Wednesday, July 09, 2008




A mother is a person with whom you are in contact almost on a continuous basis।We often simply take her for granted.

In my case her recent demise at the age of 80, made me ponder over her personality and recall her life, the sacrifies she made, the love she gave us, the worrying she did on our behalf and the excellent job she did of managing the family and bringing up three strapping young lads in a hostile and alien city of Mumbai to which she was forced to move from her native village in Palakkad district in Kerala way back in the nineteen forties.

When I reflect on the past, I must conclude that my mother, with no sophistication was still a remarkable woman. Coming from an average middle class South Indian Brahmin Iyer household, born and brought up in a typical "Agrahaaram" in a village in Palakkad District in Kerala, speaking a strangely concocted mixture of Tamil and Malayalam, with schooling only upto Class 9 and, as was the custom those days, and without so much as a "by your leave", married off at the tender age of 14 to my Father who was just 18( and umemployed to boot) she moved to her in-laws place and dutifully followed my father back in the 1940s to Mumbai where he had just managed to get himself a small job in a private company run by a prosperous Gujarati Businessman.

She commenced a new life in Mumbai, experienced the euphoria of Independece, bore my father three sons, (I am the second) and devoted her lifetime to playing the role of a normal devoted Indian wife and mother, solidly behind her husband and sacrificing all her interests/hobbies/ambitions at the altar of the family.

On her own, during the spare time she had after she had packed us off to school, she learned English and Hindi by attending adult education classes. She had no use for degrees and diplomas. She was not concerned about these paper degrees. She just wanted to learn to read write and speak in these languages. Survival was not possible knowing Tamil/Malayalam alone in Bombay those days.

She picked up Hindi quite naturally and with disciplined effort spread over a few years, even passed the Kovid exam conducted by the Rashtrabhasha Prachar Sabha and by the time I was in middle level school, she was helping me with Hindi grammar. Her written Hindi was amazingly grammatically accurate but her spoken Hindi was the stereotyped accented Hindi of South Indians and which is often pilloried in Hindi films like Padosan.

The family classic that has been doing the rounds for several years was what she told the doctor when my brother was bitten by a street dog during her early years when she was still struggling with Hindi: "hamaaraa betaa to kuttaa baitaa". In case you didn't get it, "baitaa" was her improvisation for the correct "kaataa" in Hindi. She used the English word "bite" and with disarming innocence used it here too to get her point across with success.

In English she managed to get herself a working knowledge and could read and understand the daily newspaper and even read magazines and enjoy them, though her daily reading diet consisted of Tamil magazines and periodicals. She was most reluctant to speak in English fearing ridicule from her children whom she proudly admitted to English medium schools. In retrospect, I must admit, we boys were rather cruel. We should have encouraged her instead of being sceptical of her ability to pick up the language.

I spent the first 17 years of my life under her care before, I was dispatched to BITS Pilani in 1967 and since then we have always lived apart. I was in a hostel during my student days and later always lived in a different city during my career years and we got to meet only once or twice a year during marriages, or other family functions and during annual vacations.

She always lived with my younger brother and his family for most of her life till the last few years when she and my Dad started to live separately from my brother's family. My brother's two daughters had grown up and needed privacy and space of their own. Wisely, my brother arranged for another flat in the same building so that they could live separately with dignity and yet be near enough to be of help to each other.

She died nearly two years ago and narrowly missed the satisfaction of watching her only grandson (my son) achieving academic glory. (He won the Rhodes Scholarship less than a month after her demise. Please see Anita Kumar's Hindi blog for details)

In an emotional moment, a few days after her funeral, I went through all the email messages and letters of condolence received from friends and relatives and penned a rather longish reply and sent it to all of them.

I am reproducing that letter below in the belief that this would strike a chord in some of your hearts and make you think less critically and more affectionately about your own aged mother or father. That letter was even longer than the version being posted here and very intimate details have been omitted. I have also abbreviated the names of close relatives to protect their identity and prevent any possible embarrassment to them though there is nothing to be embarrassed about in this blog posting. However not every one likes family details like this to be displayed on a public forum and I must respect their preferences too.

