Hindi… and the Apple Airpods…

Friday, September 16, 2016

“I speak Hindi… I am a Muslim…”

Raaja was born in Tumkur and had migrated to Bengaluru for a better living when he was 16… and somebody who gets into Bengaluru and lives in the city for more than 364 days gets indoctrinated into Telugu, Tamil and Kannada… in that order… and celebrates Onam for Austerity…

PS. For celebrating Onam, you do not, fortunately, need to talk in Malayalam…

Assumimg Raaja to be a true Bengalurian, I attempted my own skills in all the 3 Bengaluru languages with him… Raaja did not bat an eyelid when he told me about his religious faith… and wonderfully so woven with his linguistic leanings…

I am glad he did not say, “I speak Urdu… because I am Muslim”

Because I am from Delhi… I TALK in Hindi… I LOVE in Urdu… and I DRIVE in Punjabi… and I know the difference between the 3…

Languages are stainless steel utensils for all reflections of my Emotional State… visibly convex from outside, and a concealed concave from inside of me… and at 45 years of my life, for the first time, I heard somebody connect a language to a religion… unless I have been outright naïve or straight up stupid at the same time in those 4 decades and a half to have missed any seminal connect between religion and language…

Until about 3 years ago… when I was on the road on my way from Bengaluru to Coorg on a family vacation… Raaja was our driver…

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My car has a sunroof… not the one Raaja was driving that day in Bengaluru… but the one that I drive everyday… I paid extra euros for this sunroof…

Because in the fabulous sunny weather that we have in Mumbai in those two seasons called ‘Hot’ and ‘Hotter’… the sunroof adds as a jazzed addition to all those features that are not available in my car in India… for a price that is double that I pay in India… for the same car that costs half in Germany… and has double the features in Germany…

Now, actually… the car is not the contention… the sunroof is…

A sunroof sounds so sexy in Europe… when you can put a brick on the Accelerator… have your foot on the steering wheel… and stick your neck out of the sunroof… breathe in the fresh green air and clear out your lungs… whenever you can get the sun on your face… in a sun depraved Europe…

It feels good…

And in Mumbai…

You slide the sunroof back… first signs of hot air… gets humid after 20 seconds… a heady mix of air if you still got your AC on… the humid air brings with it the smells of the city… chemicals in Wadala… Hydrogen Sulphide in Malad… garbage dump in Govandi… and stale rotten crap in most other parts of the city…

And bob your head up, as Kavya – my daughter does very often… until that last time a year ago, when the wind and the smells took off her ear drops – the precious little pieces of jewellery that she wears… they just dropped… er… flew away, with the wind… off the sunroof…

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And for the last 19 years ever since Jobs (Steve) found his way back into Apple and said… “The Products suck… there is no Sex in them”…

More so, for the last 9, ever since the first iPhone made its way out of Apple Inc. (which until then was Apple Computer Inc.)…

More specifically so, every couple of years the phone goes back to the wash area… some of my friends go into a frenzy…

I don’t know what they earn or where they squeeze… but my friends invariably seem to have a disposable 50 odd thousand rupees in small change for the “newer”, “whiter washed” version of Rin… er… iPhone…

My friends would tell me of the amazing newer features, added with each newer version… like – you don’t have a physical keyboard on this phone – you can really see your buttered fingerprints on the glass and preserve them for forensics… the glass surface cannot really break – unless you drop it on the grass… it streams videos much faster than all the other phones put together – irrespective of the networks and their speeds which are a legend since we know networks in India…

And finally – wonder of wonders – you can really talk on this newer version of the iPhone… the 7.0… and this time your dialogue may not just be with your friends and dear ones… but also with Siri… the program that works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator in Apple iOS…

While this is not to eulogise the Cupertino Cupids that keep striking the frenzied Apple fans with an alarming alacrity every year or so… this time, I guess they have really ruffled the fashion world…

After all… Apple is a Fashion Brand… Period… 

And Airpods are the Sex Sticks that promise to Rock your ears…

With the watch, Apple had brought computing on to my skin… and with the wireless pods, it attempts to get closer to my mind… well, quite close…

Finally… the 100 plus year old technology of hi-fidelity sound goes wi-fidelity… puts a host of audiophiles to rant about the jack going away…

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And since this has happened… here’s the double trouble… call it disruption, if you will…

One – Kavya cannot be wearing the Apple Airpods when she bobs her head up from the sunroof… lest the wind blows them off…!

