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.

 

 

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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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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.

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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

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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

 

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BHEEM SINGH AND THE GLASS OF MILK


Bheem Singh was more of a phenomenon than a house help. Those were the days when Pahadi(hills) boys forimagesmed an integral part of every household in Delhi. Just as the Gurkhas were known for their valour and loyalty, Pahadi boys were known for their adaptability and honesty. But unlike the previous generation, the present one was smart and literate.

Bheem Singh was a mere lad of 15 when he came from the hills and found employment with Bhallas. By the time he was 25, he had become literally an all-rounder! He had learnt to cook the food in the Punjabi way and serve his employers the way they liked. He would not only wash the car and keep it shining, he would also drive the old couple around the city. He could be trusted to pay the car insurance, property tax, Electricity, Water and telephone bills in addition to other bank jobs. He would keep a strict watch on the household staff by handling all the keys himself. His personal attention to Bhallas was remarkable. He would never ever forget to serve coffee/lassi/nimboo pani at 10 in the morning and a glass of hot milk in the night. With their sons staying abroad, Bhallas used to wonder how they would have ever managed if not for the God-sent Bheem Singh, more so as days passed, they had found themselves more and more tired which they attributed to their fast approaching old age (Both were in their 60s).

This legendary Man Friday of theirs was indeed the envy of their friends. Still a bachelor, his only outings used to be a week- end movie with his cousin who worked in a 5 star hotel, apart from the annual two week visit to his native place.

Once Bheem Singh had gone on his yearly holiday to his village- a little longer this time as he was getting married. Mrs Bhalla had to attend to everything at home. Though she had her maid to assist her, she missed the morning and night drink which Bheem Singh used to serve them without fail. But surprisingly, the house work seemed to energise her than tire her. Even Mr Bhalla had brightened up considerably. He was showing interest and enthusiasm in all his activities.

One day  before Bheem Singh was to return, Mr. Bhalla decided to go through his house papers to calculate the new property tax that was about to be brought in. When he put on his specs and opened the file, he found all his papers missing. He contacted the City Corporation office but was told that the house had been made over to one Mr. Bheem Singh! Alarmed, Mrs Bhalla checked her jewellery boxes. Sure enough, she found most of the pieces missing along with all the expensive sarees and dresses.

Totally at a loss, they rang up their nephew who stayed in another part of the city. The smart and efficient young man and took charge of the situation and lodged a complaint with the police who posted 24 hour security around Bhalla’s house.

When Bheem Singh returned, he was surprised to see a sentry in front of the house who would not let him go in. Even as he was arguing with the guard, a police jeep stopped in front of the house. An inspector got down with two constables. They hand cuffed Bheem Singh and took him to the police station. On employing the usual police methods, Bhim Singh confessed. He took them to his cousin’s room in the hotel  where not only all the valuables taken from Bhallas were found, (including the house papers) but all the cutlery, crockery, linen and other items, stolen by his cousin from the hotel were found secreted in a steel trunk under the bed!

PS- Names changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.

picture courtesy Shutterstock.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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THE OPEN TANK


“Bangalore roads are not meant for constitutional walks. Try to take walks in your own compound or on some level ground.” Thus advised my orthopaedist when I complained about not being able to go for walks outside my house.

Fortunately, I had discovered that I had no problem negotiating the staircases. So I decided to go up two flights of steps, some 30 in all and walk on my terrace. It was a good decision. The tiled terrace not only provided me with level ground to walk, but it also gave me an unpolluted air with the fragrance of the ‘road mallige ’flowers which had profusely blossomed on the tall trees situated on the next road.

The houses were built back to back. So, at that altitude I could get a bird’s eye view of the terraces all around my house and thus I had a fairly good idea as to the general fitness and tidiness of the inmates.

On the back of my right side neighbours, there was the house facing the next road, whose members (let me call them ‘Joshis’) hardly ever bothered to come up the two floors, while their left side neighbours (let me call them ‘’Sharmas’’) seemed to be highly environment and fitness conscious. Sharmas’ house had been built to include a coconut tree. I would often see the lady of the house taking brisk walks on the terrace and the couple would often be seen making full use of their sunny terrace for activities such as making pickles and preserves.

But, coming to Joshis,there was a small cement water tank on  their terrace, which had been covered with a light corrugated zinc sheet and weighted down with strips of light wall tiles. In addition to this tank there were two covered ‘Syntex’ tanks also. From my vantage point I could not see whether all the three tanks were inter connected or not. So, I had no idea whether the water in the cement tank was flowing or stagnant.

One evening, I was shocked to see the corrugated sheet had shifted. I could see big chunks of scum floating on the surface, making it an ideal breeding place for mosquitoes. I had heard that an area of 2km radius around any stagnant water was most vulnerable and there was a great danger of diseases such as dengue and chikungunya affecting the whole neighbourhood. How to convey the information to the Joshis and ask them to cover their tank? I was not acquainted with them as their houses faced another road. With my arthritic legs, I could not negotiate the bumpy footpath to go around the block, locate their house and inform them. I was desperate. It carried on for 3-4 days like that. On the 4th day, I saw Mr. Sharma on his terrace. I was not acquainted with him either. Moreover, my voice would break if I shouted across two houses, which meant a distance of 80ft. So, I clapped my hands and managed to attract the attention of the gentleman. Using sign language and a husky voice, I managed to convey the situation to him and requested him to ask the Sharmas to cover their tank. He nodded his head and assured me that he would do so.

Next evening, I was gratified to see the corrugated sheet back in its place weighted with  more wall tiles. I heaved a sigh of relief that I could relax till the next gale dislodged the sheet on the cement tank.

video courtesy you tube.

 

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