Whims And Fancies Of The Rich And Mighty

In July 2012 a person from Kerala made news for paying 12 lakhs to acquire a number for his vehicle, which had zero as the last two digits and left people wondering about the strange fancies of the wealthy people of India. Again in October 2013, either not wanting to feel left behind or just  feeling inspired, another person from Tamil Nadu, a taxi company owner paid a hefty sum of 33.93 lakhs for a fancy number, 20002000 !! Let’s not forget Vijay Mallya’s penchant for yachts, vintage cars and making calenders with skimpily clad match stick figured girls. How much he spends on these calenders had made news in those days. And then came the news of Mukesh Ambani’s gift to his wife Neeta, the 27 storied Antilia. Twenty seven stories doesn’t sound like one family residence but a housing society!! This gift of love is said to be having six stories exclusively for parking vehicles, three helicopters pads, countless lounges, elevators, powder rooms, guest rooms, ballroom, swimming pools, gym and a full fledged theatre to watch movies with a wine room, snack bar and entertaining space to make movie watching better than the one at an actual cinema hall. Now it is topping Forbes list of the world’s costliest homes.

While the public was still digesting the news of the twenty seven story house Nita Ambani  hogged the limelight with her saree which is supposed to have cost forty lakhs !?!   It is said to be the reproduction of Raja Ravi Verma’s eleven paintings and took one year to take the final shape at Chennai Silks with over thirty people working on it.  It has pure gold embroidery with genuine gem stones and weighs eight kgs!!  It has made ti the Guinness book of world record as the costliest saree.

There are many more such examples of which these are only a few outrageous samples. We middle class people cannot digest such larger than life doings of the rich and the mighty. Isn’t it absolute madness spending in lakhs for a number on your vehicle or a saree?  When lakhs and lakhs of people in the country are striving to make two ends meet, such display of wealth looks disgusting. While people grow old dreaming of a shelter of their own, how must they be feeling when they see buildings like Antilia? Reading about the details of the house in itself so tiring and I wonder if the four or five members of  the family who live there, get to go to all the parts of the house even once in a year 🙂 Why does anybody need an overly huge house even if one is filthy rich? At the end of the day all you need is ONE bed to relax and sleep in.  And given the fact that these are very busy socialites one cant help wondering if they ever get to enjoy the home theatre and this and that.  🙂

All said and done there’s something positive in Ambani’s extravaganza, only if you are willing to take a note of it.  Antilia is taken care of, by a staff of 600 people who are busy in the upkeeping of the house. That means Antilla is the reason behind the running of 600 households in Mumbai. Isn’t that absolutely amazing? Going overboard in one’s display of wealth is one thing and providing employment to hundreds of people is another thing, specially in a country like India where uemployment is a major problem. Same thing goes for the saree episode also because it gave thirty odd weavers work for a year without any gap.  I’m sure this has boosted the morale of all those involved in it’s making and given them a hope that as long as long as people like Ambanis are there, they don’t have  to worry about their rozi roti.  May be, its not as bad as it seems to us. But I still think that the money for those fancy numbers for  the vehicles was not worth it because it didn’t do good to anybody except making the man who spent for it, happy.  I think there is no dearth of such whimsical people and we may get to hear about many more crazy things they do, very soon. 🙂

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The Monkey Business

While writing about government quarters I had mentioned about the intelligence of monkeys as I get to see them invading my garden quite often owing to the variety of things they get here.  This gives me an opportunity to observe them closely and I must say I’m both amazed and amused.  Time and again they have proved that they are our ancestors.

Today as I was enjoying some monkey tricks going on in the garden I got hold of the newspaper and there was some news about monkeys that caught my eye. It said the Chinese Air Force has created a battalion of ……. yes, monkeys!! The Peoples’ Liberation Army, it said, has created a group of monkeys to help protect one of the air bases from a huge flock of birds that cause problems for planes during landing and taking off. Earlier, the army had tried all possible things to get rid of these birds like firecrackers, firearms and scarecrows, all in vain 🙂 That’s when they thought of employing the monkeys. Guess what! It’s working and working very well. The monkeys are said to be responding to their masters’ whistles as obediently as any military cadet would!! They have been successful in chasing away the trouble shooter birds .

