26 November 2009

Baby's day out

My aunt (mom's sister) and her hubby have one son. He is currently away from home in Delhi for studies. Ever since he left, they have been disconsolate and eventually my uncle got a parakeet as a pet to ward off the gloom. The bird is named Tom after Tom Cruise. Its almost a year old now, they got it early this year.

Tom is like the baby of the house. He wakes up everyone in the morning with his cute chirping - he chatters nineteen to the dozen. He loves to sit on the dining table when everyone is having breakfast, lunch or dinner. He is fond of rice and actually eats from my uncle's tongue! He even calls my uncle and aunt by their names.

He is a bit wary of strangers but once you feed him, and he has had time to know you, he will condescend to acknowledge you. If you give him your palm in the shape of a perch, he will climb onto it in a dignified manner and start making his way to your shoulder. If you are a girl, he will love to play with your chain, ear-rings etc. If you are a male, he will perch himself on your shoulder and go to sleep. Btw, did I mention that he prefers males to females? Other times he loves to walk(waddle) on the floor and if he sees anyone's feet, he will climb up and again make his way to the shoulder.

Tom doesn't know how to fly much as he was caged almost since birth, though at my aunt's place, is he usually outside his cage. Yesterday morning though, after breakfast, Tom went missing. He had apparently flown out the front door from my aunt's place. My aunt-uncle were frantic with worry. They live on the top floor of their building. Since Tom can't fly well, they were anxious about his landing. Perdators such as cats were a nightmare. They searched high and low for him. They alerted neighbors in their building as well as surrounding buildings, their daily help, and anyone they met to look out for their missing parakeet.

My usually stoic uncle was actually seen to shed a few tears. Both of them had had no food since breakfast. My grandmother arrived to give them moral support. She was the one who updated me on the events of the day. By late afternoon, they had given up all hope. My uncle was so disconsolate that he called the person they had got Tom from and asked them for another bird. They were about to set out to collect the other bird, when their chowkidar shouted that he saw a different bird on the third floor of the building opposite to their flat. My uncle hurried to the spot. And sure enough, there was Tom! He was sitting forlornly most probably repenting his flight. The moment he saw my uncle, he chattered non-stop and flew to his arm. There he was perched all the time until uncle brought him home. Once back in his cage, he drank and ate from his bowls alternately while his eyes were drooping with exhaustion . The little one was on the verge of dropping from hunger, thirst and the excitement of the day.

How happy my aunt and uncle were to have him back! Their baby had had a harrowing day out and so had they. Alls well that ends well.

24 November 2009

What's your Raashee?


Watched Ashutosh's Gowarikar's movie by this name recently. It is based on a Gujarati novel - Kimball Ravenswood by Shri Madhu Rye. It is about the much-debated topic of astrology that has suddenly gained popularity among the masses. Ashutosh probably wanted to cash in on this trend and ventured into hitherto unexplored territory(for him) of the rom-com. The protagonist - Yogesh Patel has to get married in 10 days in the arranged way and wants to meet one girl from each raashee to give him a chance to fall in love(as if!). This is the plot in which Priyanka Chopra gets to play 12 different characters - you guessed it- a girl from each raashee. Am still not sure if the movie was meant to be a primer on 12 astrological signs, OR a satire on how complicated women are, OR just a sad attempt at a suspense-ful romantic movie.

The less said about the movie, the better. About the raashees - well, I am a keen student of astrology myself and know some of the traits. I mean, just yesterday, I was in a conference room with some colleagues at office. Someone spilled some coffee from their mug onto the table. While most others ignored the small stain on the table, one of the colleagues quietly fetched some paper towels from the pantry and wiped the stain. I promptly asked him - "Are you a Virgo?" and he nodded in chagrin :) So you see, I do know my raashees.

Many of the cliched traits attached to various signs have been used in the movie e.g. Scorpio women love to dress to kill and can be fire and ice at the same time. Libra women are too level-headed almost to the point of being ..ummm... anal. Leo women love to be in the limelight and have pre-conceived notions. Pisces women live under illusions. Cancer women are the naive, honest ones who get taken advantage of, Virgo women are hypochondriacs - they see and fear disease all around them and Capricorn women suffer hardship from a very tender young age.

Though I have studied all the signs and guessing people's sun-signs is my favorite pastime; I sincerely feel that the world's population cannot be so summarily categorized into 12 zodiac signs. Having said that, I do believe that astrology is a powerful science and not something to be dismissed as nonsense. After all, if our wise forefathers spent so much time analyzing it then there must be some truth in the subject although no demonstrable evidence has been unearthed or documented yet. It is definitely not a simple matter of knowing one's sunsign/moonsign and reading up the traits for that. Its a complex subject where positions of all planets at the time of birth need to be studied and their positions relative to each other taken into account. When this is done, every horoscope chart is unique, no two are alike. Hence, every individual is unique and cannot be generalized under a category so easily.

Then there is the debate regarding what is construed as the birth time? Is it the time when the baby was conceived, or when the baby gives its first cry after being born, or when the umbilical cord is cut and baby is completely on its own for the first time? Do the doctors or nurses note this time accurately? Hard to tell. So whatever time we know as our birth time, may not even be accurate. It is a vast and deep topic, more of a statistical study than a science. Hence, it cannot be deciphered in a 2-hour movie or a 2 month course. How can some so-called astrologers make a profession out of it then? Probably, that's why there is the notion of Western Astrology where they have signs by birth month instead of birth time. But, there is room for confusion even in that if we go by the various different calendars that are followed all over the world. The Chinese got it right (as usual!) by dividing the signs as per birth year. There is not much margin for error here. But the categorization is even more bizarre - imagine being put in the same league as your pesky classmate with the horrible teeth-clips !

One of my relatives has this annoying habit of calling me up and asking me - "Nilu, tell me more about my sunsign. Will I be happy? Will I get the home I always dreamed of?" Or when one of my friends is getting married, I get asked "The girl's raashee is so-and-so. Will we get along fine?" Its too late to warn by then anyway as all the plans are made and one doesn't want to be seen as a spoil-sport. I feel like a doctor, who no matter where she goes, is always accosted by people for their symptoms of something or the other. No rest for the doctor or the astrologer in this day and age!

Any guesses for which of the raashee's girl the hero hitches up with? Watch the movie.

Decision making - an underrated skill

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