Thursday, 8 December 2011

True Christmas Spirit

Christmas decorations are done, tree is up, all done with shopping. It is time to get showered with gifts and wishes but in the midst of all this we should never forget the real spirit of Christmas. The memories of some acts which really spread love and the message of Christmas are still fresh in my mind. One of them is our carol rounds. We were a group of ten families and we kids grew up together. The idea of carol rounds used to spread a smile across our face and we used to pull out our best sweaters and practise all the lively carols which were fun and lively.
Carol rounds used to start as late as 9 at night and used to go on till wee hours in the morning. We picked non-christian houses to spread the message of the reason behind the birth of our Saviour. We visited a variety of people. The snacks they offered used to excite us but what kept the joy and fun going was the way the message was spread. Lot of people were able to have happiness and peace by listening to the story of Christmas and the songs. I remember an aunty telling us that every year she looks forward to December and our carol rounds as she feels that her house is bestowed with some kind of special blessings. I am sure anyone who has opened their doors for the Lord will feel the same. It is a season that reminds us strongly the reason we are here and that our life should not revolve around the mechanical life and the commercial life which we lead.
Now we have all grown and gone to different places and have our own families but the spirit that was instilled in us when we were kids have grown and I hope that I will be impart the spirit to more people and also instill the right idea of Christmas in my son’s mind.
Feliz Navidad!!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Sidam Touch Visitor

My sister walks into the door on Fridays and then it is time to look out…
She is a great person and has great talent but this talent seems to top the list. A nice start to a week end. We are comfortably seated on our bean bags after dinner chit chatting and watching our favorite Master Chef Australia and then we can smell something. Something burning badly. We are running from room to room checking what it is about, everything seems to be all right but the smell gets stronger and stronger. We are like dogs sniffing the trail of the smell and it leads us close to the balcony and then we see something dripping and it is the tube light burning. Rush call for help, call the electrician, take down the tube, open the doors and let there be some outlet to the smell.
You might wonder what this has to do with my sister, you will understand as you read on.

After the tube light incident it was one week of no issues and then the following Friday arrives and so does my sister. The evening goes on smoothly we bid an early goodnight as we had to leave to Pondicherry the following morning and so she enters her room and so do I with my son in tow. Suddenly my phone beeps, “Aarti’ka did the current go?”. My mind voice tells, “What happened?” She informs how the fan was working when she switched it on and then became slow and then stopped. She seems to have an electric touch.

The next week end we decided to be precocious so we told her, “no touching switches, we will assist you.” So thankfully all the electrical items were still in working condition and then with a sigh of relief and satisfaction I enter the kitchen to see it being flooded with water. Your guesses are right, my sister had entered the kitchen and the water bubble tap refuses to close.

We have been bullying her since then calling her Miss.Disaster. These are just a series of coincidence but it is funny to see them happen when she is around. In comes the pretty looking babe and out goes something in the house. Is it that her artistic fingers are not meant for regular usage, will wait and watch in the weeks to come! Beauty with the ultimate touch is what we can describe her.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Man of My Dreams

One Sunday morning as I go up the escalator in Chennai trade Centre in Chennai, I see a man wearing a blue striped shirt saying “Hi” to us. I was skeptical at his reception, though it was arranged that the families will meet. Little did I realize that am meeting the guy am going to spend the rest of my life with and the person who I will be head over heels in love with. It was not love at first sight but you can call it love at first conversation. Within hours we came to know that we had a lot of similar taste though we were very different as people. I decided that I can afford to wave the green flag for marriage as I was sure that he will make a great friend and husband.

We did have our days of courtship which was as usual not only a bed of roses, it had its own ups and downs but it just helped us to know each other better. Sometimes I think that my husband is so amazing that I don’t know if I’m good enough, but I also realize that as I make him happy, it is definitely what I want to be.

Edwin has many sides and layers to him and until and otherwise you know him really well you will not be able to witness the real Edwin. He is basically friendly and helpful but if he decides about something then even the Lord will have a tough time to reason out with him. A happy go lucky guy to the world but emotions run deep and it is not visible to the world. I realised this when his happiness and anxiety was revealed in form of tears rolling down his cheeks when I came out of my labor room. He was just so excited to see me that he broke down. Even people who knew him for years were shocked to see this reaction and I was so happy as it was a kind of confirmation to let me know how much he loves me.

