Monday, December 31, 2007

Tamilselvi's new year resolution

Rhea's diary
31Dec'07 -Bangalore


Today was one bloody tiring day.. hell lot of work at the boutique.. It's unusual for a Monday, but today wasn't just another Monday.. everyone wanted to make sure they looked their best for their New Year Eve parties. The requirements are all the same: 'unique' , but the results are always expected to be 'different' all the time.. what's more, the clients bring in their own reference pics from glossy magazines.. it was fun, nonetheless... as much as I love my job, today, I thought, was dead tiring.

But more than all that chaos, it's been an emotionally exhausting day.. something weird happened today, which got my mind racing back to my schooldays as a teenager.. guess who walked into the salon today? Ria! she was the most popular girl, back at school.. every other girl dreamt of being in her shoes.. or become her best friend at the least..

I had also dreamt of being Ria. I did not want to be Tamilselvi anymore. I wanted to look beautiful.. have a smart hairstyle like that of hers instead of my two-plaits.. i yearned for those mascara eyelashes n not my spready kajal.. wanted those pink lipsticks against the cheap ice-candy colors.. to the extent that when Rosetta Ma'm suggested I go for a change in name while joining her Salon, I did not have to think twice before borrowing her name. I christened myself 'Rhea'.

Today, 10 years since school, when she walked into the salon, I couldn't really recognize her.. Bina was attending to her at the counter opposite to where I was. She looked different.. pale face.. a huge pair of goggles which covered half of her face.. pursed mouth.. n a dull black scarf around her neck.. she looked almost ghostly to me.. a far cry from the Ria I yearned to be.

I wondered whether I should walk up to her and say a 'Hi'.. she probably wouldn't recognize me? May be I could've just introduced myself as an old schoolmate? somehow I could not muster the courage to go talk to her. I never had. She always had this air of a diva around her.. And more so now, she did not seem a bit approachable.. I did not talk to her.

Later, Bina was ranting about her busy day.. she got talking about this lady.. one of her 'concealer' clients, as she always calls them.. the ones who come for heavy camouflaging.. didn't take me much time to realize that her concealer of the day is Ria. Apparently, she needed to cover up all those tell-tale signs of domestic violence, for the evening's bash..

Tonight when I punched out from work, I found myself signing 'Tamilselvi' on the register..

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

unfortunate..

Call it the inevitable Glass Ceiling / the Politics of Bureaucracy..
It's really unfortunate that someone like Kiran Bedi is giving up on the system.
See this and this.

If you are one of those beings like me, for whom this lady has been an inspiration, you might want to take a look at her website / her blog

Thursday, November 22, 2007

being a 'karela kutty' -Part I

I'm told I've always been a handful as a kid.
The kind who send terror waves down their parents' spine at the thought of taking them out to any social gathering.
The kind whom I always frown at, as an adult.. like that pesky kid next door!
Bet they must be true, if all those audio recordings of my chattering as a 2 year old are anything to go by!

Papa still shudders whenever they show glimpses of the movie 'Chemmeen' on TV..he recollects very vividly the embarrassment at the movie hall when his 3 yr old wanted an explanation for 'why is that uncle beating that lady?' at the top of her voice! n he just had no other way out than getting the hell(err.. that would be ME) out of there!..
At the Museum park, I would just walk up to pluck a Nun's nose and announce that I'm going to throw it away to the crows!! (how I wish I could've done that to some similar specimens later, during my convent school life!)

But they say, more than anything else, my fave pastime was to entertain people, telling them the story of paavakka kuttan. Apparently, the hero of the story is this guy who was born out of a paavakka (bitter gourd/ karela). His unique ability was to point to anyone's (primarily, all the villains who try to poke fun at him about his unnatural birth) nose and say some mantra, n lo! the recipient turns to a bitter gourd!

little did i know that someday after a good couple of decades, I'd find myself at the receiving end of that joke! on an extremely cold December day, I find myself heading for Chandigarh.. reason? i took up a job with this company's office in Mohali..
you think that must've been a tough decision to make, considering the hopeless North-South culture divide we have in our country n all that? I'd say the decision wasn't any tough as compared to the kind of questions I got to wield from concerned well-wishers!
'You know chandigarh is infamous for it's high crime rates?' she didn't share her source of info with me though! I would've loved to quote it here!
'Are you sure you want to go to the Surd land?'
'My God, Usha, would you be taking the photocopy of a plain paper and faxing it to me with a stamp on it?'
'I've always believed there was something terribly wrong with you, but you cant be so crazy, can you?'
'Have you totally lost it?'

Over there, one of the toughest things I had to do was to educate people that "Karela" as they used to call that tiny stip of coastal land in the southern end of the map of India, is actually "kErAla"! After a zillion attempts, I realize that there's no point in convincing some people about the misplacement of 2 alphabets, who still use "then" in place of "than" and "accept" in place of "except". Talking about which reminds me of the incident when I overheard a female colleague shouting out to another male colleague to 'massage' her in the evening! after a moment, and a string of exclamations running through my mind, I realize she was referring to "message"(as in sms)!

Now that's about some Northies for whom the whole Southern peninsula is Madras..
pls. note: the earlier comment was not to poke fun by generalizing all Northies.. That was just about a small cross-section of people.. the rest of them were a very informed lot, you know.. most of them knew for sure that the most common mode of transport in Kerala was boats and that every family owned one..
during a post-lunch walk, my curious colleague from Bihar asks me: 'hey hey, tell me na, d'u guys really have boats n all in your house?'
me: 'yeah, actually we have 2 boats in the boat-shed outside our riverside house. One, we use it to go visit our neighbors and all.. and the other one, solely for fishing when we feel like having some fish fingers for snacks! cool, no?' grin.

--ok ok.. easy, my Northie friends, me no getting too biased on this one.. you know I luv you a lot to speak too low of you.. I'll be updating this space with the Southie's perception of Northies soon.. in another post.. Trust me, when I started writing this, I realised that it was overshooting the normally acceptable length of a post (you know me.. this happens to me always, my long mails are proof enough), and hence, had to mutilate it into parts!

And then there was this huge chunk of Southies (mostly AP guys) at my workplace there, who again had a li'l skewed perception about mallus... "oh you are a Malayalee?" they ask me..
"kutty??" n a biiig broad smile.. I guess, I can better classify it into a kind of evil grin..
for them, mallu girls are referred to as "kutty", just the way the Punjabi girls are called "kudi"s... now I take all the pain to educate them too that kutty doesn't exactly mean a girl.. but it doubles up as a non-gender-biased suffice to many mallu names.. not only that, it also cuts across all religions, castes and creeds.. we have moideenkutty, govindankutty and even georgekkutty...
"Lolakkutty too!!!" a wide grin.
"ofcourse yes! ah, now you are learning fast!" I grin back..
(more on mallu nomenclatures, later)

And thus I got pushed into donning this new identity.. that of a 'Karela Kutty'
No prizes for guessing who had the last laugh at that.. yes, of course, my Mummy-Papa whom I used to totally pakaofy with my Pavakkakkuttan story long back!
whoever said, 'what goes around, comes around'! :o

Friday, November 9, 2007

moviescan - Diwali special! :)

Deepavali times have turned out to be times for pleasant transitions + fun for me, since the past few years now.. the most beautiful of Diwali eves till date for me was the one 2 years back at the gorgeously lit Golden Temple of Amritsar with the most wonderful of fireworks lighting up the chilly November sky.. it was a divine evening to have spent with family.. and ever since, I've always made double sure that I have a total blast around Diwali time and make it at least half as beautiful as then.. sans the noisy crackers of course! atleast not once since childhood after burning my hand badly while trying to light up a fountain cracker when Pops wasn't around! So now all that energy which was used to lighting crackers is diverted to hogging on sweets! And no! I'm not planning to check my weight for the next couple of months atleast! ;)

btw, I did snuggle into the Diwali celebs at work too, where I got to do a Rangoli for the 1st time ever!! We did a 'Narakasura vadh' ! well no prizes for guessing that we couldn't have got any prizes.. :P It bombed royally, but the good news is that only 7/10 people mistook our Krishna for Hanuman or were having difficulty in figuring out who's killing whom! not bad, eh?


For a change I totally loved doing all those girlie stuff.. mebbe the fact that I wore a pinkie salwar suit helped! got mehndi done on my palms too! for the 1st time since my schooldays!! The ladies were all looking awesome in sarees and I'm so inspired by that, that I'm planning to get some for myself sometime soon.. well I better get it before all this festival induced euphoria wanes out of my mind!

Plus, this time around, I've diverted some of that energy towards bollywood moviegazing as well.. the primary intention was to save my eardrums from the noisy Bangalore Diwali. So my Diwali gift for you folks is gonna be Movies!! yay!! Now dont start pestering me for movie tickets!! Ok it's Diwali and all dat, but it clearly doesn't make me feel thaat big hearted! I'm anyways feeling all generous to share some recommendations if you are planning to go the movies this evening to save yourself from the chaotic noises around!


