Monday, January 31, 2005

A grand open-ing

My sabbatical from blogging still continues ... I think until I get the lap top from my manager, there's a very slim chance that I will be able to blog in the office. Anyways, thought I would pen this incident and get back to work.


You don't quite expect surprises when you buy yourself a bottle of mineral water and land in an internet cafe. You start writing a blog and gently turn the lid to open it. Ahem! Doesn't open. You blame it on the sweat, take out your kerchief, rub your hands and try again. What the ..... doesn't open again! This time you clench your teeth, put in all the effort you could muster and what happens ... the skin peels off from your palm but the bottle doesn't budge. You have three alternatives
  1. Ask the guy in the internet cafe to open it for you. But, the last time a boy/guy asked a stranger for such a favor was probably when he was 12 or 13. Since then, our complan nourished egos have grown multifold that we can't imagine doing something like that.
  2. Use your teeth - are you kidding me! before so many people! what would they think given that I was all suave and sophisticated when I came and sat. Moreover, IT DOESN'T FIT into my mouth!
  3. Don't drink water or buy another bottle. Keep it away, you and the bottles are strangers again. Doesn't work either -- exactly 42 seconds later, you pick the bottle again and start clenching your teeth trying to open it.
Time up. You land yourself in the coach and incidentally and fortunately meet some acquaintance. You start talking and after sometime you remember the bottle! Ahaa! here's a golden opportunity. You excuse yourself and go inside the coach, get your biscuits and water bottle, offer him some biscuits (grudgingly) and when you think the timing is perfect, "remember" how you had to make a call and try juggling the biscuits, the bottle and your mobile. After much thought, you give the bottle to your acq. and ask him to open it while you are making the call, "if it's not too much of a concern". As you talk to some guy over the phone, you notice whether he's actually able to open it and are so happy with yourself when he goes through the same phenomenon - gentle effort, the kerchief, the sweat, the gnawing teeth and finally, blood! You rush out of "concern" and complain how bottles these days have become thoroughly unusable.

Finally, the girl you are supposed to travel with arrives there and you joke with him, before she arrives how funny it will be if she could open it. You are actually feeling thirsty now and you casually ask her to open the bottle. Same phenomenon - a gentle effort and what!!!!!!! it opens. She quizzically looks at you, half expecting a prank, a joke or some justification as to why I so unchivalrously asked HER to open it. A guy that I am, I am wondering if my acquaintance opened it but didn't realise or even that, I opened it and all those two had to do was to just turn the knob. The water tastes good and I am hoping she doesn't ask me how I wounded my palm.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The birthday party

You know, off late I am writing a lot about how I am visiting my relatives and how I find my cousin's company very stimulating and all that. Here's the truth - my niece is gorgeous! She's beautiful, bubbly and has ATTITUDE! (in capitals!) So many times my cousin and her husband have practically caught me staring at her when they are talking some family important cultural stuff. But really, I don't seem to care much. I have already told my dad that if he can wait for a while, I can clearly tell him whom I am going to marry. Of course, she, just like any other beautiful girl (apart from one single notable exception in my life!) doesn't give a damn about others.

So, saturday was her star birthday and thankfully my cousin(s) (for lack of a better word I shall call my cousin's husband also as my cousin from now on) decided to celebrate it. So saturday morning, I get up early, go to landmark and get her a gift (after 2 hours of thought) that's worth a three digit denomination! (Guys who know me will know what a rarity it is!). So, 6 in the evening - I get all dressed up in a white shirt, blue jeans, stop at sukumaran nair's tea stall and get all the energy I need. I go there and she's all smiles given that I have come with a gift. We do a bit of small talk and she tells me that she's waiting for her friends (the more the better!).

I should tell you about her dress - my daughtie, given that she's doing her masters in women's clothing (;)) will know - she was wearing something called the cindrella costume. I am not even going to try to describe it. But she really looked like an angel in that! Finally, all her friends arrived, a huge cake landed with a lot of candles and at the end of the day, my four year old niece, her friends and I spent about 2 hours singing all her rhymes, doing her exercises and reading out stories of a fox and some other animal I don't remember!

PS: For some reason, this blog is dedicated to Maya who spent eons in trying to teach me the basics of relationship-nomenclature. I still don't understand - how can you call a girl "nathanar".

From Bangalore central station

Yup! Nerdy - but true! I just blew twenty rupees to be able to blog from the Bangalore central railway station. It's been a tough week - after a long time (probably since I started blogging, for the first time), I have not been able to blog due to responsibilities at work.
Yanyways ....
This is the third time I am coming to Majestic (that's how they call this in bangalore ... Le Majestic. You know, little differences!) But like everytime, I know I am not taking the correct route. Why am I so sure? Because, it inevitably involves jumping a fence that's 3 feet high. I always have a feeling some policeman is going to catch me and seize my passport for doing something like this asking me touchy questions like - am I illiterate or what! But you know, all this doesn't work when you see 30+ women wearing sarees (!) jumping the fence. No, don't ask me how they managed to do it coz I really didn't want to stare and get slapped!
This station I must admit is quite lousy. There's no one book shop, an eat out or any past time for eyes or ears! (But there's an internet cafe!! india shining you see!). I am hoping to find some stands in the platforms coz I really need to get a magazine. Reading a book titled "An intimate history of humanity" by a frenchman under the dim light of the compartment is not quite enticing!
Before I close this blog a couple of stray thoughts that I wanted to pen
- How my room mate and I walked everywhere around my place at 11:30 in the night looking for a restaurant to have dinner. And how, finding a pack of dogs (is it a herd? a group?) staring at us with a devilish look convinced us to just drink water and forget everything about our hunger.
- How buying CDs of Shakti, Zakir hussain and Indian ocean made me a profound musical connoisseur that I can go around in parties and tell people that I am a great fan of fusion music.
- How I am really depressed (shocked? bit in the wrong place?) by the loss of federer in the semis and that too to Safin (Yeah! he serves and all that. But if Federer had to go, I would have rather preferred it to be Agassi than Safin)

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

This blogspot is closed today for maintenance!

What moral perils face engineers of today
driven by the desire to deliver a blog a day
gasping for breath in an ocean of error logs
holding, as a storm lantern, just a coupla blogs

At the end of the day, he will gather the might
to show his darling blogs day's light
Until then, he has to slog
with the obscenely important error log!

Monday, January 24, 2005


Bliss, thy name is my last weekend! Been a long time since I enjoyed every minute of my weekend. Here's a summary of what I did
  • Registered myself for an acting course. Seems the instructor is someone who's acted in hollywood movies. For a long time now, I wanted to measure myself as an actor and a performer outside the confines of BITS. And hopefully, this gives me a chance to get to know more people in theater and take my own ideas further :)
  • Equipped my house with yet another gizmo - this time a 800W (I know, that's not too much. But for my house, it practically gets the roof down!), Cd-MP3-Cassette player. This was a long pending wish, to get my own music system. My first CD - Morning Raaga (if you haven't heard it and you love fusion/classical music, listen to it NOW!). My first Cassette - The best of U2 (rocks!)
  • Had another "relative-evening" - but this time it was refreshingly pleasant! My radical uncle (I decided not to change his status, despite his insistence in the thread-tying episode), and some of his relatives (all around 35-40) sat together and we discussed everything from management practices, movies, music, spirituality, architecture, job market and survival strategies, rearing love birds to "tricks while you take your wife out for shopping!". This is such a welcome relief for me coz I have never managed to talk about anything apart from weather and well ... weather.
  • Met up with an old classmate of mine. She and I were joint toppers in school and the present principal wants us to give a talk on current educational and professional landscape. It's a wonderful feeling going back to my alma-mater though I am sure not a single soul knows me now.
  • Had a wonderful chat session with one of my acquaintances, am really thinking about making in public though we share the "IPR" for it. If she has no intentions of taking it forward, I might as well bring it up here :)
  • Watched National treasure (Video piracy jindabad!) - ok movie. Very Da vinci codish. And the fact that (Nicholas) cage gets it right everytime gets unnerving after sometime.
All this in one weekend - compared to a dead corpse of a weekend that preceded this! Anyways, it's getting too long and I have to go work.

PS: As for the title, it's like the word "Gargantuan" - To paraphrase what a great man once said, "You know I've always liked that word Invogorated, and I so rarely have an opportunity to use it in a sentence." (If not all, one man from france, if he checks this blog should get it!)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Update on BITSian Bloggers

Thanks 27 Billion!! Thanks for giving info about yourself, about others you know and also for patiently letting me know all the 101 mistakes I made. If one had corrected that page with red ink yesterday, must have looked like my physics paper!

I am sitting in an i-way and so am not in a mood to say much :) But just take a look again (As Sanketh, Suki and Sagnik & those who wished anto and shruthi on their engagement would agree - I have been having a ball with names and locations since yesterday morning!) and let me know if it's ok. And for those who have sent in details, of course it's entirely your discretion to decide on what you want to say about yourself. But details like whether you are working, or studying would be really helpful.

