Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Life's Lesson #280708

Your mysterious absence at work on a Friday can only mean one thing. And its NOT the flu or a sever cold 'n all that jazz.

Taking off to Blore with a couple of friends for the weekend seems far more plausible in the corporate world than 'unanticipatedly' falling ill just before a long weekend.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Scenario: 21:10 hrs, Four of us at the Wooden-Tables beside the salad counter, Canteen.

Shyamala's taken a day off today, she's not feeling well (sure, whatever you say lady )
Renu's no where in the scene..she's perhaps decided to stay back at the cubicle and wait for Damu and Subin to take her place (I absolve thee Miss.Paulose)
Surosa has broken her leg and is at home sending us senti-senti friendhip sms'es. Veena 's on call as usual and Krati..well, I just dont know where Krati is.

So,where does that bring me?
Well, it brings me to the wooden tables opposite the Salad Bar at the canteen, with just 3 gentlemen (out of the 10 members at work)- Damu, Subin and Ravi (my precious teamie )

Now, normally these guys are a pleasure to dine with. We'd have a vibrant discussion on multi-farious topics ranging from the intricacies of Vaishnavaite philosophy to Kurt Cobain.

But today's not like that. There's a Cricket match on (or so I discover, from the abominable silence at the table).
My reaction to cricket-matches these days is '*Yawn* Nice... Can you pass me the salt please?'

I witness 40 minutes of silence at the dinner table while these 3 men have their heads tilted at an angle of 45 degrees gazing intently at the telly placed directly on top of my head.

Dinner time at work is very precious and I/we generally treasure every minute of it.
Not that we're made to work like cattle and are facing a severe time crisis at work or anything(Hell no! I love my boss. Well, when there's an appraisal on its way, why wouldn't I?), its just that its the only common time we have to do some friendly bantering and catch up with the chaos in everyone's team. We really enjoy it and we really do look forward to it. I know I do.

Silence at the dinner table? I mean, thats unheard of ..unless one of us was being paid to shut-up or all of us were feeding on our Canteen's special glue...sorry, halwa. Our team wouldn't know silence even if it bit us in our ear.
Today...well, I could have strangled my self and these guys wouldnt have noticed.

Next time theres a match, I'm heading straight to the Salad bar and dining with some of the married ladies there. I'd rather hear them blah-blah nonsense all day long than not have a a single word at dinner.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Of shrewd mothers, presumptious daughters and two louts in between.

The more I think about it, the more I find it quite funny being uncharacteristically tongue-tied infront of a 9 year old kid and watch her deftly rag us when we ‘attempted’ to do the same.
Ragging will never be the same for me, whether from the ragger’s end or the receiver’s end.
The phrase ‘Putting my foot where my mouth is’ has never ever made more sense than it does now.

My parents wanted to go to Thiruvendipuram for the weekend for some sort of ritual/pilgrimage and I wasn’t particularly thrilled when they forced me to tag along first thing Saturday morning.
Not that I have anything against the hundreds of rituals we Hindus perform on practically any and every day of the year (with due respect to their respective reasons of course), but what triggers the intolerance in me is when they require migration or any activity of that sort on a Saturday morning. Saturday mornings are for hibernation, just for hibernation and nothing BUT hibernation. But then again, who listens to me.
I thus move on.

My cousin Rema had also volunteered to accompany us, thankfully for me. So, that kept me from whining and complaining all along our way to the Aashram. It was a 6 hour journey in our Ambassador. I didn’t compromise on the hibernation-part ..even if it meant leaning and dribbling over my mommy’s shoulder on our way there.

After visiting a few temples nearby and having a sumptuous Iyengar-type dinner in the Aashram with some 30 other people within the community whom we hardly knew yet smiled at for reasons which are still unknown to yours truly, Rema and I sat down on the steps outside and watched all the oldies retire for the day.

It was 8pm and the whole village was asleep. There could be a bomb blast and yet people wouldn’t notice.

All of a sudden a girl comes prancing down the steps, hopping merrily on the road.
This girl reminded me of….well, I’m not ashamed to say it, when I was a kid. She was perhaps the plumpiest kid in the face of the Earth and she was our meat tonight.