JAB WE MET : too good he ji! :)

It has everything going well for a warm and sweet bollywood love story with cute-ish moments and all that..
for a change they have shown the spine not to slant towards adding a pinch of the hollywood-ish masala / techno fx in sound/visuals as they've been doing it since sometime now.. this one is all nice n desi, just like a big mug of lassi.. malai maarke!
no villains n grue.. a happy fairytale-ish story
journeys!! hmm.. perfect setting for a successful bollywood love story.. n the Punjabi background for the balle balle effect!
confused ppl.. confusing situations.. guess 'confusion' has become the all time favorite ingredient in bollywood masala mix now!

You just cant stand Kareena's histrionics? well be prepared for a change.. in this one, she yaks a lot as usual, but surprisingly doesn't get onto your nerves.. she looked very real and in every shot, she reminded me of one or the other of my happy-go lucky punjabi kudi friends..to the extent that Shahid's performance seem to have got kinda overshadowed by it!
music is fun as well!

The spirit of the movie is very similar to that of Imtiaz Ali's earlier 'socha na tha'. If this is his style of movie making, I guess I'll be looking forward to his next as well! Infact, I thought his screenplay in 'Ahista Ahista' was also nice, except for the way the story ended!

LAAGA CHUNARI MEIN DAAG : bhagwaan keliye mujhe chod do!

Misery at it's best.. a protagonist who fails to see the difference between empowerment and being manipulated .. a mother who prefers the honor of her house(note: not family) above that of her child's.. a sister who sounds more immature than an average school-girl (atleast in the initial half).. a cowardly father who's resigned to his life and family and fate, who believes his misery is because of the fact that he doesn't have a son.

The irony is that after all the hoopla about 'beti chali beta banne' and those 'today's woman' lectures in the movie.. at the end of it all, the ladies needed their knights in shining armors to make their Dad proud of them!
and i guess i cannot stand to see an Anupam Kher / Jaya Bhaduri / Harsh Chayya for sometime now!
the only good thing about the movie is the song: 'hum to aise hain bhaiya'.

On an afterthought, even the other Pradeep Sarkar movie, 'parineeta' never made any sense to me! I don't seem to relate to (let alone empathise with) his female protagonists at all! The way they act and re-act to situations is totally different from the way women usually do in the world i know of! a quick note to myself: avoid watching anymore of Pradeep Sarkar movies if you've got to save yourself from brain hemorrhage.

NO SMOKING : Gross!

Statutory warning : stay away from the walls.. banging your head on them could be highly injurious to your health!

if you manage to sit through the whole movie, you might also need to resort to the kind of laughter therapy which Dr. Asthana used to do in Munnabhai!

The movie: remember your worst nightmares? with incoherent visuals n feels n random scenes and places and people.. where you try to make some sense out of all that and finally resign to it and just numbly go through whatever you are taken through.. this could be almost equivalent an experience. carry an aspirin along if you are planning an attempt to understand the movie!

Later in the evening, i saw a moth fluttering away inside the reading room and found myself involuntarily wondering whether it could be the soul of the coakroach which I had brutally murdered that morning when it sought refuge in the reading room after surviving the Baygon attack in the kitchen.. Never underestimate the adverse effects, a Bollywood movie is capable of doing to your unsuspecting subconscious mind!

JOHNNY GADDAAR : has an edge!

The plot is good. Very unlike our usual diet of RGV sponsored Bollywood perspective of Underworld stories.. The twists, almost always are predictable, but the pace more than covers up for it as it doesn't give us many such occasions where we can think ahead of the pace of narration. The POV of the audience is that of the Criminal, which makes it all the more interesting than just sitting back and watching some bunch of nerdy detectives unknot the mystery.

Brilliant performances too! n yeah the Neil guy is something to look forward to.. reminds one of Saif's performance in 'Being Cyrus'. understated in terms of mainstream bollywood style, yet very powerful!

Can't think of writing more about it as it's been a while since I watched it. Though I'd definitely like to recommend it!
================

That's it for the moviescan for now, folks!

A movie which I had really wanted to watch in this while, but unfortunately couldn't make it was 'Loins of Punjab Presents'.. hope to get my hands on it soon!

Not really excited about Saawariya/OSO somehow! Infact I guess the promos all over the media was an overkill to the extent that one wonders whether the festive mood in the air is because of Diwali or the movie releases!

Have a happening and safe Diwali, people!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Analysis Paralysis

Was having a chat with DT the other day.. more of our usual catching-up with each other chats.. we always have a bunch of 'me too's' in our agenda.. and this time around it was the turn of a severe bout of the gud old procrastination syndrome.

which reminds of those Moral Science classes at school.. 'procrastination is a tool of Devil'.. i can almost hear Sr. Blossy read that aloud!
D as usual reaches conclusions, referring to age old adages.. 'Over Analysis leads to Paralysis', she declares!

I've been thinking over it lately..
of late, my priority to-do list's been getting longer by the minute, and the misery associated with not accomplishing things as and when I would have liked it to have been ideally, is eating into me.

Anyways, since I've gotten myself into the Analysis mode, thought of doing a li'l more of it.. chumma like that.. Google Uncle's always there for support, after all!

I bumped into this Theory about Locus of Control. Apparently, Most individuals have a tendency to have either a strong internal locus of control orientation or strong external locus of control orientation. Those with a strong internal locus of control believe most events that occur in their lives are determined by their own actions rather than by chance. In contrast, those with a strong external locus of control believe most events occur by chance or circumstance and conclude they have little control over fate, or to change their lives. [quoted from here]
Took a small online test to know that I'm not in a inherently handicapped state there.. just grazing along the terrains of Internal Locus of Control. good for me!

The irony is that I ended up doing another (!)Analysis to figure out what's been erring. (well, anything in moderation is good as they say! ;) which reminds me of doing an analysis someday, on why I end up overdoing something just when I realise what a criminal waste it is!)

So my finding is that, the culprits are:

1. The pre-requisite mania: For every task, I have a list of pre-requisites which are too objective to set an achievable deadline for. though the task in itself may not be that unachievable.

2. The priority/severity tangle: Yes, I do have my priorities set. Now what happens is: my high priority task ends up being something for which I need to dedicate time and effort on a constant basis across a longer period of time. This acts to my disadvantage in tackling the high severity stuff, though seemingly less in priority.

Another cousin of the tangle is that of relative prioritisation. Its more like: 'ok, now I want to do this, but hey, there are more important stuff to get done with before this, so let this wait!'

or the reverse of it, which is even more dangerous.. when there's something I should be very focussed about, but I'm least convinced with it that I end up doing any other trivia and fool myself about being busy!

3. Tomorrow is another day: I love this line. especially when Scarlett says that.. it gives the hope of getting everything straightened out soon... probably at a later time.. after a good night's sleep. but Tomorrow is not going to be any different from today, unless I do something about it right now, right?

Ok, so armed with those revelations, I'm planning to take on my to-do list and start working on things within my circle of influence.. Wish me luck!!

PS: I know it's a crappy post.. sadly though, it reflects my current state of mind. :/
hopefully, I'll be ok by Diwali! :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

mein tehri rahi, zameen chalne lagi..

It's a beautiful October morning. One of those Saturday mornings when I wake up with no specific AIs in mind, for the day. My bedroom wall clock tells me it's just about 9 am.. well, today I have the privilege to doze off again and catch up on a l'il more of sleep..
mebbe not? what's that exponentially booming sound? an airplane? must be! Only it sounds more like it's just taking off from the terrace of the building.. n getting louder by the millisecond..
Aha! even the window panes seem to have picked up the rhythm.. must be one of those aerial exercises of IAF.. but wait a sec, do they have a base here in Mohali? wotever..
ok, so now it's the turn of my bed to take its cue.. this building sure isn't too strong, except for the elaborate sugar coatings of being pretty comfy n well furnished... mebbe I should re-consider my plan of asking my folks to come over for a visit? the safety quotient of this place is way too low.. what with the weirdo way of house construction they do here, with adjacent buildings sharing common walls n all that! anyways, one more month, and I should be ready to eject from here to the more familiar and comfy terrains of Bangalore.. :)

phew! now why are these windows banging so madly at each other?? n the wardrobes are busy doing their tango! n what the hell is wrong with this bed? it's switched from its vibrating mode to a shaky mode. n that's the last thing needed for me, the sleepy head on it, to get on my feet. must be the 1st time in ages since I climbed out of my bed so soon after waking up on a beautiful weekend morning!

uh oh! this is as worse as it could get. the floor beneath is swinging indeed!
Could this be one of my usual weirdo nightmares? I should mail Dimple about it.. somehow she's the only soul in this beeg world who has it in her to listen to my hopelessly freaky dreams! no wonder friends say, she's patience epitomized!

