Life in an OT

The first thing that came to my mind looking at the operation table where I was to be operated upon, was to pray and hope that I don’t fall off that table during the procedure for it was small and inadequate to take my body size.

Then came those planks attached to the operation table to rest my arms on and it instantly reminded of a certain shades of grey and activities associated with it.

Lo and behold!! As I lay on the table the nurse (male) started tapping/hitting my arms to find an elusive good vein (his term not mine) which was hidden under the layers of fat and shaved patches of my dark skin.

With a gown that I didn’t fit into, arm planks, hitting and needling, if I ever wanted a BDSM it seemed it was coming true on this very operation table.

Then comes the masked up amiable anesthetist who asks me if I have any vices/ addiction. I was wondering की आज इस टेबल पर surgery होगी या मेरे को therapy दी जायेगी. The list of vices and addiction was long and the thing that tops the list is over thinking and manifesting the worst case scenario in my life. बहराल यह सब तो बता न पाया उनको.

As he went about injecting the required doses of anesthesia he asked me my favorite actor and I said it is The Badshah of Bollywood (naa I didn’t get that dramatic) Mr. SRK and then he asked my favorite actor female. In that few milliseconds faces and names came rolled in my front of my eyes and in order not to breach public order/ decency and outraging my modesty (of whatever was left) on the operation table I said Alia Bhatt (Kapoor बोलना ज़रूरी तो नहीं है ना?).

The last thing I remember before I woke up on the other side of the surgery was him asking me to think of Alia Bhatt. I am still wondering whether the anesthetist had asked me to engage in emotional infidelity in order to achieve his professional goals?

Or maybe its the case of what happens on the Operation Theatre stays in the Operation Theatre!!

BTW I am all sorted now other than my cycling and trekking which is to be avoided I am up to anything you got to offer!!

UDAIPUR

Today marks the 19th and the final day of curfew in Udaipur. We have been living under a full and or a partial curfew ever since the brutal killing of Late Shri Kanhaiyalal ji. This dastardly act has and will forever remain a black spot on the otherwise peaceful and harmonious home town of mine.

Late Shri Kanyailal ji

Having lived thru the carnage brought about by ‘The Rath Yatra’ of LK Advani and the aftermath of demolition of The Babri Masjid, I can safely vouch that the recent distrust and discord amongst communities has no parallel in Udaipur’s history.

Early 1990’s we were at the cusp of the cable TV explosion. The nascent news channel industry bought the images live in our homes as we watched in horror the tearing away of the communal harmony of India. Even all thru the above Udaipur remained peaceful and if my memory doesn’t fail me there was hardly any untoward incident then and curfew imposed was more precautionary than anything else.

We the people of Mewar have an icon in Maharana Pratap whose trusted aide was Hakim Khan Suri. These were the people who defeated the mighty Mughal forces without making it communal. But does that even hold true anymore?

The Killer Terrorists

Last month’s incident and the unravelling of the conspiracy by the NIA have left me heartbroken. Within a span of 30 years we as a community have dipped deeper in the murky waters of communal hatred and blame game. The narrative has become about us and them, about two separate communities at logger heads with each other.

As a proud Hindu who believes in the idea of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means “The World Is One Family”, I have always been vocal in my opposition of hatred and venom spewing towards other communities in the name of my religion even at the expense of antagonizing some friends and family members.

I have always raised my voice of the religious persecution of the minorities but I am baffled by the silence of this very class when an innocent man was killed in the name of their religion. Otherwise super active social media timelines of the so called ‘modern liberal face’ went silent on their criticism of the killing. Their silence is doing more disservice to their cause then they can currently fathom.

As the poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar has once said:

गलत बातों को खामोशी से सुनना हामी भर लेना

बहुत हैं फायदे इसमें मगर अच्छा नहीं लगता

Isabel Wilkerson in her brilliant book – CASTE, The lies that Divide Us writes that in the summer of 2016 an unaccustomed heat wave struck the Siberian tundra resulting in  the children of the indigenous herdsmen fell sick from a mysterious illness that many people alive had never seen and did not recognize.

Russian authorities declared a state of emergency and began airlifting hundreds of the sickened herding people, the Nenets, to the nearest hospital in Salekhard. Scientists then identified what had afflicted the Siberian settlements. The aberrant heat had chiseled far deeper into the Russian permafrost than was normal and had exposed a toxin that had been encased since 1941, when the world was last at war. It was the pathogen anthrax.

