Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Streets of Hyderabad.


When this trip was announced, the kids were so excited, they had started to reminisce all that they did, in their previous trips. They couldn’t recollect a lot except from their previous trip during which they had hosted a big party to all their extended family to celebrate their 6th birthday. The fun things they had done at their Nanni’s and Aaji’s home. This year they celebrated their 8th birthday with their classmates so they wouldn’t be hosting a birthday party in India.

To keep them occupied, I enrolled them in a bollywood dance program hosted by the famous Bosco and Ceaser duo of Chak Dhoom Dhoom fame. The class is good and the kids are getting accustomed to the Indian way of teaching, where the teacher’s expectation from the kids is absolute. The teachers here, are open in their evaluation of the students, expect precise and sharp moves from the kids, open in their disapproval of behavior, give out punishments to the kids if they misbehave or are inattentive by making them stand in a pose that’s uncomfortable for the kids or making them do some extra jumps and squats.. Luckily, for PNK, they haven’t been caught to be singled out like this yet,  not that my kids are not inattentive, they are, but they are too excited to be part of this new class. And they love bollywood dancing.

Other than this, they get to go around shopping with me, walking around in the crowded lanes, they feel like they belong here. They get a lot of attention too. The aura is so informal, and down to earth, the haggling and the bargaining we do at the stores, fun for them to watch. The visits to the tailors. Lots of fun. They love to adorn Indian costumes, most of them are so flattering and colorful.  But, to do all this requires  us to be driven through streets of Hyderabad with awkward moments and embarrassing situations.

Three most awkward moments are:

1. The display of the movie hoardings on the streets that are so censurable.

2. The shameless men peeing around on the city walls.

3. The amount of garbage everywhere, the common man’s civic sense, the beggars hitting on your car windows to give them some cash.

Then there is the endless traffic and the dust which is part of city life..which is acceptable

Right now in the streets of Hyderabad, there is a distasteful, hoarding of the Telugu movie that’s been released or will be released soon.  The lady has bared all her mid-region (her Saree conveniently moved aside) and the hero is peeking onto her belly button and trying to pinch her on her belly, So crude,  just short of being classified as pornographic (yeah, felt very uncomfortable describing this scene).

This is heights of embarrassment for me, as a women on the street with little kids in tow.  The kids are so curious about such hoardings. They wait for the hoarding to appear (they have memorized which hoarding is displayed on which street) and when they see it, then exclaim with disgust “Eeew, why do they have such displays here?”  I am speechless, unable to explain anything to my kids. I always wonder, how I grew up with such offensive posters displayed everywhere in the open. Maybe we had just gotten immune to it? Not sure. These repugnant banners, raises lots of curiosity among unsuspecting children on all these lewd human emotions they are not ready to be exposed to yet.

The movie censor board object’s to kissing on the lips, in Indian movies and doesn’t object such indecent posters being displayed to everybody, kids and adults alike. Such ridiculous double standards.

Although, during the current trip, I’ve found fewer posters compared to the last one. Came to know that the government is trying to ban such loathsome displays since its causing distractions to the drivers on the streets. Its high time they also consider the effect such obscene displays are having in raising a healthy society and ban them all together.

Another thing to note when watching TV programs at home, is that, there is no distinction between what advertisements are shown during what shows.  It could be a dance show, just like,  say, “Dancing with the stars” or “American Idol” where the whole family would be watching the TV together and advertisements that would be displayed range from condoms, and sanitary napkins, to soaps, and chips.

The next thing I despise, when I’m travelling along the streets with the kids are the shameless men, with uncontrollable bladders.  Almost every other wall in the city has the “Please do not Urinate here” sign painted on the walls, and you will find a man urinating right on that sign.  Show of strength? that he may not be able to live a fancy life but, has the audacity to  flout such requests.

The population on the streets is so large, of which one can find so many beggars and homeless people on the streets. Lot of them are gypsies too. They obviously, don’t have a restroom, they could go to. I’ve found pay and use bathrooms everywhere, but either they are so badly maintained to be used or people don’t have the money to pay and go there or people just don’t care.

The garbage bins are full and the municipality has no machinery or man power to be able to move this much garbage everyday or even weekly, so, they opt to burn the garbage right where it is and this causes smoke everywhere.

