Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kasab's Hanging - My Take

I am a bit late with this subject. It is four days since Ajmal Kasab was hanged. I saw the country ‘celebrating’ the hanging with people dancing on the streets and bursting fire crackers. Our channels telecasted the act just as they did the opening/closing events of Olympics. I do not know if this senselessness is inherent in us or we do it because political outfits eager to get cheap popularity ‘organize’ these things and the media more eager to attract viewers, telecast them. It was sad.

Kasab’s act was horrible, unfortunate, considered war against the country and it was right that according to the law he was to be hanged.  People ‘for’ capital punishment should have heaved a sigh a relief, those against it should have shook their heads and accepted it as something that could not be helped and that was it. It did not call for celebration. The act of hanging was not something like winning a war or test match.  (We have reached a stage where both of these are same for us)

These things remained just as just thoughts in my mind and I had no intention of putting them here. Just now I saw a photograph of ‘supporters’ of MNS carrying a mock Hanging of Kasab in front of CST Mumbai and noticed the expressions of bravery and ferocity in their faces. That made me come out with this post. I don’t think any one of them would have stepped out of their houses if they had heard that Kasab had escaped and was somewhere in Mumbai with another gun in his hand. 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just SomeThoughts

As I have mentioned many times before, some of the news items that I read in the papers create a bigger impact than many others for no apparent reason. I will have a strong urge to do something about them but can’t do anything. And they occupy quite a number of grey cells in my brain of which there is a very limited supply to begin with. So I pick them out (thoughts I mean, not grey cells) and put them here thereby releasing the grey cells and allowing them to take up other essential activities.

Bala Saheb Thackeray’s death took up some space. Not his death as such. He was aged and due. Everybody have to die one day. My condolences and may his soul rest in peace. I am not an admirer of Sri Thackeray. In fact, I do not know much about him except the fact that he was supposed to have been a good cartoonist who was intelligent enough to fire up the ‘Maharashtra for Maharashtrians’ feeling and exploit it for his growth in the society. What upset me was the crazy behavior of his supporters on hearing the news of his illness and death, forcing Maharashtra to close down. Since we are ‘like that only’ I took it in my stride. Today I read the news of two girls being arrested for posting their views (very much similar to mine) about it on the net. I believe the police had to arrest them as they were forced to do so by ‘shivsainiks’. There is no hope for our country and there is no hope for the windowpanes of my house and the windshield of my car if ‘shivsainiks’ read my blog.

The other item I intend mentioning is the death of more than twenty people because in a stampede near Patna. I believe they were there to offer ‘Arghya’ (a religious offering) to the setting sun.  Let me not get into the subject of religion and religious practices or the inadequacies of any government. I will get bogged down up to my neck. I feel bad about the loss of life but I wonder why crowd any place for worshiping the sun?  One of the Kannada proverbs come to mind. “Aakaasha nodoke nookunuggalu” which can be translated as “crowding and jostling, to see the sky!”.

Incidentally, happened to see bits of the movie ‘Oh My God’ on the TV. Very much liked the bits that I saw. Today I read that the ‘Hindu Janajagruti Samiti’ is protesting the screening of the movie (for making fun of gods) during the IFFI in Goa (I do not approve of IFFI in the first place - waste of public money in my opinion, that is another matter) and demanding that Akshay Kumar be not allowed to open the event. He made the movie OMG and is expected to inaugurate the IFFI- Goa.

Anything one does, offends someone else and evokes severe reactions.We are going from bad to worse. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

'Happy Diwali'

The SMS greeting arrived the night before Diwali. It was a long one and it ended with,
“May the festival of thousand lights illuminate your life - Happy Diwali”

Just as I finished reading the message I heard the sound of a cracker bursting and the lights went out.  It was not a cracker. A fuse had blown in the fuse box of the transformer next to our house. Total darkness. I called the electricity department. No answer. I went there. There was only one clerk sitting gloomily in the office. I wrote the complaint.

“No staff. There is only one line man on duty”. 
I waited in the office. A line man arrived after half an hour lamenting that he has been put on duty when everyone else is in ‘Happy Diwali’ mood.
“Our driver is not there. You take him with you and drop him back” the clerk said. 

I took the line man on my scooter. He replaced the fuse in the fuse box and voila, our life was illuminated! 
I dropped the lineman back wishing him ‘Happy Diwali’ and placing a fifty rupee note in his hand without which there would have been no happiness.  

That was last year. Our lights are on this year and I am able to send this to wish all of you   


‘May the festival of thousand lights make your life glow. May the fuse in your life's fuse box never blow’.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Snake In My Garden

I was preparing a tooth for a filling and my assistant, who was mixing the filling material on the working table near the window, suddenly dropped the instruments and started gesticulating wildly. When I went closer I heard her whispering “snake” and following her pointing finger, noticed the creature on the stone tiles in front of our portico. On an impulse, I dropped my instruments and ran out to get a better view. That was foolish. Snakes don’t hear but they sense the vibrations in the ground and move away. If you intend getting closer to a snake you need to tread slowly and lightly. Our snake however seemed to be still young and not well versed with the ways of snakes and hence, had remained where it was.

