“Do you have hands? Excellent. That’s a good start. Can you hold a pencil? Great. If you have a sketchbook, open it and start by making a line, a mark, wherever. Doodle.”~Chris Riddell

Doodles (8)

“Why do you carry such a big handbag when you go for a walk?” said my son rather disapprovingly.

“Why? What’s wrong if I do?” I countered, a bit surprised.

“Just saying,” he replied shrugging his shoulders and raising his eyebrows.

“I carry some things with me when I go for a walk. I need a roomy bag to accommodate them” was my matter-of-fact answer.

My bag gets a bit heavier when I take along one or two of my #granddaughters with me. Added to my diary/journal, pen, iPad, and other knick-knacks, I also carry a game or two that we play: Spot It! and Caterpillar, and loose notepapers and pencils (even a few color pencils) because I make up writing games with the elder one, Aly. Our walks usually have a break at Tim Hortons. I love the place and can while away hours writing or reading if I’m alone and not having #funwiththekids.

“A part of my design and inspiration ethos is that I carry around a leather notebook and I sketch in it, doodle in it, write notes in it, and I put pictures in it.”~John Varvatos

One of the activities Aly loves is #doodling. At times, unintentionally, it becomes specific and more about designing. I set the timer to 1 minute and 15 seconds, and one of us chooses a word and we start doodling to make the word an attractive design. She’s nine and very good with her drawing and imagination.

Here are some of the ones we’ve done. All were done within the time limit and some even before the timer alarm went off. After comparing and complimenting each other, we shaded in some undone areas, but there was no addition or subtraction to the basic drawing.

She’s really amazing. Considering she had no time to think up something and she completed each one in time, she certainly has talent. I’m not saying that because she’s my granddaughter! See for yourself, I’ve added names so you can tell Alyssa’s from mine.

“It just comes out of my subconscious. If you asked me to draw you a doodle, I couldn’t do it.”~Lois Frankel


Doodles (2)



Doodles (3)



Doodles (4)



Doodles (5)



Doodles (6)






Doodles (7)

This one wasn’t a part of our timed #challenges, although we did them just as quickly as we did the others. This was done recently after we finished many different forms of word games and were relaxing with ‘doodh chai’ (extra milky tea) for her and a regular tea for me. Oatmeal raisin cookies boosted our energy 🙂

“I love jotting down ideas for my blog, so I doodle or take notes of all kinds of stuff that inspires me: the people I meet, boutiques I visit, a florist that just gave me a great idea for an interior design project, things like that.”~Maria Sharapova







Suffer The Idiots

When I walked down the streets in Viña del Mar and later here, in this uncrowded city of Saint John, the best things were the absence of milling crowds, horrendous traffic, and the incessant honking of cars! Of course, the air was clean, there were sidewalks that were sidewalks and not garbage dumps or taken over by street hawkers. 

Though the traffic is heavy and sometimes unruly in cities like Santiago or Toronto, it’s still a better scenario than the traffic in India! On my last visit to India, after years, I had forgotten how it was. I was clutching the seat, stifling expletives, and praying I reach my destination in one piece as we made our way through.

Earlier, when I was living there, I couldn’t ever take a walk along streets for fear of many things besides being hit or worse by a vehicle; two-wheeler, three-wheeler (cycle rickshaw) or four-wheeler. And if I ever even entertained the thought of going for a morning or evening walk (which I never did), I’d run the risk of motorbike-borne chain snatchers doing me some harm. Over the years away from there, I hoped things had changed only to be disappointed on my visit last year. The traffic had doubled, the population too, and about safety on walks; here’s what I heard from my niece who was a victim of chain snatchers.

She has a pet dog which she takes for a walk when she returns from work. One day, around eight o’ clock, she was out with the dog and two guys on a motorbike came alongside and gave a vicious kick to the dog which went flying some distance. Before my niece could react, she was hit so hard, she too landed on the ground some distance from where she had been. She was stunned and her dog lay immobile and quiet.

Through the haze, she heard a rough, threatening voice asking for her mobile phone, and whatever jewelry she had on. Long story short, she had no serious injury. She moaned the loss of her phone and jewelry. Her dog survived after undergoing some emergency treatment. But it was scary!

