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Archive for the category “Vintage”

Why Ramesh always has a bald pate

Among my brother’s many boyhood friends, is one Ramesh whom everybody loves. He is a sweet person with always a smile and a friendly word for everyone.

But there is another reason why he stands out among my brother’s friends.

He has a bald pate!

His head is always clean-shaven.

These days many shave off the hair on their head to make a fashion statement and hide their receding hair-line. But it was an accident that made Ramesh go hairless.

By accident, I really mean an accident, a calamity, a mishap!

Before I narrate the story, let me make it very clear that this absence of hair, suits Ramesh perfectly and we cannot recollect him being otherwise.

It was during their college days that Ramesh and a set of his college friends volunteered to go on a trekking expedition to the Himalayas with a youth group.

All went well for a few days. Then when the group of boys were attempting to trek to a place 7400 feet higher, the accident happened.

A shepherd coming down their path told them that a herd of goats was crossing higher up and the rocks were loose. The boys took shelter under a cliff.

Sure enough, loose rocks came tumbling down. Then everything quietened down. Ramesh and a friend ventured out to check if the coast was clear

Without warning a boulder came rolling down, bounced on the friend’s backpack and hit him squarely on his head.

Ramesh fell down, bleeding and unconscious.

The other young boys stood stunned  and helpless for sometime. But they had to pick up courage to do the needful.

It was  the quick thinking of the adroit boys that saved Ramesh’s life that day. They wound Ramesh bleeding skull and carried him on a mule to the net camp.

The doctor in the camp down, where there was no electricity and no local anaesthesia, stitched up  the four inches long wound on Ramesh’s skull and rang for the helicopter which came a day late and took Ramesh to civilisation.

Ramesh needed hospitalisation, more medical intervention and of course all the prayers that his loved ones could offer, to get him on his feet again.

His shell-shocked parents and relatives prayed to every deity they knew. As is the custom in India, his parents and his relatives took  vows in different temples.

And what was the vow?

It was to bring their boy to the temples and shave his hair before the deity and offer it there.

So when Ramesh was back to normal, it began. Temple after temple, month after month, Ramesh was offering his hair in lieu of his well wisher’s vow.

Now this left Ramesh with a clean pate, for days on end. Soon he began to like his new look and he refused to grow back his hair ever again.

Of course this story about the temple offering is what Ramesh tells people who ask him about his bald pate,

But I don’t believe him for a second. I think the stitches on his head itch if he grows his hair back.

When my brother tells this story, he always adds that it could have been him (my brother) with a head injury instead of Ramesh. He had also signed up to go on that trek and he was the leader of the team.

It could have been his inquisitive head that had peeped out to see if the hurtling rocks had subsided.

But he opted out at the last moment, because my wedding was fixed for that week.

Well you never know what fate has in store for you!

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Monkeys Do Not Like Gold And Cash.

ID-100300422Do monkeys like gold and cash? Apparently not! That proved lucky for one man and not so favourable for a few others.

Hyroon’s father was a teacher in a village school. His village was set in the foothills of the Eastern Ghats Mountains. It was a picturesque place, verdant, cool and peaceful.

Except for one menace.


Stray monkeys would descend on the village from time to time and be up to a lot of mischief.

Once, Hyroon’s dad had been paid his salary by the management. He put the money in a yellow cloth bag, which he always carried with him. It contained his spectacles, his lunch box and some examination papers, which he wanted to take home with him to scrutinise.

As he was walking towards his two-wheeler on which he used to drive home, a monkey swung by out of no where and whisked the yellow bag right out his hands and made off with it.

While Hyroon’s dad and few teachers stood aghast, the animal sat on a tree, peered into the bag and started inspecting the contents.

First came the spectacles, which the animal found uninteresting and let fall to the ground.

Then it was the empty lunch box.

Soon it would be the turn of the answer papers and then the sheaf of money.

The monkey would definitely not drop the papers, just like that. It would surely shred them into pieces.

Luckily for the unhappy man, another teacher had a smart idea. He hurried to the little shop outside the school and bought a bunch of bananas.

He placed the yellow bunch near the tree and the teachers pretended to walk away.

Immediately they heard a thud.

It was the sound of the bag falling down, with the money and papers and all.

In a twinkling of an eye, the imp of an animal had plucked the fruits from the ground and was back on its perch happily munching away, oblivious to anything else.

And Hyroon’s dad went home a richer man.

 Hyroon remembered this incident when she read a news item in today’s newspaper.

A few friends from Chennai got together and went to the Hogenakkal Waterfalls. They were rich businessmen and of the flamboyant type, wearing expensive rings, watches, bracelets and chains.

