SENIOR HYGIENE


 

Take A Shower Stock Vectors & Vector Clip Art | Shutterstock

Last Monday brought much excitement to Abhiram Apartments in an old part of Bangalore. The eponymous Abhiram, while returning from work at 8.30 PM, noticed a poster stuck next to the elevator.  It had just a cryptic sentence OLD PEOPLE SHOULD TAKE REGULAR BATHS along with a mobile number.

Totally perplexed, Abhiram took it to his father Raman.

The apartment complex of 6 flats had been built on a plot which had originally belonged to Raman’s grandfather. After demolishing the single bungalow built on it, the apartments had been developed by a builder and Abhiram with his parents and grandmother lived in the flat on the second floor. Being the original owners of the site, their sense of ownership had been a little more than the owners of the other 5 flats. In fact, any trespassing almost amounted to personal violation as far as Abhiram’s family was concerned.

A CCTV had recently been installed in the basement. The recordings could be viewed in Raman’s apartment as he was the current secretary of the Residents’ association. Abhiram, into tomfoolery despite being well into adulthood, loved to try various dramatic entries in front of the camera in the basement so that he could watch them later at home on the recorded CCTV footage.  So, that day also he switched on the recording anticipating his Mission Impossible feature (or was it Pink Panther?). But, Surprise! There entered a fairly well-dressed man on the screen with a briefcase, who pulled a poster out and pasted it on the wall next to the elevator – all caught vividly on the camera.

That set off the hitherto dormant investigative genes in both father and son.  They called the mobile number given in the poster.  They made a big noise and kicked up a ruckus. “Who are you, I say?”, “How could you trespass?”.” We have all your actions recorded in our CCTV. We are going to report you to the police and get them to take action on you” and so on.  They even sent the screenshot on whatsapp to his phone where he had been caught in the act.

The poster man was all nerves. He begged them to excuse him and not to report him to the police.

The puzzle of the mysterious one-line sentence was solved when in the course of the conversation father and son deduced that the trespasser was running a “pay and bathe” unit and this was his way of advertising his business!

Actually, the apartment complex always had a watchman. But when he demanded an amount disproportionate to the services rendered, the association decided to do away with him. When the local patrol cop discovered that the complex was “Unsafe”, he advised them to recruit another watchman or install a CCTV.

And so, with a one-time payment of Rs 14,000 to a young start-up owner, a camera and recorder had been purchased and installed. Within a week, the gizmo had proved its worth if not for anything, at least for the invaluable entertainment and excitement it had provided.

Btw, what made the poster man suspect the hygiene of the apartment residents?  Did he expect any one of them would make use of his “pay and bathe” facility?

cartoon- courtesy shutterstock.com

Standard

The Unconfessed Crime


THE UNCONFESSED CRIME

flowing-water-clipart-water-tap-clip-art-cartoon-illustration-pouring ...

It is a common practice in Defence Services to share one’s living quarters with needy colleagues who have not yet been allotted family quarters. This is done with no monetary considerations or agreements.

Thus, when one of my relatives asked if I would allow her grandson and his wife, a newly married couple, to occupy my vacant upstairs unit for a year, I readily agreed to do so.

I had no regrets about the arrangement as the injection of young blood (both being active office goers) provided a welcome change in my recently bereaved, single, dull state.

Everything went off fine. After about 10 months, as the day of their departure approached, they invited their parents, sister and grandmother for an overnight stay upstairs. As they were running short of space, I offered them the use of the third upstairs bedroom which I had kept locked and which they were happy to accept.

I was told the next morning that my guest’s mother and sister enjoyed their overnight stay in the cool room (and the use of attached bathroom too, perhaps). When they were about to leave, the grandmother conscientiously locked the bedroom and handed over the key to me.

Few days later, the young couple vacated the house. During that month, I noticed that the automatic water pump kept switching on quite frequently, which I attributed (wrongly) to a probable increase in consumption though I was a bit taken in by the enhanced water bill.

But, when the switch maintained its alarming frequency even after they left, I got a suspicion that the overhead Syntex tanks might have developed cracks. I rang up my plumber, preparing to replace them.

But, when he came, he insisted on checking all the plumbings for leakage. He made me take him round all the bathrooms including the one attached to the locked bedroom. On entering the bath- room we were flabbergasted to see the sink tap fully open, merrily draining the overhead tank.

I was shocked! When the bedroom keys were returned to me, I had taken it in good trust and had never checked the bathroom or its taps. It was like an utter betrayal.

Used to living in Service quarters all along, we had never liked wasting drinking water for the traditional washing of the front yard every morning, though we were now living in our own house in the civilian area. Even to wash the car, my husband used to take the well water.

