August 16, 2018



5:51 am: Those were the words in my head, as I ran in a state of panic, jumping over people, avoiding their hands and feet strewn around in their sleep state. 


Well, rewind to the day or even the hour before….. when life was peaceful and I had no idea of the horror that was about to unfold.


I was taking the early morning Shatabdhi to Chennai, the next day, an official visit. 

Whenever I know I will be away from home awhile, I usually tend to clean the house more vigorously. So I started my routine, as usual. 

I did one round of laundry, folded clothes, dusted the tables/chairs,  smoothened the bedspreads, sorted the utensils and took out the trash. 

I decided the outfits, travel gear and packing boxes. I downloaded some choice books from AMAZON KINDLE, and a couple of documentaries from NETFLIX. Since I travel often, I knew what items to throw in, and what to discard. I made short work of it. Like a boss.

I then watched the season finale of EL CHAPO, and felt sad for him (all the while mentally comparing him to the more charismatic PABLO ESCOBAR and the billions he was worth) and retired to bed.


My train was at 6am, so I called for the OLA at 5am. The driver promises he will be there in 10 minutes. I get dressed and do the last minute cleaning up / hanging of towels. It is like a compulsion - not too severe, but there nevertheless.

It is 5:10 and the OLA app says he is 5 minutes away. I mentally calculate the drive time and think to myself, I am sorted. 

It is 5:15, and the app still says he is 5 minutes away. I call the driver, and he refuses to pick. I keep trying thinking he is finding his way to me. But my gut says - something is amiss, and make alternative plans. 

I try to book another cab ride, but all cabs are 15-20 minutes away at which time my train would have left the station for sure before I even completed 1 km of my ride. It is 5:25am and the cab is still 5 minutes away. I am panicking and considering other options - like taking the car (or) cancelling the entire trip and taking a later flight/train.

I miraculously find an OLA auto and book it. He is at my apartment gate in 5 minutes and we leave at 5:30am. Google Maps says I will reach by 6:05am. I think to myself -  I am so screwed. 

I am freezing in the morning chill and covering my ears with my granny socks so I don't fall sick. I am anything if not prepared. 

I beseech the auto driver, to increase the pace, albeit take me safely to the station. He says ma’m I will ensure you reach by 5:50am - will that help? Its the best he can do - but I know its not enough for me and I need to put my running shoes on. 

My friend, calls and says - Take Platform 6, thats where the train is coming. I thank him profusely, wish him a great birthday and ask him to have fun. I continue to be nervous so he hangs around on the phone without much talking. 

Its 5:49am and I am at the entrance of the station, thinking a few more minutes and we will be in. Maybe I can make it. The driver then drops the bomb - Ma’m autos are not allowed through this gate, I have to go around. 

I stopped short of crying out loud. Gate 1 was the closest to the escalator that would have taken me up faster. Going around was going to cost me a few more minutes. AAAARGH

I am in my run mode. I take off as soon as he stops, at the place farthest from the escalator. 


5:52 am: I AM RUNNING AS FAST AS I CAN, I almost hiss back to that inner voice!!


5:54 am: My boobs are weighing me down, and I think about those sinful desserts I wolfed down during the weekend. 


5:55 am: My bags are weighing me down, and I think about my absent friend aka my baggage chauffeur, but who had given this time a miss since he was out celebrating his destination birthday in Jaipur. 

I spot the escalator, take few steps at a time, and am on the overhead bridge, running, turning my head vigorously trying to get my eyes on the platform.

Where the hell was it? My bags are cutting into my shoulders, my chest is heaving, I feel a pain in my ribs, a stitch in my tummy, I am sweating - another first. I am definitely dying today. 


I actually laughed, at the last train of thoughts before I realised I have still not found my platform.

5:57 am: Found it. I run down to see trains on either side with sleeper class written outside. Alarm bells ring in my head. The Shatabdhi does not have a sleeper class. It is a day train with reclining chair seats. Where the hell is this stupid train?

I immediately run up the stairs, and hear on the communication system that Shatabdhi train is ready to leave from Platform 7 shortly. 


While I am running towards Platform 7, I am thinking how his tombstone would read: Born - August 13th; Died - August 13th mysteriously. 

5:59 am: I have managed to get down the stairs, without breaking my leg. By now I have reached the first coach, but its not mine. Mine happens to be at the other extreme end, from where I am standing. With a minute left for the train to leave, I didn't care which coach I entered. 

As the train leaves the station, with me on it, I bulldoze through sliding doors, get my arms workout, cross almost 8 coaches with my 2 bags over either shoulder, get my steps for the day on my fitness app and finally reach my coach looking like a terror - My hair is damp and clinging to my face, neck and shoulder, I am sweating (yuck), my slippers seem to have something sticky (yucky) on them - must be all the trash cans I crossed had somehow left their imprint on me, my jeans have ridden up and are exposing my calves. My nose is runny, my mascara is runny, my liner is all over my face giving me the koala bear look. 

Doesn’t matter to me (a definite first for me). I give myself a hi-fi and a kick to that negative inner voice. 

Never had I felt more alive, and victorious :). Ouch - my ribs, ok ok maybe I still need to get that exercise. 

April 8, 2017


I had gotten back from an awesome but hectic vacation from Hong Kong, so much that I really wanted a vacation from my vacation (a post for another day).

On the penultimate day of my trip, the day that I had planned a visit to Disney Land, I remember massaging my lower back, and wincing in pain. I was mulling if I should rest at the hotel instead, but this was to be my first "Disneyland" visit and the lure of seeing my favorite characters was too much to ignore.