Just before they went into the water, they unclasped their jewels, put them into a bag and hid it among their clothes, which they had just removed. Their valuables were right in front of them They were hoping that no thief walked that way.

They never expected a little monkey to jump down from the trees and make off with the bag, right before their startled eyes.ID-100170950

Then the monkey did its monkey business.

Sitting on a comfortable branch, it opened the bag and peered in. Finding no eatables, it withdrew the jewels and disgustedly threw them, one by one into the Cauvery River.

Suddenly it was raining rings, watches, bracelets and chains into the surging waters.

The friends and other tourists jumped into the water and tried to retrieve the valuables.

According to the newspaper report, they got everything back except for a twelve sovereign chain, which the paper says might have been carried away by the current.

But my friend Hyroon thinks otherwise.

If someone found a gold chain in the riverbed, they would never return it.

She has one question.

Why should men wear so much gold?

PS: Guys and girls, please leave your expensive stuff locked up in the car or better still, leave them at home before embarking on a visit to a tourist spot.

A thief you never anticipated might literally jump down from the skies.

Story By: Gulsum Basheer @ Talkalittledo

Hi! There is a comments box at the end of the page. Do leave your thoughts on this story here.

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All You Need Is Love.

ID-100233959Who does not like the super-duper hit Tamil movie named Bombay?

In this film, a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy fall in love and marry against all parental opposition and attempt to live happily ever after. They have two sons, whom they name Kabir Narayan and Kamal Basheer, a combination of Hindu and Muslim names.

 Recently I was on a visit to a small town in Tamil Nadu to see my aunt. She related a story to me about one of her neighbours which has a striking resemblance to the film Bombay.  This love story  happened 70 odd years ago, long before the director of the movie was even born.

The heroine of my aunt’s story is 93 years old now.

 In the late 1940s when medical student Shireen met Dorairaj, (names changed) it was not love at first sight. She was a petite Muslim girl, fair-skinned and having Urdu as her mother tongue.

Dorairaj was a strapping youth, tall and dark-complexioned. And he belonged to a very Tamil  close knit Hindu family.

 But love happened along the way. According to my aunt, Dorairaj helped Shireen’s father financially when he was going through a bad phase in his business. He also helped Shireen complete her medical course.

 When the two fool hardy lovers married, their families disowned them.

 Seventy years ago, it was no mean feat to walk out on your families and start life afresh. But this couple did.

 They had two sons who they named, Devan and Dawood (names changed) A Hindu name and a Muslim one, just like in the film.

 The movie Bombay ends when the sons are young. What did they grow up to be?

 But we know what happened to boys in my aunt’s story.

 Devan became a doctor like his mother and married a Hindu girl, also a doctor. Dawood took over his father’s business and married a Muslim girl of his mother’s choosing.

 And they all lived together happily and in harmony for many years.

Gulla Gulla Halla Gulla!!*

It was only a few years ago that Dorairaj died. Dr.Shireen, now 93 years old, lives in quiet retirement. I wonder what thoughts run through her mind as she dwells on her life.

 Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and the story of  Dr.Shireen’s life reads like a movie script!

Story By : SF. Written By Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

*Gulla Gulla Halla Gulla is a song from the film, Bombay. It has no specific meaning. It is just a bunch of exclamations expressing joy.

Hi. There is comments box at the end of the page. Do leave your thoughts on this story here.




I Think Of You Everyday My Friend.

ID-100305953Manoharan and Johnny were the best of friends. You cannot help forging the deepest of love and respect, when you had to march all the way from India to Burma during the Second World War.

They were soldiers in the Indian army in the Burma Campaign fighting not just the Japanese but also braving the difficulties posed by hazardous terrain, horrible climate and debilitating diseases.

When the greatest war in world history ended the two men were still posted in Burma.

After the hostilities were over and truce reigned, the soldiers came back to their native land. The friends swore to keep in touch when they parted.

But you know how things are when you come home after a long absence; your people are waiting to bear you away, to take up different duties, to wear different mantles.

Those were the days before cell phones and Internet connections.  Johnny and Manoharan, lost touch with each other.

The years rolled by. After five or six years the two friends were  invitees at the same wedding in old Madras and spied each other across the hall.

“That looks like Johnny,” thought Manoharan

“That looks like Manoharan,” thought Johnny.

They came towards each other to take a closer look and shouted with joy on discovering that the other person was indeed their long lost friend.

They were overwhelmed and after preliminary back thumping and hugging, they introduced their wives to each other.

Both their wives said in unison, “My husband is always talking about you.”

Then they introduced their little sons to their best friend.

