Perception or Fact?

A few days ago, I had a conversation with someone who had a mop of shining silver hair, bushy eyebrows and the remnants of a luxurious mustache. His eyes creased as he smiled (I can remember all of this about him, but can’t really remember who it was.) Shelving my memory for a second, lets talk about traveling. He opined that traveling these days was more dangerous than a century or 150 years ago because there weren’t this many accidents then.

I pondered about what he said for a moment and disagreed on two counts. Firstly, travel was not that frequent over a century ago. I have stories handed down from my father as to how travel entailed the preparation of a life event  even though it was only a few villages away.  Mental note to self: I should write about it someday.

Secondly, there were probably as many accidents involving horse carriages and wagons slipping off roads, or bullock carts stuck in flooding river waters.

Without a news feed tirelessly collating incidents from around the World and television and the web feeding you non-stop images of the accident site, no one thought that way.

I said that, but the thought has been sown in my mind. Look at the number of large accidents in the past 3 weeks.

Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 crash landed in SFO

http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/news/2013/07/06/airline-crash-san-francisco/2495099/

A few days later, we had this plane land nose-down in La Guardia Airport

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/26/nyregion/plane-landed-at-la-guardia-nose-gear-first.html?_r=0

Followed by this Boeing 737 that blew out its tires and crash landed in O’Hare Airport.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/29/americanairlines-tires-idUSL1N0FZ19220130729?feedType=RSS&feedName=marketsNews&rpc=43

As if Ground Transportation wanted to prove a point and not let Aviation hog the limelight, a few days ago, two trains collided head on in Switzerland.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/switzerland-train-crash-drivers-body-recovered-after-disaster-leaves-26-injured-8737311.html

This comes soon after a train accident in Spain:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/nation-world/recent-deadly-train-accidents-in-europe/slideshow/21483192.cms

Are accidents more frequent or are we simply hearing of it more often after the Asiana Airlines crash landed in San Francisco airport?

PS: I don’t why I put up a morbid post today. It is the mood people, the mood 😦

Gold (Just Gold)

When I say something that is Economic sounding, it is because I like to sound wise in these matters. But if you buy a cart of gold and dig up your home to hide it based on my advice, I would not advocate that. Just saying.

What is appealing about Gold is that supposedly the total weight of gold remains constant and will therefore retain its value regardless of currency fluctuations. Currency may come and currency may go. Dig up some coins from the Harappa civilization and try to use it in the laundromat slots and you will see what I mean. Gold, on the other hand, is not like that. Gold in the Harappan civilization was valuable and is valuable in the current world.

My alchemical knowledge being as good as my economic knowledge, I can categorically state that there is no way to manufacture Gold. I was surprised therefore, to hear that this restaurateur is trying to get us to ingest gold (I am not sure what his ultimate goal is, since what goes in comes out and all that) This restaurant sells gold-plated Dosa at an abominable price.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vLOhR5oUNgk

http://itotd.com/articles/477/edible-gold/

If he is hoping humans would spout gold in the process, I hope not.  I’ve seen people with golden teeth and my reactions have been civil on the outside, while the intestines coil and uncoil rapidly sending a “FLEE RIGHT NOW!” signal. It has something to do with the odd glint in the smile that gives the sinister-shading to the whole thing. I hope that doesn’t get in fashion anytime soon.

I read this a while ago and tucked it into a corner of my brain, but when I saw another news item that linked Gold, I could not pass it up.

There is one place on Earth where you can earn your weight in Gold. Dubai has offered its residents a gram of gold for every pound lost, and I was wondering whether the restaurateur would think of going there to stock up on supplies for his Dosas.

http://theweek.com/article/index/247191/could-dubais-gold-for-pounds-weight-loss-program-work

Ah well…The World is full of shining stories if you take the care to look for them.

Childhood Heroes and Cricket

Once upon a time, about a decade ago, or more precisely a few days after our wedding, the newly wed husband of mine was chatting up my younger brother. I lolled around in the background listening to the boys taking in the sights and talking about Cricket.

