Saturday, March 24, 2018


Pussycat, pussycat
Where have you been?

I've been up to London
To visit the Queen.

Pussycat, pussycat
What did you there?

I frightened a little mouse
nder her chair.

These lines and images from the childhood days were fascinating. The mouse continued to play a vital role in our growth through the intelligent Mickey Mouse with his romantic spouse Minnie. The inseparable couple of Tom and Jerry would not be complete without a friendship image of theirs.

Image result for tom and jerry images
Image result for tom and jerry images

The truth is that all would have enjoyed the plight of Tom while Jerry took him through traumatic moments. Occasionally when Tom has Jerry in a fix, he is actually generous in letting go of the opportunity only to make us have a hearty laugh. 

These rodents have nurtured us including the vahana of Lord Ganesha. 

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One night as the Electricity Board decided to give the power lines some relief while emergency lights and candles came out for guiding the residents. A little rodent half the size of Jerry made its way only to be greeted by a howl. The little one who probably expected a hero's welcome, if not a gushing one felt threatened and sped to a corner.

Soon an operation rathunt was launched to evict the much revered guest. Shutting the exits and blowing out the mouse into an acrobatic act which qualified for a Guiness record. It just stretched its limbs sideways and compressed its miniscule self through the gap between the door and the floor to reach towards the main door. Soon with the opening of the door, the little one which is prayed to gain access to the Lord Ganesh left us in a relief that it was out of our haven. 

After the eviction exercise, yours truly wondered as to whether it was the Pied Piper of Hamlin who was in our psyche while we pretended to enjoy the intelligence, enterprise and resourcefulness of these rodents.

On musing over it for some time, it dawned that humans per se are hypocrites who love the underdog only till it does not affect them or their own importance is not undermined but once the self comes into play, the most revered will also see an exit. 

This thesis was established when the organisational bosses pile on their subordinates to execute tasks. However, when the same is accompanied with elan, their subordinate is viewed as a threat and operation extinction is resorted to. A new area of expertise called Human resources management had dawned!!!
The only rodents still adored are....
Image result for COMPUTER MOUSE

Sunday, March 18, 2018


The reference in the last post to the Khandava forest drew yours truly back to the most favourite topic of Mahabharata. The destruction of the war is what is told and retold but is not the epic replete with killings with varieties. As the muse started, the question was would this also be in the range of eighteen the number around which the epic revolves and rotates arose. Ruminating over this the fingers rode on to the keypad and here is another aspect of the fascinating epic

1. The very first killings one can visualise are those of the Vasus reincarnated as the sons of Ganga and King Shantanu. Seven of them epitomised the shishu hatya which is now practised in the country for the female infants. Besotted though the king could only stop the eighth infant from being drowned. So drowning in the river was the first one to be given to the reader. Thus, begins the birth of Gangeya alias Bhishma.

2. The next is the tryst with the King of Kashi wherein the princesses of Kashi are taken in a battle by Bhishma for his half brother. One of the three princesses, Amba is in love with King Salva and on this being made known, she is asked to marry Salva who turns her down leading her to seek Bhishma's hands who refuses. This leads to a penance followed by a funeral pyre being resorted to. Suicide by fire is the second turning point.

3. The killing of Rishi Kindhama and his spouse who were mating by hunting them by King Pandu paves way for his curse and exile being the next twist in the tale.

4. The death of King Pandu and his wife Madri committing Sati with him results in the Pandavas emerging as rivals for the crown of Hastinapur thus making it the next significant demise albeit in two different styles of natural and sati

5. The killing of Purochana and his family in the lac palace as the Pandavas move into exile while their deemed death is grieved forms the next significant point to lay the foundation for a future war.

6. The killing of Hidimba in a duel wins Bheema Hidimbi who bears Ghatokach thus becoming the first duel death with significance

7. The killing of Bakasura leads to the Pandavas going to the Swayamvara of Draupadi and their eventual return to Hastinapura marking the renewal of rivalry

8. The burning of the Khandava forest earning the wrath of the nagas as well as the establishment of Indraprastha indicates that change is permanent

9. The killing of Kichaka by Vallabh the cook of King Virata sets the tone for the war

10. Though the Kurukshetra war witnessed many deaths in the first nine days, none was as epochal as the fall of Bhishma on the tenth day who went on to hold his breath on a bed of arrows for over a month to supervise the funeral rites as well as to guide the next king of Hastinapur. This was death by desire.

