Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I followed up on my good resolution to cast my vote as the first thing ‘to do’ in the day.  After morning Mass, nicely timed at 6.30 AM, I took the 10-minute walk to the polling booth along unoccupied pavements, bordering empty streets.  No crowds, no traffic.  But I did encounter members of the ‘walking brigade’; trim in t-shirts, shorts and jogging shoes they cast enquiring looks my way.  I did not look like a regular.  A newbie, perhaps?  Fellow jogger? I smiled my ‘No!’ Fellow voter? They returned the smile, ‘Not yet!’
And then there was the canine brigade as well.  One lady had three fluffy miniature albino pekes. Ankle high and royal lap dogs, they come with a fascinating history of their own.  I stopped to exchange insults with them – pekes are snobs!  Then there was the dog walker with seven on separate leashes – three in front and four to the rear.  Tall and short, fat and thin, they walked in perfect synch!  The Drill Sergeant would have been proud of them and how!!

And so to the polling venue.  I must truly look innocuous. The bevy of policemen – a whole cohort by the looks of them – were uninterested, and allowed me to pass through the portals unaccosted.  No frisking, no security check, no ‘have you carried your mobile phone?’ Apparently, no trouble was expected. At the booth itself, a line of ten or so had already formed; an improvement over the last experience when we were just three and waiting for the booth to be opened! Clearance was brisk, my name found on the list, I cast my vote with the confirmatory ping and exited the booth with my inked left index finger. I took the comfortable walk home.  The whole exercise had taken a mere half hour.

I have cast my little boat upon the water.  Will it sail or will it sink? Will it go far and achieve much? Or will it be engulfed and overwhelmed? The portents for the future are not too far away.

Back home to a hot cup of tea and the morning paper.  And I am assaulted by a solicitation by Modi for my vote – a full page frontal in the Times.  Surely, this is a violation of the code of conduct? Solicitation is not allowed on voting day?!

Monday, April 14, 2014


Most of the time, my work requires me to abbreviate rather than edit. The words have to fit into a fixed area, for a particular space at a specified location!  And they are usually the words of two young clerics. 
One writes exuberantly, flamboyantly, extravagantly – he pours his heart out and the words flow in a torrent over the page.  I have to restrain them, fit them into an impossible boundary and yet retain the vigour, the essence and the message.  Challenged and frustrated, I arrange and rearrange.  I find substitute words that people will relate to and I chop, chop, chop.  

The other’s writing is more restrained, even dignified.  It is lovingly researched, explained and draws the reader in to a personal encounter through posit or gentle questioning. There is information here and also insight and, perhaps, an angle that is new.  Again, I have to distill and bottle.  The minimum number of words – give or take a few – hangs over me like the executioner I must become. And I go chop, chop, chop.

My reputation is now such that, if anyone wants something curtailed, they turn to me. 

My new nickname – by default - is ‘Bobbit’ and I am truly discombobulated!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


That’s me! 

This incident, from the early days in my new family, somehow comes forcefully to mind: my sister-in-law was throwing a party and there were a few first-time invitees.  She called me up and assigned me to one of them!  What for? To make the guest feel comfortable, at home, ‘not neglected’ – she would not know any of the others and it was my duty to break the ice!!  Well, that was certainly novel.  I had and have been - many times over – a first timer at many parties, but beyond a few introductions no one has ever looked after me in that kind of a special way.  One just sort of floated around till one either connected with a familiar face or a sympathetic group.  I was not too happy with the idea at the time, but looking back now, I realise what a lovely idea it was.  My sister-in-law was the perfect host and a caring one too.

Back to the present:  We have many first time visitors to our parish, either for their nuptials, funerals, particular events or choirs who are invited to participate in special liturgies.  They are ‘first-timers’ in an unfamiliar environment.  It would be so nice if one person, from the parish, were assigned to them, took care of them and made them feel ‘at home’.  It would also ensure that they become a part of who we are – the way we do things, what is acceptable and what is not.  I find the ‘outsider’ culture very prevalent in a parish, as it is in the corporate world.  We either cold shoulder or bark out instructions!

There is a quid pro quo involved too.  The welcomed should be accepting of the welcome!  Some visitors can be quite dismissive of any assistance; some even consider it interference!  Graciousness is both an art and a culture and no, it is not old fashioned!

Postscript: It is distressing, at least for me, that we sometimes come to know our ‘community’ members only in death.  I have played for quite a few funerals for members of the parish who are total strangers and not just to me!  It would be a good thing if community membership found invitation and acceptance among the living, in  gladness and not just in grief. 

The funeral I am playing for today, brought all this to mind.