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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Maya

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I was online when the news of the demonetisation trickled in. Too engrossed in the final moments of the Trump Hillary showdown, I wondered why the Prime Minister was talking about currency that had been phased out long ago. And then it slowly sinked in. He was referring to the money lying in my wallet. As he ominously declared that the notes would lose legal tender I thought of...
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Unfair Practices

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Thirty years ago when I saw it for the first time I was amazed and alarmed in equal measure. I could see the finer details, even the unsavoury ones, as I had a ring side seat to the proceedings. The annual Dussehra Mela is held on a stretch of road just outside our clinic. Back then I was unnerved by the wares laid out on the ground, narrowing the road to an alley . A sea of...
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Labour Pains

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In the thirty years of my practice, their number has decreased and I used to think that there will come a time when none will be left. Fresh out of medical school, brimming with bookish knowledge, more idealistic than worldly wise, it bothered me no end. But slowly, I got used to it. Back then, it was common for my elderly patients to calculate their age from the riots of parti...
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