Thursday, November 17, 2011

ऋतू - नामा

गीली धरती के तर ओंठों की ओर,
झुकी जाती हैं डालें ...
                              रीझी - रीझी सी सराबोर


courtesy Google images

 कसक अनजानी सी जगाई यूँ है ,
  के  रुत बदली- बदली सी और            
                              ये  फिजा इठलाई सी क्यूँ है .                

मेघों की  रवानगी के बाद ,                                                                                  
सर्द रातों की ठंडक और ,
                             फिर इंतज़ार एक नर्म - नम आगोश का

 गर्मियों की तपिश और सुलगती धूप....
  तेरे बाद ही लागे  प्यारी
                            गुलाबी सर्दियों की वो ऊब

इक आनी जानी रुत है और आता जाता जीवन
इक दुःख का ये पल है देखो
                         पीछे खड़ी ख़ुशी  है ...




Prisoners of the mind- Part II

This is part ii of the series .Readers are requested to read part i before this to understand the story better.

They kept him sedated for the night. Namit woke up late in the morning with a splitting headache and a vacuum in  the pit of his stomach.Mom! he called out feebly,holding on to his head.Two arms supported him as he struggled to get up from his bed.Slowly he opened his eyes and blinked to see strangers around in an alien world.Then it all came back to him ...the events of last night. He still could not fathom why his mom did this to him.She who was his world, she who slipped him little 'I love you' notes in his school lunch box.She who was his constant companion,friend,guide and pillar of support. She was the only one who he could discuss all his future plans with.How could she let the others know about his future plans? How could she betray his  trust?How could she do this?Did dad know?Of course he did not!

He gazed around to search for his phone and realized that he was in hospital garb and his bed side was devoid of anything he could all his own.Nothing ,except his body and soul was his own and now he had a serious,nagging doubt about that too.How bad was he? What did he do?He could not answer his own questions but if he was here,surely he must have managed to do something at home !The doctors were on their morning rounds.They approached his bed and he lay down quietly for them to complete the physical examination.He heard them talk about some tests to be run and few samples to be collected. Substance abuse also cropped up in their discussions. He decided to have a talk with the senior doctor to seek answers to his questions.

Shagun stepped out of the shower and popped a painkiller to ease her body ache.She sat down to gather her drained strength .She closed her eyes only to see a dark tunnel with no  light at the other end.Doctors she spoke with on the phone,were optimistic about the treatment but non- committal about the outcome.So does that mean,they were going to grope in the dark while Namit was inside ? She looked at the clock and hurried with the breakfast and lunch before she left for the hospital. They wanted her consent for something she was told.

At the stroke of eleven,the ward boy told Namit that his mom was in the visitors lounge .Namit tripped on his own feet to meet the most loved person in his life and then stopped suddenly in his tracks. His mind started racing and his emotions surging with a new found intensity.He thought of just going and hugging her close.He always felt secure in her arms. This was different situation altogether,he had to find an answer..what was it that pushed her into taking such a drastic step?Tell her to go away ...he heard a voice say..he barely recognised the voice as his own.Ward boy came back with a bag of clothes,some essentials and a big lunch box--the one that he carried to school. He knew that the note was there inside and he never had longed to see that as much as he did now. He turned his back towards the door and cried himself to sleep.

Shagun sat till evening and came back.She knew he will come around eventually and she was ready to wait.Each day she came with his favorite food which was shared by the staff and other patients at the end of the day.Namit did not touch the was not the food that interested was the notes.A young girl slipped them under his bed every day without a word.She was the young counselor as he came to know much later .Fourth day,Shagun decided to take the first step in her son's direction.She observed his movements that day and knew that the moment had come.Her determination,her self confidence flew out of the window as the moment approached.Her heart pounding furiously,she tried smiling as she saw Namit approach her bench.

