Sunday, October 25, 2009

Baby P - A Tribute

The time has come
The womb has begun to spew vitriol
And messes with the mind
So the end is near
That's right Humans
The end is near
There is no way out

Words so harsh
They sear the soul
Mince the gut
Wince is all one can do

Where has the love gone
That of maternal origins
Which was meant to nurture
But now all askew

The boy named It
Was the first story, I guess
To be documented
Violence inflicted on the innocent

Videos circulate in cyber space
About Baby P
Wounded, battered and bruised
The concept of right and wrong
Not even an idea within
The life that had just begun it journey
But a life's journey cut short

The hands that were meant
To nurture, turned murderous
Caused unbearable pain and suffering
A mother's compliant silence
A father's brutality
And a baby who turned one
Passes on

And we go all teary eyed and say
He is far safer and happier
Where he is now

Rest in peace
Baby P
Rest in Peace!!


For more details on this story, please check the following link

Friday, October 23, 2009

Psalms from my Bible

This forward has probably gone round the world and still continues its jet setting as I write. The originator of this was a person of Indian origin, our very own desi Jitendra Singh. He has no idea of who I am, but if I were to draw parallels from the family tree then I would say that he is a friend four times removed; that is to say he is a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend!! Phew……but thanks a ton Jitendra for taking the effort.

Anyway, lucky to have him in the pyramid of friends because I have been able to read through some lines which are profound in their very simplicity.


Anna Quindlen was a first rate New York Times reporter who left at her prime to pursue her life as a writer. A few years ago she was invited to speak at the commencement at Villanova University. But given her views on abortion, some people threatened to demonstrate against her. She declined to speak, since she thought the students did not deserve protest demonstrations for their graduation ceremony. But when some students wrote her for the text of the speech, she did e-mail it out and it became an internet legend of sorts.


"It's a great honor for me to be the third member of my family to receive an honorary doctorate from this great university. It's an honor to follow my great-uncle Jim, who was a gifted physician, and my Uncle Jack, who is a remarkable businessman. Both of them could have told you something important about their professions, about medicine or commerce. I have no specialized field of interest or expertise, which puts me at a disadvantage, talking to you today.

I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. The second is only part of the first. Don't ever forget what a friend once wrote Senator Paul Tsongas when the senator decided not to run for reelection because he'd been diagnosed with cancer: "No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time in the office." Don't ever forget the words my father sent me on a postcard last year: "If you win the rat race, you're still a rat." Or what John Lennon wrote before he was gunned down in the driveway of the Dakota: "Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."

You walk out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree; there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car, or at the computer. Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. Not just your bank account, but your soul.

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is a cold comfort on a winter night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when you've gotten back the test results and they're not so good.

Here is my resume:

• I am a good mother to three children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.
• I am a good friend to my husband. I have tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.
• I am a good friend to my friends, and they to me. Without them, there would be nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cutout. But I call them on the phone, and I meet them for lunch. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

I would be rotten, or at best mediocre at my job, if those other things were not true. You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you are.

So here's what I wanted to tell you today: get a life. A real life, not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger paycheck, the larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon, or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on a breeze over Seaside Heights, a life in which you stop and watch how a red tailed hawk circles over the water gap or the way a baby scowls with concentration when she tries to pick up a Cheerio with her thumb and first finger.

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you. And remember that love is not leisure, it is work. Each time you look at your diploma, remember that you are still a student, learning how to best treasure your connection to others. Pick up the phone. Send an E-mail. Write a letter. Kiss your Mom. Hug your Dad.

Get a life in which you are generous. And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no business taking it for granted. It is so easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. It is so easy to take for granted the color of our kids eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears and rises again.

It is so easy to exist instead of live. I learned to live many years ago. Something really, really bad happened to me, something that changed my life in ways that, if I had my druthers, it would never have been changed at all. And what I learned from it is what, today, seems to be the hardest lesson of all. I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get.

I learned to look at all the good in the world and to try to give some of it back because I believed in it completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by telling others what I had learned. By telling them this:

Consider the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the backyard with the sun on your face. Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness because if you do you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived.