Well, I survived the day with my pain patches and left to India the next day. Along with me, came my unwelcome companion - PAIN - with every intention of staying on permanently.
I could not walk/sit/sleep/function without pain. Many of the things I had taken for granted, were suddenly out of reach:
  • I could not wear jeans or anything around my waist that could potentially rub against my lower back and increase inflammation
  • I could not bend as normal humans do (I had to bend my knees and pick up stuff off the ground, like little children do)
  • I could not lift anything heavy (I had friends and family picking me up from work, who would carry my backpack until I reached home)
  • I switched to wearing sneakers, and chucked all my heels to a corner 
  • I could not drive the car
  • I could not sleep on my side, or back or stomach without pain 
  • I got rid of my bad habit of sitting without a back rest (I used to sit on the edge of chairs, cots and always hunched on my laptop)

They say pain makes you stronger. It may be true, but before you reach that point, you have to deal with all the negativity it exposes you to.

I became severely depressed, when the time came to wean of the pain killers after the initial 2 weeks, and instead of making an exit, my pain came back with a fury.

I switched doctors, went to a spine surgeon who told me my spine was fine - and that I had suffered a lumbar sprain. He prescribed 6 pills to take daily for 90 days - that included pain killers, calcium supplements, vitamin d supplements and nerve re-generators.

For a control freak like me, it was the toughest time when I had to relinquish all control to drugs. Some of the pain killers I was taking were expected to have severe side effects (blurry vision, significant weight gain, muscle twitches, dryness in the mouth, restlessness) and I was experiencing them all. It was one of my low moments - I was terrified there was no cure and I would live with my debilitating pain and symptoms for life - and broke down. But the doctor assured me that all of these symptoms would disappear once the pain medication was stopped.

There were times, when self-pity kicked in. But I learned very soon (thankfully) that self-pity was useless, and does nothing to get you back on your feet. If left unattended, it can really mess with your head.

To the world, it was a simple case of back pain and they didn't understand the fuss and I didn't care to explain after a while. If anyone started to talk about my back (even out of care), I shut them all out or I made self-deprecating jokes about it.

For a long time, I allowed PAIN to own me, takeover control of me and dictate terms in my life. One day I had enough. I decided to take control back. I read up medical articles on the diagnosis and how others overcame it in time and made peace with my recovery period -  I believe that is when I truly started to heal.

Patience is a tough master. It is not just having the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.

Its been 3 months now - I am 90% recovered. I continue to take the vitamin supplements, but have stopped the pain killers. The side effects are receding, and I am on my way to losing the weight I had gained.

Pain and I play hide and seek these days. Many days I win, some days it wins. On the days of my victory, when I feel free, unshackled and not controlled by that beast, I make the most of my day. I furtively work on finding all the activities that could potentially bring it back to the fore - and add them to my "not to do" list. 

Till date, I don't know what caused the pain because I was an avid fitness person. Exercise is supposed to stretch your muscles, thereby strengthening you and also preventing unnecessary tears. I will never know. But I listen to my body a lot more these days. Now I know, what the doctor meant when he said - make your pain your best friend. It makes sense now, it never did when he told me during our first meeting.

It is not an easy road to recovery, but with friends and family by your side for emotional support, it gets easier to stay positive and hope for better times.

April 2, 2017

The Travel Bug

A picture - it all started with a picture. 

Back when I was a kid, I remember working on a school project during the summer vacation - where we were asked to build a scrapbook of the place we would like to go. 

I trotted of to my most favourite place in the world - the library. In the course of my quest for material, I stumbled upon this black hard bound book on travel, and I chanced upon the page that had the Le Louvre Museum, which in my mind was one of the best looking museum my 10 year old self had ever laid eyes on. (Those were the days when a computer wasn’t nearby or easily accessible / rampant as it is today)

I remember being fascinated with the image of the breathtakingly beautiful pyramidal structure that stood imposingly against a picturesque backdrop of the myriad blue skies and  deep still waters. I was entranced by the pictures of Louvre at night when it was all lit up like a glistening diamond. I chose Paris for my summer project and started hunting material from various libraries in the city, taking colour photocopies to cut out and paste into my scrapbook. I made extra copies of the pictures of Louvre, and would look at them every night after I came back from school. It was my addiction.

That was the moment I knew, I was going to see the world.  

Fast forward 12 years, when I went on my first solo trip and thereafter for a decade, managed to indulge in my love for travel to a new destination, at-least once a year by saving money and going away from the day to day grind without fail.

Every city/country I have travelled to, has shared her story with me. And those are the stories I have to write - it is time!!

April 16, 2012

Bloody Hell !!!

It started early October last year when I had to visit my dentist for the Root Canal treatment for all the Almond Rocca / Nutties I had so enthusiastically devoured.

Next rude shock – My wisdom teeth (all four) were impacted and to make matters worse, were growing horizontal in my tiny jaw, hurting the nearby teeth, inaccessible by the dentist tools easily since I had a small jaw, needing immediate surgery to arrest/address any tumor growth.

After lot of haggling (yes, I haggled with my dentists :)), the month of December was decided.

December 3 was my singing event in the Indiranagar club. So I cancelled that date (and eventually my program was also cancelled).

December 10 was our company event in Chennai so I asked for postponement to Dec 16th. Since Dec 16th fell on my now rescheduled singing event, I then requested my doctor to postpone it by a day.

I had been reading about all post –op complications and was all nerves and getting jittery. Come Dec 16th, en-route to the singing event, I met up with an accident while driving. I was spooked. Drove on and went and wrapped up the singing and cancelled my surgery with hocus pocus reasons.

And the week that followed at work was chaotic, and needed me on top of things. I gave justifications to myself that cancellation of my surgery was indeed a good decision.

