Monday, August 08, 2005

Bowled over by Taj

1. Before entering the Taj, we made a trip by Humayun's tomb & Akbar's tomb. Both these would have been beautiful & splendid in their own rights.
2. Humayun's tomb, smaller of the lot is also the neglected of the lot.
3. Akbar's tomb is well encased in one of the best kept lawns that i have seen. The greenery was so pleasing to the eyes.
4. The light was off, when we entered Akbar's tomb; making it more impressive that earlier. Also, the sheer simplicity in the tomb chamber impresses.
5. The moulvi showcased the resonance of the chamber and it made me wonder; How impressive would it be, to sit there and get an opportunity to hear the recital of the holy books.

Taj Mahal:

  1. The most impressive thing of Taj, is that it needs to be seen to believe. The marble structure is not what impresses, but there is something in the air that just does not allow the eyes to be removed off it.
  2. For something designed to be as symmetrical by the great emperor, he himself is the only exception as well. With the Taj being built for Mumtaz, she was placed in the center. When Shah Jahan passed away, he had plans for a BLACK TAJ, an idea that was abandonded & Shah Jahan laid to rest on the side of Mumtaz, thus shattering the symmetry of Taj.
  3. It is said that Taj of today is but the marble skeleton devoid of the gold & diamond that was encrusted in the structure. Made me wonder - if this structure was so beautiful; eyes would dazzle when we were to come in contact with the previous structure.
  4. It is hard to miss the fact that the marbles in Taj are multi-hued. If the Taj was made a pure white marbles, the beauty would have been completely lost.
  5. When the sun was coming down, Taj was just warming-up. The marbles seem to glow in the beauty of dusk & i have decided that i need to go back; to see the beauty of Taj in dawn & in Full moon night.
  6. I have been to some natural & man made wonders in US. The way, these are packaged and marketed always aims to enhance customer satisfaction. On the other hand, in India - selling of Taj was so low that i was just stunned. The road from Delhi to Agra is passable
  • The road from Agra into the city & the Taj was filled with cows, potholes and crazy traffic. Just missed the main ingredient called ROAD.
  • Fleecing of guests is something that i touchbased sometime back. Agra was not as bad as Mamallapuram & that is only because the guests afraid of the man handling, decide to cough up a few hundred rupees to save their skin
  • Lack of good infrastructure - restaurants, parks, family spots, boat rides, entertainment centers built around the theme of Taj. All it takes for the GoI is to invite some good multiplex owners from Delhi & Mumbai for good ideas.

My complaints with GoI remains, but with Taj - none will ever exist.

The Beauty of Taj!

I went to Taj for the first time that i can remember of. I shall let the beauty of Taj to be seen & leave my random thoughts for the next blog!

Onto the stunning beauty of Taj Mahal -

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

The 2 Hs - Harry & HAHK

First things first, the sports of the weekend - Ind lose to SL & wins against WI. Nothing surprisingly, except that the batsmen sans Dravid & bowlers are having a great time. I like it that way (bowlers in full flow at season start), a formula that always ends up with India having a great season - remember 1985-86, 2002-03, 2003-04. Kimi won over MS & i like that as well. ESPY awards was telecast (at last!) & it was the kind of ceremony that India needs to kickstart to promote sports.

Also, I watched a debate on CRICKET being of NATIONAL IMPORTANCE & hence private broadcasters should share the feed with DOORDARSHAN. Just the statement written down sounds silly, that a Group of Ministers (GoMs) has been constituted, making me believe that this government is seriously believe that they have misplaced priorities.

On to Harry Potter VI - though being a HP fan, i was not one of those who rushed to the stores: Reason is this - From the first one to the HP V, i have always read it from a borrowed book & that has somehow become a practice with HP. Not that i don't own one, it just happens that i own the entire set & i shall get VI now. As i went through the book, i reminded me of the famous Indian Movie of the 90s - Hum Aapke Hain Kaun (What am I to you). I avoided the movie for a long time because i couldn't stand to see Madhuri Dixit's elder sister Renuka Sawhaney being killed. The same reason why i, after I read a few reviews and knew of the impeding death in HP VI, i wanted to avoid it.

During the heydays of HAHK, i was finally forced to relent & remember making it to a nearby movie theater with my classmates from school & boy, did I enjoy the movie! Throughout the first 30 mins, i was kind of reflecting on the character whose fatality is but sealed & a good reels into the movie, i finally realised that enjoyment lies in davouring the present than to brood of the future. Same was the case with HP; while the first 50 pages of the book was read with regret of the climax, i soon realised that the feeling needed to be shed for me to enjoy the book.

In HP VI, i think i was glad that the humour of JKR is back; something that Order of Phoenix missed. Also, the way the plot thickens, makes me believe that the path she is on, was set way back and she is not trying to improvise to suit the current needs. Terribly funny Chapter I, well thought out plot of You-Know-How , neatly plotted Snape's negativity, maturity of Harry & the increasing wall of seperation between HP & his friends (was surprised that there was little of Neville in this story!).

But the highlight of the book was the vulnerability shown by Albus Dumbuldore. In life, over the last few years - i can associate this character to a few, i know in my professional & personal life & as time passed, the aura of invincability surrounding these people has plainly vanished shown some interesting personalities, a truth that would have been unimaginable earlier. That's a singular good enough reason why i will still go with the brilliance of JKR & HP.

Random Thought: Music maketh Movie!

4 Movies, 2 langauges - 2 classics, 2 contemporary, 3 telugu, 1 English (with a few telugu dialogues a la Hyderabad Blues). While Sankarabharanam & Morning Raga had a running music theme, Anand & Gitanjali relies heavily on music to complement the storyline.

Sankarabharanam has stood the test of time & delivered a resounding board to the movement of promoting telugu classic music, not only in the Disco era (late 70's/early 80's) but also across times of rap, remixes and pop music. A scene in the movie illustrates its stand on telugu & western music. Somayajulla (The telugu singer) is disturbed during sleep by the cacophony called music by the yuppie crowd next door. The yuppies challenge him to repeat their tune & while the classical singer easily surmountes their challenge, they can't repeat a raga he challenges them to. Instead of taking the moral high ground, he educates them that no music is inferior to another; there is beauty in each of them & that's what makes the differnce.

A wane set in the mid-70s & early 80s taking the crowds from classical music towards disco culture & the way the southern region movies attacked it, produced some of the best movies compared to intellectual duds from Bollywood during the time. Swati Mutyam (Pearl produced from 'Swati Karthe' rain), Sagara Sangamam (Oceans Meet), Srutilayalu amongst others from the stable of K Viswanath stroked the interest in Telugu Movies. The wheels of time now turn the other way around & it looks more inwards, towards Indian culture for inspiration than outwards. Morning Raga is a documentation of the same Gen X trend towards classical music (more so, as a disgust from remix that anything else!); It also shows that fusion music is very much possible & will go well with music lovers.

Anand is that fresh whiff of air that Telugu moviemakers have got from the stale megastar, adrenalin pumping, macho action & pseudo regionalist patriotism. The dialogues are very realistic & the accent reflects the trend of the time rather than following 'filmi style'. It is apt to say that not only the dialogues but also the whole movie (except the climax) had a good narration on how an independent girl comes to accept the proposal of a rich guy. Gitananjali is the only Telugu movie made by Mani Ratnam (all others are dubbed from Tamil) and despite the weak plot, stands amongst the best narrated romance stories (2 terminally ill patients - one with cancer & another with heart disorder fall in love & rest, as they say is history!). The only thing that differentiate Anand from a Gen X movie to greatness is that the songs don't gel well with the story & therein lies the difference between a 'Anand' and 'Gitanjali'.

As much as i enjoyed these movies, i felt that musicals in movies are something of an ancient past & unless you have an innovative music director & a great director/narrator, the movies will be hard to digest for the audience.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


I have the good fortune of a wide range of friends & having made a promise to myself that attending the weddings of the close ones, i have had such a great experience in these weddings. There have been multiple posts on friend's wedding snaps on my blog & the experience in each of the weddings is a thing to rejoice.

