Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Love in the Times of Cholera - my viewpoint

Falling sick gave me a chance to read this book by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.  I had put off reading his '100 years of Solitude' which my husband had read and said it is a master piece and that 'that is a novel' which spans lifetimes.  So, I picked the book, one because it was by the famed author, second it was smaller and more because I thought I will be able to finish it by the time I recovered.

The book is set in a port near the Caribbean Sea and revolves around life and scenery of that time.  If there is one character that is central to the whole book, it is 'Cholera'.  Life revolves around its coming and going definitely.  The character of Fermina Daza, is one of a girl who grows/evolves from adolescence to womanhood, typical of women as nature endows them.  They learn and adapt as nature has endowed them(otherwise, how do women leave their past lives and embrace their husbands lives as their own).  Florentino Ariza is the person who is in love with Fermina throughout the novel, from the time he is young to when he is old.  It starts with childish love when they are young and continues till their old age, in different ways for each of them though where one tries to leave it out of her life and the other pursues it.  Given this main line, the author deftly portrays everyday life woven into their lives and he is extremely good at it.  The mundane everyday things that we do in our daily life is woven into the story so well, you fail to realize or recognize it straightaway.  It seems different and takes a little time to understand that his writing is what makes it sound magical.

The author has built the characters slowly, painstakingly over a period of time (here through their entire life).  He is able to show the difference in their behaviour and attitude as they age through his writing, which is difficult to convey.  In this, it looks like he has lived with his characters.   

Love - the word means different things to different people.  Love for some is being loyal in every way, whereas for some others it means pursuing it yet living their natural lives, whereas for others it is living it yet not living it.

Florentino has numerous affairs throughout his life, enjoys them with the person in the moment and once out of it realizes that his love for Fermina continues(as he says).  Sometimes, I feel getting into a relationship for him is like eating and going about his daily chores - for nowhere does he search for her when he is with one of the numerous women in his life and yet he remembers her.  I failed to understand if he is dispassionate, detached or just by nature unattached.  Sometimes, it looks like one and when you have made it the definite premise, then you find a totally different trait indicating maybe he is fluctuating.  Also, he remains attached to the women in his life remembering them, writing his life with them, visiting them and growing old with them.  He cries on the dead of America Vicuna out of love he says but maybe both guilt and love for that was a first experience, where a women decides to end her life for he moved away to another - other women in his life are not bothered by it.

Marquez writes about emotions of any normal human being so well, yet so subtly that you identify with it yet, you think it is different for the characters.  Like when Fermina and Urbino settle in their married life understanding each other's capacity and adjust or ignore the failures.  Finally, as life grows Marquez shows how people capable of handling major events in their younger days falter on a little step later in life (like when Fermina learns about Urbino's affair, indicating that age is catching up and it is time to go.

Finally Florentino does get the chance he has waited all his life but I wondered whether he found happiness or not.  First, the smell of old age, two of his seeing Fermina and third about his own capacity.  Yet, in the very end, he wants life on the boat (just the two of them and the caption and his friend) to continue.  I wondered whether he was finally happy with Fermina or was it that on a boat with a boundary, Fermina will not become one of his numerous affairs, or if he realized that imagination did not match reality and he resigned himself to life being what he got and that happiness lay in accepting it and not searching for the mirage.  This because he cried for America when he knew he will get Fermina.  He realizes he loved America - so how is it possible to move so swiftly to another or is he so dispassionate that his goal is what he will be happy with at any cost, or is he someone who can pass instances in life by just because they have passed.

The book is great, given the way it is written.  Weaving a story with the common things in life is I guess Gabriel Garcia Marquez's talent.  It is a simple story of life that you can find anywhere made different by the portrayal.  Also, the character grows and you grow along with the character identifying the nuances and changes in each person.  That is the brilliant part of the book.  He is able to help you capture the picture he sees and yet have your own perspective.

However, sometimes I wondered if the author is unable to nail whether to portray Florentino as right or wrong or to keep it abstract so that the reader can come to his own conclusion.  Sometimes, when he has started portraying him as untrue to his goal he flips and starts doing the opposite and sometimes he conveys how difficult it is to be one or the other.

I also wonder if reading the book through a fever was a good idea, given that the book has a central character of cholera.  Maybe, should read it again when I am healthier.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Run Away

There is cacophony all around. The shed on the fourth floor of the apartments, built to shield from rain is rattling in the wind. The washing machine has a constant drone 'drrrrr.....drrrrr...drrrrr'. The TV next door blares with nonsensical melodrama, the keyboards 'tuck tuck tuck'. The cooker next door is whistling away. Someone is drilling a hole into the wall. Another is hitting the floor above. A vacuum cleaner's drone does not stop. A kid screams next door. It is too much to stand. I feel like shutting my ears and hearing 'nothing'.

