This is a post on thoughts that lost their way and never got converted into blogposts. In the early days of blogging, I was eager to post everyday and kept my antennae up for bloggable ideas and that was a phase when posts rolled out even without many ideas. Over the years, after reading so many good bloggers, a kind of self regulation has developed and I don't rush to post just about every idea that springs in my mind. Sometimes I find other bloggers have developed the idea better and hence no need to repeat the same, sometimes I lose interest in the idea but most often I forget the idea. I would have liked to give the impression that my brilliant ideas have been lost to blog readers because of my forgetfulness and leave it at that but no, Eve had to expose me. She wants to know all these ideas that never got converted into posts. So here are some:

Often, I get ideas for posts from certain interesting comments on some of my posts.
For example Souvik commented on a recent post about the tedium of long marriage ceremonies. He said:
3 hours... & not even a single jhatka song to break the monotony...its worse than a Karan Johar multistarer

I thought of the possibilities if marriages were to be given over to event managers with sponsorships of the various events: kashi yatra sponsored by amity university offering the best options for higher studies
oonjal ceremony sponsored by "Swingers" dealers in best quality traditional oonjals and modern swings
Saptapadi sponsored by some jewellery/ sari shop or better still a foot cream product?

Then there was this comment by Raj on the post on child labour:
I am intrigued by how our collective consciousness suddenly gets raised. 10-15 years back, child labour was accepted, as normal. There was no hue and cry over Sivakasi's child labour. Now, we find it abhorrent, and rightly so.

What are the other practices that we accept as normal today but we will realise as completely wrong, when someone raises the consciousness?

I am sure there are some. Many changes that have taken place in traditional gender role stereotypes are examples of this. Younger woman do not seem to take to the idea of cooking as natural or normal feminine role . And younger men do not seem to expect it either. This is a minor example but I am sure that quite a few other practices will become obsolete when we realise how absurd or wrong they are. I need to give this some thought and do a post. Raj has touched upon the issue here in his post.

I saw the film Dhan Dhana Dhan Goal and came back thinking of our recent obsession with being victims of racism in other countries - how much of it is true and how much of it is just perception and shilpaesque manipulations? Rather than an effort to integrate more with the culture of the country of choice, these experiences seem to be breeding a reverse racism from the immigrant communities towards one another as well as the natural citizens of the country. And how practical it is to expect people from different cultures to understand and accept one another without any value judgements? Who is to make the first move? And is all this possible at all especially in today's context dominated by terrorism on religious, ethnic and ideological grounds?

After a spate of "entertainers" from bollywood and Tamil filmworld, I was wondering about the willingness with which we allow assault on our commonsense and intelligence in the name of entertainment. While sensible entertainers seem to break even , the biggest blockbusters are those that dish out massive amounts of trash amidst expensive settings and spectacular special effects by super heroes . I can understand poorer sections of population being attracted towards these glamorous dreams but what is in these that the educated and informed find so entertaining? And how come they are willing to accept racist, sexist remarks and vulgar double- entendres as entertainment and not be outraged by them?

While on the subject of Indian films I also wanted to do a post on male menopause - you know the kind of symptoms and behaviour displayed by the big Bachchan's roles in films like KANK and Nishabd ?

I visited a friend last week - she is 62 and her husband died last year leaving her with lots of happy memories of their 30 years of life together. She cannot speak three complete sentences without bringing him up - I can see how tough it is for her. The children live abroad. People say that one of the reasons for marrying is to have someone for you in old age. It seems that married or single, we are all ultimately alone in old age. I had so many thoughts on old age and loneliness on the day I returned from her house that I will convert into a post when I have confronted the issues mentally and consolidated them.

I also had an interesting discussion with asha on tolerance being a virtue or a dirty word. her take was:
Mere tolerance is a negative thing - it has such shallow roots and can be destroyed or swayed by any provocation. Its base is so fragile - it is just something we have told ourselves to do to avoid conflict, it is not based on any deep conviction.

