An Encounter with Hitler’s Niece

I’m to be seated aboard my Lufthansa flight by three thirty am, when I am told it is inordinately delayed by three hours. It hurts. A flight that is already slated to take off at a god forsaken hour, gets embroiled in some mess-up and I, the passenger, is the sufferer. Yet I am now able to grab an hour’s extra sleep before heading out of my home on a winter’s night. So all is not lost and it isn’t that bad after all, is it, I tell myself. As promised the delayed flight, gets further delayed and my thoughts are focused only on my onward flight to New York, which I absolutely must mount at Frankfurt airport. Wonder of wonders, my first flight out- manages to make up lost time and is only delayed by half an hour, we are told as we descend with nearly two hours to spare. Blessed luck!

SO I leap out of my airplane with great joy, after an uneventful flight between New Delhi and Frankfurt. I had a very quiet companion by my side but not quiet enough to withhold information about himself; with an hour left to descend, we get chatty propelled by some unknown kinship. He is a young man in his late twenties, headed to the Arctic Circle, no less. When I complain about having to change flights, and that I am forced to travel so many long hours to reach my daughter, he divulges that he is an arctic engineer with some very special skills. He lives in Sweden for the most part, and had chosen this career on a whim. Woah! He has already spent some eight years working in unimaginable conditions that range between minus 30- minus 45 degrees celcius! O boy! I suddenly feel I have a really, really good life, with a very short distance left to traverse in order to reach my beautiful child. He says he is getting a bit ‘bored’ of it all. To my mind it had sounded pretty exciting, but who am I to judge the quality of life chosen. And then we land. We smile at each other as we wave good bye, and I realize he has not asked me one word on my life, what I am, what I was, and who I might be, if anything at all, apart from a curious co-traveller. Well, some one-sided conversations are rich enough for two I say!

At Frankfurt airport, the first thing that hits me is the very disorderly queue, if one might call it that, queerly assembled under couple of escalators. There is a large lady, shouting out curt instructions to the lot of us travellers, asking us to be patient and that we would get our turn to climb the escalators, in order to catch the train that would then reach us to our destination. All right! I take a deep breath, and inhale some very sweaty and smelly fumes emanating from the proximity I find myself in, to a number of folk I would usually not allow myself to be thus intimate with. Here, I do admit, I have no choice, except to not breathe as deeply, and best option would be to hold my breath for as long as possible. Ultimately, I am pushed along and I reach the top of the escalator. From escalator to train is a neat queue that forms magically. I am only able to get onto the third train, having missed the previous two to other faster walkers ahead of me in the line.

Now once I am out of the train, I walk, what seems to my knees and legs, miles and miles. The painful walking ends in another large cauldron of people waiting their turn to join other queues for security clearance. I am living the nightmare. I am overdressed, fearing cold weather at my final destination, New York. I begin unpeeling, and I notice others following suit. An hour has passed by, and I have 45 minutes in which to clear security and get aboard my onward flight. Easy peasy.

After half an hour of shifting uncomfortably in fairly high temperatures, and more than just a sense of intimacy with strangers’ breaths upon my shoulders, and down my neck, I gradually reach for my panic button. We’ve hardly budged. So I shout out to an airport attendant I spy, in German, explaining that I have a flight to catch. He retorts with a “so does everyone else!” Miffed, I tell myself that my flight shan’t leave without me. I relax just a little.

After another ten minutes I notice people calling upon attendants to tell them the same. He does allow them to leave the queue and surge ahead, much to my irritation. The panic switch is now on. I shout out again, and sound firmer. He lets me go ahead. Phew!

I am now in the security area, and have put my unpeeled clothes, laptop, Kindle, handbag, the works, and pranced ahead, ready to run. That’s when Hitler’s niece catches me. “Nein, Halt!” I freeze. Whatever could the matter be!?

Ah! there was an inch of water in a plastic bottle left in my handbag, I faintly recall. Was that it?