“This is my son, Johnny,” said Manoharan.

“And this is my son, Manoharan,” said Johnny.

After the war, they had never met. But each had named his son after his friend without the friend knowing about it.

A Johnny growing up in a Hindu joined family and a Manoharan growing up in a strict Christian household!

There can be no better salute to friendship, than this.

Or a true testimony to India as a secular country!

Story By: SM. Written by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

Hi. There is comments box at the end of the page. Do leave your thoughts on this blog here.

Photo credit: vectorolie @ Freedigitalphotos.

Lost And Found At The Airport

elderly-woman-10032444I lost my favorite jewelry at the airport, but luckily I got them back.

I am 70 years old. I am just a frail old woman, who looks like your average grand mother. Hanky Panky is the last thing one would associate with me.

But recently the staff at the International Airport in my city thought otherwise

Let me begin at the beginning.

My eldest daughter lives in Singapore. I was travelling alone from my hometown to visit her. I have done so quite a few times before and I knew the procedure. I was confidant of breezing through the customs clearance.

But no!

Something in my handbag seemed suspicious on the X-Ray Scanner. The customs officials thought that I was carrying a KNIFE!!

I was taken to the side, the contents of my handbag was dumped into a tray and every item in it was scrutinized.

I felt miserable, lonely and lost. To add to my woe, the customs clearance personnel were all from North India and talked among themselves in Hindi, a language I was not proficient in.

Finally, they discovered what the metal detector was highlighting in my handbag.

It was my spectacle case.

I had recently had laser surgery done and was given special spectacles in a case. A metal needle held the lid of the case together. It was this tiny piece of metal that was projecting itself as a knife during my customs check up.

Even after identifying the problem, I was not let off at once but was made to wait for nearly 45 minutes.airplane-flying-10080971

When  the boarding for my flight was announced I approached the customs officers again.

They handed over the tray with my stuff and told me,

Chalo, chalo,” in Hindi which I knew meant, “Go.”

Now another problem crops up.

Among the items in the tray, one important item that I had carried in my handbag was missing. It was small black pouch that contained my gold jewelry, a pair of earrings and a chain.

I tried to explain to the men that my pouch was missing. But they were too busy to heed to my pleas. Many flights were boarding and they thought I was a hysterical old woman vying for some sympathy.

They just urged me on saying, “Its late. Keep going.” Or that was what I thought they said, in Hindi.

I was sad at the loss of my precious ornaments and distressed throughout the journey. When I reached Singapore I told my daughter what had happened.

My daughter immediately called my younger daughter’s mother in law in India and complained to her.

The mother in law, a smart woman who will not take anything lying down, promptly called a friend, who was also a customs officer at the airport.

This friend assured her that nothing could be taken out of the airport, as at it was under 24 hours surveillance. If we were to make a formal complaint within 48 hours about the loss, it would be retrieved, if I had really carried such a pouch in my handbag.

My youngest daughter, wasting no time called the manager of the airport and related to him the incidence leading up to the loss of my pouch.  At first the manager took umbrage to her utterance and sternly asked her:

“Are you accusing us of stealing, Madam?”

My daughter was quick to reassure him, “No, sir. I am just telling you what had happened.”

“I will call you back in ten minutes” said the manager before ringing off.

True to his words, he called back in some time.

They were able to locate my pouch in the Lost and Found Department of the airport.

After some formalities, the airport authorities handed over my jewelry pouch to my daughter.

 I was happy that I got my ear rings back. They were my dad’s gifts to me so many years back and held much sentimental value.

It was some days before I calmed down and came back to normal. I pacified myself by thinking, “After all they were just doing their duty.”

 But like I said, I am just a frail old woman…Hanky Panky is the last thing one would associate with me!

Story by : Mrs.A…Written by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

Elderly lady:Image courtesy of Ambro

Airplane:Image courtesy of nokhoog_buchachon /

What Is In A Name?

ID-10087533This young girl did not know whose name she was shouting out aloud in the  street.

My mother was very young when she got engaged to my father, barely sixteen years old.

At that time they were living in a large ancestral house in the village. They had a manservant working for them. Everyone called him “Said-am-li.” Mother did too. She had always assumed that, that was his name.

A few days after her wedding was finalized, she was standing outside her house calling out to the man to run an errand for her.

“Saidamleee…saidamlee” she shouted loudly.

An old woman from the opposite house walked across and asked her,

“Why are you SELLING your husband in the streets?”

My mother said, “What?” not understanding the woman.

“You are calling out your future husband’s name, standing in the road,” the lady said.ID-10047052

“Saidamli is not my husband’s name” my mother refuted vehemently.

