Saturday, December 31, 2011

Return to Sender

Every year, when December came by, me and my wife would grumble about the fact that we would soon need to buy greeting cards. To wish our friends and family, a happy new year and possibly, tell them something about the wonderful year that just went by. When we were not that busy, we would get customized stationary, and print our annual family bulletin on it -- we would let our cousins know, so that they could let their cousins know, how many diapers we went through, in that particular year, and, if our baby had new teeth -- since ours was the only one in the history of the world to have new teeth, ever. We were always sure that our cousins cared about the diapers and the teeth, they were our cousins after all.

Then, there were the greeting cards. In the earlier years, we would customize them with family pictures. Then, as things got busier, we would buy the ones that supposedly contributed to charity. And of course, when our cousins and their cousins would see that we were doing something for charity, our stock in their eyes would definitely go up, wouldn't it?

And then, there would be those years, when we would be scrambling till the end of the year to get other things done, and we would start sending our cards out, when we received the first ones in our mailbox. A couple of weeks after that, around the middle of January, we would get some cards back. And on those cards, prominently stamped would be a phrase that Elvis Presley helped etch down in the sands of time -- "return to sender." 

People move. Some get new jobs. Sometimes, some get new families. And sometimes, they move on to a better place, that we all have to go to -- some day. The people in the business of sending season's greetings, find out about  all these moves, when the postman brings the letters back in January. Letters, that remind them of Elvis, once more.

We don't send out greeting cards any more. I would like to convince myself that we don't, because we care about the environment. But the real reason why we don't do it any more, is that we are lazy. And, email has made it much simpler to greet people.  So, a couple of days before the end of the year, I type out my greetings, and send them to the near and dear ones in my address book. But, the greatest thing about email greetings is the fact that you don't have to wait till the middle of January to find out if people still remember Elvis. With a curt message about un-deliverable email, your mail software lets you know about the people who have moved on. To different destinations, that you have to find out about.

Yesterday, I found that a close colleague of mine, got fired. I only knew that he was no longer employed at our last place of employment when the email bounced. Then, another colleague replied to my greetings, and added that our mutual friend was fired. Fired, for speaking his mind in the land of the free. The land, that invented "straight talk from the gut"  and the first amendment. And worst of all, when the email came back, I didn't hear Elvis singing, since "return to sender" is not really that prominent in emails that bounce.

This year, I have been passionately following the anti-graft debate in India. It made me happy to see that the people were taking an interest in running their country, in spite of the fact that those who were indeed running the country, had no interest in letting the people take an interest.

December started off on a high note. It looked like there would be some legislation after all. And then, if we finally had an ombudsman to keep an eye on graft, we could move on to loftier things in life. Like a hot cup of  chai and steaming jalebis, early in the morning -- in a small town, somewhere in India. That Desi Babu dreams about, all the time.    

Alas, that was not to be. I have switched off my television, because frankly, I am bored of our politicians yelling at each other. They all remind me of my first grade buddies trying to convince the cane wielding teacher, that they were not the first ones to sling the mud. But, in the end, mud or not, everyone in the class would get caned.
As India's first anti-corruption ombudsman bill, also known as the Lok-Pal, gets shelved one more time, as much as I hate drawing parallels with my returned greeting-cards, I can almost hear Elvis singing in my ears, in his deep baritone.

Return to Sender, address unknown.
No such person, no such zone.

Wish you all, a happy new year. In case you have been postponing your jalebis for medical reasons, you might want to reconsider. For in 2012, the world might end after all. And when it does, there won't be any jalebis any more.


  1. The century landmark before you-know-who! Congrats!
    A wonderful 2012 to you :)

  2. Happy New Year to you too..
    n wish u n everyone loadsa jalebis :)

  3. A nice post to close the year. Best wishes for 2012.

  4. yes, thanks for reminding. we live in this world after all and we must have our share of jalebis and pista rolls. who cares for those extra lot of fat? Nice post.


  5. happy new year :)
    your 100th post deserves a big applause.