He looked pale and tired.His gait was slow and unsure.His eyes were red , his hair was cropped and he had lost weight .She wanted to hold his hand and take him far away.She can manage surely,as she had done till now.At least HE will be happy in that situation.She knew the heavy medication will cause further side effects like wobbling of feet,tremors in extremities and general blunting of  reflexes.She brushed aside the thoughts as she remembered last month's events.Mania, suicidal tendencies,danger of harming oneself..and the pressing need for rehabilitation in such a situation.She closed her eyes momentarily to clear the thoughts and take charge of her emotions.

Namit walked slowly towards Shagun after hesitating for a minute,sat down beside his mom at some distance.Shagun closed the distance and held him close .Mother and son sat there for a long time silently.Then he asked for food.I have not eaten he said....They may have been feeding my body through these tubes but I am hungry ma ...very hungry ...and suddenly the cloud burst....drenching the two in the process and washing away all traces of anger ,hurt and doubt.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Prisoners of the mind- Part 1

Kalki was rudely woken up from her  deep slumber.It was her cell phone.Must be a patient in pain,she thought and promptly picked up the phone.She heard a muffled cry at the other end.When her hello failed to fetch a response,she checked the number and jumped out of the bed .It was Shagun and she knew what this call was all about.It was going to be a long call as she quietly walked out of her bedroom .
"Shagun, hang on,calm down will you and please tell me what this is all about."
"Kalki, I am scared,very scared...something is wrong with Namit . His neck is twitching ,his eyes are blood red and he looks dazed. Manav is not in town and I do not know what to do!
"Tell me quickly,what happened ..Where was he all day,did he drink, any medicines he ingested that day before this happened."
 Shagun had a doubt that Namit was into some kind of substance abuse. She thought,he picked it up during his college stint abroad.
Being a friend and a doctor,Kalki was Shagun's confidante.Shagun often called her up to seek advice or to  crib,vent out her frustrations or for plain gossip.
"Namit wanted to do hukka and when I took him shopping,he kept insisting  that I let him go with his building friends.I refused obviously lest he go and do hukka at some shady joint but later bought him one to smoke non tobacco, flavored hukka at home .We had dinner as usual,he had severe cold so I gave him prescribed medicines and a cough syrup .His childhood friend came over to stay so I went off to sleep. I woke up to strange noises and saw Namit in this state.The friend is scared and won't speak up.What do I do ??"
Kalki's fears were true, Namit managed to do it yet again.She shot few quick questions at her friend about Namit's activities, woke up another doctor friend to confirm that nothing was serious and then consoled her friend on phone.She kept track  of Namit's condition on phone for a while and hung up as he went off to sleep after having a few glasses of water.Both women were awake through the darkness.
Namit's life as she knew it, flashed like a movie in front of her eyes as Kalki settled down with a cup of tea in the living room. It pained her to see Namit in this pitiable state.he had always been an extraordinarily brilliant student,an all rounder,and a member of Mensa owing to his high IQ levels. He always had behavior issues since childhood. He was in and out of the principal's office. When complaints became one too many,and switching schools almost like a habit, he was referred to clinical psychologists for counselling. Shagun always walked that extra mile with him. Namit resented counselling but at times,would himself urge Shagun to take him. He changed doctors too, stating that they were not competent enough to understand his mindset.
Manav being out of town for most part, played the indulgent parent while Shagun was more practical of the two.Namit went to best boarding schools, went abroad for graduation , left studies halfway,switched to aviation studies ,left again.In short this was his story,intelligence coupled with fickle mindedness .He had peaks and valleys of  highs and lows in his life.It got worse when he went to the USA .Shagun sensed something was amiss whenever she spoke to him. He spoke enthusiastically about some aircraft manufacturing at times and was severely depressed and spoke about ending his life at others.His girlfriend had ditched him and he was depressed about that.Shagun did not have to coax him much, Namit decided to come back to India on his own.
 Kalki observed that Namit had changed ,he looked different,his gait was slow and his eyes...well they had no life.Kalki knew the signs,she was all too familiar with the look. Now she listened to Shagun's routine talk about her son more intently and made a mental note of significant signs.Some notes read thus:
-He walked out of the house in the dead of night leaving the house open and came back on his own.Why is he so desperate for smoke?Does he do drugs?
-He ran down spotting something across the street and when he came back he was fuming ..he said he saw a man troubling another across the street and he ran to save the poor man.There was not a soul on the street as Shagun observed from her window.
-Kalki ,he is obsessed with the idea of manufacturing aircrafts and selling them to the world....please drill some sense in him.
-He plays a particular game in which he lives another life online at a stretch for 24 hrs,without eating ,or getting up ,like someone obsessed, Shagun once complained.
-He says he knows the tricks to be a perfect mafia man ..
Meanwhile,his violent side was surfacing more often where he would get abusive and aggressive towards his family.Kalki's concerns were true..and she was scared for the boy and the family.She researched ,consulted and suggested few experts whom Shagun could consult and she did over a period of time.After multiple visits to various experts in the field,there were two words ominously raising their ugly heads-bipolar and schizophrenia.Suspected substance abuse had to be investigated before arriving at a definitive conclusive  diagnosis.
Namit would refuse to visit docs and when he did ,would try his best to mislead them...he knew the answers to their questions...he had heard them all.Shagun was worried for his sibling ,more so when he slipped into aggression.Manav couldn't be relieved from his job and Shagun was alone to handle the situation.After many table discussions,it was decided to treat him under institutional care where ,round the clock medicinal treatment and counselling was available.
There was only one such place in the city and they were well equipped to handle such patients.She drove him down to the institute after he reluctantly agreed to consult a psychiatrist. Shagun's heart bled at the thought of what she was forced to do.She drove in silence,holding back her emotions.The staff was prepared for the visit.The huge grilled door opened slightly to allow one person at a time, Namit was swiftly ushered in and before she could blink,the door snapped shut..locked automatically.Shagun did not have any time to explain..she was searching for words on the she will prepare him for this phase and now ,here, she stood without a chance to even say farewell for a few days.
She looked at her child and froze.Her baby's eyes were wide in disbelief .Hurt and betrayal were conveyed from across the grill. words had no place in this widening space between the mother and son.
As she retraced her defeated steps,she knew in her heart that he would never understand and she clutched at her chest where it pained like it was stabbed.
He looked at the retreating frame he knew as his mother and could not fathom why??He too slept under the influence of medicines behind the grill door clutching his heart where it hurt very bad.
They will never be a medicine to shoo away this pain...
They were two prisoners ,of their own minds.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