When we take the trouble to know and appreciate another religion, to fathom its rich depths, to find out the reasons why they behave differently or have customs we do not approve of, the roots go in deeper.
If we have not done this, perhaps our secularism is based on indifference, and therefore extremely fragile?

My take was that tolerance is not a dirty word because even when we have tried to "understand" differences with another culture, religion, belief and failed in it, we owe it to others to tolerate the differences and live in harmony. For example I do not "understand" homosexuality but I still owe it to someone with such a preference to share any public space with me . This is tolerance because I know he/ she has as much rights as I do. When I can extend this courtesy even when I cannot understand, it is a higher virtue and NOT to be equated with indifference.

I bet there are a few more that I have forgotten. But as you may have seen from the list above, there hasn't been any serious loss to blogsphere. I bet someone else has already written about them and written much better than I could have. (Well, that is your cue to protest and push me to write.)
Lavs, Please take up the tag. I thought you had done the tag on 7 weird things. If you have not, Please take it up too!
Sumana tagged me to say Seven Random and / or Weird Things about Me. I thought I had done this some months ago but for some strange reason I cannot find the post. That may be taken as the first weird thing about me. I have distinct memories of certain events but I cannot for the life of me remember the details. The other day I met a friend from college who was recounting many funny and fun things we did and I had absolutely no recollections of those. It was like certain parts of my memory were dead. :(

2. I have mentioned my love for dusting, cleaning, mopping, washing in this space before. Think Danny Tanner from that television show "full House". He is my idea of a complete man - a man who finds it spiritually elevating to dust and clean has to be all good. Just imagine the possibilities on a romantic date - we could find the cleanest table ina dust free restaurant and discuss our favourite detergents and sprays! Even on trips abroad I love to shop in supermarkets for cleaning products, wipes and polishes. And those I cannot carry home I look at them lovingly and longingly. The day I found Mr Muscle in my supermarket, I grinned so much that my husband thought I had found my favourite perfume in the discount section.If ever I migrate to another country, this may be my top reason - the availability of a variety of cleaning products and equipment!

3. I do not cry at funerals - even of very dear ones. I feel very sad but I cannot cry with people around. But the instant I am alone I break down and cry in private for a long time.

4. I only know the left side of the road when I am driving. So when I come back on the same road I do not recognise it. So you can imagine my plight when roads become one way streets or they change routes. I feel I am in a new city.I keep going around the same streets in circles not knowing how to get out!

5. I enjoy humour, I love jokes but cannot tell a joke. I either laugh too much while narrating or forget the punchline or completely forget the joke midway making a joke of myself. I wrote a post about this handicap a while ago.

6. I have admirable self control in resisting sweets, fried snacks and chips until you force me to taste "just a little bit." And then I cannot stop until the entire exposed supply is finished. Now you know how my weight hit that awful number 70. It is all these loving friends trying to make me take "just a little bit" " for taste".

7. we do not realise some of our weirdness until someone points them out to us. On the last day in Delhi I was very hassled that I did not have an envelope to put the money I wanted to leave as a tip for the guest house caretaker. Somehow it seemed inappropriate to just press the note in his hand. My sister kept insisting that it was the same whether given in an envelope or openly but I was uncomfortable and we kept arguing and she finally said that she would do it. I still cannot understand why I was so fussy about the whole issue. I guess I am weird, that is why.

Now I have another pending tag -Eve's about 5 topics I wanted to blog about but could not/ did not and the why and wherefores of it. Now This one is difficult as I don't remember the beginning of my sentences by the time I reach their end. But I intend to sit down and make this list as it might serve as my to-do list for the future posts. very soon, Eve!

I am against child labour and would never employ someone less that 18 years old. Whenever my domestic help needed leave and sent her daughter to do the day's work, I have sent her back and managed on my own or if it is for a long period, I have borrowed the services of my neighbours' help for the temporary period. And for 6 years I have paid the tuition fee and examination fee for my help's daughter and also paid for extra tuitions when she failed in English and math in the 9th twice. At 18 now, the girl is just a 9th standard pass and is working in two other houses like her mother. She will be married soon and if her husband turns out to be another of those useless guys in their village, she is doomed for a house help's life and misery for the rest of her life.

