Tuesday, June 9, 2020


This is about last morning's incident. I know, in this "COVID-Era" (if that term exists) every one of us has had vivid experiences to share.  What I share too maybe parallel to something one of you must have encountered too.

I have to begin with my April routines to reach this morning’s anecdote. From the month of April, it has been a ritual for me to visit the supermarket once in a fortnight dressed like a bandit (covering every possible inch of my skin with full clothing), mask, and gloves. As I stand at the entrance of Lulu supermarket, my temperature will be checked. Now even the "Ehetraaz app" activated on my phone, for my COVID-health status.  If it shows green, I enter the supermarket. God forbid if it ever shows amber or red, I enter the ambulance. This is only my fears.

But, I continue to go. Fill the cart with loads of supplies, veggies, snacks, and return home where my two kids who currently are on "Zoom-Schooling"(if that term exists too) help me sort the things out and throw things in their places. This way, the kids even know where the masala boxes go in my kitchen. This is the new productive utilization of time and life skills they are adding on.

 6P.M. Now. As I type, I am seated in the garden outside in my locality where my 6year old son cycles with his other masked buddies. And I notice a frail-looking young boy with a bunch of papers approaching me.  He turned out to be an ordinary expatriate that is jobless for 3 months and is apparently unable to even board the “Government’s Vande Mataram flight” to India due to lack of finance. So a man who earned a decent salary 3 months back stood with folded hands begging for me shell out a few Riyals if that could help him travel back to India. When I directed him to the embassy he showed me papers rejected by them (for whatever reasons).  “Where is the money for the ticket?”.

 That leaves me quite heavy-hearted and off track. Where was I. Yes, I was narrating my supermarket experience in this COVID-Times. 

Well, so coming to the main point now. What was that incident that happened this morning?.  

As I got out of the supermarket, I saw a middle-aged looking, sad-eyed, well-built man with hands tied at the back staring at me as he paced by the Lulu Exit doors. Ignoring his looks, I walked to my car and reached home. After all my chores, cooking, and lunch I plonked on the couch and clicked open the WhatsApp window.

I see a hello” from an unknown number with a DP of the same man pacing by the Lulu exit.  All my attempts to place him in vain only left me chiding my memory capacity of remembering people's names or faces.  Well, now,  I dialed the number of this mysterious man and sternly asked “yes, could you please tell me your name. You have whattsapped me”.

After the 6 minutes call, I threw my phone smiling yet very heavy-hearted. Almost too emotionally upset and tears swelling up as if waiting to be swept away and looking for an opportunity for. As he reminded our short meeting a few months ago, and I had told him “Aladdin so where is your chirag?. He reminded me, and we laughed”. A call that began with an angry anxiousness ended with smiles and emotions.

His name was Aladdin. An uber driver. Who drove me and my little son back from a function one night at 10pm when my pride, my Landcruiser shrunk in the parking with punctured tires. I had booked an Uber for the first time in Doha! My son’s first remark was “yaeeks,, so dirty car, why is a water bottle on the seat. I will not sit in this car”. The driver smiled as I pushed my son on the seat petulantly.

Soon, he jumped on the seat, singing loudly. I had to instruct him to belt himself and keep his volume low. But the driver laughed and struck a conversation.

“Madam, he reminds me of my son. In Mysore”

“Mysore!! My jaws and chin fell almost apart. You are Kannadiga?”

That’s it. I am now not narrating what the next 10 minutes of the conversation were about.

 “So, Aladin, where is your Chirag” I had told him.

And today, in sheer frustration of losing the job, savings, and no money to even call me, he had messaged me that too after borrowing a hot spot of the internet from the Lulu Supermarket's security personnel.

Now I realized his shying away from approaching me at the exit as I did not recognize him. He did not want to pester me. Is what he said.

