If you have to ask you'll never know ! [L.Armstrong]... thats Louis not Lance.

Dec 24, 2009

Michael

There was Small Michael. Big Michael. Mike. Cycle Michael and Michael Bandy. The original bad boy. Named Bandy for the bow legs he's been born with. Said epithet used when Michael was beyond earshot. Three times over.Trouble found him even when he was running full tilt away from it. With teachers and peers. With neighbours whose fruit trees he'd raid. With hockey teams who sort to decapitate him before a match. Because with him playing all the eleven players of the opposition may as well have stayed home and done their cross stitch.

They'd gathered up outside the school gate to get him. In revenge for their defeat. With their instruments of revenge aptly their hockey sticks. He came out of the gate with school bag and nothing else. The dust cleared to the attackers on the run with one of their hockey sticks in Michaels hand. Those were odds of four to one that he emerged from. He was a year ahead of us at school. The teachers thought him notorious while to us he was famous. A legend.

At assembly pink slips were given out for major infractions of school rules. Michael was called upon often. Until the applause started. Everytime he was called up the whole assembly would burst out clapping.

Every Christmas we'd go for the Christmas tree to the gymkhana. Where there'd be a huge Christmas tree. With presents under it that Santa would come around and distribute.. Games, that rarely went beyond the lemon and spoon race, or sack race or a three legged race. The lemon and spoon was solo the sack race was solo but for the three legged race you needed a partner. From your age group and sex. Michael and me won it with yards to spare. Inspite of me.

In the corridors of St. Stanislaus my stature was big. Because Michael knew me and would say hi to me by name after I'd shouted out a hi Michael that even the teachers in St. Joseph's could hear. The next year it was the wheel barrow race. Which we won hands down. Michael had his hands down while I held his legs and held on for dear life while he raced us to victory.

The next Christmas he didn't show up for the Christmas tree . I' d still see him in school. He still said Hi. His legend was larger. Out of school he dropped off the radar. The grapevine brought news of him joining the oilfields. Of the fear his fellow riggers held him in. It started to go bad with substance abuse. White powders on bits of foil destroying he whom the god's themselves had lifted up. Till he found religion. Where his Thor like strength and determination was channeled into setting up stages and seating for prayer meetings and fellowships.

Then he was gone. Drowned in a well at Gorai where he'd gone for a picnic. With rumours abounding. How he'd been done in. He was too good a swimmer to drown. How an old enmity had caught up with him. Or that he'd been drunk. Or back to the powders.

Wild, free spirited, rebellious, dangerous, hard, tough you could run out of adjectives with him. But he was the guy who won races with me at the Bandra gym Christmas tree and in my years in primary school made me ten feet tall.

 

Dec 23, 2009

Carols 2009 Thank you,

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.

Sandia, Mahia, St. Catherines, Mihika, Suresh, Rachel, Neale , Megan 1, Rupert and Gsus, Merlyn and Rhys, Rajiv, Prabs, Paul and Junkt, Vasundhara, Jean Michael, Gordon, Brian [T], Brad, Spaz, JoAnne, Fiona, Edward, Raynah, Jason, Diele, Marie Paul, Corette, Nadine, Sr. Christabel, Dominique, Clint, The Belles and Beaux, Ian and Debbie, Aalia, Lena, Kishore, Bob, Brian [sound ], Giles, Jenny and Jeff, Megan 2 and the Petit Fours, Darryl and Neil.

Thank you for coming and singing and playing and dancing for us. Thank you for your Christmas presents. For bringing performances to our little road that are worthy of Carnegie Hall. For bringing Christmas home once again.

Thanks !


