Pep Chat.

Yes, I am sure that you have heard of pep talks. I just received a pep talk over the Google talk Instant Messaging System.

The chat was between a very dear friend from far away and me. I reproduce below most of it. I have just edited portions which can identify people.

Me: My life has never been mine since the late nineties. Some times I feel that the best part of my life went away due to no fault of mine and continues to do the same.

Friend: ******* saw an ad on TV about an 80 year old father and a 60 year old son and she said that it reminded her of you. Ramana, the best is yet to come.

Me: Things I want / wanted to do, friends whose fellowship I miss, places that I want to visit etc the list is endless.

Friend: There’s plenty of time. Besides you have us! Me, ******* etc, you know!

Me: Except that all eligible women call me Uncle. Or Brother or Bother too.

Friend: But just see how attractive you are. ******** fantasises about you and she’s never met you! Just see the aura that comes off you even over the net! You are no bother at all.

Me: Aura will not get me what I want.

Friend: You have an aura of magnetism. Besides there’s that gorgeous dark brown voice, not to mention your aristocratic bearing.

Me: Ha ha!!

Friend: For Heaven’s sake pal, you’re a babe magnet. The sort of women who like reading M&B romances would swoon over the likes of you.

Me: Send some over will you? The locals all want to know my bank balance.

Friend: Ah! just say less and keep them guessing.

Nice to have such motivating friends in my life, don’t you think? Do you have any who can pull you out of a spell of whymeitis like this friend did me?

Web Hosting.

My web hosting service provider had a problem with one server when he upgraded his entire set up and my blog kept appearing and disappearing for a while.

Many of my readers wrote to me separately about this and I have responded to them individually about the problem. I thank all of them for making me aware of the problem.

As I write this, my blog has been moved to another server and I will now have a new IP address but that will in no way affect accessibility to my blog.

I have been unable to respond to many comments on time because of this problem and I offer my sincere apologies for my inability. I have now responded to all the comments where responses were justified.

Thank you for not deserting my blog during the problem.

Conspiracy Theories.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where Anu, Ashok, Conrad, Delirious,gaelikaa, Grannymar, Padmum and I write on the same topic. Please do visit the linked blogs to get five different flavours of the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Conrad.

I am not surprised that Conrad chose this subject. He is a past master at hatching conspiracies, ably assisted and abetted by the inimitable Grannymar.

Let me explain.

After the last week’s LBC was posted, Grannymar and Conrad brainwashed Padmum into becoming a member of the LBC and that unsuspecting sweetheart succumbed to their charms and agreed. For those of my readers who do not know, Padmum is the nom de plume of my one and only blood sister Padmini. I make that distinction, before my other sister, also an LBC member, gaelikaa objects. The latter is my adopted sister is no less capable of conspiracies. I dread the day when the four of them. two Irish at that, hatch another conspiracy.

Now that Grannymar’s and Conrad’s proclivity for conspiracies has now been exposed, let me turn to some more mundane conspiracy theories.

The most popular one in our back yard, is our neighbour’s tendency to come up with conspiracy theories every time a suicide bomber kills himself and scores of other innocent bystanders, in their back yard. Since the Americans have started drone attacks however, the theories have taken off into orbit about how the Jewish American/Israeli/Hindu enemies have conspired to destroy Pakistan. Before Sri Lanka destroyed the LTTE, the conspirators inevitably included the Hindu LTTE till it was discovered that the LTTE was predominantly Christian in composition. After the Indian security agencies unearthed Hindu extremists setting off bombs, our neighbour has simply given up on India but the American/Israeli hand is seen in everything. The latest that does the rounds is that even the Middle Eastern uprisings are engineered by these very Satanic conspirators. I would not be surprised if the Japanese earth quake, tsunami and their after effects on the nuclear power situation is also attributed to this evil axis.

The Indian media has so far not started off on this kind of conspiracy theories, but I would not be surprised if they too start, if their ratings go South.

I have a paranoid relative, a very close one at that, who is convinced that all the others in the family conspire to badmouth him and to destroy his reputation. At an appropriate time that saga will unfold in my future blog posts.

Now, I better go off the subject before I become paranoid too. Or am I already paranoid?

Happy Birthday Corky.


This is another instance of synchronicity that I keep experiencing repeatedly that this post follows my two posts on long lasting marriages. When I had scheduled those two earlier posts, I had no idea that I will be writing to honour Corky on her birthday. She too is an example of the old fashioned virtue of long marriages and I congratulate her and Joe on that too, on this occasion.