  • Muslim wedding are quite short & apart from the weight of yellow, on the bride's neck - it could pass off as a gathering of family & friends. In fact, there was this gentleman in our friend's wedding who lamented the loss of the good old days - when he got married in the morning, took his wife home in the afternoon & she started cooking that night.
  • Malayalam weddings, follow the same timelines as that of a muslim wedding. Be late, of say 10 mins & you would have missed the entire cermony. Ask me, i did miss a
    colleague's wedding like that.
  • Tamil (Non Brahmin) weddings are one of my favourite for their show of togetherness & family bondings. There are endless circles of middle aged women, chatting & gesticulating loudly & the raw emotion on display, is what is quite interesting. Of late, this has been supplanted by loud & garrulous music bands playing endless amount of latest film songs.
  • Tamil Brahmin weddings are the longest & is marked by a pomp & class - that mortals like us, are more likely overwhelmed by the sophistication that anything else. Moreso, these weddings start a little before, the Sun wakes up & by mid morning - all traditions are done with & all mamas & mamis retired before noon.
  • Telugu Non Brahmin weddings, typically Khamma weddings are the other of my
    favourites. All topics of the wedding are typically commercial in nature. What did the bride wear & how much does it cost? What was the dowry? How many cars did the groom get? Is that a diamond necklace or it is an imitation? Uff., the list is about endless.
  • Telugu Brahmin - Do I have any option? Make your own judgement. They are as complex as the Tamil Brah community & you get 2 options - morning (in comparison to early morning!) or late night! Apart from it - all ceremonies are dedicated to mostly the elders and the bride & groom are more likely a sideshow that anything else.
  • Aryan Samaj Wedding - Mridumesh's wedding was of this type & the wedding ceremony will be remembered for 2 things. The simple nature of the ceremony & the way the Panditji engaged all of us with wit & humor to teach the various ceremonies and their importance. It was short, cute & educative.
  • Marwadi Wedding - Aditya's wedding was anything but simple. From the pre-wedding
    rituals to the wedding itself, it was all about making the right statements. The wedding itself is clearly divided distinctly into 3 or 4 parts intersperced with a lot of gap to recuperate. The highlight i would say, is the Baraat - a 1.5 hour statement of intent of enjoyment with everyone either showing off their dancing skills or making a naked attempt to look good when dancing (like me!, who can't dance for his live's worth)

Weddings are beautiful in terms that it brings 2 people & their families in their best manners to learn about each other & that is why, each one is special! The more i think about it, the more clearer it is to me - wedding celebrations typify the culture and the amount of enjoyment that people seek from these events.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Aditya's Wedding

The Wedding day was unusually slow till mid afternoon/early evening. Sarin did not show
up but Shalabh did, with 2 of his batchmates from IIM-B & boy, did we have a good time
together. Now, my belief in the theory, that all MBAs hit together and exchange war
stories, is complete.

Even today was as sultry as yesterday. If Aditya's wedding extended over 15 days & in this weather - i would have lost atleast a few good inches off my waist. I strongly believe that the sweat glands are going to demand a extended vacation from all the efforts of the last 2 days.

The Bridegroom's dress deserves a special mention. It was designed by his sister - Megha, who recently completed her NIFT bachelor's degree. Mark my word, if the bridegroom's dress is any indication, she has the potential to go quite a distance in her profession. The embroidery was complex & stood out of the grey sharwani material. With the embedded stones responding to light in the most positive fashion, the Sherwani made a great statement.

The baraat started at about 1930 about a good kilometer away from the wedding location & there was much hesitation from the party to move fast. They wanted to make the most of the baraat, as this was the first wedding in 15 years in the family (a snippet from the horse-ridden bridegroom).

As we progressed, i could not help notice the amount of road space that we took & there were very few vehichle owners who were upset with this fact. Maybe, they were enjoying the baraat, or being polite to the ritual - there was very little honking from the traffic.

As the party winded into the hotel, i noticed that there was 2 'Aditya' weddings in the hotel. A good amount of navigation was requried to get the party into the right slot. Soon, there was the second baraat - but believe me, their's was no comparsion to ours. There was less music, lesser dance, no stunning fireworks and they moved too quickly.

After the groom happily relinquished his horse & made way to the mandap, quite a few of them - hit the refreshment stalls & returned in time when the bride arrived at the mandap. A few minutes later & half a dozen attempts to garland Aditya (held high by his cousin as well pushing himself to the limit for some time!), the groom was conquered. A frank remark here Adi, the bride is as tall as you are - i guess she could have garlanded you without much effort, but she was being nice to you.
When Shalabh & i compared our snaps - we found that his coverage was wider but his snaps took a little toll from the videographer's light source. Now, rejuvinated from their attack on the refreshment stalls, the elders came up to congratulate the new couples & take snaps with them - recording their presence in the wedding, while the younger lot hit the dance floors.

An hour later, all of us (save the bride, groom & a few others) hit the dinner room downstairs.At about 0100, Sunday morning - Adi, Reshmi & their close ones retired to the dinner room, a small stop before the completion of the wedding vows. While i wanted to join them for the cermony - the train back to Chennai would not wait. This was quite an eventful wedding & my enjoyment in this lasted the whole time.

A special note here of Aditya's parents - Uncleji when he came to greet me on Friday Morning told me that i was now a family member and being a good friend of Aditya, gave me this special status. Till the end, i - Kalyan, was called 'Aditya Bhiayya ke dost' and the treatment was on par with what was accorded to Aditya. I guess, i am hunbled by this gesture and can but thank them for this honor. It was a pleasure knowing all those cousins and his relatives.

Evening Show

I have never been to a Marwadi/ North Indian wedding and it was quite nervous in the beginning - moreso to avoid mistakes than to enjoy the show. But as things settled, the show (Engagement & the Dance Night!) was quite enjoyable. A few action worth note -

1. The biggest 'enthu' with most numbers is the immediate relatives of the groom. Hey, they control the program and it shows! There was however this girl from the bride's side who was just magnificient when she danced for about 5 of the latest tunes.

2. The sweetest thing on display is the elder grandmom, filled with pride as well as leaded legs, grimace any pain & walk upto the stage to 'nakar uthar' the good performance. It shows that age & seniority does not come in the way of enjoyment.

3. The second best thing of the evening was the 'Welcome Dance' by Auntyji to her Bahu. It was such a delight to see the mother-in-law take the stage & efforts to show the Bahu, the love & affection that she has on display.

4. The best thing of the evening is usually reserved for the father of the bride. His dance is always much watched & enjoyed by all sides. Remember, the song "Doli Sajake Rakna" in DDLJ & everyone has a smile when Amrish Puri breaks into a dance-song jig towards the end. Something of the same scale happened yesterday when the bride's father took to the stage to do a complete number as a show of his happiness towards daughter & Son-in-law.

5. A few notes here; When a dance is performed by the bride & groom - it turns into a Must Watch & 'Nakun Uthar' for almost all elders; When the tiny tots - 3 feet in length; take to entertaining Bhaiyya & Bhabhi - it alwats is cute; the final section of 'free for all' is for non-shakers like me. Just get lost in the crowd & fling your hands & legs & you can pretend to be a good dance.

6. I recently had a email on why the Balajis, Venkatarams & the Ponnuswamys of the
world are unglamorous compared to the Kumars, Saxenas & the Agarwals. There is a geniune reason - there is no occasion in the family to shake the legs down south compared to the North & that steals the thunder when trying to make an impression. That seem to be my last word on the Balaji/Saxena mail that quite a few of my North Indian friends seem to have the pleasure in forward-ing to me these days.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Aditya's Engagement (Party)

Reethi (Traditions) & Reewaj (Rituals) are the buzzwords that keeps blowing out to me in the last 2 days. I am here at Aditya's wedding & today's culminated the end of activities of Day 1 - Engagement & 'Sangeeth'.

When i arrived here, in Gwalior - i was escaping the heat of Chennai & landed right in between 2 spells of monsoon in here. The good news is that it is not raining, the other (not so good!) news (more felt than the previous one!) is that it is so sultry that 4287 nanosecond away from a fan/cooler/AC and the sweat glands are on overdrive. So sultry that, a bath is followed by another - with perspiration.

The hotel of stay as well as Aditya's house has a great view of the Gwalior fort & it is pretty majestic. With a few gurudwaras and temples, the fort looked to have a self sustaining look. While i don't have time & more importantly energy to visit it - from this far, the sight of the fort seems to provide a soothing feeling to me. I wonder how it felt 200-300 years back. Invincible, is the closest that i can describe.

