Archive | the scribblewick papers RSS feed for this section

Together

24 Jul

At the beginning of this month, I announced an unusual ‘giveaway’, where we were jointly involved in contributing and none of you knew who the recipient(s) would be. To my base pledge of $50, I would add $1 for every comment received on this post.

67 unique visitors to that post left their comment (one squeaking past the midnight deadline by 5 minutes 😉 ) and together, we raised $117. Sadly, 80% (yes, you read that right) of the unique visitors to that page chose not to share our enthusiasm, and I can only hope it was a logistical issue vs. one of attitude.

Why did I open this up to everyone when I could have quietly slipped my check in the mail, you ask? Why did I invite people from the blogosphere to share, knowing there would be some cynics, naysayers and indifferent folk? Put it down to a case of chronic optimism. Of knowing that it may be my money, but I need it to be OUR attitude. As much as I dislike being preachy and usually save my rather strong views on citizenship for other spaces, I know that alone, I am merely one person contributing to another’s life. Together, that effect multiplies manifold. You may not dash out with your checkbook or sign up to build stacks of sandwiches for the homeless just because of this small effort. You may already be doing things far greater than I will ever dream of. The money you may have raised for worthwhile causes will very likely have exceeded this humble amount we have gathered. But if I got you to think–for even a minute–about sharing yourself with the world, planted a seed about doing something similar or paying it forward in other ways, I’m going to bring out my giant feathered boa and do the chicken dance in circles. (No, I’m not ridiculous in the least, why do you ask?)

Our $117 will be pledged to Ummeed Child Development Center in Bombay, India. The stellar multidisciplinary team at Ummeed (consisting of physicians, occupational therapists, speech therapists, physical therapists, mental health counselors, special educators, caseworkers, etc.) works to serve the needs of children with disabilities across all economic strata. Not only do they work with existing disabilities, they work toward early identification and remedial measures, since disability is a gradient. Nobody is turned away for their inability to pay, and a sliding scale based on income helps families give what they’re comfortable paying. Autism, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, mental retardation, emotional/behavioral concerns, attention deficit disorder, and occupational and speech disorders are among a wide range of disabilities they assess and assist. Inclusion is a goal, as they aim to integrate children of all abilities into the social mainstream. Ummeed serves the needs of thousands of families in my home city that have nowhere else to turn. Try this statistic for size: One therapist can comfortably manage a caseload of 35 clients. In the city of Bombay, a megapolis where levels of healthcare far exceed the rest of the country, there are 500 children with disabilities per available therapist. The need exists acutely, yet funding is hard to come by.

I have worked for Ummeed in the past. Some of my closest friends continue to serve there. Which is why I have an insider’s view of a truly wonderful organization that has, for the past 12 years, been the ‘ummeed’ (hope) of so many families.

Thank you for visiting my blog, for joining in, for inspiring me with your comments, and for being the vocal 20% that acted to make a difference.

Together is better. Together, we’re better. Give yourselves a round of applause. And now jump in for a group hug! 😀

Popsicle

24 Jan

Death comes in many flavors, like ice cream. There’s swift, silent death, like the swoosh of a bat’s wings, where you fly into the night, leaving trails of an uneasy hush.

There’s the long, spiral, slippery slope—gradual, painful, the life ebbing away oozingly, never quite dead, always getting there.

There are bursts and tumbles and explosive deaths, and you sizzle out of the sky like a damp squib, while they murmur platitudes in white-clad circles to those left gaping.

Death can be a stranger, unrecognizable around the corner, until you come face to face with his ghastly visage and you already know it’s too late.

Death is a seductress you want to succumb to. She’ll spirit you away to sensual things.

You wish you could pick your flavor. But in this here candy shop, you’re stuck with a cone, sticky stuff dripping all over your hand, until you reluctantly, resignedly, take a bite.

