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Travel Tales III

I was studying in First Year B.Com at Mysore. Dussehra holidays were about to begin and I was very excited. It was the first time I would be visiting Vizag, my brother was working there and it was the first time I would be commanding him to pay my bills ūüôā

Since it was the first time I was traveling to Vizag, My father came to accompany me, we went to Vizag had a glorious time. I was fascinated by the beaches of Vizag, the shopping, the food everything.

My father again accompanied me on the return and the whole time he would give me tutorials of which stations were on the way, the local dialect, how to handle people etc because the next time onwards I was supposed to travel alone.

SO it was fun until we reached Bangarpet. Now Bangarpet is the first stop in Karnataka and is about 71 km from Bangalore. We were supposed to board another train to Mysore from Bangalore. But the train remained stationed in Bangarpet. Afer about 2 hours, there was an announcement that because a train had derailed somewhere ahead, so this train would not continue till Bangalore but for the convenience of the passengers some buses were arranged, which would in sometime reach the station.

It was already 9p.m. There was panic, no food or water. Somehow people managed to collect their bags and make a queue.

There was a girl in her 20s who was working in Bangalore coming from Kolkata who had about 12 bags and not a porter in sight. No one came to help her either. We went and stood in queue. My father made me stand there and returned to pick her bags, then I went and brought some bags and so on until all her bags were in the queue.

But when the buses arrived, there was no queue to be seen. People just pushed and shoved to get a seat. We along with the girl finally managed to get seats in the last bus.

We reached Bangalore Railway station around 2.30 a.m and went and sat in the waiting room. We were thirsty and hungry but there was nothing to be had, We managed the night on some peanuts which my father always carries when he travels. The cafeteria opened at 5 a.m after which we had some food and boarded a train to Mysore.

Needless to say I was never allowed to travel alone in that route. Papa always said that what will you do if something like that happens again and nobody comes to help you, the way it happened with the girl.

Are you curious to know about the girl?

Well the girl got down from the bus, as soon as the bus entered Bangalore without even a Bye or a Thank you.

Ingenuity

He came, he saw. The corner ‘garden’ just had two benches to sit upon. And they were already occupied. A family of four occupied one; the parents sat with some bags while the kids played.

The other had a couple sitting in one end. He sat down at another end and started coughing and went on coughing. His face turned a beetroot red, tears spilled from his eyes.

The man sitting next to him asked,’Do you want Strepsils?’

He said, ‘Not of use to me, I have TB.’

In no time the garden emptied to make space for his sweetheart.

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Inspired by¬† Sorry folks, just could not resist this one ūüėõ

To nag or not to nag…

‘Get up, Mukund’, you will be late for school, Arvind…get up…’ It was Puja trying to wake up her son and husband. After a further 20 minutes,¬† Mukund was on the breakfast table, while Arvind was in the bathroom.

Mukund was playing withthe cereals when Puja came and yelled, ‘What is this Mukund, start eating, as such you are such a slow eater, you will be late for school. And did you keep your Social Text in the bag,’ and when Mukund bent his head, she knew he hadn’t. ‘What is this Mukund, ¬† I have to remind you of this too, why can’t you at least take care of your time table?’

‘Puja’, said Arvind while coming out of the bathroom,’Why are you always after him?’

‘After him? He will not take his book otherwise and why don’ t you hurry up, otherwise you will be late and then you will skip breakfast and race your car’.

‘Alright, alright…’, said Arvind.

Puja returned late from office to see Mukund playing with His darts. On checking his notebook, she came to know that he had not done his homework. ‘Mukund, why have you not done your homework and I am sure you have not prepared for the test.’

‘No’, he said

‘What is this Mukund? Will you do only if I tell you. Come on, you are ten now, be a little responsible, see Shweta, her mom does not have to worry about her at all. Why can’t you take charge of yourself?’

‘Puja, don’t compare’, said Arvind

‘And what about you, it is¬† your report submission tomorrow and I am sure you have not even started.’

