Archive for the ‘Love, Life, Laughter’ Category

One Eyed Tiger

Posted: October 9, 2018 in Love, Life, Laughter
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Neither does he growl, nor does he pounce. He makes no brawl, eats no meat. Well, I’m talking about the one eyed tiger we have at home!

We had planned a big birthday bash for my son Nischal’s first birthday. On the day of the birthday, the photographer called and asked me to carry something which caught the attention of my one year old, so that he could capture expression of sorts in my little one.

I ran to the nearest Archie’s gallery and juggled through some stuffed toys before my eyes fell on a captivating tiger. I was convinced that this tiger was the one! I hoped Nischal would be surprised as a piglet in a muddy pit during the evenings party. But, jinxed as most first birthdays are, Nischal got a bit cranky. Neither my cajoling nor this tiger could get him to pose for that perfect picture we always wanted.

But there was indeed something that caught Nischal’s attention. It was a simple plastic toy train that was in the hands of another kid that had come to attend the birthday party.  Nischal’s face, now bright as morning star, got the photographer started. The photographer quickly got on to his toes and captured, although a few, great candid moments of Nischal and us. One of which is a family portrait hung out on our wall today.

We returned home after a great memorable party with a whole lot of gifts and a useless tiger. Considering I had paid quiet some money, It was initially placed, decoratively, on the window sill In the living room and later moved to a box stuffed with old toys before finally finding its way to a cane laundry basket placed next to our washing machine!

It laid there for 3 whole years, staring hard at me in the eyes every time I emptied the basket. But I would stare back equally stone faced – as if to say – ‘duh, u are sooo wasted.’

Exactly 3 years later, my second son was born, sharing the birthday of his older brother on the lunar calendar 🙂 Now isn’t that a rare thing in itself?!! 3 months after his birth, he was named Ishaan.

When Ishaan turned 7 months old, he started hanging around me all the time. On one such day, as I was taking the clothes off the cane basket and stuffing them Into the washing machine, Ishaan accidentally happened to see the tiger – He was enchanted and captivated by the tiger, as if the tiger had cast his spell on my little one!  It was love at first sight.

Ishaan instantly made the tiger his companion and to this day, they are both inseparable. That tiger is around when our little guy is in the dining room, eating, or in the bathroom, bathing. He sits with us when we watch TV in the living room and even accompanies us in bed.

Now instead of lying somewhere at the bottom of the cane basket amidst dirty linen, he is washed with utmost care under the delicate setting in the washing machine along with ishaans other pristine stuff toys like the blue elephant and red panda. He is then sun-dried and examined to see if he has lost his shape during the wash, lest our captivating tiger should look like an ordinary cat. He is then neatly placed on the sofa, only to be picked up by Ishaan’s supple hands again the next morning.

In the process of being fed, put to sleep, being bathed and made to read books, our tiger happened to lose an eye – his beautiful hazel colored eye could not be found amidst Ishaan’s other toys, on the bed, in the bathroom or the kitchen.

I was worried Ishaan would stop loving him, for, the one eyed tiger now looked old and withered.  But this was only in my mind and I was proved wrong. I was surprised to see Ishaan’s unconditional love for the one eyed tiger.

Every time I asked Ishaan -‘Ishaan, what happened to the other eye of the tiger,’ Ishaan would instantly say ‘abbuuu’ with a serious face which meant ‘wound’ in his baby language. More hugs and many more kisses to the tiger would then follow.

Our once useless tiger suddenly seems extremely important coz Ishaan gave him an identity and placed it closer to his heart.

That, my friends, is the perception of beauty. Beauty is no quality in things themselves: It exists merely in the mind which contemplates them. While Nischal found beauty in that plastic toy train, Ishaan loved his tiger all the more when the tiger lost one eye.

When we learn to appreciate small things in life, smallest of joys bring happiness, and the entire perception of life changes.

So what’s your perception of beauty? a plastic train or the one eyed tiger?!


FOREWORD: This is a post that is dedicated to my grand uncle. The matter and content of this post is best understood by and most relevant to my family circles. Hence the intended audience to this post are my family members and relatives.


6th July 2017. The Hasnabadi family lost another jewel – Raghavendra Hasnabadi.

Education, wisdom, knowledge, eloquence and intellect are the traits all sons of Bhima ji Rao Bhishto carried and exhibited. And to say the least, Raghu ajja was more.

With every death of our grand dads and grand uncles, the protective umbrella of experience and wisdom that has guarded us through life seems to diminish greatly and leave us, the younger generation, exposed to ugly shallowness of our times. Makes me constantly realize that without our elders and the wisdom that comes with them, the heritage that they have guarded on their shoulders and flourished during their lifetime, our lives are too ordinary, superficial and shallow. But you know what’s funny, this realization always dawn’s upon us only after it’s too late. For most part of our lives that we spend with them around, we are seldom aware of the lives they lived and paths they treaded, the hardships they overcame and the challenges they faced. Like the grass that’s always greener on the other side, we read in awe about the lives of the freedom fighters and others whose lives are glorified by our text books. But little do we realize what our grand dads lived were no ordinary lives.

Our grand parents were special. For their actions were driven by sincerity, respectfulness, kindness, and faith. The kind of determination and grit that fueled their energy is no match to anything we have seen or experienced today. They were special, for every one of my grand dads and grand uncles had a story to tell.
Sometimes I wonder if I would ever have a story like that to tell my grand children when I have completed a significant time of my life. Our lives are technology dominated. Sense of superiority comes with superficiality and self esteem grows with picture perfect selfies, better cars and foreign trips. We depend on our phones and power of money more than we depend on our memory and abilities. Discipline is something that we learn only after we step into our 60s or when border line diabetes mocks us. Values and morals diminish with every new generation that sprouts. Our grand parents were special for we can never be like them.

