Musings from Childhood!! Circa 50’s

My first vivid images of life are from the time when we used to live in Ahmednagar, about 120 km from Pune or 260 km from Mumbai. I vaguely remember having taken part in some running races and won them! I was 3 or 4 years old. I did not even know what winning was. I also remember that we used to live in a bungalow, which was my father’s official residence as a Police Officer. Incidentally, my father could never buy a home on his own in his lifetime. Another incident I remember was of the dacoity we had in our house, yes in a Police Officers home! I was sleeping with my mother and heard a distinct sound of something being pulled on the floor. (A bag was being pulled!!) I woke my mom up and told her about the noise. She told me that I was dreaming and put me back to sleep. Dacoits had entered our home by breaking a wall near our back door, for access. The front door was secured by taking care of the watchman, by pointing a crowbar at his head!! The most important part of the episode was no one from our home including my siblings, my grandfather nor my parents got up while this was happening!! The dacoits, after they were caught, were very scared when they came to know about my father; but they said that if anyone had gotten up during the episode, that person would have been killed.

After Nagar, we were in Pune for a couple of years, 2nd and 3rd grade in good old Modern High School. We stayed in a house near Sambhaji Park. We used to go walking to school, no parents or autos or buses to drop us! Pune was a small town in those days. A couple of incidents come in front of my eyes. Once, a few Army tanks were clanking on the JM Road from Deccan towards JM temple. Our gang saw the same, and we just started running on the footpath along with tanks (there were footpaths in those where one could run!!). At some stage, we decided to stop the pursuit, and we started looking here and there, confused. We had come near the JM temple which was about ½ km ahead of the school. Were we scared!
One from the gang started crying because he thought we were lost; ultimately yours truly took charge and decided to trace the path back, and ten/fifteen minutes later we were home. Another incident I remember was when my father was required to rush to attend a fire alarm. Believe it or not, but we could see the plumes of smoke from distant Bhawani Peth where there was a big fire in “timber market”. Today you won’t be able to see the plumes if a fire starts, even if you are in “timber market” as there is so much rush & crowd and taller buildings! I have an interesting incident to share based on this period. In the late 60’s I moved to Pune for engineering. On our playground, I saw one guy, and I was trying to place him. Suddenly both of us called each other. I said, “Hey Vicky” and he said hey “PRAMOD”. He was from the battle tank gang. Vicky never used to call me by name but used to spell it in verbal communication also, every time he wanted to call me!!

After this, we moved to Mumbai in the early ’60s.  There was sea, there were trams, and there were test matches and what have you. Bombay had everything. For the initial period, we lived in Girgaum in a hotel because my father could not get the official residence. There was a school nearby, and I remember that in the class we used to have a song and dance session, once in a while. I used to sing “माना जनाब ने पुकारा नही” with my friend Gopal dancing! God bless him, where is Gopal? I remember his face distinctly but don’t remember anything else.

Then we moved to Dhobi Talao in Police Quarters just behind Metro Cinema. From here we started getting senior friends also. One such friend was Sawant. Our home was bang opposite rear exit of Metro Cinema,  where Sawant used to work. His role was dual, he used to paint posters, and during the shows, he also was the doorkeeper or usher. Ushers in those days at Metro were suited and booted, decked with Bow Ties!!  Of course, we had a great benefit of being friends with Sawant. He would let us see a few movies on the fly if many seats were empty.

We stayed there till I passed SSC. That was the most exciting place to live and most innocent times to be in. I remember murder committed by Naval Commander Nanavati in those days was a big thing. Today such news could be a blimp, with so many murders around!

Friends if I go into Dhobi Talao spin, I will end up writing a full chapter! I will come back with a theme on Dhobi Talao, at a later date. So till then Ta Ta, Bye Bye, Ciao… and नमस्ते!!

Deepika, Hats Off!!

I have been hearing the term Women Empowerment pretty regularly and am wondering what the meaning of these words is! Empowerment refers to increasing economic, political, social, educational, gender, or spiritual strength of individuals and communities, and in this case Women!

Consider the recent two cases from the Indian Film industry, Deepika Padukone and Preity Zinta. These ladies have been at the top of the pyramid, smart, confident and what have you. Today I am going mainly to write about Deepika. In today’s “modern” world are these ladies really empowered? Deepika comes from an elite family with her father being former badminton World Champion. So it is not that this family does not know how to handle fame!! Is Deepika really empowered? Luckily she is because she has guts, but not many including males of such kind have guts. But society even in this century will attempt, to try not to allow the ladies, even successful ladies, to be empowered.

