October 31, 2008

Last Friday

I came in to work last Friday chirpier than usual. It was going to be a 4 day long weekend. And I was happy. I was almost thankful to "The killing of Narakasura" and Diwali of course. There I almost forgot mentioning it.

I was scanning the cabin to find the whereabouts of my chair. The maid, while sweeping and swabbing must have re-allocated my (now missing)chair.

This butt is one interesting ensemble. Once it gets accustomed to a surface, you should hear it scream in agony at change. You see I could never sit on another chair but mine.(Well it actually is company property but I am seriously thinking of taking it along with me on my way out(if and when I leave the organization). I mean I have nurtured it for so long and if all this reasoning does not work, then I am going emotional. The chair will be desolate without me :)

Aah there I spot it. My Chair(MC) has veered out of the cabin and is looking .... How do I put it....ummmm...... ha inquisitive. Oh that heartless maid.... now she has gone and sparked the curiosity of MC. God forbid if MC falls in love with somebody else...... Then what of me?

I pull MC towards my sleek computer. While others have gray keyboard, black monitor and in some cases an all white outfit, mine looks like a silky panther. Oh I love looking at him.

I switch on the monitor and log on. Sometimes I wish I had read a shorter book with an interesting title. Because my current system password is 14 characters and my fingers are ready to sue Ayn Rand. Oops, my typing fingers gave out my password now... well almost...... Change is in motion. I love change. I am going to have a swanky new password now. What do I change it to?

I'll worry about it later and see whose book I can rip up for my selfish motives in getting my new password. Ayn Rand move over. ROW(Rest of the World) beware..... There is an evil laughter in my head right now and I love the sound of it. I am tired of being good. Change is in motion.... I am using this term so often I think I should make it my anthem. More evil laughter in the background....... Ee ha ha ha ha ha ha

I stop... wait. Cant I be original in an evil laugh at least? Do I have to rip of some old Tamil movie villain laughter? It is definitely evil sounding and resonating..... which reminds me I need to add a scowl on my face for the complete "evil me" look. I am almost tempted by the concept of two horns on my head, but in my head(strictly in mine), I look too comical and I burst out laughing. That's spoils the evil character I had made up. Cant gather so much energy again to continue. Phew......

I remember what Calvin says once.... "Do I have to work for everything? Its like saying I don't deserve it". True True.... One Hundred Percent.... That kid needs an international award at sarcastic reality. I love the kid. I mean as long as he is somebody else's kid ..... Whoa I see white hair sprouting by the dozen just imagining him as my kid.

Wait I am not even married. And I am thinking of a kid. If my parents could hear the thoughts in my head, I am sure they would be rolling their eyes.

My parents..... I always get distracted at this point. The other day we were watching an English movie on HBO. Of late they come with subtitles so sometimes when there is a lot of (good) noise at home(which is always by the way), one can still follow these movies.

Queen Latifah is standing in an alley with a young fella (just wanted to feel that word in my tongue).... kinda sounds nice to me. Casual, Hip ... Sigh....

Yeah so he asks her some money and she says she wont give him money as she is afraid he'll spend it on drugs and then gives him condoms as she works for an AIDS prevention welfare organization. In the next scene, she is talking to her daughter and giving the condoms to her daughter's boyfriend. And says be safe or something to that extent.

We were having dinner on the floor and watching the movie when dad said the movie was subtle, not overboard and yet managed to convey a valuable message. I am a trouble maker. I make people confront what they are painfully shy about in a comical way.

So I said: Amma Appa I have never seen a condom in my life. I was stifling my laugh when I said this because it was so brash of me and their reaction was hilarious. Mom started to explain. Actually explain.... the different kinds and texture and even flavor. Dad was squirming but having a teeny smile on his face.

Now honestly I have never seen a condom in my life. I have just heard various bizarre explanation and even diagrams from married friends. So this was a revelation. I mean my parents..... And then I realized something. I was shy discussing it while mom was going ahead in full gusto. I just squealed and ran out with my dinner plate.

Mom and Dad were rolling on the floor and laughing. This time, my attempt backfired :)

I am reading what I have written and I realize how restless a person I am. I mean I m jumping from Office to Butt to MC to Calvin to Parents and Condoms. Phew.... I tire myself :)

October 14, 2008


My parents always think I am too forthright and bold for my good and are a little afraid about this quality in me.

