Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thrilling moments

All of us go through the inevitable ups and downs in our lives. We have our happiest moments, saddest moments, and memorable moments. When someone asks you what the thrilling moments of your lives were, what would be your response? Is a thrilling moment any way different from a memorable or happy moment? Oxford dictionary defines thrill as `a sudden strong feeling of pleasure or excitement`.

I consider the following as the most thrilling moments of my life:

Like millions of children from a lower middle class family, I grew up in a small one room tenement in a Bombay chawl. The 280 sq. ft room had no place for any kind of furniture leave alone writing tables and chairs for children. As a school student I used to long for a table and chair. But there was no hope with my father’s meager income supporting a big family. So I decided to help myself. As a resourceful person even as a kid I assembled a writing table using the discarded deal wood planks which I picked up from the fruit market adjacent to our chawl. With two planks forming the two legs and one as the top, a functional table was ready.

I can never forget the thrill I experienced when I sat on a multipurpose stool in front of the so called table and put my fountain pen on a notebook to write. At last I had a table to write on!


Life rolled on. I took up advertising as a career. I moved up in life. Moved to Chennai to take up a new job, when God willed it that I build a house of my own. With loans from Provident Fund, friends and relatives and of course the inevitable LIC, I started construction of my dream home. The foundation was laid, masonry work proceeded swiftly and the walls were built. It was time to lay the roof of the building. On an auspicious day a battery of workers stood in line on the ground, on the ladder etc. to carry the concrete mix to lay it directly on the roof.

At the end of the day my wife and I were allowed to climb the makeshift ladder to see the freshly laid wet concrete, evenly spread across the roof area. Oh! The thrill that went through me that day is still fresh in my memory. Just to think that my family will have a roof of our own and one of my dreams was turning into reality made me have goose pimples!


My children grew up, school, followed by college, and my eldest daughter got married at the age of 21, when I was in my early fifties. Within two years of her marriage my daughter conceived and everyone on both sides of the family waited with bated for the good news of the arrival of a new born baby. It was 4th December 1996. I was in the office and I got the news that my daughter had delivered a bonny baby boy and that my wife and I had become grandparents for the first time.

I literally jumped from my seat and screamed: “I have now become a Thatha, I have got the greatest promotion in my life!”

Those who have gone through the feeling would know that the joy of becoming a grandparent is much greater than when one becomes a parent for the first time. While with parenthood comes responsibilities of bringing up children and the apprehensions associated with it, grand parenthood is all fun and no responsibilities - at least for the grandfathers!

Monday, March 5, 2012


A long time ago, when I was attending a residential management course in a Hotel, I had to share my room with another participant, a stranger to me. When we checked into the room together, he requested whether he could occupy the bed which was on the left; because when he woke up in the morning he liked to get out from the bed from his right. Next morning when he got up, with his eyes closed he pulled out a small hand mirror kept under the pillow and opened his eyes holding the mirror in front of his face. Somebody had told him that if you see your own face in the mirror first thing in the morning, then you would have a great Day!

Superstition is universal. Most common ones relate to cats, lizards or the No.13 which is considered an unlucky number in the Western world. Sportsmen, film actors/directors have their own beliefs in numbers, names and good times. Each of us has our own superstitions –probably ingrained into us by our parents early in life or ones we have picked up on the way.

Throughout my life I have been obsessed with Rahu Kalam – 90 minutes of inauspicious time which occurs at different times of the day – every day of the week. On Sunday it is between 4.30 and 6.00 pm, on Mon. – 7.30 - 9.00 am, Tue- 3.00-4.30pm, Wed.-12.00-1.30pm, Thu.-1.30-3.00pm, Fri.-10.30am-12.00 noon and Sat. 9.00-10.30am

When I got into the advertising profession and became an Account Executive (Client Service Executive) I had to attend meetings almost every day. If a client gave me an appointment during Rahu Kalam, I would panic and would find some excuse or the other to either prepone or postpone the meeting! In Bombay, where I started my advertising career, I could never give the real reason for the shift, whereas, when I moved to Chennai I could openly mention Rahu kalam as the reason for postponing or rescheduling a meeting, which is considered an acceptable attitude in the South.

When things go wrong the superstitious amongst us invariably blame the time, the day or any other belief we might have flouted but never agree that we have actually made a genuine mistake.

But our elders were clever people. If one had to perform an act during the inauspicious time or day because of circumstances beyond our control, then they had a solution as well!

Suppose you could not get a train ticket on the auspicious day you wanted to, but got it for another day which was not a good day to start the journey, their solution for this was called Parasthanam – all that you had to do was to move one of the luggage you would be carrying for the journey to a friend or relative’s house prior to the actual day of journey, probably on the auspicious day that you so desired, and collect the same on the way to the station on the day of your journey!

Another concept popularized by our elders is Pari-karam to get rid of the guilt feeling associated with not being able to perform a prescribed ritual on special occasions as ordained by the religion. Not to worry; you just have to do a small Puja or give away things for charity- and God would excuse you for your inability to perform the ritual.

Like negative mindsets, superstitions also come in the way of rational decision making.

In the last lap of my life journey, I am trying to get rid of many superstitious beliefs, and I start with having stopped worrying about Rahu Kalam anymore!

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