“Hey ponnae! Romba Azhaga irikae won dress…. Won paer enna? (Translated to: Hey girl! Your dress is very cute… Whats your name?) “

“Thanks. Solla maataen” (Sollamataen=I won’t tell you)

(Sensing that we were dealing with a smart-alec) “Sollamaten? What a cute name. That’s a nice name you have there Sollamaaten. Is that what they call you at school Sollamaataen ”

(Defensively) “Noooooo..Sollamaataen is not my name.”

“Then what is your name?”


“Precisely what we’re calling you, kid”

“ But that’s not my name. And I’m not going to tell you my name. So there.”

On saying this, she comes and sits beside us on the steps.

Now this was beginning to seem like fun. I mean, any other normal kid would have walked just right past us into the Ashram or ignored us all the way. Most of the other kids did just that..but not this one.

It was around 9:30 pm now…it was Saturday night…we had no telly, no music, and most of the lights in the street where out..And just when we’d lost all hope on how we were going to survive the early night, here we had an incredibly chubby, plumpy entertaining, over confident kid who refused to give in.

“This is indeed a very cute dress Sollamaataen. Where did you buy this?”
This was Rema trying to start a conversation.



“I dance.”


“I dance. I learn dance”

Wow. That was quick.
I mean here we were, trying to break the ice and socialize the cordial way or to be more precise, the ‘corporate’ way, asking her her name, complimenting her on her oversized flashy chumkee-chimkee dress, while Miss. Chubby here was more interested in giving us the bigger details.

“You do eh? How nice! What dance do you learn?”
Us sounding genuinely interested.

“I learn Bharatnatyam” Like every second kid in South India. how many jathis have you learnt? Have you learnt all the adavus and jathis till Allaripu?”
Ok, This was me, trying to flaunt the very little dance I could remember from my younger days.

“You know dance?” Kid, Incredulously.

“Yes I do” Correction, ‘did’ .

“Don’t lie ok-va? I learn from Lakshmipriya Miss.”

“Who’s Lakshmipriya-miss?"

“My miss” Saying it like she were Queen of England or something.

"Ohhh!!! Lakshmipriya-va? Of course! We remember her....We only taught her dance”
This was uttered in unison by the both of us, Rema and I, the diabolical cousins we are.

“You taught Lakshmipriya Miss?” Voice sounding incredibly surprised.

Yes we did. We taught her everything we could. But poor child, she wasn’t a very bright student. That’s why she’s still teaching despite learning dance for sooo many years”. Rema was unstoppable now.

Lakshmipriya-Miss is 22 years old”. Boy, this kid was shrewd.

‘Only’ 22 years old? See what too much of dialogue can get you into?

“Oh? Well…there have been dancers who have achieved much more at that young age” This was me trying to back Rema up.

“You mean Sheela-miss? ”

“Who’s Sheela-Miss?”

“Sheela-miss is Lakhsmipriya-Miss’s miss”.

And the plot thickens.

“ Oh Sheela-miss a? Ah, I remember her! Yes, she was an extremely bright student. One of a kind. They don’t make ‘em students like her these days”.
I was trying my best to make all this seem plausible to the 8 year old kid.

“You know Sheela-miss?”
Kid’s eyes widened like space-saucers from space.

“ Know her?? She is what she is because of us. We put her up on the map. You go and ask Sheela if she knows ‘Maythini Sridharan’ and she’ll tell you of the sacred relationship we share. Go and ask her tomorrow itself at dance-class, ok-va? ”
Ok, I was trying a bit TOO hard.
And, I was beginning to get the ok-va slang from Miss. Chubby. Kids! Geez!

Sheela-miss isn’t in India. She’s in the U.S. running a dance school”
This was said very matter-of-factly by kid.
I was losing all weapons of defence.

Rema to my rescue. “She left without telling us?? Maythini, after all you’ve done for Sheela-miss, just see how she’s absconded without the slightest indication. Dancers these days, cha!”

“ I know, Rema. Cha! I am very upset now.” Trying to fake a hurt-look.

Kid tries to cheer up the not-so-diabolical twins by changing the topic.

“So…Are you running a school anywhere?”
Kid now fishing for more details from the not-so-diabolical cousins.

