Sunday, May 30, 2010

What Should i Wear

Let the storm pass

The party starts at 7.30 in the evening and the driving time to Shyam and Shree’s house - our host, is around 40 minutes. Its 6.30 and I am in the middle of tying my shoe laces, when a very innocuous question is posed by the Lady Of the House (LOH) – “what should I wear”. This is the most dangerous four word sentence mankind has ever heard. The uninitiated and inexperienced husband will offer an answer without thinking twice. If you do, you are doomed for life. This is a very loaded question which needs to be handled with utmost care and tact, failing which you are certain to end up in the dog house. The way out of it is not easy. To answer this question, firstly you should know what and how many saris, dresses, etc she owns, their colours, what is the latest trends in fashion, what kind of a party, is Nosey Naina attending etc. If you are an ill informed man or kind of person who believes, bell bottoms are still in fashion, Asha Parek was your heart throb, this is the right time to sound the retreat and depart from the battle field. Say you have to urgently put fuel in the car, you have to lend a thousand bucks to your close friend Mr Nobottom on the 9th floor, say something, even mumble if you have to and do a Carl Lewis.

What ever answer you offer, you are entering into a complex black hole from where there is no escape. You add “Why don’t you wear the saree you bought from Kalakshetra” and you think you have passed the viva, wrong “ which one the blue one or the one with that broad pallu or the one I bought with your mother”. I recommend silence or quickly fake a sore throat and start gargling. Any answer you may give, is fraught with inherent danger – especially the last choice. At this stage there is only one escape route . If you have a grown up daughter, hand over this life threatening situation to her. “ why don’t you ask Akhila, let me get her for you’.

Normally no solution is found at this stage and you are told ‘ I don’t have anything matching’. Here also I very strongly urge you to remain silent. I know you are itching to say ‘all the cupboards in the house are full of your clothes’. I beseech you to exercise caution as you don’t know the next . ‘ I have nothing to wear’. All lies, you are still paying the credit card chaps for the huge shopping expedition she undertook in Nalani with her friend Mrs Kumpel Save Shoopar only last week.

If you have managed to survive till now, you are a great husband. In the next society get together all the meek husbands will look up to you as their role model.

‘Please for heavens sake get dressed fast or else we will be late for the party”. Boy oh boy you have made the gravest error. Instead of holding her hand and guiding her through the most difficult journey in her life which happens at least twice a week, you have blamed her for the delay. Nobody can rescue you at this stage. Maybe tell her “we will go to the Cottons exhibition at the Kanteeravas next week” “ I will take a day off ” even better “ why don’t we plan Paris this summer’ no guarantee, you never know it may work.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Trip to Lonavala

It all started with wanting to get away from the heat of Mumbai, May is really bad.I just cannot take the heat and the humidity any longer. I cannot believe that i was earlier in Mumbai for 12 long years. I think its to do with age, when you are young you can take on practically anything. I recall the extremes. I remember our warship visit to Bandarabas the HQ of the Southern Naval Command of Royal Imperial Navy of Iran during the hey days of Shah of Iran.The temperature was close to 50 deg C. Breathing the hot air itself was an ordeal. The sailors on parade to receive Admiral Habibulai fainted at regular intervals.That was 1975.

I was posted in Riga the capital of Latvia in 1978.We had gone there to commission a warship and bring it back to India. A ship mate and i decided to visit Moscow and that was Dec. Having finished viewing the change of guard at the Lenin's Mausoleum in Red Square i proceeded to stand in a pre designated place and wait for my mate. The temperature was close to - 28 deg C.Those were the worst 15 minutes of my life. The ears became red and frozen like red meat.I was unable to stand as the cold was seeping through the heel.As advised by our seniors,i had a shoe with inner fur lining and was wearing two socks.Each one being separated by a layer of news paper cut to size to act as insulators. All this was of no help.It was kadam tal for 15 unbearable moments of my life.

