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 :)

September 7, 2008

No Longer a Rat

What am I ? At the end of the day, I am a rat in the rat race. What do I want to be years down the line?

There are many smart, well-thought out and correct answers I could give...... answers that could help job seekers immensely.

But what do I really want? I want an adventure. I want something different from my life and this time around its not about the money. It was never about the money. Things can get screwed up when money is given over emphasis. I am tired.

Its like having a multi-heading hydra monster. You take out one head, another new one pops out.

Expectations..... Its like too much of sugar. Its annoyingly sweet but too much.

I am 25 and I want to do things differently. Why? I hate being one amongst the innumerable rats. And I hate running.

July 20, 2008

The Swim

I was born in Bangalore and exported to Bombay :) and came to Tirunelveli to begin Standard I.

One of the simplest, down to earth and the loveliest places I have ever stayed in - Tirunelveli. The people were very very helpful and kind. It is a small town in Tamil Nadu. The local language was Tamil. My sister and I would only speak in English and never learnt Tamil(incidentally our mother tongue) till a year later. Everyone thought my parents were North Indians as they were fair skinned until they started to speak Tamil.

We stayed in Maharajanagar, a small locality. There were two rows of houses separated by a road between. During rains, my front yard would get flooded and we would float paper boats. Those were fun times - muddy water, the smell of wet earth just before the rains, school holidays and the skies.

I have never seen the skies having so many shades of blue and gray. It was like looking through a smoky glass. I spent 4 years here - I Std to IV Std.

There were lots of kids to play and we were a boisterous bunch. Boys would join us in the cooking game and we would join them in the exploring. There was a railway track which I could see from my backyard which had wild plants growing but none harmful. We could enter my house from the front door also and the back door too.

The normal day began with the train whistling past and it was a sign that all was well.

Beyond our two row of houses were vacant plots. The area was not developed and it gave us kids ample space to roll in the muddy brown plots and come back. There were no Surf and Aerial ads then. I am sure our clothes would have given them a run for their money.

It had been raining incessantly for a week now and we were all restless having been cooped inside. When the rains ceased, we were out before you could say the word "Abracadabra". We found a pond that had formed in the "Restricted Area" and we decided to there at 5pm. I still remember what I wore. Funny how some things stick in our memory and others don't.

It was a white satin frock with short sleeves and pink and lavender flowers all over. It was made from the "Garden" material which never looks worn out. One can wear it for years and it still would like reasonably new. It also had a white belt with lavender tips.

The pond was big. It looked like the sea to my eyes. I didn't know swimming and neither did my sister. All of us held hands and started wading inside from one end of the assembly line . White frock could go to hell ha ha ha ha. We were about 9 of us. Five boys and 4 girls. I was the third from one end and my sister was in the other end holding the hand of a bigger guy.

It was scary. My heart was beating but there was an adrenaline rush and excitement at doing something taboo. The first guy and girl entered and then I did. In a minute all of us were in the pond. The water came up below my knee. The water was not very muddy and we could see little fish swimming around.

My end of the line decided to move one step inside. But they did not communicate correctly or I did not decipher correctly and I moved in too fast and slipped on something slimy. I went under water and thought I was going to die when I realized all I had done was wet myself head to toe as the water was not that deep.

All of us got scared then. The evening sun had gone out and it was getting cool. I started shivering. All of us receded back. The other end which included my sister had escaped without getting wet. Being a plotter, I told my sister and friends how I could avoid getting beatings from mom.

I told my relatively dry friends and sister to go via the front door and keep my mom busy by talking to her. I then asked my sister to get me a fresh frock and come to the back door. The bathroom was outside the house. I thought I will change up and come from the front door.

If mom asked where I was, my sis was to tell that I was at the neighbor's place. The plan seemed fool proof to my 9 year old brain. Since mom had not seen me leaving the house, she would not realize which frock I had worn.

The plan would have been foolproof had the villain not arrived--- My father. Dad usually came in by 7. That day he came in by 6. When fates conspire, what could I, an ordinary little girl do?

So when my friends and sister went up the front door, my dad opened the door. I can't imagine what their expressions would have been... Flabbergasted??? I wish I had been there :) Now it seems funny... Then it was terrifying......

Their jaws must have dropped. Dad was surprised to see the entire army save one soldier at his front door it seems. While they kept my dad distracted, my ever smart mom(Like daughter- So mom :) ) was watchful. My little sister tried slipping inside the bedroom and picking a frock. She almost made it to the back door and opened the latch after ensuring the curtain that hid the back door was in place.

