MY GREENER PASTURE


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It was one hell of a dull day, both weather-wise and my mood-wise. My stomach was still troubling me with spasms of acute pain after massive upset two days earlier. I was feeling terribly weak with sweat pouring down. The whole thing pulled me down so badly that I was undergoing a mental depression much contrary to my usually effervescent disposition.

For days together, I had been getting a notice on my cell phone asking me to link my mobile number to my Aadhaar number by going to the nearest dealer. But that morning, I heard that the process had started. There was a rush of adrenalin and I rang up Channel 9 to see if they would do it for me. On their denial, I googled a ‘Bangalore One’ branch listed on Internet. There again there was denial, but a kind lady told me that the other branch at Jayanagar 2 block was doing it and she was patient enough to give me its location.

I took an ‘’auto’’ and hurried to the said Centre, only to find that they had a system of distributing 40 tokens between 8 and 8.10 in the morning and only those with the tokens would be entertained that day. I tried to plead my age, indisposition and weakness to secure one more token. But, they said they were helpless as the machine uploaded only 40 cases per day. The manager, a young, sprightly lady asked me to come next morning early enough to secure the token and that she would see to it that I would be attended to early.

Thoroughly defeated by the failure of the day’s project, I stopped an ‘’auto’’ and headed home. As soon as I sat in the vehicle, the driver started his saga. He told me that he had to undergo a surgery following an accident and that he had returned home only 4 days earlier. Though the surgeon had prescribed a month’s rest at home, necessity had driven him on to the job and that I was his first customer of the day. When I tried to compliment on his beautifully done up vehicle, he told me it was a hired one- hired out of a fleet of 13 such autos. In spite of the noise of the engine and the traffic, his story moved me. In fact, when I paid the fare with a small tip, I noticed that he supported his limp right hand with the left and received the amount.

Once I got home, I asked my maid servant casually if she had change for a 100 Re. note. Tears slowly filled her eyes as she narrated her tale ‘’Amma, today someone stole my purse containing Rs 2500 from the bag I had left outside when I went to work inside. I lost my monthly salary from two houses at one go. Someone who had watched where I leave my bag must have been waiting for my pay day to do good with the lot.”

After hearing the driver’s and the maid’s stories, I found my blues slowly vaporising. I found that I could ill-afford to wallow in self-pity when there was so much more misery around me.

Thanking the Lord for small mercies, my spirits slowly started rising.

ps- cartoon courtesy Shutterstock.

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The Mother Of All Outings


The Mother of all Outings

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Water, like the Himalayan ranges, has always held a special fascination for me. Thus, whenever we had a stopover in Chennai, instead of heading for shopping like other ladies, I would always head for the beach. I could never get enough of the lapping waves with their gentle roar and the unique sensation of the grains of sand swirling through my toes. Fortunately, the rest of my family also had shared this unique obsession.

Thus, when I landed at my son’s place in Seattle, USA a couple of weeks back, my first question to them was, “Do you have access to the sea? Can we visit the beach?”. I was told that Seattle city was indeed a coastal one, but the sea was very far from where they stayed, that is, Woodinville. But, obviously the request must have lingered on in my son’s mind.

On Saturdays, the regular program was to attend my granddaughter Alena’s basketball games in the nearby clubs. But, once, it was to be on Mercer Island. Having gone halfway, my son asked me to be ready for a daylong expedition to Bainbridge island.

Alena and her mom Sarah headed home after the game while Ashvin and I set out in his car in the opposite direction. After crossing a long bridge on the Washington lake, we reached the ferry docks at Puget Sound. The ferry was just about to leave for Bainbridge. Ours was one of the last of the 150 or so cars parked on the ferry. The ferry had two floors for passengers of two classes including a big restaurant. The topmost floor was reserved for the crew and was out of bounds for general public.

The hull portion of the ferry had a looking out deck from where the travellers could get themselves photographed (or selfied) against the receding skyline of Seattle downtown.

As the ferry left the docks, the engines created a regular humming. Puget Sound being an arm of the Pacific Ocean, the waters were calm, deep and dark blue. As the journey progressed, the ripples of water glistened silvery in the golden sunshine, it being an unusually fine day. On the way, we passed the ferry that was coming in the opposite direction.

After about half an hour of leisurely cruising, we reached the Bainbridge island. People waited patiently to drive out their cars. When we came out of the ferry, we drove to a scenic point on the Bainbridge island. Here, the vast light blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean lay before us. The beach had no sand but all rounded pebbles which looked as if they had been made to order. The water here was cool, calm and clear. Only a few families were around.Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, ocean, sky, outdoor, water and nature

I chose a big log of driftwood to sit upon, soaking my feet in the gently rippling water, with pebbles clearly visible on the floor through the pure, pristine and transparent water. After spending a satisfactorily (!) long time, we headed back to the ferry, after lunching at a quaint, strictly vegetarian joint run by an Asian woman.

This time on the return journey, we chose a spot away from the crowd. Standing next to a railing at the car park we enjoyed watching the sea without any disturbance.

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THROUGH MY BLOGGLED EYES


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My dear friends, Authorspress has brought out the print version of my E-book (Amazon.com)- THROUGH MY BLOGGLED EYES-again another compilation of my humorous blogs. As I am leaving for US for my elder sister’s hundredth birthday, I had to request my publisher Mr.Sudarshan K Cherry to expedite the process and deliver my copies before my departure. He was so nice about it, He not only kept to the deadline but sent me 10 more complimentary copies assuring me that if the consignment did not reach me by Tuesday( 11th), he would send me 10 more copies.
My friends, I do not know whether to laugh or cry. Do I exult at Mr Cherry’s generosity or do I rue the lack of demand for my books? Boo-hoo, after all, every author expects her books to be best-sellers and fly off the counter:(
I hope you will all somewhat mitigate my distress by ordering your copies from authorspress.com or amazon.in

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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

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The Unconfessed Crime


THE UNCONFESSED CRIME

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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

 

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THE MISSED CALL


 

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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.

 

 

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THE ”I” AFTER THE ”US”


 

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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

 

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