Monday, September 29, 2008

The return to Lahore

Eight generations of my family lived in Lahore. We are a Kashmiri Pandit family who had lived for many years in the same 'haveli' in the same location for generations. All that changed in 1947 when my grandparents packed themselves and their children, my father and his three sisters, and moved to Allahabad, as India got divided into two. The hindus moved across to India, and the Muslims moved to Pakistan, causing untold misery, death and devastation.

As a child I heard stories from my Dada (Grandpa) about his life in Lahore, the haveli, the paintings, the gardens, the library, the temple in the house, the well in the house, the furniture, his cameras, his friends, his walks, his college (Govt College Lahore) and then the sudden decision to move. He mentioned these things as memories, fond ones, I never heard a hint of bitterness or regret in his voice. He always believed in fate and destiny, and what is not meant for you, will never be yours kind of thinking. He missed his life there and at the age of 37 when he moved to India, he found it tough. They were compensated by the Indian govt for their losses in Pakistan and in his case the compensation was substantial (from my perspective) but nothing in comparison to what he had left behind, but hey, it was something. My grandma never spoke of Lahore. She had managed to dig out a Hanuman and a Kali from their home and those statues are in the temple in my house even now. She did smuggle some of her jewellery by stitching it to the insides of her clothes, some of which I now own, but she lost a lot more material wealth and peace of mind, then what she was compensated for.

Time passed. No bitterness or regret was heard. They mentioned once that they would like to go and see their home before they died, but that did not happen.

My father, who was very young when they left and had seen many pictures and heard far more stories than me decided to go to Lahore. It was the first time, someone from my family would go back.

He walked to what used to be his house and its vast grounds. It now is a block of apartments and the grounds have been turned into a market place, so there are no open spaces or trees, just a large old building (being a listed one, it still stands) surrounded by a market. He saw the name of his ancestors, still there, engraved in marble, attached to the boundary walls of the market.

He then went scouting around to his maternal grandmothers house, they were also Kashmir and had lived for many generations in the same house, in Lahore. He walked along the road, but again it was unreconizable, so he stopped and asked an old man if he knew about the Haveli and its grounds and whereabout they were. The man asked him why he wanted to know, to which my father replied, they were his grandparents and he was looking for their house. The man asked him if he knew what the neighbours were called, my father said the names and the old man's eyes lit up. He walked my father to the Fatima Jinnah Medical College, the old house had been sectioned into three blocks, with five apartments in each block. The grounds of the house now held towering blocks of the Jinnah Medical college's hostels for women!
The old man asked my father to stay and talk, but being in a rush he could not stop. The man asked him to come for a longer time when he was free and they could talk about the past.

From the sounds of it, my father was quite taken by what he saw. He did not know what to expect. He still owns old architectural plans of the house and its grounds, he has photographs of his mother as a newly wed yougn girl, sitting around the house. I have photos of my grandfather standing along with his fellow Kashmiri friends in his house. They are all memories, of lives transformed by politics and religion. However there is no resentment or regrets. Dada did not believe in wasting time regretting thing, life was too short. Live it to its full he always said, he did.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Bad Day II

So the story continues. After being stung, jabbed, jabbed and cut (in reverse oreder), I thought I would come home and rest. No such luck it seems. After trawling through Yahoo Answers about, 'Shard of glass in foot' *
I decided I shall need to sort my foot out. Off to A&E and X-Rays later I was told, yup, there is a shard in your foot. We shall get it out under local anaesthesia.

Doc: Little jab under your foot and then we can cut out the glass
Me: I am not brave, have had an overdose of injections in the past 2 days
Doc: Leave glass in, it will only get septic
Me: Will it hurt?
Doc: The injection under your foot will be VERY painful, grit your teeth, then you will be ok
Me: Mommy!!!
Doc: Here we go.
Doc: all done, now let me see where this glass is.
Me: ok (small voice)
Doc: Dont want to cut your foot, so shall try push it out
Me: (silence, I want to die)
Doc: Nope, this is not coming out (goes gets a fancily wrapped sterile scissor)
Me: no pain, I am ok
Doc: (smiles, knowingly, he is thinking, HA! she will know when the anaesthesia wears off)
Doc: I see it.

he gets out this piece of glass, puts it in some tissue and hands it over to me.
All done. Go home, rest.

I think I shall get home, lock myself in a cupboard and sit still till bad luck and bad days are over. And I am able to leave home without cutting myself, stabbing myself, getting stung or getting any other injuries.