My mom must have followed her because, when my sister opened the door for me, my eyes popped out and my jaw dropped. Because, standing a distance behind my sister was my mom. And there I was wet from head to foot, frock soaking wet. My sister unaware of mom behind her little frame, said "Akka(Big Sister) put this on and handed the frock to me".

After my friends bade a hasty exit, All hell broke loose and I got the first whack of my life, on my bum. And the first long lecture that just went on and on and on. I promised I would never do something so foolish and never try to cover it up with my hair brained brainwaves.

I promised solemnly. And under my breath added never to get caught.... :)

But I was a good kid... A normal kid who played pranks.... But always the safe pranks thereafter, because I quite did not like the experience of swallowing all that weed filled slightly dirty water. And my mom kept scaring me that weeds were going to sprout out of my mouth and I was going to become a hairy monster.

Parents... I tell you.... They know how to scare the shit out of their kids. I used to wash my mouth several times a day for a week after until I chanced upon my parents laughing about it. I was relieved and joined in the laughter.

The good thing about this incident was - An enclosure was put around the pond for safety and to keep curious, inquisitive kids like us out.

July 19, 2008

Dreams....... Part I

Do people remember their dreams?? Do they have just hazy recollections of what they see or do they simply experience the emotions of the dreams - happiness, sadness, anger, disappointments but not the actual event?

I wonder......

I remember every detail about my dreams. I wish I could not.....

Since my dad works for the bank, a transfer every 3 years is a part and parcel of our lives. There was this time we were stationed in Delhi.

It was a cold freezing night and the heater was on in the room that I shared with my sister. We were under the "rajai" - local term for a thick blanket that was essential to keep oneself warm in the harsh winters of Delhi. We had picked up four. Maroon for my sister, Blue for mom, Green for dad and Orange was mine.

I have always been able to sleep instantly. All I need is a pillow and blanket. In mild summers, I would keep my big toe outside for some cooling and in winters my feet had to be warm for me to fall asleep. I was a sight in my long pink T shirt having a big Teddy, pj's, socks, cotton in my ears and gloves - Cold discomforted me.

That night, I slept at around 10pm. I am with my family in my school bus.... This is how my dream began, innocuously.

I am sitting with my sis, mom and dad are together and children alighting the bus at their respective stops. I remember all of us laughing at something driver uncle (I used to call him that) remarked.

Suddenly dad got off at a stop and I look in surprise to see that none of us are alighting with him. My sis and I move to the seat behind my mother, lest she feels alone.

After two stops, she also gets off and my sis and I remain behind. We are upset but putting a brave front.

The driver uncle stops after a while and we are the only two passengers left. He says the bus would go no further, that it was the last stop.

My sister and I get off and there is this long brightly lit tunnel. My sister and I start walking towards it, holding hands. After covering a few meters, the lights go off in the tunnel and I feel the grip on my sister's hand slackening. I try holding harder and the faster her hands slip out. When the lights came back after a few minutes, I stood all alone in the middle of the tunnel.

I woke up crying inconsolably. I was trembling and my sister could not hold me. My parents came rushing inside and it was only when I saw that I still had them, my crying stopped but the sobs continued. My mom applied "Vibhuti" ( holy ash meant to ward of negative energy) on my forehead. I could not sleep for a long time that night. I held my sisters' hand and finally in exhaustion dozed off. We all slept together that night.

I told my parents and my sister about the dream in the morning as my mom had once told me that if dreams were spoken out aloud they never came true.

They dismissed it as just a dream and I was asked to pray to God :) which I did :)

Exactly a year later, I finished XIIth and my sister finished Xth. There were talks about dad getting a transfer to Bangalore(All of our relations are here, so this was really good news) and we all came down to Bangalore to spend a week, find colleges for the both of us. After finalizing it all, came the shocker. Dad did not get the transfer.

When we had first gotten a transfer from Chennai to Delhi, it had been decided that Dad would stay in Delhi and the three of us- me, my mom and my sis would remain in Chennai as studies were crucial. I had put up a big fight. I said I would not leave my dad alone and that I would go to Delhi and stay with him and even cook for him. I refused to go to the new school in Chennai. Childish adamancy some might say....

How would anybody know what it means for a child to be separated from either of the parents? Unless one has gone through it, words mean nothing.

I remember when my dad left to Delhi, how much we all cried. Bringing those memories to surface today also make my eyes moisten. I had to be dragged at the airport. Thats when mom decided we would all go to Delhi. She could not see my and my sister crying all day long and breaking sown on phone whenever dad used to call from Delhi.

