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Month: August 2015

The Book That Got Me Out of Monsoon Blues

The Book That Got Me Out of Monsoon Blues

“She caught her breath. He was the kind of handsome who made it to the covers of romance novels, usually with muscles on display, and holding onto a swooning damsel…….” – From Kiran Manral’s latest All Aboard. 

What is it with love stories? You read them a 100 times, in a 100 million ways, and every time they weave a web of joy in your heart.

I sat in bed infected with the monsoon “virus”.  My throat ached and my body refused to listen to me. The dark clouds and the gloomy skies, just made me feel all the more worse. It was a miserable feeling. It just got me thinking- What are we humans really, just funny little people strutting about the universe thinking we own all of it. All it takes is microscopic little organisms and viruses to strike and push us to ground reality. The acclaimed writer Ruskin Bond (my all-time favourite) once said, “The graveyard is full of people who once thought they were indispensible.”

As I tossed and turned restlesslessly, I decided to pull out the Kindle Reader; my hubby dearie had gifted me a few months back, which till date I had never used. I was vehemently against having a gadget to “read”. Come on, the undisputed leader is always the crisp paperback, with tiny little thought for the day bookmarks. But today with the rain lashing outside and a weak body, I had to depend on Amazon.com. After a bit of surfing, I purchased my reading material. In less than a minute, Amazon digitally delivered it –

Kiran Manral’s love story All Aboard.

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I entered the world of Rhea and took a step with her, on her holiday and her relationships. The fast pace of the book kept me guessing- what was going to happen in the pages ahead?  As I travelled with Rhea, on a cruise trip, from Sicily to Rome, I felt the warm sea breeze across my face.  Aren’t books the best way to experience the world? As I clicked on the last chapter and the book came to a close, I was left with a delicate smile on my face. It was an elegantly narrated love story. And I could sure read it more number of times.

My temples seemed to ache lesser, and the gloomy skies outside didn’t seem to bother me much. That’s what a good story does to you. I was refreshed and felt myself getting out of my physical and mental sickness!!

Do you have a book that refreshes you as much? Would love to know about it.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “The Young and the Rested.”

When My Time Stopped at Kharagpur!!

When My Time Stopped at Kharagpur!!

The train slowly creaked into the station. I rubbed the sleep off my eyes and peeped outside the grilled window. Where was I? The sun wasn’t out and the darkness of the night still enveloped the lonely station. My eyes searched for the yellow boards of the Indian Railways that displayed the name of stations- sometimes unknown. A little boy not more than ten came near my window, holding the trademark aluminum kettle. ”Chai chahiye, madam (do you want tea)?” I nodded and asked, “Which station is this?” He said, “Kharagpur, and the train isn’t going to move from here for another hour. The tracks have a problem.” I sulked. The train was already running late and an hour’s delay more would mean I wouldn’t be reaching Kolkata before noon.

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“How much for the tea?” I asked. “Re1.50”, he said. My eyes popped out for a moment. When had I last seen a 50paise coin? I dug into my wallet and fetched a 5 Rupee coin. The boy gleamed as he picked up the coin from my palm.  That is when I noticed a white smart phone peeping out of his shirt pocket. I pointed towards it and asked,” Where did you get that from? Did you steal it from a passenger?” He quickly shot back a fierce glance, and threw the 5 Rupee coin back at me. “I don’t steal madam. I worked hard to buy this phone.

I was taken aback at his vociferous tone. I quickly apologized.

“Do you go to school?” I asked. Calmly he answered, “I go to school from 9 am to 1 pm. The rest of the day I stay in the station, selling “chai” in the morning and books and magazines in the evenings.”

“What about your family?” I prodded on. “My mother works as a domestic maid. I have a younger sister. My father used to clean the railway tracks, until last year, when he was run over by a train.” I think I saw a tear drop his eye as he said these words.

“So how much do you make?”

“I make 100 Rupees a day, and if I am lucky it could go up to 150. After giving my mother money for daily expenses, whatever remains, I save in my little tin box. It has been a year now, and last month with my savings, I bought this smart phone from my friend who is a second hand mobile phone dealer, for a few thousand Rupees.”

He continued, “This station is frequented by students from the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology. I see them with their latest gadgets. I want to make my own phone someday. I often pass by the gates of the institute but never have the guts to enter it. Someday I shall……”

 “So what do you do with your phone?” I asked.

Without thinking he blurted,”I surf on Google search”. “Whatever I learn in school I type it on Google and read them whenever I get time between passing trains. I am now saving money so that I could upgrade my phone. I want better data connectivity and speed. I heard Airtel is out with a 4 G connection at 3G cost. The data packs start from Rs. 25.  With this new 4G pack I could get uninterrupted video streaming of videos and music.  A 4G pack would mean I could quickly load what I want to read on my smart phone.”

At that moment, the sound from the train’s engine bellowed. I turned to leave. Before that, I pushed a crisp 100Rupee note into his palm. He stared at me, wondering if he should accept it or not. I walked away without looking back.

Here was one hell of an ambitious boy, with dreams big in his eyes.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Retrospectively Funny.”

“We've been married for 55 years and we haven't fought for a single day!”

“We've been married for 55 years and we haven't fought for a single day!”

