December 30, 2010

T-Shirt Quote

Recently I came across a quote – Don’t agonize. Organize. – and thought to myself that it would be a perfect T-shirt quote for me. Or even, The Devil is in the details.

So what quote would you like to have on your Tee?
Something that defines YOU?
(Not looking for the 'insult-the-readers' kind.)

Could be a quote, a phrase you use often, something amusing, etc.
Try to be original, though I’m not that clearly!

The Right Way...

... to write the initials of a person is as follows:

M.K. Gandhi - Correct
M K Gandhi - Correct (or rather, considered acceptable these days; but remember, the space is necessary)
M.K Gandhi - Incorrect!

Remember, initials are after all abbreviations, and M.K doesn't really suggest anything. Nor does Vijitha.V!
Speaking of which, when you write JFK, it is fine to write it without the periods!

(Confused? English is confusing!)


I lost my debit card (something that happened a few days ago), and got it back too (!), all in a matter of… 60 seconds!

60 seconds because I realized that I had lost it, and then got it back, all at the same time. The funny thing is that I hadn’t realized it was missing until it was brought to my apartment. An Infoscion we know, who lives in the block next to ours, brought it to me. How? Her husband found it on the road!

You see, I’ve this purse that has a strap that can be slung around the wrist, and that’s how I usually carry it with me. There have been several times before where I’ve realized that I forget to zip it. So I’m assuming that’s what happened this time around too. I did some shopping near the other office and must’ve dropped it on the way back. But thankfully for me the card went into the right hands!

But then, I realized another thing. There is another MAJOR factor that ensured that I got that card back. My SIGNATURE!! Yes, that’s right. Go ahead, check your debit card if you don’t believe me. Barring that signature at the back, what can possibly (immediately) indicate who it belongs to??? I have always been advised by my dad to keep a “complicated” signature so that it cannot be forged (yes yes, he has a complex one!). I’ve been mocked by a few friends, because I literally “write my name” for a sign. Yea, my signature is a very-obvious Vijitha V. (in cursive writing!). I have not been successful at creating a signature that resembled a kid's doodle or scribble. Primarily because I can never, ever, reproduce the gibberishes I’ve tried the second time around (and there’s every possibility that I will be ‘caught’ for forgery if I’m unable to replicate my own signature)! So, sadly, I had resigned to the fact that my signature ain’t gonna be ‘fancy’ way back in 1999 (while renewing my passport, and subsequently for the Board Exams). But…THANK GOD for that! Simple is indeed beautiful!

So in short, these two things worked for me… Amen!

December 8, 2010


What do you do when you feel you need some time by yourself?

When you feel you need to ‘relax’ or ‘unwind’?
When you feel you need to ‘sort things out’ in your head?

Read? Listen to music? Watch TV? Go on a drive? Talk to someone you’re close to?

I clean.


That is when he always felt most alive.

When the air rushed through his hair.
When he saw the world whiz past him in a sequence of blurs.
When he felt the sheer exhilaration of speed.

When he felt that he was suspended in space – feeling light, yet rooted.

He always enjoyed his journeys on the footboard of that bus.
But not for
Those tiring long hours of standing.

The pollution, the dust, the grime.
Being a constant lookout for the driver.

But for moments like these.

The several trips they made seemed tolerable only because of this. He always waited for the highways. Those were stretches of road he could stretch himself – extend his arm that clasped the handle of the door, outstretch the other arm, teeter at the edge of the last step…and take in the road and the winds, all to himself.

He was used to the typical stares and the perplexed looks on the faces of passengers… like right now. They probably think he’s absurd, weird or plain mad, he thought. He chuckled. As he looked inside the bus, he noticed a girl staring at him. That look in her eyes - he could not define. She did not seem shocked or amazed. And yet, her eyes were fixed on him, anticipating something. Ignoring that, he stretched his hands out and swung outside to catch the breeze.

The sound of a thud was heard. The bus screeched to a halt a few metres ahead.
That was the end of when he’d felt most alive.

November 16, 2010


“Do I look pretty mommy?”
“Why dear, you are the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. And now… it’s time for your beauty sleep. Here’s Mr. Teddy!”. She kept aside the story book and tucked her in, nice and warm. She gave her the customary 'good night kiss'. 
“Good night sweety. I love you.”
“Love you too mommy.”

As the doors closed in quietly and it became dark, she looked outside the window into the starry night. She knew she had her angel with her… always. She knew that she did not look beautiful. And yet… she believed it. Because she knew her mother meant it every time she said it.

She closed her eyes shut and tried to think less of the day ahead of her tomorrow. One of those at the hospital for a chemotherapy session, to cure her of her leukaemia.

November 2, 2010

The Call

"Aap jis number par baat karna chaahte hai, woh call nahi utha rahe hai. Kripaya thodi der baad koshish kare."
"The number that you are trying to reach is currently not answering your call. Please try later."
Why don't they tell you why the number is not answering as well?, she rued. She had listened to this pre-recorded message for the sixth time today. She couldn't fathom what was keeping him so busy that he could not even attend a call, for how-so-ever brief a period. Or was it that he did not want to talk to her? She shuddered at that thought. She'd much prefer the first one.
Granted that a petty squabble had left both of them slightly hurt... and uncomfortable. But she knew that both of them usually bounced off it in no time.

She took her cellphone yet another time, certain that she'd listen to the unapologetic female monotone at the other end... but yet, praying and hoping that this time it'd be different.

*** *** ***

The phone rang again. The cellphone vibrated on a blood-stained male body against the steering wheel. On the seat beside him was a bunch of white lilies that had begun to fade; and a box with an engagement ring. The sound of the stream was the only other sound that broke the eerie silence...