Hey, what if it is for real? Women in the nearby buildings are screaming out to their folks to get out asap!
ok! so, it IS, what I think it is! i better rush outta here soon..
but wait a sec, I don't want to go out in my sleeping pyjamas, do I? what if I have to go to one of those godforbidden relief camps? u never know!
Ever tried getting into your most skinny pair of stretch jeans while swinging? well I just did that, as it was the 1st thing I could get my hands on..(-had to subject myself to an excruciating hour long lecture from Papa on 'presence-of-mind when it matters the most', later! Detailing, my friends, is not always a good idea, more so when you are talking about your follies, and most importantly, when you are talking about it to your parents!) and grabbed my cellphone on my way, just in time before the books started falling off the shelf!

One of those times when you feel like swearing on Murphy's law.. "Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way" -yes, indeed! so the door just decides to put its foot down n wouldn't budge! Only then does the dumbhead on this side realise that she has to turn the keys to get to the other side of it! so, off I rush, bumping into the horizontally challenged lady who stays upstairs (she usually stops for a break at 1st floor -where I lived, to take a breather before climbing up or down) struggling her way down..
Trust me, Stairs is the most dangerous place to be, in a situation like this. 'coz when most of the building swings in a rhythm, thanks to the absence of strong beams, the stairs swing incoherently...
So I get out of the building to find a totally shaken Rosy bhabi with her not-at-all-bothered 4 yr old son Digant, frantically calling out to her hubby to get the hell out of the bathroom. She hastily thrusts her son's hand onto a still-wondering-whether-it's-a-nightmare me, to see her hubby get to safety, clad in her fuschia pink dupatta.

Digant has always been good company.. Infact he was the best of friends I had there, who would wait for me to get back from work, to share all his chronicles of the long day at School with attempting to learn English alphabets and the tricky on-too-thee-fows. We would settle on the stairs for our usual late evening chats, and an occasional ride for him on my scooter around the neighbourhood park. That day, we were there holding hands, both of us full of wonder at what's happening. A totally carefree him, who did not even understand what is going on.. and a not-at-all-experienced, but well informed me, for whom the worst nightmare ever was to find myself struggling for life under the rubbles of a collapsed building.

The young lady next door, who was trying to reach her away-at-work hubby over her cellphone to alarm him about this, broke into a high-frequency shriek! the dumbstruck audience around could not hold it back when she started screaming over the phone: "what, u were already outside the building? n till now, u didn't feel like calling up home to make sure whether your wife n kid are alright?" the whole crowd was laughing.. an eerie, nervous, gigglish laughter.

I dint have the faintest idea of how strong or destructive it was, and was wondering whether it would be ok to call up home? will it get them worried? will the phone-lines get jammed as it happens at such times?
My cellphone beeps. Ok, the network's alright. it's an sms: "mein tehra raha.. zameen chalne lagi.. dhadka yeh dil, saas dhamne lagi.. kya yeh mera pehla pehla pyar he?" Reply: "abbe.. yeh toh earthquake he.. chal bhaag nikal!"

The Kashmir earthquake / The Great Pakistan earthquake of 8th October 2005, was a major 7.6 magnitude earthquake, of which the epicentre was at the Pakistan-administered Kashmir. It was a killer quake which directly affected about 4 million people, and many of them who were lucky to survive the quake were not lucky enough to survive the harsh Himalayan winter that followed. There are people who are still reeling under the terror and misery.
More on the statistics and relief efforts can be found here and here.
Two years on... peace be to the souls of the victims of this nature's fury. and God bless the courageous people who've survived it all in a valley which unfortunately has been under the siege of terrorist attacks, time and again.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

the world's such a small place, afterall!

got talking to a colleague the other day, to discover that we've been working for the same company/in d same building, thrice in a row now!! apparently, I've been following him from Thiruvananthapuram to Chandigarh and all the way back to Bangalore like a nice hutch doggie!
the good news is: now I know, how to efficiently simplify my next job hunt! ;)

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

papercup smiley


ok, the tide just swept past me.. and I find myself all alone in this maze of empty cubes which used to house the team of 9, when I joined it a couple of years back. Now, all that remains of it is one teammie (btw, we've drifted into different teams now, thanks to the re-org that followed) whose work-at-office time doesn't much coincide with that of mine.

More than anything, I'm missing all those smiles.. desperate times call for desperate measures... so, (as much as I hate having all the typical girlie jazz around at my work area) I've made myself a papercup smiley, who'll always gimme a big broad happy smile, no matter what! :)
err.. that's if some office boy doesn't end up taking his boss' orders too literally to clear off all the papercups around!

Monday, September 10, 2007

in the line of fire

rif(reduction in force)/ layoff no longer sounds like a scary monster to me.. it has become as normal as a fire-drill.. time for yet another round of it now.. my first second-hand brush with layoffs was at Quark, when a bunch of dear friends were affected as their team of 40 was being laid off.. n my dear friend S was affected yet again this month, which got me real concerned for her, but thankfully, things worked out well for her soon! :)

so, I've started my pre-(anticipatory)rif activities in full swing, now.. i.e., taking backups of personal stuff, getting my resume updated n alerting friends n networks about a possible job-hunt on war-footing, just around the corner.. fingers crossed!

the worst part (umm.. dunno if it should be categorised into 'best') is that the worst case scenario sounds much more glorious in this case, with the glamorous severance package thingy! ;)

the funny part was when my manager reasoned why he's sure I should not be worried about this..
his theory: only *married* *men* with *kids* would be losing their sleep over it, for the sake of the *social stigma* associated with *losing a job* in a society like ours.
indirectly implies ==> single women with no kids needn't worry about losing their jobs, 'coz our society don't give a damn for them anyways!
:) cool reasoning, huh?

err.. i know, he wouldn't have as much as given a thought about the prickly brains of his people to twist n turn n churn his seemingly harmless statements. talk about techniques of handling sensitive issues like gender bias at work! well.. wotever!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

jingalala!

Had been to a fun event at work, last weekend.. the theme was African Safari.. but then, thankfully, we didn't have to follow that for the dress code for the evening... mebbe the organisers thought we do look like those afrikan junglees anyday!! :P me was wondering what could be the driving force behind the theme? other than for the pot painting competition which was conducted a couple of days before the event.. hey, talking of which, I took part in that as well.. the best part is that I was participating in an arty competition after more than a couple of decades now.. with no intensions of competing n just to be a part of it.. I was the last person to sign up, and that too while those organising guys were almost about to wind it up... bhai, you get all the colors and the matka for free.. + the paintbrushes as well.. + another 16 fully painted matkas for inspiration! ;) wot more could I have asked for?! though at the end of it all, my matka looked more like that of a pongal pot!! :D wot the heck! it was fun nonetheless.. :)


At the event, I thought they might be serving some afrikaan adivasi food for dinner! thankfully we were saved!! :D Nothing other than the stage design confirmed to the theme. totally loved the programmes conducted by the IEC folks.. which i thought was brilliant.. you can find a fundu write-up about the event here and the snaps here.

We reached there on-time, and found ourselves a seat in the 2nd row.. happy that we wouldn't have to struggle to watch the show over the shoulders and in between the heads of the biggies. A couple of my friends were performing and I for sure didn't want to miss out on the action + it was great fun cheering them n howling n screaming as though we were still in college!! For a change, didn't take the camera along.. I knew the event will anyways be recorded.. but hey, tell you what, it isn't a great idea to find yourself a seat in the 1st rows when you don't have a cam with u..
Before the event started, a zone-mate (who was also participating and had to go backstage) gave me the responsibility of recording a handful of programmes on his handycam!! little did I know that each of these programmes is gonna last for a minimum of 10+ mins!!

But hey, a task is a task, so I thought of doing it diligently.. atleast for the 1st one!! so, I started recording n spotted him in the group dance event, n started zooming in and following the guy.. obviously it's his cam.. he wud've surely wanted his acts on-stage to be covered well, ryt? donno whether the LCD was deceiving me or was it b'coz I went past the bustling beer bar sometime back.. newys, after a couple of minutes did I realise that the guy whom I've been hunting down with the cam wasn't actually the owner of the cam!!! lo! Ok, to do some damage repair, I started doing the same zoom thingy on the lead lady of the next dance item.. n the lead man of the next one as well!! In short, I kinda managed to ruin the dance videos royally for him.. :D

Lesson of the day: take your cam along when you go for events like this.. it's another matter whether you want to record it or not.. but at the least you wouldn't find yourself at the receiving end of such mishaps!!

and also for people who trust their cams with people like me, n expect them to do a decent job at it!! you never know, other than ruining the recording, it could be an immense pain to watch the video, even for once before deleting it!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

rediscovering friends

'show me your friend and I'll tell you who you are'.. that's what they say about friends.. I say, 200% true!

when I look back, at every phase of my life, I've been friends with people who reflected the kind of person I was then.. the schooltime phase when I was an outspoken and totally outright brat, through those times when I've been most miserable, when I've been totally prejudiced, confused, while I was going through the toughest of times, and those times when I made up my mind to fight back and to get back to my true elements.. I've found that the people I made friends with then, were almost always going through a similar phase of life or state of mind..

That doesn't go to prove that I have an ever-changing friends list always.. yes, it is a list which keeps getting updated.. umm.. well almost yearly ( yeah, quite an objectve critic I am!) nothing reflects it more than the wishes I receive on my birthdays.. just celebrated another b'day last month.. a bunch of friends lost in the oblivion, and I find myself surrounded by a new set of friends..

Though there's always the usual crowd of friends who've been there since more than a decade now.. whom I can count on, even on my 60th birthday.. that's the most special of the lot.. they are the ones, I don't have much in common with.. we don't compete, we're not critical of each other.. we just believe in being there for each other and that equation keeps getting better all the way.. (DT, you're the one who comes to my mind first when I say that! as much as you hate me for saying this.. Thankyous... and a biiig hug to you!)

What happens is.. we keep growing.. sometimes we grow together.. sometimes we grow apart.. I have this friend, a real darling, who has stood by me during the toughest of times.. but surprisingly, when i started growing on a totally different sphere, we could not deal with it.. our views and attitudes varied.. and sometimes, when people can't agree to the differences they have between them (worse still when the differences keep growing over a period of time), prejudices creep in.. n then bitterness.. I'm so sorry, I lost my friend last year..

And then there are old time friends.. whom we never meet in a long long time.. n bingo! one day after decades, u meet up n realise that though u were not in touch all this while, u've grown up to be quite similar.. you can soo relate to them.. n strike a chord as though you've been best friends for years together..

yeah, I was lucky to catch up with my best friend of 1st standard at school!! can u believe that?! it was just soo much fun that we were laughing for most of the time! and when we weren't laughing, we were too busy with our 'exactly!'s and 'me too!'s and 'same here!'s and 'very true's.. It's like talking to a stranger, and still feeling as though you've always been the bestest of friends.. just wanted to let you know DR, that it was great to rediscover the friend in you.. I was all smiles, even after we hung up the phone.. :) n was going around happily telling my folks about it!

The irony as it just occured to me is that, going by the initials of names, the friend I lost last year, and the long lost friend I found now are both 'DR'. Theory of Replacement, eh? darn... I hate myself for trying to find logic in everything!! old habits die hard... or worse still.. they dont die at all!! :P

Friday, August 3, 2007

the mirage between terrorism and heroism

The latest round of convictions of the 1993 Bombay blasts accused, came as a welcome news.. It felt good to read the headline in a newspaper.. "13 BLASTS, 14 YEARS, A 100 CONVICTIONS". Ok, considering the fact that many of the masterminds behind the blasts are still on the run, and away from the reach of the law as long as they are good at their game...

Still, to execute their plans they need lay people, who can be brainwashed, trained and motivated to actually make it happen.. convicting those people, however far they were from the master planners makes sense as acts as a deterrent by sending across a warning signal for the people who think that they can get away with it, and also a positive message about the jurisdiction of the country.

When 7/11 occured, there were many of my friends who were angry with the country's leaders (most of the politicians are specimens in their own ways.. but let's save it for another day!) that they were not taking any serious measures against curbing terrorism.. there were many who raised anti-muslim slogans, and there were others who indirectly pointed their fingers at the issue that incidentally, most of the terrorists happen to belong to a certain minority community.. but taking up swords against a community is not going to get it solved, for sure!!

It's we the people, who keep complaining about how the rulers and the bureaucrats aren't taking the investigations and preventive measures seriously.. n ironically, it's the same us who end up glorifying terror suspects and convicts..

A few incidents which found the national news media spending considerable air-time on them of late, were :

I. the Monica Bedi story:
I was surprised when I switched on the tv, to find this lady conducting a press conference at her village, very confidently. She was being given a grand welcome as could be seen from the flowers showered on her... n I was like ???!! now what's this all about? there's this woman,
i. who's been the companion of a convicted gangster..
ii. who was being persecuted for passport forgery cases, and just managed to get a bail..
So what does that make her? a celebrity??! now that's interesting..

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II. the Haneef Mohammed story:
Ok, there's this guy who was retained for interrogation in a foreign country, with regard to his suspected involvement in an international terrorism act. Foreign Affairs ministers do intervene in such cases to make sure that their national is'nt treated unfairly.. that's ok too.. n so, the guy in question comes back home finally with no charges against him due to lack of substantial evidence (which actually does not imply that he is proved innocent).
Ok, good for him.. what I dont seem to understand is, how does he stand to become a Hero??!! Apparently a standoff as a terror suspect in a foreign country earns him a Hero status + assurance by the chief minister of the state for a government job!! Well I never knew there was an alternate qualification which could find one a respectable job like that!

Infact I was expecting them to initiate an investigation here to learn further about his association with his cousins (who are accused of the attempted terror attack) and the other facets of the case which did come to light in the beginning like his father-in-law managing the parking facilities in the Bangalore international airport.. mind you, those are people in key areas in a terror attack point of view!

Instead of that, we are here hailing him as a Hero!

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III. the Sunjay Dutt story:
Ok, so he's our most lovable Munnabhai.. we luv d local bhai turned gandhian onscreen.. we forgive him of his bhaigiri as he smiles his way to gandhigiri.. well n fine..
But take a break, and think of what's been happening for real.. he may not have planted a bomb or conspired on any terrorism.. but hey, he bought a weapon from the terrorists.. he must've paid them money, which must have directly gone to help the terrorists fund the execution of their plans.. Isn't that reason enough for someone to be punished? Instead we scream it's unfair.. how could one convict Sunju baba!?

A mistake one did unknowingly in his youth? c'mon.. a man of 35 years cannot be so much of a blissfully ignorant, innocent youth! (you wondering how me calculated his age? incidentally, we share the same b'day(!!)... only mine's 2 decades later.. which makes it easier for me to calculate it!)

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We cry fowl against investigations and convictions, n we still have it in us to blame the government, the bureaucrats, the police and the judicial system for not curbing terrorism! wah re duniya, teri reet nirali!

Friday, July 27, 2007

back from a beautiful vacation

Had a vacation this time which was well planned out much ahead in time.. which hasn't been the case with my usual vacations till now.. but do what I may, my plans had to be changed, thanks to the Rain Gods.. did get a couple of sunny days in between which was made use of 200%

Went over to Thriparapu on our way back from Nagercoil. I had been to this place 14 years back, on a trip from School. Could see that a lot has changed since then.. they've done some landscaping efforts to give it that well maintained picnic spot status, but seem to have spoiled the magic of the place.. was much disappointed with it, though not with the drive to the place. We took the NH47 which is unbelievably gorgeous around Thakkalai. Do find some of the snaps in the ppt stream below. More of them at: http://picasaweb.google.com/3ggerhappy/Thriparapu



Got a chance to visit the Kovalam beach after a good 6 years now, though my home's just 10km away from the place. It was a fulfilling trip. caught up with it during a small break b/w the rains... the beach was gorgeous as always nonetheless.. Did get to check out the old ITDC Ashoka Hotel which has been taken over by the Leela group now. They've done an absolutely great job with it. The only disappointment was the sorry state of the Halcyon Palace, thanks to it's new status of 'disputed property'. That's as many snaps as authorstream let me upload. More of them can be found at http://picasaweb.google.com/3ggerhappy/TheMonsoonBeach



Had been to the Vettucaud Church and Veli as well.. thanks to the new departure timings of the train and lucky for the fact that we did not know that beforehand.. got a good couple of extra hours which made us forget for sometime, the fact that we were to travel the same day!
More at: http://picasaweb.google.com/3ggerhappy/AnotherLuckyTripToABeach

Friday, July 6, 2007

a blessed trip to Srikalahasti

Have you ever been in situations when you just go ahead and do something just because you were told to do it.. no questions asked.. not having any idea why you are doing that, or for what!?

It's even weird when you do it because some astrologer asked u to.. (yeah I can almost see that smirk on the faces of my satyachristiani or atheist friends..) ok, the fact of the matter is that:
1. I do believe that astrology is a science.. but then I'm not too enlightened about dat science, so I end up believing the astrologers blindly and go ahead to do wotever is being suggested.. dat includes endless pujas and trips to temples which I have never heard of.. now, the second part is like a blessing in disguise to me.. I love visting temples.. n more so when it's temples I've never been to. (mebbe that's why I subconsciously agreed to do this with absolutely no rebelling!)
2. Experience has taught me that it isn't too easy to convince my Mom when she's made up her mind about pujas and pariharakriyas. If I plan to rebel, I need to be brave enough to fight all those emotional blackmails n I seriously am not too keen about making life difficult for myself..