I have always felt the rush to immortalise the stories and golden days our grand dads lived coz rest assured, going further this world will never see grandparents like the way our generation did, with technology seeping into the lives of the old and the young alike, in unimaginable ways, there by diluting the essence of innocence, grandeur and authenticity our grand parents came with.
So I planned to talk to Raghu Ajja and Shankar Ajja( the only 2 jewels who are with us, out of the 8 siblings, along with the other one being Sheku Ajji who is not quiet in a position to recollect anything from her childhood ) in depth about their lives and the message they would like to pass on to the younger generations to come.
But fate had it this way. I barely had 1 or 2 sittings with Raghu Ajja and he is no more with us today.
Well, all said and done, the cycle birth and death is vicious and eternal.
“jaatasya hi dhruvo mrutyuh, dhruvam janma mrutasya cha”
This verse from the holy Gita translates to “An entity that is born, is sure to die. And when it dies, it is sure to be born”
Like puppets, we watch the world take its course and let go of our protective umbrellas, feeling more empty and void than ever before.

But then, there is hope. There is still something that can fuel our lives for the rest of the years that we are to live without our umbrellas overlooking us at all times. Like the touchstone that acquires the properties of the gold that it is rubbed into, in the quest for knowledge and understanding of how our grand dads could do and and be all that they have ever done and been, a lucky few of us, try to learn( and hopefully emulate) how to live it large by spending a few precious moments discussing their lives with our grand dads. According to me, there can be no better life lessons than to carry out conversations with your grand parents.
I can proudly yet with all humility say that I am one such lucky puppet who got to interact with Raghu Ajja, my grand uncle, my umbrella, discussing his life in a couple of sittings.

With Raghu Ajja no more with us, this project of mine remains incomplete. However, I am sharing the details of those precious moments we spent discussing about the journey of his life on this page for us all, the uncertain and confused souls to read. Most part of those sittings went with him educating me about different policies available in mutual funds to invest money in a right way, though 🙂
However, our last meeting was different. His ailment had taken away most of his charm. He had become a lot more quieter and restricted. He had stopped working ( he was self employed and into mutual mutual funds ) and had successfully handed over the same to his daughter Vidhya Atte. That day when I finally met him, like any other day of his ailment, he spent most of the time lying in bed, sleeping. But after he got up and realized I was waiting to talk to him, he sat up on his wooden chair and enquired about my well being. He later began to speak about his life at length for about an hour and a half with hardly a break in between. That was the moment I had waited for in a long time, ever since the seed of documenting the life stories of my grand dads had sown in my head. Ajja was in his elements that day, rejoicing every moment of what he recollected of his childhood days. I will never forget those moments I spent with him.raghu ajja.png

Raghavendra Hasnabadi was born into a Deshashta smartha brahmin family of 9 siblings ( inclusive of him), As the 6th son of Bhima ji Rao Bhishto.
He recalled that his father had a government job, that of a land surveyor working for the British government in India. His father spoke good english and could effectively communicate with his higher ups. As the sole breadwinner of the family, his father often travelled with his mother on duty. This led Raghu Ajja and his siblings to grow up geographically away from one another and in the care of their relatives, meeting mostly during holidays. Owing to their parents transferrable job, the older of the siblings like Rangaraj Hasnabadi ( my loving grand dad) and Hanumantha Rao Hasnabadi moved to Bangalore early on in life and studied college, working and earning along side. The younger ones travelled with their parents and studied at various government schools. Raghu Ajja completed plus-two( translates to 2nd puc in today’s times) and got into a government job in irrigation department much against his wishes. He wished to study further but prevailing poverty led him to fetch a job.
He recalled that despite his father being poor, he was famously known for his righteousness and honesty. Despite not being able to earn a lot of money, all the respect he earned during his lifetime protected his children during their growing-up days. They were all treated with a lot of respect and dignity and were quiet well-known in their village.
Raghu Ajja got into irrigation department in the year 1952. That is where he met one of his closest friends for life Sri. Venkatesh Katti who later became Raghu Ajja’s guru and introduced him to the world of Adhyatma. Thanks to his job, Raghu Ajja got to travel along with Sri Venkatesh Katti across the state/country every time he was assigned a work responsibility. This enabled him to associate closely with his Guru and deeply into the subject of Adhyatma. He studied and discussed in depth, Advaita Vedanta like Shankara Bhashya and Bramha Sutra to name a few. While on travel, after working hours, they would both go looking of a serene place to sit in and around the place they were posted, for spiritual discussion that would go on for hours on end.
It could be a bank of river or a stone slab under a peepal tree.
He recalled that those were indeed some of the most enlightened days of his life.
He slowly began to withdraw from his friends, since their discussions normally happened to be about family-lives, dramas, work and politics which ceased to interest him. There were years of his life where he spent without any friends, with a guru to look up to and a family to care for and he was absolutely in peace with what life had to offer. He learnt astrology and delved into bits of astronomy in the process for about 2 years and even devised a ‘yantra’ after slogging for months! He said astrology charts and calculations were not readily available those days and astrology was also not everybody’s cup of tea, like it’s service is found selling in literally every ‘gulli’ today, luring commoners with a display board with a ‘show of palm’. Neither did astrology earn a single paisa for those who offered consultation, back then. Astrology was only meant for the learned and those who considered it a passion. ” You actually devised a ‘yantra’! How cool is that Ajja?! In today’s times wouldn’t that translate to building an astrology software, or a mobile app, to say the least?!” I marvelled. Bitter experiences related to personal life led him to discontinue his astrological studies.

