Hundred Rupees

Once in a while homesickness hits me and it brings a bout of nostalgia with it. And when it does I find myself yearning for those sultry summers, crowded bus rides, long waits in endless queues at the bank, post office etc., - the same things that I used to detest about India a few years back.

Being the first born and having a tom boy streak in me, I often took the role of the son my parents never had. I would replace burnt fuse coils, climb up the attic to fetch rarely used vessels for my mom (she saved them for special occasions ..or when we had company), run errands like going grocery shopping at the Teppakulam market (I was an expert bargainer), going to the bank to withdraw money - going to the postoffice to send a registered mail with acknowledgement form. And mind you this was when I was about 8 or 9 years old - not even a highschooler yet. I would usually wait for an adult to cross the road and I would stay close to them while they crossed it.

I would like to narrate an incident that happenned on one such occasion. I was asked to run an errand to buy something. I am unable to recall what it was now. But I do remember that I did not even have to cross the road and that the place/store where I had to go was only a few minutes walk away from my home. I was holding a small basket (the kind that is woven with plastic wires) and a hundred rupee note in my hand(That was a one time thing - my mom did not have change - I was usually given a maximum of Rs20.00.) After this incident I remember constantly chiding myself for not having held these two items one in each hand. I had both of them in my right hand and half way through my walk I realized that something was wrong...I checked my hand - and you guessed right. The hundred rupee note was gone! I felt a cold hand squeeze my heart...I hastily checked inside the basket, hoping that it would be there....It was not heart was sinking to the depths by the second...and already, tears were welling up my eyes. I backtracked and searched for the hundred rupee note all the way back home, all the time furiously wiping the tears off my eyes...I didn't want to attract the attention of the passers by...still somehow a couple of them stopped and enquired if I was alright "enna paapa aachu?" I thanked them and said I was fine and kept searching. I looked for it thrice (walked back and forth that stretch of sidewalk or platform as we used to call it) and finally had to accept that I had lost it.

I came home crying and my parents were so alarmed.(My dad had just come home for lunch). I explained what had happened and I could see the relief on their eyes. They were terrified that something worse had happened. They consoled me that it was OK...that I didn't do anything wrong....The worst part was that- their understanding didn't make me feel better at all...I blamed myself and could not forgive myself for losing Hundred Rupees of my father's hard earned money. I was only about 8 or 9 but I knew the value of money. I knew that, that was reason for the tense atmosphere in our house during the last week of every month.

Something happened yesterday at home that triggered this post. Something that struck a cord with this incident. We had been on a moving spree these past few months[For those who know me : From Ypsi, MI to Lafayette, IN to Dyersburg, TN to Farmington, MI]. We had dumped our stuff in our cars and had not unloaded everything until yesterday. We hooked up our cable and internet services yesterday and I wanted to hook up the modem with the free wireless router that I had gotten while I bought my Dell laptop. I had been saving it all this while, because I knew that eventually when we moved into our own apartment, we would need it. And yes, you guessed right again - it was gone. Searched the car thrice, searched the entire house numerous times to no avail. And I started crying. Leo could not understand it period. He chided me for getting worked up over something as trivial as a $50.00 Router which I had anyways gotten for free. And I don't blame him. He was right.

Just makes me realize how somethings can get so ingrained in you. It was not the $50 that I was lamenting for - it was the fact that I had disappointed myself yet again. I had lost another Hundred Rupee note.

Vanilla Sky

We watched Vanilla sky tonight. I liked it, although I won't say that it is one of the best ones in the science fiction aisle. What makes me write this post though, is one of the central ideas in the movie: the never ending quest of man to "live" beyond death. What is death after all - isn't it the end of consciousness as we know it? For all those beholding the dead - it looks like the dead person no longer has conscious thought and his physical life system has ceased to function. But what about the dead person him/herself? Is consciousness a separate entity that can exist in an external dimension? What if the dead were not really dead after all? What if they or their consciousness or soul, as we colloquially call it, had somehow transcended into another dimension which is not conceivable or even comprehensible by us.

My deliberations do not serve to shed any light whatsoever at this never ending mystery. Rather it re emphasizes the desire and hope of 90% of humans - that death is not the end, that this life here on earth is not all there is to it, that all our pleasures, pains, sacrifices, prayers, beliefs, temptations, passions, guilts, resentments, rages, smiles, tears and dreams are not all for nothing. We simply do not want to think that it all really does come to an end and there truly is nothing beyond it. However if we somehow accept that this life on earth is all that we have, then I wonder what kind of people we would become. What will happen to righteousness. If we are leading a righteous life now, isn't it partially because we believe in some way or the other, that we will reap the benefits of all our goodness sometime in the future...after our dealth " when it really matters"? What happens then if we convince ourselves that there is no judgment day, there is no accumulation of karma to be carried over to the next janma or no moksha or naraga- no heaven nor hell. Perhaps it is for the best that we believe that death is not the end....

Snow fall and Michigan

We moved to Farmington Hills, Michigan on Monday. Familiar surroundings, lots of Indian faces, 73 degrees F outside and finally Leo and I in our own sweet apartment. Overall we were feeling great. I was able to temporarily forget my abhorrence for the Michigan weather. That is until Wednesday when I had to drop off Leo at the airport for his interview at Merck, NJ. MI weather chose the precise moment I started the car, to rear its ugly head. It started pouring and I was drenched by the time I filled the tank at the gas station. I cursed myself for not having filled it before. Then on the drive, the rain drove me nuts, literally covering the windshield and all windows with a thick sheet of thundering water. There were moments when visibility was nil and I could not decide if I should pull over and risk driving off the edge of the road or keep driving and risk hitting someone in front or slow down and get hit by someone from the rear. Trust me, 275 South is not the freeway where you want to be in this situation. Finally we both made it on time and Leo rushed into the airport after a perfunctory peck on my cheek and a hasty "luv ya". Not surprisingly there was no rain on my drive back and parts of the road were even dry.... it was as if nothing had happened ... Sun was shining.... sky was blue...and there was no sign that the clouds had exploded on us just a few minutes was as if the road and all of the outdoors were mocking my fury and frustration... this was Michigan after all - what was I expecting?

After spending an evening of solitude and saying the family prayers over the speaker phone [leo joined me from the hotel room in NJ] I decided to call my mom. Spent a good two hours on the phone with her - she said she had watched "The lake House" and liked it. Me was happy 'cause I was the only soul in my circle who seemed to be awfully fond of the movie. She is a great fan of Tom Hanks and I was surprized that she hadn't seen Forrest Gump. Recommended that she watch it but ended up narrating the entire story to her. Anyways I said good day to her and good night to myself and finally gave in to slumber.

This morning I was sitting in our living room which was completely bare of anything except for my university days' desk top computer, set on the floor. I was browsing for about 3 hours all the time surreptitiously watching the outside through our two large windows for signs of rain. I've got to go pick Leo up and I want to be prepared this time. Atleast mentally - there's nothing much you can do about it physically right? Anyways I was watching and saw that it was starting to snow!!! It would stop for five minutes and then start again with a gust of wind. At first they were just tiny flurries which would melt even before hitting the ground....I was slowly drawn to the window for a closer look and I stood there watching the first snow of the year for about 15 minutes. Slowly the flakes became larger - like the big fat ones - the kind that stay on the window sill for a few seconds before melting into nothingness...and incredibly I caught myself wishing that it would snow heavier so that the green of our golf course view would turn a pristine white. And then as a slow smile pulled at my cheeks, the realization hit me: MI winter is not so detestable after all :-)