In the past 10 years the population has grown exponentially in Hyderabad, and with it the traffic too, but, the government machinery is the same slow tortoise that it was years ago. Leaders get elected by distributing money to the naive and poor public and promise a lot of improvements.  The whole system is so messed up that as a layman,  I can’t start to think what suggestions to give that will be workable solution and low cost too.

Still, when I look at the city with so many flyover’s coming up to beat this growth in traffic, it surely has come a long way from what it was a decade or 2 ago.  The rich have grown in number.  Especially, when one visits jewelry stores and look at the crowds there, it almost feels, like the jewelry is being given away freely. The malls are full and the food courts are so occupied. The college crowd have found new avenues to spend their time. The new malls and food courts, the multiplex cinemas.  Just the other day, the news in the paper showed a college kid, who ran off his dad’s brand new car into the Hussain sagar Lake, when he lost control of his vehicle. He was out partying with his friends. 

Hopefully, things will settle down in Hyderabad, and it will grow into a decent city.  With lot more educated people moving into the city, they will be making educated choices, the government will not be able to take people for granted anymore. Hoping for a greener and cleaner Hyderabad.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wireless broadband!! Cool concept…Un-cool providers.


Tata photon + named  gadget of the year, that’s what one hears and see’s on the hoardings placed all over.   When I heard of this wireless broadband service, I thought  “Wow!", this is cool”.  I just have to sign up for a service like that of a cell phone, no Ethernet connections to bother about. Boasts of a speed of 3.1Mbps, and I thought  “Wow! this is too good”, once again.


My problems had just started with Wi-fi in India. Then it was about locating a store that would sell the greatly advertised Tata Photon + device and service. Every other roadside store which we visited advertises it, but either they don’t sell the device and service, or they are sold out on the devices. Eventually, we were able to find one store that could provide the service to us. We learnt that we were not eligible for the service, We needed to be a local. So, we took my Mom’s ID to take the service in her name which we were allowed. One needs proof of address, residence with photo ID and a passport picture. Fair enough, so all of them were provided.

Jet lagged and with half our brains working we were in for another news, there were about 120 plans (maybe a little bit exaggerated)  to choose from, and we had to select the plan that would work for us. The guy spoke about discounts and renting and GB’s none of which made any sense to us.  Later I would learn the hard way that what ever we had signed up for was not the right choice and there were other things that we had to consider like roaming etc which we were not informed about, and GB usage vs time usage.

We didn’t get to use the device until after 2 days when we find that the service is actually not active. After hours of being on call with the customer service representative It just took us another 3-4 days to get online. Then, the shocker, about the speed, when we were waiting for ever for a page to load. Eventually, we got used to the speed too. Then, one fine day, the service is de-activated. 

The young people who answer the customer service calls have no clue about the customer’s account or the customer’s requirements, they also don’t have any authority to make decisions nor accept payments. They have been trained well to use the words like “sorry” “apologize”, “will help you today” and in fact end the call by doing nothing but reading out some rules that can at most sound gibberish to a normal person’s ears.

From the umpteen calls that I made and the numerous sorry’s that I heard, I understood that I had to go to their office the next day to make some payment until which the account can’t be activated. So, next day I go to a nearest dealer to make the payment.

“We don’t accept payments madam, You’ve to go to the main office in xxxxxx”, he says.

So, about 45 minutes later, I land up in their main office. The person at the counter,  opened my account and wrote some amount on a sheet and said “Go, and pay it there”.

“Can I use a credit card?” , asking him so, I can keep the cash I have with me, trying to avoid another hassle of going through money exchange.

Smiles and says “No, only cash”.

So, I pay the cash that was mentioned on the slip.  Then I go to another counter and ask him to look at my plan and ask him why it doesn’t accept payment from my credit card when I try to pay online. Of course, it wouldn’t because the account is in my Mom’s name and I’m trying to use my credit card. Why in the world should it matter to this service company, whose credit card is being used to pay their bill. I lodged a complaint and left after being assured by the person that the service has been activated and will not be disconnected since I’ve made the payment.

Not having gotten a chance to go on the internet yet, I was returning from a Class that I have been taking my kids to, I get this call from a representative. He says

“Good Evening Madam, I am ….. from Tata Indicom. Did you lodged a complaint that you are unable to make online payment?”