 

Dec 19, 2009

Carols 2009

CAROLS 2009 on St. Anthony's Road, 20th Dec Sun. 6.30 p.m.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year… ,Vasundhara Das, Marie Paul, Ian and Debbie Concessio, Siddharth ELVIS Meghani,Suzzane D’mello, Merlin & Rhys, , Rajiv Raja, Brian Tellis Neale and Megan Murray, The Jazz Junction from Goa, GSus [ The Christian Rock Band] ,Clarry Devisser, Dominique Cerejo, , Jean Michael Merchant, Dean Gregory, Suresh and Rachel Mendoza, Aalia and Mahia,The Fiona Miranda Quartet, The Jingle Bell Dancers,The Christmas Belles and Beaux, Joshua and Franco Vaz, It's fun and it's free.
St. Anthonys Road. From Pot Pourri towards Hill Road and then the first right turn.
BBQ and Bhelpuri. Santas gonna be there. And you ?
Please forward this to all on your mailing list.
Thx.See you Sunday.

Dec 17, 2009

Silicone.

Jeans were a big deal. So we knew there were Levi's and Wrangler's and Lees. Rich kids had them. The Malboro man had them. We had jeans stitched by Jean Junction in Elco-Arcade. But when you placed the order you were given a choice. Of labels. 501's downwards. Which transformed your Bandra made jeans to Made in USA. Which for us at that time was a big deal.

Made by USA. Which was the Ulhasnagar Sindhi Association. Did it ever really exist. This group of counterfeiters who were bypassing copyrights and forging everything. Music systems that had B &O on the front and Made in USA at the back. Bottles of Johnny Walker that had never heard the bagpipes but knew the sounds of a shennai. Watches that had Rolex spinning in their Swiss graves. With meters on the watch face that were just painted on. Millisecond displays forever frozen in time. Which lasted till it rained. Then the humididty of Bombay would mist over the watch which was tested for 300 mts underwater and the time of the day joined Alfred , Agatha and Gardner's stories. We had Ray Bands and Eau dee Colon. Cigarettes that no self respecting beedi smoker would inhale. But packaged in Ulhasnagar by Rothmans and sons, and the Bombay branch of Phillip Morris and Co. Scents. Yes they were called scents, not perfumes, were similarly elevated. Charlie by Mansukhani and Bros. with essences from Ismail Attarwalla ,Bhendi bazaar. Quality Street chocolates that let you know first hand what the bitter fake tasted like. Cassettes. Those Sony's and TDK's and BASF's and Maxwells. C-7 masquerading as C -45' or C- 90's. [ For all you callow youth who don't know what that is, the C denoted the running time of the cassette. C-90, 90 minutes, etc.there was no such thing as a C-7, officialy. ]

Things really got bad when they started faking the fakes. The fake giant sized Dollar bills with a clock in them. The table top fake Ferrari. The fake replicas of the fake Eiffel Tower and fake Statue of Liberty.

But Manmohanji with his policy of liberalization put paid to this duplicity. So we had Samantha Fox visit Mumbai. Are they real ? Who cares?


 

Dec 15, 2009

Tea anyone ?

Every day we would rush back from school. With our opening words as we entered the house being
“ What’s for tea?”
Watercress sandwiches and crumpets ? Pate de foie gras or apple strudel ? Ha !
Puri bhaji ! Which went down different ways. You could roll the bhaji in the puri. You could sandwich it between two puris. You could take a bite of puri followed by a spoonful of bhaji. But you ate it fast. Too fast for the mother’s puri frying to keep pace with. But cutting the puris out with an upturned vattee was as much fun as trying to fry the strips of dough left behind . On days when the Mother was stretched it was Marie biscuits for tea. Ten each. Counted out from a big steel box. With a glass of milk. If you haven’t dipped a marie biscuit into a glass of hot milk and then pulled it out soggy, you have’nt lived. It’s an art form. To dip the biscuit. But for how long ? Too short a time and you might as well have not dipped it at all. Too long and the biscuit fell away. Gravity claiming it’s share which you could only recalimingly slurp when the glass was empty. With a lot of practice you could raise the ante. Two biscuits at a time . And if you managed three that qualified for a doctorate.
Sooji. With plums and cashews. Which we would roll into ladoos. And play pool on our plates with. Or dissolve in the glass of milk. Quietly. Because that was disgusting behavior and frowned upon. The crème de la creme was bread pudding. Which was steamed in special containers inside the pressure cooker. Which would be upturned to be drawn and quartered.
“Her piece is bigger than mine”
“They’re both the same and eat it quietly otherwise you wont even get that “ would proclaim King Solomon aka Mummy.
It was always home made. In these pre Candies , pre Andora, pre Frito Lays days. On birthdays it would be cake. On the day after the birthday if you were lucky it was also cake. The only cake you saw on non-birthday days were cake crumbs. That Venus bakery sold by the kilo. Which would be drowned in custard and offered up at the altar of tea. Jelly was another special. With the custard coming into service once more. The Mother preferred soluble, crumbly items. They could’nt be purloined of a distracted siblings plate. Not without leaving a trail to the offenders door. Which made the judgement of King Solomon fast and retribution faster.
Don’t ever look away if someone says “ see crow.”

