Movie Review – The Great Indian Kitchen

[This post was originally published in a Marathi magazine called Palakneeti, published from Pune. You can read the original post on the magazine’s free online version here]

Once upon a time there is this beautiful girl – educated, trained in Indian classical dance, an expert at cooking; and as she grew up in a gulf country, street-smart, too! Because of all these qualities, she is deemed to be a perfect arranged match for the son of a renowned family in Kerala. The prospective bride and groom meet and talk (well, it’s more like stare shyly/ awkwardly at each other and exchange pleasantries –Are we shameless or what to get over-friendly on our first meeting!), while the guests are entertained with mouth-watering snacks (all made fresh and from scratch, of course!).

Everyone is happy about everything, and thus, the wedding happens in great pomp and ardor. The new bride enters the big, traditional family home of her husband, complete with a tiled roof and a courtyard, and gets to know her abode and her world. It’s the first day, and everything seems so nice and new and gentile.

From the next day begins The Great Indian Kitchen! The husband enters the kitchen to have his morning tea, and flirts with the new wife, showers praises on the hot cup of tea she hands him, and leaves the empty cup for her to wash and walks out.

The elated wife washes the cup and leaves it to dry. Afterwards, her calm-and-composed, hardworking mother-in-law starts her training. They start at the beginning – breakfast! On the menu are hot and crispy Dosas with Sambar – along with a coconut chutney made from scratch, on a grinding stone okay! Those stupid mixer-grinders and ridiculous electric tools can never beat the authentic taste of the traditional stone! Then they proceed to lunch: the menu is pretty simple, just everyday fare, but made fresh and flavorful. And yes, rice cooked over an open flame – oh it is so tasty! How can we serve that mushy pressure-cooked rice to our men? And for dinner we have to make Rotis! After a long day at work, don’t the men deserve a delicious and filling square meal! In addition to this, the mother-in-law also initiates the daughter-in-law into dish-cleaning, table-wiping, sweeping and mopping, and other sundry rituals of the family. At the end of the day, after performing all these chores, the poor exhausted girl still satisfies her husband’s needs before falling asleep. Can the life of an ideal Indian woman get any more fulfilling than this??

After a while, the mother-in-law shifts abroad to help out her daughter after the delivery of her child. All the chores of the house are obviously left to the daughter-in-law. And no, we don’t believe in hiring help – firstly, how much work can there be with just 3 people in the house? And of course a maid can never perform her duties as well as the woman of the house! That’s why we have also kept the washing machine in storage – imagine spoiling our good quality clothes using a washing machine! We are rich (we straightaway told the hopeful daughter-in-law that she can’t get a job because we are well-to-do), but also conscientious – money doesn’t grow on trees, after all!

However, we are SO very understanding during the daughter-in-law’s menstrual cycle! Not only do we not make her do any housework, but we also don’t even see her face or disturb her during the 4-5 days! Talk about her sheer fortune, huh!

The movie then goes on to show what happens later in this very fortunate daughter-in-law’s life (kitchen). If you have gotten the sarcastic tone of this review, know that what I am saying next is very sincere: I loved this movie! It has been a while since I watched such an entertaining but though-provoking (and chilling) Indian movie. It is hard to underline the disbalance of power in Indian society using simple day-to-day routines, but the director, Jeo Baby, has managed doing it quite well. This particular film unfolds in Kerala, but substitute Dosa with Chhole Bhature or Kande Pohe, and it represents any and every region of India. Even urban women employed outside their homes, who have modern mixer-grinders, ovens, air-fryers, and any such equipment at their disposal, go through the drama of “The Great Indian Kitchen” regularly. “You are free to achieve whatever you want, as long as your home comes first” is a motto forced upon women working even at the very highest positions and ranks. We are divided over religion, region, caste, economic status, and whatnot, but we are united in claiming that “nothing can surpass the taste of the food cooked by our moms!” And we do so with pride, never once thinking about the pressure we put on them and all our female relatives, and the difficult positions we put them into.