The extra mile he goes to make everyone happy and please everyone irritates me at times but then that is who he is and all said and done I admire it and am proud of it. I have learnt that we should accept each other as we are as he accepts me even with my possessive nature. He has always been there for me and has backed my decisions no matter what they are. As mentioned earlier the similarities we have are too many to list, some of them are the readiness to travel,  watching movies, music, sports and friends. I wish I had more time with him but then am sure no matter how many days he spends with me I will still have this complaint as his company is so great that no number of days or hours spent together seem to be enough. I jokingly tell Edwin that he just doesn’t have a choice other than to live with me as I will never ever let go off him. It is just the way he understands me and my thoughts that amaze me.  After marriage, my sight has become so strong and my instincts so right that I also understand what he wants and where he is heading to.  We have worked great as a team as we realize we are not vying with each other but are there for each other.

As a father he is hands down a winner. I can put up my legs and relax as soon as we step out of our house as Edwin will take over the role of taking care of Dan. He has been more of a son to my parents than a son-in-law. His relationship with my mom is amazing and they behave as friends and the respect he has for my dad is great.

 I have never been in love before but I realize that it is because God wanted me to meet Edwin so that I can pour out all the love I have and make it last for a lifetime. My life with Edwin has given me tons of deepest and happiest moments and I am sure I will have many more to cherish. After all definitely God meant marriage to be part of His happiness plan. Even though Edwin does make blunders at times like break my semi professional camera I still love him till the world’s end.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

My Role Models in Life

Parents are the ones who give us good advice and show us the right path. They are angels on earth who are there for us through thick and thin and are proud to see us grow into good human beings. The pat they give on our back is what we look forward to strive for all through our life as that is the best reward we can receive. To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Both has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others. My heroes will always remain my parents as no matter who we are influenced by the biggest heroes we have seen from close quarters are always our parents. As any child would declare I have been blessed with great parents who have supported me and been there for me even when the whole world was ready to point a finger at me and have a good laugh. They blessed me with the best of everything but did not make me a cripple, they let me make my mistakes learn from them and let my wings gain strength so that I will be able to face the adversities of the world with grace and strength. They also made me understand that human strength would be of no use if I had no spiritual and inner strength. I was given pocket money but also taught the value of each penny.

My appa is a person with many sides. He can be as emotional as a baby but if he resolves his mind against someone, then God save them. I have seen the way he has climbed up the ladder with sheer hard work. Even today after crossing half a century he does not rest. He prefers to be on the run as long as his legs can carry him. His love for the family knows no bounds but at times does not know how to express them. After his parents demise he has taken extra efforts to keep all his five sisters happy. I love to see the way he bonds with my mom’s side, in fact at times he seems to be more in sync with the family than my mom! He is a wonder who is yet to be unraveled completely. The talents he has are too many to list and it might sound as if am boasting but why shouldn’t I be proud of him. His dance skills are still spoken of even after years. I would like to share an anecdote. When Edwin and I got engaged, Edwin’s uncle suddenly walked up to my dad and asked whether he studied in St.John’s in Tirunelveli and when my dad nodded in agreement that uncle’s excitement was visible, and he said, “Wow, you used to be a great dancer, I was your junior and used to admire your dance”. This made me realize how he was remembered even after years. A favourite among everyone, he takes the extra effort to make people feel special. Wonder if I will ever learn tolerance from him as that is a quality I least possess but wish I can cultivate it someday as I know how much my dad has achieved because of this.

