On my father’s birthday

papascope.jpgHow do you celebrate a someone-very-special’s birthday who is no more? My father turned 68 a few weeks ago. He died in May last year.  I can’t recall a time celebrating his birthday with him when he was around. He took it as just another day. At the most, we wished him happy birthday, and that too mostly on the phone as his job involved a lot of traveling or even living in other cities for long periods.

So his birthdays were very quiet – just like him. Now that he is not with us, we find it difficult to be quiet on his birthdays (or is it birth anniversary? The ever-so-helpful Quora had all kinds of interesting answers! Off the records, I love Quora!).

So this is how we individually celebrated our dear father’s birthday:


My ever-so-workaholic brother took a day off from work. He visited the gurudwara (temple) with my sister-in-law. On this day, he is sombre and more retrospective than he is on the other days. He is extremely emotional and on this very day his emotions can run absolutely loose if not taken care of. He is just quiet.


My mother, who misses him dearly every single day, misses him even more on this day. Tears roll down on my father’s birthday every minute. And why not? She was married to him for nearly forty years, never mind the fact that it was a flawed marriage with lots of more downs than ups. Like my brother, she goes to the gurudwara and donates  lot of food – mostly the kind of food that my father liked to eat.

It is very strange that both my mother and brother are trying to set a ritual on my father’s birthday but I feel the best way to remember him, especially on his birthday, would be by doing things he liked or by not doing things he disliked.

  • He didn’t like going to gurudwaras. Not that he was an atheist or agnostic, his pocket was once picked in a very busy and popular gurudwara of Delhi. That really ticked him off. Also, if there was one person who believed in work being worship, it was him! He rather work than visit temples or follow rituals.
  • He didn’t eat much. I had never seen him being tempted by any food. He ate his three meals but always meagerly.
  • He loved his drinks, especially after his dinner. Three pegs of his favourite whisky and he was the happiest person ever. And always satisfied. I remember having great table talks with him. Usually he carried his nightcap to his bedroom where he pondered for sometime before sleeping.

Unlike my family (and in no way am I condemning them – rather I respect the fact that they are trying to carve something new!), I did what he liked and didn’t what he disliked. After a not-so-very-busy day at work, I opened a bottle of Breezer (I am not a whisky person) at home after dinner and raised a toast to him. Happy birthday, pa! 🙂


(The picture above is of my father looking through the telescope after reaching the top of the Twin Towers in Petronas, Malaysia, a few years ago.)

Go to hell – no wait, underworld!     

Usually I hate attending quarterly parents-teachers meetings at my daughter’s school. Besides collecting her answer sheets, I find the event meaningless. However, my daughter likes to attend them as she gets a chance to be with me inside her school and in particular, her classroom. Recently, I told my daughter that I would quickly go on my own and collect her half-yearly exams’ answer sheets. She wasn’t happy.

“I want you to meet my English teacher,” she said.

I knew that English was the only subject in which she had not done as great as she normally does but I wondered why she wanted me to meet the teacher.

“She marked my one correct answer wrong,” my daughter said.

Question: What is the antonym of heaven?


“What did you write?” I asked her (and many friends later on, who all answered what is perhaps, the same answer as you, my dear reader, have in mind..)

But no, my daughter didn’t write ‘hell’.

I had known from before that she considered this word blasphemous (don’t know how it began but she has her own understanding of taboos!) but I didn’t know that she could go to such a length of not writing it even in her exam! She ended up writing ‘underworld’. (Her vocabulary is pretty good)

Upon asking the teacher as to why she had crossed out the answer (I had not forgotten to include in my introduction with her that I held a master’s degree in English literature and also, that I had Googled on credible websites and found ‘underworld’ was indeed one of the antonyms of ‘heaven’!), I couldn’t believe my ears of what I heard next!


“Because I was expecting her to write ‘hell’, just like the other students,” the teacher answered.

And at this point, I could tell that my blood was beginning to simmer.

I don’t know what response/justification I was expecting from  a grade seventh teacher, but definitely not this!

Was she not aware that there were many and more of many synonyms and antonyms of one single word?

Also, why should all students be copies of each other and write the same answer, unless of course it is a factual question?

