Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Real Togetherness from a cleaning drive

The streetlights were still on when the sun rose, lighting up the peaceful Calicut city only beginning to awaken from its slumber. The Kozhikode Beach witnessed a higher turnout of visitors than the usual weekends. Especially today, when people had something more than a casual hang-around idea in mind. Most of them were here for a purpose, with a resolve to transform the arena. They were here to clean the city and show their respect to dear Bapu.

It is the second day of October, the day that reminds us of the greatest man on Earth who couldn't rest until he saw goodness reap in every corner of Earth. This day saw the nation holding hands in integrity, for the better good of the society. This day, not only India, but the world bowed to Mahathma Gandhi, the man who became the change he wished to see in the world.

 And today, the natives of Calicut had gathered at different places for a cleaning drive, for every man in the city was entitled to its cleanliness. Their smartphones and laptops were going to be disappointed, for they would be inactive all day. This time, the people were going to be active, and not the phones.

The daily morning walkers passed right past the quarters across the Beach, expecting to see the usual mountain of garbage near its entrance which had become its landmark. But today, they saw something new. Masked men holding sacks and sticks dotted the place. Some of them brought in shovels and buckets. After all this time, the residents had decided to clear it themselves, why wait for the rag pickers who might never show up?

And for once, the quarters saw real togetherness among their residents., united with brooms (mind you, we're not talking about AAP). People from every block came out with their tools. There was a lot of swishing and sweeping, picking and poking, scrounging and brushing until the mountain was brought down and replaced with natural manured soil. The land was then embed with small plants, and a sign that read, "Please do not throw waste here".

By the end of the admirably exhausting effort put forth by the neighborhood, the ladies had prepared a lovely lunch for everyone. As the men, women and children gathered together for the lunch, they had had their reward. Nope, not the lunch (although one wouldn't deny that the ladies had done a stunning job), but what was more worth was the real togetherness that they got to have. The profuse sweating that spoke of the volumes of hard work, the taste of the food that explained all the love put into making it, those smiles on everybody's faces that could beat everything else they could possibly have.

Yes, Real Togetherness is the best reward for their effort. Why,  they had made a pact with mother earth as well, all along in the presence of Bapu  in their hearts. And from the next day on, the morning walkers had a surprise, with the garbage landmark being replaced by a garden.

Such is the story of this quarters. Maybe the same happens elsewhere too. Here's a video of a similar incident of Kissanpur discovering real togetherness.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Go McCrazy India

"I'm going home!" she snapped back at me, visibly frustrated. With her hair all tousled up and eyeliner smeared, anyone would've said she looked like a ghost. But not me. To me, she would always be my gorgeous bestie. And today I was determined to give her the best surprise one could possibly give. 
"What are you sniggering at you meathead?!" she squeaked at me again. Gorgeous, that she was. But it was so hard not to laugh at how funny she looked when annoyed. In a few minutes, that was going to change anyway. I had to take care not to spoil the surprise. So I composed myself and spoke up, "You're not leaving yet sweety. There's something important, come with me." and I turned my back to her and walked off, knowing she would follow. "This better be good." she chimed from behind me.

It was Catherine's sweet sixteen, and for a girl like her one wouldn't disagree that she deserved better than what happened with her today. She was so caring, so smart, so elegant though slightly crazy, that you couldn't just not love her. She'd been in high spirits in the morning, but was quite bummed when all she received was a few birthday wishes from people who didn't matter. Her gang did meet up with her, but hadn't uttered a word about it being her special day. By now, it was noon and Catherine couldn't be more pissed about it all. 

We'd reached Forum Mall. I could bet she knew why we were here already, or at least had an idea. "Look!" came her cute squeaky voice, "If you simply want to sit and have a snack, I'm not in the mood. I'm just gonna buy my McCain french fries and leave okay?"
I was grinning again. Of course she wasn't in the mood to eat! But she never said no to McCain (none of us did in fact). Cathy was nuts about potatoes, and naturally of McCain. McCrazy, we called her.

 She followed me to the elevator. Catherine stepped out on the fifth floor and turned to our usual place. She stopped short. "Oh My..." 
"Surprise!!!" chorused the twenty or so people before her, each holding a coloured balloon. The arched board on top read "Happy Birthday McCatherine!" 
A table placed right in the middle of the crowd had a double-decker cake, decorated with McCain smiles with whipped cream and lettuce on top. McCain french fries covered the whole of the bottom layer. A tray next to the birthday 'McCake' had McCain cheese shotz, and another had nuggets. There was no better gift for miss McCrazy Catherine.

I could swear Cathy went wild with joy. All her frustration disappeared in a poof as she hugged me in euphoria. Ha! It was worth it. She looked back at all her favourite McCain snacks and then at us, at a loss for words. And at that moment I knew, that my gorgeous girl couldn't have asked for more.

