Friday, October 14, 2011

Long time no see

A drunkard needs no audience. Once the alcohol strikes the right chords, the performance starts. For instance, there was this "chair"man at Harris Jeyaraj's concert last week. Santosh and me were seated in the first row of our bay and right in front of the giant LED screen put up there. Suddenly, an obviously drunk guy jumped in front of the screen and started dancing like crazy. He then picked up an empty chair and was going great guns with it. We immediately named him the "chair"man. He didn't care if someone was looking. He just wanted to dance. Seconds later, a creepy guy came and stood in front of us, one hand placed on his hip and the other hanging by the side. I was actually scared for a moment. I wasn't sure what he was going to do. He was just standing there. Was he going to jump? Pounce? Dance? What? Then, I looked towards the direction he was staring. I realized that he was posing for a photo. I told Santosh and we weren't sure if it was the guy or the way he was standing or the "chair"man effect, we just broke into such a big laughter. We were just uncontrollable. Immediately as the poser guy walked back, another guy came and stood in the same pose. I did not need to turn back to realize that this was the previous poser's friend (who was taking the photo before). We laughed even hard. And the family guy next to us finally understood why we were laughing and joined us. I have had lots of lighter moments in the past few months, but that was an all time best. I'm totally off topic (but Santosh wanted me to write about this).

So, a drunkard needs no audience and my blog used to be like that. There was a time when I loved to write here. I used to make up topics even if I had none in mind. However, I get so many ideas while driving or sitting idle at work or eating in a restaurant but, I'm just not able to write. Maybe my job (even though I'm totally vetti right now) has made me like this. As such I'm not a self motivated person. People who know me will know that if I'm doing something, there is something about it that makes me happy. Sometime last year, I decided I'll never write about my personal life and I haven't written much since then. Maybe that bragging quality of mine was my muse to write here. I don't know why I'm trying to maintain a low profile these days (thanks to FB, I haven't pulled that invisibility cloak fully on).

This is why you shouldn't suck at handling changes. Changes! Again, I have written so much about that. Changes, small or big, I freak out big time. I raise the panic button over and over. This time it was my Dad. We drive each other so mad and keep fighting for at least 30% of the day (we sleep for 30% and don't see each other for the other 40%). He left to Kuwait last week. Staying alone is not new to me, but, we fought so much in the last two weeks of his stay in Chennai that the house is awfully silent. There are a series of events that happen at such situations.

As usual, I first tried to deny that it feels weird (which if I hadn't done I wouldn't have had any problem in first place). The next stage is a short time frame of loneliness which has three states of mind. 1) Blaming yourself for everything, 2) Blaming everyone else for everything and 3) Pissing off the closest things you have for company. In a week's time I have successfully gone through all the three states. I guess I have set things right. Anyways, after that it's the buck up and get a life stage which pretty much is slang for back to normalcy. And hence this post.

Tagging Vibushan and Vasundhara who also share similar behavior from time to time (but I still claim top spot for pissing off people). Ok, Vibushan I heard the "Dawg" you just said. :P

Coming back to topic (I seriously doubt if I had one), recently, I stumbled on to a blog called the The Writer's Mess (thanks to VJ), which had lot of chapter wise stories. I read a couple of them. One, My sister's Daughter which was really good in the start, but lost track of the plot somewhere towards the fag end. And the other, Whodunit which was decent for a crime story. Either way, it was good time pass.

This has kinda inspired me to try my hand on a couple of stories too. I have so many plots in mind, but in all cases just the first chapter. I'm just in a fix if I should start with cliched romance or 'Castle' inspired crime thrillers or 'Lost' inspired fiction. I guess I will make up my mind by this weekend. From my past experiments of such starts, I guess, from Monday my project work would commence, in which case you may not have to put up with it. Lets see.

Predominantly, the idea is to try and regain the want to write here more often. Also, I'm running an experiment to see if I can, at some stage of my life, learn to stick to a schedule (which I hate). Well, if you are receiving mail updates, I hope you'd read the stories and give me feedback. If everything goes as planned, I should start tomorrow.

Tomorrow, October 17th, also marks the birthday of my lovable sister Swathi. Maybe, if I start it on her b'day I'll be as determined as her to keep writing.

Happy Birthday Swathi! :) This birthday is double special for you, one obviously because of Diksha. The other? I'll wait before I dedicate an entire post for that. I'm sure you know what it is. :) Have a great birthday!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Independence Day 2011

So, last week I was thinking what's special this Independence day. First, I thought "Wow! Maybe India will throttle England the previous evening at Birmingham". Well, lets not talk about it. Then I thought maybe I'd press Dad for a drive to Pondicherry. Yeah! I'm getting too optimistic these days. After some stupid ideas here and there, I found myself in front of my TV on Thursday night when Aarakshan (the movie) and its ban was making headlines everywhere. I irresistibly wanted to see the movie asap and thanks to Santosh for cancelling his trip to Coimbatore, we caught it at PVR last night (Saturday). I didn't see the damn co-incidence until then. But, I have been all pumped up and energetic since then.