For those who took the time and mailed me, I will mail you back soon. Just want to reiterate what I have mentioned in the bloggers page - if you don't want your name or your details on the list, just let me know and I shall remove it.

Just 4 more names in the unknown list - let's figure out who they are and then become one unified K-soap family who sit and cry together :-) Have a great weekend ladies and gentlemen.

PS: Piggy, Sanketh and Nandha, you are angels!

"Hinn"-dering normal life in Bangalore

21 January, Bangalore
Clouds of uncertainty are looming large over Bangalore with rumours spreading about a possible clash between American Evangelist, Benny Finn and Hindu fundamentalists. All major IT companies in Bangalore, often declared as the software hub of India, have warned their employees to leave the premises as soon as they can arranging special shuttles to facilitate quick exit.
Benny Hinn runs the This is Your Day programme on the God television channel under the Benny Hinn ministry. It must be noted that this is not his first gathering in India. Early last year, he had a huge gathering in Mumbai titled "Pray for India" (click here for images) attended by celebrities of all faith and religions. Despite reservations from the Catholic church, the event was a resounding success, thanks to personnel from three private security agencies and 15,000 volunteers, and was attended by over 200,000 people. The expectations on this event, scheduled for the next 3 days in Bangalore, are very high and there's a huge inflow of christians from various parts of south India, including areas of south tamil nadu which were affected by the Tsunami recently. What's ironic is the difference in the way it has been received in Mumbai (which is often characterized as a fundamentally active city) and Bangalore (quoted as the most cosmopolitan city in the country). Apparently the hindu activists have been irked by some of the publicity material for the event which made derogatory remarks on idol worship and Hindu culture.
As issues of this sort have in the recent pact, this event seems to have received a lot of political limelight. BJP, expectedly, were first to jump into the Anti-Hinn bandwagon, continuing to play their role of terrible-losers to the hilt. Though the Karnataka goverment has decided to go ahead with the event, chief minister Dharam singh clearly understands the political overtunes and has so far been very non-committal about the attending the event himself. Hindu activists have arranged for processions in many parts of the city as a mark of protest against the event.
Over here at Ground zero, in Bangalore, daily life seems to move on. Most of the shops are closed today. But it's mostly to do with Bakr-Id that's celebrated all over the country (to make sure people of all faiths have something to remember about this day). The event is scheduled to happen at Jakkur, on the outskirts of Bangalore and is quite far from International Tech park, which is where most of the software companies are located. Reports that have been coming in, have clarified that things are normal and safe in areas surrounding marathahalli, outer ring road, koramangala and White field. There are occasional rumours about stray violence in Elanga and in Hosur road, though it has not been confirmed yet. Some of the IT professionals who were interviewed from companies in Electronic city and ITPL have decided to stay at office till late in the night and come back home at ten when they believe things must have cooled down considerably.
It remains to be seen what turn events take over the weekend as the event progresses. It's expected that much of it will depend on the message that is delivered in today's gathering (assuming those who have taken arms, are reasonable and listening). On the whole, it has been an evening of exaggerated reactions both from the sides of the hindu fundamentalists, who aren't sparing any effort in splashing themselves on print, and by the IT companies, who have been overcautious about events unfolding miles and miles away. Of course, the software engineers aren't complaining about an early weekend.
Will keep you posted on the status here. This is Rathish Balakrishnan reporting for Wilde Vogel from Bangalore. Take care.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

This is the end my friend!

A long long day finally comes to an end - A thoroughly unproductive 10 hours! Started off with a real stinker of a mail from a good old friend, accompanying a escalated bug report that can happen in one in a million cases. Spent the entire day running a test - lasted six hours and finally, it failed :)

I hate cribbing. Let's move on - what's news is I have updated the bitsian bloggers page . I personally find it more usable now (and that's so NOT objective!). But what will make it more usable are details from you. For all of you who sent the details - Jack, Sanketh, Woodworm, Modi - You are truly wonderful people :) Thanks a million. Rest of you - please do send it soon.

Chalo, shall leave you with a quote (that I borrowed from Aarti's blog)

"Good-bye. I am leaving because I am bored.
-- George Saunders' dying words"

Star struck

"This is unbelievable", he said to himself as he ran towards the old 19th century house, which was now the centre of attraction of the whole village. It was on his way from the pharmacy that someone told him that yet another film unit has landed in the village for a night. Every month, some production house landed its caravans in the empty wasteland next to the palatial house and there's not been a single time when he had not been there. He would pamper the entire unit running from one end to another the whole time they were around, helping them with little things, telling them stories of the village and taking them to the oldest temple in the village situated right in the middle of wilderness. Everyone loved him - Sometimes, they would come as far as his house, meet his ailing mother, tell her what a wonderful kid she has.

He stopped at crossroads, staring at forking roads leading to the house and his home, realizing his mother must be waiting for him - She had been coughing badly the whole day and the cough syrup would do her a world of good. He looked at his watch (a 20 rupees citigen electronic watch that he got this time at the village carnival); He still had time. He had promised her that he would be back before 8 in the night. That was more than 2 hours away. The old house was just around the corner and he could already see it completely lit and bustling with activity. Everyone was already there, sitting on roof tops, climbing trees, officiously helping out the movie folk. Puny that he was, he sneaked in through a hole in the fence and spotted a few familiar faces in the production unit. They recognized him immediately - they had been here six months ago and he was their unofficial tourist guide for the whole of two weeks. He sat there wide-eyed listening to them explain him the story of the movie, while sipping a fresh glass of juice from the "Superstar fruit stall" situated just next door. The stories were all the same, about a village youth who returns to his roots and makes a difference. But he loved the little details - the clinchers in the script, the costumes, the lighting and camera angles.

Movies were the elixir of his otherwise mundane existence - He lived and dreamt films. Late at nights, under the brightness of the kerosene lamp, he would open his little wooden box and look at every single slip of paper that had his name written on it by the most famous of stars. His walls were full of movie posters; he always had a free seat for every new movie in their multiplex movie hall under the thatched roof. Late at nights, he would go back home, make his mom sit on the rickety cot, wear an old tattered cap and ape how the director explains the scene to the technicians, how actors check themselves in the mirror before going for their scene, their oddities, moves and mannerisms and occasional gossip on how many cigarettes they smoke in a day or which actress wore what for which movie.
Just as he was listening to them, a hush fell on the whole house as the hero descended from his makeup van and entered the house. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. The rumors were indeed true - this wasn't just another movie or he wasn't just another star. Every poster on his wall, every image in his mind, every scene he had loved and cherished had personified itself into an aura and was walking towards him. He was THE ONE. The assistant directors who were talking to him till then got their scripts ready and stood around him. He made himself comfortable in the seat, closed his eyes and listened to them explaining him the scene that was about to be shot. Something was amiss - the infectious smile that filled the screen was missing and he seemed to be an extremely foul mood, giving the stammering assistant director a cold stare before closing his eyes again.

The kid was relentless - this was his one shot to eternity; Once the narration was complete, he clung to one of the assistants and pleaded him to get him an autograph. Neither the lack of time, nor the actor's foul mood would dissuade him. Finally, promising the assistant director that he will neither speak nor linger around after having got the autograph, he accompanied the assistant to meet the star. The actor momentarily opened his eyes, looked at the kid and asked him for a slip of paper to sign in. He had completely forgotten about the paper! He frantically searched his pockets and was relieved to find the prescription. Realizing he had no other option, he showed the actor the other side of the prescription paper. The actor didn't ask him his name, nor did he smile as he scribbled something unintelligible on the paper and gave it back to him. But that still was worth a hundred lifetimes. He was smiling ear to ear, waiting for the actor to say something, anything to him. The assistant director nudged him to leave. He needed something to keep this moment alive - a gesture, a word, a smile. When he realized nothing was forthcoming, he slowly took his hand towards the shiny black coat of the actor while he was looking away. Just a fleeting touch, he told himself, and he would leave.

The next thing he knew, he was down on the ground, a tight slap leaving his cheek burning. "Thief! rascal!". Before he could react, a dozen technicians pounced on him kicking him in all directions. The bottle in his pocket broke; a sharp piece of glass pierced his thigh, leaving him screaming in pain. They tried taking the prescription out from his clenched fist, finally tore a piece of it and realizing it to be just a piece of paper, let him free. Tears blurred his vision and as he tried to get up, the part of the prescription with the actor's signature, was picked up and blown away by the wind never to be seen again.