“So you don’t want her vocabulary to expand?” I asked her, stone faced.

“You are taking this in the wrong direction,” she said.

“And you want her to be dumbed down and be an average student?” I said trying to appear cool.

Looking at other parents and students who were beginning to trickle in the classroom (luckily, till now we were the only ones in the classroom), she said that she would discuss this topic with my daughter later in the week and also, this was not the ‘forum’ to discuss such a subject. I wanted to tell her that this was indeed the place and time to discuss it as why else would the school be distributing answer sheets during the parents teachers meeting! It was a question right out of the answer sheet!

I didn’t see a point in discussing this any further. I got up saying that I was extremely disappointed.

I was fuming all the way back home but my daughter seemed somehow satisfied.

The only thing I felt good about this whole exercise was that I stood up for my daughter, who knew that she had written the right answer. I didn’t shrug the matter off in the first place by telling my daughter that we should just skip meeting the teacher, after all it was only one mark!

Going forward, I hope the teacher stops and thinks every time she comes across the word ‘hell’ and/or ‘underworld’. Hopefully, she has realised that she was indeed wrong and that she should encourage her students to be different and not get stuck in a rut. I sincerely hope this happens though I will never know.


post addendum: A week later, my daughter  told me that her teacher had discussed the subject with her and said that she had crossed out her answer because the opposite of ‘underworld’ is ‘real world’!

Oh, well! 😐






It took me some years as a child to realize that it was ‘stand-at-ease’ and not ‘standardees’ in those march-past practice in school and I remember never standing at ease even then. The shout of ‘stand-at-ease’ and ‘attention’ still reverberates in my ears as I write this. I wonder if standing at ease is ever possible.

In another matter but in a similar context, earlier last month, we hired an attendant for my father who is not keeping well. The attendant, as the title says, is to attend to him for around 10-12 hours daily. Since my father has an inactive life the attendant is usually just sitting by his sofa-side and/or watching TV or sometimes goes out in the sun for a stroll and bond with his ilk. Initially we were quite uneasy to see him just sit and do ‘nothing’. After all, what was he doing really in those daily 12 hours – helping papa with his 5 meager meals through the tube that takes barely 5 minutes every time – so that is 25 minutes, cleaning up his dishes and room and clothes (another 20 minutes) and give head and arm massages (40 minutes). Papa’s half an hour daily ambling was also cut short after another emergency surgery two weeks ago, which meant that the attendant was doing papa’s work even lesser than before.  But that was precisely what he was hired for. Just to be with papa! Of course when papa is asleep or just sitting down, he has no choice but be idle. It took a few weeks for our uneasiness to go (almost!) and accept his idle time at work. Having said this, we still ask him to dry clothes daily and peeling of veggies  once in a while.

Why is idling in between work such an issue? I remember working full-time some years ago and editing documents in real-time and meeting the turnaround time.  But what were we to do while awaiting those documents? How many times can one take tea and loo breaks? So I got myself a novel to read from home. What was the harm in reading while waiting for work? However I could see a few uneasy seniors giving a look of reprehension but unable to find a rule to tell me off! In fact I felt I was better than one of them. I was not browsing websites and using the company’s electricity, Internet and taking printouts! This particular fellow was fond of browsing health and fitness related websites (social network sites were blocked) and standing up at his seat and doing yoga-at- work stretches or discuss the pros and cons of nuts and fruits, etc with others who could lend their ears to him. So that was supposedly an okay thing to do. I  was not told-off ever but after I had left the job passing on the legacy of reading a book when idle at work to another colleague, I was informed that there was a hullabaloo with this book-reading business and the health-fitness freak was shown his place.

In my neighbourhood, it initially nonplussed me to see why people in my area made their uniformed security guards perform errands like watering plants, sweeping the area outside the house and/or walking dogs. It is that nature of uneasiness to see them idle.Why can’t we just let them do their roles assigned?

I can blame our culture for this inherent nature of ours as what I thought was just an issue with me and around my surrounding was not so. It  was on the prime-time national television last month. The topic was not about to idle or not to idle during the free time at work but about army officers making their ‘buddy’/sahayak do things that they shouldn’t really be. While an officer defended his fellow colleagues asking what was the harm if the army officer got his shoes tied from the buddy or/and get his guns cleaned as the officer had a bigger role to play in defending the nation and going to the battlefield. Fair enough! But when somebody asked him what about the officers’ better halves making the buddy walk their dogs and do grocery shopping!!! I don’t remember what he answered. These clamorous news debaters never give direct answers, do they ?

