Archive for the ‘Life and Living’ Category

My father moved into the house, which we still own in Kammanahalli, about 25 years ago. In those years, as its name suggests, Kammanhalli was literally a “halli” or a village. It was the back of beyond.

A mud road connected our house – one of only four houses on the lane – to the main road. The Bangalore municipal corporation did not provide water to the locality, so my father actually bought his own water, and this from a man on a bullock cart. Our sewage collected in a septic tank, somewhere deep in the ground, and was cleaned annually – once again, by another man in a bullock cart.

In 25 years, much has changed. Street lights, sewage lines and tarred roads came first. Then, I also remember the day when our road got its first bore well, and the municipal corporation began to supply the area with water soon after (even if it was just two times a week!).

There were other signs of change as well. New houses, new shops and new people. Now, our lane has 10 houses – some of them double storied, and home to at least six families (each!).

Our family was the first to bring a computer and a car into our lane, but now every other family has one of them too. Our neighbours come all the way from remote districts in North India to Afghanistan.

And here’s the clincher – garbage actually gets cleaned every day, and it’s hard to find an open garbage dump anymore!

Four years ago, I remember blogging here about how prosperity had come to Bangalore, but had bypassed the “halli”. I can’t say that anymore.

As the line of swanky new shops on the main road continues to advance one step at a time, the lines that link the richer residential localities and the “halli” is finally blurring. Development has indeed trickled down.

But for that to happen, it’s needed many little steps on the ground. A series of good Congress and BJP corporators, who’ve built on each others successes. The Congress brought lighting, sewage systems and water. Then, the BJP maintained it and also added garbage collection. Funds were actually utilised to benefit residents, till each of us can finally see a difference.

So, if successive administrations work together, there’s nothing that they we cannot achieve.

But most importantly, we need citizens to step forward to both build and maintain these localities. Every time when a city corporation fails us, we must have vigilant citizens, who pick up the phone and demand action from their local corporator. Like my mum does!

So yes, change is slow, but if you persist, it does finally arrive.

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A call to prayer

Posted: June 20, 2015 in Life and Living
Tags: ,

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A prayer thought in silence.
The solitary comfort of a hot cup of chai.
The stillness of a walk in the park.
A newspaper pondered in pensiveness.

Mornings,
Rest my spirit.

But now,
New voices,
Clamor for my attention.

At 5 am,
The call of the muezzin.
At 6 am,
Superhit bhajans.
At 9 am, Sunday,
The dancing Pentecostals.

 In my view,
Spirituality resonates loudest,
In human hearts.

Not over loudspeakers.

Five years ago, I ambitously made a list of the 116 films that I wanted to see during a short break that I was taking from the corporate world. Today, less than half way down that list, I realize just how difficult that task would have been accomplish in a meaningful way over a couple of months. But over the last few years here are some of the incredible 44 films that I have seen from my old list that have also done a lot to change my perspective of cinema.

  • It Happened One Night (1934)
  • Mutiny on the Bounty (1935) – Seen
  • Modern Times (1936)
  • All Quiet on the Western Front (1939)
  • Rebecca (1940)
  • Citizen Kane (1941)
  • Double Indemnity (1944)
  • The Lost Weekend (1945)
  • It’s a Wonderful Life (1946)
  • The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  • Sunset Blvd. (1950)
  • All About Eve (1950)
  • An American in Paris (1951)
  • Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
  • From Here to Eternity (1953)
  • Roman Holiday (1953)
  • The Caine Mutiny (1954)
  • Rebel Without a Cause (1955)
  • Marty (1955)
  • Around the World in Eighty Days (1956)
  • 12 Angry Men (1957)
  • Some Like It Hot (1959)
  • Psycho (1960)
  • The Apartment (1960)
  • To Sir With Love (1967)
  • Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967)
  • Oliver! (1968)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
  • The Godfather (1972)
  • Chinatown (1974)
  • The Godfather, Part II (1974)
  • Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
  • Jaws (1975)
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
  • Kramer vs. Kramer (1979)
  • Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Raging Bull (1980)
  • Ordinary People (1980)
  • Terms of Endearment (1983)
  • Amadeus (1984)
  • Platoon (1986)
  • Goodfellas (1990)
  • Groundhog Day (1993)
  • No Country for Old Men (2007)

Each of them beautiful classics, alive and powerful in my mind. But I also realize that unlike in the past, there has been no blog to capture that story. So here’s to the remaining 72 – some among that I have seen in parts or a long time ago – and also another blog that will tell their story and pay homage to that glorious world of cinema that I have always loved.

