Monthly Archives: May 2006

A heart full

Wo Naani Kee Baaton Mein Pariyon Ka Dera
Wo Chehre Ke Jhuriyon Mein Sadiyon Ka Phera
Bhulaaye Nahin Bhool Saqta Hai Koi
Wo Choti See Raaten Wo Lambi Kahaani

Although my nani never narrated stories to us, (not that I remember), she definitely did regale us with real life incidents. She was a brave woman who along with her husband and brothers made it to this side during the partition. My maternal grandparents had also, like my paternal granparents, left every single thing behind in what is now Pakistan. They witnessed butchering and massacre which is enough to scar a person for a lifetime. But they also carried with them memories of happy times, when the money and jewellery would be just lying about, cupboards full of it. There were personal godowns of dry fruits and grains. These were part of palatial houses with infinite rooms, marble flooring and plush interiors. Those “facts” were so difficult to digest they seemed like made up stories for they were being told to children who heard of such things only in their Amar Chitra Kathas and Tinkles. My grandparents would talk to each other in Pashto even now.

Nani ke ghar jaaoge to motte ho ke aaoge” is what my nani and mom always used to say. It was true also. It was almost as if the visit’s sole purpose was indeed to fatten up the children. We had delicious food with loads of butter – the home made white butter that I so love. We also had an angeethi – the actual thing made of clay and it used to take ages to get heated up and then to cool down, but the result was fabulous tandoori rottis. Their cutlery and tableware included a lot of brass. I distinctly remember that my sister and I used to fight over who would get to drink in the heavy brass glass. It used to take enormous effort to just hold it.

Being the first grandchild on my maternal side, I was always treated somewhat specially. As a kid I used to hate the regular stuff that all kids hate – veggies like Karela, toree, parmal, kaddu, tinde etc. but when my nani made it (using shudh desi ghee) the end results were so delectable that one could live on those forever. My maternal grandparents stay in Gurgaon – the actual gurgaon which existed much before the glitzy Gurgaon came into picture, much before there was life on the other side of the highway, much before there was any inhabitation on either side of it. In those days it was practically a village, for all the neighbours had buffaloes and tabelas! Almost all the houses were made of mud instead of cement (like my nani’s) decorated with the dung cakes that were so characteristic of a village then. Thankfully my nani’s house wasn’t a buffalo barn, but we sure got amused everytime we would go from Delhi to Gurgaon (the distances were so much more inspite of being the same physically).

I met her about a month back after she had recovered from some brief illness. She seemed to have recovered just fine and was attentive, alert, taking meals andMy grandparents medicines properly. That was the last time I saw her. Just when I was beginning to think that maybe my mother’s mother and I do look a lot more similar from a particular angle (seeing the B&W pic that hung on their wall), her sudden death took her away from us. She suffered from pneumonia and it resulted in multiple organ failure. She had been through much more serious medical situations and had always made it. We had not even thought that some minor illness would result in catastrophic consequences. Such situations are so pathetic. When the doctors tell you that there’s nothing else you can do except wait for the person’s death, it is the worst feeling in this world. A maternal cousin’s marriage was scheduled for a week later. My nani had gotten new dresses made and would have seen the first grandchild wedding. Unfortunately it never happened that way.

My mom took it bravely and so did the whole family. After the cremation we all tried to concentrate on remembering the good times instead of weeping inconsolably. We even laughed. That was something I could not even imagine doing, given the situation. My grandfather lost his mate of about 60 years. Life will never be the same for him ever again. It is very disheartening to see how someone who was alive and well could turn into a “body” and then soon into a “picture”. I can never forget the way my mom looked at her mom when seeing her for the last time. It forced me to think in a particular direction myself and I knew that even though I don’t even want to think about it, it’s a grim reality of life. When I look around I realise, we do have our hearts full. But full of the memories and of the love that she gave.


