Thanks MOM!

My mother was a simple lady with a zest for life! For me, the youngest of the siblings, she was, well, greatest mom on the earth. She was a housewife, never went to college after school (She completed her SSC with my elder brother!!) and had an interest in everything.

She was an avid reader, and her list included Marathi magazines, newspapers, English and Marathi novels and hmm. Mills & Boon. I had asked her once how come she was interested in Mills & Boon and she replied that because of her early marriage she never had the opportunity to read such stuff and she really enjoyed it.

She had a group of friends who would meet every morning in a garden. They would exercise a bit, say prayers and would await a speaker for the day. They would invite doctors, engineers, accountants, judges and so on. Their requirement was simple, ” tell us something on your subject of expertise in the language we understand”! After the speech, they would ask questions and discuss the subject further.

She was a very keen watcher of Cricket, Football, Tennis. The day before she died, I was sitting with her in the hospital. Luckily she did not have any inkling of her imminent death the same night. This was in 2003 and Cricket world cup was going on. She told me ” Now that I will go home tomorrow morning, can you please be at home so that we can watch New Zealand India match together?” I said, “of course” but …..

She had another group of friends who met a week thrice to play rummy and the per point amount was ten paise. Whoever won would get chocolates with that money the next time they met. She also had one more group who would meet once in a week and sang bhajans together!

She lived alone till her death but would want to try different foodstuff when she came to stay with us. Her favourite stuff was pizza!. ( In India few from her age group would venture into Pizza but not my mother)

When we travelled on holiday, she would plan weeks in advance what to do, where to go and so on. She was not very strong, but her enthusiasm would see her through.

She would get friendly with other people very quickly and would like sharing things with everybody. She had great humility and empathy for others.

She was never rich, never owned any property but was a billionaire with her zest for life. Thanks, mom for teaching me how to live life with enthusiasm, humility and empathy.

Cows Come Home!!

I have a friend who lives in the US of A for the last forty years. A terrific guy with a great sense of humour. Though he was never educated in Marathi (he is a Maharashtrian guy) he speaks pretty good accented Marathi. He is, or I should say he was said to have gone “back home” when he moved to America in the ’70s. His father was in armed forces, and he was educated in an appropriate “propah” school. He loves Maharashtrian food and likes to wear kudata/pyjama on rare occasions when he is not wearing jeans.
He completed his MBA and joined a multinational. He married a fine caucasian lady and raised a family. By now you must have understood the profile of my friend.
Some years back he was in Pune and arranged lunch for relatives and friends on a Sunday. We went for lunch and with my daughter who was 5 years old then. She had a peculiar way of communicating; she would call anglicised persons either aunty or uncle. So when she was introduced to my friend, she said, “Hi Uncle”! My friend instantly told her “Beta why are you calling me Uncle, why don’t you call me Kaka?”
One can leave the motherland but motherland will never leave you!

He is gone!!

Years back when I was in school in Mumbai (Bombay as it was known then) I had a few friends living near Chowpaty (beach in Girgaum area). During the holidays I used to go there regularly to chat and play. I had a friend called Khandu who was boisterous, funny and smart. We got along famously and had fun on the beach or would play cricket and so on. Money in those days was always in short supply. Somehow we would manage money and have tidbits, drank coconut water, peanuts and gram!!

For days on we would do these things and how time flew. One day Khandu told me that he was travelling to his native place in Konkan a few days later. Next couple of days we had a great game of cricket. After the game, we had long chats on nothing specific. (Honestly, I do not remember any particular subject that we discussed in those days) The day before he travelled, we again had our game of cricket, chatted and said goodbyes. I checked the date on which he would come back.

Next day I had a game of cricket near my home, but in the evening I felt that I should go to Chowpaty to see the other gang. When I reached there, they were chatting in a group and were quite serious. I wished them and asked, “Has Khandu gone?” One of them said with a long face “He is gone”. I asked him why he is making such a long face and further said that Khandu will be back in about ten days. Suddenly he had tears in his eyes, and he said, “No. He will never come back!!” I just did not understand what he was staying.

What had happened was that Khandu had died in a hit and run accident, just half an hr after I said Goodbye to him the previous day. I suddenly felt as if I was hit by a train! I just did not know what to do. I just started drifting towards home; I do not remember when I reached home. All the time the sentence hitting me was ” He is gone!”

Hundred Rupees and a snake

I live in a colony where homes were bought by residents for amounts between Rs.2.5 million to Rs.8 million. The location of the colony can be described as, on the outskirts of Pune, India. 7 to 8 years back there were hardly any homes in this area; all one could see were fields where people grew vegetables or grain.

A couple of days back a snake was spotted in the colony in the evening ( us humans have encroached their homes!!) This is not an uncommon occurrence. Now we have a system of calling a snake catcher; he usually arrives within 15 minutes. For catching a snake, his service charges are Rs.100/ (ONE HUNDRED ONLY). The snake was spotted between two homes, and a security guard arrived to help. He informed the residents that the snake catcher will handle the situation, but he charges a small fee.

Now the interesting part.

There was a discussion between neighbours. Who will pay? After a lengthy review it was concluded that unless people contribute, Rs.100/ cannot be raised. (Maybe too significant an amount) The end result was nobody “contributed”, and the snake moved back into his original dwelling in our colony and was saved a forced migration to snake catchers home.

Now the real point that I want to make.

  1. Nobody knew if the snake was poisonous. Snakes can go to any home irrespective of the fact if one contributes or not and if it were poisonous…..
  2. Was Rs.100/ really such a significant amount to be discussed by people living in our colony?
  3. How to understand human nature? When an event can affect your dear ones and still one does not take action because of Rs.100?
  4. I know that people living in my colony buy cars worth Rs.1 million or maybe more.
  5. They sometimes spend maybe Rs.10000/ for a dinner
  6. But why the same people could not give Rs.100/ to catch a dangerous snake?

Well, probably this is human nature, the most complicated thing in the universe.