Our leading newspapers always have been “so-called elite”, but lately they also have sections that I would define as Soft Porn, though they give fancy names to such sections. The names of such sections are “Oops”, “Wardrobe Malfunction”, “Upskirt Photos” and so on (to see videos & photos you have to be a bit net friendly). Then there will be headlines and sad photos of struggling actresses found in a racket selling their bodies, to high society people!! When a woman is involved in prostitution, there is always another party, obviously male, involved. Have you ever heard of some hot-shot actor, or businessman, or industrialist found “caught” in such situations? Do you ever see photographs of such males being splashed, for trial by media? Why the difference of treatment for males & females?

Mind you this is not happening only in India but is happening many so-called developed countries. Believe it or not, but Women Suffrage (right to vote in political elections) law was passed in the year 1920 in the United States of America, but till the year 1980 number of women taking part in voting was much less than men! Only after 1980, this number has gone up, sometimes above men voters, thanks to baby boomers generation. This status was due to the diffidence of women themselves.

Deepika had guts to hit back by writing a set of tweets in no uncertain terms against this elite newspaper. So what is the response of this paper? Apology, no way!! They always stand by their story. They claimed that Deepika is so beautiful that they wanted all the world to know that, of course with the aid of “properly” shot video. On top of that, they have today floated a video based on Deepika’s love affairs and her Ex-beaus, thank god “Not at the Correct Angles”! Name of the Video is “Controversies in Deepika’s life”. Then there are stooges, prominently Shobha Dey, to write an article on how all these ladies have been displaying their wares all the time! Yes, she would know. She has been muck business for too long. The article implies that Deepika has been taking her own photos in various stages of undress and distributing to papers! It is this tabloid mentality, in the name of circulation figures that causes such problems. The photographers are hired to shoot special photos, heard the word paparazzi! Paparazzi did manage to take nude photos of “could be” future queen of England on a very private holiday!! It is the same paparazzi who were instrumental in death on Princess Diana, her driver was trying to avoid them.

What could be a solution for such a sad state of affairs; take and print photos, of near and dear ones of people justifying, Deepika’s video? What happens if pictures of cleavages and such body parts of the near and dear ones of senior people of such newspapers are splashed in tabloids? Would there not be a big libel suit? What will justify this libel suit? Just because Deepika is a public figure, her persona becomes public property but does her body also become public property? One can go and touch a statue in a garden then why not go and touch Deepika, after all, she is a public property!!

When Deepika wrote those tweets, some people had the gumption to say that this is a publicity stunt by her to promote her new movie! How shameless can you become? Why this behaviour? Is the world full of MCP’s? This is too serious an issue to be trivialised, by including it in general chit-chat. Hopefully, Deepika’s small burst would lead to better things. If Mirror Online or the Sun from Britain indulge in these stupid activities, I am ok with that because they do not hide that they are tabloids. I understand that the content is also market driven. But the so-called leading newspapers stooping down to such levels is just not acceptable. Call yourself a tabloid and do what you want. I will share a critical information about this elite newspaper. Under the guise of “MD’s Holi Party Pictures”, the photos of guests are displayed, you will say what is wrong in Page 3 photos. Let me finish. These photos are predominantly showing ladies thoroughly drenched, after all it is Holi! They also make sure that the right areas of anatomy and undergarments of the ladies are displayed. This gives me one relief; if ever government manages to ban porn sites we have at least these soft porn sites available. Happy Holi and Happy viewing. (Hope that I am not hit with a libel suit)

Life, what does it mean?

This is not a blog but an essay based on thoughts that come to mind. A portal has a method of calculating how many times one would meet one’s parents, after leaving home for a job or a career. It estimates this based on parents age, how busy the job keeps the child (current frequency of visiting parents)!! It is a realistic calculation based on such parameters. The site also considers life expectancy for apparent reasons. The faint-hearted should not visit this site because the answers are blunt! Given below are some additional points, to the thought process the web site may have given while doing the calculation. The section considers only the physical aspect but not the emotional aspects.

In this essay, only thoughts are placed, and no solutions are attempted (also because there may be no solutions!). In today’s world chances of parents and children living in the same city are pretty remote. If parents and child do not live in the same town or country, then things become even more complicated. At the beginning of the career, money is an issue hence chances of travel to meet parents are less. Also one is busy seeing the world!! As the job progresses, money issue starts diminishing but home and work responsibilities increase and time available to travel becomes an issue due to marriage, kids; in general, one has to spend more time with own family hence time available to meet parents becomes less and less. Then there are in-laws, they are also your spouse’s parents, so time availability for meeting parents is shared further.