11. The valiant fall of Abhimanyu on the thirteenth day ensured that Arjuna fights the war with no remorse. The mob mentality plays out in the Chakravyuha to turn the war into a jo jeeta wohi sikandar 

12. The killing Jayadratha by deceptively using an eclipse marked the effective slip in the values followed in war by the Pandavas too

13. The killing of Ghatotkach, son of Bhima by exhausting the secret weapon after a night war unknown in those times signified that no norms existed thenceforth

14. It is said that the fall of Dronacharya was more to the lie of Yudhishtira than the arrows of Drishtadyumna which ensured that the elders reign over Duryodhana effectively ended

15. The cannibalistic act of ripping the flesh of Dushashana and assuaging the thirst for revenge moves the epic towards the closure of the war

16. The fall of Karna, a warrior who could still change the course of war in a state of helplessness did not enhance the reputation of the valour of Arjuna but moved the war towards its last phase.

17. The killing of Duryodhana by breaking his thighs in a mace duel sealed that the norm of " Everything is fair in love and war" becomes a saying for the succeeding generations to come.

18. The mass murder of Draupadi's sons to assuage the feelings of the vanquished drives home the fact that in a war there are no winners.

Bhishma, akin to the tale of Ten Little Niggers of Agatha Christie outlives the other casualties. As we ride through the epochal demises, the role of fire being a key weapon stares one in the face while deceit is the runner up in a photo finish. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018


It is said that news spreads like fire. The spread of the fire in the forests and grasslands of Kurungani set the new breed of trekkers on fire. While the defence was roped in to douse the fire, many tried to dodge the firing line as the debate on whodunnit raged. Condolences were showered and tributes paid with emotions running high for the battling survivors. This grievous incident took a nostalgic turn for yours truly.

In the infant days and through childhood we had shared a deep bond with another family.  The lady of the house remains a friend at heart till this date. No aunties for her, being a chum we address her by name. Having lost her son at an young age, the  two daughters were also friends with whom many things were shared. Exchange of visits, sweetmeats etc was not a tradition but a ritual. We had stuttered, stammered, slipped and risen together. The shifting of homes due to change in landlord reduced the frequency in physical visits but the mental frequencies remained on the wavelength.

As we moved into adolescence, the younger of the two daughters turned devout much to our merriment. The entire merriment was shortlived as a new tale unravelled. On one day the devout young girl stood at the pooja room and prayed to the Lord. Her longskirt kissed the benign lamp and she was engulfed in the fire. The screams brought the mother to the side of the Lord. Maternal instincts tried to save the daughter at all costs. But, the fire that took the Khandava forest as its meal did not rest till it had made sure of its victim. Bhakta Markandeya was no more an inspirational story but turned a myth. Solace could not be found for the well wishers let alone the immediate family and the mother. It is for not without meaning that one says that death teaches us the value of life. As death savoured its dessert, the loss stung hard. So hard that another visit to that childhood second home has not been paid.

Padmini's Jauhar is no more a fascinating read nor is the glowing lamp benign. Fire in whatever form remains lethal. The burning desire to find a solution to this still rages as fire has taken its latest toll. Will it not be the right thing then to tell all our firefighters how indebted we are to them? How many of us celebrate their lives and their deeds? Do they not willy nilly challenge the deathly fire to save others? Do our builders even care to respect their words even after "incidents" snuff out lives? Ponder on till the next muse.

Sunday, March 11, 2018


As one flips pages of an American fiction, attention is drawn to their concept of garage sales which they pride in. These novices do need to learn a thing or two from the quiet scrap to wallet system followed by many better halves which did hit a low during the period of demonetisation. Stacks of newspapers and magazines are the only items that men are privy to being converted quietly into currency notes and coins. Being an observant but reticent member of the family gave yours truly the access to these enterprising acts being carried out effortlessly by the matriarch. Sachets which brought milk were stowed in a corner after a perfect rinse. These priceless sachets were counted twice over to ensure that the numbers were in order. The price was negotiated and then the princely sum was decided and rounded off to a higher unit of currency to shore up revenues. This apart, lids of broken bottles, medicine bottles, sundry plastic items which could include a tool of no use now to a loose bolt also fetched sums which could aggregate to a mighty sum of Rupees five to ten. This being a monthly ritual, a young boy who had entered this field found favour with the households of the locality. 