Dec 14, 2009

The Three kings

She was an old lady. With a large house and alone. It would be nice to have someone around the house. The children were gone. To greener , more foreign, more distant lands. The childrens bedroom had three beds.

So it was advertised. PG accommodation available. Triple sharing basis. Attached bath. Boys only. That's what the neighbours had recoomended. They said girls caused more trouble at home. The boys went out and caused trouble.

From Surat, Sholapur and Vizag. Three men seeking their fortune in the city.

You'll can't use the phone.

No need Aunty we have mobiles.

You'll can't use the geyser for more than 5 minutes everyday.

Sure Aunty three is enough to have a bath.

No cooking in the house.

Of course Aunty we've arranged a dabba.

No ironing.

The dhobi will come every day don't worry.

Still she watched them. To see that none of the no's were infringed.

Soon they were having a cup of tea together every morning. They helped her change the curtains. Took the raddi to the raddiwalla . Got a plumber to fix her leaking kitchen tap. She allowed them to use the living room TV. The children wanted to know if she had references for them. Had their home addresses in case they vanished without paying their rent. Or worse.

"No, No. They won't do anything like that. They're good boys. "

"Just be careful okay."

Soon they were included in her daily prayers. Alongwith the grandchildren far away.

Advent came. With the carol singers and sweets. Her three PG's helped her ready her house. Climbing onto stools to get the cobwebs out of the fans. Changing curtains that had not been changed for so long that the sun had faded them. Putting up the Christmas tree that one of them found on top of a cupboard that needed cleaning. Brassoing the front door till it shone like gold. Washing window panes so that the outside could be seen once more.

Christmas day came and she'd cooked a family lunch. For her PG's from Surat, Sholapur and Vizag who had brought voices into her empty home.  


 


 


 

Dec 13, 2009

Sweet 'n' Low

Every year the sweet making would begin as Christmas came closer. Mother [ Ok Ok Mummy ] had a lieutenant. Pavitra. The Hindi speaking maid. The General and the lieutenant. With three footsoldiers.Us. The General would plan the operation. Strategically. With labour intensive sweets distributed evenly with easier ones. The milkcream spaced away from the marzipan. So that the table space used for banging the forms, so that the milkcream fell like manna didn’t short change the multicoloured apples and oranges marzipan. The favourite of the footsoldiers were the rolypollies. { N: Sing Rolypoly. Plu –ies}. So while the cocnut tartlets were being filled we’d want to know if we could start on the rolypollies. Tommorow. When the date rolls were being rolled. Can we start on the rollypollies? Tommorow. The Lieutenant when similarly questioned would give us the same answer. Days would go by . The neoris would be ready. Cakes and nankaties. The latter would be dressed with bits of fruit preserve. Silver edible balls their crowning glory. Rollypollies? Tommorow. Tommorow. The General would promise. While checking that the Lieutenants command of English was accurate enough to read the numbers on the kitchen scale. And 180 gms of castor sugar was 180 and not 130.
With so much on their minds the rollypollies being the simplest were always left for the last. And so it went. Tommorow tomorrow. Or as the lieutenant would say. Kal. And when really harried repeat herself Kal kal. And that’s how the kul kul’s got their name.

Dec 11, 2009

John William Cheever (May 27, 1912 – June 18, 1982)

They were both from the same place. Wondering how they hadn't ever met till they did. The stars exploded and the colours around them grew more vibrant. They whispered life changing commitments into each others ears. While everyone around them looked at them and thought " Perfect" .