A thawed and tainted carcass rose to the surface that summer, the pathogen awakened, intact and as powerful as it had ever been. The pathogen spores seeped into the grazing land and infected the reindeer and spread to the herders who raised and relied upon them. The anthrax, like the reactivation of the human pathogens of hatred and tribalism in this evolving century, had never died. It lay in wait, sleeping, until extreme circumstances brought it to the surface and back to life.

I just hope and pray to The Almighty that this deep-rooted hatred, bigotry remains confined in the deep permafrost where no fringe, political and religious leaders can reach and that the religious harmony, brotherhood and compassion act as an agent to permanently seal them away for good.

AMIT

“Those who choose differently must suffer the consequences. They must take the pain their decisions bring.”

Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue

The above quote is from the brilliant book that I had read years back – Cobalt Blue written by Sachin Kundalkar. It was originally written in Marathi which was then translated in English by Jerry Pinto.

The reason I am taking about this book because it was recently adapted for a movie by Netflix starring Prateik Babbar, Dr. Neelay Mehendale, Anjali Sivaraman, Neil Bhoopalam and Geetanjali Kulkarni amongst others.

The story is about a pair of brother-sister both whom fall in love with one man: their unnamed paying guest – A painter, a vagabond but most importantly someone whose loyalty lies only to himself. There is no betrayal but a genuine forged relationship that helps his lovers i.e. the brother and sister understand and face their inner truth and face their demons.

While watching this film I couldn’t help but go back to the character played by Prateik Babbar that of Amit in the 2008 rom-com Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na. Amit is a loner who always has a bone to pick with the boyfriend of his sister. He is an introvert with a quirky lifestyle having a mouse as a pet. Pratiek Babbar had received a special mention by the Filmfare Awards for acting in this film which was incidentally his debut performance too.

In the movie Cobalt Blue the unnamed paying guest is the sure-footed confident man with no family who moves from town to town on projects/visits. Prateik Babbar brilliantly essays both these roles seamlessly.

I strongly believe that if the character Amit from Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na had a story of its own then Cobalt Blue is perfect extension to that and helps us getting behind his motives and behavior.

I believe this is how the story of Amit goes …..

The reason he is a loner with a quirky lifestyle can be attributed to the fact he is still coming to terms with his sexuality. Over the next few years over numerous sexual interactions and failed relationships he finally comes to terms that he is someone who is attracted to both the genders and is a bisexual man. Having loved and lost he has a difficulty forging permanent relationships and always has an escape plan ready to move on, for fear of getting attached.

This very lifestyle takes him away from his immediate family, moving from one city to another monetizing his painting skills and doing customized job works. Hell bent on hiding his history and family behind a façade of fake narrative so as not to have a permanency and attachment to one place or person.

In Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na he wants nothing but the best for his sister and in Cobalt Blue he ensures that his lovers Tanay & Anuja are able to burn the bridges and move on to greater things in life. He helps them understand themselves thru him.

The story of Amit is something that is waiting to be remade as a series or a film. Amit is flawed character that is waiting to be heard and seen.

DEATH & GRIEF

Over the past two years the world has seen so much death and miniscule are those whose family has remained untouched by this pandemic. We all have lost a relative, a friend or even an acquaintance.

Alas life moves on for some and for some it comes to a complete halt with loss of one’s bearings but in either case what remains are the memories.

The moot question is how do we grieve?

George Bernard Shaw in The Doctor’s Dilemma: A Tragedy had said,

“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”

So when we laugh or smile, do we ever stop grieving or has it just been pushed aside for the time being?

Is grief quantifiable?

Is shedding tears a true barometer of one’s grief?

A cousin of mine visited a salon immediately after her father’s passing away, for her hair needed some touch-ups in order to look ‘decent’ for the condolence meeting. Did she stop mourning because of this or her grief any less?

Is grief directly proportional to emotional and financial needs?

How long do we grieve or what should be the mourning period?

Are those 13 days enough for one to stop mourning?

Do the dead keep living in our memories forever?

If yes then how long before it just remains a faded memory?

While we mourn the dead, do we forgive them too?

Personally for me each time I look back at some dead people, their evil deeds eclipses whatever good memories I may have had of them.

Nothing explains these questions better than the below mentioned three movies that deals with the topic of losing a family member and how each one reacts to it:

  • PAGLAIT

This is a film about a young widow who is indifferent to the death of her husband and unable to grieve on her loss. On the other hand are her in-laws who can’t get over the loss of their son and sole bread winner.

  • RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI

This one is about siblings arriving at their ancestral homes on the death of their father. Each one trying to ascertain their financial gains, supremacy and it’s the grieving mother who is left alone to decide her future and legacy.

