Friday, November 30, 2007

The height of tolerance among other things...

It makes all sorts to make up this world. But some people are a little more extraordinary than the rest... a little more unique than the most unique person, a little more of a sucker than the worst sucker on Earth.

Suckers attract leeches, who feed off the sucker. The sucker of course doesn’t think he/she is being used and even justifies his parasites. I came across one such person sometime back. It took me some time to realize that she was 'the' classic case of a sucker.

DR is an extremely pretty plump girl. She is the only child of her parents and joined our office from our Delhi office recently for a years transfer. DR's parents too moved to Bangalore to be with her after giving their plush apartment in Delhi for rent for a hefty sum.

DR's father is a retired Police Commissioner and mother, a retired government doctor. She retired from the post as a Health Commissioner or an equivalent post. DR spent her entire life from Nursery to Graduation in hostels as both her parents were ‘working and there was no one to take care of her’.

From day one I noticed a routine in DR. She comes to office and immediately calls up home to enquire if her parents (both in their 50's and healthy) have had their breakfast she has cooked and left. She leaves money on the dining table for their daily expenses and grocery expenses. Her lunch is a horrible cucumber sandwich made by her mom. Most of the time she eats at the office cafeteria to escape the horrible home cooked lunch. She justifies gettting up at 4am and cooking and leaving the house because, her she says her parents are old and cannot make an omelet for her. She justifies leaving money for them daily, because they are retired and dont have an income. The parent’s pension plus rent from their apartment and monies from their ancestral property is worth a few lakhs a month.

Recently when DR was in Mumbai, her mom took ill. Her Dad waited for DR to return for two days, so that she could take her mom to the doctor. It turned out to be a food poisoning case. She took loan, among the many other loans to do the expensive tests that the hospital ordered to "rule out" any doubts. She aslo stayed with her mom in the hospital while her Dad sat at home and watched TV. She also bought her mom home in a taxi as in her own words, "my Dad is old and I dont want to strain him". He of course went to Mysore for a trip in their Scorpio after Mom and daughter were home. Did I tell you it was DR who put fuel in the Scorpio so that her “old” and “poor” Dad could take a break from excessive TV watching and socializing?

No amount of advising will convince her that she is being used by her parents. She feels it her duty that she looks after her “old” and “incomeless” parents and will not listen to anyone.

DR has a mallu boyfriend. Her parents are perfectly allright with her marrying her BF, as long as he doesn’t ask for dowry. Besides, they have asked her to take loan for her marriage which she finds “perfectly natural”, as her parents needs “her help” for taking care of wedding expenditure. The BF wants her to leave her job so that she can look after his sick mother. DR of course finds it a “perfectly natural request”, but is extremely worried about not being to help her parents financially if she does so. Recently BF’s mom passed away. Now he is citing reasons of language differences, to break off the engagement. Again DR “perfectly understands” her “poor” BF’s “position” as he is from a high caste and has scores of relations to answer to!

I am actually tired of watching this abuse. I am tired of watching this girls being used like this day in and day out. I am tired of this girls resilience to abuse. No one knows how to drive sense into her. Maybe bankruptcy, which will come soon, may open her eyes. My gut feeling is that it will not. She will have some justification for that too.

Her epitaph might just read “Doing your best means never stop trying.”

Friday, November 23, 2007

Bali musings...

The beach at Kuta

After watching numerous couples here at Bali with their kids, I've just realised the need for couples to have kids. Marriage is just paper work. Kids ink the deal.

I am not saying that couples without kids are unfulfilled. But couples with kids are definitely more complete.

I am aware of the word "divorce". A couple can divorce, but a parent cannot divorce themselves from parenthood.

Some more pictures from Bali:

The kuta beach road

Bali airport

The view from my room

A view from the hotel. The building on the right is the Hard Rock Cafe.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


I am in Jakarta now, after spending a day at Singapore on Sunday, well...more like a couple of hours that allowed us to go on a city tour. Amazing city, neat and clean and green and red and yellow etc with the flora and fauna vying with each other to show off their plumes.

Went for a boat ride too at the city centre. Our guide was Michael, all four feet nothing of amiable gentility with an amazing sense of humor. Micheal is the official tour guide of Changi Airport and is a really nice person. Kudos to whoever appointed him as the tour guide, because he is the kind of person who evokes tremendous respect and enormous affection at the same time. At the end of the tour, the entire group comprising of 99% Indians gave him a standing ovation that had even the grim faced Immigration officials at the airport smiling. I am sure millions of tourists must be having warm memories of him.