It was. A perfect life. Where their children grew up. Without teenage angst and rebellion. With togetherness and understanding and PTA meetings that they would both attend. With visits to the country and the once every two years holiday abroad. With albums filled with four smiling faces. Till the advent of digital cameras when the smiling faces, a little older now shifted to screensavers. While the neighbours were battling about the children's custody. They contributed their bit to the church collection. His promotions were on cue. The correct percentages of income saved for pensions, holidays,childrens education, daughters marriage and health insurance. Which hopefully they would never need. They didn't. While around them cancer seemed almost epidemic. While not the first family definitely quite high up.

The grandchildren were read bed time stories. The gold retirement watch told him when it was time for the evening news. The chotta peg before dinner. The Saturday glass of wine for her. While property litigations and inheritance battles raged. They'd both made their wills. Hopefully nothing like this would ever be visited upon their kids. It was'nt . The kids got together every Christmas . Where they were remembered in the grace before meals. It had been a perfect life and the worm in the apple never emerged.

Dec 10, 2009

The Secret Santa

It's an obstacle course. The little stretch from the station building to the bus stop. Just across the road. You first have to negotiate your way out of the station past the TC. It's not that he didn't have a ticket just that showing him his pass and waiting while he checks wheter it's valid would slow him down. So a little detour around the blind lottery ticket seller took care of that. Then past the line of rickshaws. With one person getting out and five struggling to get in. First person in gets the rickshaw. All okay there until someone plays dirty and gets in from the other side. A touchdown at both ends of the field. Together. King Solomon where are you when we need you?

The hijras don't bother him. Because he's alone. It's the couples and women they go after. Or maybe they know his bank balance. Or maybe they know that someone headed for the 221 bus stop is not going to part with too much of his loose change. Into the traffic lane behind the rickshaws. The one the BEST buses heading for the depot mistake for Le Mans. The one which James after dropping his lordship off is going thru to get the memsaab to the parlour in time for her pedicure and James is'nt sparing the horses. On to the divider where before him is a sea of people. Prostrating themselves for their weekly namaaz. Watching out for fingers and toes he makes it thru the first round of auditions for Swan Lake and finds himself at the bus stop. Where a bus draws up and he can actually get in. Not cling to the handle on the doorstep like someone from Gemini Circus. The bus hits Turner road. Which halfway thru becomes Perry road. Why ? And how? How can a road have one name for the first half and another for the second ? His stop is coming up. The loose change gets him the ticket. And the idiot kid in the Maruti crashes into him as he alights.

Flat out. So that's what a car looks like from underneath. The whole world gathers around. The pro active folk pull him out from under the car. The most pro active folk pull the rich brat out of the Maruti. Land him a few slaps.

Can he walk? Seems okay. Shirts torn though. The brat is looking shaken. Sorry. Sorry. He's offering to pay. Are those big red ones he's taking out of his wallet ? He shakes his head at the brat to say no, nothing was required. The kid thinks he's saying no, it's not enough. More big red ones on which the Father of the nation's benign smile is now a full fledged grin.
Ho! Ho! Ho! It's going to be a good Christmas

Dec 9, 2009

B & W

On a Tue evening the time for the family rosary was preponed. From 7.00 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. That meant a half hour less of play time. But did we mind ? We’d asked for it. Because at 7,00 Sports Round Up was on. The one of two TV programs that we watched. With rabbit ear antennae. Sports round up was one. The other was a moving target. Here’s Lucy. Where the red haired Lucille Ball was red haired only in the magazines because on Doordarshans black and white broadcast her hair was grey. The Count of Monte Cristo. Escaping from his island jail and going forth into the world. The Invisible Man with his bandaged head and RayBans. And fedora. That when it came off the bad guys were in trouble. Guns taken from said Bad guys hands and turned around to thump same bad guy or guys upon head. It’s all done with wires. The local SFX experts proclaimed.
Fireball XL5. I’d love to be spaaaaaceman in fireball xl5. Tell me you don’t remember the tune.
I’d fly across the world with……Zoonie. Oh Zoonie where are you now with your seductive metallic voice and dumb blonde attitude . Charlie Chaplin with his oversize shoes and large bearded Rasputin like adversaries.
Sometimes we’d see german viilagers. Matching each other in inane challenges. Glorified lemon and spoon races. Over under and into water hazards.In TeleMatch. While we cheered from a few thousand miles and a couple of years away. Wondering when they would use their joker. And taking sides against Unterflaggenspiel with Bittersiehamburgestadt. Depending on which tem had the prettier Frauleins.
This was the regular fare. Which would be spiced up with other truly rivettting, heart stopping, edge of the seat, nail biting programming. Like the Republic day Parade. Or science report. After a point in time they were indistinguishable from each other. Competing for honors with the recital of the rosary in putting us to sleep .