He did not feel sleepy at all.

Despite the fact that it had been three days since he had slept. Despite the powerful sedatives he was given to calm himself down and get some rest, it was like he’d never been more alert in his life. He looked at his watch. 3:55 a.m. The hospital corridor seemed deserted at this hour of the day. Barring another woman sitting opposite him, no one was around. The old, once-white rickety bench creaked under his weight. He didn’t know how long he’d been sitting in the same spot, in the same manner. He vaguely remembered his family asking him to rest, to sleep; the nurse giving him those shots… But he was too scared to close his eyes, lest something bad should befall if he did. There were several questions that needed answers. And the only person who could possibly answer them lie on a white bed, shrouded in a white gown… in the ICU.

He tried to recollect that morning. Was there anything unusual that day? Or did he miss something? She was up early, as usual, and had his lunch prepared, packed and on the table by the time he got ready and sat down for breakfast. Then, he got busy with the newspaper. He did look up at her just the once, when she enquired if he wanted one more idli. Maybe she did seem a tad gloomy. Come to think of it, she had been less talkative for a while now. Funny that he hadn’t really noticed it… until now. And then that thought disturbed him – had he really stopped caring about her?? She was a regular presence in the house – like the furniture, or the upholstery. His sales job and the targets demanded so much of his time that he did not bother much about running their household…or about her. But she…she had been like a rock all this while – capable…dependable.

His mind wandered… and began to recollect the initial period of their married life. He knew he was a lucky man, for she had stepped into his life. But… how lucky was he for her? His heart writhed in the pain of his remorse. He could never forgive himself for being the reason why she decided to end her life… If only he had realized her true worth, maybe… He silently prayed to all those Gods he had detested. Taunted them even, to prove their existence. He knew he’d never wish for anything bigger in his life.

And before he knew, dawn broke. And slowly the hospital prepared itself for the maddening frenzy. People who suffered, and those who suffered because of them, buzzed around the place. He would hear the occasional wails and cries that terrified his already jaded nerves. Dr. Varma was approaching him. He scrutinized his face for some sign. Was it bad news or good? He couldn’t quite discern. “She has finally opened her eyes. You may see her now.” He just closed his eyes tight and clenched the doctor’s hands…unable to get a grip over his feelings. “And yes, she is weak and I cannot say anything conclusive just yet. It’s not advisable to get her excited or to overwhelm her. I would recommend that you see her and leave soon.

As he stepped into the room he noticed the pale figure amidst all the medical paraphernalia. She turned her head towards the door, and their eyes met. She looked back at him… helplessly. All his questions disappeared. He folded his hands in forgiveness. He took her hands in his, and stayed with her for a while. She knew that things would change… for the better. And they both sobbed quietly, washing away all their worries.

October 7, 2010

One Beautiful Morning...

It’s summer. I wake up to the chirping of the birds that I’m used to at this time of the year. I rub my eyes open and stretch myself. I go upto the window and look out. A few of the regulars are on their rounds of morning walk. I drum idly on the window sill and look back at the bed. He’s still asleep. I feel the urge to wake him up. And what better way than to kiss! He smiles…and I know he’s awake now, alright.

What do you want for breakfast, hon?
You really don’t have to make me breakfast. I can have it from the office, you know. Don’t bother. Sleep some more.
By the time I’m out of the shower, I realize that breakfast is almost ready. The smell of sausages, fried eggs and toast waft in the house. Umm-hmmmm… my favourite. He really didn’t have to…

As I step into the kitchen I see him seated at the kitchen table, waiting for me to join in. Breakfast is served and he begins to ask me about my day at office yesterday. And I think to myself – I am indeed lucky. Being a very skilled and creative graphic designer he had managed to find himself quite a number of freelance assignments that let him work from home. It was I who went to office, and yes, my job paid better. All that didn’t concern him. He enjoyed what he did. Period. I can’t say that about myself, though. But the money was important to me… to us.

He pours me my second glass of freshly squeezed orange juice. And all my intentions to resist fail. He knows me all too well, I shouldn’t even try to fuss… I smile. We begin catching up on friends and family. I just wished we’d get some more time to spend with each other. Suddenly he stops mid-sentence, and looks at the clock on the wall.

 “... and what Susan told me after that… I will tell you when you’re back! You don’t want to be late for the ‘all-important meeting’, now, do you??” Oh, nooo… I sigh and reluctantly pick up my bag. “You better finish your tale when I’m back mister!” He grins. “Yea, yea…run along now. See you soon!

He comes to the door to see me off. “Now you go and do your work too!”, I shout from the car. He does a thumbs-up. As I pull away I look back and catch him turn around his wheel-chair and go in.

September 24, 2010


I feel like the place is closing in on me. I feel like the air around me is thinning; I feel breathless, almost suffocated. My mind is in a frenzy, bordering on paranoia. I feel like I have to escape! Break free! But I look around. Everything is ‘normal’ outside. No one seems to notice, or even understand. It’s just a matter of the mind… all in my mind.
This is no sci-fi short story. It is my reality.

I am mildly claustrophobic. No… wait, make that claustrophobic (without the ‘mild’). It is kinda embarassing, but that’s the truth. I really don’t know when it began or when I realized it. But it’s something I have to admit (and live with).

