Thursday, January 6, 2011

This is not an obituary!!!

Snowy weighted less than half a kilogram when we brought him home for the first time. He was sitting quietly in a jute bag on my lap while Dada and I carried him on my scooty. Timid, soundless, tranquil and completely white – he gave us the impression of a beautiful angel. How vulnerable he looked; how delicately carved. I feared he might not be real, he might not even move when we reach home. He was the first dog (and probably the only one) we would have. But since the first day itself, he never behaved like any of his counterparts. He was there all the time eating, sleeping, playing, snoring, fighting, enjoying . . . growing with both of us. He was our brother, our very own little, stupid bro.
He started coming out of his basket bed when he was just 2 months old. With his little feet, he used to walk till the kitchen door. He slept under the dining table and would wake up with a shock when the pressure cooker would blow its whistle. He wasn’t even able to jump up the bed till he was 6 months old. I used to take him up to sleep with me. . but with his strange sounds at night he would wake us.
Once he started jumping on the bed, there was no stopping him. First thing we would notice in the mornings were his silly groans - his tricks to wake us. Next was the time for the scratching, the licking and the biting. However silly this may sound, but it had somehow become a part of our lives.
Mom was never fond of dogs in the first place, but she was the first one to take him completely more than us. From cleaning his shit to feeding him food she did everything. She was the first one to even scold him at times he went anywhere near the “Devghar”.

Snowy was a miraculous dog since birth - one of the most amazing miracle he did was to wake up dad at 8 am. Dad, who would not see the sunlight till 9.30 am, started getting up at 8 am only with snowy’s insistence. Many times he would sit next to baba on the bed and start making strange sounds if baba didn’t wake up. If that didn’t work then he would start scratching Baba. Often we feared that baba would slap him hard for this, but surprisingly Baba would happily wake up watching his innocent pleading face.
He loved to chew Dada’s towel and many of them were converted to rags the moment Dada kept them lying on the bed. He loved to go out. If anyone of us touched his chain even by mistake, he would start jumping and scratching and barking so wildly that we had no choice but to take him out for a walk.
He was quite moody when it came to eating. His favorite food was undoubtedly the egg. He could smell it from even a kilometer and the moment Aai took it out from the refrigerator – BOW WOW BOW BOW !!!
The next was the malai cham cham. I don’t know how but he was crazy about this one sweet. He never ate other sweets likes like shrikhand, barfi, laddu. But cham cham was his favorite.
He loved the family. He was the first one to greet anyone with his jumps and licks who came home. People who initially ran away from him became immensely fond of him after snowy made them forget their apprehensions with his unconditional love. Chhotu uncle was his favorite and the moment he entered home, snowy wouldn’t let him rest for long. It was when Chhotu uncle would play with him for 10-15 mins, he would leave him in peace.
Like all others – he hated to take the bath – to get all wet. So the herculean task was always left to me. It would take me around 2 hours to wash, shampoo, dry and then make up his hair. At the end I would be left highly irritated with all his white hair sticking to my cloths and he would be left doubly irritated that he couldn’t bite me or harm me in any way for unabashedly ruffling his body and hair. What he would do was just look at me with an expression best left to both of us.
He was a constant joy to be around, even when he was sleeping – an adorable ball of clean, soft white cotton curled under the sofa or dining table or in front of the door. I often used to get told for picking him up while he was fast asleep. He was the biggest driving force for Aai and Baba when we siblings left home – I for my job and dada for his studies. He was always giving and giving.
He was considered in each and every thing concerning our family. My cousin had once even named him as Snowy Ukhalkar. We were planning all sorts of things to do for him for the coming winter. But he had been ill since two weeks and from Aai’s phone calls it seemed it was something serious. We were travelling from Pune to Akola and the occasion was 2 days before my engagement. I was worried but I hoped that we would meet him . . that he would be alright.
But all my hope was brutally crushed. He didn’t wait. He was gone already when we reached.
Snowy. Our snowy. Gone ?????? It was something dada and I, both couldn’t digest. It was just a couple of weeks ago I had met him on Dashera. How could he be so ill to not even wait a couple of more days ?? How could one day he just decide to leave us and go away somewhere never to return ?? This was insane, this was cruel, this was unreal.

It took us almost three hours to come to term with the situation. But I thought it would take us the entire lifetime to come to terms with the fact – snowy no more.
Mom and dad tried consoling us – his life was measured and he lived a happy life. But all this seemed vague and insufficient explanation. The basic question was not why but was why so soon, why so unexpected???
I guess I am still trying to find out the answer. I know I Know – he was just a dog. But this argument doesn’t stand for me anymore and neither for my entire family. He was after all a life – a happy, jolly, soft, pure white life !!!!
I wish I had got a chance to take him up in my hands and squeeze him in a tight hug . . .
Love you Dheboo !!!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Mad Acts of pleasure !!!

