When Abramo Krishnan came to live in Tuticorin.

I must tell you the story of Abramo Krishnan” my cousin from Tuticorin told me excitedly, when I was telling her about my blog, Talkalittledo.

“Abramo Krishnan? Seems a strange name.” I said, getting interested.

Abramo was nine years old when he came down from California, to stay in his grandfather Krishnan’s house in Tuticorin, a small town in south India.

His father was Mr. Krishnan’s son. His mother was from Italy. His parents had met when they were university students in USA, fallen in love and married.

The Indian father had reluctantly agreed to their wedding.

Mr.Krishnan came from a traditional family seeped in old values. He was unhappy that his only grandson would not come to know any Indian convention or tradition.

When Abramo was nine years old, he persuaded his son and daughter in law to let Abramo stay with him for one whole year, so that he would enjoy his grandson’s company and also make him get acquainted with their heritage and culture. He especially wanted to visit all the temples with Abramo and tell him the story and mythology behind the Gods and Goddess of our land.

Luckily for him, his son, daughter in law and the little kid agreed to his request.

That was how Abramo came to live in Tuticorin in his grand father’s house.

My cousin who lived two houses away, was privy to all the tamasha that went on there.

 Abramo was such a loving boy that everyone, from the neighbours to the servants liked him and spoilt him thoroughly.

To top it, he was very good looking. My cousin said that he resembled Leonardo  diCaprio from the film Titanic, with his hair style and his blue eyes.

The boy was admitted in the local school in class four with special permission to skip the second language class, Tamil.

But the rest of the time, Abramo and Mr.Krishnan were inseparable. They visited all the temples, took part in religious functions, walked with the processions and bathed in the holy rivers. From marriages to funerals, the grand father gave his son’s child a taste of everything Indian.

In  the temple shops, the legendary weapons of the Gods, like the mace, trident and spear were sold in soft plastic. Abramo loved to buy these and would play with them on their open terrace, with the servants and his grand father pretending to be a King or a God. Also he would play with marbles and other games in the street with the neighbouring boys. The dust and heat did not affect him any way.

My cousin says, that he took to Tuticorin  like a native boy and he never fell sick like our children, who when they come from abroad, are always coughing or sneezing or puking.

My cousin was in the habit of going for a walk every evening. She would wear her black burkha (the conventional dress of the Muslims) when she walked on the road. Every time she passed Mr.Krishnan’s house she would wave to the boy if he happened to be outside and he would wave back shyly.

Once my cousin wanted to talk with the lady of the house. She asked Abramo who was playing in the garden, where his grand mother was.

What the boy shouted out to his grandmother made my cousin laugh.

“Paati, the lady who is always in BLACK wants to talk to you”

My cousin was amused that to the half Italian boy, she would always be the ‘lady in black.’

At the end of the stipulated year, the boy went home.

Everybody missed Abramo, especially his grand parents. The servants went about muttering the little bit of English they had picked up from Abramo. They would suddenly recollect something the boy had done or said.  They would laugh and then sigh. They would ask Mr. Krishnan to bring back Abramo to stay with them always, which the gentleman made them understand was impossible.

A year later Mr.Krishnan died, of natural causes. The whole town went to pay their last respects to the venerable gentleman who had been loved by everyone.

All who went to his house, could not help but comment on the numerous photographs of his grandson, especially the huge framed ones of the boy dressed up as Lord Krishna and the one of him with Lord Hanuman’s mace and tail.

A cute blond Lord Hanuman and Lord Krishna, in a crew cut hair style and Titanic hero’s eyes!!

Photo Credit: Sativa @freedigitalfoto.net

Story by Gulsum basheer @ talkalittledo

PS: Name of the little boy is changed in the blog.

 

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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!

photo credit: https://pixabay.com

Image courtesy of :farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Posted in College Capers, Vintage, We Indians! | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

She Saw The Genius In Him .

id-100275260When I was in college all those years ago, I would spend my Saturday afternoons in my best friend’s house. Her mother whom I called Kasturi aunty, was a teacher in a school in Chennai, where we lived.

Kasturi aunty used to speak to us about some of her students.

One of her favourite students was a young boy, who was a wizard at playing the key board. She described his prowess at making soul lifting music on the keyboard and would always end her story of the boy by saying:

“Mark my words, this boy will go places.”

“One of these days, he is going to become a renowned musician.”

“He will become very famous when he  grows up.”

But after a few years, the boy discontinued from her school for unforeseen reasons. She later heard that he had joined another school in Chennai itself. She felt for the boy and wished him well in her heart.

In the year 1992, when my sons and I sat before the television watching a special telecast on Independence day, the lilting music of a song wafted across the screen and filled our rooms and our hearts with the song, “Chinna Chinna Aasai” from the Tamil film Roja.

A musician was born. No. Discovered!

My father called me from his house, even as the song was being telecast, “Are you watching TV? Are you seeing this Channel? What a song! Who is the musician?”

Soon “Who is the music composer of the film, Roja?” was on everybody’s lips.

Kasturi aunty jumped with elation.

“It is him. My student,” she said taking pride in a student as only a teacher could.

The young musician showcased his brilliance in  film after film and soon he became a byword in the music industry.

IN 2009, when he held aloft the two Oscars and said in all humility, “All praise be to God”, Kasturi aunty was not alive to witness the jubilation that rocked our hearts.rahman-birthday_sl_5_01_201

But I am sure, she would have been the happiest person in all of India, had she been alive, because she had predicted this a long time ago.

I don’t have to mention, that the person I am talking about is our very own music sensation, the Mozart of Madras, Isai Puyal... A.R.Rahman!

Jai Ho!

Story by Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

Image courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Posted in School is Fun, Uncategorized, We Indians! | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

The hand of a craftsman is always pure.

img_20170126_072520Honesty is a much berated word in these times. But I have a story to share with you which shows that morality, integrity and trustworthiness exist, even todayOn my recent visit to my brother’s house in California, my sister-in-law took me to visit one of her close friends. The lady was an Indian, married to a well-respected Indian professor, the head of his department in a prestigious university in USA.

Her house’s interior was an eclectic mix of different cultures. A Rajasthani sculpture here, a Kerala elephant there, huge Arabian wall hanging occupying a prominent wall and a lacquer painting from Vietnam adorning her son’s bedroom walls.

The lacquer painting caught my eye and I spent some time admiring them. That is when she told me the story of how it came into her possession.

Her husband used travel to Vietnam for conferences quite often. Near the hotel where he stayed in Hanoi, was a crafts shop where you could commission the craftsmen to make a painting for you.  The professor paid a certain amount to the artist there and asked for a painting which was to be done in four panels. It was quite an expensive piece of work but the professor trusted the man and paid the amount. He left his card behind and said he would collect the painting on his next visit to Vietnam.

Few months later when the professor looked for the shop in Hanoi, it was no longer there. On inquiring, he got the news that the craftsmen had relocated to different places and no one knew about their whereabouts.

Being of stoic nature, the gentleman wrote off his loss as a bad investment and returned to USA.img_20170125_171015

It was almost two years after the professor had placed that order, that the artist called their home in the US. They had forgotten about the incident completely by then.

The professor’s wife was enjoying a peaceful afternoon at home, when  she got a call from an unknown person, speaking with an orient accent. The man wanted to know if the professor still lived in that address as he had a parcel to post to him. He recounted his acquaintance with her husband in Hanoi and explained that circumstances had made him quit Vietnam and that he was now living with his daughter in America. He said that he had completed the painting ordered by her husband and was sending it by courier that week.

My sister in law’s friend did not comprehend him fully and just did not take him seriously

But a few days later, a huge parcel was delivered at their home from a city on the east coast of USA. On opening it, the husband and wife found the beautiful painting that the professor had commissioned to be done for him.

It was perfect to the last detail!

The artist had stuck to his side of the bargain, across continents and across much time-lapse.img_20170124_072856

No one would have penalised the Vietnamese gentleman for not turning in the painting. In fact, no one would have discovered him in the vast expanses of America. Yet he chose to be honest to his profession.He had even spent out of his own pocket to mail the bulky panels all the way across America, from one coast to another.

When the lady of the house narrated the story to me, she said with awe in her voice:

“You know something… he could have sold the painting for a large amount in the US…It is that expensive!”