New Year, New Section

8 Jan

While driving to Southern California this past Christmas, we were stalled behind a particularly snail-like vehicle that would neither speed up nor let us pass. The Boy was at the wheel, and while he is typically patience personified, I could sense the situation was pushing some buttons. “Dheero dhurpuch!” he grumbled aloud, and my brows shot up in amusement. In five years of knowing me, our man is spewing Parsi-isms like he owns them.

It formally began with the installation of a little whiteboard in our home. Primarily put up to bear reminders, lists and the odd story idea, I found myself inscribing definitions of typically Parsi words and phrases, just for fun. Like so:

dholio, n.: bed

dheero dhurpuch, adj.: slowpoke (masculine)

I regard my mother tongue with equal parts of humor and fondness. Borrowing heavily from Gujarati and retaining its script, Parsi Gujarati is a bastardized/hysterically funny adaption of the original language, depending on the way you look at it. With only a 100,000 of us left in the world, and fewer still speaking the language, only a handful of you will encounter it– unless you live in South Bombay, around a Parsi colony / the community in  Toronto (second only to Bombay), or in a Gujarat town/city still populated by my people.

But guess what: I wouldn’t let you miss out! Starting this year, you’re going to find the odd phrase, the quirky word, and the unfathomable saying, all right here on WWNP. Here’s your chance to access a little-known language and either impress that one cuckoo Parsi in your life or seek one out if you suffer the misfortune of knowing none. 😉

Ready? Practice this phrase and I’ll be back with more. Chop-chop now! Can’t do to be a dheero/dheeri dhurpuch!

More Real Housewives

21 Dec

Because you see, while you’re busy ideating, communicating, spinning sentences into webs of understanding and outreach, the chores don’t go away. So there you are, your wonderful self, doing all these things like researching black feminist thought, organizing resistance movements, investigating the origins of Women of Color, documenting the oral history of the Partition, speaking as a panelist, constructing a sphere of influence around your persona, learning, teaching, sharing, writing, and still, the piles of laundry are unmoved. With the patience of stoics, they wait, to be washed, dried, folded, ironed, closeted away; and the dishes sit heavy in the washer, parked until removed and stashed away; and there’s no telling your bed linen to get a move on and do a DIY job, because it needs your keyboard-focused fingers to fold the shams and fluff the pillows, and crumbs are spilled and countertops splashed and the business of getting dirty-clean-dirty spins in endless cycles every day.

Your plants beg for a drink. Your carpet dreams of a dalliance with the dustbuster. Your car could do with a nice soapy scrub. They don’t care who you are, or what you do, they’re not cleaning themselves up, or putting themselves away, and will outstare and outsit you in every possible battle of wills until you finally relent and tackle them darn chores. For all your fabulousness, and even if you divide and conquer, there’s always that laundry list of things to do around the house that keeps you grounded, with the possible aim of marinating your ego in some well-deserved mediocrity. Amplify that times a thousand, and enter children. But we won’t even go there for now.

Hausfrauness: dripping dullness into the scintillating everyday, one reincarnated house chore at a time.

Mathematics Commando

24 Aug

To be a comrade in the war on equations, one needs stealth. Patience. Forbearance. And a determination to avenge.

Burn. Bombard. Blaspheme.

Alternating between machete and machine gun, creep up on the long baffling rows of numbers, draw yourself to full height and attack. Pound entire magazines of bullets into the curves of figures, shred symbols with venom, tear through mazes of graphs, rhombi and trapeziums, blasting, blowing apart, uncorking rivers of blood.

Wreak. Havoc.

Rip through logic, plug your ears to the screams, take down as many permutations as you can, hand glide from supertext, applaud the martyrs, put on a show of madness and impatience and flagrant contempt of what is.

Vent. Your. Rage.

Innards will splatter your dark bodysuit, your head furiously churning under the hardness of a tea-colored helmet, blown-up bits and bobs oozing dark liquids and tightly-coiled secrets, your boots crunching out the last of life as we know it in a supposed string of sense, that most despicable of creatures, that heinous crime, that assuredly unpardonable of all sins,

a mathematics equation.