  • KARKHANISANCHI WAARI

This one is a Marathi film about a family who undertake a road trip to bury the ashes of the family patriarch and the custodian of their family land. How each is on this trip for their own gains mostly financial while the wife of the patriarch gets no time to mourn as she soon realizes the patriarch has a mistress tucked away somewhere.

Each of these movies showcases death and mourning thru a typical Indian point of view wherein entire immediate and extended family huddle together to comfort the mourning family. But it’s also the time skeletons tumbles out of the closet, relationships redefined, some new ones forged and some old healed wounds scratched opened.

Dealing with death is never easy but it is always there, staring right across our faces – ALWAYS FOR EACH LIVING SECOND OF OUR LIFE.

SEX & GENDER

How times change and with it the things kids learn in school!!

The other day I was walking with my 12 years old son and he asked me the difference between SEX & GENDER? Luckily for me I knew the basic difference and the gaps were filled by him in broader terms. He knew these terms because as a 7th Grade student Sex & Gender studies are part of their curriculum and he learned about these terms that day itself.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CVvR2ndvWYx/?igshid=YmMyMTA2M2Y=

The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) released a new training manual for teachers recently. The training material describes concepts such as gender identity, gender incongruence, gender dysphoria, gender affirmation, heterosexuality, asexuality, bisexuality, among various others, in detail.

The training material also lists out a number of practical strategies for making schools sensitive and inclusive for transgender and gender non-conforming children.

I am glad the schools are open and willing to teach and talk about topics like sex, gender and stereotyping.

According to the medical website www.medicalnewstoday.com 

“Sex” refers to the physical differences between people who are male, female, or intersex . A person typically has their sex assigned at birth based on physiological characteristics, including their genitalia and chromosome composition. This assigned sex is called a person’s “natal sex.”

Gender, on the other hand, involves how a person identifies. Unlike natal sex, gender is not made up of binary forms. Instead, gender is a broad spectrum. A person may identify at any point within this spectrum or outside of it entirely.

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/232363

As a child of the nineties we lived in a world which was so different from today’s reality. The issues remained the same for a teen then and now but they were not taught and discussed this openly.

The children live in an era of information overload and as parents it becomes imperative that they are given the right tools to process this information.

Till not too long away I too was ignorant to these terms and found the terms he/him/his in some Instagram bio pretty amusing. Then I met a Gen Z, with whom I shared my amusement. As a vocal and woke Gen Z, I was given an immediate crash course on the new Gender Identifications.

And his recommendation led me to watch this amazing series called – Sex Education on NETFLIX. The characters face these questions with confusion, aplomb and denial. They use the terms that I was given a crash course of !!

Although the series is set in United Kingdom the feelings, angst and the confusion a young adult feel is the same everywhere. We are yet to reach their level of openness but at least the new curriculum is making that beginning and talking about it.

I am glad to see the change happening and hope our children grow up to become empathetic to the new normal.

Proud Congressman

मुझे भारतीय राष्ट्रीय कांग्रेस का सदस्य होने पर गर्व है.

मुझे गर्व है मैं उस दल से जुड़ा हुआ हूँ जिसने पंथनिरपेक्ष भारत की संरचना की.

मुझे गर्व है पार्टी के शीर्ष नेतृत्व पर जिन्होंने हार के बावजूद कभी अपने मूल सिधान्तों को नहीं छोड़ा.

आज के दौर में जहाँ शीर्ष नेतृत्व पर हार का आरोप जड़ना fashionable हो गया है. हम सब कांग्रेस जन को अपने अन्दर झांकर देखने की भी ज़रुरत है.

यह वक़्त है पार्टी को मंथन करने का इन निम्न बिन्दुओं पर:

  • कांग्रेस जन को एक तराजू में ना तोला जाए. समय है सच्चे और भितरघातियों में फरक करने का.
  • पार्टी के वफादार और नेता के वफादारों में फरक करना होगा.
  • ऐसे लोगों को चिन्हित करने का जिनकी पूरी राजनीती एक दुसरे को निपटाने में ही खप जाती है.
  • ऐसे सदस्यों को चिन्हित करने का जो चुनाव के वक़्त अपना कार्य क्षेत्र छोड़ कर ऐसे जगह लग जाते हैं जहाँ उनकी जान है ना पहचान.
  • सत्ता में भागीदारी चाहने वालों को सत्ता में पहुँचाने के लिए किये गए कार्यों का हिसाब देना होगा.
  • नेताओं को टिकेट वितरण से पहले कार्यकर्ताओं की भावना का ध्यान रखना होगा क्यूंकि ऊपर से थोपी गयी उम्मीदवारी कार्यकर्त्ता को हताश और मायूस कर देती है.
  • नेताओं को सुनिश्चित करना होगा की उनके अनुयायी पार्टी के अधिकारिक उम्मीदवार के लिए ही काम करें.
  • पार्टी की वजह से सत्ता सुख भोगते नेताओं को पार्टी का हित सर्वोपरी रखना होगा.

