Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Through the window-Marriage and relations..

       How would a marriage be where a husband works and woman is dependent on her  husband? 
Perhaps a submissive wife and the husband deciding everything right? The reality was the inverse. 
      In most of the houses it was the women who had the say and husband were the meek ones. In any other part of the country it would look odd but in these societies it is the wife who makes the rules. You would wonder why. It has got to do with management. These women are tight budget managers and husbands have no other way but to hand over their entire salary to their wives because they too know that the wife would know best how to make the most out of it. How else could they survive in a city like Mumbai with a monthly salary less than 10K ?
      The women of these societies, like I soon realized, were made of a different soil. Marriages were meant to be kept no matter how bad the situation.  In the years that I lived there, I came across two such houses which made an impression about marriage and relations in the society. They follow the “till death do us apart” quite literally.

         First was the house right in front of mine. A family consisting of the husband,wife, a son, a daughter and a grandmother. The husband was an alcoholic and did work of small time dalal- or property dealer. It was hardly enough to live a hand-to-mouth existence and to top it he spent it all on alcohol. His wife had learnt sewing and she decided to work as a tailor. She stitched blouses and other such little jobs like doing the fall border of the saree etc. This role reversal was the first of its kind. The woman managing the house. Egos were bound to be hurt and then started the daily clashes. He coming home drunk, beating up the wife, asking for money, thrashing the children if they intervened. Sometimes the neighbors intervened when it got too violent but mostly they watched the silent tamasha as the husband hurled abuses at the wife.

        This  family had a lot of relatives who kept coming but one of the man was a regular and he wasn’t a relative. He used to spend for the crackers the kids burst, the new clothes they wore. They called him ‘kaka’. Years later someone told me he was the ‘keep’ of the wife. Shocking at first but now when I think of it I really can understand the situation of the wife. How else would she have managed the house? This man has married off her daughter and helped her son settle down.  If you happen to see the husband and wife on a New Year they would be happily going on  a scooter and visiting relatives with sweets. The bitter truth of the marriage is what the society alone knows..

        Second was the marriage of a man who was mentally disturbed. I wouldn’t call him mad because he was perfectly well most of the year except for a month or two when he became unstable. He would talk nonsense, roam about without a shirt and other disturbing things. His marriage was a second marriage (his first wife had separated). The second wife was a hardworking and clean lady. She converted his house overnight into a “home”. We saw him wear clean ironed clothes, go to work regularly and they looked happy for a few months. Soon his mental health deteriorated and he started his old tricks. His wife became the victim of his uncalled- for anger. He stopped going to office, threw around the vessels, hurt her. She had to work at others' house as maid to support her home. She once came running to our house as her husband was chasing to thrash her. She stayed overnight crying. Mom offered her work at our home which she did well for a few months. She too was getting weak and kept unwell so she later quit the job. By this time the man was slowly getting back to normal.

        I was coming back from school during the monsoons. This lady was going around the banyan tree with a thread in her hand that she was tying to the tree as she moved. It was vat savitri that day. Where women fast and pray for the long life of their husbands and tie that thread around the banyan tree..  Women! What art thou made of?
       A few months later the woman died due to some illness. Her husband wailed and grieved. He was shattered. He became more unstable. The last I heard about him was that his relatives were trying to steal away his home.. 

P.S : This post was supposed to contain Love affairs as well but the post is getting too long for its own good. So Love affair coming up next.. It is scheduled alread :)
P.P.S: Sorry for the long absences and delayed replies on comments. Sometimes I just get too lazy to comment after a long day :) But I do try to reply to all the comments :)
P.P.P.S : @ Atrocious Scribbler    your post on  Writer's Block inspired me to write. And yes I drafted this post in my head while I was studying Anatomy for my exams :D :D 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Through the window..- occupations, hawkers and businesses..

                 Moving ahead with the environment of the SOCIETIES..