This particular news reminded me of the time  when my husband was posted at the Army Headquarters,, Sena Bhavan in Delhi in mid nineties. He used to tell me that people working in Sena Bhavan building were a troubled lot because of monkey menace, the small sized and red faced monkeys. Everyday when people came down to the place where their vehicles were parked they would find the scooter seats torn, the side view mirrors of cars meddled with and of course scratches here and there, sometimes attacking people.  These monkeys would come and sit on the window sills at lunchtime and keep making noise asking for something to be given. When the monkey menace became too much, bigger monkeys called the langoors (the ones with black face and long tails) were hired to control and drive away the small monkeys that were troubling people.  Here also, the languor was successful in doing his job 🙂  In fact all government office buildings many other places had this problem it seems and everywhere the langoors provided the much needed relief. But I heard recently that the New Delhi Urban Development Ministry has issued a notice asking to stop the use of langoors for this purpose, may be under pressure from the animal lovers and activists.

If the above incidents show the intelligence of monkeys and their capability to execute the orders given by their trainers, my friend who lives nearby told me about an incident where she got to see the emotional side of monkeys. This friend of mine also has a nice garden lined with trees. ( in Jabalpur cantt almost all houses are like that)  So, one day she saw a group of monkeys sitting unusually quiet. Surprised, she just stood behind the mesh door and watched them.  After a while she realised that one of the monkeys, probably the mother, was hugging a baby monkey which was dead. The mother was not ready to leave it’s baby and was cuddling it all the time while the other monkeys in the group looked at it sympathetically as though they were saying ‘ we understand your grief ‘. This went on for almost three four days with the mother clinging to her baby all the time and not putting her down for a moment also. Her friends would go hopping from tree to tree while she sat watching them. After a few days, probably hit by the hard reality that her baby would not come alive again, she let go of it and went away. When Shashi told us all about this we were all speechless and overcome with sympathy for the mother.

So next time you come across monkeys don’t just shoo them away. Treat them with a little more respect. In a country which worships Lord Hanuman isn’t it sad that these monkeys are stoned and tortured?

 

 

 

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Anybody For ‘Dukhi Pati’ Sangh?

Nowadays we see hundreds of NGOs who claim to be working for some or the other cause like uplifting the downtrodden, providing food and shelter for the poor, caring for the children of commercial sex workers and fighting against harassment of all kinds of atrocities against women.

Now another never heard before kind of NGO has surfaced which calls itself, Akhil Bharatiya Patni Atyachar Viridhi Sangh runby a Mr Dashrath Devda in Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Mr Devda, I believe goes from door to door trying to find out if the husbands are harassed. And don’t laugh….atleast 600 + husband have accepted that they are harassed by their wives. Dashrath Devda is contesting from Ahmedabad east for a Loksabha seat and what is he promising the people of Ahmedabad if he gets elected? He’s assuring the dukhi patis some relief in the form of a law which would protect them from their bully wives. His argument is – when we have so many laws protecting the women, why not have some for men too?  According to him, women are not the only aggrieved lot but men too are suffering. So, he says, like women have section 498 (A) of the Indian Penal Code for their protection against domestic violence, he’ll fight to bring in section 498 (B) to protect men from patni atyachar, totally in favour of the husbands.

When we read about this news for the first time our immediate response is to laugh 🙂 But give it a little thought and we are bound to agree that there are quite a few dominating women in real life like Lalita Pawar and Bindu  of Hindi movies and Ramadevi from  Kannada movies. Harassment need not be in the form of hitting and manhandling but could be mental torture like it happens with most men. I don’t think any woman will try to manhandle her partner given the fact that men are physically stronger than women. So in most cases it would be mental torture in the form of constant nagging, taunting,  comparing with others etc. apart from the many more reasons probably I am not aware of.

I’ve seen a number of women making it very clear as to who’s the boss of the house in the way they deal with their husbands or the way they talk about them while in a group of people, be it relatives or colleagues.  They taunt them on some pretext or the other saying words to the effect of ‘good for nothing’. Many have the habit of constantly comparing ‘ghar ka murga’ with x,y or z and wailing in self pity that they are the unfortunate ones. One of my relatives makes her husband do most of the household chores while she makes excuse of diabetes and leg pain to keep sitting. This husband is not any lallu-panju but a central government officer who retired at a senior level.  But the poor thing is laughed at by the relatives and called ‘henpecked’. I really don’t know the history of this word, but it’s a widely accepted name for hapless kind of husbands. I feel there’s nothing wrong if a husband shares the burden of domestic work  and helps his wife. But it should not be a one sided affair as it happens in most of the cases-be it the husband or the wife.

