Sunday, January 20, 2013



“Hello, do you have a bottle of Horlicks”?, I ask.
“Yes ma, how come you did not give us the provision list this month?”, he asks.
“No, I will not be in town”.
“O, going back to America?”
“No, Bahrain”.
He doesn’t seem to give an ear for what I said and continues…
“You won’t come back for three months, ah?”
“No, I will be back after a month”.
“You are going so far and coming back after one month only?”
“Yes, but Bahrain is not that far”.
He doesn’t reply back. I can see his confused look! Good for him.

Am washing my car one fine morning, a middle aged gentleman, an acquaintance who goes for a morning walk daily, stops outside our gate and stands to talk.
“Yenamma, good morning!”
“Good morning, Yenu morning walkaa?” I ask.
He nods and goes straight for this sentence, “I have heard that it’s very expensive to hire a person to wash cars in America, you are continuing to do it here even after you have come back, it’s not that expensive here, you see?”
Am like… what? America, did he say?
“No no, in Bahrain we hire people to wash cars but here am doing it because I haven’t found any one yet”.
Again he didn’t hear me properly or he thinks Bahrain is in America?
“Its ok, American culture has already come to India…good to keep fit like this… ok ma… I have to go”. He left.
I reciprocated with a smile as the water gushed from the pipe in my hand. What else could I do.

Attending a family wedding in Bangalore is great fun. If anyone‘s son is studying in the US, then you should see their body language when they happen to talk to you.
One lady in a Mysore silk saree was sitting next to me at one of the weddings. Her son apparently was studying in the US. I didn't know. I represented the boy’s side and she was from the girl’s side. She smiled at me and I reciprocated. After exchanging pleasantries and when enquired about her children she said, “My son is studying in the US”. At that time one more lady joined us. Straight away they both started talking about the prospective girls they can eye in that wedding. After all, “MY son is in the US’, I heard her repeating it over and over again and the other lady repeating “America vara” several times. America, there you go again.

Some months back, my maid comes home and tells me that all the households in the back road know about me coming back from America to take care of my ailing father-in-law!  Can you beat this!!
I asked, “Don’t you know I have come back from Bahrain and not America?”
“Aiyoo, leave it ma, Bahrain is also in America know, so why bother”, she said.
Now, what do you want me to do, pull my hair and run away? No. I stood still like a statue!

As I push the trolley in a supermarket aisle one evening, I bump into a lady from the neighbourhood  She very casually says, “Here, the super market is only a 5 minutes walk from your house, while in America I heard that one has to drive for a minimum half an hour to reach any super market.” Thank God she has only ‘heard’ that. A casual remark. I conclude. I got a bit annoyed with this lady, she knew very well I did not return from the US, so I replied. “In Bahrain I needn't have to move an inch from my couch, I just have to dial the Cold Store if I need anything”, and smiled back at her. Even to this day I can’t figure out why she said this to me!

Ok, moving on…

Next to our house is a famous saree showroom. Some time back I was there shopping for my friend who lives here in Bahrain. From my Blackberry I was clicking photos and getting her approval. The sales man was very happily showing me some of the best sarees he had. The salesman had to ask, “ Madam, what is the time now in America?” HOW ON EARTH SHOULD I KNOW???? Politely I asked him, “Yaake, why?” “No, no, you are shopping for your friend in America know, that’s why I asked? “ GOD! NOT AGAIN. “No, am doing it for my friend in Bahrain and her time will be 2.30 in the afternoon”, I said with a forced smile. He grinned back. I can take a bet on this; he will not know where Bahrain is… haha!!

There are quite a few popular silk saree showrooms in and around our home and I admit that am very happy about it. I wanted to buy a velvet saree blouse for one of my Kanjeevarams, so in I walked into a well known store. I went to the counter and asked for ready made saree blouses. The young chap looked to be the Manager of the store, assisted me to the rack where there were lovely tissue blouses of all cuts and designs. I politely told him I was looking for a green color velvet blouse in particular. Pat comes these sentences in one go. “Usually Madam, only ladies who come from America ask for velvet blouses. You are two years behind the fashion scene, Madam. Here, the latest trend is only tissue Madam”. This was so unexpected I tell you. I felt so dejected. First of all he had taken the liberty to understand that I came from the US and all these days I thought I was very much in sync with the latest fashion trends. This time honestly I didn’t feel like telling him I was from Bahrain because I was afraid he would come out with yet another damaging statement. I walked out of the showroom hurriedly.