Without giving away any spoilers, I would also like to highlight the role of a bride’s parents in ensuring her “smooth” transition into these great Indian kitchens. Really, parents? Really? You raise a daughter with all your heart, only to do this?

The acting in the movie is top-notch, and the actors seem so natural that the movie might very well be happening in your neighborhood. The music is very effective too. When things come to a head in the movie, they have the backdrop of a religious ceremony where a very haunting bhajan is being sung. The pitch and tempo of this bhajan increase along with the daughter-in-law’s patience, and it all comes crashing down, together. Very apt!

If I had to criticize something in the movie, it would be its initial pace. To highlight the everyday gargantuan routine, similar scenes have been repeated quite a few times. This might even be intentional – we get bored watching a few minutes of these scenes, but women do it their whole life, don’t they!

And thus coming back to the movie, of course women handle house-hold duties all their life, and triumphantly at that! So what if this woman couldn’t handle them? She was undeserving of the honor of being the daughter-in-law of this family anyway! This is what happens when girls are raised abroad and are given undue freedom! Good riddance we say! Our son will have a hundred alliances lined up; and he will be married before you know it.

A better bride will arrive, the son will praise her tea too, and leave his cup on the counter. The new wife will happily wash it. Or will she? To find out, be sure to watch this movie and obviously the great Indian kitchen saga!

Kai Po Che? – The decline of traditional sports and games in India

[This is my first post featured on the TheFrustratedIndian website]

So, what is your favourite game, I asked my neighbourhood children at a party in India. “Angry Birds”, said a 7 years old boy. “I love cricket”, said another 14-years old girl. “To watch, I mean, you know… IPL and stuff… it’s so exciting”, she added. With a lot of exclamation marks in my mind, I decided that they are just children and don’t really think before answering.

But then I thought, even if they were adults, would their answers have been any different? Do we ourselves have had any experience playing sports other than cricket, badminton, and table tennis?

Sure, most of us recently watched and lauded the recently released film Kai Po Che. A few years ago, we also went gaga over the Dheel de de re Bhaiyya song from the movie Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam.

But how many of us have ever actually said Kai Po Che the way it is supposed to be said, that is, while flying kites? I say with major exceptions of some population of Gujarat, none. For that matter, how many of us have recently uttered the words “Kabaddi kabaddi” or “lagori“?

Well, yes, I am being a little too optimistic in expecting all readers to even have heard about these sports; so let me start by listing some of the most ‘used-to-be-popular’ traditional sports of India.



 Played in India from mythical times and given a national status as early as 1918, Kabaddi has fetched us every possible gold medal at all Asian Games and world championships ever held. Yet, I last remember to have played it only in school, more than a decade ago. And none of the “urban” now-in-school people I know seem to have ever played it. Now, Kabaddi is as athletic and technical a sport as any of the modern ones, sans the need for a big ground or any equipment. What it lacks, I guess, is the glamour.

Kho kho

 This game has been known in India since the beginning of the Mahabharata era. It used to be a rather popular game in schools and during evening play-sessions. Not any longer, it seems. Again, this game is as athletic and tactical as games can get.

Gilli danda

 This game is believed to be the origin of games such as cricket and baseball, although this hasn’t been ever proven, or for the matter, contested. In this game, a player bounces a gilli (a small cylindrical wooden object with pointed edges), of the ground by hitting it once with a danda (a wooden stick), and then hits the air-borne gilli to send it as far as they can.


 This game of breaking a mound of seven stones with a ball, and rearranging the mound before the opposing team finds the ball, was played by girls and boys alike, all over India. I haven’t seen any kids playing this game of late, though I have seen its version being played as a team building activity in a couple of corporate team building sessions, which is quite heartening.


