Reminiscences on The Day After

Image result for cartoon of a lady with birthday cake



Ooohf! What a birthday it was! So many messages, so many calls!! Today I feel like Cinderella at the 12+th hour after the ball. The only plus point this morning was I got to munch two wedges of the birthday cake before the cereal at breakfast. I am really grateful to everyone for making my day.

Well, coming to the birthday itself I can see that it divides into different phases- breakfast, calls and messages, celebration and musical.

Breakfast at Vasudev Adiga’s used to be de rigueur on my birthdays. Ramu would not let me make any breakfast on that day. This was one program that I missed badly this time. Someone suggested that I should have taken an auto and non- chalantly walked into the restaurant and had my dosa But the fact remains that it was not just the ‘eating of the dosa’ that I was missing. That early morning car ride, the affectionate and protective arm encircling my waist gently guiding me into the self-service restaurant, the balancing of the plates while bringing them to where I would be sitting, the solicitous offer to get me a second helping of chutney/palya, the hot coffee made to my specification – all these which I used to get from my Ramu, would they be there if I were to go alone –a la ‘Queen’ and order the ‘dosa’?

Well, anyway I thought I would make my own favorite breakfast_ Akki rotti (Rice flour roti) before the calls would start.. I put all the ingredients- coconut, cumminseed, green chillies, fresh coriander, hing,salt (Onions were sadly missing) into the rice flour and made them into two balls. One of them I patted flat on a tava , put it on the stove with one teaspoon of oil, all the while my mouth watering imagining the tasty result of my efforts. Trrriiinnng….rang the telephone. There they were –my eldest sister of 98 years and her son wanting to wish me. After disillusioning them that they were not the first callers, I had a fairly long chat. When I rushed back to the kitchen after the call, my lovely rotti had turned tan, brown, black and super crisp and highly carbonized.  I removed it to the plate and made the second one to the standard temperature and crispness. Wallowing in self pity like a tragedy queen, all alone at the dining table I had my birthday breakfast of burnt akki rotti generously smeared with homemade ghee and orange marmalade followed by the good one.  What the heck! Carbon has antacid property.

Coming to the calls and messages, my first e-letter wishing me came from US at 1.45 am. Since I sleep with my I-phone next to my bed, every ping it makes wakes me up. After going through the letter from 1.45 to 1.50 am I went back to sleep to be woken up at 4.30 am by a ‘Happy Birthday’ message from my friend Sneha in Bombay. I cancelled my morning exercises and Pranayama to keep myself ready to receive the calls and messages.  I took my bath also early with the same purpose keeping all the phones  and a wrap-around close at hand. By the time I could soap myself, I had three calls, one international and two local.

My daughter who could never visit us on our birthdays if they fell on working days, had brought me a cake and a few pieces of pastries and we had had an advance celebration 3 days prior to the birthdate. On my birthday, I arranged the cake on the dining table along with cutlery and paper napkins ready to be served to anyone who would drop in.

But alas, I was all alone and did not have the heart to cut the cake.( My grandnephew and his wife who stayed upstairs had left the previous day with their parents to the latter’s place for a seven day stay). Imagine my surprise when I heard a knock on my door and I saw my GN standing there wishing  me a Happy Birthday. I believe they had come the previous night itself to pick up some stuff and they had all along been there in what I thought was an empty house. Overjoyed, I snooped on them, forced them to share the cake with me (as they were getting late for work). Later in the day, though no visitors came, I treated my caterer and maid servant to thick wedges of the cake and felt  satisfied that I did have some sort of celebration.

Lunch and dinner were the usual mundane stuff that my caterer provided.

The musical part of the day was provided by the animated e musical card, a feline boogie by Dr. Decker in Hawaii.

My mood lightened up as the day went by and as I kept receiving the calls and messages throughout the day and even night. People would ring me up as and when Oct 27 dawned in their particular time zones. So much so, I felt I had a wonderful birthday and went to bed grateful to be blessed with caring friends and relatives.

cartoon courtesy




In these days of qualified lady mechanical engineers, there is nothing great about my becoming the handyman in the house in the permanent absence of ‘the man’, the master handyman.

Here is the story:

Well, it began as a normal washing day. After putting the first load of soiled clothes into the washing machine and switching it on, I turned my attention to making ragi-rotti and consuming it for breakfast. As I was enjoying the healthy repast with a blob of homemade butter, I heard 2-3 screams coming in intervals as if some heavy furniture was being dragged upstairs. Assuming that my grand nephew (GN) who stays on the first floor with his bride must be rearranging the furniture, I continued eating my breakfast. The ear shattering screams continued to come in batches. I called my GN and asked if they were shifting any furniture. On their denial, I checked up with my washing machine. The grand thing was doing its usual smooth working and getting on with the cycles in order. Puzzled, I asked my neighbor (pulling her out of her busy morning chores) if they had been doing anything with their heavy furniture. She told me,”Aunty, we are not doing anything. The sound is coming from your house. Could it be your car?, I ran back to my washing machine, switched it off and switched it on and waited near it. Sure enough the ear splitting scream came from my own machine.

