Simple Stress Solution

There I was on a slow boil for some apparently important reason. I could feel my heart pounding. The usual route was not available to me then, namely the lachrymal glands. I freely indulged in a copious outpouring to let go all built up emotions-be they anger or sorrow even at the risk of being labeled uncharitable names by my family.

Through the red haze clouding my mind, the brown leaves of my once green plants grabbed my attention. Surely the gardener had been instructed to clean the foliage while watering. Instead of giving in to yet another combustible point, I grabbed the water sprayer, filled it with water and attacked the leaves.

Pune city lovingly coats all its occupants with a layer of dust, grime and other miscellaneous pollutants especially in summers. The leaves of my plants too had turned a uniform brown black from assorted shades of green, white and reds.

As I doused the leaves the muck slowly but surely got washed away. I soon was totally engrossed in reaching for every leaf and branch from all angles. Before I realized it I had refilled the sprayer and had moved onto the second plant.

I happily noted that my plants were smiling at me again. I could see the lovely shades of white and green on my variegated varieties and reds on my Coleus. The rose buds too seemed to say thank you! I noticed yet another strange fact. I was feeling much calmer and happier. Occasional droplets of water blew onto me for a welcome cooling effect.

In no time I had restored my plants to their natural state. A little analysis showed that the spraying action was similar to that demanded by the ubiquitous stress balls. I had found an instant stress buster, which also helped de-stress my plants. I could now manage my stress even when surrounded by people and with no fear of unwanted branding like ‘cry baby’.

Stress is an unavoidable part of our lives and some say it actually improves performance. The important thing is to learn to manage it. Here is another cool tool to help you out. Almost all homes boast of some representative of the plant kingdom, the so-called ‘lucky bamboo’ or ‘dancing bamboos’ being the latest entrants. A sprayer costs just around 50 rupees and works just as well on plastic plant varieties.

Get a sprayer today and do a favour to yourself and your plants. Try out this simple stress solution for instantaneous results.

Is mere road widening enough?

Space challenged cities like Pune, need to resort to road widening to accomodate rising traffic. The Law College Road, an arterial road that witnesses heavy traffic in morning and evening hours is currently being widened.
Ace urban planner, Mandar Puranik has the following to say about road widening projects…

“In transport planing terms, it is really ineffective as it marginally affects road capacity. Traffic flow is more a product of

1. Number of cross streets or junctions and minimising it ( not flyovers) always helps. 2. Signal co-ordination 3. Discipline, lanes, specially followed by heavy vehicles or cars.

A widened road, left on its own even with double road widths will result in further traffic chaos, speeding of vehicles between traffic signals, pedestrian crossing difficult, haphazard parking. What PMC should immediately undertake is provide generous ( min 2 m) footpaths, street lighting, controlled parking bays within widened road sections. It will make life of pedestrian better and help to channelise vehicular traffic than freeflow movement. A good example of C.G. Road in Ahmedabad. Such 2 m + pedestrian space also supports informal uses just outside within private properties such as chai wallah, xerox etc.

Hope, road widening doesn’t stop at the stage as shown in picture. Pune needs at least one good street to begin with and perhaps Law College road can set the scene. There are well grown trees, Cafe coffee day,Barista, banks and other restaurants in place already. If walking is made safer and enjoyable, people / students, including regular tekadi goers will thank PMC. “

Anybody listening??

Hospitality Volvo Ishtyle!

Published in Maharashtra Herald ‘Centre View’ on 08 Dec 07
My only perception of Volvo buses was as space occupying behemoths on Pune roads that discharged passengers loaded with baggage at particularly narrow points. Many are the occasions that I have argued with bus staff for their indiscriminate parking. However I have changed my opinion to some extent after travelling to Goa in this vehicle.

I eagerly entered the bus at one such stop located in the heart of the city to be welcomed by comfortingly cool interiors. The bus was very clean and had both semi sleeper and normal seats. Contrary to my expectations there were several pre-departure procedures to be carried out – almost like for air travel. What were lacking were stringent security checks!

After what seemed like a long delay but was only 15 minutes it was wheels rolling! Immediately the TV sprang to life with some mindless movie at top volume. The attendant moved down the aisle distributing blankets to everyone. Next came a bottle of mineral water for each of us. His next offering surprisingly was ‘puke bags’! The blankets were clean and did not have any creepy crawlies residing in them. I hoped the blaring TV would not disturb our sleep but as it turned out later, there was another culprit for it.