“I know ma’am I can not ask you for a job. I just called…ma’am…sumne..sumne.. meaning simply in Kannada.” He sounded unnecessarily apologetic. I tried to feel in his shoes and I could gather empathy for his situation. After all, it was me who had given him my number when he had shared his interest in bringing along his wife and son here to Doha soon as she could look for a teaching job here.  All his dreams were puffed away by a tiny microbe called the corona.

And most importantly, I placed this call to him, in the afternoon, right when my kids were in the midst of an argument, how I forgot to buy the “son-papdi, and lollipops” ordered by them. We have to now wait for 15 days for that. Drat. Moreover, they had helped me with the mopping and vacuuming that day!


After narrating Aladin’s anecdote, my daughter, touched her heart, and with a question filled smile said” ayyo amma… what can we do, so many....”

Ayyo,....Yes. So many…problems! The world had so many problems. And the most unpredictable priorities. We are nothing different from a capsized vessel trying hard to fight the storm and survive.

The only solution Corona gave apart from problems was a bit of relief to global warming. The coronavirus-triggered lockdown has led to a steep fall in global carbon emissions by 17 percent in early April as compared to 2019 levels with India's emissions dropping by 26 per cent, according to a study.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Unsettled Love

He settled his expectant gaze outside the old wooden window,
special rays from the fireball called the sun,
made right angles through the window,
fell straight on his palm spread out on its own.

His tears slid, on the cheeks faking up a smile,
they rolled down on puffed up wrinkles,
eyes expelled any stains of a happy smile,
emotions swelled up only warlike kindle.

The desperate urge to own all moments with her,
exploded a balky silence, pecking on his time,
 eyes stuck to the window, longing for her,
was it ever possible again, life behaved like a mime.

And she was walking towards him, off his dream,
he cleared the blur off his twinkling eye,
she vanished in thin air as quickly as his dream,
was it her by the window? or in his mind. But why?

His claims on his unsettled love paced in his heart, 
one look at the palm.. would she come ever in his life?
The lines on his palm scoffed at his heart
        for, she lived in his heart, not in his life

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Simply One Afternoon Story

Look for the green afternoon bat!!

Outdoor games were a regular norm some years ago and indoor games were considered not a typical tendency. How the trend reversed now! Thriving in the generation of gadgets, "planning" outdoors is what seems like a luxury. For the very fact that it has to be "planned".
Like in 1990's we as kids simply belonged to the front yards or streets or parks, and an indoor game had to be "planned". At least true in my case. And my old buddies would be smiling reading this.

Once upon a time, indoor games were a luxury. Outdoors were the norms.

Last week, it was simply an afternoon affair in the park for me. Regular playtime for my 6-year-old Kukku. I had to ensure he is addicted to the outdoors to rest the television. While YouTube could be educative, some of the channels that are being run in the names of children, do not convince me anytime.

Sitting in the park, on my yellow torn chair I was hitting the laptop keyboard vigorously. It was pleasantly cool winter noon, at 3pm.  I had to hog on some sunlight for Vitamin D as ordered by my orthopedician. Kukku pedalled his cycle hard, like some policeman on duty. 

Just then he noticed a group of boys flying an aeroplane  made of thermocol. Kukku cleverly parked his bicycle near theirs and with hands in pockets moved close to them. The next moment the toy pane landed on the ground kukku grabbed it and flew it off stylishly saying, "Hey guys look at this."! Whooosh the plane made a nice little fly, took two turns and landed on the ground.  Boys clapped. Except for one boy. It was his plane. And how could kukku make himself a hero there while he was hogging the limelight with other boys around him asking him to share the toy!

However, they continued to play. Whenever he got a chance kukku picked and flew the plane and somehow he made it better and better. Just then, the mother of the toy plane owner walked up to them and asked for the plane from kukku. From a distance, I was smiling, wondering kukku should not be poking his nose there. However, I thought too soon. The mother called out to his son, "Mel, look at the technique how this boy flies. Come on". Handing the plane back to Kukku she made some gestures and kukku nodded fiercely. 