“Yes”, I say

“I’m sorry for the inconvenience Madam. Can you try it now and see if it works?”

“Sir, I’m on my way home and I will try it, as soon as I get home.”

I try to login as soon as I reach home and get some time. As expected, it didn’t work. The reps are not even aware of the situation. I have been trying to make a payment in my Mom’s account with my card.

Then the next day I get a few calls from the representatives in different languages, when I am in the bathroom, shopping, eating, drinking, (I’m sure one can guess a million situations when one is not ready to answer a call) wanting to talk to me about the plan. If a button was available on my body that said “Understand Tata Indicom representative’s gibberish”, I would have used it. Anyways, I replied,

“Can you please call me at 9pm tonight.”

( I promise to not be eating, sleeping, peeing, visiting people, in transit, and will talk to you with all the time I can gather, I wanted to say.) Needless to say, I don’t get any call, but, when I sit to check my emails that night, I find my service has been DISCONNECTED again!!!

I call the customer service and after hearing to a series of apologies and promises to help me.  I start

“Sir, my account has been de-activated again. I had made the interim payment yesterday for whatever amount that had been asked of me. My payment is not due until next month.

Then he started.

“I apologize for the inconvenience..I will try to help you”

“Madam, your account shows a balance of  Rs7XXX, and after the discounts, you have crossed the limit…7200 minutes…after the discounts…the rental……..all this…..postpaid...have limit of Rs2500…have to make payment…Rs2501”

“Sir, I was at your office yesterday, and had paid whatever I was required to pay”.

“Madam, without considering your rental and discounts and have to pay Rs 2501”

“Why didn’t you ask me to pay that yesterday? Can you activate my account and I will make the payment tomorrow.”

“I’m sorry madam, I don’t have the authority to do that”

“I’m not interested in the apologies, can you help me get my account activated”.

“I’m sorry madam, let me talk to the superior and get back”

After a 3 minute wait

“ I’m sorry madam that I had to keep you waiting, Your account cannot be activated at this time. You will have to make an interim payment of Rs2501”

So, next day, I try to sign up for another service, its competitor, Reliance Netconnect , hoping that its service will be much better than the Tata indicom.

This time I went in more knowledgeable than the last time. I gave my mom’s ID, I I chose my plan with confidence then, he asks me..”Is your mom working?”

“No, she’s retired.”

“Sorry, this service is not available to Housewives, Retired Persons, College students.”

“OMG, such open segregation!!!”

On this note, another information to know that I read in the papers, “House wives have been categorized along with Prostitutes, Beggars and Criminals in the countries census, to be put in the “Economically Non-producing “ category.

Such Outrageous Classifications..”Non-productive"!!!………………..…such in-sensitiveness!!! Even the supreme court is shocked to find this. Such aware our Supreme courts are.

Back to where I was, I informed him that my Mom runs a business and I signed up for the internet service and bought the gadget. I came home that night and followed the instructions for the installation and activation. Now, what do I find?

I am waiting for ever to download my emails or the simple page. When I’m in the middle of downloading…the page spits out this message “Server not found”.  The internet connection had disconnected. I click on connect again..and 60-90 secs later just as the color of the page had started to appear, the screen changes to “Server not Found”.

Thus continues the saga of my desire to stay connected to the world, from India.


There are very cool concepts in Wireless and telecom being introduced in India but, of what use are all these if,  the service providers are not cool to work with. What of all this, if the service providers are not able to deliver it to the public. The public here seems to be very compromising and don’t demand more than they are getting. They are happy with what they receive and adjust.

Not in this way!!!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

My Butterfly Friend.


Its the monsoon season and lots of butterflies have sprung up. My experienced and talented friends on face book are posting pictures after pictures (some of those pictures feel out of this world), showing off their photographic skills and their equipment.  I feel privileged knowing such photographers. They either picture exotic bugs or butterflies or mushrooms and beautiful locations with rivulets etc. I love photography too and yearn to take such pictures but, I have none to show. I didn't get a chance to go hiking in the rain with my equipment or am I able to spot a butterfly that will let me picture it. 

