I suspect that what Lin had in mind was “being blind to things and events around us”  to write about when she suggested this topic for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium.

I however will write about four people who came into my life two of whom are still very much part of it.   And each in his/her own way have been very inspiring.  One of them totally blind from birth, but who has fought to lead a reasonably independent life,  one who is no more, whose eyesight deteriorated before me in just under a decade due to Macular Degeneration, and two others who have very limited vision but who still are big fighters.  I shall write about them in the chronological order in which they came into my life.

The first was Subhash a completely blind young man who was studying to complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Bombay during the time that Urmeela and I were alone there with Ranjan in boarding school.  A family friend very active in social work requested Urmeela to be a reader for Subhash for subjects for which braille books were not available, and Subhash came into our lives.  He would come every afternoon for three hours of work with Urmeela and often when I returned from work, he would still be at it.

He graduated successfully and got employed in a bank as a telephone operator before we left Bombay for Bangalore.  He was all the time in touch with Urmeela and would keep her informed about all that was happening to him.  He got married and is now a proud father to two young boys and has settled comfortably in his life with a remarkable wife.  I have lost touch with him since Urmeela died and this post is urging me to try and find him again.

Zainab and Ranjan

The next to come into my life is my son Ranjan’s rakhi sister Zainab who came into his life as his classmate in college in 1990 and has stayed as his much loved sister till today.  In fact, they had dinner together just four days ago as she was here on a short visit from Delhi where she is Chief Executive for a digital initiative for blind people.  She was born with very little eyesight, just about 10% during day time and nil in the nights, but has studied, got her Master’s Degree and has been successfully pursuing a career which includes traveling within India and overseas.  You will learn a great deal about her if you go to the blog about her to which I have given a link above. The kind of obstacles that she has had to overcome to be where she is would have broken a lesser person and she is understandably quite a hero for both Ranjan and me.

The third to come into my life was a grand old man Akbar, older to me by ten years but who became a very dear friend.  He died three years ago due to old age related problems but before that, despite rapidly failing eyesight, he led a very active and cheerful life and made Urmeela and me a very big part of it.

After two revision surgeries for my replaced hip joints I was exercising in our local park by walking with elbow crutches in both hands when I was stopped by Akbar who was coming from the opposite direction.  He wanted to know what had happened to me, and a friendship was born that lasted for over a decade till he died.  Due to his failing eyesight, he could not read much and would come over to get me to read for him or request me to go over to his place for the same and apart from that, for meals together at his place or ours.  He was a gallant and courageous man who would not let his handicap stop him from having fun till the very last.  Even today, people unaware of his death stop me to ask after him in the oddest places like movie theaters and restaurants.

The fourth came into my life thanks to Zainab who is  very much part of the Pune Blind Men’s Association and ran their technical school for the blind.  Shakeel, is a trained masseur who has a roster of clients that will read like the who is who of Pune.  I call him often to loosen up and I can vouch for his effectiveness having experienced other normal masseurs as well as very expensive spas.  Shakeel too is only partially blind and can manage to move around independently but cannot read or write. He got married two years ago and Ranjan had represented me at his wedding as I was away from Pune.  He is now a proud father of a baby girl and independently runs his own household and even contributes to his parents upkeep.

I can stand personal guarantee to the saying that blind people develop better senses of touch and hearing to compensate for their lack of vision.  These four people bear testimony to that.  And I am grateful for having or having had them in my life.

This topic was suggested by Lin, for the weekly Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where currently nine of us write on the same topic every Friday.  I hope that you enjoyed my contribution to that effort.  The seven other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order,  AshokgaelikaaLin, Maxi, Padmum, Pravin,  Shackman and The Old Fossil. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, or not at all this week, do give some allowance for that too!

Raksha Bandan In Today’s World.

Today is Raksha Bandan and as every year the sister/brother bonds are reinforced in all Indian homes. I have written about it many times and my readers might like to refresh their memories with a quick read here.

In the traditional home, all brothers and sisters lived under one roof till the sister/s got married and went to their husband’s homes. They would however come to the parental home, called Maikey meaning mother’s home every year for this festival to tie the rakhis to brothers and in return get gifts. In some cases, the brothers would visit the residences of the sisters to celebrate too. Modern life however is different from those days when people by and large lived within commuting distance, mostly in the same village/town/city. Now we live in different countries and continents and such observing of the festival and its rites is simply not physically possible.

Every year, without fail, my sister Padimin would send Rakhis to her three elder brothers wherever they may be. Her timing would be impeccable and the rakhi would inevitably arrive a day early to the festival.