The next 2-3 take off's happened with kukku teaching some techniques to Mel how to hold the plane, the direction of the wind, etc. Finally, I noticed Mel smile. In no time, Mel made a fantastic take-off, and I could see all boys run enthusiastically. The cold war between the plane owner and the uninvited guest ended.

My laptop had gone to sleep. I let it be. With hands-on chin which is my favourite style, I noticed these fantastic pilots. After running around with the plane, finally, they got on their bicycles and pedalled away for few rounds around up and down the slopes,  and the curves in the park.

 A few days later, we had an uninvited visitor at my door. I do not generally react to the doorbell, kukku attends to it, as most times the army of young boys march in looking for him to play in the park.  No time or season stops them. And today, Mel was at the door "Can kukku play with me"?

Looked like the boys had their share of the sweet lesson on the ups and downs of comradeship.

The gen-next is obsessively overwhelmed with gadgets, the fingers can't stop fidgeting with smart screens. So did I think.  But it definitely isn't true for all.

As goes the saying "more the merrier", kukku and gang have been growing in number. Irrespective of nationality or any biases.

My victory is over those video channels on YouTube run in the name of children which mainly market toys and other related stuff. Marketing of branded toys and products could be a bright idea, but I keep Kukku at safe distance from such channels. I still do not mind kukku hanging upside down a 5-foot tall tree trunk like a bat!

So this was simply a one-afternoon story. Many such are lost, untold. 

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Stereotyping The Stereotypes

Most times, we confuse the traditions and the culture with feminism or stereotyping. I have debated on such topics and also on topics like "multitasking- a man's cup of tea or a women's expertise!".  And to realize, that few of my life experiences are neither of the above four topics. We simply end up stereotyping stereotypes. We define our life.

[Photo courtesy: indiaforums.com.] A cute meme to go with, courtesy google.

Dating back to the late 1980s, the old, fragile lady that she was with hunched back, black strong glasses, few remains of teeth. She had the best warmth, wisest words, love-filled talks, and compassion filled life. My great grandmother, who affectionately held my wrist, and with her failing vision, she would sense my wrist, hair, and cheeks and admire, "you are now doing metric.?"
For that generation studying in Grade 10 meant doing a metric. "Nah, still in 7th", I would tell.
She would then pour out her wishes. "OK, once you finish your metric is when you will marry and I wish I live to see that".  At times she would simply rephrase it as "I will witness your wedding and then go". Her go meant straight up to heaven. Her path to heaven had one last event, that was my wedding.

I still do not conclude this as a stereotyped formula. I was brought up in an educated family that never preached me, ideal orthodox feminine model, however, my great grand mother's wishes touched our brahminical family matrix and her beliefs.

But, the contrast happens when we decide where to draw a line. I mean, today, my male friends do the dishwashing every night and I do not envy their working wive at all. Working full time or not, I prefer he be away from the chores. That is my choice.

At times, I find it funny enough to realize this. One of the best domestic fun times for my kids is when they, with their father sit back and decide "MY" travel to India. Yes. When it was time for my travel alone to India on a personal call, my kids become too empathetic with love. Both are exclusively at my service how I should extend my return ticket and how they will find their comfort in my absence in Doha.

Be it a major missing, yet they wait to showcase their skills of self-survival. I wasn't skeptical about that but I was aghast how the scenes changed sides when their "father traveled'! Both seemed absolutely different. Now, he is the busy bee as for him, Work is worship. It is fine with us. But the envious part is when "he" travels. He walks in the home from the office one evening and announces "tomorrow is my travel on work". Wow.
That would be so unlikely with me. "I am traveling tomorrow", if I said this, I would be traveling max to the Lulu Hypermarket. Huh. Not out of the country.

How at times, I wish I could pack my bags too without making a lengthy to-do list and the endless calls to the cook and the maid, and lesser said better but the unending instructions to my kids. I can still do. But my life is my choice and I have made mine. My own "stereotype". Some call me a saint, some alien. It is not important though.