Now I am in yet another queue, with an Indian lady ahead of me. The whole process of searching a bag for incriminating items such as guns, pistols, knives and cooked and raw food is depleting to watch, and I am near to tears. I have ten minutes in which to run miles to reach my gate. My legs hurt, my eyes sting, and my ears burn. WHY and HOW could I forget where I was and swallow the water!

I plead with the buxom Hitler’s Niece to let me go earlier than the lady, and the look she gives me is like a knife cutting right through my brain. I daren’t open my mouth again. A gentleman, who sits quietly at the machine that x rays bags, tells me, with his eyes, that I had best remain silent, it might expedite matters.

The lady whose bag is now being turned inside out has carried her homeland with her. I watch as a box of mangoes, peeled and cubed, emerges, then diligently thrown by Hitler’s niece; out next comes a gooey sweet, that she announces is her mother’s homemade ghee pie; then I see some vegetable I do not recognize (locally grown in Kerala), then come crayons, lipsticks, eye-shadows, safety-pins, napkins and a wallet bulging with notes. My ten minutes are up, and I have given up on making the flight. What else can I do, as helpless as I am.

My turn finally, and my purse is turned inside out and thence emerges the bottle that had screwed up my case. Everything else goes back in, I breathe easy. Then she gives me the look, her sweaty fingers, gloved tight, having fingered every item in my bag. I wince. She displays no emotion- just a cold, cold shoulder.

Hitler’s niece takes her own sweet time to put my wares back in my bag, torturing me further, then says nonchalantly, “What an idiot for carrying so much water and delaying yourself.” I have never been more humiliated in my entire life. She then flings the bag upon the table to be humbly picked up by me. I run like never before. I can see no one at our gate, and slow my pace. And then I spy the flight number, it is mine. I run to the hostess at the entry- “LH 887 to New York?”

“Ya, hurrrry up Madam!” and I buckle with relief, breathless.

But the hardened expression on that mien, unrelenting and torturous, was not to be easily forgotten. It had been an encounter with Hitler’s niece for sure, and I am certain I will not be crossing many such characters in my life. Well, as long as I avoid traveling by Lufthansa, in peak season, I don’t imagine I shall. Needless to say, I must not forget to drink up!

The Week That Was…..

The Week that Was

So Monday morning up with the lark. Hard work beckons, lame Monday mornings….a buzzing fly wakes me up before my 7 am alarm, and i’m not even what they call ‘A Working Woman’….No, i’m just a woman who does her own thing in her own time. All in control i tell myself.

However, a ripe new assignment awaited me, and i could feel the trills traipsing their way up my spine. In the meantime :

Breakfast for son – check

3 cups of tea for self – check

Bread waiting by toaster with melting butter – check

Tray with doily and sugar prepped for mother – check

Lunch menu clearly vetted visually in head – check

Laptop charged – check

Kindle in working condition – check

TO DO List

  • refills for old pens lying in leather pencase in old leather bag;
  • curtains (GK Fab India);
  • folders (Galleria)
  • film (DT Mega, MGF- Tamil, Hindi, English)
  • mail to ask for class timings

Monday hopped along, almost without a hitch. Post-lunch : none of the To Do tasks had gotten done, of course they didn’t. Reason : hubby gets a catch in back, which turns out to be a couple of prolapsed discs. OUCH! Amidst much drama and fervent internet searches one finds a new hospital which boasts of a great physiotherapy unit. Great pain and much shuffling in and out of car ensues. Result – painkillers and bed-rest (the usual).

I am trapped. He is trapped. We are in this together we had sworn, thru’ discs and knee operations, thru’ childbirth and teens, thru’ inlaws and outlaws- through it all.

I had wanted it all. I got it all : the Euphoria – the Abyss, the Pain – the Bliss.