I have been making this observation for the past few days, I see a lot of butterflies flying around but, haven’t able to spot a single butterfly that would just relax and let itself be photographed. Then, how in the world are my friends able to click such great pictures of these beautiful creatures. I had already given up on photographing a butterfly. But, today the unimaginable, the impossible happened! There was this butterfly that decided to let itself photographed. It didn’t move, It let me touch it, it let me click its picture a billion times (yeah! maybe too exaggerating but you get the point )  and so, I tried to do justice to it by showing it to the world on this blog.

What do I see when I am having my coffee this morning, a butterfly just clinging to a leaf, not flying around flit flutter..but, relaxing. So, I took my first shot.


Then I went closer and clicked again…edited_DSC_3545 

It didn’t move!!! So, I went a little more closer and clicked again.


Still didn’t move…Went more closer and clicked again.


Didn’t move. This one was going to relax and let itself pictured for eternity. Then it moved a little and let itself shown sideways.


Didn’t fly away, it was posing!!!! So, to do justice to its beauty, I went around it, clicking away. I promised it,  I wouldn’t disappoint it.


And it trusted me. and gave me another shot.


and another


Then I tried taking its picture like I was peeping.


Then, it gave me its best shots.




And this was Richa peeping over the butterfly watching it. She discovered today “Mama , the butterfly got EYES!!!!”


Thank you my butterfly friend for posing for me. You made this desire of mine to picture beautiful butterflies be fulfilled today.

Indian Monsoon


Its a cloudy day outside since its the monsoon season in India.  It had rained last night while we were asleep. It was my favorite season as I grew up. I used to love to go on my terrace where I could be alone and get drenched in the pouring rain. There was no scare of catching a cold or falling sick.

Indian literature and music has so much romance associated with this season. Most bollywood movies are incomplete without the hero and heroin getting drenched in the rain and singing a song. Two of the best being “Rim jhim gire saavan, sulagh sulagh jaaye maan” sung by both Kishore and Lata for the Movie “Manzil” and the sexy song of Mister India where Sridevi, getting drenched in the rain was singing “Kate nahin katte ye din yeh raat”. Of course, there is the song from Chandni too. I’m sure everybody has their favorites , rain songs being plenty in bollywood movies.

In Indian classical music which has its origins in the Vedas (namely Sama-Veda, which has instructions in it of how a note and hymn must be sung) every raga is associated with different moods. That’s why every raga has a time for its rendition. And for the mood that the monsoon brings, we have Raag Malhar.  Mood of the Indian monsoon could be of Romance and Joy for the youngsters, feeling of peace, satisfaction and contentment for the middle aged,  For the poor, every monsoon cloud brings the threat of destruction. The threat that their huts will collapse or get washed away in a freak flood. Indian farmers depend a lot on this season. The feeling of the farmers has been so well expressed in the song of the Oscar nominated movie “Lagaan” called “Ghanana Ghanana,  ghir ghir,  aaye badera”. 

For me, I am reminded of the day in Mysore when, after an hour long swim in the university swimming pool (an open pool, not protected from sun or rain), we girls had walked 3 miles in pouring rain back to our hostel, on the way splashing in the puddles and singing.  There was not a soul visible around. The university area was such a beautiful place far from the crowd of the town. Just as we neared our hostel, we had stopped to buy some “bondas”, stuffed potato fritters and hot tea from a mobile cafe. There is this rhyme that goes like:

“There was a girl, tall and thin and fair. Her hair, her hair, was just the color of ginger..” (to be repeated)

We had made a line sideways holding each other’s hand through our waist, criss-crossed in the back, and done a step dance to that. That day and many more like that had been my fun nest (as my daughter would put it) rainy days. Even my kids are trying to get wet in the rain when ever they get a chance. Haven’t seen or had this type of fun back in the USA and I miss it. I miss it so much. Also realized that I haven’t gotten a chance to get wet in the rain with my husband. We haven’t romanced in the rain like how Amitabh Bachan and Moushmi Chatterji walked in the rain in ‘Manzil’. Maybe someday we will be able to do that before we are too old to hold our teeth in our hands (like one of my friends had put it once).

