Old Is Gold.

I have received a clip on WhatsApp a number of times of a stand up comedian telling a story about a difficult father of a bride to be and an old man. Unfortunately I am unable to find the clip to insert it here for my Hindi speaking readers but, will publish it if it comes my way again. Some flavour of the story will be lost in translation but, it is still worth sharing with my readers.

Just before a baraat is about to leave to the bride’s home for the wedding ceremonies to begin, a messenger from the bride’s father arrives with a request that if the marriage is to take place, no old men should accompany the baraat. Perhaps the father really does not want the wedding to go take place due to some reason or the other.

The groom is adamant that the baraat should leave without old men but, one old codger insists on accompanying it by offering to hide himself in one of the carts with baggage accompanying the baraat.

The old man is carefully hidden and the baraat reaches the venue when the bride’s father sets another condition to be fulfilled before the wedding can take place. And the condition is that the well in the village should be changed into one containing milk instead of water.

The groom’s party considering this to be ridiculous, decides to return.

Feeling the cart turn around and start back the hidden old man asks what the matter is. On being given the explanation, he tells the baraat that this is such a simple thing to respond to and sends word that the baraat is ready with the milk and that the bride’s family should empty the well.

Hearing the response, the bride’s father immediately responds that there must be an old man in the baraat and so the wedding stands cancelled anyway!

Addled Brain.

This story involves two friends and my addled brain. Enjoy the ride.

To start with, I have been down with a chest infection which, because it is the third time that I have caught it this season, has caused my entire system including my brain, to function below its normal capacity.

Coming to my two friends, one, let us call him NS, has just returned from a visit to a hospital to undergo multiple cardiac surgeries and interventions. He is well on the way to recovery but, is more or less restricted to his home resting and recovering. I thought that it would be a good idea to send something light for him to read to keep him at least partly occupied and amused.

Comes into this story my second friend, let us call him PS, who is a Management Consultant who writes articles to a few newspapers on Management, Economics, Politics and / or whatever comes to his mind. He got many of these articles published in a book form as an anthology, and reading a couple of very good reviews by a couple of other friends from the same fraternity, I decided to buy and read it. Having found it very interesting, I have been gifting it to some friends with taste for such writings.

I wrote to my writer friend PS to send a copy to my recovering friend. I forgot to write the address of NS in the first mail and I sent a second mail with the address, apologising for the slip blaming it on a functioning-below-capacity brain due to the chest infection.

I got a WhatsApp message in due course from PS confirming that he will send the book shortly. He concluded his message with the direction, “Take care of your health.”

I sent a message back to him thanking him and asked him “How do you know about my illness?”

He responded that I had informed him about it in my second mail!

You see how the illness has played games with my memory on two related instances?

Comic! Does this happen to you?

The Good Old Days.

“Just tonight I stood before the tavern
Nothing seemed the way it used to be
In the glass I saw a strange reflection
Was that lonely woman really me?”

How poignant! Please read on.

“Though we tend to remember bad events as well as we remember the good ones, the negative colouring of the misfortunes fades with time, particularly the ones that happened to us. We are wired for nostalgia: in human memory, time heals most wounds. Two other illusions mislead us into thinking that things are not what they used to be: we mistake the growing burdens of maturity and parenthood for a less innocent world, and we mistake a decline in our own faculties for a decline in the times. As the columnist Franklin Pierce Adams pointed out, “Nothing is more responsible for the good old days than a bad memory.”

~ Steven Pinker.

Pinker has got it bang on. As our faculties decline, we think that the decline is in the current times. Pune where I live is currently in the grip of a cold wave. I have lived here for the past 28 years and have experienced temperatures lower than what we have seen so far this winter. I have however been feeling the cold for the first time ever and have been wearing warm clothes round the clock. It is not that the bad new days are here. It is just that I have aged and my body is less capable of handling the cold conditions.

A dealer in antiques has regularly been contacting me to see if I have any thing that I want to dispose off and earlier this week he showed me a photograph similar to this one. This is a coal fired water heater kept in our bathrooms in the good old days before electric water heaters of either the immersion variety or the storage types became common features in our bathrooms. The dealer wanted to know if I had a piece or if I knew of anyone with one as, he had a customer for it. Every day as I take a hot water shower should I think of these old conveniences as belonging to the good old days? Leave alone the hot water aspect, those days, we did not have showers and drew water from  bucket using  mugs to pour on our head to bathe! Good Old Days?