I used to be appalled at my friend when she had her domestic help's 13 year old daughter staying with her to help her ageing mother. This girl used to help the ageing aunty make chai, cut vegetables, make chappatis, clean the table, dust their furniture etc. She went to school during the day and spent the rest of the time with them. They are Sindhis and she learnt to speak hindi and English fluently. She can lay the table like a lady, serve tea like an English woman, answer phone calls and has grown into an elegant young lady. She tried sending her to college and when she failed her degree course, she tried sending her to computer classes. That did not work either and the girl now works in one of the upmarket stores as a saleswoman and earns a good salary. My friend and her mother put up a fight with the girl's mother when she tried to get her married at 16 when she got into "boy troubles". Now she is 22, independent and confident. And aunty, when she died, has willed her 1 lakh in fixed deposit.

Saravanan is the head of security guards in the institution where husband works. I have seen him when he first came to work in the colony as a 14 year old boy doing odd jobs around the office. he had failed 8th standard, had no interest in studies and ran away to his uncle's house in bangalore to escape his father's wrath after his results. His uncle who worked as a driver in the office got him the temporary odd jobs in the office and gradually he got a job as a temporary security guard and after 12 years he grew to become a permanent security guard and now he is the head. His children go to English medium schools like the other children from the colony.

Sadiq used to drive my scooter like a professional when he was just 14. He was the nephew of my mechanic Basha. One day I went to collect my scooter after service and as I was about to start it there was a rattling noise. Basha flew into a rage and so did his spanner - at Sadiq. He had not fitted the screws of the wheel properly after service. I was angry with basha for treating the little boy like that but I also knew that he treated Sadiq like his son and loved him dearly. he told me "amma, this is how he will learn. Tomorrow when he has his shop he will never make this mistake. In this line we all learn like this. " I asked Sadiq if he would like to go to school. Sadiq grinned and said " I tried studying aunty but I don't have the brains. I like scooters and cars. When I am big I want to have a car repair shop." 15 years later, he now manages his uncle's garage and does good business. His daughter goes to a good school.

I can see for a fact which of us has done better by children - me and the government who talk about how wrong it is to employ children or these three above. I am not so judgemental about people who employ 13 and 14 year olds anymore.
I suppose the constitution makers were aware of the ground realities in this country and that is why they did not completely rule out child employment but made a qualified statement:
Article 24 of the Indian constitution states that "No child below the age of fourteen years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or employed in any hazardous employment".
Article 39 (e) directs State policy such "that the health and strength of workers . . . and the tender age of children are not abused and that citizens are not forced by economic necessity to enter avocations unsuited to their age or strength"

Of course Children should not be employed in industries demanding hard labour or under hazardous conditions nor should they be exploited. But if they are treated well , fed and paid well and also given educational opportunities if they want them?
I am quite certain that if geeta ( aunty's protégé) had been left in her family she would have been married at 16 and would have had at least two kids by now and been entirely at the mercy of her husband and Saravanan could have turned into anything from an unskilled worker in a factory to a criminal. And Sadiq could not have learnt the intricacies of his profession better in any school.

Would they have had a wider choice had they been in school longer even against their will? Would they have been better human beings? Would they have a better standard of life than what they now have? I can say it is open to debate and they should have stayed in school but in my heart my answer is a definite 'no". I still cannot bring myself to employ anyone less than 18 but I could perhaps try giving someone a chance at a better life by employing one like aunty.
Another area which is not just black and white. What is your take on this?

Just the other day I dedicated one whole post to the resident terrorist in our house. Two evenings ago she broke a nice torch and was in the process of swallowing the contents of the battery when we managed to catch her and make her spit out what was still in the mouth. But obviously she had swallowed some which she spent the next day throwing up.Trouble is that she thinks that if anything can go into her mouth, it should!