Well, I am terribly sorry for a "slight" mistake in announcing the news yesterday. Apparently, there's another couple with the same name as Vivek and Shruti (anto is antony vivek justin) who I am sure are a very lovely (and a very intelligent!) couple. They are getting married and not Anto and Shruthi. I guess, that was just a case of over optimism that prevailed :)

I can see myself as Ross screaming "They should put that on the box! They should put that in bold letters!" - I love this day!!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Namaskar . Aaj ke mukya samachar

First for the announcements that have long been pending
  1. People from the sandpaper contacted me to submit a profile of Bitsian bloggers. We, Vivitsa and I, have been contacted and it still hasn't been decided what exactly is going in - I was planning to prepare a questionnaire so that we have some nice quotes from veterans (read us!) to spice up the article. Some data about ourselves will definitely help which brings me to point number two.
  2. A lot and lot more addresses have been added to the list of bloggers, including my room mate's :) I have one request - if you know that your blog is on the list and you have sometime to spare, can you send a mail to rathish_balakrishnan at yahoo dot com or just leave a comment telling me your batch, your name and what you are doing presently. Apart from you, if there are people on the list who you know, but they dont know that they are on the list, do give me their details too :) I shall then sort all the names by batch so that we have some way of ordering it.
  3. I have been wanting to do this for a long time now - Harish, ramya and GnR (ex music clubberz) have started a band called F6 and have uploaded some of their works on their website. Lovely lovely compositions, wonderfully rendered. So, if you are running out of Mp3s to listen to, or even otherwise, do visit
  4. Piggy mentioned it first and has responsibly uploaded the invitation on the 98 classnotes. No harm mentioning it again - Anto and Shruthi, my batch, are getting married. Anto and I were bhavan's nite coords in first year and I know shruthi too since then. I am neither doing one of those political exaggerations nor do I say this for everyone, they are one of the sweetest couples of my batch. Two very lovely people and I wish them, a wonderful, wonderful life ahead.
  5. The bitsian blog - camel in the desert - is gaining a lot of attention and we have people from 76 batch visiting us there and leaving comments. So, if you are bitsian and you somehow landed on my page, do enrol yourself there :) And if you don't mind someone reading it, do give me your address too - I read all of them :)
Okie dokie - please remember to send me the details. Shall sign off now.

By the power of flimsy thread

As I was telling you the other day, I spent most of my sunday helping my disssstant relative in his grahapravesham. Most of the morning was spent in the puja, a pretty innocous affair where about 20-30 middle-aged men and women keep chattering and gossiping while the priest goes on with his mantras. Once in a while, he rings the bell a little too loudly and all of them in the room take the cue and listen to him for a while. 2 minutes and that's all their attention span can survive. And the whole ritual happens over and over again.

At the end of the puja, my uncle asked me to take care of some business that the priest wanted to finish. So, both of us went to the terrace; He looked in all directions, then at the water tank on top, looked at the skies for sometime and then at me and then at the tank again. The tank was placed on an elevation that was 6 feet high - he asked me climb that elevation first. I looked at him to see if he was joking - he wasn't! He then gave me a roll of thread and asked me to tie it around the tank. It was outrightly ridiculous and quite precarious - My only consolation was that since it was a three storeyed house noone can actually see me do it and if I do fall down, I wouldn't be alive to explain what happened. I waited till I got down and asked him the significance. Seems in the olden days, once the grahapravesham is over, they used to tie a thread around the entire house to safeguard it from evil. These days, as the house started getting bigger and bigger, they actually can't tie it around the house and hence, tie it around the water tank!! around the water tank -- for what -- for some lazy crow to shit on it? (no, not that tying it all around the house helps either!). We are ready to twist it, turn it and make it look completely absurd - but we can't do away with the ritual can we! What was shocking was that my uncle is quite a radical in many ways and I couldn't understand how he would believe in something like this. Asked my dad about it and promptly came the reply, "When you turn 45, get screwed enough, and spend 30 lakhs in building a house, you wouldn't think twice about doing something like that!"

I admit - make sense.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Value for money

Location: Barrista
Masala tea @ 35 rupees
Salient features
  • Lack of customization - They give you the tea bag, the water and the sugar. So, in effect you prepare the tea for yourself.
  • Lack of perks - There are no supplements, an innocous bite of chicken tikka would cost you another 50 bucks
  • Lack of personalized service - I go there 20 times in a week and the guy doesn't even rememember my name
  • No entertainment - If you manage to sit there for 2 hours, you would be lucky to see 12 grand mummies and 5 aunties
  • Quantity - One should admit, they gave you a lot of hot water
  • Chairs and sitting time - They don't mind even if you sit for hours together and the chairs are also pretty good.
Location: Nair tea stall on the roadside
Masala tea @ 3.5 rupees
Salient features
  • Customization - He gives you four varieties - nair special, milk, ginger and the "royal" masala tea prepared and served readymade to you
  • Perks - You buy a cup of tea and you get a marginal discount on the butter biscuit
  • Personalized service - I spent 10 minutes there and now he knows what my dad likes for dinner! every time I go that way, he waves at me such vigour
  • Entertainment - the shop is strategically placed in the junction where 4 roads meet. So, at about 4 in the evening, what do you know it is a treat for your taste buds AND your eyes
  • Yeah ... quantity could be better. but for 3.5 rupees, you wouldn't expect a porcelain soup bowl, wouldja!
  • Chairs and sitting time - I am sure he wouldn't mind if I sit with him for an entire day. But I admit, that's not a very strong argument because one, there's no chair to sit; two, there's no place to keep a chair; and three, if I indeed keep a chair in front of his shop I will be in the middle of a road.
Sukumaran nair's masala tea wins 4 to 2 (those 2 being close decisions)!! And I pay one tenth of the price for it. Value for money was just lofted for a huge six and fell outside the stadium of reason.

An extension to the blog, as a tribute to my favorite director.

Me: There's also a tea shop on the other side of the road that serves tea for 2 rupees. But I don't drink there coz it's filthy.
VV: The tea tastes good. The tea smells good. You should try it.
Me: I told you - it's filthy. They serve tea in a paper cups and anything that's thrown after being used just once is filthy.
VV: So, going by what you say do you consider a condom filthy?
ME: I aint drink my tea in no (expletive deleted) condom. However, I wouldn't go so far as calling a condom filthy. A condom saves lives, A condom's got personality.
VV: So, by your definition, if a paper cup saves lives, it ceases to be filthy.
ME: Then you should be talking about one damn good (expletive deleted) paper cup!

In the garden of Eden

"Care for some music?", Sandhya asked breezily not really waiting for me to answer, as she opened the CD draw and chose a disc at random. I nodded in appreciation but it really didn't matter to me - I wasn't supposed to be here; I was supposed to have dinner with my wife, probably walk along the river after that, talking of sweet nothings and catching up on 4 years that we had missed out on her operations, meetings and obstinate patients. Yet another dream was caught and trashed down the hospital drain and I saw them floating by the lane as torn pieces of paper. It was a lovely evening; a gentle wind with a dash of impending's winter chill caressed us through the open roof of the convertible. My colleague hummed along with the song, didn't bother herself with small talk, and left me to sort my thoughts.
I wasn't sure if it was the right decision - the right thing would have been to have thanked her for the time, walked back home and dozed off in the couch waiting for my wife to return. Simple and clear. But, after doing this 7 days a week, for months together in a year, there does come a point where the restlessness culminates and pushes one down from the edge of reason - into a pub for example. I don't drink and I hate the smoke of the cigarrette. But, when a muffusal-town-bred son of a god-fearing mother, whose world view was packaged and delivered as a 24 page vanilla flavored newspaper, decides to revolt and do something outrageous these dim-lit pubs mark the extreme frontiers of adventure, a door to live out pent up fantasies but still with enough leeway to convince the scruples of conscience, a rendezvous with the darker soul where standing with a glass of coke in the fringes of the dance floor was so momentous that one goes back home and writes about it in diaries and talks to colleagues under the moon-lit sky about how one was so close to walking out with that girl for the rest of his life, while those colleagues go back home and tell their wives how their friend's losing "it" while silently fantasising while in beds with their wives, about the girl in the tank top who could have been theirs.
She seemed to know many of them there, and soon dissolved into an array of colors, costumes and heads. I picked my glass of coke and seated myself in the corner seat wondering what I should tell my wife if she called up now. Not that there was even a remote possibility of that happening - I was contemplating whether I should give her a call and talk to her. But one more time, she probably can buy those leather collars, tie it around my neck and start calling me Jimmy. I was not even thirty and I was already sick with life - 5 years into marriage and I already feel like an yellow couch in my wife's life. An unattractive, useful utilty that's been there for so long that it doesn't exist anymore. I thought about my little daughter, who god hasn't still dreamt of. But I know how exactly she will look like - right from her eyes to the huge highway right in between her teeth when she'll be five. But my wife didn't have the time nor the inclination for a baby now. She is in that point of her career now when things are getting interesting - she's been there for the last 4 years. We have tried talking about it. But, I have never been a doctor - I will never understand.
I finished the drink in a gulp and was playing with the empty glass, laughing to myself at how my life's turned out. I have lived with this sense of resignation for quite sometime now, in my damp living room, drowning them in the noise of meaningless soaps trying hard not to think about it. But today, it seemed different - the glitz, the jazz and the light (or the lack thereof) were stirring feelings deep down and I was involuntarily moving with the loud music, getting angrier with every passing minute, at my wife and at the entire dim shadow of life that I am sleep walking through. I stared at those flimsily dressed women in the middle of the floor, at the irremediable distance between us and at everything my life could have been - It was then something snapped. Before I realized, I was in the middle of a frenzy - a whole human population climaxing over a crescendo, forming bonds with beads of sweat merging into a long winding rope that stuck them together, screaming - till I found my legs entwined with a stranger's. We caught eachother's stare and continued gyrating round and round in the room - and as the music reached its climax, she gasped and shrieked. I swore.
The cold wind had a soothing effect on my senses, but my head was getting pounded from all directions. I knew I had to sit down somewhere before I slump and faint or worse still, throw up in the middle of the road. I didn't know what the time was and frankly, I didn't want to. I felt as if some fundamental law of physics about my life had just been disproved leaving me with an entire world of chances, so much that the mere thought of it filled me with a rush of blood and I screamed right there, on top of the bridge, at the top of my voice - and felt it span the entire lonely road and every wave that extended till the horizon. "Feeling good?" Sandhya asked, smiling but still staring at eternity. I nodded in agreement. The street light in the corner gave her an almost angelical silhouette that I so badly wanted to kiss her. "Really", she seemed amused, "Why because I have suddenly become so attractive or because you have started hating your wife so much?". There was no sarcasm in her voice; She was just being as a matter of fact. I stared at the boundless sea, not wanting to answer the question to myself. She didn't insist.
I came back, quickly undressed and settled in my bed. My head was still pounding but it was getting better. I switched off the lights and stared into the darkness, waiting for Anshu to arrive. She did and walked like a cat trying not to wake me up. Normally, I pretend to sleep rather than listen to her medical stories in the middle of the night afraid another argument would break out. But today, I wanted to talk to her probably even tell her about the pub. "Oh you are awake. What happened? You look like a mess". And before I could answer, without a prelude or prologue, she started off with her stories at the hospital as she picked her nightgown, went and changed in the bathroom, her voice getting drowned in the noise of water filling the bucket. It didn't matter - I wasn't listening anyway. In ten minutes, she was done and by then had cuddled up next to me. I pushed the strand of hair, took her face in my palms and kissed her fully in her lips. "Not tonight sweetheart. I am too tired tonight". She stroked my head as she dozed off to sleep. I lay there, smiling to myself, wondering who is this woman sharing my bed, wondering if I had ever known her. Deep in the darkness, I saw my entire life collapsing around me and strangely, I felt excited.