I’ve also come across some women who take the credit, whole and sole, for any good thing happening in the family. They go to the extent of saying that if they weren’t there, their husbands would be lost, the kind of ‘good for nothings’ they are!! But I really wonder, why should a husband or wife be afraid of each other?  Unless and until men and women learn to respect each other and understand that a happy family can exist only when there’s mutual respect, trust and love between the two of them, such things will continue to exist.  If there’s love and understanding, is there any  need to have a atyachar virodhi sangh either for the pati  or the patni??
By the way, one last word. I’ve not told my husband about this dukhi pati sangh because I’m worried that he might just go and become a member, if he comes to know about it. Kiske mann mein kya hai, who knows? 🙂 🙂 

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The joy of living in government quarters

My childhood was spent in government quarters as my father was an engineer in Karnataka Power Corporation Ltd and he used to get posted to places where there was a need to build power houses in hydro electric power projects. So he had postings in various places within Karnataka and each posting used to be for about four years minimum, not like army postings- packing every two years, sometimes even before that. Most of the places used to be small and we lived in our own small colonies and in spacious quarters with huge space all around the house.

Huge garden space

Huge garden space

After my marriage I once again got the opportunity to live in colonies and government quarters- houses for Defence services maintained(?) by MES.  People who live in quarters keep cribbing all the time about this and that. It’s obvious because frankly speaking, these quarters belong to nobody. So the maintenance part leaves a lot to be desired.  Every now and then we have people coming in and going out of the house- plumbers, electricians etc because somewhere a flush is not working or a switch not functional or may be, the most common thing in all government quarters, seepage. The residents of the house keep changing every two-three years and everybody who lives there does his bit to sort out the problems to the best of his ability and tries to improve the look of the house and the garden.  But given the fact that the work has to be done by the MES one can understand what’ll be the outcome of all the trouble. But still, people try to keep it as good as possible. That aside, living in government houses is fun because the houses are spacious and some places have huge bungalows as quarters. The area around the house  would be so much you can get your children married there.  Whoever occupies the house tries to add his own touch to make the house and garden better than how he got it. As a result the house becomes a comfortable place and the garden, marvelous. Our own house that we are living in, from past two years, has huge space all around the house and there are a lot of trees like mango, tamarind, Indian goose berry (amla), guava, custard apple, jamun and ber, drumsticks, jackfruit, papaya apart from ashoka, peepal, neem and night queen and many others whose name I’m not aware of. If we want to buy a house of this size in civil with such a huge garden, I think it would cost us in crores ! Owing to the existence of so many trees a lot of variety of birds like sparrows, mynas, cuckoos, parrots, owls and others are seen flying around. Add to it the squirrels, butterflies, monkeys and snakes! Though the presence of snakes is terrifying, rest of the creatures are lovely, cute and funny. There’s so much of cuteness in the way a squirrel eats holding something in it’s (both) hands. A big salute to the intelligence of monkeys who know exactly when are the vegetables and fruits available and where. If one thinks of plucking the vegetables or fruits a day later, one may not get to eat it because the monkeys would somehow know and arrive at the right time.  They eat some and throw some and you have to just watch them doing all these things because you can’t go near them 🙂 I for one, never feel bad if the monkeys empty my garden because I don’t know why but I really love their mischievous behaviour. It’s so amusing to see them swinging on the tree branches, hopping from one tree to the other or the way they cuddle their babies n pick lice from their heads 🙂 They are the most bindas and mast-maula living things that I have ever seen, totally carefree. IMG-20140428-WA0002 After years of staying in such quarters, in beautiful surroundings with so much of greenery around, I wonder how would it be to live in an apartment in what we call the concrete jungle. As husband’s retirement is hardly a year and three months away, I’m actually dreading the life after and I’ve no doubt that I’m going to miss all this beauty around me, but then do I have a choice? 🙂 IMG-20140428-WA0007

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The Widows of Aravan

Tranquil Chaos

 

Imagine a life where,

You walk into a room and people look away.

