Sunday, February 28, 2010

Finally a gas cylinder in my own name! Jai Ho India!

I guess that I just got lucky! Perhaps I became smarter and kept it simple. I decided to keep my present address the same as in my passport! This was easy as my sister is now staying at the apartment. Then I located the Food and civils supplies office in that locality. My first brush with the office was not too friendly and there were scores of people waiting! I almost gave up!

A few days later I was near the place and went in again on an impulse, was lucky to meet an official who was helpful! He advised me get my Election ID done from a nearby office and submit this and a copy of the latest house tax receipt as proof of my residence and relationship.

Getting the EID turned out to be a breeze. Again people were cooperative, checked my application and asked me to go again after 10 days.

I was there after 15 days, to give them some margin of time! I met a young girl with a computer and she asked me to verify that my details were keyed in correctly and directed me to another room. Not many people there. Soon I was photographed, finger printed by a very young guy again with a computer and before I could say Jai Ho another youngster at the next table called out to me and gave me my card! Sweetest of all was that there was no charge!

Armed with this getting a RC was easy. Only there were a lot of people in the office, whose apperance said that they were really in need of the subsidised rations. I submitted my application and was asked to go back with Tara after ten days. Two weeks later, I went in to check without Tara early in the morning. Good decision as a lot of people came in later.

I was told that my application was approved! When I told them that Tara was busy and was not with me, they said no problem, you can get your RC processed and add her picture later at an additional charge of Rs. 45. Here again the system was similar and I was given my RC within 15 minutes of my being photographed and finger printed! My RC says clearly it is meant only for a gas connection. It cost me Rs 45, a pity no subsidised ration:-(

My next step was back to the authorised agent. The girl had a look at my RC and remarked that there is no proof of relationship in the RC! My heart sank again as I had no clue why it was not there and what to do now! Anyway she was willing to accept my Driving License which had my father's name as the proof of my relationship. She again listed out the things she needed to make a change. An affadavit by me and an indemnity bond certified by a notary, copies of death certificates of my parents, a copy of DL.

As I walked down, I literally stumbled upon a photociopier ( The pavement was bad!) and thought let me get the RC copied and discovered they would take care of everything for me for a fee. Of course I had the stamp papers with me, I had bought them six months ago! It was done in a few hours!

This morning I was at the agent again and you can see the result of my persistent efforts below: A very precious thing I inherited from my parents. Thanks to Srilatha for keeping it safe all these years!

Please pray for me now that there is no shortage of gas!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Due recognition and a proud moment!

Tara as she stepped in after visiting Viji's mother announced: 'You must see her work, it is amazing! and added 'You must write a blog about her!'
'Fine! But what does she do?' I asked.
Tara replied 'Cross-stitch!'

I guess I would have written a blog about her just because she is Viji's mother :-).
If you are a Bangalorean, you would not be too excited about cross-stich work! Almost every household has at least one framed piece, which is displayed and is proudly pointed out to you! You politely walk up to it and say very nice! Anyway having agreed, I said 'Let us go see and talk to her one day!'

A few days later Viji, visiting from Bangkok invited us for Tea at her sister's place. As we walked in I saw many paintings all around. This did not surprise me as Viji deals with art and has a gallery Vedaarts in Bangalore.

After a while Tara asked me 'Did you see aunt's work?'
'Not yet where is it?' I replied.
Tara then pointed to what I had thought to be a painting in the alcove. It was nice, a bit grainy and not the stylised version of Ganesha we see now! I walked closer and realised it was a fine piece of cross-stitch work; delicate and with very subtle colors!

Later I saw more of her work, displayed around the hall and down stairs, where Aunty lives. Very impressed, I said to myself, this surely is worth an exhibition! Not surprisingly her daughters had recently arranged an exhibition.

Her work is truly impressive and I present them here with an apology to aunty for thinking that I would do this just to please Viji, Nandini and Dolly! She deserves this and many more accolades for her fine and dedicated work, entirely on its merits!