Tuesday is fun since i realise and know that i’m no mole, can’t dig down further even if i knew how, so i take the bull by the horns. Animal-like, instinct in top gear, i perform the routine. I check all my tasks. I sulk but i feed, and i breathe. I nudge, as i also make budge, i watch, i nurse, i read out, i am the serving warrior- no questions.

He observes my manic breath, from his corner, and helplessly runs on guilt. I provide fodder for thought by telling him that he must work on his need to be healed. I tell him to heal himself and not seek attention by ‘prolapsing his discs’. He grudgingly reflects upon my words.

Later, when i’m spent, we laugh a lot.

My ToDo List remains untouched and pristine.

Wednesday is better. We have found a chiropractor – Eureka! He’s bloody damn good.

Thursday, the man is walking around- well not quite, he is limping around holding the discs that now protrude less.

The genius of a chiropractor had caused much pain for much gain. It was an unbelievable recovery (well almost).

We are now dining, dignified, at the table instead of lying in bed and being fed by wife.

Friday – office comes home. I dole out snacks even as i begin my new assignment.

It’s all good. Man is well on his way to recovery and is now losing his limp. I am less warrior-like, and more servile. Yet, i deal a neat punch when exhaustion gets the better of me from doling out chapatis in very humid kitchen at 8 pm.

To Do List remains as pristine as ever.

The weekend arrives and the heart is aflutter with renewed hope of a fresh new start. Be strong. The week that is to be will bring more adventures, but perhaps more order too. It’s all out of my control. Illusions of control have faded rapidly.

Maybe i’ll refresh my skills as writer-teacher-homemaker-wife-mother. All my buttons are in need of a good ‘rinse & spin’.

Sunday. Sabbath. Time to Pray for My Time.

IMG_4585The Week that was was what it was. The Week that will be, will be- qué sera sera.

Mirror

Image

Mirror

A mirror doesn’t just reflect, does it! Tis a sheet- and not a blank one. Here we are, naked, mirror in front , and our fronts to the mirror. Reflections. We  see an image, a self-created image reflected therein, minusing that which is ugly, we design that mould of our self that we desire. A mirror is just an instrument, it does not reflect The Truth, unadulterated- pure and simple. It reflects only  A Truth- our image of our truth.  Isn’t that the true purpose of a mirror?

I try and polish it in daylight, but at night it dims, it blurs, it tarnishes. I awaken and re-polish on another new morn…but night does fall, and the routine is repeated, as all routines must. So on and on and on….Mirror on the wall, in the bathroom, in my salon, in the study- so many images of the self- which one do i choose to be today, which reflection is mine, whole and sole, i wonder on and on.

Writing on the Wall

Mirror mirror on the wall- show me what I wish to see

Mirror mirror on the wall – don’t just let me be,

Mirror mirror on the wall – O don’t just let me be.

Let me in, let me out….never a shout.

Mirror mirror on the wall – be my desire, be my fire,

Cast my image in gold, silver, diamond, ever higher.

Make me light as feather,

Inconstant as weather; strong as a gale,

Yet make me sail, fly…asunder.

O pretty, unbreakable diamond-cutter,

Smooth as butter……

Translucent as morning dew,

Mirror mirror – cast me anew.

cat’s Life…It’s a

cat's Life…It's a

On a visit to the grocery store i found these two young ‘uns snuggling…and they weren’t siblings either. Gays perhaps? Well here’s something one ought to know….there’s no sibling rivalry at play here, there’s just love…and in the realm of humans, well, be it opposites, be it male-female, female-female, male-male, it’s all about love…not just sex. so the discrimination is mostly in our heads, and sometimes in our eyes…but what’s all the noise about?

Some of the brightest, most funny friends of mine are gays…and they are warm, fuzzy-logic people who are happy in their own skin. What they may be afraid of is their family…of their disdain, of the derision they have been confronted with time and time again. Some of my gay friends became gay due to lack of love or abuse of the love they offered. They embraced the love they received, and sometimes it was from their own gender.