Two – Raaja cannot be a part of the newest revolution by Apple… Siri can’t talk in Hindi… not yet… with Airpods, or otherwise…

You see, Siri is not Muslim…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

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WhatsAppSolutely…

Friday, September 09, 2016

I am a part of 13 WhatsApp groups… of varied sizes, norms, social, cultural and a general worldly orientation…

3 groups I am willingly a part of… and another 10, where I have been ‘volunteered’ to be a part… incidentally, as Social Media matures… I discover both come with abundant grain, grudge and granted responsibility…

From my WhatsApp existence in a Chemical State… I am a WHATSAPP-SOLUTE in those 10 groups where I have been ‘added’ as a part… I am expected to contribute to the emancipation and upheaval of humankind… and bring the native intelligence once in a prescribed while, so that I am relevant to the group…

And in the 3 groups where I am in, out of my volition… I am a WHATSAPP-SOLVENT… a bigger responsibility than the Solute… as here, I am not only expected to bring in the content, but create the content myself (largely)… and ensure that the content that others bring in, is of a palatable and digestible variety… and… in a normal existence, does not harm any mortal, biological structures like the mind, body and the soul…

And both the Solute and the Solvent states often cause some momentous misgivings… WhatsAppSolutely… 

——————–

“Ravi… add Sumit to the group please… he is Amit’s brother”…

I get a ping in the middle of an office meeting last week… this is one of my many granted responsibilities as a Group Administrator… the Solvent role of mine… to add newer members to the Group…

For the last many years that I have lived in this chemical state… I have often meditated about my meaningfulness to my WhatsApp groups… more so at those times when the group size is about to increase… and that happens every time a ‘Homogenous’ Group – say, my alumni from my scholastic institutions… or my professional affiliations… or work / hobby interest groups… or simply put, all my cousins who did not exist before I was ‘WhatsApped’… over time, becomes amorphously ‘Heterogenous’…

And that day… in the middle of this very important 8th meeting in the middle of another ‘meetingful’ day…

I wonder “Who the f*** is Amit in the group…?”

Is it Amit Khanna… or Amitava Dasgupta… or Amith Nair… or Amitabh Iyengar…?

For the Gen Xer in me… the world is full of possibilities when it comes to the names of friends that I grew up with… and someone like me who has grown up in a more cosmopolitan Delhi, where Punjabi is the preferred behavioural language… I discarded the Dasgupta, the Nair and the Iyengar possibilities immediately… my Unconscious Bias, if you will…

Trust me… logically…

  • Amitava Dasgupta cannot possibly have a Sumitava – as his brother… I haven’t heard that before…
  • Amith Nair’s father, I know, had gone over to Saudi with a gleam and glint of petrodollars when Amith was just about a year old… so, the possibility of a brother was quite ruled out…
  • Amitabh Iyengar, a recent addition to the group and a cousin of one of my childhood sweethearts… is an ‘outlier sample’ in an otherwise densely populated ‘Krishnamacharis’ and  ”Ananthakrishnans’ of the ‘Iyengar World’… come on… how can you be an Amitabh Iyengar… till, of course, Amitabh told me of the secret fascination his mother had for the angry young man (the Bachchan himself)… around the time when Amitabh (the Iyengar) was born… so, for the outlawed nomenclature that Amitabh is… I am sure the Iyengar clan would have thrown up a grumpish ire, if at all there were a possibility of a Sumitabh…

I added Sumit nevertheless… indeed he is Amit Khanna’s brother… I had added Amit last month… I had learnt Amit is called ‘Sonu’ at home… so it left me with no imagination that Sumit is the ‘Monu’ of the house…

——————–

I have many Solutes in my groups… some of my misgivings are when they live up to the labels and characteristics for which they are world famous in these groups…

For example… I have Vijji in my ‘Cousins’ group – who wakes up at 0500 and sends this freshly plucked, flower filled ‘Good Morning’ message… unfailingly, morning after morning… and she puts me to shame every time I wake up at 0505 and respond to her message with a ‘return’ Good Morning…