 Though this one doesn’t really qualify as a sport, it used to be widely played in India. It is said to improve players’ aim and their ability to concentrate. Also, collecting the marbles won from other players was considered a bonus (or the main attraction? 😛 )


And finally, Kite-flying! Although this sport is believed to have originated in the Indian subcontinent, it is much more popular in other countries now. There are a handful of professional kite-flying tournaments in India, too (with lots of foreign participants), but at the local level, there’s hardly any soaring high!


If outdoor sports aren’t your favourite, there are several other indoor games too (that are going in to oblivion these days, of course): Spinning top (lattu), Indian Ludo (Pachisi/Dyut/Saripaat), Sagargote/ Gajge, Hide-n-seek (Lukka Chhipi), and so on.

All these games are extremely interesting, and it’s a pity hardly anybody plays them anymore. (Although I am glad that certain traditional sports such as Bull-fighting, Cock-fighting and Hunting have diminished!)

So, what made us turn a blind eye towards these sports/games? I suppose the advent of the originally colonial game of Cricket would be a common answer. But no, it is not just that – internet addiction, increased homework, and above all, unavailability of empty grounds to play are also important factors contributing towards the decline.

But think about this: none of these reasons are unavoidable, we can work around them. Especially as we always complain about how sedentary our lifestyles are; how addicted the younger generation is to the likes of Xbox, iPad, and the internet; and how even the snazziest of the gyms are always full, playing all or some of these games to alert our bodies and our minds can ease a lot of our complaints. And we will be happy for keeping our culture alive. 🙂


What do you readers think about this? Are you ready to say the real Kai Po Che sometime soon? Do let us know. 🙂

[All images courtesy: Wikipedia (1,2,3,4,5,6)]

Their feelings, too!

Here is the loose translation of a Marathi poem I wrote a couple of years ago (You can find the original poem on my Marathi blog, here). It is based on the concept of irony, and me having to tell you this explicitly, is an ode to irony itself!


He was a little boy

Innocent, and care-free

I always want to be like this,

Dreamily thought he.

But alas, his teachers said

You must learn the world’s ways…

Can’t even educate their own children,

About your parents, the world says!

—                   —                  —

It was a piece of rich brown land

Just-plowed, soft, and moist

It wanted to stay that way,

And play with the blowing breeze, it voiced.

But the farmer said,

If I didn’t want to sow,

Why would I ever

Take all the trouble to plow?

—                   —                  —

It was a sheet of plain paper,

Very crisp  and very white

It didn’t want to be written on,

Lest get dirty it might!

Oh, but the writer had other plans

I paid money for it, he thundered!

Why would I do that, if I didn’t want to use it?

Wouldn’t it be a waste, he wondered!

—                   —                  —

The little boy did not imagine then,

That he would grow up to be very successful and rich, indeed…

The piece of land, too, didn’t fathom,

That on its crops would so many people feed…

And nor did the paper know that the words written on it,

would help thousands of people in their lives, to succeed…

Had they known, it would have been so much better!

They would have endured the present happily,

And would have been delighted, later!

—                   —                  —

The teachers, the farmer, and the poet were elated,

In the glory of their achievements they basked…

But how were they to know, that while improving the future,

The pleasantness of the present they masked?

Had they known, though, would it have been better?

Would they have been a little sad,

Then, or later?

Should I venture into fiction??

For a long time, I have been at a loss of ideas for new blog posts… and more than ideas, it’s the expression that I am not able form.

So i thought, why not try my hand at fiction? Stories and topics that have interested me, but never happened to me…. I guess I should give it a try!!


And ofcourse, may be I shall be able to express myself in a better way, ‘coz what is fiction but a reflection of the reality?? 😉


Just came across this classic poem by Rudyard Kipling…and thought it would be nice to share with all my readers…..Enjoy folks! 🙂 


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master,
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)


The journey of a million miles, starts with thousand steps!

Confused with the title?? Think it should be “The journey of a thousand miles, starts with a single step.”?

