Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The Truant Specs

This happened for the first time in the late 90s; my specs played truant. One day, in my Bank, i suddenly found that my specs were missing. Occasionally, i used to put down the specs on my table while working. I must have done the same that day. However, when i looked for it, it was not on my table. I searched for it among the papers lying there but it was not to be found!

 In the Bank, following the Management Concept of ‘Floor Walking’,  i used to occasionally walk around in the Banking Hall, to ensure that the customers were being served properly. In this process, i used to go the junior officers, sit in front of them for a while and then come back. I thought that while doing this, i might have removed my specs and kept it on some officer’s table. So i went around the whole banking hall and searched for my specs. But it had vanished into thin air!

I became sad at the thought of shelling out some money for an expense which was not necessary; however, i had no choice other than getting a new pair. For this i got my eyes tested once again, which also involved some outgo. Sometime before that i had read somewhere, “If you spend a hundred rupees on some item out of your own volition, you will not feel unhappy; if you lose a hundred rupees, you will definitely feel so.” Such a feeling engulfed my heart :(((((((((((

This feeling tapered off in a few days but got revived after some more days when a customer came to me, apologized profusely, took out a pair of specs from his brief case and handed it to me saying that on that day, he had by mistake put my specs which were lying on my table, in his brief case while leaving! He belonged to a far off place and could return it to me only during his subsequent visit!

Did i become happy on getting back my lost property? Or, unhappy at the revival of a sad feeling?

Since then, i have made it a practice, whenever i change my specs, to preserve the old specs to use it as a standby in case the specs in use go missing.


Five years after that, my specs repeated the disappearing act at another place. One evening, i discovered that my specs had gone missing. The wife and i turned the house upside down, searching for the missing treasure but it eluded us. I tried to recollect the places i had visited that day to think over the possibility of having left the specs there. We had gone to restaurant for lunch that day. Often i used to remove my specs while taking food, for better comfort. So there was a possibility of having left the specs there. I felt lucky to have brought the restaurant bill, which contained its phone number. I was about to call the restaurant when i remembered that we had gone there by car and i had driven it. I could not have driven during the return journey had i left the specs at the restaurant! :(((((((((((((((((((((

Where had the specs gone? Oh, where?

The wife had a flash! It might have gone with the kitchen-waste to the compost-pit in our backyard. What a weird idea, I wondered.

I have a penchant for gardening; wherever I have gone in the course of my job, i have set up a garden in all possible spots, in the backyard, on the roof-top, on the balcony, that is any spot where some soil can be placed. I used to utilize kitchen-waste to fertilise the soil. On my insistence, the wife puts two small bins in the kitchen for dumping the waste; one for non-biodegradable waste and the other for the biodegradable type. Daily, i take the second bin and disgorge the contents in my garden.

The wife felt - I do not know why- that the specs might have gone to one of these bins. The housemaid had already cleaned out the first; so there was no way to check it. So she (the wife) thought that we can look into the other one. The contents of the second bin also had been removed, i.e., transferred to the compost-pit in the garden. She asked me to go and look in the pit. I pooh-poohed the suggestion but on her insistence and because it was my specs to be searched for, i went and examined the pit. As i had predicted, the specs were not there.

The wife does not have faith in my ability to do anything worthwhile. Also, she does not give up anything so easily. She looked at me with disdain and asked our maid to do the search again, promising her a reward if she found the specs. The maid went to our backyard, triumphantly returned after about 10 minutes, with an ear-to-ear smile, proudly holding out my missing specs and demanded the promised reward! The wife threw another dismissive look towards me, took the specs and regally proceeded to fulfill her promise to the maid!! I sheepishly tried to suppress the happiness on my face at the retrieval of my lost accessory.             

Till today, i have not been able to decipher as to how the specs traveled all the way to the compost pit!!!

And, i have also not been able to know why the specs did not go to the other dust-bin, the one meant for receiving the non-biodegradable house-waste. Had it opted for this choice, it would not have been possible to retrieve it as the contents would have gone to the street-side garbage-bin and then, would have been taken away by the cleaning staff of the Municipal Corporation!  I thanked my luck for this.