This trip to Srikalahasti was something like dat.. I was adviced to do a rahu-ketu puja to ward off the ill-effects.. ok dude, so lets go do that as well! :)

The trip was wonderful (family trips always are, in a beautiful way.. more so when it is a pilgrimage) and so was this temple which actually surprised me as I've never heard of it earlier. I have to admit, Google Uncle was of more help than my AP acquaintances here! Though comparatively speaking, info was abundantly available about this old temple town's more famous neighbour, Tirupati. And that lack of info is what prompted me to make this post which I hope would be of some help to people planning to visit this historic temple known as the Kailasa of the South (dakshinakailasa).

where is it?
On the banks of river Swarnamukhi in Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh, India
about 30kms North of Tirupati, through Renigunta. (around an hour's drive by road)

how to reach there?
Nearest Airport: Tirupati
Nearest Railway Station: Kalahasti [KHT]. All trains from Vijayawada to Tirupati halt at Kalahasti.
Nearest Bus Stand: Kalahasti
The best option from Banglore is to go via-Tirupati: it takes around 5 hrs by bus to reach Tirupati(KSTRC/APSRTC do have their express/volvo options- though the Volvo bus service is not as frequent as the Express bus service), from where you can board an APSTRC bus shuttle (every half an hour) to reach Kalahasti in an hour's time.

options to stay?
The temple town is around 2-3 kms from the Rly statin and around 1-2 km from the Bus Stand.
there are some decent hotels around. One run by Saravanabhavan, which I found pretty good.

food?
The best option from what I could see is the Saravanabhavan Restaurant. Their gigantic paper dosas were a delight as always. n the pulao they serve there is the bestest!

locker facilities?
As I could see, most of the pilgrims were accomodating this temple visit in their pilgrimage itinerary because of it's close proximity to Tirupati. I felt most of them must b putting up in Tirupati and hiring a cab/bus to visit Srikalahasti. I could see a lot of (private) places providing locker facilities in the temple vicinity. There is said to be a temple run cloak room facility available, though I could not find it.
Cameras are not allowed inside.

what can I look forward to, in the temple?
Once inside the premises, I felt it is more of a puja mode with chants filling the air as compared to most of the other famous shrines where most of the devotees come in for darshans. Over here, most of the people seemed to have come to do some specific puja or the other. (it could have something to do with the fact that it was a saturday and also during the rahukalam) the puja ticket queues are pretty long and one finds every other family searching for the ticket counters.. in addition to the confusion caused by the options for the varied range of pujas conducted in the temple. (they have seperate counters for specific pujas, one needs time to figure out things there, so it's advisable to reach there much before your planned time for the puja) The longest of these was the queue for their trademark Rahu Ketu Sarpadosha Nivarana Puja

One needs to take tickets for the darshan too.. but then they have different rows for pradakshina and darshan depending on the cost of the ticket you have taken.. the costlier ones fetch you 5 star treatment and let you take the row nearer to the sanctum sanctorum while the others have to struggle their way through the row next to it. (yeah, money talks everywhere, baby!)

Keep lots of loose change with you.. (Read in multiples of Rs.10.. which I felt was the standard range in here)
Tipping/dakshina is inevitable in this place. Papa claims to have spotted notice boards in there, asking the devotees to abstain from giving it. But it's something which is being followed very religiously in here. It is a beautiful stone temple, and a pretty big one.. though not too big that you could get lost in there. There are many dieties placed around the pradakshina path, again with lone tantris/ priests doing arti. some of them had boards nearby displaying the dakshina rate from Rs.10 to 100. (Somehow it reminded me of the trips to some amusement parks, which charge you an entry fee and then once inside, you have to shell out more for taking the rides of your choice.. talk about commercialization.. it's like 'on your face', everywhere!) And at one place, a bunch of cleaners approached us demanding 'something' as they are the ones who clean the place. mind you, not just asking, but following you for 5 to 10 steps bugging you till you give them the money! (me thinks the Temple authorities should pay them over-time or something for working on Saturdays?)

main diety: Srikalahasteeswara (Lord Siva)
Other dieties in the temple:
'Sri Pathala Vinayaka', 'Sri Balambika', 'Sri Kalimatha' outside the shrine and 'Lord Saneeswara', 'Bezawada Kanakadurga', 'Lord Venkateswara', 'Lord Subrahmanya', 'Sri Kasi Visweswara', 'Sri Ramalingeswara' & 'Sri Dakshinamurthy'.

The story behind the name of the temple:
SriKalahasti got its name because in days of yore a spider (sri), serpent (kala) and elephant (hasti) elephant worshipped Shiva with great devotion. A spider lived in the inner sanctum and worshipped the Lord by weaving elaborate temples and images of Shiva. One day a breeze came up and caused the altar fire to destroy the spider’s offerings. It became angry and was about to gulp down the flame, (realize the Self) endangering its (ego’s) life. Appreciative of its devotion, Shiva appeared and granted the spider a boon. The spider requested moksha, release from the cycle of births and deaths. Accordingly it became one with Shiva, the Self.

A cobra worshipped Lord Shiva by offering rare gems, pearls and rubies that it brought from Nagaland, a mythical place where Nagas (serpents) dwell. Serpents are one of India’s most visible symbols of the spiritual power of the Self. The spiritual power of the Self, called Kundalini, the latent electricity of Consciousness, is hidden in the dark recesses of the unconscious like a snake hidden deep within the earth. After the snake had worshipped, an elephant, fresh from its purifying bath in the nearby river, came to worship. In preparation it sprayed the altar with water from its trunk, scattering the gems. It then proceeded to decorate the altar with leaves from a holy tree. When the cobra returned it was angered to see its offerings disrespected and replaced by mere leaves. So it replaced the leaves with gems. This charade repeated itself every day until the cobra became fed up and decided to punish whomever was destroying its offerings. When the elephant returned to worship with its leaves the cobra slithered up its trunk and injected its venom. In agony the elephant dashed its head on the stone altar in an attempt to kill the snake. The snake fell out of the trunk and died from its wounds and the elephant succumbed to the poison. Understanding that both had sacrificed their lives for the sake of their love of the Lord, Shiva resurrected them, gave them liberation and took them into his own body. At the foot of the linga one can see a spider, two elephant tusks and a five-headed (the five elements) serpent to remind the devotee of these acts of supreme devotion. [ quoted from here]

More about the Rahu Ketu Sarpadosha Nivarana Puja- which is basically done to appease the grahas to pacify malefic effects of the planet & neutralize its negative effects.

fee: the options are>
#1: the ticket for Rs.600> they do a mass puja in a hall (outside the temple)within the temple premises.
#2: the ticket for Rs.1500> this is apparently the same puja, but done inside the temple, near the sanctum sanctorum. This is also a mass puja, but the headcount will be comparatively less. Upto 4 family members can accompany the person to the pujawith this ticket.
Note: * Most of the online info refers to the ticket charge as 500/1000. I'm not sure whether they have ramped up weekend rates as in the multiplexes(i told you, it's the commercialization story, again!) or if it is a plain hike in the puja charges.
* There is said to be another option which costs Rs.250, for the same puja. But I could not find much info about it.

The fee(I'm talking abt the Rs.1500 option, here) is inclusive of the puja samagri (which consists of 2 metal representations of Rahu and Ketu, along with the prasadam of Laddu and Vada. make sure you ask the people for guidance/clarifications, as in addition to what you are given at the counter, you need to go around and get the flowers n leaves from others counters (at a nominal extra charge- which is very much required during the puja). make sure you carry your ticket around.. (very, very important.. u'll need it everywhere till the exit.)

from whatever little i know about the Puja, it is said to give better results if you do it during the Rahukalam.. and some astrologers even suggest the day on which you should be doing it. apparently Saturday is the most prefered day for it..

The puja is not a fire ceremony(homa/havan). It's mostly about praying to the two (snake like) metal representations of Rahu and Ketu and doing offerings with kumkum(vermilion) and haldi(turmeric) powders and flowers while repeating the mantras which the Priest recites.(now poor me had no idea whether i was speaking telugu or sanskrit or wotever.. but i was trying my level best to repeat something like what i interpreted he was saying.. n I found myself praying to God to forgive me if um actually saying something stupid!)

You'll be asked to tell the priest your name and gotra (now I thought he must be refering to the janmanakshatra.. but SR enlightened me later that gotra is something different, and has to do something with your caste and it is mostly named after the Rishis of the Vedas - now um not too sure whether this gotra thing is something specific to Andhra Pradesh? :/ )

The process takes not more than 20 - 30 minutes.