There are days, when all I want to do is run away - away to a place where there is no human being in sight. A place which is quiet, peaceful and beautiful. Every time I think of a place like this, it is the forests, Manasarovar, Leh-Ladakh, the Thar, a vacant beach, or the Rann of Kutch that comes to mind.

At times when this 'Run Away' feeling comes, it is a strong urge to just scoot, to fly away. Leave everything behind and just walk - knowing not where you are headed and what lays in store.

I feel like shutting my ears when I hear the incessant honking of vehicles, the buzzing of a machine, the voice of other people, the noise of TV .... The only thing that sounds pleasant at these times is the buzz of the wind and the voices of birds. They soothe me and bring back my rhythm. So much power has nature, that we have forgotten to be in tune with it. In the process, we have lost it forever.

If only we could have a 'Shut Down' day - when we shut down every man made machine and just listen to the real sound, it will be music to the mind.

Or just 'Scream'. When you scream, scream so loud that you can't hear anything. You hear nothing !!!!

Thanks to the Norwegian expressionist Edvard Munch for his picture 'The Scream' which shows exactly what I want to show but am incapable of.  

The 'I Know it All' Tribe

If you have come across one such specimen, you will understand what I mean. There are some who think that they know everything about everything. This, even when they don't know to differentiate black from white.

Along with this thinking comes a superiority complex, an attitude that they are the best in the world. That the Einstein's in the varying fields knew lesser than them. The disdain they have in their eyes for other's opinions is resentful. They care two hoots about hurting someone else's feelings for they are blinded by their own mirror image.

All I can do is pity them their ignorance, their immaturity. However, it is difficult to do that when you are standing in front of one such.


When a guy who gets 1000+ in the board exams out of 1200 fails miserably in his degree, what are you supposed to think ? That the teacher failed him in teaching the way he would be interested in learning, that he has lost interest in studying, that he finds playing more fun, that he has decided to fail, that he doesn't care.... What are you supposed to think ?

I fail to understand this and it hurts for either the person has lost interest or he has been put into a situation (by himself or others) into such a situation.

Retrieving oneself and going back is an arduous task. It can be done, if everyone walks their bit, but then who is ready to do that. The easy way is to point a finger and give up.

Freshly Ploughed Earth

A freshly ploughed field shows beauty, texture and strength of the earth.  Something alluring, magnetic, inviting and enduring.

A Pilgrimage

Guruvayur is famous - for Lord Sri Krishna resides there. If one goes early morning(3:00 a.m. - 3:20 a.m.) for Nirmalya Darshanam then one sees the Lord adorned with the flowers and garlands of the previous night. From then on, as the day progresses, one can see Him in various forms from childhood till adulthood.

Anyone who has gone there knows that for a 5 second darshan of the Lord, you have to wait for near an hour, sometimes three hours. The time spent in the queue is very interesting. All kinds of people, poor and rich stand in the same queue to have their 5 seconds with Him. Some chant, some are more concerned about when they will be able to leave, some about what they have to do once they are back home, some about sedentary things in life and others are concerned about how to overtake the person in front. Through all this most of us try to think of him and meditate maybe on how miniscule we are on earth and how our actions and reactions to people around better be good for the little time we have.

Through all this there was one couple who were discussing about watching 3D Titanic after leaving the temple. It sounded so ridiculous (to me atleast). Yes, Lord Krishna had eight wives(16000 odd were those who were kept in the harem of King Narakasura and asked for Krishna's protection. He granted their wish by declaring that they were his wives). Yes, we see Krishna as the divine lover. However, standing there in front of the temple, waiting for a darshan and wishing that they watch a movie. They might as well have watched the movie and then come in peace.

Or maybe Krishna was testing our capacity to keep our mind from going astray - from wandering away from him. 

Why a Countdown ?

Why a countdown ?

Life is to be lived. However, there is another side too. It is to be remembered. Not the person alone, but the events and the people around. For what are we, but an event(can I call myself that) made up of collaborating people, known and unknown. People does not always refer to human beings here. It refers to anything, living or non-living which makes us feel part of something big.

After nearly four decades, I think it is time I note down incidences, good and bad for the future. When I sit back sometime in the future on my rocking chair, hair all white, all I will have to look back on are incidences, crazy, funny and the serious. Maybe it will help me pass time then. But in the years it takes to reach there, I feel I might forget something in the run to make a life as we know it.

Hence, this is a sort of diary, but not a diary. It is a recording of incidences in my life, my theories, my beliefs, my opinion which I will not analyze in the blog(I shall personally of course), but leave it for another day. That day I will look back on incidents and see if there is a connection to others. The diary will serve as a place where I store things I want to, some important, some not so.