You try speaking to them, yelling at them, crying in front of them but no matter what you do, you can’t get a single reaction out of them.

People snigger behind your back, abuse you from far away, look at you with contempt or worst of all, treat your existence with complete indifference.

You either get stared at like a zoo animal or looked through like you’re invisible.

May 1996 : I remember my first encounter with them. I was very scared though I couldn’t explain why but I just was. I followed suit and did what all the other adults in our train compartment did as soon as they entered. I stared  out of the window determined not to look back, no matter how much clapping or singing happened right behind my back. After a…

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Parva, the story of Mahabharata

Once again, Mahabharata is on the TV. When it was telecast the first time on TV, I remember it used to be on Sundays at 9 A M. You couldn’t see many people on the roads at that time because everybody, old and young, was glued to the TV set to watch the mega epic. Ladies of the house adjusted their work schedule so as to be there, promptly at 9 A M. Nobody wanted to miss a single episode. It was really really very popular. Even now I believe it’s being watched with a lot of interest and garnering good TRPs but not like the first time. None the less it’s coming out well with good star cast, good performances, lavish sets and better technology and thus,holding peoples’ attention.

The charm of Mahabharata is such that it worked then and it’ll work now. It’s the story of every joint household-sibling rivalry, the hunger for more ( may be power, may be wealth), presence of a Shakuni, the misdeeds of youngsters and lack of respect towards elders and women in general etc. It’s also the story of war and peace, love and hate, sacrifice, selflessness and selfishness, infidelity and loyalty. It’s like a bollywood masala  movie where a little bit everything is thrown in. What quality one admires and wants to get inspired by, is entirely one’s decision.

I love reading and when I was in college I read a book called Parva by, Sri S L Bhyrappa a very renowned writer in kannada.  He was and is, my most favourite writer in Kannada, after whom come Tarasu, kuvempu, M K Indira, and Triveni.  He is very popular, in spite of the fact that he doesn’t write ‘run of the mill’  romance stories. His novels are distinctly different and interesting. Most of his novels are translated into other languages. He’s the winner of Karnataka Sahitya Academy award (twice) and Sahitya Academy Award also. I love all his books but my favourites are Parva, Vamsha Vruksha, Griha Bhanga, Tabbaliyu Neenade Magane. They are just outstanding.

So, my most favourite book by S L Bhyrappa is Parva which tells the story of Mahabharata. Parva means festival in Sanskrit and it’s also a synonym for chapter.I think I read it around thirty two years back and was mesmreized by it. I really don’t know how many times I’ve read and re-read it, but everytime I read it I feel like it’s my first time. Reading it was like an eye opener and helped me to look at our great epic in a different perspective. It looks at each and every aspect of Mahabharata in a logical and rational way, devoid of ‘godly’ elements  which makes it more realistic and easy to believe and relate to.  Just for example, Sanjaya’s ‘divya drishti’ – how he could see things happening in the far away battle field, using his divine power while sitting with Dhritarashtra- in today’s time it doesn’t sound convincing. But in Bhyrappa’s Parva when you read about Sanjaya galloping on his horse from the war field to the palace at sunset to tell the king about the day’s happenings, only to return again, in the wee hours of morning to watch the war proceedings–with his bottoms wounded and paining because of this everyday ritual, you feel ‘yes, this’s possible and very much believable’.  Sanjaya here, is just a war messenger who does an everyday ‘to and fro’  from the battle field to the palace and nothing else.

Parva - the English translation

Parva – the English translation

Sanjaya’s is just one example. There are so many others like the possible fact(truth) about Dhritarashtra’s 100 sons or Kunti’s Pandavas, Draupadi’s state of mind, her thoughts about her husbands, Bakasura vadha etc. where every thing sounds absolutely true. S l Bhyrappa, I believe, did years of research and visited a number of places associated with the Mahabharata like Hastinavati, Kurukshetra, Dwaraka and many more along with the Himalayan region to study and know the facts.