“Oh yes certainly. “

“Don’t lie, ok-va?”

“We aren’t lying ok-va!” I was sounding a bit desperate now.

Kid waits patiently as one of us makes the story up as we go along.

“We run a school in Australia and Bostwana. We’re doing very well in northern parts of Australia (heavens forbid she opens up a map and discovers a desert all over) and also in Bostwana (clueless of which part of the world the place may be in). The problem with opening up a school in London is that there is a lot of racial-discrimination there and also oflate a lot of political disturbances. You know how these English people are, don’t you? They’re never gonna send their kids for dance lessons once they know that a guy from our country is bombing up their place. So we preferred not to expand towards Europe, and decided to just settle with our success in Australia and Botswana.”

All this to an 8 year old kid with a flashy chumkee-chumkee dress.
Like they say, if you can’t convince them, confuse them.

“ Oh, ok. But Sheela-miss is doing very well ” Kid is still smitten by Sheela-miss.

Hell with your Sheela-miss I felt like saying. But all I could think of is “ I can only be too glad for her. She’ll contact me if she needs to learn some more dance the next time she comes to India”

Just when we were going to switch topics to a much more ‘safer’ one, a woman comes down the stairs calling out for Rajalakshmi.

In a split second, Sollamaten-dearie jumps up and shrieks, “Amma! They know Sheela-miss”.

Ok… firstly, Sollamaten’s name is Rajalakshmi eh? Well, that’s a lot of help.

And secondly… Now, we have your mom in this mess???
What the *@#*$@!

Mommy-dear looks at 2 pretty girls clad in a sari with the most skeptical of looks.
You know Sheela-miss, do you? Which Sheela-miss?”

We’re both silent like we were caught cheating in an exam.
Rema. Not a sound from her.
Me. “ Well….Sheela-miss..the one who….who…..”
And we both burst out laughing.
And we were laughing and laughing.

Kid pointed her index finger at us and was chirping, “ I knew it all along. I knew it alllll along. I knew you guys were bluffing. I was just waiting for my mom to get here”.

Guess kid wasn’t that dumb after all.

Mommy-dear wasn’t ready to forgive our sinful act. Stern, teacher-amma look all over her face.

“So..where are you girls coming from?”

“Madras” Both of us spoke in unision.

Ok. My daughter really learns dance” The word ‘really’ stressed with a bit of emphasis.
“ We’re looking for a good teacher now, because our Rajalakshmi is very very talented”.

Sure she is.

I was now trying to cover up the seemingly sinful act of deceiving young Rajalakshmi for which Mommy-dear was still glaring at us.
Well why don’t put her in a good school? I travelled all the way from Nangannaloor to Kotturpuram (some 20 kilometres) for dance-classes.”
I was now giving my 2-cents worth advice.

Mommy-dear now fires. “You learnt dance?”
History sure does repeat itself.

“Yes, aunty I did”.

“Which school?”

“The Dhananjayans.”

The Dhananjayans? You learnt from the Dhananjayans?”
She looked as though wouldn’t have believed me even if I said that cows moo and pigs oink.
She gives her child a crafty smile and moves her right hand in a circular motion to indicate that what I was saying was ‘reel’.

“Noooo”. This was me now.
I really 'did' learn from the Dhananjayans school. Srilatha Vinod is my miss’s name. I was her student. Honest to god ”.

Ok now, I was sounding really desperate.
But this was the truth. And mommy-ji and chubby-ji were reluctant to believe me.

Rema and I tried to indulge in some other polite form of small talk. But aunty-ji didn’t budge. She still had that ‘you-tried-to-fool-my-daughter..MY-DAUGHTER’ look on her face.

We knew that mommy-dear was inconsolable. So we politely said our good-bye as fast as we could and tried to bail out without a trace.

I think about it now..and still wonder what went wrong where. We had everything under control while Rema and I worked with such unity in concocting crap instantly. But still we felt like losers in the end.

Kids these days. And their moms.
Gotta lot to learn.
But its not fun.....being stuck in the middle of one shrewd mom and a presumptious kid.

Sunday, August 12, 2007


Had to.

Friday, August 10, 2007

To Sir, with Love..

