Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Inspired by life!

As a kid, a cloud would move me to poetry. Those of you who are thinking dark poems aren't imagining the right kind of cloud. Growing up in Salalah, I was more moved by the puffy white types that drift against a clear, startlingly blue sky than the heavy, rain-laden ones that get the peacocks dancing and Meerabai pining for Krishna. And believe me, back then, all I wanted was to experience the other kind. I wanted tragedy, pain, tears, betrayal, all so that it would mould me into the kind of writer I was aspiring to be. I was quite sure even then that happy stories aren't the stuff of great literature.

I was rarely inspired by anything outside the natural world back then. Then I grew up, and I was rarely inspired at all. By then, I had discovered I had a way with words and I really didn't need inspiration to write well. Occasionally, I was inspired by great people but these were few and far between, and these people were mostly dead. No, I don't converse with the spirits, just had a phase of reading a lot of biographies of the greats.

Now I suddenly find myself inspired by real living people, my peers, people who work for me, my friends. I am especially thankful to all the wonderful bloggers out there (whose blogs I read regularly and those that I catch up with intermittently) who wield the pen, err the finger, with such grace that I can't sleep without going through my daily quota of blogs. So people, please keep putting up your thoughts online as much as possible... I may be addicted!

Today while chatting with a friend, I realised there was one person I have wanted to blog about ever since I met her. I call her a real hero. Her name is Rajani and I first met her when I launched a maid-hunt when I moved into my new apartment. She turned up at my door, dark, slim, sorta tough-looking. I was a little intimidated to say the least. It turned out that she couldn't help out at my place because she only took up part-time jobs that ranged between 1/2-2 hours a day. And she was already going to 7-8 houses a week! She promised to find someone for me.

In the meanwhile I found someone for the position but I was occasionally in touch with Rajani. She would come over and help with dishes and cleaning up when my maid went AWOL! I got to know her better and I was amazed that a woman who has gone through so much can still go about her work with a smile and a song and find the time to entertain my daughter in between.

Here's how an average day goes for Rajani: wake up at 5 am, make lunch for son (her other son lives with her sister in Fort Cochin), go to the temple, set off on the 3-km long walk to her first house, reach there by 8 am, finish the work there by 10 am and then wolf down the breakfast they set down for her, rush to her next house and the next and the next, until she wraps up by 3-4 pm, walk back home, have what's left of the lunch she made in the morning (remember she hasn't eaten and most times drunk anything since breakfast), finish the rest of her chores, watch some tv, babysit for a neighbour, counsel another neighbour with family problems and then hit the bed.

This girl is also a trained autorickshaw driver but her sons don't want her to drive an auto as they consider it unsafe for her; she is also trained in making a number of handicrafts but she has realised that making and selling a few handmade roses will not help her earn a living or fund her children's education. She only lived with her husband for a few years after marriage; he upped and left her, eventually marrying someone else. By sheer hard work, she has decked her home with every necessary urban comfort including a television, a fridge, a mixer-grinder, a washing machine (!) and the ubiquitous mobile phone. And the best part is that unlike most other Cochin maids who are plain sloppy or do the work with disdain, she works super-efficiently   and is polite, to boot! There's no dilly-dallying for Rajani; if she can't do a job, she admits it, if she commits to it, she'll make sure she delivers. This kind of work ethic is a rarity in Kerala, and quite refreshing when found!

Now tell me, does that sound too filmi to be true? Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.

2 comments:

The Restless Quill said...

I like many blogs for mainly two reasons. One: the writing style is so excellent that I can ignore the content. Two: The content is so excellent I can ignore the writing.

Yours is one of those rare blogs that combine the two. I don't say this often but you write very well, Sumi. I'll be coming around more often :)

SunnySmile said...

Thank you, TRQ (I love your blogger moniker). And coming from a very talented writer, that is high praise indeed. Some more inspiration to keep blogging :)

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Inspired by life!

