Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Back to my good old Kusum Theatre…

I remember trotting hand in hand with my family to the only theatre in the town to watch the hit Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. I was in 5th standard. And it was the first time I had watched some movie on 70mm screen. Interval was a big surprise thing and I was scared when they switched off the lights and started the movie again. My dad had gone out to buy refreshments and had not returned. Moments later he came back, guided by the torch lights and holding chips and popcorns.

We did not go that often to the theatre those days. The movies that I saw in theatre can be counted on my finger tips. Dil To Pagal Hai, Pardes, Duplicate, Dil Se, Mann, Fiza, Mission Kashmir. There was another movie especially for kids. But my memory fails to place its name correctly. Except Mann, all of these have been watched in the hall of our very own Kusum Theatre. Mann was seen in Shringaar theatre in Ludhiana. The theatre seemed no different than ours, only a little pricier.

Then there was a break. I went to Hamirpur and lost touch with movies and theatres. Occasionally though, my parents would tell me that they had gone out for a movie.

By then, I had also learnt that Kusum theatre, named after the member from Mandi’s royal family, was not in the league with finer theatres. That there are theatres with push back seats, cushioned seats and other comforts. And that one does not have to wait months for movies. That the first day first show is a big craze with youngsters. Things that I had never experienced. I had never been part of.

Placement in Wipro took me to Bangalore. Weekends were spent either in malls or in posh PVRs. Sophisticated theatres, with sophisticated crowds. Comfortable seats. They were definitely costlier but watching movie in HD quality with wonderful acoustics was also a wonderful treat. Watching movies became a favourite weekend activity.

Some days my parents would tell me that even they had gone out for a movie. Some days my cousins would accompany them. Some days I wondered out loud how they could enjoy watching movies in that old, unkempt theatre. They would laugh it off saying you will have to experience it firsthand.

And I did experience it; after I came back from Bangalore. Delhi 6. I had been looking forward to watch this one. And so had been my parents. So, we planned for a night show. (Being safe with parents has its own benefits.) The show was scheduled for 8:15P.M. Dad called up the theatre manager at 8:00P.M., to confirm if the movie would be showing. My quizzical look was answered with a simple “he runs the show if at least 10 people buy the ticket. 8 have already arrived. We three will make up the rest of the crowd”. I felt lost. We reached the theatre. Only if we could call it a theatre! No rush; no crowd; only a small queue. The ticket checker checked the tickets and ushered us in. “You can choose where you want to sit. Nobody is going to question you or stop you.” What else did I expect! We could laugh, talk, and make merry. Such a relief from the gold ticket halls of the PVRs. House-full is a rarity here. So are girls. And occasional power cuts. But the three hours are as much fun here as in any other theatre.

I and my dad are almost regulars at the place now. I actually look forward to watching movies there. We are just back from after watching “Rockstar”. All cold and numb. But happy.

With a handful of audience and Rs26/ticket for hall, I wonder how the owner manages to run and upkeep the place. But I am glad he does.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Reasons to smile this week ..

My desktop has been delivered back to me. And after two months of its hospitalization, it has started functioning again. The bout of sickness has left it weak and emaciated.  Almost every part has been replaced so as to get it working. But here it is. Back in its old niche. Still trying to be of help as long as it can. My most faithful friend. J

The sweater that I had started knitting for my nephew, Harjas, is finished. With ample inputs from my mother. It took us three days to finalize the pattern. She taught me how to do the cables for the front and stripes for the back and how to cut out the shoulders and how to do the arms. She did the knitting for the neck and the complete stitching. So, it is like I knitted the parts and she made a sweater out of those parts. J

I am learning how to write Punjabi. Something which I should have learnt a long time ago. But, better late than never. 

The first time I wrote out the complete set of alphabets, I felt an inexplicable joy. It is like coming home after a long journey. However, it still needs a lot of practice. And then the grammar and punctuation and all. But it is fun and keeps me occupied. J

Finally, we did loads of shopping this week. And shopping is always fun. J

So week of accomplishments, week of doing and a week of learning. Week of smiles J

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A small error can make a huge difference …

Saturday afternoon. Merry making. Revelry. Wedding functions in full swing.