My mom is my first best friend. I don’t know how I can write my feelings about her as they are too many. We share everything and she has filled too many roles in my life, a true mentor, friend, philosopher, at times even that of a sibling. Till date tears roll down my cheeks if I have to bid her good bye. She has been there for me at every step of my life and has been my pillar of my strength. She has known all my friends and all the antics we have been up to. She has been kind as well as strict. I still can’t afford to raise my voice against her as I know that I will be reprimanded for it but she encourages a healthy argument so that I can understand the pros and cons of things. I can count on her no matter what I need and she is there for me. She is been patient and listens to all the stories I have to tell no matter how silly they are. A woman of knowledge and a heart made of gold. She has taught me the value of being truthful and straight forward and has taught me that I should be able to face the consequences of being truthful as the end results for being truthful will be the best. She is a woman I admire. Edwin says that we are so much alike and that our thought processes are just the same. It is just that I have spent so much time with her and admired her that we think and act the same way. She has allowed me to enjoy the things I love to do and encouraged me and allowed me to grow as an individual.
I am so proud of my parents and now as I am a parent I wonder how my parents were such great example to me and am striving hard to be a good parent to my son. Thank you apaa and amma for being such great friends and parents. You really mean the world to me. I hope someday I will make you proud of me. Love you both.

Monday, 10 October 2011

The people with Golden Hearts

In this world where money and position has become a top most priority, we lead a life as if we take our family for granted. But in reality am sure that most of us will be ready to sacrifice anything for the survival of a family member. It is our family that we can depend upon as a solid rock; of course God is in a totally different league of support so I mean this apart from him. In India we value relationships and we have been brought up that way. It is great when relations are there and you are there for each other as a family but we need to give the much needed space and allow them to grow and not breathe down each other’s neck as it will only tend to crack the beautiful tie. We are like the sections of an orange which are similar but not identical. Each one is distinct in his/her own way.
I am thankful to God for giving me a taste of heaven on earth with a lovely family. I have had the privilege of growing up with grandparents, a boon which not many are blessed with. I just feel that a child needs a grandparent around to feel more secure in the world. They are able to give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. The wisdom they pass on to us can never be matched even by the best of the best class rooms. I would like to dedicate today’s article to four beautiful souls who helped me to grow to the person I am today, my maternal and paternal grandparents.
Joe Thatha, my mom’s dad was a sweet heart, a zoologist, a musician, a photographer, he had many sides to him, but above all he was a lovely human being. He not only taught his students Zoology but also taught them by example how life is so much more worth living if you help others and take the path which will be a testimony to the Lord. He was an animal lover and had pets ranging from crocodiles to dogs. His house in Jothi Nivas was hardly locked and was filled with fun and laughter 24/7. He passed away quite early but the little memory I have of him are wonderful. He could not walk for long or strain himself too much as he had a deadly combination of a weak heart and diabetes but he never hesitated to carry me or play with me. I used to be taken for rides in his Silver Plus(a kind of bike in those days) and even had a special seat designed to accommodate me in that scooter. We used to play see-saw quite a lot. He was quite proud to take me around and introduce me to everyone right from the fish mongers to his colleagues. I can still remember the twinkle in his eyes when he used to smile and mind you I have never seen him frown. It is said that a person lives through his deeds and in that context Joe Thatha has done a tremendous job, there are friends who still talk about his deeds 24 years after he left this earth and quarter of a century to live in the minds of people is only possible for a legend and I can proudly say that my Joe Thatha was a legend in his own way.
The next grandparent is my Addy Gaga, an English professor; it was she who inspired me from a very young age to take up Literature. She was a woman with a heart as soft as cotton, but if you had rubbed her on the wrong side you would have got to witness the steel woman within her. She lived life in all it’s glory. No one can forget her humor, love and laughter. She was a favorite sister, athai, chithy, periamma, cousin, all-in-one. There was no one who could not get along famously with her. She was fiercely protective over me and believed in giving me the best, from holidays to education. Usually if you are scheduled to study during your holidays you would detest it but somehow she made it so much fun that I used to love going to Tuticorin for my vacation. I used to board the bus with her the night school closes and will have a month of fun. She imbibed the reading habit in me and made me read classics at a very young age which was so useful when I did my Under Grad in Literature. She was diagnosed with cancer but till the very end she had the will power to live on even with the pain. She has been an inspiration to many and has influenced me more than I can explain. I miss her till this day as she eventually lost her battle with Cancer. There is not a day I have not thought of how things would be if Gaga was around. Am sure she is filling heaven with laughter and Thatha is filling it with his music.
My paternal grandparents lived with us for very many years. I have not seen such caring yet non-interfering people who were there to advice us but let us lead our lives. I am sure that it needed a lot of self control and maturity and God’s guidance to do that. The love they showered on my mom was amazing. She was pampered more than their own daughters, which is definitely a rarity. My Thatha, was a retired Deputy Collector but I guess we could never take the job out of him as till his last breath he was running around to do something for the colony we live in. He was 90 years old but used to walk and take buses in order to go to the various government offices requesting for good roads and water supply for our area. He believed that no bribe was the way and his perseverance paid as we finally got what he worked hard for. He was the administrator of our house and am sure that my dad didn’t know which bill came in when as my Thatha kept a tab on everything. He believed in the Lord up above and the love he had for my Bama is simply mind blowing. They used to bicker like kindergarten students but end of the day couldn’t be without each other. Even death couldn’t separate them. Thatha went to the Lord four months after Bama did as he just couldn’t digest her loss. He has taught us how to live lives wisely and how to love your spouse.
My Bama, Dad’s mom, was a marvel. She lost her eyesight when my dad was in school but that didn’t make her sit in a corner and mourn. She equipped herself to carry on with all the daily chores and bring up 6 children the right way. Her love and understanding of Jesus was amazing and she has touched so many lives through her belief. She was the one who taught my mom how to cook. Each day some delicacy will be waiting for me when I get back from school and it used to be yummmmmmmmm. The love she had for my mom knew no bounds, I have never seen a mom-in-law care for her daughter-in-law this way. She was always on the lookout for my mom and made sure that she got that extra special treatment by everyone. Even in her death bed when she refused to eat food, the only person she was ready to listen to was my Mom. She is a lady he who was stronger than Jhansi Rani and her love will live on for generations.
I miss my grandparents but am glad I got to know them personally. I hope I have imbibed some characters from them. Even if am able to take just one character from each am sure I will be a great human being. I am proud to have had such wonderful, god fearing human beings as my grandparents and I hope and pray that someday I will make them proud. I understand that this article is long but I feel that even this is too short to describe four lovely inspirations of my life. And I would not be doing justice if I don’t dedicate even one article to them. Love you Thathas, Gaga and Bama.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Traffic Tragedy