So you can imagine how much I appreciate what I found here. I need my walks… I have osteoarthritis among other things and walks are a must for me. #grateful

But since this topic was triggered by another post in my old journal, I am going to share something about one of my regular trips to work in India.



Suffer The Idiots

2011, the Ceat Tyre advertisement warning: “The streets are filled with idiots…” brought home the truth a couple of days back. I had a busy schedule with a new assignment keeping me on the edge. So, I wasn’t sitting so easy in the car as we drove out to work.

Barely fifty yards into the drive and the car screeched to a halt; my heart almost popped out of my mouth! We had barely missed a child of about 3 yrs. who had decided to cross the road on her own. Her parents, a young couple, stood by the road and called out to her but didn’t think it prudent to stop her physically. As if that wasn’t enough, they had a younger one, about a year and a half, running along ahead of them in the middle of the road! If like me, you’re thinking that both of them would have been shaken, you’re in for as big a surprise as I was. They just stood there, apparently unperturbed, and gave us the kind of dirty looks one could kill someone with.

The kind that said, “Don’t you know there are unattended kids on the road?”

“There are idiots on the road,” I muttered, “and they have to be out so early and in my way!”

When my heart made its way slowly, back to where it belonged, I settled in, praised the driver for his quick reflexes and cautioned him to keep alert.

Things went smoothly, we were on a stretch that does not have much traffic so early in the morning and I was thankful for that; it was premature. I lurched forward as the brakes hit the floorboard once again. Thankfully, I had on my back support and neck support.

Another “idiot” had conveniently stopped his car in the middle of a turn around a traffic island. He was talking on his mobile phone. He was so engrossed in his conversation that he remained blissfully unaware of his foolish action and its potentially disastrous consequences. He did not hear the screech of the brakes and neither did he notice the strike down dead looks we gave him as we drove off.

“Please God, no more,” I pleaded as my heart took its time settling into a more comfortable rhythm. 

It shook me up nice and proper and I decided it would be better to close my eyes for a while and shut out the idiotic chaos. Before that, I gave the driver, who was new, directions about the route he would take to my workplace. We would be getting into the rush hour traffic and I had some time for a bit of shuteye. 

It was taking too long to reach my destination. Was the congestion heavier or was there a traffic jam? I opened my eyes and looked out. There was no traffic jam; in fact, there was no familiar landmark either! Where were we? A wrong left turn and many other wrong right and left turns had brought us to unfamiliar territory. The driver sheepishly admitted we were lost and he had forgotten to get his mobile phone.

“As if the idiots on the roads were not enough. I had to get one in the car too!” I muttered.

“Kya baat hai ma’am?” he asked. (What is it ma’am or what’s the matter?)

“Kuch nahin,” was my deceptively sweet reply. (Nothing (at all))

As he asked passers-by, autorickshaw drivers, cycle-rickshaw drivers and whoever was kind enough to stop and give us directions (none of the few cars, that passed, stopped), I searched for my own phone in every pocket in my handbag. It wasn’t there. 

Well, well, there was another idiot in the car who had forgotten to carry her phone!

Ah! Suffer the #idiots!









My posts, The Messenger, and ‘Superstitions, Myths and Black Magic’ would be unbelievable to some, so here are more believable and interesting pieces of GK, which I know I knew but discovered I didn’t know much of now… does that make sense? I’m putting up a playful, funny, post today. #notseriouspost.

Do go through it. Like me, you might find that you didn’t know a couple of things or you’ve forgotten a few things. I’m sure you’ll find a thing or two that puts a smile on your face, so don’t skip reading; be a sport and go through it.

I’d like to add, the blogger is not responsible for any discrepancies or falsehoods. The blogger didn’t have anything to write about…mental block…so has posted a forward she received some years back (forwarded many times, I presume!)

General Knowledge – Forgotten!

In the 1400s, a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have: ‘the rule of thumb.’


Many years ago, in Scotland, a new game was invented. It was ruled ‘Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden.’ And thus, the word GOLF entered into the English language!


