My fellow 2 on 1 Friday blogger Shackman has recently relocated to California and I was inspired to suggest this topic by that move. Please go over to Shackman’s blog to see how he tackles the topic.

My pre-marriage and the first year after that was life living out of a suitcase from the age of 16 for me. I had relocated a few times between Hyderabd and Chennai/Mumbai and also Ahmedabad before my marriage in November 1968. Relocating was simply a matter of packing my suitcase and moving to a hotel, hostel or paying guest accommodation and did not make for much effort or difficulty.

The first home we set up after marriage was in Delhi and since it was for a stay of just a few months, we had taken a barsati on rent and hired furniture and bare minimum utensils and a stove but both of us lived off suitcases.

The first proper home that we lived in was in Mumbai between 1970 and mid 1973 when we acquired furniture, cooking utensils, linen, etc and when we had to move to Kolkata, we were exposed for the first time to relocating with major packing, discarding etc but, the redeeming feature of the exercise was that we could hire professional packers and movers who did the dirty work, stored the stuff till we found accommodation at Kolkata and unpacked for us too.

From that first move, we relocated to Kerala, back to Mumbai on three occasions, Delhi and Bengaluru and finally to Pune in 1990 where we bought our home where I continue to live till date. During these relocations we moved and set up new homes on eight separate occasions till we put in our final roots.

I had to relocate on two separate occasions afterwards to Tirupur but since it was to furnished accommodation on both occasions I simply had to pack a suitcase. Whenever Urmeela came to stay with me there, she too simply had to come with a packed suitcase. So those two relocations were not really relocations in the true sense.

The only major disruption that we experienced during the relocations was in the schooling of our son Ranjan which, we once even had to solve by admitting him to a boarding school for three years. In retrospect, those three years were also the most disturbing for both of us despite frequent meetings with him at his school as well as his coming home for his vacations. Another experience that I would not wish on anyone.

I can therefore confidently assert that I am a seasoned and well-experienced relocator. I would not like to do that again though as I am now too well ensconced in my comfort zone in Pune where it will be three decades next year, since we relocated.


Chef is a Hindi movie that I saw yesterday. It is an official Hindi version of the American movie of the same name. I have not seen the American version of the film and therefore am unable to compare the two.

I went to see it yesterday because I like to see Saif Ali Khan. I was not disappointed.

He does his best, as does the child actor who plays his son.

The film however flops because the story line is unrealistic in the Indian context and is very weak. Despite the very effective photography of scenic locations in Kerala and Goa, the film suffers because it is totally impossible. Delhi and Amritsar filming is overdone and does not reflect the two cities of today.

We were altogether five viewers in the hall yesterday and the box office staff tell me that the film is a flop. I am not surprised.

The Monkey Mind.

I have known JG since 1967. We were colleagues in the same organisation till I left the organisation in 1990. Our friendship strengethened when I was posted to Delhi where JG lives and our two families too got to know each other very well.

I have been in regular touch with him despite not being his colleague. He and his wife would come to Mahabaleshwar often where they had a relative with a large estate. They would inevitably spend some time with us on their way up as well as back.

Every time I visited Delhi, I would visit him and spend some time with him and his family. I would also ring him up without fail every year on his birthday and he would be extremely happy to hear from me.

This year too, I rang him up a few days ago on his birthday and got the recorded message that his mobile phone was switched off. I tried his landline and there was no response despite trying a number of times. I sent him an SMS greetings but did not get any acknowledgement from him.

JG had had open heart surgery a couple of years ago, and my mind went into overdrive. I started to imagine all kinds of dire things. I finally got another friend to go to JG’s house and check out what the scene was, but due to some unavoidable developments that got delayed. I however got a phone call from the friend that JG’s mobile was now functioning and so I called him yesterday only to find that he is quite cheerful and he was sorry that he could not speak to me on his birthday. Due to big family celebrations, he had switched off the telephones and the whole day was spent by him and his extended family celebrating his birthday. He further said that he had not checked his emails or text messages and that was why he caused me to worry. He was most apologetic and assured me that he was hale and hearty and thanked me for remembering him on his birthday.

How our mind works!


Rain book cover

What timing! It is raining cats and dogs during the second month of our delayed monsoon and this book by a debut writer comes along. Could not have timed it better.

This is a story about how rain, a boon for the majority of Indians becomes a bane for the protagonist. Though that part constitutes a very small part of the narration, that forms the basis of the remarkably well written book.

Once I started to read it, I just could not put the book down. The story grips the reader and it proceeds at breakneck speed till it is finished. Remarkably, all human emotions, love of the platonic kind, the romantic kind, the parental kind, the fraternal kind, the compassionate kind along with guilt, atheism, faith, astrology, reason, hatred, anger, frustration, hope and ambition, all are present in abundant measure.

The story unfolds at Pune, the city where I live and some of the characterisations bring up vivid recollections of others in the city. The middle class portrayed both in Pune and Delhi too does the same for me, as I have lived in Delhi too. Inter community marriage, Indian politicians, policemen, the poor, the rich and the homeless are all portrayed in a very realistic manner by the author.

I am glad that I bought the book. After reading the book I also came across an interview that the author has given to medical professional that throws some light on the author’s own personality. The interviewer has asked some very insightful questions and therefore the interview becomes a reading experience by itself. My readers can read the interview here.

If you are interested in a moving Indian story, do buy the book and read it.

Travel Series IV.

Lin, this story goes back to 35 years and I had posted it in my blog five years ago! The main story again takes place in an airport but not with any officialdom! There is a follow up story to this story as well written three years later for another series that I wrote.

“I had gone to our local supermarket to get some vegetables and fruit on Tuesday. As I was entering the main door, a portly gentleman was exiting and I waited for him to, as he was carrying many bags in both hands. He duly nodded and said a mumbled thanks to me and went on his way.

As I finished my shopping and was leaving, I found the same gentleman waiting outside the door and nodded to him. He asked me if I was Mr. Rajgopaul from Delhi. I replied that I was indeed Rajgopaul but currently residing in Pune. He then asked me if I remembered meeting him at Delhi. I tried to place his face but just could not. I had been stationed in Delhi between 1980 and 1983. My recollection of that period is overwhelmingly one of the constant pain that I lived with till 1985, when I had my first hip replacement.

Now for the story.

I was waiting for a flight out of Delhi and had just come out of the gents’ room when I heard someone calling for Ramesh. I just kept going to find a seat when someone joyfully calling me Ramesh and asking if I was deaf slapped me on my back. I turned around
to find this joyous face hoping to have a chat with his friend whose expression quickly turned to disappointment on seeing me instead of Ramesh. He apologised profusely for the mistaken identity. He said that I resembled his friend from college days Ramesh quite a bit. Not being one to miss an opportunity, I quipped that my father is quite a colourful personality. He looked puzzled for a moment, but got the joke and guffawed quite loudly. He accompanied me to the sitting lounge and sat next to me and told me how much he enjoyed the joke.

I took out the morning’s newspaper to do the day’s crossword puzzle, when he excused himself and asked me if he could say something personal. I confirmed that he could and he very hesitatingly pointed out that I was wearing my singlet, which was peeping out of my open neck shirt, wrong side out. I informed him that I did that deliberately to keep the seam side out to reduce the friction. He just said “Oh, I see.” and turned away. After a few moments, he got up, requested me to keep an eye on his brief case while he visited the gents’ room and disappeared. He reappeared after a few minutes with a huge big grin on his face with the top button of his shirt open and told me that he too had gone and done the same thing with his singlet, and thanked me for the tip.

He then introduced himself. I don’t remember if we exchanged visiting cards, but the chances are that we did or at least I would have given mine to him. He recognized me after all these years from my walking stick, limp and my beard and was happy to confirm that I was the same fellow who taught him that trick. He said that he still wears his singlet the wrong side out. I said that I don’t anymore, as I had changed over to ribbed singlets instead of the old style interlock knits. He asked me to show what the difference was. I unfastened the top button of my kurtha and showed him. He told me that once again he has learned something new from me and he too would change over and took down the name of the brand that I wear. He also recollected the story of my father being colourful and how many times he had told this to his friends. I told him that my colourful father is still colourful and living with me and we parted with a promise from him to visit me again soon and to pay his respects to my colourful father.

Just imagine something like this happening after almost thirty years! Not only that, on my return home, I got a phone call from someone in Mumbai which led to another story from the eighties, but this time based at Ahmedabad, about which, I shall write another post soon.

Do things like this happen to you?”

The Way Things Were.


A little background before I comment on the book.

We lived in Delhi on two stretches. The first time was in 1968/69 when we were newly married and enjoyed Delhi as a more or less honeymoon location. The second time was between 1980 and 1983 when we became residents and made a number of friends who till today remain friends. This book revolves around tumultuous periods that Delhi as well the rest of the country saw and to which I was an adult witness. I have personal knowledge of people who suffered because of the Punjab problem, the immediate aftermath of the Indira Gandhi assassination, now more or less acknowledged as a pogrom against the Sikhs, and the Babri Masjid destruction. The links will give you some idea of the problems, but I was part of the generation that was impacted one way or the other by all three instances of insanity in India.  I am among those convinced that the anti Sikh riots were orchestrated by the Indian National Congress and you don’t need go too far to justify it when you consider what Rajeev Gandhi said about it – “When a big tree falls, the ground shakes.”

My personal aversion to the Indian National Congress as a political party started with the State of Emergency declared by Indira Gandhi when I was personally exposed to the excesses of the times and this was only strengthened further during our second Delhi stint when I used to visit the Punjab and also had many Sikh friends and what the INC did to create the problem and how it tried to manage the aftermath.

Aatish Taseer, the author of this book comes with a cross cultural background. His mother, an Indian Sikh is a well known author/writer/columnist whose writings I follow religiously and his father a dashing Pakistani Muslim who was assassinated for defending Christians against the brutal anti blasphemy laws of Pakistan. Aatish is too young to have personally been able to experience the mood of the times that this book covers but he has obviously spent a lot of time interviewing people who had and what he brings out in this magnificently written book is something that I can fully relate to. That I am also a keen student of Sanskrit helps as quite a bit of Sanskrit features in the story.

The characters come alive and I personally know or know of people exactly like those portrayed in the book and so the characterisation is accurate and very identifiable with. The story grips one and at least for me, it was a not-put-downable reading experience.

As icing on the cake, while reading the book, I remembered some old Sikh friends in Delhi and contacted them using modern systems to locate and contact them, to our mutual delight with every intention of staying in touch in the future.

Two gems to arouse your curiosity. The first one slightly modified.

“She is a pragmatist nevertheless. What is right in her eyes – what is moral, even – is simply what is, not what should be.”

And the second, almost immediately following the above quote in the book, “…..stupidity, I’m sure you will agree, is not an absolute value, but a deficit.”

“A deficit?”

“Yes, the gap between what one is fit to be doing and what one, in fact, does.”

A book worth every rupee spent on it and one that I give[rating=6].