As a kid, a cloud would move me to poetry. Those of you who are thinking dark poems aren't imagining the right kind of cloud. Growing up in Salalah, I was more moved by the puffy white types that drift against a clear, startlingly blue sky than the heavy, rain-laden ones that get the peacocks dancing and Meerabai pining for Krishna. And believe me, back then, all I wanted was to experience the other kind. I wanted tragedy, pain, tears, betrayal, all so that it would mould me into the kind of writer I was aspiring to be. I was quite sure even then that happy stories aren't the stuff of great literature.

I was rarely inspired by anything outside the natural world back then. Then I grew up, and I was rarely inspired at all. By then, I had discovered I had a way with words and I really didn't need inspiration to write well. Occasionally, I was inspired by great people but these were few and far between, and these people were mostly dead. No, I don't converse with the spirits, just had a phase of reading a lot of biographies of the greats.

Now I suddenly find myself inspired by real living people, my peers, people who work for me, my friends. I am especially thankful to all the wonderful bloggers out there (whose blogs I read regularly and those that I catch up with intermittently) who wield the pen, err the finger, with such grace that I can't sleep without going through my daily quota of blogs. So people, please keep putting up your thoughts online as much as possible... I may be addicted!

Today while chatting with a friend, I realised there was one person I have wanted to blog about ever since I met her. I call her a real hero. Her name is Rajani and I first met her when I launched a maid-hunt when I moved into my new apartment. She turned up at my door, dark, slim, sorta tough-looking. I was a little intimidated to say the least. It turned out that she couldn't help out at my place because she only took up part-time jobs that ranged between 1/2-2 hours a day. And she was already going to 7-8 houses a week! She promised to find someone for me.

In the meanwhile I found someone for the position but I was occasionally in touch with Rajani. She would come over and help with dishes and cleaning up when my maid went AWOL! I got to know her better and I was amazed that a woman who has gone through so much can still go about her work with a smile and a song and find the time to entertain my daughter in between.

Here's how an average day goes for Rajani: wake up at 5 am, make lunch for son (her other son lives with her sister in Fort Cochin), go to the temple, set off on the 3-km long walk to her first house, reach there by 8 am, finish the work there by 10 am and then wolf down the breakfast they set down for her, rush to her next house and the next and the next, until she wraps up by 3-4 pm, walk back home, have what's left of the lunch she made in the morning (remember she hasn't eaten and most times drunk anything since breakfast), finish the rest of her chores, watch some tv, babysit for a neighbour, counsel another neighbour with family problems and then hit the bed.

This girl is also a trained autorickshaw driver but her sons don't want her to drive an auto as they consider it unsafe for her; she is also trained in making a number of handicrafts but she has realised that making and selling a few handmade roses will not help her earn a living or fund her children's education. She only lived with her husband for a few years after marriage; he upped and left her, eventually marrying someone else. By sheer hard work, she has decked her home with every necessary urban comfort including a television, a fridge, a mixer-grinder, a washing machine (!) and the ubiquitous mobile phone. And the best part is that unlike most other Cochin maids who are plain sloppy or do the work with disdain, she works super-efficiently   and is polite, to boot! There's no dilly-dallying for Rajani; if she can't do a job, she admits it, if she commits to it, she'll make sure she delivers. This kind of work ethic is a rarity in Kerala, and quite refreshing when found!

Now tell me, does that sound too filmi to be true? Sometimes, truth really is stranger than fiction.

2 comments:

The Restless Quill said...

I like many blogs for mainly two reasons. One: the writing style is so excellent that I can ignore the content. Two: The content is so excellent I can ignore the writing.

Yours is one of those rare blogs that combine the two. I don't say this often but you write very well, Sumi. I'll be coming around more often :)

SunnySmile said...

Thank you, TRQ (I love your blogger moniker). And coming from a very talented writer, that is high praise indeed. Some more inspiration to keep blogging :)