The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime TV was Fred and Wilma Flintstone. (Really? I find that hard to believe)


Coca-Cola was originally green. (Yuck!


It is impossible to lick your elbow.


The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: £ 10,120.00 (this was the cost 11 yrs back! Do the math.) My dog Heidi died at seven so I have no idea.


The first novel ever written on a typewriter was Tom Sawyer.


Each King, in a deck of playing cards, represents a great king from history.

Spades: King David

Hearts: Charlemagne

Clubs: Alexander, the Great

Diamonds: Julius Caesar


Math: 111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12, 345, 678, 987, 654, 321


If a commemorative statue of a person on a horse has the horse with both front legs in the air, the person died in battle.

It the horse has one leg in the air, the person died because of wounds received in battle.

If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.


Q 1. What if you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter ‘a’?

Q 2. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers have in common?

Q 3. What is the only food that doesn’t spoil?



Ans: (1. One thousand. 2. All were invented by women! 3. Honey)


*In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes, the mattress tightened making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase: ‘Goodnight, sleep tight.’


*It was the accepted practice in Babylon, 4,000 years ago, that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month. We know it today as the honeymoon. (Betcha didn’t know that!)


*In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So, in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them, “mind your pints and quarts and settle down.” It’s where we get the phrase, ‘mind your P’s and Q’s.’


*Many years ago, in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. ‘Wet your whistle’ is the phrase inspired by this practice.


At least 75% of the people who read this will try to lick their elbow!


You are living in a hi-tech world and you do one or all of these things…

1. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.

2. You haven’t played solitaire with real cards in years.

3. You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three!

4. You WhatsApp the person who works at the desk next to you.

You also WhatsApp your kids in the upstairs room!

5. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don’t have WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, Instagram, and maybe no email address!

6. You pull up in your driveway and use your mobile phone to see if anyone is home to help you carry the groceries.

7. Every commercial on TV has a website at the bottom of the screen.

8. Leaving the house without your phone, which you didn’t even have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.

10. You get up in the morning and go online before your coffee or tea!

11. You start tilting your head sideways to smile. 🙂

12. You’re reading this and nodding and laughing.

13. Even worse, you know exactly who you are going to tell a few things from here and quiz them about some others.

14. You were too busy to notice there is no No: 9 on the list.

15. You actually scrolled back to check if there wasn’t a 9 on the list.

And Finally…

Now you’re LAUGHING. The post wasn’t that bad after all…














There’s Something About…

There’s something about shoes: new shoes in particular! I’m hopelessly in love with them.

I remember, when I was a little girl, I went to bed with my new shoes every time a new pair came home. I would push my little hands into each shoe and gently rub the smooth soles on my cheeks; I’d kiss them and cuddle them and wake up in the middle of the night to make sure they hadn’t walked away or worse, I hadn’t crushed them under me! But that craziness was short-lived; it all ended when I turned eight. The passion didn’t die, but I no longer cuddled, kissed or went to bed with them.

There’s something about the leathery smell of brand new shoes!

There's something about


There’s something about walking barefoot on dew-drenched grass! Nothing could be more refreshing.

I loved an early morning walk, on the lawn in the front of the house, before the fresh dew drops evaporated. And I’d walk barefoot. Fortunately, I had lawns in whichever house I lived in. Sometimes the lawns were small, but the grass was always lovely; springy, green and well trimmed.

In my country, it is believed that doing this is not only relaxing but also good for the eyes. Well, I don’t subscribe to the eyesight thing but endorse the relaxing bit.

There’s something about the combination of dew, green grass, and early mornings!

There's something about


There’s something about sitting on a rock with your feet in a running mountain stream!

During my stay in the northern hilly regions in India, I had the opportunity to indulge my feet this way. At one picnic spot, the stream I dipped my feet in had tiny fish that swam around and between my feet and splayed toes and it tickled. Not enough to make me burst out laughing or make me uncomfortable; it was relaxing like a massage! Though I do confess, initially, I was worried they’d nip off flesh but that didn’t happen. Another confession, I prefer just clear water without the company of those little hosts!