I hum when I work. Ok, this time I happened to hum a bit louder than usual and people around me tell me I broke off into a (slightly loud) song. Unfortunately, I didn’t really realize that. I never really do, until Aravinthan comes over to my cubicle to tell me to put a sock in it. My boo-boo.

A leader from the neighboring tower stood up and gave me a cold glare and even worse, threatened to escalate if I went any louder. Boy, that’s sure made my day. This will be the first escalation of its type.

Slightly embarrassed and a whole lot furious ,I scream out (after the royal sermon-giver has left the area of course) that I hate this place I work for. I can’t do anything without music against my ears (headphones mind you)….. and unfortunately without a mild hum too. You want people to work dead silently and go ra-ta-tup tup at their key-boards all day without the slightest sound/noise?…well fine, I’ll give you that. But, not without silent curse at you under my breath. (not that that’s really threatening, but I’m told a curse with a clean heart, and plenty of faith will actually work :P)

Its at moments like these, I solemnly swear that I will break free from this crazy claustrophobic work-place given the slightest chance. And, that day, is not too far away from now.
Till then, sir, Fcuk you.
Lots of Love.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Some digression with a Point....Somewhere.

Current Status: Helplessly watching my friends triumphantly flash their ‘I-told-you-so’ look at me (and this, I must add, they do quite effortlessly) while they witness me undergo my silent eat-my-words syndrome.

Frankly speaking, I never ever thought it would come to this.

Well, I’ve gotta give it you. You guys were right. I still have a lot to see. And I’m sure glad that (some of) you were a part of my awakening.

Sideline: The above few lines may precariously insinuate that I’ve suddenly attained some TOTALLY out-of-this-world realization of some sort …. Like the concept of Moksha..or Something like roaches being capable of producing almost 3000000 more roaches every year….or Prathibha Patel becoming the President of our Country. (Kidding….I always knew that roaches reproduce like crazy)

What I’ve always known and ALWAYS realized, is that I suck BIG TIME at practicals, vivas and interviews (in any order). 4 years of engineering and a lot of my supportive friends from college are more than just testimony for that.

But (trying to strike a contrast here) what I’ve always known but NEVER EVER realized is that how big and heterogeneous a country I’m a part of. (No, I’m serious and truly not up to any wise-cracks here).

There are some things that are easily a part of an everyday conversation or discussion but never really dawn on you with their exact meaning and significance unless you sit to think about it.
Something like the fact that…the universe is infinite.
Yes, you ‘know’ that and I ‘know’ that… but it would typically take you a while to actually ‘feel’ the gravity of that statement …for the fact to actually sink into you. And when it does, boy, it would leave you marveled and amazed; despite the number of times you’ve thrown that statement here ‘n there in public.

This is something like the point I'm trying (quite earnestly) to drive at.
Terms like ‘multi-cultural’, ‘harmonious integration’, unity-in-diversity’ never really meant anything more than just salient features of a distinctly complicated country, until I got out of my ‘shell’ (READ: Chennai, which is moreorless the only place I’ve known well. Yes, I know I’m ignorant.) and traveled ta Bombay for the first time.

I went..I saw..'n I was conquered. It overwhelms me to think of how a single country can house SO many different states which are SO incredibly different from each other. Its has been a week..and I’m still amazed.

And still haven’t gotten over it.

The more I think about it, the more I’m falling in love with this country….and I promise this has nothing to do with the fact that Aug 15 is round the corner. (skeptical folks, hmph! :D)
I’ve already chartered a virtual plan in my head listing out all the places I’d like to visit in the near future and I’m already soopah excited about it. My ideal travel plan would certainly NOT include those enormously popular planned-tours with horribly boring Volvos which house at least 3 kids wailing their hearts out, or at least 2 people wanting to stop for a pee every 30 minutes. (the chances that your VOLVO will have at least 3 potential cry-babies when your on a holiday, are unfortunately rather high)
Thanks, but no thanks.