As the bus gobbled up kilometres towards Goa we hardly felt the speed inside the cabin. All vertical movements over the bumpy bits treated our bones and joints with respect. Thankfully the attendant switched off the movie at 11 PM and every one nodded off to sleep. I was awakened several times with severe neck pain as my head explored its relationship with gravity, unfettered by conscious control of being held high! I tried lying on my side, which made some difference. Now I know the use of the air filled U shaped contraption available in luggage stores. Worn around the neck it acts like a barrier to this unwanted painful nodding off. Anyway the anticipation of reaching Goa soon served as a balm on my painful muscles.

As the sun rose we reached India’s premier tourist destination. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Goa and were lucky to enjoy some of the IFFI road shows. The return journey was less of a pain in the neck. Maybe my body was somewhat accustomed to it now. Now, I am less vocal with my protests when a Volvo obstructs my path as I too had enjoyed the convenience such halts afforded to city travellers. However I still strongly oppose their plying on city roads at daytime.

A word here about our attendant. He did not have the benefit of any training at any fancy hospitality center nor a flashy uniform. He did his job efficiently with no plastic smile or supercilious expressions. He spoke very little to the passengers yet conveyed all the necessary information. He doubled up as the loader for luggage at bus halts, a cleaner, as guide and marshal to the driver on tricky stretches of the road, helped in refueling and generally did everything. I am sure he also had a brief on how to deal with any emergencies though thankfully I did not need to check his capabilities in that department! All attention was on the driver, the speed he maintained, how he negotiated the super smooth expressway, the potholed road and steep climbing turns. Some passengers’ spoke rudely, argued about window seats yet the attendant handled them calmly. I did not even ask his name or care to thank him at the end of the journey.

This is a sharp contrast from an air journey where the cabin crew makes more of an impact and passengers too behave differently towards them. We hardly even remember names of the pilots who actually ferry the aircraft.

The bus attendant’s job profile was almost similar to that of the aircraft cabin crew but completely devoid of glamour and less paid too. I believe some bus companies have improved in this regard. Air or road should not make a difference in our behaviour, but to be honest – it does! I made a mental note to rectify my oversight in any of my future bus journey. Think about it next time you travel by bus….

55th Sawai Gandharva Music Festival December 2007: Musical Extravaganza this weekend!

This weekend promises to be a feast of all music lovers.
The famous Sawai Gandharva festival is going on in Pune. Day one saw a tremendous performance by Gundecha Brothers and Arati Anklikar (photo above). Being a weekday, many may have chosen to skip this but I assure you all performances were mind blowing! The pakhwaj accompaniment gave an entirely new dimension to the recital.

I have no training in this discipline yet came away thoroughly touched by the divine music.

For those who like western pop or rock music, do tune in to the Spin Channel on the World Space Satellite Radio, on Sunday at 8AM. Ravi Khanolkar will be doing a special show. Check it out!
The telecast is NOT repeated!

All in all, a musical extravaganza awaits us all! Enjoy!

Canine Revelations

(Edited version published in the Times of India Pune West Side Plus on 09 Mar 2007)

A sudden uproar in our normally quiet neigbourhood one cold December evening had me running to the balcony. In the fading light I saw the driver of a long, big mean looking car fling something on the edge of the road. The master continued to rave at him in between barking orders into his mobile phone. Another minion hurriedly deposited the master’s laptop, lunch box and other paraphernalia in the car hoping to avoid the verbal onslaught.

That done, the master barely allowed the driver to wash his hands and the vehicle zoomed off horn blaring leaving behind a trail of cigarette smoke and dust. The toddlers in the building seemed dazed and one was even crying. I ventured down to investigate and to my horror found that what the driver had callously flung were actually two very dead, barely a week old, stray pups. Obviously the driver had run over them as he hurried to pick up his master and together the two had decided to clean up by simply depositing them on the roadside. The kids had been playing with the pups in the evening and had seen them being run over.

Suddenly the pups’ mother turned up from nowhere and began investigating why her babies seemed so still. Sensing something amiss she looked around for lurking danger and someone to take a revengeful bite into. I hastily retreated to a safe haven namely my balcony to keep track of things from there. Soon many stray dogs gathered around as if in sympathy and the mother kept nudging the young ones hoping they would move. Naturally nothing worked and soon she was alone.

I watched in amazement as the dog actually lay down beside the pups and stayed there throughout the night. Occasionally she would break out into long cries of grief. It was pretty cold yet she stood guard over her young ones even as vehicles zoomed close by or some sadistic persons set off crackers or other animals tried to get close.