Once you read the two posts on Conrad’s blog, links for which are given below, you will know why I choose this picture, also from Conrad’s blog, to wish Corky a very happy birthday and to wish her many happy returns of the day too. The two blog posts and the comments on them, tell us something about Corky’s spirit and character.

http://www.levintel.com/2008/12/30/mom-lets-the-investment-bankers-have-it/

http://www.levintel.com/2009/02/20/oh-mom/

And if you want to experience her sense of humour, you can do no better than read her comments and follow up comments on http://www.levintel.com/2011/03/15/false-advertising/#comments

All of us know how much Conrad loves and respects Corky and that sentiment has spilled over to his readers, some of who have had the privilege of either knowing her personally or have got to know her over the internet via Skype. It is sad that I live in India with odd timings that prevent my trying to do the same. I wish that I could one day.

In India, the eightieth birthday of a person is a very important occasion. It is called Sadabhishekam. It is celebrating the experiencing of 1000 moons. Had Corky been in India, I would have personally organized a grand celebration befitting that achievement. I would have done the same in the USA , if the distances between Pune and the USA were more manageable. Since neither is now possible at this late stage, here is wishing Corky once again Happy Eighty And Many More.

Indian Marriages -II

This is the second story as indicated in my yesterday’s post.

Dr Swarnambal and Dr Kumaraswamy—A 65 year old saga.

It was a love marriage. It was an inter community marriage. It was the classic boss and assistant getting together marriage and it became for many years a long distance marriage. Dr Swarnambal, now 86, went to work as Dr Kumaraswamy’s assistant in his rural clinic in Polur. Two years later they got married in Tirupathi. “There was no objection from my parents. My mother and eldest sister Ramalakshmi helped to arrange and perform the wedding”. It was not without drama though. Her brother rushed up the hill to try and stop the wedding at the last minute. He could not find the venue and promised Balaji that if he showed the way, he wouldn’t stop the wedding….and he did find and bless the married couple.

Then began a life of service and spirituality. Swarna worked with the Durgabhai Deshmukh program to open and run Baalwaadis and maternity centres. She was the Chairman for the North Arcot District and Polur Taluka and twelve centres were in operation. She had to visit and supervise their functioning in a jeep given for this purpose. After two years when she had collected some good funds for the project, local politicians wanted to misuse the funds and she resigned in disgust. She then concentrated on her husband’s practice.

Three children were born and their education became a matter of concern. “We had a lot of family burdens. Doctor Mama had to educate his brothers and get sisters married. We wanted to give our children a good education away from the village. So I migrated to Madras and initially stayed with my older sister Nagammal. Then I set up my own establishment close to the children’s schools. Of course I moved again when my daughters joined Church Park”. This period of about twenty years was a time when the couple lived apart. “He would come to Chennai whenever he wanted to see the kids. As our clinic was focussed greatly on maternity there was no weekend. So he would just get into his car late afternoon or evening, and drive in to see us, spend the night and leave early in the morning to go back to Polur. He was doing his cooking, practice and earning money for us.”

Swarna has learnt to change the dialect of her Tamizh to suit the language of her in-laws and the transition between Brahmin Tamil and Mudaliar speech is fluid. The joke in the family was that Swarna was an excellent , ‘kai rasi’ doctor. She would put up her board and build up a good number of patients and then change house or disappear!! “I would spend the children’s holidays in Polur. We lived in Triplicane, Gopalapuram and now for many years in Shastri Nagar. Our old house has been converted into apartments. Our son Dr Srinivasan lived in the UK for some time and then came back to India. He and his wife Raji look after us now. We have no responsibilities, no anxieties…in fact I do not know the prices of anything. Daughters Dr. Shanthi and Bamini are settled in UK and USA and visit regularly. Vasu and Shanthi chose their own partners. Bamini had an arranged marriage. Our grandchildren have grown up to be good human beings….that is what makes our life contented and blessed”.

After the children’s education was done Swarna did go back to Polur for some years. Then began their travelling to visit and help with grandchildren. This was also a time when Doctor began to immerse himself in spirituality. Swarna says, “I went with him everywhere barring Amarnath and Mt Kailash —he has made two trips!”

“The success of any marriage depends on a basic concept” says Doctor Kumaraswamy. “You have to be considerate partner and there should be equality, a sense of give and take…then family life goes on smoothly. When a feeling of superiority creeps in then the marriage collapses”.

Spirituality has been a part of Doctor’s life. “Both of us had upadesam from the Madurai Adeenam and that was the beginning of our spiritual life. Swarna took on the daily burdens of our life and I concentrated on supplying the finance. My focus has been on parents, patients, social service and in spiritual elevation”.

It has been an austere way of life for Doctor for many years. A cold bath, puja, compulsory sharing of the food before eating with a child and any other guests has been his way of life. He has practiced equality and insisted on sharing his meal with the house help too. If any case came up during his morning puja, he would go and attend it, come back have a bath again and then finish his prayers. “Athithi devo bhava has been my philosophy. Meditation helps to clean your mind, your thoughts and facilitates withdrawal from the world. I believe that the divine is within you and outside you. This awareness helps to interact with the world and makes you feel that I have everything and results in divine bliss”.

