, like Here’s Lucy and I Love Lucy. I vaguely remember watching ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’, a BBC production. It was sometime in the senior school that I got hold of my brother’s Thomas Hardy and read the book. I loved ‘Wuthering Heights’ and ‘Gone with the Wind’ and there was a contest on which was my favourite before Les Misérables beat them to it. I read a few Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, and then it became an obsession to read the book before watching the movie adaptation.

I would spend a lot of time in the school library reading Tintin and Asterix. Sometime in the eleventh standard, I found ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ in my school library. It was an 800-page, small print, daunting little piece of work. I loved it and kept getting it reissued till I finished it. When you think of Alexandre Dumas, you think of ‘Three Musketeers’ or ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’. Sure enough, papa had not read this one. I remember getting it reissued for another couple of months for him to read. And sure enough, he enjoyed it thoroughly.

Soon enough, I was addicted to Jeffery Archer. After reading his ‘First Among Equals’ and a couple more, I picked up ‘Kane and Abel’. A master storyteller Jeffery Archer had me completely hooked on to this classic of his. I had to share it with my father. He had to read this intriguing piece. We did not stop at that and read the others in the series — ‘Prodigal Daughter’ and ‘Shall We Tell the President’. We both were completely sold out to Archer’s books.

There are volumes that I can write about my father. But, this sharing of books was our father-daughter connect. Just like politics, or rather discussions, was, maybe, my brother’s connection with our dad. There are many more fond memories.

When my son started showing interest in reading, I unsuccessfully tried to coax him to finish ‘A Tale of Two Cities’. He did enjoy P.G. Wodehouse’s humour and his flamboyant and complicated style of writing. Then I shared ‘A Prisoner of Birth’ by none other than Archer. He was heartbroken when half way into the book his favourite character gets killed. It took me more than a few months of convincing to make him finally finish the book, which he admitted to liking immensely. I could not convince him to read J K Rowling, which my daughter read readily.

Someday my children will look back and figure out their best connect with me. It could be the movies and the serials we enjoy together. For now, I am happy to share my favourite books with them. After all, I have created a library for them for future.

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

Advertisements
Posted in Personal Files | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Flashback – Of Orderlies, Uniform Ironing and Shoe Shining…

In the earlier article, I wrote of some quirks of the men in my family, of the importance of crisply ironed garments and mirror-shining shoes.

I am always fascinated by the discipline of the armed forces and the elaborate customs like the rank distinction, formal dressing, dining, partying, and numerous other social traditions, that distinguish the ‘fauji’ families from the civilian population they protect.

My Pilot husband carried these traditions with pride and aplomb.

After our wedding, I moved to the station of his posting, and we stayed in his bachelor quarters for a few days. Luckily, his unmarried coursemate (and roomie) left for his annual leave right after our wedding, leaving the rooms to us. Finding married accommodation immediately in small stations was a challenge a few decades ago. Things have, hopefully, changed since.

Thereafter, a friend gave us the keys to his house for a month while going on leave for his wife’s delivery. Eventually, we were allotted our own temporary quarter.

The station has officers’ quarters for unmarried officers within the mess vicinity. The ground floor of these quarters is used as a temporary accommodation for married officers and their families, to meet the housing shortage. Bachelors stay in the top floor rooms.

The orderlies take care of the daily needs of the unmarried officers, like bringing early morning tea from the mess, arranging uniform, and polishing shoes. When required, they also bring food for the officers from the mess. They shop, do laundry, and clean the rooms, amongst other things. One of the orderlies, Munshi, was a favourite of most officers, including my husband. When I joined my husband, Munshi continued to bring the morning tea till we are on the first floor. The ground floor quarters had a kitchen, yet Munshi persisted for a few days, knocking on the door every morning with the expectation that my husband will take the tea from him.

Munshi was a tall Dogra, a local resident. An officer once gave him a long overcoat which he wore all winter. The man was towering but very gentle and endearing. Many young officers depended on him. I tried to keep him around for a while, but we both realised that I needed a maid instead.

My husband would not allow his uniform be sent to the local dhobi for ironing. Without an orderly, he took it upon himself to shine his brass buttons, iron his uniform, and shine his shoes. Uniform is a reflection of an officer’s identity. Despite all my loving efforts to take over the responsibility, he did not let me indulge. His simple logic was that he would not want to get lazy or complacent about at least this chore.

