Are we forgetting our national anthem?

Something really interesting happened while having breakfast at Anna’s today. A middle-aged man, a coach in a school, claimed that most adults, and even children, do not know our national anthem. I said no! That could not be.

To prove his point, he immediately asked Anna, to which Anna replied, “Which one is the national anthem – Jana Gana Mana or Vande Mataram?”

After that he asked the cleaners, other customers, and even two school-going children, none of which who knew the national anthem. With us being patriotic only before a movie starts or on independence and republic days, are we seriously forgetting our national anthem?

Kickass Mornings

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Today was one of those mornings which I call … the kickass mornings. To light up my day were a hundred little kids in Chittaranjan Vatika. And those who know me, know my love for both, kids as well as parks. Both put together, is like a blackforest cake with cherry toppings for me. Also, an important lesson learned …  Never click pictures of little kids come to a park for a picnic EVEN IF YOU ARE AN ENTHUSIASTIC BLOGGER. The teachers may think of you as a spy and scream at you. Who cares! It was a kickass morning, anyway!

Udaan

Pankh sikudkar baithe hai aise,
Kisi chotese pinjare me band ho jaise.

Chahte hai darr ka darwaza todkar,
Ude ek aam panchi ki tarah, aazaad hokar.

Dusro ko dekhte hai unchi udaan bharte jab,
Khud par taras aata hai tab.

Aisi hi udaan hum bhi bharna chahte hai,
Dur tak, ab hum bhi udna chahte hai.

Pankh toh humare paas bhi hai,
Kami sirf azaadi ki hai.

Khul jaayenge yeh darwaaze jab,
Aasmaa ko chuyenge hum bhi tab.

Na rok paayega koi, na tok sakega hume,
Kya kabiliyat rakhte hai ye tab dikhayenge unhe.

Bas ye darwaza todkar nikal jaana hai,
Aazaad hokar ab hume bhi ud jana hai.

Adhuri Kahani

Kya hua mil na paaye hum agar,
Kya hua milne se pehle hi juda ho gaye agar,
Dil me toh pyaar ab bhi hai,
Is aaj ke baad aane wala ek kal bhi hai.

Milenge kabhi hum bhi inttefaq se,
Dekhkar ek dusre ko, nazare churayenge apne aap se,
Kuch ho sakta tha shayad, is baat ka dukh hume bhi hoga,
Pata hai kyuki, is kahani ka kabhi ant nahi hoga.

Don’t you just love the spirit of oldies in Pune!

Apart from the “Puneri patya” and “Kokanastha tomne”, there is one thing I absolutely love about Pune, the oldies. Here in Pune, you’ll see them driving their scooties, laughing out loud during their yoga classes, and also shake a leg at dance studios. Some even compete in the regularly-held story telling competitions conducted at Kathayatra – a yearly 3-day festival by Bhaashaa foundation. While most senior citizens may spend their time watching Aastha channel, you can easily spot a cool 60 year old dude with sunglasses and funky earphones plugged in. As a student in MIT, I knew a 20-member club, who without a miss, would come to Anna Ki Tapri, for their everyday chai. And trust me, their conversations were to die for! No, they were not the ones who would badmouth today’s generation for hours, for everything that is wrong with the world. They were the cool oldies who would plan their weekends and pull each other’s legs.

Also remarkable are the old couples in the city. While in most cities they are too shy for any PDA whatsover, old couples holding hands and being romantic is a norm here. One such couple I knew was Mr. and Mrs. Arole. Mr. Arole, without a fail, would get a gajra for his wife everyday, and she would show it off beautifully. Mrs. Arole too, would make it a point to make her husband’s favourite upma every morning. When her lungs failed and she was bedridden, it was he who bathed her, changed her and fed her. A year after she has passed away, everytime he visits us, he still goes, “aamchya hila tar na … “. One of the most adorable couples I have met so far.

What made me write this post today was my early morning walk at the Kamla Nehru Park. I saw the cutest of dadas and dadis in track suits and funky t-shirts. Some of them for their brisk walk, some for their yoga classes, and some, to play freesbee with their grandkids. Some were chitchatting with their fellas, some were there for their society meeting, and some were of course discussing politics. And I thought … Don’t you just love the spirit of oldies in Pune!

Is it okay not to lose hope?

After having your share of relationships, after falling in and out of love, after breaking your heart and moving on for the zillionth time. Here you are… single again. And you have been single long enough for people to start giving you the pity looks. And for those with a partner to rub their cheesy talks in your face.