Well, you can learn all those things, out there, if you get a real life, a full life, a professional life, yes, but another life, too, a life of love and laughs and a connection to other human beings. Just keep your eyes and ears open. Here you could learn in the classroom. There the classroom is everywhere. The exam comes at the very end. No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office.

I found one of my best teachers on the boardwalk at Coney Island maybe 15 years ago. It was December, and I was doing a story about how the homeless survive in the winter months. He and I sat on the edge of the wooden supports, dangling our feet over the side, and he told me about his schedule, panhandling the boulevard when the summer crowds were gone, sleeping in a church when the temperature went below freezing, hiding from the police amidst the Tilt a Whirl and the Cyclone and some of the other seasonal rides. But he told me that most of the time he stayed on the boardwalk, facing the water, just the way we were sitting now even when it got cold and he had to wear his newspapers after he read them. And I asked him why. Why didn't he go to one of the shelters? Why didn't
he check himself into the hospital for detox? And he just stared out at the ocean and said, "Look at the view, young lady. Look at the view."

And every day, in some little way, I try to do what he said. I try to look at the view. And that's the last thing I have to tell you today, words of wisdom from a man with not a dime in his pocket, no place to go, nowhere to be. Look at the view. You'll never be disappointed."

I find a lot of people are making it easier for me by handing me adequate props for use in my role as a mother. And also as mentor, teacher and friend. Thanks to friends even a hundred times removed, I am able to collect the Psalms for my own personal little Bible!! Take for example the video of Kate Bornstein speaking at the 40th reunion of the Class of 69, at Brown University. It was posted by Anita Mathew, friend (and co-actor from The Roosters) on her profile on a social networking site and I copied it onto my profile as well.

Hope someday my children would care enough to read from my Bible of Life as well!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Footballer and A Legend

Danny Varghese was my junior in school; by three to four years, I think. I went to quite a few schools thanks to my old man and so have to specifically mention that school in this instance refers to KV Port Trust, Cochin. I remember Danny as a footballer and a cute guy; very cute with a curly mop on his head. If memory serves me right, he played on the school team as well.

Danny was more interested in football than in the Chemistry classes and therefore preferred the hospitality industry over pharmaceuticals. I don’t quite know how the two or rather three add up. But that is his story. He quit the B.Pharm course he enrolled in and opted for a Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management. He started his career as a Restaurateur, which unfortunately was cut short by a major accident. Not to let these “little incidents” deter him, the champ set up a medical transcription firm. He invited me to his wedding, which I could not attend. Unfortunate for me.

I remember him as a delightful young boy with an ever smiling disposition. A few years ago he sent me this beautiful story with an awe inspiring lesson.


Arthur Ashe, the legendary Wimbledon player was dying of AIDS which he got due to infected blood he received during a heart surgery in 1983. From world over, he received letters from his fans, one of which conveyed: "Why does GOD have to select you for such a bad disease"?

To this Arthur Ashe replied: The world over -- 5 million children start playing tennis, 50 thousand learn to play tennis, 5 thousand learn professional tennis, 50,000 come to the circuit, 5000 reach the grand slam, 50 reach Wimbledon , 4 to semi final, 2 to the finals, When I was holding a cup I never asked GOD "Why me?". And today in pain I should not be asking GOD "Why me?"

I came upon it a couple of days ago while going through my old mails. I guess it says a lot about Dan’s outlook to life as it did of the great legend Arthur Ashe. So this is my tribute to you Dan, for overcoming the odds and beating them down.

And yes I try to remember this little message you sent me.

Happiness keeps you Sweet,
Trials keep you Strong,
Sorrow keeps you Human,
Failure keeps you Humble,
Success keeps you Glowing,
But only God keeps you Going.....

Keep Going.....

Cheers to you Danny Varghese.

I finally figured why I don’t go all ga-ga over the so called heroes. It’s because I went to school (and college) with them. And now there are heroes in my life that I have the good fortune to be working with. People who put their lives on the line for what they believe in.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Erma Bombeck

Erma Louise Bombeck – Rest in Peace. I am a huge fan. Do not possess the same felicity and verve with words that you did, but this is my tribute to you.

