Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Conversation

"Have you thought about organ donation?", he asked, after searching for topics to discuss. Its been almost a year since they were married. An ordinary couple.

"Not really, but where did that come from suddenly?", she replied. Aware that the subject, like many others, would have come to his mind before.

"Just making conversation. One of the topics that interests me. I have been hearing some ads on the radio encouraging it.", shifting the gear up as they enter the highway.

"I don't know... have you thought about it?", taking more interest. In their busy schedule, they rarely get time to discuss matters that are not really important. Things that she picks up during the day, making a mental note to talk about it later when they are together and have the time. She makes another note to write them down in the future.

"Not seriously, but yes. People don't really need the organs once they die. If it makes someone's life better, its a good thing to donate. What the.... Did you see at what speed he went by? I bet he won't have anything worth donating if he crashes,"

"That maybe one of your school buddies going to the same wedding reception as we."

"Probably. Its not everyday that people get to drive their cars at double digit speeds for a continuous 5 minutes. Another advantage of keeping the reception at the outskirts" noticing that smile on her face. Its different from the smile she has on other occasions. All her work left behind and a long weekend ahead, this one is a rare combination of happiness and peace, something we all pray for and there it is. Just like that.

"I agree", getting back to the topic. "It is a good thing to donate. Imagine someone who is blind gets vision one day. They get to see how their parents and siblings look like, how their food looks like. How they look like"

"How flowers look as good as they smell." he adds. "How the sun looks as warm as it feels."

"Or if someone gets a new heart, the load that would get off their minds. How their family would rejoice?" Her imagination getting her high

"They can start worrying about the next Speilberg movie or the latest government scam instead of their next heart attack and raising medical bills", suddenly that sales target and raising fuel prices seem silly to him.

"The donors would never be forgotten. They would be seen as Gods by these people"

"All that for giving away something you won't be needing. Initially there was that reservation about donating eyes that the donor would not have eyes during the funeral. But i hear that nowadays they replace them with dummy eyes or something so that they won't notice the difference", Adding another reason to donate.

"Yeah, I've heard that too. But then they also say that the success rate is very low. The probability that a donor's eye, heart or kidney would end up being used is very less. The probability of a successful transplant and a healthy life for the patient is even lesser."

"Oh yes. When dad had been to the doctor for his liver problem, the doctor was expressing his sympathy for his liver transplant patients who even after very rarely successful transplants, live like patients who are in constant danger of fatal infections."

"And its the same case with blood donations. The probability of someone's donated blood being useful is very less."

"But I still feel its worth it. Its like our reservation system. The chances of a worthy candidate getting the appropriate aid may be very less, but i say hundred donations are worth it even if it gives at least one person and his family a better future." Bringing the car to a halt in front of the hotel lobby, "pick up the gift from the back seat, would you?"

"Ok. Hey! is my hair ok?" she enquired, adjusting the sides a bit.

He peeps back in, "You look gorgeous honey" with a smile, before turning to the valet boy.

The couple proceed to the reception, have a great time and a sumptuous meal, and drive back home. This time a new subject, something to do with her colleague who joined another company few years back and now came back to the old company as boss to someone who was his boss before he left.

The topic of organ donation may come up again as something less important or may never come up again. Is it the fear of committing to something that isn't really in our hands? We don't know when, where or how we'll die.

Or is it the belief that there is still time left? A feeling that we are not destined to die so early, or god loves us and our family too much to put us through the pain, or there are so many things left to do that we just can't afford to, or don't have the time to die. When you see those accidents on the road, have you wondered what that person was planning in his life? What was he planning to do that weekend? How many parallel futures of people related to him were disturbed and in some cases destroyed?

Or is it the hesitation to think about one's death? Maybe the thought sets in motion a chain of other thoughts that relate to our death. Like our will, or our bucket list, or something that we want to achieve in our lives, or some mistake that we want to correct before we leave the world, or the fate and future of our families when we are gone. No. We can't die now. Not possible. Or is it?

"No matter how rich you become, how famous or powerful, when you die, the size of your funeral will still pretty much depend on the weather." - Micheal Pritchard

Friday, September 7, 2012

3 is greater than 2

A common problem with people when they drink is that they want everyone within a 4.79 meter radius of them to drink too. If you happen to be in such company and are not the drinking types, then be prepared for a 10 minute lecture on the health benefits of drinking alcohol followed by a 5 minute brief on how it relaxes the body mind and soul. To check if you understood the concept, the offer to drink would be extended to you every 5 minutes in between other discussions till they are in their senses. Once they start loosing that, you'll be tried in the court of law for the crime of not drinking and making them look like irresponsible citizens.

So this time, i gave in at the fifth minute. A beer and a few burps seemed like a more energy saving option. We were in a hotel room, 11 PM, the three of us, after a very very long day. There are some trips that you can never forget in your life because of certain incidents that happened. May be an accident, or a close escape, or getting into trouble with the cops, or sharing the passenger seat with your crush who friendzoned you at the end of the trip. There were no such incidents in this trip but i can never forget this one.