‘I will start Puja as soon as this news gets over’, he said

‘Yes, you will sit till midnight and then won’t be able to get up in the morning’, said Puja

It was almost 1 am when Arvind came to the room to sleep

‘See I told you…’, said Puja

‘Puja, stop it. Don’t be so irritating.’

‘Irritating, me?’, said she

‘Yes. You are always telling us to do this and do that. And just because you are always dictating us, Mukund has never learnt to take any responsibility.’

Puja in shock was not able to say anything and spent the entire night in thought. ‘Was she the culprit’ Will they be able to manage if she did not dictate’ and so on.

The next day onwards Mukund and Arvind saw a changed Puja.

She did not check Mukund’s notes

She did not see if Arvind kept his files properly or whether his reports were ready.

Mukund could play as much as he could.

Arvind could sleep as late as he could and…. could get up as late as he wanted.

After 3-4 days Mukund was swollen faced when Puja came from work. ‘What happened?’, she asked

‘Teacher made me stand for an entire period’, he said

‘Why?’, she asked

‘I forgot to take my English workbook.’

‘Why you forgot?’

‘Mamma you don’t love me, do you? YOu don’t wake me, you don’t remind me’

‘I do love you but I thought you don’t like me nagging’.

At that time Arvind intervene, I did not mean that way Puja’, he said sheepishly, ‘I just said that too much nagging is not good like you can ask us to get up, you can remind us if we have forgotten something, you know that way.’

‘Hmm, said Puja but how will I know how much nagging is enough?’

‘You know say something once or twice and that is enough.’

‘So I should nag?’

‘Yes please….’ cried out both

Occupational hazards

‘And so he just gave me a look and went on with his work. Imagine, here I was trying to make this day so special and he did not even acknowledge me and………’

That was my friend Priya. Being a marriage counsellor had its minuses. Friends, neighbours all assumed that I was ever ready to listen to their complaints and problems. But seriously I was not.

After putting in 10-12 hours at work handling cases, working with the police, the women cell, I really wanted to have some peace time at home. And didn’t I have a family of mine to cater for? But nobody thought so.

Today for example, I was planning to rearrange my room while my hubby and my teenage daughter were away. They had gone to watch Tintin and i had deliberately stayed behind, because  I so very wanted to arrange my room and here was Priya.

Priya and me had been together in high school. A very talented person and a beautician by profession. Her problem was she was a perfectionist and also that her expectations were always high from her family.

Her husband Rakesh on the other hand was a very loving balanced person. But he was ‘unattached’ . In modern terminology we may say that his EQ was low but no he was not. He just did not expect anything from anybody, neither did he understand why Priya expected so much from¬† him.

‘Tell me Sukriti, will it hurt him if he says that the dinner was good that the arrangement was nice, but no, he just ate what was in the plate, asked for seconds, yes he did lick his fingers but no,no words. When I asked why don’t you ever appreciate, he said, what do you want; a certificate?’, and then she just burst into tears.

‘Priya, he must be having work tensions na, don’t bother him’, I said

‘But am I not a human too. Can’t he talk to me. Can’t he share his problems with me? ‘

I sighed. Marriage was really a complicated affair. Understanding an individual was so difficult. Priya wanted attention. Rakesh wanted space.  If only she let him some space and if only he gave her a little bit of attention, the whole problem would be solved.

And so I started on my routine- How men and women were emotionally different, they had different needs-blah blah blah.

And then the phone rang.

‘Hello Rakesh….. Dinner yes…..9pm sure, I will be there’.

‘Sukriti’, She said bubbling, ‘Rakesh wants me to be with him for some official dinner. I have to go; I have to get ready’, and she vanished.

Sigh. All the troubles I took…. sigh… I could rather have gone to see Tintin…sigh

Stepmom

Niyati sat with her cup of coffee, brooding. The rest of the family was out and she had deliberately opted to sit at home, because she wanted to think in peace.

