Should I wait
For it to be exactly six months
Since you decided
To change the plane of your existence?
Do I not remember you
Very often, never mind what date
Or day, or time it is?
When two of my friends
Had surgery recently
To remove growths
You come to mind
Whenever I lift a camera
I often see you,
Before I see the scene in front of me.
When I see good planning
And crisp execution
You slip into my thoughts.
When I laugh at jokes
I recollect how you used humour to heal yourself.
The determination that got you through so much,
The travels all over the world
The staunch affection…
You are there in every thought I have
About such things.
Time will flow past:
Six months may turn into years.
My friend, you are always here
Where it matters.
In my heart, and in my memories.
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Should I wait
As I stepped out of my daughter’s home, early in the morning, the liquid, burbling call of the Red-whiskred Bulbuls had me looking around. I spotted them flying around and landing near the front entrance:
I soon realized that two of them were busy trying to build a nest in the ornamental palms flanking the entrance.
Look at the beauty of this bird, very common in our city:
Are they also pondering about building apartments, one above the other?
In Shivamogga, too, two of these birds had made a nest in my hosts’ home:
The lady of the house (er, nest) was well-ensconced in the cup-like nest, with only her beak showing:
I left the birds to their breakfast, and walked on.
Kiran Kannappan and I went to Shivamogga to help conduct a summer camp for 85 rural children, under the aegis of
run by Shaila, Shruthi and Adarsh
Story-telling, some Sanskrit shlOkAs,
nature around the campus, basic birding
Red-wattled Lapwing on the school campus
…these were some of the things we went through with the very receptive children.
On the 9th evening, we visited
where Sanskrit is taught, and still used extensively. We visited a couple who have settled down there, having built this beautiful house:
Lakshmi Narasimha temple, Mathur
We then went to the shAradA temple at Kudli
as it was about to close.
On 100417, we visited the Sakrebailu Elephant Camp.
Kiran decided that we would return by the afternoon train rather than wait for the overnight one…so a memorable visit to Shivamogga came to a conclusion!
As I returned
From an outing, back home
I chanced upon this sight
Of a superhero on the roam.
I didn’t click the owner,
A proud-looking man, whose
Idea it was, to
Put the dog in four shoes.
Though the pet seemed OK
And actually did strut
Proudly along, I’d never
Dress up any mutt!
A dog should be a dog
I feel, not an ape
Of any human being..
Whatever size and shape!
I write to you following a conversation I have just had with one of my grandchildren. I call him Arun. But his real name is some modern confusion that his parents found on the Internet. Aryamaan or Antenna or Aquarium or something like that. I only call him Arun. Because at most I have 10 good years left on this earth and I can’t waste eight of those trying to address him or his sister Shamiana.
So Arun came running a few minutes ago and showed me a WhatsApp video of a passenger being dragged off a plane in the United States. In the video you can see that he has been hurt quite severely. Poor fellow.
“Can you believe this?” Arun asked me.
“Keep quiet,” I told him, “and look at all the other passengers. Look at how they are sitting with so much discipline!”
Arun grabbed his phone and went away complaining that I lacked humanity for other people. As if he has been building free hospitals for the downtrodden with his bare hands since the age of 6.
Sir/madam, if there is any aspect of human life in which I would sanction the use of excessive force, it is air travel. From the very moment you step into an airport you come face to face with the very worst examples of humanity.
Some months ago I had the opportunity to take a short flight from Chennai to Bengaluru for a family function. First I had to show my passport and ticket to enter the airport. Then I had to show my ticket but not passport to stand in a line. At the end of the line a third fellow wanted to see my passport and ticket to give me a boarding pass. Then a fourth policeman wanted to see boarding pass but not passport, and my ticket he treated with contempt. And then I told Mrs. Mathrubootham that she can go to Kochi by herself, I am going back home because even Veerappan was not investigated so much.
But she persuaded me and I proceeded to the departure hall. There I approached a pleasant young lady in a modest shop and purchased two vegetarian samosas and two cups of tea. For this I paid so much money that I told my wife that we will share one samosa and keep the other one in bank locker in case of any family emergency. Shameless black-marketing.