It’s not a situation I find myself often in. But when I do, it’s difficult to control what I think. It has changed my life in small ways:

I do not travel in the rearmost seats of SUV type vehicles like the Xylo, Scorpio, etc. or 8-seaters like the Innova, Omni, etc. The fact that it it has no open windows and is ‘closed in’ from all four sides - windows that can’t be opened, the door and the seats in front - is enough reason for me to panick. (And when I do sit in the middle set of seats, I prefer sitting near the window.)

I do not enter very small lifts. Some shops or places have very small lifts where people need to cram together. I try and avoid those. And some kind of lifts (even though moderately spacious) may freak me out if I feel a sense of being ‘locked in’. Lifts, in general, can cause me to be anxious (because I imagine scenarios of me getting ‘stuck’ in there). Infy lifts, thankfully, are not that kind.

I avoid crowded buses or trains. There have been times when I was in a really crowded bus/train and have had small bouts of anxiety creeping up.

There was this one time we went to Palani (this summer). Usually we climb all the way up to the top (to those who have been there know what I’m talking about – the steep climb which is a workout in itself!). But this time we did not, owing to an injury my mom sustained on her leg. We decided to go by a ‘winch’ (that’s what it’s called there). It’s actually something that looks like little compartments/bogies in a train and is mechanically pulled up all the way upto the top (and down) of the Palani hill. I found the 10 + 10 mins travel in that the longest!

Aeroplanes are another issue. During my childhood travels from Dubai to India and back, I’d never faced this problem (thank God for that!). But recently I discovered that it isn’t so. I was boarding a flight to Hyderabad (for my training) and as soon as I stepped into the plane, it hit me. I even thought of stepping out! Since that was a really dumb option, I convinced myself (logically) to ignore any issues. I kept reading a magazine, and then slept a bit to distract myself.

Another anxiety, a variant of this (that I share with my mom), is a kind of suffocation that is felt when the power goes – when it becomes pitch dark, with no air circulation/movement.

There was this reality show on NDTV Imagine - Raaz Pichhle Janam Ka, whose print ads I used to see (haven’t seen the show yet though - want to catch Season 2 which is set to be aired beginning October first week). It's based on past life regression, the underlying concept being that our fears, phobias and even physical ailments in our present day lives have their roots in our previous life/lives. One ad even said that the phobias in our current life has something to do with the way we died in our previous life. On seeing that I was quite convinced that I was strangled to death in a reaaally dark and small dungeon! Now, only if I could participate in the show and confirm that!

September 18, 2010

Dangerously low...

... that's how people today prefer to wear their pants (boys/men and girls/women alike). Or should I make that "ridiculously low" ? I'm no fashion freak and don't really care about how people 'choose' to dress. But recently I happened to see a guy that had me going in splits (well, inside... I couldn't laugh out that loud in public transport - more specifically a bus).

Here I was travelling by bus, on my way to the railway station from office. This area where my office is, is no metro or nothing nearly 'yo'. A remote area, which maybe called more orthodox than modern. At a stop a few guys got onto the bus. College students, perhaps. And incidentally I happened to look at them. I almost grinned, and then caught myself. I looked around... Did no one see? Did no one notice? The lady next to me was as amused as I was. Ah, someone who shares my views. She had this smile she was trying hard to control and kept looking at a fellow a couple of times. Then she turned her attention back to the child on her lap. 

There was this guy among the lot who had his pants real low. And I mean real low. Every now and then he'd touch his rear end just to make sure that the pants were at the 'right' place. 'Right' being a point just below where his shirt ended and his butt-crack began (I presume).  I don't know why he was so worried - he also had a belt on, to hold his pant at that precarious position! He looked weird, to say the least. His pants were all crinkled at the bottom, near his shoes - like he was wearing a churidar; the part that is the crotch was hanging below, nothing there to 'fill' in the space. I don't know what the guy was trying to pull off. A "cool" look? Trying to show he was the "dude"? I wished he might've observed his pals. They were wearing it low alright, but knew how. 

Going onto another (kinda related) incident. We had this 'movie spoof' contest at our office. A team was performing brilliantly on the movie '3 Idiots' by fitting that story onto 'Life at Infy' and our DC (to be more particular).  Until the point a joke on 'bums' came around. The guy concerned was acting out a 'bum injury'. And yes, he had his pants low. The result? As he turned around and continued acting he (intentionally or unintentionally) flashed his blue chaddi (underwear), and a lil' more, at all of us, and continued to do so for a while. The audience gasped collectively and looked at each other, embarrassed. 

Now, call me old-fashioned, but I don't know why people have to wear their pants low to make some kind of supposed 'fashion statement'. I know that low-waist jeans have been in vogue for some time now. Maybe those with washboard or flat abs want to show it off. Their wish...totally. I just wished I didn't have to see what they have (or don't have!) underneath it. You know, there's a reason why Sunny Deol said 'Yeh andar ki baat hai' in those Lux undergarment ads. And I wished it just stayed there!

September 8, 2010

(A)Musing - # 3

I had just been to the 'restroom' (yeaaa, say 'toilet' or 'loo' and people frown upon you...Hey! That rhymes!) a few minutes back. And I saw the most ingenuous use of the hand-dryer. Yes, the thing that automatically begins to blow warm air onto your hands once you show 'em beneath it. 
Just that the girl I saw in there had her head beneath it! Yep, she turned the hand-dryer into a hair-dryer. And the restroom smells like the shampoo she used (whichever that was) instead of the apple-scented thing they normally spray in there everyday.