It’s about clear, cool water washing over your feet and through your toes as you wiggle them… and about blue skies and white clouds… it’s about rustling leaves, languid sunrays, silence, and vast open spaces.

Yes, there’s something about feet, running water and the mountains!

There's something about


There’s something about sunsets! It just shuts me up… no words to break the magic spell it casts.


Vibrant changing colors, darkness creeping in, on cue, as daylight gently slips away… poetic, romantic, stirring. I love sunsets and would rather watch the sun setting than look at the sun rising. I love the promise the sinking sun gives me of another day as it drops out of sight with ‘Hasta mañana’, a reminder that tomorrow is another day. This fills me with gratefulness so deep that my heart sings praises to God. 

IMG_6390 5.20 pm

There’s something about watching a sunset. The sun sliding behind a mountain range or sinking into the sea… or retiring behind a concrete jungle… there’s nothing as grand and majestic yet so peaceful!

more sunset


There’s something about shopping at Christmas time!

It’s exhilarating! The hustle-bustle, lights, decorations, beckoning window displays and sales give me a high. And though it’s as warm, cheerful and friendly as it is frantic and exasperating, it is sheer fun! 

What is it about Christmas shopping that makes me more generous than I am? I think it is a combination of many things; the greatest being the birth of Jesus. Add to it… carols, mid-night service (in India), freezing cold, heaters, radiators, woollies. Not to forget the big appetites that find satisfaction in gormandizing at family get-togethers.

Yes, there’s something about this time of the year that softens hearts, mellows spirits, brightens the days, and opens pockets! This last one many might regret at leisure!

xmas 2018


There’s something about old photo albums! Old photographs and warm memories.

I could go through old albums and look at photographs for hours. Each one sparks a memory and I relive beautiful, funny, touching and sweet moments. There’s something in the way it connects the past and the present… family, friends, and moments.

There’s something about old songs! They’re like old albums and photographs; you don’t tire of them.

Most of the new ones, even of my time, never survive beyond a season; and there are those golden oldies which have come down the ages. These songs that became hits in their time, both western and Indian songs, are still hummable, singable, and played on the new digital devices of the time. Many of their tunes have been copied and set to new lyrics! These are everlasting melodies not the ‘hear’ today and gone tomorrow’ kind of songs.

There’s something about old photograph albums and old songs that’s magical.

There's something about


There’s something about living with all this technology!

I can’t imagine life without – the internet, Wi-Fi, mobile phones, laptops, computers, social networks… There’s something about these things… They’re addictive.

I experimented with leaving my mobile phone home. It felt good… great, in fact, as I told myself, ‘See, girl, you aren’t addicted to or dependent on the phone, and you aren’t nervous, anxious, or lost without it.’


Yes, for the first thirty minutes! Then on, I was all that and more.

What if I get a disc problem?

What if my knee acts up and I can’t walk?

What if this and what if that happens… there were the most ridiculous things spinning around my head and my wild imaginings kept me on tenterhooks and I didn’t enjoy a minute of my outing alone. How did I become so dependent on these gadgets and thingummies?

I grew up in an era that had the ubiquitous black phone sitting on a table in the corner. It couldn’t go around with me, but I remembered all the phone numbers of family and close friends. I remembered the addresses and house numbers of people we knew. I wasn’t bothered, unnecessarily, when we were out about how we’d reach our family or get help in an emergency. The kids went to school and I had no way of tracking them. 

I was not anxious or unduly worried the way I am today without my mobile phone or a laptop or iPad.


I realized that I cannot remember anyone’s phone numbers. I even forget my own! Years of not having to memorize these things like addresses and phone numbers has weakened my memory. I am dependent on my phone to get me whoever I want at a click! I don’t remember routes either…why should I? Just follow the GPS.

Yes, there’s something about these luxuries; they make you dependent.


There’s something about life and living!

There’s a lot to say about a life of helping, sharing, caring, loving and forgiving. There’s a lot to say about life itself. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor or if your challenges are great and life is tough. Whether you have family or friends to fall back on or they are conspicuous by their absence… there’s a common thread that keeps us going. None wants to stop living. Life is something we don’t want to give up and wouldn’t if it were up to us. We want more and more of it and are willing to go through life even when the going gets tough.

