Wednesday, December 05, 2012


We relocated from Gurgaon to Pune in June, 2012. Our son remained in Gurgaon where he was to shift to another flat. After some looking around, we settled on Aadhunik Packers And Movers Pvt. Ltd.

We had to set off for Pune earlier than my son was to move and so we were out of the picture when the men from Adhunik came to our Gurgaon rented flat. They came late in the evening when it was not convenient for my son and, at our end, they similarly arrived at an ungodly hour.

My husband was busy with a workshop when they phoned one morning that they were reaching Pune-from then on we were running hither and thither to their phone calls and they finally arrived much after dark. "They" turned out to be a small group of very tired young men huddled in a poorly covered small van-it broke our hearts to watch them haul the heavy packages up the stairs and so we were in no mood to berate them (much)-I did blow my top when they would not unload without a payment but it was dark and all of us were sorely tired and wished to wrap up things-this seems to be the strategy: do the packing and moving after dark when it is not convenient to the client and when no one is likely to create a fuss or do anything about it if damage is found.

As it so transpired we could only move into the flat we have rented in Pune end of August and so we were unable to verify the extent of damage. But we found many cartons sodden with water.

Adhunik's men had packed and sent to Pune many articles that had to remain with my son including the TV-which is effectively totalled during transit.

It was only end of August that we found that there was more damage than just piles of wet clothes: all the furniture is damaged. The TV is not functioning.

As we were embarrassed to ask our son about many items which were missing lest he had decided to keep them, we only discovered how many things were missing when our son visited us this month.
Among the losses: expensive bottles of perfume, a wall hanging from Myanmar, large glass jars...Many kitchen utensils, etc.

I hope this blog entry will save others from falling into the snare of this unscrupulous company.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Draupadi, Polyandry, and a Palace of Illusions

I have never been too greatly disturbed by the moral/ethical issues of Indian Mythology. Perhaps because I was not brought up in a strict framework of religious life or too many rituals. Yet the major Indian epics, regarded by many as Holy Books, contain many examples of hair splitting where ethics are concerned. And, maybe more stridently post-colonialism, we are made aware that, possibly, these tales laid the ground for what we perceive as the degraded condition of Indian women, for one thing and among others. Examples of such mind sets abound and such exercises are greatly applauded.

Mark, for example, we are exhorted, how Rama, one of the foremost icons of Hinduism, treats the woman he loves. And, proceed these spoilsports, what about Draupadi? 

Rama fought a mighty battle to wrench his beloved wife, Sita, from the arms of the captor only to cast her away from him forever on the basis of a poisonous murmur: can a woman remain chaste who has been another's captive for so long? 

And even before this heart wrenching betrayal, she is made to walk through fire to prove her chastity. 

Well, these do not disturb me for two reasons.

Firstly, it is a tale - a grand story of love. The best love stories seldom end well. And this tragic twist fits well into the machinations that go into concocting an ageless legend.

Secondly, Rama, as ruler, has no right to a private life. The demands of the people must come before the desires of his heart. Keeping as consort a woman, whom the public views askance, lowers his credibility as ruler. 

Few truly great people have had exemplary family lives and we lose respect for many in power who use their positions to placate family members.

Now, as for Draupadi, I'm in no way pulled into the issue as the only way it has been presented to me is thus: her having five husbands!

Why is polyandry so distressing to some, to many, in fact, to more than those disturbed by polygamy?

I should think that a woman is a more complex psychological and biological being than a man and that, therefore, it would take at least five partners to meet the many aspects of her personality: one who is a good provider, one who is humorous, one who is sensitive, one who is dashing, and one who is in tune with her spiritual side, for example.

To my father, the tale was a symbolism of the Mind and the Five Senses.

Be that as it may, I look forwards to reviewing how the tale of this Princess with Five Husbands is dealt with in the Palace of Illusions.

