Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The lost fragrances

It rained in Bangalore. After long days of record breaking heat, the rain will bring some relief. I did not realise that it rained, till late. The first rain, to me, always was associated with the fragrance of the soil. Like lightning that precedes the thunder, this fragrance hits me before the rain does. It is missing and I wondered where it had gone. Like everything else in today’s digital world, I let my virtual friends in Facebook know of my predicament and drove towards home.
As I drove, I recollected that there were three distinct fragrances that I relate to, from my child hood. April always used to bring all three of them together. It was fresh, it was unique and it was still on the tip of my nose!

The soil was the first one. It had such an enchanting smell. As the first rain drops would fall, some amazing chemical locha works and the fragrance surrounds the place. As the rain poured on, the puddles of water on the road was making my drive difficult and I ran the risk of losing my memories of the fragrances. 

I stopped over in a fruit stall. I wanted to buy some mangoes. They used to give me the second distinct fragrance.  We would go to my Dads house during holidays, and as I remember there were twelve different varieties of mangoes there. Dad would tell us stories of him planting most of those saplings. As we would get down from his scooter, I would be in the mystic world of the smell of the mangoes. Each one had a distinct smell, but I had a favourite. I would run to climb the tree and smell the mango from the tree, as it swayed in the wind, for me to pluck and taste it. I smelled the mango in the fruit stall, and I felt I was in my chemistry lab. Seeing my upset face, the shopkeeper tried convincing me, “sir, organic mangoes will come tomorrow”.  I still buy mangoes after smelling them, and probably is the reason I have not been buying them for a while now. 

I turned around to walk out, and saw my third favourite fragrance right in the corner. Books!!! I took one from the shelf, opened it and took a deep breath. Goodness!! They still smell the same, well almost!! We would go to the small bookstall opposite to the temple in Palghat town. We would get to buy children’s comics. The bookstall had the fragrance of the freshly opened books and it still lingers. I bought a book and walked out taking another deep breath of its smell. 

As I tried to sleep, I felt a new smell. It was the Iblur Lake stinking after the first rain. I sprayed the room freshener and went to sleep. The fragrances were lost.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Tribute to Motherhood

This is for all the fathers and mothers to be, for you to appreciate the true beauty and warmth of a new baby coming into this world, and a true appreciation of the motherhood.

It was a culmination of 37 weeks of excitement, pain and restlessness. Kavitha got admitted on 4th Sept 2008, at 0630 am in Apollo hospital, Bangalore..During her last delivery, we had a traumatic experience of a normal delivery getting converted in to a C section after Ammu’s head came out. So we were prepared for a C section from day one. The delivery was postponed to 1030 am as some emergency cases had come up. The wait outside the labor room is painful. I managed to go in and check on Kavitha few times, as Ammu got close to the nurses . The doctor came and said, that she is being shifted to the Operation Theatre at 1st floor, and we accompanied her.

I went in to meet the doctor, and asked her, if I can join Kavi in the Labor room. She wanted me to be very sure, and checked if I’m comfortable with seeing blood and the procedure as such. Seeing my confidence, she agreed and sent me to the change room. My Mom wasn’t aware that I’m going in.  I went in then change room, and a technician explained me what I’m supposed to do. I then realized, why the doctor was reconfirming. In the previous surgery, the husband had a panic attack on seeing blood and had fainted in the Operation theatre . I was asked to wait , as they prepared her for the surgery . The technician told me that the monitors are being installed and then she would be given a local anesthesia. 

When Kavi had conceived, her blood tests had revealed Toxoplasma infection. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toxoplasmosis) . Almost all such cases are aborted. We were informed about the risks involved in the pregnancy and for the new born, if we go ahead with the delivery. We went through every possible journal and paper on toxoplasmosis and consulted with friends who were doctors and experts in the area. We had taken a brave and risky call to go ahead with the pregnancy. We had made up our mind to face what comes. The risks involved having a baby with serious medical conditions including deformity and sensory issues. All this was running through my mind as I waited.