Except in a few places, the formal dressing is almost a passé today. Even in the corporate culture, the concept of grooming and dressing is getting limited to the senior staff, with the younger generation opting for Tees and jeans. The casual dressing is becoming a norm. Although it is heartening to find young children of the armed forces dressing for the mess events like new year’s party etc., the strict dressing rules are becoming a thing of the past, and the recent controversy around the United Airlines is one such example. The mandated dress code for the families of staff when travelling on staff ticket or buddy pass infuriates the internet and the social media. This generation will be remembered for its fragile egos and pseudo-outrage. People have opinions on everything, and they have the time to voice them too all day long. I dread the day when the armed forces will get embroiled in this dangerous trend.

I am all for the progress and change, but a change for the sake of it, undermining, or even destroying the basic fabric of culture and responsibility scares me. Maybe, I have become dated.

More anecdotes in my personal files soon…

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

Posted in Personal Files | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Flashback – Of Ironing and Shoe Shining…

My son was leaving for Mumbai in July, for a college competition. It was a short trip of five days, the weekend included. Two days of competition required semi-formal suits, which included blazers, but a tie was optional.

The responsibilities of packing for travel and shopping continue to be mine. There are times when I coax both my children do their own shopping. One of them is in the fifth semester of Engineering and the other is an Engineer in a software company.

While I was packing my son’s bags, ironing his shirts and formal trousers and I started reminiscing about my childhood in my parental home. My family carried some formal and colonial fetish about meals and clothing. Every evening, my grandmother would prepare the tea in a kettle with sugar and milk pots on the side and serve it with cookies etc. in the drawing cum dining room (eventually, the younger generation adopted a more American term, living room). On weekends, the family members would sit together and chat over their cuppa. The women of the family, especially the daughters-in-law, learnt to prepare the same in no time from my grandmother.

The men of the family – my father, uncles, and my brother – sported more conventional, full-sleeved, light coloured shirts with collars. I do not remember a time when I saw my father or any of my uncles wearing a bush shirt. I spent many a Sundays watching my father or uncles ironing their shirts and formal trousers for the week and hanging them in their wardrobes. The house had a designated ironing-place. The men spent Sunday mornings or early evenings preparing for the week, before settling to watch the Sunday evening movie on Doordarshan. In due course, the mantle of ironing shifted to my elder brother, and soon I became a part of it too. We learnt from the best. There was an ironing dhobi for emergencies.  However, men in the family did not trust or like his ironing. The spotless shirts without creases and razor-thin crease of the trousers were the trademark of the men in the family, which could never be compromised for the comfort of getting the job done by the dhobi.

Then there was the polishing of the black or tan-coloured shoes. Yet another skill I acquired from them. The brushing strokes and the use of cloth for buffing the leather etc. are precision skills and I learnt them all. My brother still irons his own shirts and has a shoe cobbler who comes weekly to shine all his shoes.

I asked my son to polish his black shoes to go with his formal attire. He just put some polish and applied some brush strokes. My maid and my cook watched me buff those shoes shining like a mirror and giggled at my skills.They never cease to be amazed by my culinary skills or my other tricks.

We have always had servants, maids and cooks and all other help as children. Despite that, we learnt cooking and cleaning and all the essential skills to sustain self and run a house. I am not sure if the times have changed, or my lack of time as a homemaker has affected the learning curve of my children. Their skills are limited in household chores. However, they have watched me manage the house and throw endless dinners and lunches along with my job. I only hope that if need be, they will rise to the occasion and acquire the necessary experiences required for effective house management. For now, I am glad that they are becoming good professionals and are good persons. All in good time.

 

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

 

Posted in Personal Files | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Of Charity and Criticism…

Indians, especially ‘elite’ ‘educated’ Hindus from big corporates have no inkling of the billions that Xtians siphon off in conversions and creating xenophobia and Hinduphobia…they think that Hindu gurus and rich Hindu temples are the bane for all the miseries in India…no real research and education in realising that there is SM and MSM led negative propaganda against everything Hindu or Vedic culture…the day our own house (country) will be completely looted of its cultural and religious freedom, will be the judgement day…it will be too late by then…I feel so sad for the urban elite young who have only SM and English News channels as their religious and political educators…

sarikanandacerebrate

The World Cultural Festival #WCF is being celebrated this week on the Yamuna floodplains. The social media is abuzz with reports and like always, there is a mix of controversies, and slander by the media and Hinduphobics, coupled with the enthusiasm of the followers of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Today is the second day, and the social media reports and images bear testimonials of its huge success. The chanting of the Vedas on the Ghats was the highlight of the first day.

