The Great Gamblers

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It’s raining as I write this. Not a gentle pitter-patter but a heavy downpour, with God adding a spectacular light and sound show for good measure. Thirty years ago, the ignorant me would have rejoiced at this. When I started practice in this suburb I had no idea about the delicate balance between rainfall and crops. For me, rain around this time of the year meant a few days of...
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A Son is Born

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It happens so often that I wondered why it irked so much. A pale, undernourished, breathless, fully pregnant women walked in for her first!! antenatal checkup. On being told that it was her fourth child I asked her why she was risking her life producing so many children. The question elicited the usual response. She summarily dismissed her three previous born, “Sab ladkiyan hai...
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Haryanvi by Nature

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Sunday mornings will never be the same again. I will sorely miss the potent, invigorating caffeine that was served in my newspaper. And although I don’t follow politics I loved Kaffeeklatsch for the way it was presented. The free flowing style, effortlessly moving from one topic to the next, reminiscent of the great Sardar but without the malice. I had a habit of reading the en...
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The Devi Paradox

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Last night was spent in forced piety. I was an unwilling participant to the liturgy of a devout neighbour. His hired negotiators beseeched and bargained in the darkness. Their prayers, inspired by raunchy Bollywood numbers blared on a screeching sound system till daybreak. Tossing and turning in my bed, I desperately begged Mata Rani to fulfill his wishes. No, not a case of nei...
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All Things Nice

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At a conference recently I called up my husband for some errand. More used to the somewhat dry and matter of fact “Haan bolo” ( yes, speak) I was completely taken aback by the bright and sunny “ Hello ji” at the other end. My mind raced as I tried to figure out what had changed in the intervening hours since I had left home. And then I realised that I was using my friend’s phon...
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Taking Offence

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A disclaimer first, I am not qualified to say what I am about to, but will say it anyway. It’s a free country after all. Not only am I entitled to an opinion based on half baked information, but I can use brute force to impose it on others. If some citizens can threaten to kill, maim and self immolate without actually seeing what is offending them then I retain the right to say...
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Too close

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At an Airport recently, I was standing in queue, minding my own business when the lady in front of me turned around and gave me the look. A little confused at first, I realised I had inadvertently crossed an imaginary line and wandered into her territory. A matter of cultural differences and personal preferences, the dimensions of this space change as we cross international bor...
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Barbs

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Characteristically dry, somewhat condescending humour is an essential ingredient of any verbal exchange in this part of the country. So ask a passerby, “ Yeh sadak kit jaugi.” ( Where will this road go?) and his likely answer would be, “ Sadak toh yahin rahugi, Jayega toh tu.” ( The road will stay here, you are the one to go). If you are nearly run over by a vehicle its not Har...
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Beta padhao, beti bachao

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Every third Saturday for the past few months, I visit some village school and interact with adolescent girls. It is a state initiative to inspire the girl child. Apart from the usual 'doctor talk' about puberty and menstrual hygiene I have been instructed to inspire the girls. So I ask them to break barriers, to dream and persevere to realise those dreams. I tell them about the...
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Shades of Grey

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A recent road trip from my father's native village in Sagar M.P to my mother's birthplace Banda U.P. was a bitter sweet experience. I was returning to this sedate region of Bundelkhand after two decades and was greeted by an almost perfect road amid dense teak forests and pristine valleys. Carelessly strewn plastic bags, a sign of modern existence were noticeably absent. I was ...
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