There’s something about life that’s #addictive! 

There's something about












Thank you For The Toilets, Mr. Sen

As a girl, I loved traveling in trains. Train journeys were very different those days. The trains ran at a slower speed than they do these days. So when we traveled from the southern tip of India to Punjab in the north, we spent two nights and three days traveling.


Image by: Alistair on Unsplash

My mother made it feel more like home by hanging up our nightsuits in the bathroom. Oh, yes, we had our own ensuite bathroom with our 1st Class compartment coach. There would be a bucket and mug in the bathroom so one could bathe. The compartment would be entirely ours.

There were no passages running through (as they have these days) so there was no movement between compartments. Each coach was a separate one and so it was spacious accommodation and very comfortable for a long journey. Besides, we had all the privacy we needed as if we were at home. Of course, we didn’t have the luxury of food being served to us in our compartment en route nor tea/coffee for that matter! So apart from the packed eats mummy would carry, we’d buy things from vendors at stations we stopped at.

Tea and coffee vendors and some savory snack vendors would come right up to our door. Tea/coffee would be filled in our thermos flasks so they stayed hot and mum and dad could have their cuppas as we chugged along. Mum would make sure she bought boiling hot milk for us which would also go into a flask. You won’t believe this, but she would carry Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate or Ovaltine so we kids could have our hot drink!

However, not all train journeys were as comfortable as the ones we knew. There was a time when trains in India didn’t have toilets. The toilet facilities were available only at railway stations. I can only imagine how difficult it could be in a situation where someone needed to use one en route!

Here’s an account of how big a problem it was. It’s a letter complaining about the lack of facilities on the train and a detailed account of the embarrassment the gentleman endured because of it. It is an article that was published in the newspaper. I posted in my journal blog about eight years ago and was delighted to find it as I went through old entries.


A Traveller’s travails

Okhil Babu’s letter to the Railway Department (in the early 1900s)

Following is an actual complaint made by Okhil Chandra Sen in, shall we say, ‘Hinglish’. It is hilarious in expression and language employed, but that was no impediment to the consequent, productive result.


“I am arrive by passenger train Ahmedpur station and my belly is too much swelling with jackfruit. I am therefore went to privy. Just I doing the nuisance that guard making whistle blow for train to go off and I am running with ‘lotah’ in one hand and ‘dhoti’ in the next when I am fall over and expose all my shocking to man and female women on plateform. I am got leaved at Ahmedpur station. This too much bad, if passenger go to make dung that dam guard not wait train five minutes for him. I am therefore pray your honour to make big fine on that guard for public sake. Otherwise I am making big report to papers.”


Okhil Chandra Sen wrote this letter to the Sahibganj Divisional Railway Office in 1909. It is on display at the Railway Museum in New Delhi. It was reproduced under the caption, Travellers’ Tales in the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Any guesses why this letter is of historic value?

It led to the introduction of toilets in Indian trains!!

Three cheers for Okhil Babu… hip…hip…hurray!



Lota………. is a small (usually spherical) water vessel of brass, copper or plastic used in parts of South Asia for personal hygiene (Wikipedia)

Dhoti……… it is a traditional garment worn by men in certain regions in India. It is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth wrapped around the waist and knotted. It covers the lower part of the body including the legs.





A Senior Moment

Another one from my journals written on Thursday, June 9, 2011. As I read it, I realized that things are more or less the same, if not worse, when it comes to the impatience of the younger generation towards their predecessors. Though people of an older generation have advanced in their learning and application of new technical skills, and they’re better than they were in 2011, a majority will still not be at par with the existing skills of youngsters. And if they aren’t, it’s all right.

These seniors have learned to drive today’s modern cars. They’ve learned to navigate their way through crowded roads; roads more crowded with vehicular traffic than they were in their day. They’re keeping up with the constant development of mobile phones with new apps, new technology in photography, communication, and a fast-changing world, in general. Change is not easy. In fact, it is hard for most. Yet, the seniors adapt and adjust to the new. 

