Thursday, November 20, 2008


Karthika (name changed) was the wife of Ravi (name changed) a peon working in a government office in Gods Own Country (GOC). Ravi died of Cirrhosis of the Liver ten years ago. He was employed at the time. As per the rules and regulations, Ravi’s son was the natural successor to his father’s post. He had already graduated by then and the family was sure of him securing the job and Ravi’s pension soon. Like the proverbial twist in the tail shown so brilliantly in Hindi movies, the family’s fortunes sank with Ravi’s death.

When Karthika approached Ravi’s office for the pension and the job she was asked to come a month later and check on the status of the pension and her son’s induction into his father’s job. Today, ten years later, Karthika still haunts the office for the pension and her son’s job. She has sold off her house, land and cows to pay various people in the office as instructed by the Trade Union Ravi was a member of, to get her files moving. Her younger daughters have grown up and after their SSLC got employment in a Housekeeping Services company. Her son does odd jobs in the hope of getting that coveted government job soon. He is in his thirties now, married with a kid.

If you are wondering why Karthika did not approach the courts, then you will be surprised to know that people like Karthika are a tribe in themselves. They are simple people, intimidated and or impressed or plain awed by offices and officers and people of power and education. They trust anything told to them by people posing to be well wishers. They think the pseudo concern and reassurances shown by the parasites in the office and union are genuine and do their utmost to arrange money as and when asked by these parasites. And these parasites have been living off people like her for years. They are fully aware that she and people like her have no money, but think nothing of asking her five hundred rupees every six months to get her file moving.

And the Karthika’s out there are more than happy to beg or borrow that money to oblige the nice rotund pot bellied gentleman sitting on the Godrej Chair and table sipping Coffee while they stand hands clasped after handing over the envelope. After every visit to the office, there is a spring in their step and a look of hope in her eyes. Meanwhile the five hundred and the other five hundreds given by the other Karthikas will keep Mr. Government Servant’s Bar stocked and car running till the next visit of the Karthikas. There are many people out there living off people like Karthika. Try this stunt in the union less rural areas of other States of India and you will be surprised that it will not work. The reason is not because they are squeaky clean, but because the illiterates have a conscience and feel pity for poor widows, while the literates of GOC think they are easy picking for some nice side money.

This is a true story. Recently my uncle and aunt took up her case when they got to know of her plight when she came to them for the job of a maid. With my Uncles political connection her pension was released and her son got the job after the person appointed by the Union in the job was transferred to another office. While my Uncle was walking in and out of several government offices getting the mess sorted out, he was witness to many Karthikas coming in with envelopes and leaving with hopes in their eyes.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Wedded to a cause than the man!

When my eldest brother finished his studies, there was a spate of weddings amongst his batch mates. These were boys from families, who believed in getting their sons married early. Soon after the wedding, the newlyweds would drop in home as my parents would invite them for a customary meal. And as is the custom in my house and most Bangalore Christian homes, alcoholic drinks would be amongst the choice of beverages available for the guests male and female. Some of these guys would have a small drink hesitatingly. Some would refuse altogether. My brother understood and would not press guys who did not want to drink in front of their wives.

Soon, wifey in the enthusiasm of a new bride will start putting down the law. No drinking and no smoking. She thinks she will have the eternal devotion and love of her husband with her concern for his health. What happens instead is a stupid battle of the sexes that sours relations and throws the romance out of the marriage forever.

In the first flush of marriage hubby listens to his devoted wife often gushing over her concern and the stability marriage has bought in his life. Soon he has a drink with his friends or team mates at some occasion or office outing. Then he goes home and faces the wrath, tears or sulks of the wife. Then he starts wondering what the big deal was in an occasional drink! He doesn’t realize the notions wifey carries in her head that it is her duty to correct his supposedly “erring” ways. Constant reminders not to drink puts him in a defensive mood as he resents the nagging. The wife in turn makes this a cause célèbre and thinks that hubby is just being stubborn and needs a firmer hand to get out the habit. In her mind, this would be her success as a wife. If you were to question her at this juncture, she would have no clue as to why she was acting thus. She would probably say that it was her duty or alcohol was injurious to health or something like that. Some were misinformed that an occasional drink will lead to Cirrhosis. However most treated it as their duty as wives to stop it.

Soon wife resembles the nagging Mom and we have two people who wonder when or how the romance went out of their lives. He will complain to his friends about her nagging and drink on the sly or belligerently in front of her. She will complain that he doesn’t care anymore. Single friends who witness this drama count their lucky stars that they are single. Some prolong singlehood so that they can have some more time of peace. For most of these guys from traditional families or small town, wedding means restrictions.

Alcohol ironically without being drunk in excess cause problems in these families!