And here I was, letting nearly a lakh litres of clean corporation water go into the drain over a period of 30 days in the parching days of summer while elsewhere in the country, people were struggling to get one pot of water. I was filled with remorse. Even paying a hefty electricity bill of extra Rs 4500 and a correspondingly heavy water bill, my conscience would not be assuaged.

To be honest, my ex-guest offered to share the bills which I refused, as money was not the issue here. It was my colossal lapse which I could only categorise as an unpardonable national crime and for which I could never ever compensate my thirsty countrymen.

Cartoon courtesy http://www.clipartpanda.com

 

Standard

THE MISSED CALL


 

telephone cartoon: Smart phone chat online concept, cartoon man and woman face on smart phone screen

THE MISSED CALL

In this wonderful telephonic and mobile age, it might surprise people that I rarely initiate a call myself except on people’s birthdays/anniversaries or when I have some really momentous info to convey.

This is because I am hardly able to keep tag on days/ time on/at which people are available to receive my calls. One says,” Oh! I go to temple only 8 to 12 noon for my Bhajan classes and rest of the day I am free”. Another one claims, ”We play cards only on Mon, Wed and Fri.  On other days people come to our house to play”. Third one claims, “I go for yoga classes only on Sundays” One more says, “Don’t ring me up at my serial time”. One more feels a bit disturbed as it is the time her overseas kids contact her. Thus I find myself incapable of interpolating all the data to find suitable time and day  to ring them up.

So, I prefer to ‘receive the calls’ than to ring up. Mostly all my relatives call me on my landline which has a strident ringtone and which is easy to pick up. But, I cannot say the same of the calls received on my mobiles as the ‘wheezing’ sound that goes under the name ringtone misses me many a time due to my failing auditory facility more so as I do not have the habit of carrying the mobile in my hand indoors or outdoors.

Calls on my mobile I do get plenty from strangers mostly. Ever since I successfully underwent the ‘magnetic’ therapy for my arthritic knees, the therapists have been using me as a goodwill ambassador. Any time a new, nervous patient approaches them and insists on talking to a palpable patient who actually underwent the therapy, they give them my mobile number. So, when he/she rings me up I explain how the therapy helped me and so on. That really reassures them to undergo the therapy themselves.

Last week one such patient rang me up two times- once when I was taking my evening walk on the terrace obviously mobileless and next when it was plugged to the socket in the kitchen for charging and the TV was blaring in the drawing room. Both the times I had not been able to hear the feeble ringtone. But later seeing the two missed calls and feeling guilty, I called up the number. It was a lady, very friendly, bouncy and chatty who kept talking for quite some time obviously forgetting that I was footing the bill. Next evening, again there were two missed calls from the same number during my golden hour to clarify some more doubts. She was as chirpy as ever at 10 in the night wanting to come and meet me in person sometime. I asked her to access the video on the therapists’ website where I have been shown walking, climbing stairs etc. Next day at the same hour, I found two more missed calls from the same lady. When I rang her up she told me that she could not access the video. After another long chat at my own expense, I told her to look up under ‘video testimonials’.

On the 4th day, again there were two missed calls.  By now she was no more a stranger. I myself was curious to get her feedback on the video. That sadly prompted me to ring her back. Oh, how she gushed forth! She told me that she was bowled over by my fitness after seeing the video. She wanted not only to undergo the therapy but also wanted to recommend it to all suffering ladies and blah, blah. I could see secs and mins ticking off my talk time. Finally, I terminated the verbal cascade promising myself never to give in to the weakness of answering ‘missed’ calls.

Later, it  struck me to text my landline number to the missed-callers and asking them to call me back on it saving  my precious talktime.

 

 

Standard

THE ”I” AFTER THE ”US”


 

Displaying FullSizeRender.jpg

Recently I read a ‘middle’ in Deccan Herald-“mum @82’”. In that, the author had described how her bereaved mother had preferred to be ‘independent’ and had learnt new skills to cope with daily life. Having recently lost my husband, I could very well relate to the article as I too had opted for a single and independent life rather than inconveniencing my children.

Ramu had been a staunch follower of DIY (DO IT YOURSELF) school.

Leading a happy life as a pampered wife for a period of 55 years, I too had to learn, relearn, unlearn many things after his unexpected death.

After initial help from my Air Force brother-in law, I learnt to correspond with Air Headquarters and to get a hold on my savings and deposits after which I now deal with my correspondence independently.  My daughter helped me to get a debit card. I can now write cheques, operate debit card and withdraw/deposit cash in the bank.

Security concerns befitting a single lady made me get used to carpenters and masons. Emergency situations made me get familiar with plumbers and electricians. Since after retirement, Ramu enjoyed the process of switching off the pump when the overhead tank filled up, he was averse to fixing a level monitor and an auto switch for the pump. I got one fixed after his passing away and learnt to deal with its eccentricities.