September 6, 2010


What a week it has been! It was hectic (to put it mildly), and interesting. I’d gone back home to attend a friend’s wedding. The whole trip lasted for about 36 hours, and I saw more of the train than my parents/friends/home! It was good fun though. And also parallely, there was quite a controversial love marriage in the family, the same day. Then I heard of another relative getting divorced (after maybe 10 years, or more, of marriage); and also about another relative, a girl who had married a Punjabi munda, who recently gave birth to a child and is living happily. As it is, I happen to be in or hear discussions on ‘getting married’ so often, what with a trio of us (my sis, cousin sis, and me – all of the same age) at the threshold of what is supposed to be the ‘marriageable age’ (or did we cross it already?)… This spate of family affairs lead to a whole lot more of discussions! All of it eventually ended in the same conclusion (as always) – “Vidhichathu nadakkum” (What is destined will happen). Relationships are becoming more difficult to manage me thinks...

There was the usual bit of photography sessions at our friend’s wedding. And when I checked out a few photos after they were clicked, I had this nagging feeling – “Did I…?”... I dismissed that thought. But my apprehensions were confirmed when I transferred the snaps to my PC, and my mom gave words to my thoughts – “You look so fat in these pics, especially your face.” !!!! I appeared to have gained so much weight, that a friend of mine actually called me because he saw these pics (when I uploaded them on Facebook) and was quite shocked! A couple of other friends too said the same. Not good…not good at all. For a change, my sister had a great time laughing at this role reversal! Hmmmpppphhh… :-S :-|

I hadn’t really ever tried controlling my food, as in a ‘diet’, or anything to manage my weight issues. That was until Hyderabad. There, I was somehow “inspired” after a diet consultation (during my Infy training) and decided to give it a go. For the one and half months or so that I tried it (combined with a lil’ bit of aerobics) I did shed a few kgs. My relatives back home did notice and acknowledge that I was looking ‘a little thinner’. And now this…! I guess I threw caution into the air and went back to being my older self. Sigh.

Anyway, yesterday we went to the Suratkal Beach and Lighthouse with my cousin sis' (who’s studying at NITK). It was such a relief and a good change. I don’t remember the last time I had been to a beach... maybe three years back. We first climbed our way to the Lighthouse, then went to a Siva temple nearby and then walked along the shore… It’s so nice to spend time at a beach – walking along with sand on your feet, feeling the wind and the waves, standing near the shore close to the waves so that you feel the sand slipping away from beneath your feet, looking about at others who’re also enjoying themselves, seeing small crabs run about in their typical fashion, seeing all sorts of things that get washed ashore - mostly empty ‘bottles’, plastic bottles, sandals/shoes (one of a pair), etc., people trying to fish, kids making sand castles (or rather heaps of sand!), writing your name on the sand, leaving footprints behind, collecting all kinds of beautiful shells, looking at the sun setting in the horizon, ships sailing… Ahhh… good times. Now I’m really jealous of my cousin sister – she can go so often to the beach! I was so excited I took about 110 snaps on my cellphone! I wish I could’ve uploaded them here, in this blog (of course not ALL of it!). But my situation doesn’t permit me to.

So I will when I go home this weekend (Orkut and FB, here I come!). Till then… keep waiting. ;-)

August 31, 2010

English is a funny language… (II)

It’s estival time. I wake up to the tweedle I’m used to at this time of the year. I rub my eyes, remove the rheum, pandiculate, accompanied by the normal oscitance that goes with it. I get up and look out the window. The sight is pulchritudinous! I thrum on the window sill and look back at the bed. I see my hubby fast asleep. I feel the urge to wake him up. And what better way, than to osculate! He smiles…and I know he’s awake now, alright.
Confused? That’s how English can be. There are pretty complex words for simple things/actions/words, you begin to imagine how difficult it’s gonna get if we all started speaking like this. The above para in ‘normal’ English would read something like this:

“It’s summer. I wake up to the chirping I’m used to at this time of the year. I rub my eyes, remove that dried thing near my eyes, stretch, accompanied by the normal yawn that goes with it. I get up and look out the window. The sight is beautiful! I drum idly on the window sill and look back at the bed. I see my hubby fast asleep. I feel the urge to wake him up. And what better way, than to kiss! He smiles…and I know he’s awake now, alright.”
(You be the judge…which one was better?)

Jokes apart, I’ve seen quite a few people write like this. And by ‘this’ I mean a “thesaurasized” version of what they had in mind. They feel that using high-funda English words in their narrative makes quite the ‘impression’. Frankly speaking, seeing such ‘attempts’ at seeming good at English disgusts me no end. These are the kind of people who (I believe) are ready with a thesaurus or MS Word at their disposal. Write a plain English word, “right click - synonyms - select”… and they think they’re good to go. Who are they trying to fool? I mean, especially when your friends/acquaintence know how good a vocab you actually have, or know your propensity towards books/reading…. I wonder. Anyways, seeing such articles/write-ups cracks me up and I have a good time reading those, especially when words have been used in contexts in which they are not usually used! (Sorry, can’t think of an example now!). Writing well is more than using complex/complicated words… it’s an art. Something that won’t stop at just knowing (or mugging up) diffcult words and their meanings. And yes, sometimes saadgi mein sundarta hai (there’s beauty in simplicity).

Another thing that amuses me is the Dictionary. Yes, it’s been a good friend of mine (and many more, I’m sure). We look up words we don’t know and it enlightens us. But on the flip side, the simplest of things appear most complicated. One of the things I occasionally do to amuse myself (when I’m bored) is to find the definitions of common English words (and yea, this began way before Aamir and Omi in ‘3 Idiots’ and the whole ‘machine’ definition thing). If you don’t believe me, sample a couple:

Eye - the organ of sight, in vertebrates typically one of a pair of spherical bodies contained in an orbit of the skull and in humans appearing externally as a dense, white, curved membrane, or sclera, surrounding a circular, colored portion, or iris, that is covered by a clear, curved membrane, or cornea, and in the center of which is an opening, or pupil, through which light passes to the retina.
Now you begin to wonder why poets and those in love sing praises of those pair of ‘organs’!