Well that holds true if you intend to travel only a thousand miles, if your journey is going to continue beyond that,(well in life, it does, right!! Much beyond that!), in fact to a million miles,then, only when you take thousand steps do u gain sufficient momentum to finish this loooong journey!!

Just like this blog…I started it quite some time back…but it doesn’t seem to have gained much popularity…..but today finally… my blog stats showed 1000 hits!! (Too bad i didn’t take a snapshot when it was 1000!! 🙂 )

A biiiig Thanks to everyone who visited this blog, and made me believe that I could go about well on this journey of million miles……Will try to write more and better, from now on!! 🙂

Is money equivalent to Happiness?


So true is the above sentence, isn’t it!! just happened to see the above picture stored somewhere on my PC, and it started a chain of memories in my mind. Just jotting down a few of them here.

When i was in my 3rd year of Computer Engineering, We had a debate in my Principles Of Economics and Management class, titled “Money motivates!” We were supposed to refute the argument, so my main argument then was…

“Why does one want money, to buy luxury, to feel the prestige, and such things, all basincally leading to what? Getting Happy!!! So the main motive in one’s life is not getting rich or earning money, just for the sake of it…If he could get happy by some other means, he would very well do it, and not care a damn about money!!”

“Point taken”, agreed many……

Well this also reminds me of another story that i’d read long ago in Marathi. Will attempt to translate it here. Its called, “Happy Man’s Shirt”

Once upon a time, there was a man who wanted to know the secret of happiness. He was ready to go to any lengths to do it. So he prayed, and meditated, and fasted, for a long long time. Finally, a holy sage appeared before him. “What do you want son?”, he asked. “I want to know the secret of happiness..”, the man replied. “Fine, I’ll tell it to you”, the sage replied,” but before that u will have to bring me a shirt worn by a man who is truly happy..” “Ok sir, that i shall do immediately….how long will that take!!” , exclaimed the man.

And lo, he started off…He went to his friends whom he thought were happy, and asked them if they were.. They replied in negative. He went to the rich and famous, but no luck there too….As a sharp contrast, he tried the poorer ones, but to no avail. He went to places, travelled to many countries and cities and towns, but he did not find anyone who admitted that he was totally happy!

Tired and frustrated, he was walking through a forest. A river flowed nearby. On the banks of the river sat a man, humming the most cheerful tune he’d ever heard. He played with the waves in water, he called out to the birds that flew past…Overall, he seemed very content, very HAPPY. Skeptical, yet somewhat homeful, the man went to him, an asked him whether he was happy. “Ofcourse, I am very very happy. I have no complaints about life.” The man was overjoyed, and just as he was about to ask the happy man for his shirt, he realized, that the man wasn’t wearing a shirt at all!!! He asked the man about it, and he replied,”Shirt!! well I never wear one at all!!” 🙂

Nice story na!! And worth giving a thought, too!

Well these are just a few thoughts that occured to me when i saw that pic…More about this, later!! 🙂

What’s in a signature????

I have always been a big fan of quotable quotes…and have liked collecting them since childhood… It may sound like I am bragging; but yeah, many people have told me that they look forward to reading the signature in my mails, that I change everyday! 🙂 Now for all those people who have encouraged me to use nice and new signatures everyday, here I present a collection that I have used in my mails….