The city tour is free for all transit passengers whether you have a Singapore Visa or not. Those without Visa had to surrender the same to Michael, go through immigration etc before the tour. But this was taken care of by Micheal and hence one had to just follow him. Since I had a Singapore visa I was able to go out and meet up with a classmate after the city tour, who works here. I have been to this city as a kid, but this trip I noticed the city through a fresh perspective.

I am afraid I didn’t like the people too much. (*Sob* all those Singapore dudes who have linked my blog, I am sorry) They seem to be have been surgically removed of all emotions. You are an object to them, whether you are Indian or White. No chit chat, no smiles or acknowledgement of you as another human. The only time they smile is when they talk to each other.

Tomorrow, I am off to Bali for four days of unwinding. Will reply to comments after that!

Leaving you all with a song I heard when MTV entered India in the late 90's. Those days this music channel showed mostly Asian bands and this particular song from Colin Bass, struck a chord in me. Please ignore the video and listen to the song. Denpasar is the capital of Bali.

Ciao till next week!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Toeing the straight line...

The other day, when we gals were discussing an office weekend outing, one of the timid ones in the group called NB blurted out that she could not possibly sleep alone and if she were to be given a single room, she would shack in with someone to avoid getting terrified at every sound and shadow. Promptly another gal SP, retorted jokingly that she was not gay and hence could not sleep with NB. The joke went over the simple girl NB's head. I didn’t find the joke pleasant at all and snapped at SP that she was acting a little too Americanized. The other gals, who also found the joke unpleasant and totally out of place, immediately supported me.

I remember a mail from a gal, who wrote in saying she liked my posts. She also reassured me that she was very straight and her mail was just a gesture of appreciation :) I can understand and empathize with her need to emphasize the “I am straight” fact, after a few encounters of the above paragraph kind.

I cannot talk about guys, but we gals form deep friendships with other gals, friendships that are closer than the relationship sisters share and these friendships are a support system that we rely on heavily for, from a pep talk when you are demoralized to a shoulder to cry on, to unbiased advice when you need it and a whole host of things that only girls will understand.

Holding hands, exchanging clothes, sleeping in each other houses etc is a very natural thing to do with friends whether they are close friends or not. But today this relationship, perhaps the only relationship apart from that of a family that is not looked at with jaundiced eyes, is under siege.

People hear words like ‘gay’ without understanding its full import and use it sullying friendships. Friends are getting afraid to hold hands, or hang out together too long or have close same sex friends. It is cool to use the word gay, like in, "your clothes are so gay" to "you look so gay in that red shirt". What these people don't realize is that to be really cool, they should be tolerant of minority groups like gays and not poke fun of them!

The reason I snapped at SP was because, I am getting more than a little annoyed at the constant jibe some people take roomies, best friends etc playfully joking about them being gay. Though these are jokes, it does make the 'accused' a little less comfortable with his/her friend and puts a strain on friendships.

I am glad I am from the generation where we had no such pressures on friendships. But the people who subscribe to such views don’t realize the harm they are doing to friendships, with their half-baked prejudiced views colored by watching too many American serials, they don’t really understand.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Close encounters...

4 pm. I have gone through security check and am waiting in the Security Lounge for the boarding call. I am damn sleepy. I have only a small handbag as I am returning by the 9 pm flight. I doze off.

I am awakened by a child crying quite badly. It is a small kid with his mom. Mom looks around and as is the practice at airports, spots me, a safe bet to latch onto for, baby sitting, luggage sitting etc.

I am the usual target.

Maybe I should look a little dangerous so that moms in airport don’t consider me a safe bet.

Mom comes and plonks herself next to me. She smiles at me. I smile back while inwardly I groan.

She asks me if I can look after her baggage while she warms her sons milk bottle.

I agree resignedly.

She has a distinct American accent. My guess is she is second generation American Indian. Her Indian attire, garish, give her away as an ABCD.

She returns with hot milk in a bottle for her two year old son. While he sips the milk from the bottle, she feeds him samosas. He seems bright and intelligent like most kids raised in the US. He speaks fluent Tamil and English.

She offers me a samosa, which I politely decline. My mother has stuffed me with enough lunch to last me a week.

Mom then decides to go to the toilet. She tells her son that the nice girl, (she turns to me and asks my name) Anjali will look after him while mommy goes to the rest room. He seems okay with the deal.

She leaves for the rest room. Sons chatters with me with amazing maturity. He then looks at the Billboard and asks me what the scrolling text says. I look at him. His eyelids are droopy. He is squinting at the Billboard. It is then I realize that he is partially blind.

I am in shock and and have a huge lump in my comes back, thanks me profusely and says goodbye as Jet announces its flight. I was flying Kingfisher. How I wish I had booked Jet. Damn you Mr Vijay Mallya and your good service.

I feel so small.