I was called into the labor room after few minutes, and the doctors had started the procedure. I was made to sit beside Kavitha, and a screen was put to conceal the surgery. I held on to her hand and sat there. I could see through the screen as the lights on the other side were bright. I could see doctor cutting open the wound and I knew it’s anytime now. Kavi was calm and I think my presence was a surprising reassurance for her too. The doctor told us that when the baby is to be taken out, they would be pushing her stomach hard, to push the baby out. After a minute they asked me to stand up, and I saw the amazing site of my baby’s head coming out of Kavi. They pushed and in a flash the baby was out. The doctor said, “ It’s a Boy “ … Kavi squeezed my hand in rejoice. I almost had a tear down my eye. The doctor cut the placenta and showed me the baby.A nurse took the baby and asked me to follow him. We went into another room, and he started cleaning the baby up. The pediatrician joined him. He put a tube in the baby’s nostrils and squeezed out some fluid with a syringe. Once they cleaned him they wrapped him in a towel. The pediatrician looked at me and gave me a thumbs up. He knew about the toxoplasmosis history. He was there to examine the child and ensure he was free of any complication. His thumbs up relieved me of the last straw of doubt. We had a healthy baby.

We took him back to the labor room. He showed the baby to Kavi and she gave him the first kiss.I told her that the baby is healthy .I went back, changed and ran to give the news to my Mom, her mom and Ammu who were waiting outside. My respect for mother hood had grown many folds. I urge all would be fathers to join your spouse and see this amazing heart touching sight. I urge all would be mothers to ensure your spouse joins you.

This is one day of your life, you will remember for ever. A true tribute to motherhood.

Monday, April 4, 2016


The power cut at middle of night,
Brings the beauty of noise.
No sound from the air conditioner,
No screech from the fan,
The fridge is silent,
So is the television.
Its all you and your inner voice,
With karaoke from an outer world,
You can't define.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

A teenager is born today

13 years back, in a dimly lit hospital corridor, a tensed up expecting dad walks his paces up and down. His wife has been in labour for more than twelve hours. The doctor hasn’t come yet and there is no word from the nurses on when he is expected. This doctor is the final word in gynaecology in that town, so all he could do was to wait. All of a sudden there is activity around the labour room, the delivery has started and the doctor is on his way. He reaches, and goes swiftly in without talking to anyone. News comes out that the baby’s head is out, but since the mother is tired, they are trying the suction now. Suddenly the doctor rushes out, and tells the waiting man, that it has to be a caesarean now, shift her to the operation theatre immediately. Even through the utter disbelief and shock, he didn’t realise that he was about to go through the most nerve racking few minutes of his life. There was no attendant to move her to the operation theatre, so he and her cousins carried the stretcher, with a semi conscious expecting mother in it. The biggest shock was yet to come, the elevator of the popular hotel- turned hospital would not fit the stretcher. They can’t move her in the wheelchair with the baby’s head almost out. All they could do was run and hope they do not tumble, and make her fall. They ran up 3 floors through the narrow staircase and moved her into the operation theatre. There was anger despair and absolute helplessness. As they gasped for air, the news came that a baby girl was born. I and Kavitha were thus blessed with our baby girl Anandita. 

Today as I remember those tense moments where we almost lost our baby due to sheer non-competence, I have no anger. I realise today that we have a fighter of a daughter, who would make her mark one day, fighting her way up, as she did on that night. It makes her even special, and everything she achieves on her grit and will, makes me feel special to be her dad. 

Today, she turns a teenager, the next phase of her life.  Yes, I miss her childhood, I miss her running up my arms as I would reach home, I miss her sleeping on my chest, I miss her crawling up to be cuddled on my tummy, I  miss feeding her, I miss bathing her, I miss carrying her in the middle of the night when she would refuse to sleep, I miss playing insane childish games at two in the morning, I miss rushing back to home in the mid of a work day when she refuses to go back home without me, I miss myself crying when she would fall sick, I miss my baby . I realise, I may never be able to do any of that with her again. Because, today she is a teenager.