           As I stated in the last post, the occupants of these SOCIETIES were locales who got the houses at low rates. These people were called "THE ORIGINALS". A typical feature of these originals would be- women dressed in navari (nine yards) sari, men who spitted pan on the lid of the drains outside, children who woke up early and started an ear-splitting cry and who were duly handed a 1 rupee pepsi (colored ice) to keep them quiet, the house cluttered with relatives who spoke the "language of the ghaats" and in the afternoon the unbearable smell of roasted tobacco would emanate from their houses which later in the evening they would rub on their palms with the thumb of the other hand and consume.. Their life, as I saw, passed more sitting on doors of their houses than inside. Sitting on the door served them their favorite pass time- commenting and gossiping about the "NEW OWNERS". The "ORIGINALS" somewhat had formed their own group. 
          The men in our societies were mostly on low rung positions in government offices (mostly obtained because of the caste they belonged to) and other occupations such as BEST conductors, plumbers, drivers, watchmen etc. Their wives used to think of themselves as "all knowing" even though they had never seen the face of what is called "school".  Due to their very narrow mindedness they thought we were poorer than them because both my parents worked and they thought it was totally out of dire need that women step out to work. If any young girl, no matter under what circumstances, came home late then the gossip would be like, "God knows what work she does, coming home so late!" or " Haaw they think we are idiots, which class runs so late?" As time would have it, today the daughters of these very ladies work night shifts in call centres and IT companies and I wonder who says "Hawww " for them! Yes situations change.. 
          Life in society was not all suffering and problems.. Now when I look back, I laugh at certain situations.. One of them is the array of hawkers who used to visit the society, making it almost unnecessary to shop anything outside. Everything came at your door step! Heres a list..

1.. Doodhwala bhaiyyaa :
 He was the only fellow who came without making any noise. He specialised in two arts- balancing the cycle with so many milk cans and mixing water in purchased packed milk and selling it as "taaza gaai ka doodh". One day my father caught him doing the later and then we started buying packed milk
2. Bhaajiwaali 
Starting from 7 in the morning, the bhaajiwaalis start coming in.. There are different bhaajiwaalis for different bhaajis. It serves as a timepass for housewives to bargain and get the fresh vegetables. They used to shout out loud "Bhaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaajiwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaali bhaaaaaaaaaji" and then wait at the doorstep of her regular customer. Every woman had her "bhaajiwali' who sold her bhaaji at low price!

3. Macchiwaali (fisherwoman).
Now they were some women! Fierce, strong and yes no-nonsense..lena hai toh lo nahi toh me jaati!! They are the original inhabitants of Mumbai-the Kohli people. I remember them as women wearing nine yard saris, lots of artificial gold, a large nose ring called "nathni",a large kumkum bindi on their foreheads, a tokri filled with fish and a large "koita". We would shriek with terror when she threw out those crabs she kept in the lowest part of her tokri and laugh at us when we shouted "Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmy"

3.Bangdi waale ( bangle sellers).
Wow it was a kaleidoscopic view. So many colors of plastic and glass bangles this man would bring. The married women used to buy glass bangles of red and green color and we kids used to cry to get those colorful bangles and Mummy would say, "Only married women wear those" and for the longest time I used to think that these women would replace bangles so that they could break them when their husband dies! Filmy fool I was :D :D I too, with my nakhraas, got away with a few bangles which Mummy purchased from him but I soon lost interest :P 
He used to call out " Bangdeeeeeeeeeeeeeee wale- "wale" in nasal tone.. Ji ha! He is the guru of Himesh.

4.. Bhangaar baatli waala..
He used to come in the mid morning and we were his regular customers because in those times only a selected houses would get a regular subscription of newspapers. In addition to that he used to take away any plastic left overs like milk packets, bottles etc.. In return he would give a little money or sometimes garlic pods.. If the return was garlic pods then he would call out "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEE lasssssssssssoooon wale!" Lasoon meaning garlic here..

 5.. Dahiwala
He was an old man who carried a small bucket filled with curd.. The curd was heavenly in its taste ! He is personally my favorite hawker as his line was unique, "Dahi lo dahi.. " and he used to stop at anybody's doorstep and say, "Beta dahi loge? mitha mittha dahi" .. Sadly no picture I could search which matched his persona.. 

6..Washing powder.. 
This man used to come in the afternoon and he used to sell a lot of things on his cycle.. It was mostly phenol, scrubber, washing powder, laxman rekha-for killing ants, etc etc.. He used to call out "Washing powder pitaambari!" 

In the afternoon, various products were advertised by salesmen and salesgirl who used to roam around in that heat. The women, ever free, used to entertain them by talking and asking questions, giving them water and seldom buying their products..

Hawkers selling panties and bras (yes that too!!), sanitary pads, beauty products, hairclips and nailpaints too used to come in the afternoon..

