Tuesday, August 28, 2018

An Ode to Kerala Disaster

the rain Gods thundered
water, water everywhere
not a drop to drink
houses, humans, living and non- living things
at Lord Varuna's mercy.
For Him all equal,
rich and poor facing the same fate
dams opened like Pandora's Box
bringing with it 
more horror,
landslides flattening homes and lives
houses for house warming
built with sweat and blood 
under water,
marriages thought to be
made in heaven,
under heaven's mercy,
gold and cash washed away
if life remains
disaster can be overcome
a lesson taught
humanity still exists,
no cast, no creed
unity in diversity
love of brethrens
turning into steps
to help the stranded get
into boats
cash and goods
collected to help
the helpless
is it natural calamity
or man's mistake 
for deforestation galore
Mother earth's patience challenged
surely with
tears in her eyes
she did what she did,
sacrificing her children
to teach the corrupts a lesson
wish it will bear fruit
and the glory returns soon
and Kerala once gain,
bounces back to the saying

Friday, July 13, 2018

My Mills and Boon hero

The first  meeting with my late husband Venu was at a Filmfare Awards Function in Kolkatta. in the early 70s. I used to see this tall, dark and handsome man impeccably dressed in white, including white shoes running around organizing the event. He was an employee of Times of India in charge of Economic Times later. Along with late Mr. Khuswant Singh he had gone to interview Mother Tetresa at her Dying Home in Kalighat, Kolkatta and returned with a vast experience..
My late father used to get passes for the Filmfare show and it was an event looked forward to as well as Femina shows.
Venu was in charge of receiving actors coming from Bombay. Later he told me that Amol Palekar took a liking to him and was always behind him calling 'Venu, venu'.
I used to see him at a theatre showing Malayalam movies every Sunday. My younger brother used to be fascinated with his belt with the sparkling huge buckle.
My brother-in-law, my younger sister's husband(my younger sis had got married before me) was his mess mate. He brought the proposal for me. Later I came to know that Venu himself had taken a liking to me after seeing me at the theatre showing Malayalam movies.
When the proposal came, my father refused saying he will not give his daughter to any Tamilian.
His friend who was the boss of Venu laughingly told that Venu was of our caste.
When marriage talks were going on, I refused saying he was dark. My BIL got real angry and asked me whether I considered myself Reita Feria, a Miss World.
I meekly consented to the marriage and till he breathed his last has absolutely no regrets. He is, was and will always be my knight in shining armour and the tall, dark and handsome hero of the Mills and Boon novels which I was a fan of.
After getting married and moving to his house which used to be a mess shared by his brothers and other friends, all were asked to vacate. There was this cook who even if abused never used to leave, the reason was the inmates of the mess would sometimes take loan from him. The happenings in the mess when told by Venu were hilarious.
After marrying Venu, I got a wonderful family from his side. A wonderful mother-in-law, who always sided me in any arguement and Venu chided her asking her whether he was her son or Anu her daugher, three elder sisters, 2 brothers-in-law and a batch of nephews and nieces. I used to be one among them, so got along well with them. Venu was blessed to see his grandsons, granddaughters and also great grandchildren.(grandchildren of his eldest sister who passed away two years back)

