Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cleaning Day

Have I told you about Oome, ever? That's not his name - but he's this deaf and mute man who comes around, has come around to do odd jobs for decades now.

His name is Mohd Something, but if he ever managed to communicate it to any of our households we have forgotten it. Oome is Tamil for mute and somehow (without the least intention to diminish, I assure you), that is what he has stayed. Or, if you prefer (as my maid seems to), Umesh - either  Sunita's attempt to civilise a name that appears insensitive to her or she likes to finish the word off properly.

Oome is a character - quirky, whimsical, self-willed... a fakir-like man. Silent for the most part - I don't mean that he can't speak because he's chatty enough when the mood seizes him - but keeps hisself to hisself. He has got the most amazing work ethic. Such a solid worker that his services are in demand across several colonies. He knows precisely what needs to be done, goes about hunting for the tools he needs (and knows which household can be tapped for large shears or that extra large hammer) and so enormously effective at any, but any task you put him to.

Once Oome's on a job, you can retreat to making him tea and snacks, coming back occasionally only for the joy of seeing him work - which he does with intelligence, economy of movement and quality. You know, the feeling that THIS is the best way to do this. He's a great beloved of Shweta's. She had a workshop for a while a few years ago and he helped her set it up with an amazingly intuitive understanding of what she required.

We have been asking for an afternoon of his time for a long time now. But the man has been ducking out of sight, crossing the road when he sees us approach and, when actually pinned down, has made several false promises. We are very sympathetic. He has been this way ever since my mother died. He really liked her, and so, inarticulate as he is, we can see that he can't bear to come to our house. But there is this ominous growth of peepal protruding out of our water tank - and we need it removed quickly. It's also a job requiring intelligence because we don't want to damage the wall or we will have no water tank. Oome's the man to do it.

He came today and it appears that he has decided to allot the day to us. We had four smallish jobs but he looked around and set his own agenda. Our yard and garden tends to be a little unkempt - mostly on purpose, because wild, leaf strewn surfaces have more interest value for the birds and creatures about here. But Oome didn't see it quite like that - he wrinkled his nose and set to work. So we have been engaged in supplying gampas, screw drivers etc and been called forth to decide on a dozen matters. Excuse me, while I deliver him some Roohafza.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Hyderabad is crazy sometimes. It is something like 42 degrees outside and we wondered, a little boldly, if we could catch the 2.45pm show of Vicky Donor. The movie has been on for four weeks now, it is a weekday and plus this heat wave business on... all things considered, we might get four tickets, you know?

What do you think? SOLD OUT. And people still streaming in, haranguing the man at the counter to try a little harder (this is our local stand-alone cinema hall where pressure or blandishments actually stand a chance), and when all their efforts failed, settling for Jannat 2.


I just caught the promos for the second episode of Coke Studio Pakistan. Looks good. Again. The first episode was excellent too - they haven't lost their touch.

Atif Aslam is going to be singing a version of Ghulam Farid's Mera ishq vi tu... and this wonderful troupe called the Chakwal group with Meesha Shafi.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Because I can't hear myself think

The children at the playschool next door are getting an enthusiastic education... a live band is right now playing 'Summer of '69' and other nostalgic numbers that must make a lot of sense. Too bad most of them will be deafened before they pass out into kindergarten.

I wonder at them, the people who're doing the educating, I mean. They ruthlessly cleared every shrub and tree from the place, laid down plastic turf, covered the play area with plastic corrugated sheets and greenhouse nets. Having gotten rid of the teeming birdlife that lived here, they have paper birds hanging all along one wall in the hope that their charges may be charmed and inspired. And to create an illusion of the green outdoors, they now have a large photograph of a rainforest forming a backdrop to their newly renovated swimming pool.

I'm not suggesting the children aren't happy - they are, they are! But I notice they're happiest when they're left alone, not being harangued to come inside and dance to Justin Bieber's Baby every day of the week, or plagued to put up drill displays (it's a pre-school playschool!) or indeed, being subjected to horrendous concerts like today's.

A tangent. About this cartoonist who knows a bit about kids, and dispatches regular reports on her own with warmth, lots of funny and insight.

My neighbours should take this leaf out of Oormila's book, but on second thoughts, it's probably too subtle for them.

Cartoon copyright: Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad.
Her page, Adventures of the Renaissance Mom is on Facebook. Take a look, she's hilarious!