She had me well and truly hooked, booked and cooked from the time I read her book – “Motherhood – the World’s Second Oldest Profession”. Arguments about the veracity of the title abound; considering that one could easily claim Motherhood as being almost as old as life itself. But hey, also considering that the title of the Oldest Profession had already been taken or rather thrust upon a certain group, we would not want to get into silly little technicalities now, would we?

Anyway, I have been a huge fan of her writing. I confess that for a short fuse like me, it has been her writing that has kept me from bursting arteries and veins and what have you in my role as “Mommy”!! I have been able to maintain a sense of humour in some of the most trying situations with the kids, thanks to those words she cared to pen down. There has been many a moment that hairbrush did not connect to bottoms, when it should have and my brood may want to confer sainthood on her. They owe it to her that I was able to see “funny side up”.

“At Wit’s End” is a book of hers that I am keen to read. The irony is that I have it in my personal collection but have never been able to lay my hands on it simply because it is constantly in circulation!! And yours truly has been stupidly generous enough; not just with urging people to read but giving them the copy as well!

A few years ago, this piece was forwarded to me by a friend. I had not deleted the mail and chanced upon it recently. I realized that I just had to share it. I could not give better advice to my children or to those that I love or to the world at large. As for me, I am trying hard to follow the lessons Erma learnt instead of reinventing the wheel.

(Written after she found out she was dying from cancer.)

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the
earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it
melted in storage.

I would have talked less and listened more.

I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was
stained, or the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and
worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble
about his youth.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about
grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television and
more while watching life.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical,
wouldn't show soil, or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have
cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me
was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, Later,
now go get washed up for dinner."

There would have been more "I love you's." More "I'm sorry's."

But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every
minute...look at it and really see it ... live it... and never give it

Stop sweating the small stuff.

Don't worry about who doesn't like you, who has more, or who's doing what.
Instead, let's cherish the relationships we have with those who do love us.

Let's think about what God HAS blessed us with.
And what we are doing each day to promote ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, as well as spiritually.

Life is too short to let it pass you by.
We only have one shot at this and then it's gone.

I hope you all have a blessed day.

We Didn't Start The Fire

Title Copyright - Billy Joel...

Mathew Jacob was my classmate in College. He would always start the day with a rendition of "We Didn't Start The Fire" replete with drumming the table and head banging and foot stomping. Turned it into some sort of an anthem during my undergrad days. Sat right behind me and hummed even when we had some time between classes and in the breaks. And no, unlike what it sounds there was no romance budding!! He just sat behind me in the most uncomfortable seating arrangements there ever were.

Today I just have to listen to the song and Mathew comes hurtling out of the recesses of memory. With all the accompanying images. Sorry Billy Joel. Mathew made me forget it was you who sang it originally and it was almost the same with that song about the Nile. Sue him on copyright issues....LOL!

And then there comes Anita Iyer...who a while ago did such a brilliant parody that I just had to share her version of the lyrics. Billy I am sure you will approve. True artiste that you are. But of course you will have to appreciate it in the Indian context as well. Anita is a colleague in the Disability Sector and we have never met but are friends on the phone and have some idea of one another thanks to Facebook. And thank you very much Mark Zuchenburg.

Here is Anita's version that was her status message on Facebook. I so loved it that I had to copy it. Have her gracious permission to do so.....

We didn't start the fire...

Obama ko Nobel, Amitabh ko doctorate,
Sharukh Khan - black belt..Rakhi Sawant finds a mate

Akshay Kumar fly in soup...A R Rehman and his troupe
Thackray, Johar, everyone is in the loop...

Saas bahu saw its end, reality sets a trend
little kids - big talk...stop driving us round the bend...


Have a good laugh folks. I am sure you will agree it is indeed very apt.

Dedicated to new friend Anita Iyer for bringing it on and to old pal Mathew Jacob for the ample supply of happy memories. Priceless!!