As my wont, I requested Ayesha to speak about her grand mother and here is what she has to say about her Kuku!
Ayesha and her mother Viji
Growing up, my siblings and I called my grandmother Kuku because she was constantly in the kitchen cooking up a storm of delicious eats. Little did we know that Kuku had a hobby beyond her role as a compassionate, attentive, and nurturing grandmother.

Kuku first learned about cross-stitching in the 1940s following her marriage to my grandfather, Abu. She was in Madras at the time and couldn’t help but notice a cross-stitch print that her sister-in-law was slowly working at. Kuku became inspired to learn cross-stitching and that is exactly what she did—reading books and practicing techniques to master the craft all on her own. She started out making small, simplistic pieces—from pillow covers to small wall hangings to table runners to blankets. The dedicated housewife that she was, Kuku mainly prepared pieces to decorate my Abu’s residence while posted out-of-station during his service with the Indian Air Force. From cross-stitching, Kuku went on to learn knitting and crochet, once again in response to the needs of her family and friends. In Delhi, she practiced knitting to make sweaters for her children during the cold winters and in Pune, she cultivated her crochet skills as a common pass time with local friends.

It was only in the early 1980s, when Kuku and Abu relocated to Bangalore, that she started cross-stitching with serious dedication and this time, for herself. Her neighbor, Madhu, had recently moved to Bangalore from the United States and had a vast collection of prints that she graciously shared with Kuku. Kuku fondly recalls their close supervision of one another’s work and regular trips to the market for purchasing wool— in Madhu she found a close friend and valuable mentor. Kuku soon completed her first cross-stitch piece of a house and garden, and after that followed many designs; from intricate flower prints to animals to children story scenes. During her visits to Bangkok where she would spend time with my mother Viji, Kuku visited many local cross-stitch stores and began building her own library of prints. She has produced over 50 works till today, many of them gifted to her daughters, grandchildren, and family friends.

Kuku’s Ganesha piece is an elaborate work consisting of over 100 different thread combinations and it is the largest print she has ever accomplished, all at the grand age of 81! In addition to this masterpiece, Kuku has created a legacy of artisans dedicated to cross-stitch, knitting, and crochet by spreading her knowledge and passion for these crafts. Her followers include her own children and grandchildren to neighbors and friends to intrigued observers across New Delhi to Bangkok!

When I asked how cross-stitch makes her feel, Kuku responded, “I like it and it helps me pass the time. When I’m at home alone, its better to keep myself busy and cross-stitch makes my time and days fly by. Just like how you enjoy reading and yoga, cross-stitch is my thing!”

We should be duly impressed! Imagine that this was done when she was 81!

My thanks to Ayesha for the pictures above. An excellent job!

Below are some representative pictures of the exhibition! The exhibition show cased both Kuku and her friend Madhu's work.

A moment of introspection before the start of the exhibition!

The traditional lamp being lit by the chief guest Mrs. Pushpa Dravid ( Rahul Dravid's mother!) She was very impressed by Kuku's talent and dedication and commended her on the same during her inaguaration speech.

Dolly, Vedavalli (Kuku for Ayesha) and Nandini at the show. Our compliments for a job well done!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Should Brits be hired to teach us fairplay?

"Learn to queue up to become a UK citizen!"

This piece was on Times of India recently. It appears that they plan to make the art of queueing part of the citizenship test for immigrants! This is claimed to be central to the British sense of fair play! They aver that "a lot of tension is created by immigrants not understanding that they must wait in line for services rather than barging to the front".

My immediate reaction was that they could have taught us in the 200 odd years they were in India!

I remember the days when I used to wait for a bus. Often the bus would not even stop and when it did, the driver would over shoot the bus stop where we were bunched together and halt! Obviously we had to rush to the bus and even a semblance of a queue we had would be lost and it was survival of the fittest! Surprisingly no one would remonstrate with the driver!

While there are times when we do form a queue, more often we do not! Just yesterday a guy walked into the shop I was at and picked up whatever he wanted and butted in and thrust the money at the shopkeeper and the shopkeeper obliged him! There was some logic in it, but it would have been nicer if he just said 'Do you mind, I have only one item!'