In my ‘Alumni’ group, there is Shelly who keeps winning awards… with his Food and Culinary exploits as a Chef in Kenya, he has amassed many awards in the last 25 years… enough to adorn his walls, mantelpieces… and wardrobes… now, I tried doing that in my early life and I discovered I ran out of real estate to keep my trophies in places like Delhi and Mumbai… and I had to give up somewhere in the middle… but guess what…? Shelly keeps shaming the rest of us in the group to no end, with photographic evidence of his achievements…

And then there is this ‘Professional Interest’ Group that I am a Solute in… a Group that has been created by my very good friend Arun primarily stemming out of his own interest in books – reading them of course… and with the increasing size of the group, he is often up with a tough task of keeping the members in check… primarily keep them tuned to the purpose of the group, i.e. ‘books’… with much cajoling, coaxing and finally bullying, Arun has been able to achieve adequate sense and sanity… of course, with an occasional joke… or a Deepika Padukone reading a book…

And in this one Group where I have still not been able to figure out my ‘raison d’etre’… there is Simi… a frequent traveler… and Simi would make sure she would post photos of the last trip… while she is on the trip and when she comes back… she makes sure I feel like I am a couch potato, with that TV remote in my hand… and that I live in locales devoid of naturally endowed mountains… the seas… the lakes… and the turtles in those lakes…

Come on, Simi… I travel too… I don’t think anybody travels the kind of miles that I do… 90 miles to and fro work every day…

I see people around me… people with mobile phones in their hands… many on WhatsApp… many with a smile on their faces… they just received this joke from one of their friends in their group… a funny photograph… or just another invitation to party tonight…

How beautiful is that…!

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Butt Seriously…

Friday, September 02, 2016

I am often accused of NOT being serious in life… at times the accusation is gravely ornamented with the adverb ‘ENOUGH’…

More so, in recent times ever since I have revived my weekly craving to create this digital dust on my blog site… the blame borders on HOW and WHY I keep to the lighter side of life… particularly when I reference some of my sightings – like the birds and the bees in the morning… and the fireflies in the night… and the mention of some of my friends, old and new, in my musings… in giving some colour to an otherwise discernibly respectful life that I earn… that of going to work… work… and coming back from work…

Hmmm… how disastrous can that get for someone to censure me… I feed 4 mouths (including mine) through a post tax income… and many others including my father, father-in-law, and many of their neighbours and their spouses on my pre tax income…

(For the record, both my father and my father-in-law – not to mention my mother-in-law – had pensionable jobs… and their post retirement lifestyles are fed through my pre tax income…)

And for a life after my work life… I have to work…

Now… I am accused of NOT being serious in life…???

——————–

For as long as I remember… I had this massive collection of glass marbles… the variety, that you would, as a young kid, want to really amass in numbers and have a collection of red, green, blue… and every other hue in your vast repertoire of a rainbow… the white Chabootri… and the black, we kids used to call the Cobra

One fine day, my father discovered I needed to be rid of them as I was overtly focused on amassing these through sullying my hands, my clothes, my body, my mind, my soul… in winning more and more marbles through contests and games with my friends in the neighbourhood… and when I was sleeping one fine morning… he decided to dump them all in the drain that flows through the street… with no heed to an otherwise fragile drainage system in our country…

That was the first time I remember I had put my bare hands in the drain and was able to retrieve most of them marbles… not for the marbles themselves… but for the sake of the country’s fabled drainage system… which, because of the marbles thrown into it by an irresponsible father… would have choked to further decadence…

And that night… I stank of a drainage that would not in the least, befit my brahminical upbringing…

And I was accused of NOT being serious…??? Hmmm… 

——————–

And that afternoon… when my first girl friend in life waited for a full 8 minutes for me at the back of the Principal’s room in my school, after having been invited by me for ‘a small little most important conversation of my life with her’… and I was still gathering my wits to say “Hey – I want to be friends with you”

And all she had to say was… “Aren’t we already friends?”

I did not know which way to look… for all that I knew was that my witty side of life was still in its nascent stages of evolution… and I wasn’t using a fraction of the Einsteinian 8% of my brain… so that I could come back with an appropriate repartee…

Wasn’t that a serious commitment that I thought I was stepping into with my girl friend… but for the next few minutes figuring out what struck me around my infatuation at that tender age of 15 years that I was…?