None of us did anything about the pups, not even the pet dog owners who walked their dogs, to dirty the road. I slept restlessly that night plagued by several unpalatable thoughts. I woke up early to see the mother carrying off her dead pups one by one, long before the sweepers came along. The animal kingdom looked after their own!

The big car and its villainous occupants came at office opening hours the next day and walked past with scarcely a glace at what they had done the night before. Newspapers almost mandatorily carry daily news of hit and run cases, some fatal while the lucky ones get away with injuries. We see signs of economic prosperity everywhere; the kabadiwallah has a mobile phone, students drive expensive bikes, a hundred rupee movie ticket is almost a norm, even the beggar boy at traffic signals asks for a packet of chips instead of ‘chaar ana’!

An ugly green horned devil repeatedly asked me the question all through that night, are we losing our social responsibilities that go hand in hand with economic prosperity? I looked around to see garbage piled in unauthorized places, people proudly breaking traffic rules, senior citizens given no priority in queues or public transport, neighbours behaving more like strangers, people vandalizing public property… The list seemed to go on and I had just scratched the tip of the mud pile. And all this in a ‘cultured’, ‘affluent’ neighbourhood in Pune! The pups incident was insignificant compared to Nithari or other terrorist outrages. Yet it confirms our sinking values and decency.

I grieved with the mother dog for the loss of humane qualities in humans. I finally gave up trying to find excuses for our shortcomings and shamefully admitted that there was only one answer to my question. ! Yes! Yet I am convinced if each one of us tries to make a small change in our own sphere of influence instead of going in for armchair activism we would be moving towards a better tomorrow.

The Kamakhya Temple Guwahati

My only regret in our stay in Assam was that we could not visit Arunachal Pradesh. I do hope that I can make it some time soon!

The state has many beautiful spots. They say all visitors must cross the Brahmaputra 7 times or have to visit again!

The seven sisters as the eastern states are often referred to can rival most international tourist spots in terms of beauty and variety. The only draw back is connectivity. Orchids growing in Kalimpong, Shillong or snow in the higher reaches are places which even Indians have not cared to visit. Words cannot do justice to describe the mighty Teesta or the massive Brahmaputra. The handicrafts and music too are worth collecting. No write up about Assam is complete without mentioning the legendary Bhupen Hazarika.

Yet another must see site is the Kamakhya temple. We got a chance to visit the shrine and one that has reinforced my beliefs in folklore’s… Read about it here:

Do visit this beautiful state. Winter is an ideal time. Plan today!


