memories

The Post Office

Have any of you been to a local post office recently…well , I had been to one yesterday.

Nowadays, with emails and especially, WhatsApp, you really don’t find any major reason for visiting the post office .

But yesterday was another day…and I had to visit the local post office. Like any other government office, I had to perform the most common tradition…stand in a serpentine queue.

There were 4 windows having their own queues. In the good old days the post offices used to be very dark places…as if the light was banned.

Well this is no longer the case, with the office being well lighted. But many other things continue as before. …for eg. You still cannot see which master is sitting on the other side of the window unless you reach right at the window…and here too you have to move your head up and down…to see his entire face.

But really , why bother seeing the masters face, when actually it is his pen which is going to write your destiny.!

Anyways I stood in the serpentine queue and started observing the surroundings to pass the time.

The first person to catch my attention was this wig wearing fellow standing just ahead of me…what a funny wig it was…if you have seen the old Ramayana or Mahabharata on DD…remember the flowing curving wigs that all the men folk in these serials used to flaunt…well it was just the same….and was this man sweating profusely!!..

Maybe  it was due to the combination of a hardly there fan which was rotating overhead, plus the wig…and he had this ugly habit of wiping the sweat away from his brow with the crook of his fingers and in a single shake of his hands, depositing the sweat on the floor.

When he did this the first time , he managed to deposit some of it on me too…so I became very alert to this movement of his and whenever he tried it again, I used to jump to the side…

I then noticed a small girl who had come with her grandmother. Now this small 4 year old was the epitome of patience…every 5 minutes she was asking her grandmother, “aaji, when will we go home?”.

Her grandmother belonged to that group of denizens called the agents …agents for the various schemes offered by the post office.

And the grandmother had that aggressive demeanour which comes naturally to those working in this field …but there were 6 other ladies belonging to the same family of agents…and here’s where everything went out of hand.

Since all of these agents wanted their own work to be done first , the decibel level went through the roof !

And I developed a new found respect for the man behind the counter….he had a zen master like calm on his face…or whatever face was visible through the window.

He was facing this scenario almost every day of the week.

Finally through all this chaos and noise I finally reached the window…only to be told that for the transaction to be concluded, xerox of the PAN Card is required.

That I had the Aadhar card copy cut no ice with him…really it’s very frustrating that the card for which you took a hard earned leave from office, and took this leave coordinating with my wife’s leave as well as my daughter’s leave, stood in line for 3 hours, sat in front of a camera which clicks the most obnoxious selfies, arranged so many different types of documents for verification, is not really the most demanded verification document….well the frustration levels are bound to be stretched to breaking point.

I tried all possible ways to persuade the person sitting behind the window to accept the lone document I was carrying …but to no effect.

At this point I could well imagine myself to be a lowly village worker at the mercy of a rich zamindar who holds all the strings of his fate…

Finally I had no other option but to go back home to fetch the PAN card copy after wasting a better part of the day standing in the wretched serpentine queue…
Have you ever had such an experience friends.

Yatindra Tawde

Food, memories

Games played in school

Games played in school have a great nostalgic value.

First game – kitti kitti. I am sure no one from this generation has even heard about it, let alone played it. It was played with full abandon and enthusiasm by the current boyish middle-ageddenizens.

A boy stood bent against the wall and the other boys would then come running one by one and jump upon the first boy followed by the next who jumped upon the following boy.

For some time this pile would be very unstable and all types of screeching and laughter would be heard. I don’t remember clearly but I think the dreaded question was asked to the first boy, “kitti kitti” and the boy guessed the number of people in the pile.

Immediately on guessing the pile disintegrated into peals of laughter and that denoted the start of next round. Everyone was sweaty and happy.
Another game involved one boy carrying another on his back and lot of such teams pushing and shoving the others so that the opposing team should fall. This too was enjoyed with much enthusiasm.
And who can forget cricket played with paper balls and notebooks converted into bats.

This was played with the same seriousness as a ODI between India and Pakistan, and the sledging was much more intense.

The paper ball hitting the opposite wall of the classroom was a six which was enjoyed with high five’s and lot of cuss words and many times the paper ball had to be retrieved from the maze of benches in the room.