He had always wanted his family and friends to be around him. He was everyone's pillar of strength. He had endeared himself to my late father. Call it providence, both had to die due to lung problem.
Both my father and Venu were similar in nature. He was really a father figure for me and a pillar of strength. He kept giving me hope knowing well he will not survive. He would keep calling me every now and then. I used to tell him I had other work also, he would look forlorn and face would light up when I used to enter his room. My hope for a recovery made me chide him to fight and not be inactive, to be up and about and take care of his needs. Then I used to feel sorry for my outburst and say sorry over again for which he used to calmly say that he understood me very well and that he was blessed to have a wife like me. He also said that he would never have been able to take care of me as I cared for him, hold my hand and keep kissing it till I have to ask him to stop. Even though suffering, he never gave me a chance to understand it.
When he complained of chest pain and I asked if it was unbearable, he would say it was OK.
He had started losing weight drastically and also his speech. But my coaxing everyday had made him utter everyone's names..
A few months before, he was training me how to activate his bank details, to make online payment etc. He was always afraid about me and how I will survive without him.
I always kept assuring him not to worry about expenses or anything else and relax. He always told he was never bothered about money. He gave me assurance he would be around to celebrate our 40th anniversary on 26th May.
He had told me he had ordered an online dress for me for my birthday on 30th March.
Feel grateful to Lord Vaithyanathan whose ashtakam was rendered and played everyday since a friend told me it is powerful. Though the Lord did not prolong his life, he made sure that Venu did not suffer.
After taking me for a bride and entering his home, the cook was dismissed. I knew minimal cooking, my culinary speciality was making rotis having learnt from my neighbor who was a punjabi. She was very much impressed by my rotis.
Gradually, I learnt cooking and finally was declared a wonderful cook by friends and relatives.
Having spent most of my life in Kolkatta, my education, wedding and birth of son, we shifted to Chennai in 1986. Venu had resigned from Times in 1983 and joined a foreign company based in Indonesia with branches in Dubai and far eastern countries. He used to come to Chennai every month. My mother used to be me to take care of me and Pravin.
We shifted to Zaire in Central Africa and had a wonderful time for 8 months after which my son and I were packed off to Chennai.
Venu kept shuttling between Chennai, Dubai and africa.
One fine day he said a friend who owned a company had offered him a job as VP in his company. After a year or two he was transferred to Hyderabad where life was a roller coaster ride, making new friends and new experiences. Used to attend functions where popular Telugu stars used to come. It was partying all the way till the year 1994. Was in Hyd from 1991 to 1994.

Remember the train journey from Chennei to Hyd, where minister Kalyan Singh was in the next coach. Black cats sitting at the the window seats next to our seat were invariably going along with him weilding their guns when he went to toilet. Pravin used to be fascinated by their guns and allowed to go through it by the black cats.
Venu as usual quirked,' Happy I am not a minister'.
While in Hyd, venu was invited for the inagural run of cable cars in Gujurat, Gujjar Hills, Ambe Mata Temple.
While in Hyd, venu was invited for the inagural run of cable cars in Gujurat, Gujjar Hills, Ambe Mata Temple. The cable car he was travelling with 3 others literally came off the hook and it was a miraculous escape for everyone because the racing cable car came to a stop when it stopped because of a stationary cable. The people inside were asked to be very still with not even a slight movement to avoid the cable car from coming off the hook.and may crash down. After help arrived, one by one the people inside were brought down by pulley technique.
When press came to make a report, Venu immediately stopped them and said they were doing a trial run to see what would happen in a calamity. The owner of the company literally fell at Venu's feet for saving his company..
Once, while in office, ( I used to go with him to office once in a while and friendly with the staff), a youngster who was to get married in two months narrated the cable car ordeal (he was one of the occupents of the cable car), told me the only person who remained calm was Mr. Venugopal and he made sure the other 3 got down before he got down in the end. He also said it was difficult to come across a person like Venugopal..
In honor of Venu's act, he was invited to garland the then Gujarat CM, Kashbai Patel and I was asked to garlad Mrs. Patel. Such was the respect he got from anyone who was in contact with him.
Then it was transfer to Delhi from 1994 to 2000.
He had to attend many VIP meets and in one such meet thrown by a prestigious Newpaper owner, I too had the chance to go with him. The whole open ground was filled with black cats. I befriended the owner's wife as well as Mrs TN Sheshan, Ex election commissioner.
While sitting for lunch, the person sitting beside me was explaining how the rabdi was made when I said it was tasty. The person very patiently explained how it was made.
While leaving, I bid goodbye by patting Mrs Seshan on her back. Venu, when outside asked me if I was aware of what I had been going. He said the person sitting beside me was none other than the newspaper owner himself and I was behaving with Mrs Seshan as some long lost friend.
He used to the PRO for LN mitthal, the steel tycoon whom he used to meet whenever he was in Delhi and narrated a lot of interesting things.
He was also invited for Mr. Mitthals son's wedding in Kolkatta, the venue being The Victoria Memorial.
He could not go. The wedding invitation with a box of sweets was delivered to Venu at his office in Delhi. A beautiful meenekari box, yet to see its worth as it looks like it is silver. The sweet inside were shared with the staff and only the box brought home.
Venu had the charm to charm everyone, be it neighbors or their children. Our neighbor's children always used to be at our place.
Our immediate neighbor had come down from Mumbai to pay homage and said his wife was crying her lungs out.
From Delhi, it was Chennai again. He suffered a massive heart attack in 2006 July and had a bypass in 2006 August. He resigned his job and while seeking for one was offered a job in Mangalam Timbres, a Birla company as VP by a friend working there. He jokingly told everyone that he got the job at an age when people retire as the VP.. He was 58 at that time. As always, he endeared himself to one and all, his boss and colleagues. He was fit and fine till 10 years and I had a lot of wonderful moments with him. He and Pravin were more like friends and not father and son. He was called Babe by Pravin. Being in Kolkatta, father was baba, but Pravin changed it to babe.