So when a repeat of that happened, with the three of us here and dad having to complete a year in Delhi, mom put her foot down and said we had to stay put in Bangalore while dad finished his tenure and joined us.

There was no repeat and we lived in our own house in Tippasandra, Bangalore. My college was reopening a month or so later as the thespian "Dr. Rajkumar" had been kidnapped and all normal activity ceased in Bangalore.

So we all went back to Delhi to spend time with dad for a month. When we landed, we were shocked to see dad unwell. Being an asthamatic and having to fend for himself without mom had left him really weak and taken a toll on his health . Mom decided her husband needed her and told us she would stay back.

This came as a shock as we would now return as two. The day we had to leave we told our parents not to come to the airport, but they did not listen. I remember getting inside the airport for the check and a sheet of glass separated my parents and us. We just kept palm on palm on either side of the glass and crying. My sister and I had only one another now.

We returned to our house and my periamma(mom's elder sister) came to look after us. It was never the same. But that separation taught us lessons of life. We had to fend for ourselves.

The first two portions of my dream had come true. Dad left first and then mom and followed.

A year later.... My dad got transferred to Mangalore. My sister got admission to XIIth and then "BANG". My course was unavailable in Mangalore.

Everyone left me and went to Mangalore and I was left alone. It took 5 years for them to rejoin me. Many incidents happened in these years to shape me as a human being and I am proud of who I am today. Though there are times I wish my parents had been with me, for me.......

...... to be contd

June 10, 2008

Intruder at night

I reached home late from work one Thursday night. I gave a “ I am tired today--- Don't disturb me right now ” look to my dad, who was sprawling across the divan and mom who was on the couch. I dropped my bag on the side table in my room and went to refresh myself. As I entered the bathroom to wash my feet and hands, I had a strange sensation that I was being watched. I felt a prickling on the back of my neck.

I looked around immediately. There was no one. I did not search in the dark areas as I fear the dark. I must have taken quite some time as my mum put her head inside and saw me standing still.

She startled me by asking , “What are you doing? Not coming for dinner?

I said, I ll be there. I went to my room, changed into my night clothes all along keeping my room door slightly open. I then entered the hall to have dinner with my family. I tried to remain calm. I finished my dinner and proceeded to sleep.

Since my grandfather was staying with us then, my cousin used to sleep in the bedroom along with me and my sister. My sister and I on the cot while she used to put her mattress, in the space after the cot.

Both my cousin and sister come in late. So I was awake till around 11.30 poring through my books keeping two lights on. It was cold. And I was distracted by “God knows what”? All calm was broken when both the devils arrived almost one after the other. While they were devouring dinner, I put aside the books and got ready to sleep as I knew any studying then was pointless. But I was also relived I was not alone in my room anymore. After the usual chitchat each one of us proceeded to sleep around 12.10.

All of us were tucked in comfortably when we realized that the tube light was still on. None of us wanted to get out of the warm cozy blanket. And suddenly, both my cousin and sister were asleep. I knew it was all a pretense just so they didn't have to wake up. Since I can't sleep with the light on, I had no choice. I got up, switched off the light and dived under my blanket in case some ghost caught my legs. I don't know why I was getting images of the “Ring” ghost with long hair. To calm my frayed nerves I read some e-books on my phone. In half hour, my eyes started getting heavy and I could not keep them open. I drifted off into sleep.

It must have been around 3am. I am not sure. I was trying to scream.... I could not find my voice. It was like I was choking seeing something horrifying in my dream and my throat felt like there was cement stuffed down my throat. And suddenly I managed to shake away the dreadful feeling and screamed “Ma”. Hearing to my scream, my sister also screamed. I sat up and was sitting up looking shell shocked. My sister immediately switched on the light and asked me what the matter was.

My cousin sat there saying nothing, but looking sleepy and angry. I said something touched me. It was real. My sister was my “Knight in Shining Armour”. She immediately looked around and we all saw the culprit. It was a wretched cockroach. It must have brushed past my face. My sister immediately got in action, picked up “MY” slippers and went Whack Whack Whack. She missed.

Then I turned my anger to my cousin. I told her that it was her unwashed clothes kept in a disarray next to my cot, that made the cockroach visit me. I was also throwing my frustration at her that she did nothing to help me when I was terrified. She said she almost died of a heart attack listening to our screams and that she would have died without even knowing the reason for her death. At this we all started laughing.