No, I'm not going to review the movie. However, as a nation we need to stand up and applaud Prakash Jha's guts to have touched an issue as sensitive as reservation (reejerwaysun as the guy sitting next to us pronounced it when we asked him the meaning of aarakshan). You'd be disappointed as I was, if you thought the movie is about taking the side of a specific so called (under/over/beneath/upper/super-over/deep-under/whatever) privileged section of the Indian society. I don't blame him because as a sincere filmmaker he has come up with an unbiased screenplay. He has tried to bring about a balance and left it there, for us to make the judgement. In a nutshell, whichever category/view-point you belong/support, you'd not feel left down.

As every Indian citizen (who never believes in a balance), I had my reservations against reservation. Any student/parent who have sat through the Anna university Engineering admission counselling center would have that anger (when the green mark against your preferred seat becomes red and you are still outside). Thanks to the deemed (read as your-money-is-doomed) university concept, I was exempted of that tension. I haven't put much effort for my boards and its fair to say that I have had my share of luck when it came to all those phases of my life. However, what my sister went through during her counselling (poor thing - a shot so sincere as hers deserved better) was unacceptable to me. Well, no regrets now. She has found her way out and in style.

Ask me and I'll blame it on our rich but biased tradition. Call me non/un/fun Indian but I'm not going to take that back. I believe in Satyameva Jayathe and Athithi Devobhava as much I detest the difference that our culture has created. What the hell are we supposed to do? Our ancestors came up with a profession based caste/class system. Well, it suited them and that time period. Even then, only a person well-trained and fit for the job did it. After hundreds of years, how many millions of people have moved out of their ancestral profession? But, why do we still have this caste system that rooted in profession? And why this class system that rooted in caste? Thank God that there was no IT (profession/caste) back then. Man! We (IT people) wouldn't even have water to drink today.

Coming back, yeah, I have always asked, "Why 50%? Give 100%". Whatever I knew but would never accept, hit me hard about how true it is after seeing the movie. One set of ancestors are literate. Another set is not. One set is hard-working. Another just knows to boss around. So, reservation actually came into place to set a common platform. But how successful was that?

It was pretty successful for all, except for those it was meant to help. The politician transformed poor dalit leader (not anyone specific) who loudly voiced (BRAVO!!!) against untouchability, caste-ism, racism etc, and even went for jail to get reservation to be implemented, is fine. His children are rich. His grandchildren were born with a silver spoon. He goes to the US for treatment even if all he has is diarrhea. He gets a personal VIP darshan in Tirupathi. He is corrupt to the core and when arrested/questioned, he will claim that he is being targeted because of his caste.

What happened to the people he raised his voice for? They were listening to him and praising him back then. They were really anticipating him to bring about a big transformation in the system. That he did. They expected their lives to change. That he didn't let. For him, they have to stay the same today and they obediently have.

Media. I'm not sure if they toss up a coin before covering a story, to decide their stand. They research. They run around. They analyze. They question. They answer. They cover. They uncover. Only thing. If they do any of the above abiding by the laws of democracy and journalism, and not for their TRP rating, it makes lot of sense. Someone supports reservation, they make it an issue. Someone talks against reservation, they make it an issue. Someone makes a movie about reservation, they make it an issue. It was far better when media said issue and it only meant the day's issue of the newspaper.

Reiterating that our rich culture has nothing but created divide among us, the only thing we will ever be united about is being different. Its like my workplace. Testers and Developers hate each other and keep fighting until the management announces Q4 results and say, "No Incentives this year". If they show the unity of voicing (silent enough that no one will hear) against the management, in their work, the product will be light years ahead in terms of quality. This difference exists from education to matrimonial.

Religion, Caste, Sub-caste, Super-Sub class, Sect, Language, Star and the horoscope. If only all these match, the guy or girl is qualified for judgement as the actual match. Don't even get me started on horoscope. To my knowledge, if the positioning of the celestial bodies at the time of your child's birth matters so much, all you have to do is to DO IT at the right time after calculations and predictions. If that catches up, all astronomical towers will be full of father-in-laws and mother-in-laws. What if every child starts blaming his/her parents for why their horoscope doesn't match with what they want to do in life?

Again, we are going way away from the topic. My point is that as long as these differences exist, someone is benefited. Simple example. There is a saying in Tamil that roughly translates to, "If the town is split, the clown makes merry". He gets double the chances to perform and it doubles his income. Thus, this split that was accidentally created among us benefits a whole lot of people who will do anything to keep it that way. And the vote bank turned reservation system will remain like that forever.

It sounds very simple and bad-ass annoying when I say that I look at Independence this way. The bigger picture. If the British were still ruling us, the only division in this country probably by now would have been them and us. :)

But, that's just a stupid thought. I'm still one among the proudest of Indians in Independent India. On this day, having blurted out so much and having let out my boohoos, I salute all those great people who spilled sweat and blood to win us the India that we have for ourselves to ru(i)n. I wish all of you a very Happy Independence Day!