Grandchildren may be somewhat close to grandparents initially, but the relevance of grandparents diminishes in their lives as grandchildren grow. Another thing is that grandparents cannot correlate with what the grandchild is doing because of the lack of knowledge about modern gadgets and the generation gap. This happens especially when parents are old world, i.e. not tech savvy. The issue that adds to this is the frequency of physical meeting between grandparents & grandchildren. Older the grandchildren grow, the gap goes on increasing, and the relevance of meetings goes on diminishing. Technology like Skype is supposed to bring people closer but grandchildren can be so busy they may not have time and inclination to come in front of the screen!!

Add to this the health of parents. Parents can have and are expected to have health issues due to age and otherwise. This will limit their travel to the place where the child lives. Due to globalisation, the child may be living in Antarctica!! Weather conditions may not suit, and there could be commitments that parents themselves may have, that will restrict their travel. Further to this, other extraneous issues could limit their meetings. For the child, there is also a need for leisure travel and holidays with their own family.

Consider the human relations aspect, things can become exciting and different than expected. We assume that the child and parent relationship will never change, but we also know that even amongst friends, friendship needs to be cultivated. It is also said that time is the medicine to overcome many sorrows but this same time plays truant if parent-child relationship is not nurtured. With distance and time, one may continue to have an ebbing relationship with the child (from the child’s point of view). Then there is a relationship between other family members with parents. Unless there is an extraordinary effort, contact with other members of the child’s family including the grandchildren may not really reach any level. This can add to deciding the frequency of meetings.

There is a question of responsibilities. As far as the child is concerned, it has no duties about parents! (Don’t be shocked with this statement) For the simple reason, that child does not come in this world on its own, and there is never a demand from the child to be borne. So saying that child has a responsibility towards parents is inaccurate, and putting too much pressure on them. Parents definitely have the responsibility to bring up the child and make sure that the child is brought up in such a way that it is fit to live in the real world. After this stage, the responsibility aspect is over and it is more of an emotional attachment.

Typically a child is expected to leave home between the ages of 22 to 25 and parents’ age at that time could be between 50 & 60. If one considers twenty years, parents will then be between 70 & 80. At this stage parents, naturally, may not want to travel and it will depend mainly on the child to decide if and when to meet. The child also has reached the age of 45 at that time. So career wise it becomes tricky to handle frequent family travels.

Managing health issues from far is very complex, and difficult. After a particular stage, health issues will come up quite frequently and the child’s degree of difficulty of managing parent’s health issues, and own family responsibilities, goes up exponentially.

Health and health management expenses become an important issue from this point onwards. In some regions of the world, this can become a significant issue for the child’s family because it is tough both financially and physically. There was a case where parents lived in India during this phase and children lived in foreign countries. Because of their respective careers and family commitments, it was not possible for children to be in India all the time, though their travel frequency was high. They had made arrangements in India in such a way (parents’ physical movements were restricted) that things were being handled in the best possible manner, under the circumstances. It is for every child and his family to decide what they want to do. With one clear understanding “It is not children’s responsibility”!! So maybe they give their best shot under the circumstances.

Time waits for nobody and life goes on irrespective of closeness between child and parents. This adage is essential in life as adverse situations are happening more frequently. These situations will further strain, not in a relationship, but in the frequency of meetings. The end result could be a strain in a relationship; though this will never be from the parent’s side, but for the child also it is very tough! Parents will always understand the child’s difficulties and will ensure that everything will still look hunky dory!

What is life? Is it the life led by parents? And are children on the periphery? Or at some stage, the situation is reversed, and parents are on the fringe? One can see that conclusions from the above discussions, will be very complicated. This is very similar to life in general. Outwardly solutions will appear easy, but they are not. Answers, if any, will be as complex as the conclusions. In such situations, it is best not to draw any conclusions!!

So each individual has his or her own life; we come into this world alone and meander through it. It is like a long distance train passage. There are stations in between, there are Red signals, and there are main junctions. There will be other travellers who will come on board, become very close, become family but then at some stage, other travellers get down to take a train or a flight to other destination and start their own journey. One continues his trip to the final destination. That is life, and it’s your own life!!