Now when I say this problem is of our country (and perhaps of our neighbouring countries as we tend to have the same mentality mostly)it is purely because I am trying to recall if I have seen such an act in the West where I have lived for a short while or if I have even heard of it. Probably it doesn’t happen there for the following facts:

  • Acute labour shortage. They can’t afford to make them do extra things just because they find them sitting idle.
  • Workers there know their rights better and don’t mind taking their master to court.
  • There is respect for humans even if it happens to be a blue-collared worker. You won’t see customers clicking their fingers to call for the waiter or addressing them as “aye waiter!”

So, it is time we learn to inhale, stand at ease and let others do the same in between work.



pic: Happy, our lane stray and my daughter’s friend, can never be at ease! 🙂

2017…my year how it should be!

Unlike the previous years where I recap the year just gone by (which I do by going through my phone’s photo gallery), this time I intend to undo a few things that I did in the not-so-happening last year.  So without ado here goes my I WILL NOT list in no particular order of urgency:

I will NOT:

  1. indulge in road rage. No, I have never done that but I am so very close! My driving skills are pretty decent and over the time I believe they have become a little more than pretty decent as I have no choice but to drive! Luckily, my nearly 6-year old i10’s gearbox can’t vouch for my driving skills!(I do need an automatic next!). But if one wants to hear the choicest of words flowing mellifluously from my mouth it is when I am driving and driving alone! I am an extremely patient driver and a stickler of traffic rules which unfortunately doesn’t go down too well in my lovely millennium city. The car driver behind me can toot his horn endlessly asking me to jump a red light as there is no police stationed there! And so many other imbecile drivers exist that the choicest of words that I mumble thankfully remain within the car! I do fantasize many times having a super unbreakable car which could hit *bang bang bang* against all those cars that really flout all the traffic rules! Unfortunately, my expression of this lovely fantasy didn’t go down well with my mom and a friend with whom I shared delightedly. Instead I could see a look of appall on their faces! Plan of action: I intend to just cool down and take a few deep breaths and drive on!
  2. be penny wise and pound foolish. This should be the first point really. I don’t wish to even ponder or write further on this as it makes my heart sink a million times as I recall all those things that I should not have purchased! Plan of action: I am going to be a very very smart woman who will spend her money wisely. Full stop. (I can see that side smirk on my brother’s face if he is reading it!)
  3.  take my bad hair days so seriously that I start to get depressed and get them chopped from my waist length to neck in a matter of a few seconds.  It’s not that I don’t like my very short urbane haircut, I just can’t seem to maintain it! Most of the time it looks like a mushroom placed on my scalp and on worse hair days, I am reminded of Inspector Happu Singh ji from the tv serial, ‘bhabhijee ghar par hai.’ (see pic below) Plan of action: Those 300 of 365 days of my bad hair days can be tied down to a bun or a pony. 
  4. just blindly trot in the first shop I set my eyes on and make purchase. I still don’t know why I do this! What is the point of going all the way to Nehru place – the hub of gadget repair shops- by changing metro twice and not getting the best deal as I simply just walk in to one shop and pay whatever is quoted to me! Plan of action: Will explore more options/shops to find solutions and then make purchases. (somewhat connected to point 2 above)
  5. write blogs that are sad! that’s what my daughter said to me the last time – why are they mostly sad. I never thought they were sad but then most dilemmas are sad, no? Plan of action: I will attempt to write happier stuff!img_6457
  6. day dream! oh yes, this will be the toughest of all but I will emerge victorious! While I jog usually which is first thing in the day, I enter a different zone right away and I doubt if I am out of it all day! Plan of action: A virtual slap on my face for every time I step into my crazy, twisted vicarious world.

I am sure once I press the ‘post’ button I would remember a few more “not to do” things but let me take care of these above.

A very happy new year to all those who read from top to bottom of my blog! 🙂


pic courtesies:




4th:clicked by me of my daughter sketching her favourite model, Happy, who refused to be still!