I don’t feel like spoiling the mood of this season by writing about the negatives of the rain, but we don't live inside a bollywood movie, do we?  The problems a common man faces in the rainy season, usually dampen all the good feelings that the rains bring.. Lots of problems that are associated with the rains could be listed. Here goes a tiny list.

1. Mosquitoes. Their population increases in a jiffy just with the first rain itself. Lots of other pests population increases with the rains. Beetles and other ephemeral creatures come.

2. Puddles form on the roads, thanks to the substandard roads that are built by greedy contractors.

3. Sometimes, the puddles are so big, a innocent pedestrian or a scooter, has no idea how deep the puddle maybe and gets stuck.

4. Overflowing gutters everywhere, thanks to the great garbage disposal system that we have here.

5. Jammed traffic

6. Water contamination with broken pipes.

7. Leading to spread of diseases.

8. Just like we don't have electricity during summers due to in-sufficient water in the reservoirs, we don't have electricity with a little hard rain too.

9. Clothes, hung on the line, don't dry easily.

But, in spite of all the problems the rain brings, everybody in India,  has this in mind as they are on their way home from work on a rainy day.

Tea with Pakodas, mirchi or non-mirchi”.

My best imagination used to be, to watch the rain drops hitting the ground, sitting by the window with a cup of tea in my hand and a plate of fritters by the side. How I love the rainy season here and I’m happy to be back here to feel the rain on me once again.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

A photo blog!

Morning time in front of my Mom’s.
I dont know how these vehicles function here carrying passengers to and fro. I’ve used them a couple of times and have felt so uneasy, I got off the last time.
But here, it goes.

The vegetables on the way to the mandi
And the children to their schools to the right
and to the schools on the left.

Look at this family with the MiL in the end helping to squish them together. The son helping the father look ahead by ducking while the wife is enjoying being sandwiched between her husband and Mother in Law (just guessing :-) )

The lone cyclist is actually not alone.
See what I mean.

For one, helmet is a necessity to keep safe, while the other would have preferred to have one to keep the dust off.

The thinking man, on his way to work..with his equipment. The only he would need. Well thought out attire. Look at the colors, so well planned.

Some carry their family on the bike
(although I could never understand this way of sitting, the women’s hand on her man’s thigh. I tried that with Pavan once, and found my hand slipping and myself very unsteady, ready to fall. Its not for unskilled people like me)
For others, it carries baggage

A Well decorated auto.

Ahh! he spotted me in my hideout, clicking away to glory.

Is only the head of the driver important to keep safe..Isn’t the pillion rider’s head not important?

And we thought that auto’s transported humans..Multifunctional auto’s.

Doodh wala (just finished mixing milk in water) and on his way to distribute this concoction to all of us.

Saving the best for the last… Didn’t our parents do this too.  And I thought all this is way over in India. India is still the same place with same people and same necessities. A colorful family on a colorful scooter.  A family of five’s mode of transport. To work, to school, to wherever they want to.
of they went!


There is one person who loves to read my blogs for sure. My dear hubby. He reads and re reads and re reads and has tears in his eyes while he is reading feeling overwhelmed by all that I put into words that we experience together. For the last 3 days he has been bugging me why I don’t have any new blog up.  Right now, he is not with us in India so this is his way of being with us. Most Summers, he drops us off in India, then he is back to pick us up end of August, because he loves to earn frequent flier miles. Well,I wish that was the reason.

He enjoys that our kids and his parents and mine get to spend quality time together, here in India, even if he has to be at work. We hardly have any decent time for ourselves between sharing the time with the kids and our jobs, as any other growing family. But, whatever little time we do have together, we love it.  And it is better this way, because, in the course of us growing up as a family, we’ve each developed our idiosyncrasies, that we are unwilling to give up, or it can start getting at each of our nerves.

There have been days when my hubby had no other ambition in life than to track me down in the campus through friends. He would know which department, or which lab I could be found in. And since he has this knack with numbers, remembering those phone numbers weren’t difficult for him (People usually called him up to get any phone number they forgot, now their phones do that for them). Then, we would spend so many many many minutes on the phone whose bills we couldn’t afford. Now we can easily pay those phone bills but have no time to spare to chat on the phone in situations like today’s.

