The Inessential Belongings That We Collect.

I am not surprised that this topic was chosen by Magpie for a LBC post some time ago.. I couldn’t have done it. I wonder if it is because he collects inessential belongings that he has earned that name!

Having used my recent house arrest usefully to rationalize my wardrobe and library, right on top of my list are books and clothes. I am glad that for now, I have no inessentials in those two categories.

The next attack will be on my large collection of crockery, cutlery and kitchen stuff that have accumulated over the years, due to running more than one household on more than one occasion.

With the advent of the i-pod, all my music discs, tapes and cds had become inessential and they too have been discarded. Unfortunately, I have just read that the old discs have now come back in demand for antique collectors and I can’t exploit the development. Part of the downside of getting rid of “inessentials” I suppose.

I wish desperately that I can get rid of the most annoying essentials of all. Regrettably, I am unable to and seek some advise from my readers on any formulas. I mean memories of course. Having just been through a period of relative idleness, these were the most annoying.

Chance Meeting And Memories.

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?

One Memorable Day.

I had been struggling for three days, to come up with a topic for this week’s LCB when in a flash it came. Why it came is also the reason for this topic. Why it came is that “One Memorable Day” is so special for me that it pops up in my mind suddenly every now and then, so that I can re-live that special day. Every moment of that day is so deeply etched into my memory that, it never fails to lift up my spirits no matter how gloomy they may be at that particular moment.

Here is a sample of what I mean. A poignant piece of writing by a celebrity, who had his special “One Memorable Day”, and has perhaps lost an opportunity to establish a remarkable relationship.

My ‘the’ memorable day was way back in 1980, when I was posted in Delhi by my employers. Every year, our company used to have the annual sales conference in one of our mill locations which were all in rural parts of South India, so that the mill employees could have an opportunity to rub shoulders with the sales guys.

The finale of the conference was the annual Sales Vs The Rest cricket match. It was a fiercely fought and cheered for by the opposing supporters in a noisy festival atmosphere.

All the players from the sales team would come to play the game once a year without any practice but the locals would have been practicing and getting ready for the big day. A clear advantage any way you look at it.

My job in the team was to bowl. I was not expected to bat and score runs. The host team batted first and I did my bit and took three wickets and went to sleep comfortably when the sales team went in to bat.

I was suddenly woken up by my team mates and asked to pad up and do a rescue job at number seven and with twenty runs to score to win. I bravely padded up, and walked up to do the job with much encouraging shouts from our side and friendly booing from the hosts.

Then the Memorable Day happened.

I hit the first ball that I faced for a four. The next one too and the third one for a single. There was a hush from the hosts side and much cheering from ours. My partner faced his first ball and got cleaned bowled out. Two wickets more in hand and eleven runs to win. A fresh over with me to face the bowler, our opponents’ fastest and most experienced bowler. The first ball flew past me in a blur. The next ball was a beauty for a batsman and I was able to despatch to the boundary for a four. Seven runs to win. I was seeing the ball like a football. I was able to take another run and cross over leaving my last but one partner, our wicket keeper, to face the music. Six more runs to win. He patted the next one down the wicket and took a single leaving me to bat. Five more to win and I had to do it. The last ball of the over was bowled and I was able to see it like a football. I stepped out and clouted it over the fence for a six and we won the match.

I have played many matches and none has ever meant more or given me greater joy. It was like a dream come true being selected the man of the match for the three wickets and the winning runs for the sales team. The whole sequence of events, the precise placement of the ball in the strokes, the kind of balls that were bowled, the bowlers, the fielders involved, the sound from the pavilion, the entire atmosphere, are as vivid to me today as I write this as it has been innumerable times, when for no reason at all that memory of that perfect day and the two overs come back to me in flash back.

That was also the last match I played for the Sales Team as, both my hip joints started giving me trouble from December of 1980 and I was never able to get back to playing any games ever again.

This post is the Loose Consortium Bloggers’ Friday post when Ashok, Conrad, Grannymar, Magpie11, Marianna, Maria, Gaelikaa, Helen, Judy , and I write one post each on the same topic. Please visit the other blogs too to have different views on this fascinating subject. This week unfortunately, Marianna will not be posting due to prior commitments.