And the batsman strutted around like a Virat Kohli on hitting those 4’s and 6’s.
And last but not the least was the kabbadi matches played out in the classroom corridors. In that restricted place there was lot of pushing and pulling to overcome the raiders. A real game of adrenaline spike.
I am sure you all enjoyed those games and am sure that this small piece has put a smile on your faces.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, memories, Uncategorized

Cats and dogs

It’s that dreaded word again…research!

Research says that dogs are more intelligent than the cats. But who will tell that to the cats!

Many times on social media, you will read that the smart people stay silent while fools chatter away. It is on the same social media that, cats are the reigning superstars.

While dogs are emotional fools, the cats are true drama queens or tantrum throwing divas.

When you observe a cat, you will see her engrossed in herself. She is either grooming herself or being selfish for her food. And can she manipulate! All her actions are designed to emotionally blackmail her owners to part with food.

Her meows range from almost begging to demanding to commanding. If that doesn’t work, she rubs against the owners legs and purrs with contentment. That is sure to melt the heart of any strong headed owner.

When she sits, her pose can range from a majestic one like a tiger, like resting on its side with the legs on one side, to the typical kitty pose where the paws are close together and the back is arched cutely. When she sits in this pose, she is constantly blinking it’s eyes in slow motion. Cuteness personified!

She is a Lone Ranger and aloof but at the same time can play with the owner. For playing, anything is game from a bouncing ball to a string. But while playing also, she is actually trying to hone her hunting skills. If you don’t believe, please observe her as she hunches and lowers itself, her pupils dilated and ears pushed forward, followed by the most graceful launch with the springing of her hind legs, to catch the toy or the prey.

When you observe a dog, he appears like a monk who looks at you with the most admiring eyes.

There is a genuine love for you, which is well manifested, especially when you return from the shortest of absences.

The dog is always ready for a hug and a slurping lick with his tongue. He doesn’t constantly beg for food but will eat when served. He is also much more patient animal than a cat.

The dog loves the outdoors and enjoys a bath, unlike a cat. Why cats hate water is a big mystery to me, they have almost a pathological fear of water.

While dogs are social animals, the cats are loners. Dogs can be very protective about the human babies, while cats can just about tolerate them.

Finally dogs have much more neurones in their neurological system as compared to cats making them more intelligent and empathetic.

No wonder dogs were friends with ancient humans from times immemorial, while cats were put on a pedestal and worshipped, like in ancient Egypt.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, memories, Uncategorized

Common ancestor of humans and …sponges

It’s been proposed by some scientists that many millions of years back, humans and sponges shared a common ancestor! I was shocked on reading this but then I reflected on this surprising theory, and finally I was convinced.

The sponges do not have a digestive, circulatory or nervous system. Instead they depend on water constantly flowing through their body for obtaining food and oxygen and removing wastes. They don’t have tissues and organs and lack body symmetry.

Considering all this I was surprised to read that humans and sponges shared a common ancestor. But then there are many specimen of humans who do share some of the characteristics of sponges.

Let’s see what they are…

Some humans are spineless characters just like the sponges. They lack courage or strength and try to escape any sort of confrontation, especially with their wives. They agree to whatever is decided by their wives, if only to live another day in tranquility.

In the office space, they soak up all the abuse from their bosses just like a sponge. Their only aim is to protect their means of income so that they continue to put food on the table at home.

Some are gutless and lack courage to take decisions. I think everyone knows who they are.

If sponges depend on constant flow of water through their body, some humans depend upon constant flow of alcohol through their body to survive. And miracles miracles! Free flowing alcohol allows them to overcome the above spongy shortcomings, and they are no longer spineless or gutless, albeit for a short time.
And there are quite a few who lack body symmetry with spindly hands and legs but a protruding pot belly.

So folks, when you next see such characters, please remember that a sponge is your sister species, and both of you have a common ancestor.

Yatindra Tawde

Food, memories, Uncategorized

Delicacies without borders

 

Bengal has been granted the GI (Geographical Indication) for Rasgulla, by the Indian Government and the mercurial Chief Minister is ecstatic. Bengal’s gain is Orissa’s loss.