Bad days (shaking head) bad days (shaking head)

Needless to say, my mother wants to visit the local priest and ask him to say some prayers on my behalf, obviously my daily praying is doing me no good just yet.

*sometimes being an internet hypochondriac helps!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Men with sexist views 'earn more'

From the BBC's health section..

Men who grow up thinking women should stay at home may be labelled "old-fashioned" - but could end up well ahead in the salary stakes.

A US study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, suggests that they will consistently out-earn more "modern-thinking" men.

On average, this meant an extra $8,500 (£4,722) a year.

One UK psychologist said men inclined to wield power in their relationships might also do this at work.
It could be that more traditionally-minded men are interested in power, both in terms of access to resources - money in this case - and also in terms of a woman who is submissive, Dr Magdalena Zawisza, Winchester University

The study, carried out by researchers at the University of Florida, was conducted on a large scale, with 12,686 men and women interviewed in 1979, when they were aged between 14 and 22, and three times in the following two decades, the last time in 2005.

The researchers asked them whether they believed a woman's place was in the home, or whether the employment of women was likely to lead to higher rates of juvenile delinquency.

Predictably, more men tended to hold these views than women, although the gap has narrowed significantly over time.

However, when the men were asked about their salaries, another gap emerged, with those holding "traditional" views earning significantly more.

Conversely, women who held the opposite view did earn slightly more, on average $1,500 (£833) more than women with "traditional" views.

Dr Timothy Judge, one of the researchers, said: "More traditional people may be seeking to preserve the historical separation of work and domestic roles - our results prove that is, in fact, the case."

Dr Magdalena Zawisza, a psychologist from Winchester University, said that there were a number of theories which might explain the difference.

She said: "It could be that more traditionally-minded men are interested in power, both in terms of access to resources - money in this case - and also in terms of a woman who is submissive.

"Another theory suggests that employers are more likely to promote men who are the sole earner in preference to those who do not - they recognise that they need more support for their families, because they are the breadwinner."

Do hope the Man has not read this :)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Bad day

So, I was sulking on sunday as I managed to walk over a shard of glass and cut my foot, some part of the glass seems to be lodged in my foot and I am being a baby about it. So I was limping. I thought I would go see the doctor and ask him to dislodge anything that may still be in my foot.

I walked out of my house and got stung by a bee for the first time in my life. I know some people could be allergic to stings and bites, but I dont know if I am on that list. One way to find out I guess :) I also think the mean thing was waiting outside for me, tapping its feet, waiting to have a go. One bee, at this time in the year, its autumn after all, and it finds me, in a city full of people, who are out and about, I step out for 2 mins to check mail and BANG!! hmph!

So off I went to the doctor, sat there for a few minutes waiting to be seen, feeling a bit sick but not bad enough to laugh at the others in there. The others were babies, all between the age of 6 months and 2 years. All heading towards the nurse gurgling, coming out bawling, as it was vaccination day. There I sat thinking..HA, HA (like the Simpson kid) till I got called in.

Seems to be I am allergic myself, so off came the jeans and there came the jab! Ouch!! Now the foot remained to be seen to. So guess what, up rolled the sleeve and there came yet another jab..tetanus this time. double Ouch!

Bad day, very bad day, left foot out of commission thanks to glass, right arm out of commission thanks to bee, and left arm out of commission thanks to tetanus, one half of bum out of commission thanks to anti-histamine shot. Yargh. 1 sting + 2 jabs = miserable me!

..and on my way home, the pathetic sense of humour comes back and the only sad joke I could think of, came to me.

What did the terminator say to the bee when it stung him in SanFrancisco?
He shot it, and then said, Hasta La Vista Bay Bee!!!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Straight Talking.

Being an immigrant in any country / city means a lot of times, the easiest conversation consists of a compare and contrast discussion of cities and places and people. In my case I have heard the Delhi Vs Bombay, India Vs UK, London Vs Edinburgh, Leicester Vs London Vs Cambridge Vs Glasgow etc etc too many times. Often leading to broad generalisations, personal opinions and some very heated heads.

So when my friend came over for dinner..the conversation veered towards the Uk vs US debate. I have never been particularly keen to visit the US..nothing lures/ interests me, call me stubborn (but I have my reasons) when a friend who defines herself as Leftist / Marxist went for a short US holiday and came back, she was surprisingly surprised to find herself liking the place. And highly recommended a visit. This though is not the point here. The converation..thats what I am talking about here.