Another incident of interest was an evening out in Riga. All the ships officers were invited to hotel Riga for dinner by our Russian team leader,which meant a very simple operation of getting into a bus in our Stalavaya (guest house) and alighting at the hotel.Never in confrontation with the elements. So a friend and i decided to dress as if we were going out for a stroll in Mumbai.I had never been so totally wrong. During the journey the bus driver stopped at a petrol station and asked all of us to get down before filling in fuel.Well,the rules in USSR required that there should be no passengers in the bus when it fuels. The rest is cold history. Two of us being slowly frozen at -20 deg C. Good old days.
Coming back to Lonavala. The main reason for the trip was to take our grandson out into the open. I had booked a suite in INS Shivaji. A naval shore establishment which trains engineers for the navy. The journey to Shivaji was very usefully spent in answering the never ending volley of questions from our 3 year old GS. What is a tunnel,why is it there,where is the car going,what is a road roller etc.The duty of answering was forcibly taken over by my wife as she feared i may give wrong and funny answers like Calvin's dad.

After she had answered 987 questions we reached Shivaji. To my surprise i found that Lonavala was no better than Mumbai in terms of weather.The afternoon was spent indoors in AC comfort.Our GS needs to hear at least 3 stories prior to sleeping. In the manual of "Roles and Responsibilities of Grand Parents Vol I - Apr 2007" issued by our daughter, story telling is my part of ship. I enjoy story telling.Its unlike answering questions.Here you have the liberty of letting your imagination run wild and a few inaccuracies are allowed. Normally i start with the 'Bad Wood Cutter' story which is so loosely structured,it can take on many other sub sets without loosing sight of the main story. These sub stories change every day. The characters and the plot vary according to the mood and offers a very high chance of making GS sleep.Sometimes you get caught and GS says "Tata, last time you told me that the crow went to the Sparrow's house and now you are telling all ulta pulta". One has to be very alert and on guard to protect ones reputation as a good story teller. Never attempt any story telling after a good beer session - continuity and plot are generally the victims.

Evening turned out to be better and the weather had improved. We went to the swimming pool to cool off. Children love water and that's it. Once inside its very difficult to make them come out.Its the best form of exercise and you can be rest assured they will eat well and go to sleep in a jiffy. One thing the GP should remember is to follow exactly the same routine as the GS. You play when he plays and go to do nini when he does.

Keep them outdoors and they are excellent.Next morning was spent in speed boat rides and swimming.In the evening it was a trek to the Sunset Point. My GS had a taste of sailors at parade training under a banner loudly proclaiming "DRILL IS THE BED ROCK OF DISCIPLINE".He wanted to know where the sailors were going and i had difficulty in explaining to him 'No where' as they were doing 'About Turns', Halt,March,Stop etc and gaining no ground.It amused him a lot.Down the memory lane and i was doing the same thing till 1976 and as a matter of fact i specialized in this art form.

Never venture on a trip alone.GM must go with you as she is the essential link to your happiness.In these parts where guns and uniform are in plenty, you are bound to come across after sunset, a ship type or a course mate or a bar mate and you are compelled to join forces with 100 Pipers band and make merry.On a night like that the GF sleeps making noises like an under fed Nigerian tiger.The GS wakes up in the middle of the night to seek answers to a few philosophical questions which had been bothering him during the day.Why tata has no hair on his head,why is tata fat etc.These have to be dispatched with utmost haste by the GM to ensure the GF continues to sleep well and undisturbed.

Carry lots of fruits,cheese,juices just in case and lots and lots of changes.A video and still cameras are a must. On your part tons of energy to run behind him,lots of patience and cheer.Also ,as soon as you enter any new place make it Child Proof.Ensure there are no protruding nails,loose electrical connections,open
windows,unexploded hand grenade etc.

