The Taxi ride.

The husband had a school reunion – which in my priorities of life is way up there, somewhere way above back seat driving and just a notch below spending an evening drinking with good buddies.

We left home together, I took a cab from  half the way to meet our friends, and he was to join later.

We stopped our car, next to a taxi driver. He was staring ahead. And he was rocking himself mumbling something.That itself should have deterred me! Nevertheless he agreed to go to our destination and I got into the cab.

Oh! Man. The man was a certified maniac. He drove of at top speed and screeched to a halt at the next signal. Then he tried to weave his way between three cars. Yes!! Truly! I’m not joking. He was hallucinatory – because he kept thinking he was driving not a car but a road racer cycle with wheels no broader that 5 mm. He kept backing up and trying to squeeze his car in between whatever he could squeeze it between, cycles,car, hawkers, bus, ambulance, the wind!

At one point he over took three cars, not one after the other but all at the same time. They were all driving next to each other, keeping to their lanes. “This wont do!” he thought, and with a surge of adrenalin, he vigorously  changed the gear of his car, and took off, over taking all three cars, till I realised I am on the other side of the road,  – the wrong side. I screamed and lamented, but the bizarre man, just shrugged it off saying there were no cars on the other side and its ok to use that road. Thats when I started reciting the Hanuman Chalisa.

After many such sudden rocket launching type take offs, and race car type skidding halts, we reached the bottom of Malabar Hill. Now Malabar Hill, is actually a small hill. Not like those fancy streets named Brooks Hill, where you see neither a brook nor a hill!

The climb is pretty steep. When I directed him to take the left to the top of the hill, he just paused at the bottom of the hill. Seeing his hesitation, I asked him if his car will make it. In answer he grunted, rocked back and front twice, took a deep breath, and launched his car. In his mind he roared “Jai Bajrang Bali, aaj to tu dikha de isko!!’ (Salutions Oh! Monkey God,  today you show this woman what I am capable of!)

He was hoping there would be no other car ahead of him, and that he could take off at the same gear without having to stop his car. Unfortunately, cars kept coming up ahead of him, and he had to keep halting. That man did not take his legs off the accelerator, and whenever he had to stop he would pull the the hand brake – with the same ferocity he used to change gears. His entire body would jerk with either action. As a result the tyres would keep spinning even when the car had halted. My prayers went up with even more fervour.

Finally when we reached the top of the hill, his car slowed down in direct proportion to his and my own heart beat. Two minutes later we stopped at our destination. I scuttled out of the car,and peered through the window and asked his final fare. With a weak voice and a giant pause,  he gave me the amount.

I went away happy to be in one piece. Just once I turned around to see what he was doing. He was slumped against the seat, rocking back and forth, very relieved to know – I am sure – that he did not have to push his car uphill.

 

Mr. Jaysinh Mariwala – my mentor, my guide.

I have had a very rough year! (There I admit it!)

The elder kid left in 2012. I felt like my arm had been wrenched out of my body, and my skin was peeled from my face. At some point the husband and me settled down. Every night when she was safely in bed, I could function without hyperventilating. In 2014 the younger one left. I thought I had my emotions down pat, and knew how to deal with the hollowness!! Not true!

The twilight hours would find me moping around. I have lots to do, a busy household, work and great hobbies. But nothing seemed to light up and shine! I needed a dose. A shot of effervescence and bonhomie.

I had forgotten about Jaysinh Mariwala.

Mr. Jaysing Mariwala
Mr. Jaysinh Mariwala

I met him 3 years ago, in Mahabaleshwar. He helped shape our house, and helped shape me.

When I entered uncle’s home for the first time, I heard loud ear blasting Indian Classical music. He and me clicked instantly. How could we not .. love of whisky, cooking, books, and indian classical vocal music – in that order. (He has a humongous and stunning collection of music.)

He cooks – and so well. I must have eaten quite a number of meals at his place, and not once have I ever eaten the same dish. One evening he made fondue, and when I put a piece of the cheese covered bread in my mouth, the taste left me so surprised I almost choked. He had cheekily used blue cheese and made his own version, and man was it good! It just illuminates the point of how creative he can be!

He cooks, he paints, (they are all over his house and range from abstract to realism) he reads, he conducts music concerts, he gives talks, he treks (Yes – still! Twice a year – Himalayas and other obscure places!) and he runs his own Hospital, which has taken off and is now extremely successful. By now, I mean – it’s only 4 years old. He did something as amazing before that – I am sure.

A few months ago, I was sipping whisky and chatting with him. He said, a week before that, he felt a tightness, in his chest, while playing golf (Hmm! that too.) and again the next day when he went for a walk (Yes! that also – he is amazing I am telling you!). So he took himself off to the hospital, and by the time his daughter in law came running in, (he lost his wife some, many years ago) he had already signed himself in for an angio and further action if required. And a week after that he was in Mahabaleshwar, porting around a sorted heart, after undergoing a stent placement! And (Yup! that’s not the end!) he went for a trek to Nagaland one month after that.

