Charity begins at home

Everyday in our house in Jharia, Rotis were made for the dog, crow and  the cow.  I did not live on a farm and we did not have dogs as pets. These rotis were made every single day for them who were stray, homeless or should I say ‘free’, which really would be more apt. In Fatehpur Galli, no one had pets. Somehow keeping an animal or bird, captive and providing them with the best food and bed, did not gel well with the lane. My grandmother would take a few Rotis every afternoon and go down to find a dog and a cow. The rotis for the crow were torn into pieces and thrown on the terrace. If my grandmother was out on a Teerth Yatra or a pilgrimage, the servants, when they went home for the afternoon nap would take the rotis and give it to the animals. This was not a big deal or some big charity we were doing, it was a routine. Similarly putting grains on the terrace for the birds, was a way of life. Gauri Bai had Bajri and Jowar grains in a Dalda tin with a small round Aluminium mug or measuring cup, we used to go to the terrace across and throw it for the birds.  It is only when I came to Mumbai, I realised, what I thought as a way of life, was not a norm here. Simple practices which enriched my life.

Then after some years, my Dad’s cousin kept a Pomeranian dog. All hell broke loose in her house. This was her way to rebel against her family and do something of her own. They named the dog Jackie. Her family of senior citizens, did not like the dog coming in their way or around them as they sat to eat. The dog was not allowed to climb the bed or go in the kitchen. Later everyone just got used to the dog around. He died in some years and then they got another dog and then a pair called Jackie and Julie. The house was big and the dogs did not come in the way. My Aunt was immersed in showering her love on them. Over the years, four dogs came in her house and eventually died. Heartbroken, she did not keep a pet again. It involved not just commitment and patience but a lot of attachment and heart ache.

Here in Mumbai, our help Lakshmi, makes a bite size roti first, before she puts our Roti on the tawa to cook. That small little piece is a symbolic of keeping aside for the cow, bird and the dog. We used to take Atta or flour and sugar and put it around an ant-hill or a Banyan tree. This was for the ants. Feeding the smallest animal was important, making an ant-mountain in your own house was not. Every time the rotis are made, when you lift the ‘Paatlo’ or the wooden round platform/ rolling block where you roll the roti, there is a round shape made of the atta / flour which spreads out. Lakshmi always prays to it. She says ‘Chand banta hai usko aise hi nahin uthaatey’. She means that it makes a circle and we pray to it as Sun or Moon and then wipe it or clean it. These small things were just there to keep us in the present. Really, not let the mind meander and make the cooking mechanical. The fire was always worshipped and you never threw water on a hot ‘Chulha’ or even a hot ‘tawa’. In Hindi, the  round shape is always referred to as ‘Chand’ or moon and not as ‘Surya’ or Sun. May be Sun is too hot to handle.

“Too hot to handle but ready to scandal”… I am even embarrassed to write this sentence. I think during college days, the guys used to say something like this. I don’t know if  my over active imagination is telling me this. It was used for whom the boys termed as ‘Fast’ girls. The definition of a ‘fast’ girl keeps changing with time but it is always used in reference to a girl.


Mobile Menagerie continued

My new phone is a Google Pixel and there is nothing dramatic about it. The time spent in deleting all possible whatsapp images is huge. Everything including voice notes will get saved, no matter what you do. Your full time job is to sit and delete. You can only say that let it save on wifi and not on your cellular data. This is the big thing with the Pixel. Unlimited pictures. Now on my phone, I have a few hundred positive thoughts from Buddha to Paulo Coelho. Each one knows how I can lead my life the best. I have umpteen numbers of videos which other people find motivational and the funny ones too. I don’t seem to have any humour left as I delete the clutter from my phone. When I wanted more pics on my phone, they were never about friends’ friends dinners, holidays, someone ‘s nephews and pets, gardens and the new dishes they cooked everyday. I am feeling totally incapable now as a human being, cook, Mother and what not. Basically I do not like my phone cluttered with stuff a.k.a media, I do not want. When I have a huge house, will I keep other people’s things, even if there is space? I will not and the same applies to my phone. The phone does not delete when you are watching the media, you have to select and delete or go to the gallery where the bunch of whatsapp images is stored. Go to some other place on your phone to delete the voice notes and a third place to delete the videos. Gosh, I have no generosity for excess.