Words of Wisdom

The following was forwarded to me. It is an extremely inspiring speech one that all of us can benefit from. I could not attribute the source as I dont have it. If any of you knows it do tell us….
Address by Subroto Bagchi, Chief Operating Officer, MindTree Consulting tothe Class of 2006 at the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore defining success. July 2nd 2004
I was the last child of a small-time government servant, in a family of Five brothers. My earliest memory of my father is as that of a District Employment Officer in Koraput, Orissa.
It was and remains as back of Beyond as you can imagine. There was noelectricity; no primary school nearby and water did not flow out of a tap. As a result, I did not go to school until the age of eight; I was home-schooled.
My father used to get transferred every year. The family belongings fitinto the back of a jeep – so the family moved from place to place and, without any trouble, my Mother would set up an establishment and get us going. Raised by a widow who had come as a refugee from the then EastBengal, she was a matriculate when she married my Father.
My parents set the foundation of my life and the value system which makes me what I am today and largely defines what success means to me today.
As District Employment Officer, my father was given a jeep by thegovernment. There was no garage in the Office, so the jeep was parked in ourhouse. My father refused to use it to commute to the office. He told us thatthe jeep is an expensive resource given by the government – he reiteratedtous that it was not ‘his jeep’ but the government’s jeep. Insisting that he would use it only to tour the interiors, he would walk to his office on normal days. He also made sure that we never sat in the government jeep -wecould sit in it only when it was stationary.
That was our early childhood lesson in governance – a lesson that corporate Managers learn the hard way, some never do.
The driver of the jeep was treated with respect due to any other memberofmy Father’s office. As small children, we were taught not to call him by hisname. We had to use the suffix ‘dada’ whenever we were to refer to him in public or private. When I grew up to own a car and a driver by the name ofRaju was appointed – I repeated the lesson to my two small daughters. They have, as a result, grown up to call Raju, ‘Raju Uncle’ very different from many of their friends who refer to their family drivers as ‘my driver’. When I hear thatterm from a school- or college-going person, I cringe.
To me, the lesson was significant – you treat small people with more respect than how you treat big people. It is more important to respect yoursubordinates than your superiors.
Our day used to start with the family huddling around my Mother’s chulha -an earthen fire place she would build at each place of posting where she would cook for the family. There was no gas, nor electrical stoves. Themorning routine started with tea. As the brew was served, Father would ask us to read aloud the editorial page of The Statesman’s ‘muffosil’ edition -delivered one day late. We did not understand much of what we were reading. But the ritual wasmeant for us to know that the world was larger than Koraput district and the English I speak today, despite having studied in an Oriya medium school, has to do with that routine. After reading thenewspaper aloud, we were told to fold it neatly.
Father taught us a simple lesson. He used to say, “You should leave your newspaper and your toilet, the way you expect to find it”.
That lesson was about showing consideration to others. Business beginsand ends with that simple precept.
Being small children, we were always enamored with advertisements in the newspaper for transistor radios – we did not have one. We saw other people having radios in their homes and each time there was an advertisement ofPhilips, Murphy or Bush radios, we would ask Father when we could get one.
Each time, my Father would reply that we did not need one because he already had five radios – alluding to his five sons. We also did not have ahouse Of our own and would occasionally ask Father as to when, like others, we would live in our own house. He would give a similar reply, “We do not need a house of our own. I already own five houses”. His replies did notgladden our hearts in that instant.
Nonetheless, we learnt that it is important not to measure personal success and sense of well being through material possessions.
Government houses seldom came with fences. Mother and I collected twigsand built a small fence. After lunch, my Mother would never sleep. Shewouldtake her kitchen utensils and with those she and I would dig the rocky, white ant infested surrounding. We planted flowering bushes. The white antsdestroyed them. My mother brought ash from her chulha and mixed it in the earth and we planted the seedlings all over again. This time, they bloomed.
At that time, my father’s transfer order came. A few neighbors told mymother why she was taking so much pain to beautify a government house, why she was planting seeds that would only benefit the next occupant. My mother replied that it did not matter to her that she would not see the flowers infull bloom.
She said, “I have to create a bloom in a desert and whenever I am given a new place,I must leave it more beautiful than what I had inherited”.
That was my first lesson in success. It is not about what you create foryourself it is what you leave behind that defines success.
My mother began developing a cataract in her eyes when I was very small. At that time, the eldest among my brothers got a teaching job at theUniversity in Bhubaneswar and had to prepare for the civil services examination. So, it was decided that my Mother would move to cook for him and, as her appendage, I had to move too. For the first time in my life, Isaw electricity in Homes and water coming out of a tap. It was around 1965 and the country was going to war with Pakistan. My mother was having problems reading and in any case, being Bengali, she did not know theOriya script.
So, in addition to my daily chores, my job was to read her the local newspaper – end to end. That created in me a sense of connectedness with a larger world. I began taking interest in many different things. Whilereading out news about the war, I felt that I was fighting the war myself. She and I discussed the daily news and built a bond with the larger universe.
In it, we became part of a larger reality. Till date, I measure mysuccessin terms of that sense of larger connectedness.