In Time----Movie Review

                                            courtesy Google images                                     
Watched a Hollywood movie after a long gap in time.
A movie by Andrew Niccol , 'In Time' was a must watch according to Muffin who is a big Sci fi fan like his dad.
The movie begins with a bang-a brilliant concept of time being money.Grandpa's oft repeated line 'time is money,do not waste it' is kind of true in this fiction world and is even shown writ large on a window by a donor of time.

                                            courtesy Google images                                                                                  
In a new age world, humans are genetically engineered to stop ageing at 25 years ,after which their body clock starts ticking and from there on , they have to earn their time on this planet.Humans get timed out ( die ) if they are not able to keep up with the time.If you miss the opening , you kind of get shocked to hear Justin Timberlake call out to a lady as young as him as 'mom'.I would often think about the fun we would have if we stopped ageing but to see three generations looking the same age on the silver screen,was kind of weird.

The story moves on with a few subplots, along with the central theme.If you think,time being money,would eliminate the big class divide,you are sadly mistaken.The rift is depicted to be deeper with the poor living in a ghetto running behind time and the rich getting richer by saving time in banks.Poor slog ,live each hour and through the day while the rich have centuries on their arm clocks.The ticking neon arm clocks look scary though, with their furious runs .There are a few witty lines coming across which instantly bring a smile to your face.Then you see the grim side of  time being money,people stealing time,borrowing it,stashing it ,loaning it and then getting killed for it.So far so good ..the movie tries to build a plot to a level but then it stagnates.Nothing changes basically.
Another subplot has a rich evil man's wide eyed daughter ,Sylvia (Seyfried) falling reluctantly for our man from the ghetto Wills Salas.Timekeeper,(Murphy) tries hard to be convincing enough in his role as the upright man.All along ,you go with the flow thinking the plot will evolve but it just does not and somewhere the movie loses its grip.
My verdict-Watch it for the concept.
Will I have the DVD in my collection? -I don't think so.