Dakshina (This tradition is one of acknowledgment, respect, and thanks):
Dont be surprised when the priest murmurs something in your ears like a mantra, after the puja.. and you hear something like 200 rs.! yeah, he's refering to the dakshina! you are required to keep 2 crisp 100rs notes on the betel leaf and hand it over to him. I told you, its inevitable! c'mon, someone who spends 1500 per head for a puja shouldnt be bothered abt shelling out aother 200 bucks, eh?(I've been wondering how I did that without any afterthought when I've always been ready to fight such bribing in RTO offices and the like! Even when we were out of the temple, we literally got swamped with people trying to make some quick bucks by just holding an image of Tirupati Balaji or Shivji and a plate in front.. hatte katte people who can very well do some job to support themselves.. I even found one carrying a tired ill-fed snake in a dabba.)

I've been told that after the puja, one should take bath and discard the clothes / ornaments that were worn at the time of the puja (which is symoblic of washing away all the ill-effects). But I could not find it from my online researches.. and I did notice that most of the devotees there, were wearing diamond/ navaratna rings and Rado watches and brand new Lee jeans and i seriously doubt whether they were planning to discard them!? ;)

Another free advice which I was given is that it's better if one doesnt go to any other temples on the way to /back from the temple. I'm not too sure if it is just a myth, 'coz as I said earlier I could see many people coming here after their Tirupati Balaji darshan.

about the Temple town: Beautiful place. helpful people. not too many hawkers around. The people who helped us with our stay were very thoughtful and made our stay and the temple visit very pleasantly memorable. Guess it has got to do with the saying that when you get that bulaava to visit places of worship like this, the Gods make sure that you steer clear of all the hindrances for the darshan.

I'd say that this chance to visit the Dakshinakailasa has been a blessing and would recommend it to everyone to visit the place atleast once in your lifetime.

Friday, June 29, 2007

hello kid!

just got to watch Disney's 'The Kid' yesterday.
Was in no mood to put up with a movie late in the night after a looooong day of hard work, n a double-cross by a seemingly-oh-so-innocent teammie.. had to remind myself of my age-old-tried'n tested-theory to be double careful about seemingly unharmful and ultra-nice human beings.. chances are more that they are extremely talented in camouflaging their real selves.. u put down ur defences, and just then they hit you right where it hurts the most! darn, i hate myself for forgetting it...

Random thought for the day: something which my dear friend Lalit remarked offhandedly once, while we were walking through some place hopelessly infested by bats, that 'ek hi jaanwar se saavdhan rehna chahiye, woh- jo do pairon pe chalta he ' - there's only one animal we need to be wary of, n that's the one which walks on 2 legs.

gud thing's that um happy that i dint take it to my heart! i wud've sulked for atleast one whole day, had this been the me a couple of yrs bak! we do change drastically over the years, dont we?

back to topic: 'The Kid' was more of a (pleasantly)gripping movie, the one that did not let me reach for the remote control in b/w.. the plot was light n thought provoking in a funny way.. though 'the end' came up pretty unexpectedly n i felt like they failed in communicating to the viewers something which they intended to say? well the plot in itself was so involving.. 'an established image consultant of 40 years (Bruce Willis) who comes face to face with a kid which is actually himself when he was an 8 yr old. Apparently, the kid travels 32 years into the future to meet him and sometime in b/w, even the adult travels 32 yrs back in time with the kid to his(their) past.. the movie was lovely in totality..

the tagline: Nobody ever grows up quite like they imagined.

Some of the quotes i luvd:

Rusty Duritz (The Kid): How old are you?
Russ Duritz(Bruce Willis): Forty. In a couple days.
Rusty Duritz: That is old! I'm turning eight. In a couple days.
Russ Duritz: Eight. You're eight. I'm eight.
Rusty Duritz: This is scary.
Russ Duritz: No. This is hilarious.

Rusty Duritz: When do I learn how to drive?
Russ Duritz: When you're sixteen.
Rusty Duritz: When do I get a car?
Russ Duritz: When you're eighteen.
Rusty Duritz: When do I get a hickey?
Russ Duritz: [smile] When you're seventeen.
Rusty Duritz: When do I find out what a hickey is?
Russ Duritz: Not tonight.

Rusty Duritz(The kid, after learning how his life's gonna be in the next 32 years) : So, I'm forty, I'm not married, I don't fly jets, and I don't have a dog? I grow up to be a loser!
i luvd this one!

but i luvd this movie more for the fact dat it made me think a different thought.. there I was, wondering in d middle of the night, how it wud be if i got to meet the me of my childhood days.. weird? well.. mebbe not?

i realised that:
now i dont even remember what I actually wanted to be? how did i expect my life to be as an adult? did i not have any dreams at all? or have i just forgotten all of them?
i can go on n on about my photographic mem of many things which happened during those times.. but strangely enough i dont remember any of my dreams then..

n then the stark reality hits me when i wonder.. well, wots my dream for myself in the years to come? i go blank! dont i have dreams? in retrospect, i just have some immediate goals.. say something like 5 yr plans.. i seriously donno how its going to be 5 yrs frm now.. u know, the big picture?

what wud I have done, if i were to meet the me when i was 2+ yrs old? (now i know the 2+ yr old me much better thanks to the audio recordings Pops had done then.. i've been a hopeless chatterbox even then -yeah, some things never change! occasionally hitting the tape recorder -which i used 2 call 'radio' then.. wondering why it isn't talking bak 2 me!! -n pestering Papa for an explanation for that too! poor Pops!)
i wud've told her: learning "ABCD" wont fetch u a job, dude! u've got a long long way 2 go! (trust me, i was actually talking abt dat in dat audio tape! i think moms cudnt have thought of a better idea to get me to learn ABCD? wonder wot tactic wil i apply to get my wud-be kids to learn ABCD? mebbe d same? who knows!)

if i were to meet the 5yr old me, i'd've told her never to stop dancing or singing.. li'l did i ever know that a handful of those snaps is all that I'll have to cherish for a whole lifetime.. I dont remember dancing even once in public since then.. until last year's Dandiya celebs at office, when we learnt it from some extremely patient gujju colleagues n danced from the beginning till the end of it all -well well.. that has something partly to do with the fact that a handful of us who called ourselves the 'enthu team' were actually organising it, n we had to count those rented dandiya sticks n other stuff to return them safely! hehe

if i were to meet the 7 year old me, who got a silver medal (actually it was made of steel.. silver just stood for the 'second prize')for drawing, n decided that such competitions weren't fun or even fair, to participate in it again..
I wud've told her never to bother about appreciation / criticizing, n just go on with what you luv to do. I'd've told her that it kinda pains somewhere deep within, now when i hold dat medal with that green bow, pinned to that certificate..

if i were to meet the me in 7th grade, i wud've told her not to be hyper-reactive about the outrageous rules at school.. there were even weirdo stuff happening in the world outside.. that being a rebel is no solution! n those friends with whom she laughs n plays n fights and patches up with are the most beautiful, clear and loveliest of all the ppl she's going to come across in life.

if i were to meet the me in 10th grade, I would have told her to take it easy, n not bother too much about the grades.. rmmbr the way our teachers n d ppl around us used to freak us out telling that our lives depended on the 10th grade results?
i wud've told her that all it helps with, is to get admission to a good college for +2.. so just dont bother much n njoy ur studies.. luv ur books, n dont let that exam perspective bog you down.

if i were to meet the me in 12th grade, I would've told her to study a bit harder.. coz as I've realised dat it's wot mattered the most then.. much more than the results at 10th grade (as was widely believed then!)

if i were to meet the me in my 3rd semester at college.. when i got the biggest shock of facing a failure, I would've told her 'hey, cheer up dude.. know wot u r going to get past this and many such setbacks in the years to come, but at the end of it all, u'll b proud of how those things shaped u up!

if i were to meet me on my farewell day at college (yeah, campus selections n stuff were extremely low during 2000.. remember the bubble burst then..) i'd've told me: never mind.. u just dont know wot's in store for u sweetheart! u'll b just fine.. mebbe a li'l better than that?!

if i were to meet the me in 2003, when i was going through one of the toughest patches of my life.. I'd've told myself to hang on.. for an year... to be strong till the storm passes..

n wot if were to come face to face to the me of today? wot wud I tell me? mebbe to have a beautiful dream... for tomorrow..
n that its never too late to dance my way, to do all dat i luvd doing and missed doing over the years..

what would you like to tell the 'you of your childhood' now?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

of lines & curves, and lefts & rights

You Are 45% Left Brained, 55% Right Brained

The left side of your brain controls verbal ability, attention to detail, and reasoning.
Left brained people are good at communication and persuading others.
If you're left brained, you are likely good at math and logic.
Your left brain prefers dogs, reading, and quiet.