Suddenly I remember a FB update about our result. Not sure if it has actually been declared. Picking up phone receiver and then placing it back on the cradle. Finally, I make the most anticipated call. Nervous but audible croaking of roll number. A muffled shuffling of papers. “Reappear”.

Which subject”? “IT”. A short click. The call ends.

Now that the call has ended, I do not feel anything. Numbly I walk to my room. Nothing registers for a while. Then the truth dawns on me. Then … Tears. Screams. Shouts.

The pain is unbearable. Nothing dulls the realization. It seems like all is lost. Past, present, future … all buried in some dark and deep recesses.

I wonder if I can hold myself together … for the ceremonies … for Monday … for any other day.

Amidst the fit of weeping, I somehow get ready and attend the functions. Rarely talking. Certainly not dancing. My actions and smiles forced. My mother, father, sister and cousin brother … the handful of people privy to the fruition of my MBA … keeping an eye on me lest I falter in my resolve.

Sunday evening. All functions for Mandi are done. All guests have retired. Mum, dad and I plan to go to Shimla and check things out first hand.

Monday Morning. Chilly. Cold. The three of us board our taxi in silence. A lot is at stake. Silent prayers in three hearts. Every kilometre that we cross adds to tension. Every kilometre that we cross brings me closer to the truth.

Finally, we are at the university campus. I guide the driver to my department. Most of it is empty. Preparatory holidays for the students. I check date-sheet on the notice board. The date for re-appear exam is 7th Jan, 2012. That gives me enough time for preparation. But am I in time to apply for it. A few more steps and I will find all the answers that I am seeking.

In the office, we are shown the gazette while my detailed mark-sheet is being fetched. Three heads bend down. There has been no mistake in the communication. I do have a re-appear. And only I, amongst my friends and batch-mates, have a re-appear. I ask for the last date to apply for re-evaluation and examination. Tuesday. That gives us two days.

Suddenly, I can feel the tears building up inside me. My father senses this. His arm goes around me in a hug to comfort me.

The mark-sheet. I sign for it. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. I open my eyes.

Dad, I have been marked absent for my exam”!

The mark-sheet is out of my hands. I clutch the back of the chair for support.

Mum, dad both look at it and then at me. A ray of hope enters all our hearts. May be. May not be.

We ask the department authorities the procedure for getting the error rectified.

Nobody in the department expresses any surprise or any concern over the mistake.

We drive to the examination department. We meet the concerned person. He digs up the exam attendance record. Dad looks up at me. “Did you sign this sheet”? “Yes, as far as I remember, I did”. “Keep your fingers crossed then”. “Don’t worry; they have been crossed ever since I heard my result”.

The records are produced before us. My roll number is queried. My attendance checked. I recognize my signature against all three exams. Another ray of hope. Another person rolls out a huge record list. Again my roll number is queried. “Sir, she has received internal assessment also. But her theory awards have not been entered”. “Please visit the evaluation department for this problem”. We are told calmly. Thankfully, they instantly approve our application from their end and tell us the way to the evaluation department.

Evaluation department. We show our application and our mark-sheet. “Sir, I will have to dig up the records for this further. Please come after an hour or so”.

We plan to have some tea to while away our time. I want to call up my sister and tell her what all is happening. My dad tells me not to rush the things. “We cannot be sure of anything still. We do not know how many marks you are going to get in the end.” “Dad, I think I will at least qualify”. “And how can you be so hopeful”? “I sneaked a look at my internal assessment and I have been awarded 32 marks. So, that means I need 8 more marks to qualify and I have attempted all five questions”. My father rolls out his eyes at me. I smile for the first time in days. “Being tall does have its advantages, dad”. My father too smiles. Lovingly. “No calls, yet”.

An hour has passed. We again enter the evaluation department. We are informed that the person concerned has still not fetched our records. We tell them that we have travelled all the way from Mandi and we are supposed to go back by evening and that we have functions going on back home. They tell us that if we want we can fill in re-evaluation form and go back and attend functions. But if we want the matters to be resolved before our eyes, we will have to wait.