She had been 20 when her father had had an accident and lost his right hand. Though the factory had continued to employ him after compensating him, life had changed after that. She had taken the role of the ‘master’ of the family. Earning, planning, organizing had been her domain since then. Her siblings were her prime focus and her own life took a backseat. Whenever an alliance came for her, she made it clear that after marriage her family too would be her priority. The fact that she was plain and that she was not earning very well added to the complexities and she remained unmarried.

By the time her siblings were settled, she was 35,her father had passed away and she and her mother carried on with their lives. Along with the job she volunteered in the orphanage and at the nearby temple. Both these places were also visited by an elderly lady Mrs. Mohan. Both of them began bonding due to their common interests and then one day Mrs. Mohan met her mother and asked for Niyatis hand for her son.

It so happened that her son Ravi was her colleague in office, a very gentle, soft-spoken, broad-minded person. But he was a widower, 15 years her senior and had a daughter Komal-11 years old.

Niyati had no hesitation to say yes to Ravi but she was worried whether she would be a good mother to Komal. But Mrs. Mohan insisted that she would be, she had seen Niyati mothering orphans so would she not be able to mother her step daughter and then she dropped the bombshell, she had Bone cancer and did not have more time to live, before that she wanted to see the child belong to her mother.

Niyati came to the present. It was almost 6 months to the marriage. She had settled in her home, her mother in law did not have much time left but Komal had not accepted her as her own.

Niyati hated all the stories of stepmoms-Cinderella and all which portrayed a stepmother as evil. People were no better. Relatives, neighbours had all told Komal to ‘beware’ of her new mother.

Time was running out but was there a way out?

Just then the door opened with a thud and Komal came in panting, ‘Dadi had a fall, pappa took her to the hospital’ and began sobbing. Niyati went ahead and hugged her but she pushed her aside. Hurt she did not do anything but braced herself for the coming events.

Sometime later she heard Komal talking to herself,’Maa left me, now Dadi and next will be Pappa, everyone leaves me,’ she was shaking and crying with her knees hugging her chest and moving back and forth.

Niyatis mind raced was this the reason why Komal was rejecting her, because she did not want to get attached to anybody?

She went ahead and sat near her and said’ Komal if there is anything in this world which is not in our control, it is death. Your maa died in a road accident, if your dadi did not have cancer would she be immortal? No, she might have died anyways. We take birth, we grow and we die, this is the cycle of life. Just because we will die one day or because one of our loved one died, can we stop living? No we don’t. We try to make life as beautiful as possible, not only for us and for ones who are ours.’

After saying so, she got up to leave the room when she added, ‘Komal maybe I cannot replace your mother but can’t I be your friend?’

It was then Komal looked at her through a tear strained face and gave a smile.

‘Ah a beginning’, thought Niyati, but was it? Only time would tell

ESCAPE!!

Can you ever understand a person? thought Rathi. Almost two years into her marriage and she did not know whether she knew Abhay at all.

But then did her mother understand her father, a docile woman compared to her self-assured father, she took his word as a command, never expressing her wishes or her wants even though her husband insisted that she aired her own thoughts. According to her mother for a dutiful wife her husband’s wish was the ultimate truth.

And so Rathi has started her marital journey in a confused state of mind, whether to be dutiful or assured, to accept what he said or say No if he was wrong and so on.

Coming to a foreign country was even more confusing, how to behave, how to talk, oh so many confusions. But the most confusing part was Abhay’s behaviour.

He was frustrated that he did not have a job that he was qualified for and then when he got one he complained that he was being sidelined because he was an Indian. In other ways he was good. He never complained about how the house was kept or if the curry was salty, he listened to what she said (at least he pretended to) and yes he was a good lover. But she never knew when his temper would burst or for what reason.

Last week they had been to a party and it seems everyone were quite impressed with her dusky looks and her sari. And that had made Abhay very proud. But then he had become angry saying that why she was flirting with everybody. ‘I was so very confused with the different conversations going around that whom would I flirt with’, she thought.