Dec 8, 2009

Mumbai's First's

The first anniversary has come and gone. The speeches have stopped and the various ceremonies over. Ceremonies of different religions whereprayers are held to commemorate a life rudely interrupted a year ago. Or the temporary grave marker is replaced with a permanent gravestone. Because the mud in a freshly filled grave takes a year to settle down.
At The Taj and at the Oberoi were our leaders. Our captains of industry. People who regularly decided the fate of all the many minions who worked for them. People who led from the front.
Hadn’t even one of them seen Air Force One? Where Harrison Ford being the President of America takes his plane back from the terrorists. Takes it back himself. Doesn’t send waiters and bell hops to take the flak. Doesn’t cower behind curtains. Doesn’t wait like a lamb to be slaughtered or led to safety by rescuing firefighters or commandos. Tales of bravery there were a plenty after that day last November. But the bravery of simpler people. People who served the guests. Guests who were looked up to as strong and decisive in the course of a normal day. Who were considered smart because of the wealth they’d accrued. Six terrorists against a few hundred. Yeah I know those six had guns. And grenades. And training. While the few hundred didn’t even know what was happening. Sure. Not even after two days. Not even after cell phoe updates and news bulletins that played out on the large flat screen TV’s . So we had heroes who caught a train every day to work from the distant suburbs of Mumbai. Who changed into uniforms when they reached their place of work. Who had ration cards and EMI’s. Who never held sway over anyone else’s paycheck. Who were at the head of lines seeking escape routes.
Of course. If you are the guy who collects the laundry left outside hotel rooms that’s a much higher qualification to be the rescuer than someone who spends 5 hours every week on the golf course and twenty in a board room.
“Cccan you get my file back. It’s important . I think I left it in the coffee shop. “
For the sake of that file a life was lost. While a stupid politico was giving away, where he was hidden away with the sound bites to the TV channel over his cell phone. The list goes on. Of the bravery of the little people. Who died trying to save the ass of someone who did’nt have the balls to do anything other than save his own.
RIP
Hemant Karkare
Ashokrao Kamathe
Tukaram Ombale
Vijay Sahdev Salaskar
Arun Chitte
Ms. Mehanabi Salim Hahharwala
Salim Ali Harharwala
Subhash Vanmali Vaghela
Peerpasha Mehboob Alisheikh
Shashank Chandrasen Shinde
Prakash More
Vijay Khandekar
M L Chaudhari
Babban Babu Hugade
Aijazbhai Haji Imansahab Dalal
Rahimatullah
Jayawant Hanumata Patil
Yogesh Shivaji Patil
Babusaheb Dhurgude
Ambadas Pawar
Babasaheb Chandrakant Bhosale
Sitaram Mahalba Sakhare
Mukesh Bikaji Jadhav
Kamal Nanakram Motwani
Bret Gilbert Taylor (Australia)
Ms Meera M Chaterjee
Michael Stuart Moss (Australia)
Ashfar Ali Shaikh
Sareena Sasuddin Sheikh
Nitesh Vijaykumar Sharma
Gaurav Walchand Jain
Malyesh Manvendra Banerjee
Jugaran Hedriz Rudolph (German)
Thomas Verghese
Sadanand Patil
Steve Darfane (German)
Ms Neeta Prakash Gaikwad
Abbas Razzaq Ansari
Ms Rakhila Abbas Ansari