I know a few women- educated yet trusting, naive even though forewarned, to be raped…and they turned to their own gender for love and yes, all that it encompasses in its human form. So are they to be ostracised for choosing tenderness and  joy? Well, as far as Indians go, the answer is yes. Pity.

I know, i know we’ve gone on about how wrong it is- how criminal it is to pass a law that says Gays are Criminals in so many words- but fact remains that we, as a society are not willing to accept its existence in its purest form. Fact is we need partners- not just for procreation, cause that would make us no better than animals. Are we animals? At a very basic level, we are. It doesn’t sound good, because the act in itself could be so much more- the buildup, the foreplay- all that to separate us from the animal world, but at the end of it, it’s the act, and it IS an animal act. Sex is still a taboo topic, mostly. So Gays! O Lord! Let’s not go there. The sufferers may go on suffering within their dark closets, and may the “normal” keep pretending normalcy. Imagine, were my son to come along to me one day and say, “mom, i actually love boys!” Would i be delighted….? Probably not, but i would accept it and say, okay, so no seeds are to be sowed from your loins, but since you love kids, adopt. That would be sensible. But i may secretly hope that he’s straight and i do see grandkids from him. So far so good.

Our country is still developing, and may continue to do so, at least insofar as it’s EQ (emotional quotient) goes, for another 100 odd years. We are loathe to let go of our bias’ starting with the colour bias, pure racism if you ask me, and then of course now the controversial onscreen kiss- which seems to be finally happening. But same sex love? Oooh la la! And we have an SC slapping a verdict on all our faces to boot…What next!

Maybe we are just not old enough, maybe we are not accepting enough, maybe there just enough of us out there willing to put our money where our mouth is, maybe we could take a rain check on where our loyalties lie, maybe we need yet another period where another country dominates us in a manner such as to shake our united conscience and help us take a stand. Not sure quite where the most painful nerve lies- but someone’s got to spear it very soon. My heart goes out to every gay in this country and i pray for a leader…and for someone who can cure the actual malady of bias toward that which seems ‘abnormal and sick’ in our country. Today it’s Gayhood, tomorrow it could be something else…

If only it were Yesterday……or….perhaps all’s well Today too!

yesterday's seed blooms today as a little bud

DSCN2490on a Golden Pond of leaves, i reach out, limbs extended, begging for more nutrition, more love, more understanding always….greedy for the Ultimate …

If only it were yesterday, i’d have planted many more seeds….happier seeds. Not all my seeds have bloomed, leave only become buds.

If only it were yesterday, i would perhaps have taken more time out for…..what…now let me see, for just being in the moment. Moments come and moments go…and yes, they’ve gone. SO would i have stood still and let each moment pass over me? Nope, I would have still done what i did, when i did it, but with a slightly more open mind- or let’s just say with more mindfulness.

If only it were yesterday, i would have been stricter with my regimen (can still be allegedly) …and been more disciplined with my song, my dance, my routine. I shall take it up today, say i with determination.

What if we were given a second, third, fourth yesterday? Would we really do it differently…with the knowledge of yesterday in our pocket? Since i have many yesterdays i would love to change today- maybe others have this feeling too.

Today i am wiser, but sometimes i feel this wisdom has come a day late. So yesterday, i would perhaps have gotten less excited and more skeptical about a road taken…or a compliment accepted (just getting flattered and feeling like an idiot later)…so many, many events that needn’t have happened. However, had i not experienced what i did back then- would i still be me, sitting at my laptop penning this piece?

What would you do- exchange, change, transform or just allow life  to take its course? I can dream up so many things, but change yesterday i cannot. I can be so many me’s…..today, not yesterday. Yesterday linked me to Today, this Day. I am who i am because of my yesterday.

Am i worried about how to go back, or am i simply pondering upon a new way of being, that which i am perhaps yet to be, or may never be? Fret, fret, fret…..that’s how newness is created. Dissatisfaction oftentimes leads to something new, borne out of boredom. So yesterday’s Today- is what it is. A different yesterday would have given birth to a different today, and that’s how it is.