I had a closer look.  It was greenish brown or brownish green which ever you like better, about two and a half feet long and as thick as my thumb. It was stationary, had its head raised and was facing my clinic window. My next impulse was to get a picture of it for posting it on face book. Day in and day out I see all my friends posting pictures of birds, bees, beetles, bushes, butterflies, flowers, plants, clouds, sun and moon and I had not found anything worthwhile. Here was my chance. I ran in to get the camera. (If you are searching for the snake in the pictures, please don’t strain your eyes. The snake is present only in the story and not in the pictures! Pictures only show the spot where I found the snake and where I lost it) That was foolish again. If you want to do anything with a snake, never take your eyes off it. If your eyes are away even for a second the snake performs the vanishing act. But this was a very considerate snake. It pardoned my foolishness and had remained in the same place and pose till I came back with the camera. But I don’t know what made it suddenly change its mind, may be it noticed the camera in my hand and saw the ‘Paparazzi’ in me, it had slithered away sometime between me shifting the focus from the natural eye to the camera eye. Frantically I searched for it and just caught sight of its tail disappearing into the jasmine bush.

This jasmine bush is right next to our portico and from there it is just another step into the house. Now the impulse was to forget the camera and the face book and see that the snake is lead out of our premises before it claimed resident status in 139/6, Curti- Ponda.  When your intention is to prod and coax a snake out of your property the camera is of no use and so, I ran in again to get a stick. Third time foolish. It had not taken more than ten seconds for me to get back with the stick (we keep some sticks next to the front door because I take one for my morning walk and we use them to shoo off dogs, monkeys and when the situation arises, a snake) but by the time I got back, the snake, probably fed up with my foolishness, did not want to have anything to do with me and had moved away. I did not find it either in the jasmine bush or anywhere around.

Now there were three possibilities. It might have gone deeper into our compound and reached the back of the house, it might have gone out the way it had come or it might have followed me and entered the house unnoticed. The floor of the portico and the steps are polished and snakes usually do not prefer polished surfaces. And if you believe my wife, our veranda is so cluttered with compressors, inverters, shoe racks and book shelves and looks so horrible that nobody would feel like entering it. Assuming that the snakes harbour similar sentiments, I ruled out the third possibility and decided to make sure that it was not anywhere within the compound.

First I beat the hell out of the jasmine bush and proceeded slowly towards the back of the house. After trying to prod and coax a length of flexible rubber pipe, a strip of cloth and the exposed root of the papaya tree to move out of our compound, I realized the futility of trying to chase a snake out without my glasses  and - no, I did not run back for my glasses. I stood where ever I was and called for it. I was getting wiser! (Though there was no point in getting wiser at this stage) Now, fully equipped with my glasses and armed with the stick I proceeded in a methodical search.

I searched the gaps between the stone tiles placed on the ground, 

overturned the stones supporting the papaya tree and made it lose its balance,

rolled out the discarded car tyres disturbing the lizards relaxing in their houses,

and went through all other places which may welcome a stray snake. My efforts only produced half a dozen cockroaches, few lizards, an army of ants, and a centipede and having found no sign of the snake or its tail anywhere and I declared our property free of snakes.

My wife and son refused to accept my word. My wife said that she has more faith in my son’s contact lenses than my glasses and directed him to repeat the search. My son went around the house once again with extra care under the expert guidance of my wife (who was directing the operations from the balcony) and after another exhaustive search disturbing some more members of the peace loving fauna residing with us, endorsed my declaration.

 I went back to work (my patient was even more considerate than the snake and had waited in the chair all the while) and within another two minutes found my assistant dancing near the window once again. I went to the window and believe it or not, our snake was there again in the same place on the stone tiles looking at the clinic window! I believe that snakes do not have eyelids but I felt that it winked at me as if challenging me for another game of hide and seek. I could afford to lose the goodwill of the snake but not of the patient (‘paapi pet ka savaal hai’) and so, I just stood there watching it and not displaying any eagerness about starting another game. The snake waited for a moment and having concluded that I was not sportive enough it glided out beautifully as only snakes can, through  the water hole in our compound wall towards the thick bushes growing next to our house and disappeared from my sight. 


Friday, November 2, 2012

Fate Prevails

It was quarter past ten at night and we were on our way to Chennai Central station to catch the 23.15 Bangalore mail after spending four pleasant days in Chennai.  People who have experienced Chennai are bound to exclaim “how can Chennai be pleasant?”. It was raining and the rain had turned the city unbelievably cool (while also turning it into a big dirty water puddle) plus we were in the pleasant company of my sister’s family. We went to Chennai to join them for my nephew’s ‘wedding shopping’. They were happy that we joined them and my wife is happiest when she is shopping - for anyone, for anything, anywhere. So, everybody was happy (shop owners the most) and I was happy looking at everyone being happy. “naguva keLuta naguvudatishayada dharma”!  - Mankutimmana Kagga.