And my mom came in like the Indian Police, at the end of all the action asking what the commotion was about? We recounted the tale and my cousin got yet another earful for her dirty clothes and my mom left the room.

After my mom left, we were still smiling with my cousin exclaiming what an exciting night it was. My sister was tired and she wanted to sleep. And the tube light was on :). This time we bullied our cousin to switch it off.

I was restless and could not get back to sleep. I proceeded to ask them how my scream was? And I got the quieter repeat version of it from my cousin who also mimicked my sister's scream which was hilarious listening to, after the incident.

I had one last question. Was my scream blood curling? My cousin said NO. I asked again : Was it spine chilling? She again said NO. My sister was getting annoyed and she said Your scream was heart stopping and a killer scream at that. And that if I did not shut up, she was going to kill us both with her bare hands. That put us in place and we went back to sleep.

I didn't sleep immediately. I was happy my scream had been heart stopping. Good I could scare somebody too. Suddenly a thought struck. If the cockroach had not been there, I would have still been in the grip of that nightmare. I silently apologized for having called it wretched and thanked him for having saved me from my nightmare. I then went to sleep peacefully :)

May 16, 2008

One way or the other

My office is in Silk Board and I travel by bus everyday. There are two places I can alight, to get to work.

One is at the Silk Board traffic signal (Purple Line) and the Silk Board bus stop (Blue Line).

In the past, I have taken both routes. But I realized that there was a difference.

About the Signal

Background Details : The waiting time at this signal is close to 15 minutes. And when the signal changes to “GREEN”, only the first lot of the vehicles who are in the fore, get to move ahead. By the time, the second lot get near the signal, its “RED” and there starts the wait again.

Route 1 – Getting of at the signal

99% of the times I have gotten off here.

Now alighting here is not a safe option for the fact that most of the vehicles who have been zooming behind the bus, might not expect the passengers to get off.

However, this having become a routine, I guess all drivers are cautious when there is a bus ahead and don't try overtaking from the left side just to get ahead and wait for the signal :) and thankfully there have been no incidents in all the 2 years I have been traveling.

So I get off at this junction, walk till the signal, take a U Turn and cross the road. Then I go straight ahead and take the left at the bridge(over the drain). The entry to the bridge is a sudden big upward slope. In the rare rare event I bring my car, I maneuver very carefully on 1st gear.

So when I am at the bridge, I usually turn around and see that the bus I alighted from is still waiting for the signal to change.

Now the road after the bridge is so botched up that it cant be called a road actually. It is bumpy,has many ups and downs, potholes,stones and a drainage also on the side. It takes some skill to walk here., but it is an interesting road.

I once saw camels here. I have seen 2 cars skilfully try to drive along horizontally, failing which one backs off and lets the other move ahead.

Once during heavy rains, the dirty waters from the drainage were swirling here with such force that a colleague and I who held hands and braved that road, were waist deep in water and were thrown back many a time. And the lone electric pole was spewing sparks finally having gotten some attention after years of neglect.I thought I was going to die.That was some experience.

Ok so this walk on the "interesting" road lasts 15 minutes and I reach office. Now to the next route

About the Bus Stop

Background Details : If for some reason you are unwell some day and don't feel like walking, you could sit through the waiting time at the signal and choose to get of at the bus stop. So, after some 15 odd minutes, you are at the Silk Board bus stop.

Route 2 : Getting of at the bus stop

Getting off is the easy part. This road being very wide has a median dividing it.

This side of the road( on which the bus stop is situated) – just a little after the yellow coloured Silk Board icon on the map, has vehicles traveling towards BTM.

The other side of the road has vehicles going either straight to the Outer Ring Road; or taking the left to reach Madivala / Koramanagala.

It always has happened on all occasions when I have taken this route that I get to cross the road till the median very comfortably.

This is because of the signal which has all other vehicular movement to a halt. From this side of the road, I see all vehicles on the other side waiting patiently for their signal.

And just when I get to the median the waiting vehicles will start rolling and there will no moment of peace after that.

Just as the Silk Board Signal has waiting time of close to 15 minutes. These vehicles get a clearing time of some 20 minutes.

When I finally get to the other side, despite my not having walked much, I am exhausted after 15 minutes of sitting in the bus(@ signal). Add to it, standing on the median for another 20 minutes. Total waste of 35 minutes.

My Preference and Parallels

I prefer the Route 1 despite it being difficult because I know I am reaching my destination irrespective of the woeful road.

