Sunday, May 23, 2010


My mother in law once told me that most housemaids in Mumbai are called Laxmis and most of the drivers called themselves Raju. Her theory is right when it comes to maids but it is the Rajus that I am going to talk about in this space. Obviously I don't drive so I have to depend on Rajus and over the years I have had  many of them and each one has been an eclectic personality in his own right. While I take pride in retaining the oldest  clinic and home staff from the time I began,the driving    driver force has been an ever changing aspect and a frustrating one at that.A few particularly interesting ones my family can never forget...
Raju no. 1- Lasted 2 years.
                   Pet peeve-sleeping on duty,body odor,absconding to his desh every yr for 4-5 summer months

Good natured fellow,but would sleep through duty hours thanks to his night duty as watchman             elsewhere.BO was taken care of by my son through constant reminders of bath,threats of confiscating his favorite chameli ka tel (which he sincerely thought would impress us) and gifts of .deos .He finally went back to his family back home ,and is sleeping on duty somewhere in Moradabad .
Raju no.2 -Lasted 4 years
                   Pet peeve-none
Fiercely loyal,extremely skilled driver,he was the best of the lot.He had this uncanny ability to appear in all our photographs!All the snaps during that period have him in a far corner with a corner of his 'rumaal' pressed between his teeth.Mumbai weather took a toll on his health and he too relocated to Hyderabad.
Raju no.3-Lasted 2 days
                 pet peeve-too short a time to know
He was a parking lot driver who turned overconfident  little too soon.My cars have bruised bums thanks to him driving right into the wall in reverse. Saw him at a mall a few days back .
Raju no.4-Lasted 15 days
                 pet peeve-Forgetting his way around..
He would reach any destination but would invariably get lost on his way back. Tried understanding how and why,but gave up the day he forgot the way to my house. When he overshot the last turn to my lane,I thought he was dreaming,but no... he couldn't recognize the lane because ,in his own words;"bhabhi  woh eent,patthar kahan gaye?road saaf ho gaya to pehchaan nahin aaya."What happened to fixed assets on the road,the landmarks??? So that was the secret to his' lost ways'!!
Raju no.5-Lasted 30 days
                pet peeve-impatience,hatred for parking anywhere but the building garage!
This one made us the laughing stock of friends,family and staff.He would drive us to our destination,but on our return there was no guarantee that he would be around waiting for us.He would drive all the way back home and park the car back in the garage if,the mall was not to his liking,it was too hot,he was hungry,couldn't find parking on the road,or any other reason that he thought fit.So after being left in the lurch twice each(both me and hubby on separate occasions) we let him go. Wonder where he is now?
Raju no.6-Lasted 3 days
                Speciality-Death personified ,extremely dangerous to all living beings on the road and off it!
Again a parking lot product,he was danger unleashed on the road!!
Day one ,my heart was in my mouth when I reached home after an hour of being in the back seat.
Day two, my head was hanging in shame due to the choicest abuses that were hurled at us all through.
Day three ,people saw me escape a near death situation when suddenly Raju 6 decided to enter at full speed between two speeding trucks jostling for space in front  .Fraction of second later ,there I was all shaken up as if my arms were cut off from my body. Reality soon dawned that I was unscathed but my car had lost both the rearview mirrors as it emerged from in between the two giant trucks..I took a cab home and didn't see his face again.

Good old,family drivers are a rare breed now,and I am still in search of that one Raju who fits in perfectly....

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Kuch pal..

गर्मी की रातों को ,खुले आसमान के नीचे ,
लेटे हुए अक्सर देखा करती हूँ ,
           रास्ते के निर्जीव खम्बे को ....
बेजुबान प्रहरी सा ये खम्बा ,ना जाने कब से यूँ ही खडा है
           उनींदा सा ....
अपने धीमे से प्रकाश से , आस -पास के नन्हे से दायरे को थोड़ी सी रौशनी देता हुआ
ना जाने क्यों दिन - प्रतिदिन इसका तेज मद्धम होता प्रतीत होता है ,
और साथ ही चारों ओर मंडराते परवाने भी ..
          देखते देखते जाने कब निद्रा मुझे अपने आगोश में ले लेती है पता नहीं चलता ,
          पर ये क्या! प्रातः कालीन उजाले में वही खम्बा कितना निरीह जान पड़ता है ...