  • Don’t attempt to run from the past, it is always behind you.!”
  • “A cigarette is a pinch of tobacco, wrapped in paper, With fire at one end and a  fool at the other!!.”:-))
  • “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do.”
  • “A meeting is an event at which the minutes are kept and the hours are lost……”:-)))
  • “The world is full of people whose notion of a satisfactory future is, in fact, a return to an idealized past.”
  • “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot!” 🙂
  • “Those who drink to drown their sorrows should be taught that sorrows know how to swim.”
  • “A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”
  • “Democracy is three wolves and one sheep voting on what to have for supper!!” :-))
  • “Vacation is what you take when you can’t take what you’ve been taking any longer.” :-)))
  • “Examine what is said, not who speaks!”
  • “Optimists and Pessimists equally contribute to our society….Optimists make the airplanes, pessimists make the parachutes!”
  • “Preach the Gospel at all times … if necessary, use words!” 🙂
  • Karl Marx’s Mother: “If Karl, instead of writing a lot about capital, had made a lot of it … it would have been much better.” :-)))
  • “How many of you believe in telekinesis? Raise MY hand!” :-))))))
  • “In communism, man oppresses man. In capitalism, it’s the other way around. ” :-)))
  • “Nothing shows a man’s character more than what he laughs at.”
  • “Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
  • “What the caterpillar calls the end, the butterfly calls the beginning.”
  • “If the human brain was simple enough for us to understand, we’d be so simple that we wouldn’t  be able to understand!!” :-)))
  • “If we’d confess our sins to one another, we’d all laugh at the lack of originality.” 🙂
  • “Learn from the mistakes of others…You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself!!”:-)))
  • “Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.”
  • “Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats!!!” :-))
  • People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.
  • “If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy the civilization!!”:-))
  • “Scientists announced today that they have discovered a cure for apathy. However, they claim no one has shown the slightest interest in it.!!!”:-)))
  • “The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it!!”
  • “Always fall in with what you’re asked to accept. Fall in with it and turn it your way!”
  • “Did Noah include termites on the ark?”:-)))
  • “What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.”
  • “We all live under the same sky, but we don’t all have the same horizon.”
  • “Software and Temples are much the same – first we build them, then we pray!!”
  • “Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”
  • “Deciding not to choose is still making a choice!” :-))
  • “The hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn.”
  • “Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go!!” :-)))
  • “In between goals is a thing called life, that has to be lived and enjoyed!!”
  • “Opportunity may knock only once, but temptation leans on the doorbell.” :-))
  • “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely!”
  • “God is a comic, playing to an audience that’s afraid to laugh!”
  • “One good thing about being wrong is the joy it brings to others!!” :-))
  • “Don’t take life so seriously; u anyways won’t get out of it alive!!”
  • “I used to sell furniture for a living. The trouble was, it was my own!!!” :-)))))))))
  • “And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
  • “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!!!” :))
  • “Once the game is over, the king and the pawn go back into the same box.”
  • “Can atheists get insurance for acts of God???.” :-)))
  • “The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.” :-)))
  • “There are only 10 types of people in this world: those who understand binary, and those who don’t.” :-)))
  • “No individual raindrop ever considers itself responsible for the flood.”
  • “After all is said and done, more is said than is done!” :-))
  • “I have learned that the Lord didn’t do it all in one day. What makes me think I can?” :-))
  • “That which you cannot give away, you don’t possess; it possesses you.”
  • “Experience is not what happens to you; it’s what you do with what happens to you.”
  • “Wise people talk because they have something to say…. Fools talk because they have to say something!!” 🙂
  • “I lost 40 Pounds!!! Unfortunately, I was in England at that time!!!!”  🙂
  • Hope is the ability to hear the music of future….Faith is the courage to dance to it today!!
  • “If you can’t see the bright side of life, polish the dull side.”