Sarjerao Sadashiv Bhosale
Wilson Baburao Mandlik
Mohammed Ilyas Ansari
Kainath Nagar Kamruddin
Andes Don Tevera (British)
T Suda D Lashi (Chinese)
Farooq Dinshaw Ehaliya
Maibeb Vimanchandra
Antinio D Lorenza (Italy)
Sandeep Unni krishnan
Ms Ami Vipinchandra Thakar
Jordan Gracy Fernandes
Ms Gehara Kanamani alias Jina (Thailand)
Sunil Shevti Parekh
Ms Reshma Sunil Parekh
Ajit Srichandra Chabaria
Ms Monica Ajit Chabaria
Sanjay Vijay Agarwal
Rita Sanjay Agarwal
Rahul Subhash Shinde
Ms Harsha Mohit Azrani
Mohit Kanahya Hazrani
Allan Michael Share (America)
Ms Helen Konoli (Canada)
Ms Uma Govind Garg
Eklaq Mohammed Mushtaq Ahmed
Pankaj Sompad Shah
Ravidas
Lokayu Michael Pudedan (Singapore)
Gajendra Singh
Ashok Kapur
Anant Suryadutt Bhatt
Rohin Baji
Kannobhai Javeribhai Patel
Maqsood Mubarak Ali Sheikh
Rivika Gabrial Holtsberg (Israel)
Rabbi Gabriel Holtsberg (Israel)
Feriz Gimal Ahmak Khan
Rabbi Ben Zion Chromin (Israel)
Ms Sabina Saikia
Udaysingh Karamveer Singh Kang
Nitishsingh Karamveer Singh Kang
Samveer Singh Karamveer Singh Kang
Ms. Yokovit Mosho Uspaz (Israel)
Hemakshi Pillai
Rabbi Arye Teitelbaum (Israel)
Sushil Kumar Sharma
Arkha Solanki
Sunil Thakre
Kajhi Thakre
Vinod Gupta
Abu Ismail
Mohammed Amanat Ali
Chandulal Tandel
Prakash Sandal
Boris Arban Rego
Gunjan Narang
Vijay Thana
Neelam Narang
Burki Ralph (Germany)
Muti Arjun Ansari
Rupinder Devendra Wadhawa
Ravi Kunvar
Saptakam Rehmatullah Shaukat Ali
Murti Pavastin
Hasibul Rehman Fajuddin Rehman Shaikh
Aditya Ashok Yadav
Deepali Janardhan Chitekar
Raju Janardhan Chitekar
Mohammed Kukhtar Mallik
Noorul Islam Azahar Mulla
Ms Shashabai Baburao Khratmal
Aminabegum Hamid Sheikh
Shirish Savla Chari
Afreen S Qureshi
Sanjay Surve
P K Gopalkrishna
Thakur Budha Vaghela
Ms Jasmine
Vijay Katkar
Bhagan Gangaram Shinde
Aziz Nabullal Rampuri
Shoeb Ahmed Shaikh
Misarilal Morya
Shahabuddin S Khan
Harishbhai D Goyal
Zahir Sayyed Nasir Ali

Dec 7, 2009

This Christmas!

Every year growing up he’d look at the Christmas cards. That came from everywhere. With their pictures of snow and Christmas trees. With fire places that burnt golden over Santas stuck in chimneys. Far removed from here where if the fan wasn’t on you broke into a sweat. Here, where the closest thing you saw to snow was when you scraped the frost out of the deep freeze. And he told himself that one day he’d see a real Christmas.
See the snow fall. And figure out how they said that each snowflake was unique. While he ate turkey and drank eggnog. Stoking up the fire as the flames went low. He’d done it. He was in the land of snow and turkey. A land where every shop was decorated for the season. Where every house on every street had something on display that celebrated Christmas. Even the subway had happy xmas grafitti. They’d just spelt xmas, XXXmas.
Funny, more than offensive.
A light snowfall as if on order. To bring those old Christmas cards to life. A mass where the preacher was inspired. The fellowship after almost made him feel at home. The real Christmas tree that towered over everyone as they stood around singing carols. Call it a night and head to bed. Gotta call home first. Maybe that would fill the hole that all the Christmas trees and snow and turkey and street corner and mall Santa’s couldn’t fill.