Meanwhile, the war raged and India was fighting on both fronts. Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minster, coined the term “Jai Jawan, JaiKishan” and galvanized the nation in to patriotic fervor. Other than readingout the newspaper to my mother, I had no clue about how I could be part of the action. So, after reading her the newspaper, every day I would land upnear the University’s water tank, which served the community. I would spendhours under it, imagining that there could be spies who would come to poisonthe water and I had to watch for them. I would day dream about catching oneand how the next day, I would be featured in the newspaper. Unfortunately for me, the spies at war ignored the sleepy town of Bhubaneswar and I never got a chance to catch one in action. Yet, that act unlocked my imagination.
Imagination is everything. If we can imagine a future, we can createit,if we can create that future, others will live in it. That is the essenceof success.
Over the next few years, my mother’s eyesight dimmed but in me shecreateda larger vision, a vision with which I continue to see the world and, Isense, through my eyes, she was seeing too. As the next few years unfolded, her vision deteriorated and she was operated for cataract. I remember,when she returned after her operation and she saw my face clearly for thefirst time, she was astonished. She said, “Oh my God, I did not know you were so fair”. I remain mighty pleased with that adulation even till date.
Within weeks of getting her sight back, she developed a corneal ulcerand,overnight, became blind in both eyes. That was 1969. She died in 2002. In all those 32 years of living with blindness, she never complained about herfate even once. Curious to know what she saw with blind eyes, I asked heronce if she sees darkness. She replied, “No, I do not see darkness. I only see light even with my eyes closed”. Until she was eighty years of age, shedid her morning yoga everyday, swept her own room and washed her ownclothes.
To me, success is about the sense of independence; it is about not seeing the world but seeing the light.
Over the many intervening years, I grew up, studied, joined the industryand began to carve my life’s own journey. I began my life as a clerk in agovernment office, went on to become a Management Trainee with the DCM group and eventually found my life’s calling with the IT industry whenfourth generation computers came to India in 1981. Life took me places – Iworked with outstanding people, challenging assignments and traveled all over the, world.
In 1992, while I was posted in the US, I learnt that my father, living aretired life with my eldest brother, had suffered a third degree burninjuryand was admitted in the Safderjung Hospital in Delhi. I flewback to attend to him – he remained for a few days in critical stage, bandaged from necktotoe. The Safderjung Hospital is a cockroac infested, dirty, inhuman place.The overworked, under-resourced sisters in the burn ward are both victims and perpetrators of dehumanized life at its worst.
One morning, while attending to my Father, I realized that the bloodbottle was empty and fearing that air would go into his vein, I asked thetending nurse to change it. She bluntly told me to do it myself. In that horrible theater of death, I was in pain and frustration and anger. Finallywhen she relented and came, my Father opened his eyes and murmured to her,”Why have you not gone home yet?” Here was a man on his deathbed but more concerned about the overworked nurse than his own state. I was stunned athis stoic self.
There I learnt that there is no limit to how concerned you can be foranother human being and what is the limit of inclusion you can create.
My father died the next day.
He was a man whose success was defined by his principles, his frugality,his universalism and his sense of inclusion. Above all, he taught me thatsuccess is your ability to rise above your discomfort, whatever may be your current state. You can, if you want, raise your consciousness above yourimmediate surroundings. Success is not about building material comforts -the transistor that he never could buy or the house that he never owned. Hissuccess was about the legacy he left, the memetic continuity of his idealsthat grew beyond the smallness of a ill-paid, unrecognized governmentservant’s world.
My father was a fervent believer in the British Raj. He sincerely doubted the capability of the post-independence Indian political parties to governthe country. To him, the lowering of the Union Jack was a sad event. MyMother was the exact opposite. When Subhash Bose quit the Indian National Congress and came to Dacca, my mother, then a schoolgirl, garlanded him.She learnt to spin khadi and joined an underground movement that trained her in usingdaggers and swords. Consequently, our household saw diversity in the political outlook of the two. On major issues concerning the world, the OldMan and the Old Lady had differing opinions.
In them, we learnt the power of disagreements, of dialogue and theessence of living with diversity in thinking. Success is not about the ability to create a definitive dogmatic end state; it is about theunfoldingof thought processes, of dialogue and continuum.
Two years back, at the age of eighty-two, Mother had a paralytic strokeand was lying in a government hospital in Bhubaneswar. I flew down from the US where I was serving my second stint, to see her. I spent two weeks withher in the hospital as she remained in a paralytic state. She was neither getting better nor moving on. Eventually I had to return to work. While leaving her behind, I kissed her face. In that paralytic state and agarbled voice, she said, “Why are you kissing me, go kiss the world.” Her river was nearing its journey, at the confluence of life and death, this woman who came to India as a refugee, raised by a widowed Mother, nomore educated than high school, married to an anonymous government servant whose last salary was Rupees Three Hundred, robbed of her eyesight by fate and crowned by adversity – was telling me to go and kiss the world!
Success to me is about Vision. It is the ability to rise above the immediacy of pain. It is about imagination. It is about sensitivity to small people. It is about building inclusion. It is about connectednesstoa larger world existence. It is about personal tenacity. It is about giving back more to life than you take out of it. It is about creating extra-ordinary success with ordinary lives.
Thank you very much; I wish you good luck and Godspeed. Go, kiss theworld.