Fast forward to April and I have shooting pains in the right side of my jaw. Since this happened around the time my grandma got admitted to ICU, the doc said it could be tension, stress, and improper eating.

Pati, rock-star that she is, gave everyone of us relatives / family members, the bird and came out of the ICU after a highly tense weekend, alive and kicking, and got moved to the regular ward. My happiness knew no bounds. I mean all her questions and need for answers I could tolerate but not her unconscious state. Now, I am ecstatic, but my pain remained.

Another visit to the dentist confirmed my worst fears. I needed the surgery and that too immediately since there were too many risks. And at my age now, I could heal well than when I hit the 40s and 50s.

Thursday, December 12
I had been going to work without any interruptions. I just wanted to keep busy and remove all negative thoughts.

But I lost it. I broke down on the phone to my friend and Darsh. I could only think of the worst – facial paralysis (since the tooth was very near to an important nerve), lifelong chronic pain, numbness and death (as per some reports I had read)
I am such a vain person. All I could think of was what if I stopped looking the way I now looked and was left paralyzed at my face.

Friday, December 13
I am calm today. I have decided to face whatever had to happen. I went to work for the first half of the day. On my way back, I went to see my grandma in the ward. She recognized me, called me by my name, took her blessings and left for my surgery.

Dr. Rajanikanth is my surgeon of the hour. I had my friends and colleagues ribbing me about this and I had a good laugh myself.

The victims were the tooth on right side, one on top and one on the bottom. I had decided to take the local anesthesia over the general anesthesia since there were apparently lesser complications. On hindsight, I should have gone general.

Phones are switched off. Mom and Mil come and wish me luck like I am going to die on the chair. I am suffering panic attacks. And the torture begins.

It is excruciating because I know what they are doing, hearing it all, experiencing the pressure the doc’s tools are putting on my teeth, and the mental image of this all makes me cringe, hold my hands tightly, move my restless feet, sweat (a new one for me) and have my eyes a little less than brim.

The top tooth is removed easily in one-piece and I relax, thinking 1 down, another one to go. The bottom tooth turns out to be a terror (I am giving profanity a miss here).

The doctor keeps thanking me for my cooperation, my patience and will power when in my head, I have twisted and broken his neck and am in half a mind to sink my remaining healthy teeth into his finger which he has placed in my mouth. Lucky him, I didn’t give into that tendency and the only reason for that was, he had vicious tools in his hand especially the flat bread knife sort of thing he kept forcing into my cheek to keep it open for his ease of accessing my tooth. That bloody thing tore my lips and cheek lining and I have this ugly red ulcer rash and my smile is now an exact half. It’s like a curve on my left and a straight line on my right. I could have given the Joker in Batman, good company with my new look.

His further mention of 25% complete, 35% complete while he breaks my tooth with his highly loud drill into many pieces is not reassuring. It’s bloody annoying because I just want it getting over and his numbers are increasing as fast as Bangalore is getting cooler.

He did a good job but his assistant, kept receiving phone calls and I could hear her, make new appointments on the call while multitasking providing proper suction and irrigation at my socket (yes, I did learn a few words along the way). I was ripping her head off more viciously than for the nicer doc.

And then it got over. Tears did stream down my eyes but they were from tiredness and the severe headache I had) having to keep my mouth forcibly open like an alligator, clamped on some rubber thing for an insane 3.5 hours. My head was ready to explode and I could feel severe pain in my jaw and along my entire right side.

The first thing that vain me did after getting off was to see my face in the mirror and tag a name accordingly. Well, it looked like I was having a little orange stuffed in the right side of my cheek. I could have looked a lot worse.

Saying so, I pacify myself, pocket the one tooth that came out in whole and put into my bag as proof of my warrior struggle :)

All the time the doctors are praising my will power and pain tolerance, I want them to tell me what food I can consume, because I am bloody starving and could have eaten a dinosaur. Ice-creams, soft food, juices and non spicy food is the menu - I am so screwed. I want to eat Pasta, Pizza and what not. Sigh... well it’s not be for a long while

On the way back home, D picks up potato buns and a croissant, rips open the cover and starts to wolf it down this throat. The smell of it wafts into my nose and I am again getting ferocious in my head. Sigh..

Back home, I struggle opening my mouth to eat some stupid cold yoghurt and pop the pills. Extremely sleepy, extremely tired, swelling and pain, I doze off.

Its day 4 - 84 hours post the procedure, swelling, fever and headache persist. I hate being this helpless and not working...

And this is just the beginning ……… this needs to be done again in 2-3 months for my left side of the teeth.

Wisdom Tooth, my foot

December 5, 2011

Me and my idiosyncrasies

I am whacking tissues from the conference room. No wait. This isn’t stealing. Ok I am borrowing them. Shucks. I can’t be borrowing them since I am not returning them in the exact state I took them in. So what is it I am doing with the tissues?

I am helping myself to a few tissues from work, stuffing my already bloated and red nose into it and … wait for it…. ACHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO . That was a whopper of a sneeze. Am I done? ACCCCCHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Well, not for a long time to come.

So I need to make this wretched over the top acting cold virus disappear forever so I can work and be more productive. Hence the tissue issue  I am doing this all for being a productive working professional. And using office stationery for official purpose is not stealing. NO. It is not.

Sniff Sniff… I am running out of tissues to stuff my nose with …. Annoying this cold is when it makes you want to tear your eyes off and those of who are healthy as well. Sigh…

Hindsight is the best sight and it is often the “never to find sight” just when you need it.

I know I should have said NO to the NUTTIES. I know should have said NO to the CRACKLES. I know I should have definitely said NO to the slurpy and drool worthy ALMOND ROCCA. Well, I obviously didn’t remember to do any of that and I have started the funeral preparations for my tooth.

Root Canal with those sharp, shiny and boring (as in drilling a hole) equipments is torture. So after quite some excavation, the mean evil dentists sucked the juice out of my living teeth and it has been laid to rest. There are quite a few sittings to suck this life out since I do have a tooth that perseveres and after every appointment – I feel my tooth is less alive.

On the TV front, I don’t quite hate the new Red Cell yet. I just don’t feel the energy and togetherness of the team as yet. The casting is so off :( though I like the cases this time around. Still it lacks the pizzazz and spunk. Maybe they are a newly formed unit and yet to get to know one another as well as the previous unit did. I miss Aaron Hotchner. I miss Reid; Even P is not her whole self in this new unit of Red Cell.

Coming to Movies,
Trespass – not bad
Cowboys vs. Aliens – what is the movie about? Why do aliens always attack only America – not that I am complaining: D
Conan the Barbarian - sucks
Ko - Not bad for a Tamil movie. Liked it
Hangover 2 - Do not please watch with parents, teenage cousins and kids

And seriously what is with the furor around Aishwarya Rai’s baby. Glad the hype and hoopla is over. Maids gossiping about it, naming the baby, selecting the dates, colleagues exchanging notes, horoscopes being discussed. I mean it’s a baby.

Get a life people and give me better gossip :D

April 26, 2011

Business Development

My first solo experience in attending a workshop on behalf of my company was on March 18, 2011. The Workshop was on “Off-Shoring and Outsourcing Opportunities in Australia and the Asia-Pacific Region”.

The inaugural speaker focused on the growing importance of Australia as a destination of IT and BPO industries which we could capitalize on as our biggest strength today remains a good eco-system consisting of industry expertise, good physical infrastructure, academia and the government support.

As I was thinking about convergence of positions of India and Australia in several areas, I was also trying to count how many others had come in a similar capacity as me. On last count there were close to 110 delegates. Each and every person there was working out ideas in his/ her head to tap into the Australian IT market worth A$100-billion – including me

I was seated next to Ms. M and Mr. P. I broke the ice by talking to Ms. M and made formal introductions of the companies we represented. She was from the Accounting industry and I was talking IT. We then exchanged business cards. She, being a regular member to the workshops conducted by the Chamber told me she would introduce me to few other key members.

The next introduction happened with the other neighbor – Mr P who was CEO of his BPO outfit in Kerala. Exchange of business cards seemed to be a natural action my hands realized sooner than my brain did.

Hmmm now that was not so bad. That actually went mighty well – thinking so I settle to hear my first speaker. I actually liked what she spoke. Pity no one could give her a standing ovation like the other speakers received due to some confusion on the stage

Before I knew it – she left and it was tea break and a whole new ball game. I realized that it is one thing to talk to people whom you are sitting next to as conversations gravitate towards the known whereas it’s a whole new ball game when you are breaking lines, addressing random people who actually might be wanting to enjoy and savor their tea unaware that here I am - inviting them to listen to what I had to say about my company and what we had to offer and how we can synergize our common goals.

The constant worry running in the back of my mind is – "Will coffee/tea win over the business conversations?" because the coffee/ tea was exceptionally good :)

I decided to follow Ms. M’s lead. The first few introductions were courtesy her – to the organizers of the event and the Chamber representatives and that’s when I noticed a pattern. People would very easily slip in and out of groups of people huddled over a cup of coffee and move to newer groups and talk business.

During the tea break session I could do that only within 2 groups and I had downed 2 coffees. I decided to put on my skates at the next break and carry tons more of business cards.

I had a question to ask the next speaker as it concerned a bottleneck I (my company) was facing in a new venture undertaken involving the Government. I got his insights which sounded like workable solutions and made a mental note to talk to him in person later. After a few more questions, it was lunch break.

This time, though the lunch comprised of an exciting spread, I had work to do. I approached Mr. J and got involved in a deep conversation on the North Eastern belt of India which was our area of interest. We spoke about impact of mobile penetration and he offered suggestions on how we could improve the literacy levels of the farming community to enable them get the maximum benefits of our new venture. He also gave a couple of references so we could explore more avenues and obtain a wider berth in the NE belt.

Post lunch, I felt no inertia. I was still as keyed up as I was in the morning and heard to all the speakers. And the second time was easier. The second half – people approached me wanting to know what business house I was representing and what was our expertise. Experienced the chase and also had to chase few others. The best of both worlds

Left to Bangalore the same night with new experiences, lots more business cards than I arrived with, new connections I hope will lead to business expansion and good memories

September 28, 2010

I feel alive again .....

I have been meaning to write for a long time now but I have always drawn a blank ... Its like my hands want to write but my mind does not budge.

I spoke about my childhood and memories of growing up - with someone recently - All I remember feeling from that conversation was - I was a bird soaring high. But I still could not write....... It was like there was this veil of cloud over my thoughts that were struggling to escape - the fight to break free started that day .....

A chance encounter today with a magnificent tree whose leaves were splayed in full glory at her footsteps - in a maze of colors honey, brown and green - touched a chord somewhere deep in me. The colors reminded me of a time back in childhood when everything was simpler ......... and the veil lifted finally - after a year

Tirunelveli -where I first learnt to appreciate life in all its simplicity - was a revelation and it shaped me and my sis to love people as they come into our lives

My earliest memory of Tirunelveli is checking into "Blue Star Hotel" where we were put up until dad got the stay arrangements finalized from the bank. I don't know if this hotel still exists - I would love to go see just it once.My dad, sis and I were suffering from Chicken Pox and I remember Mom keeping us all sane at that time what with all the mutual scratching we decided to gift one another in turns :)

No. 11,
Sivendipatty Road
Maharajanagar, Near Blind School
Tirunelveli, Tamilnadu

I wish to go back and see the house at the address above - where I grew up amidst the white and violet shoe flowers and tall wild grass in the front yard. I remember there being this cemented basement facility - where we had to climb down stairs and fill water in buckets and climb up. During rains - this would be filled to the brim with rain water. Thinking back - it was such an impractical construction. But I remember having made paper boats with my sister and parents and making them sail in our front yard in the muddy water.

I remember the bath area was outside the house and there was - what Sandy and I called - our own private magical forest with wild flowers, garden snakes, green moss along the edges of the backyard, view of the long railway track, sound of the train whistle. Sometimes Sandy and I would pretend we were the masters of the forest :)


I remember our house being opposite to Arthur Uncle's house who was an advocate. Next to his house was Mr. Swaran Singh, who was the IAS collector of that district. On the same lane as ours - was Avudiappan uncle who I hear is a big name in politics today. His was the last house of the lane. If I am not wrong - I think my dad drove himself and Avudiappan uncle into the ditch when he first started learning to ride the two wheeler :)


Dad says that the first day - he took us to school walking - we kept stalling and were picking wild flowers from the road and filling our tiny pockets with them. He would call out Come Sowmya / Come Sandhya - and we would reply in baby shrill tones - Coming Daddy. He loves recounting this to date .........

I have dreamt of this school where I studied Std I to Std IV - several times. In my dreams - I remember being drawn by some invisible force till the huge gates. I remember the vast muddy expanse of land in front of the gates and stopping right at the entrance. I have always felt she is calling me, asking me to come visit. SJSSJS - Shree Jeyandra Saraswati Swamigal Silver Jubilee School - that's the school I studied for 4 glorious years.

I want to see if the fence through which I used to escape out of the school campus at lunch times with my sis and girl friends - remains in some recognizable fashion or has it fallen victim to the new times and conventions. I remember dragging Sandy's tiny hands and running with Ranjani and her sister Ragini to their place which was the closest. We would unpack our home made lunches there and Ranjani's mom would always make us fresh curd rice. Then we would huff and puff and run back to school in time for the classes after lunch.

I want to see if the classrooms and the staff rooms look and feel the same. I remember the hot breeze in summers that would make the huge trees sway and cast an enormously huge shade. I remember eating few lunches under this shade. I made my first set of best friends here - Arundathi and Ranjani. I am in touch with Ranjani. Have never been able to locate Arundathi though and I have not stopped looking.

I want to see if the assembly podium still stands in its semi circular pattern with steps leading up. I want to see if the flag pole stands in the corner there with the waving flag.

I am keeping my mind open to the definite possibility of there being a radical change in the entire vision I have in my head of this beautiful simple place. I am sure I will be saddened at having come too late. But visit her I will .... soon .... and it will be one of the highlights of my life. I hope, despite all these visual changes - the essence of the place remains as I remember it - warm and welcoming

Wait for me Tirunelveli. Falling in love all over again and its a beautiful and magical feeling...............

October 29, 2009

Quirks and Me

1. I am discovering me slowly.

2. As shy as I am when it comes to dancing, I am equally outgoing and social when it comes to wooing a crowd of new people.

3. I used to think vegetables and fruits were living organisms who feel pain. Till 5 years back, I used to eat and then privately apologize to them.

4. I love water – I am a water buffalo. I can just stand underneath the shower for hours and hours together – Don't ever approach me for the "Water Conservation” ad. However I cannot bathe in cold water. The moment cold water hits my head / body; I feel breathless. I think maybe somebody tried drowning me when I was young and hence this reaction

5. I wake up on Mondays flailing my hands out – trying to reach for a big stone to throw on the clock / mobile.

6. I remember my dreams. Is this normal? Is there anyone out there who can?

7. I like half boiled vegetables. I must have been Chinese in my previous birth.

8. I do a jump, squeal, heart attack routine first. Then appear paralyzed. Then I do the die, go-to-hell & come-back-to-earth routine. For what you may ask.
My answer is one word – The Cockroach

9. I am a sucker for sob stories. I will offer you my shoulder and let you rob me of my jewels too in the bargain. I am learning to watch with a discerning eye of late. Not working very well.

10. I like trying new cuisines. Going to a restaurant, I do not like ordering what I ordered before. Very rarely do I repeat items (only when it's really lip smacking and is the right quantity)

11. I don't like sharing food I find lip smacking. That way I am like Joey. Friends and family know that I share my food only when
a. I have eaten till my heart's content and can't put another morsel in my mouth.
b. I don't like the food

When I am hungry, I get a headache. I get murderous instincts when I am starved. People start looking like Tangy pasta / big cauliflower florets / Salads / Rolls / Burgers / Chats – in one word - food; so when I am hungry – feed me or stay away from me. I am ferocious.

I can be appeased at such times with just 1 slice of bread. Something to tell my brain – more food is following. And I can go hungry for 2 -3 hours again.

I like eating in small portions and enjoy having many small meals. I can eat anything any time. I can eat pasta (cold / hot) for breakfast. I can have chats for dinner. I can also eat idli / dosa for lunch. The only exception to the above rule is sweets. I don't like sweets with the rare exception of – Rasmalai. All other sweets– are distributed away to friends and family. I am not a sweet person ( ;) no pun intended).

12. I love my family 90% of the times. The remaining 10% of the times, my thoughts range from "Was I born to them?” To "Oh they are so ingratiating” to "Gosh I need silence"

We are a unique nutty family and I love them more so because of their faults – not despite their faults

13. I am very loyal - This is an invitation for people to come exploit me

14. In summers, my big toe has to be uncovered so I can feel the cool air from the fan. This cools me down.

15. I have to read a book – actual or e-book when I need to take a bio break. At my office, I smuggle the newspapers when I have to go downtown

16. I am extremely uncomfortable when someone pays me a compliment. I wish the earth would open up and swallow me. My ears get hot. My cheeks get hot. I wish I were invisible.

17. Once I get on a cleaning spree, I am unstoppable and a pain in the rear for other co-helpers

February 24, 2009

Murphy's Law

When something has to go wrong, it always will. And when everything has to go wrong, it most certainly will.

This happened on November 21 2008 on Friday. I had to go to Trichy for my brother's engagement and was to be away for the weekend. I had informed my TL of this before.

Rewind to Wednesday Night

I had to give mom a cheque for Rs. 1300. And I gave it to her dated Nov 2o 2008 forgetting that my account balance was less. After giving the cheque I realized this and told her to hold it for 2 more days as the online transfer of money would have solved the problem.

I repeatedly told amma and appa to deposit the cheque after Trichy Trip.

Rewind to Thursday Morning

2pm I get a call from my frantic dad. He had supposedly asked amma to drop a couple of cheques in the morning. In the afternoon, while he was ironing his clothes, mom happened to say that she dropped mine too. Abandoning the hot iron and crinkled clothes, he rushed to the bank to realize the cheque had gone for clearing.T My bank was closed by the time I could make any cash deposit. I had to wait.... an endless wait not knowing what was going to happen. All I could think was, my perfect record at the bank had good chances of taking a beating .

Fast Forward to Friday Morning

I rushed to the bank at 10am. I was the first customer.On being summoned I deposited cash. I also asked them if they saw any cheque that had come for clearing and they said
No. I was happy I had done damage control and went to work. Wrapped up all loose ends when my boss calls me in for a meeting. Its 3.30 and appa was waiting outside. He had come to pick me up on the way back from his office. The meeting lasted 45 minutes with me squirming for some part because I had a train to catch.

My boss had apparently not known about my leave and was wild. There were talks about Saturday becoming a full working day and so on and so forth. Finally, I took leave.

I did not look up at appa who had waited so long. He didn't utter a word. I was desolate and really upset. After reaching home, I changed up and got ready for the trip when I had to go out for an errand.

Of all the days, today, I had to leave the headlights on. Now I am careful and try my best to be really responsible, but what could I do when fates conspired against me and made me erratic? So I was greeted by a car that coughed and spluttered on my face when I tried to start it. My car battery died a premature death and my car refused to budge. I had to be home in twenty minutes to leave to the station.

I looked around, saw a few security guards outside a residential apartment and asked for their help. Now I had not faced this situation before and I did not know how to handle the car when it kicked in after people pushing it.

So the security guard took my car and said he will take it for a small drive and get it back. Meanwhile I called dad and he said nothing. If he had atleast scolded me it would have been better. His silence was killing me. He said leave the car and get back. I mean what else could we do? I then called my friend Darshan, to come and help me. He came in his car and at that precise moment the security guard got my car back.

I had half thought he would run away with it. Darshan asked me to follow him and asked me not to stop at any point of time. He said if I stopped, I would have to push the car and that was not an option. He took me through all the lanes and we bypassed all the signals. I was quietly following him and I reached home. I just parked the car, I was seeing double when I realized there were some water pools that had collected in my eyes. I even forgot to thank him and just got inside.

All the way to the station, I was thinking about the day's events. The result was I got paranoid. I kept asking my folks if they had the tickets - onward and return. If the car we were traveling in, had sufficient fuel. After all assurances I started to relax.

We arrived at the station and I got my next shock. I received a message saying that the cheque had bounced and the penalty was Rs. 350 which was debited from my account. I called customer care and all they could say was, unusually, of all the days, the cheques had gone to clearing at 7 am in the morning and my deposit was at 10.

Mom and dad tried consoling me but I was beyond consolation. I felt like I had been hexed. After a while, I just started laughing. I sure did get crazy then.

It was time for the train to come and our compartment was S11. What we did not know then was that a new compartment had been added. My family bore the brunt for my cursed state :) and needless to say we entered the wrong compartment.

Imagine our horror. Dad alighted to find out which was our compartment and the train started moving. Mom, Sandy(my sister) and I in the wrong compartment and dad's position unknown. Did he get on to another compartment? We did not know....

The best thing about the wrong compartment was that there was no connecting passage to the next compartment. We had to get out and then move. We could not even connect to dad as the signal was weak. By this time, Mom and Sandy were looking fearfully at me. That's what I would like to think so, despite their reassurances.

Nothing, I repeat, nothing was right with me.

Then after 3 stations, we finally could call dad. It was nearing 9.45 pm. He said there was a railway track ahead and that the train would halt for 15 minutes. We had 3 heavy suitcases amongst us. He asked us to be ready to leave immediately. The train stopped and dad came along with another relative who was luckily in the same train as us. But he suffered from asthma and we didn't want him to strain himself.

Dad asked me to carry the biggest. I am physically frail looking but I am strong. However the journey to the other compartment was nothing like I thought it would be. The way was uneven and pebbles lined the entire stretch. I kept slipping as my slippers were not flat. And dad kept urging me to move fast. He said he was turning back to get my mom & sister and asked me to lookout for my relative. It was one of the most frightening moments in my life. I kept thinking the train would start moving just when I was midway between compartments and I would be the only one who would be left back.