He was a prankster.
While attending a colleague's wedding while in TOI, he had retorted that his bride was far better than his other girlfriend.
The next day, the colleague came rushing to Venu saying he was ruining his married life as his wife believed it and was furious with him. Then Venu had to go and pacify her saying it was said in a joke.

When I befriended the mami, our first floor neighbor in Kolkatta, she narrated their first meeting.
She was Hema and Venu told everyone he had Hemamalini as his neighbor. One fine day she told Venu that Hema was coming down to meet him. The way she narrated was hilarious. Venu was standing by the stairs and she told Venu he could see Hema malini in person. She was a stout and dusky lady and Venu was quite shocked.
Later she and her husband and sons became very friendly with us.
He had once told mami (fondly called) that even if anyone married a patti (dog), none should marry a pattar.
Mami fumed saying how dare he insult their caste when immediately Venu said, ' Mami marry a naya (dog in Malayalam) but never a nair which made mami burst out laughing.
The house we lived were Naxalite infected. Our neighbor too had been a naxalite.
Venu befriended all and was able to change a few advising them to continue their education.
Once a problem brought the whole slum at our doorstep.
Hearing of it, his naxal friends came with pipe guns shouting in Bengali who were the people planning to attack Venuda.
He endeared himself to one and all. His friendship with his neighbours in Chennai who were his school mates also is credible. The friend ship still carried on till the end. A 56+ years of friendship. He was more like a family member to his neighbors whose mother looked upon him as her son. A similar freindship lasted from Kolkatta days where he had another mom.
His nature was such that if if he was abused and kicked, he would go that place. He had no enemy. If anyone had critisized, it was because of their ignorance in knowing him.
His stature was such that friends and relatives from all around the globe called up to pay their last respect. A family friend's daughter who stayed with us while in Delhi used to call us her Delhi parents. She called up from UK and broke down saying she had lost a loving father.
His goodness gave us a loving and responsible son and a more loving and responsible daughter, our son's wife Meena. She gave us a wonderful extended family. Since she lost her father 10 years back, she looked upon Venu as her father affectionately calling him Daddy, scolding him, fighting and arguing with him. There was no need for him to have missed having a daughter.
Feel blessed to have shared a lot of rich experience and to be by his bedside when he breathed his last.
In fact Venu's family members with their extended families are our family also.
There was no restlessness, no suffering and he looked peaceful when he took his last breath.
Only beautiful memories remain and the last stage experience.
I am grateful to the almighty for giving me strength to face everything. As an astrologer said, it was an auspicious time to have departed and even no karmam (last rites) need to be done. He had gone straight to Kailash to entertain Lord Shiva. He attained

Most importantly, he was a true Rotarian. Having joined Rotary in 1991 in Hyderabad, he became a Rotarian in 2004 and remained in Rotary till his end. Was the president of his club, 2012-13 and it was a wonderful year with PETS (President Elect Training Seminar) in Singapore.
The crowd that collected from all over as well as Rotary clubs to pay their homage was proof of him being a great Rotarian, service oriented and fun to be with. Children loved him. A very close Rotary associate had gone out of her way to visit temples, collect vibhuthi and bring it home for Venu.
His great grand niece, when she was around 4 used to introduce him to her friends as her best friend. His own grandson, his other grandson, meena's sis son fondly called Munchie were his great fans. For both, he was their most favorite daddy as they called him. Then it was chachacha for Amartya Pravin's son. He looks at his chachacha's photo and says chachacha has become ambati (God). If told, he will go and bow down in front of the lamp kept in front of his grandpa's photo. He is only 2 years and 3 months old. Such was his charishma.

Remember some MBA students coming home in Hyderabad to get Venu's advice.
Venu used to be among the panel of judges for interviewing IIM aspirants when in Delhi and the pay given was always given in charity especially to Saint Teresa Charitable Trust..