I think, it’s a must read for all kannadigas because it’s fantastic book and we are fortunate that it’s in our language. I was looking for its English translation because I wanted my daughter, who is also a book lover, to read it. Though the English translation had come out long ago, I got hold of it just some time back and finished reading it recently. It’s translated by Sri K Raghavendra Rao and retains the same title.  It’s as good as the original, I must say. It’s a must read for all book lovers. If you read one book of Bhyrappa you wouldn’t rest till you finish reading all his books. Reading is a wonderful feeling and reading Bhyrappa’s books, amazing.

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Pain is……Oh! so painful :(

When we are young and fit we don’t realize how lucky we are that all our limbs and joints are working properly. We just take them for granted. As long as they are working normally and perfectly, nobody is bothered or thankful for that. When one is young, one doesn’t worry about pains and aches because even if a minor pain/ache occurs, it’s gone within no time, thanks to the age factor.

I was no exception to this rule and all these years I was climbing two stairs at a time, coming down the stairs hopping, and walking brisk for an hour like a normal person. Climbing on to a stool and getting things down from the loft was not a big deal at all. Carrying vegetables and groceries at the same and walking home with all the weight was not a problem. But suddenly a few months ago, to be precise, as I stepped into my 50th year, all the above mentioned things started to seem like almost impossible things. My feet hurt if walked some distance, my ankles hurt when I stood continuously for some time, my knees reminded me of their presence when I tried to sit on the floor to do something and most of all, climbing up and down the stairs seemed like a herculean task.  I was having problem in using both legs to go down the stairs and it was only one leg at a time. It was embarrassing and I remember asking myself if these were signs of ageing  🙂

I started wondering what could be the problem. Just a few days ago I was perfectly normal and now, so many problems! I tried to put the blame on my weight ( I’m carrying eight kgs of extra weight for my height), and on a bout of viral fever a fortnight back, which had left me weak.  Also, I thought, stepping into half century zone could be the reason for all my problems. But I had to abandon the last thought immediately thinking of the ‘fit and fine’ older people in the family.  I watched each and every person, specially ladies, walking on the road and realized that most of them walked normally but some seemed to have  problem like me.

I detest going to doctors and thus, was trying to avoid it by pointing out various possible reasons for the problem. Initially, all efforts of my husband and daughter to take me to a doctor went in vain as I was foolishly confident that my problem will get sorted out on its own with time. But I was wrong. The problem aggravated and I had no other go but to visit the doctor.

So, I was taken to Sancheti, an Orthopedic hospital in Pune where I explained my problem to a doctor. On hearing my symptoms he asked me to get a blood test done for B-12, D-3 and Arthritis. The results indicated a severe deficiency of B-12 and D-3 vitamins! Though I found it difficult to believe that I had vitamin deficiency as nobody in my family has it, I was happy that it was not arthritis because I’ve heard that there’s no medication for it. The doctor put me on a course of Meconeuron injections (12 of them) and M bal plus and calcium tablets along with sachets of supplements  to be added to milk once a week.  I was told that most of the vegetarians get this problem as they  don’t get enough of these vitamins in vegetables whereas they are said to be abundant in fish and eggs. It’s not necessary all vegetarians have this problem.

I feel extremely happy to say that halfway through the course of medication, I was back to normal and was walking without limping and there was no pain at all. I cursed myself that I was being adamant in not going to the doctor and unnecessarily suffering like a fool. Now its more than six months of my first day with the doctor and I’m like I was before entering into my golden jubilee year 🙂 The only hitch is that I’ve to keep popping in the calcium and vitamin pills throughout my life and do blood test periodically. I’m back to climbing up on to the stool and going up and down the stairs using both legs alternatively, but definitely with caution.  I’m in ‘no risk taking’ mode now.

My experience taught me two things. One, there are specialists in every field of work and doctors are professionals meant to take care of our health and that we should let them do it. I am saying this because I know, most women are like how I was-they would rather wait and watch than go to a doctor and some resort to self medication like pain killers which is not a done thing. It’s wiser to go to a doctor and get things clarified and take proper medication to get rid of the problem.

Secondly and more importantly, when we go through any kind of pain, mental or physical, our family members feel bad for us and try their best to help us in all possible ways. But I really think that nobody, I mean, NOBODY, but the one who is suffering, can understand the actual extent of pain. It’s not their fault because unless one goes through it one doesn’t understand that pain is… oh! so painful 😦

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