I mean I could be straight silly basically. Or simply "be like a girl", myself. Analyzing those school time race days of mine, I had finally managed to race the speedy Gonsalves of the school almost till the finishing line once. But collapsed just little before the line. All I had to do was get up, and run crawl or drag myself touch the finishing line to hold the victory trophy. And there he was, my classmate, yelling,  get up and run. In desperation, he almost wanted to hold out a  helping hand and I sensed that. "Stay away from me you, yeah", that was my attitude towards him, and by then all the runners had touched the finishing line.

Ahh. Let me blame my generation. winning was not my priority. I was more conscious, about "you boys, stay away from me." Like I am an untouchable. So foolish as well! Years later I tell my mirror, "you foolish girl, you missed the win you deserved".  And my ego says "never mind, my great grandmother would be so proud of me".

She often caught me to question "I again saw you running around with the brats around the temple". Yes. Staying in the temple surroundings we all "brats" ran around like scattered mice playing serious random games, calling out each other names, at times yanking at each others collars or hair even! But my argument with my great grandmother was " how did you spot me from the grilled windows, from a distance of at least 10 m distance". But what I failed to notice was her extraordinary skillsets of analyzing me with her failing eyesight. 

And somehow, I shared a special bonding with her. None of her instructions affected my thought process, on not to mingle with the brats and "stay indoors like a good girl". Yet I became her favorite, feeding her snacks that were forbidden for her health, in the absence of other family members.

However, over a while, stereotyping the stereotypes got some fruitful results. I fell for her charms and almost stopped being a brat. By the time, I was doing my "metric" I would sit by her side as a pet dog, as I studied my subjects for the board exam that she so much waited! And she sat hunching her back with her dark cotton saree, folded hands chanting random mantras. In between, she would talk to imaginary people all by herself self and I would simply stare at her and smile to myself.

I was no longer on the streets pushing my cycle pedals for hours with my friends, or in the basketball courts all afternoon. And the other way too was a surprise. She had turned more insomniac with age, and stopped asking about my wedding!

It took these thoughts of mine to the realization that "stereotyping" was a phenomenon to be so obsessed with. For some, it is a miracle or a taboo, for a few an entire career, sometimes a debate topic. For the rest, it may be the big bang gender stereotype challenges and status quo. An unexhaustive list as it may sound.

To me, stereotyping stereotypes became a realization.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

ನಾನೂ ಕನ್ನಡದವಳು

ನಾನೂ ಕನ್ನಡದವಳು-  ಕತಾರ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ. 

ಕತಾರ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ 12 ವರ್ಷ ಕಳೆದಮೇಲೆ , ಒಂದು ಸಂಜೆಯ ಮಾತು . ಪಾರ್ಕಿನ  ಲಾನ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಮಕ್ಕಳನ್ನು ಕರೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಅಡ್ಡಾಡ್ಡುತ್ತಿದ್ಧೆ.  ಇನ್ನೊಬ್ಬ ಹೆಂಗಸು  ನನ್ನ ನೋಡಿ ಒಮ್ಮೆ ಒಂದು ನೆಗೆ ಸಮೇತ ಮಾತನಾಡಿಸಿದರು. ಮಾತುಕತೆಯ ಆರಂಭವೇ ಹೀಗಾಯ್ತು.  "ನೀವು ಎಲ್ಲಿಯವರು" ಎಂದು ಕೇಳಿದೆ. ನಾನು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ದವಳು ಎಂದರು. ಅಬ್ಭಾ. ಖುಷಿ. ನನ್ನ ಒಳಗೆ ಒಂದು ಮಗುವಂಥಹ ಸಂತಸ.  "ಒಹೋ ನಾನು ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದವೇಳೆ" ಎಂದೇ ಮಾತನಾಡಿಸಿದೆ. ಮಾತು ಕಥೆಯ ಮಧ್ಯ  ಹೇಳಿದರು "ಹ್ಞಾ ಹಾವೇರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಅಂಗಡಿ. ಅದೇ  ಜನ್ಮಸ್ಥಾನ, ಹಾಗು ನಾವು ಮಾರ್ವಾಡಿ ವಂಶ  ಅಂತ". 
"ಆಹಾ , ಆದರೆ ಹೃದಯಪೂರ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ದವಳು ಅಂತ ಹೇಳಿದ್ರೀಲ್ಲ, ನನಗೆ ಎಂಥ ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ ಅನ್ಸ್ತಿಧೆ " ಅಂತ  ನಾನು  ಹೇಳಿದರೆ "ಅಯ್ಯೋ ನಾವು ಹುಟ್ಟು ಬೆಳೆದ ಊರು ಆಷ್ಟೇ  ಅಲ್ಲ ನಮಗೆ ಅನ್ನ  ಕೊಟ್ಟ ಊರು ಹಾವೇರಿ " ಅಂದರು.