Girls grow up differently, and I wonder why they grow up so fast. Today she tells us to be mature, expects us to have more realistic discussions with her. She writes her blogs about parenting. And I think, I have not grown up beyond that nervous man outside the dimly lit hospital corridor, but she has grown, and will continue to. 

Happy Birthday to my teenage sweetheart. 

Happy Birthday Ammu.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Aamir’s wife, Col Mahadik and the Tolerance meter !!

Aamir Khan tweeted that his wife is scared for her kids safety seeing the levels of intolerance in this country and wanted to move out. It's her view and has all rights to say so. Since then they have been targeted by the religious, nationalist and tolerant hypocrites all over. Some comments are pure insane but some are sheer abusive. One has the freedom to express their views in this country and no one has the rights to abuse them for that. There has even been a PIL filed against him (?). The saddest part is the comparison with Martyr Col Mahadik’s wife’s comments on her kids being committed for a career in army vs Aamir’s wife’s comments.

I have huge respect for Col Mahadik and his family.I have friends who are in border fighting the same bastards who martyred him. But it’s totally wrong to compare Col Mahadik with Aamir.

Our hero concepts are wrong. How many times have we discussed martyrs here?? Who was Aamir’s wife till yesterday? A nobody!! But we have enough TV time, Print space and social media activism to dissect and discuss what she said probably in a bedroom conversation to her husband. We will forget and move on, when another nobody makes another remark, but we still won’t have time to discuss the real heroes; the guys who fight the real enemies at minus 60 degree temperature to give you and me the freedom to sit , sip a coffee and do this armchair activism.

Who is the most worried about Aamir and family wanting to go out of India? Not the people who live here, but those who left this country for what-so-ever reasons to make a life out of India. The NRI’s. They are all over the place slamming Aamir. Why did they move out of India if the love for the country paramount for them? He is the hypocrite who comes out after taking the oath as an American citizen and spills his anger all over Aamir and family for them wanting to move out of India.

Is there intolerance?? Yes there is. When a set of people decide what one should eat, say or live in, that is intolerance. What our tolerant folks are showering on Aamir family is intolerance. There are comments like, Go to Syria and join “their people" in Isis. They don’t even realize she is a practicing Hindu. What Aamir and his wife practice in their home is tolerance, towards another person, and their beliefs.

Is it religious against Aamir? I think so!! The same hindutwa forces wanted Sanjay Dutt to be released on humanitarian grounds.. No one asked him to be deported to Pakistan. Aamir or his wife has not done a bigger crime than Sanjay Dutt.

Yes we are intolerant and our meters have hit a new low.

On another note, though I understand the sentiments and the emotional outburst of Col Mahadik’s wife, and totally sympathise with her, I think it's wrong on her part to commit her kids to army careers. It is wrong to put that pressure in any kid for any career for that matter. They should grow up and decide if they want to become a commando or chef.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Totally Beefed up

The whole comedy surrounding the beef ban took me many years back. 1996 to be precise. 

Myself and my cousin brother  had recently moved into Bangalore city. For some time we stayed with his sister,and then moved into a house of on our own. It cant be called a house. It was rather a room built on the terrace of a commercial complex. But, we had enough time in our hands especially over the weekends. 

One such crazy weekend, we decided to cook beef. We had no clue how to !. We went to Yeshwantpur and bought couple of kilos of beef. Yes, 2 kg for two of us. What were we thinking ? Only Gomatha knows !! Now that we had the beef, it had to be sipped down. So we bought some spirit.a bottle of rum.

How do you cook 2 kgs of beef ? My bro seemed to know. So in went the beef into a pressure cooker. He told me it cooks slow. So slow it was!! . The rum was vanishing as the pressure cooker kept whistling tirelessly. Beef wasnt getting cooked it seems ! And we were running out of patience and rum. The latter being a tougher commodity to replace. 