When Words Fail Me

A keen observer,a silent and patient listener,person brimming with new ideas,a fantastic storyteller,that is Rajkumar Hirani for most.I met him the other day and I was not surprised when I heard that he needs solitude to write and that sometimes he leaves town to be away from the mundane to write in peace . He draws inspiration from the common man he said and I observed that he listened more than he talked.Now,I am no Premchand of literature ,I  only express with regularly,irregular posts on my blog.I write whenever,whatever comes to my mind.Some beautiful people read and comment,most do not know me at all.but that does not mean,writing is just a pastime for is something I have done ever since I learnt how to make sentences in school.I think about what to write next,I have always been a good listener,I have developed extra sensory powers to eavesdrop on other people's conversations(bad!) ,and I guess, I am slowly getting there , honing my skills all along .Will I be able to write in solitude? I really do not know :o Will try my hand at it but where is solitude to be found??First will have to work towards that!!

If only inspirations were more frequent....Sometimes for days on end,nothing comes out of my brain.There are days when I sit nibbling on my pencil  till it resembles a Neem Daatoon  but words fail me . In complete contrast to this,there are days when my grey cells are hyperactive and writing one whole  thesis can be a cake walk. For someone who has never been tongue tied , this becomes frustrating.
Typically ,ideas never strike when they should and hound you with alarming regularity when they shouldn't .
Where would you reach out for the writing instrument when you are hanging for your dear life at the door of a local train clutching at the holding bars with handbag pressed somewhere between your chest / belly and the side panel of the compartment.I hardly take the local now but back then when writing was more about scribbling notes on scraps of any paper ,such situations were very common.By the time I would reach my destination,all in one piece,the idea would be gone with the wind.

The other day,Muffin wanted help with his Physics and I was lost...Poor son thought mommy dear was engrossed in trying to solve his work force energy numerical ,whereas, mommy was sprouting shaayri in her head. ;p Life is tough when you have to handle Physics and Shaayri together.Once in the middle of my under sea walk,I wanted to reach out to my pen and paper .Being a  non-swimmer,it was a memorable experience for me and one of the  most scary ones at that.The vast expanse of sea,the might and force of water around, my utter helplessness underneath and the beauty of life forms around,left me spellbound .The words were not the same back into the hotel room when I finally sat down to write.
Many times when caught in situations like having to listen to a monologue from my dear MIL about the daily grind like the bhaajiwaala, maid 1 ,maid 2 or the driver,I automatically switch  to'gaze-intently-listen-sparingly' mode.Years of practice has made me near perfect in returning from my own thoughts to the real world ,just in time to catch  the end of the monologue which typically ends with a question thrown at me -"Tula kaaye vaat tay,barobar aahe na?"(what do you think,am I right?).Situation is salvaged in  the nick of time as I am ready with the answer she is expecting-"Tumcha barobar aahe"( you are right).All through the talk,I make several trips in my head to different interesting worlds and am itching to write.A hurried excuse gives me a good write up but a delay means none whatsoever.
Presently I am working on four subjects but when I go back to read it after a while, it  all seems forced ,so drafts they will be until I get the flow..But writing about the mental block has helped and as I end this post,I am getting clear ideas about one of the drafts. :D :D

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Why am I in love with Mumbai..

A comment on Purba's post(my own about what irks me as a Mumbaikar),and it set 
me thinking..Before I knew it,it turned into a  full post about why I love Mumbai.
could go on and on but this space has its own limitations ,so read on a few lines 
about my dear Mumbai... 

                                                        courtesy google images                    

After a long struggle, when I finally got married to Hobbs, we decided to shift base to Mumbai. This was in the early nineties and we were being fed on stories about big bad city of Mumbai by almost everyone who was even remotely connected to this city. Hobbs always dreamt of making Mumbai his home but waited for me to finish my post-graduation before we tied the knot. I was secretly hoping he would change his mind but in vain.