“Do you remember Kapil Dev’s batting in the 1983 World Cup?” asked the husband breathless with excitement. Clearly, it was one of those turning points in his life because that was the time he remembers the transformation in his image. The time he became the go-to-guy in the extended family. Suddenly, all his young uncles and their friends could bank on the lanky, shy eight year old boy to tell them all about Cricket. He had every player’s statistics at his fingertips. He had an audience for his gospel on batting techniques and strategic fours and sixes. Through all the frenzy, one special hero emerged: Kapil Dev. Kapil Dev was the hero for an entire generation. How many times have boys fought over who can be the Kapil Dev in their roadside matches?

Life moves on, however. Memories recede to farther and farther corners of the brain and sometimes fade. Only we realize that some memories don’t fade. They simply lie there waiting to be awakened again. One such was the Kapil Dev memory. It so happened that the husband got to meet his childhood hero recently.

When he came home after meeting the Cricket legend, I asked him how the experience was and he said,
“You know? As a boy I dreamed of meeting Kapil Dev and never once did I stop to think what I would say to him if I did.” The strange thing is, the intervening years seem to have done nothing in that department. He continued, “I had all week knowing I was going to meet him and I still didn’t think about what I was going to say to him.”

A glassy look came over his eyes and he went on mute. There I was waiting to listen to the rest of whatever else happened at the tip of my chair, but there was nothing. The eager wife waiting for the hero-blessed-husband to chat was left wanting. There was silence. Well he was sipping his coffee, so the slurping noise filled the gaps but not much else. I prodded him gently by poking his ribs and yelling “HEY! ”

He “Uhhned?” and said, “It must be really hard being a celebrity. Imagine, I went there and told him it was nice to meet him, but my heart was thumping that it was nicer still to take a picture with him. That’s all most people were interested in. A picture to be posted on Facebook.”

But the husband brought up a good point. What do you say to the celebrities? They certainly inspire us to dare to dream, but what do the celebrities get out of the exchange?

The husband got this…..

Kapil Dev
Kapil Dev

The Lost Heart

Through nobody’s fault, I found myself in a state wanting to submit an entry for the 3-minute fiction contest on NPR with an afternoon to spare. Add a production problem at work, 2 unbathed children playing with mud and a hose in the backyard, and a hungry family to the mix and you have the components for story-telling complete. Obviously, I was using all of this as a perfect excuse to not sit and write something. But the husband would hear nothing of the sort and shoo-ed me away to write. The theme was to write a story in which a character finds an object that he or she has no intention of returning.

I wrote out more than a few stories. I had almost decided on this one, but the daughter was so disgusted by the story, that she would not let me send it in. I have written a good many stories for her age group over the past few years and she has always been my trusted reviewer and critic. I love discussing my writing with her. Sometimes, the insights she offers can only come from a child her age and yet seem far more reasoned than I had supposed from someone her age. So, I honored her and did not send this one in, but decided to put it up on my blog instead.

The Lost Heart

This story is about a young girl called Fibrill who found a heart. A human heart.

 The object repulsed her, but she bent down and picked it up anyway like she usually did. This time, a longing engulfed her. The mass felt alien to her hands, but she persevered. She could give it to her mother and maybe that would make her happy. Yes that was it. She ran with the heart in her hands. She was running along the clouds as fast as her legs and the dead weight of the heart would allow her to. But the heart was not dead yet. It was still pulsing and throbbing. 

 As she burst into the kitchen through the back-door, her mother looked shocked. “What is this?”

 “A human heart! A human heart….can you check if it is alive?”

 “Oh dear. I wonder who is missing it. Give it to me.” said her mother rushing to her side.

 Her mother touched the edge of her nose. She saw the familiar transformation as her nose turned blue and the electric blue from her nose tip spread to all the nerve endings in her body. “Fibrill! Give me the heart right now. There is still hope left.”

 The shot of blue pulsed through the heart and Fibrill’s inside, but this time Fibrill did not part with the heart. It was her heart now.

 The man, whose heart it was, lay limp on Earth below.

The daughter did not know the word, but I told her that the word she was looking for was ‘Morbid’. Her expression said it all. Never one to hold back, she said, “Amma – you usually write things that make people happy, how could you write this?”

“Didn’t this make you happy?”. I love needling her.

“No way! This makes no one happy. A heart is lovely – like this! ” she said indignantly and drew me a heart on a post-it note. I must say that is the way I like hearts too. Beautiful and full of throbbing love.

Please let me know what you think of the story.

PS: Ideally, I would have loved to finish the story differently, but the requirement was to have the person not return what they found.