My girlfriend was pretty serious… not about me, but about her beau in college… whom she promptly married on Day 6 of having left college…

——————–

And that occasion in mid life after school when I resisted myself my first drink till I was 25 (and it wasn’t beer)… for the love of an ‘Old Monk’ at my young age – that quintessential dark rum… was but, a serious step towards a mature start to inebriation called life…

——————–

And leaving that job at Hyatt Regency Delhi without a job at hand… with a confirmed conviction that I would land up in a CEO’s role at American Express (the Blue Box) – my first real ‘Employer of Choice’… after 3 months and 8 interviews…

Was nothing less serious…

Come on… 3 months and 8 interviews… and then in the 8th and the final interview with Raman Roy (the father of BPO in India)… which lasted a precise 46 seconds in his office on the 1st floor at Basant Lok in Delhi…

I enter Raman’s office and he asks me – “What is Ravi Kodukula…?”

In all its seriousness of the question… and weighing in my gravity of wit… I had responded with a straight face… “Ravi Kodukula is a guy who can smoke a cigar with Prince Charles… a hookah with the Rana of Mewar… and a beedi with a labourer on the roadside…”

——————–

I did not land the job of a CEO… but I did land myself in what I can conveniently vouch today as one of the first ‘Call Centre Rep’ jobs in the country… circa 1992… much before India knew what Call Centres were…

And SERIOUSLY, I had worked my butt off for the next 13 years that I had spent with the Blue Box… my longest with any employer… and which is still closer to my heart…

BUTT SERIOUSLY…

“Baazeecha-e-atfal hai, duniya mere aage… Hota hai shab-o-roz, tamasha mere aage…”

– Mirza Ghalib… circa ~1830…

(The world is a playground that unfolds as a theatre in front of my eyes…day… and night…)

And if it does… How can I ever get Serious…?

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula…

I Love My EMIs…

Friday, August 26, 2016

“Raviji… I need the house back by end of August… you clearly have 4 months… please ensure you vacate the house… as my 5 chickens, 2 turtles, 7 non-poisonous reptiles and my husband, have decided to come back from Riyadh and they are going to be living there”… my landlady aka the owner of the house that I had rented…

I had readied the house… pest controlled it with anti-venom chemicals… and made it reptile-friendly… before I embraced my next EMI… and moved into my “Own House” here in Navi Mumbai…

That was a little over 5 years ago… April 2011…

And a lot of years after what I had first told my parents in August 1998… “I am not going to move out of this house till I have bought one for myself and Smee”…

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As was customary in life to get married… so was it conventional that Smee moved into the house that I was living in at that time in November 1997 when we got married…

Smee never complained… she was a meticulously measured metric of a conspiracy theory that quite unhurriedly unfolded in front of my heart… the co-conspirators were my mother and my younger sister… and all three of them were visibly, at least to the naked heart, great friends… as much as their planet of fidelity – Venus, would allow…

That was till Smee and I were married…

While Smee started settling in… I started discovering the myriad Venusian ways that cause life’s gazillions of trials and turbulences… and the colossal impact that they have on the poor souls from Mars… i.e. my Father and I…

Around the same time – after abundant living on a planet noticeably distinct to Venus and Mars… I also noticed I had wings… I needed to fly…

I needed a bar at home… Udta Kodukula…

And my Father… being the Old Monk that he is with a pietistic Brahminical orientation to life… would not allow a bar in “his house”…

That was the first time… apart from the integral incongruence that I had with Einstein over the Theory of Relativity… I discovered Martians can have differences too…

Come On, Father… just because you did not take a single bribe being in the Government all your life… does not mean that you consider setting up a bar at home a cardinal sin…

Doing professionally well… well – in tune with those times, I was still responsible for my own bowels and bladder as an “individual contributor”… you see, “people managers” needed to be in mid-40s… preferably male, distinguishably paunchier… with 3-4 biologically produced children slightly younger than you, so that they can copiously call you “Beta” (son) at the start and end of each sentence…

Trust me… I was a ‘son’ to two such managers in life…

——————–

And the search of my Own Bar in my Own Home… led me to my first EMI in life… and this caused a worse Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) with my Own Father’s philosophy of how one needs to deal with all that is ‘Debt’ in life…

Equipped with my Father’s philosophy – “marne se pehle ‘Sar pe Chhat’ honi chahiye… par ‘Apne Paison’ se” (before I die, I must have my own house… but with my own money)… I calculated the amount of time it will take me before I could possibly have my own “Sar pe Chhat” if I were to do it with my “Apna Paisa” before I died…

I vowed… I will not be bogged down by any more Martian squabbles with my Father…

This led to multiple levels of Electro Magnetic Interference with the moneylenders, banks, loan sharks… all preying with a palpable twinkle in their eyes… after all… with a 16% rate of interest (1998) that they would earn… why would they not…?