ಕನ್ನಡ ಒಂದು ಭಾಷೆ, ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಒಂದು ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ. ಒಂದು ಪದಕ. ನಿಜ . 

ಇನ್ನೊಂದು ಸಂಜೆಯ ಕಥೆ. ತೀವ್ರ ಬೆನ್ನು ನೋವು ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡು  ಡಾಕ್ಟರ್ ಹತ್ತಿರ ಒಂದು  ಪ್ರೈವೇಟ್ ಆಸ್ಪತ್ರೆಗೆ ಒಡಿದೆ. ಡಾಕ್ಟ್ರು ಕೇಳಿದರು ಎಲ್ಲಿಯವರು ಅಂತ. ಕನ್ನಡ ದಲ್ಲೇ ಮಾತನಾಡಿಸಿದರು. ನಾನೂ  ಕರ್ನಾಟಕಾನೇ  ಅಂದರು.   ಅವರ ಹೆಸರು ಹೇಳಿತು ಅವರು ಕೇರಳದವರು ಅಂತ, ನಾನು ಕೇಳಿಯೆಯೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟೆ, "ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ ದಲ್ಲಿ ಓದಿಬೇಕಲ್ಲವೇ ಡಾಕ್ಟ್ರೇ" ಅಂತ.  ನಕ್ಕು ಹೇಳಿದರು, ಹ್ಞಾ ೧೫ ವರ್ಷ ಕಳೆದ ಮೇಲೆ ಅದೇ ನನ್ನ ಊರು ಈಗ ಎಂದರು.

ಅಬ್ಬಾಹ್, ನಮ್ಮ ನಾಡಿನ ಬಗ್ಗೆ ಪರ ಊರವರು ಇಷ್ಟು  ಪ್ರೀತಿ, ಅಕ್ಕರೆ, ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ, ಇಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ.  ಇದು.  ಕನ್ನಡ ಒಂದು  ಭಾಷೆ ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಅಲ್ಲ ,ಒಂದು ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ, ಮನುಷ್ಯನ್ನ ಸೇರಿಸುವ ಸೂತ್ರ. 

ಅಬ್ಭಾ ! ಏನು ಖುಷಿ. ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಾ ಬಂದೆ  ಈ  ಸುದ್ದಿ. 

ಅಷ್ಠಕ್ಕೂ, ಮುಂಚೊಮ್ಮೆ ಸಿಕ್ಕಿದ್ದ ಕೆಲ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕದ ಜನರ ಮೇಲಿನೆ ಸಿಟ್ಟು ನನಗೆ ಕಮ್ಮಿ ಆಗಿಲ್ಲ. "ನಾನಾ ಮಂಗಳೂರು, ಅಯ್ಯೋ, ಕತಾರ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ೨೦ ವರ್ಷ ಆಯಿತು ರೀ, ಕನ್ನಡ ಮರೆತು ಹೋಗಿದೆ you know " ಅಂದಾಗ,  ನಾನು ಬಿಡದೇ, ಅಯ್ಯೋ ಊರು, ಅಲ್ಲಿಯ ಭಾಷೆ ಹೇಗ್ರಿ ಮರೀತೀರಾ. ನಂಗೆ ಬೇಕು ಅಂದ್ರು ಮರಿಯಲ್ಲ. ಅಂತ ಹೇಳಿದೆ , ಬಾಯಿಗೆ ಬೀಗ ಹಾಕದೇ .