Each time a spiritual event is organised by any Hindu organisation or certain people spend their money on religion, temples, or pilgrimages, a section of elitist question their choice and remind them that their money is better spent on charity. This question is not asked of any other religion or group and Hindu religious and spiritual expenditures are deemed extravagant. Who is anyone to decide what is the right…

View original post 898 more words

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Skinning Animals and Rejoicing! SHAME! …

I am appalled at the ‘educated’ people who are rejoicing at the skinning of cows. This is duplicity, doublespeak, and people who think that they are right, have kinked minds and jinxed ideologies.

How can anyone rejoice at animal killings, be it a cow, goat, pig, horse, dog, or even chickens? And, to think that the entire world is oppressed except Hindus and especially, Brahmins? Are you crazy? British succeeded in dividing Bharat on the basis of religion first, and then caste within the majority religion. The scriptures and books were re-translated to suit their agenda. Even the educated have this seed so deep-rooted that they do not even try to educate themselves and do a real research in learning the facts. They go by the popular agenda and believe it to be true. Hitler knew the naivety of the common masses and said that when a lie is spoken a million times it can become truth for the gullible public.

And to think that RSS is responsible for this caste-divide. Hello! Another crazy notion. Read this link on RSS’s take on caste system.

Stop colouring everything Hindu with a brush of caste, just as you would denounce anyone claiming that terrorism has a religion. A personal attack should be just that—a personal attack and not a religious agenda of a community. The person being of stupid mind should be set right. And so should everyone else who repeats the mistake by reacting unbecomingly or recklessly.

Wake up and smell the salts, stop being swayed by the populists and become a tool. Stop torturing animals and people. Stop being a dunce. Fear God, even if you do not believe in one and stop using innocent animals for a political message. Stop indulging in collateral damage. DO NOT FORGET YOUR HUMANITY, just to look savvy and au courant.

||Sarvam Sri Krishna Arpanamastu||

 

Posted in General, In my Opinion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Gay World the Answer?

Is Gay World the Answer

I wrote this article in the December of 2014. In light of the recent Orlando shootings, I have come to the conclusion that a gay-thinking world is the solution to all our phobias – religious, personal, orientational, political, racial, or gender-related. I have not done any research, but my observations are that except for being highly critical of poor taste in fashion or home decor, homosexuals are pretty much non-judgmental about most other aspects of human existence. They are, in fact, more accepting than any other group.

I would like people to accept our misplaced egos and biases as anomalies that are condemnable and realise humanity and the entire cosmos is HIS bouquet, with variety so vast and beautiful that we will be fools to even think of converting this world into a single-coloured, grey world. These thoughts can only be harboured by people of myopic vision, with little knowledge of HIS Divinity and Grace…God help those who have lost the real meaning of HIS Love and think that they are the saviours of HIS Doctrine…

sarikanandacerebrate

The pun is intended here.  However, let me begin by talking about my attraction for certain gay celebrities.  Rock Hudson is the first name that pops into my mind.  I was ‘oh so mesmerised by that tall stature and those Adonis looks.  Come September and Pillow Talk Rocked my world at a very impressionable age (I am in a punny mood today).  A revelation of his orientation and his ailment did nothing to diminish that twinkle in my eye at the mere mention of his name.  Then came the appreciation for Matt Boomer (Neal Caffery – White Collar), Jim Parsons (Sheldon – The Big Bang Theory), and the most adorable and multi-talented Neil Patrick Harris.  Neil Patrick Harris is an all-time favourite in the family.

The question is why do I think that the world should turn gay?  Again, am being punny.  We need a happier world than we already…

View original post 577 more words

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Research on Rebirth

Research on Rebirth…as Indians, especially Hindus, our scriptures are replete with the stories of birth and rebirth, blessings and curses, and how a soul and collective conscience of that soul transcends various births…we believe in rebirth, yet are wary of showing this belief with certainty…we wait for a scientist, especially a westerner, like Brian Weiss, to pick up our claim, give it their caucasian twist and present it back to us through regression and hypnosis…and we still allow that scepticism to make us feel awkward about our faith…

MARIA WIRTH

The belief in rebirth is in the blood of most Indians. It is not a blind belief. There is a lot of evidence for it, as the author discovered.

I don’t remember which Bollywood movie it was. Two heroes were wooing the heroine and naturally one had to die in the end, because she could not marry both. As it happened, he indeed died.  It was a sad end, because he was a nice guy. Just then a voice ended the movie, “Vapis aega – dusra roop me.” (He will come back in another form). It brought in a philosophical angle. The movie had not touched me, yet this last sentence did.

Right from the beginning of my stay in India, I felt that death is not so terrifying here. Of course here, too, there is fear of death and friends and relatives suffer when a dear one is lost…

View original post 1,788 more words

Posted in General | Leave a comment