  • “Confidence doesn’t come from having all the answers, It comes from being open to all the questions!!”
  • “There are two parts in my brain: left & right; right is having nothing left in it, and left is having nothing right in it!!!” :-))))))
  • “When u r falling off a cliff, u might as well try to fly coz u have nothing to lose!!”
  • “As I said before, I DONT REPEAT!!” :-))))))
  • “Doing nothing is very hard to do…you never know when you’re finished……. ! ” :-)))
  • “God give me patience and Give it to me NOW!!!! ” :-)))
  • “Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.”
  • “Let yourself be open and life will be easier. A spoon of salt in a glass of water makes the water undrinkable. A spoon of salt in a lake is almost unnoticed.”
  • “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” 🙂
  • “If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag; wash it!”
  • “When I tell the truth, it is not for the sake of convincing those who do not know it, but for the sake of defending those who do.” -William Blake
  • “One thing you can’t recycle is wasted time.”
  • “The world is a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.”
  • “You can tell whether a man is clever by his answers. You can tell whether a man is wise by his questions.”
  • “When everything’s coming your way, you’re in the wrong lane!”
  • “The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat !”
  • “One day, your life will flash in front of your eyes… Make it worth watching.”
  • “The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits.”
  • ” Just when I got all the answers of life, they changed the question!!” :-))
  • ” The Pessimist complains about the wind, the Optimist expects it to change, the Realist adjusts the sails!”
  • “Is it true that cannibals don’t eat clowns because they taste funny?”  LOL!!! :-))
  • “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm”
  • “Your problem is never really your problem; your reaction to your problem is your problem.”
  • “Never run from your fears. Because when they catch up to you you’re too tired to fight.”
  • “I’m tired of all this nonsense about beauty being only skin-deep. That’s deep enough. What do you want, an adorable kidney????” :-)))))))
  • “It’s so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and then don’t say it!!” :-)))
  • “A politician is the one who shakes your hand before elections and your confidence after.” :-))))
  • “2B or not 2B? I think it’s a grade of pencil.” :-))))
  • “After hearing two eyewitness accounts of the same accident, you begin to wonder about history.” :-))
  • “A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.” :-)))
  • “There’s a book that tells you where you should go on your vacation. It’s called your cheque book!!!!!” :-))))
  • “Life’s like a foreign language…everyone mispronounces it!!!” :-))
  • “Be yourself. Who else is better qualified?” :-))
  • “There are 3 sides to any argument….my side, your side, and the right side!!!” 🙂
  • “”Grief can take care of itself, but to get the full value of joy you must have somebody to divide it with.” ”  🙂
  • “Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important!” :-))
  • “Here is the test to find whether your mission on Earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” :-))
  • ” Living on Earth may be expensive…but it sure includes an annual free trip around the Sun….!!!!” :-))
  • ” Most people want to serve God, but only in an advisory capacity.!!!” :-))
  • “If you are not living on the edge, you’re probably occupying too much space!!!”
  • “The problem with being punctual is that nobody’s there to appreciate it !!!” 🙂
  • “Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person, is like expecting an angry bull not to charge because you are a vegetarian” 🙂
  • “Life is like playing a violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on” 🙂
  • “Remember there is a Space between Stimulus and Response, and our Growth lies on how we utilize that Space”
  • ” It’s not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game even starts. !” :-))
  • “The pen is mightier than the sword, and considerably easier to write with.” :-))
  • “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
  • “Don’t cry because the Sun is setting at the end of the day…….. For the tears will not let you enjoy the beauty of the stars!!!!”
  • “Never be afraid to do something new……. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic!!!!”
  • “When one door closes, another one opens. But often we look so long at the closed door that we fail to see the one that has opened for us.”
  • ” A hen is only an egg’s way of making other eggs…. “
  • “A dead end is just a good place to turn around!!!!”
  • “If you are lucky enough to reach the top, its your responsibility to send the elevator back down!!”