Luckily for me, the curse must have started to weaken or decided to grab another victim. I reached the compartment, hand bruised from the branches on the trees, shoulder hurting carrying that suitcase. But within 5 minutes, all four of us rejoined and the train started to move. That sure was a close call and I hugged all of them.


I watched Slumdog Millionaire on Jan 24th. A well taken movie as it treads the same old subject of winning when all odds are stacked against you. So, message wise, the movie had nothing new to offer.

I loved the kids in the movie and I think they truly deserve all accolades for emoting so well and naturally.

Frieda was ok. Dev was better.

Being an ardent fan of A R Rehman, I am truly happy he got the oscars. However, I feel its a misplaced reward for the only reason that he has created far superior music gems in the past. And in comparison, "Jai Ho" was an average score. The lyrics by Gulzar showcased triumph of the human spirit and I liked it.

A R Rehman's music apart, his humility and down-to-earth demeanour is praise worthy. That he spoke Tamil speaks volumes about how praise and laurels will never make him forget his humble rise from roots.

Anil Kapoor was anything but subtle in his acting :).

Each character was well etched. The police station and the cops. The blind young boy(That was the most painful part of the movie for me) and the older brother.

I learnt one thing.... Two brothers who grew up in the same environment, grew up to have completely different traits in nature and that made me wonder. We are not entirely, what the society makes us to be.

We become what we want to. Society takes the praise or criticism as the case is.

October 31, 2008

Last Friday

I came in to work last Friday chirpier than usual. It was going to be a 4 day long weekend. And I was happy. I was almost thankful to "The killing of Narakasura" and Diwali of course. There I almost forgot mentioning it.

I was scanning the cabin to find the whereabouts of my chair. The maid, while sweeping and swabbing must have re-allocated my (now missing)chair.

This butt is one interesting ensemble. Once it gets accustomed to a surface, you should hear it scream in agony at change. You see I could never sit on another chair but mine.(Well it actually is company property but I am seriously thinking of taking it along with me on my way out(if and when I leave the organization). I mean I have nurtured it for so long and if all this reasoning does not work, then I am going emotional. The chair will be desolate without me :)

Aah there I spot it. My Chair(MC) has veered out of the cabin and is looking .... How do I put it....ummmm...... ha inquisitive. Oh that heartless maid.... now she has gone and sparked the curiosity of MC. God forbid if MC falls in love with somebody else...... Then what of me?

I pull MC towards my sleek computer. While others have gray keyboard, black monitor and in some cases an all white outfit, mine looks like a silky panther. Oh I love looking at him.

I switch on the monitor and log on. Sometimes I wish I had read a shorter book with an interesting title. Because my current system password is 14 characters and my fingers are ready to sue Ayn Rand. Oops, my typing fingers gave out my password now... well almost...... Change is in motion. I love change. I am going to have a swanky new password now. What do I change it to?

I'll worry about it later and see whose book I can rip up for my selfish motives in getting my new password. Ayn Rand move over. ROW(Rest of the World) beware..... There is an evil laughter in my head right now and I love the sound of it. I am tired of being good. Change is in motion.... I am using this term so often I think I should make it my anthem. More evil laughter in the background....... Ee ha ha ha ha ha ha

I stop... wait. Cant I be original in an evil laugh at least? Do I have to rip of some old Tamil movie villain laughter? It is definitely evil sounding and resonating..... which reminds me I need to add a scowl on my face for the complete "evil me" look. I am almost tempted by the concept of two horns on my head, but in my head(strictly in mine), I look too comical and I burst out laughing. That's spoils the evil character I had made up. Cant gather so much energy again to continue. Phew......

I remember what Calvin says once.... "Do I have to work for everything? Its like saying I don't deserve it". True True.... One Hundred Percent.... That kid needs an international award at sarcastic reality. I love the kid. I mean as long as he is somebody else's kid ..... Whoa I see white hair sprouting by the dozen just imagining him as my kid.

Wait I am not even married. And I am thinking of a kid. If my parents could hear the thoughts in my head, I am sure they would be rolling their eyes.

My parents..... I always get distracted at this point. The other day we were watching an English movie on HBO. Of late they come with subtitles so sometimes when there is a lot of (good) noise at home(which is always by the way), one can still follow these movies.

Queen Latifah is standing in an alley with a young fella (just wanted to feel that word in my tongue).... kinda sounds nice to me. Casual, Hip ... Sigh....

Yeah so he asks her some money and she says she wont give him money as she is afraid he'll spend it on drugs and then gives him condoms as she works for an AIDS prevention welfare organization. In the next scene, she is talking to her daughter and giving the condoms to her daughter's boyfriend. And says be safe or something to that extent.

We were having dinner on the floor and watching the movie when dad said the movie was subtle, not overboard and yet managed to convey a valuable message. I am a trouble maker. I make people confront what they are painfully shy about in a comical way.

So I said: Amma Appa I have never seen a condom in my life. I was stifling my laugh when I said this because it was so brash of me and their reaction was hilarious. Mom started to explain. Actually explain.... the different kinds and texture and even flavor. Dad was squirming but having a teeny smile on his face.

Now honestly I have never seen a condom in my life. I have just heard various bizarre explanation and even diagrams from married friends. So this was a revelation. I mean my parents..... And then I realized something. I was shy discussing it while mom was going ahead in full gusto. I just squealed and ran out with my dinner plate.

Mom and Dad were rolling on the floor and laughing. This time, my attempt backfired :)

I am reading what I have written and I realize how restless a person I am. I mean I m jumping from Office to Butt to MC to Calvin to Parents and Condoms. Phew.... I tire myself :)

October 14, 2008


My parents always think I am too forthright and bold for my good and are a little afraid about this quality in me.