Reminds me, how he would just jump into his car and drive 700+ miles to have a glimpse of me in school, whenever he had a long weekend. During spring breaks and many other such breaks, those drives to and fro we made to his place and back to mine. On one such trip when his friend had accompanied us he told me, “he earned you, doing all this driving”. If there was a frequent driver miles, we would have earned enough to last us for a long time. Those long long drives were so fun. Then, we were so excited to be married but, with that came responsibilities.  Our jobs, his night school, the pregnancy, the kids. Nothing felt difficult because we were in it together.

In my days of “Richard Bach” , trying to find my soul mate,  I would always wonder who that person would be that I would marry. I had a lot of conditions. He should be witty, not a serious type of person, able to make me laugh easily, friendly, easy going, surely good looking, tall, intelligent, strong, big muscles (maybe not this), successful (doesn’t happen when people meet in college) and the list could go on. He fit this profile so well although a lot of it came later..(it was so easy to trust him.)

He has still not given up on the milestone when he will be able to carry me effortless like maybe how Shahrukh Khan or many other bollywood heroes, carry buxom beauties in the bollywood movies, without breaking their backs. His weight training is no match to the rate I put on weight. He often says playfully, “these girls are a total cheat, they show themselves slim and nice before marriage, and then their true colors after marriage (fatter)”.  I reply “yeah! and the kids grew on the trees, right”, to save my skin.

I’m sure one day you will be able to carry me easily Pavan.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


Yesterday as I was hand washing our clothes and I came to the part where I had to wash my hubby’s boxer’s, It reminded me of an incident that happened in college when I was doing my post-graduation in Mysore.  Most of the students studying there lived in the hostel. We were a group of 16 girls in our class apart from the guys. One of the girl had just gotten married during the holidays. It was an arranged marriage. She wasn’t even aware that her parents were looking for a match for her.

Arranged marriage is still a curious subject for me.  One day the girl and boy don’t know each other and the next day they are married off and locked together for the first night.  What do they do in there? I don’t want to comment for the men but, how can any women let a man touch her without knowing him or loving him because that’s what atleast few of my friends had reported they did.  I know many of you’ll reading this blog may not have ended like that in spite of your marriage been fixed by your parents.  But here in Mysore, a considerable chunk of my classmates came from villages where that’s exactly what happens.

So, when she came back, we were so curious and had so many questions for her. Then one of the girls popped this question to her that took all the rest of us by surprise.

Girl 1;  Did you wash clothes?

Married one: Yes

Girl 1: Did you wash your husbands’ underwear too?

Married one: Have to wash all clothes so, yes.

All of us: Eeeeeeeeeeeewww. How could you do that?  

The reaction was unanimous. We almost ostracized  her and took a vow that day that we would not touch our husbands underwear's.  They looked so yucky and the thought of having to wash them was sooooooo repelling. After we graduated most of them got married, I moved on to teach Math in a college and later to Hyderabad University and then to Bowling green University, Ohio. I met Pavan at Bowling Green. We married after a year and half of courting against his parents wishes. In the years before I went to USA, some of us girls did meet and some of them were married by then..but, nobody popped that question again. Either we had forgotten how important that was to us, or we just wanted to avoid it lest all of them will have to confess.

So, here married for little more than a decade now, I owe a confession to all my friends from RCEM, Mysore that I did break my vow as they had broken it umpteen times before I had a chance to break it.




Indians in India have come a long way in terms of doing laundry.  When I left India in 1995,  hand washing clothes was still prevalent. Many homes still did not use/own a washing machine. They either used maids or did it themselves. Ours was among those homes,  although we had owned a machine in an earlier period but had given up on machine washing, unable to stand the service it provided.  Now-a-days, almost everybody owns a washing machine. The washing powders available have a come a long way too. Tide and many such better washing powders exclusively made for the washing machines are available in the market. 

Still, today I just finished hand washing a boat load of clothes. I am usually very picky about how I maintain my kids clothes. I’ve maintained all their clothes from infancy like I’ve to pass them down through generations. yeah! weird. One will be surprised how much laundry can collect in my home over a period of 3-4 days with 4 girl kids. I normally would have sorted them into lights, whites and darks and many more categories for washes but here in India I don’t have that luxury.   I just sort them as lights and darks.

