Monday, June 25, 2012

An ode to my inspiration

He called and my eyes cried! 

Miles afar he lives, teaches and works
He sows words with intentions divine
And plants ideas unashamedly pure
Urges one and all with his stoic might
To get up and follow their hearts;

He called and my eyes cried!

Took me minutes long to calm my nerves
As I held the mobile tight until my palm sweat
Pressed it hard against my ears to hear him close
I tried in vain to quench the quiver in my voice
While he soothingly spoke at the other end;

He called and my eyes cried

Words of praise I heard in my ears
And each syllable of advice I hung to raptly
While I made attempts to behave mannerly
Then a casual-sounding query sapped my nerves
For that was proof he understood my words;

He called and my eyes cried!

I had yearned to speak to him, to meet him once
The innumerable times I devoured his works
And when I send across my first book to him
I prayed he finds time to take a look
I was sure he would write to me


He called.

And my eyes cried!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It is MY birthday!

So what do you do when you are tossed a knife and told 'hack it'. Well, I played the hacker to perfection because the scene was purportedly staged in my honour. This after I had pleaded not to be ordered to the front line.
Indeed, it was a battle for me. It consumed some decent nerves to subside that ugly feeling that brewed up within. And a dozen more to hold that 'gratitude' smile measuredly on my lips until the antiphony (ostentatiously termed ceremony) was over.

My workplace mates 'celebrated' my birthday! An event that was adhoc, succinct and formally informal.
A five-minute break was announced. People ushered into the conference room, box of cake opened, plates placed and my name called. I made a cut. Did I hear a birthday song amid the cacophony of bitly exchanges of gossipy juices? Allow me to give colleagues the benefit of doubt. Heads counted, pieces sliced and passed around. As they got, so they turned back akin to dolphins after an act.
Did anyone wish the birthday girl? I was holding the knife so how could anyone have shaken my hand? I am responsible.
"You took the date off Facebook!" "You never told you were next." Accusations followed as I made my way to the desk.
"Last week's cake was real wow, man!" "Yeah, I loved that." "This is fresh." "Any one for this piece of orange"... I overheard as I made an attempt to etch the event so I could recall it to my two loved ones back home in the evening.
One of them tagged the pictures taken on my Facebook, and that served a reminder for my 'friends'. Within minutes 'Likes' were clicked and 'Wishes' poured beneath my face.
The following day, other late-wakers followed... "a day late...happy birthday...even if u keep quiet u can't hide the fact that u r getting old:-) [I learnt another socially-accepted girly reason to explain why I don't like announcing my birth date]
"Hey, it's your birthday. Many happy returns", wrote another. A couple even called. "Just saw on FB, so how was your day?"
Two days later, another friend wrote, "Oops missed your birthday. but I guess its never late to wish, so belated happy birthday." Would he have remembered the date had my picture with a cake beneath my nose not popped up on his page?
So I stopped myself short of following Facebook protocol. I did not acknowledge 'friends' wishes.
Am I being rude? [http://on.fb.me/KxGZvK]
Well, this should help you decide. Every June 10th morning when I open my mailbox, I see my classmate turned dear friend Jyothi's birthday wishes. The last we saw each was in 1999. Long 13 years and not once has she missed wishing me!
When I say the day is strictly personal for me, it is my time to be spent with my loved ones, in a manner that pleases them and only them; It is one day that I love to reminiscence the wonderful people who care about me. Those who do not need to be reminded I exist on the surface of this earth. Those who couldn't care if they got a slice of cake without a fruit piece on it. Those who will include me in their prayers without me asking them to do so and who will skip a heartbeat if I didn't pick up their call on the third ring.
So even as I thank all those who took efforts in having the cake-cutting ceremony organised, I would not willingly endorse it - an HR populist measure!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Are you a Mallu, Malabari or Malayali?

It's all in the name! Haven't we heard this before? So also the rose line... Call a rose by any name  and...well, I cannot forgive myself if I were to drag the greatest bard into his, because my reference is to name-calling and not naming.
I was privy to a couple of instances of unpleasant name exchanges of late. And my first stop was at Google to ensure I'm updated on the latest definition of 'racism'.

One of my friends took serious offence on being called a Mallu. [For all those uninitiated, the pronoun refers to people from the South Indian state of Kerala].
Indians call their compatriots from Bihar, Biharis; those from Bengal, Bengalis; those from Tamil Nadu, Tamilians; from Gujarat, Gujjus, similarly Nagas, Telugus and so on... So why should Malayalis take offence to being called Mallus? And don't we hear bhiyyas and madrasis, too.
"We are Malayalis and not Mallus," came one stern correction.
Then why don't you take offence when called a Malabari - another common reference to a native of God's Own Country? I wondered aloud.
Probably because 'God's own subjects' seem to have silently accepted that pseudonym, I suggested, when I got no reply. To that, one of them told me rather miffed, "to how many will you explain the geography".
[Let me explain the geography bit...The exodus to Gulf countries from Kerala initially - way back in the 1980s - was from Malabar region of state. So they were called Malabaris and the name not only remained but over time anybody who speaks Malayalam is called a Malabari.]
But how should it matter? It does not imply the caller is superior in any which way. If at all, it only highlights their ignorance.
Name-calling is a form of racism, I was corrected. [Now you know why I first Googled]. The theoretical definition of 'racism' is the same in this hi-tech century as it was when first formulated.
If name-calling is racism, then what is not? Our behaviour, beliefs, opinion, actions and habits are conditioned to a certain extent by our surroundings and our upbringing. And, thereby, any word we utter, any action we initiate will be racist in nature in some bizarre context to at least a few, who consider it is unacceptable.
How about blondes, blokes or Pakis? Definitely 'racist' because they are culture-specific. And so every time you call a man by his nationality, you are a screaming racist. However, if you laugh it off, you are a sport. If you take offence, you are hurt. And if you didn't bother, it's just another name.
Just like kheer is termed pudding; idlis called rice cakes; rotis called breads; any South Asian dish a curry...so also for non-Keralites or non-Malabaris or non-Malayalees or a combo of any of these, residents of the state are just Mallus. Easy to pronounce, short to write and fun to taunt. But then, it's zimbly unbearable to some of us. Each syllabblle faals like a bombbu on ower eaers!