We had crossed ‘Adyar’ bridge, and were just fifteen minutes away from the station. I was looking forward to a comfortable journey back, the Bangalore mail being one of my favourite trains. Whenever I have travelled by that train, it has been on time. It departs at my bed time 11pm, and arrives at my wake up time, 5 am. Very convenient.

Since it was past ten the traffic was light and in no time we were on the ‘Kamarajar promenade’ running parallel to the Marina beach. Lovely stretch of road. We would be in the central station in another ten minutes.  We were engaged in light talk and I was addressing my brother in law as ‘His lordship’ and was trying to pull his legs making light of his elevated status. In his new assignment, he is an ‘Expert member’ making up a ‘bench’ along with a judge in one of the central tribunals and enjoys the status of a secretary to the government.

The driver turned into the Flagstaff road and was now about five minutes away from Chennai Central. Immersed in our talk, we noticed that the car had stopped, only after it had been stationary for more than three minutes. There was a block ahead. It was 22.40 but we were almost there. Once the block cleared, we would be on the platform in a jiffy. No worry.

A police vehicle arrived and diverted the cars to the other side of the road, one which was meant for oncoming traffic. Our  car moved, momentary anxiety passed and my wife and sister got back to the analysis of ‘sarees’ that had been bought while I tried to understand the purpose behind constituting the Central Tribunal that my brother in law had joined. (Other than giving him a cushy post retirement job.)

Within half a kilometer the car stopped again. The side of the road (actually what is called the wrong side) in which we were cruising was also blocked solid. It was less than half an hour before the departure of our train and pangs of anxiety started traversing along the body. I started looking at the watch every half a minute.  Two minutes passed and our driver realized that if he has to reach Chennai central, either he has to find an alternate route or somehow convert the car into a helicopter. He decided on the former course of action, took a U turn before our back was packed and we were on the way back to beach road. He said that he would turn into the ‘North fort road’ further ahead and that we would be in front of Chennai Central before eleven.

He kept his word and we were right in front of Chennai central five minutes before eleven. All we had to do now was take a right turn to enter the station but the road divider prevented that action.  We had to proceed another hundred meters, take a U turn, come back and enter the station. But when fate decides to trouble you it puts in its best. We were right in front of the station but in yet another traffic jam and proceeding even a centimeter was out of question let alone hundred meters.

Now it was three minutes to eleven and pangs of anxiety were turning into pangs of panic. I was looking at the watch every ten seconds and had an immense urge to get out of the car, climb over the road divider and dash into the station. An action not possible as there was no way that the doors could be opened in the traffic jam (our position somewhat similar to that of the municipality fellow in the first scene of ‘Lage Raho Munnabhai’) and assuming that somehow we did, no way that I could make my wife climb over and cross the three feet high road divider. Twenty eight years back I would have just lifted her and put her across and it would have been a pleasure. I could attempt it now only if I were a crane operator. So there was nothing to do other than sit inside the car wringing our hands. A true case of “so near and yet so far”.

Miraculously the vehicles ahead moved, and we reached the point of U turn only to find the reverse flow was also blocked. It was 23.00 and we were in a state of total panic. The driver who seemed to be the  only one still in his senses, turned into an opening which seemed to be leading away from the station, ignoring the orders of his ‘Lordship’ and the possibility of being held for ‘contempt of court’. He got into a narrow lane running behind the station and after a few twists and blind turns had arrived near platform five from the back! We were just about fifty meters from the platform when he found out that Chennai had many more equally resourceful drivers who were ahead of him and they had blocked that narrow lane too.

I had a lot of faith in our driver’s abilities but at that moment I decided that the time had come for me to depend up on my own. I found that there was enough space around the car to open the doors and the boot, jumped out, snatched two suitcases and started running towards the platform. My niece took a backpack and a bag and my wife and sister managed to carry themselves with an agility not usually seen. My brother in law was running with a suitcase on his head. It was too heavy for his hands.

Our compartment was at the far end of the train and after having run what seemed like a marathon along the platform, we were in it with three minutes to spare. My wife placed a hundred rupee note in my sister’s hands to be handed over to the resourceful driver along with our thanks and as we bid farewell we could hear the engine whistling. 

As the train rolled out of Chennai central I was left wondering at the ways of fate. Fate, even though at times seemed to be working  against its own will, had willed that we catch the train that day and it had also willed  that my brother in law - at whose disposal the government has placed, staff to carry his briefcase, open the door of his car, hold his gown ready for wearing, and even open the cap of his pen for signing a judgement - ran with a suitcase on his head in competition with the porters of Chennai central, to make us catch that train!

“Vidhiya horegaLanu tappisikoLuvanellihanu? ……………… Vidhiyagasa, neen katte, mankutimma”
Where is the one who can evade the burden of fate?......... fate is the driver and you, the donkey!

Note: Picture in this post is not mine. Taken from the net to have some colour.