By then the young couple from upstairs had joined me. I told them it was very easy to remove the back panel of the W.machine and check what the problem was. In fact I had twice removed safety pins from my two previous machines without Ramu’s knowledge. But my GN insisted that I call the mechanic from the Washing machine company to attend to whatever problem properly. Nodding my head vigorously, the moment they left I disconnected the machine from the wall socket, turned the machine through 180 degrees and opened the 4 Philip screws that held the panel. Once it was done, the source of the problem was all clear.

There was a sizeable bundle of small clothes-handkerchiefs and items of lingerie sitting in a corner of the machine. The tub while spinning to weigh the clothes must have been sneaking out small items of clothing, all of which had accumulated in a corner of the machine making a screaming noise anytime they got caught in the fan(or whatever) during its spinning.

 I had heard of cooks asked to prepare large amount of items for a marriage or Gokulashtami throwing flour, under/over fried chaklis and tenkols to save on time of making the items. But I never expected my machine tub to be so callous as to pull out all extra loads and hide them in the belly of the machine out of my sight. Heaven knows how long this had been going on as I even found a Jockey underwear of my husband in the bundle. Poor Ramu, he had long done with the need to wear one having given up his corporeal body six months back.

Thank God for the tell-tale screams. Otherwise I would still be doubting my maid’s integrity anytime any item of my lingerie disappeared.

After removing the bundle of clothes from the machine, my GN fitted the panel back (A good lesson for youngsters who depend too much on mechanics, plumbers and electricians).

I switched on the machine and found the verandah flooded with water! Poor mechanic that I am, I had forgotten to reconnect the outlet tube and all the water in the tub was discharged indoors!! Once I reconnected the tube, the second load of washing went off smoothly- purring and wheezing- NO SCREAMS.







I was away from home for a fortnight to convalesce at my daughter’s place after my cataract surgery. When I came back the eyesore that met my super clear eyes first was a heap of dried, rotten twigs and branches outside my compound wall. I cursed the Electricity department who were the usual culprits for lopping off the branches of the trees that touch the electric lines and leaving them in front of our houses with no thought of ever clearing them.

As a first step I appealed to the Corporation sweeper on duty in my area to clear it. As expected, she frankly refused to do it. She also told me that unless she got direct instructions from the highly elusive ‘Super’ she could not and would not take action. Added to this I was already aware of the perpetual ‘passing the buck’ between BBMP and BESCOM (Civic and Electrical departments) whenever garbage accumulated on the roadside after the periodic lopping of the trees.

I went on Internet and managed to find the Complaint section of Bangalore Corporation guaranteeing action within 30 minutes. After going through the usual rigmarole of ‘Press 1 for…’ ‘Press 2.. etc’ common to Call centers, I finally found a lady who took my complaint and ensured that  help would be there within an hour. I waited half a day for the help that never came. When I rang them up again, a male voice very courteously told me that help would surely arrive in a couple of hours.

I had to wait for 3 days before a man came on a motor bike. Why is that people in Bangalore can never find your house unless at least 6 calls have passed between his ‘mobile’ and your phone asking for the location? Without getting down from his bike he asked me, “Where is the fallen tree?” I told him that I never mentioned a fallen tree in my complaint but had asked for the heap of old branches and twigs to be cleared. Derisively he took a look at the rotting lot and said, “We are not responsible for clearing this. We cut only trees fallen due to wind or rain. It is the job for Bescom people.” He also rang up his boss giving him the triviality of my complaint. When I argued with him about the inefficiency of their departments he promised to forward the complaint to the Corporation people but then it would take some time- SOME TIME INDEED!

Later when I discussed the problem with my servant maid she confessed that BESCOM had nothing to do with it. It was she who during my fortnight’s absence from home had dumped the branches when she trimmed the plants in my garden. She had expected that the Corporation sweeper would haul it away as a matter of course. In the meantime the incessant rains had reduced the vernal garbage into an ugly, damp mass. Since it was my maid’s mistake, I made her clear all the leaves from the branches and dump them in the household wet garbage bin and asked her to get rid of the denuded twigs somewhere. Next day the road sweeper cleared the overflowing garbage bin without a whimper.

After about a month a call came from (presumably) Corporation office asking if I had a fallen tree to be cleared. I told him that I was utterly disappointed with their lack of prompt action and that I had got it cleared myself. I also told him that I was taking back the complaint.

Two weeks later another call came, this time a lady asking me if I had complained about a fallen tree. I had to tell her about the cancellation of my complaint.

Heaven knows how many more conscientious souls in Bangalore Corporation will be ringing me about the fallen tree in days to come. HAIL SWACHCH BHARAT.