Hindi movies those days had scenes depicting a bechara /bechari being duped as soon as he/she arrived at VT station  ( CST now) by a thug or a taxi driver circling the city to fleece a hapless passenger. Mere mention of Bombay would elicit a negative response from almost everyone- ”Arre Baap Re!!” being most common of all. Some reactions would read thus:
-        Arre… you will be looted as soon as you step inside the Mahanagri !
-         Bhookhe mar jaaoge! You live like a king here,in your own house, but out there ,you will be paupers.
-        Have you seen the houses there…twenty people live in one tiny kholi and strangers share a bathroom.
-        You will earn for others. EMI bharte – bharte zindagi khatam ho jayegi.
-        Bimaar hoge toh roti khilane wala koi na hoga. You will die a lonely death.
-        One well meaning auntyji whispered in my ear “You are used to pears and Sunsilk and ready made napkins for ‘those days’ …do you think you will be able to afford these ‘luxuries’ after paying off your debts?”
-        Joote ghis jayenge beta Bombay ki sadkon par. Here you have gaadi-ghoda at your beck and call.
    The typical Marwadi style melodrama was to dissuade me both from my marriage to a Maharashtrian as well as the shift to Mumbai. Hobbs faced emotional blackmail of a subtle kind at home. His parents hoped that atleast,the youngest son would stay back at the ancestral property. The decision was already made and the shift was smooth with one sack full of useless wedding presents and one suitcase each of clothes.
I admit I fell in love with Mumbai as I gazed at the city during my first taxi ride to the suburban home of sis in law which we shared for a while . Her living room was our first bedroom . I loved the city more when I shifted to my own tiny rented apartment. Having spent most our growing years in bungalows surrounded by sprawling gardens ,the matchbox sized apartment was nowhere close to luxury. Shuru hote hi khatam ho jata tha. I loved the city all the more when the city gave me the independence of traveling on my own by public transport at an unearthly hour without fear. It sharpened my sensory perception, I could recognize local stations by their smells and sounds even in sleep. Mumbai taught me the value of a fraction of a second of my time. I learnt to  recognize the person at the door by the time of his arrival even before I opened the door. 7am –milkman,7.30am-paperwala,7.45-car cleaner and so on.. 7.30am bell can not be your dhobi’s bell unless informed well in advance. I fell in love with the gastronomic delights, ranging from, sabse sasta ,filling, street food to the exotic,  ridiculously priced , bland platter. The street shopping grew on me, and so did the AC confines of the swanky malls. Most important of all,I loved the anonymity in the crowd that Mumbai gave me. No one gave a damn about who I was ,what I wore, where I came from or where I was headed. All my life I was aware that I was a girl, and hence was aware of how I walked, what I wore, where I came from and where I was headed. I was aware of my being a female in a sea of humans and unconsciously crossed my arms in a crowd to avoid being touched ‘unintentionally’. Mumbai made me feel human and I could hang my arms by my side and swing them for all I cared, without attracting a single eyeball. Mumbai grounded me and taught me to stand in a crowd rubbing shoulders with a fisherwoman, a scrawny looking but energetic sabjiwali, a CEO or an IAS from Mantralaya . Once in the local, they are professionals and homemakers rolled into one and can be seen preparing for evening meals while chatting, bitching about in-laws or singing bhajans. This city gives aam aadmi  the recognition of being anonymous at some level.
Is that an advantage or disadvantage? Go figure!
For me, wherever I go, I need to and long to come back and Mumbai welcomes me with open arms. This is the city of my dreams,so what if the politicians choose to use and abuse it .The common man however, has nothing to do with politics and does not boast about his ‘connections’while crossing the road or while peeing in public. One day, people will wake up and move on from being more than mere spirited Mumbaikars and bring on a change.
For all of the above and much more beyond the scope of this post,I Love Mumbai!!


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