The conversation:

Friend: I loved SFO, its great. Pretty, cosmopolitan, lovely weather..really really loved it. You must go.
Guest: Yes it supposed to be great.
Husband: Yes I was supposed to join work in San Jose, not too far from SFO
Friend: Oh you would have loved it.
Guest: You did not go? why? You chose London over SFO? UK over US..(intensely incredulous look appears on guests face)
Husband: (killer line coming): I chose MY WIFE.
Silence on the table, while friends give husband more brownie points, guest is appropriately shut up, and wife is suitably impressed!


* Need to blog about 'guest' in detail later

Monday, September 15, 2008

Some more in the name of Religion

The Delhi blasts came out the blue, as blasts tend to do. Here I was sitting miles away, worrying, fretting and hoping that by some miracle the ones I love were not close to the horrific blasts.
You always hope, that no one you know, is amongst the statistics that come out of such news. Frantic phone calls/ emails later, all seemed to be ok. Relief? Hardly. You hold your breath for the next promised one, and try to live with the held breath, whispered prayers and a wish for peace.
Some more precious lives, taken, in the name of God. In the name of freedom. In the name of justice or whatever it is the bombers want. It is not right, its not agreeable and it gets you nowhere. Killing people for what? As a reaction to something? Is it a tit for tat? No..every death, adds to the toll, does not take away from anything. It adds. Eye for an eye will make us all blind someone should we keep going? Are bombs the only way to make yourself heard? Are we that deaf to other people's plight, that we need a blast to wake us up?

Waking up, getting on with our lives, as if nothing happened? Is that a solution?
Saying, we carry on, that a solution? or an ostrich like attempt at problem solving. Why would some kill? It is not human nature.

Where are we headed?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ma-isms (Mother-isms)

Things I have heard my mother say, over the years, repeatedly, which I have over a period of time realised were not exclusive to my mother..hence the list. I dont tag, but feel free to add onto this list:

1. Listen to me, I know
2. I know because I am older (thereby wiser)
3. I only want the best for you
4. In doing/ listening/ obeying me, you shall save yourself a lot of misery
5. If you listen to me you wont suffer
6. I dont understand these new fangled ideas
7. By the time I was your age, I had been married for 6 years and had 3 children
8. You never listen to me anyway, so why are you asking for advice?
9. You think you know it all, you don't
10.There is no harm in listening to advice once in a while
11.No matter what you say, somethings will not change
12.There is a time and place for everything, you have to deal with it
13.Friends are good, but not always, maintain distance
14.My hair has not turned grey in the sun (they denote wisdom of the years)
15.Someday you shall have a child of your own and then you will understand my pain
16.For your wedding I shall do as I please, you can have your way at your child's wedding
17.There are some rules, which need to be followed, not questioned
18.A boy never has anything to lose (as opposed to a girl aka me)
19.No one wants a girl who airs her opinions freely, all the time
20.Learn to sit still
21.Dont listen to me, but then dont come crying back to me either
22.We shall think/ see about that later (means NO!)
23.You think I know nothing
24.I can see inside your head and heart
25.You can never lie to me, and get away with it
26.I always want what is best for you, you might not always see it, but I can
27.Why cant you just listen without arguing
28.There is no point in my saying anything to you, you think you know it all
29.Men expect certain things in a marriage, no matter which century we live in
30.Space is good, take it, dont explain it, never argue over it
31.The man in your life, does not need to know everything, always
32.Traditions have no reasons, they just are, made to be followed
33.I shall call you by your married name, like it or not (changed or not)
34.For me, you shall always be a child
35.Please behave your age
36.The later you leave it, the harder it will be (have children now)
37.You young people/ generation your minds are in the skies
38.I always wish you happiness, but you seem to not want happiness
39.You overreact to things, calm down, grow up
40.Tch, I am not going to say anything (followed by a 40min monologue)

Tuesday, September 09, 2008


I cant wander too far from this topic. I had not been thinking too hard about it till I saw this

Tahaan, is a story set in Kashmir.

Another movie about Kashmir. I dont think it shall be able to skirt the political conflict in Kashmir.

Last night I saw the trailer, it blazed the mountains back into my mind, I heard the wan wun being sung...and it came rushing back. The love I have for the place and the strong urge to drop everything and go back. Seeing the mountains through the eyes of Santosh Sivan made me shiver..I want to go back. To my mountain land.

High snow capped mountains,
with snow and clouds intermingling,
making the peak play hide and seek.

Mist rising from the mountains,
the sheer drops and sharp angles.
The smell of winter,
of wood and wool.