The idol stood still……….

This is a story I once read in a Marathi newspaper that truly deeply touched my heart. It was translated from Kannada, I think. This is an abstract English translation of the story from memory, in order to reach a wider audience.

There was this small village surrounded by a forest. In the centre of the village was a sacred temple, that everyone in the village regarded with great pride and faith. The temple housed a beautiful and serenely still idol of Lord Krishna. The idol was reputed to be the oldest and the most beautiful ones among all the idols in neighbouring area. People said that the calm expression on the face of the idol, the sereneness with which it stood, for years and years and years, was absolutely matchless. The idol had survived spells of famines, floods, droughts, and was as still as ever. This fact had strengthened the devotees’ faith in the idol all the more.

One dark, stormy night, the rain poured like cats and dogs in this remote village surrounded by forests. It was thundering; lightening cut across the sky like shining blades of swords. There was not a living thing in sight, with everyone alive safe under shelter. Even the normally noisy crickets and grasshoppers did not dare to venture outside. All the doors and windows of the houses in the village stay shut.

And at such a time, an outcaste from the village, who had gone into the woods to arrange for his daily bread and butter, was trying to return back home. Fully soaked, scared and shivering, he reached the border of the village. Desperate for shelter, his glance fell upon the temple that stood so elegantly amidst the sheer chaos created by mother nature. Relieved at the sight, he rushed towards the temple. In his mixed feelings of desperation, fright, elation, and hope, he forgot one so-called important fact. He was an outcaste, and was not allowed to enter any place frequented by the again-so-called elite upper classes of the society.

As he tried to climb the 1st step of the temple, where there was this serenely still idol, the priest spotted him. “Stop there, you wretch!!”, he shrieked, and charged towards him. “Don’t you know you outcastes are NOT supposed to enter a sacred place like this!! How dare you ruin the sanctity of this place!!!”, he roared. The outcaste, then trembling with fear, looked at the sacred idol. It stood still. He fell to the feet of the priest, and begged for mercy. The priest of course did not oblige. The idol stood still.

As the fury of the winds grew in magnitude, the outcaste again requested the priest for refuge inside the temple. The priest, furious due to the blasphemous behaviour of the outcaste, again told him to get lost. “If you try to take even 1 step forward, I swear I’ll teach u a lesson!!, he screamed,” The God will teach u a lesson!” The sacred idol in the altar stood still. Despite the threats of the priests, the outcaste put his foot on the step of the temple – ’cause his desperation outweighed his fear. The priest was outraged!! “How dare an outcaste disobey me??” He ran inside the temple, got hold of an axe, and charged down at the outcaste. “You  wretch….Wait till God teaches u a lesson!!” He lifted his hand and at once brought down the axe…

The outcaste died, bleeding profusely due to the fatal blow he received! The idol still stood still…

My first experience of social service

[Post updated on April 20, 2016] There’s this organization in Pune called Eklavya Nyasa, that works with the children of Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs.) Recently, my employer wanted some volunteers to go to this NGO and interact with these children every weekend. I jumped at this opportunity!

It was an overwhelming experience! For the first session, we decided to play with them and to generally speak to them about traffic rules, personal hygiene, and about India, by asking them to participate in skits. Since we were the first batch to go, we also had to share our experiences with the batches who would go on future weekends. This post contains a part of an e-mail that I wrote to the group about our experience:

“All right, as far as yesterday’s experience goes, there’s loads and loads of stuff to write. For starters, I would like to say that these few hours that we spent with the kids gave us peace of mind, and disturbance of mind, in equal proportions. Peace, because it’s a wonderful and soothing feeling to be amidst these children; and disturbing, because behind those smiling faces is hidden a truth so bitter, that makes us feel very, very fortunate as compared to them. And the difference hurts!

Okay, so after a fair amount of brainstorming on Saturday, we met at the DagduShet Halwai temple on Sunday, practiced our skits, our dialogs, went through our “Do’s and Don’ts”, and went to the building where the kids gathered to read and play! Indrayani Gavaskar (The chief coordinator and daughter of the founder Renutai Gavaskar) was there and so were a couple of kids. We sat down and started speaking to them, sticking to our formula of “likes-n-dislikes: yes, personal-n-family questions: no”. Slowly, lots of other kids started flocking in, and believe me, if one did not know their background, they would seem very normal. We started asking their names, their favorite movies, games, actors.

We played Antakshari with the kids, and the younger lot seemed to enjoy it a lot. But there were older kids too, and they looked a little bored.