Sometime around then, Raghu Ajja was introduced to yoga, which along with pranayama, he went on to practice rigidly for decades, which he discontinued due to the knee pain that he developed, barely a few years before he passed away, at the age of 84. Yet, he took to other form of exercises to stay fit! Even if I attempt to talk about his self discipline in the next couple of sentences, it will still be an understatement. So I leave it at that.
He briefed me about how pranayama and Adhyatma go hand in hand, and how one can achieve his goals in meditation when one adheres to rigid pranayama and accompanies that with spiritual studies. Simply put, for a person of his regime, I imagine, ‘self realization’ couldn’t have been too far to achieve.
While on one hand, Raghu Ajja was on his path to spiritual life, on the other, his guru, Sri Venkatesh Katti was on his way to expand his knowledge by studying ‘Tantra shashtra’ and black magic. I am led to believe that his son’s failure to get on in life and indulgence in bad company made his Guru take a plunge into ‘ tantra shashtra’. And that is where Raghu Ajjas ideologies deviated from that of his Guru. Raghu Ajja didn’t want someone practicing tantra shashtra’ for a guru and tried his bit persuading his guru, but in vain. That is when both their paths split and Raghu Ajja stopped his Adhyatma learning from his Guru. Thus, 12 whole years of in-depth learning and spiritual interactions and discussion brought about an enormous change and significant enlightenment in Ajja’s life. Raghu Ajja, though willing to continue his spiritual learning, did not find a suitable guru who could replace Sri Venkatesh Katti. ” Finding the right guru is the most important step towards self realization”, he stresses at this point. ” At the same time, it is a duty of a guru to find a right ‘shishya’ and successfully pass on knowledge for him to attain salvation. And neither is easy” he quotes.

Raghu Ajja retired at 60 as an executive engineer in PWD irrigation department in Dharwad in the year 1993. Post retirement, Raghu Ajja was introduced to LIC and was encouraged to to become an agent by one of his friends, Mr. Yankanchi, the division manager at LIC. That marked another new beginning as he embarked as an LIC agent and later went on to become a certified advisor of mutual funds.
Now STOP and imagine what it is like to prepare for a certification exam and start a career afresh, at the age of 65?! #RESPECT. There after, he built a huge client base for himself in Dharwad and later in Bangalore, all of that, single handedly, which kept him busy and going, until only a few months before his death, when an ailment struck him and he passed on work related affairs successfully to his daughter to continue.
He believed in earning and saving till the end of his life. In one instance he quotes proudly that he has not only saved enough money for his grand daughter Chandrika but also invested in the name of his great grand child( yet to arrive into this world) in a way that Chandrika will get returns on the investment when the time is ripe, about 20 years from now! On the contrary, at 33, where I am half done with life, I am yet to begin a savings plan for myself!
Just as I was engrossed in worthy discussions with Raghu ajja, my 6 year old’s phone call brought me back to my world. I told ajja that I am still left with a number of questions and that I will come back soon. ( Ironically the next time I went to his house to offer my last prayers, I was unfortunate enough to not even get a glimpse of his body, I missed it by less than 10 minutes). As I walked out of his room, Ajja called me and said- ” Pratibha, come here. I have one important thing to tell you. Always remember, if there is ever a worthy investment, they that is only in your kids education. No other investment has ever proven to be of greater worth. Plan and save money for their post graduation and beyond. Education is most important.” I nodded my head in agreement and walked out to bid adieu to Shanta ajji and she remarked with glee ‘ in all these days, it’s only today that he has sat up for so long and had such lengthy conversation with such zest. His words are otherwise very limited and conversations rarely happen. He sleeps most of the time. ‘ Now can you agree more that I am one lucky puppet?! 🙂

On the 6th day of July, did he already know the time was ripe and he would have to depart to his heavenly abode? I don’t know. But all of that day, he lay in his bed, holding his daughter’s hand firmly in his, as he narrated to his wife and daughter, the story of a roman king who executed the lives of so many of his country men for various reasons. The people who had to be hanged on that particular day stood in the queue waiting for their turn. There was an old man in the queue, on to whom his little grand daughter clung on, at all times. When the old man was asked about his last wish, he said that his last wish is to be allowed to hold his grand daughter’s hand, tightly clasped, even when he is on the scaffold with the rope around his neck, untill his last breath.
The Roman king granted his last wish. Thus the old man held his grand daughter’s hand till his last.
Ajja did hold on to his daughter until his last breath.

Today, in my eyes, Raghu Ajja stands as an embodiment of grit and courage, of perseverance and poise, of self-belief and success.

While a puppet like me can only show gratitude with folded hands and thank God for placing me in such lineage, I would also like to say, with all the ‘ancestral wisdom and intellect’ that I have, I would like to live the remaining years of my life, less ordinary.

May your soul rest in peace, Raghu ajja. You continue to live in our hearts.



SCREEEECH. I applied the breaks just in time and prevented yet another untoward accident. Their thunderous laughter still kept ringing in my ears and I could ride my bike no further.

Cut to 2 hours before.