A sound track plays in my head,
the thrill of being here cant be described.
The need for going back cant be explained.
The place where my soul comes to rest.

I saw the cities,
I saw the countries,
I saw the seas, the lakes and the rivers,
None held me back,
none made me turn and whisper,
I shall come back, soon.

Kashmir did.
ravished, ruined, bled.
tears, protests, death.
missing people, maimed people.
distress, stress and strong sentiments.
riches and poverty,
guns and narcissi,
lakes and boats,
beak noses, skull caps and pherans.
Pain of loss.
Attempts at peace.

The valley remains,
heart achingly beautiful.
Snow covered and mist shrouded.

Parts of it like a newly wedded bride,
hidden behing multiple layers,
glimpses visible,
hiding, shy, beautiful.
Parts of it defiant and challenging,
mother nature in all its stark, raw beauty.
Awe inspiring, beckoning, challenging,

..softly, on a misty breath..
come..come back.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Police complaints

I tend not to resort to using other people's writing on my blog, but this was too good to not share. This is a complaint to Devon & Cornwall Police Force from an angry member of the public.

Dear Sir/Madam/Automated telephone answering service,
Having spent the past twenty minutes waiting for someone at Bodmin police station to pick up a telephone I have decided to abandon the idea and try e-mailing you instead.

Perhaps you would be so kind as to pass this message on to your colleagues in Bodmin, by means of smoke signal, carrier pigeon or Ouija board.

As I'm writing this e-mail there are eleven failed medical experiments (I think you call them youths) in St Mary's Crescent, which is just off St Mary's Road in Bodmin.

Six of them seem happy enough to play a game which involves kicking a football against an iron gate with the force of a meteorite. This causes an earth shattering CLANG! which rings throughout the entire building.
This game is now in its third week and as I am unsure how the scoring system works, I have no idea if it will end any time soon.

The remaining five walking-abortions are happily rummaging through several bags of rubbish and items of furniture that someone has so thoughtfully dumped beside the wheelie bins. One of them has found a saw and is setting about a discarded chair like a beaver on speed.

I fear that it's only a matter of time before they turn their limited attention to the bottle of Calor gas that is lying on its side between the two bins.
If they could be relied on to only blow their own arms and legs off then I would happily leave them to it. I would even go so far as to lend them the matches.

Unfortunately they are far more likely to blow up half the street with them and I've just finished decorating the kitchen.

What I suggest is this - after replying to this e-mail with worthless assurances that the matter is being looked into and will be dealt with, why not leave it until the one night of the year (probably bath night) when there are no mutants around then drive up the street in a Panda car before doing a three point turn and disappearing again. This will of course serve no other purpose than to remind us what policemen actually look like.

I trust that when I take a claw hammer to the skull of one of these throwbacks you'll do me the same courtesy of giving me a four month head start before coming to arrest me.

I remain sirs, your obedient servant



Mr ??????,

I have read your e-mail and understand your frustration at the problems caused by youths playing in the area and the problems you have encountered in trying to contact the police.

As the Community Beat Officer for your street I would like to extend an offer of discussing the matter fully with you.

Should you wish to discuss the matter, please provide contact details (address / telephone number) and when may be suitable.

PC ?
Community Beat Officer


Dear PC ?
First of all I would like to thank you for the speedy response to my original e-mail.

16 hours and 38 minutes must be a personal record for Bodmin Police Station, and rest assured that I will forward these details to Norris McWhirter for inclusion in his next book.

Secondly I was delighted to hear that our street has its own Community Beat Officer.

May I be the first to congratulate you on your covert skills? In the five or so years I have lived in St Mary's Crescent , I have never seen you. Do you hide up a tree or have you gone deep undercover and infiltrated the gang itself? Are you the one with the acne and the moustache on his forehead or the one with a chin like a wash hand basin? It's surely only a matter of time before you are head-hunted by MI5.

Whilst I realise that there may be far more serious crimes taking place in Bodmin, such as smoking in a public place or being Christian without due care and attention, is it too much to ask for a policeman to explain (using words of no more than two syllables at a time) to these tw*ts that they might want to play their strange football game elsewhere.

The pitch on Fairpark Road , or the one at Priory Park are both within spitting distance as is the bottom of the Par Dock, the latter being the preferred option especially if the tide is in.

Should you wish to discuss these matters further you should feel free to contact me on . If after 25 minutes I have still failed to answer, I'll buy you a large one in the Cat and Fiddle Pub.


P.S If you think that this is sarcasm, think yourself lucky that you don't work for the cleansing department, with whom I am also in contact!!