And (there are many ands to this man!) a few months before that when I met him, he was sporting heavy bruises on his face. Seems he had gone for a trek and a small stampede happened and he rolled 40 feet towards the crevice of the mountain and stopped rolling at the nick of time. Undaunted that man, still got up, put an end to the trek, saying he knew when to retreat, and planned another one a few months later!

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uncle and the husband.

When my husband meets him, I see adoration and extreme happiness in his eyes. We always go home smiling and grinning. The past seems more happy and the future is welcome with all its angst. He is my injection and my guide.

I keep his picture handy. I keep him in my mind. When small problems of life attack me and threaten to spill my confidence I think of him. He says he never feels lonely, living alone in the woods, as he does. He has so much to do, where is the time to feel lonely and unhappy.

The man has had 2 by pass surgeries, and a few stents. He still lives, still drinks, still walks every morning, still laughs and God! Tells bawdy jokes after a couple of drinks!

He does not apologise to life and does not let life apologise to him. There lies the secret of his success, because he knows that there is nothing he cannot do.

I stopped feeling bad for myself. I stopped the self pity. For I have uncle as an example to guide me. I meet him and my life shines. I talk to him and I hear the voice of a mentor. I drink with him and enjoy the whisky even more.

I love that man. And he is all I ever want to be.

 

MY UNIQUE MARIWALA UNCLE

PS: HE KEEPS SNAKE ANTI VENOM IN HIS HOUSE – KNOWS HOW TO AND, HAS ADMINISTERED IT TO MANY PEOPLE!

For the progeny, nieces and nephews!

I recently heard a tale of horror.

A family goes to a beach resort. Their 21 years old boy, decides to go out with some friends. When he doesn’t arrive on time the father calls, and a friend picks up. Says he is asleep, not to worry he will come in on time for the flight back home. Come morning, again a friend picks up and says he is a bit unwell, will take the next flight home. The father leaves for hometown. Lands, calls once again and friend says, “ Sorry uncle, your son is dead!!”

Overdose? I don’t know!

Every body has a different physical and internal structure. The same dose, which relaxes your friend, could be lethal for you!

When I heard this I was shocked. But soon got over it and went to bed. The story shot through my head once more and I got up panicking. My kids were 24 hours away. Alone. Left to their own devices – with pot and molly taking acquaintances all around them.

My niece and nephew are at a vulnerable phase of life. The younger ones, are too cute for their own good!

I wanted to immediately, wrap them all up in cotton wool. Then – in a layer of bubble paper. And finally corset them in a blanket and dump them in my largest closet.

I want to keep them safe. Hidden and away from the forbidden.

Distanced from trauma. Safe from harm.

I don’t want their hearts breaking, or their legs for that matter.

I would like them cocooned and nestled, in a comforting loving atmosphere.

Fear should never touch them.

 

But that’s not possible. And that’s not what I really want!

I want broken legs and hearts. I want thorns in their feet and thorns by their side when they get out of the protective shadows of their parents. They need fears and scares. They need to be tempted and learn to resist it. They need to go hungry once in a while. They need to live.

They have to face life. With all it’s little jagged ends.

Fear should produce fight and not flight.

Sweat will build their personality, and scars – character.

Heartbreaks will make them softer and choosier.

Hunger will teach them to be frugal. It might even teach them to cook !!

Overcoming trauma will help strengthen them.

A broken leg will teach my babies a lesson.

Failures will beget success and arrogance will beget failure.

Pride will come before fall, and happiness after sadness.

Some temptations will be yielded to, while some will be rejected. Each choice will teach them something.

And while they go through their turmoil and triumphs, they need to know they have parents (and uncles and aunts) who will hold their hands as well as cheer for them.

 

 

 

 

I hear music.

I hear music everywhere.

In spas,

In bars,

And in the valley, very far.

 

I hear music in my brain.

And the  hum of beats through that beat boxer in the train.

I hear it in the delighted squeals of my nieces and nephews,

It sounds grand when I hear a music review.

 

I hear music when the kids are back home,

And their feet go tap tap on the stairs.

When their friends call out Kanky!

And in the next breath “Hello aunty!”

 

When my son makes the dog run

and go crazy,

And apologizes to him,

Because normally he is so lazy.

I hear music every where,

In my friends soothing voice,

And that particular friend,

Whose “hello” sets me in peals of laughter.

 

I even hear it in grins,

and hugs,

In happiness,

and in love.

 

I hear it when the sisters and sisters in law chat,

and when the husband calls me fat!

I hear it in the brothers breath.

I listen to it for the benefit of my health.

 

I hear music everywhere.

In this that and the other,

I hear music always,

Because I can!!

 

 

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Dead Ends

Dead Ends,

And long roads.

Closed doors,

And uneven floors.

 

Chilly winter nights.

A lovers’ fight.

Hefty bills.

Betrayals that kill.

 

So many negatives,

In one small life

We forget to see

The beauty we can derive.

 

Block them out.

Those that don’t value you.

