Friday, February 26, 2010

Battle-worn

He hated it when someone called it a “battle scar”. That little cut that framed his left temple; a landmark of significance on a listless countenance. It was the remarkable outcome of an unremarkable game of football when he was young. Kids played rough and there’s always a possibility of collateral damage. He stroked his collateral damage with his index finger as the cigarette in his hand burned away into oblivion. “How did you get it?”, asked the person next to him, half-expecting a story with angry mobs wielding sticks and sickles carving their displeasure into his face. He looked away, surveying the people surrounding him. All strangers, all expecting a story full of fists and fury, a story with rage against the system and an uncontrollable anger leading to nihilism. After all, no one came to an anger management session without a good story. Not a demolition man. Not one who'd have overseen destruction and hypothesized the consequences of it. Not one who would have had to bear the anger of all he so destroyed. His shoulders dropped some more and with an effort he raised himself to respond to the query. “Life did it”, responded the divorcee, reflecting on the demolitions he did that he never had signed up for.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

To India And Back

Back online baby! Between a three week India trip followed by an excruciatingly long and very stressful bout of illness for my one year old, time has flown. After a long time, I am finally sitting down to jot down some thoughts hoping that ‘normalcy’ is here to stay.

I was in India through the new year, taking my son for his first trip as a PIO card holder to the land of his ancestors. The time was spent in Mumbai to a rather comfortable spell of weather and dotted by some religious functions through that period; mostly aimed at getting my son blessed and tonsured and providing all we know with an opportunity to see him at one shot.

Here are some thoughts from the trip:
1. The change I observed in the previous India trip continues unabated. The construction of the metro rail seems to be in overdrive and there’s hardly any road left to drive on. I wonder if in a 100 years, the only way we travel will be layer upon layer upon layer. To add to the mix, the number of cars on the road have increased and larger models are on display now.
2. I employed the cool cab on several occasions and it was completely worth it. I like how they can be summoned so easily, have electronic meters and provide the comfort a long journey requires
3. There is no substitute for the support system that India provides. It became so obvious in the contrast that our return to the US accompanied by my son’s illness provided.
4. There are also distinct advantages in having kids exposed to more people. Everyone brings in a new way to stimulate/engage the kid and when you don’t have to do that duty 24/7 just by the two of you; you also get to spend some quality time with the kid in an energetic fashion.
5. The kid also gets so used to this. My son would occasionally look past me and my wife once we got back to Sammamish to see if someone else would show up.
6. Why people – just stepping out of the house provides super stimulation! How many times was my son taken out of the house for a small walk and he came back wide-eyed and energized. All he may have seen is a dog fight on the road.
7. Indian mosquitoes love American blood. That’s a tough thing to deal with.
8. My son learnt how to say bye-bye with a gentle yet continual wave of the hand. Turns out auto-rickshaw drivers are likely to stop for that action from a year old kid as well!
9. One of the key highlights of the trip was taking my son to Rock Beach – one of MY favorite places. A connection has been established.
10. You realize you have just climbed down the priority order for your parents once they have a grandchild! Boy, what would I give to be the center of attraction like that. Highlight of the trip was seeing the joy that the great-grandparents experienced. The four generation photo with me, my son, my Dad and my grand-dad will be something I will always cherish.
11. An airplane trip to India with an infant is a scary and tiring proposition. Thankfully, it turned out to be much easier than my paranoia had projected. Can’t blame all those tired frustrated kids; being strapped to their seats for such long periods of time.
12. The Bandra-Worli sealink looked good; from a distance. I need to travel on it the next time I go to India.
13. Indian news channels still continue to exhibit a lot of trash. Indian TV has now gone the rural route – when it comes to the theme for television serials.
14. Someone gift me a dictionary to understand the SMS lingo of this generation.
15. You know you haven’t been to India in a while when your loved ones gift you a shirt that would have fit you two years ago, but is significantly smaller now.
16. When men of my age put on weight; the number of compliments you get for ‘looking good’ will surprise you. I must be fitting the image of a ‘prosperous’ Gujju guy heading towards his middle-age.
17. I was very happy to see the focus on fitness in India. Specifically, the coverage for the Mumbai marathon that was going to happen just after my trip. Conversely, there were also a lot of ads for ‘managing’ the weight through medication, surgery etc. (ala USA)
18. Reading the newspaper; the actual newspaper is such a joy. If only I had the time when in Sammamish ….
19. The international airport in Mumbai has been transformed quite well. Very impressed by the quality of the place and the maintenance of it as well.
20. Not so amusing was the custom guy hauling me up because he did not know what a tripod does!
21. You have no idea how much advantage having children can give you when it comes to queues at the airport. We came back from Amsterdam which was just recovering from the Detroit terrorist incident a day before and had huge queues for security check just before boarding. Have a kid? Breeze right through!

That’s that for now. Hopefully, normal services on this blog will resume soon.