Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Marginalised India - Can I Wish it Away?

When I got this forward, I opened it reluctantly. I thought it must have something to do with the BPL versus the rest of India - APL and above, reaching all the way up to the India of billionaires.

Bachchan’s two Indias were 1. the India on the leash, rearing to go charged by optimism and 2. the leash that is India, that skeptical India looking fearfully down at the bottom of the ravine, asking the leashed India to prove itself and only then it’ll be unleashed.

What struck me was the terrible truth that the class represented by Bachchan is totally oblivious to that India, which starves, hungers, thirsts for the basic amenities, to that India which lives in darkness where electricity is unheard of, to that India which is uprooted, and deprived of livelihood and a roof above its head, to that India for which roti kapada aur makhan is the ultimate and unachievable goal.

I hated this forward for I too belong to this callous India, rearing to go, about to make history and earn all those adjectives, which the world is showering on it!

I too belong to that India which snatches bread from the hungry India and demolishes the tiny hut which gave it shelter from wind and rain and scorching sun so that I can have live in air-conditioned comfort, or travel in hi tech cars.

I belong to that India which kicks another India out of its home all the way to giant metros to live on footpaths and be resented and insulted by the denizens of those big cities.

This forward reminded me of my sins.

And I don’t want to be reminded.

Or feel guilty.

I’d rather continue to bury my head in the sand like the proverbial ostrich, and continue to exist in my ivory tower- -

Till that day the deprived India rises

And guillotines me.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ms. Arundathi Roy - Stop Meddling Please!

I love reading Arundathi Roy’s articles, even though she tends to ramble. I love her language – its surprise turns. She is a lover of human race, and an ardent advocate of equity. Her earnestness reflects in her style, in her imagery. She becomes extremely poetic at times. She is genuine, not a publicity monger, as many make her out to be. I can sense that when i read her works.

But her position regarding the Maoists and Kashmir, well, it’s a big question mark for me. I cannot subscribe to her views. That’s because i think like an Indian citizen. Roy’s concerns cut across political boundaries, while she enjoys the freedoms and benefits of Indian democracy. She sees herself as a citizen of the community of human beings where there are the privileged and the underprivileged, where there is miscarriage of justice against which she feels the need to raise her voice.

I think like an Indian and i feel that when my country is going through a crisis, i should not do anything or say things which can put the state in a difficult situation. That’s my idea of patriotism, of loyalty to my country. Maybe that’s how nonentities think.

My knowledge of the Kashmir in not that of an expert, but of the average Indian who is convinced that the government of India’s position on Kashmir has been the right one. No matter which government is in power, the Kashmir policy has always remained the same.

We know that right from the time of accession, there has been discontentment among several elements in Kashmir. But we also know that they did not constitute the majority. When Pakistan sponsored an invasion of Kashmir in 1947, the then NC under Sheik Abdulla appealed to New Delhi to send the Indian army which received not only a rousing welcome from the people of Kashmir but also all support to repel the marauders.

We also know that Pakistan too stood in the way of plebiscite on the pretext of demilitarisation as a precondition to it. The actual reason was the fear that a referendum would be in favour secular India.

We know that the separatists were supported and sponsored by Pakistan with the aim of altering the demography of Kashmir. This resulted in the exodus of the Kashmiri pundits and other minority groups.

A referendum would no longer be valid - not without the votes of those who were driven out of Kashmir and are settled elsewhere, or are in the refugee camps.

We also know that the Muslim community in Kashmir is divided. The Shias in Kashmir shudder at the thought of accession to Pakistan, or even azadi for fear of a theocratic dispensation in an independent Kashmir.

So when Arundati Roy talks of voicing the wishes of the people of Kashmir, whom does she have in mind? That section of the population who have found voice because of the support from across the border?