And finally I met the worst of the worst: other passengers. Sir/madam, never in my life have I met a group of people dedicated to the act of doing the exact opposite of what they are told. Ask them to stand up and they will sit down. Ask them to sit down and they will stand up. Ask for only families to board, and every single bachelor will run. Ask them to keep boarding pass ready and they will hold in their hands every piece of paper from their life including passport, ticket, PAN Card, Aadhaar card, marriage certificate, Padayappa matinee ticket, but not boarding pass.
Things only got worse on the flight. One young couple sitting in front of me, perhaps on honeymoon, were behaving as if they are one of those insects that come out in the rainy season and have only fifteen minutes to produce children before dying. My wife spent the entire flight reading the air-sickness bag.
Finally, when I reached Kochi the airline informed me that my bag was still in Chennai. It is OK, I said, I will buy a whole new wardrobe after selling this samosa.
Sir/madam, therefore you will understand why I am not entirely against better discipline in the field of air travel. Of course there should be no violence or dragging or bleeding and all that. Maybe just a little bit in case of emergency.
Yours in exasperation,
Snip, snip, snip, go the scissors and bits of my hair fall (the best kind of hair fall there is.) I relax and close my eyes. Will this end well or will I look like Raggedy Ann? I don’t know, but I am content to leave it to fate, and the hairdresser. The lady in the next seat, with her hair in a made-of-dye-cap, smiles at me. Snip,snip,snip…every haircut is a calendar, measuring out the time in the length of my hair. Short hair has been a great thing for me; I learnt how to swim, I didn’t have to put up sweaty hair in a perpetual bun….with a light heart, and a lighter head, I walk home. Snip, snip, snip…a half hour more out of my life, but gone in serenity and peace.
What my friend Ravikiran had to say:
I love getting a haircut – That feeling of getting that weight off your head, the metronomic rhythmic snip-snipping of the scissors lulling you into a state of mild hypnotic drowsiness, the faint musky fragrance of the talcum powder, the slap-whack-rub scalp massage at the end – all followed by a long hot shower when I get home.
One of the things that interest me very much is the wonderful colours of the buses that ply on our roads….the mofussil (sub-urban) buses, and those that connect the various towns of our State.
I had a bonanza when, on our way back from
after seeing the rehabilitated elephants, we came to the Shivamogga bus terminus.
There were a whole row of colourful beauties. I won’t say anything more, but let the colours, the images and the words talk for themselves!
For a break, here are a row of apples (iPads?)
Another break with the co-existence of two species:
Some more children:
The Tiger Fighter bus had a lovely pic of Tipu fighting the tiger:
I feasted my eyes as I took an ordinary-coloured bus to go back to Ayanur!
This morning’s walk back home:
Women dotting freshly-washed front yards with rangoli in the making.
The carpets of Honge, Copper Pod, and mahogany flowers on the roads.
The smell of onion cooking as a lady makes morning palya at a mobile cart.
Walkers with their morning filter kaapi, exchanging notes and spreading newspapers.
Sunlight filtering through the trees, haloing the head of an old man as he walks with difficulty but determination.
No school buses or sleepy-faced students.
Milk packets and newspapers on mopeds,being distributed.
A young girl stopping for a minute in front of a small shrine, her eyes closed over her hands folded in prayer.
Cut watermelons making red stars.
I reach my home, content, looking up at our resident bulbuls as their burbling song pours liquidly over the lawn.
Having seen for myself the deteriorating quality of food on trains on the Indian Railways, I watched this interesting documentary on IRCTC:
It’s rather long, watch only if you have the inclination and the time!
I couldn’t believe all the good food being prepared…why, I thought, do I never see phulkas or salads, even on the Rajdhani? And halfway through the film, the answer appeared. In response to complaints about the quality of food, the catering was take away from IRCTC itself (who then started concentrating on the corporate sector) and given to independent contractors who, I feel, are definitely running the catering service into the ground now. The video is still worth watching (as are several on how temple kitchens function) for the scale of food preparation.
Here’s one that’s also fascinating:
(Most temples in Karnataka provide food to the devotees who visit.)