Dear *****,

We are grateful for your messages of condolence by email/telephone/personal visits.

It was an emotionally taxing period for the entire family . She had lived a long and eventful life.

Without a college degree and just a school education in her native village she relied on earthy and robust common sense to survive the vicissitudes of life .

I will forever remember her "qualifications" and abilities . She had a working knowledge of Yoga which she practiced till she could no longer do so. She was well versed in our scriptures and a voracious reader in Tamil and could spend hours writing and collating useful information. She was a great story teller and a great listener. She could spend hours regaling us with anecdotes and telling us about her experiences with people and events and her gossip sessions with my sister-in-law (L) and my wife Jyoti would often extend till late at night. Even on the day of her demise, she spent a cheerful two hours in the morning with Jyoti talking about the past.

She had a good practical knowledge of Sanskrit which she learned entirely on her own . She was a Carnatic music aficionado. She was also fluent in Tamil, Malayalam and Bombay Hindi and could read and write in all the three languages and also in English. Her written English was passable. I considered it "cute". I wish I had preserved all the post cards she wrote to me in her inimitable Vernacular English when I was studying at Pilani in the sixties. Though the words and phrases were English they had a distinct Palakkad Iyer flavour. She could also manage to speak English rather haltingly but was unwilling to do so if I or (A) (my younger brother) were within earshot. She knew (A) would then mimic her to everyone's great amusement.

She was great at cross-stitching. Her laborious and artful works now adorn our walls and will keep her in our minds for ever. She was also a great cook. She was a fanatic vegetarian and a sworn enemy of anything foul smelling and had no qualms about making a nuisance of herself in public if she suspected even a trace of forbidden items in the food served to her. Garlic and onions were hand picked for special contempt and she could smell them a mile away. She considered them "non-vegetarian" vegetables. But her revulsion for cauliflowers, cabbage, carrots and beetroot were difficult for us to understand. We respected her tastes and there was a healthy compromise. She had no objection to others eating them and even cooking them in the house as long as she was free to keep them out of her menu.

She was an ardent worshipper of her favorite Gods and a devoted singer of religious songs in praise of the Lord . She didn't have much of a voice but that never mattered. Devotion was more important than voice quality. She has visited practically every important temple in India including Vaishno Devi, Badrinath and Kedarnath. She was looked up to by all her friends for her special interest and talent in organising women's Bhajan meetings at home. She could play the harmonium passably well and accompany the younger singers with better voices. She had a critic's knowledge of all the Ragas of Carnatic Music and could identify with ease the raga that was being aired on the radio or sung in a concert hall. She succeeded in instilling in us a taste for Classical Music and it redounds to her credit that she weaned my teeanged younger brother away from film music and the guitar and got him interested in Classical Music and in playing the Veena.

Ever since my father retired in 1980, she took over the responsibility for generating income for herself and my Dad and managing her finances. With no formal educational qualifications she relied on thrift and careful selection of savings schemes and blue chips in the stock market. She invested a good portion of my Dad's retirement benefits in safe and profitable stocks. She had a knack for picking the right ones. On the whole her gains were several times her occasional losses. The dividends she got kept them going steady.

In 26 years she never asked me or my brothers for any financial assistance and was proud of her financial independence . I must salute her for this great achievement. I am specially grateful to her for advancing me a huge sum in the early eighties. With her largesse, supplemented by other sources, I was able to purchase the site on which my house now stands. My father's retirement benefits in 1980 would have evaporated and it's value at today's prices is laughable. But for my mother's foresight, fiscal prudence and financial management, she would have been at the mercy of her sons for survival. She achieved this on her own with no advice from any stock market anaylyst or broker but by common sense and good judgement and of course a little bit of luck. In this respect, she is a role model for me.