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Mental Ourpouring

a beloved departs
to find solace from all suffering
leaves behind loved ones
to suffer.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Friced rice incident

Remembered a funny incident when I took over charge of kitchen as a newly married.
I opened all masala boxes and shocked to see the contents. All were worm infested. Opened the rice container and it too was full of worms. When I asked Venu whether he knew what food he was consuming as everything was full of worms. Venu just said when one can have prawn fried rice why not poka (worm in Bengali) fried rice.
Will really miss this witty man.
Venu will remain evergreen in my memory


Our marriage was fixed. One day, along with my sister we went to watch a Malayalam movie. The show was houseful. We were standing depressed not knowing what to do when I saw my knight in shining armor walking towards us. He flourished two tickets in front of us and told us to accept it. We thanked him profusely.
On reaching the alloted seats, my sister noticed Venu coming and quickly exchanged our seats so that her seat was next to Venu.
Later Venu said he felt like killing my sister for her act and had kept watching me and not the movie.
Then came to know from Venu's brother that Venu seeing us standing so forlorn had snatched his brother's and his friend's tickets and given us and the poor things had to go without seeing the movie.
He said after getting married he was not interested in seeing Malayalam movies as he had already got a wife, so there was no need to ogle at ladies anymore.
Venu always joked that whenever Anu scolded Pravin, he would sit in the balcony as he didn't want neighbors to think, his wife was scolding him.
Another post in memory of my beloved venu. Memories running out. Have to think hard for more incidents.
I had gone to pick up Pravin when he was studying in LKG.
I befriended a Bengali lady whose son too was studying with Pravin. We became very friendly. I told her Pravin's father was in Dubai.
One day I was waiting for Pravin and suddenly hear a loud voice calling out in Bengali,' Oh to ye ki Probiner baba? which meant oh, so is this Pravin's father?
I panicked not knowing what she meant and chanced to see a really handsome, tall, fair young sardar with googgles on.I had not realized that I was standing close to him. and exclaimed that he was not the father.
Wonder what the sardar thought.
I narrated the incident to Venu and he found it amusing.
While moving to Chennai, I came to know that a sardar was opening a school (Anna Adarsh) close to where we stayed.in Annanagar, Shanthi Colony.
Venu immediately shot back. ' I am sure the sardar followed you to Chennal and opened a school here'.
Venu always worried how I would survive without him. Have to show him that I will survive and fulfill his desires. I am sure he is watching down on me and blessing me.
The only solace, I took great care of him till he breathed his last and also received his blessings when alive. He would say that even he would not have been able to take care of me as I cared for him if I was in his place and that he was blessed to have me for his wife. Food for the soul I did not break down or shed tears initially but tried my best to revive him knowing well it was not possible. God surely gives courage in times of need. I will live and make him smile from above.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Unforgettable moments

While in Delhi, I bought some eggs from the store. On checking, I chanced to see that one of the eggs was shapeless. I told the shopkeeper to replace it. He should have been polite enough to do so. Instead he went on to say that he did not lay the egg, the hen did and so on. I got infuriated and told him I will  a fight because of an egg. It was not the question of an egg, I wanted to teach him a lesson because of his impudent behavior.

I got infuriated and told him I will return again with my husband as soon as he returned from office. Maybe, the shopkeeper did not take it seriously thinking no man in his senses will think of coming for a fight because of an egg. It was not the question of an egg, I wanted to teach him a lesson because of his impudent behavior.
As soon as Venu returned from office I told him he must come with me immediately to the store. Venu tried his best to calm me down, finally decided to accompany me to the store.
The storekeeper did not except this and was very cordial to Venu saying he can take an exchange egg and whatever he wanted, face full of smiles. I think anyone who sees Venu forget their anger. Venu the real charmer.

Venu was a very good exchange master. Once having bought a sari from Nalli, Chennai, I wanted to change it and told Venu so.
We went to Nalli and gave the sari for exchange. While examining the salesman noticed a very light mud stain and refused to exchange. I badly did want to exchange for a better color.
Always the knight in shining armour, Venu as usual showed hid hreoism, asked for the manager to have a talk and threatened the salesman. The salesman then lay down arms and was willing to exchange the sari.
As it was a rainy season and I was working in a school, I wanted to buy a pair of water proof slippers.
I did wear it for a day and found that the nos on each feet were different. I told Venu I wanted to exchange with the proper size.
Venu was shocked and said since I used it they would not exchange it.
But seeing my forlorn face decided to give it a try and we went again to the Bata shoe shop in Rountana, Annanagar.
Venu did manage to make the salesman agree for an exchange after sometime of talking.