“You can’t park inside the compound!”

Priya stopped backing her car into the vacant space, next to her building and looked at the angry old man who was standing behind, blocking her way, “Who are you?” she asked.

 “I am the secretary of this society and you are not a flat owner; you cannot park inside the compound!”

Ah! The awesome, exalting sound of a pipe organ as it fills a hall! What a magnificent, glorious  sound! And what a majestic looking instrument; its flute-like pipes rising high into the roof and seemingly disappearing into the heavens!

Years ago as a youngster I joined a choir. The conductor, not too sure that puny skinny me could produce bass sound, asked me whether I was willing to press the pump to see that enough air filled the pipe organ so the organist could produce the sound. I readily agreed as all I wanted was to be somewhere near the singing. Maybe it was the same enthusiasm and zeal in working the pump that ultimately got me a place in the choir and not my voice! It was also my proximity to such lovely sounds produced by the instrument that has made me love the instrument, and thus this tale about another pipe organ:         

‘India lost more than 1.8 lakh students to suicides, of which the most were recorded in 2020, a year that had lesser examination pressure compared to any other year..’ Times of India

As I hear about children committing suicide I remember a talk I’d given to parents of a school down the road on how to bring up children. I had asked myself that time and I still do as to how I was selected to do justice to such serious a talk, and wonder whether it had anything to do with bringing up two daughters, who I have little doubt would laugh if they’d known their dad thought he’d become proficient in a subject they still considered me a dud at.

We were a noisy group in the car driving to the famous Waitomo glow worm caves.  The caves are located in the southern Waikato region of the North Island of New Zealand, 12 km northwest of Te Kuiti. This cave is about 2 hours south of Auckland, 1 hour south of Hamilton, and 2 hours west of Rotorua by car. The directions to the Caves said, to exit State Highway 3 onto Waitomo Caves Road and to continue on the road for about 8 km. To we strangers in this foreign land, this was like Greek, since we were so used to asking directions when lost, but here there were no people, and so the car was filled with noise as we argued and debated all the routes till we found ourselves suddenly at the entrance of the caves.

I walked that morning in the garden I once walked so frequently in, my eyes glancing disapprovingly at the dirt on my shoes, realizing they needed to be cleaned. I saw spots where people had spat as they’d walked and shuddered in disgust and revulsion. A little farther I saw the gardener had left his watering pipe on the walking track, waiting for someone to trip and fall, and had even left a wet patch which I could have easily slipped on.