The necessity to go to Command Hospital every month to visit the doctor and collect my medicine got me accustomed to hiring drivers from an agency to drive me around the city in my own car. I also learnt to pay my car insurance, to call the helpline to attend to disaster situations like flat tyre, run down battery etc.  I however relearnt to start the engine and run it for 5 minutes once every week after buying a new battery as my car-washer had left the headlights on for one whole night by mistake and the battery had run out.

I engaged a Chartered Accountant to help me file my income tax returns.

I not only replaced all old electric bulbs with the new LED bulbs bought from BESCOM but when the bank refused to pay the electric bill for my first floor, I had to make trips to BESCOM and the bank to get the problem regressed. When the old wall clock packed up, I ordered one through Amazon and managed to fix it on the wall myself after removing the old nail and hammering a new one.

All this process of learning and coping, with concomitant blunders and goof -ups, gave me a good sense of achievement and confidence. Moreover, having opted to be independent, I was not answerable to anyone.

But I met what I thought would be my Waterloo a couple of days back. One morning, I saw a lizard had fallen into the kitchen sink and was struggling to climb back. I was petrified. Though cockroaches I could handle, lizards and mice had been the sole responsibility of Ramu. Without my hero, I was at a total loss. Some kid seemed to have defined lizard is a crocodile which forgot to take Horlicks while young! Thus, coexistence with the abominable reptile was out of question. Oh! How I missed the family exterminator! Finally, I decided to tackle the problem myself. I anesthetised my mind, took a duster, grabbed the wriggling thing with it and threw it on to the street while my stomach was feeling horribly queasy throughout.

I pray to God that I will never be called upon to get rid of a mouse when I am alone at home.

cartoon -courtesy Sunday Herald

 

Standard

TV goof ups


Smw Cartoon for Pinterest

Come winter, there would be ever so many  music and dance programs arranged in different venues. Some of them are telecast live on Doordarshan channels. Out of these, the music and dance festivals in Odisha are my favourites. These festivals, soaked in culture as they are, provide good dose of entertainment enough to last the rest of the year.

There is a certain pattern to the conduct of these festivals. There will always be two announcers- one to introduce the chief guests and artists and compere the program in Odiya language and the other to do so in Hindi and English. In fact, these announcements take away quite a chunk from the main program time.

This time in the Rajrani music festival conducted in the premises of Rajrani temple, the person chosen for Hindi and English was a seasoned announcer from DD and the one to do in Odiya was an academic obviously not acquainted with the TV procedure. The announcements in Odiya always preceded those in Hindi an English. But the portly, bespectacled academic would never know when the camera was on her; she would be looking here and there at the audience and the other announcer had to goad and prod her with her elbow and gesture with her hand to look at the camera and start talking which the lady academic would do with a blink and a jerk. It was hilarious to watch it on all the 3 days.

These gestures and movements when done in the programs recorded earlier in studios can always be edited and later shown with smooth beginnings. But an outdoor live program is nothing if not a charade as every single gesture is very obviously seen by the viewers.

In fact, in some live shows conducted in TV studios, it is pretty funny to watch the untutored artist nodding his/her head to the videographer’s cue, sometimes even making the typically Indian multidimensional movement of the head to convey to the cameraman that he/she had totally comprehended his signal.

When Bangalore DD was new, we could see the camera focusing on the non- speaking characters in interviews and plays while the audio would be from someone else who would be grudgingly missing seconds of their precious visual exposure.

This reminds me how the crowd scene in our teleplay ‘Choma’ was shot with a single camera in 80’s. We all had been asked to mention some dummy word before our ‘one-liners’, so that the cameraman would have time to turn the camera towards the speaking person and catch the   sentence from the beginning. Later, the dummy word would be edited making the presentation fluid.

It is really a pleasure to watch the present- day anchors and announcers responding spontaneously to the camera, something which they must have acquired after a lot of practice.

cartoon courtesy pinterest.

Standard

TANGLED RELATIONSHIPS


cartoon wedding: Wedding couple vector illustration.

During our times (and our fathers’ and grandfathers’) it was the done thing to get one’s daughter married to her own maternal uncle, probably to preserve the family property. In fact, it used to be the prerogative of the said uncle. If he were too old for the girl, then his sons would be the next choice. The uncle’s presence at “JAI MALA” was to signify his acquiescence to give the girl outside the family (which would be done after ritually offering the girl to 9 demigods). Likewise, a boy could marry his maternal uncle’s daughter or his paternal aunt’s, without inviting public censure.

All this intra-marrying would give rise to a lot of complicated connections. The most complicated was between Mohan and Jyoti. First  Krishnan married Kamala, a distant cousin. Later, Kamala’s brother Venkatesh fell in love with Krishnan’s niece (sister’s daughter) Padma and married her. The daughter of Venkatesh and Padma, named Jyoti (love) married Mohan, a son of Krishnan and Kamala. On painstakingly tracking the relationship by unravelling the tendrils of the family vine, we discovered that Mohan could be his own sons’ cousin! We gave up at this point and did not try to find out how Jyoti was connected to her sons apart from being their mother.