Once its 4, then hawkers comprise mostly of those selling food products..

1.Khaari biscuit wala
. The first one to start was khaari biscuit and naan katai wala.. Since people used to love eating khaari biscuit with tea this one got lot of customers!
khari biscuit

2..Pav wala..
Now this one had a weird way of selling out his product.. He would say, "paw wala" in a very serious tone and then ring two bells of his cycle.. By that ring we would know that paw wala is outside.

3.. Bhel wala..
He was the friend of us children. In addition to selling his sukkha bhel, he used to talk to all of us and knew us by first name. He also knew what kind of bhel we liked. His bhel was murmura with few onions, peanuts, mirch chutney , salt and sev.. He knew that I liked my bhel spicy and I loveeeed kacchi kairi( raw mango).. So in late winter, when he added kairi as an added ingredient in his bhel, he would dole out a little extra in my bhel.. We used to await him every evening for that 1 rupee bhel we used to buy from him.

4.. Anda wala..
The egg seller used to sell pav too and he too had his own fixed nonvegetarian customers.. He used to be extra careful when in our society, because we were sooo many kids in number, playing ball, badminton and cricket that he was in constant fear of his eggs getting broken..

5.. Kulfi wala..
The last but not the least and one who ensured that children stayed up till he came was Kulfi wala.. He too used to come with his tokri in which he used to store his kulfi (cooled by ice which didn't melt because of the gunny sack it was kept in). I used to love seeing him make kulfi with those moulds that he had ! When I was small, I felt it was a great injustice my parents were doing on me by not buying me kulfi.. My Mummy used to always say, "I saw him sitting near the gutter, God knows what water he uses!!" and "Did you see the sticks he uses, shiiiiiiii they are sooo dirty!! " and Pappa would shout back at me when I tried to cry, "Don't you eat those, you will fall sick".. 
                                 the man who brought happiness and tears..
                                The moulds I was talking about.. you see those cone shaped steel things?

I see the post is going longg, but bear with me for a few more minutes since you have already wasted so much time :P :P 
The below three are the people who scared me to bits when I was young..

I) bububu waala or Chaabuk wala..
I seriously don't know what was his problem.. He used to come painted in such weird and horrific manner the he used to make irritating sounds on his dholak type instrument.. The sound was "bububububu" and  if some came out then "sataaaaaaaak", the guy would whip himself with his chaabuk and ask for money! I used to be dead scared of him and used to hide in the house when he came into the society.
                                ye toh fir bhi thik hai                                        lekin ye kyun?

II Chaaku chhooori  wala
Basically he was a scary looking serious man on a bicycle which had a round machine used for sharpening knives and other tools to be sharpened. Probably the sparks that came out while sharpening the tools used to frighten me a lot.

III Mummmmmmmmmmmmmy!!!! Baccchaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaao

These were unexpected and uninvited people who scared me out of my wits. All the children of the society used to hide below their beds when they visited. Elders used to handout some money in fear that they will be cursed. These were the eunuchs that came every week with ghastly make up and a voice that shook me up.

I remember the one time when my brother was a newborn and the maalish waali aunty used to lock the living room and I had to sit alone in the small outside area which had a sofa. These people came that day and since I didn't have money and I was soo scared that I didn't even peep through the door, they started banging the door soo loudly for almost 5 minutes that I thought they will barge in somehow through the door and I screamed "Mummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmy bacchhaaaaaaao". That seemed to work and the voices calmed in some minutes.. Earlier I was just scared, but after that I became petrified of them..

So this was one part of life in SOCIETY.. 
Let me know if the posts are getting too long to bear.. I will try to cut down a bit..

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Through the window..

             Sorry for being MIA for so many days. I have taken a break from story writing for a few days (read until the semester gets done) and I will be back to share a work written in collaboration with Pulkit which was originally meant to be for The Writer's Lounge but given the poor readership we have decided to continue it here on my space. 
             I was talking to MSM today and somewhere the topic of growing up came up. We, bloggers, have received a lot of support system from blogging and some relations have grown closer than mere commenting and reading. Something I never wrote about is about the environment I grew up in. The times and people I have come across attribute a large part of the person I am today. It would be difficult to imagine all that I would be talking of and hence I will duly support it with relevant pictures. MSM, this is only due to your request that I m writing this..   