Sometimes, madness is the beginning to incredible pleasure . . . .

Year: 2009

Occasion: "Scintillations"
The annual awards function and cultural event.

For me, the participation in Scintillations was just a way to get some change in my routine life. The event was Mad Act where one actor from each unit was to act a famous character in a small skit of around 20 mins. It was just around 10 days from the D-Day and the script was nowhere to be finalized. People involved were busy in official commitments and to manage everyone at the same time for practice was a herculean task. Initially, I was apprehensive – this might turn out to be a boring experience with a vague script and unknown people. But, I went ahead with my fingers crossed.

The first meeting was pure IT istyle with all the introduction and formality part thrown in. But, some people strike a chord somewhere. Even if some of us had come to find an excuse from work like me, some were seriously involved in theatre since their college days. They were the driving force for kick starting the practice with zeal. Just within half an hour of discussion, the characters were decided and the basic script was finalized. That was quite a feat in itself and I couldn’t help but appreciate the sheer mettle of our caption/director to judge the group so fast and settle down everything. It was a positive sign.

Bless me!!! I was the only girl in the gang of seven guys. There was an Akbar Hyderabadi, A Gadadhari Bheem, A.K. Hungal, Amol Palekar, Baburao Apte and Sachin Tendulkar and between them – I, Dee Dee from Dexter’s laboratory. Just the inclusion of such a weird list of characters created a feel of humor and to add to it was the theme of the skit which made it hilarious.

Initially, only some basic movements and dialogues were written. But, as the practice progressed, there were some on the spot additions and improvisations which started to change the entire mood and feel of the script. People who were bit conscious earlier, started to open up throwing away all the inhibitions. The comfort level soared significantly which helped the characters to evolve in their own style. There was a huge arena of possibilities now; which I could imagine and if all went well, this could be one of the most memorable experiences of my life – emotionally as well as intellectually.

While practicing, there were mistakes; there were retakes and big chucks of laughter thrown in between. After 4 days of practice, everyone seemed to forget that they were there as a part of competition from different units. Instead, all were immersed in one common motto – to act, to enjoy and to make this a great skit. We started to come on time and wait till late nights for practice. The pleasure and joy was palpable and contagious wherein all put their best to make it a success.

Our director Amol Palekar was the biggest driving force behind the entire scene. He acted the best and made others act to their best. The ways and styles with which he could enact each and every dialogue were truly amazing. With his energy, humor and dedication he would make it sure that we enjoyed what we are doing and still are serious enough to work hard – just like the real Palekar. The result - our skit was turning out to be an outright comedy.

Then there was Akbar, though a pure Marathi – he could act like he is a Hyderabadi by birth. His ease on the stage was magnetic and his constant jokes were a hit. Though he made mistakes and forgot his lines, it made up for a greater laugh and brought in lots of improvisations. Together with Palekar, he used to give the entire team a food for fun and laughter. I never thought I would get a friend for life in him.

Sachin, Baburao, A.K.Hungal, Bheem all brought their individual charm to the skit. I felt I should shoot the practice session because I knew one day, more than the actual performance, I am gonna miss the practice session the most. We were a great team and I wanted to hold on to the bonding.
Finally we were ready to perform on the D-Day. We were wandering throughout the grounds without a single worry – our skit was perfectly ready. It was remarkable to watch our team get ready in their costumes - Akbar, Bheem, A. K. Hungal and specially Baburao with his dhoti, topi and old bag.

We all were set and the skit was announced.
20 minutes of sheer pleasure. Period. What an experience that was. There was no stage and no audience – we were as we have been in the practicing room – natural, comfortable and humorous. It was after the performance that we realized we were a hit. The audience was laughing for the entire skit and the mood was ecstatic. We rocked. We surely did!!!!

For me, it was a moment of assimilation – what had started as just a fun activity for me had unquestionably turned out to be one of the most memorable journeys. The entire process had not only given me friends for life time but a benchmark to look back to whenever I get involved any such initiative further. There was a lot to take home from the moment but I was just basking in the achievement. The time had given me such an expected result that I was sure to be in the same mood for days to come. And I was hoping the same for others too. And more than anything else, it was humbling to realize that we had performed as a team – not as individuals.

Today after more than a year after the event, the memories are still fresh. I feel like asking Palekar his expert comments when i practice for this year's skit. I see the difference in attitude when i see other people practicing for their skit. I often run into Palekar in the office canteen and all I can remember is his typical way of saying his dialogues. I meet Akbar and I share the same jokes in Hyderabadi accent. I can see Baburao walking briskly with his bag and I imagine Sachin with his bat and gloves.

Sometimes madness really is the beginning for great pleasure. I started the madness and the delight has yet not died.
This memoir is especially for all the mad friends I made so that they don’t think twice before acting mad once in a while. . . .