My Grandmother

Where the school was concerned I have a few sharp clear memories. First one is my Granny waiting for me for seven hours in the hot sun. The workers in the school used to give her a cup of tea as nothing was available around the school.She used to sit in the school driveway adjacent to the fields for hours for me without eating or any other comforts. She was very used to fasting and knew of so many religious festivals. She celebrated all by donating something to the poor and the needy and to the brahmin. In her times we had a string of sadhus, priests, saints visiting home. She was always welcoming them and cooking meals for them.She coould cook really well and real fast and in great quantities. She never wore footwear after my grandfather passed away and that was barely three and half years into her marriage. She raised her two children staying with in laws and taking care of all. The amazing thing was she was never scared of any kind of work.
She had filaria in her foot but she could walk more than all of us. Inspite of walking barefoot all her life, she never had a thorn piercing her or any cuts in her feet. She would go to Badrinath, Kedarnath, Pashupatinath etc all without footwear. She knew the historic and religious significance of each town, city village in India. She travelled a lot to all places and went by public transport. In days of no mobiles and no STD booths, she kept in touch by beautifully written postcards. She had studied till fourth standard but could read english and Hindi signs, directions and her written Gujarati was immaculate. She taught me to read and write gujarati.

She was very well informed of world affairs and her world was all the people she knew. She knew saints of different ashrams in holy places. She taught me all the stories I know and all the shlokas I know. I never learnt anything after her. She was people friendly and loved meeting people and being in their world. She did a lot for the sick. All this in a very selfless manner.
We all children stayed with her all the time and slept in her room. She would pray and tell us stories.She had great patience with all of us.

Are all grandmothers like this Larger than Life?



Devika has just joined Shiamak dance class. Went to drop her and saw the teachers. They have amazing relatedness to all the 25 children in the class. They actually remember what the child did in the 45 min class. The instructors are barely 18 or 20 and the way they are with kids is so natural and so un teacher like.What will happen when they become parents I dont know. Right now, they are doing a super job with the children. I only saw happy faces pre and post class. Children love to go to the class and are so happy with dance and music. Why cant I as a parent provide the same atmosphere at home?

I am amazed how Shiamak teaches the instructors to be so brilliant with children. I have been going for the class for the last two years. The instructors are all fabulous people and the way they teach is also so clear so technical.You never ever have a twisted ankle or sprain while dancing in the class. All young instructors are under thirty for sure and what passion for people and dance. You never see them angry, upset or irritable. Most have a sense of humour which is so rare. Especially when I see some cynical and sinister youth of today.
Within the organisation, they have roles other than being instructors.They handle administration, costumes, shows, star rehearsals, publicity and media. Each one can take the the role which they get excited about and grow in that field. They have gruelling days with hours of practise and teaching and the office work .Some are even sent abroad to set up new centres for the dance academy. Some are studying to be doctors and engineers. Apart from their physical fitness, they also appear very well informed about world affairs.
This is my salute to Shiamak who trains them so beautifully. I do not want to take away the credit from the instructors who do all this with their hard work and passion.The Guru guides and the instructors learn so well.When I see them I know our youth is so powerful and so focussed. It is the right guidance which can do wonders.

After every class I am a happier human being. I come out with a small amount of wisdom.
They say for one hour just enjoy and the steps will come.
Just practise at home. There is no other way to better yourself- Practise Practise Practise
Dont try, just do it.
Relax and the rest will follow.
Keep sipping water.
Eat a fruit before class.

