How I was duped… again! (continued)

After asking her the same questions like name, birth-star, husband’s name, his birth-star, childrens’ birth-stars, their spouses’ birth-stars, he blessed her too with a long recital of slokas.

Then came the purpose of the visit.

“We’re conducting a yagna today” he informed us again. “And you should contribute 5 kilos of ghee.”

By then I just wanted them out, with minimum damage to my purse.

“Sorry, I informed them. “I don’t have that much ghee at home.”

They looked at me like I was an errant child.

“You can give the equivalent dakshanai (money) , ma.” The older one explained.

I gave him Rs. 100.

The older one looked at me helplessly. “We asked for money equivalent to 5 kilos of ghee..” he said in a small voice.

I gave him another 100 Rupee note.

He looked at the younger one in despair.

The younger one looked at me sternly. “We need at least Rs. 500”.  He informed me.

“I don’t have that much. ” I lied. “I have to go to the bank to get more than this”.

I thought I was being very smart and firm. But didn’t expect my mom-in-law to say, “I have the money ..” and gesture to my father-in-law to get it.

Totally cornered, I accepted defeat.

“Okay, okay.. I’ll check if I have any other  money inside.”

I then handed over the remaining Rs. 300 to the waiting hands.

‘Now go!’ I pleaded silently. As if he heard me, the younger one asked, “Where are your parents? Any siblings? What’s their gothram?”

Once I answered all that, he asked, “what’s your sister-in-law’s gothram?” Just to check if she is a brahmin. I told him and a smile broke on his face. “Your brother has married according to the shastras... They’ll have a great married life,” he promised. “Of course, you will too, despite marrying according to your wish…”

After chanting some more slokas vociferously, they blessed my house and took their leave.

After I’d stopped shaking with anger and the whole storm died down, I  went to my in-laws’ room hoping to dissect the whole event.

“Did you see how accurate he was about your son?” they asked me excitedly. “And how fast they calculated everything so quickly on their fingers?”

I slowly went back to my room and started butting my head on the wall…

I called the one Tambrahm man I know who’ll really put things in perspective – My father.

After I gave him a short account, he  raved and ranted  at me for being so dumb to let them in.

” _____ Madam is the richest of its kind. Why would people from there beg for Rs. 500 door to door?” He bellowed. Suddenly his tone changed. He became fearful. “How do you know they are real priests? What if they’d rented the costume and were actually  hard core criminals, who just came into your house to note down things, so they can break in one night? Oh.. how could you be so dumb? You’re supposedly an educated woman! What if they go to your son’s school and kidnap him?!! ” He became hysterical.

My next call made to a friend. She went along the same lines as my father, but was far more sensible.

After assuring both of them I’ll warn my security guard never to let them in again, and even if they came in, I’ll never, never, never open my door for them, I heaved a sigh. But not of relief.

*******

Update: The duo were back after a few days. Thankfully I met them in the staircase on my way out. And my security guard was close at their heels.

They were flabbergasted to see me appear even before ringing my doorbell.

“We needed to give you the prasadam” The older one informed me, pointing to a heavy bag he was carrying.

“Give me,” I told him. ” I’m in a hurry to go out.”

The younger one looked at me sternly. “We need to come inside your house and give it. There are lot of procedures involved.”

“Well, I don’t have time for procedures.”

My security guard interrupted, “I told you not enter the building!”

“Who are you to stop us?”

Soon all three of them were screaming at each other randomly.

I stepped into the melee and said loudly, “I just have to go.. Can you please give me the prasadam?”

To which the younger one yelled, “I told you we cannot give it in the staircase. Fine. Looks like you don’t deserve it. If you want it, please come to the madam and collect it!”

With that they walked off in a huff.

Now I have no doubts about their authenticity, rather their lack of it!

All they did was forcefully enter my house, look down on my marriage and collect Rs. 500 against my wish.

And I’m sure if I have let them in the second time, they’d have done a big show of handing the prasadam to me, asked me to do one more namaskaram and collected more dakshinai.