It all started in 2015 when Orissa celebrated the “Rasgulla divas” with huge fanfare but all hell broke lose in Bengal. It was as if a calamity had fallen on Bengali Bhadralok. After all it was their culinary symbol.

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And like it happens for all things Indian, a committee was appointed to look into each state’s claim. And contrary to any other such committee, a decision was arrived at, within a short span of 2 years.

 

What about its equally mouth watering cousin, the Gulab Jamun. If Rasgulla is the fair and demure bride, then the Gulab Jamun is the dusky seductress. You eat one, you feel like eating all. Which state, you ask? Whichever it is, eat first, debate later.

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And where Indian sweets are concerned, how can one forget the Jalebi. Known to originate in Persia, where it was known as Zolbia, Indians just love this exquisitely sweet delicacy.

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Poha or Pohe, flattened and dried rice flakes, is another such delicacy, which is eaten across most Indian states. But it enjoys a pride of place on a Maharashtrian or Malwa breakfast plate. How can you grant it a GI status and to which state?

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Same is the case with idli, Wada and dosa. Though popular as a South Indian breakfast, they became famous across India due to proliferation of Udupi restaurants everywhere. In North India, idli became famous as idli chaat and idli fry. Then somebody added ginger and garlic to the fried idli, and Lo and behold! A Chinese idli was born.

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Next comes Batata wada and Misal, I already see a few readers making a rush towards the nearest eatery serving these. Both have the ability to make your mouth water and your stomach run. If South India had the breakfast food, Maharashtra had these fast food. GI is not required to stress their Maharashtrian origins. It can be safely said, the common man survives on this staple diet in all cities of Maharashtra.

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Indians love the samosa too. Again, it originated in the Middle East. Known as samusaj in Arabia and Sanbosag in Persia, it is a fried dish with filling of meat, onion, ghee, lentils but its vegetarian avatar was what enticed the Indian populace.

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The kachori is a similar stuffed delicacy, and many local varieties are enjoyed in the North Indian states, especially Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and the western state of Gujarat. In Maharashtra, the Shegaon Kachori is ISO Certified!

Then there are so many chaats like sev puri, sev batata puri, ragda patis, et al; why bother about the origin when the destination is the human stomach, via the taste buds of the tongue.

Yatindra Tawde

humour, memories, Uncategorized

A “Pot” of Gold

Someone sitting on a pot of gold has suddenly got a literal meaning. There is a good story about a pot of gold.

Once a man loses everything and defeated he goes to another village and takes shelter under a tree outside a temple. Since his appearance is quite run down and his clothes are tattered, the villagers visiting the temple take pity on him and offer him some money and food. Many villagers do this and the man decides to stay there. He gets used to this charity from the villagers and he slips into the role of a beggar. The villagers don’t like beggars outside their temple but being humane, they continue their charity towards him. Many years pass with these state of affairs and one day, the man dies. After cremating him, the villagers decide that there will be no more beggars outside their village temple. They start cleaning up the surroundings, where the man had made his dwelling, and stumble upon a pot of gold, when they try to level the ground to beautify it. Moral of the story – the man was always sitting on a pot of gold but he had become lazy and could never realise his potential.

But the current story has no such morals. Recently in America (where else), in a New York Museum, the connoisseurs are given a chance to sit on a Golden Throne. Yes, in America, a golden potty becomes a golden throne. It is an installation by Italian artist, Cattelan, fully usable. And people are eating beyond their capacities, to get a chance to use the golden throne and earn some bragging rights on social media. And no, selfies are not allowed when using the golden throne. Otherwise it would have broken the Internet. So, the people are scampering to sit (with the ‘h’ silent), literally on a pot of gold. I did not know the art market in the west is so advanced that people are involved with all their guts and glory.

Yatindra Tawde

memories, Uncategorized

Ganesh Chaturthi

My earliest memory of Ganesh Chaturthi, is when I was a child, living in Hindu Colony. First and foremost, Ganesh Chaturthi meant school holidays for us, children. Secondly, the delicious sweets prepared by my mother. And last but not the least, the 10 days of celebrations in the Colony, which meant different entertainment programs, competitions which were topped by the Orchestra on the last day. The Colony preparations started at least one to two months prior, when volunteers used to go from house to house to collect donations from everyone. Then 15 days prior, the construction of the mandap used to start. The place for the mandap was usually the Bhagini Samaj ground in the third lane of the Colony but I remember it being constructed in the garden alongside the railway tracks, for maybe one or two years. We children used to enjoy playing under the mandap canopy, first because it was some novelty for us, once a year, and it used to provide shade against sunlight or rains. The smell of bamboo and wood was pleasant too. We used to enjoy playing hide and seek on the stage, especially during the afternoon hours, when there were not much activities going on, except for preparations for the evening programmes. The celebrations formally started with the welcoming procession of the Elephant God, which was usually accompanied by traditional Maharashtrian lejhim dancers dancing enthusiastically along the road. We watched the procession from our 2nd floor balcony, but as it went inside the lane, we children used to immediately go down and join the procession. How the big idol was removed from the truck and then installed in its designated place in one corner of the mandap, was something which cannot be explained but to be experienced firsthand. The rest of the day was spent in prayers, aartis and bhajans but for us children, the real fun started in the evening when we started awaiting with bated breath, for the clock to strike 9.00 or 9.30 pm., which used to be the scheduled time for the Marathi dramas to start. That reminds me, just 1-2 days prior to the 10 day celebrations to start, we used to receive the Mandal booklet which was filled with the names of major sponsors, but more critically, it had the entire 10 day entertainment program and competition schedule. Once this booklet landed in the house, all of us including parents, were enthusiastically searching for the pages where the entire schedule was printed. Then I remember waiting for my mother and father to give their expert comments on, which out of all the dramas, was the most promising one, so that they could plan their evening activities like preparing and having dinner, so as to see a particular drama from the very beginning. This was so, since they did not have so many holidays like us, and hence could make time, only for the best dramas. But no such restrictions for us, hence we awaited the dramas on all days. Huge jute mattresses were used to cover the bare ground and people started arriving for the dramas, almost half an hour before. And usually the drama started late, never at the designated time, at least in the initial years when there were no restrictions on the time till when, a social program could go on. So I have experienced many of the dramas starting even after 10.15 pm when the scheduled time was 9.30 pm. And then the dramas, divided into minimum three parts, could go on till 2.30 am or thereabouts. But no one complained since everyone had time to spare, not like today, where people are just rushing from one place to another, without savouring the “now moment”, the present. I for one, enjoyed this late night schedule since it was the only time, when one did not have to worry for next day school and even the parents were a little flexible. The wait for the drama to start, piqued our curiosity, where they literally used temple bells to indicate the start of the drama. While watching the drama, I used to get totally immersed into the flow, the use of lighting and sound, seducing me to get totally involved in the proceedings on the stage. Most of the big names of Marathi drama, like Vijaya Mehta, Dr. Shriram Lagoo, Ashok Saraf, Laxmikant Berde, Nana Patekar, Bhakti Barve, and many others, have graced the Hindu Colony Ganeshotsav with their presence.

The Orchestra was one which attracted the maximum crowds, and people from the surrounding areas in Dadar and Matunga, used to rush at least 2-3 hours prior to the scheduled start. And the start of the orchestra was accompanied by great cacophony and whistling, on the part of the audience. For the next 3 hours we were transported to the world of Hindi film music and mimicry was something looked forward to, during the intervals.

While these entertainment programs had their extraordinary pull on the masses, the various competitions attracted us children to take part in painting, handwriting, essay writing, carrom, chess, et al. One evening was dedicated to fancy dress competition, where more than the children, the parents were extra enthusiastic to push their children to perform. I remember winning prizes in handwriting and painting, which enabled me to flaunt my prizes in front of relatives, who used to frequently drop in, in those days. The prizes were no great shakes, like plastic tiffin boxes and fruit bowls, but in those days, they satisfied childhood cravings for recognition.

For a few years, there were open air movies too, which were enjoyed on hastily put up white cloth screens, and the clarity a long way off, from today’s digital quality. Still, they were enthusiastically welcomed and someone passing before the projector was loudly shooed off.

So friends, I hope you too enjoyed the Ganeshotsav, with equal fervour and gaiety.

Yatindra Tawde