I don't mind revealing the stories. I can only request that people not be judgmental for the incidences are happenings that I am a part of - knowingly and unknowingly. They are what shape my life and will shape it too. I am not perfect but I do aspire to and in the run up to that perfection, I must commit my share of mistakes. I will be I know, but can only hope that I learn from them and not repeat them too often atleast. For I am but a human being. Things very personal may not find a place here. So, I am my own censor too.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The Season of Internals

It's the time of the year when students and staff negotiate a lot.  Students try convincing us one way and we, on our part get caught between the system and the students.  A time for internal assessments.  Many will say, what is there to negotiate.  'They will get what they deserve'.

I don't know how one feels when one's kid comes up and tells, 'Yes, I didn't try hard enough.  But just consider this time'.  Sometimes, I feel torn between looking at a student as an adult who should have realized what his actions will result in and listened when I have informed about the internal calculation in the beginning of the semester and looking at him as just a kid with all the quirks and playfulness only a kid can have.  No, I am not justifying his actions.  I am wondering about the thin line and how to balance between the two.

The system of internal calculation is good, given that information is provided in advance of the method followed for calculation.  Abroad, at 16, a kid learns to manage his/her own life.  They take responsibility and parents also give them that space.  In India, even at 25, a grown up is treated like a kid.  We still report to his parents that he is not coming properly to class, is playful and what not and parents expect the same.  In our culture, parents are still responsible for their kids which has its pros and cons given the different world we live in today.  So, I wonder if they learn what is taking responsibility for one's life and actions till they probably land on a job in a new place and having to manage their life.

Students who pass out and come back a year later are different.  They grow up.  The last instance was meeting one of Arun's friends son who was a student the first time I spoke to him and a year later had worked in an organization.  He had so much more confidence.  Of course he retained his boyishness but also had the look of responsibility and spoke with conviction which was not there earlier.  I didn't realize it at first.  I kept looking at him and wondering what was different from last time.  On the way home, it was Arun who told me, 'He has transformed from a boy to a man.  He is so much more confident, knows what he wants and where he wants to be'.  No, his parents are not those who take his decisions.  They are very level headed people who I think gave him his space when he was a student too.  Still, the transformation.

So, a boy/girl in college continues to be a kid who thinks he can ask his teachers for consideration just like he/she will ask parents.  The only way around is for both parents and teachers to help him grow up.  To help him understand that when he turns 18, it just does not mean he is an adult and hence has the licence to drive bikes and cars as well as vote, but also take responsibility for actions that affect his life.

Besides, the students I meet today are a different lot from kids at our time.  In my class also I had friends who had problems, financial and otherwise.  The number was ofcourse lesser.  Today, we find more of such cases.  In our time, most of our moms were homemakers and hence we had someone to fall back on.  Today, with cost of living so high, both parents have to work to make ends meet, unless ofcourse one is rich.  So, family time is less.  Also, students from rural backgrounds have issues of adjusting to the urban setup where language, way of life and loss of home becomes a huge factor along with the responsibility of somehow succeeding, meeting expectations and paying off loans.

Then ofcourse, there is this factor that kids today are so much more sensitive compared to our generation.  Given most of them  are a single child, they get pampered and most of their whims and fancies are met at home.  Also, peer pressure is so much more.  They don't understand terms like integrity and meeting one's goals with respect to the job.  However, they know their goals for fun and everything else.

We are a nation in transition, I believe.  And each of us are in the same state.  This generation has more pressure than us.  They are the ones technology has touched, who have been influenced by TV and fast life, who are expected to earn in lakhs from the day they pass out, unlike us who could take our own time to grow.

So, I wonder what to do especially when a student falters once despite doing well in all other aspects during a course.  Ofcourse, no marks for not trying - there is no two ways about that.  I have always believed that trying is important than actual results given that each of us are built differently.  My dad always said, 'Try - if it comes your way great.  If it doesn't, you atleast know it was not for want of you trying'.  And due to this, many a time, I give more value to the underdog who has tried hard than the student who has the talent and capability giving in an average output.  This gives rise to questions from students again and I tell them to go beyond average for they are more than average giving rise to the line 'Your are expecting too much from us'.  I tell them, 'I do. I expect you to rise high, to go beyond, to aim for the stars, to go where your dreams go and be happy, realize your potential.  For I know what you are capable off'.  Then I wonder, 'Am I adding to the pressures they already have in life ?'  It's so confusing sometimes and I wonder, I wonder a lot.

So, it is that time of the year when I have to take a decision where my heart says one thing and my brain the other.  And I try to follow my heart where I can.  Don't know if I am right but that is the way.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Determination - an example set by a 11 year old boy

Gabriel Muniz - a eleven year old boy has set the benchmark for determination.  He has no feet but plays football amazingly as hence has been invited by Barcelona to train with them.


One more Onam

This Onam was a little different.  Achan had come making it special.  This is the first Onam with Achan here at home.  He came after a lot of convincing and a little bit of fighting, but it was worth it.

While I did the cooking, Arun and Achan did the pookalam.  Achan was the designer and said, that he would do a 'Sputnik'.  I jumped wondering what that meant.  He said, when sputnik was first launched, that was the design for Onam then.  A craft with four legs.  So, both of them got down to making 'Sputnik Pookalam'.  It was fun.