Monday, January 17, 2005

I am back :)

One EXTREMELY and excruciatingly long weekend. But I had so much time for myself that I have loads and loads to blog about. Let's hope I get the .... No. I am not saying it! i am NOT saying it. Here's the summary of the weekend that passed by.
  • List of books I started and finished this weekend - Hitchhiker's guide to galaxy (finally!), Restaurant at the end of the universe, Broken music (Sting's autobiography). And, a few books that I have been reading for sometime now - Governance (Arun Shourie), Blank slate (Steven Pinker)
  • If that doesn't give you an idea of how much time I had in my hand - this one will. I am not a very "relative"-ly person (if that makes any sense!). But I spent the whole of my sunday from 8 in the morning to 5 in the evening, helping out (listen carefully) my father's father's brother's wife's sister's son's son in the grahapravesham of their new house.
  • I got a Sify account and paid some 100 bucks just to blog and read other people's blogs.
  • The only respite in the whole of the weekend was an hour I spent with SSS and ~N. Right from the moment we stepped in to the time we left, we were laughing our hearts out! All three of us! ~N is a real darling - she laughs so much for even the most trivial of jokes that it actually gives you the impression that you are quite funny!
Anyways, all this left me with some profound insights :-) which is good. But now -- in 3 letters is my breath, and once it's over is my talk (a very crude translation of an tamil song!)

Friday, January 14, 2005

Meri 30 rupees chai ki kasam ....

If you live in bangalore, and you have been to the Barista inside Leela palace you probably understand how wonderful it feels to take a book, sit there in the first few hours of the morning (which is 9:30-10 on a sunday) and sip some delicious cafe mocha (if you haven't been there, please do! it's got an amazing ambience). Typically, once or twice in a weekend I go there in the mornings and spend close to three hours reading some book.
It's usually empty during those hours save some foriegners. So, even a group of 5-6 people sitting together is quite conspicuous. Last weekend, when I was there, on the last table were a family of four arranging four more chairs around them, talking in a not-so-hushed tone. I don't know what - but there was something about these people that made me think that the rendezvous is of the "matrimonial" type. I looked carefully to find who the bride was - and there she was with an extra layer of makeup, some lipstick quite at ease (without any of those traditional anxiety shown in our tv serials!). After sometime, the family of the groom arrived - a well-shaven, well-groomed groom accompanied by his parents. So, all the hugging and shaking hands happens. After sometime, the guy and the girl go to another table outside (this cafe has an indoor and an outdoor section) and started talking. Now, a curious kid that I am I couldn't help noticing what was happening (terrible, I know! but hey, they didn't seem to care). Since I couldn't hear what they were saying, I was trying to dub for them based on their body language. The conversation, I am sure went something like this!
Guy: It's quite cold told isn't it. I guess we should have sat inside.
(both of them look inside if there are any free chairs. Then the girl probably said something about privacy - something little naughty perhaps coz they gave each other a knowing smile. They sit and for sometime, there's no visible "signs" in their body language and then it starts)
Girl : I think you have really lovely hair.
Guy: Really, you think so (and inadvertently runs his fingers through his hair)
Girl : Yeah sure! I think it's awesome.
Guy: (Turning pink with every passing second). Well thanks! I take good care of it you know. Anyways, let's talk of something else.
Girl : (Mischievously) No. Let's talk about your hair.
Guy: (Now, really really pink!) God, you are terrible. Stop looking at me like that (and starts looking around at other chairs and suddenly at me. I stare at my book and after sometime, return to my dubbing business). So, tell me where do you work.
Girl: I work in a blah! blah! blah! .... (nothing very spectacular for sometime)
Guy: (with a tinge of nervousness. He has this constipated look on his face) I hope everything goes on well. You know the thought of living with a stranger for the rest of my life is quite scary (and gives a very nervous smile)
Girl: (placing her hand on his hand, gives a reassuring smile!) It's going to be ok. Don't worry
Guy: (now visibly relieved places his hand on top of hers) I am so glad I met you.
(... and then they started talking a lot of naughty naughty things coz the guy was blushing big time and the girl was having a hearty laugh!)
Inside, the parents of the girl probably were telling their counterparts how very responsible she is and I am sure the guy's parents were telling them how sensitive their son is and how they have taken care of him like a fragile flower. Afterwards, it became too much for me to take. Trying to avoid the impending danger of laughing at their faces, I left the place).
I am sure they will make one happy couple!

the power of choice

Last night close to 10.
I am sitting in an empty two bedroom flat alone with only my lonliness giving me company for the rest of the night. I can a hear distant muffled noise of a retiring city - faint noises of horns and engines. Apart from that there's not even a trace of civilization. In about an hour, my mom will call and wonder why such things don't bother me. I could sit here without making any noise, reading a book for the next half a dozen hours. I could and that always unsettles my mom - as if something was fundamentally wrong with me.
Today she would be glad to know that it does bother me. No; Not because it's so silent but because I didn't choose this tonight. Remember, I had written once about how once you say you have something, you lose it. Voila! My colleague had an urgent deadline and wanted the laptop for the weekend. He's promised me that after monday I can have the laptop for the rest of my life. Now, it doesn't matter that I will have it for the rest of my life - Since I imagined myself sitting and blogging tonight in my bean bag, I am upset. I have lived without a laptop for over three months but today I feel crippled without it.
Reminds me of an incident back in september when I had to go from Koramangala to Brigade road (in bangalore) in an autorickshaw. I wasn't (and still am not) extremely comfortable with the geography of bangalore. As always, with ignorance comes suspicion and this time, I was quite sure that I was being taken for a ride (pun intended). I felt so bitter that the driver could be so unscruplous to take advantage of my ignorance for a paltry ten rupees. All through the journey, I was trying really hard to control my anger and not say anything stupid. The fact that I was being cheated and that I couldn't do anything about it made me furious. I gave him a cold stare (that I am sure he didn't notice) and started walking towards Barrista.
Just outside the coffee shop was this young lad with a sheet explaining how he can't read/write/speak/hear and wanted some money. I took out a 20 rupees note and gave it to him. The kid showed me the rest of the donations which were in the order of hundreds. I thought for a second, took out a 100 rupees note and gave it to the kid. There I was cursing an auto driver for costing me 10 rupees extra and the next instant, I felt good about giving a kid (who I know nothing about and who probably is smiling behind my back for having cheaten me) 100 bucks.
I felt good because I chose to do it. What elaborate games we play with our conscience that sometimes when you take yourself out of the situation, you really feel silly. Had my colleague accepted to give me the laptop and had I been "gracious" enough to "sacrifice" my blogging time, I probably would have felt good about myself.
Such futile vanity!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Happy pongal/Sankaranthi

It's not even close to end of the day - I have exactly two and a half hours more to spend at office. For some strange reason, I already am in the holiday mood. Not many reasons to cheer actually - given that my room mate's leaving tonight to Chennai after having bought a ticket for 750 rupees one way in Tatkal 2nd AC (to put things in perspective, the actual tickets costs 195 Rs!). I was telling one of my colleagues that it will be much easier for an entire family to come down to bangalore from chennai than for a guy here to find a place in any means of transport to Chennai.