Since my return my own sense of fair play has been outraged countless of times! The other day I was at the food and civil supplies department, don't ask me what I was doing there, that is an other long story! I noticed that people just bunched together at the table where a lady clerk was collecting applications. They just stood there quietly hoping to catch her eye.

I realised that this was the clue. We had to just wait to be noticed by the officialdom and this is what the Raj had taught us. I realised then how the British would have ruled us through their bureaucrats. I suppose if I were the person in power, I would look at only those whose faces I liked or those who had the same caste mark as I had or the same ethnicity and so on!

The officialdom does not seem to care who came first and it is the reason why we bunch together, push and generally act in a totally uncivilised manner. I am not even speculating on the other types of influences that may work!

We can remonstrate and succeed sometimes if it is just a queue of people standing. But this genetic flaw, as many of us like to give it a name, is unmanageable while our people drive! The extent of callous behaviour of drivers of vehicles is horrendous to say the least. We see the Bengaluru janata at their worst! They are selfish, thoughtless, arrogant to say the least.

I have yet to seek the opinion of sociologists about this sordid lack of civic sense. I hope they have a clue. The harm that is done by this behaviour is enormous. My own guess is that it is an inscrutable amalgam of feelings of inferiority, impotence and sheer idiocy!

I suppose it is smart to blame it on the Brits and here is an opportunity for them to make amends!

If they do succeed in taming the immigrants, which surely would include us Indians, they can be invited as Queue coaches and Driving coaches copying the way we have done it with sports! Thus they will be able to make amends for leaving us without teaching us this basic trait of fair play!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Sound advice to us Pedestrians!

As I walk around Kumarapark, I get this feeling that we are a forgotten lot!
Not really, there are agencies which think of us!
For example the Trasport department of Karnataka gives us this 'walking' advisory.
Placed on the KarnatakaTransport department website,
Caution to pedestrians:
The most important safety tip to reduce pedestrian injuries is to pay attention. Follow safety rules on the road and live long. In order to be safe while walking on roads, keep the following tips in mind:
  1. Make eye contact with drivers if possible and make sure that they can see you. (Reminds me of the day I was crossing the road, on a rare zebra crossing! I was shocked to see the bus did not slow down for us. The bus was at least 100 yards from us. Then as I saw the drivers' eyes, I realised that he had no intention of slowing down and sprinted across. Yes it is absolutely necessary to make eye contact!)
  2. Avoid walking next to the kerb with your back to the traffic.
  3. Wear or carry something light colored, bright or fluorescent in poor daylight conditions. When it is dark, use reflective materials (e.g. armbands, sashes, waistcoats and jackets.
  4. Walk between children and the traffic and hold their hands firmly.
  5. Always walk on the footpath, where there is no footpath, walk in the right side margin of the road so that you can see the traffic coming in the opposite direction.
  6. Cross roads where there are pedestrian crossings. Where there are no pedestrian crossings, watch the traffic on both sides and cross when it is safe. (That is the clue, only you never know when it is safe!)
  7. You must not walk on motorways or slip roads except in an emergency.
  8. Never walk on the main carriageway.
  9. Do not read newspapers or look at hoardings while walking on the road.
  10. Do not greet friends on the road.(At the moment easy!)
  11. Do not come on to the main road while waiting for a bus. Do not run after a moving bus. Get on or off a bus only when it has stopped to allow you to do so.
  12. Do not climb over the barriers or walk between them and the road.
  13. You must not get on to or hold on to a moving vehicle. (The last three are beyond me)
  14. Don't "Drink and Walk."
  15. When using any type of crossing you should always check that the traffic.
  16. You must not loiter on zebra crossings. ( Absolutely, see item 1)
  17. If an ambulance, fire engine, police or other emergency vehicle approaches using flashing blue lights, headlights and/or sirens, keep off the road.
I suppose we have been warned and advised. Now it is up to us, the pedestrians!

What can a pedestrian do!