Route 2 is indefinite. My waiting time is indefinite. My temper is on its rise because all I am doing is waiting for the vehicles to stop; a situation thats not in my hands.

Life is similar. Its better to take the route where we we know we are in the right direction. We know we are getting there, even if it seems difficult at times, to continue walking to our destination.

Simply taking the easy route and waiting for things to fall in place, happens once in the rare event that we get fortunate. Its a once in a blue moon event. Enjoy it while it happens. But never expect it to happen every day without some hard work.

PS: I have removed the map. Will put a clear one with proper directions soooon :)

May 13, 2008

Mr.Krishnamurthi and the Bus Driver

I was crossing the inner ring road at Domlur junction when I saw the "201" bus amble by me. And I was thinking,If only there had been a door on the right side of the bus, I could have at least given a shot at diving inside the bus :)

I was hurrying towards the bus stand when I saw that the same 201 was still standing and though I could see a large number of empty seats, somehow the passengers were getting in very slowly.Imagine my surprise when I saw men standing all over the foot board and unable to get in smoothly when the bus was nearly empty.

By now I was determined that I should get inside the bus. As I was nearing the bus, it rolled slowly. And I was like, man I am not going to miss this one. And I increased my pace of walking.

Then I saw the reason why people were unable to get in easily. There was only one door to this bus. And there was no conductor, so the bus driver was having to issue tickets, take the fare and return the change, while also ensuring that he was not blocking traffic. He stopped a young man without correct change, from entering the bus.

I was the last but one to get inside the bus. After me an old man entered. He looked like a construction worker as he was carrying some tools.

My fare was 7 rupees and I did not have notes. I had a fifty. I asked him if he had change. He was irritated with all the tasks he had to do. And he gruffly said no. As I did not want to be asked to leave like the young man, so I started rummaging through my purse for any change I might have miraculously saved, all the while standing near the steel bar near the driver.

I was lucky. I got a 5 rupee coin and a 2 rupee coin. With a flourish, I took them out and took the ticket from the driver. The old man behind me wanted the 25 rupees day pass. He requested the driver if he could write down his name on it. His name was Krishnamurthi, I heard him tell the driver so.

The driver, overworked as he was, refused very rudely. Mr Krishnamurthi then said that he could not write and again requested the driver to write his name on the pass. The driver got abusive and said he did not give a damn if he could write or not, and asked him to get it written by some other passenger.

Mr. Krishnamurthi then spoke back in anger and told the driver that he was rude. Saying so, he went inside looking for a seat. Last, I saw him getting his name written by a co passenger.

I sat in peace. But I felt sorry for the driver, who might never experience the magic of a thankful smile.

The Tiffin Set

After I got off the "201" bus, I was walking towards my office when I saw a young man struggling with two really big tiffin cases. Now these are the traditional tiffin sets; with steel and circular containers (5-6 in number), being held on their sides. Something similar to the image above, but much much bigger.

These sets came upto my shoulder and I am 5 feet 2.5 inches. He had one of that variety in one hand and in the other he held a hand made basket containing some unwashed vessels. He had stopped and seemed to be taking some rest.

I could not imagine him carrying that weight any further and just then he called for an auto that was traveling empty. He spoke for a while but apparently the auto driver had refused. The young man looked desolate but proud. I asked him if he needed any help. He refused as I had expected him to.

He then lifted the tiffin sets and trudged on and I walked on, albeit a little slowly a little ahead of him. After all he would expect me to walk faster as I had no luggage on me. And I did not want him to think that I was watching him. After a few steps I heard a crashing sound. He had dropped the big set. I decided then that I would do something. I went up to him and told him firmly, I will hold one side while he could hold the handle on the other side.

He just looked at me, said nothing, But he did not object. And how could he? I had lifted the handle with my left hand and he had no option but to pick the other end ;)

While walking, he told me that it was the fourth auto that had refused to accommodate him. I asked him how much further the hotel was.He indicated a location that was somewhere behind my office. I said I would walk with him. Moreover it was not very heavy, now that the weight was distributed.We made good progress. Then I stopped some 15 meters before the hotel and told him I had to get to work.

He said he could manage from there on. I said “Take Care” and he said “Thanks”.

I sent a silent prayer to God that he be given an opportunity to get to a better position.

March 14, 2008

The Story of PI

The PI is a fascinating mathematical constant approximately equal to 3.1459.... Its transcendental in itself meaning no finite sequence of algebraic operations on integers could ever produce it.