“It is,” said the old dame with a toothless grin. “A contracted version of your husband’s name”

Then it hit my mother that, ‘Saidamli” was indeed a shortened version of her fiance’s name and she had been loudly shouting out that in the street, at an age when Indian women  did not tell or call their husband’s name OUT aloud.

My mother was so much overcome by shyness that she closed her face with her dupatta and ran into the house, while the old woman cackled delightedly.

My father’s name is indeed ‘Saidamli’ which is a shortened version of the name,  Seyed Ahamed Ali!

Story By: Fouzia. Written By : Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo



Father Forgive Me.

Can you forgive your father if he deserts you for ten long years? This prodigal father finds that his child does not.

ID-10025365My aunt whom we called  Mami was born after six boys.

When she was a baby, her father, (my grand –father) went to Sri Lanka on business and did not come back for ten years.

In those days, the men from the southern states of India went to Myanmar, Malaysia and Sri Lanka and started a business there. Many of them fared well.

My grand father was not so lucky. He met with failure after failure. He gave up the idea of running his own business and worked in a factory. But he refused to come back to India as a loser.

After ten long years, my father who was twenty-five years old by then, located my grand father with the help of his friends in Sri Lanka and talked him into coming home.

It was a great day for the family. The prodigal father returning home!ID-100225494My aunt who had never seen her dad was the most excited.  She kept imagining what her father would look like. She had seen the fathers of her schoolmates and thought her father would be like one of them.

When their father arrived, her excited brothers brought their sister forward and introduced her to the man who had sired them.

The ten year old was shocked on seeing the geriatric whom people told her was her father.

He was tired, weary, guilty and above all very OLD.

Being the seventh child, her father had been in his fifties when she was born. These ten years of failure and loneliness had aged him even more.

Looking at the elderly person before her, my aunt hid behind her brothers and refused to come to her parent.

She started crying.

“This is not my father. I have seen my friend’s dads. They are all young. This is some sick old man. You are all cheating me.”

She needed a lot of convincing before she would accept the fact that this was indeed her father.

Even then, she never bonded with her father though he lived with the family for many years after that.

She always claimed that her six brothers who adored her were more like a father to her than the ancient man in her house whom every one called FATHER.

Story By : IM – Written By : Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo


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The Story Of The Angry Grandmother

nCXFR7IHell hath no fury than a woman whose grandson was scorned.

This happened to a girl I knew, some years ago, in a non-descriptive south Indian village. 

The girl, lets call her Amudha, was in the fifth standard. She was a bright girl, cheerful and friendly.

There was this boy in her class who developed a crush on her. He talked to her often and one day, he gave her a slip of paper with the words “I love you” written on it.

The brat also told her “I will marry you, when I grow up”

Amudha immediately complained to the teacher. The teacher should have dealt with the problem in a softer way, considering they were just kids. But she made a big ruckus  about it. The boy was scolded harshly. Then she made the kid kneel outside the door for half a day. 

That evening the youngster went crying home. He had no parents and lived with his grandparents. His grand mother doted on him. When old lady heard her grand son’s story and the punishment meted out to him, all hell broke loose.

Delirious with anger, she barged into class the next day.

There was a melee of sorts between the old lady and the  class teacher. Harsh words were exchanged. The grandmother maintained that the boy was too young to understand the magnitude of his actions.

The hysterical woman asserted that the teacher had been wrong to shame her grandson in front of the whole school while the teacher stood her ground and said that this was to be an example for other boys who might be tempted to do the same.

Suddenly in this mayhem, the grandmother spied Amutha who was the cause of all this trouble.ID-10034436

“Are you the girl my grand son wants to marry? So be it”, she said and suddenly removing her thalli (yellow marriage thread) from her neck, put it around Amudha’s neck.

“There now, you are married to my grand son,” she said triumphantly and walked out of school.

What happened afterwards was utter pandemonium. 

The boy was dismissed from school. Amudha’s parents fearing for her safety, removed the yellow thread from her neck and left it at the village temple. Then they packed her bag and baggage and shifted her to Chennai to a relative’s house.She never went to school ever again.That was how Amudha’s scholastic aspirations came to naught.

This story seems straight out of an old Tamil film , right?

As for the battle-axe of a grand mother, makes us want to say: “Hell hath no fury than a woman, whose grandson was scorned.”

 Story By : Ammu. Chennai…..Written By: Gulsum Basheer.

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School Trip (lunch included) Which I Can Never Forget.

ID-10043828My name is Mariam Beevi. I did my schooling in a village called Choolavaikaal in Trinelvelli district. This was in the 1960s.

