January 29, 2001

what a weekend!

i just knew it was too good to be true. the two-day weekend at home was never to be.

shvetank wanted us to do a story on the earthquake, and the role played by technology in disaster management.

i wanted to be home, but the idea of researching and writing a story after a long time was too tempting. anyways, i had no choice – boss’s orders ;-)

so prachi and i walked our feet to the office on saturday, surfed till the connection let us down, and we camped that night at hemu’s place. amma made yummy pav bhaji for all of us, and we had it one hour past midnight.

after a late late night (read, 4 am), we slept. got back to the story at around 8 am. just after lunch, there was a power cut again. aaaaaarrgh! cant we have computers that run on batteries?

deepu and i left at 7 pm to get mahesh, his luggage and his bike from vt station.

reached nerul, and slept without dinner.

it was a hectic weekend, and we did manage to put up a comprehensive article the next morning.

for once i did something other than editing and updating the home page,
for once i got to do what i love to: research. (the story could have been a lot better, though.)

and that will happen only when i get down to writing more.




January 26, 2001

a complete day

i dont remember being so satisfied at the end of the day as today…

i carefully planned it all out, and it worked!

my house is now squeaky clean, the new cane-rack that i bought last week is set up and my room is so organised :-)

at office, the friday and saturday newsletters have been sent, so i can stay home all of the weekend.

i can do it. if i put my heart into it, i can do anything :-)




why should there be a lesser god?

minutes after the commotion of the 30-second quake died down, i could hear another one brewing up. i looked out of the window, and saw hundreds of little kids with flags in their hands, rushing towards the elders, who were distributing more flags and toffees.

the safal youngsters fixed the loudspeakers, and soon the society was blaring lata mangeshkar all around. it was fun to see so much of activity from such a height (i live on the third floor), and i watched as the secretary of the building hoisted the national flag, with jana gana mana playing in the background.

i wished i had my camera then…to shoot the colourful ants scampering about. as i scanned the compound smiling at how little it took to make children happy, my heart went all out to a plump little fellow standing sad and all alone near the swing.

it wasnt difficult to see why he was looking at the other kids so dejectedly, when i noticed him move, one step at a time. i forgot all about the other kids, the din they were creating and the camera, as i watched a young couple rush towards the kid, prompting him to get on the swing.

spastic.

i remember someone telling me years ago, that there are children who belong to a lesser god. going by that logic (and assuming there is a god), there must be a greater god…

where else would parents find their strength, love and patience to bring up such a child?




earthquake!

had i not been talking to deepu over the phone this morning, i’d really get scared. she called at 8:45, wanting to know what time i’m coming home (thane).

i’d just woken up and suddenly i thought i was hit by one of those giddy spells again. everything was going round and round, and fast. while i could hear my sister’s voice on the phone, i wasn’t listening.

then i heard the chimes ring wildly, and that’s when it struck me. something was wrong. i had shut the windows last night because it was rather chilly, so if there was no wind, to what were the chimes swinging?

i yelled over the phone: “deepu! earthquake!! do you feel it?”

she had not realised it till then. about twenty-four kms away from nerul, at ravi estate in thane (where my family lives), the ceiling fans were swinging wildly. deepu was excited, achchan was terrified.

we teased him then, unaware of the plight of the unlucky thousands who lived at the epicentre of the quake.




January 25, 2001

what is the role of an online copy editor?

the jasubhai group started with chip magazine. and now we have chip special, chip hindi, network computing, computer reseller news, tele.com, computer gaming world, computer arts special, and a technology portal called zdnetindia.com.

at the copy editor’s meet today, i realised that there is a huge difference between the online and offline editing world. the offline editors felt the job of the online copy editor had a much hassle-free job…no pictures to scan and print, no scribbles to make (at chip, we used to visualise every page, brainstorm story ideas and design), and no need to bargain for time from the production units.

they thought online copy editors just have to cut and paste, and post and update.

i’ve been in the print medium. as the editor for a college magazine, a rotary bulletin, with express computer from the indian express group, and for chip…almost all of them for two years each.

now i’ve stepped in the world wide web, and i know that online editing is much more than just cut and paste.

you read a magazine and it stays in your bag to read on the train, and then on the bookshelf or rack till you give it to the raddiwala. a web site stays on your screen for less than seven seconds.

online copy editors have to make sure that those seven seconds double every time a visitor comes back to the web site.

before the copy editor’s meet next month, i have to make sure i understand this, and convey to them this difference.




i’m starting up a brand new day…

i walked in late to office today (9:30 am), after waiting for the bus at dombivili for over 45 minutes.

the site was not updated on time this morning. the pictures for the home page are not in the right categories, there are three top stories i have to plan for the long weekend, there is a copy editor’s meet i have to attend in the afternoon, there is a lot of work i don’t even know i have to catch up on…

but i’m bright and feeling very fresh today. hmmm, i must visit jayashree more often.




at home, and with jayashree, finally :-)

yesterday was the last of my first 15-day acupuncture session. phew! eleven more such sessions to go.

i stayed over at jayashree‘s house last night.

her hair tied up in a careless bun, a simple cotton sari with the pallu tightly tucked in, multitasking with coffee and cholay on the gas and yummy carrot cakes in the oven, shouting instructions to viju and gayatri as they ran about in the kitchen…jayashree looked so much like my mom.

as we smuggled moments of privacy from gayatri and viju, i could see how much she wanted to be alone, or with her own friends. we talked till 4:00 in the morning. to me hers was a world i could not relate to, but i wanted to understand…

that night i listened to a mother proud that her 18-month-old daughter has already learnt to be very careful about picking up things and putting them back in the same place, and learning not to eat out of other’s plates.

i listened to a wife content that her husband helps by buying grocery from the market every evening, and watches tv while she cooks.

i listened to a simple girl who could not understand and was troubled by the hypocrisy and jealousy of the nagging housewives staying around her

i listened to a woman who loved to watch The Oprah Winfrey Show every afternoon on tv, because she felt that was the only time she could be with herself.

it needs courage to be a housewife like her. courage to forget that she was one of the best students in college and had wanted to pursue her MA in psychology, courage to compromise, and yet be very happy.

jayashree, i have a lot to learn from you.




January 22, 2001

in the name of allah, the compassionating, the compassionate…

i caught a glimpse of an interesting movie on television last evening (at home), and faintly remembered we had the book at home.

and it was! all forgotten and dusty, a treasurehouse of magical stories.

i’m now reading King Shahryar, and the 1001 Arabian Nights




January 21, 2001

where there is a will, there is a friend…

my visit to jayashree’s house made me realise how aloof i had become from the rest of my friends at school and college.

since it was a sunday and i was alone at home in thane, i decided to call mayura. we were neighbours for over 13 years. she got married three years ago, and advait is 11-month old now.

i did not have her phone number, and there was no one i could ask, so i tried all possible combinations of the numbers i vaguely remembered belonged to her.

twenty minutes and at least six wrong numbers later, her husband picked up the phone. he said he’d give her the message, because she was coaxing advait to sleep. (i shuddered, marriage really makes a woman out of a person. will i ever be ready for it?)

ten minutes later, mayura called…she thought her husband was joking.

i was glad i took the initiative to call her up. like jayashree, she had a lot to say too. we spoke for two whole hours. but that is just for now…




January 20, 2001

my best friend’s wedding, and after …

jayashree and i have known each other class eight in school. both of us opted for french as the second language, and that’s how we met.

she was bubbly, extrovert and very bold, and, being rather an introvert in school, i loved her company and her sense of humour. she was also the class monitor, and had her way with teachers.

school led to college, and though we had a big group now, jayashree and i grew even closer. we used to walk hand-in-hand, buy lottery tickets, get in the wrong trains, relish sugarcane juice on our way home, sneak through the compound when there was a college-teachers-strike, and sneak back out just for the heck of it. we spent hours at each others homes…she later used to take stitching classes from my mom and i liked to shoot her with my dad’s camera.

days passed. i got busy with my job and the affairs that surrounded it, and she got married. two years later, she became a mother.

as i walked to her home today, i couldnt believe it was 18 months since gayatri was born. would i be able to relate to a mother?

gayatri had the answers. she bridged the initial silence of almost four years in an instant! while jayashree made dal wadas in the kitchen (she did not know it was my favourite snack), i played with her kid and we caught up on the lost years.

i found it difficult to accept that jayashree was now a full-time housewife, and even attended haldi-kumkum functions and bisi parties…something that we used to ridicule while in college.

was this really the jayashree i knew? yes. deep inside, she was still there.

jayashree offered to drop me to the gate (its a five-minute walk away from her home), her husband vijayan offered to babysit their kid till she came back.

as we walked toward the gate and waved goodbye to viju and gayatri, we unconsciously held each other’s hands, and i felt a painful lump in my throat. i looked at jayashree and she had tears in her eyes too.

“radhu, its been so long since i held a friend’s hand…come more often. i need you”

those words haunted me all the way home. sorry jayashree, i was so caught up with my life, i forgot you were so much a part of me too.

i thought of the things i could do for her…could i get her a job she could do from home, a hobby, plants for her home, books? nah, but she didn’t need those.

i called her an hour later…
“next week, i’m coming over to your place to stay for a day.”




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