She battled diabetes for over 40 years। She lived with blood pressure and later took angina also in her stride and lived through all this till the ripe old age of 80. Only in her last year did her body finally give up the battle. Her last three months were traumatic for all of us. We knew she was sinking and the family doctor too put up his hands and asked us to pray and hope for the best and leave it to God. Just before she was wheeled into the ICU, she made me promise that I or my brothers would not spend our money on her hospitalisation expenses but would take it out of her savings and leave the rest to my Dad. So particular was she in maintaining her financial independence! She had been a tower of strength and a pillar in the family and perhaps one of the most popular in our extended family of innumerable cousins, aunts, and uncles.

She was a great match maker. Those years when arranged marriages were the norm, many couples (friends and relatives) owe their coming together to my mother's keen eye that could spot who was right for whom. She was also surprisingly broad-minded for her age and background. She moved with the times and when my daughter (N) chose her mate, on her own, she was bold enough to support her in her choice of her husband. She was satisfied that (N) (my daughter) had chosen well and was mature and modern enough to accept caste and language differences when the boys merits were outstanding. The first time this happens in a family is test for the family and she came through it with flying colours. (S1) and (S2) (my brother's daughters) also chose their own partners and got nothing but support from my mom. In their case too, caste and language differences did not bother her at all. Merit was all that counted. For an Indian Iyer woman of that generation, this is surprisingly modern and mature behavior. Most ladies at her age and with her background would have thrown tantrums. Not my mom. She herself got married at the tender age of 14 and had no say in the choice of a groom. I even wonder if she was permitted to even see, let alone meet or speak to my father before the marriage. It was all a matter of higher level arrangements between my grandfathers those years.

The family now needs to be constantly with my Dad who badly needs emotional support to reconcile with this loss। In spite of the periodic public spats, loud arguments, tears, constant nagging and bickering over various domestic issues, there was no doubt that they were on the whole a happily married couple for 67 long years .

My father wasn't around when she died . He was sleeping when my mother's condition took a sudden turn for the worse and I rushed her to the hospital in an ambulance. She survived only a few hours after being admitted. I bluffed for as long as I could when my father woke up, noticed her absence and inquired about her. Breaking the news to him was difficult. Keeping him in the dark was equally difficult. The family palmed off this unpleasant task on to me. I finally managed to break the news gently, several hours after her death. He wept but finally agreed with me that release from her suffering of the past few weeks was a blessing and a relief for all of us.

She hadn't been keeping good health for the past three months and her suffering increased day by day till the release came on Nov 7 2006 .(A) (my younger brother), (Sh)(his wife) , his elder daughter (S1) and husband (Am), the baby (D), my brother's younger daughter (S2)and husband (N) rushed from Mumbai and Dubai . (Sa) (my elder brother) drove over from Kerala and (K) (a close cousin of mine who was like a fourth son to my mother) hopped into an overnight bus from Chennai and all were in time for the funeral.

Local relatives, (M) and (B) and (Mu)'s wife (G) were also around to offer comfort and support. My Co-brother (Sh) was invaluable. Sister in law (Jyoti's sister) (L) and my niece (U) and nephew (An) were also of great help in cheering up my mother during her last few weeks. My in-laws (popularly called Ammamma and Nanaji) were also constantly with us during these difficult moments and their company had worked wonders on my parent's morale.

(N)( my daughter in USA) was kept in the dark for a full day। We did not want to spoil her working day। Jyoti broke the news to her next day after (N)'s office hours. My mom had been showering her blessings on (N) and (V) (daughter and son in law) ever since she moved into their flat on Oct 22. There's no doubt that her last three weeks were spent in mental peace and happiness at Bangalore even if her physical condition did not improve. The company of (L), (U), (A), Ammamma and Nanaji, Nakul's singing to her on demand, and Jyoti's constant and devoted care did wonders to her morale. (R), a young female attendant from Mumbai whom we brought over to Bangalore to attend to her personal needs was a Godsend indeed. She has proved to be another Florence Nightingale and lavished attention on my mom during her last few weeks. I shall forever be grateful to her.

