Tuesday, February 28, 2006


A recent conversation with a person who returned from the US after a six month stay there got me thinking. Why am I not enamoured of that land despite the fact that more than half my family is there? These dual citizens seem to have the best of both the worlds – the developed and developing - and truckloads of money. Why is it that I can’t bring myself to accept the offers to sponsor me to become a green card holder?
Mebbe it’s patriotism ; or is it the fear of being uprooted? loss of identity?
Too tired to indulge in an introspection and an analysis. It’s past midnight and don’t have the energy for an intellectual exercise- but I don’t mind looking back at a certain experience I had in the US, which might hold a clue to the answer.
While in the US on a brief visit, I found myself walking along the waterfront in Florida early one morning. There was a row of fenced houses along the waterfront and I was walking briskly on the broad lawn between the houses and the water. All on a sudden a bulldog jumped over the low fencing of a house and charged towards me. I stood there petrified- and the dog also stopped - I got a feeling that the beast also was as scared as I was, and the thought flashed through my mind that it was ‘cos of the salwar kameez I wore which might have made me appear like an alien to that ugly creature (by the way I’m not one of those ardent animal lovers – I prefer human beings). Anyway I stood rooted to the spot for sometime staring at the dog. All right. I can’t stand there for ever – and nobody seemed to be in sight ( what on earth made me venture out all alone in this land where toddlers carry guns to the nursery?) – thought I’ll pick up a stone and looked down - the lawn was so well kept that I couldn’t find even a pebble. The creature suddenly seemed to muster some courage and started moving slowly towards me. I made motions of picking up a stone, and aimed at it. It worked - the thing jumped back and began snarling at me ( ever seen a bulldog snarling – God! don’t people have any aesthetic sense? keeping such a thing as a pet???!) . I repeated this gimmick a couple of times but soon the creature saw through my bluff and started walking towards me – God almighty, I was terrified!! Just then I saw a welcome sight- a well-built middle aged gentlemanly looking white man appeared and was jogging in the direction of the dog and me. The dog also spotted him and appeared to wait for him. I was relieved – at least I will have company in my misery. Still better, a person who will shoo away the animal. The man drew closer but did not seem to slacken his pace as he neared me – soon he was alongside me but he didn’t appear to see/care for the desperate plea in my eyes. And as he passed by me without stopping or even acknowledging the presence of a damsel in distress, I called out to him. THE DOG IS TROUBLING ME, I said. NOT MY DOG, he replied without looking at me, without even altering his pace ever so slightly!!! The days of chivalry are indeed over, thought I with a sinking heart. I felt an intense longing for India where, I felt, even a beggar would have used his stick to ward off the dog - - - - --- .
That stupid creature turned back to me and was in a mood to continue from where he had left off, when a woman came to the wicket gate and called out to the dog. It bounded back to the fence , leapt over it and walked back to the house along with the woman. It threw a couple of backward glances at me which made the woman stop in her tracks, turn around and glare at me as though I were the canine creature indulging in bullying !! God knows what she thought I was up to! Not that I care a damn!

So much for the man, the woman and the animal of the developed world!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Beatles and me

I must have been in my early teens when the Beatle mania burst into my part of the world. John, George, Paul and Ringo filled my small world, leaving space for none else. Those were days of the turntables, spool tapes and radiograms. I used to keep the spool tape ready and wait expectantly, tensely for a Beatle number to be announced on the radio, then bounce to the tape recorder & switch it on when McCartney’s voice drifted from the radiogram, through the disturbance and all.
Of course the elders were disapproving – of the Hard Days Night and the No Reply----; and ‘when my heart went zoom’ my father's face would turn livid, and would look as though he’d have a blood vessel burst when the voice scaled higher & higher with ‘miiiiiiine!’.
It didn’t improve matters when my siblings started demanding that their trousers be stitched skin tight and they be permitted to grow hair. On the last count my father held his ground but lost out on all the rest to the Beatles. We begged and pleaded and managed a good collection of The Beatles LP's and singles.
Now, I’m well into fifties and must confess that I never really grew out of the Beatles. I have tried to analyse this lifelong obsession with this group. It’s funny, the way I sit bolt upright when I hear a Beatles number unexpectedly or the way I buy a magazine if there’s some indication that there’s an article on them inside-----. Initially, I toyed with the idea of presenting a research paper on their lyrics but soon gave up the idea because the requirements of research and its methodology can never provide space to reveal the way this alien group dominated my childhood imagination, then pursued me with different types of appeal in all stages of my life and continues to create an intense, almost unbearable nostalgia with Yesterday and And I Love Her and I should have known better------------
If you think long enough on it, it’s strange how in those days when we never saw their live performance on TV, when all we had were stills of LIFE magazines which I treasured till recently, we KNEW how they performed, how they looked in action! and the shots we saw much later were not any different from what we imagined them to be. Could it be that they are an extension of some suppressed impulse in you waiting for release?
Paul was my favorite; maybe because it was his voice that rendered all those numbers in an untrained but irresistible style, and which sent my mind thru' the English countryside that I’ve never visited. He is still capable of evoking pictures of the aging Eleanor Rigby looking out of her lonely window or a 64 year old couple in the Isle of Wight with grandchildren Vera, Chuck and Dave on their knee!
And their melody, I wish I knew enough about music to go into its intricacies. But this I know. There are very few songs that move me like And I Love Her and Yesterday. Never have I heard such absolute harmony of the sentiments and strain as in these two songs!.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Am the type who gets weak kneed each time I have to board a flight -made a trip by jet airways recently. doesn’t help when the Titanic signature tune is played repeatedly during the course of the flight. On nearing Mumbai, the aircraft couldn’t land on account of non-availability of runway- it circled over the Mumbai airport for half an hour waiting for the signal – circled to the tune of Titanic – believe me it was horrible – one reads about coincidences – and despite my efforts, my overactive imagination went berserk and there flashed before my mind’s eye images of the next day’s newspaper with clever headlines about a disaster---kept my eyes shut tight – and then, O God, that titanic tune came floating down again- it was too much – shut my eyes even tighter and put my head down – my co passenger thought I was going to be sick and reminded me about that a bag was in the seat pocket if I wanted to throw up- didn’t respond – appealed to all the saints in the heavens – reminded St. Christopher that I had asked him before I left home to take care of me – thought I’d approach someone closer to the Almighty – Angel of God, my guardian dear - - - -cried my panicking heart – thud-bump-bump-thought it was over – my eyes flew open to catch a glimpse of this beautiful life before the flames consumed me – and then - -lo and behold!!! - we had landed -----