It was a fine sunny Saturday afternoon. I was the only girl on my side of the court, with the rest of them being random guys from the boys volleyball team, practising for the upcoming volleyball tournament. A guy on the other side of the net spiked a ball that came smashing towards me. Quick as lightening, I squatted on my toes, received the ball well and gracefully passed it to the guy standing behind me. Still squatting, I looked back to see how the ball would further be manoeuvred. To my surprise, the boys burst out laughing, unmindful of the ball. Still clueless, I got up and dusted the mud off my pants and to my SHOCK, I realised that my denim trousers had torn apart at least by 7 inches. Not knowing what to do, I took a timeout, picked up my bag, and using it to cover as much as I could, I mustered the courage to walk to my bike. I took one last glance at the boys and now they were rolling on the floor laughing. As I headed home, a gamut of thoughts bombarded me- why me? was the first question. How could I be so undisciplined so as to wear jeans for practice instead of track pants? I blamed myself. The picture the boys on the floor laughing kept occurring before my eyes and i felt so terrible, I almost ran Into the car ahead of me, SCREEEECH..

I pulled up my bike to the side of the road decided to see the brighter side of things. I realised how I had not shed a single drop of tear and gave a pat on my shoulder and told myself – you are a tough cookie. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and imagine. Pretend for a day that you are Bipasha Basu playing beach volleyball- problem solved, I told myself. I reached home with a clear mind, and in peace with myself. On the following Monday, I went to college with my head held high . The boys gave me looks and jeering glances often, but the more they looked at me, the more I felt like Bipasha Basu :). I didn’t mention about this incident to anyone, coz I believed that it’s all a part of the game. And if the boys decided to spread the news across college, what would I care?!

Ladies and gentlemen, Here is what I learned from this whole fiasco
Bad things do happen. how I respond to them defines my character and quality of life. I cannot change the circumstances, the seasons or the wind. But surely, i am not the one to grieve in perpetual sadness, immobilised by the gravity of the situation.

That day, as I walked down the parking lot, all that had happened the previous day appeared like a flash before my eyes.
And I could hear my own voice reverberating in my head – Shed all inhibitions, have no regrets, have no contempt either, for life is too short to be anything but happy.
As I rode back home in a mere 20km speed, with a sense of liberation, feeling lighter and better, with wind in my hair and smile on my face, I remember humming a Guy Lombardo song which goes something like this-
Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think
Enjoy yourself, while you’re still in the pink
The years go by, as quickly as a wink
Enjoy yourself, enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think!

October 23rd, 2003. Little did I know that morning that the date would remain etched in my mind for ever. Those days, I stayed with my Ajji (grand mom) for over 2 years in her house- a duplex building, very lavish for just the 2 of us in a prime area in Bangalore,  just about 2 miles away from my home. Those 2 years of my life, I wouldn’t call the best, but turned out to be very eventful. Eventful because that stay with my Ajji was during my graduation. Since we were just the 2 of us at home, I had begun to enjoy my new found liberty. No one to question me whether I attended classes or where I went in the evening. What more could a girl of 18 ask for? I had monopolized the first floor of the house – there were three bedrooms, and a big lounge, all of which I had used up totally. One big room was for partying when my friends stayed over, we spent nights eating,dancing and gossiping all night long. The big room had a Jacuzzi and mirrors all over one side of the wall. Perrrfect I should say! Grandma would make her visit upstairs only once in a week or so, just to keep a vigil on the domestic maid and ensure that she was doing her duty well. I despised even this visit of hers, for every time my friends visited and stayed over night, the room would generally be left untidy, with some formidable (in my grand mom’s point of view) things littered around. if at such occasion Ajji paid a visit upstairs, that would generally leave me uncomfortable. The other medium sized room was my study room that contained books, my computer, clothes, work papers, CDs, music system, and other et-ceteras. And the third room was something like a dump yard. If my friends came over at short notice or if we had guests at home, then instead of bothering to clean up the place,I would just dump all the clothes and books that littered around in this room since no one entered this room. This way, tidying my room would effectively take less than 5 minutes. Every evening at 6:30 pm Ajji would religiously visit temple and spend about an hour and a half there listening to religious discourses by several god-men  She would then promptly bring home the prasad(sweetened confection offered to God and later distributed among devotees) to share with me. I would typically return home from college around 6 pm. Ajji would keep something ready for me to eat, prepare tea and leave by 6:30 pm after which all of the 90 min was bliss for me. I had the carte blanche to do as I pleased. I would quickly freshen up and make calls to friends. since I would be alone at home, I didn’t have any restrictions to speak my heart out and loud on phone, be it with my male friends, where occasionally our talks would lead to flirting tit-bits  or with my female friends where we shared our gregarious instincts. There was no cable connection, hence watching TV was not an option (Yeah, its funny the house had a jacuzzi but not cable TV  🙂 ). My only pastime would be to eat, listen to music, apply some face pack on and spend time on phone. Studying was not in the list unless it was exam time.