My wife, Jyoti, has done a magnificent job of organizing the entire migration from Mumbai to Bangalore and making all the arrangements here। The change was badly needed. For too long, (A) and (Sh) ( my younger brother and his wife) had patiently borne the onerous responsibility of caring for my aged parents. Their living in two flats, one on the third floor, and another on the ground floor was okay till the last few months when my mother's condition had worsened. She now required constant family support which was difficult at my brother's flat in Mumbai. (A) was compelled by job requirements to be away abroad more than half the time. The burden fell on (Sh) alone and Jyoti and I realized it was time to act and pitch in. It wasn't practical for us to be in Mumbai for long periods and so the only logical solution was to move my parents to Bangalore. This would give some respite for (A) and (Sh) and Jyoti offered her fullest cooperation to me in organising and managing this move from Mumbai to Bangalore.

In this we were fortunate to obtain the consent and willingness of my parents. In many families, old people resist any attempt to move them. My parents offered full cooperation and my mom cheerfully put up with the discomforts associated with travelling. The airline had made good wheel chair arrangements and the travel was event free. (A) and (Sh) also agreed to our proposal to shift them to Bangalore. The family Doctor also heartily endorsed our decision and predicted it would do a lot of good. He wisely stated that a change of scene and environment was better than mere medication. I am deeply grateful to my son in law (V) , and daughter (N) and her in-laws for their unstinted support in offering their vacant flat to house my mother. Jyoti and I also moved in to be with them and care for them.

Jyoti, Nakul, (N) (V) and I also had the satisfaction that we were able to be of help and service at least in the last few weeks of her lifetime। For 40 long years I had been living away from her and meeting her only occasionally. If she had passed away in Mumbai, I would have been denied this privilege of service to my aged parents and would have lived a guilt-ridden life for ever after wards.

Life must now go on. Thanks again for the message of condolence. I feel better writing this and unburdening myself. With your condolence message, you have given me another sympathetic shoulder to sob on and an affectionate finger to wipe away my tears.


G Vishwanath

Saturday, June 14, 2008



The word "Operation" entails so much of uncertainty and fear in our mind that no words can put any balm on it. Today I saw her sitting next to her daughter’s bed, trying to appear as normal as possible। My friend was confidence personified। If she had any doubts or fears about her impending surgery in the evening, she comflauged them beautifully। We chatted happily just like old times as if we have met for our addabazi sessions and soon it was time for me to leave.
Casually I touched aunty’s shoulder just to reassure her and suddenly there was a deafening silence.The room was filled with her silent sobs. She clung to me tightly as if she is holding on to her life. I hugged her tightly for several minutes till her frail frame calmed down. She moved away from me saying she is alright. She was a little embarassed. Feebly she tried expaining to me why she did what she did, as if hugging was wrong behaviour. I reassured her that it was perfectly alright and I do understand. In last 25 years, from the time I know her, this was the first time that we ever touched each other though I have been very close to her daughter and have spent hours together at her place happily chatting away. Aunty has been very much part of those chatting sessions. She has always come across as a very strong, enlightened, empowered , no-nonsense lady. She has been a natural part and parcel of our group.

In meantime the nurse came and drove all of us out of the room and once again I started the ritual of taking leave from her by saying don’t worry. Once again very awkwardly she reached out to me and we were in each others’ arms for several minutes. Her grandson looked away feeling little uneasy at this open display of emotions that too at public place. But both of us were oblivious to his discomfort. This was the first time she was conveying to me that she also needs to lean on somebody just like I have leaned on her several times for emotional support in times of crisis. I have to yet get over this experience .