Doctor had a reputation in Polur that he never ever asked for money. Whatever the patients gave he accepted…there was no fee structure. He has been leading an austere life; both have visited Sabarimalai innumerable times. Doctor used to walk from Salem to Pazhani and then on to Pampa for many years. He was regular in performing the Giri Pradakshanam in Thiruvannamalai on Poornima days. The Krithigai and yearly Sashti vradam has been part of his spiritual life. Now at 95 he is weak and unable to keep the vigorous religious regime. He spends his time listening to Swami Paramarthananda’s lectures and transcribing them.

In the quietness of their lives both Swarna and Doctor rest on their laurels. The divine glow in both their faces inspires younger generations to search for satisfaction and peace after leading such an eventful, service oriented and fulfilling life.

Indian Marriages.

My sister Padmini is a professional writer. She writes for many periodicals and newspapers in the South of India. In this post and the next one, I shall reproduce an article that she wrote for the women’s magazine Eves Times, very popular in the South of India.

After the introduction, the first story that she writes is about my immediate younger brother Arvind and his lovely wife Shanta. Tomorrow’s story will be that of my doctor aunt Swarnambal, my father’s youngest sibling and her amazing husband Dr. Kumaraswamy.

Marriages are supposed to be made in heaven. That was the belief that saw marriages contracted, sustained and nourished a few generations ago. Sixty odd years ago, India was going through the turmoil of gaining independence. The world was reeling with the horrendous aftermath of a war that had wiped out young men in many numbers. Disease and malnutrition made many young men die leaving behind widows to bring up families.

Arranged marriages were the norm. Love marriages were frowned upon by society and inter community marriages were rare. Divorce was an aberration and stigma was branded on a girl who had a failed marriage. Today more and more couples are choosing partners for themselves without reference to caste, community, religion and status. Second marriages are quite common for both women and men. Tolerance, commitment and compromise in relationships have been eroded and lasting marriages are becoming unusual.

In this atmosphere there are marriages that have lasted for decades. What is the glue that has made these marriages sustain? What are the situations that have bonded couples for years? Do couples really live happily ever after? Or is this a myth perpetrated by fairy stories, M & B romances and movies that say THE END showing a couple walking away into the bright horizon. What about couples who have lived decades together and who are going towards their sunset years?

Arvind and Shantha Rajgopaul—Forty years together

Arvind and Shantha are celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary this May. They have moved houses, cities, jobs and are finally leading a retired joint family life with their son Deepak, his wife Ranjani and two grandsons Kedar and Sarang. They regularly visit their second daughter Sowmya and her husband Vivek and two grandsons Raghav and Vidyuth in Bangalore. They make a yearly visit to their oldest daughter Niela and husband Hari in Delhi and enjoy the achievements of grandkids Shreyas and Shraddha—the only granddaughter.

All this has not been achieved easily.

“We have had many ups and downs”, says Shantha, part-time teacher known for her Math prowess. “There have been many pluses and few minuses. A good and loyal husband and three children have bolstered my marriage. We had financial ups and downs and our children were never demanding…they adjusted to situations and circumstances with equanimity and till today have never said ‘you didn’t give us this or that. They have been positive about everything”.

Both sides of the family have been very supportive of Arvind and Shantha. “I have always lived with parents, in-laws or kids. Now it is grandkids as well,” says Shantha. She comes from a big family and entered another big family and has kept in touch with both sides of aunts, uncles, cousins and the next generation as well. Her five sisters live in Chennai and are very close on a day to day basis.

Arvind is more brutally frank about their lives. “I have enjoyed every moment of my forty year old marriage. I have a first class wife and in-laws, great children, loving sons-in-law and daughter-in-law. Not much income at times and it used to be difficult to make ends meet. We have faced several setbacks in life together including being thrown out by my father with a pregnant wife and our daughter’s marriage breaking up after 45 days and business failures. We have bounced back each time. I have loyal and trustworthy group of friends, cousins and a few well wishers who gave me a push when I needed it. We have changed three cities and I even did a stint alone in Coimbatore for a year where I learned to cook”. Shantha adds, “Cooking yes but I used to come back to a sink full of dirty dishes!!”

Arvind’s day begins with a swim and then he cooks eggs for his grandsons. Shantha then cooks the day’s meals. She is particular about going to the temple. Arvind used to play tennis and golf but has given them up because of bad knees. Both go for regular walks together.

The final word from Arvind is, “My three siblings and I are very close to each other…maybe because we did not have any inherited money to fight over!”