Friday, February 25, 2011

For Those Who Came In Late

Morning read of HT over my cuppa... and a familiar face of a forgotten friend pops out of a  weekend story.
It's the Phantom. Ghost who walks.

Took me down memory lane when we were young and comics were the biggest source of entertainment.

My collection consisted of Amar Chitra Kathas, Phantom, a couple of Mandrakes, some war comics ( dunno why I liked them though) and Tarzan.

Comics would make an entry when I stood first in class, on my birthday and when my uncles and aunts used to visit us. I would run  through the pages like an express train and then go back and read and reread. Would carefully script out- This comic belongs to Babita Baruah. And the date.

Because comics were borrowed and lent with ease. And sometimes never returned.

Mum would take a bunch of old comics and have them bound up into a thick volume. These were my prized possessions and I would write in big and bold," Please do not borrow". Seems a little selfish now- but those were the days.

What I earned for were the more expensive Archies,  Little Archies and of course, Tintins.  Managed to coax Mum into buying me an Archie digest once a bluemoon. Never owned a Tintin. But read all of them at Rikhi uncle's place. He was an avid Tintin fan.

What made comics tick?

The stories.
The colours.
The art.
They fuelled imagination, made us lead make believe lives when we played, transported us to a different world of rakshasas, heroes, man in the wild.

Phantom was my hero. I followed every strip I could lay my hands on.
Was sad when he married Diana. Celebrated the birth of the twins- Kit and Heloise.
I marvelled at all Phantoms being called Kit.

And wondered and wondered what Phantom looks like.
For as the old Jungle saying goes- "He who sees the Phantom's face, dies a horrible death".

These were the childhood and adolescent years.
When comics helped us lead the life of fun, adventure, friendship and camaraderie.

Today comics have lost their exalted place to newer means of reading, entertainment.
But to me and maybe a whole lot of people out there, comics will always have a special place in our bookshelves. And hearts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

On Pit Stop Efficiencies and Winning the Race

There was a time when  pit stop efficiency ruled my life.
Everything done on time, with perfection.
No room for mistakes. No fall back.
The smallest of errors can lead to losing that vital race.

Did I deliver? Yes I did.
Was I happy? Yes I was.

Happiness  can be subjective and relative.

Today, I have realised that some things have changed for the better.
Efficiencies and perfection  are still key. Both at work and at home.

But I have let go of the pit stop prowess.
So what if I spend a couple of minutes more over that coffee in the morning.
So what if I my daughter spills her water colour on my kurta just as I am about to leave for work
So what if a trip is cancelled
So what if a day  hasn't gone off as anticipated

I did not dial up or down the pit stop prowess.
I just changed my race.

Sometimes it is  just the wrong race that steers us off the path of smiles and laughter.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Reclaiming Those Smiles

Seventeen years  are not just dates, minutes and seconds to be struck off a calender.

They are moments to live, friends to make and cherish, work that makes you grow , passion that makes you flourish.

Once gone, they are lost forever in the mist of time.

While we make copious lists of things and possessions to be reclaimed legally, is there a way of claiming back those lost moments.

There is none.

Makes me realise  even more than before how important it is to stop by and smell those roses, take that walk together, write that letter I have promised to write, go for  that holiday with the parents, have babies, entertain. Find time for our passion,  enjoy our work and profession, smile when we enter office everyday.

For no petition can ever restore time. And what's lost with it. We can only hope to make the best of what we have left.

This and many more thoughts cloud my mind as I look out of a foggy window into nothingness.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A Personal Word to your Valentine

Valentine's Day.
Roses. Teddies. Chocolates. Bracelets. Dates.

This is the usual ritual  which   most of us, me included ( once upon a time ) follow.
And enjoy. And feel good.
And why not? It's all available in stores. Or at a drop of a hat. Or a tap of a key.
The world has changed. We all have.

But then again- isn't love all about how we feel?
Isn't it the strongest of all emotions?
Isn't V-Day that oneday when we have the permission to express our innermost deepermost feelings?

Yet we share roses with a tag written "with love" by a half literate florist's shaky hand.
A card written by a commercial writer in one corner of the world.
A teddy packed in China. Or wherever.

Are we compromising on the art of writing?
Or on the  power of words?

When was it when we wrote a long letter to our loved ones?
When was the last time we bought and wrote a personal message on a card.

For those of us in marketing and communications, the one word we keep repeating all the time is "personalization".
We keep pushing for brands to be more personalized, more human.

Isn't it time we brought in some personalization  into our lives as well?

Happy Valentine's Day everyone.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sarees and Saraswati Puja and more....

Today is Saraswati Puja.
Realised it only afer reading the FB status of my dear friend, Joyi.

Took me  many years back to a beautiful wintry day in Cotton College , Guwahati, Assam.
The day would start with  me fumbling and rumbling around Ma's "Godrej" ( which stood for all steel almirahs incidentally), pulling out saree after saree, mekhela after mekhela.
In those golden days, I was , well, not so "healthy looking", so Ma's blouses had to be quickly had altered around the arms by Ma- she hated anyone wearing loose blouses.

Finally, after a  gruelling hour of decision making and almost driving Ma up the wall, I would take the final call.

Next hour was a flurry of shower, lipsticking, mad scurry for a matching bindi and earrings, slipping on my highest heels so that I looked tall, Ma pinning up the aachal of the saree or mekhela chadar.

And then,  coated with compliments from Ma and the neighbouring aunties, I would walk down the four floors of our flat and catch the bus to Cotton College.

Oh what a  canvas ... a riot of colours.... everyone dressed in their almost  bridal best, the gates lined with pillars of banana plants and woven with auspicious mango leaves,  blarring  music from loudspeakers propped up on makeshift bamboo pillars.

And the beautifully decorated pandals with the Goddess  idol, pujari chanting the mantras.

After all the compliments from friends and the appreciating looks and stares from the "boys", we would go pandal hopping around the campus.

Each hostel would vie with each other for the best puja pandal and celebration - the students would have stayed up all night decorating,  putting up lights, dancing in the small vans while ushering the Goddess into the pandal from the idol makers.

Professors and students mingled as one.

The neighbouring girl's college would be the hive of attention, with gorgeous girls and their gorgeous wear.

Lunch would be "khichri and labra bhaji" in one of the pandals and maybe in more than one of the pandals.

Love and romance dotted the air, with  romantic couples sitting close together, sharing a meal in Feeds or Hotel Prag or Sunflower.....

Droves of girlfriends would go for a stroll down Panbazar and Fancy Bazar.

It would be late evening when I reached home.

Ma would also be back from work around the same time- so usually  our puja at home was a quick lighting of the diya in our regular  puja corner in the kitchen and Ma, my sister and me chanting ," Saraswati Saraswati, Konthe gulapi......"

There would be vegetarian dinner that night- either puri sabzi or khichri and potato fries.

As we retired for the night, I would revisit the day, the pujas, the sarees..... and wished that such days would continue in our lives.
Days that brought all our friends together
Celebrations we all revelled in
Prayers which created an atmosphere so positive that there were no foes or illwill that day

That is what religious celebrations are about.
Nothing could match up  to  the spirit of friendship and camaraderie all of us felt on this auspicious day.