For a change, lets try practicing it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Raining Music

I'm not a big fan of the Chennai rains. It is nothing but flooding roads, more humidity, mosquitoes and the thickest of anxiety-attacked traffic. Back in Coimbatore, I can't keep count of the number of days I have reached home drenched. Never have I parked and waited for the rain to subside. I even remember playing cricket in the rains. The waiting habit started only in Chennai. Until today.

Like any other day the sudden outburst of shower ceased in a matter of seconds. As I turned towards the Kathipara flyover near Olympia, I pushed away the droplets off my helmet visor and moved it up letting a gush of rain-cold air gently touch my face. Phenomenal! I looked up at the sky which looked back at me, untouched as a boulder. Like an atheist who prayed once, I wished that it rained.

And, It did. Not just an outburst, not gently, not slowly. It rained like it would never ever rain again. And I was in the middle of Kathipara, nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.

My hands loosened its grip on the accelerator, feet pushed gently at the brakes and as the bike slowed down, my body eased into a relaxed posture. One after the other, vehicles overtook me on both sides, leaving me on my own. I felt like I had all the time in the world, like how I feel when I'm travelling, or when I'm sitting online on a Saturday night - chatting with my favorite people. Either way, the best company I keep is music.

I have heard about how Tansen used to sing the Megh Malhar raagam in Akbar's court, to bring rain showers. Myth or not, belief is that the raagam Amritavarshini also brings down rains, especially, the song Dhyaname Tharume Paer Inbame. In the 21st century, with the Ozone layer hole and all, music and rain still co-exists, only there is a change in the order of occurring as in - it rains and you sing. So, I began to sing. Loudly. One by one, all my favorite rain songs.

I'm listing down five songs below and their specialty.

5) Ennai Konja Vaa Mazhaiyae - By Vidhyasagar (Movie - Aadhi)
Flute, I believe can notate rain (rather nature) best and the highlight of this song is the background flute (the second interlude) accompanied by the fine strokes of tabla and keyboard. I have a ringtone of that bit. The captivating genius is the duet of the base and shrill notes seamlessly following one another. The keyboard backing (and chiming) of the song brings out the feel of rain. A jugalbandhi of folk and classical. Hari's brigaas run a chill up your spine. I wish I get a chance to perform this one, someday.

4) Ghanan Ghanan - By Rahman (Movie - Lagaan)
An invitation to a thunderstorm. Though it ends in a disappointing note (of no rain) in the movie, the song is full of rain. A very emotional depiction of the yearning for a heavy shower, this will stand out in the genius' compositions forever. Excellent backing vocals.

3) Oho Megam Vandhadho - By Ilayaraja (Movie - Mouna Raagam)
When keyboards started replacing the harmonium and many other instruments in the industry, Raja sir came up with some of the best pieces ever composed. As the prelude BG starts, you can just feel droplets of rain falling. P.C. Sreeram's camera has left no magic unveiled in capturing this one. Raining freedom and happiness is written all over the song. Again, the BG flute, blending with keyboard and violin forms the backbone of the orchestration.

2) Chinna Chinna Mazhai Thuligal - By Rahman (Movie - En Swasa Kaatre)
This track is living proof of how much the composer relies on percussion. Try humming the song without the backing orchestration and you'll know how much life of a song is from the BG music. How it clicked to get M.G.Sreekumar to sing this song, I'll never know. The chorus effect on the same voice works the trick like the reverberations of the drops that hits the ground. The following lines from the song convey it all.

Siru poovinile vizhundhal oru thaen thuliyai varuvai,
Siru sippiyile vizhundhal oru muthu-enave mudhirvai,
Payir veriinile vizhundhal navadhaniyamai vilaivaai,
En kanvizhikkul vizhundhadhanal kavidhayaga malarndhai.

(Roughly translated to)
Falling on a flower, you come as a honey drop.
Falling on an oyster shell, you blossom as a pearl.
Falling on crops, you grow as the nine special grains.
Since you fell into my eyes, you were born as a poem.

And the last, but best of all.

1) Indian Rain - By Colonial Cousins
With their first contemporary album, they announced themselves very loudly, yet in a soothing manner. The low volume but effective droplet effect along with the chimes makes this one special. The 'Dheem tha dhirana' and the chitta swaram rendering by Hari is the touch. Swaying elegance between the blues and classical genre is one of its kind and depicts the amount of passion that has driven the composer duo. Man! Was I lucky to see them perform this one live last year! Love for this tracks is never ending.

Want to share your rain favorites too? I'd love to make a compilation of it all. Language, Genre, Composer bar - drop your picks in the comments section. Thanks.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

A hurl into the past

As he rode his cycle out of the gates, he pulled himself up and gave a thrust at the pedal, pushing the cycle forward and gaining momentum. The December evening breeze caressed his face. After locking himself up in the house for five days, it felt good to be out. He slowed down as he approached the first X junction between Bharathi Park 7th cross road. He sent cautious glances on both sides. Coast clear. Another thrust and he was off.

