Friday, September 28, 2012

lost charm

I had taken a liking to Reader’s Digest from an early age. The love affair started when I had visited India during my annual school holidays and we had stayed at my grandparent’s home in Cherai, Kochi. My grandpa was a lawyer and was also an avid reader so he had a large collection of books – but mostly Malayalam. So one day I wandered into his little library and looked around for something to read and the only ones in English were the Reader’s Digest magazines dated back to the early seventies.

The books had been untouched for ages and pages were quite brittle and about to fall off so I had to be careful with them. Anyway I was too young to read some of the articles and so I stuck to the one liner jokes that appear at the bottom of the page randomly and also the ‘all in a days work’. I used to sit there for hours going through the jokes and a few articles. My mum noticed that and the next thing she did after getting back to Dubai was fill out an annual subscription form for Readers’ Digest. Mum is an avid reader as well but does not have a collection like what grandpa had.

Over the years ( the eighties and nineties ) the quality of the Readers Digest has fallen of the cliff. I feel that it just lost its charm. It has become more of a medical advertisement magazine than anything else. Less articles, less real life stories and most importantly less quality jokes. They had just killed the magazine with fold in ads and useless offers and marketing materials. Lately after a long gap I bought another copy of the Reader’s Digest and nothing much has changed and sad to say I would not think of buying another copy ever. In those ninety pages there was probably one article that engrossed me and not definitely worth the price and time.

Grandpa passed away a few years back and probably mum has kept his priceless collection of books. The house got sold and my mum brought his arm chair and his cot to our new house and has kept it in one of the rooms just as a remembrance. I am sure it brings back memories for her and it sure does for me too.

I long to go back, sit on his arm chair and open up a seventies version of Reader’s Digest again :).

Saturday, June 16, 2012

The content yellow cabbie - Paré

We got picked up from the Wesley Hospital after our doctor’s appointment. “Hop in guys” said the cabbie. I got in the front seat and J squeezed in to the back of the Toyota Prius. This was my first electric car ride :).

Soon we were on our way to pick up our car from service.  The Filipino cabbie loved to talk but I was hoping to just have a quiet ride. Anyway it takes all sorts to run the world and I was forced to listen.  Turns out that he was interesting to listen to and at the same time a bit different since he also liked to listen; he would ask meaningful questions and seemed well informed about the ways of the world business and economics minus the appropriate business jargon of course.

Anyway after he dropped us off he got me thinking as well. Over the last two months I had been bitching about how monotonous my professional life had become as this was the first time that I had taken up a desk job and I was getting to the point of needing a bit more excitement at my work place.

Talking about monotonous jobs, my “pare” cabbie (paré – Filipino equivalent of the Aussie ‘mate’) has been driving a taxi for a good part of his 22 years stay in Australia and the surprising part of this is that he was not bitter at all. He didn’t complain about low wages or traffic jams, high taxes or rising medical expenses, instead he talked about how he and his wife had two daughters and that they were going to graduate in the next two years and how life in Australia has been great. He talked about all the good things in life. He also talked about the phase in his life when he was jobless but I guess he accepted that as part of his life’s learning experiences.

Paré encouraged me to see joy in little things that you have as a part of your life and not talk and think too much about what you don’t.  My old folks in Dubai often remind me of a quote they have read somewhere.. “If you have a roof over your head, have access to three square meals a day and if your parents are still married – then you belong to the top 1% of the fortunate people in the world”.

J writes down a few good things that happenes in her day before she goes to bed. Whether it is someone who smiled at her in the city or the bus driver who greeted her… she writes it all down. I might start that too.