I See India…

Posted: August 9, 2014 in Life and Living, Photography, Writing

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In the statue
Of Infant Jesus
On my cab driver’s dashboard.

My cab driver,
A Muslim,
At Infant Jesus,
Every Thursday.

In thalis at Christian weddings,
Jesus in puja rooms,
Indian biryani.

In Eid Mubarak,
Happy Diwali,
Merry Christmas.

Three greetings, one reply,
“Same to you”
“Aapko Bhi”.

In Kabir’s dohas,
The tricolor,
Jodha-Akbar.

In Irfan Pathan,
Declaring,
He was proud to bowl for India.

Irfan Pathan,
Almost burnt alive,
in Gujarat 2002.

In Nargis epitomizing Mother India,
Sania rallying for India,
Priyanka turning Mary Kom.

In politics
That gave us
Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister,
Abdul Kalam as President.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,
President Abdul Kalam,
Both, at the same time.

In Mumbai’s apartment buildings,
Teams in global corporations,
A Pub and an Islamic Boutique, standing side by side.

In those moments,
When Mubarak is Hindu,
Lakshmi is Christian,
Andy is Muslim.

Yes,
I see India,
All around me.

India has become.
I choose to believe.

We cannot be undone.

(A poem inspired by a blog post that I’d written a couple of years ago on “Incredible India’.)

As I look back over my blog, I find that two years ago at the same time, I was in the middle of an important exercise—I was house hunting.

It’s taken two years for that journey to reach fruition. But yes, in August 2013, many lifetimes later, I can finally say that the search is over. I do have my own space.

It’s a two-bedroom house in Kammanahalli. Yes, it’s a bit of climb. But I love my two enclosed terrace gardens that go along with this space.

I found the house through the conventional route—a real estate agent. Infact, it was the first house that I saw. But there was something about the house that called to me. Maybe it was those two enclosed terraces that gave me lots of space for experiments in the garden, and so I said ‘yes’.

There was also one moment that did it for me. It was when I stood in the second bedroom, with the sunlight streaming in through the windows, and looked into my neighbour’s terrace garden. That’s when I knew beyond doubt that this was the house for me.

Then came the negotiations with the landlord that saw me exceed my budget by over Rs 2000. But I liked the place, so I gave in again.

After all the agony with my mother and the sense of being stifled when I lived in an extended family when I was married, it feels so good to have my own space. And so, this is another journey that comes to an end 🙂 Another bridge that has been crossed on the road to self-reliance.

The house does have its shortcomings. I hadn’t noticed during my first visit that my street was noisy. It already has two restaurants, and there is a third one coming up! Also, it’s a long climb to the second floor, especially when you are carrying things all the way up many times.

But it’s such a lovely compact house, with space for things like gardens. It’s also a new construction. And once I am in, I do manage to shut the whole world out.

So I get up every morning to the sound of birds chirping in my neighbour’s terrace garden, and the sound of my mother’s nagging voice seems far, far behind. I also look forward to having my friends and family over to visit. I want this to be the open house that I had always intended my home to be, and that my mother never let it become.

Location: Kammanahalli, HRBR Layout

Size: 2 Bedroom 1,200 square feet

Price: Rs 17,000

It was THE lane with the most beautiful house in the world. It was THE lane where I wanted to live when I was a six-year-old girl.

The lane hadn’t changed much over the last 30 years, except for two new apartment blocks. I was visiting one of them (the red garish one) on Househunt, Episode 2.

But the flat that I was visiting in this apartment block wasn’t on rent. It was on sale. I’d heard about it in the old-fashioned way that still works best in this part of town – by word of mouth.

Since the flat had been built 18 years ago, it didn’t have a lift or car parking. So I walked up to the second floor.