 “Better a thousand times careful than dead once”, is a famous proverb and it is so true. The Chennai traffic police wing was formed way back in 1929. It has been ages since it was formed and at present they do have their hands full. What with the metro work going on and every one on the road deciding that he has to go fast as he has urgent work to attend to. I have been living in Chennai for the past 9 years and only recently have I noticed that the traffic police are being strict about rules in order to regulate traffic and enforce rules and not for other reasons.
They seem equipped with some nice gadgets, cars and bikes and can actually be spotted at almost every traffic signal irrespective of whether it is month beginning or month end. I really do appreciate their efforts but they have to be more organised and learn to enforce the rules with equality. It is a must to wear helmets but half the population are left scot free. The vehicles are being towed and the owners are unaware of it being towed as they are not intimated and they are towed even from places which they are unaware that parking is prohibited as there is no sign board. The scene just gets worse as you do not know where to find your towed vehicle and are made to run around for an hour or two and finally you get to spot the treasure, your vehicle after quite an exhausting hunt.
All said and done the efforts taken by the men in white uniforms is laudable. Some are still corrupt and they try to skip the electronic bill procedure and try to strike a deal where they can earn some money. It is going to be quite a task to clean up the system which has existed for decades and the mentality of the cops who think that they have to earn while they are at service and in more ways than the government offers. I wonder if we can make the traffic more regulated with this mind set but we have to start somewhere.
It is also not right to always blame the cops. We as citizens should also take it upon us as a personal responsibilty to follow the rules and safety measures. It is not going to benefit anybody else but us. It is better to be precautious than sorry. We just have one life and it is going to be sinfully sad if we are going to throw it away for some adrenaline rush.
We just witnessed Azharuddin’s son’s superrr bike cause a tragedy. It is the responsibilty of the parents to show the right way. If Azhar had not gifted the bike to his son who did not have a licence he would still have his son with him.
Take a moment to think if what we are going to do on the road is more important than our life and act according to the answer you have got. This and the effort by the cops should be enough to make our city a great place to drive around without so many curses being hurled at each other. Let us drive in peace and safety….

