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.

Story 10. The Abused Wife.

“All of us are going around with an entire story of our lives, completely different from the story of our lives that anybody else would tell. So much of our lives never breaks the surface.  ~ Claire Messud in The Guardian.
raped-girl-248In my earlier story on Addiction, I had mentioned my stay in Tirupur when my own problems with addiction was a significant part of my life.  Apart from all the other tools that I used during that difficult period, I also sought divine intervention.  I used to visit a Ganesha temple near my home on my way to my office in the mornings.  I had no doubts that the Remover Of Obstacles will come to my help and He took his time but come He did.

This story is about someone else and not how Ganesha helped me.  That story has already been told.

I was living in a small developing suburb and there were very few occupied houses there then.  I suppose that I must have been some kind of a novelty for living alone and working for a very well known company in the town.  There is little that can be kept secret in small towns and I was not surprised when this story unfolded the way it did.

While at the temple, I used to see a middle aged couple come about the same time that I would be there and after a few occasions of seeing each other, we started to greet each other with a Namaste.  Some times the lady would come alone and then too she would inevitably smile and do the Namaste to me and I would reciprocate.

On one such occasion when she was alone she was distracted somewhat and also very nervous.  For the first time ever, I spoke to her and asked her if everything was alright with her and she said that she would appreciate it if she would be allowed to meet me at my home.  I told her that it would be perfectly alright to do so when my daily help, a lady would be at home in the mornings before I left for the temple and the next day she landed up at my home.

She informed me that her husband had lost his job and that they were in dire straits.  She requested me to employ him in my organisation.  I said that I would need details before I could commit and asked her to send her husband to me with a resume.

The husband landed up the next morning and on seeing his resume I could see that he was a habitual job jumper and on being queried on that aspect, he came up with bizarre reasons for his not being able to stay in one job for any reasonable length of time.  I offered to take him on on a trial basis for a month and if he came up to scratch would offer him a secure position.  He agreed to this and he was to start from the following Monday.

He never turned up and I did not see either him or his wife for the next week or so at the temple either.  Then one morning I saw the lady alone at the temple and it was obvious that she had been bashed up.  When she saw me looking at her, she broke down and started to weep which was very embarrassing.  I requested her to compose herself and meet me next morning at home, which she duly did.

The story that I finally pieced together was that her husband was drinking heavily and that was why he was losing his jobs.  He would also get drunk and beat her up while under the influence and she was at her wits end.

At that time I was still not involved with AA and I really did not know how to handle this situation.   I asked her if she had tried to defend herself when her husband was beating her up and she said that it was impossible as he was very violent and would use any object near at hand to grab and use it as a weapon to bash her with.  On an impulse I suggested that she might try assaulting him first, if necessary with a rolling pin or something like that and she recoiled like as though she had been hit by me.  She went off on a tirade about how ridiculous that I suggest that she could lift a hand at her husband etc and I allowed her to let off some steam and explained to her that bullies would normally back off when they were confronted and she simply and quietly, said Namaste and went away.

About a week later I saw the pair together at the temple and both were looking grand and quite cheerful.  No words were exchanged but smiles and Namastes were and this continued till I left Tirupur to handle my own problems.

I have always wondered if that lady took my advise and walloped her husband to bring about the change.

“God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into its nest.”

~ J. G. Holland

Getting Lost.

Welcome to the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium where twelve of us write on the same topic. Today’s topic has been chosen by Paul of Black Water Town. The ten other bloggers who write regularly are, in alphabetical order, Delirious, gaelikaa, Grannymar, Magpie, Maria SF, ocdwriter, Padmum, Paul, Rohit, The Old Fossil and Will. Do drop in on their blogs and see what their take is on this week’s topic. Since some of them may post late, do give some allowance for that too!

Unfortunately, I have no personal experience of getting lost. Neither in the personal context or in the poetic context of getting lost in someone’s eyes or love or whatever sentimental balderdash. Nor being told to do so by a spouse or a boss.