I got my loan… and the EMIs started… with that… I started loving my workstation at my Employer’s newly acquired Real Estate in Gurgaon…

Smee and I gifted ourselves our “Own House”… on February 14, 1999… an assured symbol of love and affection… our own Real Estate in Palam Vihar, Gurgaon…

The 1,100 sq.ft… 1 BHK with an attached terrace… ‘Barsati’ as one would call it in Delhi… is inarguably still the best place that Smee and I have lived in, in the last 18 years… and the longest till May 2005… Krtin and Kavya – our children walked through that front door, opening out to the staircase… the peacocks and the chicken from the farms around… the parrots on the tree line in front of the house… the occasional rumble of a train on the rail line…

It wasn’t much before our “House” turned into a “Home”…

With the celestial design of bodily growth of our children… and to park Krtin’s toy car… and Kavya’s life sized ‘Winnie the Pooh’… we needed space…

As I reflect now… “Hamaare Paair bade ho gaye… hame ek badi Chaadar ki zaroorat thi…” (our legs had grown taller… we needed a bigger blanket to cover our feet)…

Another EMI…a bigger, fatter EMI… and I started loving my Employer too… not just his Real Estate…

Smee grew lustful… not towards me, but a prospect of designing our future Real Estate dalliance… with an abysmally low rate of interest of 7% (2005)… who would not be…?

She tried her Venusian charm on me… “when we grow old, we must live in one… we must rent out one so that we get our rental income… one each for Krtin’s Education and his Wedding… and similarly for Kavya… 6 in all”…

And thus sounded the death knell…

Many multiple EMIs later… and with the feet and the blankets outdoing each other… now, I don’t only love my workstation, my employer, my job, my boss, my matrix boss, my team… but I have mastered a universally death defying skill…

I love my EMIs… Very Motivating…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Women… In The “Shotgun Seat”

Friday, August 19, 2016

“Zulfein”… I end up saying to myself, LOUD…

Each time I see strands of hair adorned long and pretty in the driver’s seat behind the head rest in the car in the front… or a calm pair of eyes adorably hidden behind a pair of opulent sunglasses in the car behind mine… or those flowing tresses in that car that pumps up this unusual adrenaline in the lane next door, speeding swifter than light…

All this… from the cockpit of my car…

——————–

The word “Zulfein”… or Tresses… evokes in me a sign of elegance… grace… refined sophistication… poise and finesse… but, words often dubiously dissociated when it comes to describing women in the driver’s seat in a car, over time and history… particularly, if you were driving in Delhi NCR…

Not that men would befit garnishing themselves with words as these to claim their self-effacing royalty of the roads… but in Mumbai, where I have been driving more permanently now for the last 7 years, it just does not matter… there is an established sense of equality… a soft touch conformance to gender universality… or more importantly, a forced choice to stick to traffic discipline…

Universally though… one thing that has a visible gender dominance in favour of the fairer sex… are the behaviours of women in the “Shotgun Seat”… the seat next to the driver’s seat… the animated gestures in the shotgun seat in the car parked next to mine at the traffic lights… and the observable impact that they have on the man driving, often take me back into time…

Not a time too long ago… but just about the time when the man may have done or said something sad… bad… good… ugly… particularly the night before just before hitting the bed… or more recently as today in the morning, at the breakfast table… just before the man and the woman got into the car…

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… the man laughs uncontrollably in the driver’s seat… the woman may have told a joke… but she is not laughing… worse still, has the man told a joke…? is he laughing at his own joke…? can he absolve himself of his crime…? the woman animatedly hits him with a newspaper-fold…? quite harmless this… at least the man hasn’t kept a baseball bat in his car… as I do…

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… I see this woman amorously running her fingertips on the cheek of her man… playfully… lovingly… pecks him on his earlobe… haven’t had enough of him last night… or is she preparing him for tonight…? the man looks lost… thoughtful… unresponsive… staring into space – hopefully a space called the road ahead… is SHE his road ahead…?