The section officer overhears all this. He calls us and asks us the issue. My father again narrates everything. And I hoped he would help expedite the procedure. “Oh, these kinds of things keep happening every now and then. Few days back, there was a case where the marks had been entered as 38 but actually the candidate had earned 83 marks. You please take a seat here or you can wait outside. Nothing to worry. The matter will get resolved in some time”. I and my father exchange looks. We thank him and we step outside his office. “You were right. I was a little too hopeful too early”. We both take deep sighs …

And we wait and we wait and we wait.

After endless wait, I recognize the person from the evaluation department climbing up the stairs. He holds the fate of my MBA. He is taking all the time in the world to enter his office, to sit on his chair and talk to us. Does he not realize what we are going through?

Then he smiles at us. And then he looks at his colleagues. And says “41”. “41???” “41 out of 60 … internal assessment marks are yet to be added”.

This is all I need to hear. I feel my legs giving away. I hug my dad. “At last! Thank you, God. Thank you”. 

The section officer looks at us questioningly. My father tells him that I have qualified the exam.

We are made to wait a little longer while they type out my awards in reply to the application. Then we go back to the examination department. They ask us to come after lunch to collect the corrected mark-sheet.

My father now makes the calls to my sister and my cousin who had kept the secret well. We collect our mark-sheet, go back to the MBA department, and get the corrections registered. And finally we  drive off to “The Mall” to celebrate.

My mark-sheet has been corrected. By the grace of God. By some miracle. By some magic, all has been restored for me.

But, the casual attitude of authorities … has left us all wondering … about the fates and lives and careers of all other students. Who knows the 48 that you are getting might actually be 84.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

It is still festivity for us …

Diwali has come and gone. But we are still caught in that festive mood.

And the reason for celebration is a cousin sister’s wedding.

Fun and frolic. Zeal and zest. Vibrant and vivacious. Rituals and merry making.

Nothing short of a carnival.

A carnival … that is going to last a month approximately.

A carnival … half of which will take place in my native Mandi and the other half in Chandigarh where the groom’s family stays.

The day when the family will attend the “Path da Bhog”. Some days back, all of us had gone to the Gurudwara Sahib … to tell the priests to start the recital of the Holy “Shri Guru Granth Sahib” specially to mark the beginning of the ceremonies of this wedding. The recital was “Sahaj” … suited to the schedule of the reader ... and will finish tomorrow. This will be followed by a short prayer “Ardaas” … the word of the “Guru” will be received and blessings sought … to ward off all obstacles.

Friday, the 11th of this month.
                “Kirtan” Ceremony. The ladies of the family and the congregation will collect together to sing hymns and prayers. The girl will be given a small token representation by the congregation. A small prayer book and praying accessories. Like telling her that the good Lord is by her side as she steps in a new world. Like asking her to keep The Almighty in her mind always. Like showing her that she is not alone. That she is loved and blessed.

Saturday, the 12th of this month.
                The most awaited evening amongst all the functions of “Phase Mandi”. The “Bangle Ceremony”. The Dinner. The DJ. Both the “nanka” … the maternal and “dadka” … the paternal families will get together for a bash. The girl will receive the red and green glass bangles from all the girls and ladies there which she will wear till her wedding day. The tinkling of so many bangles wards off the negative energies, brings good luck and fortune.

Sunday, the 13th of this month.
                The Dham. Traditional lunch. Prepared only by Brahmin chefs … “the botis” in copper utensils. The cooking will start from Saturday evening itself. Served in leaf plates … “the pattals” to people who sit on the floor. It will be a seven course meal. Rice will be consumed … with “meetha” … sweet made of “boondi”; “sepu badi” … local traditional dish of Mandi; “khatta” … a tangy dish made of pumpkin; “rajmah” … the kidney beans; “matar paneer” … a tasty cheese and peas dish with lots of gravy; “daal makhani” … the black lentil; and finally “the jhol” … curd cooked with turmeric and spices. Mouth watering and delicious.

“Phase Mandi” ends here.

And “Phase Chandigarh” will have to wait. As “Phase Mandi” invitations are still pending and I can hear my aunt panicking in the other room. That means I should get ready now and have a trip round the town extending hearty and cordial invitations.