McCain had always brought us light moments. With the way Cathy was ignored on her special day, one would've thought she'd never forgive us. But then, this surprise definitely beats everything.
Right now when I looked at her, I couldn't say if the happiest person in the world was her for having gotten the surprise, or just me for making this happen. Why, it was not everyday that we get to have all the McCain snacks together. Each one of us in the party was glad to be here, glad to make Cathy smile, and glad to smile with her.
 "You guys are crazy!" Cathey finally croaked, finding her voice again. I shook my head, "Nop." And with loud ripples of laughter, all the twenty of us chorused, 
"We're McCrazy!!" 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Maladu Days

A small packet was dropped before me. Rows of little powdered milk cubes were lined inside. Probably just another snack that dad brought. But why did it look so familiarly yummy already? Slowly, I picked out one of those little cubes and looked at it. "It's maladu." said mom, noticing my scrutiny. One small bite...and the cube melted in my tongue...that powdered milk giving life to all those taste buds as if they had been dead all along...and with the powdered milk, all that was around me melted away...

A sudden excitement crept into every inch of my body as I bounced off in full speed to my front door. I'd heard her hoot from downstairs...she was here again! Halting right in time before hitting the wall, I climbed up the grills of the nearby window to get a glimpse of her. Holding the cold iron bars tightly, I peered through the opening in the grills. Aah, there she was, at the bottom of our staircase, lowering her basket down  from her head.

"Mummieeeeee!! Maalaadooo maameee's heeeereee!!! " I screamed out. And then I looked back at dear maladoo maamy, with a kind of elation that only a four year old could have on seeing her favourite snack within reach. Maladus were so yummy, those round little balls of magic powder, perhaps the love of my life at the time. And each time it got finished at home, I would wait for maladu maamy, who would always come back with more. And here I was on top of the grills, bubbling with joy on having sighted her.

But where was my mother? Why wasn't she responding to my call? Suddenly I was afraid that mom wouldn't show up and maladu maamy would go away. I was afraid of missing out on this time's maladus. In desperation, I called out again, "Mummiieeeee!!"

Before I could get any more disappointed, I was surprised to see mom and my sister downstairs standing next to maladu maamy. How did they get outside? Oh wait, they'd gone to the market hadn't they? How could I forget?! Mummy was looking up at me with a smile. Had they heard me all the way from the market and rushed home? Probably, because I cannot imagine missing my maladus! Yes, they knew that they had to reach home ASAP.

Fast forward thirteen years, and I sat with another cube in my hand, eyes wide. Another flash of memory...I was looking straight at mom, and for the hundredth time or so she chanted, "Little Wilhelmine..looks with wonder waiting eyes."
All these years, and it was only today that I read the lines of the poem she'd recited so long ago, the Battle of Blenheim. I looked up at mom now, but she was engaged with something else. A sudden realization occurred at how much I'd grown up since then. 

Looking back at the maladu in my hand, which was no longer round-shaped like it used to be thirteen years ago, but still had that unmistakable taste of the ones maladu maamy used to bring, the flashback I experienced is similar to the Ratatouille movie when the food critic was presented with a childhood dish; ratatouille itself. The moment the dish touched his tongue, he was a child again, devouring the ratatouille his mother made for him, and he couldn't possibly be any happier.

Today I saw the truth in it. When I eat these maladus now, that same illogical elation engulfs me, as if the best thing that could happen in life is to be able to eat yet another maladu. When I come to think of it, its funny how easily happiness came to us as kids. Age sucks in the slightest of the joys we enjoy. But not unless we  choose otherwise. 

Sometimes the memories hidden in the deepest part of our minds resurface and remind us of the little reasons behind our childhood smiles, like this maladoo did to me. And now I know, that if ever I am in need of happiness, all I really need is a maladu, and I shall be a four year old again...happy as can be..with those wonder waiting eyes.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Monotonous Cacophony

You think time doesn't cease?
That it knows no 'pause'?
That it heeds no halts and it's its own boss?
I thought so too,
That it waits for none,
That if once it moves it's never undone.
But then, here now
So it seems, that
Our dear old time's just been outdone!
For I've seen it slow
And I've seen it halt,
And I bet you must have seen it too.
When a room so filled 
And you're stuck there drilled...
With that same voice
With that same face,
Each day, each time
with that same unbroken 
Monotonous cacophony.
Was Yesterday today?
Is today now tomorrow?
Did hours pass by?
Or maybe just minutes?
Ahh yes, time halts
when unneeded the most,
when the cacophony of lectures
rings boredom down to earth. 
Yes, time pauses
when wished to speed up
when seconds on a clock
seem hours at end.
Yes, time ceases, 
The king of existence
And yet it bows 
to monotonous cacophonies,
yet it bows
when boredom descends.


# classroom_scene #boringlectures 

FYI this is with reference to all those long hours of class in school (or maybe college), which never (-ever!) seems to end. One must appreciate the endurence power of a student! But of course it is one of the come-and-go episodes of life we cannot avoid. So we might as well make the best out of it. All the same, the monotonous cacophony is one that has beaten time itself, so one cannot possibly expect us to get along with it that easy. Well, here's to all those students who actually make it through their boring lectures without losing their peace of mind ( or anything else for the matter).
We be wows! ;)