Delhi blogger's meet - XI
This meet was a much looked forward to affair because of the sudden interest of Julian, the producer of the BBC World Service Technology programme Digital Planet, Gareth who is the presenter of the same show and Bill, one of Britain’s leading authorities on blogging and net activism; in the affairs of us delhi bloggers, so as to assess the extent of net activity in India, how it differs from other places and to record a special edition of the programme just about this splendid country. To quote them, they were trying to find answers to questions like “Do you have a particular view on the use or effectiveness of your blogs? What do you think about the use of IT in India or its potential? The country is often seen as being in the grip of a technological boom, is this the case from your experience?”

The meet was held at India habitat centre, (a venue which I think is suitable for brainstorming and cultural stuff) on 6th May. Somehow a pub doesn’t seem like the right place for such things though I realise that for a lot of people, perhaps, their brain starts working when they have some alcohol numbing it :p. I reached the venue when I thought the discussion would have gained appropriate momentum. In other words, I wasn’t there from the beginning. I introduced myself to the trio and then met around with a couple of old timers while the discussion was ongoing in full swing with about 30 people. People had already given Bill, Julian and Gareth (though mostly Bill) an idea about the kind of net activities we have here like business networking (ryze), caferati, live blogging after the Tsunami, the IIPM episode etc. We went on to talk about the indexing in the desi blogworld, ongoing plagiarism in blogworld and otherwise, tech blogging (here Julian and Gareth were admittedly thoroughly bored of geeky stuff), news blogging, link blogging, revenue generation through blogs etc. I pitched in with some things about the blank noise project as a response to how blogging can make a difference. There were other means of course, for eg. live updates during Rita, Katriina, mumbai floods and blogging for social causes etc. There were also some discussions about the legal aspect of plagiarism in the blog world, how we (delhi bloggers) are trying to “make a difference” or trying to “bring about a change”. The scope of that “change” could mean different things to different peope – it could be personal growth, indulging in ones hobbies with fellow enthusiasts, honing ones writing skills, indulging in networking, rooting for social causes or getting instant help in case of emergencies. In that context that change or growth has been happening from day one. To a question put up by Bill, asking everyone if we, as a community, were growing and yet moderating ourselves, enough, to “make a difference” – I replied in the affirmative and added the above mentioned thought. I also added, that now “differences which are visible” are also beginning to happen. It’s interesting to note that not only is the community (slowly but surely evolving) but the whole aspect of blogging and how intertwined it is getting with our day to day life – is also evolving.

We eventually had Julian and Gareth record the radio show they wanted. They chose some intriguing observations they had come across in the evening. So they interviewed some people – a blogger who’s an IIT-ian and quit his job to take up blogging full time since he makes more revenue than he would in an MNC (that’s *so* unheard of), a blogger who’s organising an online reality show where a person travels on a modest budget and blogs about it as (s)he does, a blogger who’s part of a community blog – bribe Delhi which has been featured on NDTV as well and then from some aspect of how/when it all started and some stuff about Blank noise – yours truly was also chatted up with. It didn’t feel like an “interview”. Much after the recording got over, we were still in that mode, with Gareth asking me if I had ever imagined some years back that so many things would happen with this community or about blogging in general, how it has grown, changed etc. He also asked me how things were in other metros, whether people were as active there, if there were similar “communities” or “individual islands“.

They all wanted to explore Nehru place for some reason where I guess they got fascinated with an open market (mandi more like) for all kind of hardware. They also told us about their not so great experience in trying to interview some folks there. I emphasised on the fact that they should surely write a travelogue about India (not just because of the British background but also the interesting experiences) because people who aren’t from that place would always notice things that the insiders would probably feel normal about. The 3 most outstanding things in this category being, the way people drive around, the cows minding their own bovine business on roads and the heat (not that we can’t notice the heat. It is anything but ignored.)

By this time, most people had left, some had retired to Eatopia after which they proceded to All American Diner and then Turquoise cottage. I tried to individually meet the remaining members, which is something that happens in every meet but barely happened in this one. Some of us exchanged business cards with the trio. I explained why I wasn’t joining them in the pub, since I had a party to attend in Gurgaon. I described Gurgaon and Gareth showed signs of recognition because they had been exploring the malls the day before. Overall a very very interesting experience and I surely look forward to more such happenings.