Last week when I looked at my MiL’s, a front loader, it looked impressive, Why then not use the washing machine? No reason, so trustingly, I had put my kids clothes into the machine to run a rinse and spin cycle. I had already patted the soap water out from the clothes after soaking them.  When the cycle came to spin, there was loud thudding sound in the house, the whole machine wobbled up and down and started to move. My FiL told us that, it’s ok. “That’s how it behaves”.  He then held it down for some time and soon, the cycle was done. It was time to take my clothes out..What do I find? The water had not left the clothes!! In spite of all the wobbling and rumbling and the moving around,  the machine did, the water didn’t leave the clothes.  The whites didn’t look white and the bright didn’t look bright anymore. Lost on energy and patience, I had hung them to dry.

Then we came to Hyderabad to my Mom’s home. The machine was a top loader, still from what I knew of it , it did a good job in the past, so trustingly again, I had put a load of dark cloths for wash,rinse and spin.  What did I find when it was done. The darks didn’t look dark anymore. All the darks were covered in white lint. Given up again, I had hung the clothes to dry.

So today, I hand washed the clothes. For the past few days, maybe 3 days, I had not gotten to wash the clothes, so there was a huge pile waiting for me. When I sat down to wash, what do I find?  Almost a bucket of clothes are my kids under wears.  Tiny ones…but SO MANY!!!!, Leaving aside my hubby’s boxers.  Yes, washed them too and more and more.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

At your own risk

Just last week, we drove to Bangalore from Tirupati.  That was an experience, I have been driving in and around New Jersey and some other states in USA for a decade now, but, I am still nervous to drive in India. The driver we hired to drive us was a very calm man, who preferred to be quite but, my husband made that a very difficult task for him. It started with one word answers to my husband’s frequent questions, and soon by the end of the trip he was able to talk more than a sentence.
Coming back to the driving part,   there are 2 parts to it. Driving in the city/town is an experience and driving on the highway is another experience.
As we started our drive at 5.00am in the morning (running a half hour late from our plan), the scenery around the highway was not enough to keep our visuals engaged.  Everybody drove or treaded the highway at their own risk. The people who drove, the animals who passed by these roads and us passengers. Overtaking or passing other vehicles is so common, highway being a little more than 40-50 ft wide for both going and oncoming traffic. The drivers did that at their own risk. At one  place a group of dogs decided to come on to the road suddenly and there was a screeching break by the driver. Then the road cleared and the driver continued and the passengers relaxed. At 8.30am we reached the outskirts of Bangalore.
Bangalore is undergoing a humongous expansion (this word doesn’t do justice to the site we saw) , the city that I visited as kid for our summer vacations, when I used to pass through it on my way to college, or even when I visited it around 6 years ago has disappeared. In its place is a huge unending expanse of developments and localities, shopping places and hospitals that are springing up everywhere. I haven’t heard of the word ”Diabetology” until I read that on one of the hospitals, Institute of Diabetology, Research and development.
With the unending potholes, road expansions and repair, swarming traffic, and trusting fellow road travelers for directions it took us a little more than 2 hours to travel a distance of less than 25 kms from the city limit to my brothers place in Bannergatta.  The passerby’s were ever so generous to tell us which way we should be heading.  When the traffic signal changed to green and they moved ahead, we still saw their fingers out of their vehicles pointing us in the direction that we needed to turn.  Finally, after lots of phone calls to my brother for directions and with the help of the other road travelers we reached my brothers place at 10.30am.

Creating music?

Last night my husband was wondering what I was doing in the bathroom.  He could hear a series of claps with the tingle of my bangles in a rhythm. I was not trying to make any music or tap a rhythm in the bathroom. I was trying to swat some mosquitoes with my hands.

I realized that they have evolved from what they used to be 15 years back when I used to live here. They have gotten very good at dodging or maybe I’ve forgotten how to be fast in catching them,  I first tried swaying my hand and catching them plain soundless. I was sure that I caught it. I had taken my hands around the mosquito before I closed on it.  I looked around for the mosquito to make sure its not around before I slowly opened my hand. But, it wasn’t there!

Then I tried clapping my hands on them, since I heard that loud claps makes these pesky creatures immobile.  How they excel in not letting people have a decent night’s sleep. But, that hardly mattered to the mosquito. Then I started looking for them sitting on the walls. I quickly hit the wall with my hand and was successful in hitting the mosquito.  It fell to the ground, I felt like an adrenaline rush, Yeah! I just got one, but, then it got up in a few seconds and flew away.  After a long game that I played in the bathroom, I came out thinking that I took care of all the mosquitoes over there. As I opened the door one flew past me into the bedroom.

There are so many mosquito repellents available in the market. But, I see they are of hardly any use. These mosquitoes are flying around freely. I make the room cold in the night, thanks to the AC unit my mom has installed for our convenience, hoping that the kids will keep the blankets on them and protect themselves from their bites. But, kids are kids, they are not aware of any blankets on them. They just sleep unconditionally when they are tired. They don’t need blankets, they don’t need breeze to blow. So, I spend the nights frequently waking up to make sure they are covered.

The other day, I found a very fun and interesting device that is being sold on the streets here in Hyderabad, An electric fly swatter,  I love the sound of the fireworks that come when it touch the flies. So, now I am entertaining myself with this electric swatter going around the house trying it on fruit flies and mosquitoes.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cleanliness and Godliness

Now that we are in Tirupati and hogging on my MiL’s cooking, Pavan and myself decided to go out for some brisk walks early in the morning around the Ram temple beside his house. One round of the temple is approximately 1/2 mile.  Getting up early is no problem with Richa keeping us awake from 3am in the morning. But, this walk has become so painful for us emotionally and physically. We have to keep looking out for what we are going to step on. There’s enough feces, spit, flies and other garbage scattered around.  Street dogs roam around freely putting their dropping where ever they please.  This is the state of the cleanest part of Tirupati.

We noticed that the government managed to do a teeny tiny part by installing 4 huge garbage bins on the four sides of the temple wall but, either the garbage from the bins are not emptied or people don’t even care to put the garbage in those bins.  One house has a big bull on its front. The bull’s face is masked with flies and even he has given up on shaking his skin to rid himself of the flies. Such is the state of a historic and very revered temple in the temple town of Tirupati. This temple, being built in the time of the Chola dynasty is about 1500 years old.

The number of visitors to Tirupati crosses millions every week. Sure, it does feel like a gargantuan task to maintain the cleanliness with so many people crossing this town. But, it is also said that the amount of money the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanam makes from the donations of these visitors is so huge that the cost of keeping the town clean should not be difficult for the organization.

I remember in school and home, I was told this phrase again and again “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”. I’m sure this phrase is such common knowledge. Still, as I walked with Pavan this morning along the north side of the temple we were about to pass this man who is standing right in the middle of the road. He spits a big blob of phlegm right in front of us. It just missed us by some inches.  Every time we are out with the kids, I have to keep reminding them to watch out where they step as they maybe stepping on spit or feces.

Walking in another lane, some garbage came from inside a house and almost hit us. The lady of the house was cleaning her house and what better way for her, than to push all that on to the road outside.  It is so depressing for us to visit this place and see its state like this. For that matter, this is the sorry state of affair anywhere in India. Lack of civic sense.. Looking at the way the local governments are functioning, this doesn’t seem like its their responsibility to keep the cities and towns clean.

I love this town of Tirupati as it is my husband’s hometown and we have no choice but to visit this town every time we are in India.  I hope that I will be able to see the light of the day when people living around this temple will take it on themselves to keep the surrounding of this temple clean. Either take it with the government or create some association that will improve awareness among people to keep clean.

P.S. This blog needs to follow up with a photo blog of the state of affairs which is my next task.

Joy but work!

‘Joy but work’ or shall I say ‘Work but Joy’ either way, it conveys the same to me.

As I read a few blogs a few nights ago..I was mentioning to my some mom’s raising maybe 5 kids or 2 kids or 1 kid, go through the same crazy days as we do every day but have such a nice knack of writing about their travails. There is so much sense of humor in their writing, that makes the same old stuff such interesting material to read. One feels with it because we are going through the same. We all love our kids and its a joy to have them around and everyday is crazy just to get through…but, at the end of the day, if we can poke some fun into all that work that went into making the day successful, that’s an amazing skill to have or learn.

Hats off to all such moms and hope I will be able to learn from your attitude how to make my job seem less work and more fun.