Calvino, Drabble, Happy, I & more

It has been two months since I typed my personal blog. Not that dilemmas surrounding me have vanished or I have become immune to them but for a handful of reasons/excuses:

  1. My numb state of mind: So numb that I gave up on my only hobby i.e. reading. Though it could be to do with the fact that I picked up a few wrong books in my quest to read new genres and authors. After having googled for the quirkiest books ever written I picked up Italo Calvino’s “If on a winter’s night a traveler’ and I just couldn’t read it beyond the second chapter!
  2. Drabbling: After having patched up with my writer-editor friend (yet again!) I was introduced to ‘drabble’. Drabble is writing a short story of exact 100 words. Easier said than done. I have written 5 out of 50 drabbles till now of which the last 3 were considered by my esteemed writer-editor friend to be below the mark! I hope to improve every day though I am not happy with this drabbling business. Cutting down a story (as if making a story is easy!) to 100 words is not creative. There is no way you can try to fit in as much as you would like to tell in sharp 100 words. You miss out on the essence of the story. And with all that heavy-duty pruning, most of the story ends up being in your own head.
  3. Is this blog ‘worth’ it?: After writing for a year, I am asked (yet again by my editor-writer friend) what have I gained? I could have replied with a list of abstract/intangible/philosophical merits like discipline, acute awareness of my surrounding, honing of my skill etc etc but I knew what he was driving at. Did I gain more followers, more ‘likes’? Honestly, only a handful readers read what I write but that’s exactly what the intention was. I have been genuinely satisfied. This blog was always meant for me and my friends who enjoy reading. Of course I always feel good when a stranger reads and likes my blog. But to get even a 100 plus ‘likes’ of my writing would mean I take a thorough professional route and get an agent or a celebrity connection!

So I am back to blogging (and I hope to retrospect and write here on a weekly basis).

And what all happened in the last two months that I can recollect:

  1. Pop’s disease relapsed. We all are still trying to cope up and not give up in times like this. It is so easy to breakdown when in crisis but we get up every morning all fixed up to face another day. It is not possible putting yourself in the shoes of the patient as it is only him/her who is going through the suffering but I hope it all works out in the end and it would be just a nightmare that we would be woken up from. People and relatives who know him very well keep coming over to our place to meet him and for once I don’t mind uninvited guests. I see my father being happy at their sight. Happier than seeing me and my mum daily!


2. Happy,our street dog, is back! Lovely, pretty, Happy returned after 2 weeks as mysteriously as she had vanished. (See my last blog: Remembering Happy/Julie/Goldy) If only she could speak and tell about her adventures. I realised that not only my daughter and I were happy with her reappearance but so many of our other neighbours too. They were calling up their loved ones too informing about Happy. It did take Happy a few days to get back to her routine. She looked little lost initially. She didn’t spend much time with her mate Perky. But all seems ok now.


3. We have a trampoline. I am glad we purchased it on mum’s saying and she is setting a good example of practicing before preaching by using it daily. Hopefully my daughter and I will get inspired and follow her soon. We are too lazy to even jump on a springy surface! I always thought mum had an excuse for not resuming her half-an-hour walk ever since papa returned for good from the city where he was working but this seems like a great option too.


4. Saying ‘Namaste’ – meet and greet the ‘Indian’ way: I re-learnt to fold my hands to greet people especially those who fold their hands too while greeting me. Our community park gardener, who must be an octogenarian (or even a nonagenarian) does that every time I pass by him in the park. He joins his hands and raises it to his head to greet ‘Ram Ram’ with a toothless smile. So one day as he did it while I jogged I thought of the last time when I had folded my hands to greet people. After all, it is in our culture to do so. I couldn’t recall. I don’t ever remember having taught my daughter (who is 11) to do this. Has she ever greeted anyone a ‘Namaste’ with her hands joined? I don’t think so.

And on this note, I better switch on to drabbling my 6th one, lest my temperamental writer-editor friend resumes behaving like a pansy! :p

pic courtesies: all except the last one clicked by me. last one is from: thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/indian-hand-greeting-posture-easy-to-edit-vector-illustration-namaste-floral-design-41901074.jpg