The right side of your brain is all about creativity and flexibility.
Daring and intuitive, right brained people see the world in their unique way.
If you're right brained, you likely have a talent for creative writing and art.
Your right brain prefers day dreaming, philosophy, and sports.


donno wot's happpening to me.. wonder since when did I start taking a liking for straight lines? :/

I always used to scribble something or the other in my notebooks while attending lectures during school n college.. (no!! um not talking about lecture notes, silly! )
I draw weird interlinking patterns.. the only striking thing about these patterns is that there wont be any straight lines.. it's always curves.. all the way! mebbe some cirlces here and there to make up for the voids in b/w..

n now at work, whenever I find myself being a passive listener during some con-calls (the ones for which I dial-in from my desk), I immediately get on with my business of scribbling stuff on to my notepad.. now weirdly enough, of late I find myself making patterns using straight lines. they dont interlink. there's a starting point and an ending point for every line. no intersections. n there's an affinity towards parallel lines. horizontal, vertical, slants at 30/45/60 degrees.. um clueless as to wots happening with my right brain??!
mebbe it's getting heavily influenced by it's left counterpart?! mebbe it's growing crazy? mebbe it is 'evolving'? :o
mebbe I should just let it be, grab a mug of lemon tea, and get back to work!

ps: hey, I just took up one silly online test to see wot's going on.. it tells me I'm a 55% right brainer. but me was a 70% right brainer, sometime back!!

mebbe I should be happy about the 15% performance improvement of my left brain!?

aargh!! me thinks me's totally losing it?! :X
yikes! I seriously need that mug of lemon tea! bye for now!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

the week that was

yay! back aftr the weekend..
outstanding achievement: checked out a new store, which was just a few blocks away from where i stayed for an year, before moving out to this new apt.. n realised that it's a totally fundoo store.. (read: most of the stuff in there was in tune with my taste..) picked up some, n got poorer by a few thousand bucks.. but i swear it was worth it!! :)
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i've got a thumping headache.. feels like i've got a football rolling inside my head..
cause: post-cold-congestion-related-stuffiness-induced-headache (phew!)
t'was even worse last evening.. :(

oh btw, sunday started with a bang.. literally!!
got woken up at 6 in d morning to screeching sounds in the vacant plot(now rendered vacant, as the old naalukettu which stood there was demolished last week) right next to our apt. apparently they were trying 2 dig a borewell..
Hems n me, were both sleeping like logs.. tried to sleep tolerating all those sound effects for about an hour.. not any more..
somehow made my way out of bed.. got done with d laundry, which was waiting in the washing machine, n headed out.... the intension was to run away from home till the sound n dust riots get done with.
post lunch, we came back, relieved to know that the borer+generator were done with their business and left the place for gud.. but our kitchen, which is nearest to the plot, was a wreck.. it had a layer of fine dust all over it! after all the precautions we took to make sure the windows n ventilators are all well sealed! :(
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another weirdo event which happened last friday..
an acquaintance (a classmate of mine during pre-degree.. say 12 yrs bak.. whom i was not even in talking terms with then.. but eventually found myself adding him to my orkut frndslist, as we were members of the same community of our batch in orkut. i thought it would be rude to do otherwise!) scraps me : hey usha, when are you inviting me for your wedding?
me never really understood why plain acquaintances seem more worried about my single status, than anyone else!
moreover, me's been having the worst temperament ever, thnx to the cold monster..

me: thnx for the concern.. but why dont you bother about yours 1st?
he: hey, why are you getting soo tensed.. i just asked u!
(now this is an over used line in mallu land.. the word-by-word english translation of 'enthinaa choodaavunne?' modus operandi: to irritate someone.. n once it is ascertained from the response that the mission is succesful, go ahead n irritate the person further by asking 'why are you irritated?'!! )
me : ahem.. why d'u think i should get 'tensed' for what you ask?
i was trying to tell you that the question was 'unwelcome'. it was my way of telling you to 'mind your own business'.. hope you get it right this time..
he: (fuming.. i could almost see the hot blow of air rushing out through his ears n nostrils..) hey, you dont advise me, ok? i also wont advise you...
n as though he wasnt satisfied with what he just wrote: now i got ur range (i wonder wot dat was!) dont reply to me again.. n no more messages!!
:))
i had to fight this urge to irritate him further by asking: 'hey, now why are you getting so tensed, i just asked!' :D
but thought it'll do me better to steer clear of such buggers..

it came with a couple of lessons though..
1. me decided not to accept frnds request from ppl who were just my batchmates/classmates (ppl with whom i've never ever had a real-time conversation) more than a decade back or so.. n i have no idea abt what they are upto or who they are!
it's always gud to get to know old batchmates n some make real gud frnds later on.. but hey, if i am not all too pally with them, then why have them around in my list!
planning to do a clean-up soon!
2. avoid answering questions on marital status to plain acquaintances. some queries do sound like their life depends on my marriage! dats when me gets bugged up n give them a piece of my mind.. hmm.. now i gues it's better to just keep mum on that!
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best thing that happened this week is that Mummy Papa came over today, and will be around for a couple of weeks. :)
hey hey.. i have to rush home early today..
i have not had my lunch yet.. waiting to go home n have mummy's spl prawn curry!!!
ah, i just cant wait 2 reach home! buhbyes!

Friday, June 15, 2007

chukkuvellam

Have been nursing this nasty cold since a couple of days now.. had to take off from work for the rest of the day, yest.. this is the 2nd attack of the cold monster this year, since January..

Over the years, I've realised that it's only during these times that I put a semi-colon to the mad race and treat myself better. Still.. it's more of an abuse as I take the most heavy medications to sustain me through these trying days.. The worst of it being my addictive consumption of a certain brand of highly effective, but hopelessly sedative cough syrup (some enlightened frnds have advised me, that it's considered equivalent to a standard dose of liquor by seasoned drunkards!). Now I see why I'm known to walk around like a zombie when I catch a cold!

This time around, I've decided to stick to Mummy's gud old recipe of chukkuvellam with pepper n jaggery - its a concoction of chukku (dried ginger) + black pepper powder + jaggery. (though I did get my cough syrup from the Chemist across the road, just in case this doesn't work out as guaranteed - so much for contingency planning!)

I tried making some for myself last afternoon and have been having that for the rest of the day.. to my surprise it really did relieve me of my throat pain.. which I knew for sure was heading towards a hopeless infection.

Thanks to Mummy who got me a dabba of home-made chukkupodi when she came over to visit us the last time.. n helped me (provided tele-support) to make it as well..

Did you know that chukkuvellam helps counter indigestion, loss of apetite, asthma, colic and heart deseases, in addition to fighting cough and related throat pain?
see this to learn more about chukkuvellam and its relevance in the ayurvedic texts.

I for one, am totally floored by its positive effects..
Bye bye, Wockhardt's Brozedex.. Hello Chukkuvellam!

ps: feel free to let me know of any other 'gharelu nuske's to counter cold.. shalu, I'm planning to try that 'honey+lemon+lukewarm water' trick today.. :) thnx!

Monday, June 11, 2007

log kya kahenge?

That was the day when I got my 3rd semester results.. n realised that I've flunked royally.. So, what's the big deal? Afterall, it isnt worth an Engineering Degree, if you havent had a chance to go through those Arrears/Supplis.. but hey, I was someone least convinced.. it was my first "failure" to speak of.. and at that age, I really did not know how to handle failures..

What made it even painful, was the way in which some of my hostelmates tried to pacify me.. you know, we were all kids, and as much as we did not know how to handle failures, we didnt know how to really console someone either..

That was when Ancy walked up to me.. she was someone who knew me from my pdc days.. my first hostel roommate.. though we did not hit it off too well as roommies first.. after an year, we were roommates again.. n I can never tell you, how special a person she's been to me since then..

It was easy for me to open up with her.. It still amuses me that my biggest concern then was what will everyone around think of me? my teachers.. batchmates.. etc.. I've got those godforbidden supplis! My parents must be feeling very bad for having got a daughter like me (!)..
She wasnt one of those girls, who would just wipe away my tears n tell me not to cry..(had i been at her place, mebbe i would have done just that!) She just told me: "usha.. to hell with the people, and what they think.. they are not going to write the exam for u.. they are not even there to help you.. they are simply nowhere in the picture.. the only thing, i feel you should be concerned about is that the suppli exams are coming your way along with your current semester exams , and that you have hardly a month to prepare yourself for it, along with your lab exams n stuff.. so u see, hardly any time.. this isnt the time to worry about what people will think.. this is the time to get your act together, n be very serious about it!"

the first time in my life, I got to see my goals very clearly, sifting it from the unnecessary distractions.. it pays to have a laser vision of our goals during foggy times..

Ancy, I can never thank you enough for your words that day.. I wonder if you ever realised what a magic mantra you just gave me then..

After a decade now, whenever I go through times which makes me wonder about what will someone else think, I know exactly what I should do.. not that I dont try to understand their perspective, but it helps me stand by my decision/perspectives as well with conviction.