Walk - to advance or travel on foot at a moderate speed or pace; proceed by steps; move by advancing the feet alternately so that there is always one foot on the ground in bipedal locomotion and two or more feet on the ground in quadrupedal locomotion.
What an explanation! ;-) Kinda reminds me of manuals. Lol!

Try out more for yourself. There… one more thing you may do when you’re bored. :-P

English is a funny language… (I)

… and it gets funnier by the day! Most of us have come across forward e-mail messages or newpaper articles on why English is a funny language. Recently I happened to come across new words that have been coined, which only confirm that. Presenting to you a few words that are the result of man’s irresistable and insatiable tendency to make it ‘easier’ to communicate (read ‘coming up with new words that sound funny or are hard to remember’)!

Technology (and the internet, in specific) has forced Oxford Dictionary and the likes to come up with words for fairly regular technology-related occurences. Sample these (mostly conjugation of words):

Favicon – this is the small icon you see in the address bar of the browser while you’re accessing a site or while saving it in bookmarks/favouritizing it. The easiest means by which you can make out which site it is when you have a number of tabs open in a browser.

Freemium – anything from matrimonial sites to downloads (music/movies) and image/video hosting sites are based on it - basic features being free and advanced features being charged for!

Screenager – every household will probably have one now, i.e. a young person/teenager who spends a lot of time in front of the computer screen! (You and me included!)

Infomania – most common mania now - constantly checking and responding to email and text messages

Nonliner – someone who rarely or never uses the Internet, usually because they cannot access it (something we dread to be!)

Robocall – Tired of the pre-recorded messages you hear from Airtel, Vodafone and the others? This indicates an automated telephone call which delivers a recorded message. Next time you pick the phone and realize it’s one of “those” calls, you have a term for it now!

Blackburied – means being inundated and exhausted trying to be on top of all your email 24/7 with your handheld mobile device. For all you know, too much of this ‘berry’ could lead to the real ‘bury’!

In a totally unrelated context, check these other words out!

Baggravation - A feeling of annoyance and frustration at the airport when your baggage has not arrived but the other passengers' bags have. What about waiting for a delayed bus/train, I wonder....

Staycation and Daycation – if you guessed that it has something to do with a ‘vacation’, that’s right. In the first one you stay at home and relax (or maybe visit places close to home); the second one is a short one where the trip lasts one day (no overnight stay).

Decruitment – antonym of ‘recruitment’…yep, ‘laying off’.

Flexitarian - A vegetarian who sometimes eats meat or fish. Hmmmm…so how about non-vegetarians who sometimes eat veg. food? ;-D

Freemale – Though the word suggests something totally different (!), this one’s supposed to indicate a woman who is happy to stay single and independent so that she can do what she wants when she wants. (Who ever came up with this one!!... Some 'male' who didn't like it, I guess!)

Gastrosexuals – Move over metrosexuals and ubersexuals. Meet the gastrosexuals!... A new generation of men who see cooking more as a hobby than a household chore, and use their cooking skills to impress friends and potential partners. Who said that stomach is the way to a man’s heart only!

Sandwich generation - A generation of people who care for the needs of their children as well as those of their own elderly parents. Wonder why they even coined a term like this…it’s been the case, atleast in Asia, for a long while, but yea, this generation may soon be decreasing.

Noughties – If you were to say that World War I was in the 10s, World War II in the 40s, and so on and so forth… how would you talk about the Sept. 11 attacks? It was in the … Clueless? So this word! It refers to the years between 2000 and 2009 which contain a 'nought' (zero), in the same way as other decades are called the 'thirties', 'sixties', etc.
Care to coin more interesting words??

August 25, 2010

Onam Times

Another Onam has come and gone. And you also realize that there are a few things about it that remain fairly constant... 
  • The countdown that begins a month (or more!) in advance for those who can make it back home.
  • The disappointment and gloom felt by those who cannot make it back home (and the ensuing jealousy towards those in the above category). Have to be satisfied with Onam celebrations at place of work or study (if any held).
  • The highly skewed demand-supply situation as far as tickets (plane/train/bus) are concerned.
  • The maddening rush towards all the bus/train stations a couple of days before and after Onam.
  • The feeling of relief, comfort and happiness (all rolled into one) when you see your family at home.
  • Shopping! (and/or gifting)
  • The rise in prices of essential commodities and vegetables.
  • The phone calls and SMSs to wish your family and friends a ‘Happy Onam!’.
  • People in their new Onam attire (Onakkodi) visiting temples.
  • A couple of marriage invites, atleast (it is an auspicious time of the year).
  • Traffic blocks and increased congestion in the city/town areas.
  • Lack of parking spaces (in the run up to Onam).
  • Auto drivers charging higher rates; refusing to take people to some areas (basically, longer trips).
  • The rains
  • Onasadya and/or Payasam – made at home or parceled from a hotel/caterer
  • Visiting paternal/maternal family place and having a family get-together of sorts
  • Not to forget, ‘Onam Special’ programmes on TV! :
Movies -
  • Some, rightfully called, “Blockbuster” movies being aired
  • Movies being aired as “Super Hit”, though you already know that they are “super flops"
  • "Mini-screen-il aadyamayi” (First time on the mini screen) movies. And you begin to think that it’s being aired for the first time on ANY screen (mini or mega), because you’ve never heard of such a movie before and can’t even make them out from the trailors!
Interviews - A slew of interviews with politicians, film/serial actors, directors, singers, reality show winners… Topics mainly based in/around Onam of their childhood times OR how they will celebrate Onam this year. Sometimes a normal interview with a couple of questions on Onam. Now-a-days combination interviews are being done. Also one celebrity interviewing another celebrity.