While doing rounds & checking on relatives with Aditya, i was a little puzzled to hear topics of discussion with Aditya on empty slots, dance practices, chances of sneaking into a dance etc. I was quite foxed by it - when 50% of time spent on discussion was on this topic. Innumerable explanations from Aditya & they were of no satisfaction. Come evening & when i saw the passion with which people tried overcoming any dance shortcomings to entertain all - it finally went to this small brain. Weddings at our end revolve around rituals & prayers with participation from one & all (only married folks, unmarried people are totally un-welcome). The Sangeeth show yesterday showed me that this is their way of introducing the bride & groom to the family members - it is very entertaining, full of energy & everyone is welcome (to dance).

Made me realise a few other things: I understood why rich folks up north spent a fortune trying to bring anyone from superstars to starlets into the wedding and make them perform on Sangeeth. The rationale still belies me.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

'Sport' Weekend

What a weekend of Sports, it turned out to be? If i was into betting, i would have lost everything including the $138 billion of the GoI forex reserves. It didn't seem too bad to start with, I went up to the British Council Library and forked some good greenbacks for a membership and spent the next 1 hour, a little disappointed with the book collection. As I checked the library, i noticed that most of the good books were out for a long stroll.

Saturday evening & i tuned in to watch the Ban Vs Aus match. I joined late & watched the Bangla reply begin & was quite surprised to see Aussies score only 249. I was stunned & thought it was a good batting pitch & when i tuned in, a batsman lost temper and Bangla were reduced to 49/2. I thought, there go the minnows and when i returned after a 'healthy' after dinner snack (subject of another blog), there was a match on hand (70+ required of 60+). I enjoyed the chase & it was incredible to see the Aussies lose. The same was the way, they lost 3 quickies in the England Australia match. One minute, it was a good song & Aussie were 57/0 and when the song ended (Shaun's Tanha Dil), it was 58/3 and it was soon followed by a blinder from Collingwood. That sealed the fate of the Aussies and did not tune in for the rest of the match

I was focused on the US F1 GrandPrix and it numbed me that there were only 6 cars that came on the track. Shame on the F1 management! My notes on the US Grand Prix Fiasco-

  • Culprit 1: Michelin Tyres - Your business, as contracted is to build tyres, not reengg circuits. I mean, how can you not bring in reliable tyres for the GrandPrix & you certainly have no right to speak on what others contributed to the confusion
  • Culprit 2: F1 Owners - How can you suggest that a chichane be added in the 11th hour. Anyways, what is the logic on veto voting. I guess, a 7/10 is sufficient to implement any decision taken
  • Culprit 3: Bernie & Max - Please come down from the ivory towers & mingle with the fee paying crowd. If you knew about the tyres earlier in the weekend, it was your responsibility to fix the issue and not blame everyone but you.
  • Culprit 4: Jordan - Proved that a few points in the bag are more important than agreement with others. Suits fine with me. But consider this, if you did not take to the race, Minardi would not have & that would have left Ferrari all alone on the track. Wouldn't that force Ferrari's hands?
  • Culprit 5: Ferrari - While i do understand Ferrari's stance. It is like everyone in class asking the one student who is prepared, to agree to alter the format of the exam because they were not well prepared. However, Ferrari have won no friends and lost any, with their attitude. Please remember, there is something called following the spirit of the rule

If i was there, i would have given the choice of changing the tyres during the race (suspend the rule of the year) as well as impose a 4 places/ change drop in the qualifying of next race. That would mean that Bridgestone tyres can go around without change in tyres while Michelin fellows would change tyres (lose time in the current race as well as lose place in next race)

Another thing, while the crowd were justified in feeling bad, it still gives them no excuse to throw objects on the field. What if the tyre burst on impact and caused harm to the driver. Remember the Concorde accident was caused by debris on the runway puncturing a tyre. A punctured tyre has a potential to lead to catastrophic results on a race circuit.

A few thoughts on the race & such:

  • What was MS doing, putting RB on the grass. It was downright bad & could have led to a retirement if RB did not yield. Some good luck used MS & you don't pull tricks like these on teammates
  • As per my last blog, F1 Gods are out to see a 8th title from Schumi. Why else the Michelin fiasco happened?
  • Ferrari are the only winners of the US grand prix and it would be such a disaster for other teams, if Ferrari go on to win the constructor's championship. If Ferrari can do in such a bad year, nightmare of 2004 domination will resurface again in forthcoming seasons.
  • Any titles to MS, Ferrari in this season & the focus would be on the points gained in US GP. That will not add to the glamour of the game
  • The big losers are Alonso & Kimi. MS has caught up with you folks & he looms larger than where he was 2 races ago
  • This championship is turning out to be the best since i started following the game in 1997.

With F1 turning to farce, Cricket pummeled by Aussie bad performance, i was looking to football for some action & lo, behold - Mexico defeated Brazil

What a sporting weekend!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Buttoned Up

Michael Schumacher had the Canadian F1 'Buttoned Up' for him - literally and figuraratively. The F1 gods (not all the gods; A nice article on why Gods don't influence Games - It is a long article and you need to go deep to find the above mentioned topic) wanted to reward Michael - for what? My guess, for being a nice kid who did not crib when his luck was down.

From the beginning of the race; Fischicella & Alonso jumped MS & Button and Montayo & Kimi saw this opportunity and slung past these cars. For 30 laps, status quo and the F1 gods grimaced and thought that some action needs to taken. Nope, the thunder and lightning bolt would have been used if MS was 20th and last. For this occasion, this was what happened:
  • There was the retirement of Fischicella with a failed what, I don't know and at the momemt, apart from my apologies - it could be the engine fell down!
  • Alonso is Alonso, not Karthikeyan. How could you hit the wall of all things? That's reserved for a rookie, not the future F1 champ
  • Button. Same dialogue for you, but you could be excused for coming under the pressure of MS as well as helping MS come 2nd & Barrichelo 3rd. They should send a crate of champagne to your camp!
  • Why are you such a hothead, Montayo. It is a Level 1 F1 trivia that you cannot overtake under a safety car. Yeah, Yeah - I know that you were black flag-ed for using the pit lane on the red light, but you would anyway had been a non-factor for MS as there was a drive thru if not for the black flag

And lo & behold - MS was moved from 6th to 2nd in no time! A place, he was forced to keep by Kimi.While I know that MS did not win (the race ended about 3 mins ago!), but when he was 6th and was about 35 secs, any MS fan would have settled for 2nd to him & 3rd to Reuben. I would not have rejoiced a MS victory had he overtaken Kimi; He was so off the pace, he really did not deserve such a high bump!I am more interested in what he says in the post race conference - for the F1 gods will also listen in interest as they need to judge if he deserves more than what they did to him

While i devoted all time to MS, what about Reuben - He brimmed the tank at the beginning of the race and was lucky that the Button incident happened when he was on a pit stop! That can either be called fate, providence or for the harshest critic - some plain vanilla good-ol' luck!
As an after thought, the race win of Kimi was also decided up there by the F1 gods, for he was not sulking after the last race.

I do know that there are no such things like F1 gods (or are there any?), but for a change, it seemed that the world was rooting for the bad luck guys of the season - MS, Reuben, Kimi. It is the chance of Fischella, Montaya in the next few races.

PS: Wanted to note - the near disaster of the last race. Nope, i am not refering to the tyre & front end loss of Kimi, but the inches miss that Button had from the out of control Kimi hitting him. I wonder, what Button was doing at that particular momemt. If he was watching his mirrors - that would have been a heart stopping sight! The race leader, losing a car and aiming to hit you around the mid-rib. Button, some good luck used!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Bees & Counts

I am sure that there are quite a few people that have heard of the US National Spelling Bee & there are quite a few Indians in that competition. It even has seen its share of American Indian winners in the last few years.
The one that i heard for the first time today was the Mathcount 2005 competition that was conducted in Detroit, WA. I was looking for the F1 Canadian Grand Prix to start when i saw the telecast in ESPN. I logged in late, saw only from the quaterfinals. There was not one American Indian but there was 3 Asian semifinalist and the finals was an all-Asian lineage. This is one competition that the American Indians need to now focus on & provide a higher level of competition.
Also, the format was a written test followed by only 4 one on one competitions to win the championship. I like the format of the Spelling Bee with a time limit that keeps decreasing after every 5 rounds. That would look good on television - a trait that is very important in the United States.
PS: This is one of the questions: A ball bounces 75% of the original height at every bounce. When dropped from 160 ft, what is the height at the end of 3rd bounce. I got this one in 1.2secs about a 0.5 secs after the contestant hit the bell. He was a seventh grader, & boy - was he good!
PPS: Just as i completed the blog, there was a winner - Neal Wu.

Of Mani, Anjali & Amruta!

First things first, I am gonna stop the backdating of blogs as the laziness in me is better & thus it is not that there is a rule to have a blog a day. The last blog day was not a week back, however with the backdating it longs longer than that.

Enough of the rumbling & on to something back to a thought that struck me when i was watching the movie Amruta (a dubbing of the Tamizh movie: Kannathil Muthamithal - She Kissed me on the Cheek). Directed by my favorite director, Mani Ratnam - it's been a long time and a long way from his previous movie with a kid being the center of attention. Anjali (1990) was a phenomenal movie about a disabled kid and how the siblings & the society around has reservations initially, before accepting her and giving her a few warm last days. KM (2003) is about Amrutha adopted by her parents from a Srilankan Tamil militant & the three of them search for the real parents taking them to the battlezone Srilankan Land.

While there is no doubt, of the current generation - Nandita Das (Natural Mother) is the most awesome actress on the subcontinent, Simran (Adopted Mother) matched the intensity of Nandita. Simran hailing from Punjab made hereself a name as a leading glamour actress in the southern land and to see that she could match Nandita speaks a volume about her abiliities and the shortcomings of the regional directors who are pleased as long as simran makes a few dances, a few tears and be a faithful sidekick to the super hero. Surprising that the directions of these 2 ladies are at the opposite end of the career spectrum right now, with Nandita on the high after being on the Cannes 2005 jury and Simran out to have a baby. I can't wait to see Simran come back to do some meanigful roles but not the 'run of the mill' & 'running around trees' roles.

Remember the blog on Helen and how she for a few moments bought the old charm of her 60's dance. When i was watching Amrutha, it occured, in my eyes Mani isn't the same as old. Gone was the equality that he showed to all the kids in 'Anjali' and replacing it was the spotlight on just the kid starin 'KM'. While in all the songs and the sequence in Anjali, the star kids were one of the neighbourhood and the focus was on the overall activities of the group, Amrutha was the ceaseless effort to provide focus to just one kid and all others were to only add more attention to the central character. Something that doesn't happen in real life.

Inspite of this drawback, KM was one of the good movies of the year & Mani Ratnam's position as the premier director of the Tamizh filmdom remains as strong as before.

PS: While i was unable to recall the song in Mohabattein a couple of weeks back, i saw the movie on Sony and promptly recalled the song - the climax of which has us travel in time to see Helen dance. It goes like Aankhen Khuli Ho Ya HoBand (The eyes may be open or shut ...)

Monday, May 30, 2005

Doze Off!

Chachu & kids left today for Tenali and once i dropped them off in the Station, attacked a few dosas, finished a Sherlock Holmes series, i decided to rest a bit. Just that, 'a bit' lasted a heavenly 18 hours. From 1030 on Sunday till about 0500 on Monday, it was slumber that occupied 'my inert attention'

It was quite refreshing and it has been quite a while since i have done it. The most memorable 20+ sleep session was way back during School when Parthu anna was visiting. If i am not too wrong, it lasted between 0900 on the first day and 0600 on the subsequent day during school break!

It also felt nice to hear the chirping of the birds as you wake up (not that they don't do it daily, but i am not out of bed till the Sun cranks up the heating system!)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Dakshin Chitra Revisited

Took mom's sister to the place that constantly keeps growing on me - Dakshin Chitra. I felt it was quite important for the 'Citizens of tomorrow' - the kids to know and appreciate the culture of India. That way, when they come into contact with people from different cultures, they would be able to appreciate & learn from them

First things first, ECR is cool. But i still think that the NH5 i saw in AP as part of the Golden Quadrilateral or even the NH45 (Chennai to Tiruchy/Madurai) is a better road to drive safely. Primarily because there is little civilization that gets tempted to jum in front of your car. I know that ECR lovers would point that i hadn't ventured far into ECR but my feedback is based on what i have seen till Mahabalipuram

Once we hit Dakshin Chitra, it was hectic sightseeing, photograph sessions, shopping for my cousins and by the time we were ready to leave in the evening - purses were lighter, car heavier, spirits wilder. I would definetely recommend that all visit this place as i wonder how many kids these days get to see their native village and learn and appreciate the kind of art forms in Rural India. The only disappointment for me, was the Glass Artist who had an impressive collection was absent and i was looking forward to making some purchases there

I guess i have to wait till the next time!

Friday, May 27, 2005

Travel Notes!

I enjoy travelling and be it in a bullock cart (admit, that was a few years ago), harassing the road traffic with my driving skills, taking dad's bike for a spin or the long & 20 hour conversation with my soul called, aircraft travel; i have always enjoyed it. Maybe that comes from Amma, who would plan for a good 6 week trip during my childhood days to her sister's places and the endless prep for travel is something that i look forward always. A disclaimer though is that unlike Amma, i dont plan for travel till the final seconds of the 11th hour. There is fun in there too!

The Boston to Franfurt flight was crowded beyond my comfort zone (that means, every single seat was taken & my strategy of asking for the last seat didn't work good. Apart from having someone in there, you lose the pocket size recline that the coach class offers you) and when i walked to the gate in Franfurt, my spirit soared when there were too few people from the Boston flight. I was counting of a repeat from my March travel, when the plane was nearly empty. I was so wrong, by 0900 - there was a huge crowd and the only good thing was that there were only 2 of us, across 3 seats and that gave an opportunity to unload some stuff in the vacant seat

Talking of travel, a few examples of the lack of aircraft etiquettes/consideration for others displayed by a few countrymen
  • There was this young guy, about my age sitting behind me who used his knees to prevent me from reclining. What's more, it was quite intentional as the more force, i used to try and push back, the more resistance it would meet up with. More so, when i turned a couple of times to have a word with him - very disgustingly! he would pretend to sleep and that forced me to stay upright the entire journey. I have definetely heard this happening with a couple of more people with the culprit usually being my countrymen!
  • Getting drunk & high in a party is something that i don't feel right & if someone does that in the flight, it get much worse. Also, the requests for more alcohol was accompanied by request for more food, in a tone that was anything but a request.
  • Even a request to the cabin crew, was not accompanied by a thanks or a cordial smile. I wonder how many of the cabin attendants like coming over to India
  • As remarked earlier, the rush to de-plane is baffling. There is atleast a 10 min queue at immigration and another 15 min wait for baggage and hence cannot understand standing over someone, typically couple with kids or elder couples, and rushing to get out. Please, engagement with the President/PM if any, can also wait for a couple of minutes
  • Baggage; while i am guilty of it first time, i have made a consious decision during the last 3 trips. Just because you are allowed one hand luggage and a lapto doesn't mean you can have a small suitcase, a laptop, a video camera, a leather jerkin, a couple of bags from shpping on the flight/intermediate stops. There is only so much space in the passenger area for hand luggage!

It might take Indians sometime to get used to relaxed travelling on aircrafts, and till then they would continue to be quite a burden on their fellow travellers in dealing with queer habits

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Sky's Saber

The last week was hectic and i will make have to backmark my blogs with some of the notes that i managed to take down in the hectic last week. The entire US television network and otherwise seem to be down with the starwarmaina-ic virus and i saw talk show hosts invite just about everyone save the light boy to shed some thoughts on this epic double triology, even weathermen branding saber as if the force turned them into jedi warriors of the nature

Talking of the saber & nature, it is just about the same thought i had when i fly back from US to India. Since dusk sets in, we are allowed to keep the window shutters open & if one were to spend more time watching the dusk (somewhere over atlantic ocean) and the subsequent dawn (over the coast of Britan), sights unparalled 35,000 feet below open up for you.

First the sunset, at the mark of dusk, nature opens it's saber and there is a orange band of light that seperates the 2 darkness - one spreading to the sky & the other to the earth. As time goes, the invisble jedi cranks up the intensity of the saber and dull orange gives way to bright red. Soon, the saber is withdrawn and the darkness wins the battle, temporarily.

At dawn, the battle starts again, with the bright red streak appearing as an afterthought before getting entrenched in the neverland called horizon. Soon the saber spreads warmth on both sides and blackness gives way to pristine blue. While there is darkness when we hit Ireland, by the time the shores of Britan are left behind - the Sun is ready for his next journey (or should we say, the Earth is ready!)

It is truly beautiful to see this sight and i really envy those space traveller who can see much more and that single thought is enough for me to thank the Lord for this wonderful beauty.

PS: I am unable to use Hello at my home for some issue and hence will update this post with a few snaps sometime in the near future.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Shopping for India!

Never make the mistake of announcing that the 2 suitcases of yours are empty when you are leaving US to India. There would be a flood of calls from people you would have vaguely heard of, asking for 'stuff to be dropped off in India'. This time, since it was a short trip and i had to carry some stuff to one of my customers here, i had to employ 2 large suitcases and one of them was virtually empty on the return leg. Coupled with the fact, that there was no time to shop, i risked being alienated by my fellow countrymen of commiting sin of the highest order: Half Empty suitcases to India

To ensure that sins like these don't occur, there was this last minute panic shopping that i indulged, in the proverbial eleventh hour. Not much was accomplished but atleast there was no visible space left behind.

It occured to me, that there are cardinal rules for shopping & here were a few at the top of my head:
  • Never leave the shores of India without a trip to Wal-Mart, Circuit City (or equivalent)
  • Never leave chocolate shopping to the last days, they will usually run out of stock of your favorite brand
  • Never (please, i beg of you) buy more than one large bag of Hershey's Kisses. When i have friends/family bring them in, i feel 'cheap' about this large quantity/low quality product
  • Never leave Frankfurt without picking up some chocolates. Expensive, yes -but good ones. I would recommend White Chocs be picked in Frankfurt
  • Never leave toys & electronics items in their packages, they occupy a lot of space
  • Never have less than 2 large suitcases
  • Never have a hand luggage weighing more than 4 Kgs. Also, a thumbrule - If you have a coat/jerkin, it should fit into the hand luggage

There might be many others that long term stayers will come up with, but i devotionally follow all the above. For the last few trips, i believe in travelling light & travelling pleasantly.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Driving in the U-S-A

The roommates of mine are quite a stubborn lot. They arrived in Natick on Tuesday and immediately set upon a goal to visit Niagara Falls over the weekend. Little did they heed my protests of mine, that i was not sure as to how i would be able to drive on the US highways where speeds of 100kmph was but on the slower side. They booked a full size van, a Ford Freestar & anxiety hit no bounds on Friday, when i was informed that the vehicle was brand new and had less than 500 miles on it. I didn't want to let the guys down.

The 'test drive' happened on Friday (May 20th) night at about 2300 when we drove back from the Chennai Woodlands back to the Hotel. I drove slow, but got a good hang of the car. Though i did not tell the folks, i was sure that riding here is much better than the traffic back home.

The real test lay ahead on Saturday morning when i got control just before 7AM and i planned to drive for atleast a couple of hours. I was anxious if i would be able to control the vehicle at speeds of 70mph. The car handled speed majestically and soon i was clocking in the range of 72-75mph and there was very little traffic either ahead or behind me. The same cannot be said, of my second drive when I-90 in New York state had a medium traffic going west but i gave me enough food for thought while overtaking other cars. After some time, the entire traffic playout seemed entertaining enough with the person behind you trying to overtake you (on the left lane) & come back into the right lane. Soon the right lane would get crowded and i would overtake some of these vehichles & the old ryhthm would re-occur and there was very little means of me falling asleep

On the return journey, a couple of new elements were introduced: rain & traffic on Masspike. There was a point some 30 miles from Exit 12 where there was a 'parking lot' scenario & i was in the control and i got a hang of the situation; the best thing was the assurance that noone will cut in front of you like they do in here.

A few highlights -
  • The first steep climb followed by the downward feeling of the descent.
  • The beauty of morning mist lazily streching across the road and blanking vision
  • The sight of mountains and valleys streching into horizon from point of persective
  • Straight long road ahead streching to near infinity (esp. without any traffic)
  • The humbling experience of seeing a police officer pulling up someone for speeding
  • The numbness/vacuum caused by lack of honking
  • The embaressment of first honking when found in error (infact, there was only 1 honking & i don't disagree with the guy/lady)
  • The companion-ship of the stranger keeping in company in the lonely highway (I remember vividly, a lady in Honda Pilot Jeep who kept me 'company' as well as slowed traffic on the left lane for quite a distance)

In all, the entire experience was quite satisfying. When i returned the vehicle on Sunday, the cell battery drained leaving Prasanna & me a good 3 miles to walk back to the Hotel. I have no comlains as rain was in the air and there were a few instances where droplets kissed my shirt before vanishing; thankfully the rain kept away as we reached the Hotel & not a moment more.

PS: I am unable to use Hello at my home for some issue and hence will update this post with a few snaps sometime in the near future.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Teen Life!

Water in Hindu Mythology symbolizes the pureness. The rivers are holy and represent the various godess who are gifted with the abundant power of removing people's sin. The ganges is magnificient and pure, the river Saraswati mythical in its disappearance, Brahmaputra mythical in presence.

To me, when i visited Niagara last year - it looked like Niagara falls seemed to me like a TEENAGER - the transition phase in between the chubby neighbourhood loved kid to the responsible man, he finally becomes. The phase is rocky and has its highs and lows and i thought during the 2 visits that the flow of water best illustrates it.

Enjoy the snaps!

Water in Niagara, just starting to show signs of teen-age madness. The river is dammed before this area and the pristine, calm waters that flows between 2 lakes has seen the first of its shocks!

As it nears the falls, the water and its surroundings sense the moment. If one were to walk away from the falls, some 300 yards away - there is an errie silence to the flowing water. Preparing for the big moments. Rapids and some action also participate in this picture

The Party is under way. Things seem to be in control and out of it, at the same time and the water is ready to release its energy and make that grand jump! The leap to greatness

The first moments of the leap. Things are very exciting and few make it to the edge and experience calm air on all sides except one, though a majority of them still have to be wedged inside, their moments of greatness squashed between umpteen others.

The leap is taken and the brief moment of glory is lived.

These moments are previous as the water cannot make it to the top of the fall all over again unless in its next life (evaporate, rain into the same lake - tough luck!) What follows the rush of its youth is utilization to others (hydro electric power) and then a quiet exit into the lake ending in the ocean.

Does that remind me of life? Every moment, i enjoyed the beautiful sight of it

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Cave of the Wind

One of the pleasures of the Niagara Falls & something that i enjoy more than the 'Maid of the Mist' is the 'Cave of the Wind'. A ride down a few hundred feet followed by the walk down the narrow tunnel leads us, closer to the bottom of the falls. Walking on the ramp made of wood and struck between rocks, i felt very vulnerable - not that i doubted the safety tests by the Niagara team, but moreso, as a respect to the Mother Nature.

Walk up the wooden structure, this time around - due to the kind of battering that a camera can suffer; i safely tucked the camera, cell phone, specs inside the plastic coat and to avoid any chances of damage. This also gave me an opportunity, unlike last time around to enjoy the scenary around rather than be involved in taking photographs. As i walked up, there were multiple streams running after the water hit the rocks and boy, wasn't the water cold. Especially for someone like me, born on the wrong side of the tropics - the coldness of the water was quite numbing even when i was expecting something this cold.

After getting soaked a bit, i walked to the Hurricane zone, a wooden platform that takes one as close to realising the power of this natural beauty. 'Bridal Veil' is a "miniscule stream" in the grand plan of Niagara falls and for us, not be able to stand underneath it without the deflections from a large rock puts mankind in its position as dictated by Nature

A couple of minutes at the Hurricane zone, the plastic coat groaning on the constant twists that the downward wind of the falls brings in and the anxiety of keeping all my belongings intact, led me after from spending more time. But, Cave of the Wind needs to be engaged to realise the beauty blessed to us

A must experience for all

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Ideal New England South Indian Restaurant

It took me almost 9 months and 4 trips to boston to discover what i wanted for a long time - a nice Indian restaurant and a feeling of warmth even before the meal lands on the table. To its credit, Chennai Woodlands is in Ashland and a couple of miles away from Udipi Bhavan in a shopping mall and its outside look a galaxy away from the elegant and majestic station location of the Udipi Bhavan or even the modest looks of Masaala (Billerica). For the location, i think they are looking at 7/10

However where these restaurants lose to CW is the feeling of arriving in a 'hotel' back home. There was something in the host's eyes and the smile and it wasn't fake like the many i encounter on a daily basis in here. For the The menu card is very simple. I saw dosas, more dosas and many more dosas. They should rename the name to Dosa World. Nope, dosas are not the only thing, there are the usual indian stuff - breads, subjis and all that "Thou shall not touch and commit sin" - said the Dosa God. For the service, a 9/10 and the menu breadth - 9/10

And i agree with him - while others tucked to dosas, i ate Peseratu with upma and it was deligtful. The appetizer - mirapakai bajji was hot, upma smooth, pesaratu crisp and the mango lassi tasty. For the food, i gave 10.5/10

However there a few glitches, the main one being that they serve water in plastic glass, there is always something to improve!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Of all things., Weather!

First things first, i added a lot of sports columnist on the side tab of the blog. Most of these columnists are my favourite and i follow them quite religiously. One of the more interesting one is that of Peter King. I got hooked onto NFL on my previous trips to the US (I was in US for both Superbowl 38 & 39) and to learn more on the game, started reading Peter King & now i can't wait for Monday night to come in India, so that i can catch up with the comun before i head home. In Cricket, Harsha is my favorite - reminds of school headmasters: difficult to please, stern on border cases and kid gloves when you need a lift; Cricinfo & Sports Illustrated would be the most visited sports site. Enjoy all these!

The weekend was great; saturday was spent resting after the heavy duty action of the previous week, the main culprit being the 150 Kms that Karthik made me drive. Sunday, headed down to Billerica and had a great lunch at Masalaa. This is one of the few South Indian Cuisine restaurants in Mass., others of note being Udipi Bhavan (Framingham) and Chennai Woodlands (Ashland). By the time, we hit the Rivere beach and subsequently Galleria mall, the source of the picture - it was 1900 Hrs and had a great time.

All while long, i heard quite a few mild complaints from people about the weather. I personally wouldn't mind a place where it rains often and stays overcast most of the time. I enjoyed the weather in Jamshedpur (during monsoon) and the weather in Boston - be it in Winter (Snow) and in spring (rain) suits well with me. The snap is from Feb, outside my hotel room.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Explain-ing the Last Blog

As I was going thru my mailbox today, I found the note that i wrote when Sarin was shifted to Bangalore and it was like the end of the party. Aditya moved to Delhi, the year before and hence the small memory, my thanks to them. Even today, i keep in touch with them, to hear the excuses of Sarin and the endless cribs of Aditya transports me back to those glory days. In fact, thinking hard - i dont think i have a photo of Aditya & me together; should get one next time around. Adi - If you any, bounce to me!

In friendship 1+1≠2; Thanks to their friendship - i enjoyed the friendship of a few more; Santosh, Mridumesh, Ramesh and the many more that i met.

The snap is from the Mahabalipuram trip in June 2003 in Mridu's new car. From left to right, Mirudmesh, Santosh, Rames & Sarin.In fact, i should thank Mridumesh for my car - when i saw him drive one, i said to myself, - if he can, i can !

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Sarin & Aditya - Friends Forever

Seen here is a snap of me (left), Sarin Gopinath Menoky (Center) along with Sashi - a colleague of ours. This snap dates back to March 2003.

Long Lonely Road Upahead

On a road well beaten, i walk down once again
Why ? not one more, i hear people say
why not ? for each is special, my inner voice speaks gay
an ode to the special person

the meeting was common, loads of people introducted that day
he was not common, with a choclate smile, heart of a child
mannerisms of a governess, frienship of a gentleman
he came over to say - Hi, i am sarin

no, that was not when we became friends
no, it was not the manali party
no, it was not when he came to chennai

while adi & i went like a rocket, sarin was the train
discovery await us at each station
each station defining & reinventing the path called "friendship"

today, i stand across the road, not knowing what to say
sad., for both adi & sarin cannot be seen across the corridor
but hopeful that their journey will bring them back
pray that i be taught lessons if friendship, over again

cursuing the lord, for he forgot
to teach me, way to turn back time
to laugh, smile, fight & enjoy the pleasures of my friends
cursing for making my path empty !!!

long lonely road upahead !!!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Boston beauty!

A residential building complex right next to the Prudential Towers in Boston; this building is well known form its top structure

Sunset wonder at the Prudential Towers. As the sun goes down in the winter, the whole city braces for the chill that follows from the sea (on the other side).

Prudential Towering over Boston. The photo is an acute angle and was taken from the second floor terrace of Prudential Tower. The top 2 floors - which has the Sjywalk and a resturant are visible as small slabs at the top of the picture.

One of my favourite snaps, mainly because of the way the building seem to pierce the clouds and disappear into Infinity. Also the clouds & the Sun reflected on the glass adds to the depth of the snap.Tall buildings are quite a favorite of mine.

Boston Common is a large park and is quite beautiful anytime of the year. In spring & summer, the green park sparks causalness, the varied colours of autmn brings joy and the snowy white park in winter represents, to me the calmness of the storm. Nice place to relax. Also seen int the snap is the downtown Boston highrisers (Prudential, Haynes, Hancock etc)

Last picture was of the Boston Downtown from the Common. This one is the reverse; Taken from the Prudential tower, this photo covers the Boston Common as well as the Mass Senate (Dome covered in Gold coating!)

Another of my favorites. The glass building is John Hancock Tower and the reflection is of a church along with another highrise. Reflections of life & building!

The hallowed structure of a prestigious institute ., Massachussets Institute of Technology - Do i need to say more?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Comics of Air Travel

I lay no claim to be a frequent dasher across the face of the earth, but if you can't relax after 3 trans-continental trips in a year, you never can. So it was time to assure myself that air travel doesn't mean a mad dash across air terminals into the mouth of nowhere! With the company of the iPod, the travel was made very pleasurable.
  • There was this airport employee who was picking my suitcase after the baggage scan and i was nearly bambozzled by his efficiency before realising that he was trying to get the baggage of a lady accompanied by a police officer. A few seconds after i notice the airport person pick my baggage, he realises the same - and to my surprise, he just drops the suitcase!
  • The line in the Lufthansa counter is slow; there is this lady in brick red dress who joins the line after me, looks around totally lost; A few seconds, her relative - the airport officer arrives and whisks her away to the business class check-in counter: advantages of having employees in key places
  • This lady was replaced by another 'lost' one & she had no relatives to help her. She confessed to me that she was first time traveller and did not exactly know what to do. I ended up helping her right to boarding the plane
  • After baggage check-in, moved across the floor to Immigration. It stumps me as to how people never leave any way across a hallway. They need to park the trolley 2 inches behind you & bump the trolley atleast a dozen times
  • Flight was quite enjoyable - last time around Lufthansa had Hindi movie & this time, they changed to Tamizh; talk about catering to the local market
  • I can still not understand the rush for people to de-board a plane as soon as it lands. Atleast 75% have a connecting flight not earlier than a couple of hours and it beats me that they always are in a hurry
  • I got the last seat on the Frankfurt-Boston sector and it is not as bad as it sounds.
  • While collecting baggage, there was a smoke scare leading to waiting outside the airport terminal for nearly an hour. No compliants though, as i will always take a 60F afternoon over the 100F (in Chennai, with 80% humidity!)

I finished David Beckham's My Side - a thoroughly enjoyable book. The best thing about the book is that there is very little mention of the zillions that he has accumulated (though it did show in all the vacations, travels etc); the way he tries leading a normal life; the way he calls Sir Alex Ferguson - gaffer; a very pragmatic analysis of why left ManU; detailed coverage of his international stint. A few areas to work on - we know you love your family, wife & kids, there is no need to mention that once every 5 pages.

The next book in my list is the Biography of Nelson Mandela.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


Stranger things can never be though of! Because of feedback on my car driving skills has ranged from good to aggresive - i decided to discontinue my stand to be righteous when driving (punishment for people for breaking traffic rules, was prolonged honking!) and be more open to mistakes on the road. That cut down the utilization of my horn by about 90%

But fate is without it's ironies; I was visiting a friend of mine when i got caught in the first mad-Indian traffic jam. I was turning right into a narrow street from the main road; when there were some motorcycles stranded as the riders of one of them was busy fighting with a transport vehicle for alleged traffic violation. When the transport vehicle moved forward, he wanted to turn left into the main road & there was the small matter of my car sitting in his way. I tried backing into the main road to leave him space (remember, the change in principle) & went nowhere as a car came to a dead halt a couple of yards behind me. Before the transport vehicle could move back, a couple of cars overtook the vehicle and parked right in front of me.

Resembling sand filling spaces in a bottle of pebbles, all free real estate on the road got filled with the countless motorcyles, autorickshaws & cyclist. In fact, most of the motorcyclists & cyclists took it as a personal challenge to ensure that they crossed this jam. While, at first all these was quite humurous to me, seeing people being so insensitive to others and adding to the jam made me sad and angry at the same time. I extricated myself from the jam, was by abadoning the plan to turn off the main road and continue on it for a good couple of kilometers. The process of maintaining road discipline fell on a police constable, who happened to be there by chance. He took control and gave a hearing to quite a few people, thankfully sparring me.

As i snaked through the dense aftermath of the traffic jam, i saw a huge backlog, right upto a kilometer deep. The impact of one person's lethargy (a autorickshaw was parked at the beginning of the road), a person's fighting tendency (the motorcyclist), an impatient car driver pulled me into the first traffic jam.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Nostalgia in the Air

This weekend has been pretty tough. There was quite a lot of expectations that i built for Karthik's wedding & because of the customer's request - i am travelling to Boston early on Tuesday, a day before Karthiks' big day. Life can never be predicatable.

When things like these happen, fate also tries to balance & thus the start of the weekend has been anything but forgetable as nostalgia of the Balalok school days wash back as we went about inviting old school friends for Karthik's wedding. Meeting people after a long time; some married, some with kids, most of the parents showering us with the same kindness & adulation & it fills the heart with joy

Staying on Nostalgia, Main Hoon Na - I am there (for you) was shown on television & the song chori chori reminded me of a similar song from the movie Mohabattein (Love). The thing about the song is that i don't remember the lyrics but the song is sketched in my memory because of the climax of the song. Helen - an yesteryear dancer of great fame, acts as the headmistress is invited to dance by the hero - Shah Rukh Khan (Incidentally, the hero of Main Hoon Naa as well!). What follows is two minutes of the greatest joy of cinema as Helen launches into a dance what talks of the freedom of mind; She might have aged, but thankfully the mind has not. The joy she displays, as she retraces some of her dance sequences, on her face - is mindblowing. She invites everyone to her party, reminding them of that age afterall is a state of acceptance, that everyone can look at it in the eye and find ways of overcoming inhibitions that people associate with advancing age.

The dance, which bringing joy, entertainment - also makes a statement on life.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Day of 'My' Life

For some reason, it seems to me that the days are getting longer; there is no respite from the 20+ hour days & i seem to start enjoying it by the day. Today, i had to receive Karthik from the Railway station and thus made it early at 0520, thanks to anna waking me up in the nick of time. I drove the car to the station & there is no better joy than to drive the car early in the morning, listening to the music from the iPod (It was Bon Jovi day tonight) and when the cool breeze brushes past the just passed moment, there is the perfect start to the day.

Midday, between him & me, we blew up close to Rs 15,000. While he had a valid reason - suit for his impeding wedding; i am not even attempting an excuse for the expenditure of Rs 2,500 on some shirts and trousers. After the midday shopping excursion, it was back to office & the regular meetings culminating in a tired soul retiring to home late night & the wait for the final conference calls with the team on the other side of the world is pending as the soft bed beckons the increasingly spent me.

May tomorrow be as fun filled and lively as today.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Wedding Bells ring close home

Not quite me, but the number of weddings that i have participated in 3 months of near and dear are quite immense & hence i wanted to put them on record for the groom & bride to see. For these weddings, i criscrossed the country. Committed prejury of waking up at 3AM to catch an Air Deccan flight, gave my birthday a miss - spending it instead on a train to catch yet another wedding; braved high temperature & travelled to Hyderabad & all this in a short span of 3 months.

This blog is in preparation to Karthik & Merlin - who are getting ready to tie the knot next week. Watch this space for their wedding snaps next week.

Rachna & Anil - 6 September 2004 (Guruvayur)
Notes - The snap is from the wedding reception (Venue - Kollam) on the 7th of September. The next day, i was out on the backwaters.

Senthil & Chitra - 16 September 2004:
Notes - Snap carved out of the group snap for the wedding reception (Sept 15, 2004)

Mridumesh & Radhika - 2 October 2004 (New Delhi):
Notes - Mridumesh & I were introduced to each other on a staircase in my office. I was eating Chikki & his first sentence was - "Now that we are introduced, can i have Chikki". He earned not only Chikki but also my friendship!

Vimal Bhushan & Anuradha - 27 November 2004:
Notes: The wedding was at 0100 hrs and there are quite a few Telugu Weddings that go late into the night. When the wedding was over & all of us retired to bed, it was 5 AM!

What a day!

Yesterday is what people can call a power packed day. When i got up at sunrise (at about 0520!), the first time in 21st century perhaps - little did i know, that it would be a full 20 hour day!

But good things happen on days like these as well. I met Vinodh & Krithika, my classmates who got married last year. This is the snap taken last year in their wedding reception.

A great couple to be with, Vinodh was our class rep in college and is the moderator of our egroups - SAIDREAMS. It was fun meeting them after a long time. While i usually enjoy taking my car out for a drive, i must admit that the drive from Pallavaram to Pammal (a distance of about 1.8 Kms) reminded me of crazy Jamshedpur. Buffalos & Cows on the street, water logged roads (it rained yesterday in Chennai!), cyclists trying to race against time, uncooperative autorickshaws, pothole galore, speedbreakers every 10 yards, you name it & the place got it.

Made it across from netherworld roads to civilized nation in 20 mins each way & guess, i am happy that i have all my bones intact and my car has all its parts!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Cricketing Wonders

A bit of cricket for today's blog:

It gives me great joy that Chris Gayle has joined his batting style likesake Virendra Sehwag in making a triple ton. After the triple ton, Sehwag has gone on to make 4 centuries in one year, all above 150 (one double ton as well!). Not to count the 4 fifties in this period and he has replaced his childhood icon Sachin Tendulkar as India's master bastsman. Earlier, people in India would switch off televisions when Sachin got out, now the pedigree goes to Viru, as he is called. May Chris Gayle reach those exalted heights as West Indies Cricket needs to discover a new star to follow the footsteps of Brian Lara.

There is too much similarity between Indian Cricket and West Indian Cricket, that people would admit to.

The key difference seems to me that India has a great captain in Sourav Ganguly, something that WI has lacked in the last few years. Granted that Sourav has not been in the best of form - but i think it is a great dis-service to pay our respects where due; Sourav has led the Indian team much better than his predecessors. Also his eye for talent (he encouraged quite a few youngsters in the team), his never say die attitude and his commanding skills has earned him respect from his players. Forget the Indian fan, they get wild when we lose & will start worshiping cricketers when they start winning.

I also think that the difference between the Indian team and WI team is in its bowling department - especially the spin duo of Harbhajan Singh & Anil Kumble make the difference between otherwise quite ordinary medium pacers.

This comparison should alarm the Indian board that we might be basking too much on the success in the last 2 years and that the recent Pakistan tour was an indication that others are catching up.

That leaves me with a thought: Sourav Ganguly has repeatedly been fined for slow over rate. Accepted, But i wonder if match throwing by Shoaib Mallik isn't a more serious crime that slow over rates? What destroys cricket more - Losing matches to prove a point or not completing matches on time. I guess everyone knows the answer & therein lies the hypocricy of ICC.

Friday, April 29, 2005

God's Own Country

The power of marketing is such that, a few things are imbibed into your system as facts - irrespective of the reality. Kerala, a beautiful strip of land - has been well marketed as God's Own Country by the Tourism Ministry and i fully agree with them.

The pics on the blog were taken in September 2004, during a visit to my friend's wedding. The pictures were taken on the ride from Kollam to Allepey. A picturesque journey of about 80 Kms, taken at a lazy & leisurely pace of over 6 hours - the journey allows one to enjoy the beauty all around

The best time to go visit Kerala would be September to November after the yearly monsoon season. The day of my trip, i rained early in the day and to my surprise the weather changed over the course of the day - from rain to overcast to bright & sunny: all in 3 hours allowing me some breathtaking shots.

On the tip please don't forget the following - a camera, casual clothes, lots of cash in small denominations. Also, the trip pleasure is inversly propotional to te time you spend broodinga about work back home.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Organized Chaos - Traffic In India

For all international travellers or otherwise, it is an amazement that traffic in India doesn't suffer from more accidents that the current rate. A concept of organized chaos (quite a good oxymoron) - quite a few international friends of mine has liked it to the video/computer games at 'Expert' Level

Quite frankly, after the purchase of my Indigo Marina and the subsequent effort of learning driving a car in Indian roads, disgust has creeped into my system. I am disgusted at the lack of basic driving etiquettes in Indians. Be it the cyclist who doesn't even respond to repeated horns; or the motorcyclist - for whom overtaking a car on the right is the biggest insult of his life; or the autorickshaw - traffic rules! they are more mortals like us, not for these exalted rulers of the road; and i have not even started.

A good example is the recent introduction of lane system in one of Chennai's arterial road networks - Poonamalle High Road where the right most lane was marked & reserved for motorcyclists and Autorickshaws. A week into the introduction, i was going through the road and could hardly see any motorcyclists use the lane.

I can also hardly understand why cyclist, autorickshaws and motorcyclists have to stand outside the STOP line, when they are waiting at the traffic lights - just as they seem to make deft turns at the last possible minute without any indications to the hapless driver behind

Welcome to the world of Indian Traffic logic!

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fire Evacuation Drills - A Real Necessity followed by few

Last year, my company introduced the concept of yearly fire drills. In a country like India, where fire accidents are numerous but knowledge very limited; the necessity of ordinary citizens to learn fire drill and evacuation process is very high; sadly, very few do.

If we indeed knew the basics of evacuation - incidents like
  • Kumbakonnam School Fire: 80+ children between 8 - 10 years perished when the tatched roof of their school building caught fire from a nearby hotel)
  • Uphaar Cinema Fire: 57 Cinema goers of various ages perished when the sparks from a transformer turned an evening of watching a movie (Border) into a death trap
  • Erwadi Asylum Fire: 25 Mentally challenged people, chained to posts were consumed by fire when the asylum staff fled on first signs of fire leaving those unfortunate souls to weather agony before death came by

Every person who heard of these great tragedy would certainly be moved. Of the people today, i know quite a few, who would volunteer to help the victims as well as do social service to correct these errors.

However, work always begins at home. People should learn about fire evacuation drills and be prepared to face it & that would ensure that the tragedy of material loss will not be compounded by human loss.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Lord's Shepard

Habemus papum

"The Lord who bought his shepard home, has sent the Holy Spirit to show the next shepard"

And as last night unfolded, my entire family - orthodox Hindu in tradition - gathered around the television to witness the White smoke, followed by the proclamation by the senior cardinal & the subsequent introduction of Pope Benedict XVI.

It was also a time of reflection, of what god-men bring to lifes. Dad mentioned that he had to face a 150,000 strong crowd to have a glimpse of Pope John Paul II during his visit to India in the 1980s. Even the few interactions that i have had with saints & sages, hindu or otherwise are quite cherised.

During the telecast, the discussion moved to establishing a mattam peethadipathi (Head of a Monastry). The following is the procedure that my parents explained:
  • The elected person should obtain the permission of his mother; as the bond of mother - son is the most pious in Hindu dharma. Also, the mother & son are not to meet each other ever again; the mother's desire to see her son take this path - needs to be verified by the electing authorities
  • After the prayers, the elected person is made a sanyasi (Man detached from materialistic world) and has to take a dip in the temple tank
  • During the holy dip, his upanayam (sacred thread) is cut off - indicating the release from earthly bondage. As he raises from the dip, Kashayam (Sacred orange clothes) are draped around the holy one, indicating to disciples - that the lord has raisen.
  • After the dip, when the holy seer comes out of water - the immediate family - father, brother etc along with the temple authorities seek his blessings, by prostating to him (but not touching him/his feet)
  • However, as said earlier - the mother is not allowed to come in front of the seer. But, she is allowed to look at him from one a distance and then she is taken away; never to see her son.

Interesting to see, a lot of commonality between the cow herd & the shepard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Terri - The last thoughts from me on her suffering!

In her death, Terri Schiavo has raised more questions than ever. I first noticed the case early this year when it was competing with the Tsunami news on CNN. I followed the story even after i came back from the US through news channels and Terri's Parent's website.

I must admit that i made a few judgement calls about the manner in which the law made judgement on the case and believe me, i would not have invited Michael Schiavo for a drink to my home. Infact, i was wondering why the Judiciary was so firm on its decision; that logic seems not to be part of their system

A lot of that changed, a week earlier as i was hosting a few friends from US - one of them a lawyer who used to fight for the under privileged. I was expecting her to take sides with Terri's parents but she showed me the neutral path -
  • A path where one cannot deny that the law was implemented in letter
  • A path where the judiciary was kind enough to have the case come up to review, a zillion times
  • A path where the fundamental rights of privacy of a marraige were allowed to be questioned - Did Terri ever tell her husband that she didn't want to suffer? Did Michael have the best interest of his wife?
  • A path where a person's actions has been subject to the highest scrutiny

and i could not, but agree with her. The only thing that i still feel is that the lady could have been delivered to the Lord in a much more decent fashion. Michael Schavio might still not be invited home, but when i meet him on the road - i will atleast spare him a smile; a dignity, most might not shower on him -with the negative press he had to endure.

Let Terri, rest in peace and her husband carry on with his life.

PS: Politicians are know to mess with things that they need not get attached to in the first place and the Republicans sealed the fate of Terri, by trying to gain publicity out of supporting her. They, more than anyone else, should shoulder the blame for her cruel end.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Dakshin Chitra

Last week, after hearing a lot about Dakshin Chitra (Portrait of South), i took some time off to visit the place. The name of the place, is apt - the entire trip is bound to take everyone into nostalgia; of the often talked about "good old days".

The place is defenitely a "potrait of South India" as it stood not so long ago, before being 'invaded' by the influence of the apartment complex and modern architecture & culture. The place has 2 complete sections - that of Tamil Nadu and Kerala; while Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka (often the 2 "neglected cousins") is Work in Progress

The potrayal of homes and culture is very accurate & every detail has been painstakingly put together. What was quite noticeable, was the mastery over the science of house building; as the temp was in the higher 30s and still the porticos and the main section of the house remained cool; without any modern amneties like fans, coolers or the AC.
  1. While the TN & Kerala section were impressive, the same cannot be said about the food. At 75, it is moderately priced but did not do anything to the taste buds. A definite area that needs improvement.
  2. The Tamil Nadu section missed out a TEMPLE GOPURAM. It is not an understatement, that lifes of people revolved around temples in the days gone by - hence the lack of temple was quite surprising
  3. The AP & Karnataka sections needs to come up fast.

Parting advice, the glass blower was amazing and personally - i haven't seen too many of them. I felt that the pricing on his products were quite a bargain. If anyone has expertise on buying these products, keep me posted.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Poor Commentry is as bad as Indian Pitches

As the Indo-Pak Series come to an end; i am mighty relieved for a fast endangered species of cricket called Bowlers. In the quest to produce a high scoring game; the groundsmen (most of them illiterate on ground sciences) prodcue such docile pitches that even McGrath (Ave of 7!) would have sweet dreams of belting opposition all round the park. Add to that, the craze of the crowd for boundaries - we now have boundaries that are less than 75 yards - scores of 300 are quite common. I remember a couple of years back, when WI toured us - there were 6 matches, where totals in excess of 275 were chased with ease. Does anyone feel symathy for the bowlers or am i alone? Unlikely

While bad pitches spoil cricket, poor commentators are even worse. Blame should lay on TWI Int., that picked Ramiz Raja, Aamir Sohail & Waqar Younis and add them to Indian Cricket's lightweights - Arun Lal, Sanjay Manjrekar anf you will feel bad for the TV Viewers. While the Pak commentators are so biased, not even healthy nicks, inside edges are detected by them. To add to my anguish, i cannot see Srikanth (a great star with the bat & not the mike), Charu Sharma, Mohinder Amarnath & the lady do Fourth Innings. I believe that this is god's punishment for my cribs against Mandira Bedi and the entire crew on Sony. In comparison to ESPN Star's crew of Harsha Bhogle, Sunil Gavaskar, Geoff Boycott and the likes of Alan Wilkins - the crew on Sony & DD look amateurish. I wish the BCCI award the broadcast contract to STAR & make it soon (Heard news clips that BCCI is going to bring it's own BCCI TV & BCCI Radio)

Cricket, for purists - is poorer to the unreasonable demands of the fans as well as the irksome commentary on offer. Glad, the series is over.