This is next to our house! I am forced to walk on the road! No other choice!
These car owners are lucky! The pavement is just the right width!
This car owner is very civic minded. He lets 'One' pedestrian pass!
This is even better. A well made pavement as well!
I sympathise with this car owner, he obviously has no garage space! What can one do!
This scene is typical. A pedestrian has to brave the traffic all the time! I was a bit surprised as the parked car was a Mercedes benz. One would expect that a benz owner would have a proper garage!
I do not react anymore to kids on scooter without helmets!
This is understandable. We all need the milk booth to be at a convenient spot! Where else but on the footpath!

Again a considerate car owner!
We also need space for services like this one!

These pictures were taken within 500 meters of our house! This is how it is all over Bengaluru. More and more cars! Many localities like Kumara Park west, a middle class locality, were not planned with cars in mind!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I am sweeter!

I never imagined I would write this about myself. I am sweeter now and it is no fun! I belong to the category where 'ignorance is bliss' and so I had no clue that Diabetes can be so challenging!

It all started innocently, I just went for a medical check before leaving for Bangkok! It was for my travel insurance and lo behold there was sugar in my blood! I called my friend Raghu (Dr) immediately! He advised me to go ahead with my trip and said he would take care of me after my return. He cautioned me to eat moderately and no sweets!

It was lucky for me that Hari and Anita had just moved to Bangkok and Anita knew about diets for diabetes! She advised me not to go on the web and read about my ailment. That is good advice! But by then I had peeped in to the web. The gyan given on-line is scary. You feel like you have just jumped the queue in your journey towards meeting the almighty. It is not the same as jumping queue at the Tirupati temple. There you have your darshan early, feel enervated and then it is back to whatever is your karma!

Anyway Anita took me under her wings and guided me on what not to eat! I know it was not intentional but I was tested thoroughly. She is staying at this swanky service apartment. So breakfast was complimentary and they provide a good spread! I would walk past all the good stuff till we reached the salad section. She would allow me to pick up some cucumber from the there. Then a soup, the Japanese Meso soup was a life saver as I liked it. She okayed an omelet with only the white of the egg and I had the brownest of breads. Thankfully Papaya was approved! Once I got used to it breakfast with Anita was rather fun!

We also had very simple lunches. Vietnamese brown rice with nice and crunchy vegetables was actually enjoyable. Frankly she was of great help during this period of my being in denial. No sweets, cakes and ice creams during dinner. Thankfully none of my hosts insisted on me eating sweets they had lovingly prepared or bought, once they knew I was on a diet. Moderate drinking was not forbidden, but snacking was! No handfuls of cashew or peanuts! Anyway I am already content with just a glass of wine. All I had to do was to steer clear of all the short eats that is kindly offered!

It is no surprise that while I spoke to my friends about my dieting under Anita's guidance, there were opposite views expressed! The seasoned ones advised me to eat and enjoy and let medicine take care of the disease! Their argument was that at my age of three score and ten, there is no point in being so careful! Very convincing and tempting!

Anyway after my return, I went through tests and learnt that I do have diabetes. Hopefully it can be managed with only dieting after a period of treatment. Raghu really took care of me by prescribing me a diet of about 1600 calories per day! It looks manageable when you see it on paper.

But the problem starts when you go out for a wedding and have lunch there! As you settle down in front of the banana leaf, they start serving super fast! It is so confusing as you don't want to waste food and you cannot stop them! Almost everything is taboo as per your diet list. We are served two or three varieties of sweets! Pineapple sweet and sour (gojju!) and even the Kosambari (a kind of salad) has coconut and sweet corn!

It is the same when you go to a temple and are given prasad, everything is made up of rice! No more puliogre, sakkara pongal and nai valaplu! It is painful even to translate and tell you what is being missed!

What really hurts me is to read that my ailment is due to my lifestyle! I was actually very confident that my lifestyle was particularly good! I suppose while I exercised well, I also ate more than my body could handle. Especially the last six months! Raghu tried to console me by telling me that our community has a great incidence of diabetes!

Armed with this information, I plan to form a SIB diabetes support group and will try to influence both the temples and all our relatives to have a diabetic pankti (batch!) separately for us. I used to joke that our Gods had a risk of turning diabetic! Now I suppose the joke is on me! Anyway wish me luck!