Do these young ones appreciate the effort senior citizens make? Do they understand that learning new things at an advanced age is more difficult? Could they be more appreciative and patient with the seniors?

It’s the same as it was earlier; the percentage of those who are appreciative of seniors’ efforts to catch up is much lower than that of those who don’t.

And, in case you’re wondering; I’m not yet a ‘senior’! 🙂 But as the previous post suggests, I’ve always held these views about the treatment of our seniors: old parents, grandparents or neighbors in terms of their adjustment problems or learning issues. If you can’t help in any way, don’t berate or act like an arrogant know-all, and definitely, don’t think they are stupid.


The old was once a new invention! The seniors have seen a lot of new inventions and changes. They have changed and moved with the times. But with age, things slow down for many. Instead of being arrogant and uppity with the older generation, help them or better, teach them with patience if they can learn even a little bit. And if they can’t just appreciate them. They’ve got a big experience behind them. (Pic: Matt Artz on Unsplash)


A Senior Moment

This post was prompted by a forward I found in my inbox. It was an illustration of how a member of the younger generation (a college freshman) perceives the people of the older one as primitive beings.

While I haven’t run into many youngsters like the obnoxious one mentioned here, I can safely say, they exist with all their pompous arrogance. I’ve seen it as road rage and disparaging remarks thrown at senior citizens driving on the road. I fully understand that at times they can do things wrong while driving and, at times, cause an accident, but then so can you, my young one. If they’ve still got their driving license they have as much right on the road as you have. At least the traffic authorities deem so!

I have noted the frustration of young drivers honking madly as an old person laboriously crosses the road. I’ve heard and seen enough to wonder from where all this comes. On the brighter side, I have heard and seen a great number of young people being kind, gentle, and patient with their elders. These are the ones you will not find airing their disapproval of the older folk they encounter, outside their families and homes.

Generally, one can say youngsters, these days, are becoming quite impatient and intolerant of older people who have not kept abreast of the times. Having been born in a world where everything has to be super fast, almost instant, they adopt arrogance and condescension with those they perceive as stupid and slow.

They fail to see that the fruits of progress they are enjoying today didn’t happen overnight. These senior citizens have been a part of the process; they have moved through the stages of development. Each has seen an improvement on a previous generation in terms of innovations and discoveries.

As children, we grew up with some new inventions that our parents never knew in their childhood. We also enjoyed improvements on existing devices which made them faster, quicker and more efficient. But I don’t recall being impatient, intolerant or arrogant with senior citizens who hadn’t seen these things at their time.

Instead, we would be keen to explain about new gadgets, and even try to convince them that the new device worked better and was good to use. I know how difficult it was to sell pressure cookers to housewives in small towns back in the tail end of the 50s and early 60s. The general fear being; it would burst! My mom, though a bit apprehensive, went ahead and bought one in 1963, and I thought she was brave!

It was the same when kerosene stoves entered the kitchen to replace coal and firewood. Later on, when they introduced LPG for cooking, it found the same initial resistance. Yet, I wasn’t intolerant with my grandmother who still used firewood and coal to cook and heat the house in winter. In fact, I enjoyed sitting in her kitchen.

Computers are still a #challenge for the older generation in my country. Some have learned or taught themselves the basics so they can surf the net and stay in contact through emails.

However, with the introduction of mobile phones and iPads and such hand-held devices, many more have crossed that line of doubt and fear and ventured into the world of internet and Wi-Fi. Their knowledge might be basic but they know enough to get on and keep in touch with the progress and that includes me too. I’m not a tech person, but I manage. The younger generation is impatient with this too. If you can’t keep pace with them, you’re not worth their time.

The progress in the past two decades has happened at a faster pace than earlier years. This could be a reason why not many who carry the #seniorcitizen tag have been able to catch up with recent developments. I’m sure that is no reason to view them as stupid or inefficient.



They’re not dinosaurs; they are survivors. They are the people who have adopted new ways of living and adapted to more life-changing inventions and developments than you younger people have. But that’s just me. Tell it to an impatient generation that has grown up on #instant gratification.

(Reposting with a few additions and more editing!)




