Sunday, August 22, 2010

600 Bucks for Reconciliation

These photos were taken when Jamie, Melissa, T...Image via Wikipedia
This was a big day. They had been waiting for this day for; I don’t know how many years. So was I. I remember a time, when going to a hotel was a big occasion. This was a once in 6 month feature when I got to taste something other than the usual rice-rasam. But it had been a long time since we had done this together. Just me and my parents. I stopped at the ATM with both my mom and dad following me into the counter. It was funny looking at my dad, who was warning me against drawing too much and the look on my mom’s face on seeing the working of the ATM. She kept asking me how it worked at least twice since then. I felt like a teacher taking kids on a school picnic. For once I was grown up.

I eat with them every day. My mom never starts dinner without me, and yet I never realized the distance between us. As I stared across the blue tablecloth and wondered what to speak, I realized that I had never had a proper informal conversation with them in a very long time. It must have been before my teens that I would have spoken to them without fear or hesitation. It felt odd. I could notice their apprehension in ordering and my mom’s eyes kept skirting the price line. I smiled. Some things never change.
I don’t know when the distance had set in. Maybe it was after my failures. But it had grown too big. I meet them everyday, see them and speak to them every day. And yet, we have not had one proper conversation. Dinners are spent across the television sets and the rest of the day in a blank radio silence. And yet, there they were; across the table looking through the menu and choosing the food. Silently…

Soon we were talking and joking. Like long lost friends who just met each other across the street. The early hesitation had melted away into familiarity. By the third course, we were talking about how much I had changed. My father had never eaten so much and neither had mom. Maybe I had never given them that much to eat. I was caught in the no-man’s land of sentimentality and nostalgia. Where everything you see reminds you of something that makes you want to cry. I couldn’t. Not now.

I paid the bill and looked at my dad’s face smiling at me. I could see that he wanted to say something and was holding it back. I knew what it was. We walked out the lobby and got into the rick to go home. My mom looked at me and said ‘Thank you.’ Was that how big a jerk I had become? My parents had to thank me for treating them to a good meal. Was this how far we had grown apart? I didn’t know the answers but I didn’t want to. I just wanted to hug them and cry, cry like I never wanted to let go. But I couldn’t. I was too stunned at my own stupidity.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Selling God At Discounted Rates

Ganpati bappa morya.. pudchya varshi VOTE dya!Image by FrogStarB via Flickr

The knock hits my door like a splash of water on a sleepy face. I open my eyes drowsily dreading who it might be. Its already august and festivals are on us. Rakhi, Independence Day, and Ganeshotsav rise to prominence in this month of fading rains and rising humidity.   I don’t mind festivals, what I mind is sponsoring them. I hate the fact that certain very enterprising entrepreneurs in our society would stoop to the level of using my liberalism as an excuse to collect money. In simple terms, I hate to pay for someone else’s party. So what if it is God himself? If he is so big, he ought to know to take care of himself.

I opened the door to see the jackass with his entire flock smiling at me. ‘Kya hai bey?’  was my first reaction. ‘For ganpati.’   ‘What for ganpati?’  ‘Collection?’   ‘What are you collecting specifically?’   I had by now made up my mind to annoy these guys, as they had annoyed my sleep.  ‘C’mon yaar! Stop playing around.’  I looked at him. Is he really dumb, or do you have to be like this when you are borrowing money?   ‘Listen brother! Appreciate what you are doing here. But I am not interested in paying money for your charade.’  His eyebrows knotted up ‘This is for a good cause’     ‘Really? Are you going to be donating this money to cancer affected children? To the disabled army veterans or to the alcoholics anonymous? Huh!’    ‘Eh…no but…’    ‘Well, then, no. Thank you…Check somewhere else.’

By now my dad had arrived from his shaving ritual and heard the last line. ‘ Shriram!! Stop talking nonsense and give them money!’     ‘I am not going to. If you want, do the honors yourself.’    ‘Uncle, chalega. You give na!’  Oh! Smart move a-hole… You are a salesman.  My dad came to the door with his purse. He picked out a green hundred note and passed it over.  ‘Sorry uncle. Fixed rate hai. 201 Rs.’    What the…!! I couldn’t resist     ‘Pata nahi tha, Ganpati ka bhaav badh gaya! Sorry, we will check some other place. It’s too costly for us.’    That wiped the smirk off the face of both my father and the entire collection team.  My dad was solidly pissed by now.  ‘He is just like that. No respect for tradition. An anti-society mentality! Sorry re… here you go.’ He handed over the money.  I smiled, BTW, that’s anti-societal, dad. Not anti-society. J

I am really pissed that morality and religiousness go hand in hand in society. It is not necessary to be a god fearing individual in order to be morally and ethically correct. But the opposite is always true. You can’t collect money for god on compulsion. You can’t tell me to pay up 200 bucks, on the refusal of which you will term me an unsocial and an immoral bastard. I refuse to be held ransom by people’s opinions. And I do not think the Elephant headed god himself, would mind not being dumped in the oil contaminated ocean for once this year! I hate the fact that what started as a social gathering to integrate people has turned into a competition between money minded groups, creating a platform for corporates to plant their names on billboards larger than the statues themselves. If there is a god, I am sure he is pretty pissed at the way we are using his name.  No wonder, he does not speak to us anymore. 

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Morning thoughts

Crystal City - All Hail the Lightning SunImage by Mo Kaiwen 莫楷文 via Flickr

Staring at broad daylight
Wishing it was night
Falling with the stars in the sky
White as lightning, dark as night,
I stand at the edge of the horizon
When vision fades out of sight
All you can see is the sun, the moon
And the stars watching over your head
While I watch over their lights
Everything melts into serenity
Life stares at you and death smiles;
Love sits by your side
And talks you through the night
So in the morning when I wake
And see the fading sky light
I wonder if this was just a dream
Am I feeling all right?
And yet somehow everything seems fine
Till the time I have you in my sight. 

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

To say or not to say

Heartbreak in StereoImage via Wikipedia

Every time I look at you
There is something new
Is it the hair, the clothes?
Or is it just you?
Sitting there in a crowded bus,
Swishing the hair from your face
As you read that stupid novel
Something from James Hadley Chase.
I stand there watching;
Watching you read and smile,
While the raindrops splash on the window
And the bus crosses another mile.
The way you look at me
When you catch me staring
I wish I said what I felt
I wish I was a bit more daring.
I don’t know if you ever realized
What I felt and didn’t say
I wonder if you looked into my eyes
And knew it on the first day,
That I might never forget you
I wonder if you ever knew.
Would it make a difference?
Would you really care?
Wish I knew the answers
I really wish, I do. 
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