Sunday, July 13, 2014

A pinch of salt..

Yesterday Sher Khan got up in scaring-ly happy mood. I got apprehensive of whether that could be one of those days I am reminded of my miserly low income. But it was too late to cook an escape plan; doom fell on my Saturday. She had plans to go to Pavilion and Berjaya time square. All husbands in Malaysia know the torturous effects these two malls may bring to people like us.

We reached Berjaya around lunch time. We decided to have lunch before getting to the shop floors.

The food court was almost empty. It wasn’t too difficult to find a nice place to sit. Sher Khan ordered her favorite ‘tandoori chicken with naan’ at the curry shop right next to the entrance. Adi is fine eating anything vegetarian if you promise an ice-cream after that.

Everything was going fine. But the day had something in store.

“They haven’t cooked it properly. I think they have not put any salt in it”, Sher Khan kept the chicken back in her plate.

“They may have done this in hurry. Should I ask them to”, I was worried because she had hardly eaten the first piece. I looked at the counter.

The guy came quickly and apologized. We came to know that their regular cook had taken day off. They offered ‘Kadai chicken’ and Sher Khan accommodated with that.

After some time we left the table and stood at nearby ice-cream parlor. I noticed that the curry shop guys had cleaned everything but had left the plate of untouched ‘tandoori chicken’ and the basket of ‘naan’ (we could not finish all pieces) on the table.

I looked at them; and they just smiled.

And few minutes later, we saw a teenage boy went to the curry shop, spoke with the guys at counter; and then came back to our table and ate that chicken and naan !

Ashamed, we watched him eat. Sher Khan had her eyes filled. “He didn’t ask for salt”.

The girl at the ice-cream parlor spoke. “We at this food court, instead of throwing such untouched portion of the meal, leave that on the table or sometimes on a separate table. Any person can come and eat that”. She continued, “Several food-shops in Malaysia allow people to buy extra dinner for those who fast. So those who cannot afford may get free meal in evening to break their fasts during Ramadan”.

We returned after few hours of shopping. A number of thoughts came by. What if this was possible at restaurants and hotels in India; say not on all days but on festivals, or on special days like birthdays or anniversaries we could buy extra lunch and dinner for those can not afford. That could be managed over a take-away counter if space may be a constraint.

It sounds ridiculous in Indian context; so did the idea of suspended coffees; but for example Cafe 42, in Indiranagar, Bangalore does that.

A new government has taken over in India, a lot of new changes are being considered. I know there are many establishments in India who are already working in this area. What if we could write to the foods and public distribution minister of India to just propose such thought to all restaurants and hotels in India and see what may come out workable for both worlds ? I am going to try that.

And till that time, those who may like to celebrate their special days by giving something to those who really need may try these (and many more):

God Bless.

A city with a heart !

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

For a place in the world..

Not sure whether this is some kind of a drift or an odd lack of abstinence; for past few days I wonder ‘what percentage of our lives we really control?'

Over the years, perhaps, I became too etiological; developed a tendency to look for a cause and solution for everything, to control all outcomes, almost negating the indeterminism of the events and of the people.

Most recent victim of my hysteria has been my son; as I started seeing my ‘another’ childhood in him. Out of love or fear; I tried to give him all inputs on what (I thought) works and what doesn’t. Just never knew when to stop and let him experiment. I almost controlled his thoughts and actions.

However things are changing lately; and obstinacy making way for acceptance.

Last Thursday, spoke with the girl from my first office, a girl who we all got attracted to because she giggled whenever she talked. But that day, she spoke in an uncharacteristic fraying voice; about four heart attacks she suffered recently. She held herself while she explained about her illness but my heart sank. She spoke as if she is living a borrowed life and all she wants next, is to talk to everyone she ever liked.

God willing, she is recovering. But since that time, I have done nothing but introspection. Have realized that none of us will ever be able to control what happens next in our lives. We all must accept, what in a manner we all are, destiny's children.

Like many of us, I couldn’t envisage what I do today; the cause of my next step has mostly been the result of the contiguous previous one. And with age, I knew there were too many variables that I could never have identified and accounted for. My best laid plans had to fail.

And then yesterday, found an old notepad while arranging the bags; one of those I have kept since high school days. Read some pages, smiled and then cried. Felt sorry to see my habit to control myself over the years. Wish I could somehow tell my ‘younger self’ that it was okay. Wish I could tell that kid to go for the guitar classes few more weeks; to follow that girl in blue ribbon to find out where she lived. Wish I could tell him that towards the end he won’t repent the things that didn't work out but the things he didn’t try.

Wish I could have tell him that merchant navy was not the only way he could see London. He too had a place in the world and all he needed was to keep that honesty in his dreams and deeds.

At the hindsight, I admit I had some dreams. Not all of them worked out, but I am happy I had them. They gave me the drive while destiny kept deciding my roads and destinations.

Guess it is time we leave our kids with their dreams, and with their experiments and do not control their lives injecting our apprehensions and controls. They are smarter and wiser than us; there is no reason why they won’t be any luckier. And if we managed to find a place in this world, they surely will, in the skies as well.

Pic by Ajay Sudhanshu