Cheers and more holidays with GC

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Photography - Why it is important - Especially Video

Every year on annual leave we - meaning self,wife,son and daughter and at a later date our dear dog 'Buttons' used to come down to Bangalore to be with my parents.My mother in law also lived in Bangalore in her sons house. We tried to plan the holidays so that my wife's two sisters with their families could also be there. We all camped at my Bil's huge and hospitable house.At any given time we were about seventeen permanent inmates and a hoard of aunts,uncles,grand parents and friends dropping in depending on the day of the week and time of the day. There used be a lot of daily group activities involving the nine children,however the most important activity was the variety entertainment to be put up by the kids at the end of their holidays.The grand event was attended by a large number of invitees.There was lot of planning and discussions as to what should be the programme.Once it was decided what to do, there was daily rehearsals and generally it was lots of fun.

One year it was a play from Thennali Rama,next year it was rock and roll dance with punk hairdo,another year it was a Punjabi dance and drama with a home made script,a magic show and so on. Year after year it was a hit and the children performed extremely well. We recorded the events with great care and took a lot of photographs.

1. Punk Dance : Kari,Vishu,Vivek,Sachu,Shreya,Akhila

2 Tennali Rama 

At that time i should have had a video camera to record all the events with movements and sound. But it was 1980 - 85 and the videocams had to be imported and extremely costly.To cut a story short - we could not afford a camera and the events had to be recorded in still photos. Once in a way we do get to remember the old times when we all sit and take a look at the albums and talk about it.

Punjabi Dance

Come 09 Apr 2007 the children presented me with a videocam for my birthday. A fantastic present. Come 25 April 2007 daughter delivered a son and six months later our daughter in law delivered a daughter on 13 Oct 2007. A few still photographs of our grand children with their parents,before i take you to the video. (Click on the photos to see enlarged view)



Proud Father Vivek with Samara
Proud Father Neer with Ayaan

Proud Mother  Akki and Ayaan

Shuhra and Samara

I have done 35 hours of recording since then, covering many events - namakarana,7th month ceremony of my daughter in law, scene at the hospital,annaprasanna,crawling,trying to stand up, attempts at taking the first step,walking,1st year birthday,Christmas,new year parties, visits to beaches,holiday homes,home stay, at home, on the play field etc.In short - three years of their growing up.In the bargain most of our birthdays, friends children's wedding,holidays have also been covered.
Since last five days i have been viewing them and putting them in order to convert them into DVDs.Viewing them has been a fantastic and unforgettable experience for the entire family. Video brings back the events in every detail and the running commentary jogs your memory giving you a total recall. My grandson was the most excited of the lot - an experience he is yet to fully understand.

Unlike still, the video provides a total recall due to the commentary and the movement provides the required continuity,depth and detail.However hard i try to remember the names and the trivia associated with my trip to US while viewing the stills - memory fails me. Yes i can say " look that's having beer in New Orleans".Its a far cry from the commentary which would have said " Daughter saying -Baba listen this is the last beer you are going to have - we are leaving, wife adding - if he continues at this rate this is going to be the last beer in US etc. The electric mood, the nuances,between the words,the expressions,the salty comments - they all come with the VIDEO only.

As we were watching the video - i could accurately carbon date the last time i was able to wear the Black and White silk shirt without unduly hurting my stomach or the buttons on the shirt.Many hidden secrets are shamelessly revealed - i over heard my daughter saying " amma have you seen the size of your helpings ... no wonder etc.

Simply put, its fun and provides you the 'feel good effect' at no cost. Good to watch on a rainy day or when you are not up to anything.The down side is - its only for you, do not call somebody to come and sit next to you and watch.Its damn boring for the rest of the world.

So go ahead and invest in a good video.Cheers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Welcome Aboard

I have been wanting to blog from a very long time, but somehow I was not able to put my finger to the key board.I have taken the plunge and hope it goes well.You see, I have finally retired - retired and have lots of time and hopefully lots of things to say. While I was in the Indian Navy and thereafter in an MNC there was no shortage of "Captive Audience". Meaning juniors who would willingly or otherwise listen to your gyan. Sadly those days are over. I believe blogging will give me the space to occupy myself and comment on various issues,events,experiences and anything worthwhile that comes across my mind.