Satires/spoofs/comedy - Mahabali’s visit to the Kerala of today (and his ‘shock’ at how things are!), political jabs, spoofs of famous Malayalam movies in an Onam/political/purely comical manner, parodies of popular Malayalam songs…

Musical programmes - Film songs regarding Onam, or old folk songs and the like

Documentary/Docu-drama - This kind was mostly shown on DD. It’s becoming less popular (ever since the private channels broke into the TV space)

Regular shows with an ‘Onam’ touch - The anchor(s) of the show, participants, judges, audience, etc. come in traditional attire; initial part of the show has talk about Onam; then the show progresses as normal; ends with Onam message and wishes

News -
  • News readers/anchors dressed traditionally
  • News about increased vegetable and commodity prices
  • News about Kerala’s over-dependence on neighbouring States for the vegetables, fruits, rice, milk, etc.
  • The mismanagement of/problems in Govt.-owned outlets during Onam sales
  • Onam special news – amusing/interesting things being done across Kerala for Onam
  • NRIs and NRKs celebrating Onam
  • BevCo outdid previous year’s sales for Onam period (!!)
I happened to see more news than I normally would (thanks to my dad, more on that in some other post).
Some news that caught my eye this Onam: 

Tharoor’s (third) wedding – THE marriage of the season. Enough and more of press coverage for the most-written-about-MP of recent times. It was indeed amusing and interesting to see Tharoor and Pushkar look like twenty-something year old lovebirds doing the three pheras, enjoying the Panchavadyam (with Tharoor whispering into Pushkar’s ears), the Guruvayoor visit, etc.

Concern for contaminated liqour – A news channel happened to show briefly about the concern some youth had regarding contaminated liquour from BevCo (Beverage Corporation, for those who MAY not know). It contained some particles or so, the news ran. And I thought – it doesn’t bother them what kind of fruits/vegetables/milk/meat/eggs they consume. These can be highly adulterated/contaminated/treated heavily with pesticides/the result of excessive use of hormones… And you eat it on a regular basis. But this fellow (who got featured in the news item) was concerned about contaminated alcohol. Hmmppphh!!

Increasing sales of liquour – Keralites (men mostly, and now women too apparently) and alcohol are inseparable for the most part. “It is easier for a Malayali to convince others that he does not drink tea than to convince them that he does not drink liquour!” said a Special Report on rising liquour consumption in Kerala (The Week, a couple of months back). I happened to hear a debate sort of, regarding this on TV this Onam, what with BevCo continuously breaking records every Onam season. Instead of examining why this is happening, what is encouraging alcoholism, etc. they were discussing the numbers, purely numbers. Is the increase in sales (amount) due to increasing price of liquour or due to increasing consumption itself? … Whatever.

World’s largest Pookalam (floral carpet) – ‘Snehapookalam’ (floral carpet for love/brotherhood) at Kozhikode became the world’s largest pookalam at an area of 17,622 sq.ft, completed in 3 hrs. The area was divided into 400 grids, and each team was assigned one grid to be laid out. 14,500 kg flowers, close to Rs. 6.75 lakhs…

Increasing trend for parceled Onam Sadya – As years go by, hoteliers and caterers seem to be laughing all the way to the bank. People prefer to buy a sadya rather than prepare one. Lack of time, lack of know-how (younger generation), nuclear families, convenience… reasons are many. If you’re ready to spend anywhere between Rs.125 – 175 (on an average) per head, you can have an Onasadya hassle-free. Hotels and caterers have already started the trend of opening and closing bookings (sometimes even weeks before Onam).
Pothole protest – We’ve heard of several creative ways of protesting against the presence of potholes on roads. Some youngsters decided that for Onam, putting a pookalam around them would convey the message!

Vanara bhojanashala – At a temple in Shasthamkotta (Kollam) every Onam the temple provides a sadya to the resident troupe of monkeys in the area. They even have a separate area meant for it in the temple premise (the bhojanashala). The monkeys know when (day/time) to come, apparently. They come, feast on the sadya laid out for them peacefully (unlike some human counterparts you usually get to see during wedding sadyas), and go away after the sumptuous lunch. How about that?!

August 19, 2010

Tidbits - # 1 - Finger bowl

Finger bowl

Often when we go to restaurants, we are presented with some water and lemon at the end of a meal... Yes, the Finger Bowl. You may wish to clean up the old-fashioned way. I mean, running water, soap, gargling – nothing can beat that, right?. But still you sit there and reluctantly dip your hands in the lukewarm/hot/cold water (with a wedge of lemon) in the bowl kept right in front of you. You do not want the waiters (or worse, those you accompany) to think of you as dumb and ignorant - that you didn’t realize what it was for. And I’m sure many of you have heard stories of people drinking from it because they didn’t realize its purpose (after all, some water and lemon)!

Anyway, I've always been curious. How did finger bowls come into existence? If you ask me, someone who was plain lazy, or rather who “did not want to be inconvenienced” invented it! As always, I Googled.

A finger bowl is a bowl of water, usually with lemon or flower petals, which is used for rinsing one's fingers in between courses in a multiple course meal. It is typically served before the dessert course, on a doily on top of the dessert plate. (Wikipedia)

And check out this one, just for laughs (and it's kinda gross too)!

