Thursday, July 16, 2009


I was waiting in a hotel lobby for Anando, leafing through a magazine. At each 'ping' announcing a lift's arrival, I would look up to see if it was him. A lift arrived. 'Ping'. A man stepped into the lobby, looking a little bewildered, a heavy laptop bag weighing his left shoulder down. He was dressed in a t-shirt and baggy jeans. His head swiveled this way and that, not sure which way he was meant to turn. At that crucial, absent-minded moment, a voice warned him, "Sir, your zip...". The poor man wildly reached for the fly of his jeans, starting to raise the hem of his t-shirt, when the Good Samaritan added, "on your bag."

For the next few seconds I had to bury my nose in the magazine as I stifled my giggles.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


After my last post, I had hoped to write something more cheerful. Of course, I had also hoped to blog sooner than I eventually have. But this one is sad too.

She used to make us the most amazing idlis. With this awesome chutney which would just drape itself all over the idlis and the shining stainless steel boxes in which she carried them to the office. And all of us would descend on the box, devouring huge quantities and licking it clean before washing it and handing it back with a big smile, already asking for the next installment. When I had stayed long enough in the company and she thought I was important enough, I would sometimes get an entire box to myself.

Her spellings were terrible, and when she typed letters on our behalf we had to be careful to avoid hilarious bloopers. The day we received emails from TS full of spelling mistakes, we knew she was filling in for his regular secretary, and would call her to warn her before he realized his carefully dictated mails were full of embarrassing errors.

She had a clear plan for the future. Her only child was 25. She and her husband would arrange his wedding, and then move back from Delhi to Kerala and live a retired life.

This was 3 years ago. She came for my wedding. I left Delhi, but very occasionally I would call and speak to her. We spoke after TS passed away. And now I heard that she lost her husband all of a sudden. They still hadn’t moved back to Kerala. They still haven’t married off their son.

At a time in my life when I am anticipating with excitement our return to India from Dubai, a home of our own in Bombay, and a new set-up in a familiar city, I wonder how it feels when dreams are denied. Not deferred, but lost forever because the other half dreaming them with you is gone. I’m waiting for Thankam to return to Delhi so that I can call her. But I don’t know what to say.

Update: I found out later that Thankam's son had got married earlier this year and her husband was well and present at the wedding. I also got around to calling her. And after a little awkwardness and consoling, she turned the tables on me in Thankam fashion, reminding me I'd been married almost 3 years now, where was the "good news" and listed all the others who were ahead of me in that race! The conversation ended with laughter, and that's the best way, always, to hang up!