Just then Abhay came home and she had no more time to think

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Rathi lay on the bed shocked, what had happened that day had shocked her to the deepest core.

Abhay earlier had told her that his Boss had liked her a lot and wanted to spend some time with her. Rathi in her innocence did not understand the actual meaning and had said, ‘Sure, we will invite him one day for lunch.’

And so Abhay had explained what Ryan actually wanted. She had been shocked and had cried out that how he could have even suggested something like that . Hadn’t he vowed to look after her, protect her. To which ABhay had called her inconsiderate. His boss was asking a favor, just for one time could not she go with him. Didn’t she see that his promotion was banking on her. Couldn’t she see that he would get a raise. What use was chastity when they had to forsake a good life for its preservation, he argued.

And before she could argue her, took her to Ryan who had booked a room in a Hotel and left her.

Ryan had been more considerate than what Abhay was. Seeing that she was upset, he just talked with her and when Abhay came, asked her to go. But she caught the whispers,’Next time’, raise, promotions etc’ and she understood that there would be another time too and probably many many more times and maybe there would be no end to it until Abhay was satisfied with his possessions.

She had to escape but how?

She was absentminded at office and messed up most of the work until Mrs. Pinto the Goan secretary of the GM stepped in and asked what the matter was. Her matronly tone touched Rathi and she told whatever had transpired.

And then Mrs.Pinto asked, “If you return, will your parents accept you?’

”Yes, My father’s parting words were that, to remember that they were always there for me’.

So you want to go away from here?’

‘Yes’

And so they made a plan. Rathi would withdraw her savings, and somehow take out her passport from the locker without Abhay knowing it. Mrs. Pinto would make arrangements for the ticket’.

That evening Abhay told that the next day, she had to go to Ryan and Rathi gasped. That meant she had less than 24 hours to escape.

Luckily Abhay got a call on his mobile but because the network was not good had to go out of the flat to listen clearly. Rathi made good that chance and took out her passport and sent a SMS to Mrs. Pinto that she had to escape the next day.

The next morning she left home on pretext of going to the office but instead went to the Bank and withdrew all her money by that time Mrs. Pinto called to tell that her ticket was ready and told her to come to the airport by noon, as her flight was at 2.30 pm.

Rathi returned home, by that time Abhay had left for work. She packed hurriedly, took all her documents, jewellery and left in time ro check in. Mrs. Pinto was at the airport with the ticket and told her that she would handle Abhay if he called at the office.

Rathi checked in but was fidgety, till she boarded the flight she would be tense. What if Abhay came to know, what if he lodged a complaint as fugitive, what if…… a dozen doubts ran though her mind.

But nothing happened, she boarded the flight and flew home.

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There are a million Rathis out here, some forced to trade themselves for their better half’s wishes, some abused, some disillusioned. Many won’t be lucky to escape, many won’t be able to get their passports and all may not get a Mrs. Pinto and many just won’t have the guts to escape.

2 55 ers and some gyan

Fear
She couldn’t help it, just had to go out for provisions. She hurried inside the supermarket. Threw in stuff in the trolley when there was a thud.
That was it, the end of her life and she shut her eyes, only to open it a second later.
The toddler behind had dropped his milk bottle.

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The Hurry
He looked at his watch, it said 11.40 am, he had promised his wife that he would be home by 12 noon. The drive would take at least half an hour over the highway. She would panic, what could he do?
He reached home in 10 minutes. The panic had kept people away from the roads.

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I am not going to sermonize or to take sides but just appeal. As expats there is so little that we can do. But what we can do is not to panic. To keep our ears open and not to spread fear.

What we can do is to remember that the sources of information are not always fair, hear what is being said but use your intelligence to deduce.

And if we can’t do even that…………shut of the television, the internet, the mobile. Spend time with your family.

Panic creates confusion, keep calm, think and then react.