But nothing regarding it’s “origin” turned up. Damn! No “elegant” or “charming” story to this almost common-place thing? But what I did come across was this write-up: How to Properly Use the Dining Table Finger Bowl Without Making a Splash. (A ‘how to’ for using a finger bowl?! This one’s gotta be interesting!). Excerpts (with my expert comments!):

"Although the finger bowl has all but vanished in current dining rooms, it may infrequently be found in the finest eating establishments. Certain enthusiasts of high cuisine have called for the resurrection of the finger bowl."
You gotta be kidding me. I know several places that cannot exactly be described as “finest eating establishments”, yet they give you the finger bowl. She must visit India! We Indians are pretty smart at adopting such things. “Resurrection”?? Don’t even get me started!

"Antique hunters may uncover finger bowls, as they search through collections of old china."
"Hunters"? “Uncover”? I didn’t realize we were discussing archaeology!

"The diner dips his fingers gently into the warm water to rinse them lightly. Splashing, swirling and swishing in the finger bowl are considered improper."
Ohhhhhh… I see. So you can do nothing that will actually help you clean your fingers? Hmmmmm… Waiter, where did you say the washroom was?! (Now that I look again, she did say 'dip and 'gently'.)

"The finger bowl is not intended as a bath or cleansing, but merely as a means of preparing the hands for the final courses of the meal."
“Preparing” the hands?

"What is the purpose of the finger bowl?
The idea is for the diner to clean his fingers, particularly after a sticky or messy meal, such as ribs, corn-on-the-cob, fried chicken or shellfish."
After a messy/sticky meal, eh? Ummmmm… does it not contradict with the previous sentence then? The “not intended as a bath or cleansing” bit?

"Today's diners understand the importance of hand washing before meals and even throughout the day. In particular, families stress this, to keep germs and sickness at bay. This practice of personal hygiene aims more at the prevention of infection and illness than at etiquette.

However, those with the most discerning palates may appreciate the mid-meal practice of the finger bowl. Because the fresh lemon and warm water may remove food residue, flavor and aromas from the fingers, diners may go on to enjoy the late courses of a meal without distraction."
Ah!…NOW she clarifies. Finger bowl – for etiquette only. Those who prefer hygiene may use the tap! :-D

P.S. The views expressed are those of the author (who prefers the tap any day). You may disagree!

August 18, 2010

The Walk

She got down from the bus and started walking. Everything was going as per plan. Buses were mostly very punctual these days, she mused. She checked her watch. There was enough time to spare. The Express was due in 20 minutes. She could walk at a comfortable pace and still not be late. As she finished this thought, it began to drizzle. Shucks! She did not have an umbrella. Oh well…Good thing. It rains for all auspicious occasions; Rains are supposed to be a good indication. Her mother had told her something of the sort. Nice.

As she kept walking, thoughts began plaguing her mind. There was nothing else she could do, was there? She was tired of this life… this existence. No one had time. Everyone was busy. A few who had tried talking to her, listening to her never really 'got' her. And this from people she thought knew her well and understood her (better than herself). Others called her crazy. That’s when it hit her. She was alone… all alone. Like an island in a sea of people, was it?

As she was walking listlessly she heard the temple bells ringing and chants in the air. Has to be from the temple around the corner. Did the Gods know? What were they trying to tell her? Somehow she was reminded of her mother. She did not complete that thought, when her cellphone began to ring. Ma calling… it said. A coincidence? Did she feel it too? Her mother started ranting about the maid, the rising price of vegetables, family gossip… She played along, feigning cheer. Her mother sensed that all was not well. Anything wrong beta? Nothing Ma, it’s just the work. I feel tired… she lied. Love you too Ma, tell Pa too… That’s what she told her last, just before she cut the call. She didn’t even realize that tears had started streaming down her face. Maybe it’s a good thing that she didn’t have an umbrella… A dog came towards her, from the other side of the road. It briefly hung around her, following her a bit. Did it know? Could it sense?

As she neared the temple, she saw a few beggars right outside - extending their palms, asking for alms. But one woman did not. She did not beg for alms, nor did she approach her. She just sat there, by the wall, staring at her intensely. Could she see it in her eyes? She cut her gaze as soon as she could manage, and walked past the temple quickly.

She must be running late now. She checked her watch again. 10 minutes more. She was almost there. She started rummaging through her bag. Where is my ID? That’s all she needed now. She didn’t pay attention while crossing the road – she was too engrossed with her bag. A truck sped by. She tossed and turned, like a piece of vegetable.

Not the ending she had planned … but an ending nevertheless.

August 17, 2010

Lift Behaviour

Lift – Also called elevators. Commonly referred to as ‘lift’ in India.

Lift behaviour
- Behaviour exhibited by the human species while waiting for, boarding, within and while leaving the lift

1. Impatience – Seen mostly while waiting for a lift. Subjects are often found frantically pressing the button, though they know well that it won’t increase the velocity of the lifts. In some (extreme) cases it may result in cursing/swearing; opting to use the stairs (if the building is not too tall); or may even manifest itself as point no. 2.

2. Looking at display – Something subjects do constantly waiting for/in the lift.
- Outside – looking at the display to see when the lift will finally reach their floor
- Within – looking at the display to see when they will reach the desired floor

3. Shuffling/Shifting – Observed when there are multiple lifts, usually accompanied by point 2. Subjects waiting for a lift keep shifting their position so as to rush into the one that opens (or could open) first.