I blame the girls squarely and their upbringing and Hindi movies for this. Hindi movies portrayal of men is the most misleading and makes millions of Indian women believe that men are people with no brains who can easily be misled by friends to destruction and women are people who should protect them and if gone “astray” ( read: have an occasional drink) bring them around. Then the men are shown as being eternally grateful and devoted to their wives and following them around them like a puppy singing songs and buying her sarees! To top it all the women in these movies shed their smart clothing for the boring saree, sindoor and mangal sutra and a demure demeanor to boot and you wonder what the guy finds so attractive in her now when he was romancing her smarter self a few reels ago!! The whole portrayal sends out wrong messages and reality in the form of man a.k.a husband is a bitter pill to take for these girls. They persist however, as shown in the movie, driving deeper wedges in the relationship.

Most of these girls have strange notions of the word “Wife”. They think, cooking and cleaning and keeping a swanky house is being a wife. They think correcting their hubby and fussing over him is being wifely. They think hubby’s approval and praise of their cooking skills and housekeeping skills is their life’s mission! And a few years down the line, when hubby is used to the pampering and now thinks it his right, she joins the millions of women grumbling about being treated like an ayah and cook! I don’t know who puts the notion into their head that they are supposed to take over from their mother in laws and that their men expect it!! I wish someone would tell them that a wife is a live in girl friend and the household chores of the shared house are to be equally divided amongst them!

Over the years I have noticed something very interesting. Married girls in the family or acquaintance or neighborhood circle who are criticized by the elderly ladies for not cooking or keeping smart homes, are the happiest and contended wives I know. They do not have the burden of expectations on them of running the home or cooking and hubby who is used to this from the beginning is an adjustable guy who would not think twice about an empty fridge and grab a bite on the way home than pampered men of traditional wives, who make life miserable for their wives if the home and hearth were upto the mark and the table laden with piping hot food.

Like someone wise said, happiness and sadness is all in our own hands!

They serve too who serve quietly!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Kal, Aaj aur Kal Tag

I have been tagged by Bluediamond (what a lovely name!!)

The Tag

Two questions from the past, present and future. Answer them and then tag your friends from the blog-o-sphere. Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been tagged and you are done.


Your oldest memories...

My oldest memories are of Kindergarten! The beautiful bougainvillea flowers that abounded everywhere, the swings, the laughter, the fun and the pampering by the Nuns, maids and senior girls.

I had chubby cheeks and endured lot of painful moments as people pinched them. Once I declared I would not go to school anymore and my parents had to talk to the teacher to ensure that the senior girls did not pinch my cheeks and go "Cho chweet"

What were you doing ten years ago?

I was in a school play. Our class did a tableau. It was a cricket scene. I had to don the whites of some cricketer who had lots of chest hair. This is girl’s school mind you. We had no clue how to do that. Finally we ended up cutting hair from girls with long hair and sticking them on my chest with glue. It kept itching and I kept scratching and a pit stop team had to be constituted for quick replacement of chest hair. Thank god I was quite young and flat chested then! The joke hit us when we reached 10th std and one day the teachers and other students thought a bunch of 10th standard girls had lost it as they rolled on the sports field laughing, tears coming out of theirs eyes for the whole lunch hour. We kept on giggling over it for a couple of weeks, driving teachers mad.

p.s in 9th std I had to play a guy again. It was the most painful half an hour in my life. Try wrapping yourself like a mummy to look flat chested. Brrr Oh those all girls school!!! The things we did to look like guys for plays and skits would make those Xtreme makeover guys hang themselves from the nearest tree in shame!


Realized I had been tagged. Decided I won’t do it as I am suffering from Tag Toxic Syndrome. But when I read it I immediately wanted to do it! So attended to my morning work and wrote the tag.

If you build a time capsule what would it contain?

A CD with both the blogs copied on it. Family album, my grandmas book of traditional recipes, a laptop etc.

Tomorrow Friday! Yipeeeeeeeeee!

What do you see yourself doing 14 years from now?

Driving hubby and kids crazy! I will be the craziest wife and mom in town. And perhaps the most fun too. I can visualize my kids saying "Now ma behave yourself!!"

I tag,

Al Ameen
Karthik S
Rakesh Vanamali
& Sriram

p.s if you haven't voted yet, please vote for M.A.D ( see post below). Last date for voting is 11th Nov. Thank you!

Music - Hawa ke Saath Saath

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Your vote counts for many kids!

Make A Difference (M.A.D) is a youth volunteer network that currently functions in the three cities of Cochin, Pune and Chennai… 312 volunteers teach more than 1200 underprivileged kids English and computer skills in these three cities to enable them to have better career prospects...
These children live in street shelters and orphanages. Without proper guidance, their lives will go astray. MAD makes sure that they have the proper life skills to make it in life. Then MAD tries to get them placed at jobs where they can live their potential...

MAD was recently picked as one of fifteen finalists for the international Youth Social Entrepreneur Awards which is a prestigious award bestowed by the Ashoka group. MAD became the only Indian entry in this competition in spite of 521 nominations from 60 odd countries. The final winner will be picked by online voting.

Lets try and bring pride to our country by spreading word about the achievements of our countrymen. To stand up and be recognized in such a multi-faced international crowd is an achievement in itself.

Please vote now!

Post and link courtesy - Kenny Jacob !