Dec 5, 2009

Frunky Snow

by Mahia [10 yrs ] who has her own blog called frunkydays.blogspot.com


Christmas is always happy. Buying gifts. Making sweets. Writing letters to Santa. Santa and Rudolph are always very busy at this time of the year. Mrs. Claus making sweets too. Santa must be taking lots of time to make the toys. He must be giving last years asked gifts this year. That is why you don’t get the things you ask for. There’s only one thing that’s missing in Christmas in Bandra. That’s Snow. But what if…….The curl on the waves on band stand will be snow. Damians will have real snow instead of fake snow(and our Christmas trees too). Fake fire places will have to be made real.The stores will run out of hot chocolate (they hardly had any anyways). The best part- no school for how much ever time the snow remains(snow please remain long). The trees will be forced cone shape(imagine having a coconut tree cone shaped). Driving would be smooth because the snow would fill up all the potholes in the road. Pollution would be replaced by frost(its so cool the cars engine gives out frost).
But we hope………and we have to hope too long.

pl write to Mahia at choclitina@gmail.com and let her know what you think of her piece.

Dec 4, 2009

Oh Christmas Tree!

Christmas is coming. The geese are getting fat. Ok not geese. Broilers. The trees are getting taller. In the building compound.
Our Christmas tree hasn’t grown an inch from its inception. Because it’s plastic. The successor of a tree that had wire branches and tinsel leaves. But on the fakeness scale was right up there with Pamela Anderson’s twins. The plastic tree looks more real. The fall of the leaves more natural. On the scale, Katie Price aka Jordan. It’s retrieved from it’s box on the loft. Held under the tap to wash of a years accumulated dust. Left out to dry. The pot that holds the dead ficus is commissioned. The dead ficus dumped. The interlocking base of the tree is jammed into the pot and covered up with mud. Which is then covered up with cotton pretending to be snow. The box labeled Xmas tree decorations is opened. To pour forth a cornucopia of colored balls, the Ashtavinayak Santas. On a sleigh. In a rocking chair. Sliding down a chimney top. Bell in hand. Posing for passport picture. The angels. Big and small. Fat cherubs cheek by jowl with the Gold’s gym type. A group of them playing harps and lyres. Thermocole candles. Little presents wrapped in pretty paper. Fake chocolates with little hanging hooks. Rudolph the red nosed reindeer with a cellotaped tail. Even a miniature Christmas tree. Strands of tinsel in gold and silver which thanks to the passage of time had all faded into a matching indeterminate bronze. Candy canes and holly wreaths. The pine cones that had been brought back from a long ago holiday in Kashmir. Some painted silver and some au natural. Stars in all shapes and sizes. Big giants and little dwarfs. With one in silver that fits right at the top of the tree. The old set of lights is kept back in the box. The new Made in China lights will light up the tree this year.
And after the ornaments have been hung and the tinsel cascaded down in uniform folds with a uniform distribution of lights more snow falls on the tree . While the temperature outside is still in the upper twenties. After all the Non Sterile cotton from Bandra Medical stores is exhausted it’s ready. Ready for Christmas eve when after, we’re all at midnight mass Santa will find his way here Guided by the twinkling lights. So that when we return the same twinkling lights and our Christmas punch tainted vision make our tree the best Christmas tree in the world.

Dec 3, 2009

Sweet dreams.