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Are we true to ourselves?

India is so diverse in language and culture that each state can almost be considered as a separate country. The language spoken in Punjab and the food they eat is closer to that of Pakistan, than Tamil Nadu. But barring all this divide, the divide based on skin colour seems to be more. The country is obsessed with fair skin. We say Australians are being racist, but have we realised what is happening in our own backyard. The moment one person feels superior to the other racism seeps in.
A dark skinned girl can be brilliant, talented, a good orator and an all rounder but still talks about her skin colour will have precedence over her talent. Television channels are filled with advertisements which give out promises to lighten your skin in forms of lotions and oils.
Even the ads portray that it is the fair skinned who succeed and who are confident but the dark skinned lack confidence and cannot reach the pinnacle of success. Doesn’t this show double standards in a land where majority of the people are dark skinned.
The advertisements portray actresses who are already fair using the fairness creams and this sends a wrong message to the mass who try to ape their screen icons. All you have to do to understand the obsession of Indian people with light skin is to open a matrimony site and all you can read is “fair, good looking girl wanted”. Isn’t there any scope for the dark skinned? Bipasha Basu, who was voted as the sexiest person in Asia in 2005 and 2007 says that it is all in the mind. The way the society looks at you should not matter as confidence comes from within. It is also important for family members to support their kith and kin and not serve as confidence breakers.
Media can portray that white is beautiful and drive the point home but it is for us to realize that everyone should be recognized for who they are and not for how they look. We still live in a very stereotyped society and it is difficult to break the norms set by the society but small steps taken will help us realize the larger dream of abolishing the double standards. Let us work towards removing the spec from our eye before pointing a finger at another country for Racism….

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Big Bad Hurdle

India is being called a progressive nation but do we act accordingly is a million dollar question that will linger in the minds of the youth all over the country. With half of the country’s political parties taking the burden of acting as moral police it is quite a task to sneak around and fall in love as even if you manage to escape your parent’s eyes there is some stranger who is ready to shoot you down as he feels that you are spoiling the culture of India and he is trying his best to safeguard it. If you are lucky to find the right guy, fall in love, escape everyone's prying eyes and when you are ready to take your relationship to the next level and enter the sacred institution called marriage, it is time you will have to open the topic to your parents and then they pose the biggest hurdle even if both of you belong to the same religion, it is the big bad “C” called Caste.
We say that the west discriminates but are we not more into it than the west. We discriminate our own people based on so many categories and reasons. There are children being killed by parents as they marry someone of a different caste. Where are we as a nation heading to? We should be “United in Diversity” as that is what we proudly portray our country to the rest of the world but only when we live within the boundaries of India do we realize that we are far away from being united.
I hail from Tamil Nadu, though I have never lived in Tirunelveli, Tuticorin and down South I have relatives from there. The caste system is in their blood it is mandatory for them to enquire about the other person’s caste even when they get acquainted and they feel that it is derogatory to have an inter caste marriage in the family. This trait is slightly lesser in metropolitan cities like Coimbatore and Chennai but people who are first generation migrants to these cities still believe strongly in this caste system that they are not able to fly out of the cage which they have locked themselves in. I am not stating that only South Tamil Nadu is filled with such ideas. It is there in all the states and all the non metro towns and cities. I have referred to South Tamil Nadu as I have seen bloodshed and broken hearts first hand in these places in the name of Caste.
Will we as a country ever have a broad mind set? Will daughters-in laws ever be treated as daughters? Will the caste category ever be removed from forms and minds? Will we ever stop being bias towards fair skinned people? Will the criteria for most marriages change from money, and status? Will “Love” replace all of the above and will we ever be a nation that is truly united inspite of the diversities? We as the youth of the nation should work towards it and make the people who find it hard to accept the changes that we are changing for the good. It is in the hands of the youth, it is time we take a stand and be the change that we want to see and stop pointing fingers at others in order to avoid taking responsibility. Let us take the bold step and make our country a happier, better and truly free country to live in.