When you get into the dating world, you never really plan to have those ‘n’ number of relationships. What you think is, there’s going to be that ONE guy, who you are gonna date and fall in love with, the ONE who will matter the world to you, the ONE who will make people jealous of you, the ONE who you’ll have your ‘happily ever after’. But to our despair (well, most of us), never really turns out that way, does it? Instead of meeting the ONE, you meet the several others – the ones who just wanna get laid, ones who don’t “deserve you”, the ones who are “just not ready”, the ones who “just wanna focus on their career right now”, and of course the ones who cheat on you. Life is a fairy tale you feel, but by the time you are 22, it’s not really much of a fairy tale. It’s mostly just another tale.

But I wonder at times … should you not learn your lesson after so many attempts? Is it really okay to still have faith in love? Is it okay not to stop trying? Is it okay not to lose hope?

A Little Hope and Prayers – That’s All We Need

The human species has been categorized on the basis of various different factors – men and women, Indians and Africans, Muslims and Christians, and so on. For me, there’s just two categories – either the person has battled cancer or he hasn’t. Life is different for those who dont have to spend their childhoods in hospitals – for those who have to, it is a living hell. And here I refer not only to the patients themselves, but also their partners, sons and daughters. To see your loved ones constantly being pricked and tortured, and to see them slowly turning into someone you do not know, is the worst thing that can happen to anyone.

In the last ten years that my mom has suffered from cancer, I have seen everything and everyone. The way hospitals loot you, the way the staff is careless, the way relatives prove to be useless, and the way your friends turn their backs on you. I have seen doctors who devote their lives to patients, who don’t even mind sparing time to perform on stage for their patients, and I have also met those who do not give fuck. I have met nurses who have stayed up all night for my mom, and also those whose carelessness has landed my mom in the ICU. I have seen patients, all kinds of them, those who gave up, those who made it, and those who fought, until their last breath. So far, it has been a hell of a journey, and here is a glimpse for all my readers.

I was 12 when my mom was diagnosed with cancer, my sister 8, and my brother 4. Come the day of the biopsy reports, and the ground beneath us shook. We were devastated. Especially my Dad who did a hell of a job handling three little kids along with my Mom’s surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. My siblings were way too young, but I had found out immediately after my mom’s surgery, since small town people cannot really differentiate between a cancer patient and someone who is dead. They would come, squeal and sob, drink tea, have snacks, chitchat and go away. People can act really funny at times. Not once did anyone hesitate to tell my mom how an XYZ relative of theirs died a few months back because of cancer. The loop of visitors continued throughout her chemo, and so did the fake concerns.

Ten years later, they still continue to, “Arrey kaisi hai mummy ki tabiyat. Main toh raat bhar soyi hi nahi, inhone toh khana bhi nahi khaya” and we have mastered the act of ignoring them. Even worse are some friends, they ask and ask and profusely ask if you need any help, and the minute you do, they back out. Look we know you have better things to do in life, and that is the reason we dont bother you. But then, stop asking us about our patient continuously, stop showing that you care when you don’t. It is us who have gone through hell, it is us who have seen them through their highs and lows, we have fed them, bathed them, and helped them walk. We have seen them cry, and it is us who have made them laugh. We have been going through something that you are not going to be able to understand all your lives. And trust me, we envy you, and we wish this had not happened to us. So, the least you can do is leave us alone. If we have battled cancer, we will pretty much be able to fight everything that life throws at us. We know what is coming, and we are fine, and I am fine.

On a more important note, during this time, I have met the two most inspiring people of my life. One – a 65 year old woman who battled lung cancer and a tiny 8 year old with blood cancer.
The woman, a very poor lady would come to take chemos all by herself since she did not want to disrupt her children’s routine. She would come from a place that was 200 kms away from Pune, get the scans done by herself, collect the reports herself, as well as get the chemo all on her own. The third time I met her, she did not seem to be in her best form. “How many more chemos?” I asked her. “This is my last one dear, we cannot afford it. And I cannot let my family suffer because of me. God will help me through the pain.” Six months later, she was gone.

As far as Shravani is concerned, she is the cutest kid I have ever met. Bubby and chubby, she was like any other kid her age. Even during her chemos, we had a gala time together – watching animated movies, talking about her friends back at school, and playing with barbies. The last time I saw her, she had lost all weight, could not stop vomiting, and was in unbearable pain. Two months later Shravani was gone too.

My mom, thankfully is a very very strong woman and has the will power of a 20 year old. She has however, been in the hospital for the last 15 days and I would only like all of you to keep her in your prayers.