What I am about to narrate happened a year ago and I don't know what to make of it.

I got of as usual at the silk board junction and I saw a handicapped man. He was dragging himself on his hands as he could not walk. I could not tear my eyes away from him.

I saw him go and seek alms from all the people who were waiting at the signal. He might have gotten 15 rupees. I waited for the signal to turn green and went to him. I gave him 10 rupees and told him I ll be back again tomorrow.

In the course of my conversation I learnt his name was Hanumanthappa. He had been left by his family here, under the overhead bridge as he was a handicap. And so he had resorted to begging. He spoke in Telugu, a language I don't understand at all save a few words.

I tried conveying to him I ll be back tomorrow and felt a weight in my heart. He probably had never been spoken to before. He was dirty. I did not feel repulsed. I don't know why. I held his hand and reaffirmed I ll come tomorrow in hand gestures.

I should tell you that in the course of this conversation, the next lot of vehicles had stopped at the signal and were looking at us in a strange manner. I am ashamed to say that, I felt uncomfortable in the glare of all the people. And convincing him as best as I could, I trudged on my way to work.

My heart was heavy, I felt tears smart my eyes. I mean, I had a lovely family who would go to any distance for me. And here was this man, who was not wanted, who had been discarded like he was trash.

I wanted to do something. I called up my cousin who worked with the Times as a journalist. I asked her for organizations that cared for the unwanted. I had made up my mind. I was going to get him off the streets and be self sufficient. I did not want him begging.

She gave me a number to Miss. Lillian De Costa who ran a charitable organization. She was out of station and would be back the next day I was told.

Next day, I got of at the signal. He was there. I went to him and asked him in English and Kannada alternatively, if he would give up begging if I could find a way for him to get money. He didn't say anything. I told him I would get him enrolled into a charitable organization where he would be expected to work according to his abilities and he would be paid for it. I am not sure if he understood. But he nodded yes. I said I ll be back again.

And I contacted Lillian who said she would send a man who spoke Telugu. I asked her to send the volunteer in the morning when I would be there. I told her I would like to accompany him in enrolling him. I don't know why I told her that I was convinced he wanted to be of the streets.

Next two days the volunteer was held up in another work. And I would go talk to Hanumanthappa. He now had a smile on his face when he saw me coming.

Finally the day came when the volunteer arrived. I was in for a shock. Hanumanthappa did not want to go anywhere. He had been under the impression I was going to give him money it seems.

He said he made close to 300 Rs a day begging under the bridge. He said he would never get that kinda money working anywhere. I was at a loss for words and apologized profusely to the volunteer for making him come all the way.

I did not understand it. Maybe he had gotten too dependent on the easy money or maybe he just did not want to earn working hard. The volunteer gave me his card and said there were other ways I could help people and asked me to come over to the office sometime and see how I could be of help.

When I told my best friend this, he said "You were always a sucker for sob stories"...... and he left it tailing at that.

My parents were momentarily afraid, concerned about my safety, thinking I might have gotten to the organization all by myself taking Mr. Hanumanthappa along. Then they said they were sorry it did not work out.

My sister laughed on my face and then stopped on seeing the hurt look on my face.

I have wanted to stop thinking about the incident. Tried real hard. Tried to turn my face away when I see a woman begging with her child on the streets under the humid heat. Tried to convince myself that given a chance, they might want more from themselves.

I stopped when a beggar woman I approached screamed at me in Hindi saying I was spoiling her life when all I did was tell her to find a job as a labourer at construction sites and even told her the name of Domlur Sabha(an org in my area that works somewhat like Rotary) where her kids could study free of cost.

She refused outright and spit on the road. I was hurt that she could not see for her what I saw for her. I came home and cried. I was of no help to both the people whose cause I had taken up.

Some days after that I saw Hanumanthappa in an inebriated state under the bridge. Flies hovering around his face. I felt my chest and throat constrict. I could not swallow.

I still cant explain or put in words what these experiences have taught me. I don't know if I have learnt to leave people alone. Maybe I should.........