“We’ve been married for 55 years and we haven’t fought for a single day!”

I picked up this quote today from a file interview of President Shri Pranab Mukherjee’s late wife, Suvra Mukherjee*. It made me wonder… what really makes couples compatible with each other? What takes a man and woman to live together for 55 years or more, without having any regrets about it?

File Photo of The President with His Late Wife

As I sat pondering, I penned down the following factors.

  • Trust in one another:

I rate this number one. Trust is the foundation and the basis for a steady relationship of any kind. Trusting your partner means he is your dependable buddy whom you could always count on. When you trust your partner it means you know it from the bottom of your heart that he/ she would not brush you off, or betray you.

  • Tolerance:

We all are born with numerous amounts of flaws and weaknesses. It is probably God’s way of saying nothing is perfect in this universe and a certain degree of imperfection lies in every soul. So, when we begin to accept and tolerate a partner’s normal foibles and faults, we pave the road for a rock hard relationship. Besides, tolerance aides in resolving differences, quicker.

  • Hate Curve? Naah just let it be:

Disagreements and teeny weeny arguments stem in almost all relationships. But do not give space for anger, ego and hate. It is ok to express disagreement over something your spouse did, but expressing it in the form of contempt… hmmmm not really advisable.

  • Commitment:

Stay committed to the person you love. Its reciprocal… what goes comes back in full circle too… So if you expect commitment, give it in return. Live with the idea that your relationship is going to be long lived.

  • Maintain Openness:

Openness and authenticity cement many great relationships. In an emotionally open relationship, you share your vulnerabilities and feelings of love and admiration for your mate. When you and your partner feel natural with each other, your thoughts and movements will flow with compatibility feelings.

  • The humor and fun:

We all age. It is the universal truth that we all have to accept. Yet it doesn’t take much to have fun together and maintain one’s sense of humor. It is ok to be silly and wacky. It sure relaxes one’s nerves. It would make your relationship feel younger, however old you grow, and however deep you are in responsibilities.

* President Pranab Mukherjee’s wife Suvra Mukherjee passed away on Tuesday morning at 10.51am. I hope God gives the strength to help the President cope with his loss.

The Deadly Monsoon Bite

The Deadly Monsoon Bite

My eyes closed partially. The heavy burden of sleep pushed the lids down. Yet I did not want to…. It was well past midnight. The sounds from the corridors were reduced to mere creaking sounds of doors and occasional footsteps of the duty nurse.

I sat holding her hand….Tiny little ones. I could not completely cup them in mine, for fear of hampering the fine needle that was placed into her for the intravenous fluid. I prayed silently wiping the occasional tear that fell from my eyes.  Just an hour back the nurse had reported, “She is iGm positive and her platelet count is pretty low….at 30,000.” I felt the blood drain from my body when I heard this. I was aware of what dengue fever was and the risks it came with when the platelet fell. There was just a month more for my daughter’s 7th birthday. And she couldn’t be lying on a hospital bed seriously unwell. And definitely not because of a mosquito!!!!!

When the fever had come a week back, her pediatrician diagnosed it as the regular viral that was doing the rounds during the monsoon. But soon, my little girl started having nausea and bouts of vomiting. Yet again her pediatrician failed to diagnose the deadly virus that she was infected with.  However call it motherly instincts or divine intervention, the evening before I decided to wheel her to the nearby hospital and insisted that they investigate further, if required admit her for the night. That night was one of the worst so far in my life. My daughter had collapsed. She was weak and ill. I waited 24hours patiently.

Come monsoons, and every year, hundreds of cases of dengue are reported across India. Dengue fever is transmitted by the bite of an Aedes mosquito infected with a dengue virus. The mosquito becomes infected when it bites a person with dengue virus in their blood. The major symptoms fever, headache, muscle and joint pain and a typical skin rash that occurs all over the body, similar to measles. In some cases, dengue may develop into a more life threatening form known as dengue hemorrhagic fever, which results in bleeding, decreased blood platelet count or thrombocytopenia, blood plasma leakage or the more fatal dengue shock syndrome, which causes dangerously low blood pressure. Currently, there are no known antiviral drugs or injections available for the cure of dengue. However, the disease can be treated with plenty of supportive care and treatment that would eventually help save the patient’s life.

India is not alone in suffering from dengue. Brazil, for example, endures high rates of infection, and the disease is a threat in much of the rest of South and South-East Asia. But the high and growing burden in India suggests a pressing need to improve its public health efforts. Our open drains that collect rainwater on streets serve as a perfect breeding ground for the larvae.

Lucky I was, my six year old recovered from dengue that day. The IV and support care by the medical team did wonders to her tiny frame. It could have been fatal, irreparable even if I had delayed getting her to the hospital by an hour.

As a young girl, years back, I would love the monsoons. I would listen to their pitter patter sound, watch the water lashing on the pavement and smell the wet mud. I would run out with my friends once the rain stopped, armed with paper boats. We would jump on puddles splashing water on each other. No longer would I be able to give my daughter a childhood such as this. I would think a hundred times before I could let my little one, float that paper boat in the tiny muddy stream by the roadside. I would hesitate to let her jump in puddles…

Small joys of monsoon robbed….