My heart is fervently hoping for my next venture to the North…. Something I could handle myself without anyone’s assent/consent. A wild trip with me and just me, my digi-cam, a crazy hat, a jute bag worn diagonally across me, a rainbow-walla chaathi (my unfulfilled dream to own one…*sob!*), and absolutely NO luggage. ;)

I can imagine catching an train to some arbit sub-urb/village, holding on to the pole at the bogee ‘s gate, with the wind hitting against my face while I find it difficult to hold on to my flying chunee. (Ok, I’m imagining a bit too much, but I told you I was really excited) :D

Before I stop…(yes, miracles do happen)

Things I loved about Bombay.

  1. The Local trains

How people board the 'Bomaby' local trains and survive to tell the tale of it still remains an enigma to me. I was warned by my friends the moment I landed in Bombay, of the peak-hour traffic within the general compartmnet and that I shouln't go about heralding the fact that I *love* the local trains after one measly trip on a Sunday. order to prove a point, I travel by the local trains, on a Monday morning, where I imagine half the Bombay-population in plonked into that very same bogee I'm situated in. After the painful ordeal of finding a seat (which is a luxury far from reach for most travellers) I find myself squished between two pan-chewing uncles on either side of me, with their news-papers sprawled across their laps. (sort 'v missed the Hindu here) . Getting out of that mess would easily surpass signing a peace treaty with Bin Laden in terms of impossibility.

But...I still loved it. Every single, sweaty, tormenting second of it.

2. The chaos and the crowd

This was a riot. Want to be scowled and scorned at for fun in Bombay?

Walk fast in some arbit public spot. Stop walking and stand still for 3 seconds. You'll hear (at least) seven people asking you to move your ass off their way. They are busy people... and do not have time to watch a static piece of mass on their way...for 3 whole seconds. (And I always wondered why Bombay was too 'fast' for some people. )

3. The Bombay Rains favourite. I could go on and on 'bout this one.

You havent seen rains till you've experienced Mumbai rains. They pour 5 cats and 6 dogs. (bad joke..but I use it all the time :D). Lord Varuna's in for a party when the Monsoons hit Mumbai. The thing about Mumbai rains is that, they just're amazingly dynamic. I mean, one moment you see them..'n the next second you don't. I remember fidgeting with Tosh's purple umbrella trying to open it and save my head, and by the time I'd gotten it open, the rain had stopped. (I had that 'well-I'll-be-damned look ever since)

4. Pani Puri

Whats so special about the PP (Rathi's way of putting it) in Bombay?

I really REALLY don't know. But all I know is that its absolutely divine. I mean, I'm a sucker for the normal Chennai-canteen walla PP when I had a taste of the PP in Churchgate, I went gaga over it. I would 've ordered indefintely, but I reminded my self of public norms of decency (whatever that means :P)

5. Marine Drive

It was undoubtedly love at first sight. For all you non-Mumbaikars, Marine Drive is just a road with the sea adjacent to it. Like any normal beach actually. But there's something about taking that walk along that stretch of land. While Sahil and Parimal were playing Mr.Tourist-Guide by explaining the worth of property at the other side of the lane, I was busy being mesmerised by the view from the kerb. At one point, it looked pretty much like New York.

6. The rocks at Nariman Points

Trying to walk across those rocks on a rainy evening isn't exaclty the wisest thing to do. But thats exactly what we did. And man, it rocked! (pun unintended)

Actually, It got so complicated as I hopped from one slippery rock to another, that at one point of time, I had to squat on one of the rocks to print a mental strategy on what rocks I had to travese by next, to reach the point were Parimal was standing. And then, it would start to rain. And I'd be squatting on that slippery rock; plonk in the middle of no-where, till the rains subsided. This still makes me laugh.

7. The guilt-less arriving home late during weekends (and every other day presumably)

Lets just say that my mom doesnt know that I had dinner at a restaurant in Mumbai with friends at around 01:00 hours on a Sunday. For me it felt sooper-cool to be doing something I (still) am not allowed to do, but for folks was another normal weekend.

8. People I more than just know ;)

Tosh Raman Sahil Takloo Chacha Rathi Poorva Chirag Nikhil Vishal Prithvi. Your more than just a reason for me to get my ass back down there. Need I say more.

Things I didn’t like about Bombay:

That it wasn’t Chennai.

Thursday, August 2, 2007 I laugh or..?