Padmini is not getting any younger and shopping for rakhis is not what it used to be. Nor are her brothers getting any younger. All four however are addicted to the computer and follow each other on FaceBook. Modern communication methods, read FaceBook, however has solved the problem for her this year. She simply located this clip from a 1959 film and dedicated it to her three elder brothers.

bhaiya mere, raakhi ke bandhan ko nibhaana
Dear brother, keep up the integrity of the relationship of Raakhi. (sisters tie a thread on her brothers arm on this day pray for his prosperity and health, and the brother takes a vow to always protect the welfare of his sister.)

bhaiya mere, chhoti bahan ko na bhulaana
Dear brother, don’t forget your little sister.

dekho ye naata nibhaanaa, nibhaana
Don’t forget to fulfill the responsiblilites of a brother’s relationship.

bhaiya mere…

ye din ye tyohaar khushi kaa, paavan jaise neer nadi ka
This festive day of Rakhi spreads happiness, pure like the water of the river(ganges).

bhaayi ke ujale maathe pe, bahan lagaae mangal tika
On the bright forehead of the brother, sister put a auspisousl Tikaa(red elongated tilak).

jhuume ye saavan suhaanaa, suhaana
The beautiful monsoon winds are dancing on this day as well.

bhaiya mere…

baandh ke hamane resham dori, tum se vo ummid hai jodi
By tying this silken thread on your arm, I have put all my hopes on you.

naazuk hai jo daant ke jaise, par jivan bhar jaae na todi
It is delicate thread but the relationship is strong to last a life time.

jaane ye saara zamaanaa, zamaana
The whole world knows this.

bhaiya mere…

shaayad vo saavan bhi aae, jo bahana ka rang na laae
That time may come as well, when your sister may not be around.

bahan paraae desh basi ho, agar vo tum tak pahunch na paae
Your sister may be living far away and not able to come to you on this day.

yaad ka deepak jalaanaa, jalaana
Always remember her.

bhaiya mere…

Gaelikaa Adopts Me As Her Brother.

I am indebted to Maria of Sliver Fox Whispers and Gaelikaa for the inspiration for this post.


In her response to my observation on my post on Flames, Maria the Silver Fox mariawrote -“Well, I went from your blog to Magpie and I found myself enthralled with metal compounds and fireworks. Then I thought, “Ramana needs to know it is not just about a flame, but it is also all about the fireworks!” I have to laugh because I write to you as comfortably as I write to my own brother.”

I responded -“I am flattered. In India, we have a system of women adopting men as their brothers by a simple ceremony of tying a string around the wrist of the men. The men then are obliged to protect and pamper the adopted sister! Have a look:”

Maria the Gaelikaa Gaelikaa04-18-09_1703 responded – “That is a great idea Ramana Bhai. I shall tie a rakhi on you when we meet (whenever that may be).”

Now the problem is, that somewhere along the way in this exchange, our two Marias have got mixed up!

When I read the Ramana Bhai, I knew that we have got our Gaelikaa, aka Maria responding. I don’t mind having two Marias tying rakhis on my wrists, but, I do not want either getting confused about the other as I was for a while.

To get back to the business at hand, we have a festival in India called the Raksha Bandhan. Let experts write about it and, here is a link to one blog which explains it quite well.

Our son Ranjan has a much cherished Rakhi Sister, Zainab. She was his classmate in college and made him her Rakhi Brother. The two of them are a treat to watch when they are together. In due course, I shall post a blog about Zainab to express my admiration for a remarkable young lady who has achieved a great deal under very difficult circumstances.

When we moved into our brand new home in Pune in 1990, our neighborhood was sparcely populated. The complex to which we moved into, gradually got other residents and one of them was the Soans family consisting of Roaslyn the matriarch, her son Lubin a Merchant Marine Officer, his wife Susan, and their two kids Arup and Amrisha. Rosalyn was the classic Matriarch with a background of a life time of teaching children in Bombay. After a couple of years of getting to know each other, I used to be away from home more than at home duing that period, one fine evening, she brought a Rakhi, tied it on my wrist and said, I am making you my brother from now on. Apart from my real life sister, I had never been extended this privilege and to say that I was zapped is an understatement. This resulted in some delicate maneuvering because, Lubin, his sister and her family, Susan and her siblings and parents etc were all calling me by my first name by then and now the realtionship suddenly changed. Lubin and Susan particularly had to start calling me Mamaji, something that our Gaelikaa would understand. In the event, I allowed the gang to continue calling me by my first name.

Rosalyn gave us undiluted love till she passed away in 2003. Whenever she went for a walk, on her return, she would drop in and spend some time with us or more often with Urmeela. Any time some special dish was cooked in their home, it would find its way to our place as well. I do not know whether I gave her the brother she looked for but the bond was quite strong and the bond with her offspring and other members of her family continues to be so, even today.

My sister Padmini sends her three brothers Rakhi every year without fail from wherever she is. Ranjan’s cousins do so for him every year too. It is a great and indescribable tradition that is still alive and kicking even in these days of modernization and hurried life styles. One of the few that is still strong in an otherwise rapidly changing world around us.

Gaelikaa, welcome aboard. You can do the ceremony by snail mail! I promise to tie it around my wrist and shall send you my protection and pampering over the net till we meet and we can do it all in person.

Ramanaji has now become Ramana Bhai. In our part of the world, Bhai has taken on a new connotation! It is used for an Underworld Don! Please be advised that I cannot extend that kind of protection to you! I do not have a “Circuit” to assist me.