These deals over a period of time witnessed the young boy push through his adolescence with changing voices, hairstyles and bring on a macho mush to boot. Adolescence brought with it the maturity to tie the knot and his domestic and personal growth became part of family lore. His wobbly walk had moved through the bicycle era to a two wheeler era with a dream of a four wheeler being nurtured. The young father also was an avid current affairs commentator with the enterprise to seek his share of goodies to cast his vote. A skilled negotiator, he could flummox a consummate politician with his wit and humour. With these strengths, he never exposed a chink in his anrmour and grew to be a scrap dealer professional picking tenders of corporates. This expertise led him to start what he termed as "side business" in real estate broking. All these have neither dimmed his spirits nor fuelled arrogance as he still remembers the days when his shorts and the scrap were vying for his attention.

Probably, it is these rag to riches entrepreneurs who make the country what it is today. These unsung heroes remain a stiff competitors to the glamorous malls or the crorepati looters. Come, let us doff our hats to these wonderful souls as neither statues would be erected or pulled down in their names nor would any panel discussion be held.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Growing up essentially involves spelling out ambitions of one's career path. One favourite career for most of our generation was to be the much admired train driver hooting out the steam from those wondrous chimneys atop. This was richly captured in the epic Sholay where the handling of the coal embers. For yours truly Gabbar Singh or Thakur had no relevance when compared to the feasibility of one becoming a train driver. Even a pilot was not that great a career. Of course, the conductor on our buses were next heroes followed by the cop on the street. However, none of these careers found favours with our parents, teachers or peers. The hypocrisy of mouthing lines such as becoming a great leader, a fabulous administrator, a noble doctor or a revered engineer had even reduced the teaching profession to a lesser rank. Thus, we had many ambitious Prime Ministers and Presidents with no Chief Ministers or Governors. None vouched for law or judiciary as a profession. The ones secretly nurturing the ambition of acting or becoming an artisan was looked down upon. The worst hit was the one aspiring to be a sportsperson. Thus, the confused generation suppressed its own aspirations and moved through the academic motions and moved into "less prestigious" careers. As we settled into "destined" careers, the wave of liberalisation brought glamour to all careers from the non descript to the most visible. A cook became a chef while a doorman became an usher. The clerk became a receptionist while servants turned into helping hands. Lo and behold the world was now open to all careers. 

It is in this light one has to meander through the rest of this piece. A close chum, who is father of two sprightly gals, is to retire on superannuation and was wondering what his life would be post retirement. The agony of not being able to work later has motivated him from even enjoying a short vacation as he says anyway he would not be "allowed" to "work" anymore. His better half also planned one last reunion she would be able to host as she felt she may become dependent. After taking in their woes, yours truly pepped them up with talks of a second innings and a life to lead without expectations. What would such a life be after all? Directionless and clueless about the future he said. The call is ended on this traumatic note.

Contrast this with the permanent adieu one bids to his near and dear ones. Sometimes, he is not even aware and it is they who bid adieu to the mortal remains. Should we not be then happy that we are able to say bye on our terms? As yours truly mused over this, the news of the demise of the iconic Sridevi trickled in. She was the one who introduced us to the child form of Lord Karthikeya and the arduous journey of adolescence. She showed that she could tower over any hero. It was often reported that she switched on in front of a camera. A reflection on her obituaries show that she actually lived in front of a camera and away from it she was compelled to act. Her retirement was compelled due to her controversial marriage. Her demise did not leave her in dignity. So what do we complain of?

This also took me to the episode wherein yours truly had celebrated the switch of careers by another friend. The question now arose as to whether it was time to hang these boots and pursue a passion (which needs to be dug out from the depths where they are buried) or should one continue till the day the organisation bids one an adieu with hollow words which they do not mean anyway? The question cannot be termed a million dollar question but is at best only a muse which hopefully will find an answer