Once it was an occasion of Diwali, festival of lights. Ajji got invited over by my aunt and needless to say, I would pay a visit to my home and spend the 3 days of the festival there. I was excited about going home to stay over. Although home was just about 2 miles away, its was not very often that I got to stay overnight and spend time with my family. Every evening that I paid a visit at home, mom would make sure I returned to Ajji’s place by 9:30 pm since she didn’t want Ajji to spend nights all alone. Though this got on to my nerves occasionally, I would take solace by reminding myself of all the other benefits I was availing from my stay there with Ajji. So, for  Diwali vacation I packed my bag and kept it ready, Ajji did hers and we were all set to tend to our respective invitations next morning. I had made extensive plans for the 3 festival days. First day, I would get-together with my cousins and burst crackers at Adi’s place, 2nd day was Sachin’s birthday, and he had asked me to come over 2 hours before the other friends turned up for the party so we could plan and prepare for the event, third day, I would spend time with my family, at home. I had to get back to granny’s place the 4th day, so I had to max these 3 days up. As per our plan, the next morning, Ajji and I had breakfast, and secured the house keys (both of us had a set of house keys), and left to our respective destination. The first day at Adi’s house was a blast, we had good memorable fun, I returned home along with my sister late at night.I was too tired that night and craved for a cozy slumber. The next day was Sachin’s birthday, October 23rd. I was supposed to be at his place by 3pm and receive friends at 5 pm. I got ready that morning without wasting much time and called Shruti, my second cousin. I asked her if she was free that morning since I had to buy a birthday card for Sachin, and hoped that she would be a company when I shopped. I bought him a nice lovely card (Sachin had a thing for perfumes, so I already had a Tommy Hilfiger perfume gift-wrapped and ready) and when I was done shopping other random stuff, we started to Ajji’s place. I had made sure that I carried a set of keys with me since the dress I wanted to wear for the party was at Ajji’s house. It had to be my favorite black pencil skirt and a high neck sleeveless snug fitting red and white top, accessorized with my white watch and black shoes for the party. It was already 2:30 pm, and we had not had lunch yet and I was running out of time. I parked my vehicle randomly at the gate, since I knew I wouldn’t be spending much time in there, I only wanted 20 minutes to get ready for the party. Lunch, I had decided, I would skip. I swung the gate open, with Shruti by my side, I hurriedly unlocked the door and entered the hall area of the house. I drew the curtains open, and threw my hand bag on the sofa there, and much to our shock, saw the backyard door open and half ajar. I couldn’t believe what I saw and tried to recollect if we had ensured that we locked the back door before Ajji and I left the house 2 days back. As I talked to Shruti about it, we suddenly realized that the light in the room next to the dining hall was on…Someone was in there!! It took less than a second for us to realize that the house was burgled! We felt a flush of hysteria as we realized and immediately rushed out of the main door and bumped hard into 2 girls who were running towards the gate from the backyard. Next thing we know, all of us yelled wild at the top of our voices and went berserk. The last thing we expected at the heat of the moment was to bump into the burglars themselves! The 2 girls were on their way to escape when they rammed into us by chance, little did they know they would get caught this way. Fear and suspense was driving us insane, but it took no more than a minute to gather all courage for me. I held one of the girls hands and banged her on her shoulder, the other girl tried to defend this girl and make an escapade. As I still held the first girls hand, I elbowed the second girl’s neck. The first girl whose hand I had still firmly held, tried to wrench herself out of my grasp, in vain. Soon she  started speaking to me in a tone as if nothing had happened. She addressed me as Akka(meaning sister, the domestic maids here generally address their masters as Akka or Amma) and said ‘its me, didn’t you realize, your maid servant?’ Ah, Gouri…yes, Gouri she was! It then struck to me that she had worked as a domestic help in recent past for about 3 months. I was hardly at home at her routine time and didnt know much about her except that Ajji occasionally grumbled and expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of work she did. But I did remember yelling at her one day since 2 hundred rupee notes were missing from my closet and I vividly remembered keeping the money there just 2 days prior to the theft. She denied having taken that money as expected, but I wanted to threaten her nevertheless, so that next time if she ever encouraged thoughts of stealing, she should know I am no meek lamb. ‘What the hell are you doing here Gouri?’, I yelled at her, trying to conceal the nervousness in my voice. She said that she was on her way home with her friend, felt very thirsty and decided to stop by my house thinking Ajji would be home to give her some water. She went on to explain that she was aware of the tap in the backyard, and when no one attended the calling bell, she went to the backyard to drink water from the tap, and to her surprise, the door at the back was open. Her explanation to save her skin was a wasted effort, I sensed the sheer palpable lie behind her explanation. Shruti and I felt something fishy, and decided to call the police. I latched the main gate from both inside and outside, prompted Shruti to keep a vigil on both and them and not to let go of them. Shruti held Gouri’s hand tight, as I headed towards the room and took a glance at the state the room was in, shocked to see that they had broken open the almirah and ransacked the stuff inside. I ran to the phone in the dining hall and called the police, narrated the incident and gave them directions. I called my parents as well as my uncle who also stayed near by. In less than 10 minutes, we had the police and the Hoysala (The official patrol van in Bangalore) guys at the door. The police examined the house,ceased the weapons used to break open the door- a chisel, a dagger, an iron rod with sharp edge on one side, all of these from the small lawn that Ajji had maintained in front of the house, a big stone and a knife. It was a well planned burglary. They carefully picked the weapons in a cloth and put them in a cover and sealed them. As one of the police men interrogated Gouri and her companion, a couple of others kept asking us questions to get better clarity. The police called for the fingerprint experts. In the mean while, the news had spread across the street, neighbors flocked into our house to see what had happened. There stood one constable at the back yard door shouting at all these people asking them not to touch the door handle since the fingerprints on the door had to be captured, and those people whose curiosity got better of them stood in the hall staring at the suspects as the police interrogated them, occasionally taking queer glances at us, until the police signaled them to leave. The phone rang, and as I attended the phone call, I took a customary glance at the clock which now showed 30 min past 4 pm. It was Sachin at the other end of the call – ‘where the hell are you, I thought we both agreed that you would be here at 3?!’ I said ‘Sachin! …err, you wont believe what has happened, there’s burglary at my grand mom’s place…the police…you know how it all happened…’ Sachin was in no mood to listen to me, he felt I was making up things for not showing up in time. He said with a stern voice ‘Ok, so you are coming or not?’ I found it very stupid of him to not believe me, especially when so much was happening at my end. I said some investigation was happening and I would try my best to reach by 6 pm.  Even before it occurred to me that I should wish him happy birthday, he cut the call. I returned to the hall with a grin. All eyes were at the 2 girls who were trying hard to convince the police of their innocence. The police suspected that it could not have been possible for the 2 girls to break into the house all by themselves. They felt there was a man behind the breaking open of the back yard door and the Godrej almirah. The news had reached my granny by then. My aunt brought her in an auto rickshaw without giving out all the information about the theft. She was asked to examine and give a list of all the valuables that were missing in the house. She took a good look at the state the the house was in and headed straight to the kitchen. She opened a big container that contained rice and stuck her hand into the rice grains and juggled in there. She then came out and said that a gold chain was missing!! It took me by surprise that she should hide her gold chain in the rice  container and shock to know that Gouri actually knew where Ajji had hid the chain! She must be one hell of a thief, A thought. The police didn’t react too much, for they must have come across many such stories in their career. One of the senior police men who had sat patiently listening to suspects now got up, took the cover containing the weapons in hand and walked straight upto the girls. He started beating Gouri on her hands and legs, saying ‘enough is enough, if you don’t confess, you will be behind bars. I know how to get stuff out of people like you’. Shruti and I closed our eyes as Gouri flinched in pain. I felt police were man-handling the girls and abusing them without knowing for sure if they were the culprits. But the girls were stubborn, they didn’t budge one bit. The police indicated the ladies in plain clothes who had accompanied them to take the girls to the room and frisk them thoroughly. One of the girls carried a purse that yielded an advocate’s number. The police called the advocate to find out if they could get any more information about the girls. It turned out that both these girls husbands were in jail, serving their terms for theft, robbery and burglary. They later found out that these girls were a part of a bigger group that operated in some certain areas in Bangalore. The clock showed 9 pm and thought of the birthday party and Sachin’s disappointment kept haunting me oevery now and then. I knew Sachin was terribly upset with me for not turning up on the big day and didn’t bother to call me again. I felt bad for spoiling his day. The police decided to take the girls to custody, drove them to the J P Nagar police station. Dad, uncle and I followed them in our car to the station. Without wasting much time, the police tied them in a chair and resorted to shock treatment. I spontaneously shrieked out of fear. One of the lady associates sent me out. As I stood outside the station, I simply couldn’t believe the turn of events that had taken place that day. I could see from outside that Gouri and the other girl had bruises on their faces, both of them weeping badly. It all seemed like a movie to me. In less than 15 minutes, the police came out and said that the girls had finally given into shock treatment and confessed that they carried out the crime. The girls had elaborately explained their planning and execution. They had even disclosed their other burglary fiascoes. I was complimented for our presence of mind and courage, which I conveyed to Shruti the next day. The police suggested not to file an FIR, since the girls had admitted their crime and besides, filing of FIR meant that Ajji and I would have to regularly pay visits to the station and court, which neither of us wanted. My parents, uncle and aunt spent the night with us at Ajji’s house. The next morning, one of the police constables came home and returned the gold chain to Ajji and said that Gouri had dropped it in the police jeep on her way to the station, out of fear. He also said that I would be given police protection for a week, in case Gouri’s associates should try to do any harm to me at the least. There after, for a week, I could see the Hoysala van passing by every morning as I waited at the bus stop to take the bus to college, the police man inside occasionally gesturing a hello by waving his hand up in the air with a smile on his face. Ajji gifted me the chain as a token of appreciation for winning it back to her. A couple of weeks later, One of the uncles from the US at a social gathering said that he had mentioned all about our deed in a web site that he maintained and gave us the link to read what all our relatives had said in response to his article. Shruti and I blushed. We giggled among ourselves and felt so shy, we wanted to run away from the gathering, unable to handle attention. We had become the topic of discussion that day and for a couple of weeks after that. Everyone among our relatives seemed to know what had happened on that day, October 23rd, the day they called us heroes 🙂