Several thoughts and memories are clouding my mind. Last year, I had organized a workshop on personality development for my students. There was a session on improving self esteem . One of the girls ,in spite of trainer’s best efforts, just could not muster courage to speak out a word. With the permission of the trainer, I decided to reach out to that girl. That girl’s self confidence was so low that I had to really strain my ears to hear what she is saying even while standing next to her. I casually put my arm around her shoulder while encouraging her to speak. That physical touch did wonders. Gradually the girl started opening up and at the end of it I lightly hugged her as a mark of appreciation. You should have seen the happy grin on her face. I don’t think I can forget that happy look very easily. I was moving towards my seat when I heard another girl, a chatter box, calling out to me. I turned around and looked at her questioningly and she said ,”Miss, mere ko bhi chahiye”. I just laughed and obliged her, thinking what a baby she is even at this age.

I remember in childhood, whenever I saw my parents hugging my younger brothers, I experienced a tinge of jealousy. Even when I was in college, I think I felt happy to fall sick because that was the only time now when my mother lovingly ran her fingers through my hair. I could not tell her that even though I have grown up, but I still cherish her affectionate strokes.
Generally in Punjabi culture, hugging is a way of greeting a close friend or a relative. If the friend or relative is of same gender the hug will be tight embrace and if the relative is a very close relative and of opposite gender a lighter hug may take place or at least the hand will be held, though it is not a shake hand. But in modern times this traditional greeting has given way to saying hello from far away with no embraces, just the hands are held. After marriage, I felt awkward to greet my mother with a hug whenever I met her . Later on I realized that she also felt awkward to tell me that she wanted to hug me but held back because she felt that I may not appreciate it . It was at the time of my father’s death and thereafter that we bonded again in that way . Now I try hugging my son as many times as I can( which is very rare) though he feels awkward.

When I think of it, I feel hugs are good, they relax both the parties . Hugs are needed at every age and not just in childhood. They are needed more in old age as a way of reassurance that these old people are still relevant and accepted in the society. Though one needs to differentiate between mechanical hugs (more as a part of ritual requirement) and warm hugs. Mechanical hugs are disgusting while warm hugs are rejuvenating.

I was looking out for material on non-verbal communication and my observations about hugs got vindicated by following site. God bless these children.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Street Shots From Germany

“Bindaas, just go ahead & have fun!!!” said my colleagues when I was named to visit the Interpack fair at Germany. Heck. I’d never been abroad before & didn’t even have a passport . What followed was a full fledged campaign to acquire the precious named document . A fortnight of flurried activity followed …. Affidavits, certificates, signatures, attestations ….. passport in hand .. the Shenegan Visa was a logical conclusion.
free image hostConcurrent with the Passport activity was a small investment in an interactive German language CD. Any new language after all would only build new bridges, open new doors and help reach out to more people & newer peoples. The days before takeoff were aptly peppered with “Guten Morgen “ ( good morning) , garnished with abundant “Danke’ s” (thank U) & generous helpings of “Bitte” (please) and whatever else my 54 year old grey cells could absorb at such short notice.

Hitting the highgway , coming out of Dusseldorf airport, the first reaction was of sheer awe. The entire country looks perfectly manicured, though you never see anyone doing the manicuring; not an inkling of even the slightest chaos anywhere, everything so organised, though you don’t see anyone doing the organising; everything was systematic, though you never found a soul enforcing the image host

But like us back home, they hadfree image host street foodfree image host with their own delicious local flavours. Even saw an Indian restaurant ,free image host KS Rawat, advertised on a local ट्रेन. They seemed to have similar concerns too, there were so many miniature cars , the Mercedes SMART
free image host, two seater on the road , belying their concern for gas.A glance at the local Gas Stationfree image host showed the types of fuels … Bio Diesel , Benzene etc they use. So many two wheelers toofree image host.

What really floors you is the charming cottagesfree image host and their exotic gardensfree image host… like a scene straight out of Grimms fairy tales. free image hostSo delightful , you could spend a lifetime just soaking in the visual.

A half day at Cologne ,was what I managed to take time off. The vintage Cathedralfree image host. Have no words really to describe the experience. Yes, it can only be experienced , not described . A cultural hub, there is a lot that Cologne had on offer. The Lugwig Museumfree image host, The Stone Sculpture Museum, the music, the Film Museum, the Cafes & the promenadefree image host along the River Rhine….. there is a timelessness about Cologne which touches image host

free image hostAdding to the charm were cycle rickshaws,free image host a painter vending his ware along the streets,free image host a local “phugawalla”, a girl creating a wonderful picture on the pavement with powder colours ( like our Rangoli)free image host, and even a beggarfree image host elegantly dressed in jet black.