Before I left her house I looked at the painting one more time. I admired it all the better now because it portrayed not only the artist superb craftsmanship, but it also carried with it, the imprint of his honesty and righteousness!!

It had now  become that priceless!!

P.S: The hand of a craftsman engaged in his craft is always pure….Manu.img_20170125_170243

Story By Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo.

Photographs shown here are of the original paintings  that I admired  in the friend’s house.

Please leave your comments in the comments box below.

 

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Saving Her Husband

 

ID-100315567Muthu an agriculturist and his wife had fallen on dire straits because of lack of rains.
People in Muthu’s village were seeking employment in the Middle East as contract labourers. Muthu who was forty years old, also did the same. His wife sold her jewels to pay the agent and send him to Kuwait.

Forty is a tough age to make life style changes and Muthu hated it there. Within two months he became physically and mentally ill. When his wife Lakshmi heard of it from other men working with Muthu and she begged the agent to send her husband back. The agent refused her saying that it was not so easy to terminate his job and send him back to India.

Muthu’s condition deteriorated. Last week suddenly out of the blue, a worried Lakshmi got a phone call from the agent saying that they had put Muthu on a flight to India and he would arrive at the airport around 2pm that day. They did not tell Lakshmi on which flight he would be arriving.

Lakshmi hurried from her native village and landed in Chennai.For two days the poor woman hung about  the airport, both the international and the domestic one scanning the faces of the men arriving by different flights. Her husband was not on any flight arriving from Kuwait.Her desperate calls to the Kuwait agents went unanswered.

What could an illiterate village woman do?

She cried to police officers at the airport. Kudos to our gendarme, they did not ignore her pleas. They sought the help of the airport officials and looked up the names of travelers on flights from Kuwait in the last two or three days. Muthu’s name was not on any of the lists.

Even then, they did not send Lakshmi away as a troublemaker. Instead, the police were able to contact the agent in Kuwait and found out that Muthu had been put on a Sri Lankan airlines from Kuwait. He was to change flights at Colombo, which he apparently had failed to do. The Colombo airport officers were contacted and appraised about a possible middle age man lost in their premises.  A search party was set in motion and the officers from across the sea, found a deranged Muthu loitering around their airport totally clueless about anything.

The callous agents had put him on the flight hiding the fact that he was unstable in mind.The Indian airport officers and their counterpart in Colombo had to take Himalayan efforts to bring Muthu back.

At 3 pm two days later, when Muthu walked out of the international airport exit, Lakhmi ran to him, hugged him and cried and cried. And all the people at the airport who had come to know the story, felt happy for her and cheered her.ID-100450061

Our Indian woman, they never give up, when it comes to saving their husbands. Remember Roja, from the movie of the same name, who pleaded with police officers, army personnel and ministers to rescue her husband from his kidnappers.

Did not Savithri bring back her husband from God of Death,Yama himself?

Laksmi is of the same stock, right? Though illiterate. Though poor. The yellow  wedding thread round their neck gives them astounding courage right?!!

(A big salute to the police and the airport officers for helping Lakshmi to get reunited with her husband Muthu.)

Story from Thinakaran.(28/8/2016)

Written by Gulsum Basheer @ talkalittledo

Photo credit: Vectorolie at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo credit: free digitalphotos

Posted in From the dailies, We Indians! | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Why The Ex-President Of My Country Talked To Me


ID-10094065When I think back on my school days one incident comes vividly to my mind. It was the time the ex-president of my country talked to me.

The centenary celebrations of my school was being celebrated on a grand scale. Many dignitaries were invited to grace the different events that were being conducted as part of the celebrations.

One person who had won the hearts of the children and encouraged them to ‘dream’, was our honourable ex-president. He was a scientist, a thinker and the beloved of many Indians. He was the chief guest at our school that day.

A red carpet was laid out for him. The students lined the path he was to take to reach the dais.

The great man arrived and walked down the carpet, flanked by the school teachers, security and of course the pushy photographers.

He walked briskly for his age, his trade mark slightly longish hair flying about. He was smiling, accepting our salutations. Then the students put forward their hands in an attempt to shake hands with him and he obliged, touching their hands briefly as he walked by, very fast in his customary fashion.

Among all the palms eager to shake hands with him was mine!

And it was adorned with Mehandi designs.

The previous day as part of our religious festival, I had applied mehandi or henna design on both my hands, from finger tips to elbows and it was turning a bright maroon the next day. Among all the plain unadorned child-like hands, my designed hands stood out.

He paused in his stride right beside me, and pointing to my hand he asked,

“What is this, what is this?” ( I am sure he knew what Mehandi was, but questioned me anyway, just to tease me )image

I stood startled. My tongue refused to move and I simply blinked and stared. My friend standing next to me came to my rescue and explained why my hand had those unique patterns.

The ex-president paused just a second to ask the question, receive my friend’s explanation and he moved on. In fact it was almost as if he had not stopped at all.

Then all my class mates surrounded me and laughed and joked and said, ‘Lucky you! The president talked to you.”

For many days after that I narrated the incident to all my family members and to everyone else who cared to listen, “The ex-president talked to me.”

When the photographs of the day’s events were published in the school notice board, I searched and searched. But there was no picture of the great man talking to me.

You know something?

The ex-president of my country talked to me.

But I did not talk to him!

This is what I rue to this day.

Story By Roshan.

Written By Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo

 

Image courtesy of [Aravind Balaraman] at www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

PS: Mehandi or henna is a traditional art in which hands and feet are adorned with a paste made from powdered leaves of the henna tree. It looks like tattoo but is temporary. The colour fades slowly in a few days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Darndest Things Children Say, School is Fun, We Indians! | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Is This A Miracle?

ID-10034755A few months ago, my sister ran into a friend who was an active member of a social service organisation.  Being my sister, she could not but help tell her about my blog Talkalittledo, where I post unique real-life stories of family and friends.

“Do you have any story that I can share with my sister,” she asked eagerly

This is the tale that the lady told my sister.

Situated in the campus of a well-known school in south India, is a house of worship. Attached to this is an orphanage for poor kids.

Though the main school and the religious domain boasted of concrete buildings, the orphanage itself was lacking in many facilities, the chief among them being a concrete roof. It was only a thatched enclosure.

Some years ago, an American contingent visited them as part of their tour. A lady of Indian origin was among them. She had done her primary schooling in the main school and was eager to visit her alma mater. But she was very much appalled by the dilapidated condition of the orphanage. She said that when she went  back to America, she would harness money to construct the roof of the orphanage.

She returned to her home at the end of her tour.

It was a cold snowy day when her two sons met her to transport her to their town where they had arranged a family get together.

All the way in the car, the woman would not stop talking about the orphanage and how she had promised to help them build the roof.

Halfway through their journey, there were some muffled sounds from the engine of the car they were travelling in. The vehicle stalled and stopped in the middle of nowhere. The woman, without thinking, opened her door and got out to check what was amiss.

That was when the horrible accident took place.

The car coming behind them lost control and slid down the snow and ran over the woman, killing her on the spot.

Everything was over in a minute.

The sons were devastated. Even months later, the two sons kept recalling their mother’s last wish and brooded on it. They decided to do something about it.

They sold their mother’s house. Instead of sharing the proceeds between themselves, they decided to use it to build a roof for the orphanage thousands of miles away, in India.

One of the sons had been married for more than ten years and was desperately trying to have a child. But though all the tests proved positive and showed nothing amiss, his wife was having trouble conceiving.

That son came to India personally, fixed up with some builders and started to build the roof for the orphanage. He stood steadfast in the heat and dust and supervised the work, till it was completed.

It was with a glowing heart that he went back to his country, having fulfilled his mother’s  dying wish.

A month later his wife conceived and gave birth to a lovely baby. And for three years in a row, she delivered three children.

Every year, the son and his wife would come down to India, with their new baby and place the child at the feet of the deity, attached to shrine near the orphanage.

Their three kids had their naming ceremonies in a humble house of God in India….even though they were wealthy US citizens.

Somethings are hard to comprehend.

Especially a miracle from above.

Story By: ARS Chennai. Written by gulsum basheer @ talkalittledo.

Photo credit: stockphotos @ Freedigitalphotos.net

Posted in Sometimes Sad, We Indians! | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments