Oct 25, 2013

The Circle of Life

It is your turn now.

You are used to seeing them active and managing work and home without flagging even a little bit. Now the gait is getting slower, the hands once soft and manicured, strong and sturdy are as lined and wrinkled as autumn leaves. The back bents a little more with each passing season. You see the changes and yet you don’t want to see them.
They taught you how to tell time and helped your plump little fingers dial your first number on the phone, but now your smartphones and gizmos are beyond them and you curb your irritation when for a thousandth time they ask you how to send a simple sms or check mail. 

They were the ones who taught you how to drive and then drove you crazy with their constant back seat driving. Now it’s your turn to worry when they take the car and they are not home when they said they would.

They could take away the pain from your bruises and cuts with a few soft words. A cool hand was enough to sooth a forehead burning with fever. Now it’s your turn to fret over their back aches and their blood sugar scores and get exasperated when they refuse to go for their medical checkups.

From asking their advice on everything mundane and not so mundane, you find yourself voicing your opinion more and more often and not liking it when they don’t do as you say. From sharing everything with them, you start hiding a few unpleasant facts so that they don’t worry. Instead you are the one who develops worry lines thinking about them.

The changes are there. Almost imperceptible, but there. Inspite of all their show of independence, there is a sudden lack of confidence, a slight dithering in decision making, an occasional need for reassurance.

And yet they stubbornly refuse to give in. They still manage their own affairs, want to travel alone, drive themselves everywhere. They might walk slowly, but still snatch away their hand in irritation when you try to guide them over the uneven path.

Their egos are fragile and so you try to indulge them. But slowly, unobtrusively you take over the driving, the weekly shopping, their paperwork. You start cooking more often, although you’d avoided the kitchen like the plague earlier. You are the one haggling more and more with the electricians and the plumbers and making sure the house runs smoothly.

And suddenly you realize that you are the generation that now has to step in and take charge. At the back of your mind you always knew that this day would come. But when it does, you don’t want to accept it.

You long to fling the responsibility back at them, refuse to acknowledge the changes and what they mean. But you can’t. This you must accept. It’s inevitable.

It’s the circle of life.



Oct 18, 2013

Misty Roads !





I took this picture in Lonavala a few weeks back. It was raining heavily and the hills were enveloped in clouds. Driving through the mist felt very surreal and eerie. 


We couldn't see anything beyond a few feet. But then we would drive those few feet and then the next few feet would become visible. We completed the 
entire journey like this and managed to reach our destination safely.

I like to believe this is what life is all about. So many times we are unsure of what lies ahead, we are not able to see the future clearly and that’s what makes us scared to take the first few steps toward something we want to do.

But do we really need to have the whole journey mapped out ? Do we really need to see the whole road ? If we could clearly see what lay ahead it would take the fun out of everything wouldn't it?


I remember when we rounded a turn and suddenly saw a spectacular waterfall through the mist. It seemed all the more fantastic because we were least expecting it.




All we need is the courage to take those first few steps and slowly step by step the whole road will unfold !

If you people are wondering about the profound wisdom I seem to be suddenly spouting on the blog, Let’s just say that this post is a reminder to self :-) 

Oct 4, 2013

Tuning in to Nostalgia

We whitewashed our house last week and had to take down the TV cable for a while. What followed was four days of complete bliss and silence. For a change, the evenings did not find us hooked to the mindless trash on TV and the three of us actually had a few civil conversations with each other. By the third day however, the TV withdrawal symptoms were at their worst. Being forced to spend more time than was necessary in each other’s company without TV to distract us was straining our patience to the maximum. 

In self-defense I decided to switch on the radio. For the sake of nostalgia, I decided to forego the usual FM channels with their shrill voiced RJ’s and tuned into All India Radio.

The first thing I heard was the very dignified voice of an AIR Newsreader saying “Yeh Aaakashwani hai, ab aap suniye Hindi mein samachar” and that brought back an avalanche of memories.

In the 80s and 90s when I was a school going kid, TV had gained entry into almost all homes. Those were the days when the highlight of our TV viewing was the weekly film on Sundays and the Spiderman cartoon series preceding it. Not to forget the mother of all soaps – Buniyaad and Hum Log. But back then Television broadcasts were only for a few hours every day. So the Radio still reigned supreme.

The mornings in most households including mine started with the radio cackling to life. We measured our time according to the programs on the Radio. First came Vande mataram, followed by the morning bhajans. This meant it was time to get up and get ready for school. And if I was still gulping down my milk by the time the English news started, I was sure to miss my school bus!

I have dim memories of my parents and brother listening to a program called Hawa mahal at night. Hawa Mahal was immensely popular and used to show case plays by famous writers. Because Radio is not a visual medium, the success of the play depended entirely on how the actors read out their parts. The speakers modulated their voice and tone to suit every emotion. So you heard throaty laughter, hushed tones trembling with passion or high pitched angry voices. There was background music as well. If it was an outdoor scene you would hear the chirping of birds or traffic. In indoor scenes you could hear the rattling of tea cups, chairs scraping as someone got up. They gave attention to the minutest of details.
Such programs really gave wings to one’s imagination. You listened to the various sounds and then visualized and created the whole scene in your mind.

My parents always listened to the political discussions or various interviews with the political leaders that came later in the night after Hawa Mahal. I was too young to understand these discussions, but as I lay snuggled up in bed, the droning voices on the radio provided some sort of comfort and familiarity.

And for a very long time Cricket for me was synonymous with the commentary on AIR. The sports commentators used to describe the action so well and in such detail that you felt you were almost there. You could almost hear the crack of the bat as it hit the ball, you could hear the ball whistling through the wind and the cheers as the crowd erupted. For a long time, before close circuit cameras came in, people used to switch on the TV to see the match but kept the voice on mute, preferring to listen to the detailed commentary on AIR.

Late night studying for my 10th boards was made bearable by English songs that played well into the night. The English used by the RJ’s (if they could be called RJ’s at that time) was impeccable and they spoke in a perfect clipped accent. There was no Hinglish then, either pure Hindi or English.

Another favorite was the BBC world service – recommended to everyone who wanted to be up to date with news and also learn proper English.

All India radio had many popular programs but there were a few that had an almost cult following. There is an entire generation of women out there who used to swoon in ecstasy whenever the very baritone voice of Ameen Sayani welcomed you to Binaca Geet mala. There were many programs on Film songs but I particularly remember one called Aapki Farmaish that played songs on requests. Requests for songs would pour in from places like Jhumri Talaiya prompting us kids to open the Atlas to see if the place actually existed! 

And not only Bengal but most of North India religiously woke up at 4 am on Mahalaya every year to tune into Mahishasurmardani. That if not anything heralded the beginning of Navratras for us.

The commentators at that time were very dignified and proper. The listeners or “shrotagan” were treated with utmost respect and reverence. The programs were more riveting and captured your interest totally. 

Radio then was something gentle and soothing, without the crassness and cacophony today’s Radio programs sometime seem to reflect.
 

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