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… I see this woman clenched her palms on to the shotgun seat… I just saw this man parked next to mine with screeching tyres… just seen him racing through the two lanes next to mine at a breakneck speed… zigzagging through them… the woman has frozen look on her face… FEAR… the man has a bestial look in his eyes… he rules the roads… they belong to him… so does the fear in the woman’s eyes…

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… the woman is waxing eloquent… rambles endlessly… with hand and face gestures that signify a myriad of emotions all packed at once… eyes wide open (surprise)… fists punched in the air (rage)… shaking her head (confusion, disbelief)… looking at the man while continuing to talk… the man is expressionless… almost slipping into a slumber… perhaps this is exactly what he does when she has been rambling all these years… sleep is a better option… while he almost sleeps at the wheel, the cars start honking from the back of the lane…

——————–

Perhaps, nothing is more contrastingly obvious than the true meaning of the “Shotgun Seat” – albeit, in the perceived peace times that we live in…

The “Shotgun Seat”… so derives its name through history, when the driver of the stagecoach… much before the advent of cars… had to focus on driving with the reins of the horses in his hands… and then there was this man sitting next to him with a “Shotgun”… to ward off any heinous attacks that the driver and the other occupants of the stagecoach faced…  

——————–

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself… the woman is yapping… in a 3 minute traffic signal, she hasn’t stopped yet… her shrill has silenced the din of the engine… all eyes in all other cars are turned towards her… the man is nodding his head… looks like he agrees to every word she says… more fortunately, looks like he is going to do what she says… finally…

——————–

Zulfein… I say LOUD to myself…

It does not matter, which city… which lane… which traffic signal… universally women fare so well in the “Shotgun Seat”…

Wait a Minute… does that mean they aren’t good in the Driver’s Seat…?

I am musing while I write this… women have proved at Rio 2016 that they do mighty well in the Driver’s Seat…

Is it time, we start using women as Sports Coaches… given their aptitude and skill to motivate men the way they do…?

Maybe the Magic Mantra for Medals… Tokyo 2020…!

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Jai Bhagwan’s Kite Store…

Friday, August 12, 2016

“Chal… Jaldi Aaja… Jai Bhagwan ka naya Manja aa gaya hai…” shouted Lucky… “Aur sun… is baari 2 rupay zyaada laaiyo… Patang mehnge ho gaye hain aur Manja bhi…”

(Come fast… Jai Bhagwan (kite store) has got his new stock of kites and string… and get 2 rupees extra this time… the kites and string have become expensive)

circa ~August 1980…

——————–

Lucky, my friend, my classmate and my next-door neighbour – living behind a door below on the ground floor, and an avid leader of the kite flyer club of all of us 10-12 year olds, sounded quite excited…

There was a lot of work to be done… the kites have to be bought, only a few though – to last the morning… because the rest of the kites would most definitely float on to our terrace after having lost their battle mid air with other kites… and as such, would serve the purpose and the right number for the rest of the afternoon…

Mothers needed to be convinced… the Campa Cola needed to be stocked in the fridge… along with the eats and bites that needed to be served hot… Lucky had a fridge at home… my mother was popular amongst my friends for the tongue licking onion pakoras that she used to make…

Sisters needed to be bullied… to get all of this stuff up to the terrace… the more enthusiastic sisters were to be secretly chosen and coopted to hold the kite at a distance to give that initial fillip that would make the kite soar… some sisters were more skilled than others… so, some of the meagre resources that the club had, were to be prudently set aside as bribes for the next set of bangles and ‘bindis’ (the dots that beautify the foreheads of our womankind) for our sisters…

My Murphy ‘Tape Recorder’ needed to be hauled up to the terrace too… along with those two of my most favourite cassette tapes (out of my total household collection of 12 – the rest was family music)… and I needed to park 10 minutes to listen to my father on the Do’s and Don’ts of handling the Murphy…

Murphy on the terrace meant an electrical extension chord and board… borrowed from Bunty’s household 2 blocks away… Bunty’s father needed to be cajoled… he had recently got the extension chord made from the local electrician because Bunty’s 11th Birthday party was held in the park in front of his house… and thus, the invention of the extension chord…

While Bunty was a wannabe, he wasn’t particularly a member of the kite club… you see, membership was by invitation and Lucky did not like Bunty much… but we needed the extension chord…