Nostalgia…School’s Calling…
I just look back at the years that have passed by, all the emotions and thoughts stirred in my brain at once, and walk ahead to face the next day that’s in store for me, with a shrug on my shoulder and a smile on my face, nothing really to say.
Yes, I just have nothing more to say!! When you remember school, more often than not, you just have nothing more than probably “Those were the best days of my life :)” to say!!
Why is it that we spend more than 10 years in school and yet, we yearn for more schooling?
We have all the money in the world now but still cant buy those precious bygone moments with best friends within the walls of a classroom.
Now, I have no homework to do(just have thankless never ending work at office), no punishments for talking in class and being naughty(I would rather stay mum now to save some energy and restore peace), no black marks for poor performances(needless to talk about carrot and stick policy in IT companies), no complaints from teachers written in our diaries to bring back home(nobody really cares anymore, just make sure the work is done), no impositions to write for not doing home work(I have forgotten how to hold the pen in my hand,for now, I only type).
no rounds to run during Physical training (PT) periods for not polishing shoes(I lack fresh air and good exercise), no more waiting for school vans to pick up and drop(now that I do the job of a driver too, driving to and back from work everyday) no red circles marked in note books for spelling mistakes(no scpe fr spelln’ mstkes while smsing u c), no getting drenched in rain on the way back home and lying at home that I never found shelter(Is it raining? I am at office, no open windows, I didn’t realize) no more crushes and blushes(lets get serious in life, how much does the guy earn? ), no more giggling in the class during lectures till your stomach hurts(My stomach hurts all the time now, I eat at work place), no standing on the podium with a spark in the eyes to receive Individual championships, medals and certificates(I now compete for a star performer of the year/bravo awards) no sleepless nights thinking about crushes in school(I have a boy friend now, no choices anymore), and yet I love my school days and give anything to get back to school.
I now miss just anything and everything about my school- Stealthily nibbling chikkies, chocolates and channa(remember ‘Take It’ channa for Rs.5/- ?) during classes, linking and pairing up my friends with other guys n gals in the classroom, throwing chalk pieces and paper parachutes randomly at others and pretending like I am not aware of it, sharing and leaking small secrets amongst us and making a scandal out of it the next day, by-hearting a poem and delivering the poem before the whole class, kneeling down near the board with hands up for being mischievous in class. Oh, I so miss my friends too, who made my schooling very special:-
Jo – my best friend(Now after 13 long years, we still are inseparable), Divya, cute little girl with a sparkle in her eyes – with whom I studied from class 1 to class 10, Ranjani – we have laughed endlessly, and continued to laugh after school,even at home, Anu- The Ever blushing chick, Vivek H N- Guy with a great sense of humor,Prashanth- The scandalous and most notorious,my male counterpart for School Sports Captain – we used to religiously cat fight every day, Sukla – Mr. Hot tempered,Pavithra, Archana – the Karanth Sisters, Sudi- One to secretly share with me all the ‘guys-only-secrets’ safeguarded by our class guys, one of my closest friends, Manoj – not too loud, but the master mind behind most mischiefs, Rajini – prettiest of all faces, Lakshmi- the first ranker, Chotta-shortest of the lot but the most mischievous, Vani -The PJ queen, and the list goes on…