I'm doubly drawn to this novel as I have often, even very recently, been enchanted by that marvellous palace of the Pandavas.  

Mighty stories like the Mahabharata are like palaces of illusions. They reflect you. If you have a paucity of mind you will see only so much. If your mind is richer you will see more. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Lohari Tale

For many months now I have neither indulged in a good workout indoors nor taken my exhilarating “Urban Warrior Walks”.

The effects tell: flabby tummy and low spirits.

Today, I made a spur of the moment decision. I asked my husband to drop me on his way to work at a point from which it would take me about an hour to get home.

This is an account of that walk.

I started at about 10 a.m. 

Yesterday morning I re-assumed a more focused insertion of mediation into daily life by sitting facing the photo of the lady with whom I feel comfortable about sharing everything. I did a form of Maitri meditation: starting with my dearest ones and proceeding with all relatives and in-laws and friends, I wished them well (May they be well and happy and prosperous and surrounded by goodwill at all times). 

Today I condensed it by taking this wish and the list of people and offering it to Her. I also proceeded to spread this desire for Happiness, Health and Abundance to larger groups, to beings seen and unseen, objects animate and inanimate.

As this routine was completed I began to take photos of the small roadside commercial enterprises.

The first such as I began my walk sold melons and tender coconuts. The sellers lounged and observed me with lazy curiosity.

These screens are used to shelter rooms from the oncoming brutal Delhi summer heat. 

A part of me wanted to meander off the main road into the mud paths and maybe even into the pathless urban wilderness but I had spotted a small group of tents on the roadside as we drove to my starting point and I wished to interact with these “gypsies”.

Throughout my years in Delhi and particularly since we moved to Gurgaon, I have observed these families who pitch tent by the roadside. They used to be mainly engaged in some sort of metal work: implements of various kinds. Wooden rope cots, some mattresses or quilts, hookahs, women in very exotic garments, grubby children playing amidst urban rubbish, sometimes a goat or two tethered to a post-who are they, I wondered?

Some of the shots of small roadside vendors that I took have not come out well-they were basically a cigarette seller and a shack selling wooden boards. A mother dog and her pups crossed my path as I approached the tent dwellings.

The first tent had a surly couple who wanted money for my taking photos.

At the second there was the invitation to write their story.

The lady strikes a deep chord in me: she and I are not so different and she knows it. Her husband, like mine, looks younger. She sits like a queen and after the children move into the picture she rises and begins the day’s work, hauling a cot to one side, pounding dried red chilies in a stone mortar with a wooden pestle.

The man says they used to live in the land Chittorgarh when Maharajah Pratap Singh ruled. When there was a war with the invading Muslims, their people got dispersed, moving from place to place, working with metal: loharis.

There is distraction from the young lady and when I turn, the father has gone.

The girl says she does not want to get married. No, no one will get her married off against her will. She looks prettily lazy like any young Indian girl of any other social strata. She says they have moved 4 times that she can remember. She says she gets ill when they move. But there is no suffering on her face. They have an enclosed space for bathing I am told but to answer nature’s call there are the bushes. The girls do not seem overly distressed at that. 

Soon I am ready to move on and pay my respects to the mother. “Stay for lunch”, she says. I reply that much work awaits me at home and I walk on.

And then there is Darshan of the Lord. Even so had they tied you, Baby God, and You pulled the tree out by its roots! I laugh and say this and a young man also laughs with me (the child’s father?).

And then I pass the man who grazes the buffaloes and enter the park. Spring is fast drying up into summer but some flowers linger. 

The park is peaceful. A young man sits on a bench munching something out of a paper packet. Like most young men that I pass, he is listening to music through earphones.

These brothers are enjoying a snack.

The park swings are fully and joyously used by the families of labourers building palatial homes in the neighbourhood.

My one hour walk has left me with inner strength, a place of peace in the clamour within and a nice flow of energy through the body.  

But maybe I should re-visit the Loharis and learn their story more fully?