Ms Roy talks of the brutal military rule in Kashmir. Hasn’t she any problems with the ruthless, mindless carnage that the Pakistan sponsored terrorists inflict on the people of Kashmir? Is it their rule that she advocates? The Indian army in Kashmir has come in for a lot of flak, it is true. But when it deals with hard core hate filled inhuman terrorists who not only indulge in bloodshed but also instigate insurgency and terrorise people into indulging in violence in the valley, its predicament is unenviable. Excesses happen, and they cannot be justified. It is a crisis situation. People like Ms Roy who get a lot of media coverage should not be so impervious to the predicament of the government and indulge in such irresponsible clamour for azadi.

Same with her position regarding Maoists, whose appalling violence deserves no justification whatsoever. Let Ms Roy address the situation constructively by using her celebrity status to propagate and perhaps set afoot through an NGO an alternate mode of development which is inclusive. Let her throw her heart and soul into evolving development models which factor in those who are marginalised by the present developmental policies. The nation will be grateful to her.

But if she goes up the hill and down the dale justifying violence and trivialising the sovereignty and integrity of the country, she is doing a terrible disservice to the nation and is no different from the armchair critics of establishment who get carried away by their own voice.

And if her speeches cause disaffection to the state the way Madani’s fiery speeches created the likes of Nazeer Thadiantavide, then the sedition law should be evoked against her.

Friday, October 22, 2010


I wished mother earth would open up and swallow me when i read this story in THE NEW INDIAN EXPRESS yesterday.

The burden of the story is this: Lakhs of rupees is being given to head load workers as ‘nookucooli’ by the KERALA MINERAL DEVELPMENT CORPORATION LIMITED (KMDCL) as per the agreement arrived at between the LDF government and the head load workers unions. Both the LDF and UDF were equally enthusiastic about doling out taxpayers money to the workers for sitting around and doing no work – ‘cos sand mining cannot be done manually. It is being done mechanically. But the head load worker cannot be denied his wages and so the net result is “175 workers were coming everyday to the three points of Kava, Aanakal and Myladipuzha to sign the register. According to the conciliation agreement, the workers will be paid wages for 25 working days in a month. The KMDCL had to pay wages amounting to `52,500 a day and `13.12 lakh a month. “ (THE FULL STORY IS PASTED AFTER THE POST). WHOSE MONEY ARE THE POLITICAL LEADERS – BE IT THE LEFT OR Oommen CHANDYS – gifting away? Why do we, the tax payers allow ourselves to be so criminally vandalised?

Speaking for myself, i have slogged it out for thirty years to earn my bread and to pay the government its taxes. Doesn’t the government owe me anything? Isn’t the government accountable to me? Shouldn’t it ask my permission before it gifts away my hard-earned money to a bunch of lazy bones to get their political support?

I am angry with myself for having been taken for a ride by politicians whom i put into power to take care of my interests. I am angry with myself for doing nothing about it except make some useless noise in the blogsphere.

Impotent rage is frustrating. Isn’t there anything i can do? Except throw up my hands in sheer helplessness? Why do i call myself ‘educated’ when i just sit back and allow myself to be looted by a bunch of good for nothing self seeking politicians and their goons? Nobody hears the gnashing of my teeth at being caught up helplessly in this callous political power game.

I feel cheated and feel worthless that i can do nothing about it.

I’m sure every honest citizen shareS my feelings.

Isn’t there ANYTHING we can do?

A Sathis Who will benefit from the sand mining mess?
A Sathis
Express News Service
First Published : 21 Oct 2010 04:21:54 AM IST
Last Updated : 21 Oct 2010 11:24:32 AM IST