          This is a story of the struggle of  two people with no financial support, who dreamt to own a house in Mumbai. The two people here are my Mummy and Pappa. 
           I was just a year old when we came into what was called proper Mumbai but in the suburbs. The need to shift was more because of the water problems in the vicinity of the city where we were earlier staying and also it was a convenient location to travel from (although both my parents travelled 2 hours to and fro to office everyday). My naani stayed close by and it was a relief for Mummy to leave me in her care. 

      The housing society where we were staying was one of the projects that MHADA (Maharashtra Housing And Development Association) undertakes for low cost housings in the city. These houses are sold on lottery system and the owners have to pay in installments. Mostly the natives get these houses. The natives sell the houses to whoever can afford or give it on rent and live in slums. But the place where we stayed on rent was newly built and most of the people were locals. 
      The house was a humble 300 sq meters with those roofs which are called "patra". They are good conductors and due to which the temperature was boiling hot in afternoons and cool at night. We initially stayed in the house no 22 on rent and within a year the owner sold us at multiple times than what he got it from MHADA. Owning a house in Mumbai, no matter how small, is a big feat specially for two people who are newly married and with mediocre jobs. My pappa was an assistant to law officer in Railways and Mummy an assistant in LIC. Both jobs were permanent but paid less compared to private companies. 
      After buying the house at such rate, for several months we lived on tight budget. As I had stated earlier too, I was not a healthy child. I had frequent bouts of cold and fever and was very allergic. My medical expenses were giving my parents a tough time and Mummy had to stay home many a times to tend to me. Proud as they were, my parents never took help from anyone else. Those days ,as they now recall , all they prayed while returning home was, "God let my baby not have fever today". That was most they could pray for.
     After 8 years of living in House no 22 and now with some financial stability luck shone upon us. We bought the neighboring House no 23 which was for sale and we now lived in somewhat comfortable 600sq meters. We clubbed both the houses through the wall between them and House no 23 for most parts came to me known as "My room". 
    With continuous determination and promotion of Pappa and Mummy's desire to move to a better place, after 14 years of living in those houses we moved into a flat. 

     The MHADA houses that we lived in  were row houses and called SOCIETIES. An outsider may call it a chawl but that was taken as an offence because chawls meant "common toilets" and "common water tap". Here the rooms in Society were self contained with toilet and water tap. 

     Here I will stop this post.. I will share many things about life in this SOCIETY in coming posts.. 
If you are wondering why the post is called "Through the window", then here is the reason..

This is the view from my room now..These are the new MHADA houses built next to my building.. These are however with one more floor built above.. 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dear Vegetarians

           Prescript: If  you are not one of those kind vegetarians who live peacefully without giving those disgusting looks to nonvegetarians, then this post is not aimed at you.. Keep giving us non-vegetarians peace while eating because we certainly won't offer you a "piece" of what we eat :D :D

          I m fed up telling each one of you the same things while you give that "eeew" "yucck" reactions while we eat and I even though I would rather appreciate if you just moved to another table while we savor our dish, you insist on me not bringing out non veg when you around!
          Everytime I want to go to KFC or Subway, I have to go to Mc Donalds because your "aloo tikki" or "Mc Veggie" looks like my "Mc Chicken" and so we can all hang out like that one big group!
          All these times I have been patient with your "How can you eat this?" or "Please wo gandi cheez mere paas mat la" with expressions that I don't even give while puking.
         So you think you are being kind to animals by not eating them up right? Maybe you really need some eye opening to be done!
         I won't defend my non vegetarianism. That's how I have been all my life. Some of my nonvegetarian people have turned vegetarian ( 99% for getting into that size zero figure) and so I do not think it is something I cannot change. It is something as of now I do not WANT to change.
        That classic arguement made on your side that "Humans are designed to me herbivores" because veg gets digested easily and not non veg may not be so true after all.. Our stomach does not digest cellulose (found in wall of plants) at all! Does that mean all fruits are not designed to be eaten? When you eat the peel of any fruit it comes out of your system as it is! Do not say peels are not to be eaten because I haven't seen many of you peeling  apples or that tomato in your veg burger.