What I am about to narrate happened a year ago and I don't know what to make of it.

I got of as usual at the silk board junction and I saw a handicapped man. He was dragging himself on his hands as he could not walk. I could not tear my eyes away from him.

I saw him go and seek alms from all the people who were waiting at the signal. He might have gotten 15 rupees. I waited for the signal to turn green and went to him. I gave him 10 rupees and told him I ll be back again tomorrow.

In the course of my conversation I learnt his name was Hanumanthappa. He had been left by his family here, under the overhead bridge as he was a handicap. And so he had resorted to begging. He spoke in Telugu, a language I don't understand at all save a few words.

I tried conveying to him I ll be back tomorrow and felt a weight in my heart. He probably had never been spoken to before. He was dirty. I did not feel repulsed. I don't know why. I held his hand and reaffirmed I ll come tomorrow in hand gestures.

I should tell you that in the course of this conversation, the next lot of vehicles had stopped at the signal and were looking at us in a strange manner. I am ashamed to say that, I felt uncomfortable in the glare of all the people. And convincing him as best as I could, I trudged on my way to work.

My heart was heavy, I felt tears smart my eyes. I mean, I had a lovely family who would go to any distance for me. And here was this man, who was not wanted, who had been discarded like he was trash.

I wanted to do something. I called up my cousin who worked with the Times as a journalist. I asked her for organizations that cared for the unwanted. I had made up my mind. I was going to get him off the streets and be self sufficient. I did not want him begging.

She gave me a number to Miss. Lillian De Costa who ran a charitable organization. She was out of station and would be back the next day I was told.

Next day, I got of at the signal. He was there. I went to him and asked him in English and Kannada alternatively, if he would give up begging if I could find a way for him to get money. He didn't say anything. I told him I would get him enrolled into a charitable organization where he would be expected to work according to his abilities and he would be paid for it. I am not sure if he understood. But he nodded yes. I said I ll be back again.

And I contacted Lillian who said she would send a man who spoke Telugu. I asked her to send the volunteer in the morning when I would be there. I told her I would like to accompany him in enrolling him. I don't know why I told her that I was convinced he wanted to be of the streets.

Next two days the volunteer was held up in another work. And I would go talk to Hanumanthappa. He now had a smile on his face when he saw me coming.

Finally the day came when the volunteer arrived. I was in for a shock. Hanumanthappa did not want to go anywhere. He had been under the impression I was going to give him money it seems.

He said he made close to 300 Rs a day begging under the bridge. He said he would never get that kinda money working anywhere. I was at a loss for words and apologized profusely to the volunteer for making him come all the way.

I did not understand it. Maybe he had gotten too dependent on the easy money or maybe he just did not want to earn working hard. The volunteer gave me his card and said there were other ways I could help people and asked me to come over to the office sometime and see how I could be of help.

When I told my best friend this, he said "You were always a sucker for sob stories"...... and he left it tailing at that.

My parents were momentarily afraid, concerned about my safety, thinking I might have gotten to the organization all by myself taking Mr. Hanumanthappa along. Then they said they were sorry it did not work out.

My sister laughed on my face and then stopped on seeing the hurt look on my face.

I have wanted to stop thinking about the incident. Tried real hard. Tried to turn my face away when I see a woman begging with her child on the streets under the humid heat. Tried to convince myself that given a chance, they might want more from themselves.

I stopped when a beggar woman I approached screamed at me in Hindi saying I was spoiling her life when all I did was tell her to find a job as a labourer at construction sites and even told her the name of Domlur Sabha(an org in my area that works somewhat like Rotary) where her kids could study free of cost.

She refused outright and spit on the road. I was hurt that she could not see for her what I saw for her. I came home and cried. I was of no help to both the people whose cause I had taken up.

Some days after that I saw Hanumanthappa in an inebriated state under the bridge. Flies hovering around his face. I felt my chest and throat constrict. I could not swallow.

I still cant explain or put in words what these experiences have taught me. I don't know if I have learnt to leave people alone. Maybe I should.........

September 25, 2008

Mom and Dad - Part 1 of Infinity

Raja is my mom and Aiyyappa is my dad. Thats what they call one another.... The endearment is mushy even after all these years.

Mom: You know what??? And a family tale is being told here.
Dad: Rama.... Lets not talk about mess. Lets watch this serial. This mad house situation is comic. Each one is competing for that " Cheekh ho to aisi ho varna na ho " intending that Reliance advertisement

Mom: Enna(Another endearment in our language).... but why are we not going there? Dont they like us?
Dad: Raja its not like a family get together is it? And I cannot come. I will not get leave from work.

Mom: Hmmmmm..... but still....
At this point, dad says in a louder tone, U know you should not gossip about such things. They may have their reasons. And these kinds of conversations are not healthy.

Mom: Gosh... You are so touchy? Why are you thinking I am taking a dig at your family when all I am asking are innocent questions. You are the one who is misinterpreting and twisting the entire meaning.

Dad did something so unpredictable. He started laughing. Gosh you are impossible. And the entire argument got lost in happy tears :)

By the way, my parents are related so all the bickering about the family is the same family realted to both sides :)

I realized then that humor was such a great way to diffuse an uneasy situation. I love my parents especially my mother for bringing laughter into our house and being the pillar that supports all of us.

We would be lost, especially my dad, but for her.

I have never looked beyond my parents as an example of the best couple. By this I do not mean that they are perfect. Both have their imperfections...... but they are like 2 halves that are incomplete when separate.

Together they are one.

Amma and Appa, I am gonna use you as my characters in some stories I wish to regale in the future. You are my heroes :)