He felt a chill run up his spine as he turned into the deserted 5th cross. He halted for a moment to decide if he wanted to go through with this. The easiest option was to turn back and flee. But, that he had come so far made him set course towards his school, without ceasing to wonder why his Hindi teacher would be there at this time. The creeps of riding down through a deserted lane had gotten to him, especially during dark times as these.

Without any attempt to hide his fear, he reached the school. The gates were shut and locked. The watchmen Rangasamy anna and Balu anna weren't anywhere around. Through the steel rods of the locked up gates, he glinted at the gents staff room and no sign of activity there. Both doors closed. He rode to the primary school gate and no trace of people there either. Disappointed, he came back to the first gate. He parked the cycle and stood there thinking. As it sunk upon him, his heart beats increased rapidly.

It was a con!

Fifteen minutes earlier...

It was five days since his school had shut down because of curfew that broke out in Coimbatore on the fifth anniversary of the controversial monument tear down. The usual 11-year old's fear about the images of people killing one another (thanks to Mani Ratnam's classy portrayal in Bombay) gave him sleepless nights and in turn for the family. But, their support was not well appreciated by him during the day, not with all his patience draining pranks.

Three days into the one week shut down, he had enacted a perfect "full-portion" coverage of the upcoming half-yearly exams syllabus. The Hindi composition note he had submitted for evaluation came to his rescue as the only true element of a perfect act. Not that his mom bought his "finished studying" story, he was anyways let free. It was still evening and bright. There were hours before he had to worry about the curfew-special nightmares.

All was well and fun that evening, until the phone rang. He picked up the call and was surprised to hear his Hindi teacher on the line. He passed on the phone to his mom as directed and went off to catch the close of the evening's episode of Centurions. In a matter of seconds, his mom hung up. He shot her a glance as to the purpose of the call and from the look of her face knew that he'd regret it. So much for the act of "If only I had the composition note, I'd have studied the Hindi essays as well", his Hindi teacher and the note were waiting for him at school.

He couldn't say which was pumping faster, his legs or heart. It was the typical flee. With no time to think about why or who or what, he sped back, past the deserted streets. To him, it was just the danger. Whether home lay a few yards or few miles away did not matter. But, somewhere down his weak and fearful heart lay a fighter. A fighter that came up to his rescue mostly when he had lied to someone's face and was taking his last shot before almost getting caught. He kept wiping the sweat off his face, prayed intensely, thanked God as every occasional passer-by didn't turn out to be a killer or mobster. He just kept going until he banged open the gates of his home with his cycle.

He parked his cycle and ran, kicking out his slippers and straight into the house. "Maaaaaaa", he shouted as he ran through the hall and turned into the kitchen. She was standing right in front of the gas stove, making coffee. He was panting so badly that he unusually seemed completely out of words. She turned towards him and handed him his evening coffee. He looked up at her.

There was that smile. The smile, fourteen years later, he still gives to anyone who fell for a prank he pulled off.

Can't believe that it has been this long already.
Nine years and counting.
July 2nd 2011

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Cuisine paradox

Its been FOUR whole days since I landed in Kuwait and it has been a typical vacation. When I say typical, I have been relaxed yet active, haven't thought about work at all (for which I will have to pay next week), been a constructive contributor to household work, argued with my sister about the lifestyle of me and my dad in Chennai, followed a perfect three meal-snacks-juice diet and not thought about any of the usual crap that keeps me preoccupied (except for the certain someone dream all the three nights). To top it all, the bonanza of happiness that my cute little niece adds, has kept me busy and smiling all along. I haven't seen enough of her yet to write about it.

Well, no prizes for guessing, the title and the italicized, hyphenated phrase in the last paragraph has very well given away the intent of this post. I'm keeping it as simple as possible.

My typical menu in Chennai

Coffee (which I can't live without)
Bread toast/sandwich/poriyal
Dosai (with packeted Idli Molaga Podi)
Maggi noodles (the Chinese Chef in every poor man)
Corn Flakes
McDonalds/KFC (when I don't mind a drive to Velachery)
Subway (the weekly tester of the life of taste buds)
Pizza (the salary celebrator)
Noodle King (Home service of course)

If you take a look closely, I live on a so called western diet almost all the time. Basically, I love food. I enjoy my eating and I stop eating or don't eat when I feel I won't enjoy it. If I had as much as 5% of the passion I have for food, on any other thing, I'd be the master of that. Having said that, I was a big fan of all the above mentioned food, or at least I thought I was.

Menu in Kuwait (for the past four days)
Breakfast - Idli (with onion chutney and homemade Idli molaga podi)
Lunch - Molagootal with kothamalli thogayal, curd rice, Morukootaan (from the previous day)
Dinner - Kuboos with Hamoos and Philaphel (Kuwait special) :P

Breakfast - Dosai (with homemade molaga podi)
Lunch - Rasam with Podalangaa Kootu and curd rice.
Dinner - Repeat of the breakfast (we were out that evening and came home late)

Breakfast - Ravaa Upmaa
Lunch - Avial (with yam, carrot, potato and other vegetables), curd rice
Dinner - Vegetable soup and Sphagetti (Brother-in-Law Special)

Breakfast - Bread toast with a chocolate cream stuffed croissant
Lunch - Radish Sambar, Kovakkai Poriyal, curd rice
Dinner - Aappam and Green peas curry

Add to the above, a cup of coffee every morning and evening, some juice between breakfast and lunch, flaovured yogurt after lunch and some snacks with the evening coffee.

I know its just FOUR days, yet, somehow I have enjoyed my food more than forever. When I eat lunch at someone's house and they offer me a second yelping of rice, I'd always give my clichéd "I don't eat so much rice" dialog. It surprised me today that I am indeed serving myself an unusually large second yelping of rice to have with curd.

No matter how much I argue with my sister that me and my dad are indeed leading a satisfactory life in Chennai, when it comes to food, I can't but agree with her that we need to step up and bring about a big transformation.

I recollected what my mom used to say about how my uncles from the Gulf used to come to India craving for that one meal of hot homemade Sambar or Molagootal. It ironical that I had to travel all the way from India to enjoy the same. Only disadvantage here is that they are compelled to use Basmati rice for all kinds of cooking, the quality of which I should say is amazing.

Now that I realize what I have been doing wrong regarding my food, hopefully, I'll put it into perspective after getting back to Chennai.

Anyways, signing off on that note. Off and away to sleep with a clear mind (like always after writing in this space) and a properly filled stomach (now, that unusual). Oh! There will be that dream again. Hmmm. More on that later.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Where is it going?

The big question, isn't it? Whenever I've asked myself this question, I have kinda known the answer to it. But, if you don't have an answer to it, man, are you going to put up with a lot of crap.

In the west, this question can generally mean only one thing - a commitment/breakup with your boyfriend/girlfriend is in the offing. But, Indians are the kings of customization. We need a mix and match for everything. (Instances below)

The too-much phobia
  • Son is playing too much cricket. He has to write his board exams in four years.
  • Too much work/Too much fun/Too much relaxation/Too much tension/Too much travel.
  • Talking too much in the phone.
The attention-seeker syndrome (I have it)
  • Why no attention at all?
  • Can't people just leave me alone for a minute?
  • I feel like we are drifting apart. (Now, this is very common Ok. Not pin-pointing.)
The gutless phenomenon
  • I don't want the others* to think that something is going on.
  • What if it goes somewhere I don't know where. (read again to understand)
  • What if I can't answer with where I want it to go. (again, read again to understand)
From all that I have understood, it is a question
  • that you should never ask yourself when you don't want to.
  • that you should never let someone irrelevant, answer (and bother).
  • that you should never answer when someone irrelevant asks.
  • that you should always answer aloud (to the relevant).
  • that you should always ask yourself first (and try to answer) before a second opinion.
  • that can work wonders when found an answer to (both ways).
  • that also affects people (or surroundings) other than you.
  • that guys TRY TO AVOID and girls are OBSESSED with (generally).
  • that guys DON'T CARE when they don't have an answer.
  • that girls answer with ALOOF when they don't want to pick an answer.
  • that you SHOULD find an answer when there are too many options.
and the most important one...
  • that is IRRELEVANT when you don't have a choice.
*others - anyone/anything that is not a stakeholder of which is going where, except for gossiping about it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Simply Complicated

Call it anxiety, excitement, nerves or just plain mental, often, you live that day where you can't control your mind. Well, in first place, you didn't even know where it was, when probably it was just sitting across and smiling at you; who knows?

Using ten words in place of one (most of them being duh, eh, ah, oh), being unable to explain unwarranted laughing, boring people with stupid stories, hungry yet full, and someone I look up to, announcing to a whole gathering that I have an excellent blog - I knew I'd be writing here today!!!

They are all around you.
They seldom come alone.
Look past the risks,
Swim across the obstacles.
Success is yours.
They are Opportunities.

Open the door to it,
Comes along, waves of anxiety.
Bliss, it can deliver, yet,
Often, a broken heart remains.
I call it Expectations.

It can create loose bonds,
Not as good as breaking them.
You need it. I need it.
Amazing stays the fact, that,
It was only a piece of paper.
Put yours in this one, didn't you? Money.

Tells you what to do.
You never asked why.
Comes at your convenience,
Following it or tailoring it.
You call it Tradition.
I call some of it made up Fiction.

It needn't matter.
You needn't mind.
Not me, Not you.
When it is you and me,
It has a name - Society.

You didn't have it to share.
I lost all of it I had.
What happens next?
Only it has to unveil.
For, it is Time.

Neither did you expect,
Nor did you yearn.
You failed history then, and,
Geography, now just failed you.
Back on that very same road, aren't you?
Ignoring that very same 'blocked' sign again.
You are plain Human.

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Stupid Sam - Know the difference?

"Five Pipty", he said, casually.
"Huh?" Sam did not catch that.
"Five hundred and pipty!", he repeated.
"Sorry?", Sam asked, a bit of alarm gripped his voice.
"Five pipty pa!"
"Engitta avalo cash illanga. Paathu pannungale", Sam replied. He was cautious about not conveying a casual tone.
(I don't have so much cash. Please cut down your demand.)
"Illa pa. Five pipty. Receipt vaangiko", he continued the usual act of I-will-not-budge.
(No. Five Fifty. You can take a receipt)
"Engitta nooru roopa thaan irukku. Enna pannalaam?", Sam insisted.
(I have only 100 bucks. What can we do?)

The guy insisted a couple more times and even pointed to an ATM nearby. When Sam did not show any sign of agreeing to pay more, he gave the situation a bit of serious thought and proposed a new deal. "300?"

Though stupid he was, Sam realized that his act was working. It was past 9 PM and he jsut wanted to get this done with. His mind worked out the math (luckily he was good at it) in a whoosh and spoke slowly, "Engitta avalo illanga. Oru 150 try pannalaam." (I don't have so much. I can try gathering around 150 bucks).

The guy sighed. It was getting late for him as well. He wanted more money to put up his booze party for the night and at the same time did not want to lose the customer.

"200. Final.", he said and walked away to find one more person to make up for the difference.

At this point, Sam knew what had to be done. He quickly asked his colleague for any change she had. She looked through her purse and handed him two ten rupee notes and a ragged five rupee note. He took the notes and put together the bits and pieces from his purse. He rushed to the guy, handed him the currencies and grunted, "Ellathayum vazhichu 125 irukku" (after cleaning up my purse here is 125 bucks).

The guy accepted it with gratitude and quickly slipped the notes into his pocket, so that his superior did not notice the little business deal he made for himself. Sam went back to his bike and shushed his colleague to quickly get on. They left the place in no time.

On the ride back home, Sam couldn't but wonder at the fact that the differences between tourist spot vendors and traffic policemen were gradually decreasing.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Mirror of the Erased

If you stumbled upon here amidst important work, please come back later.

Having woken up completely drained, sore and strained, the side-effects of too much physical activity after a long time, I realized that its almost two and half hours past the rise early - sleep early schedule I've been practicing for the past month - so much to stabilize the social animal's system. After groaning a 'Oh ****!', my mind promptly dived into re-scheduling the day's activities. Postponing shaving and choosing to take bath in cold water helped me get ready earlier than usual and in no time I was driving back home with breakfast and newspaper for Dad. Thanks to the closing of a signal in GST road, the due-to-metro-rail traffic is less intense these days and I was waiting for the lift (at work) five minutes later. Compared to the past two months, today was expected to be a 'less issues' (I did not say no issues) which meant that my mind was devoid of preoccupied problem solving and the security didn't have to remind me to sign in the laptop register, but, as the day progressed, my mind did register to forget tomorrow. So passed by, one more day where I tried to be sincere (apparently 'good' is way far) at something I remotely imagined I would even be doing by this time in my life. Just like that I was unlocking the front door (back at home). Followed, the routine of freshening up, dinner with F.R.I.E.N.D.S, online for sometime and settling down for a chat with Dad by his bed.

Chats with my dad by his bed almost often turns out to be the most interesting part of my day. We discuss from movies to technology, past to the future, dead to the to-be-born and more. Sometimes we end up laughing really hard, sometimes it would result in me storming out after a furious argument, or sometimes one trying to cheer up the other. In short, its a jugalbandhi of sorts and without dedicating an entire post to it, I'd not be able to do justice. However, today, we dug deep into our past, deep enough that we reached the 1970s about how my Dad's career started. I don't even remember how it lead there, but it all started when we talked about how my career started amidst some of the most dreadful days of our lives - Madurai.

At the close of an hour long talk, I wanted to write (an entire post) today, unlike other days where I start, write two lines and close (the browser). And to make sure I went through with it, I set Jet Audio to play Varanam Ayiram in a loop. How amazingly true is the fact that our minds are so pictorial and musical, one complementing the other. The moment I listen to 'Nenjukkul Peidhidum' I can picture myself sitting in front of my PC in the hall of our flat in Madurai, on a Sunday afternoon, chatting or blogging, Dad lying down in his bed (next to the PC), both of us with no clue of what we are going to do for the rest of the day. Well, that just describes a selected few Sundays, because all the other weekends (except a couple at the start and many towards the end), I spent the rest at work or should I say second college.

Madurai (September 26th 2008 - April 29th 2009) was just a flash in my interesting life filled with irregular connectible events. A positive attitude of expectation is half way to satisfaction. In Madurai, the corollary of that statement worked pretty well for me. Agrini, the home to most (of the little amount of) software engineers and families, was probably the best thing that happened to us in that city. The first time I saw that place in July 2009, I decided that it was going to be my home (irrespective of the duration of stay) in Madurai. Just like India in Sunday's match with England, I got off to a quiet but steady start - pretty decent workplace, my CSE background (or tag), my determined will to get along (no matter where), an AWESOME, (almost) like-minded set of colleagues and the feel-at-home setup including my Dad, his cooking, filter coffee every morning, hot lemon rasam when I wanted it, unlimited internet (though it was from sucking BSNL) and a lovely set of friends (back home) who often called to check on me. Just when I started to sink into that place-for-the-next-few-years feeling, the pressure started to build.

After 17 continuous days of 7 AM to 1 AM schedules, somehow, I (we) managed to cross the first bunch of hurdles and cruised into the next phase, for which all of us were better equipped and prepared mentally. All that preparation to get through that one more month for life to be set milestone was in vain when I (we) realized that the three months of grooming was going to be wasted grooming down doubly during that fourth month. I have talked about that many times here and am not getting into it again.

So, I'm summing up those seven months as a set of picture moment memories below:

1) September 27th 2008 (around 10 PM) - Dad hung up on his friend promising him (after lots of persuading) that he'd be there for the elections (next day) at The Kerala Club, Coimbatore. I never imagined that I'd be visiting CBE two days after I said Good-Bye. It was like a 'Always my home' kind of a thing.
2) October 21st 2008 (late evening) - Celebrated a colleague's birthday that fell on the next day. The day I realized that God was not all that cruel. He did know what and whom I liked to have around me.
3) October 31st 2008 - First salary. I was all teeth. :D My first withdrawal was to buy a shirt for Dad.
4) November 10th 2008 - First accident in my bike. Crazy old man freaks out in the middle of the NH road. My nose hit the rear view mirror with full force and bulged to the size of a capsicum. I got so much attention at work that day. :P
5) November 18th 2008 (around 9 PM) - End of the first day of C++ lab evaluation. I cracked down and cried like a little child after the pressure filled day (ever) of not talking to a SINGLE HUMAN SOUL from 9 AM to 8 PM. No food (except for a few cups of coffee). Mobile phone switched off. 100 other famished, hopeless soul-sucked beings around me. I did not feel bad about the day that had passed by (I had done my best). I was dreading the next day. The next evening, I prayed sincerely that I (we) should never ever come across two days like that forever.
6) December 6th 2008 - Played cricket at the TCE campus grounds. I had registered in the team for the New Year Cup. The batch mates who selected the team looked at each other and shook their heads in disapproval as soon as I bowled my first ball (No! The batsman did not score a run. Wrong answer!). I don't think they knew I noticed their non-verbal communication. :P I was laughing loudly inside thinking that these guys actually took me serious when I said I wanted to play. :P
7) December 25th 2008 - A Christmas I celebrated long after my Lisieux days. It was by far the happiest day for me in Madurai and the fact that I spent a gloomy 25th December 2009 is a testimonial.
8) December 29th 2008 - The day I gave up on corporates. How will you feel when someone in-charge announced that the training program you were slogging your a**es off, was actually started as a social service for the rural youth - to send them into the market (not for recruitment); and with a smile says "Have a ball on New year's eve. Don't regret later!" We did have amazing fun that New years. Only curse noises filled the room.
9) January 17th 2009 - My roommate was driving and I was the pillion rider (for a change). A phone call I was so happy to answer, but wanted to kill myself when I hung up changed my life forever.
10) February 2nd 2009 - I was back from Cbe all geared up for the (for the sake) extended training. But, the soul-sucking continued. I opened the link to submit my resignation, but the last traces of common sense forced me to shut my PC down and rush home asap (after calling sick).
11) February 19th 2009 - Got my first build (after God knows how much of effort) running successfully and tested it. I went home whole-heartedly.
12) March 5th 2009 - Gave a demo to the domain lead (periya thala) and he appreciated my efforts to have developed what I had in such a short time. Beaming with pride, I booked tickets to Cbe for the weekend.
13) March 18th 2009 - I was given a firing by my manager because I inquired about a "merit-list" they had mentioned. I was told (as a general statement), "You may be a top performer. But, I get to decide who would be working here". I sent out 65 job application mails in the next two days.
14) March 21st 2009 - Successfully headed and conducted a Medical Camp in a village near Madurai. The only day spent with purpose during my eight month stay.
15) March 31st 2009 - I went home dejected. Nine of us had applied for a development job in B'lore. Seven of us got a call for an interview the next day and no prizes for guessing, I did not. I was so depressed that my Dad forced me to go out and buy new speaker systems for my PC. :)
16) April 1st 2009 - The company that did not consider my application for the development job called me and the other guy for a testing position. We were happy but were dejected to learn that none of the seven who attended the interview that day nailed it. Third round exit. Fifth round exit etc. Nerves!
17) April 2nd 2009 (B'lore) - Seven of us attended the set of written tests and interviews. Two of us nailed it and not sure you got it right, I did! :) I was asked to join on 14th April.
18) April 3rd, 4th 2009 (Chennai) - Different company. One more written test and two rounds of interview. I did well. I went back to Madurai hoping I get it in Chennai, awaiting the results that were supposed to come by 7th .
19) 7th April 2009 (Madurai) - I resigned anyways. Even if I did not get the job in Chennai, I was going to join in B'lore. Made the decision. A confusing decision, which I realized after few months to be right. Finally, I sent the good-bye mail I was longing to send.
20) 9th April 2009 (Morning) - Results of the company in Chennai were delayed. I booked my tickets to B'lore for the 12th. It was a long weekend from the next day and if the results did not come by evening, I decided to join in B'lore.
21) 9th April 2009 (Around 7 PM) - Got a call from Chennai. I had gotten through. That phone call decided and has maneuvered my professional life and parts of my personal life since then.
22) 25th April 2009 (9 PM) - Boarded the bus to Chennai. Waved goodbye to a lot of memories, bitterness, short-lived happiness and hell a lot of learnings (technical and way more).