Which Front will get the benefit of the sand mining and related works being done at the Malampuzha, Chulliyar and Walayar dams in Palakkad district during the elections to the local bodies?
In general, the answer will be the LDF or the UDF. Whoever wins, the real winners will be the hundreds of workers at the dam site. Lakhs of rupees is being doled out to 175 workers as wage at the rate of `300 a day for no work being done by them thanks to the ‘nokku coolie’ promoted by both the LDF and the UDF.
This is a perfect example of the lack of will on the part of the government to put its foot down by saying that wages will be paid only when sand is being mined from the dam.
“The decision to pay wages for no work being done is a political one and we are helpless,” officials of the Kerala Mineral Development Corporation Limited (KMDCL), which was engaged in mining sand from these dams, said.
In spite of knowing the fact that manual labour be of no use for the mining and sand loading, the LDF Government had decided to involve hundreds of labourers for the work. Opposition Leader Oommen Chandy had also a hand in the decision. The government had forced to work out a compromise agreement because of the protest from the local head load workers against loading of the mined sand mechanically. Finally, it was agreed that each of the registered 196 workers will be paid `300 a day and the workers would be engaged in sundry work like removal of bushes and setting up of bunds. The end result is huge losses for the KMDCL.
The KMDCL is now facing losses on two fronts in Malampuzha. Around 80,000 square metres of sand, which was mined and put on the banks, was submerged in water. Three heaps of sand kept at a height of 16 metres were completely submerged in water. A part of these heaps has already been washed away.
Moreover, 175 workers were coming everyday to the three points of Kava, Aanakal and Myladipuzha to sign the register. According to the conciliation agreement, the workers will be paid wages for 25 working days in a month. The KMDCL had to pay wages amounting to `52,500 a day and `13.12 lakh a month.
Already, public sector undertakings like the profitable Malabar Cements have provided a loan of `5 crore towards the working capital of the KMDCL for sand mining. Currently, the KMDCL is selling sand mined from the Chulliyar and Walayar dams to the public at `990 a square metre. In Malampuzha, the bad condition of the Aanakal-Malampuzha road is causing hindrance in removing the sand. A section of the locals protest against transporting sand through the road demanding that the government should repair the road first.
However, KMDCL sources say that some elements are preventing the removal of the sand to help the sand mining lobby at Bharathapuzha. The KMDCL officials said a basket of sand in Thiruvananthapuram cost `120 while in Malampuzha it was being sold for `30 after being filtered. They said that the road was repaired twice, once by the KMDCL and another time by a Kozhikode-based society.
In Chulliyar, apart from the sand removed by the KMDCL, the local block panchayat had provided 22,000 mandays of work last season under the Mahathma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS), a Central scheme. The LDF was ruling the local block panchayat.
It remains to be seen whether the LDF or the UDF will benefit from the whole mess.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Annual Fete and Cashew Nuts

‘Molly, i hear that you get the best cashew nuts in Kerala – and cheap too”, said Mother Peter, our HM, arching her eyebrows , enlarging her large blue eyes and shaking her wimpled head vigorously up and down in that typical European style. ‘Write to your father and ask him to send us some for the fete’.

It was to be my first fete about which my friends had raised such expectations. It was a two day event hosted by our school for which the little town of Pondicherry looked forward to the whole year. The school was St. Joseph de Cluny. It was the headquarters of the Cluny convent in India. In Pondicherry, besides the convent, it had two schools – English medium which was going from strength to strength and the French medium with it dwindling population. There was an orphanage too and we boarders were not allowed to mingle with them, though in the same campus.

I joined Cluny in the first year of high school – in the 9t standard. Ever since i joined in June, I’ve been listening to the boarders raving about the annual fete. They spoke about the happening in the previous fete. Most of the conversation was about some boy or the other who could on those two days gain entry into the tall walls of the convent which guarded the chastity of the wards entrusted to them with a fierceness which, at times, was almost comical. At every opportunity, the nuns warned us about the Romeos who waited at the corner of the street.

The streets in Pondicherry are absolutely straight and were cut at regular intervals at 90 degree by equally straight roads. The Cluny convent was spread over three campuses. From the boarding to refectory, we had to cross the street. From refectory to school, we had to cross another street. The Romeos knew our routine, and the fact that the nuns were paranoid about punctuality made it easier for them to wait punctually at the street corners to catch a glimpse of and exchange smiles with their crushes.