For almost half a century of my life, I lived in a Socialist society and have experienced shortages of just about everything. When I mention this to the younger friends, they simply cannot understand how difficult it was to get milk or baby food when today, they can buy just about everything online for home delivery at a convenient time. Good Old Days?

I bet that most of my readers will remember the days of telephone booths, collect calls, waiting for connections etc.  Good Old Days?

When I hear complaints of some kind or the other about adult children treating grand children badly, I often tell grand parents of my age that there is simply a memory gap and not a generation gap as, we brought up our children in more or less the same way. I am not exactly popular particularly because, I don’t have grandchildren of my own! At least I have my memory intact.

No, I think that I prefer the Good Present Days, thank you.

I have a feeling that Shackman, the other blogger in the 2 on 1 topic plan, is likely to write differently on this topic. Please do go over to his blog to see his take. Thank you.

Packed Lunch.

I am sure that my friend Megh expected me to write a blog post when he sent me this link to a fascinating story about the Norwegian packed lunch and here I go obliging him.

I have not been to a work place where I had to have lunch for the last sixteen years. So, I do not know quite what the scene now a days is but I do see hoards of young people having lunch during lunch hour at either way side food stalls or restaurants near blocks of offices in my neighbourhood. Perhaps the system of taking packed lunch to work or schools/colleges has gone out of fashion at least in Pune or it is just that there are too many singles working in Pune who have come here to work from distant places and staying in paying guest accommodation or hostels.

I distinctlty remember taking a single lunch box of stainless steel to school till I finished high school at the age of a little over fifteen.

My mother would pack curd rice with a piece of dry pickle on one side and a piece of jaggery on the opposite and during lunch break, I would sit with other classmates who would have also brought the same for lunch from their homes.

After that, till I started to work in Mumbai in January of 1970 I had lunch at convenient places. In Mumbai, my wife would pack and send lunch through the iconic Mumbai dabbawalas just like almost all my colleagues in the office got theirs. Those packed lunches would come in carriers like this kind of thermos flask inside which would be a three tier case containing three different dishes. It was quite usual to share among colleagues whatever was brought.

Fast forward to the late eighties when I became part of a management team to which lunch was served in a lunch room as part of the perks during times of socialism in India! So, the practice of taking packed lunch stopped till the middle of 1990 when I shifted to Pune where I started taking packed lunch from home in a electric thermos/thermos tiffin box which would heat up food if plugged in half an hour before lunch time. Here too, I would share the food with other colleagues who too would have brought lunch in similar boxes. Till I retired in late 1998, I continnued to use this device to take packed lunch to my places of work.

I also remember packing sandwich lunches for my son who was going to work after I retired and while I was the house husband due to the illness of my late wife.

I am sure that most of my readers will identify with the days when they took packed lunches to school or places of work unless of course they were provided with lunch like many places now do.   Do you have similar experiences?

Unadulterated Joy!

The new year has been very kind to me so far and it is just eight days old. I hope that it continues to be so for the rest of the year too.

The first instance was when I wrote about Ranjan getting me a new year gift of a book in my post Short Cuts. What I did not know at that time was that he had another surprise in store for me which he produced yesterday.

Perhaps I am not being my age!

It should easily be over a couple of decades since I read a comic book and particularly Asterix. This collection with three new stories that I had not read before were simply too good for words. I thoroughly enjoyed reading them and have decided to keep getting them whenever I go anywhere near a book shop or get Ranjan to get them whenever he does.

Shall we just say that I have re-discovered a childhood passion for comic books?

I had hardly finished reading Asterix when the door bell rang and Amazon delivered another surprise. This surprise was all the more delightful for its unlikely sender.  My friend Kaustubh without having warned me, simply arranged for this book to be delivered to me. Quite why he did that is something that will bug me for some time but in the attached note he added that he looked forward to my review of the book. I had to tell him that the review will have to wait as this book will have to await its turn till all the others in the queue are dealt with. He cheerfully agreed to.

My life is getting to be quite a tsundoku! There are eight books in the queue to be read. How about you dear reader?