Well, what has been worse was marrying multiple times (of course one wife at a time) as our great grandfathers did! Going back 2-3 generations we are always able to find a link to any member of our community.  The computer family tree always compliments me as the most connected member.

Well, if such multi-links happened within families, it was no less when it came to extended families. It started when I married Ramu. Later, my sister Komala married Sathyan. Sathyan’s brother Prasad had already been married to Ramaa, a friend of mine. Couple of years later, Ramu’s sister Geetha married one Mr. Narayan, an elder brother to Ramaa. Since Ramu and Prasad were posted in the same unit, we had a roaring time flummoxing people- “Ramu’s sister has married Mrs. Prasad’s brother and Mrs. Ramu’s sister is married to Prasad’s brother!”

Communitywise also, there were tangles when my friend Sukanya married Ramu’s friend Gopal. The links carried on to the next generation and extended families too, quite clear to us but extremely complicated to outsiders.

The last one I cannot help narrating is a social one , that of Prema.

One day, when I was working in a school, I saw a young lady wanting to meet our Principal regarding a teacher’s post. When my friends saw me talking familiarly to the lady, they asked me “Do you know her?” Well, the young lady was Prema. I let go the litany breathlessly. “Prema’s father and Ramu were classmates. Prema was my daughter’s classmate in college. Prema married my son-in law’s close friend. Prema was a colleague of mine in my previous school in addition to being my friend Malini’s cousin….”. My friends let out a collective groan and put their hands up to stop me from going further expressing their regret for having asked me the simple question.

(Some names have been changed)

cartoon -courtesy123RF.com

Standard

NAMES AND MOBILE NUMBERS


Brown haired man in blue collared shirt and black pants listening to a smart phone ring, right hand holding the gadget, left hand inside pocket

The extended-family trip to Melkote by road had been planned well over a month ahead. 14 of us had been scheduled to go. Rooms had been booked for overnight stay.

But as the day for departure approached, many changes had to be made in the program. The hosts consisting of 6 members decided to take a separate vehicle as the attendance of the other members had become doubtful due to unexpected family problems. Later, one more group of 3 separated itself and took a cab so as to visit other places too on the way.

Finally, six of us were left. Our plans were kept in abeyance till the very last as the weather had turned highly stormy and rainy due to the cyclone VARDAH in Chennai. Nevertheless, we decided not to go the previous night but to make only a day trip the next day.

An “Innova” had been arranged. I was the first of the group to be picked up and that too before sunrise- at 5.30 am! The driver of the Innova rang me up the previous evening to confirm the pick-up and to ask for the landmarks to my place. As I had to board alone and also as I did not want to be abducted by a strange vehicle, I asked the driver for his name (which I clearly heard as ‘’Illyaz”) and  the car number. In the morning at 5.25 he gave me another call to have specific directions to my house.

Though the drizzling continued, time passed quickly during the journey chatting.

During the course of our conversation, I mentioned that the driver’s name was Illyaz. But my sister-in law who had booked the Innova contradicted me and said the name was Dinesh. We decided to ask the driver himself when we stopped for coffee. But he turned out to be a highly reticent, “mumbliferous” guy whose scant lip movements did not throw any more light on the controversy. We discussed how people change their names to suit the conservativeness of their employers, like, Bobby would become Babu, Mumtaz would become Mamta.

Well, we reached the house in lower Melkote which was to serve us our breakfast. While having  Pongal, we suddenly decided that the driver was not with us. My sister in law said she had his number (which later happened to be the Agency number) and rang up but got no response. I took out my I-phone with a flourish and offered to ring him up as I had his number from two of his calls.

As soon as I rang up the number (unknown), a voice said, “Is that Vimala Ramu?” Impatiently I bawled out, “Elli hogbitri? Breakfast gay begaa banni (Where have you gone? Join us quickly for breakfast”) and put down the phone as the Pongal was getting cold. The person sitting next to me said , ’’I think it was a lady’s voice that answered you”. Not believing him I argued that the driver might be having a squeaky voice (which probably explained his reticence). But when he did not turn up, I rang up the same number. This time the voice did not give me a chance to extend the breakfast invitation. The voice said, “Mrs Ramu, I have been asked by the SBF people to contact you as I heard you have undergone the therapy successfully” and blah, blah.  Feeling like a dork with a capital D, I apologised to her and asked her to contact me two days later when I would be back home.

I then recollected that the driver had called me both times on my landline with no caller identity.

Later when I asked the driver to write his name and mobile number on a piece of paper he wrote “Dinesh” and gave his personal mobile number.

cartoon courtesy vectortoons.com

 

Standard