The sputnik Achan designed and Arun implemented.  He said that something is missing and when they had done it then, it was better.

So, this Onam, we welcomed Mahabali with Sputnik.

  I look back to the old days when Onam was with a big family.  My mom used to do the pookalam single handedly as well as the Sadhya for all three of us used to have school.  She was very good at it.  Wish I could go back in time.  Maybe next year we should get together, for we have Deeksha and Vivaan, the next generation.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Woman of Steel

My university's VC wrote in his blog about one of the first woman physician of India.  I thank him for it, for this is a story that was unknown to me.

Dr. Anandi Gopal Joshi's(Anandibai) story is a source of inspiration.  My hair stands on end reading this piece.  The determination of this lady to stand by her ideas and principles at a time when a woman's place in Indian society was only at home is commendable.  Commendable is also the fact that her husband encouraged and stood by her.  'Behind every man there is a woman' is a common adage.  It should be changed because it is biased many a times, as this story shows.  I would say 'Behind every half, there is another half'.

Wikipedia's write up link:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anandi_Gopal_Joshi

To read her letter from the archives click http://xdl.drexelmed.edu/viewer.php?object_id=001340&t=womanmd

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Celebrating Life

Sometime in my school days, I remember telling my sisters two things to be done after I die :  one, not to latkaufy(hang) my picture on a wall, and second not to take me for cremation in that vehicle that they commonly use.  My sisters looked at me stunned and asked me to stop it, if I was done with the thought.  I also asked them not to sit around and cry for me.  They had had enough.

It must have been weird for them to hear their eldest sister talking of death.  For me, it was just what I wanted.  It is something that I have told Arun too and both of us agree about the same.  We would like our family and friends to be happy, sing and dance rather than cry.  I am happy to have lived my life, however small it may have been.  I am happy to have known some very nice people, to have family and friends who know me in and out and yet love me unconditionally.  I would consider it a huge success if I have brought happiness to someone or helped someone even if it is in a small way; if I have stood up for what I have believed in.  

We saw the idea live, in action after going to the P.R. Ramakrishnan Memorial Music Concert where Mrs. R. Rajeswari, his wife had invited Mrs. Usha Uthup for an evening of music.  We were happy to see his family celebrating his life and admire their strength and conviction in doing so.

P.R. Ramakrishnan was a visionary.  He setup industries and an educational institution which is 50+ years old.  From what I have heard, CIT had a name for education and fun.  I told one of my friends, 10 years elder to me, from Trichy that I was joining CIT, Cbe in 2000.  He remembered how when he was a student, if he visited Coimbatore for something, he wouldn't go to a hotel for lunch.  He would get his friends to buy guest coupons in the mess, for CITs food was the best you could get.  He said it was the same with most students those days.  He particularly remembered the 'morkozhambu' that CIT used to dish out on Thursdays and I could see his mouth watering at that thought.  Imagine, one of his fondest memories of Cbe is of having lunch at CIT, though he never studied at CIT or Coimbatore for that matter.

So, it is right that we are celebrating the life of a man who has given so many people so much.  Many people think that only those they meet have touched their lives.  Actually, with an educational institution, you are linked to the founding fathers more than anyone else.  For me, I have always looked up to Mr. Ramaswamy Iyer who started Seethalakshmi Ramaswami College at a time when women's education was taboo.  I respect him for giving so many women the precious gift of education and through it empowerment.  

When many people hear that I am from SRC, they doubt it and then ask me how I survived in that constraining environment.  But I say, "Hey, I had the best part of my life there".  We were girls given all the freedom to do whatever we wanted.  Of course there were rules and our teachers were strict.  They were however never unreasonable.  I was a dayscholar, so not much known about the hostel.  25 departments having our own cultural fest for three days, a freshers party, sports, bhajans,..... if all this is not fun, what is ?   Students used to bunk classes and get vada and bhajji from the canteen, sit under the trees away from the main campus and eat them to find Mr. Panjapakesan, the current trustee (Panju or Panju thaatha as we fondly call him to date) walk by and ask them if the food served in the canteen was good enough(this story is from a senior).   

I was someone who didn't like the saree rule.  So, given a chance I would wear a salwar-kamiz for the saree was revealing, and it was trouble in the bus.  So, on sundays when we had class, I used to wear salwars, rebelling at the idea of wearing a saree on a sunday.  Panju saw me many a time, but never asked me once.  I hoped he would ask and I could tell him how it was difficult for us to wear a saree and travel in a bus especially with men touching and pinching.  He never gave me a chance.  And I gave up.  

One other time, I followed Panju on his daily walk around the campus.  I had heard he has a routine everyday, which he never breaks.  He walks around, stopping by at certain places, watches us students go by, and in the middle of the ground, he takes off his slippers and prays.  I admired him for that.  The campus does not change radically but he walked around everyday.  That was his commitment to keep in touch with the students I guess and be in touch with the pulse of the college.  Stand at the gates of the college, and you can feel the energy.  2000 students walking in at 9:00 in the morning.  Maybe, that must be why he walks, that energy, to know if we are on the move or relaxing.  :)  Commitment is something I guess I learnt from my dad and him.  

At CIT, I respect the man who founded the institution thereby setting the stage for many a life to spring from.  We have scientists, engineers, academicians and administrators who form the alumni of the college.  That is a success attributable to the man who started it all.  So, I think there is reason to rejoice in a life so well lived.  

Coming home that day, I remembered those close to me and how they made me happy, taught me many things.  Rudolf for being a gentleman, Thebar for what you can call 'first love', Mullar for being kind, taking care of us through our bad times, Betty for 'love', Vikram for being a brother who wiped away my tears many a time when I used to cry, Rufi, Kutty, Figo, Dafy, Wilys, Fori, Karumbi, Chandan, Thumba, Thumbi........ and Michel who I miss so much that it still aches and tears roll.  He was someone who knew my joys and sorrows, my fears, my secrets and who stood by me at my very lowest.  He loved me like no one else, he waited for me to return home and missed my absence.  I would give anything today to see his face once again.  To him I am ever indebted.  I am happy I was a part of their lives and knowing each of them was an honour.  They have made me what I am today.  (By the way, my parents, besides the three of us had more children. Our dogs and cows always got priority over us and it continues that way even today.  We were brought up to think that they were our brothers and sisters.) If I am passionate about life, it is all due to them.  If you see me alive and smiling away, it is what they have taught me to do.  If you see me even a bit strong, it is attributable to the strength of character they showed.  So, my life has been defined totally by them.  My living even a part of their ideas is the way I rejoice and celebrate their life.  It matters to me that they lived and touched my life.  

So, yes, someone's passing away is painful.  For we can no longer talk to them, see them in person and interact with them.  But life and death is a never ending cycle.  I for one, would like my life celebrated.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

India - at the crossroads, converging beautifully

India is a mix - of the old and the new, of the traditional and modern.  That's what makes my land so enchanting, inspiring, beautiful, interesting and intriguing.  This 'pujari' (priest) if I am right, is riding a bullet.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Coimbatore Poo Market

The 'Poo Market' in Coimbatore is famous.  Flowers of all colours abound and energy of people is endless.

People call out to buyers - high pitched yet making the magic of the place.

The buyer-seller bargain is something interesting to watch.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When did IPL become public ?

IPL is private cricket league game.  Yes, BCCI is the umbrella for all cricketing activities in India.  However, I have always thought that IPL is private.  The IPL owners have put in the money and hence reap benefits without getting taxed - and if this is not enough, the team in the story has a boss who smokes in public and struts around because he has money and the power.  We have heard about match fixing, drinking brawls and sleaze over the past week.  All this get front page.  Isn't that the story of IPL ?  Please correct me if I am wrong !!! I am not a cricket buff.  

The paper today put me off.  You have the chief minister of a state along with the governor celebrating the victory.  Ok.  The team is named after the city so, you are there for congratulating them.  But this is not a team representing the state - it is a team made up of people who are there to play after being auctioned.  If a victory for IPL is so important, then why doesn't any government show so much enthusiasm when their home teams win the Ranji Trophy ?  No top level official is seen conducting an appreciation ceremony, forget becoming the MC, the chief guest as well as joining in the dance finally ending in a lathi charge.

Whither are we going ?  Where is the wind blowing ?  And why do we follow blindly.

The above opinions are mine and mine alone.  I may be in danger but then, how are we as a people keeping quiet ?  What can we do ?  If we object, we will be called party breakers...

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

A Spoilt Brat

The strike by pilots of the national career reminds me of a spoilt brat - no, not that of a child but an adult who has been indulged endlessly to the point of no return.

The last time the pilots went on strike, some of them were dismissed and then if I remember right reinstated.  This habit has made them so bold as to cripple the country, stranding thousands of passengers.  Every job comes with a certain amount of accountability and dignity.   This one is at its pits.  Not that I question employees rights to strike - it is necessary and essential sometimes.  However, going on a strike every six months and plunging the airline to more debts than what it is going through today is not justified.  The current reason given is the training being given to IA pilots for the 787 dreamliner.  When IA and AI have been merged into one entity, does your past still hold ?  Speak of mergers and acquisitions. 

If this is the attitude of the staff, why get us taxpayers to pay for it.  No wonder people try to evade tax.  Imagine, they are getting a 30,000 crore bailout and to top it they go on a strike.  Isn't this behaviour akin to a spoilt brat who goes partying when the family is plunging into debt.  Sometimes, it is better to cut the chord and hope that it will teach the child the value of security and the joy of spending something hard earned.  

I remember the last time I visited the Air India's office.  I had to cancel an international trip for a conference and thereby met the manager to ask him for cancellation procedures.  A gentleman walked in asking if he could get a discount on the ticket as someone known to him worked for the airline.  Another employee walked in asking that the manager's signature for a trip she was taking(I guess airline staff are entitled to trips, subsidised or free I am not sure - but they are which I gathered from the conversation).  All this was happening when the government was wondering how to bailout the airline from bankruptcy. 

Another time, a matronly woman had to be asked thrice by the lady sitting next to me for a blanket to cover herself up as she was feeling cold.  You should have seen the face of the matron. 

Would this have happened if it was a private carrier ? The staff's perks, such as the above would have been immediately cancelled and the expectation is that employees understand that a roof is better than pulling down the whole house.  Another airline in debt was allowed to sink  recently.  Then the question becomes, why not this one.  Just because it is a public carrier ?

It would have been understandable if the employees rallied around to save the carrier.  However, that is not what we as the public feel.  You never know when your flight will get cancelled - no surety.  A government servant is enough to cancel or delay your flight and no questions can be asked(the recent episode being the Maldives one where a plane was changed to accomodate a minister's family).  That is one reason why most people shift to private carriers.    

So, are we going to cut the leg and save the body or are we going to let it rot and stink with people around having to bear for it.  

(I know I sound brutal in places, but then this saga has been going on for too long.  Everytime there is talk of a bailout, parallely the staff go on strike as if it is their birthright.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

End of a year, nearly.

It's again the ending of an academic year. Almost time for another batch of students to say bye bye to student life(excepting those who are determined to continue further studies) and step out into the world, as adults, as individuals who are ready to realize their destiny.

In college, it is the time of the year when batches take turns to celebrate days - formals day and dhothi day. Formals is the day when all the students turn up in formals, boys in formal shirts(full sleeved) + formal pants + tie + shoes and nowadays blazers too (I wonder how they manage to keep their blazers on, despite the heat at this time of the year) and girls in sarees, many of them in Kanjeevaram(here again, I wonder about how they keep going in the heat with the silk sarees). Dhothi day is one where both boys and girls switch over to traditional Indian wear(dhothi and saree). It is usually the South Indian way of wearing a dhothi, but I remember the time when students from other parts of the country came in their traditional attire(kurta-pyjama/salwar-kameez, dhothi tied in a different way specific to their culture). For this reason, I would be happy if students change it to 'Native Day' giving students from different states the chance to wear their traditional clothes. In this, I remember an event 'Across the cultures' organized by students at UoH, where each state was represented by a group wearing their traditional attires. We also had international students wearing clothes from their countries making it a learning experience and broadening our knowledge.
So, this time of the year is colourful but also one of joy and sadness. Joy because we know that these kids who grew up under our tutelage are going out into the world and sadness for we will not be seeing them everyday, no more of their pranks, and no more part of their world.

However, yesterday was different. When I walked in at 9:00 a.m., I saw two students walking by, wearing white shirts(rarely see that in college), but with something different. On closer look, they had a rose pinned to their shirts(one had a red one and another a yellow one). I wondered what they meant and reasoned that they probably are trying something different. Once in a way, you find students doing something different - like one, who gave himself a flame of red(dyed his hair red, thankfully, not totally) as a birthday gift to himself, or the time when a group of 4-5 came bald one morning, they said after a Tirupathi darshan.  So, I walked ahead.  Again, I see another bunch now, with a red rose pinned to their white shirts. The first thought that came to mind was, 'Oh No! Not another valentine's day routine'. Then I said to myself, 'this is March, stupid, not February'. So, then what was this about. I looked for the girls dressing in case they had come up with something similar and have a new kind of day to set a new tradition. However, nothing of the sort with the girls. Throughout the day, I saw some students with a rose pinned to their shirt and wondered if I should stop them and ask what it was all about. However, not wanting to embarass them or myself, I let them pass thinking that I will know what it is, if it becomes part of the tradition.

Tradition, now that is a word I sometimes love to hate. For, it is used easily - good if it is for the good but many a times to keep the not so good going. So, please replace the word 'tradition' in the text with ??? habit - no !! culture - too broad. Uffa, the trouble sometimes with finding the right word !

Friday, March 9, 2012

Kudos to the dolphin savers

Faith was reinforced in the goodness of the human kind when I watched this video.  With news of the dwindling number of tigers, killing of elephants and the dwindling of forests that protect and nurture wild animals, this one is welcome news.  It just goes on to prove what we can do to coexist with nature.  Actually, what little we need to do but what happiness we will receive.


Watch this video of beach-goers in Brazil help the stranded dolphins.  I guess we are returning a favour.  You must have read stories of dolphins helping fishermen and people at sea.  What good you do goes around.