        People ,from times immemorial, have been eating what is available in their vicinity. So I m from the coastal city and I eat fish and poultry. As simple as that. If you think farms are all over the country then again FYI that is only after the Green Revolution. We actually had a drop in population due to shortage of food in 1940s!! Imagine if that time we nonvegetarians had also added to the burden of shortage of crops! You actually have something to thank us for.
       Then a section of you eat eggs in breakfast and call yourselves eggetarians. Some of you eat cakes which have egg. When I point out that you are actually eating chicken's kid, you tell me "It is not born so its ok, you are killing a living animal". But don't you all support that "Feoticide is heinous as murder" while talking the same about a human?  
     Some of you believe that the egg sold is actually sterile and wasn't going to become a chicken anyhow. But the fact is that most eggs contain live embryo inside. Even if they don't then you should know that the hen that gives this egg is kept life long in small cages and when rendered useless, slaughtered. Some cruelty there eh? 

      Some of you have been sharing and commenting on this photo on facebook.. How dare you tag me too?

when u eat non-veg, plz do think about this.....bcoz whichever animal u r eating is the son or daughter of some living being !!

Well then do you know that our own Indian scientist Jagdishchandra Bose proved that plants can feel pain and and understand affection? Do you know plants move in the direction of music? Do you know that they grow well if you talk lovingly to them every morning? Well why would you? You have eaten plants all your life and not worried about hurting it? Only because it is nobody's child huh? so applying the same logic as yours ,does that justify killing orphans ,my dear ?


So will you now stop eating vegetables and fruits too?

I see you flaunting that pretty leather bag, making that style statement with your new leather jacket and belt and also valets. Where did they come from? Do you really think leather industry waits for animals to die and then take away their skin? That way you would have to wait for years to get your leather shoes my dear. And do you seriously think aged cattle can give you such soft leather? No no my pretty! It is the soft skin of that little calf that is hardly a few days old! PETA gives you more info on the same HERE

You find it too heartless when I eat fish. It's smell repels you in the market. And yet you use a perfume which is made by killing a bigger fish? You eat cod oil capsules for improving your eyesights ! 

You brush your teeth with toothpastes which contain carageenan which is also a living creature of the waters. Your toothpaste also contains bones of slaughtered animals (except vicco and Amar brands) 

You go awww and oooh over that pearl set you see in the shops. Well the pearls too are obtained by killing a living being inside the shell.

you just killed an organism before getting this!

You and your mother start all about the vegetarian goodness when I come to your house while she is draped in that silk saree. Does she know that the silk she is wearing has killed so many silkworms just to get those silk filaments which your mother can wear one day and sit pretty?

those are the cocoons which the lady is unraveling to make your mother's silk saree..

And why is it that I see you wearing those pretty woollen sweaters as soon as the winter starts? How can you make the poor sheep suffer without that hair? Do you know the diseases the sheep gets because its hair was sheared to make that sweater and blankets and socks for you? Shame on you ya! 

Why does a goody goody person like you kill so many honeybees to get that honey ? It is so unjust that they work (they are called busy bees for a reason) and gather so much honey and you simply steal their food by burning their honeycomb? How would you feel if someone stole your grains and burned your house? 

Do you shave or do you paint?  guilty ! They are brutally hand snatched hair of pigs. camels etc! 

You won't be so naive to not know that all female mammals produce milk only after childbirth. What made you think that the cow or buffalo (whose milk you drink everyday) gives milk perennially? These animals are made pregnant very often( imagine the pain they undergo during childbirth) and given injections to produce milk. The calf produced by these pregancies is often killed while making cheese (how dare you eat that double burst pizza and that extra cheese sandwich?) and other products. 

And are you out of your mind to walk on that grass in the college lawn and gardens?? Didn't your dharam get bhrasht by killing all those living creatures under your sandals??

So now you know you are meting out cruel treatment to animals, far more than you know. Does this make you feel that you are still the one not harming animals? 

So unless you have become a vegan and have absolutely never caused harm to any animal (including the mosquito,cockroach etc ) please do not give me such lectures because I really don't have the time to give you all the facts again and I actually might never see you for food anytime.

Yours Sincerely,

P.S : Vegetarians stop eating my food's food! -- A tweet by Suruchi :P :P  somehow I wanted it to be in the post but then the post is already long :P 

P.P.S: I found this page HERE which sort of helped me with this post.. Try it if you want a cruelty free lifestyle!

P.P.P.S: Just had Maggi Chicken flavor and contrary to what I thought, its yummm!! :P:P :P