May the world be full of more Shiamaks,Vijays,Amits, Anishas, Nazeems, …………

Mount Carmel School

Mount Carmel school was in a place called Dighwadih. On our way to school the bus crossed places like Chaar number, Jealgora, Bhaaga,lakshmaniya more,Katras More. I always wondered how these names originated. I had a friend coming from Chaas nalla. Some were names of coal mines and the area got that name. School was more than 10 km away. On our way we saw some ten temples and a couple of mosques and two three cinema halls.We crossed our fingers when we saw a black car and your finger could be uncrossed only if you saw an ambulance or a red car.The other game was Zing Zing where we said categories of flowers, actors, colours. The day exams got over we used to sing songs in the bus.
The school had two buildings primary and secondary and they were seperated by a pond and a boys school in between. The buildings were huge and lot of fields to play in. We also had a chapel, a nunnery , a hostel and a garden. It was not a sand pit but a full playground of sand for young children. Huge stage with open air seating and a forest behind where we were not allowed in. No snacks, tea, cold drink or toy shop for miles.
In the senior school, there was a small pond in the compound, gulmohar trees lining the campus, halls, basket ball court, throw ball court.There was one samosa wala whom you could buy from the compound wall. Even that the wall was raised so end of story. There were lot of vultures and eagles in the school. When we sat for our meals in the huge fields or lawns, they would come and snatch the food from the tiffin. The school fee was twenty five rupees per month and the bus fee was the same too. You had to pay monthly. There were no tickets/ raffles for parents to buy. All programmes started with Rabindra Sangeet and Bengali dance.We sang hyms for Lord Christ. We had programmes if a Sister or a Father was visiting the school.
By the way, We did not say it is a convent or it has ICSE board or anything. It was just school. No value add ons were used to describe it.Though the school provided all of it and more.
The road to school was quite was barren. There were closed coal mines on both sides. very little vegetation. In summers we could see fire leaping from the grounds of the used coal mine. We lived in Jharia and it was a full town set up on a coal mine. Parts of the area would just collapse. For years peopele said” Jharia dhasne wala hai”.( the town will collapse) It did not matter , no one wanted to leave Jharia. The servants lived in an area called Balu Goda . It was built on the sand pit of the coal mine I presume. It was another world and we were allowed to visit rarely with our house help.

There was a Jharia club- a victorian building in the outskirts of our town. It had a proper swimming pool surrounded by trees and then nothing. There was a huge auditorium, a card room, a room for billiards.High ceilings, lovely architecture and a sense of neglect. I think in British times , it must have been a rocking venue.We went for a screening of the movie Gandhi. Poolside screening of the film and the lovely gentle breeze. I had my first swimming lessons in the pool there with Mom s Mamaji. Every summer we used to go for class. Our ambassador car was very rarely maintained those days. After the swim when you were dying for breakfast, the car would stop mid way. Days of hardly any petrol pumps and few car mechanics.It used to be long time home then. No one worried if you did not come home on time as cars got spoilt or fuel would be over or you just met someone and forgot to come home.

Miss the simplicity…….


Is it possible that something is so beautiful that you own it but dont want to use it? I feel so about a pink diary gifted to me. The desire to preserve it is stronger than the desire to use it. It has such a beautiful array of colours in the pages that I dont want to taint them. I also know that the year will pass by and the diary will be of no use. It will also loose its charm. Right now , it is the most beautiful thing in my whole world of possessions. I love its colous, the quality of paper and the concept.
The love for pretty diaries started when I was working for the Oberoi Hotels. The day started with a morning meeting. Each one of us carried our best diaries to this meeting. The people handling the banks always had the best diaries. One year a colleague had given me a diary of UNICEF. It had pictures of children from all over the world in their natural habitats. Opening the diary in the morning took the stress out of those meetings. Yeah, children s smiles can do that.
So my reason for not using this beautiful diary was that it will get spoilt. I also didnt have anything exciting to write in it. The daily hisaab of the dhobi, maids and milkman was not to be put there. I also dwelt on the topic that may be I dont deserve
beautiful things in life or may be i dont value myself enough to use it.It also made me wonder do I do this to all the beautiful things in my life ie hold it for posterity?? I realized I do love nice looking cream bottles and I do get attracted to good design and eco friendly the better. It happens to some beautiful clothes I buy.I conveniently dont find occasions to wear them.I also have friends who wear a t shirt straight from the shop they purchase from.
Then for me, Is beauty untouchable???
Any way, I think the diary days are gone. In my four and half year stint at the Oberoi, we moved from telex to fax to e mails. From one type writer for the whole department to computers for all and laptops for the bosses. From normal phone lines to electronic exchange to direct dialling to the desired extension to mobile phones for all. From low tariffs and no competition except Taj to opening of the Indian economy. Witnessed the Exodus of the Mckinseys, Booz Allens, AIGs, Perigrines and some downfalls, companies shutting shops overnite.
Today,I have started writing in my pink diary……….It says Everyday is a new colour.


Matunga is very beautiful at this time of the year. There are lot of Gulmohar trees in all its bylanes. They do not allow the harsh summer sun to touch your skin. The best part is all the trees have yellow flowers. The pavements looks like a carpet when the breeze has blown and the flowers have fallen on it.
Today in my afternoon walk I heard some singing. The music came from the chawl above on its first floor. The stair case is open to the road. One side of the staircase leads to the rooms and the other side is the common toilets. Six or seven christian women were sitting on various steps. They were in different floral faded frocks and gowns. They were singing hymns in konkani.The sun kind of put a halo on them.They were looking so divine and in a trance. When the world was complaining about Mumbai heat and the women at home were catching up with their afternoon soap re runs, I could see God in them.
I walked past, a strong wind brought a shower of yellow flowers on me.
May be there is God………….


