Where would we be without them?(The servants)

Do you watch serials on the TV? Do you see that the rich, palatial mansions which are inhabited by the characters have servants for every other task? A servant for the mem saheb’s massage, another for the kitchen, yet another to assist in the car wash and more and more. Servants are indeed a more than a status symbol for most of us.

Indeed, ‘the more rich you are the more servants you have’ is perhaps the one take away from any serial you watch on the Indian Television.

My mother is in her 60’s. She runs the show at her home single-handed. If she does take a maid’s help for some time, she is most courteous and considerate in feeding the maid, inquiring after her family and some times even helping her with a little extra pay. Often Amma will stop by during her visit to the temple and back, to inquire after the well being of some one or the other. For this reason, many of my mother’s friends depend on her to find a suitable maid for their homes.

What I find irksome about some of us who employ house help is the way we treat them.Agreed that there is no labor law to protect their rights or that they themselves may not be aware of it, still, as educated modern Indians we should be able to be a little kind and understanding to those who work for us or better still, help us survive and earn our bread.

There are of course instances when the employers go out of their way to help the maids and servants. Geetha bai for instance, worked with me at Indore. She picked up the importance of monthly savings and had started a postal account in her name, thanks to one of her employers. She sent her son to one of local colleges. When her daughter met with an accident she was assisted in filing a case against the criminal. She was quite the woman of the times and often chided me,’Didi, you know nothing!’

I picked up the importance of being courteous and pleasant from my parents, my ever smiling- father and ever ready to help-mother. I cannot definitely claim to be as good as them but I do try.

In my apartment, the other day, we ladies were deliberating of creating a fund to help our maids so that they can get their children admission to college,schools or for medical emergencies. In the past there have been instances of such understanding and compassion on and off but its time to institutionalize the true spirit of give and take by making it more formal. Imagine, how many families will actually benefit if we can together bring in a culture of taking care of some of the needs of those who work for us.

Those among us who have enough to share should now look beyond giving away old books and old clothes to the maid. It is just not enough.What will actually help them is may be a fund to use during emergencies so that they can lead their lives with dignity.

I wonder if it is the general belief that ,’if you give them an inch, they will take a mile’, stopping us from being nice to those in need.

Some times, some of us will have a sour experience or two while trying to be good to others. That is but natural. What it should not do is stop us from being kind to another person.

The security guard at the college I work brightens up every time he is addressed in Assamese. It is a recognition about who he is and where he comes from. Definitely his day is brighter.

Give a smile, speak with kindness, address with respect, make someone’s day better, especially those of the servants. As it is, life is harsh enough for them.

And most importantly, where would we be without those who help us live?

Only just so much

I shall teach you this

only just so much

that you know the way

my way, our way

I shall hold you thus

only just so much

that you know my side

the only side you will ever know

I shall open you up

only just so much

that you know what’s right

my right

Go on be independent

only just so much

just enough for you know

you are dependent on me

Go on be assertive

only just so much

to know to assert

my right over you

You my love be proud

only just so much

to know the pride

of being mine

and she broke away…

 

PS: On watching Monalisa Smile

The Other Self

Sitting here

faraway from where I am

I look for the person

who has been my anchor

I search for her encouraging words

her reassuring looks

a pat sometimes a hug

I wonder why she chose to disappear

having brought me this far

what game, what fun, what trick it is

To leave me alone in a journey so close to its end

I ask her to stand up for me

Knowing how without her I am nothing

I lean back to her and ask her to hold and console

But then there is no noise, no sign, no sigh, no smile

I sit my eyes closed, my heart in prayer

resurface love, I say, you I need more than anyone else

She lingering within smiles, pokes me at my back

and we laugh together.

 

Cherukenthye?/ The doggie at home

I hear Leens calling her husband and asking him every alternate hour ‘Cherukanthye’?. She is referring to the new addition to the family,the 2 month old Golden Retriever.

Ever since he came into her life, our lives, adds Leena, there is so much more fun and laughter. The vacuum that seemed to exist between her and her husband seemed to have evaporated as they bond over the antics of the little ‘Spart’.

Everything now revolves around this little one. Disciplining him, taking care of him, feeding him and taking him for walks are her priorities now. She regales with pride of how her spoilt brat,’Spart’ is  an attention-seeker and will never leave her side once she is back home from work.The delight of the day was ‘Spart’ devouring tasty food prepared by his father.