We have experience with about 4 dogs now and the only other dog who was equally out of control was also called Munni. In our family, we have the tradition of naming children after people in the family and society who have been a good example, in the hope that these kids will also live up to the name.
After all, there are many people who believe that a child's name is the most important decision affecting her/his personality and future prospects.For example there are these people who say:"A balanced baby name will create intelligent mental qualities such as being expressive, happy, generous, outgoing, giving, responsible, reliable, stable, intellectual, and peaceful - to name just a few." Imagine what I could have achieved if only my parents had the sense to call me Sonia Gandhi or Sunita Williams or Indira Nooyi? It is all their fault that I am a mere Usha sitting and writing useless blogs while I ought to be running countries or corporates or floating in space. hmf..

Applying the same (il)logic, we wondered if a change of name might help. But then there are problems: having got used to her name by now, it is possible that she may not respond to a new name like lolita ( remember the demure, sweet tempered, patient and obedient girl from "parineeta"?) And lalita is the name of my sister and I have no intention of facing her rage. So Siddharth declared that we should call her "Not Munni".This is not new to us as we already have a "not Unni" in our lives.

This is how it happened. Siddhartha was about 5 or 6 then.We knew that appu nair, our friend who lived a street away from us, had a cook whom he referred to in conversations as Unni. Many times we had seen a person emerging from appu nair's house on a bicycle and we had concluded he was Unni. He always smiled at us while passing by our house. on a onam day, appu insisted we join him for lunch. Imagine our shock when he called out for Unni and the guy who emerged from the Kitchen was someone totally different. Not the one we had assumed to be Unni. So who was he, the smiling cyclist? We asked appu and he was not sure so he said "not Unni." So six year old siddhu started calling him "notunni" and we began to enjoy it so much we did not bother to find out his name.For instance he would say "Notunni gave me a ride on the bicycle today", "notunni was riding with a big jackfruit" and it worked just fine and I knew exactly who this man was. This has become such an inside joke that if we know the name of one of the two brothers in a house we promptly name the other NOtX as in Sachin and Notsachin.

And that's how we have a notmunni in the house now but I am not too hopeful that it is going to work in this case. True to being a Munni, she will defy all rules and all I will have is a munni in notmunni's clothing.
I like to keep my gifts simple and practical but I notice that there are too many creative ideas floating around for gifts and sometimes I need a user manual before I can start using them.
For example a cousin gave me this beautiful piece. A cute little thing which looked like a container for kumkum called a Kumkuma Chimizh in Tamil. (I love this word and hence the title of this post!!) In my opinion Ganesha's image is the cutest among the Hindu Pantheon and I loved the six mice around the central Ganesha with images of ganesha emobossed on their back.
Trouble began when I realised that the Ganesha in the middle was not welded and could actually be unscrewed to open the mice top to make this piece into something like this:
This was not an accident - so there was certainly a design idea. As everyone knows the 6th rule of commonsense is that if anything can be unscrewed, there is a purpose behind it. So now I had to find a purpose for what I had assumed to be an innocuous chimizh. So what was it?

Perhaps a portable Puja with a figurine of Ganesha and small sections to hold puja essentials like chandan, kumkum, haldi, flower and may be a little prasad like sugar crystals.I know people who like to carry prayer things while travelling.

And then you could close the box and lock it with the Ganesha and put it back in the luggage. (Might be very useful in case of hijacking - oops I am blaspheming.)

Or perhaps, you could use it as a total Puja Solution in today's context of small flats and if you'd like to keep your faith private. You could just have a niche in your room and have your god, Rangoli and lamp rolled in one in a hole in the wall, i mean, a niche in the wall. Voila, your pooja room personalised and ready for use!

As readers of this space know, I am a simple person and definitely no Sherlock Holmes or Edward de Bono. It looked pretty as a lamp and that is how I decided to use it.
Recently another cousin explained to me what its original intention was supposed to be and I was stunned.

Any guesses on what this artistic piece was used for among the royals of yore? The beautiful exterior was meant to distract attention from something sinister that it contained. If there was a war and if the conquering enemy advanced upto the royal household, they used the contents to die with honour! Yea, this was the equivalent of poison rings and cyanide amulets containing enough dosage for a family of six. ("one family pack please!" they must have said!!)
It is understandable considering the humiliation that awaited them if they were caught alive by the enemy.