My specs played for the third time recently. The open area in front of my house is of small size and it is filled with flowering plants and creepers. My backside garden is a largish area. I have planted flowering bushes in the area adjacent to the house. The remaining area is used as a kitchen-garden. I have started planting fruit-bearing trees in a part of this area. Sometime ago, I found that a few champa plants appeared there from nowhere. I was pleasantly surprised and have allowed these to grow. They were followed by two kadamba plants. I love kadamba flowers. Kadamba trees remind one about Radha-Krishna rasalila.  I treated these unplanted trees as pleasant gifts from nature to a nature-lover like me. However the kadamba plants grew very fast and became tall trees, overshadowing the fruit-bearing trees. So, reluctantly and with a heavy heart, i cut down one of these. Kadamba trees have spreading branches and large leaves. So, after rather cruelly felling the growing tree, i cut down its branches and separated the leaves. I spread this huge quantity of leaves in the garden to decompose and become natural manure. With all this work, i became tired and came back to the house to take some rest.

Oh, suddenly i discovered that the ridge on my nose was bare! The specs were not sitting there!

I entered the house and told the wife about the disappearing act of the specs. She let go a scream and asked me to go back to the garden and search. Giving up my desire for rest, i rushed back. A look at the big area covered with leaves nipped in the bud any hope of retrieving my lost property. However, I did search the area but soon lost hope and patience. When i came back to the house empty-handed and empty-nosed, the wife dispatched the maid-servant to do the search. Half-heartedly, i followed her. Both of us searched and searched but luck eluded us. She lost patience and started coming back; i followed her almost limping. Then i saw a spark; the rims of the specs, perched on a raised branch of the felled tree, were gleaming gloriously in the morning sun!!! A sigh of huge relief escaped my nostrils.

What was the wife’s reaction? Better i shall not tell.:)))))))))))         

I pray and hope that this will be last Episode in this Serial. 

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The First Born

If you utter a word before a baby, it imitates and parrot-like repeats the word. In the same way, when this morning, i received an overseas call to listen the words ‘Happy Birthday’, i repeated the two words.

It was a call from Daughter I, who lives in the U S of A, to wish me on my birthday. I repeated the two words to her as today is her birthday also. Yes, Daughter I and i share our birth day. It is a good coincidence. Both of us consider ourselves lucky for this.

First Born children have certain advantages over their later born siblings. Birth of the first child is a thrilling and exciting experience for a couple. The expectant mother dreams and plans about how she would welcome the family’s new member. The joys of the thought ‘I am going to have a baby.’ have few comparisons.

In Odisha, a special festival is earmarked for the first born child. It is called ‘Prathamastami’ which usually comes in November. On this day, the First Born gets new clothes. She/he takes bath early morning, wears new clothes and her face is decorated with chandan (sandalwood) paste.  The child’s maternal uncle provides these new clothes every year. Puja is performed and special ‘pitha’ (cakes) and other tasty dishes are prepared on this occasion. A special item called ‘Enduri Pitha’ is prepared. It is a steamed item made from rice, cheese, coconut, sugar and other ingredients. The dough along with the stuffing is placed in leaves of turmeric plants and then steamed. In the process of steaming, some juice of turmeric leaves enters the dough and gives enduri pitha its unique and distinct flavour and taste.

 Ou leaves also are used to prepare enduri pitha.‘Ou’ is a typical tree found in Odisha and some parts of West Bengal. It bears round fruits which are sour. The 5 petals of its flower evolve into a fruit. The fruit is added to some curries to give a sour taste. The fruit is also used to prepare a kind of mouth-watering pickles. Banana leaves also are used to prepare Enduri pitha. However, the unique flavour of enduri pitha can be had only by using turmeric leaves.

 The second and the other children are not given this special treatment.

When Daughter I was born, the wife was in her parental home in Odisha, India. I was in U P. The good news was conveyed to me by telegram. I have preserved this telegram (I have added a photo of this in my post ‘Mother Serious Stop Come Soon’ dated 26.06.2013. )

While in the school, she started learning Odissi dance.

  Later, she also started learning painting.

 It was a pleasant job to select a suitable match for her.


As in the case of all fathers, my eyes became moist when she went to her sasural.The mother's emotions were less controlled.

When this ‘baby’ of ours had her first baby (a girl), she told us proudly “I have made her.” I told her what i had seen in an advertisement for baby-food, ‘It feels like someone has taken out a part of you and yet has made you complete!’ 

Wish us a happy birthday!