Among the senior boarders there were two groups – the ones who had boyfriends and the ones who did not. I belonged to the latter though i had sneaking admiration for those who had the guts to have boyfriends. Now let me get this clear. The ‘boyfriend’ in those days did not mean what it means now. The girls had not spoken even once to their Romeos. All they did was to look down the street and smile at the boy whose looks they liked. And then they would go ‘steady’ with them, i.e., faithfully smile at them whenever they crossed the road. Sometimes the boy would wear a kerchief tucked in the collar. When his girlfriend crossed the road the next time, she would tuck in a kerchief in her collar (our uniforms were collared), and then their eyes would lock and they would smile. And the day would be made for them.
During the recreation time, the girl would talk with high excitement about the kerchief. She would blush and smile and bask in the comments of how handsome the boy was. All of us would laugh and giggle and tease.

I remember the handkerchief episode cos it landed me into trouble. The nuns knew that i was new and uncorrupted and therefore could be used as an agent. The boarding mistress once called me and spoke to me about this and that and without my quite realising it, the conversation veered to the boyfriend topic. In all innocence, i let her into the handkerchief incident and who’s whose boyfriend. She then gave me a French chocolate which i rushed to share with my friends who immediately got out from me what had happened. They ridiculed me for walking into the nun’s trap and yelled at me and called me James Bond and Mata hari and ostracised me. When they got their dressing down from the nuns along with the punishments like cutting out bi weekly walks on the beach(where the Romeos tore down on their bikes with silencers off), they got downright nasty with me.

I was very very miserable cos i had no intention of getting anyone into trouble. My friends from the no boyfriend group consoled me, and taught me how to evade the interrogation of the nuns. I have never walked blindly into their trap after that, but it took a long time for to gain entry into the boyfriend group.

The fete was the time when all these roadside Romeos got entry into our fortress. They quickly found out in which stalls their girl friends were and used to hang around there.

The middle campus which housed the convent, refectory and the orphanage was the site for the fete. The Pandal as the huge semi open auditorium was called, and the playground which he orphanage girls used accommodated the stalls which sold items brought/bought/donated from France. Then handicraft items, embroidered kerchiefs, tea cosy, and delightfully beautiful things done mostly by the orphanage girls were sold at exorbitant price. Things sold like hotcakes. The stalls were manned by us, students of English medium school. Sometime the crowd was so heavy that me with my over protected Nazrani upbringing used to panic. Sometimes tempers rose, for the young crowd was not free from inebriation. Commotion would immediately bring the members of the discipline committee (made up of big shots in the local community), and they would put their foot down. That’s when commotion arose and people flared up. Once this happened right in front of my stall. My partner in the counter had a street corner boyfriend who had been hanging around the whole day, smiling at her and buying things from our counter. In the afternoon, after lunch, he had apparently helped himself to some French liquor. Then he became bolder. He asked my partner for a clandestine date and she was horrified.

‘”i didn’t know you were such a rotten person”, she snapped at him.

“What did you think you were doing when you smiled at me every day?” he asked.

‘I didn’t think you were the type who would get fresh”, she said, getting scared.

‘Fresh? all i asked you was to come with me for a cup of coffee”, he said

Then she said something which made even me want to laugh.

‘You are a very bad boy’, she said, almost sobbing.

By then someone had reported the exchange and the watch and ward arrived and threw him out.

After the fate, for the rest of the year, she stared at the tip of her shoes whenever she crossed the road.

Now to get back to the cashew nuts (i got carried away by memories, sorry), i wrote to my father who promptly send 5 kilos of roasted cashew nuts of the best quality. It arrived four days before the fete. I instantly became the pet of the nuns. Five of us high school students were picked to pack cashew nuts. We put 8 pieces of cashew nuts each into small plastic packets and stacked them on a tray from which the junior boarding mistress took each of them and sealed them with a contraption I’d never seen before. Because of her presence, we couldn’t pop even one piece into our mouths. However, when the work was over, she took some broken cashew nuts which she apparently had sorted out, and gave half a handful to each of us.

These packets would be put on a tray which would be carried around by the students who were members of the JVC Club. The trays were suspended from the necks on pretty satin ribbons. I so wanted to do that duty but as i was not a JVC club member, i was denied the chance. Each packet was sold for Rs. 5, which in the mid sixties was considered to be an atrocious price.