I live in Chennai and the other two (Nikhil and Sagar) live in Bangalore. We had planned this one for a few weeks. To meet at Bangalore and then go somewhere and do something fun. I started in the Innova, early on a saturday morning. The plan was to reach Bangalore, pick up the guys and head out to Sangam (a place where 2 rivers meet) and Barachukki falls which were around 150 Kms from Bangalore and about 40 Kms apart, and reach back to Bangalore. I picked up Nikhil at around 1 and he started listing out reasons why we should be sitting in a cinema hall and follow it up with a burger instead of starting out so late without planning any accommodation blah blah blah. Sagar was out with his cousin who had come to Bangalore, so he was out. Its a wonder how relatives manage to fly in at such crucial times. However, the trip was called off, almost. I didn't drive all the way to Bangalore on a weekend to pay for weekend premium tickets to watch some movie sad enough to be still selling tickets. So I talked Sagar into ditching his cousin. Nikhil didn't need convincing, i was driving. Change of plans. Pick up Sagar and spare clothes, drive to Sangam, pass time, drive to Barachukki, have fun, sleep in the car, wake up, drive back.

Again, i would like to mention that there was nothing crazy in this trip. It did not remind us of "Zindagi naa Milegi dobara", although we did take a few pics based on the movie poster. You could call it a "Dil chahtha hai" type of trip, minus the mercedes, and the beach, and the girls, and the boat. Anyways, there was one factor that was common in these movies and our trip, we were 3. Its a magical number. Less than 3 and there is only one conversation in which you necessarily have to participate. More than 3 and there will be multiple conversations and you are left out. When there are 3, there is still only one conversation, but you have a choice to participate. You can doze off and wake up to some keyword and join the conversation again. You are never left out and there is always a conversation in progress.

The trip was never planned to be great. Just 3 professionals taking a peaceful break from the routine weekend. But everything seemed to go our way. The weather was just fantastic, the roads and routes just perfect, safe fun in the river, playing Jhonty Rhodes in waist deep water, found a very decent place to stay the night (enter alcohol), woke up early on sunday (that is a great achievement in such a group), took a boat close enough to the waterfall to touch the water, got wet in a smaller waterfall, some very memorable pics, and the drive back to Bangalore to have tandoori for lunch.

There were these moments in between, like when i was lying in the rear seat with my feet hanging out the window, and using the window as a sunroof, singing some classic songs together, discussing non sense. At these moments there is a feeling of real satisfaction with life. Weekends like these make the troubles of the other days worth it. I forget my boss, my dad's expression when i said i'm taking the car to Bangalore, that cool new laptop which is on my wishlist for sometime, everything is gone. There are no regrets, life suddenly seems perfect. I wish this weekend never ends but i don't regret the fact that it will. I'm ready to face the world. I've recharged myself.

We always plan trips, most of the time they don't happen, other times they don't go according to plan. This was one trip where we got exactly what we wanted, a memorable break. A weekend to cherish, photos to upload, and a story to tell. There cannot be another one like it, but we still wish.........

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Close My Eyes

"You never call me. Actually, no one calls me. Even if they do, they wanna talk to your grandfather, not me.", My  grandmother complained with tears in her eyes. She was wearing this night gown that my mom had bought during our last visit, after searching a lot. People of her size (10-12 yr olds) prefer frocks and night dress (shirt and pant). She is so tiny that you feel like Goliath sitting next to her. I had gone to visit her and grandpa in Kerala after my wedding to show them the lucky girl, since they could not make it to the wedding in Chennai due to their delicate physical condition. These are my Mom's parents, aged around 90 years. My Dad's father passed away many years ago while grandma visits frequently. She's fit enough to travel, although not comfortably.

My grandparents have their separate room. They live in the family home, taken care of by one of their sons and his family. One of 10 children that this fragile being managed to give birth to. Their room has no fan since it causes discomfort to both of them. I have no memory of my grandmother being anything close to good health. She's always been weak and tired. Grandpa is quite different. Until a few years ago, my grandfather was exceptionally healthy and fit. He used to carry out a vast range of house hold chores. And house hold chores in Kerala is a whole different ball game. It includes milking and feeding the cows and clearing their stable, churning rubber and making compressed sheets after extracting the fluid from the trees and plucking fruits and vegetables from the surrounding trees whenever one of their children decides to visit them. He had a very healthy set of teeth and never wore a piece of footwear in his lifetime. The only physical issue he had was that his hearing was low. We had to speak a bit louder for him to listen, which was never really a problem. I think old age got to him at the end. He grew weaker and slower. His visits to the rubber dealer were replaced by the visits to the hospital. Now, he barely manages to go to the church across the street on Sundays. The church that was built on his major contribution of time and money. It pains to see these people of such magnificent strength and character, now reduced to mere humans struggling to get through the rest of their lives. Every activity, from waking up in the morning to breathing throughout the day takes so much struggle that you wish from deep inside, if there was anything you can do to release them from their suffering. All these thoughts run through my mind as soon as i enter the room and find both of them awake on their separate beds breathing heavily interrupted by groans of pain. But the moment they see us, and start talking, the mood changes.