That’s when another equally proud mother shares the story of her two kids, Sandy and Thor. The 8 month old Sandy is chirpy and vivacious. She enjoys car rides, with the air brushing against her ears, says Kavya, more like Rose in The Titanic.

Thor though is broody and gets upset with car rides.He prefers the quiet of the house and loves to take long strolls in the garden.

‘And she cooks food for her kids, but not for me’, complains the husband. And we all laugh together, realizing how integral pets are to a family.

My former colleague,Aimen was of the firm opinion that you have not experienced true love until you have had a pet. She seems to borrow heavily from Anatole France who said “Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.

Once in the hostel in Indore, one of the boys had kept a turtle as a pet. My cousins, three of them together would keep rabbits, dog, cat etc. as pets and I remember how my aunt used to complain.

I rarely thought it fit to ask for any pet as a kid but if I could have had one, may be I too would have kept a dog. Once when I was looking for sponsors for the school magazine, three boys of 10th Standard came to me with a suggestion that they would like to advertise their pet shop, They even tried to convince me to invest in their business venture.

My mother feeds crows as soon as the rice is boiled and strained of the starch. Sharp at 10 AM, when she is back from the temple, she is greeted by two to three crows who seem to be waiting for the food.

In our so called busy life, while we run from pillar to post to pay the EMI and the school fees and the medical bills, we rarely have time to think of others. Caring for animals will certainly keep us more alive.

If only we remembered more frequently that the planet we live on belongs to them as well, we would be better humans.

 

 

 

 

Of Passion

“How do I know it’s passion, when I see one?” asked the famed author Carmine Gallo to the equally famous Chef, Ferran Adria.

Ferran pointed at a wine glass and asked Carmine, “What comes to our mind when you see that?” A drink”, said, Carmine easily. “When I see a wine glass what comes to my mind is celebration, joy, fun and much more”, replied Ferran illustrating the true meaning of passion in the process.

Passion then is what you do out of love. It is that which sustains your soul and not just your monthly income.

Passion is what you can go on doing endlessly without having to look at time or crave for a break.

Maybe that’s why the greatest of artists are also so prolific. They seem to thrive on the quantity of work. When work is such pleasure, who would complain!

After Tom Sawyer of ‘The adventures of Tom Sawyer’ by Mark Twain sells the idea of white washing the fence as an activity of great value,Aunt Polly’s fence was white washed more than twice. Tom’s play mates literally vied with one another to help him, bartering their most precious possessions in return for ‘work’. Mark Twain remarks that ‘work consists of anything that a body is obliged to do and play consists of anything that a body is not obliged to do’. Passion makes work pleasurable like play.

The weight of expectations, a steady income,the society, misguided education often nips off a budding passion. Many of us spend a lifetime being unable to decide where exactly our passion lies.

I always loved reading and writing. Some later I realized that I also enjoy speaking, especially addressing large audiences. I found myself mostly on stage speaking and often training and encouraging my students to enjoy their time on stage whether it was for debate, elocution or simply anchoring for an event at school.

While my interest in writing lay dormant thanks to an unfulfilled ambition to become journalist, I kept writing off and on. It is only with time and much practice that I am able to put up my thoughts before you today.

Teaching is another passion I developed almost accidentally. I love teaching, being able to make even a small difference to someone’s life.When I look at myself today, I am glad that I have more or less interwoven my areas of interest into my life.

So, clearly my passion lies in each one of these areas of my interest.

To identify your area of passion,you should ask yourself, what gives you the purest joy?

Is it numbers,money matters, science or art? What makes you want to do something again and again?

What makes your heart sing, your smile brighter and your days happier. Go find it for yourself and do it.

It’s one life, live it the way you deem fit.

Live your passion! Live it big!

 

 

Thinking Teenager

‘Who am I ?

what is my calling?’

said the girl all of nineteen

‘the existential angst plagues each human’

the girl observed gravely.

The mother kept quiet wondering

did I provoke too much?

did I prod and probe where it hurts?

the desire to encourage can sometimes be detrimental

the urge to awaken can sometimes irritate.

The junk food lover nodding to western beats

was wiser beyond her thoughts

so the mother sat quiet in awe of the thinking teenager.