Why am I elaborating so much on the value of PI and its significance, something which 13-14 year olds would have had drilled into their heads by teachers practicing the "Rote" method of education system ? Well the story is as follows ( The following scene is taking place at my work place). There was a meeting regarding the launch of our gaming portal – Presino.

A little about Presino.... Cant help bragging about it as I am one of the members of the development team that put together Presino. Our portal aims to be the "Fantasy Gaming Platform" and is targeted currently at an audience comprising of sports enthusiasts. We also have in the pipeline, games on Bollywood, Literature, Quizzes etc etc for the rest of us. The plan is to cover all major sporting events, the entertainment itinerary and pretty much everything.

Lest all of you out there start thinking that this a free advertisement for Presino, let me pause and resume my story. Yeah, so were at the meeting and it was decided that Presino will be launched on March 14th. Discussions were on about further improvements and enhancements when talks steered towards the scoring system, ranking and the leader boards. With one thing leading to another, there rose a question as to what should the unit of scoring be called. We wanted something original, innovative yet not too serious.

Amidst ideas springing up everywhere like "Matrix Agents", the ones that made the cut were

a. COWRIES - These are shells belonging to a group of small to large sea snails. Most people find the very rounded, shiny, porcelain like shells of cowries very pleasing to look at and handle(explanation courtesy Wikipedia). Also cowries had been used as currency in several parts of the world in the past and present and had a significant purpose in ceremonies.]
This did not have many takers though and cowries got passed over :(

b. VIDS - This was suggested as an acronym for ((Virtual Dollars)). Though the expansion was catchy, it sounded very American and not many warmed up to it. I did not like it one bit. Thankfully it suffered a quick and painless death.

c. PRESINO POINTS - This was downright simple and was rejected instantly.

d. PIP - This was a hot favorite as it was shown to depict ((Presino Incentive Points)). "Google-The-Great" threw up Picture-In-Picture as the first link and Wikipedia coughed up the following meanings-
i>the smallest unit in forex trading by which a currency may change value,
ii>the seed of several fruits such as apples and oranges,
iii>a disease of birds characterized by a thick mucous discharge that forms a crust in the mouth and throat.

Now this last explanation was reason enough for its unceremonious yet painful departure from the list. Painful because it came millimeters close to being chosen. So Near and Yet so Far..... More Sighing

As more options kept getting rejected, PI made a surprise entry and suddenly people were silent. Now nobody remembers whose idea it was and so it is everybody's idea :). I believe all is well that ends well and so Pi came to be and we got an expansion for it - Presino Incentives .

And PI came to to be symbolic because of the following reasons. Firstly the day we had chosen to launch Presino was "March 14th" which we accidentally found out was the PI day. And also March 14th - being the third month and 14th day – equaled the approximate PI value. More reasons for cheer.... :)

The creation of the PI "icon" was a whole new story. We wanted to base it on the PI symbol and lend our creative touch to it. The idea was to make it more significant . So if you look closely, you will see a P and I in the two legs of the icon. Though it looks simple, it took long hours to get the final look.

We launched Presino and everyone's reaction on seeing the icon(in the beginning of the blog) was one word - CLEVER :)

March 14th will be a day I will remember for a long time.

February 17, 2008

Hyderabadi Biryani

My brother Balaji got married on the 20th of January. So my entire family had been to Hyderabad for the wedding where Renu(my sis-in-law) is originally from.

We left on the 18th night and arrived there on 19th morning..... At the station, we were greeted by Renu's Chittappas(uncles). Transport had been arranged for us to reach the mantap. The address of the hall :

Jain Bhavan
3/5 141/2 - A Eden Bagh
Ram Kote
Hyderabad 1

On the drive, my first impression was that there were very few vehicles in comparison to Bangalore. This was to change on the last day of my visit :)

On arrival at the Kalyana Mantap we saw Ravi firstly :) (There you go Ravi.... Thats for having sent that loooooooong helpful mail ).

A little introduction about Ravi. He is one of Renu's best friends. He is essentially a warm person. He tries to make everyone feel good and special. An entertainer par excellence. Never a dull moment when he is around. I dont know if he ever feels the need to be on the other side and have somebody making him feel at ease. Hmmmm

So where was I before Ravi sidetracked me :)..... Yes, we had arrived at the Mantap. My sister and I had to be with the bride and groom for small ceremonies that we had to perform. So we kept some of the luggage in a room allotted for us and retired to a hotel nearby which was in essential a guest house courtesy daddy dearest.