जब यह सब होगा तभी सच्चे कांग्रेसी अपने को ठगा महसूस न करेंगे और जी जान से काम करेंगे हमेशा के तरह.

जय हिन्द – जय कांग्रेस

दीपक सुखाड़िया

Save our Children

Just when we all were heaving a sigh of relief from the Covid Pandemic, the world is hit by another new variant of Corona Virus – OMICRON. According to reports this is more infectious and rapidly transmitted but the jury is still out on whether it is more fatal than the previous variant.

Luckily for the adult population of India most of us are vaccinated barring some morons who are still showing vaccine hesitancy through their warped logics. What is really worrying is the unvaccinated under 18 population of India which is approximately 75 million.

The only reason we were able to bring down corona cases, was the rapid vaccinations of 18+ after the second wave. If not been for the deadly and tragic second wave the Central Government would have gladly exported our share of the vaccines leaving us unprotected and dillydallied on the vaccination drive.

Look at the slow and absolute abysmal vaccination timeline in India:

  • 16th January 2021 – Frontline and health workers
  • 1st March 2021 – For all above 60 and for 45+ with co-morbidities.
  • 1st April 2021 –  45 +
  • 1st May 2021 – 18+

It has been 10 months since vaccination started in India but the government is still undecided for our children i.e. population below 18. They have lost out two precious years of their childhood away from schools and friends.  While some have returned to school there is always a danger to fall prey to this virus. As a paranoid over-protected parent of 12 year olds I am done with seeing my kids sitting at home and living a life in a bubble. There is no end in sight with this new variant.

World over countries have started vaccinating their children against Covid. How different are our children physiologically from them so as not to be vaccinated?

Why the over dependence on just two vaccines?

If countries can use other vaccines safely for over a year now, why and what is stopping us?

I urge and plead the government to fast track the approval of vaccines for the children and ताकि वोह अपना बचपन फिर से जी सकें !!

HOW DO YOU REMEMBER ME

I heard this pretty interesting quotes some time back which says ”There is a truth that is mine and one is yours and then there is a third one which is nobody’s truth!!” and taking this further “we are never villains in our own story.”

I write this because just a few days back I heard about ‘The reason which a friend of mine had told some mutual friends about us drifting apart. It made me wonder how different can two people see things: things that may be inconsequential to one may be the raison d’etre for another. Maybe he had reasons to believe what he believes and I had mine to disbelieve them.

We drifted apart but have been friends though, for I strongly believe in that in life one should never burn their bridges because one’s path will eventually lead you to that bridge that you destroyed. We seldom realize life isn’t too short but rather its toooo long and there are no escaping people , even the ones you abhor, hate and loved and lost especially living in a small town.

We save numbers, add people on FB and follow them on Instagram and the whole rigmarole of reversing this process is difficult. Un-following / Un-friending and blocking serves their purpose but to a point only. They pop-up on mutual friends timelines and then there is stalking which some of us are experts at. The need to stay updated is a strong motivating factor, isn’t ??

Letting go doesn’t happen and why should it?? What if we become friends again?? Do we ignore and look thru each other or do we acknowledge each other. I am the latter variety. The grudge, the hurt will remain forever but so shall my ability to be friendly and civil. Like I said  – NEVER BURN YOUR BRIDGES !!

Till the time I return to the path leading to that illusive bridge, all I want to remember are the good memories and the interesting time we shared and yes there will be exceptions: People and memories that I wish to completely obliterate from my memory and that is a special place reserved for few ultra villains/vamps in my life.

So till them we all become evil in each other’s versions of the truth, let’s remember us in those happy times and let that be our forever memory.

PICHHOLA KA DARD

प्रिय उदयपुरवासियों,

सदियों से मैं आपके इस फलते – फूलते शहर की साक्षी रहीं हूँ

मैं यहाँ तब भी थी जब मेवाड़ की राजधानी चित्तौड़गढ़ हुआ करती थी. पिछोली गांव के निकट मेरा निर्माण 14वीं शताब्दी में पीछू चिड़िमार बंजारे ने करवाया था और तत्पश्चात महाराणा उदयसिंह द्वितीय ने इस शहर की खोज के बाद मेरा विस्तार किया.