Well people, these are my experiences of a different kind in namma Bengaluru. Where is Bahrain? Where is America? Mind you, not a single person says the two letters i.e. U and S. It’s always America and only America for them except for that lady I bumped in the wedding.

Before leaving Bangalore for Bahrain this time, I went to Subbamma stores in Gandhi bazaar. That guy is there for ages now and he knows me not so well. After I picked up certain things I said, “Saaku”. Pat is his reply, “This bag is still half empty, hope you have bought everything in your list, once you go back to America you won’t get these goodies there.”  Aiyoo… I need a break! Bahrain is very dear to me, let me go.

Now I’m giving a serious thought. What is there in me that people in Bangalore think I live in America or I have come back from America? If you can figure out please tell me.


Friday, January 18, 2013


Life in namma Bengaluru doesn’t cease to amuse me and I’m loving it. Every day is a busy day for me both physically and mentally unlike here in Bahrain where am so relaxed and literally holidaying.

Back home, I have already got used to being addressed as ‘amma’ and akka’. If I hear some one calling ‘amma’ then I think I look my age! If I hear ‘akka’ I feel elated that I have cheated that person because in no way am I that ‘akka age’… Hhahhaaha…!!

Where and how do I begin? Well, let me start with what I did for myself one fine morning!  My husband had called and asked me to enroll for an interior decoration course at the NMKRV College for Women which happen to be very close to the place I live. I was very excited with the idea of enrolling myself in a college and all. After taking an appointment, I drove to the college even though I could have walked. Rather in a happy mood, very lucky to have got a parking place in front of the college, got down, locked the car and humming a film song I entered the college. After I met the concerned person and finished talking in detail regarding the course, I walked out in deep thought about the timings, the faculty, the duration of the course etc… and pressing the remote button of my car, opened the door and some one screamed, ‘MADAM’ from the driver seat! I was baffled! Who on earth is sitting in my car! I couldn’t understand for a second. I just stood there with a horrified expression! The driver on the seat said, ‘Madam this is not your car’. NOT MY CAR!! How could it be?!
I at once took two steps back and looked, yes, this was not my car, and this was a black BMW!! How on earth could it be??? I was so pre-occupied with my thoughts that I mistook a black BMW for my black SKODA? I felt so foolish when I realized and said a quick sorry and explained to him that I had in fact parked my car there, he looked even more confused and didn’t utter a word, all the while looking at me with a smile and at that very moment my husband called me! My husband with me at the time of distress! I was so relieved, at once I picked up the phone and instead of saying HI or HELLO I straight away said, “I lost my car”. His reaction was, ‘O come-on don’t joke with me”, and started laughing. His laughter was even more confusing for me, here am in utter panic and looking out for the car and there he is laughing! I said, “No, no, am serious”. As I was speaking, I started walking back and YES, my car was there! Yipee!!!! I screamed on the phone, “Found my car!” My husband laughed even more loudly when I told him that I tried getting into a BMW thinking it was my car! I felt so foolish, really and laughed with my husband. I got in, finished my conversation with him and drove down to the BMW which was still parked at the same place and lowered my window and told the driver that I found my car and drove away. Phew! Thoroughly amused at my foolish self!

As I had mentioned earlier, I have a very hectic physical life, why I say this is, I drive on Bannergatta road almost thrice a week from my Jayanagar home to the new one which we are constructing near Jigani. I take the “always busy” Bannergatta road. It’s a good one hour drive. I’m always happy listening to my favorite golden oldies and sometimes signing too as the traffic moves on. One evening as the traffic stopped at the Fortis Hospital signal, there was a mini truck in front of me and you know what was written at the back of the truck?

We enter the earth alone
We leave the earth alone
So, live your life alone!

I almost jumped on my seat when I read, at that moment I wanted to spring the car door open and talk to the driver and wanted to know who had written it and so on. Well, who ever wrote it must be a very sad soul, I think. How I wish I could get a chance to meet that person and give him a piece of advice saying even though there is truth in the first two sentences but the third sentence must never be implemented in one’s life, life is short, live life happily, nobody has a perfect life and all… as my thoughts ran… the signal changed and I drove on! Amused again at what was written at the back of the truck.

The other day as I was getting down from the Bank Complex, suddenly a gentle man walked passed me and all of a sudden started singing loudly, ‘Khuda Bi, Aasman Se Jab Jameen Par Dhektha Hoga Mere Mehboob…. I looked at him and I was really amused!!! How can this normal looking guy out of nowhere suddenly belt out a Mohd. Rafi song loudly while walking on the road! People are strangely funny I tell you!

The same afternoon, I was in a cut-piece store buying a saree fall and there was this elderly gentleman buying the same and was on the phone with his wife. There was no other customer in the shop except the two of us so I could hear his conversation loud and clear. His wife was asking for a particular brand and this man was instructing the shop keeper to show him exactly the same brand. Next, his wife wanted him to measure the length of the saree fall, even though he was assured that it would be the said length, the gentleman persisted him to open the fall and measure it for him as his wife was still on the phone. I was waiting for them to finish and his parting shot was a question to the shop keeper. “Are you married young man? Only if you are married you will come know why I am asking such a question!” “Am a married man with two kids”, said the shop keeper. “Then you too must be sailing in the same boat” said he and walked out of the shop. I couldn’t keep quite but get amused once again!

This one is really too much! One evening as I walked to 4th block complex with my sister, three teenagers crossed the road in front of us, one boy and two girls. Suddenly all the five of us noticed something similar, guess what? One of the girls and I were wearing the same WESTSIDE top and all the five of us burst out laughing. Here all of us were so amused instantly!!  Moral of the story, shop in WESTSIDE and bump into people wearing the same outfit! Whatever the age maybe, the sizes are from S to XL… Hhhaaaa!

The above incidences are three months quota of my living in Bangalore. Waiting to get back there for I’m sure there are much happier things waiting to happen. Until then… keep smiling!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bye bye… Bengaluru!

Is it easy for me to quietly slip from my home in Bengaluru to my home in Bahrain?
Well, I don’t think so…
First is the family circle, who knows our travel plan. No complains but every aunt, cousin, uncles etc are aware of with numerous questions coming along with it. It’s all in the family. Perfectly fine.
Then it is the turn of friends and neighbors. No problem.

As I get on to the high stool to bring the suitcases down from the loft, it is the morning of my travel date, this is quite unusual but everything has a reason behind it, as my travel has become so frequent between these two places, I do not have much to carry. Ok then, fewer luggages more comfortable, any day.

Coming back to the people around me, I have a whole lot of whom I interact with on a day to day basis.
First it’s the milk man whose duty is to drop the milk and curd packets in the drop box I have provided on the door, ring the bell and buzz off.
Here in Bahrain, I bring the milk can from the super market which last for a few days. There is no milk man doing it.
Then it is the paper man who has to do the same thing.
Here, I see the GDN delivery man once in 3 months when he comes to collect his dues.
Next is the flower woman who has to drop a string of jasmine for my daily pooja.
Here, whenever we go to the temple we pick up jasmine or any other flower that is available and every season we get jasmine flowers in our compound.
The fourth in line to ring the bell is my maid. Here yes, my house boy comes daily.
The fifth one to ring the bell is my cook.
I do not have a cook here.
The sixth is the garbage collector (now it’s a rule in Bangalore city, we have to separate the dry and wet garbage in two separate covers otherwise she will not touch it)… Wow, Bengaluru if waking up to the environment! I like it. Here my house boy disposes off the garbage daily.

So the bell has to ring six times every morning starting from 6 am to 9 am. In between the bell goes off any number of times with other people coming in, earlier I used to complain but now am kind of used to it and to give company to the calling bell there are two other instruments waiting in tow, well you guessed it… it is the landline and the mobile phone. Added to this is my cook’s mobile too, what with so many siblings, I don’t dare complain.

Why doesn’t the calling bell ring these many times here? Simply because the life style is different here, isn’t it?

The drop box at the door generates a lot of curiosity among these people.
The milk man, the first one, does his duty of dropping the packets early every morning.  Some time the flower woman comes before the paper man. If the paper man sees the packets and the flowers,  he has to know why its not picked up and rings the bell twice, thrice… till I answer the door though the standing instructions to all these people is to ring the bell, I mean press the switch only once. When I answer the door, he goes…, “ Did you wake up now amma, aren’t you feeling well, the milk will get spoilt, Bengaluru’s weather amma (does morning sunlight spoil the milk? I don’t know), I was wondering where you went early in the morning even before the milk man came?” Bah… even though I want to get irritated with him I can’t because of his genuine concern towards me! I tell him calmly, I always have extra packets of milk in my fridge. I also want to tell him I have milk powder at home but stop at that. He doesn’t even seem to listen but goes on, “Please take it inside as soon as it is dropped otherwise you are wasting money”. WHAT???, I want to scream but I say, “OK”, with a smile and he reciprocates happily. I was just lazy that day to climb down the stairs, that’s all.  I can’t afford to be lazy here. I close the door and walk up the stairs thinking at his concern.

Now comes the big question, before I leave I have to tell all these people HOW? Why, how? I know I will be bombarded with questions once they come to know I am gone for a month. No escape. Let me tackle one by one.

Milk man – “I will not be in town for almost a month, so start dropping the packets from the 5th of February onwards”, I say.
“Aiyoo, where are you going akka, one month you wont be here, why akka?”
Three questions at one go!
If I tell him Bahrain, then I will have to geographically explain to him where it is situated and that will be followed by a few more questions, so I tell him quickly, “Yes, I have some work, I have to go out of Bangalore, come from the 5th ok, don’t forget”. I exit quickly, seeing him standing there with a grin, he repeats, “One month”. I say, “Yes, one month.”

Flower woman – She has been giving flowers from the past 30 years and she knows everything about our house, so no need to explain. When I tell her that am going to Bahrain for a month she says, “Go and look after your husband well”. WHAT?? Well… I smile and nod, if I open my mouth then she will straight away brand me as a modern woman who is leading a jolly good life in Bangalore while her husband is working hard in Bahrain, I know.

Paper man – he is the most difficult of the lot. “I will not be here for almost a month” So please stop the paper from the 10th of this month to the 5th of next month.” Before even I could complete my sentence, he goes…straight question, “Where are you going amma?”  “Bahrain”. One second he looks as though he is trying to place where Bahrain is located and then says, “ O, Saar is there know?” I say, “Yes” with a smile. “Ok, Ok, vacation naa?” “Houdhu”. He gives a big ear to ear grin and turns to go. Thank God he didn’t ask me questions. I wondered what that grin meant though!

My maid too is an acquaintance of 30 years but she has her own demands. She knows about my Bahrain trip from the day I planned. I tell here to wash our front yard daily, put  rangoli and water the potted plants with out fail. She nods with a smile and demands, “Give me one saree before you leave and get me one saree while coming back from Bahrain”. I gave her a saree last month, I talk to myself. She knows that she will get what she wants and that’s why the demand. Old devil (not exactly though) is better than an unknown one, exploiting me every now and then.

My cook has worked in my father-in-law’s house for 10 years but is relatively new to me but when she gets to know about my travel plan she very politely tells me, no asking just telling. “You can cut ten days salary and in that money get me chocolates with peanuts in it”. Am zapped!!! I give her a question mark look!!! She continues, “ My eldest sister’s daughter lives in Chicago and every time my sister visits her she brings lots of chocolates and we all at home like this peanut chocolate in particular!” “Ok”, I say with a forced smile. She must be talking about Snickers! Anyway, I paid her full salary and assured her of the peanut chocolates.

One more person I forgot to mention is the Cable TV guy. So, he too will have to disconnect the cable connection for a month and he asks, “How many times you keep going and coming amma?” Well, any problem, I wonder!

So, everything is done and everyone is informed and I’m ready to fly.

Some one in the family says, “Every year Bengaluru used to be very cold during December/January but this year it’s not at all cold”.
The other one jokes, “ Achhu/Asha is here that why.” Well, well…. I take it in my stride.

I land in Bahrain, the weather dips to 11 degrees C. My husband quips, “All these days it was not at all cold”, meaning, you brought in the cold weather! Did I?

Adding to this, my friends too tell me harmlessly, “It was not at all cold all these days Asha, it’s only now that’s this cold!!!!”

Biting cold, do you ask? Yes, it is, let me switch on the heater and enjoy my stay in Bahrain but one thing I can be assured of, I can leave Bahrain quietly, hey… did I say I have to update my status on Face book to Bengaluru when I leave? Well…up to me.