And the best is yet to come. Remember the days, when I thought the iPhone charger is so expensive, so short, tears fast and I cannot use other chargers on my iPhone. Viola, I cannot use other Android chargers on my Google Pixel too. The battery life is good but I am fed up of the constant monitoring the phone does on me. It tells me where I have parked, where my office is, how long will I take in this traffic and which mall is close by as I drive for my Ramcharitmanas satsang. Am trying to figure out how to shut all this but Google has no answers. Then like Siri of Apple, the Assistant is ever ready. Now I realise that I never wanted another phone, I just wanted a better Apple phone. Isn’t this what people who walk out of their marriage want? A better spouse, which is truly better than the earlier spouse. They think they are looking for a new spouse, but actually the new one has to be better than the before.

This world has not made me greedy and dissatisfied, I have made myself like that. Always wanting to improvise, not on myself, but on things and people around me. A perfect house found or made with love, soon starts having innumerable faults. The perfect child born becomes an irritating toddler and an over smart teenager. A great party suddenly becomes about making fun of someone who is there or the game to prove I am always right. Attending a wedding becomes about what to wear, what to give, whose was the best performance at the Sangeet and most important how was the food and what were others wearing. The holiday becomes about how the last hotel did not serve well or the driver who drove badly in the last leg of the journey. A marriage for some becomes about hard hard they worked to please their in-laws who never appreciated. People do not take long to get bored and criticise perfectly beautiful settings and relationships. Mea culpa.

Mobile Menagerie

My mobile stories do not end. I am forever in search of a new mobile phone. The reason is not that I am excited about new technology but because I am forever unhappy with my phone. The past two times I have had an iPhone 5 and 6. Lost the first one in the desert sands of Dubai. With the iPhone 6, I have lived in the fear of  loosing it. I have been so alert that I was stressed. I got used to its newness but was always scared that I will drop it. I bought the golden iPhone but put a cover on it so as no harm comes to it. I think I took care of this one more than I took care of my children and it is perfectly okay to exaggerate things. I was just glad that I had an original iPhone cover and not the multi coloured covers everyone around me, has been using. After taking care of the phone so much, I had to keep deleting pics all the time even on a holiday. I hardly downloaded any apps except Whatsapp for friends and school Mom groups and Camscanner for clicking homework and sending to a Mom of a child who missed school. I never downloaded a game or a song as I could never figure iTunes. Later, I could barely hear on the phone. The picture quality was good but since I did not buy the 64GB, my pics would not fit. The battery kept getting drained and I was on ‘low battery’ so often.

Then I got another phone. It has limitless memory for pictures. It is all wow according to all the reviews. The camera is great. And I am still unhappy. This time because my phone is silver and not golden . It is heavier than my earlier phone. And it is not as simple as the iPhone. Now I remember the husband saying that you won’t like another phone after an Apple. I was desperate to get out of Apple. Now I cannot FaceTime. There is no iMessage service to the child’s iPad when I am out of the house. Cannot expect people to download Duo in their already bursting to the seams mobile phones. iPhone truly is a dumb man’s phone, I am not saying it, a friend told me this. It is extremely simple to use and very less keys to be pressed for any action. I realise the difference only now when I have switched away from it. I have a ‘state of art’ phone and I am still cribbing and comparing. I was clear I wanted to move out of Apple but now I am not sure of the wiseness of my choice. In fact, friends were thinking I was weird as I was unhappy with the old and new phone.

This episode has made one thing very clear, in life, things do not make us happy. They have a purpose in our life and we should restrict it to that. Happiness is really within and I have got it flat, now. When our basic relationship with a certain thing is not good, how much ever we keep changing it, it will continue bothering us. For me, things take a human form and I start having attachment or dislike towards it. That is such a waste of emotion and cause of stress. Why can’t a phone be just that? Why does it have to overtake my life? Why does the landline keep getting spoilt? We were so happy with just one phone for a family of eleven members and there was so much love. What is there to check ongoinly on Facebook, whatsapp, Instagram and Twitter? What will happen to the world, if I do not get some news or information? Why have I become so dependant on the mobile phone? Why do I feel the need to react to people’s pictures, jokes or forwards? Can I change the world with my phone? I do not know if I am capable of that. But I can surely use it as a gadget and nothing more. Like I use the Mixer Grinder only if I need to grind a paste or juice in the kitchen, why can’t I have the same with my phone? Use it only when needed then put it away in its place. Use it only for a little while. I do not keep staring at my microwave oven or my mixer grinder then why is this urge to keep looking at the phone screen every few minutes? I am not someone who ever watches Television, then why do I need the mobile phone constantly? Is it because I am looking for some friends or some friendship? Why is it that people who do not take my calls, reply to my messages real fast? What kind of relationships I am having with the people in my life? Points to ponder upon before I sleep. Have we become a menagerie for the mobile phones?