मेरे ही एक द्वीप में बने जगमंदिर में शहज़ादा खुर्रम ने अपने वालिद जहाँगीर से बगावत कर यहाँ 1623-1624 में  पनाह पायी थी, जो आगे चल कर मुग़ल सलतनत के बादशाह शाहजहाँ बने. 1769 में जब माधव राव सिंधिया ने शहर पर आक्रमण किया तब एकलिंग गढ़ की खाइयों में भरे मेरे ही पानी ने आप के पूर्वजों को मराठाओं से सुरक्षित रखा था.

मेरे चारों ओर शहर वासी बसते गए और अपने सुविधा अनुसार मेरा उपयोग और उपभोग करते रहे. मेरी अनेक घाट आपकी कई पीढ़ियों के काम आई इनमें से कुछ अब आपकी पहुँच से बहुत दूर जा चुकी हैं.

कालांतर में समय बदला, राज बदला और साथ आये नए कानून. परिवारों को अपने पुश्तैनी मकान में बढ़ते कुनबे को समाने की जदोजहद करनी पड़ी. एक कमरा या छोटा बदलाव न कर सके. कानून ने उनके हाथ बाँध दिए.

वैसे आज कल मेरे प्रति आप सब का प्रेम देख कर मन प्रफुल्लित हो जाता है. लेकिन फिर सोचती हूँ यह प्रेम तब क्यूँ न जागा जब पर्यटन के नाम पर मेरा दोहन किया गया. आलिशान होटलों का निर्माण कराया गया और व्यवासियों ने कमाई के लिए रोड से ना ले जाकर अपने अतिथियों को मेरे सीने को चीरते हुए अनेक नावें उतार दी. शांत रातों को विलासिता भरे अनेक जलसों की साक्षी आप और मैं भी रहीं हूँ. लेकिन आपका दर्द शायद तब इतना न झलक पाया.

मेरे नाम पर कईयों ने रोटी सेकी : किसी ने हाई कोर्ट में अपनों को बचने के लिए नवीन निर्माण को पुराना बता दिया तो किसी ने शुतुरमुर्ग की तरह अपना मुंह मेरी रेत में छिपा लिया. रसूख और रुतबे के आगे सब जायज़ हो गया जो न हो सका तो बस आम शहर वासी का झील किनारे अपने आशियाने का अपने ज़रूरत के हिसाब से विस्तार.

शिकायत तो मुझे आप से भी है !! मैंने न जाने आपकी कितनी गन्दगी अपने में समा ली है. पहले तो ठीक था लेकिन अब इस बढती आबादी की गन्दगी मेरे लिए साफ़ करना मेरे बस में नहीं.

आशा है की आप मेरे चारों और बसे मंदिरों में शाम की आरती की घंटियाँ सुन मेरे लिए भी एक छोटी सी प्रार्थना ज़रूर करेंगे.

आपकी,

पिछोला झील

Lost Generation

Just the other day I was inquiring about the well being of the family of our office help. Luckily for him and his family they remained unscathed by this recent Corona Wave. However as a father of 2 young boys aged three and five, he was worried in respect to their education. Online classes were something his kids were too young to attend on their own considering he and his wife were working parents and they lacked resources to buy smart phones for them.

What we are looking at is a Lost Generation!! Generations getting lost at both at the starting point as well at the end of the Indian School System.

This pandemic with it has not only bought death and illness but also unparalleled economic misery. Millions have lost their jobs, earnings and have been pushed to poverty. As per a World Bank study the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total rising to as many as 150 million by 2021.This has a direct bearing on the education of our children.

We are looking at a delay in admission in primary section by at least a year or two as not many parents can afford smart phones for their children for online classes. Even if they do, how many have the inclination and wherewithal to monitor their child’s progress? At such a weak base we are looking at children with issues in future.

Moreover for students who are aiming for a good college- these online classes and economic hardships for some will putting a spanner in their future plans. Getting admitted in college below a student’s potential for lack of affordability of coaching classes / Fees is going to reflect on their Job opportunities and economic status their entire life.

Then there is an entire section of children who have been stopped going to school for lack of funds, to supplement family income or even become breadwinners. Will it be ever possible to get them back to the education system??

There are no easy solutions and not a comfortable path forward. With an imminent third wave in future, this academic year too will be sacrificed at the altar of the pandemic. I just hope I am proved wrong in the future and the future of our children remained unscarred by COVID-19.