My boss has agreed that the laptop of our team will be put to best use by me at home blogging in the nights and during weekends. That probably explained the long blog below this one! :-) Yeah ... I had my performance feedback session today - my first official performance feedback in my entire career. Long story - but I don't think I will end up writing about it. But, my manager (who undoubtedly is among the best in the world! and is a bitsian!) gave my great gyan session about a lot of factors that I have got used to after coming to SAP (that I incidentally didn't realize).

Okie ... let me check on my tests now. Will try blogging quite a bit over this extended weekend and shall upload them on Monday. I wish everyone a very happy Pongal, sankaranthi, while I ponder over the question as to why Malayalis have so few festivals in a year (Just 2 of them for a whole year!! I am sure even the amazonian tribe have more than us

All we need is time

Through the open window, I could see those kids playing in the ground outside with all vigour with just a screen of dust seperating us. For a split second, I didn't realize that the headmistress had finished her question and was expecting an answer. And so were a group of middle-aged women, who I presumed comprised the executive board of the school. I had barged into their meeting a couple of minutes ago, and much to the surprise of everyone inside, refused a chair and sat with one of my knees resting on the ground asking them with all sincerity how I could help. Realizing that I was totally lost, the headmistress reiterated the question again - "How much time can you spend towards this endeavour Rathish?". "I can be here every saturday morning ma'm. I occasionally go back to chennai during weekends. But most of the time I am here. Even sundays should be fine by me".
"What you see outside", she pointed to the open window, "is our recreational club. Typically, software professionals like you come over on saturdays and play with the kids for sometime. This gives them an excellent opportunity for the kids to breathe some fresh air and learn some social etiquette from you guys." She looked around and added, "They must be here anytime. Would you want to wait for sometime?" I decided to look around and while away time till my fellow software engineers arrive.
The "playground" was the whole area behind the building and the wall and spanned the whole length of the building. I wasn't planning to get introduced to the kids till someone else arrived and told me how things work here. But just I entered the space, a kid, dressed in formal clothes, came and shook hands with me. I introduced myself as Rathish and he smiled and said, "My name is Rathish". "Oh lovely, we have the same name". He gave me the same serene smile and said, "Oh lovely, we have the same name". That's when I realized something about his hands; They were too brittle and were bending as if made out of dough. He held onto my hand and was shaking it vigorously - for a second, I didn't know what I was supposed to do. I tried carrying on a conversation but he kept repeating whatever I said. Finally, a dark kid, called Mohan as I came to know later, came over and patted him on his back "Mani, did you tell him your name". "My name is Rathish" he repeated. "Tell him your name Mani. Not his name". Mani gave him an offended look and reiterated again, "My name is Rathish". Mohan gave him a look as if something just dawned on him, "Oh, I forgot that your pet name is Rathish. I am so stupid" and took me away to the other kids.
In one end of the playground were a bunch of guys and girls playing volleyball. All of them looked extremely normal and were playing the game with great vigour. I wasn't sure if they were indeed patients, with special issues, or had come there to play with the kids just as I have. I played it safe asking them a few innocous questions and played along for a couple of minutes. By now, Mani had seated himself in one of the benches talking to someone who seemed to be lost in his own world. I went and sat next to mani and the silent guy trying to strike up a conversation. The silent guy smiled back but that was all that we could do - his tamil was as bad as my telugu and so we ended up talking in bits and pieces. He was around 15 and told me that his cousin was here and that was why he came here. I wanted to believe him but somehow felt that there was certain pain in his eyes that he didn't want to talk about.
By then the headmistress, Ms.Priya had arrived there - We got talking about the kids and the facilities and after some deliberation, I told her how I find so many of them normal. She smiled and added - "They are indeed normal, Rathish". "Oh, I didn't mean --", I hurried. "No, I understand what you mean. When I say they are normal, I mean they don't suffer any physical or mental problems. As you probably heard, this school was primarily started for people with cerebral palsy - I am sure you know what that means. But soon, the aayas working here started bringing their kids here and we expanded to include people below the average socio-economic bands and students with below average IQs. Most of the kids you find here are those who couldn't cope up with our educational system, were failing repeatedly and were thrown out of school. But there are faculties - like arts or sports - where they are very good at. so, we provide them a tailor-made environ to improve these skills, help them undergo vocational training in our ITI and get them ready for the outside world". "Some here", she pointed to a girl standing in a corner with a badminton bat waiting for some company, "are so emotionally unstable that they can't accept the harsh realities of the outside world. that girl you see there is an exceptional painter but is highly unstable. After coming here she's getting back to normalcy now and is really blossoming. So, you see we have a mixed bag. Having them here has its own challenges especially when you deal with girls and these adoloscent frustrated young men ". Just then, 3-4 kids arrived, some with their mothers, in wheelchairs with a huge smile on their faces. Priya ma'm went over and greeted each one of them and had a word with every kid.
Suddenly, I was filled with an overwhelming responsbility - every word, action of mine is going to have a great impact on these people's lives. For so long, I have lived like solitary drop of dew on a flower's petal, my presence leaving no impact on the fabric of the society that I am a part of. My whole existence has been inconsquential - i have never created life, never taken one or left a conscious indelible mark in the lives of anyone who couldn't distinguish the good from the bad. "Ma'm, is there any other help that you might need - stationery, money, anything!". "In a place like this, there's always a need for things Rathish. But for starters, all we need is your time". She smiled and walked away leaving me with the kids. They had by then formed a group and were starting off with their games. Some of them couldn't talk, some couldn't hold things, none of them could walk normally - but everyone was glad to have some company. They started off with the game of 20 questions. The first one was about an musician, born in india but who lived in UK, dead. Till the end I had no idea who he was - Seems, the answer was prince. That was a revelation - doesn't matter if they were right. But I really didn't expect them to think of such personalities - the list that continued was equally impressive - JK Rowling, Vladimir Putin, Tom cruise, Vijay Amirtiraj. These were people who I doubt get proper schooling, but here they were thinking of names that were not really the headline grabbers (at least the headlines that a 13 year old is interested in!).
The clock stuck 1 and I had to go - till then not a single software engineer turned up. I was alone with all those kids, playing and cheering them for every answer they cracked. Just as I was about to leave, Avinash, one of the most severely affected, touched my hand gently and looked at me. Mohan explained me that he wants me to turn his wheelchair because his neck is aching. For some reason, he didn't want to say it but he had reached a point where he couldn't bear the pain. I went behind and carefully turned his chair and waited there till he told me it was ok. "I can't see you now. Please come forward, I want to see your face", he said in impeccable english. As I sat next to him, he touched my hand and gave me a look with such pristine gratitude. I finally told them I had to leave. All of them wished me good bye and just as I was about to go, Avinash held my hand and asked me if I could pick him up from his house next week because he didn't want to disturb his mom. I didn't even know where his house was but I couldn't have denied his request. I crossed the wall and was heading to the office when someone called out loud, "Rathish bhaiya! do you remember my name". "Of course I do, neel". You should have seen him beaming. "Please come next week. I will show you the whole place".
I promised I will. I will. I definitely will.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

In response to a comment :-)

This is a comment that grew big enough to become a blog :-) To catch up on the history of the conversation, take a look at the comments on the previous blog

Anonymous wrote .....

voting for blogs is just fun, inconsequential...canvassing for amitabh,aish is indeed shameless...but taj, meenakshi temple are the prides of the nation...and iam sure any indian wud not fail to admire the beauty of these me, those mails were just spreading the awareness that such a poll is being conducted!!so that souls like me, who wud love to vote wudnt go uninformed......
and...if at all ppl canvass for the vote, wats wrong? its afterall UR nation, UR monument...if U dont show solidarity in supporting its cause for a "wonder" race, who else wud?
u mite say "needless to say, the taj is a wonder..." ..but remember this "wonder" tag-generated tourism will fetch UR nation loads of why not contribute in a small way to that cause??

Point taken - that it definitely generates awareness. But there are a couple of things that I don't agree. Firstly, is how the whole mail is worded. There's a world of difference between a mail that tells you about such a poll and asks you to vote if you have admired it all along and want to tell the world about it and a mail that counts on your patriotism to make these architectural wonders a world wonder and shows you how voting is a chance to do your duty as an indian - this is the stuff that our political talks are made of. And it also adds that you can vote how many ever times you want because "every vote counts!" - If this is patriotism, frankly I don't concur.