The big day arrived. Being my first year, i was not given stall duty, so i generally went around with my friends and bought things and delicacies and French chocolate drink.

On the second day, my parents sprang a surprise on me by landing up for the fete. They were on their way to Velankanni, and decided to see me and the fete about which i had been raving and for which had asked for more pocket money for the month. Besides, my father had sent cashew nuts (for which he had paid less than Rs. 100/including parcelling and shipping charge). All these had made him curious about the event. So they decided to reroute the trip through Pondicherry.

My mother was simply horrified at the crowd through which her 14 year old daughter was running around freely. She called me and asked me to remain with them. With a protective arm around me, we went around looking at stalls.

My mother always had a fascination for embroidered stuff and so i took her to that stall. She was so taken up by what she saw that she started buying up, despite the fancy price. Both of us were engrossed in selecting the items. After the purchase, we turned around, looking for my father. And lo and behold, there he stood taking out Rs.5 from his wallet. The JVC volunteer (known for her aggressive marketing ) with the cashew nut tray suspended from her neck with colourful ribbons beamed at him as she took the money from him, and handed over a tiny packet of cashew nuts .

Then holding up the packet for me and amma to see, he winked, smiling from ear to ear.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Obama at it again.

Education arms race with India and China! That’s the latest verbal gymnastic by the President of the USA.

Ever since he settled comfortably/uncomfortably in his official chair in the Oval office, Obama has been harping on the threat posed to America’s future by ‘those’ Indians and Chinese. This othering of this particular group with its ubiquitous presence in the USA which has been reeling under recession, is a dangerous trend. Obama’s first outburst in December 2009 coincided with the beginning of assaults on Indian students in Australia. This had caused many a moment of anxiety to Indians who had someone close to them studying in the USA. Obama’s repeat performances make us suspect that he is trying to unite a racially divided country – create a dangerous nationalism - by whipping up a sort of xenophobia. The strategy of creating a Barbarians (substitute Indians and Chinese) - are -coming type of scare among American youth in order to motivate the latter to go to school could trigger off the revival of the dot buster phenomenon.

Guess the president is hardly concerned about such insignificant issues, but his indiscretion causes fear in parents for the safety of their children slogging it out in the universities of the USA, or pursuing careers there.

Yesterday’s newspaper carried reports of Australian government’s anxiety that there is likely to be a reduction of 80% students from India this year. The huge financial loss is a matter of serious concern for them.

When is India going to wake up to the reality of the shameful lacuna in the field of higher education in the country? There is no shortage of brilliance here. The basic infrastructure for education is well in place. It is in the field of research that we are shamefully behind even many Third world countries. It is the quest for excellence in this field that drains our country of aspiring students and professionals. It is not just a brain drain. It is a gigantic economic drain too.

Now that the Bill for the introduction of foreign universities has been tabled in the Indian Parliament, universities like Virginia Tech, Georgia Institute of technology, Lancaster University have already commenced talks on the setting up of campuses in India which will follow the same system as in their countries, and will award UK/US Degrees. The government should expedite matters to enable not only the setting up of these universities, but also their smooth functioning. The Education Minister should stand by his promise of creating a customised regulatory framework separate from that of the existing state aided Universities. A sort of SEZ should be created in order to keep them free from the reservation policies, unionism and the bureaucratic controls that give rise to frustrating delays, and corruption.

India should set up her own research centres of excellence too, and ensure smooth functioning without government interference, trade unions meddling, campus politics and corruption.

Centres of excellence in research are already there in plenty. Collaborative and twinning systems are already functioning smoothly. But these are a mere drop in the ocean of the burgeoning aspiration of the twenty first century India gearing itself to take on the world in this Knowledge era. The State should participate in this effort to set up these centres of excellence in research. With the foreign players on its soil, we can rise to meet the new competition as also be a competitor who gives them a real tough run for their money.

We know the government can find money to invest in tertiary education and research Centres, if it has the political will. The helium balloon of the commonwealth opening ceremony can vouch for it.

