August 29, 2008

A rainy morning in Hyderabad

Auto and Legislative Assembly

Red bus in mirror of green car

The colours of Eat Street - our favourite haunt

Wet wheel of wet cycle on wet floor of Eat Street

The world as seen from Eat Street

August 23, 2008

A rainbow after the storm

Went for a birthday party of a 1-year old. First birthdays usually irritate me because usually the brat is overwhelmed by all the pampering, and invariably the party ends with her crying or throwing a tantrum. When my children turned one, we had very private celebrations, with just the grandparents and my gyanaecologist, who delivered them! We filled their room with balloons so they would wake up and smile and know something special was happening.

But this party we attended was different, and special. Both parents had had turbulent earlier marriages which had broken up. Both had been depressed people, hardly smiling or talking. For both, it had seemed like the end of the road. And then their parents arranged their marriage, and luckily, their worlds opened up again.

The smiles were so genuine. The happiness was so pure and deep. And it showed on the faces of the whole family. The cute little baby was doted on. She did cry. But I didn't mind it one bit.

August 22, 2008

The crows are back --- new, improved!

We haven’t had crows in this locality for years. Mainly because most of the old houses (including ours) have given way to apartment complexes. Now, looks like they are back --- new, improved --- having learnt to deal with the new age backyards – the balconies! Just look at them!

So, amidst the urban early-morning sounds, and an occasional cuckoo, we once again hear the old, familiar ‘caw-caw’. Never thought crows would make me happy! It is perhaps because they remind me of my childhood.

As I wrote in an earlier blog post on the sparrow, “subject of many a pittamma-kakkamma (sparrow-crow) story, pittamma was always the good bird, and the poor old kakamma always played the villian, much like Rajesh Khanna and Prem Chopra in the movies of the seventies! But unlike in the movies, looks like our little hero has been knocked out by the villain...that spoon-stealing, chapati-filching rascal—the crow—who’s still around. More on him another time, for he’s an intelligent and interesting character, and deserves a blog posting all to himself!”

When we were children, most backyards used to be full of crows, waiting, watching so they could go and eat up leftovers from plates and bowls kept outside for washing, and once in a way, just fly off with a shining spoon or a small katori.. They always looked hungry and desperate, and we disliked them! We would once in a while run to our backyard shooing them away. And on some days, there used to be lots of crows on the terrace, in the backyard --- and they would go “caw, caw, caw” --- nonstop. That is when our grandmother would say, “We are going to have guests”. “What guests?” we would wonder…our house was always full of people, anyway!

Sometimes it would turn out that the crows cawed desperately because one of them had fallen into the overhead tank when it was opened for cleaning. And then the bird had to be rescued and the tank cleaned once again.

Some years back, on a trip to Ranganathittu, a whole lot of crows chased my daughter who was seven at that time. She had a packet of chips in her hand, which perhaps attracted the greedy birds! She was terrified and ran screaming. We joke about it now, it was pretty scary at that time!

This incident reminds me of the Alfred Hitchcock thriller “The birds”, based on a short story by Daphne du Maurier. In this bizarre film, birds of all kinds including crows, suddenly begin to attack people…they slowly increase in number and become vicious! A superb film.

Ek kavva pyaasa tha
Gadi mein thoda pani tha
Kavva dala kankar
Paani aaya oopar
Kavva piya paani
Khatam hogaya kahani!

So my children would sing, in praise of the clever kavva. I picked up this little terracota ‘pyaasa kavva’ and it has been one of my treasured possessions. Crows have inspired many an artist…we have a children’s book (CBT, I think) with brilliant drawings of the crow. And then the publishing company Tulika has the crow as their logo! Also saw some paintings of Tamil Nadu backyards by Santhana Krishnan, with the familiar crow sitting around looking for food.

I think I have a love-hate relationship with crows, but glad they are back in our locality.

August 11, 2008

Of flames and heroes

We watched this burning building from our balcony. The fire had started in a bank on the top floor of a 4-floor building on the other side of our road. There was a huge crowd below, fire engines, ambulances, chaos. We actually saw three people stuck on the terrace, and the black smoke blowing towards them when the wind changed direction.

And then something happened that people who give away bravery awards should know about. A constable --- Srinivas Reddy --- climbed a tree next to the building, climbed on to the windows, and went up to the terrace to rescue the three bank employees stuck there. And seeing him, a young man named Aziz, who was watching the whole scene, joined Srinivas Reddy, and together they rescued the three people from the terrace, taking the help of ladders from the fire engines.

And as the heroes --Srinivas Reddy and Aziz-- came down with the three people, the massive crowd below, who had been watching this rescue operation, excitedly clapped and cheered.

This could have been straight out of AXN Action Videos.

But, where were our TV camera crews?

The fire was finally put out around 10 pm. Luckily no one was injured or died.

The photos of Srinivas Reddy and Aziz here, are from a magazine, and very unclear. But, people should see these gutsy guys, even if just a hazy profile of them.

(This was before the Big Rain that drowned colonies and threw life in Hyderabad out of gear.)