I do however have three significant incidents of other cherished people in my life getting lost, and eventually finding their way back. I share those three instances with my readers.

The first episode was courtesy Ranjan who was all of 7. The action was in Mumbai then known as Bombay. One day I was in my office when Urmeela rang me up to say that Ranjan had not reached his school in the morning and was not seen boarding the school bus. I rushed to the school, spoke to the teachers, the bus driver and Ranjan’s classmates who also used the school bus, and all of them said that Ranjan simply did not board the bus. Mani, Ranjan’s nanny had last seen him waiting with the other children for the school in the morning and since it was a daily routine, had left him and gone off to the grocer to get some stuff for the home. I rushed home from the school and went to all the shops near our home, the lending library from where Ranjan used to borrow comics, the doctor’s clinic etc but could find no sign of him anywhere. In the meanwhile, four hours had passed and I was about to go to the area’s police station to lodge a missing person report when the door bell rang and Ranjan was at the door. He had not felt like going to school that day for whatever reason, and had quietly slipped away to the terrace of the building where we lived and from where I used to fly kites for Ranjan. He simply loitered there and fell asleep and when he had had enough of that experience, came down. In the meanwhile, I had to calm myself down and also manage the two hysterical women dreaming up all kinds of dire possibilities.

The next time the action shifts to Delhi where we lived in 1981. We had driven down to Jaipur on holiday. My mother, Urmeela, Ranjan, Mani, and our driver Bikram Singh made up our group. We were in Jaipur for three days of sight seeing and had a grand time visiting all the places of importance and on the third day, checked out of the hotel in the morning after breakfast. Before starting the drive back to Delhi, Urmeela and my mother wanted to do buy some local handicrafts and so we went to the emporium located on one of Jaipur’s busiest roads. All of us got down from the car, and I was giving instructions and money to Bikram to fill petrol and followed the family into the emporium. Inside, I found the three ladies engrossed in their shopping, but no sign of Ranjan. I asked Mani where he was and she went ballistic not finding him close to her. My mother had a fit and Urmeela almost fainted. We came out of the emporium and searched in the vicinity with no success whatsoever.

The search took about half an hour and while I was frantically asking various people if they had seen a little boy of 10 lost, when one seedy looking character asked me what I was searching for. When I told him that I was looking for my son, he asked me for a description which I gave and satisfied he said in ominous tones that the boy was safe and in his Saheb’s custody and that I should accompany him to meet his Saheb. Alarm bells were ringing in my head, imagining all kinds of possibilities of kidnapping for ransom etc, but having no choice in the matter, left the ladies at the emporium to await my return and took the seedy looking man along with me in the car to meet his Saheb. I was taken about three kilometers to a decrepit old building in the commercial part of Jaipur and led up two flights of stairs to a spacious hall where behind a massive table sat one mousy looking man and before him on the other side of the table sat Ranjan blissfully having a cone of icecream. Taking stock of the situation, I thought that I should be able to handle the two characters with the help of Bikram who would shortly arrive after parking the car. The mousy man came around the table with an extended hand and asked if I was Ranjan’s father when Ranjan turned around and greeted me with aplomb. It turned out that the mousy man was a gentleman after all and found Ranjan lost and crying near a bus stop and took him along to his office and had sent his peon to look out for anyone searching for a little boy. In the meanwhile, learning the name of the hotel where we had stayed from Ranjan, he had contacted them only to be told that we had checked out. Having learnt my employers name in Delhi from Ranjan, he was in the process of finding out the phone numbers to book a trunk call when I landed up. With great relief he handed over Ranjan’s custody back to me and refused to accept any kind of compensation for the expenditure incurred by him in the matter.

In the meanwhile, the ladies were having their bit of anxiety and recriminations at the emporium. We did not have mobile phones those days, and they had to stew for some couple of hours before I returned with Ranjan, and we left on our way back to Delhi. Ranjan had just slipped out of sight to watch some street jugglers while the ladies were negotiating the entrance to the emporium and did not see him slip off. Mani never stopped hearing about this episode till she left us in 1984 after having been with us for ten years.