It should also give incentives to corporates to establish academic research centres.

Let us, for goodness sake do everything we can to give our aspiring youngsters the facility they so badly require. We most certainly have the resources.

What ARE we waiting for? We don’t have all the time in the world!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The blog comments I reject

It does not matter to me whether my blog visitors don’t see eye to eye with me, or if they ridicule me or my understanding of the issue i deal with or my style. In fact i like comments which reflect such views and i publish them unless they use terrible obscenities or they hurt religious sentiments, customs and practices.

I do get such rejectable comments once in a way.

The two categories of blogs that generate such comments are the ones on Amitabh Bachchan and Narendra Modi.

All my posts on Modi have generated dirty comments. Some are so filthy that I’ve laughed out loudly (sorry. I’m not easily shocked though it is ladylike to be so, i know). In fact it’s a comment on Modi that got automatically published that prompted me to activate comment moderation. But that hasn’t caused me to budge one millionth of an inch from my position on Modi. I cannot drool over his development politics. For me his unofficial official stamp on carnage cannot be compensated by the paradise he might have turned Gujarat into. Two thousand odd people who were snuffed out were denied the right to life in democratic india. To me what happened post Godhra is comparable with the crackdown on Tinaman square. Modi’s re-elections after Godhra are reminiscent of the mass support that brought Hitler into power. Yes, i am a Modi basher – tho an armchair one. I believe it’s my responsibility to be at least that, for i enjoy the fruits of democracy. I owe it to my country. But post Godhra slaughter made me realise man never learns from the lessons history teaches him. That’s why history repeats itself.

Some tell me i am over reacting. But i say no. But i react more than others in my part of the world because i was in Vadodhra when it happened. Some of the images still haunt me.

But the foul comments to my Bachchan blogs are really funny. Most of them are written by those who apparently are not competent in handling the English language. Unfortunately, i don’t know how to get into those comments and do an expletives deleting act, so i reject the whole comment. I get a feeling most of those expletives (an understatement, believe me) are used without a knowledge of the meaning of the word used, or the part of human anatomy that some of the words signify. If i publish them, you’ll laugh your guts out. All such comments are anonymous, but i know their authors are not Malayalees. A Malayalee might get his English wrong but never his obscenities in that language.

My blog which generated such comments, ironically, was not actually on Bachchan, but on a bad piece of journalism on the retake of Sholay. Apparently, they didn’t get the point. They thought i was trying to establish that Mohanlal was a better actor than Bachchan!

Why do these two categories generate such strong emotion, i wonder. I think it’s because both Modi and Bachchan have achieved god like proportions with their fans. Fooling around with deities can win the teeth gnashing wrath of their followers.

After all it’s a very painful experience to be made to realise that your gods have feet of clay.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Thou Shall Not Bend

‘You must not bend”, said my doc. I had gone to him ‘cos of back pain – something a person like me fighting a deadly disease should not ignore.
‘Not even to pick up something from the floor?’, I asked.
‘No’, he said quietly. ‘It’d be nice if you use a walker at home. When you go out, use a walking stick’.

The doc is a soft spoken man of few words and he seemed appalled that the instruction he had given three years back - not to bend - was not taken seriously.

'So it shall be', i told myself. ‘I shall not bend. Nothing to get panicky about’, i said to myself. ‘After all he said i could walk, travel, climb stairs.

But soon i realised that life without bending is not easy. Just imagine you can't bend to scratch your little toe when it itches!

After i got back from the hospital, I was taking the newspaper to my room when i dropped it. I started to bend when a shout stopped me. “Don’t bend, molly” yelled Sunny, my husband who was watching me from the top of the stairs. He came running down and picked up the paper for me and put the walking stick in my hand. ‘Use this’, he said, ‘it’ll remind you that you are not supposed to bend.’

Later in the day, wishing to make myself useful, i decided to help to set the table. The dish in which we served fancy dishes was in the cupboard below the kitchen platform, and leaning on the stick i started to bend down, “Miss, Miss Miss, don’t’, screamed Shiny who looked after me during my treatment. ‘I’ll take it. Don’t bend. Please go and sit at the dining table. I’ll manage on my own’.