Yesterday i was very young, sometimes silly, sometimes wise. So what’s changed today- i am still sometimes silly, sometimes wise…and not-so-young i’m afraid.

If only i could grasp clearly what my yesterday gifted me – i would rest easy on my laurels today. The worrying me only comes up with these questions when the comfort levels of the day drop down…yet, to look back occasionally is a good thing, especially if the lessons drawn are being applied and proving their usefulness.

Yesterday and today are friends for what they bring unto one another….and i , me, myself – am a product of this friendship.

Long live this alliance, as long as i live, because if there be disharmony, god forbid, then a very cross me would emerge to set their differences aside, and that would take some doing, some inner strife and a lot of patience. I’ve been down that road, and it was less than easy to restore the intrinsic harmony between these two mates, i assure you. So best it is to leave them be as they are, and to not say, “if only it were yesterday…….” Amen to that!

Now that’s me…..it would be interesting however, to know, from you, the reader, what your experience is, and would be…and what thoughts your antennae pick up from reading of my experience…today!

Mirror mirror ……and the love of Thoms!

Unbelievable but i am unfazed. Today- this day, this afternoon- i am driving, gently, the most absurdly rocking music from Bollywood blaring on my radio- 94.3 radio FM, and pure joy is flowing thru’ my veins, when i observe a rickety, old mode of transport, going by the name of mini-truck, swerving dangerously close to my already grazed car. I halt. He proceeds…continuing to inch is way closer to my Baby- my VW, my Jetta. The poor baby…under my control, pushes its way closer to the middle of the road. We are steady. Then i move forward, ever so tentatively. I move forward just a bit more….and voilà! The mean son-of-a-gun has PUSHED and SURGED and GRUNGED and GROUND his way thru’ my side-mirror. There it was – its spirit, its body- all cracked- the cover, sore and shattered from the impact!

I dash out from within a very joyous moment, being jostled and shunted into sheer action (so many onlookers, i had to react)! “Could you not wait Misterrrr!” i shout out, and i know i mean not a word, cause i am acutely aware of an entire line of vehicles behind me, watching me closely, as also knowing very well, that he saw and he had deliberately hit me! The other side of the road is chocabloc with vehicles too, and there are sneers, smiles, empathy and sympathy.  At that moment in time i am seized with a wish to start dancing….have no clue where that came from- was it a sense of triumph!? I don’t really know- my awareness shifts me to my physical world, and i try and and look very, very annoyed. I suppose i succeeded because i saw some faces hanging outside their car windows immediately look at me with pity and some sort of compassion i suppose. I almost feel sorry for them, because i am no mood to flap my arms in mock anger, or give them more drama to write home about. I slide into my seat and slip away nonchalantly, grinning to myself. I do, every once in a while, look at my side mirror, dangling by a thin wire…for dear life. I doubt very much that it’ll survive this day, but i will always cherish its time with me. It has served me well and for many years…it’s also a step-mirror i recall, the original having met a similar fate on impact with a far larger truck on our way to Jaipur. Guess who was driving!?DSCN2568

As for me, I was excited by the fact that the actual impact upon my car did not extend itself to my psyche. I was actually not remotely affected- the wish to dance had emerged from this sentiment of -“so i can remain unfazed and can see things as they are without them impacting my emotional being!”

Today is a very special day….i can. Today is a very special day…..i love my time in Thoms supermarket- no clue why. I watch people, after i am hit by a mini-truck and wonder if they know how proud of me i feel. They all look very busy, and i also appear very busy buying veggies, cheese, tomato purée, lots of goodies and end up paying the largest bill i have ever paid out at Thoms. But i love shopping alone at Thoms. I can be quiet and removed, while being all out there and very with it. It’s messy sometimes, but i love Thoms!

That’ll be all till i fall from the Grace of Angels, or i meet another triumph, through another external means.