This year Sonu (Sunil) was our new neighbour… his father was an ENGINEER with a private firm… and as such Sonu was richer than many of us and was quite resourceful… yet those 4 rupees each were to be collected for the Campa Cola and the eats, from everybody who would be on that terrace… including Sonu… and a plan was to be devised how to say NO to Sonu’s offer of 10 rupees contribution to the club and maintain that fiscal equilibrium in the club…

Failing to Plan, was Planning to Fail… we learnt this early last year… we did not plan to wake up early and get to the terrace… as such, Nanhe’s (Sudhir) team started making some very early noise on their terrace a block away… Nanhe’s (the little one) name was quite misplaced… the legend has it that when he was born, Nanhe was small… really small in size, like many of us… and he then started growing bigger the next day on… but his mother found it convenient to call him ‘the little one’ with a lot of love and fondness… also because he was the only boy born to her womb after 4 daughters…

So, we needed to really plan to wake up at 6am… and we needed to plan for this till 11pm the night before after we have planned and done everything else…

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Jai Bhagwan’s kite store was on Tank Road, Regarpura, Karol Bagh… a few blocks and lanes away from where we all lived… Lucky and I had started off for the store the evening before, when Bunty gave us a shout from a distance… he wanted to come along… while I was fine by that, some early symptoms of how I always wanted to create an inclusive environment and take everybody along… Lucky was not in favour of Bunty accompanying us…

“Tujhe hum pe bharosa nahin hai…?”, (you don’t trust us?)… Lucky was blunt…

He always suspected Bunty’s intentions… ever since Bunty had his Birthday Party in the neighbourhood park… and ever since Lucky’s parents convinced him that such ostentation as birthday parties in neighbourhood parks will not be tolerated in their family…

Bunty tagged along… we needed the extension chord after all…

Jai Bhagwan was in his late 50s… had seen the splendour of kite-flying in the new post-independent India… and as such, a business opportunity to set this small little shop up here on Tank Road in the early 50s… when a good part of the summer in Delhi leading right up to the I-Day saw a new emerging religion – kite-flying… his shop was right in the middle of a flourishing middle class residential locale and close to the other shopping streets like Ajmal Khan Road and Arya Samaj Road in Karol Bagh…

And for the last 30 odd years leading up to the 80s, Jai Bhagwan had established his brand… if it has to be the best ‘Manja’ – the glass coated string that gets front loaded to the kite in its initial flight, which habitually cuts into your finger flesh… and the best ‘Saddi’ – the white coloured smoother string that is back loaded so that when the kite is in full flight, you manoeuvre its soaring without having to damage your fingers any further…

Lucky, Bunty and I returned home… after having spent a fortune of 9 rupees for which we got 20 kites… both varieties of the string… and two ‘Charkhadis’ – the swivels which hold the rolled string… we had a budget of 10, but we saved a rupee for any unforeseen expenditure the next day…

Jai Bhagwan was kind… he threw in for free, the ‘Chepi’ – the tape that you used to cover a torn portion of the paper kite… and also 3 band-aids for the 3 of us… so that we put the aid on when our fingers would see the cut in the flesh the next day…    

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We did wake up early the next day… in fact, the excitement did not allow us to sleep… I kept staring at my Favre-Leuba, the family heirloom alarm clock through the night… and its radium dial… staring forward to…

An Independence Day… A Day of Happiness, Freedom and Flying on the Terrace… with Kites… and Campa Cola…

Aibo… Kaate…!

Happy Independence Day…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula

Lucky Got 38…

Friday, August 5, 2016

“Yeah… I got 37” announced Lucky…

Jubilant with his latest accomplishment, Lucky had punched the air with his fists and eventually spread all his 37 ‘fresh-off-the-studio’ photo prints in glee…

The spread of the prints on his palms… all held down by his thumbs had a tantalising effect on me… my Pentax ME Super, never gave me more than 33… or 34 if I was lucky…

But I wasn’t… it was Lucky… who always ended up being exactly that… lucky… while Kodak’s promise was 36 prints in a film roll, Lucky always got more… one more than what Kodak promised…

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Lucky… Lakhwinderjeet Sodhi… my dear friend from my school days… went on to exceed 36 in many spheres of life… on occasions as these with his Nikon FA… which he made sure he carried with care and flaunted at every single opportunity… after all it was one of the latest imported models at that time when we both were in high school in the mid 80s… and his father had specifically gifted the camera to him having bought it from the Dubai Duty Free at that time for his 16th birthday…