Hmm, then it was time for the long-planned skits. But no, the children refused to do any sort of skit. They were pretty much interested in mimicry and stuff like that, but when we tried coaxing them to do skits on topics, they wouldn’t budge.

So, the change of strategy: we simply had to get all of them talking about how much they know and understand about traffic rules, personal hygiene, and India.

Much to our surprise, they knew most of the things. Traffic Lights and Zebra Crossing, washing hands and having bath, dressing wounds, brushing teeth, they knew it all. That they didn’t really practice all that is another thing.

They knew our National Anthem very well, and the Pledge too (which I’m sure most of us volunteers did not.) They also knew the 3 colors of our flag, the Ashok Chakra, etc. And they had a quest to learn, because when we mentioned Ashok Chakra to them, they started asking us questions about the Ashok Stambh, the Sarnath Stupa, the “structure with 4 lions” on currency notes, etc.

I mean all-in-all, they were a bright lot. They were extremely interested in listening to stories, so we had story-telling sessions with them. We played games too, and they knew all those games before.

One thing that many of them did not know was reading the clock. So each of us grouped a few kids and taught them how to do it.

There were quite a few talented kids, and well informed ones too. For example, we were pretty surprised when a boy called Ramzan told us that Italy won the FIFA World Cup, and that there was a head-butting controversy during the match!

Vaibhav is very good at painting, Sooraj at making crafts (he had made this very cute caged lion), and most of the other kids seemed genuinely interested in learning something creative, BUT not in form of lectures or the usual “study” ways. That was pretty obvious by the fact they rejected our idea of skits forthright.

Okay, now to the darker side, because the above description shows only one side of the picture. There was this girl Pooja, who asked me at least 4 times whether they were going to get “dabba“. (they were hoping we had brought them goodies).  There was this girl who was called “Don” by her friends because she was quite aggressive at times (the reason for her behavior being her abusive father, which we learnt later), there was this guy Ramzaan who generally kept to himself and didn’t get involved with others, simply because if there was a fight, he couldn’t control himself. Well this list could go on and on and on, but I don’t know whether this is the right platform to list everything.

Neha came up with a very good idea that we can have some kind of a collaboration with the Andha Vidyalaya, wherein the older children from Eklavya Nyasa could write the exam papers of younger kids. This would have 3 benefits: 1) the kids would get to interact with the outside world, 2) the ones who will write the papers will feel that they too can be of some use to others and may be 3) they will realize that there are other underprivileged people in this world.

Another thing I would really like to appreciate is the way the guys gelled with the kids. I have always observed that boys generally don’t take to young kids, girls are better, but I must say that all 4 of these guys completely washed away my belief. The children really flocked towards all of them, and they too handled them absolutely comfortably.

Well, there’s a lot more to say, but I’ve written such a long e-mail that I think half the recipients are not even going to read it fully :-)))))

So more about this, when we actually meet.

But as a bottom-line, this was definitely a very enriching experience, and it would be a pleasure and an honor to have more of such kind.”



My answers to a questionnaire circulated in TCS on Women’s day…I won the 2nd prize!

1) I am proud to be a woman because: It’s only a woman who can both rock the cradle and rule the world.

2) If there was one thing that I could change in today’s world, it would be : discrimination against any caste, creed, religion, community, gender, etc., because once we rise above such divisions, and start thinking about humanity in general, it’ll be much easier for us to change everything that should be changed.

3) Define Beauty: Beauty is a feeling of well-being, not just from outside, but more importantly from within. Beauty is more about “Conscience” than about “Complexion”.

4) If I could exchange my beauty for something else, that would be: respect for women, because once women start feeling respected by others, and more importantly, from within, I believe they can achieve whatever they want to achieve.

5) Today’s Indian woman is: very much capable of reaching the skies, however, for several reasons, is still trying to find her feet on the ground.