Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thumb-Indexing ?

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Published in The Hindu.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

From the window

Was taking this picture of the flowers on the tree just outside the bedroom, and got a bonus when the bird perched on one of them for just a few seconds!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Yet another attack...

What is there to be said over and over again, when we are faced with a situation that is becoming so frequent? It is so disturbing. So many innocent people killed in a senseless attack. Is there any solution. When will our politicians stop bickering and take some constructive action? Do we tackle terrorism or the corrupt politicians? Who is worse?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Purpose to Life

I am reading this book –The Hungry Tide by Amitava Ghosh – have just finished 140 pages of it. But I like what I have read. The author has this beautiful style of writing and even brings detailed descriptions to life. One of the characters in the book realises that in the Sunderbans of Bengal, she has gathered enough material to pursue her research which would probably keep her going for many years. Not any kind of earth shattering breakthrough, but data that would be significant enough to give her something to carry on with a purpose ‘It would be enough; as an alibi for a life. It would do; she would not need to apologise for how she had spent her time on this earth.’

So beautifully put. I like that. Having a meaningful existence. An alibi for a life.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

It is good to forget sometimes!!

I forgot!!

Don't be upset with that .... unless the person has forgotten it is your birthday or anniversary!!

An article in Mint states that neuroscientists say forgetting is crucial to the efficient functioning of the mind, to learning, adapting and recalling more significant things!!

I guess you could liken the brain to the computer. If one is to keep all the files, pictures, songs, movies... and continue to add more without deleting what is not required, the system will definitely slow down. Here, one could back up on a CD or add more memory but alas, this is not the case with the human brain. It is thought that if one has to remember all that has happened and store it , it could possibly drown you in a sea of inefficiency.

It is true that unless an event has made a lasting impression on the brain it probably would not remain in the memory. Trying to remember something that has been forgotten may revive some impressions and like a jigsaw puzzle may have the pieces, but in the wrong places!!

Most people fail to register all information at a time. In an experimental process when respondents were asked to focus on a particular activity, other happenings in the same sphere went unnoticed - a phenomenon labeled as “change blindness”.

Forgetting, strangely is a very active process, although subconscious. As the brain stores a small piece of information, it is at the same time erasing large amounts of irrelevant matter so that it can free brain power for more important issues. Mundane, every day matters are not considered important to be stored.
So, if there is an event you want to remember, ensure that you keep a journal with atleast some tab to associate it with. Photographs are also memory jogs.
If you have to appreciate why it is important to forget, I would need to quote James McGaugh one of the world's leading experts on how the human memory system works, who says Remember that forgetting can be very useful, : “If you used to go out with Bob and now you’re married to Bill, you want to be able to say, ‘I love you, Bill.’ That’s why forgetting is important.”
Moral: Remember to forget and do not forget to remember. And you have to remember what to forget and at the same time not forget what you should remember. Good luck!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Two is an odd number!!

Ah.... it is just the two of us at home and it is odd that even when 1+1 is two, life is not that simple. It did not seem so 27 years ago . The local kirana store supplied even 50 gms of whatever you wanted to buy. And shopping bags were lighter to carry. Now, one is drawn to the big supermarkets that have sprung up in each neighbourhood. All fine, considering the ambience, the variety on offer, the bargains and discounts. But shopping for two suddenly has become difficult. With the buy one get one free offers, another pack that screams 33% more , buy super pack and save and so on... we find ourselves stocked with food that lasts and lasts and getting stale with storage. But on the flip side, one discovers in the process you can overlook the use within 5 days of opening the pack which is probably the only hope for the manufacturers to push their sales and these opened packs last for upto a fortnight!!

I look longingly at the freshly baked bread loaf, draw in the flavours and walk on. When at times I succumb, I regret soon enough when the bread no longer is fresh as it languishes in the refrigerator.

Till I find a solution ....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Those school girl days...

