Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Peace was short-lived. The sister would have none of it. She thought this was bordering on insanity, if not already a proof of transgression to the other side. Twelve new EMIs plus the three unpaid ones. The residence address changed. Friends and family advised him that there was more to life and it was time for him to bring some changes to it. He now watches Diya Aur Baati Hum (We are the lamp and the light) followed by Bade Achche Lagte Hain (I like them big).

On Sunday there was this play being staged in the India Habitat Centre that he was really looking forward to. He managed to go downstairs. Not a word was spoken with the Panwallah. Sixty eight rupees for a packet of ten. What more was left to say. He checked the weather app on his phone. 45.3 degree Celsius. He walked back to the room. Tagore would not have anticipated global warming when writing his plays.

Just then news came in that the administration of IIT Bombay had decided to ban birthday bumps in their campus. Saxena had wrapped himself with two layers of towel and Kulbir had a reputation to live up to. He wore the boots gifted by his father. His father was a Colonel in the Indian Army. The towel-protected tushy was no match and Saxena's howls had echoed from all four corners of the 226 acre campus. A lot of people postponed their birthdays for four years. Twelve years later Saxena, now a father of  two, may find some closure.
He smiled as he thought of the incident and went to the kitchen. The two chilled bottles of Carlsberg Elephant smiled back at him.

Three Sardars were chatting. And no, this is not the beginning of any joke. Theek Hai ? Elderly men in late fifties and each was carrying a bottle of Pepsi. He had observed that these three gentlemen were heavy drinkers of Pepsi every evening. The guy with the grey Bajaj Scooter came first. The other two would join within minutes. A couple of hours of animated discussions and then they would disperse in happy spirits. How much fun is it to be a Sardar ! He figured that the gentlemen were discussing the sequel of Yamla Pagla Deewana. In his opinion, the original was a monumental film in the history of Indian art and culture and if the sequel proved to be half as good as the trailer, everlasting cinematic glory awaited the Deols. The three uncles clearly disagreed.

"3 pm, Vedanta Centre, behind GK II- M Block on time " read the message on Whatsapp.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


The chill of the February night was pronounced on the balcony of the 13th floor. The gush of wind that hit his face startled him for a brief moment. The journalist kept shrieking with all the ferocity that the news did not merit. The biting cold winds numbed his hold on the 40 inch LED but he held on to it as he balanced himself on the parapet. He realized he should have worn his slippers before stepping out. In one swift motion, he pulled out all the wires. The journalist finally shut up. He looked below and it was expectantly clear. He threw the television. A loud crash broke the silence of the night as the security personnel were seen running towards the source of the noise. He was grinning from ear to ear as he went inside. There were three more EMIs to be paid for the damned set. He sighed and climbed onto his warm and inviting bed. The blanket was made from the fur of some near extinct animal or so the seller had said. He remembered that shop on the outskirts of Shimla where he has blown over by their marketing scheme. Five for the price of two and you could return the products after five years and reclaim the money. The scheme had not made much sense to his fresh-out-of-college MBA brain. Thoughts of the scary horse ride to Kufri, the spicy boiled peas, the fascinating temple ….

Aashida was all excited as he opened the door for her. She immediately went on a chatter spree of how a costly television set was found smashed next to the children’s park and wondered who in their senses would do such a dumb thing and how these rich people are all messed up in their rich heads. She entered the living room and her speech froze. She tried to say something and incoherent mumbles was all that could be heard. He looked at her and went inside to catch up on his remaining sleep. Her face resembled that of a goat.

The early morning meeting was predictably boring but he was unusually spirited and participated in random discussions offering views and counter views. His exuberance did not go unnoticed and was viewed by marked skepticism by all around. He sauntered around sharing jokes with people whose presence he had never bothered to acknowledge. He even had coffee from the office cafeteria. Everybody around him realized that there was something seriously out of place.

Deep within, he was just happy. He felt light, he felt free, he felt like a kid with no worries. He could go home and there would be no Arnab.

Life would know peace again.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Maid in India

In every household there is usually one entity who shoulders the responsibility of holding the house together. In the days of joint families in a largely patriarchal Indian society,it was usually the eldest male member(umm...his wife) who held the reins of the house firmly in his (her) hands. As the decades progressed, the social structure gradually moved away from the joint family system to largely nuclear establishments with the family comprising of the working wife, the working husband and one/two Doraemon and Shin Chan influenced kids. With this change, emerged another very important entity in the household. Hitherto this person was one who occupied the lowest strata of the family pyramid and one whose daily life was destined to be dictated and berated by the womenfolk of the house. She bore the brunt of the dictatorship with little possible resistance. However, her time in history was beckoning her.
With the nucleation of families and both the spouses working, she announced her arrival and announced it with some serious stamp of authority. Historians would name this age as the Age of the Indian Household Maid.

Yes, if there is one person who holds the key to the peace and tranquility of a house it is none other than this lady. This lady today has access to multiple nerve centres of the home and each such nerve centre cries out in shrill pain if even slightly neglected. The seriousness of the issue was debated by the Indian parliament who passed the motion to bring amendments the Hindu Marriage Act. The act would now mandate it for the husband to take a legally binding vow to provide the wife with a continuous household 'help'. This clause was infact not suggested by any women group as may be assumed but various male representative bodies who rallied that this clause be made binding on their kind. Health and safety concerns formed the cornerstone of their argument.

The importance of the maid cannot be understated. Just one day she finds a reasonable excuse, and excuses there are galore, to skip work and all hell breaks loose. The entire routine of the household is turned on its head and no one has an effective disaster recovery or business continuity plan to handle the situation. The wife realises that the sink is overflowing with unwashed dishes and has little clue on how to dispose of them before the 9 am meeting. In such situations, the stack of unwashed linen, with its cunning looks, effectively dons the role of the manipulative sister-in-law from the yonder years. The husband roams around in his towels, lost and vulnerable and most often useless in such situations. With nerves on the edge, all of sudden the peace would be disrupted and before you know it, its the husband's mother who would be at fault. God was far-sighted when creating Mothers-in-law. Thanks to the existence of this entity, a lot of frustrations find an immediate venting outlet thus avoiding building up of negative potential energy.
And then in all their wisdom, couples start having babies. After enduring nine months of retching, forced celibacy and teetotalism, kicks to the stomach and worst of them all- XXXL dress sizes, the post-partum period is when the new mother yearns for small breathers in between sleepless nights, continuous cleaning of never ending flow of poop and frightening worries about the permanence of unwanted layers of fat at even more unwanted places. The search begins for a reliable maid cum nanny. This version of the maid/nanny is near extinction and nowadays very rarely spotted in the hilly terrains of Nepal and adjoining areas. For once, the Government of India is taking realistic proactive steps to handle this precarious situation. They have ensured that the porosity of our borders with Bangladesh works perfectly to address this gap of demand and supply. But there is still a lot to be done in this regard but we certainly cant question the genuineness of intent of the government. Anyway so those lucky couples who get blessed with one such helping hand are the ones who crawl back slowly and steadily as social beings. The less fortunate are not much seen in social circles and when rarely they do make an appearance, the husbands cut a sorry figure with all their bruises and cuts . They usually huddle in corners with a drink in hand, listen to Jagjit Singh  and talk of those days gone by.

The bell shrieks. I groggily look at the clock and I dont wish to believe what I see . Its 6'o clock on a Sunday morning and she has come half and hour early today. I somehow pull myself up to open the door. She grins with her toothless smile. "Bhaiyya mereko aaj kahin jaaneka hai....isliye jaldi aayi".

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