How to Keep Peace

15 Aug

Peace comes in packets. It is air-dropped. It has quotas. Not served as an all-you-can-eat buffet, where you stagger out pot-bellied, sated after three helpings of mandarin-marinated calm.  Take your packet and run with it. Rock it crooningly, make it last. Soak in its nourishment for treks through the marshland. Teach your children not to play toss with its doughy white balls. Divide it wisely. Sparingly. Warily. And always stock a crate, a spare stash of easy breath. Label it ‘Fragile’ and ‘This Way Up’.

Look to the sky. Look up in hope. Stretch your arms to the ether so they think you are praying. What do they know, Unbeliever, you’re only reaching, your eyes are only searching, your spirit is only screaming, for your next fix of stasis.

A Home-spun Yarn

8 Aug

My niece came to visit the other day. A feisty 4-going-on-14, she bounced on my chaise lounge and dimpled up at me, demanding a story. Looking around for inspiration, my eye fell on these little fellas who hang off a corner lamp.

Clockwise, from top: Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum, Englishman

And, with her participation, a story took shape. The concept is simple, so with language modifications, this can work well for 2- to 5-year-olds. I hope your children (even the one that lives inside you) enjoy it.

***

This is a story of five friends, elephants all, named Fee, Fi, Fo, Fum and Englishman. One day, Englishman hosted a garden tea party for his friends. It was a beautiful , sunny day and the flowers were in full bloom. As they were all eating cucumber sandwiches and blowing bubbles into their lemonade, Englishman’s Papasan came stomping onto the vast lawns. Englishman started to tremble, because he had done something very naughty earlier in the day and knew Papasan had found out.

“I’ll just be back,” he said in a small voice to his friends and looked around for somewhere to hide. The ground rumbled as Papasan thumped his way over to the little group sitting on their stools, doing full justice to Cook’s jam tarts. His generous figure loomed closer and closer, and Englishman realized it was too late to run! In a flash, he took the lid off the teapot, dived in, and slid the cover in place just as his father’s booming voice shook the table. In the teapot he stayed, breathing through the hole in the spout, all the while that Papasan was looking for him. When he finally clambered out, Papasan was long gone and his friends had run off to the play area for a game of tag.

“Here I am!” he announced, catching up with Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum, and ready to join in. “Why is the rock talking?” asked his puzzled friends, and ignored him, as he stood in the rockery, camouflaged by a thick brown coat of tea water on his hide.  Englishman scampered after them. “Here I am!” he tried again, waving his hands and wiggling his amply belly at them. “Did that tree say something?” his friends asked, as they stopped playing Pin the Tail for a brief moment.  Quickly moving on to a game of Ele-ballet, they ignored the voice, leaving Englishman bewildered and wondering what to do.

“I know!” he said to himself, and climbed up the play structure to the tree house, decorated in earth colors and natural wood tones. “Here I am!” he shouted down at them, certain they’d look up and spot him. “A talking tree house?” they shrugged, now used to voices emerging from things, and unperturbed, Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum continued to play.

This is getting absurd, thought Englishman, who stood alone and sad in the doorway of the tree house, watching his friends play and missing being part of all the fun. He hung his head dejectedly, and lowered his eyes to the ground, but they fell on something else instead. A slow smile split Englishman’s face and he considered the object of his attention. The tree house was built over a frog pond, and, clutching his trunk tightly shut, Englishman made his second dive of the day.

Splash! And he was in. The sound made his friends turn around, and they saw Englishman, now rinsed of the tea and his natural red again, climbing out of the pond, a family of frogs looking on in alarm.  “There you are,” they cried in unison, and tumbled over to him. “We were wondering where you’d disappeared to!” Englishman only smiled, shook himself dry, and joined Fee, Fi, Fo and Fum at their grass-stamping game, glad to be nothing but himself again.

Now do you understand why Mammas and Daddies say tea isn’t good for children?