Now, that is a long, long journey back in time. It all started when a classmate of mine tracked me down last week, after she found my brother on Facebook. It helps to have had an unusual surname. And I dashed off a mail to another classmate - RG - from class 2. ( strange to think that she is probably among the very few who have known me now, for over 45 years!!). And we started off on this nostalgic trip. She accused (:-) ) me of being the teacher's pet (Class 2 again) while she was harassed about her curly hair!! I had forgotten all about it. Teacher's pet? I am not too sure about that, but now that she brought it up, I do recollect that I was often asked to come and stand before the class and turn around so that the group would see how neatly dressed I came to school!! If only she saw me now! And strangely, all of a sudden I remember the class room so well.
We also had this so called secret group that we formed. Why 'secret' is something which baffles me. I guess it was the influence of the Enid Blyton books that we read. We scraped our forehead and had a nice gash (just the 6 of us who belonged to this 'secret group') which smarted for days. That was about all we did as our secret activity. And I remember the horrible sports teacher who slapped me. And the needlework teacher who cut my sample after getting the stitches wrong . I hated that class.
Ah well, those were the days. I am glad they are over. I still shudder when I think of some of the teachers. But for the few friends who keep in touch ... I am grateful. And I hope we have many, many occasions to meet.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I'll Huff and I'll Puff.....

Each morning I have vowed to huff and puff and get in shape. Our exerbike cum elliptical is the newest addition to the clutter in the house. After years of cajoling I finally got a serious piece of exercising equipment in the house if you discount the skipping rope, the weights and the hoop. So to ensure that the activity is carried out in real earnest I am ready in ( almost total) exercise gear , timer, mp3 player. Well, so far so good. It has been a month. The first day on the bike seemed quite a disaster. Aching knees and creaking bones ( from total inactivity for more than a couple of months) seemed to have taken a toll on the stamina factor and I could not get beyond two minutes of easy cycling and elliptical. And well, slowly and at a steady pace it has been brought upto 15 minutes. Hopefully the enthusiasm will continue. Hopefully I will get into shape. And I have to ensure that the bike will not finally end up as a clothes stand!! I could do with some encouragement too.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gangireddula Vadu

The rather jarring music and the barking of the neighbour's dog had me scurrying for the camera and I managed to capture the brightly dressed rather emaciated ox from the window of our 3rd floor home. That accounts for the criss-crossing of wires which I could not avoid. The gangireddula is the ox that is supposed to be trained to bow and move ( I could not see all that unfortunately). And one is supposed to feed the ox with the hand so that it licks the food and thereby change the lines on your palm and your destiny. So it is said.

Interesting. Wonder how long these folk arts will last. And how many would support them.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Exam time once again

The tone and irritation that creeps into the younger one's conversation is an inkling that she is burdened with some assignment or the exams are approaching. And with appropriate comments about how badly life is treating her.
I read this little poem in Young World ( and you may ask, why do I read the Young World!! - I generally glance through it!) by Chintan Girish Modi

Off the Mark (title)

I always wonder
why this report card
looks like a long math sum

It tells you nothing

about the games I missed
to finish homework

the pictures at the back of my notebook

and the poems I wrote to stay awake.

( I found this little poem very realistic!! I wonder how many of you feel that way too!) Whenever I pack my daughter's books each semester for safe keeping, I find little doodles, poems, messages scrawled all over the pages). In years to come, when she glances through the books, each page will have a story to tell!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

It's been some time...

It has been some time since my last post. I am surprised too. It's not as if there is nothing to write about.
There has been some excitement too in this sleepy city of ours. We had a big bird that made an appearance. The huge A 380 which flew low over the city and parked itself for less than a day at the Aviation Expo. We have this vantage view from the huge glass window of our office. For an aircraft that big, it hardly made any sound.
Also. considering the fact that in the span of 17 days, I have been on two trips out of the city, attended three weddings and an engagement ceremony, met a number of friends and relatives, read some interesting books, visited some new malls and played umpteen games of online scrabble. So much happening and no post?
A brief lull. I'll be back.....

Monday, October 6, 2008

Cleanliness is ....

How many times have we been exposed to that saying Cleanliness is next to Godliness. I was surprised to find what used to be displayed in the corridors of school or scribbled on the blackboard as 'thought for the day' has its origin in Hebrew writings!

And why have I brought it up today? I am back from a short trip to the temple town of Srisailam. And the lack of cleanliness in the temple and its surroundings strikes you the minute you enter the town.