One Horned Rhino

We have had the privilege of spending over 4 years in the beautiful state of Assam. The Kaziranga sanctuary is home to the one-horned rhino. Do not miss a trip to see this place if you do visit the state.

Other smaller sanctuaries also provide a home to this protected species.
The Orang sanctuary near Tezpur is one such. We had visited the place long ago in 1993 and had a hair raising but unforgettable experience.

Read about it here.


Mad ad world!

It is very heartening to know that our ads are making a mark at international ad forums. The ‘Happy Dent’ ad is said to have caused quite a stir a recent advertising award ceremony.

A supplement of the Economic Times has a very interesting section called ‘Best. Bekaar and Bewildered’. The experts analyse recent ads and put them into respective categories with a brief explaination for us ignorant masses. Do make it a point to check this section- usually on the last page of ‘Brand Equity’ supplement!

Yet, ads seem to coverge on us from every direction- at home- via TV, phones and door to door marketing. Once you leave the house advertisements are everywhere, hoardings, walls, radio, Internet etc etc.
How much do we register and does it really make a difference to our purchase decisions? Only the pundits will know….

My take as a hounded consumer has been selected at 4IW, click here to read on….


Most Important Person

Our home seemed to have lost its sweetness over the past two days and all because of me. Of course my admission comes only now and not even medieval torture instruments could have wrung it out of me in the time under discussion here! Anything out of place or a broken glass, or happening without my prior consent meant frowns, grumbles and in some cases a major eruption.

My husband lived in mortal fear of using the wrong towel to wipe cups or the wrong vessel to boil milk for tea. My daughter who normally needed several reminders to make her bed, clear her table or submit her lunch box for cleaning did all these jobs and more before I could even say good morning!

I hurried through the kitchen shouting orders for all at home. Besides my voice the only sounds were of banging vessels and slamming cupboard doors. I drove out for work brakes squealing. The reason for all this upheaval was the missing M.I.P in my life. Before you get visions of any issues with mutual fund Monthly Income Plan certificates let me get the record straight. I am referring to the Most Important Person: namely Shardakka our house help.

You see, she was on leave for a week and the onus of managing house chores fell on me. Naturally this phase coincided with the added work at my office too. You may well ask why did I not appoint a substitute? I hate new people walking all over my kingdom and have proudly declared that she (Shardakka) is not indispensable and ‘I Shall Manage’.

But day 1 itself took its toll and I was at the end of my patience. The garbage collector too disappeared and now I had to deal with overflowing garbage bins in addition to a sink piled high with dirty dishes. Overzealously I decided to clean fans and behind cupboards just to prove my capability. At the second fan itself, I bitterly regretted my decision and could not give up now and risk losing face. You see both my husband and daughter had advised me against this.

Murphy made his presence felt, as friends and relatives chose that weekend to drop by! More work, and everything had to be perfect which meant I was continuously with a backache and a huge list of pending jobs. I really wondered how Shardakka managed to get everything done so fast. That’s when I realized that she got right of way wherever she went in the house. Be it to sweep any room, deal with the wet clothes or vessels in the kitchen. My husband preferred to be out of the house when she went about restoring cleanliness and order every morning or else he had to move of each room the moment he settled down! This is another benefit of daily morning walks, which fitness experts never mention.

By evenings I was thoroughly drained out counting down days when she would be back again. My husband’s standard accusation is that I have never spoken to him as sweetly as I do to Shardakka, one that I hotly deny of course. She is never reprimanded for broken crockery or for unswept corners and cobwebs. Ditto for chopping vegetables instead of julienne or making soft dough for puris!

But don’t take my word for it; ask any self-respecting Indian home manager the state of a home without any help. The reassurance of having this M.I.P is as much as having a hefty bank balance! And don’t be misled by advertisements that make home cleaning or cooking look a breeze. None of us remotely resemble the beauty without a hair out of place when we have to wade through entangled clothes mass in the washing machine or wield the broom!

My backbreaking weeklong efforts paid off in familiarizing my family members with various temperamental cleaning apparatus and cleaning agents! By day 6, I could see the silver lining on the clouds as I almost sang my way through dusting the inexplicably large number of artifacts I had collected over the years. I grudgingly admitted that Shardakka too had family commitments, probably more so than mine. Her husband spent days in drunken stupor and four adult sons shamelessly depended on her. She needed the break and I would get mine the moment she returned to work! I can take on a busy work schedule simply because I can depend on her to manage my home front. I overlooked her shortcomings knowing both of us benefited from this association.

M.I.P./ V.I.P/ Symbiosis, either way, I answered the doorbell with a huge smile on Monday morning at 7 AM sharp only to find Shardakka’s husband saying she would return to work a couple of days later…

Published in Maharashtra Herald on 24 Nov 2007 and at: