Thursday, July 26, 2007

Kashi ahe...maushi?

Recently a friend of mine has left for Pune to start her "hostel life". Brought back vivid memories of my own days in hostel in Pune and also got me wondering what all those people who were a part of my daily life then were doing now.One such person was Maushi.Maushi was a shrivelled emaciated 70 year old who used to wash clothes for those girls who cared to pay some extra money to get their clothes washed by her.Most girls though were in a dilemma whether to get the clothes washed by her or not.She looked too frail to wash clothes and we were filled with guilt to let her wash clothes at her state, but at the same time that was her only source of income.Maushi was an integral part of our lives those four years.We had the language barrier between us, though eventually we did pick up a little bit of marathi. But in the initial days we used to converse with her without either side comprehending anything.The first sentence in marathi, that we hostellers picked up was "Mala marathi yet nahin..", which literally means, I dont understand marathi. Whenever maushi went on with her incomprehensible stories in marathi, we used to say that to her and she would be just too amused to hear us telling her in marathi that we dont understand the language.Mausi frequently blessed us and prayed for "changla nawra" or good husbands for us.One particular day, before the exams,she blessed a girl with changla nawra, when the girl replied indifferently "Mausi pehle exam pass karne ka ashirvad do.Exam pass nahin kiya toh accha nawra kahan se milega?". I dunno what exactly mausi deciphered out of that, but she nodded and went away smiling.One particular winter vacations, we were packing our bags to leave for home, when maushi came to our room and said "Aga, mala sweeeter de na?".She aksed us to get sweaters for her from home for her. The winters in Pune is quite chilly and I did notice that she dint have any woollens,apart from a torn shawl.On returning from home, I gifted a sweater to her.I noticed within a few days that she still did not wear any sweaters.I soon observed that the her grandson was wearing the one I had given. I questioned her why she had given it away to her grandson when she replied very innocently,"Such fancy things dont suit me, I prefer my shawl."[I got that translated by a maharastrian hostel-mate].One day,we in our room were short of cash.We had just a few rupees with us and had decided to go to the bank the next day.Coincidently the same day, maushi came to us in the evening asking for 10 rupees "Mala peesha de na?...daah rupiya ".In a very embarassed tone we replied, that we did not have any. She went away dissapointed and am sure not convinced that we did'nt have money.Next few weeks, I did not catch sight of mausi. I wondered what happened to her, when one fine day I again spotted her in the same corridoors of the hostel,smiling and chattering away.She had gone to her village for a vacation :).
The day I left the hostel, my friends saw me off and it was quite a sentimental moment all of us in tears and hugging each other.But mausi stood at the background waving with the same cheerful guileless smile on her face.I hope you are well mausi, wherever you are.

Men in Olive green.

Many a times I have come across some impressions that the citizens of my country hold of the Army or of the soldiers.
I have heard people talk about the 'free drinks that soldiers get'. Or for that matter, 'So your father is in the Army, alchohol must be really cheap'.
'Hey you get really great things in you canteens at great prices, isnt it so?'.
'The government provides you with a house and furnitures, right?'
It pains me to see that this is the only thing that comes to people's mind when they think of a person in uniform.
Another conversation totally left me spellbound. A group of us were discussing about the number of soldiers dying in insurgencies, when a lady said, 'So what? Its their job to die for the country. They get paid for it.'. At that moment,I was too repulsed by that person to make anything clear to her, but to all those poeple who carry this impression, all Ihave to say is, a soldier has as much right to live as any one of us.They definitely are not paid to die. They are paid to fight and just have a hazardous job like a fireman,policeman or an iron-smith.

I was talking to a senile veteran soldier, about the Army and the life it provides when with a distant gaze he remarked, 'Everything is all right...but the service that we provide is not acknowledged by the people and that makes everythingfutile.'. Very true Sir.

In a certain train journey while talking with my co-passengers, one said,'You army kids have a lot of attitude.You guys are too proud.'. Before I could defend myself, another one remarked, 'They have all the reasons to be...'.

On a lighter note, a humourous song heard in the army circles..:)

Hey I dont want to join the army now,
Captain, I want to go
Major I want to go
Show me the way to go home

The tents in the army, they say are waterproof,
You get up the next morning, you are floating on the roof.

The boots in the army, they say are mighty fine,
You ask for number seven, they give you number nine.

The ration in the army, they say is mighty fine,
They give you some gunpowder, mixed with turpentine.

..... And some desi versions of the paragraphs....

The breakfast in the army, they say is mighty fine,
They give you sukhi-puri and aloo all the time.

The doctors in the army they say are mighty fine,
They run after the nurses and leave the patients dying.

ps:- apologies to all army doctors for the last para. To be taken with a pinch of salt.