Twenty years ago, we were peers, working in different companies, struggling to make sense of a life full of tension, inadequate remuneration, high personal taxation, hardly any savings, and so on and so forth. Both of us were however, ‘high’ on Corporate Life, with attendant perquisites like, 5 Star Hotel accommodation while on tours, Business Class Air travel, chauffeur driven cars, fat expense accounts etc. Both of us were ear marked for greater things, when I decided that enough was enough and quit to change over to a smaller company with higher remuneration, less headaches and higher savings potential. I have not regretted that move yet. It perhaps saved me from cardiac problems, enabled me to purchase and settle down in our own home in a town of our liking and life was good.

My friend stayed on, and has just retired last year but has had two by-pass surgeries and is struggling to come to grips with retired life combined with an empty nest syndrome. He and I gradually lost touch with each other after I relocated. It was therefore quite a surprise for me to get a phone call from him a few days ago to convey his condolences on Urmeela’s passing away. He had just then got to know about it and called me to apologize and to cheer me up! We had a nice long chat with the usual “let us try and meet up” etc and were about to end the call when he dropped a bomb on me which has prompted me to attempt this post. He simply said, and I quote him verbatim, “I envy you your freedom!”. I probed to find what he meant and he simply reiterated the same and disconnected.

Since then, I have been musing about this startling statement about my current status of a widower. Does that give others the impression of my being free from the bonds, the restrictions and the problems of matrimony? Or what quite is that in my present status that makes someone like my friend, ‘envy my freedom’?
This post is an attempt at resolving some of the questions that have arisen in my mind about the status, more to think in writing rather than to create something to post as a blog.

As I understand, Freedom would mean two aspects of living. One, Freedom from something and two, Freedom to do something. In both cases, would his envy translate to mean that he is not free from something and he is not free to do something? What are the constraints from which, I have now got freedom? What are the things that I could not do before my status changed, that I can now do with my new found freedom?

Possibly with the exception of Grannymar, I doubt that anyone else from my regular readers can quite understand the significance of this musing, as none simply has the experience. It is a very intense and interesting thought process that I am going through as I attempt this post. As I had said earlier, this is to get my thinking structured more than anything else and so, please do bear with me, this long rambling post.

I have been racking my brains over this subject for the last five days and am yet to come up with something concrete to say categorically, that the changed situation has given me freedom from something and freedom to do something that I did not have earlier.

The only freedom that I can honestly say that I have got from, is the one as caregiver for Urmeela, a role that had been part of my personality for the past nine years. On the other hand, while I am indeed free from that responsibility, I have now the responsibility of giving care to my father and to a smaller extent, my son. So, the volume has come down, but the value has not. In other words, while one part of that responsibility has gone, the responsibility itself has not. The intensity is less but the commitment is still there. So, I cannot really say that I have got freedom from giving care.

Would it mean that I now have freedom from matrimony? I find that difficult to accept as, I am still emotionally tied to Urmeela, albeit she is no longer physically with me here. Her memory is more intense than when she was alive and the emotional state that I am is difficult to explain. Suffice it to say that I do not feel free from matrimony, or more truly, free from the memory of that matrimony.
I really am unable to think of anything else that I can say that I am free from in my current status of a widower. That is, compared to the time that I was married.

Coming to freedom to do something because I am now a widower, I have tried every possible thing that I can do as a widower that I could not have done when I was married. Apart from the one very obvious issue of adultery, I cannot think of anything that I am now free to do, that I could not have done when I was married. Adultery, now replaced by let us say, a relationship with another woman, is not exactly very appealing just now. I am quite prepared to have an open mind about that, but for the moment, I am just not so inclined.

I wonder if my old friend is having marital problems, which makes him envy my single status. A distinct possibility, but about which, I feel quite delicate to ask him directly.

So, what do you think is that aspect of my current status that someone envies as being my freedom? Your answer/s may well clarify my own thinking about this matter. Thank you.