Reminds me of this line which I came across sometime back.. something in tune with: "We spend a lot of money, which is not ours, to buy things which we dont need, to impress people whom we dont like!"

Guess that's what happens when one gives a lot too much of weightage to log kya kahenge/sochenge?

I've always loved this song, for that simple reason..

Monday, June 4, 2007

inflammable memories?

how saddening it is, when one gets to know that somewhere far away, a part of one's memories is burnt to ashes...
wonder whether im over-reacting.. but im shattered to hear about the destructive fire in the Mohali Rehri market today.. it is said to be accidental though..





If you know Mohali, I'm talking about this small Rehri Market in 3B2, which is behind the Gurudwara opp. Katani/Sital in PhaseV.

When I moved out of the place 18 months back, I was soo adamant that I would not go around photographing some of my most favorite places in Chandigarh.. which was for the simple reason that I knew the memories would bring me back to this place.. to visit the peaceful Sukhna lake, go alone to the gorgeous Rock Garden sometime.. to shop till i drop at the 22sec and 17sec markets.. have my favorite aaloo tikkis from Katani.. go for a late lazy weekend lunch with Anubha.. or to Fun Republic with the happy trio (Anu, Anubha and Kiddie).. go to Sital to get my groceries.. visiting the thursday subji mandi at sec70. I'd miss Lalit there though.. he was the one who taught me the 1st lessons in vegetable shopping.. n saved me frm the scornful looks of the vendor.. he said : pyaas, 4 rupye kilo .. for which, I asked him.. 'bhaiya.. dhai sau gram dena..' much to the amusement of my accomplices, Lalit n Lalatendu.. who told me to shut my mouth then.. n gave me 4 onions from their veggie bag later..

This Rehri market is indelible in my memories.. the foggy winter evenings when I used to go there with Hind, Ashu, Monica and Kinni..I've had all d junk food from the shops in the front row.. had got a shirt from there .. n went with Rosy bhabi once, when she went around hunting for some bridal make-up bindis n stuff there.. It was like everything under the sun, one can get in a 5000 sq feet area.. shops having no walls , but asbestos sheets as dividers..totally awesome bridal attires/lehanga-cholis for rent (yeah, even i got to know for the 1st time that ppl do get their wedding dresses on rent), the apparel shops, which luk strikingly different during summers n winters.. baby suits, salwar suits, lingerie shops, bag(jholas) shop, tailor shop, a ladies fancy store (a pretty high end one too, mind you!),a daily provision/grocery store, upholstery shops.. n veggie market too at the farther end of it..

It's sad to think that now I can travel through the market only in my memory lanes.. but something tells me that when I go to Mohali next,(i donno how many years later..) i do expect to see another Rehri market rise up from the ashes..
At the least, my memories of the place are not inflammable..

Friday, May 25, 2007

some things never go out of fashion!

trends come n go... but some just fight it all and remain people's favorite through the ages.. more so when it's associated with culture, pride, comfort and seen as a status symbol.

wot am i talking about? im talking about 'dowry'...
yeah d same old boring topic.. remember having those silly debates n stuff during school days about this so called evil.. somehow, over the time i've realised that my perception about it has changed a lot...

why am i talking about it now? recently, i got to hear about an ex-colleague who was brought to book by his prospective bride. ok.. i got to hear about it a month later.. my news reception antenna has been under repair since sometime now! ;)

me walked around for the rest of the day with an "!" on my face.. this guy's been a very bright guy, for all that I know about him.. had a lot of goodwill from people around.. generally known to be a cool dude, currently working for the bestest s/w product dvlpmnt company of the world.. so, now he finds himself in a dowry case!! wot's even ironic is the fact that the dowry amount that has landed him in trouble must be equivalent to his annual earning, if not more!

me's confused!! as always, me totally cheers these women who dare to sabak sikhaofy these greedy grooms.. but somewhere I feel bad for this guy for such a fallout..
it's like, "a thief is convicted, not because he stole, but because he was caught stealing!" this is something which a lot of them do.. but when they are caught, they get ostracised by the society n made to pay for it..
this guy is no different from the majority of men.. but hey, he's been in the news now for all the wrong reasons.. so condemn him.. maro usko!! hehe..
but having said that, I'm sure I could never make myself say a kind word to him about this!

thought of sharing some of those dowry related snippets I've come across, lately..

********
#1>>

me to Mr.A : hey A, so how did ur sis's wedding go?
Mr.A : yeah it went fine.. n my mom has already started looking out for a match for me!
me : sahi he yaar.. so when do we get to attend your wedding?
Mr. A : pooch mat yaar.. i shouldnt be saying this, but meri behan tho mujhe duboke gayi he, literally.. it'll take me atleast a couple of years to get done with the loan I have taken.

Mrs. X to Mr.A : hey.. tell you what, get the dowry from your bride and pay off your loan!

bottomline: let the father of the bride take a loan n pay for his daughter's sis-in-law's dowry.. no no.. the story doesnt quite end there.. Mr.A's would-be-wife, would be having a brother, whose father-in-law will be paying for her wedding... it's like that pyramid of ecosystem we learnt loong bak at school, remember?! :D

********
#2>>

Mr. B is just back at office from his gaon after a bride-hunting session..
me to Mr.B : koi mili, kya?
Mr. B : no.. i didnt like anyone.. someone's just 25 but looks as though she's 35.. someone's got diplomas for anything and everything.. from cooking to gardening .. n even martial arts!! poor me was intimidated.. so did not make my pick this time!

later, Mr. C : know wot, B had told me that he did like a few girls..
(the rest of us thinking: obviously!! the hopelessly desperate guy that he is!)
Mr. C goes on : apparently, the dowry rates being offered wasnt anywhere near what he expected..
me to the rest of the gang: oh yeah? so what's the rate he expects? (poor me knows that back in Kerala, the cost of a groom is 1kg of gold, and a brand new car and a few lakhs of Rs.. mebbe pitching in to cover up a major % of the cost of that swanky apartment the guy's planning to buy in Bangalore too.. atleast dat's what most of my friends' family had to shell out..but hey, I have totally no idea about the rates in North India, right?)
Mrs. Y is quick to clarify my genuine doubt , asks Mr. C : how much do you think B would be earning per month?
Mr. C : say, atleast around 30k..
Mrs. Y : which part of the country is he from?
Mr. C: bihar..
Mrs. Y: caste?
Mr. C : rajput..
Mrs. Y : well, in that case he should be getting a min of 25lac to 50lac
me : !!! (thinking: would someone be dumb enough to pay that much for this dumbo?!)

well.. apparently, someone was.. he's happily married now, a couple of years later..

*************
#3>>

4 yrs back, the new to Bangalore me, went to meet one of my college friends who got married (love marriage ==> no dowry) sometime back n has a baby too.. but was badly looking out for a job then..
me to Mrs. Z : yaar, your baby's real small now.. mebbe you can wait for a li'l more time?
Mrs. Z : hey, I'd love to.. but know what, we need the money pretty badly..
me : ??! your husband does earn pretty well to support the family for sometime alone..
Mrs. Z : oh usha.. you dont know anything.. its not just about running the household you know.. his sister.. she'll get done with her MCA this year.. my mom-in-law has already started searching a groom for her.. we need to think about her dowry too..
me : oh! (thinking: i've read in newspapers, saw serials on tv about families struggling for their daughters dowries.. but never seen an upwardly mobile young couple worrying about it!)
Mrs. Z: my mom-in-law came across a good alliance for her daughter.. the guy's a doc, he works in Trivandrum, and they have a house off Pulimoodu jn.. near to building A.
me : ok.. got it.. it must be in dat bylane behind building XYZ?
Mrs. Z : yes, exactly.. the wedding's slated for the chingam of next year.. they've asked for xy lacs in cash + a swanky car..
me : hey.. get a maruti 800 for them n shut their mouth..
Mrs. Z : noo usha, people these days are too smart.. the guy's uncle says, all of them in their family are a li'l on the heftier side, so even if we get them a Maruti 800, they will have to sell it off to get a bigger car, it seems!
me : !! (thinking: one can hardly drive a scooter through that bylane!) so what you guys planning to do?
Mrs. Z: we're in the bargaining phase now.. our suggestion is that, in that case, we'll deduct a few lacs from the cash dowry n get a bigger car for them!
me : !! ok, gud luck, dear!

later me was gapshaping about this with my Papa..
Papa : oh they're all too hefty people, is it? such dimwit ppl Mrs. Z n her hubby are.. they should have offered to buy them a Lorry, that should surely suffice!! :P
:))

*******

See this for the Statewise statistics of dowry deaths in India
and this which tells us how gruesome, the state of affairs really is.

Did you know that the Dowry system is prevalent in Europe and China as well?

And for those of us who think that Section 498a is biased towards women, you might find this helpful to save yourself from being victimised by its misuse!