जैसे अपने ही प्रकाश से लजा रह हो !!

रात आने तक यही सोचती हूँ कि ,क्या जाने आज रोशनी होगी या नहीं ....
जानती हूँ और डरती हूँ ,
                 एक दिन इसे भी निद्रा अपने आगोश में ले लेगी !
शायद परवाने भी जान गए हैं ,इसीलिए उनका यहाँ आजकल ,
                 आना- जाना और झूम -झूम कर गुनगुनाना कुछ कम हो गया है .....

Monday, May 3, 2010

When she lost herself in time and space...

Some lovely childhood memories close to my heart are the summers spent with my bua or atya in Rajasthan. Never felt the scorching heat....and that was more because of the  uninhibited affection showered on me and less because of the nimbu paani and faalse ka sharbat that she made.Needless to say we were each other's favorites.
 Clinic,shifting,marriage , kids,the excuses of not being able to visit her became so called priorities for me and she slowly resigned .Occasional  phone call made her happy, at least that is what she said and I believed. Life in Metro continued until I  was informed that she was on her death bed ,-cervical cancer,terminal stage,no hope! Had the worst migraine attack in years that day as I slowly absorbed the news.
 By evening I was outside her hospital room,(after fifteen long years) mustering up the courage to enter,fighting tears welling up in my eyes and then I heard laughter ,excited sounds ,some more laughs,giggles.. singing, coming out of the room. Wrong room!! I thought,and retraced my steps when a visibly embarrassed ,red in the face, Prem kakaji rushed out ."Good! go meet her and hold and rub her palms till I return will you?",he said. I entered and decided to take the matters in my hand till I was there,how could they make the hospital room into a..a..lounge, or. ..or..a clubhouse for God's sake I fumed.I walked into a roomful of young,strangers,average age 20 yrs who were completely oblivious to my presence and continued their activities and light hearted banter. Before I could utter a word,I glanced around and what I saw will remain etched in my memory for the rest of my life.A young girl,was changing the diaper of  the skin and bones of my badi maa with a song on her lip,another was busy making her hair,another  ponytailed teenaged boy was neatly disposing soiled diapers and the giggles were for a wrap around skirt that was being designed for their granny!!Will save her the trouble of sliding up her old traditional skirt slip and sari.
  I was sighted by then by this bunch of nieces and nephews,and I was ushered close to the bed .I held her hand and tears started welling up again.. not allowed, I saw someone signal with her finger.She did not see me,she probably heard me,but she sure felt she spoke after two whole days of silence..her first instruction to have mehendi applied to my palms as I was getting married and had come to seek her blessings before taking the wedding vows.
 She was already lost in time and space...
   ...and these kids were only trying to make things better for making her believe that she was in her home,surrounded by her family,just the way she loved,..full of love,laughter,lot of touch,feel..
 Quick maasi,we have to go get mehendi done,buy shagun sari for you,and be back as soon as possible to show her.I meekly followed ,they were in charge,and were damn good at it!On my way out I saw a big poster that said-'MAIN PREM KI DIWANI HOON'.She had lately become too attached to her brother,our Prem kakaji and would allow only him to hold her hand and rub her palms,and if he needed to be relieved and someone else took over,she would feel the different touch and start chanting Prem..Prem..until he took over again. That explained kakaji and his hurried exit!! The  kids were merciless when it came to teasing him or anyone for that matter.
 She did not respond when I showed her my mehendi,in fact never spoke again till I left and passed away ten days later.My only consolation is that I met her before I lost her.As for the what the young bunch taught me,well that is something I shall always cherish..
1. I will think twice before I label any teenager irresponsible
2.I will try not to go by appearances (umm... little difficult ,but promise trying)
3.I will not judge people. ( did I imagine that smile on my daughter's lips?)
  Watching seemingly careless youngsters, care..another one of simple pleasures


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