 

Words that give their mean plans away.

Deeds that make you a game that they can play.

 

Leave them out.

Push them off –

For lives equation has too many variables

and no place for such incompetence.

 

Live

Live my friend.

But amongst those

Who love you,

And with them –

Who you choose.

 

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Dentists.

There is this hotel, near my house. When you drive up to the lobby, the car vibrates terribly, because the road is made that way. The tires grate on the driveway and make terrible sounds. It instantly makes me feel as if I am on a dentist’s chair, and my teeth are being ground with some offensive drill. As it is, I am not too fond of this hotel, and then to arrive to it as if I have just visited a dentist – not happening!!

sets the "teeth" on edge.
sets the “teeth” on edge.

Sometime back, I was called to cater to an opening. I went to meet the client, and when I heard she is a dentist, I shuddered. She saw it and said, with great dignity, “We are fairly painless now, you know”. I catered, but I could not congratulate her!

So they say!!!
So they say!!!

As a kid, mom took us to a “Pediatric Dentist”. Pediatric – my foot. She was the spawn of an evil witch, destined to be more evil than her mother. She had a shrieky voice, rough hands and absolutely no dentist – chair – side, manners. She probed and scraped in wild glee, and kids were not allowed to show their disapproval. I think – no I am sure she did not like kids – that’s why she became their dentist. Easy prey for torture techniques! She had a very, very sweet assistant, and I would always ask for her. One day she was gone. Apparently, one was not supposed to be nice to kids! The day, she had my sister unconscious under general anesthesia, was the day I complained to my dad. And that was the end of our visits to her. I don’t know if she still exists. I am sure, her torture drove one of her patients, to grow up, and kill her. Even now, when I pass the building, which housed her clinic, every hair on my body stands up.

She practiced war moves on us kids!
She practiced war moves on us kids!

Then, mom decided, I needed braces. Which I must have, as I sucked my thumb, till an unmentionable age. I don’t remember the first dentist. But as the braces went in and he tightened the wires, I remember feeling so upset, that I pinched him. Hard! Then at some point the orthodontist changed. He must have been unable to bear the pinches. The second one was a sweet fellow, but he decided every six months, that I needed the braces, for six more months. Mom had stopped coming with me for visits, so, I one day told her he shut down his practice. Just like that. She believed me – perhaps for the last time, and changed the doctor. The third, was told categorically by me, that the braces have to come out. He was not a good doctor, or I must have snarled nastily, because he complied, and put me in retainers. I threw those out a few years ago, from the pile of memorabilia my mom handed to me recently.

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So you see, I have a valid – morbid fear of dentists. I am not an inherently empathetic person. Mostly, I would like to give a dithering, whining person a slap on the face, and ask them to snap out of it. But someone has to just mention an impending visit to the dentist, and I become all soggy inside. That person is my hero till the visit is done.

All this is revealing itself, because I had teeth extraction yesterday. Yup! Two, of them. Nasty it was. In the middle of the night, when I was trying to sleep, 12 hours after the surgery, the clot dislodged itself and my mouth was full of blood. I resembled a cross between a vampire and a werewolf – on a full moon night. After the husband and me leapt out of bed, and called the doctor, and all the blood dribbling down my face was cleaned up, I went into further panic, because the brushing of the teeth with good minty, mouth cleansing toothpaste was pushed further away.

Today morning, even the dog was not willing to meet me.

My friend.

I pick up the phone. My hand is dripping with blood and I am trembling from head to foot. “Hello! *****, I have just murdered that molesting bastard.” And I hear a click on the other side. She has hung up the phone. I go back to trembling, but now that dread is slowly subsiding. That person on the other side, is – I know – madly running and sliding to get to me, after she has thrown all her cash into a bag. I might need it!

She arrives, and takes one look at the situation. A few hours later, I am bathed and clean and the body is nowhere to be found and, never will be. She has helped me hide it! And we both sit down to celebrate the passing away of one more ass hole from this world!!

That’s my friend!!

She came to me late in my life. At a point when I was very comfortable with myself. I had very few friends, and very few friends had me! A stubborn me was about to change.

I love her and admire her. She has told me stories about her family, some are printable and some not. Her mother, who has baby sat her dogs for 2 months, her easy going baby brother, who when, push comes to shove does away with drama in one bloodless slash, her husband, who has the principals of – well I don’t know whom to compare him to, not seen another like him. Her son, whose smile melts the hardness around people, and her dog, who has made me his girl friend. And listening to these stories, was learning. Without realizing I have lost a lot of hardness and biases.

Today, we as a group bid her farewell. Well, I wont! For one, she luckily moves to a city, which is second base for me. I have already booked a snoozing room in their home. For another, friendships never come to an end. Most good ones, go over lifetimes. And this one bloody well had better!

I have always felt, that life is a series of crossroads. We walk down a few longer than others. But when one road comes to an end, it’s always nice to remember the scenery and memories and look forward to walking down another.

I wish everyone, a friend, who will help you hide the body of that person, you murdered!