Most trusts that maintain the temples are flooded with funds. Why can't a small part of the funds go towards maintaining the town. The trusts manage educational institutions and hospitals and that is very commendable. But the basic aspects of hygiene and sanitation in the town is overlooked. When other places of worship like churches, gurudwaras, mosques can be kept neat and clean, why do temples lag behind in this aspect?

When we have so many people going on pilgrimages, it is time that this aspect be taken care of. It has been thought that the slippery floors in the Jodhpur temple led to the stampede that took the lives of so many. One would only hope that the unfortunate incident has made authorities sit up and take note of the sad state of our temples. And action towards cleaner temples should begin NOW.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Do poems need to rhyme?

The younger one said that in her opinion, poetry that does not rhyme may very well be classified as text.

she may be right
it may be prose
not poetry ....
but would you agree
that what may
not sound good
to the ear
'tis definitely
easier on the eye!!

Anyway, I stumbled upon this The Famous Pig Song(Clarke Van Ness) and will quote a portion of it -

It was an evening in November
As I very well remember,
I was strolling down the street in drunken pride,
But my knees were all a-flutter,
And I landed in the gutter
And a pig came up and lay down by my side.

Yes, I lay there in the gutter
Thinking thoughts I could not utter,
When a colleen passing by did softly say
‘You can tell a man who boozes
By the company he chooses’ —
And the pig got up and slowly walked away.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A day in your life..

It has been found that people are spending more time commuting to work. Possibly due to worsening traffic conditions or living in suburbs to enjoy a better quality of life. If you spend 45 minutes one way traveling to work, then on an average that would work out to 24 hours spent commuting in a month. A whole day in your life!! So what do you do in that time? In Mumbai trains there are women who cut vegetables! A tough task for sure. If you are at the wheel there is nothing much you can do beside concentrating on the road. However if you are lucky enough to be the passenger, there is a whole lot you can do. Consider the possibilities or just ensure that you rest your aching limbs.
But make sure you just do not let the day go by....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Add the dash of colour to your food

An article in the newspaper today suggests that the curcumin present in the turmeric powder (Curcuma longa), known for the antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties may serve both as a preventive and treatment for Alzheimer's Disease. A WHO regional article points out that this could be the reason for lower incidence of the disease in India.

That is good news. There can never be a kitchen in India without this ingredient.

The turmeric powder has always been part of so many of our traditional practices. No baby soaps for the little one. A mixture of chick pea powder (besan) and turmeric with a little milk cream is applied liberally and washed off with warm water. As they grew and played in the sun, turmeric would be the solution for the sunburn. Sore throat? A home made remedy of milk and turmeric.

It is always a mystery to me, just like most other things, that men in ancient times discovered the miracles the world had to offer. And left it to the modern day human, with the sophisticated equipment to find out that they were indeed right in their findings.
Why on earth would they have dug out a rhizome, dried and ground it to make a powder that would have the world use it extensively and for some to fight over its patent .
That's beside the point. So cut out that extra oil, the salt, the sugar in your cooking and add the dash of colour.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Does it need to end like this?

photo credit: The Hindu images
I made a similar post last year voicing my thoughts about the Ganesh puja and the festivities that go along with it. It is sad that the idol that is brought with a lot of fanfare and the pujas that follow for 10 days has to end like this. Is this devotion of any sort?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Another blast !

Yet another blast in India, this time in New Delhi. Of course there were indications, they say, of blasts in major cities. And for the bombs to be placed in prime areas of the Capital, where I presume security would be very tight is frightening!
I often feel that it must be a tough task to nab terrorists and detect bombs. But with media coverage that is present these days there are certain issues that are brought to light. For instance, why are our emergency services so poor. The manner the injured are handled is appalling. No proper stretchers and lack of ambulances is a sad state of affairs. At least there should be proper training for para medical forces and ensuring these units be kept in ready to act in emergencies. With the vast human resources that we have, we can train persons and in turn provide livelihood to some.
And what about the handling of vital clues? Less said the better. The police are seen trampling over evidence, handling objects with bare hands!
Terror attacks may not be under our control, but factors under our control should be given total priority. Atleast let the government ensure its people that in case of disasters it can at least offer the best resources and care to those affected.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Birthday /premier anniversaire

139 posts. My blog is a year old. Happy Birthday. First anniversary

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Beep Beep Beep Beep yeah...