A lasting image was the flawless sunsetfree image host over the mighty Rhine, a sight that takes you back to our own Kanyakumari.

Back again now in Mumbai, I’m sure of one thing, next time round, atleast I wont have to run around for a passport !!! I’ll just take off !!!



Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Brahmputra- My Favorite River

Brahmputra- My Favorite River

One day suddenly a question cropped up in my mind what is the folk story behind river Brahmputra- according to folktales how it originated....the origin of Ganges is well known...seeing mighty Gangotri( on T।V। ofcourse...:)) I could visualize Ganges decending down from Heaven to Earth and Lord Shiva standing on Himalaya absorbing the might of Ganga in his tresses॥What a heavenly sight that might have been....River Brahmputra is equally mighty river, may be mighter, (The total length of Ganges is 2523 km while Brahmputra is 2880 km long) so I was curious to know about the folk tales attached to it....Well I went on a searching spree but to no avail....whatever books I could lay my hands on mentioned only one fact that Warrior Saint Parshuram washed his weapon in this river after murdering his mother and had no remorse...So disgusting...inT.V. programs I had often seen and heard about the havoc that Brahmputra creates for people living on its banks...yet somehow I like this river and I felt every thing can't be negative about it...Well! Well! finally I found a book in hindi titled "Brahmputra ki kahani" written by Shankar Baam published by Gyan Ganga,205-C,Chawri Bazar,Delhi-110006.