Joy Mukherjee - in memory

It was long long ago - long before cable TV with its long string of channels came in.  That was the age of Doordarshan.  One of the good things about DD was that you got to watch a lot of Hindi movies - old hindi movies.  That was one of the luxuries we had in our school days.

One of my favourite actors of that time was Joy Mukherjee.  Reason is of course obvious - he was joy to watch. Tall, young and pretty good looking.  And Joy and Sadhana - they made a great team on screen.  Sadhana is my all time favourite.  Her eyes - they took your breath away.

It is sad to hear that he passed away.  The good part is, he will continue to live in our memory.  He will be remembered for his movies.  I will remember him for some of the songs that I keep humming to this day, the lyrics of course forgotten, but the face of the actor very much in mind.

Some of the songs I remember him for are : Bahut Shukiriya,  Bade Miya Deewane, Lakhon hain nigah mein  zindagi ki raah mein(with a guitar that he does not use in the song),   Bandha par war Tham Lo Jigar.  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Deeksha, Me and her Playmates

This is (or was, she has changed in the past few months) one of Deeksha's favourite games when I go to Chennai.  She introduces me to all of her friends - her playmates.  And I am supposed to hold on to all of them at the same time till she is satisfied.  Then she takes them back and places them in the cupboard.  

This has happened everytime I have been there and have wondered what runs in her mind when she does this.  Anyways, I let her do it happily as it makes me happy to see her introducing her toys and being so interested. She has a name for all her toys, which I with my poor memory can't remember.  She repeats them patiently for me in case I make a mistake.

You can see Tweety an Betty.  The others, I don't remember again.  By the way, she bathes them in rotation and keeps them healthy and fresh.  Hats off to that.  She does take good care of her friends.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

When lawmakers become lawbreakers

Found these photos in my cellphone(they were taken a few months back).  Took them when I found violations,  meaning to send it the then commissioner who was doing a good job bringing traffic sense into people.  However, people in his own force abandoned it.  

This was taken at R.S. Puram.  The police van was parked right under the 'No Parking' sign.

This one was again taken at R.S. Puram in front of Nilgiris.  I couldn't take it better, as the policeman noticed me taking snaps and started walking up.  And I am not a lawyer or a media person who can stand up to them.

All this at a time, when charging and towing was happening in full swing, for the common man ofcourse.  Why is it that lawmakers so easily become lawbreakers. 

Today we are back to our old ways after the change of guard.  Law enforcement is at its weakest.  Example ::   Just come to the signal near CMC on Avinashi Road.  There are umpteen two wheelers who come down the bridge instead of taking the U-turn at Thanneerpandal Junction and coming down towards CMC.  The policeman or woman allows them to cut across from the wrong side without as much as a word.  Another example ::  Take any 'No Parking' signboard.  And you will find a vehicle parked right under it.


Something I cooked up one sunday !  Why is it that sometimes I am in my elements and sometimes, I am not. Sometimes I cook something amazing and on others, it falls flat.  

Monday, March 5, 2012

Onam 2011

The first Onam together after a four year hiatus got me wondering what design to put for the Onam pookalam.  Finally, on my sister's advice we tried something different.  This is how it looked in the end.  Arun pooled in with his ideas of placing the green and was my edupidi(poor him).  He trimmed and destalked the flowers to do the pookalam.

Making the Onam sadhya(lunch) and putting the flowers, it took me six hours.  I am slow I have to accept.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Not a Dry Leaf

At first, I thought it was a dry leaf.  Then realized, it was alive and kicking.  It was a mantis.  Green, I have seen, not brown and not one so big.  - From the archive collection titled 'Univ. of Hyderabad'.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Politics should be defamilized !

Yes, I am trying to coin a new term.  Defamilized !

Businesses run for profit.  The motive is known, side-effects understood. You have an entire family of doctors.  Those days, such families used to run good hospitals with the sole objective of learning.  I remember my parents speaking of one such family in Trichy.  The father and sons would sit around a table, treating patients, poor and sick from morning till midnight, with just breaks for breakfast, lunch and tea.  They run it in the same fashion the last time I went there.  Yes, it looked like what you would call a government hospital.  But let me tell you.  Those doctors were what you would call 'close to God' for many, poor and moneyless.

That was an age when doctors, teachers and politicians got into it for the sheer joy of doing something good.  Doctors have changed, so have teachers.  But go to any hospital, and you would still find quite a few who follow those principles, who take time to smile and reassure you (I met one such yesterday - God Bless Him !).  Same with teachers.  But the place where people of this tribe have ceased to exist is politics. 

You find people who live out of a two room house standing for elections - oh ! wait.  Nothing wrong with that.  They have cutouts put up in various parts of the city with each huge cutout costing anywhere between 75K to 1L.  Ask them who gave them money for this and they will tell you well-wishers.  Now tell me, won't these well-wisher knock the door again for a wish when you win elections.  Another two months, and the person moves into a bungalow, and then he starts owning entire buildings and acres of land, moving around in a Mercedes. 