Well, so much for my effort to be of help.

The next day I began to feel a little depressed. The implication of not bending at all hit me like a ton of bricks when i dropped my medicine strip and my eighty four year old mother-in-law rushed to pick it up with ‘Molly don’t bend, DONT bend. I’ll pick it up for you’.

Believe me life isn’t easy at all if you have to depend on people to pick up what you drop, to take something out of the lower racks of the fridge, wardrobe and book shelf.

I’ve got to find a way out, i decided. My son said he’d look if robotic hand is available in the US. But then I’ll have to wait till he comes. Till then i didn’t want to keep calling people to help me every time i need something which requires bending.

I looked down at my stick. IDEA! I snatched a chiffon dupatta from the hanger and dropped it on the floor. I then carefully slipped the stick under it and lifted it slowly. Half way through it slipped down. I tried again. It fell when it came almost within reach of my free hand. ‘Damn’, i muttered to myself (I’m not the cursing type – at least not the easily cursing type). i tried again – without success. I didn’t give up but tried again and again and again. I looked around to see if there were any spiders that could inspire me. I should have tried with cotton duppatta first, my common sense admonished me, and i cursed myself for being over ambitious. But by then it became a matter of prestige for me to pick up that colourful chiffon duppatta with my walking stick. i kept trying and trying and trying. And then it happened. It remained on the stick till i raised it high enough for my hand to take it!

Now i can pick up a lot of large and flexible objects with the help of the stick. But things like pencils, pens, spoons still pose a problem. Am sure eventually I’ll be able discover the technique of picking them up from the floor with the walking stick.

I have also found an easy to way to take things out from low shelves. Initially i tried sitting on a low stool but it became a pain going to where the stool was, pushing it with my stick to the site of operation.

Again i sat down and thought. IDEA! Yes, an idea can really change your world. As a kid and a teenager, I had learnt Bharatanatyam. So i was pretty flexible though not exactly anorexic. That day, when it was time for the evening news, I decided to switch on the TV myself instead of calling for help.

The plug point was just a feet above the ground. I could have switched it with my walking stick but i had misplaced it and everyone had been looking for it since morning with no success. So i decided to try out the Bharatanatyam technique. I went close to the switch, bent my knees keeping my body erect like the way Chandrika teacher taught me decades age and yippee! I switched on the TV without anyone’s help, and without the help of even the walking stick ! I felt grateful to my mother who is no more, for bulldozing me into each dance class all those years back.

The time came for me to go home to Trivandrum where Sunny was staying alone during my treatment in kochin. I felt pretty excited as much about going back to the familiar place as about having my husband around to do the bending tasks for me.

Then disaster struck, though of a temporary nature. Sunny sprained his back and was absolutely bedridden. Sitting helplessly in kochin, i looked up at the Almighty and asked, ‘Hey mister, what have you against me?’ ‘Nothing dear lady’, he seemed to say. ‘Just leave it to me. I’m here to take care of things’
‘Ok, sir”, i said shrugging my shoulder resignedly. But it made me feel better.

When we reached my apartment in Trivandrum, Sunny was waiting supported by a walking stick! I looked at him and burst out laughing.
“Am much better now’, he said. ‘Can move about, but cannot bend. Bending causes excruciating pain”.
‘So ‘m better off than you. I have no pain’
That doesn’t mean you should bend”, he said rather sternly.

Later in the day, we wanted to watch TV. The switch point was again a feet above the ground. I had started walking towards it with my walking stick poised to press the switch with it when i saw sunny bending his knee in that classic Bharathanatyam pose till he could comfortably switch on the TV!

Now i think i know how the basic pose of Bharatanatyam originated! An ancient Indian method of dealing with sprained back must have caught the aesthetic eye of some innovative artist who saw the beauty and the possibilities of the human body as it lowered itself at the knee keeping the torso erect.