We arrived dressed in splendor as everyone else. Paid respects to thatha and pati ( grandad and grandmom) . Mom and Dad had started introducing us to people who had seen us from the time we were toddlers, some whom I remembered and others I just could not place despite racking my brains real hard. After all the cursory hi's, hello's and how are you doing - we got together with all cousins as the entire clan was there and started loud conversations amidst all the existing noises.

In all the ordered cacophony I noticed "Jonathan Peter Day", the bridegrooms colleague and friend. He was so fair I was sure that he has been painted or he was a mannequin. Something made me want to know him better.He was looking a little clueless about all the activities but still snapping away to glory on his camera.

I asked Ravi to be introduced to him. We immediately got on like a house on fire and there was great rapport. It was initially strange but we started exchanging thoughts and ideas of our respective cultures and struck a chord there.

I explained to him the meaning and the importance of the extensive chantings that happen in our weddings. He observed that our weddings were noisy and there was happy chaos everywhere. I said that their weddings were very organized, there was also some rehearsal of it a day or two earlier and it was over in half a day.

It was 19th evening by now, and there was the baraat which included lot of dancing and music. This was new in our South Indian custom. But the bride's family were a fun filled lot and wanted laughter and fun, so baraat it was. I am shy when it comes to dancing, so I watched others dance from distance and was clapping and just shaking my shoulders.

My sister and I left the party midway to get dressed for the Reception later in the evening. Jon and Ravi looked dapped in their suits. Since morning we had also been introduced to Renu's side of cousins.Sakshi, Sunny, Srikant, Srinivas and lots others... Yes a lot of "S" names. Everyone was looking smart.

Balaji and Renu looked resplendent in their respective outfits. She in her sea blue saree and he in his suit. I was feeling sorry for them as I realized how much of smiling they had to do and be on their toes all the time. Also in the harsh lights and the photographer constantly asking for poses, its a wonder that they actually turn into grizzly bears :) A wedding is never a time that the bride and groom look back with great joy as they are so exhausted 24/7 and expected to still smile through.... Phew..

That night after the reception, we youngsters had an Antaskshari session till midnight. The bride and groom participated too despite knowing that the next day was the "D Day" and they had to be up early. I guess it was their way of being themselves without any pressure to act a certain way. The singing session was a fun riot all the way what with Tamil, Hindi and even English songs making a foray. And then it was goodmorning Sunday :)

20th - Sunday

Morning was chaos in the hotel. Each one wanted the other to get up first and finish bathing. Dad went in first and realised nobody was even contemplating putting a toe out of the cot. Dad lost his temper and switched off the AC. That had us squealing and scrambling to get into the bathroom. Mom who went for the bath next, came complaining that the water was freezing. Time was running out and so was patience. She managed to drip some water over her and called it a fine bathing experience. My sister went in next and I was meanwhile folding all the clothes and arranging them neatly. Also I kept out the morning outfits and the jewellery. I love arranging, folding and stacking up things neatly. Little bit of a Monica Gellar there but without the eccentricities.

As luck would have it, when I went in, the water was hot just the way I liked it. And I was busy doing a jig inside laughing at their pitiful bathing experiences, when dad said he was going to abandon me if I did not finish soon. Hufffff Parents .... especially when on outings become such tyrants. So the three women- me, my mom and my sister finally got ready and left in an auto to the Mantap. And imagine our plight, we were lost in a new place and there sits my mom like she was a temple deity complete with all gold ornaments and big bindi. Finally after what seemed like 4-5 circular movements on the same old roads we chanced upon the venue.

The traditional garland exchanging ceremony was going to begin.

This is where the bride and the groom are carried by their respective uncles. Woe betide anyone who crosses 60 kgs at maximum and the uncles will have problems ;). So after being lifted up in the air, the bride and the groom are supposed to fling the garland alternatively, please note alternatively and not at the same time else it will become a garland war :). These flung garlands are supposed to land on the others' neck. (Miracles especially when one is precariously sitting on one's shoulder and trying to balance oneself, there comes the additional pressure of having to basket the garland. And I have decided I am gonna start basket ball practice to be good at it later when my turn comes... if it happens the traditional way that is ;)

After this, the bride and the groom are made to sit on a jhoola( long swing) and the feeding session starts -- to make up for all their starved sorry states the previous day. There are some songs sung teasing the bride and the groom in a subtle manner. Each of the singing party competes with the other as to who is the loudest in this department :) . My uncles won it hands down.Then starts the mini function of all the elderly aunties feeding them banana and milk salad and then swinging some rice balls covered with kumkum(vermilion) and manjal(turmeric) and resembling laddoos(a sweet item that looks like mini yellow colored cannons) around them. This is supposedly meant to ward off the evil eye. After the swinging, comes throwing them wherever you can :) This was the fun part as each one took on the others in who would land it the farthest. Bret Lee would have been shamed today.