I am not telling that all politicians are like this.  I had a friend of mine whose mom won a local election by talking straight, assuring people of doing good and telling them politely that she did not have money to dole out for free.  And she won !!!!  That is what democracy is all about, isn't it.  Those are the stories that reassure you that yes, humanity and dignity still exist among the political lot.

And then I read in the paper yesterday 'Someone is ready to take the plunge if people want him to'.  People, which people - maybe people means just family.  In India, with political families, the entire family is into politics in some way or other.  When business fails, or becomes not so profitable, maybe politics looks assuring.  Maybe ! [Again, I am not telling all of them are like that].  But then, after looking at father-child-grandchild dynasties across the country and looking at how easily people connected get seats, and those who are new have to climb the steep ladder the hard way, it is time I think politics is 'Defamilized'.  Maybe, skip a generation atleast.  So that it does not become an occupation, for it is not a job, even like that of a doctor or teacher or engineer.  Politicians are those who fix the fate of a nation, who steer a country and given that our country is one billion, maybe a wide enough representation of families will help in diversity of views, of thought and of action.

Demotivating should be classified as a crime

Demotivation !  The mention of that word is demotivating.  So, you can imagine what happens when someone tries that with you repeatedly. 

It is a strong and cruel tool used by many people whom we see in our day to day life.  And those who have a strong tongue, a superiority complex or is a person in power uses it with so much ease.  They do it in so many ways :  try to talk you out of doing something, try to put you off, try to tell you that you are not good enough or that the task at hand is something that you cannot or do not have the capacity to handle.  And if all this does not work, then they start striking using means and ways that make you wonder how ? 

With young people especially, motivation is a strong force - which when used can bring wonders.  A little bit of the magic potion, and it makes people whom you could have initially thought inept, do amazing things.  They fly, soar and take paths others would have thought twice. 

So then, one can only imagine the destructive power of the opposite.  Just like the power of love to give and take, motivation has the power to build and destroy, looking at it from different sides.

It takes a person of exceptional courage and willpower to resist that force of demotivation.  Today, you talk to any person working in any field, and they find so many people ready to demotivate and so few to motivate.  Why are we becoming so negative, I wonder ?  Why is it that we (parents, teachers, friends, siblings, employers, employees, ............) try to demotivate people when it is so easy to motivate ?  Why is letting of negative energy so alluring ? 

Sometimes I think demotivating should be classified a crime.  Because it is deadly. It is deadlier than killing the body.   It kills the flame, the eagerness, the happiness, the very soul of a person.  It leaves the person in a state of vacuum.

A Potty Story !

I have not blogged in a long, long time. Not because there weren't topics to blog about - to think out aloud, to thrash. Given the goings on around, there was so much to argue, oppose and find a means to think objectively.

However, a conversation I had yesterday gave me a reason to get back. This was what happened :
I called up my sister, who picked up after a long long time. She had just then given a bath for my four and a half year old niece, which is a task by itself. As she spoke to me, she put on a dress for her. Just then, my niece said she wanted to go potty. I asked my sister if that wasn't unusual - didn't she go before her bath.

Given her vacation, madam has changed her schedule to suit her games and her system has gone wary. My niece was insisting that she was on the verge of going and rushing her mother. Asking her why this last moment hurry, she came out with these :

Conversation - 1:

(Family going out, and daughter asked to go potty so that there is no exceptional event inbetween the outing)

Mother : Deeksha, aren't you finished ?

Daughter : Mama, no !!

Mother : Finish up fast - time to go !

Daughter : Mama, potty is not coming !

Mother : Only if you finish can we go !

Daughter : Mama, potty is sleeping. Let it sleep for some more time. We shall go.

Mother : No ! Only if you finish can you come. Else, mama and papa will have to go alone.

Daughter(heard from the other side of the door) : Potty, come out. Mama is calling. If you don't come out now, mama and papa will go out, leaving us alone at home. So, please come out fast !

I burst out laughing, at the same time wondering how a four year old could make up a conversation so effortlessly. Potty sleeping, so let it sleep for some more time !!!! And look at the articulation - not that
she was trying or not trying. It was the potty not making an effort.

Conversation - 2:

For Madam(my niece), nothing can disturb her games. Everything else, comes second. So, susu and potty can be postponed to the very last minute and is always done in such a hurry - in order to not waste a second of playtime.

So once, before she could remove her dress, susu started off and she couldn't do much. As my sister was mopping the floor with dettol, she offered this explanation. 

Daughter : Mama, I came as fast as I could. I told susu to wait a little but susu just didn't listen. I kept telling susu to wait but susu just didn't. What can I do mama. It is not my fault.

As if, she and her susu are part of two separate systems.......... I was amazed and at the same time laughed at her ingenuity and the workings of a little childs mind. It is amazing the stories they make up(even about susu and potty). And at that time, all I wanted to do, was hug her and kiss her for being just her...........