Now a friend shared a story where a very distinguished looking Sardarji who walked into her house, claiming to be very spiritual. He started advising her on the vastu in her house. She smelled something fishy only when he asked her for gold, for a puja to clear the negativity in her house.

Thankfully, enter neighbor. She took one look at the man and threw him out.

What’s scary is that he even followed her when she moved houses.

I think I’ll just chuck my job and take up religion as my full-time occupation! Surely it’ll pay more with minimum effort!

How I got duped… again!

Disclaimer: The intent of this post is not to hurt any religious/caste/creed sentiments. But a honest depiction of my personal experience. All characters are 100% real.

I opened the door without even checking through the peep hole. Stupid me. Assuming it had to be my top-work maid who comes around that time.

At my doorstep stood two strangers in the garb of shastrigals. (Brahmin priests). The older one was rotund, with fierce eyes. The younger one was dark & thin with his shoulder-length hair loose.

One look at them and I knew what the visit was all about. Money.

“Are you a brahmin?” The older one asked me.

Totally baffled by this simple question, I blurted, “Yes.”

There began the melodrama.

“Did you know today is Mahasivaratri?” he asked.

“Umm, yes” I replied.

“We’re from _____ madam. We’re doing a yagna in _____ mandapam, in Maambalam. Can we come in?”

“No..” I replied quickly.”I’m very busy and don’t have the  time for this.”

The younger one looked at me with disdain. “You’re asking HIM not to enter your house?” he asked me angrily. “Do you have any idea who he is? He’s on TV everyday lecturing on spirituality. Don’t you recognise him?”

The older one looked suitably offended.

“We’ve never been to anybody’s house. He suddenly felt like blessing your house and you will not even let him in?”

And before I knew it, they’d pushed the door open and the older one had made himself comfortable on the sofa and the younger one stood reverentially by his side.

Then followed a full-throated recital of some slokas in Sanskrit.

Totally taken aback, I stared at them dumb-truck.

“What is your birth star?”

I told them.

“Your husband’s?”

I told them.

By now I was sweating a bit and wondering if they were genuine god-men or just some run of the mill con-men.

And they used this fear pretty well. The older one shot me dagger looks once in a while,  seated as he was, majestically while the younger one did most of the talking.

‘What is your gothram?” (lineage)

I told my husband’s.

Now it was their turn to look dumb-struck.

Because this was definitely not a tambrahm lineage.

“Telungala?” (are you a Telugu?) the older one asked.

“No. ” I replied. “My husband is.”

Comprehension dawned.

‘Siva, Siva!’ I could hear them think. ‘Love marriage!!!’

You married as per your wish?” the younger one asked.

“Yes.” I answered defensively. “Do you have any problems with that, knowing me for precisely 5 minutes?” I wanted to ask.

“Never mind.” The younger one conceded. “Despite that you’ll have a happy marriage.” He said magnanimously.

Before I could think of giving him my best scathing reply, he asked me, “Any children?’

By now my mom-in-law joined me, having heard the loud recitals in the drawing room.

“One son.” I told him, gritting my teeth.

“Birth star?”

I told him.

After some nimble calculations he informed me, “Brilliant boy. Has an amazing memory. But has a very bad temper. Am I correct?” he asked me.

I had to grudgingly admit it was indeed very accurate.

He had a handful of  yellow rice. The younger one gestured I should fall at the older one’s feet.

By now my patience was wearing really thin. I just did a mock namskaram while he proceeded to throw the rice on my head.

He shifted his focus on my mom-in-law.

To be continued. (Since this is getting too long!)

My name is Khan….

I went for this movie with mixed feelings.

First of all, will it live up to the hype that has been created around it?

Will it be too emotional/melodramatic for me?

Or will I sit back and enjoy the usual magic of Shah Rukh all over  again?

Well, the answers are as mixed up as the questions themselves…

The whole movie boils down to just one sentence. (Oft repeated in the movie, of course!)

“My name is Khan and I’m not a terrorist.”

Visually, K Jo has created his magic without his usual lavish sets. Its minimal, but very pleasing to the eye. The camera work is just awesome.