The wedding muhurtam(good time) finally arrived. I tied the second and third knot as is tradition(being Balaji's sister) around Renu's neck after Balaji had tied the first and Renu was family. There were tears of happiness and loads of congratulations. And lots of confetti in my mouth. I was spluttering a while looking like I had entered from snow land as my hair was covered in little white chunks of "God knew what".

Jon as he called himself was the center of attention of all people as we are a naturally curious community and he had to answer the same questions " How did you find the wedding" , "Are you enjoying" etc etc posed by different people and he answered all of them patiently. And he answered mine too patiently.

The day wore on with people going over to bless the newly married couple while the Vaadyars(the priests) were not letting them go. They were made to repeat one long chant after another amidst all the smoke from the homam( sacred fire or the havan). Watery eyes, kajal streaming down their eyes, it must have been pure agony for them.

On 2oth night

The wedding was over... We youngsters wanted to take a Hyderabad mini trip. After ensuring that luggages had been packed, we went out. And this is the Route Map (thanks to Ravi) in his words with a few modifications here and there :)

We started off in Ramkote and drove directly to NTR Marg via the Telugu Talli flyover from where one could see the Birla Temple all lit up at night...Then we were on NTR Marg which is like the breathing space of the city with Lumbini Gardens and NTR Gardens taking up most of the road. At the end of this road, there is Prasadz IMax which houses the only IMAX #-D theatre this side of the Vindhyas.

We also took a drive on the Necklace Road and caught a glimpse of the ultra popular Eat Street. Then we were back on to the main road....The most notable road between here and HiTech City being the Track....this is an 8 track road, a huge well lit, well maintained road in Jubilee Hills. This is called The Track because of the break neck speeds that people go in on this road. Then we entered HiTech City, saw the campuses of all the multi national giants and stopped near SF(Something Fishy) Durgam Cheruvu (also called Secret Lake).

This was the lake whose name I tried recollecting and made a sorry figure in front of my TL who incidentally is from Hyderabad and there I was stuttering out some unintelligible words that I told him with absolute conviction was Telugu ... Hrmph... and he sat laughing at my inability to remember names as usual.

Ok back about the long drive.......
We sat there for a while and then we had Irani Chai and Osmania Biskut in one of the cafes just before hitting the track again. The Chai I loved, the biscut as Ravi calls it turned all gooey gooey in my mouth and became a paste which I did not enjoy much. Then I was told a small history about the Chai.... That despite it being priced at around Rs.5 a cup, people buy one cup and share it amongst two. Strange history. Then we drove back towards Lakdi ka pul where our hotel was and where my sister was in no mood to finish the trip, so we ended up going towards Mehdipatnam and then the Cavalry Road and then onto Gandipet Lake.

At Gandipet, some of us decided to revive the the Stone Age by climbing the rocks. There was the warning one of us spotted before I could think of putting my little toe in the water "This place has crocodiles" and my bravery was questioned ;)

It was a clear night, with the moon shining brightly. It was calm all around and the lake looked so sanguine. The weather clement, I just removed myself from my immediate surroundings and felt transported to aplace with only the lake . And suddenly I was alone, but unafraid. The vast skies were filled with many stars, some twinkling, some just shining brightly and others shining amidst the shadow of other stars. The moon looked serene and I suddenly felt cold. I came out of the reverie and noticed everyone around me.

It was here that Jonathan asked me, why is it that in India people make mess and expect others to clean up after them. Is it because they think its below their dignity to pick it up? I did not have an answer... All I said was ,If someone thinks they can get away with wrongdoing and don't have a conscience to be harried about, they would do it without any misgivings.

There was lots of silence after that......... And it was time to go home. When my sister and I got dropped back to the hotel, nobody wanted to leave. I met some special people that day and its a bond I hope remains for life. We all exchanged numbers and hugged each other goodnight at 3 am Monday :) :) and went up the hotel to wake my parents and dive into the cot head first.

Alright the title has definitely been misleading :) and if any of you are still looking out for any mention of that Biryani ...... hee hee hee hee I am sorry to disappoint you. I could not think of a better title for my Hyderabad trip so the title came to be hee hee hee.

A night I shall not forget for a long time...............