4. Awkwardness – Exhibited by subjects who end up in the same lift. Caused due to uncertainty regarding where to look. This dilemma is compounded if the lift contains mirror(s). They either look up (refer to point 2) or look down (at their legs/shoes/the floor…). Looking at the watch, reading something, primping, checking others out, whistling/humming a song, making conversation, etc. are some other commonly seen activities.

5. Forgetfulness – Usually exhibited by those who enter the lift in a rush, while talking, or from a floor in between. They forget to press the button to the floor they intend to go. This may result in increased irritability (and waste of time), as the subject realizes that s/he has missed the floor of choice.

6. Anxiety – Exhibited by those who are wary of using lifts. Those who are accustomed to it may also show mild symptoms when they suspect that there are more people (or weight) than the capacity indicated as ‘ideal’ for the lift.

7. Irritation – Exhibited by some subjects when they realize that there is a lift operator to ‘accompany’ them. Also when they find others interrupting the closure of the lift, as they come in one's and two's and end up entering the lift and finally stalling time.

8. Confusion – Exhibited by subjects when they don’t know which floor they have to go to. (Often occurs when visiting a new building, say a shopping mall/flat; also when the levels indicated are confusing – UG, BF, GF, FF, 1, 2, etc. OR -2, -1, 0, 1, etc. These subjects would tend to disagree with those agreeing to point 7)

Note: This analysis is not exhaustive and is based on a limited study conducted by the researcher. 'Lift behaviour' can vary depending on the height of the building, kind of lift, kind of building, traffic, etc.

August 16, 2010

Childhood Stupidities

As children we’ve all done something really stupid or reckless. And as adults, we look back at those times and laugh about it. This post is about something like that - the top three stupid things I’ve done as a kid (or rather self-inflicted ‘accidents’)!

No. 1 – Age: Maybe 7 or 8 years old. Mom knows better.
When we were kids, dad used to make us watch a lot of sports – cricket, football, tennis, WWF (now WWE), boxing, golf, F1… It’s a shame that we didn’t take to it (at all!) inspite of watching it so much, or having a mother who was highly sporty in her younger days. (She was a kho-kho player who represented her school at district level several times and also won many sports events at school. Her teachers still remember her that way. Oh boy! What a contrast she and us are!!). But there was a very WWF-inspired moment in my life, a stupid one at that. It was a normal weekend morning as ever. Dad was having a half-day, I guess. My uncle was staying with us at that time. He was reading a newspaper or was in the bathroom or something. My mom was busy cutting my sister’s fingernails. They were sitting on this sofa next to the teapoy (which was rectangular and had this thick glass on top). I don’t remember whether she was done with me or I was awaiting my turn. I was running around and jumping about the sofa (living in a flat leaves with only so much space). And then I don’t know what got into me (Hulk Hogan?). I climbed onto the top of the sofa. And then I did it. I jumped … onto the teapoy! I surely must’ve been thinking of how WWF wrestlers climbed onto the ropes, at the corner of the ring, and then leapt onto their opponents who’ve been just knocked down by them. Craaaaassshh!! Mom screamed. My uncle came running. I couldn’t quite comprehend what had happened. When I looked around, I found myself stuck in the frame of the teapoy, glass scattered everywhere. Miraculously, I remained unscathed, though the shards of glass all around suggested otherwise. I was shaken (and stirred, might I add)… the gravity of it beginning to seep in. My mom was upset with me, of course, but more relieved that I was unharmed. That made for a fine story when dad returned for lunch that day.

No. 2 – Age: I guess 8 or 9.
Dad used to take us to a tunnel (those who’ve lived in the Gulf know what I’m talking about) a little away from our apartment to play football (as in, we’d kick around a ball). One night after such a game, we were on our way back. He was holding our hands, I guess. We reached a road and was about to cross it. I let go of his hand and ran. I was mid-way across the road, when a car came speeding. I had no clue what to do or what happened. The car screeched to a halt. I was safe! My father quickly ran towards me. He apologized to the driver. And then he beat me. I felt really bad… because he never beat us or hit us often. Only very rarely, if he was that upset. And then I realized I had given him enough reason to. I don’t remember now whether it was the ball that I was after, or I ran on my own whim. In any case, I got to listen to the ‘rules to follow before crossing a road’, all over again.

No. 3 – Age: I guess 10 or 11.
We used to have a great time when we cousins met together at our mom’s place. All of us kids in the world of make-believe, all day long. Our grandpa’s brother’s house was nearby, and some days we used to hangout over there. This third incident took place there. It was around evening time. We were kind of done for the day after the cycle-racing, playing ‘family’ and playing on the swing. A few of my uncles and aunts were sitting around in the verandah and catching up over each others’ (and many others’) lives. We kids were kind of dispersed, each doing what they pleased. And then I saw the coconut tree, with the money plant twining on it. I had a sudden fancy for climbing the tree. I don’t know what got into me (Tarzan?). I tugged at the plant to see if it would stay. Seemed strong enough. And then I began climbing upwards (like in Raavan; much like how rock-climbers climb huge mountains; minus the harness and safety measures here, of course!). And the inevitable happened. The plant gave way. And down I came, with a loud thud! I saw black… I couldn’t breathe. A pain shot through my back. I thought I was dying! I lie there like that for a few seconds. I managed to sit, and then slowly got up. Thanking God that I was alive, I slowly walked back to the house. Some of my uncles/aunts saw this from the verandah, but they had no clue how serious it was (or I felt it was). “Are you ok?”, they asked in jest. “Yes, no problem”, I managed to say with false bravado.

P.S. There are the stupidest things I did according to me (or as far as my memory takes me). I do realize that my parents may beg to differ!