I asked this tiny creature how she found my girl for which she replied that she's perfect for me, with the most genuine smile that you can imagine. Grandpa was a bit critical when he said, "She's nice. There are a few defects but thats natural. She's a fine girl". When i asked him what defects he saw, he said that he would disclose that to anyone but me. Over the years I've got to hear a very few words from my grandpa but they have had more meaning and wit to it than i can contemplate. My grandparents are a funny lot. Even at her age, we can afford to make fun of grandma, about her tiny outline and her huge asthma inhaler, and she would laugh along with us with a few coughs in between. A few more minutes with them and you realize that they have accepted their life the way it is. They complain of the pain and discomfort and silently pray for it to subside. I hear them, see their suffering, feel their fragile hands, and i close my eyes. I close my eyes to their suffering. I try to forget their pain and converse normally. To avoid complaints and dwell in jokes. They play along. Because they know that I cannot give them any physical comfort. Its our presence that they long for more. To talk to them, laugh with them, show some love and care, call them. I had decided to call them every month to start with. Been 2 months and i haven't called them yet. Grandma was hospitalized soon after our visit and then brought back home. Mom says its difficult for her to talk over phone now. I know what i should do, but i close my eyes. I close my eyes to the simplest of their heart's desires. I give my reasons for not doing it, but can't manage to convince myself. When i can do so much good, with so less effort. Sin is not always something we do, it can be something we don't.

Before leaving, my grandfather advised my wife, "Never do everything that your husband wants, understand his parent's needs and you will have a happy family". My mother recounts that he said the exact same words when he married her off to my Dad. (A love story that i have saved for later)

Monday, March 5, 2012


All my friends, who are getting married this year are broadly classified into two categories. a) Ones getting married before me, b) Ones getting married after me.

But seriously, whats with all the weddings? School friends, college mates, colleagues, acquaintances, family friends. Wedding bells everywhere, every week. I don't see any weekend in the near future where I've to eat home made food. And there is variety too, hindu marriages, muslim weddings, christian weddings, arrange marriages, love marriages, even register"ed" marriages. I suppose the rumor, about the world ending in 2012 is having its effects, or is it something like the Arab springs where one wedding gives a signal for the others in the group that its time. I think I'm part of that generation which is in the "find a partner" stage. Most of us, who couldn't get into top universities in and out of the country after graduation and are too cozy in the current job to think of a shift, are now moving in to the next phase of life. The settled life. But can life ever be "settled"?

In fact, everything is unsettled even before the wedding. Your routine, diet, dressing, music playlists, everything goes for a toss. Even mobile bills are unsettled. Literally. Its not only you, people around you are unsettled. All of a sudden there is this special interest by family members in how much you eat, what you wear, length of your hair. Some people say you look fat, some people say you look slim. Few people suggest the parlor, others suggest the gym. Notice the rhyming there??? Even friends and colleagues are in on the fun. The bachelors look at you with pity and the married look at you with a grin. Every smile, every mistake, every success, every comment, every mis step is inevitably force linked to your partner, which is not completely untrue.

The engagement marks the beginning of this unsettlement. It starts with the engagement dress. All this time you would have come across so many suits that look so damn great, but when you go out to get one, they all seem to be hidden or sold the day before you started out. The number of people coming with you for shopping makes all the difference. If you ask me, 3-5 is the best number, including yourself. Less than that, you'll end up getting something that only you and your spouse (if she is sweet enough) would like. More than that and you will end up losing time and patience and finally get something that you'll start to hate even before you bill it. After all that, if you manage to get something you like, Dad says its too unorthodox, Mom says it doesn't suit the skin color, Grandma doesn't like the tie, you end up hating your own face. (especially in my case due to some last minute skin treatments). After this, the wedding preparations begin. Here, you start to appreciate the Indian government and the way they are able to pass bills in the parliament or make decisions, whereas a family of single digit members find it difficult to select a wedding card.

But something that shines through all this is the genuine happiness and enthusiasm of all family and friends. New family members, new friends, more treats, friendly comments, wedding purchases, more wedding purchases, printing invitations, family photos, travel plans, leave applications and more wedding purchases. Every one is excited and its contagious. As the wait nears its end, everything seems perfect. The pink tie, the bad make up, the font on the wedding card, the stage, the rings. This period of happiness and joy gives hope for better times ahead. Great times, filled with love and companionship. To share this ordinary life with someone extraordinary.

 Some days are long, some days are short,
Most days i dream... (dot dot dot)