Christmas morning or Christmas eve. That’s when we exchange sweets. In plates or trays or boxes. Sweets that till last week were just items on a shopping list. Cashews for marzipan. Adulterated with just a smattering of peanuts if the bonus was not as large as Jo-boy thought it would be. Or if he bought the bottle of Chivas instead of the RC. [ No not Roman catholic , that’s for when you’re talking about religious persuasions.When it’s liquor RC is Royal Challenge. ] No one will know the difference. Ha. In your dreams Joboy. In your dreams. Because they will.
If there were less than ten different types on the plate the missus would be getting sympathetic glances for months. And diplomatic Aunty Mabel might even ask if everything was okay at work. If the count for variety reached double digits, quality would then be inspected. And if she tasted peanuts in the marzipan Mabel would condescendingly sympathise about no bonus in these recessionary times. While she handed over her plate of sweets. Wrapped up in serviettes that had Christmas scenes printed on them in gold leaf. Under the mattress with that. It’s too good to throw away.
Two types of cake. Fruit and sponge. Hell theres more rum in her cake than there was in my glass last night. Show off. All JoBoy had were two slices from the bar cake from Venus bakery. Which were trying hard to masquerade as home-made.
Dos. Dos that Jo Boy calls gram sweet. And to cut a fine point there is a 0.000097 % difference in the amount of sugar that differentiates East Indian gram sweet from Goan dos. JoBoy does’nt know or care. The courier who came to the door is why the milkcream is not the pristine white it should be. And poor misguided Joboy again thinks that milkcream by any other color is still milkcream. But the missus knows that if its not virginal snowy white it might as well be chikki. Enough with the sweets as she tries to steer Mabel towards how midnight mass if not held at midnight can’t be called midnight mass. But Mabel insists she tries her marshmallows. So soft . So pink. So nice. And her date roll, and her kul kuls
What?
Oh fudge Aunty Mabel. What I said was Oh Fudge. Chocolate is’nt it?
She looks at the missus funnily as she heads back up the stairs with our plate from Cheap Jack covered up with a serviette that came out of a box that had a picture of a Sardarji a Mussalman, a Brahmin pandit and other characters that proclaimed Jackson Tissues and National Integration in the same breath, while visions of sugar plums danced in our heads.

Away in a train compartment.

The usual push shove climb to get in. a few months from now they would probably step aside for her. But not yet. Nothing showed. Not the fear as to how she would be a mother. Or the fear of the wrath of her father. Or the scorn of her neighbours. Not, for what she did. But for the stupidity of not being careful.
She could’nt raise a child. Not yet, not when she was barely learning to take care of herself. She’d heard that there was a home in Andheri where you had the baby and then left. Leaving the baby there for strangers to take home. Ads plastered the walls.Brilliant Tutorials, Juliet Bras and Panties ,Pearl Centre. Was that a message from God? Maybe. Maybe she’d just stay on the train and never get off. From now to infinity moving along train tracks that went from here to there and back.
Whichever way she looked at it , there was no silver lining. He’d always said he did’nt want to get married until he had a house of his own. He might as well be asking for the moon. She had’nt told him yet. But he’d soon know. Everybody would. Jack Nicholson. He’d been brought up by his grandmother. Thinking his mother was his sister. Maybe her baby too would be rich and famous one day. In spite of his careless parents.
As the train pulled into the station she sees the message light flashing on her phone. 12 missed calls and 1 message. Calls that had been drowned out by train wheels and other conversations. All from him. She’d call back as soon as she was off the train.
SMS. Aunt Gertie died. Mom says lft flat 2 me. Will u marry me?

Dec 2, 2009

A Mumbai Christmas Story.

They set up the crib. In the living room cum bedroom cum dining room cum study that formed one of the two rooms they called home. The neighbours all came to see it. Every evening they’d gather around the crib for the rosary.
"Why is Jesus crying ?" asked the littlest .
"What?"
"See he has a tear drop ."
They wiped it away from the little statue in the crib and it was gone. But it was back again the next day. And the next.
Soon a frenzy. Even the Parish priest coming in to see for himself the miracle of the weeping baby Jesus. A line in the passage outside. It was playing hell with their daily schedule.
Sodom and Gommorah . That’s why he was crying. For the sins of the world. For the waywardness of the world. For the acts of war and genocide. For the starving millions in Africa. For the lack of vocations to the seminary. For the blatantness of the page 3 pin up. For the way the terrosists attacked the city.
Soon the tears were a flood.
Damn! The bathroom on the floor above was leaking.