Kajol is a big plus for the movie. I cannot imagine anybody else in this role. Her enthusiasm and fiery emotions are all so infectious.

The storyline, though not the first of its kind, holds you captive for the entire length of the movie… Very poignant in some places, funny in some and really heart-warming in some.

The screen play is brilliant. (A 50ish man next to me kept applauding every time Sharukh delivered a punch.. Though I didn’t look, I heard him sniffing and blowing his nose more than once…)

Having said all that, I must admit  the Shah Rukh fan in me was grossly disappointed.  He was hamming a bit too much, I thought. And there were moments which were so forced. Like the Mama Jenny, for instance. That was a truly WTF moment for me. (Sorry, people! But don’t know how else to put it!)

And I open the Indian Express today, and I saw Bharadwaj Rangan’s review and I just cannot agree with him more. He laments that Karan Johar is forcing himself to do serious, realistic and un-Indian  movies and is losing touch with his usual Indian sentimental extravaganza..

In his own words,

‘I hope he returns to chronicling the lives and loves of people, leaving issue-oriented narratives to directors more suited to dour message-movies seeking to rehabilitate a world stricken with ills. Come on, Mr. Johar, be yourself. Raise a hand and repeat: “My name is Karan, and I am not a therapist.”’

I do too, Mr. Bharadwaj, I really do.

Homework…

My son had 6 weeks off from school. During which time he was supposed to catch up on his maths. We had 2 entire work-books to finish.

And yours truly was in charge. And terribly apprehensive about the whole thing.

Now let me  give you an inkling of what kind of student I used to be.  Once,  I spent the entire a day before a math test, making greeting cards by pasting pencil-shavings. (they made pretty attractive flowers, actually.) Then spent the next morning working myself up to a major state by trying to study at the breakfast table, enroute to school, etc.

Lets not even get into the marks I scored!

Totally forgetting all this, I looked at him sternly. He was actually eager to do the sums. “Good,” I thought to myself.

He had to add up numbers. There was this row of numbers from 1 to 20. And if he needed to add 2 + 7, he had to put his finger at 2 and count 7 to find out the answer.

He did the first one with great speed.

Next one was a bit slow.

The third one was ‘difficult’.

The fourth was ‘boring’.

He looked at me pleading. “Amma, please, can I take a break?”

“Ok, I relented.  “But only 5 minutes”

“Ten minutes..” He bargained.

I gave in. I Picked up a book and began reading.

He took a fresh paper and started drawing Hanuman and his army of monkeys.

The ten minutes stretched to half an hour. All my efforts to get him back to Maths were met with screams of  “But I’m busy!” or “Look at this!” He was so engrossed in drawing that I let him be.

But after half an hour, I lost my cool.

“Now!” I said sternly. “I want you to finish that page!”

He whimpered a bit, but went back to the book.

“What’s 8+4?” I plodded on.” Where’s 8? Put your finger on it.”

He looked at me with big, sad and accusing eyes.

“I don’t know.” He said in a small voice.

I took his hand and guided it to 8.

“Now, count!” I ordered.

He stopped mid-way  and said, “I’m soooo tired!”

“Just 5 more sweetie… ” I cajoled. “C’mon! You can do it! You’re so good at this!”

He responded by sliding down his miniscule writing desk with an exaggerated groan.

I tried to pull him up, but he clung to the legs of the chair, shouting, “I can’t! Leave me!!!” and groaning “Aiyyooo!!!”

I burst out laughing. I suddenly thought of my own wayward ways of handling homework even when I was in my teens.

Startled he sat up and looked at me.

“Go on!” I waved him away. “Play! Draw! Do what you want!”

Shocked at my reaction, he stared at me dumb-founded for a second before charging out of the room with his usual war cries.

Actually, I really don’t mind if he doesn’t grow up to be an Einstein. I really don’t mind if he even takes up grazing cows!

I know, I know, I’m a bad mother…  but Krishna the cowherd had more fun and less pressure than Einstein, anyway!!!

PS: I was so relieved when I learned later that completing the work-books were not mandatory. It was just to help him at home to stay in touch with what he’s been learning at school. Phew!