There is so much resistance when I have to start writing. Throughout the day I am brimming with ideas and that is only when I am not in front of the comp.Rest of the day , I am so busy with homestead and it is one good excuse.
Resistance comes in so many forms.It starts when I have to wake up early. Then I face resistance when I plan the breakfast menu. Resistance is experienced when I wake up my elder one and she wants to sleep some more. Resistance is when I want the younger one to come out of bath and she wants to play some more. Resistance when I tell the maid what is unclean or was left undone the previous day.
resistance when I tell the cab guy show me the correct meter table. Resistance when I tell the shopkeeper I ll come for exchange if it doesn t fit.Resistance when I give one priest at the temple some money and dont give the others. Resistance when I go to the school office for some fee related queries. Resistance when I have to go to the parlour,leaving children with husband.
Some where this resistance in me has now turned into a guilt. May be I am not doing it right or may be there is a better way to do it. Resistance also is coming because I dont want to those things, but rightfully I feel they should be done. Like the child should not waste water as slums dont get it. Like the cabbie should not overcharge when the rate is actually low . Like the mango guy at the signal should not put rotten mangoes in the last line which is unseen in the box.Like all those florists selling flowers in the by lanes of Bandra should not charge exhorbitantly when they are not paying any high Bandra rentals or taxes.Like the electrician and the plumber and carpenter have no fixed rates. They charge anything and explain any problem because they know you dont have expertise in the matter. Is this resistance to people because i feel cheated or is it resistance to their ways. Can money not be made without cheating?
The Red label tea increased their price by forty rupees a kg. They attached a small marie biscuit pack to assuage of the guilt so the consumer doesnt notice. The detergent guys have found a novel way of cheating, no two detergents weigh the same. Some weighs 385 gms the another is 950 gms. How can I ever compare prices before buying? Same goes for the neighbouring Udipi where the roti has increased from five to nine rupees per piece.I went to buy handkerchiefs for the children and the roadside vendor asked for 120 for twelve pieces , he bargained to 50.I bought just to realise that the supermarket sells it for 35.
Are we going to make fools of people all the time or are we going to get fooled all the time? I resist both all the time.

Me as your MP

Last night I had a dream which I vividly remember for a change. In the dream, I was asked to stand as an independent candidate in the forthcoming elections. I was talking to these unknown faces who were urging me to take this challenge on. Come on guys who will vote for me? I know my immediate family and there is only person above eighteen in that and that is my husband. My building wont vote for me . The business community likes to see if the candidate has done anything to help them grow their business. Sorry Raj, my building wont vote for you and enough shop breaking now. My in laws believe in voting for a big party namely Congress so that there are not too many alliances and the goverment can do their job in peace. There is no party threatening to pull out from the support they provide to the UPA for every decision they make. My parents well they still have to get their name shifted from the electoral rolls of Dhanbad to Mumbai. Toh woh be paanch vote gaye haath se. So family is out and friends belong to different constituencies.
Atleast Meera will have her Banker community voting for her. The doc will have medical community voting for her. Is there a housewife community or are they busy pulling each other down about who is the better housewife?

But sure you stay behind or ahead of the worlds largest slums ( depending on the way you look at it). I dont fit in there as I have never been inside one. I couldn t even watch Slumdog as I find those scenes traumatic. Let alone campaigning there. Also who knows me and who will take me around there? The cabs cant go into those tiny lanes.What can I do for Dharavi when I just manage to take care of my family.

The other day I saw a young man spitting outside the school at the bus stop. The bus refused to come and he refused to stop spitting. I didnt have the courage to tell him this is a public road, yahan thukna manaa hai. He might have just spat on me. If I cant stop even spitting, how can I stop corruption?
I buy my fruits veggies from hawkers who are on the non hawking zone. I use contacts to do darshan at Tirupati so that I can meet God without standing long in the line.I dont go to buy my stuff at govt approved shops, I buy from what is convenient and close by.
I dont even have a large coterie of followers who will do as I say or just follow thru the campaign. The caste and community votes are any ways out from all sides as I dont belong or confirm to any. I am not even an active member of the PTA in school. I dont even go for kitty parties where I will have a confirmed set of people. I am not a member of any affluent club or gymkhana in Mumbai so I can network and build contacts. The hotel industry contacts have not been nurtured over the years.
Please tell me what have I done to say I am a good candidate for the people?
And What can I promise to do for the people?