1) Usually I reread my posts a million times before posting. Today, I'm just posting it. So don't mind typos and the length. I'm sure you were bored by the end of it, but I thoroughly enjoyed reliving those seven months.
2) Jet Audio has looped the Varanam Ayiram tracks have around 10 times by now. So, the song selection did work for me, as always. :)
3) Regarding that cricket cup, I was in the squad though and I fielded for an over in one of the matches. We won the cup and I have a trophy at home. No, I have not listed this in the extra curricular achievements section of my resume. :)

Wednesday, February 02, 2011


Yeah, you got that right. I just ended the two week HIMYM (How I Met Your Mother) marathon. For, those who did not get it right, long story short, a guy called Ted Mosbee sits down his kids and walks them through the story of how he met their mother. I just finished five seasons and so far they have shown only the legs, a yellow umbrella, a guitar, a toy bus and a book of the mother. So, 5 x 24 episodes are just about all the stupid things Ted does in the process of meeting their mother, including telling a girl on their first date that he loves her, getting a butterfly tattoo, getting dumped at the altar, turning into a blond and many more.

There is a concept in the series about how the gang meets each of their look alike at some point - The Doppelganger. I admit that it does sound stupid, but, I was impressed with an incredible explanation in the end of the fifth season. The doppelganger is nothing but the past us. All of us look back at some point and wonder, "How different would it have been if I was the same!" - the most amazingly ridiculous wondering ever.

The truth is that all of us including me have wondered or will wonder this at least once. The funny fact being, we wouldn't have changed at all. The moment we wonder about what has changed is exactly when the transformation starts. Simple reason - you only see the change you want to be.

There is one trait that every human being is blessed with - putting up an act. I'm not talking about role play. The best use to which this acting trait is put - the act of change. We have no one to blame because accepted is the fact that it take guts to go back to being the same lousy person after a failure. Of course we are all true to that attempt of bringing about a change until anxiety plays the spoilsport. Anxiety is most dangerous when it builds images of the future, one over the other and pins you down until you give up and say, "Screw it".

Typical follow phrases of Screw it include: One more cigarette; Gym definitely starting tomorrow, so, Dominos today; She needs me now, I'll be all cool from tomorrow; I don't think I love him/her; I'll study for the next periodicals; I promise to save from next month.
The result is we end up doing the very same thing we promised ourselves and a whole bunch of people that we wouldn't do ever again. That brings us to promise - the next in line killer, the characteristic of the vulnerable. Why promising is dangerous, especially if you are vulnerable, is that most often you aren't going to keep the promise. The result is the next in line - Guilt, where destruction begins. Even the so called mighty, the ones who don't break easily, get crumpled by guilt. Why its the worst is that, guilt, unlike the rest attacks the roots directly. Once found guilty, your confidence is shaken, and with confidence trembling, you who are standing on it, gradually fall down.

My point. People trying to change and by people, I am the first implication, should understand that change is not whatever you intend, but is that what eventually happens. No, not immediate fast food temporary change. The time period is undefined and differs depending on God knows what. But, it will happen someday and so, you will meet your doppelganger until which you might not even know whats different.

What good can come from taking an example of a stupid TV series? Of course the series has to be stupid. I don't think it would have gone past the pilot if the title was How I went to the Head of the Class. Getting real, everyone of us are Ted Mosbee, only, the object mother differs. What you learn in the process of finding the mother is what is important. Maybe that which separates the doppelganger from you is a wound that may never heal. The best part is that the wound is not something to cry about, but to be proud that you have come this far.

PS: I have a strong feeling that, in the end, Ted is going to tell the children that they are adopted. True Story! :P