My cousin took out the beef from the cooker finally. A tawa replaces the cooker. Various masala powders get sprinkled generously and the beef is getting prepared well ,for our taste buds to feast. After a while, probably when he got bored stirring it endlessly, my cousin takes some out into a plate and serves our first ever self cooked starter. We both have a piece each. I chew it to what seemed like eternity, and after gulping it down with a generous doze of rum, I look at my cousin. He was trying to come in terms with his beef adventure himself. 

After an hour, the only progress was aching jaw bones and  heavily sloshed  head. Two kg of beef was still staring at us. I felt it was ridiculing me, or may be I was in fact drunk. We kept our egos in the pressure cooker and proceeded with a huge vessel full of beef to our sister's house. She took one look at our culinary production. I don't remember if she laughed or cried. It wouldn't have made a difference, anyways.

She took the beef into her kitchen and in half hour came with a remixed version of our very own original preparation. Needless to say, that smelled eatable. We realized why we should not have experimented so much. 

We all feasted for a week on beef. Yes, a whole week !! That officially is the last time I bought beef. We had so much of beef that it took the excitement of craving for beef away. 

Now that someone wants to ban it, it might be enough reason for the crave to be back. 

Now, I'm Ready to be beefed up again. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Justice about Injustice - Aruna Shanbaug and Sohanlal Walmiki

I'm not sure if this is Justice about Injustice or if it is Injustice about Justice ... 

I was surfing channels the other day when I heard this name again “ Aruna Shanbaug” and  I ended up  tuning into a debate on Euthanasia.
Yes, I do have my strong opinion that Euthanasia should be made legal, and a person like Aruna is the most deserving case of humanity through mercy killing. But this is not about Aruna.

This is about Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. He is the sole reason that a young nurse, has been left to live a life of pain for the last 39 years.  Many would have read about her, for those who have not, this is what happened.
Aruna was 25 year old nurse working at the King Edward hospital in Mumbai. On 29th November, 1973, while she was changing after her shift, she was sexually assaulted by a ward boy of the same hospital named Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki. He choked her with a dog chain and then proceeded to rape her. On realising that she was in her menstrual cycle, he changed the plan and instead sodomized her. He left her bleeding, after robbing her of her jewellery and watch. She lay there undetected till the early hours of the next morning when the morning shift started.

The asphyxiation cut off oxygen supply to her brain, resulting in brain stem contusion injury and cervical cord injury apart from leaving her cortically blind. She was bereft of the power of speech and expression. She lost the ability to control her muscles, use her limbs and worse, lost her memory. In other words, clinically she became brain dead!. Now Aruna is permanently bed-ridden, curled up in an awkward foetal position for the last 39 years ! !. Her friends approached the Supreme Court of India with an appeal for mercy killing or Euthanasia. The three-member medical committee set up under the Supreme Court's directive, checked upon Aruna and concluded that she met "most of the criteria of being in a permanent vegetative state". But the Supreme Court rejected a plea for Euthanasia, and she continues to EXIST.
Now what about the man who did this to her ?. Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki was sentenced to 7 years in jail. His charges ? Robbery and attempt to murder. The police had registered a case of robbery and attempted murder, and not rape. The case of anal rape was kept concealed under the instructions of the Dean of KEM, Dr. Deshpande.
He walked out of prison and is believed to have started life fresh in some part of the country, with a new identity. Ironically it seems he is a ward boy in some hospital.
Is that the price one pays for putting a hapless victim through endless suffering for the last 39 years? A mere 7 years of state hospitality? Who pays for the sufferings of a young nurse who was to get married soon?
The same law which denied her euthanasia plea, forces her to live through the pain till she dies naturally. The same law also provides for Sohanlal Bhartha Walmiki to walk out scot free, after 7 years, get a job and new life and total freedom. Added it has given him complete anonymity. You cannot even trace him down, no images, and no whereabouts whatsoever.
If this is justice, what is termed as injustice?

PS : Sources/credits : Data & Images from google search and other sites. I have consolidated the information, and have tried my best to check its authenticity. But I request the reader to use your best judgement.