How Sudhaji Murdered English

I met Sudha for the first time thirty-three years ago when we moved to a city in the south of Rajasthan. She was our immediate neighbor. On our first meeting, I found she was friendly and a good neighbor; she sent over trays of cold water and snacks on our arrival (it was summer and boiling) and she even offered food which we declined. We were tired from the journey and dusty too as we unloaded the luggage and shifted and pulled furniture, wooden crates, cardboard boxes, and suitcases into their right places.

Her thoughtfulness impressed us; she was so helpful. This wasn’t the usual behavior a newcomer expected. That was our first impression. They say the first impression is the last impression, but my impression of her would change a couple of times before the ‘last’ confirmed the first! She was indeed very helpful when it came to the crunch. But that’s another story which I’ll save up for later.

Sudha was much older than us and according to the prevalent custom, we as younger people would have to address her with respect. That meant, we either called her ‘didi’ (sister) or ‘aunty’ or suffixed a ‘ji’ to her name. Since the kids called her “aunty” she decided how we should address her; so “Sudhaji” it was from then on.

As time went by, I discovered that Sudhaji was a gregarious person and an incorrigible gossip too. So we had to be wary when we chatted with her. She had a knack of getting people to talk, and this is how she knew everything about everyone. 

This vast ‘knowledge,’ coupled with her cheerful nature, opened many doors for her. But, she had loose lips; nobody’s secrets stayed safe with her! Besides, after I got to know people, I also realized that she altered her accounts, tempering them with her own feelings and interpretations. Most of her stories weren’t exactly what the person had said or the way they had said it.

However, she had a funny side to her as well. She loved to show off her knowledge of English. In India those days, not many women her age, in Rajasthan especially, had studied in English medium schools so had little or no knowledge of English. Sudhaji was one among these. Now, why would the lack of an English medium education matter so much, you may ask. Well, it was a prestige issue in those days. It brought in social class distinctions. Sudhaji hadn’t studied English, but she wanted to speak the language because it would add to her prestige.

So, she picked up a smattering of the language from listening to people speak or listening to the news in English and reading English newspapers. She picked up words and phrases and peppered her conversation with them. I found this commendable, except for the prestige part. I don’t support that reason for learning.

While I agree that learning English helps in furthering one’s career options, I don’t believe knowing English gets you on a higher rung on the social ladder in any way; just as not knowing it doesn’t lower your prestige! Anyway, I found it a source of much good-humored fun whenever she spoke in English or inserted phrases in her ‘Hinglish’ conversations.

I don’t recall everything she said and wouldn’t want to share many of her blunders but a few that I can, I will share here. I used to tease her about these, and we’d laugh heartily. Yes, I’m going to share some funnies and no, I’m not shaming her in any way, I’m just remembering her and her great sense of humor. Trust me, we laughed at these together as I corrected her.

Fulfilled water tanks & Footballs

There was the day when water was pouring down the drainpipe profusely and it wasn’t even raining. She explained it this way:

“Overhead tank fulfil ho gaya and the football is spoil. Is liye paani outflow ho raha hai.” (What she wanted to say: The overhead water tank is full and the float valve is spoilt so the water is overflowing.)

Sisterly Reflections!

She saw some pics of my elder sister and exclaimed:

“So much reflections in the face.” 

“What reflections do you see and on whose face?” I asked.

I didn’t get it. The pic was clear and in fact, it was clicked by a professional photographer. She promptly replied looking surprised that I didn’t know about it. 

“Tumhe nahin pata? So much reflections in the face. Pata chalta hai you are sisters.” (What she said: Don’t you know it? So much reflections in the face. Anyone would know you are sisters.) 

I got it! Finally. She was talking about resemblance!

The Criminal

The funniest one was when she had to go somewhere and would miss the milkman and asked me to take the milk from him.

Doodhwala se hamare liye please doodh le lena. Mujhe criminal mein jaana hai.” (What she said: Please take milk for us too from the milkman. I have to go to a criminal.)

I was lost; she had to meet a criminal?! No, something was wrong. 

“Are you going to the court, Sudhaji?