I found the story very endearing। Let me share a part of the story with you,I hope you will also find it as intersting as I found...I will be glad if any of my readers can add any more folktales related with this mighty River....
In India all rivers flow from one direction to another, that is either from north to south or from east to west and so on॥Brahmputra is the only river that flows in such a way that it moves in all four directions। We, Indians also have a tradition of addressing our rivers as either mother or sister or daughters, e.g., Ganges is called mother( Ganga Maiya), Sage Vishwamitr considered river Tamsa as his sister, river Yamuna is known as sister of Yamraj, the God of death, and river Tapti in Gujrat is also known as the daughter of Sun. Sun is considered to be father of Yamraj, so by default, Tapti also becomes yamraj's sister...but river Brahmputra is neither considered as mother nor sister of anybody. One of the stories from Brahmpuraan about the origin of Brahmputra is that once LOrd Brahma was requested to create the universe. Lord Brahma accepted this request and started creating the Universe. He created water, air, light, sun, moon, other planets, earth etc. This was a tedious task, he was totally faged out, sweating profousely he sat down on Kailas mountain to take some rest. When devatas saw this from heaven, they decided to dig a pond nearby and collect his sweat in that. Brahma ji was sweating so profousely that this pond got converted into a lake and is known as Mansarovar lake. This water remained unsued for number of years. One day when Brahma ji was relaxing, the goddess of that water started praying to please Brahma. Ultimately Brahma had to open his eyes, he saw a girl standing in front of him with folded hands. Brahma ji was surprised. He asked who are you and where do you stay? Have you prayed to get my attention? The girl bowed her head and informed him that she was born out of his own sweat and that she lives in Mansarovar lake. So I am your daughter in a way and you can give me any name of your choice. Brahma thought for a moment and then said "yes ! you are my daughter in a way and from today onwards you will be called Brahmputra".I am happy with your prayers and will be happy to grant a boon of your choice. (Now see the irony that struck is a creator who is accepting that she is his daughter but gives the name Brahmputra. The literal translation of Brahmputra will be son of Brahm.. I wonder when this story was constructed what must be the attitudes of people towards females and males. Today we say that in Vedic times the status of women was much better and they were treated as equal to men, but this story smacks of prejudice against women.) Brahmputra starts saying that O Lord! three rivers-Ganga, Jamuna and Saraswati are considered very pure and the ones who can liberate human beings from the misery of birth and rebirth.People have lot of respect for them. Taking bath in these rivers is considered very pious act..not only that people even take their water at home and put it in the mouth of a dying person, so that he can get liberated from this world. Brahma lost his patience and said please come to the point..
Brahmputra said with all humility I want you to grant me a boon that I should be equally respected and should have equal powers as the other three rivers. Brahma smiled and started explaining to her that all five fingers of a hand are not equal, similarly you should not try to compare yourself with somebody else. Every one has their own specialities and that is why they have their own importance. Everybody enjoys, in their present lives, the fruits of their good deeds done in the past life. You are my daughter in this life but in the past you have done something because of which you have been cursed that you should live your present life in lonely, unhabitated, useless land where there will be snow and cold every where. Even if I grant your wish, because of that curse you will have to remain in this snow clad unhabitated place and you will be of no use to anybody.So leave this insane desire and be happy with whatever you have got. With these words Brahma ji left the place. Brahmputra kept quite but she was not satisfied with this situation. Her ambition to be equal to Ganga in stature was consuming her entire being. She kept walking on kailas moutain and reached at Lord Shiva's abode. Suddenly she saw a ray of hope. She sat down outside his house and started praying to please Lord Shiva. She was determined to please Lord Shiva with her prayers in such a way that he should be forced to grant her wishes. She prayed for number of years. She was totally oblivion to her surroundings or even towards her body while praying. Her body was covered with grass growing on it, the birds made nests, but she was oblivion to all this. Lord Indra sent Urvashi and Rambha from heaven to disturb her meditation but to no avail. They tried their level best to distract her but could not succeed. Finally, Lord Shiva was pleased and graced her with his presence. He asked her to ask for any boon. With all humility she repeated her desire that she should have same stature as Ganga and Jamuna and pople should pray to her also, that she should also have powers to liberate people of their sins and from the hassels of birth-rebirth. Lord Shiva granted her wish and said "So be it. Whatever benefit people get by taking bath in river Ganga and jamuna, the same benefit they will get by just looking at you", and from that day onwards, river Brahmputra started flowing from Mansarovar lake to north east parts of India before ending its journey in Bay of Bengal.
According to another folklore, Brahmputra is known as Sun's sister and yamuna's paternal aunt, that is father's sister/ bua....isn't it interesting॥
There is another folktale about the origin of Brahmputra॥that will be in next post....:)

ब्रह्मपुत्र ब्रहमा शिवा

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In The Name of Orkut

9th Feb 2008


This poem was written last year. Till last year I hade very rudimentary knowledge of computers and almost no knowledge of internet usage. Whenever I asked my son to show me how to use computers and he did show me, both of us lost patience with each other leading into tiffs and me into walking away in huff. One day I grumbled to my son that to call him I have to call out so many times that my throat gets soar.With a twinkle in his eyes, he teased me that I have a computer in my room and he has a laptop in his room, I have to just call him on chat and he will know that I am calling him. He knew very well that I do not know how to use internet. I told him okay show me how I can call you on chat. In a lighter vain, he created a profile for me on Orkut and showed me how I can chat on gtalk. I was excited because I was under impression that orkut is a site for youngsters and in my profile I had given my correct age, that is 52 years. Next day I was surprised to see an avlanche of friend's requests, mostly from youngsters from Hyderabad and Banglore( two IT hubs in South INdia).I was pleasantly surprised. I accepted the invitations but asked all these youngsters- are you sure you have not made any mistake, that you really want to be friends with a 52 year old lady(double their age) and that too a teacher..and they all said that age has nothing to do with friendship....when they kept interacting with me on regular basis, I was convinced that their answer was not just a polite reply, but they meant what they said....well, well, this came as a big surprise to me and something that changed me also from within.... It is on this background that I wrote the following poem....I am presenting English translation with original Hindi poem in Devnagari script also.