The sports day celebrations, the punishments, exams, gossips make me nostalgic even to this day.
How every silly little thing seemed important to me then! We were just not aware of anything beyond our note books, exams, friends, secrets, ranks, clean uniforms, little crushes. Even new/fancy pencils and erasers could bring a bright smile on our faces and a single mark more than our counterparts in tests could make our day.

Everyday would begin with a long prayer, followed by NEWS reading and thought for the day.
Classes would commence and we would start counting minutes left for short break.
Lunch breaks were never enough for all the talks and gossips and teasing and playing around that we did.
It was almost impossible to sit through the ‘Last period’ of the day, all of us would pack our bags before hand and wait for the bell to Go.
Just how can i forget this prayer, every day in school had to end with this cute little prayer, with folded hands and closed eyes:-

School is over for the day
Done out work and done our play
Thank you God for the beautiful day
Guard our school by night and day.
Thank you God.
Good Evening teacher, Thank you teacher.

Masala Dosa, By-2 Coffee.

Posted: November 17, 2008 in Love, Life, Laughter

Slrrrup, Slrrrrup!

If you are a Bangalorian, you will definitely agree that there is nothing more refreshing than this combi – Masala dosa, by-2 coffee.
Well, many reasons for that.
One, even in just any mediocre restaurants in any galli of Blore, Dosas and Coffee taste good.
So you don’t have to think twice before ordering a dosa and a cuppa hot strong coffee.
Two, this is easily the most affordable and delicious filling item you can order and feel good about!
Three, I think By-2 coffee concept is cooool 🙂
Its not for Nothing that you see ppl crowded at different Dosa points in almost every locality in Blore.
Some of the best places in Blore for Dosa and coffee are Ganesh Bhavan(Jayanagar 3rd Block), CTR(Malleshwaram), Vidhyarthi Bhavan(Gandhi Bazaar), Mmmmmm, yummmmieee.
I am sure you can keep this list going.
Recently Best Dosa-Coffee contest was launched in Blore and Ganesh Bhavan won the crown!!

My opinion on preferred dishes always stand the same:-
In spite of the the variety of dishes easily available in the best of restaurants now,like Chinese, Italian, continental, yada yada yada, dishes like masala dosa,idli-vada-sambar, pani puri-tikki puri-boti masala, and even Corn(muskin joLa ) and softy (:-)) will never go out of vogue, at least as long as people like me exist on earth!
One more thing that i think is most romantic is stopping by a dhaba or a ‘kaka aangadi’ (if you know what i mean) for a cup of tea. Nothing can beat that!
Also, the very fact that these are very cheap and affordable makes them taste even better . Agree or disagree ?!
Of course, needless to say we must always keep hygiene in mind when we decide to stop by a road side shop.

Now, shout with me-
Dosa – Coffee, ZINDAABAD!

Today we were randomly talking during break and happened to discuss Habits. I decided to share it here.
Habits can get very peculiar and unique and even annoying at times, After a discussion, A friend of mine and I had once concluded that at times, the most important decisions in life were made while in the loo!!
Well, come to think of it, Loos are the best places for deep thinking! lol
While in school, i had a habit of shrinking my nose every now and then, I used to do this to adjust my spectacles on my nose correctly.
The habit continued to remain with me even after I switched to lenses, without my awareness. Just any onlooker would find it funny that I should casually shrink my nose every few seconds. I gave up this habit only after watching myself in the video my uncle shot without telling me.
Man, I hated to even imagine that those cute guys I was trying to impress and also those guys who had a crush on me would have noticed this ugly habit of mine!