“No. Court aaj bandh hai, it’s a holiday.” (The court is closed today. It’s a holiday.)

“Don’t tell me you’re going to a criminal in the jail!” I exclaimed. 

“Nahin, jail mein nahin. Yeh criminal is in….” ( No, not in the jail. This criminal is in…)

She named a place.

Now my interest was piqued, I couldn’t let go.

“Who is this person? And why are you meeting him?

“Arre, woh humare door ke rishtedar hain. Hum milne nahin ja rahe hain (and she laughs) respect dene ja rahe hain; criminal hai!” (What she said: Oh, he’s a distant relation. And we aren’t going to meet him (she laughs) we’re going to pay our respect; it’s a criminal!)

She ended with a tone that said… that’s what one does, don’t you know that!

“Okay! But I don’t understand. Why would you want to “respect” a criminal?”

She burst into laughter again. And I was wondering what was so funny in my questions. 

“Kya ho gaya, lagta hai tumhe samajh nahin aaya. Kisi ke death par criminal mein respect dena hota hai na. Tumhare community mein bhi aisa karte hain.” (What she said: What’s wrong with you? Looks like you don’t understand! When someone dies, you go to pay your respect at their criminal. You do the same in your community too.)

I burst out laughing. Now it was her turn to look at me as if I had gone crazy. In between bursts of laughter, when I caught my breath, I told her the difference between a criminal and a funeral. She joined me and we had a hearty laugh.

The Who & the Crew

When they were trying to get their son into college: 

“Percentage best nahin hai. So, by who and by crew, hamein admission karwana hai.” (What she said: His percentage isn’t good enough. So, we’ll have to get him admitted by who or by crew.)

I told her it was ‘by hook or by crook’. It took some time explaining the hook and the crook to her.

Proudy woman & Impotent man

About a member of her kitty party group: “She’s very proudy. Uske husband ka promotion hua hai, ab woh bahut impotent man hai aur she is hawa mein flying.” (What she said: She is very proudy woman. And now that her husband has got a promotion and become an impotent man, she is flying high in the air.)

She didn’t know what the joke was about until I told her what impotent meant. But she didn’t think ‘proud’ was the word… so “proudy” remained in her lexicon.

Cooking Sexfully

I all but rolled on the floor the day she tried a new recipe and announced how her new dish came out: “Mera project sexfully ho gaya. Everybody happy.” What she said: My project was sexfully completed. Everybody was happy.) I had to teach her how to pronounce ‘successfully.’

Time & Age

When she got confused with telling the time and telling the age:

Pointing to a picture of her son who was two and a half at the time the photograph was clicked she said: 

Half past two tha jab picture khinchi thi.”  (What she said: (It was a half past two when this picture was clicked. 

I wondered why she was referring to the time and asked her how she could recall the time of day so long back and why was the time so important.

“Time toh nahin pata. I don’t remember. Par tum kyun pooch rahi ho?” What she said: I don’t know what time it was… But why are you asking?)

I pointed out that she had mentioned it was half-past two when the picture was clicked. Now it was her turn to laugh. 

“Maine time thodi na bataya. Maine age bataya. Time kisko yaad hai!” (What she said: I didn’t mention the time. I was telling you about his age in this picture. Who remembers what time it was clicked!)

She got to know the difference in telling the time and someone’s age.

No one could say it the way Sudhaji could. She was so entertaining. She had become friendly over the years and realized that I didn’t share personal matters that didn’t concern her, so rarely probed for information. I welcomed her company.

My efforts to stop her from murdering English met with uproarious laughter. She didn’t care a hoot about her mistakes; it was enough that she was using English words and phrases to season her conversation.

According to her, most of the women in her circle were not even at her level of “proficientcy” so it didn’t make any difference and the dubious prestige of knewing” English remained intact.

I told her that I would quote her funnies and she laughed and said I could do so as long as it wasn’t to people who knew her; that would tarnish her “im-age” (pronounced as two separate words!). So she continued murdering English with impunity! Here, though it’s an open page, she’s safe. You don’t know her and she doesn’t know you! But my spell check and editor know and my post is underlined in red!