At that time they had started a factory manufacturing Chlorine in an adjacent town called Athur. The factory allowed school students to come and view their machines and see how they operated.

Many schools in and around that area took turns to visit the factory.

Our school decided one day to take about 30 kids studying in standard five to visit the factory. The best part about the whole trip was that our headmaster’s wife was a native of Athur. Our headmaster’s parents in law lived there in a big ancestral house.

The headmaster arranged for us to assemble in his wife’s house first, before visiting the factory.

The children accompanied by a few teachers and the school headmaster, were to go to Athur by the ‘town bus.’ 

It was a bright sunny day when we left our village and landed in our headmaster’s wife’s maternal home.

It was a cultural shock for us.

We were from an all Muslims village and we had never visited a traditional Brahmin house before. Everything and everyone in that house filled us with wonder – the ladies in their sarees tied in the madisar style, the men in their traditional clothes and caste marks on their forehead.ID-100252671

The headmaster’s wife’s whole family, including grandparents, aunts uncles and various cousins had assembled at that house. Or come to think of it, it could have been a joint family and maybe all of them did live there together.

Anyway, what was most thrilling about the trip was that they had prepared a sumptuous lunch for us. A fantastic vegetarian fare, the likes of which we had never tasted before awaited us.

We all sat in a row on the floor. They put a banana leaf before each one of us and served us everything in proper order : rice, sambar, rasam, curd, potato fry , pickles and papad.

It was a first of sorts for us kids in many ways – eating from a leaf and eating a full-fledged lunch at 11 am in the morning, talking to the old people in the house who talked in a different kind of Tamil.

 In fact everything was so novel , that it has left an indelible impression in my mind.

I remember that we visited the factory afterwards and were taken around. It did not interest us girls, though the boys went gaga over everything.

Even now when I think back on my school days, the visit to my head master’s wife’s ancestral house was more enjoyable than any other trip I have been on.

As told to talkalittledo by : Mariam Beevi, Choolavaikal.

Written by : Gulsum Basheer.

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Photo Credit:Boians Cho Joo


Tied to a Mango Tree After School


ID-100217501In the 1960s Chennai, which is now a bustling metropolitan city was quite laid back. There were not so many houses and apartments sitting choc a block next to each other. Almost every house had a sprawling garden around it.

I studied in a school near the old Sayani theatre. I used to walk to my school and in the evening back to my house in Kellys at a leisurely pace, along with a group of my friends.

Everyday we passed this big house, which was close to an empty open ground. This is the place where the ESI Hospital was later built.

The house did not have any compound wall around it; just a tall wire fence. What took our fancy in that house was a huge mango tree, right in the centre of the garden. In season, it was bursting with fruits.

Every evening, we boys would stand near the fence, our faces pressed against the gaps in the iron wire, marveling at it.

 We counted the fruits and knew if one went a missing the next day. We shoed away the errant squirrels which would dart up and down the trunks and branches. We almost began to believe that the tree was ours.

One day after school, two of my friends and I decided to scale the fence and pluck a few fruits.

Since we had not seen any activity in the house for a long time, we thought that the inmates were away on vacation.

We three smart kids aged just ten years and studying in the fourth standard, climbed the fence and jumped inside.

One boy climbed deftly up the low branches like a seasoned monkey and threw down the choicest fruits, while my friend and I stuffed them into our school bags.ID-100239273

Suddenly my friend standing next to me shouted, “Run, run” and he took off like the wind. He quickly climbed up the fence and was on the outside and running down the road.

I stood gaping wondering what the matter was while the friend up the tree, slid down the trunk quickly. I felt a hand on my shoulder and before I could escape I was well with the grasp of the house owner. Another man, a servant probably had caught my friend.

They dragged us squirming and resisting to the tree and tied us  side by side to the trunk.

We begged and pleaded with the two men. But they would not untie us. Every time we cried out loud, they said, “Close your mouths. Shut up. If you make one more sound, I will lock you up in the car shed.”

So we tried to not to cry and at the same time beg the men to release us.

By then it was almost 6 pm in the evening.After we had been sobbing for almost two hours the men untied us and let us go, after extracting a promise from us not to venture anywhere near their garden. They even added a threat that the next time they found us in their garden, they would hand us to the police.

We went back to our worried parents and we told them that we had gone to a friend’s house. We did not tell them of our mis-adventure as we knew that we would get a sound thrashing from their side.

Why add misery to woe?!!

There are not many incidences that I remember about my school days. But this is one happening that I would never forget.

As told by: Rajkumar. Chennai……….. Written by : Gulsum Basheer  @ Talkalittledo.

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