Like the jubilation in his 37 photo prints, Lucky always put up a brave front on all other occasions when he exceeded 36… in all his academic life that was most auspiciously intertwined with my own… you see, we were school and classmates from the 4th grade till our material lives… and later, our ethereal wives took us apart into varied walks of life… our pre-destined futures…

I, having gone to college for further uber-academic pursuits in hotel schooling… and Lucky, highly content with 37 marks (or thereabouts) in most subjects at the high school level… conveniently went to his father’s business at Delhi’s Kashmere Gate automobile spares super market…

The mark of 37 was thus, from fairly early on, etched on Lucky’s mind as the label of spiritual liberation… 33 percent marks were the target, set by CBSE – the Board of Education… 34 was aspirational… 35, cause-celebre… 36 (as was 24… and then 36 back again) was sinful as a growing up adolescent…

But 37… was the point of arrival… safe… ‘no questions asked’ zone… everybody happy in the family… including Lucky’s elder brother, Happy…

In time, we eventually grew up… Lucky and I… by some warped superlunary celestial design… stepped into the larger realms of adulthood… and 37 again loomed large in front of us… actually this time too, CHHATTEES (36) was the number in the reckoning…

But little did Lucky realise… he would always have one more in life…

Lucky had this uncanny knack of developing a ‘CHHATTEES KA AANKDA’ (Hindi – for two people who have hostilities towards each other)… he had deep rooted rivalry that he would revel in with almost the entire universe… getting into those frequent fisticuffs with other kids in the school… with people double his size on the streets… or anybody who simply did not agree to his own big and burly existence… Lucky was a 6 footer at the age of 15 and his vertical supremacy was equally complimented by a lateral expansion so that none of the Soviet satellites launched during those times ever missed his geo-strategic coordinates…

The only person who outshone Lucky’s monumental blip on the Soviet radars was his eldest brother Lovely… now, at 6’2” and with a whisky-bellied frontal extension Lovely was a misnomer… a profound lesson to all parents in how we should wait at least till one grows in full size before we name our children…

Lucky’s ’36 Ka Aankda’ would often land him in a soup… and as an inseparable conspirator in most of his earthly deeds… I got embroiled into the situations as well… so much so that the Soviet satellites would capture this big dot blipping along with one more unassuming dot alongside beating the daylights out of many other small dots somewhere in a busy street in Delhi…

But then… I needed to bring some sanity quickly into the equation… Lucky and I devised a method to tone us down… tone him down actually… Lucky would count till 37 when he got into a situation… and counting 37 would ideally bring down his Blood Pressure…

The Plan was perfect… the deal was signed over Hot Sams (Samosas) and G Jams (Gulab Jamuns) at P Bags (Punjabi Bag, Lucky’s abode)…

The Execution… hmmm… Lucky somehow managed to count to 36 most of the time… 37 was elusive in his own glossed down mental make up…

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Lucky’s SUNDAY finally arrived… the day when he would go to the GURDWARA (the Sikh temple of worship)… sit in devotion in front of the Granth Sahib with Pammi Paabi (Parminder – his wife and my Paabi (Bhabhi) – my sister-in-law and wedded wife of my brother Lucky)… and vow to spend the rest of his life with her…

I said to Lucky… “Oye Lucky… tera to yaar sab ke saath ‘Chhattees Ka Aankda’ hai… Pammi ke saath toone Janam Patree milayi ki nahin? Kam se kam biwi ke saath to ‘Chhattes Gunn’ milne chahiye bhai…” (you have a rivalry with every one… have you matched your horoscope with Pammi so that you have the 36 qualities / parameters matching with her)…

Lucky got philosophical… “Yaar Kodu… Marriage is a union between my Soul and the Lord… I simply Accept and Surrender… all humans are equal…” he dropped his head… thinking… when he raised it again, it was only to add… “and so are all days of the week…Sunday is merely a convenience…”

I am glad he did not say Pammi Paabi is a convenience…

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Lucky and Pammi now live in DLF Gurgaon… all 36 parameters of their wedded life are in place… blissfully for the last 20 years…

And they have now added a 37… Minta… Manwinder – their 18 year old son – 6’3” in size… and a 38… Soni… ok… Soni, their cute little 15 year old daughter… Lucky’s existential appendices and testimonials to prove to the world that he has finally been able to count to 37…

And one more…

Happy Weekend…

Ravi Kodukula