In the classes and in the corridors

क्लासों में,गलियारों में,

I heard lot of noise about "Orkut-Orkut"

ऑर्कुट ऑकुट का शोर सुना,

Out of curiosity, I decided to check it out

ज्ञिझासावश देख आने को मन बना,

I peeped inside the gate of this Orkut garden

इस उपवन के प्रवेशव्दार से अन्दर झांका,

There were children playing

बच्चे खेल रहे थे,

jumping, horsing around, singing and dancing,

धमाचौकड़ी,उछलकूद, हसतें गाते,

I thought of leaving the place

सोचा निकल जाऊँ मैं,

as there was nothing for me here

मेरा यहाँ क्या काम,

I was about to turn back

कदम पलटने को थी मैं,

when I heard somebody calling out

कि आयी इक आवाज,

"Come friend, where are you going"

आओ दोस्त,कहाँ चले,

I was surprised and turned back to see

आश्चर्यचकित सी मुड़ की देखा

there was a young child

इक बच्चा था,उमर का कच्चा था,

I asked in surprise "Who, Me?"

मैंने हैरानी से पूछा, "कौन मैं?"

yaa, yaa ! you too, came the pat reply

"हाँ हाँ तुम भी,"

I looked carefully

गौर से देखा,

there were many pairs of laughing eyes

कई हंसती आखें,

and hands up in air inviting me

नन्हे हाथ बुला रहे थे,

I laughed and asked "Son ! What can you talk with me"

मैं ने हंस कर कहा, "बेटा", मुझसे क्या बात करोगे,

"Won't you get bored?"

बोर नहीं हो जाओगे,

"Not Son! Friend" said they with a pout

तुनके वो, "बेटा नहीं,दोस्त",

Was it deindividuation or

ये था गुमनामी का बेबाकपन

was it the openness of the new generation

या युवा पीड़ी के मन का खुलापन,

or was it just a plain loneliness

या फ़िर कोरा अकेलापन,

that they were ready to absorb anybody

हर किसी को आत्मसात करने को तैयार

putting the sheet of friendship on my white hair

मेरे उजले बालों पर दोस्ती की चादर डाल,

holding my hand,

थामे मेरा हाथ,

these young friends

ले चले ये नन्हें दोस्त मेरे,

led me in these unknown corridors

अन्जाने गलियारों में,

sometimes joking,

कभी हंसी मजाक,

and sometimes borrowing my shoulder to cry upon

, तो कभी रोने को मांगते कंधा उधार,

sometimes spontaneously telling me their fiercely gaurded


कह जाते कभी मन के गहरे राज,

sometimes with mischevious eyes asking me hesitantly

कोई शरारती आखों वाला सकुचाते से पूछ डालता,

Tell me friend! Were you also in same predictament at sometime?"

क्युं दोस्त, कभी तुम्हारा भी था ऐसा हाल,

Me, a granny without wrinkles,

मैं बिन झुरियों की नानी,

used to laugh and say

हंसती, कहती,

"Yes friend! that's life"

हाँ दोस्त, यही है जिन्दगी,

I have understood the truth of this new life

समझ गयी मैं नव जीवन का सत्य,

the only true relationship is "friendship"

नाता सिर्फ़ दोस्ती का,

rest all relationships are illusions/false

बाकी सब रिश्ते मिथ्या,

in this relationship, there is no expectation, no bindings

कोई आस नहीं, कोई बांध नहीं,

you can get engrossed into it as much as you want

जितना चाहे रम लो तुम,

and leave it when you want

और जब चाहे निकल लो तुम,

all my doubts/dilemmas are gone

टूटे मन के सब संशय

Without any hesitation now


I laugh with them, sing with them,

अब मैं इनके संग हंसती हूँ गाती हूँ,

correct them if they do any wrong

टोक देती हूँ,

and then dance also with them

फ़िर नाच भी लेती हूँ,

I live life a new every evening

रोज शाम एक नया जीवन जी लेती हूँ