Roller Coaster

Way back in 2002, I was getting bored sitting at home, not getting any jobs which I liked. There were many who suggested that I take up a teacher’s job but I was a bit apprehensive. Patience is a virtue that I do not possess.

But then there was an opening for a Commerce ( Business Studies) lecturer and I thought why not. I could make the subject interesting and how difficult would it be to control 15 year olds.

And so I walked in. I had come to know of the opening at a short notice and so had not got much time to prepare, also I was wearing a trouser suit after a long time and was a bit uncomfortable.

The Principal of the British Curriculum met me, we had a pleasant chat and then he asked me for a demonstration, I explained that it was a long time since I was out of a classroom, my subject knowledge was a bit rusted. He said it did not matter, they just wanted to see my style of teaching. Now we turned out to be a panel of 10 academicians including the Principal.

I gave my demo using lot of current business topics, giving lot of examples imagining the audience to be 15 year olds rather than the experienced academicians that they were. I was stopped midway; the Principal shook hands and said that they loved my deliverance especially the common examples which I had taken to make the ‘students’ understand. And that i would be hearing from them soon.

I was ecstatic. I had never believed that I could teach and then to be appreciated thus by a British was really ‘something’. And I floated out.

I was just going out when a messenger came running stating that the Chairman wanted to meet me and then slowly added that it meant that I was selected and so I flitted to the Chairman’s chamber.

The Chairman gazed me from top to bottom and my discomfort on the suit returned. AFter the introductions were over he said that the panel had appreciated me but did I have experience, I replied in the negative. Any experience, he asked, I just replied that I used to assist my sister when she used to give tuitions, but that is not experience he said.

The next question that he asked stumped me. Do you have kids he asked, when I said no he said that how could I understand the psyche of kids when I was not a mother. I argued that its my knowledge and my way of teaching which should be the criterion for my selection. I did not have experience but as an MBA I was trained to give presentations, group discussions etc and that should help me in teaching but he didn’t buy that logic.

I could have argued more but that he was a septuagenarian and somewhere the values being instilled in childhood to give respect to age came in between.

And so I came out with mixed emotions. On one hand I was happy that a panel of academicians had appreciated my skills, on the other hand I was dejected that I had been rejected just because I was not a mother yet.

The Principal did call me a couple of times later saying that I just had to be in his team. I refused. The spirit to be a teacher had died in me.

Ultimately the students were at a loss, they missed being taught by a dynamic ME. ūüėõ

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Did you ever have such a fire freeze experience? If so, share your story and link into Close Up’s Facebook page. You can even share your story as a comment and that too could make you a winner

MYOB

Rakesh wringed the dishcloth and looked around. Everything was neat and shiny. and he felt proud.

He was a landscape artist. 5 years before the company where he was working closed shop, he had opted to work freelance. While his wife Nitu worked in corporate communications in a telecom major.

The arrangement worked fine for them. Nitu had to put in long hours, so it was Rakesh who handled the home front. When he had to go out-of-town on assignments, Nitus mother looked after their daughter Trishna who was 4 years old

Both of them didn’t¬†mind this role reversal and in fact Rakesh¬†was very happy. He had never been the ambitious type nor could he work on a regular basis, he liked to work as his mood took him. Housework¬†gave him a lot of satisfaction but ….. he got a lot of flak for it.

His¬†in-¬†laws accepted his decision. Their theory being that if the husband wife didn’t have any issues they too had none. His mom had initially screamed at him even insulted him but later on seeing that her son was happy had acquiesced.

But his friends. No they had not. They called him a lot of names. Starting from an innocent ¬†‘lazybones’ to a milder ‘Househusband’ to ‘Joru ka ghulam’.

To everyone he  very much wanted to say Mind your own business (MYOB). If both of them had no problems with the arrangement, why did others feel so?

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What is your opinion? Is it wrong if a man finds housework to be satisfying? Is it wrong if a man decides to take a backseat?