 ಏನು ಮಾಡಲಿ, ನಾನೋ ಕನ್ನಡದವಳು.
ಕನ್ನಡ ಒಂದು ಭಾಷೆ, ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತಿ ಅಷ್ಟೇ ಅಲ್ಲ. ಒಂದು ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ. ಒಂದು ಪದಕ.
ಕನ್ನಡ ನಮ್ಮ ಹೆಮ್ಮೆ.
ಜೈ ಕರ್ನಾಟಕ. 

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Why Pondy

Almost 16 months after my solo travel to a place called Pondicherry in India, I have been asked this question "Why Pondy"? several times. Why not London, Maldives or Thailand?Most or many asked me this or such.

As a matter of fact, I did not single out on this destination until I got to hear about the Auroville. I had read this book "Auroville, A Test Run For Future" by Anuradha Majumdar. And a curiosity to explore this town finally pulled me on the various sites of airlines. 
Her stories had left vivid pictures in my mind, most ending with question marks. Majumdar is sure an excellent writer where her details and descriptions leave absolute solid pictures of motion in my mind.

Secondly, the oceans have always beckoned my spirituality and creativity by it's best. In my earlier post, I had written about my experience in the town. A few of the pending pictures are here today. And also the reason, Why Pondy. Simple I wanted to travel with myself once, I had always wanted. And I found all that I wanted in Pondy. The meditation center and the ocean view room.

It is when you travel with yourself, you get the answer to many of the "whys" you hold with you. Simple things are life's zest. We say. But I ask, how many of you have felt it often?
In the hustle bustle of our rapid random routines, have you technically  realized that one small thing evokes a notable change in you or even such a small "thing" is hard to achieve at all. Understanding simpler matter is most complicated challenge for the intellectual human species. 

Well, the point here is, my travel simply gave me that void. Simply that. Aesthetics that pitched on to my mind directly. Nothing more complicated. Neither have I turned monk out of my spiritual best nor did I swim in two piece in the ocean. I have touched the fair lines of life, with another angle, with another pair of glasses my eyes never perceived.

That is it, friends, it is only a small anecdote from my life forming a mammoth wave of life. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Conversation With My Nostalgic Deepawali

Like it all just began much before the dawn
while a layer of dark awaited hastily for the
curtains of day light to be raised, for a special day

like how my family assembled outdoors
for a herb flavoured oil massage, while
the charcoal and copper aromatic water felt rejuvenating

like little rabbits, we children and adults had the holy bath
lit several oil diyas, folded hands before the supreme
and settled in for the preparation, festival of lights

like, of days when the satellite reach was limited
social plug ins being "meeting and greeting" each other
festivity vibes connected entire town, by hugs, smiles and warmth

like the times we kids settled by the doorsteps
boxes filled with colourful crackers and poppers
very air of the town felt the vibes, the sounds of the crackers

like there was no stopping, by the dusk
the colourful sparklers would grace the sky
children's laughter were heard far away across many houses

like the best festivity spirits flickered, everyone showed up
with colourful outfits, authentic food and infectious love
the festive vibes united us, sculptured us into a pure human

like those days of the Deepawali, our childhood saw
are there any today? hard to match the past
for now, the vibes are passed on "online" alas!

like it all happened then, it may not happen now
yet we cleanse our energies, our nestles
we still dress up,  pray, eat and meet people

like it all happened then, it may not happen now
the crackers box shrunken, skies darker
love sprawls on the social plug ins only online

yet , it is the festival. It is all here.
We still follow all the practices, we pray
only  the times have switched faces.

Happy Deepawali everyone.