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


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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

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

Image courtesy of stockimages at

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 @

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Your Life Can Change Completely In A Fraction Of A Second!

ID-100219244“The moving finger writes. Having writ moves on…Nor all thy tears wash out a word of it.”

Poignant lines by Omar Khayyam!

“Very true,” say my son and daughter in law.

And here is why:

My son and his family have relocated to a different country. Recently they met a family from India, also settled there. They became friends and started dropping in at each other’s houses.

My son and my daughter in law were surprised that the couple had four children with a lot of disparity in their ages. The eldest girl was about twenty years old while the youngest child was just three years old. They also had two sons  who were in their teens.

The mother looked quite young to have given birth to so many children. But they were a loving family and my daughter in law did not suspect anything, till the man narrated his story.

The lady was his second wife.

The man, his first wife and two daughters had lived in this country for more than fifteen years. Their greatest pleasure was a three weeks vacation in India, every year.

In 2010 on their annual visit, they went to a nearby sea town. They took a ferry ride in the sea. That is when fate struck a terrible blow.

The boat capsized. Many people died that day. It was the biggest calamity of the year. My son and daughter in law who were in India at that time remember reading all about it in the papers and being moved by it.

To think that they were meeting one of the survivors!

The man narrated the incidence of that horrible day. “ I saw my wife and youngest daughter being washed away right before my eyes. I barely managed to grab my eldest child and put her into a fishing boat, which came immediately to our rescue. I searched frantically for my loved ones. I saved a few other children. But my child and wife were gone forever. The sea threw up their bodies the next day….”

“Back in this country my child and I could not manage alone. My family in India, urged me to find a wife. They suggested many girls. My heart did not agree to any of them.”

“Then I remembered my  dead wife’s neigbour in our native city. Her husband had died young, leaving her with two sons.”

“Now she is my wife, and her sons are my sons. The last little one born to her, completes our family”

My daughter in law is so much moved by this story that she cannot stop talking about it.

She admires the man for his magnanimous decision while choosing a wife and accepting her sons as his own. She thinks that the two boys have been lucky to have been saved from a life of mediocrity as fatherless boys growing up in a small town in South India.

Mostly my daughter in law’s sympathies are with the stoic  eldest daughter, who lost her sister and mother in one day and within a year, had to welcome some strangers into her home and life, as her new family.

My daughter in law marvels at her new friends and their unity, but each and every time she would finish her story by saying:

“How your life can change completely, in a fraction of a second!”

“Terrible no?”

Story By MFH. Written By Gulsum Basheer@Talkalittleo


Posted in Sometimes Sad, We Indians! | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

How They Tried To Have A Baby Boy!



Now times have changed, I think.

 But even about twenty years back, having a male heir to carry on their lineage was an obsession with us Indians.

 I hear stories from the older generation of how this obsession consumed some people.

 Take for example, this lady. She had a son soon after marriage. But he died in infancy. Then she had five daughters. Reminds you of the nursery rhyme, “Pretty maids all in a row.”

 When she had a baby boy after them, she was over joyed. But she panicked that according to her kismet, this boy too might die like the first-born.

 She decided to cheat FATE.

 She refused to breast feed the baby and brought in a wet nurse to suckle him. She hoped that providence would think that the baby-boy was the nurse’s child and not hers.

 Then when the boy was weaned from the nurse, she dressed up the kid in girl’s dresses.


 Again to cheat FATE into thinking that this was a girl and let him live.

 That boy is a sixty years old man now and a well-known surgeon. He still laughs at himself, says that till he was six years old, he thought he was a girl!

 Another story similar to this:

Recently I was at an optician. The name before mine was Mangesh Sharma. When the name was called out, a lady stepped out. When the optician commented on her name she said that her name was Mangesh. Her older sister was Rajesh, while her little sister was Mukesh.

 Three girls with boys’ names!

 Her parents were eager to have a boy and thought that calling their girls by boy’s names might do the trick.

 Mrs. Mangesh Sharma, added ruefully that her parents produced no sons. Just three daughters with the names of boys they never had!!

 “And we three girls are saddled with names that has made us the butt of many jokes all our lives”

 “Parents should never do THIS to their kids,” said Mrs. Mangesh.

 I second that!

Story By: Gulsum Basheer@talkalittledo.

Photo Credit: Freedigitalphotos

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