The Quest

Seek no joy, Seek no pain
Never step up to a dance in rain.
Sands go slipping, river flow sifting
Chant through eternity embrace the nether space.

Circle of life, Passions to override
Never throw caution to wind and tide.
Skies come calling, sun sets nourishing
Silent path to  solitude blooms an inner spring.

Crystal emotions, Clear thoughts
Never a bowed fruit laden tree fought.
Hungry come cawing, thirsty crawling
Exhausted the exalted attains the end of quest.

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Joburg Diary (Joburgnama) : Desi Girl

Landed in Joburg after having lived six years in non -Anglophone countries. Initially was a wee bit disappointed that I wasn’t being tested either on my knowledge of Shahrukh Khan filmography or on my  desperately acquired mime skills as I had been upon my previous landings in foreign lands. Then I felt my heart race in excitement with the coherent answers I was formulating, in a familiar tongue, to the routine queries of the immigration officer at O R Tambo International airport. He then proceeded to welcome me to South Africa, in English !

I had alway been eternally grateful to the Brits and my family, who had made  sure I was well versed in the language of the elite ,  English or Angrezi. To my utter chagrin despite being equipped with language of the Babus (Indian govt servants) ,  here I was, thrust into non -Commonwealth  countries where apparently sun had always set and English was hardly understood, Morocco and China. I felt bad but more so for the people of these nations. These people had no one but themselves to own up for any problems afflicting them in twenty-first century instead of resting the blame at the doorstep of British and their inglorious rule.

So when I stepped into the sunny Joburg milieu and realised that Queen had left but her language still thrived, my heart did a little dance. No not on a Beatles song but on the then current flavour , Latino singer’s Waka Waka.

I never knew the windfall that awaited long after the tutu clad Ms Shakira had left the Rainbow nation and its vuvuzela filled soccer stadium . Out of the multi colors that stood out , few were my own shade. The wily and clever shades that we Indians are, we still believe that although the sun may have set on the erstwhile British Empire it needn’t set on the Indian subcontinent.

In this southern hemisphere deep in downtown Joburg and also  in far-flung suburbs  there is an entire diaspora of Desis thriving and expanding the  * ‘apna  desh’. Selling *Dosas  to *Chaat to the ubiquitous *Chooran to digest it all and the unmentionable  pirated bollywood movies to add to the fun.  Somehow the street in this area too seem to echo the chaos and hustle bustle of India not to mention the street fashion back home. Here is where I forgot the alien belly wiggle  Waka Waka  and enjoyed the familiar belly delights to a *Balle Balle ! All the while I got to speak and hear my mother tongue Hindi and my husband Malayalam in the streets of Joburg.

Far from the privileged secure estate I reside in , these so-called Indian areas are designated as not so safe areas of Joburg. Yet I venture out there as  I am filled with a false sense of bravado, which  can only come when one is  amongst their own.

    • Desi – Hindi word to describe Indian Subcontinent diaspora or a cultural attribute.
    • Apna Desh – Our Country
    • Dosa – Rice pancakes , South Indian breakfast
    • Chaat – Spicy Street food capable of giving indescribable joy n hotness 😉
    • Chooran – digestive pills having their origin in ancient Indian medicines
    • Balle Balle – a phrase used in Punjabi songs to express joy.

A Fairy Tale

She sat in front of the good Doctor, unable to avoid the monitor. He continued to speak , keenly flipping the images of the CT scan on his computer screen.

She looked at the images and immediately felt the bile rise up. The prep she drank for contrast CT seemed to have overpowering effect on not just her olfactory senses and taste buds but even a visual stimuli of scan was enough to gag her. 

It took a while to process the doctor’s speech. She was being taken off the medicines , those toxic pills she had popped into her mouth every single day past few years post nauseating sessions.

It’s funny how she always visualized miracles, straight out of fairy tales or right out of hindu mythology stories.  It was all very dramatic, with pictures of fairy Godmother swishing wands over pumpkin patches turning everything and everyone beautiful.

Other times as a ludicrous unreal feeling of being showered with gold dust and rose petals from one of many Hindu Gods she conveniently invoked depending on the category of panic ! Like she invoked Lord Hanuman , the monkey God of valour when she was asked to hold her breath first time under the scan. If she had known the cost of her health care , she would have gladly given a shout out to SriLakshmi, goddess of wealth too.

Well , here she was,  hardly an epitome of magical beauty from any angle. Twenty kilos heavier and bones brittled by steroids. Immune system suppressed more than any autocratic regime has ever suppressed. Absolutey no sign of rose petal showers but spate of hospital visits, aim in the dark medicinal dosage weighed under uncertainty both financial and physical. To the first Human who coined the phrase Health is Wealth, Eureka!

As far as visualization of miracles go , she had got it completely wrong.  Yet here she was sitting in spartan hospital hearing the words and it was, undeniably, a Miracle.

Her All Clear report was a miracle , and modern medicines were responsible . Not much of an authority on God’s ways , she had definitely seen modern medical science work in mysterious ways, not everyone is the chosen one. Boy, she felt as lucky as the princess who gets the kiss of life.

Always a fan of happy endings , she felt a sense of reprieve. Good God it was hard to spin a tale of happy ending to her own story when twist to tale was fatal. One day when the battle gets too prolonged, she may discover comic relief in mortality, albeit for now she was free to explore the magical life.

medical humor