Secondly, I don't deny or underestimate the effect of the "wonder" tag on any of these monuments. It surely makes a difference - Brand sells! and that's an irrefutable fact. But if someone is going to tell me, "voting for such wonders is going to bring in tourism revenue which will then be channelised to help the poor. And thus I will help my country by casting this vote", it will only remind me of one of my acquaintance's justification in going to the US and settling there - "I go there, study in the US, settle down and marry a firangi lady. I shall bring her to India often and I am sure she will love these traditional stuff. By letting her buy all that, I will contribute to the indian economy". My point is, there are much more direct ways in which you could help if patriotism is what drives you. More often than not, I feel, patriotism becomes a justification for something you want to do (and that you find painless) than the real reason you do something.

Even apart this example, I feel a lot of times that our talks of patriotism is entirely misplaced. A hundred and one opportunities stare at our faces where we could have helped - we don't. But we sit the coziness of our office, press a button and talk at length about the pristine history of our motherland. Of course doing this is better than doing nothing you might say - but I dont' really know what's the difference between nothing and this something.

I guess I am over-reacting :-) Whoever you are, I don't doubt your intentions. If you were one of those who wanted to tell the world how much you love and admire these works of art and find these polls a way to do so - that's really great. But, I can tell you that there're thousands of them who have never even been to Taj mahal, seen it in its full splendor but would go ahead and cast a vote coz it's indian. I personally wouldn't do it - I haven't voted yet. But if I do, there's a good chance that I would vote both for the colloseum in italy and the meenakshi temple because I found both of them amazing. If it makes me any less an indian, so be it :-)

its afterall UR nation, UR monument... if U dont show solidarity in supporting its cause for a "wonder" race, who else wud?

If I were to conduct such a poll, I would obviously think about such patriotic influences. If your argument is true, I can tell you the winners right away - the great wall of china would be the first and taj mahal the second. You don't need to run a poll for that - you just have to verify whether the statistics about population of each country is in order.

PS: Just visited the site to know the voting procedure - seems you have to call up a number and get a secret code to vote. now, I really want to know how many of them voted :-)

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Say you love it!

For long, I have been toying with this idea of starting a poll among all bitsian blogs that I maintain just to know which ones people find most enjoyable. But I ghussed the idea for various reasons including
  1. the costs of writing an application to do such a thing and the logistics of hosting it somewhere.
  2. the awareness that, all said and done, that list is just another post that people find useful and
  3. loads of experience in screwing up things that are working fine out of over-enthusiasm
However, there are certain blogs that I just love to read and for some reason (don't ask me why!), I didn't want to mention it as a part of any post in my blog (more on this later) - which was exactly why I wanted to start this whole poll of "enjoyable blogs".
So, it was good news that I ran into this site where you can vote for blogs that you enjoy reading and the results will be announced in the end. Of course, there's a slim chance that my vote is going to make a difference coz
  1. the whole world is voting and I am sure there will be tons and tons of votes coming in.
  2. soon, there will be groups with agendas who will poll a lot of proxy votes (for reasons varying from same nationality to beer buddyism) to skew the results (how else do you think, aishwarya rai and amitabh B won the BBC polls? We even shamelessly send forwarded mails canvassing for those people!)
However, this poll presents me a chance to express whose blogs I love. I hope, finally, they show a list of blogs that have been nominated so that my votes "makes a difference" :) If you have been following any blogs that you find thorougly enjoyable, go ahead and cast your vote (god! I feel like our film stars in those 30 second infomercials)

Monday, January 10, 2005

Random musings

sunday morning I was waiting near Kempfort to take a cab to the office (which never arrived FYI) and as usual was looking at little nothings that happen all around. In a distance there was this little kid - one of those street urchins, with an old bag, a bowl in the hand and in torn clothes looking around for money. What caught my eye was this guy's attitude. He wore an electronic watch in his hand (I am not sure if it was working); once in a while, he will comb his hair with his fingers (typically how rajni would do it in his movies), and was humming a tune quite loudly displaying all signs of a content life. Suddenly, after a couple of minutes, he notices that I am watching him. Immediately, he changes his demeanour, cuts such a wretched, sorry face that shall move anyone to tears, spits the chewing gum that was in his mouth, comes close to me and begs for some money. what .. I just ... you were ... just now !!!!
God knows what came upon me on sunday but I was terribly absent-minded the whole day. For starters, I stood under the shower with my specs on and didn't realized till water started dripping from it. But the heights of absent-mindedness happened in the ATM. I want to withdraw some cash; I insert my card, do everything required; take my card out and wait for the cash to come. In those few seconds, I tell myself to check my balance in the receipt that I get after withdrawing cash. Finally, the cash arrived but by then, I forgot what I was waiting for (the receipt!). I suddenly get a feeling that I am actually waiting for my card and that my card is stuck inside the machine. I barge into the bank next door, catch hold of a guy and tell him my problem. He looks at me uneasily, tells me that today's a sunday and hence I should wait for 2 days. I could have realized it atleast then. But no! "What do you mean, 2 days! How do you think I would go on without my card. Open the damn machine, do something! I want my card right away!". He apologises profusely and I walk out all huffy-puffy. Suddenly, I get this strange feeling and check my wallet. Lo! there it was. My first instinct was to just run and never see the guy again. But I was scared if it will result in a greater embarrassment. So, I went, gave a sheepish smile and said, "I just should have waited for sometime. The card was out just as I left and someone had left it on top of the ATM. I am sorry!" what a blunt lie. But, couldn't think of anything better then!
Another anectode about my beanbag buying incident. After being with my friends in INSEAD who were primarily from AP, I try to talk to people as much as possible in their native languages. My tamil is very good; hindi is ok; telugu is just passable; But one language I have been getting really good at is malayalam. But that's not something I should be proud of coz it's actually my mother tongue (hear! hear!). Till I graduated from BITS, this was a well kept secret. None of the mallus in pilani knew I was from kerala; I wasn't a part of the kairali group; On the other hand, I was actively involved in the tamil play troupe. All this primarily coz I was really ashamed of my malayalam. So, while in france, whenever I find time alone, I used to act out scenes involving my relatives, a shop vendor, a bus conductor, friends from kerala in malayalam. The thing is, it was all inside coz I have been listening to people for a long time and by the time I came back, I had enough practice. why I am telling you this is because, the salesmen who delivered the bags yesterday to me were malayalis and I was negotiating with them in malayalam trying to get the prize down by some 400 bucks. The salesmen somehow agreed - the guy standing next to me was totally impressed looking at the whole episode and congratulated me on my malayalam. but god only knows what those guys understood; they probably were laughing all night thinking of words I used.
PS: my brother's strategy is the best. 3 months before going home, he prepares like 5-6 sentences for everyone. If someone ends up telling him something else and expects a response he will - 1, give a hearty laugh 2, give this characteristic malayali "Oooooo" 3, say adipoli or thallipoli depending on the mood or 4, call me and say, "Rathish, idhu ketto" and walk off.

After a lovely weekend ...

Had a lovely weekend - just lovely! Most of my friends were out of station and hence spent all my time either in Barista or Oxford book house reading and sipping coffee/tea. Finished "You must be joking Mr.Feynman!" (a long overdue) and started off with Steven Pinker's "Blank slate". Lovely book - Quite unlike myself, I have been doing a lot of scientific reading in the last couple of weeks. Decided this will be the last book of this genre for now. And yeah - I went and bought "Governance and the sclerosis that has set in" (this was in part because of the comment in my blog asking me to write on why dont educated indian youth pursue political aims - I have been thinking about it quite seriously then. So, shall write that blog soon :-)
But .. BUT ... the crowning moment of glory came when, Rathish son of Balakrishnan, bought his bean bag (and convinced his room mate too to buy one!). For a long time now, I have been eyeing it and despite claims that it is bad for my back, I have been wanting to have one. Close to 10:10 in the night, the bean bag was finally delivered to me and since then, I have been making up excuses to be at home longer so that I can sit in it for sometime :-)
There's another event that deserves mention - that is my visit to the Spastics Society of Karnataka on saturday. But that shall be done in detail in another blog later in the day.
Other quick updates - I have added 5-6 new blogs to the list of bitsian bloggers. One pleasant surprise was a comment from Dilip D'Souza to be added to the list. He's from the 76 batch and is currently a writer (which is definitely not news for those who frequent Rediff). It's amazing to know that how far internet can reach is WAY beyond our imagination.
Okie - time for me to get back to work! Until then .. it's see you from Rathish and Balakrishnan. Namaskar!

Friday, January 07, 2005

The story of my new movie :)

Sagnik is right - penning an abstract in my blog gives me at least some evidence that I thought of this before some guy makes a movie awfully close to this idea and my idea is forever branded an "inspiration". This is one lesson I have learnt since my days in PTM.

My story is about a happy couple - a high flying investment banker and a lovely, sensible NGO worker - who have been married for 4 years. Theirs was a love marriage much against the wishes of their kin. So, in a sprawling city of mumbai, they have been living alone in a posh, sparsely filled, dimly lit apartment. There comes a time when they get so sick of the pollution, gossip, work schedule, lack of time for eachother that on the fourth anniversary, he gives her two choices - one is a promotion to become a partner which meant more travel, more pressure but more money and the other is to just disappear into wilderness in one of the remote corners of kerala. It was a village they had accidentally visited during their honeymoon and one of their friends was the district collector there. They had enough money to live the rest of their lives in that village and they would be far far away from this maddening crowd, a post man being their only link to the rest of the world. She thinks it's too risky, dangerous. Though unhappy, they know this place and feel safe here. But he's persistent, he talks of how he has always wanted to write a book but could never find the time. He would go there and write about the tribe who inhabit that village (they, called the semai tribe are one of the few non-violent tribes in the world. No violence ever!). He also convinces her that her NGO experience and skills would help emancipate the population there.

So, they pack their bags and buy a nice thatched house facing the back waters and start living there. She soon gets adjusted, finds work for herself among the village crowd, teaching women about hygeine and all that. They walk in the beach in the evenings, make passionate love, sit and talk of everything under the sun. But his book doesn't move - not a word. He toys with a lot of ideas and finally reaches a point of frustration where he drops the whole plan. He then tries doing a lot of things to keep him busy - a teacher, a social worker, an entreprenaur - but the professionalism, the secretary to make calls, the dependence on fax-email-internet and the cause-and-effect principles of a city don't work here. But in this experience he meets up with an old man in the village - the only one who's gone out of the village. He starts talking to him about the tribe and its customs. The old man promises to help him write a book. And during their long talks, he is shocked to know the various inhuman acts that take place as a part of rituals. He swears to change all that - but what it entails is much more than what he can handle. It changes him as a person, screws up his relationship with his wife, and he soon loses perspective and is in the brink of destruction.

The story basically is placed on three premises - one, there's nothing in this world that's perfect. Every good thing has its own disadvantages and you can never remove the bad side of it from the good one. It's like the theory of shadow and self, jeykill and hyde - together they coexist and make sense. but you can never seperate them. EVER! Secondly, each one has his place. You belong somewhere - a place where people share your definitions of truth, good and evil. Beyond that your existence doesn't make any sense. And thirdly and subtly, there are some basic assumptions that make us humans. You never question them - once you question it, you realize the difference between you and an animal is dangerously slim.

My brother's already passed his judgement - this movie will never work in tamil. However, I persist :) Inside my head, it's like a set of glimpses/moments/situations/dialogues. So, if any of you have the resources to make a movie and like this idea and want to discuss it further, do get in touch with me :)

The Crimson of dusk

What was a bustling house just a couple of hours ago was soon returning to its normal self barring a few pockets of betel leaves chewing old men analyzing how the marriage went on, and how everyone in the town was happy with the way they were treated. The sun was leaving a crimson shade on the clouds at the horizon and nature, just as the house, was getting back to the state of inactivity after a hot, sultry day. There, right at the end of the corridor, in a wired steel chair, he was seated staring at eternity letting his life run as a series of images before his eyes. Once in a while, someone would stop by, enquire about his health, commend him for whatever he had done towards the wedding and give him company for a while. But for mostwhile, he was alone lost in his own thoughts cherishing his moment of fulfilment.
This house held a lot of memories for him, spread all over the spectrum from the worst, forgettable ones to the most wonderful, memorable moments of his life. On the wall, under the tiled roof were pictures right from his childhood, to his own children standing as responsible adults amidst of deluge of relatives. He was seven when he came to this house. They had a much bigger house. But his father, a freedom fighter, had sold it for the sake of building a school for harijan students during times of freedom struggle. This house belonged to his brother in law, who in his own right was a very influential man. It is said that when electricity first came to the town, his brother in law's was the first house to be lit - he was there watching with an open jaw as the bulb came to life and spread light all over the corridor. He also remembered how he tried touching it and burnt his index finger but never dared to tell anyone. On the other side of the corridor were long rows of trees, that he always tried to climb, fell down from and broke his limbs. It was under the shade of these trees, that he would sit with his friends and talk for the first time about girls, politics and alcohol. So many times he had been belted in the porch outside with the whole neighbourhood bearing witness, for flunking his exams, for coming back late and that one time, for standing close to a political march when he didn't even know what that party stood for.
It was in the same corridor that he had a showdown with his father about falling in love with some girl; where tall arguments on family values and buckets of mother's tears had won their way over matters of the heart. He had stood there, one day, with loads of dreams, packed bags, and a new found responsibility of finding a vocation. He left as a slim, charming, handsome youngman and came back to find a bride when he was thirty, balding and pitch dark out of hours under the asbestos roof of the factory floor. It was in one of the corner rooms in the first floor that his wife had cried to him behind those closed doors, confessing that she was very scared about the whole prospect of living with a stranger. She was there, 2 years later with a newborn, waiting for him to come back - and he did, 20 days after his dream, his most cherished possession, his son was born. So many times, in the years that followed, he would sit with his wife counting pennies, selling jewellery just to look presentable and spare a dime as a gift to little children who swarmed all around them. There, with them, were his children ignorant of the language, the customs and even the names of their immediate kin, sitting there with a book they pretended to read.
Through so many weddings, so many naming ceremonies, so many first birthdays and second anniversaries he had sat in the porch, as inconsequential as dirt, he and his kin treated like obligatory baggage, blood relations that were used to fill space on the groom's side. During every ceremony he would be running from one end to another serving rose milk tumblers to guests, buying betel leaves for the priest and talking to old women who weren't significant anymore. The only time his need was felt was when the first round of guests had had their lunch and the plantain leaves had to be removed before the second round made its way inside. He never felt any qualms doing it even if the groom was his own nephew and the rest of his kin would be seated in the A/C hall counting gifts while he was cleaning trash under an asbestos roof.
That one time when his son had passed his final exams with higher marks than anyone ever in the family, he remembered the pride in his eyes as he stood tall and talked to everyone penniless, but rich with a new found confidence. And today, he sat as a satisfied old man after single-handedly carrying out his niece's wedding, and making no fuss about it. His two sons stood with their mother and handled the crowd of relatives with elan. They had a word for everyone - from gossiping aunts to preachy uncles to i-have-seen-it-all grandmothers. Once in a while, they would point to him, give a knowing a smile and accept, what looked like compliments, gracefully. He was happy with himself for the way he had brought them up - His younger son was still a little shy but he knew he would come around too. As he habitually reached for his scalp to adjust the strands of hair that hung to the corners, he felt a fragile hand on his shoulders. Behind those wrinkles, and a sparse gray scalp was his old maths teacher who had forever called him a categorical failure. He, my father, held his hands, showed the two of us, my brother and I, standing as silhouettes at the end of the corridor and said with pride, "My sons sir! my sons!". The old man hugged him and both of them cried silently, their eyes brimming with tears of joy.

Azaadi Dil ki

I have the power :) A long pending wish has now come true - I am sitting at home and blogging in my laptop. now, how cool is that ;) No .. I didn't buy one but rented our team's laptop for a day because no one really wanted to take it home. Actually, by the time I was returning from germany this time, I had made up my mind to buy a lap top and asked Amrutha to get me one. Of course, I had my conditions - I wanted only an apple iBook G4, with 512MB ram and under 1100 dollars. Unfortunately (and understandably), she couldn't find one even on thanks giving day.
Met up with Sriram, one of my oldest classmates and arguably the most intelligent and focussed person I have ever met, and he gave me this brilliant idea of buying a digital audio recorder - the ones that journalists walk around with. And it makes a lot of sense - lap top does give me a good level of mobility and helps me avoid blogging in office, something despite my best efforts, I still haven't come to terms with. But, most of the things that I want to blog occur to me that moment - like the time when I cross our bus terminus or find some event of no consequence funny. Though, I do my best to remember and write about it later, most of the time they get lost among issues of "greater importance". So, this voice recorder is the best. I talk what I want, download a voice to text converter and customize it to my voice and lo! I have reams and reams of blogs to write :)
Anyways, one main reason I wanted to get a laptop was to start writing two pet projects that I have been tinkering with for quite sometime now. One is a novel called Chrysalis that I had started writing when I was at home this june and the other one, I am thinking now of writing it directly as a screenplay for a movie. The idea is all there, the characters have been defined and refined, based on the little research I have been doing. So, once I get a laptop I can atleast start with an abstract and note down the little details I want to incorporate. I have also been thinking to make my novel public by starting another blog - but I am sure I can't pen a word sitting in office and that it will eventually get stalled. So, shall wait till I find some means to continue writing it.
Now, I have to start thinking of issues to write about - I am getting used to this freedom now! Just realized that I have songs in my house too - god! just can't better than this. Oh mummy! Oh daddy! I am a big-o-baddy!!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Statesman or politician

A blog to start the day and I shall get back to work - I stay in a place called Ambattur which is in the fringes of chennai metro. The one and the only landmark in Ambattur is the Ambattur OT (old terminus - Ideally, it should actually be EOT or VOT - extremely old T or at least Very old T).Now, OT serves as the heart of the place - it's our bus terminus, auto-stand, shopping mall, hang-out corner (for bored, unemployed youth who by the way are a sizeable chunk) and most importantly, a political battle ground. Whenever, the third cousin of the fifth aunt of Karunidhi's third wife's second brother or for that matter, the second step-son of jayalalitha's first foster-son celebrate their quarterly anniversary our old terminus takes on a festive look. All the buses are moved to arbid corners, the entire place is cleared and in its place is set a stage with all shaminas, loud speakers and these petty shops to deliver "color" (which in local dialect refers to cheap soft drinks). 3 hours before the event starts, they start playing these AWFUL AWFUL songs right into your ears (they are damn good at placing it strategically) and just when you think things are coming to an end - the leaders (they have these funny titles in tamil like "mavatta podhu thurai dheerga dharisi" which is roughly, "district public works visionary" - no clue what it means!) take their positions on the stage and have an ugly version of high-school-debate (it's called patti mandram in tamil). Each of these leaders really want to make good impression and start their speeches with classic 13th century tamil and as the speeches get fiery and emotional, you see such a marked deterioration in the language and by the time it ends, he sounds like a rickshaw wallah in the roads (for those who have felt the bliss of chennai tamil, here's a teaser - "namma thalaivanuku kosam, oru dhaba enna, pathu dhaba en thalaya seevepen! inna nenechukunukranga edhir katchi karanuva!" - translated as, I can chop my head off for our leader, not once but ten times! what do the opposition members think of themselves. it's actually their "flair" that's captivating!).
My most recent encounter with such an episode was this time when I went to chennai. Sunday night when I was on my way to catch my bus to bangalore, the whole thing was set up and a distinguished gentleman was doing our local-ceaser version of "let the games begin!". The topic of the debate was - "Is M.K.Stalin (the son of MK Karunanidhi) a politician or a statesman?". What!!!! Let me be politicially correct and tell you that Stalin is a bad bad man! (I don't have a clue how someone can name his son after a failed, murderous dictator. anyways!). Stalin is a lot of things. He is slimy, fake, spine-less, roguish (many still remember how he chased a news reader in the middle of the road) and has no identity or appeal whatsoever! He's all these things but what he's not is a statesman or even for that matter a real politician! I actually wanted to stop and listen to the arguments for, but that would be at a risk of missing my bus and he definitely wasn't worth it! But, so much disruption of public life, so many police troops, traffic diversions and effort on such a mindless, good-for-nothing topic! It really pains!
You never know - 4-5 years later, stalin might actually be our chief minister. for many, that's a certainity. We, in tamil nadu, are like gold fish (gold fish when in a fish tank has such a poor memory that once it moves past a section of the bowl it forgets it. So, it actually has a feeling of being in a boundless sea). We work very similarly - four years DMK is in power we know they are a piece of shit and we bring AIADMK to power. Of course, they had't done anything last time they were in power and have no plans this time too. Four years later, we realize that and bring DMK to power. It's an irremediably pathetic situation - can't blame us either. They are all the choices we have (don't even get me started on the congress wing in TN! BJP? BJP what?).
Probably not very relevant, but thought of this quote from a poem, I think by Alexander Pope.
Blessed are the forgetful
For they get better
even of their blunders
Let me get to work now :)

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Whoever told me Swades is a good movie - what were they even thinking! No seriously, there's a certain responsibility one has when judging and commenting on a movie. I really want to catch them by their neck and ask them what they think is a good movie. A good movie, according to me, is something that leaves with you with a smile when you are off the cinema, that makes sure you enjoyed your popcorn and coke and gave you enough chances to comment loudly during emotional scenes. Was swades even close to this definition. Take it from me - Swades is not good. It's brilliant! it's sincere, heartfelt, professional, technically sound. It has soul, subtlety, a wonderful cast who give it life and a man at helm who gives it direction.
Films I feel are worth talking of are of three kinds - popcorn fare time pass movies (no, I am not talking of no-brainers! I am talking of thorougly entertaining movies) - the incredibles or any of those pixar animations, kamal's memorable comedies, DDLJ are excellent examples. I don't spend a single minute thinking about these movies but love seeing them again and again because they are excellent entertainers. The second genre are movies that move you. They talk to you and affect you even after you come out of the hall because there's something about the movie that related so well to you - most of kamal's movies (thevar magan, kurudhi punal), mani rathnam's movies are in these kind. And there are the third type of movies - movies that change your life. Movies that you saw in the right time that affected so much that it ceases to be a movie and changes you as a person and the way you think for the rest of your life. It's not just about the movie but also about when you see it - lost in translation was one such movie, jerry maguire for me was one such movie, Fountainhead was one such book and Swades is definitely one such movie.
Let me digress a bit here - Maya, as a person, is always emotionally ahead of me. Be it joy or pain or subtle changes in the relationship, she feels it ahead of me. Last week, she sent me a heartfelt account of how she felt about the victims of Tsunami (which she specifically didn't want me to make public) and how terrible she felt about it. Of course, I felt sad about Tsunami too but not to the extent of ruining my day and going back home - I donated a 4 digit number the moment they opened the relief fund in SAP; I was more than glad to forego a day's salary; I called up guys in Red cross asking them if there's any use for old blankets or shirts coz I can defintitely give them. And I felt good about myself - I didn't understand what maya was going through but I wrote a blog on cynics and hypocrites while listening to some good music and went back home to eat my mom's food. When I was in chennai, I was seriously thinking about going to one of those tsunami-hit areas at least once; In the same breath as I thought of having a haircut and getting my stamp size photograph - Just like a scientist working in some remote corner of the world, enjoying a happy life and glorifying his existence by attaching it to a benevolent cause - so like us. We are scared arent't we - we don't get out of our shell of comfort, go out and face pain, share and experience some. It's more than enough for our barista-coffee-pampered-conscience if we press a button and send 2000 odd rupees into some fund, seldom realizing that there are so many more who could do it and so few who can get their foot dirty. Yesterday, sitting in that movie hall, I understood what maya was going through.
No - it's not that a three hour movie has let me intellectually challenged and socio-consciously deranged. Before leaving france, for sometime I was quite seriously contemplating settling down in a village somewhere in south tamilnadu as a teacher. Just that, I wanted to wait for sometime and know what I am getting into to make sure I am not driven just by the romanticism of the idea. Quite frankly, I am not driven too hard by money or fame - I am driven singularly by the desire to make my existence matter. Start a company, direct a movie, write a book, teach - everything boils down to a desire to be heard, to make a difference and to bring a change in a subset of the population however big or small the population be. And what other way to make a difference than this - to help people who can't help themselves. Of course, a month and a half is past now and I have been languishing in coffee pubs and book shops in the search of a greater truth and I haven't moved an inch towards "making a difference".
I know I could talk a lot more - but let me stop and come back on monday to write about how I actually went and did something.
Now to the review of the movie - pluses. subtle texts like carrying the water bottle everywhere worked wonders; Shahrukh - in BOLD. very neat performance; though the stammer, the mischievous look, those extended arms that cover the screen were still there he fit the role to the T. One sore point is he's soon joining Ajay devgan in the terrible teeth department; gayatri joshi, one of the most beautiful faces on screen in recent times. can't cry for nuts but that's ok, I can adjust ;); Rahman's score - refreshingly different, the music during titles sounded offbeat but most of the time it gelled well; casting - not about sharukh or kaveriamma but aam junta including that one eyed old woman who says bijli. just perfect; a few scenes, including shahrukh's trip to collect the rent, shall stay in my mind for a long time to come; most of all, the director's confidence - the movie brims with it. he's not hurrying things, he concentrates on details and close ups, no words minced, clear characters. 10 on 10.
Just a few minor could-ve-been-betters. I am not one of those who think songs should be done away with completely. songs, when appropriate, express a lot more than sheafs of dialogues (take tanhayee in DCH for example). But I have always felt, you don't have play the whole song if you don't have scenes to cover it. Just a para or two. Still does the magic - they could've done that here in the second half. Secondly, the resistance of people could have been shown more realistically. You can't sing a song and convince people. So, the first school episode could have been a failure and the numbers could have increased. Thirdly, lots of bollywood cliches are missing in this movie and that's lovely but still the urge to have one, for example, how in a class shahrukh gives all wrong answers and then goes on to show how he actually knew the answers, we have seen that a lot of times, haven't we. It's ok - he didn't have to know the answers, may be. some such scenes were, for a lack of a better word, cliched. And so authentic was the movie that shahrukh breaking into a song routine or a dance move, even if minimal and basic, didn't fit
God! I am on a writing spree today :) Actually, ghussed a blog that I started writing before because it was becoming too long. What do I say about this! Let me stop now and get back to work