As it turned out the flat was being refurbished, so there was paint and plaster everywhere. But though small, it was quaint – almost out of Enid Blyton’s world. Yes, this could be home.

Then Mr P, the house owner began bargaining. The initially discussed price of 34 lakhs now became 35 lakhs. He wanted me to make him my best offer. I asked for time to consider it over.

As I drove back, I did consider the fact that this was THE lane. But I found that as I thought about it as a property that I wanted to own and not rent, I was dissatisfied.

It was a beautiful lane, but this apartment had not been built for the future. In Bangalore of 2011, parking was important. So was a lift – for a a flat on the second floor. Besides, an 18-year-old building could also not be without its construction and structural flaws.

So I let my head rule over my heart, and I said goodbye to the house on THE lane. Yet something already tells me that this is one ‘head over heart’ decision that I will always be very happy to have made!

Location: Da’Costa Layout
Price: 35 lakhs (and going up!)

It was a routine drive back home from evening after work. But an hour and ten minutes later, I was slightly short of being half-way home. The drive back usually takes me just an hour on the worst of days. But this had been an evening of rain and unusually bad traffic jams all the way.

I had an important office call in another 10 minutes at 8 pm. So I pulled the car onto a deserted stretch on the opposite side of the road—where I thought I wouldn’t be in anyone’s way—and took the call.

The only problem was that my ‘deserted stretch’ turned out to be not so deserted in some time. Bikers from the opposite side of the road got onto the stretch as well to beat the never-ending traffic jam, merrily braving the stream of vehicles riding into them.

I turned my headlights and indicator on just to ensure that one of them didn’t ram into me.

An hour later my call was done and I was ready to get back home. The only problem was that my car didn’t seem so ‘ready’ to join me. An hour with the headlight on, and that on a cold and rainy evening, had drained the battery out.

I dialed BS. There was another time where I had left my car’s headlight on for half the night and my battery had gone dead. On that occasion I’d been with BS and her family. Her brother B had helped me get in touch with an all-night service, and we’d managed to jumpstart the car.

But BS’ line was busy. There was a moment of fear. BS has this habit of ‘missing’ her missed calls. But that night, though she was out driving, she did call back.

She volunteered to get me the number, and she did. But when I dialed that phone number, I found that I was dialing in to a number that did not exist.

I called BS again, and that’s when the truth came tumbling out. Her brother B’s wife was in labour, and she could not disturb him.

I told her not to worry. There were other friends who I could reach out to, especially on a night when my dear friend’s only brother was having his first baby J

I tried starting the car again. It spluttered and went dead.

I called my mum’s friend Aunty R—the first woman I’d met who handled her own car with panache. No one picked up the phone. I remembered that she was spending a month at her son D’s home, and I didn’t have his number.

One more attempt at starting the car did not get me anywhere. By this time it was 9:30 and only getting later.

I tried MC–another girlfriend who was really good at cars. No she did not know any all-night service stations and she was just logging out from work, but she could search for them online or drive across and join me. This from an office that was almost 30 km away.

I told her not to worry. I could get the number over the Internet as well. After all, I still had my last trump card—my laptop and my datacard were both in my car. If nothing else, I could at least get all the information I needed via the world wide web (why hadn’t I thought of that???!).

I pulled out my laptop, but as my hand groped desperately into the darkness, there was no sign of the datacard. There was a sinking feeling in my heart as I remembered taking the datacard out of my laptop bag last night. Had I put it back?

In desperation I made one last ditch attempt to get the car started again.

This time, almost miraculously, it spluttered, and then came alive.

I drove without stopping till I reached home—the golden rule with a ‘dead’ battery that you manage to revive.

As I drove back, CR (who’d been alerted by MC) called to find out if she could drive across and help me jumpstart my car. BS’ husband SV also texted me the number of the Maruti helpline. As it turned it out, very soon later, BS & SV’s little nephew took his first tentative steps into the world.

Later, when I reached home, I also found that my datacard had always been in my bag!!!!

So I guess if you’re ever stranded on the road on a dark lonely rainy night, it’s important to have your wits and your friends around you. But most importantly, if you have a Maruti car, dial 18004200. It’s the Maruti 24×7 helpline number, and it works!