The third episode had Urmeela as the actor. It was in 2002 when we were living in Tirupur with Ranjan and his wife Leena safely minding store in Pune. Urmeela’s dementia had already begun to manifest in small ways but nothing troubling had been experienced by us till then. One evening, while I was in the office, Urmeela decided to go for a walk alone, which she had never done before. Having gone some distance, she lost her sense of direction and could not find her way back home.
She could not speak the local language Thamizh. It was extremely rare that one could find someone capable of speaking English or Hindi in Tirupur. She was wandering around lost and in a panic, when by our good fortune, one of my colleagues saw her and stopped to greet her and pay his respects. That saved the situation and she was escorted back to our home and I was summoned by phone to take charge. It was one of the defining moments in my life for me and the next morning, I spoke to the Chairman of the company where I was employed that I would like to wind up my stay there and wished to speed up the project that I was working on. He readily agreed, made the resources available and I wound up our home there and we returned to Pune after about a month.

I would not like to have such experiences ever again.

Tirupur’s Workhorse.

This is a follow up post on my yesterday’s post on my Nostalgia Trip To Tirupur.

This photograph shows a very common sight in Tirupur. It is a courier carrying about a ton of cotton cloth between two processing locations. Possibly from a calendaring unit to a cut make and trim unit. The vehicle is a 50CC moped rightly called the work horse in South India, manufactured by one of India’s native grown companies called the TVS group.
The picture has been put in here to show the innovative spirit of the local populace. That a tiny machine like this can be used to carry such a heavy load surprises many first time visitors to the town. The locals do not even seem to notice it.

The unloaded vehicle looks like this.

My son Ranjan’s first owned vehicle was a TVS moped somewhat like the one in the picture. Subsequently, he graduated to two more higher powered models of motorcycles from the same stable.
Oddly enough, the very versatile and sturdy vehicle is not popular outside Tamil Nadu.

A Nostalgia Trip To Tirupur.

There are two towns that have developed a particular connection with me which keeps taking me back to them repeatedly. Bangalore, now known as Bengaluru and Tirupur. Last week, I had to visit both the places as I had to attend to some business as well as some crisis management in a close friend’s family matter.

Since reservations on convenient trains were difficult to come by, I flew to Bengaluru, spent a night there while attending to some business during the day and took an afternoon train for a six hour journey to Tirupur the next day. I took a train again last Saturday afternoon from Tirupur and after a 26 hour journey, came back to Pune on Sunday evening. I had traveled 1800 Kms by train during this trip.

Tirupur is a name very well known in the specialized world of ready made garments, particularly in cotton knits. You can learn a lot about it here. My first visit to the place was in 1969 when it was little more than a slightly overgrown village. Subsequently, I had a lot more to do with the town between 1974 and 1977 with very frequent visits, during one of which, I had the first hand experience with our emergency excesses.

I then had nothing to do with Tirupur till 1987, but visited it a few times till early 1990. From 1990 till early 2002 however, Tirupur has been on my regularly visited towns for the very obvious reason that I had a lot of business dealings there and on two separate occasions, employed there.

Naturally, I have made many friends there and have very close relationships with some of them. I have known many rag to riches stories there as well riches to rags stories. Throughout my experience there though, I have had nothing but great affection and excellent hospitality from the locals. I have a soft corner to the town and its people.

My visit to Tirupur after over eight years was indeed a nostalgic one. I was not disappointed with the warmth and the hospitality of the people there and caught up with a number of my friends there and successfully managed the crisis at my friend’s home as well.

In the last eight years, Tirupur has changed a great deal. It is now a district head quarters for a separate district. Roads have been widened and new fly overs have been built as well as many old thoroughfares converted into one way roads. New construction everywhere made it difficult to recognize some old familiar areas.

Being heavily dependent on the export market to the USA and Europe, economic activity is subdued and there have been many closures of units. The units focused on the Indian market are thriving but it is sad to see many exporting units struggling.

My friends would like me to come back and make my residence there. Who knows? May be that will happen too, once again!