What’s most hilarious is this incident that happened in my sister’s class room.
After the test papers were distributed, this student(lets call him Pappu) went to the lecturer to bargain for more marks or he would fall in the ‘below avg category’
that would have to take up the test again.
He is in this gross habit of throwing up saliva while talking, and apparently till date he has never felt embarrassed.
Should anybody feel embarrassed, its always the other person talking to him!!
So while bargaining for more marks, the lecturer kept on declining his appeal for a couple of extra marks. The chap, all desperate and hell bent on getting some free points, in the process of convincing the lecturer, threw out a huge ball of spit and
a part of it entered the lecturers eyes!!
The lecturer, being a not-so-loud-person, not knowing how to handle this nasty situation, gave him a stare for a whole 15 seconds and scribbled a +5 on his sheet and pushed him away!! The whole class burst into laughter and Pappu was glad his habit fetched him some extra marks but never felt ashamed of it!

Consider this. How many times has this not happened to you –
–> You end up sitting next to a person in the queue/bus/train who is constantly digging into his seamless nose pits, concentrating hard on picking his nose like you have never before concentrated even when you watched India strike a six on the last ball.(Aaaaargh)
–> You get into an auto rickshaw, half way through he stops to take a leak, you get all paranoid and look into your wallet for change just so you don’t have to
take change back from him, and you realize that you have a single 100 rupee note(Sigh!)
How abt this-
You are sitting in a crowded bus on the aisle seat , person standing next to you is blissfully scratching his ass to Glory?!! (:|)

Death and After…

Posted: October 23, 2008 in Love, Life, Laughter, People

Yeah, I know, this is one very common but interesting topic you generally get to read.But before you start imagining things, let me tell you right away that this has NOT got anything to do with ghosts or spirits. Now, having said this, if your spirits are already dampened, then, sorry about that. You can still save a couple of your precious minutes by exiting this blog right here. But if you want to save yourself from one grave unforgivable mistake, if you do not want to live half of your life with the worst possible regret, then read on.

I chose to speak about death simply because I had a few thoughts hovering in my mind. And when thoughts overflow, this is where I pour them. 🙂

Very recently, I lost my uncle to Cancer. This is the third time that ‘ Death’ kissed someone in my very close circle of relatives. The first time death struck my family, it gave me an unforgettable blow, some thing from which I have not been able to completely recover even to this day-It took away my favorite person, the sweetheart of my family, my Grand Dad.

I personally believe that Death takes some virtual form, may be that of a human being (Or shall we say Yama?). Although I do not know exactly what Death looks like, I know for certain that Death, when it hits, it bears an unfading impact on the person’s family. Although I do not know for sure if the moment for the arrival of the death for a person is deterministic, I know for sure know that when Death becomes one with the person, it cant be undone. It is probably the only loss of such indescribably huge magnitude that cannot be made up for in this world, even to a small degree. Every time Death strikes some one very close to me, it gets me thinking about it all the time, it is always at the back of my mind irrespective of what I am doing, what time of the day it is.

And then, comes the toughest part- finding answers to some of the toughest questions that often pop up in my mind, out of the blue. This requires some serious thinking. This blow called Death might approach different people in different forms and ways, but the one thing that is certain is that the magnitude of this big blow on the every person’s family is more or less the same.

Everybody goes through the same trauma, the same thought process and most of the times, the very same questions pop up in our minds. Like say – Did it have to be him/her? How can it be that a person was very much alive and “existing” till yesterday and is no more today? What is death exactly? What is it that is missing in that person if he has to be dead now, is it just the heart beats in layman terms? How can I even imagine a world without him/her? What about all the good times that I have had with this person, will they now only remain bygone memories?

Many such questions come and go…some answered and some unanswered. Some of these questions only remain at the heat of the moment, and as time passes, these questions go into the oblivion unanswered. Probably this is what they mean when they say ‘Time heals everything’?! But there is one thing which will always remain with you till the very Death strikes you, and that is – REGRET.

Regrets for not being there for the person when he/she needed you the most. Regrets for not completely understanding his/her feelings, regrets for hurting him/her at times. Regrets for not taking good care, showing due love and affection, regrets for not bringing that smile on his/her face. Regrets for not expressing benevolence and gratitude, empathy and consideration to your loved ones, particularly parents and grandparents.

I have pondered on such thoughts ample number of times, and each time I have arrived at only one answer. The only way to ensure that you are not given to regrets is by showering infinite love and affection. Learn to be oblivious to small unpleasant incidents that happen in everyday life. Realize the importance of parents in your life, realize that parents can only get older as time wares, and elders are meant to be treasured. Remember that any amount of explanation and reasoning after losing the person will not help and this regret will continue to haunt you for the rest of your life. Remember that we will also become old one day, and history repeats.

I sometimes feel it takes the death of a loved one to teach us what life really is. To this day, I haven’t been able to make up for this void that was created in my life the day my grand dad died, and I know that the space in me that can never be filled again.

Parents are the only asset that you can die for. Act now before its too late.

–When we lose one we love, our bitterest tears are called forth by the memory of hours when we loved not enough. ~Maurice Maeterlinck, Wisdom and Destiny, 1901, translated by Alfred Sutro