That is part of a Beatles song and could very well be what you would hear when the man is driving . Constant sound of the horn. He would whole heartedly with George Carlin, who said 'I know that everyone going slower than me is an idiot and everyone going faster is a maniac' .
Till I get my hands on the book - Traffic: Why We Drive The Way We Do (And What It Says About Us) by Tom Vanderbilt, I will be content with the reviews. I have for long ( seated at the back ) tried analysing the drivers on the road. Who would have thought that it is matter worthy of a book and a succesful one at that. The book has been written after great thought, research and surveys of traffic in the west. If only the author had spent a week in our city, he could have probably written several volumes on the lines of the Britannica Encylopedia. There would have been no end to his research.
The author says that each time a safety device is added to the vehicle, drivers get more confident to drive at greater speeds and cause more problems. It is indeed true, not just the car design , but in our city, we have most vehicles with a small idol of their favourite god, a lucky charm or signs that say Jesus Saves and vroom there he goes speeding with not a care in the world.
Quote -Researchers have estimated there are anywhere from 1500 to 2500 discrete skills and activities undertaken while driving. At any moment, as one is navigating through terrain, scanning environment for hazards and information, maintaining position on the road, judging speed, making decisions (about twenty per mile, one study found), evaluating risk, adjusting instruments, anticipating the future actions of others -- he may be sipping a latte, thinking about last night's episode of American Idol, quieting a toddler, or checking voice mail' . One should realise that at the wheel he is operating heavy machinery, not driving a big phone booth or a make-up mirror. Every glance away from the road, every phone call, every fumbling for your last McNugget, not only disrupts traffic flow, it boosts the risk for an accident .Unquote.
I have always believed that the manner in which a person drives and parks his car not just reflects his driving capabilities but also is a reflection of his personality. Those who are in total control of their temper, drive at a consistent speed, no speeding or squealing of brakes, are those most likely to be well organised at their jobs as well.
But when it comes collectively to the city drivers, I am left searching for an answer. My theory just does not fit in here. For a city, known for the laid back attitude, I cannot understand why most drivers are in a tearing hurry. They cut across, weave through the traffic as if there is an emergency, only to pull up at the side of the road within minutes, for a roadside purchase.
A reviewer states that reading the book may give some insights of traffic do's and dont's and one may just be a better driver and more alert on the road. And where does that leave me. Since I don't drive, I could probably avoid reading the book. As it is I am nervous and back seat driving has probably resulted in the receding hairline of the man.
I should continue with my attempts to solve the crossword and leave the driver alone.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Discovery of India from the West

I read an article in The Hindu that Joshua McGuire a double Olympian in fencing, former World Under-17 champion and the gold medalist at the last Commonwealth championship came straight from Beijing to learn the art of Kalari Payatu in Kerala.
He believes that it could teach him better hand eye coordination and agility which are important in his sport of fencing.
I am sure there are researchers in India who have studied some of our traditional sports like Kalari Payatu, the Mal Khamb, the Aranmula Boat Race, who could propagate some of the skills that are imparted so that we could produce some world class fencers, gymnasts and rowers . With yoga thrown in during the training we could improve their mental prowess as well.
It is strange that a foreigner had realised , just from a demonstration in Canada, that there was something in this art that could help him improve his game!!
It seems that it was not just Vasco da Gama who discovered India....

Friday, August 29, 2008

Game anyone?

We went out and bought Scrabble. And I won the first game by a whisker. This was a result of the obsession with the online word game Scrabulous. The younger one did not approve of it. Something to do with the IP rights (which is her chosen field of study).
But then I enjoy it and like Solitaire, this is another pastime that I can turn to and while away some time. I am glad it is not a part of Facebook anymore and has its own website.
I have always loved word games ever since I can remember. My parents bought the game when I was a kid. I think it went by the name Spell o Fun or something like that! And we played it till the letters got erased by the constant abrasion as we shook the bag vigorously and pulled out the tiles as we played.

With not many entertainment options those days, we had simple games and a lot of participation of adults . This was good bonding time with the elders. Some evenings we would sit out under the stars in the garden and play games like Buzz ( we had to be good with our multiplication tables) and Memory. Everything seemed to be related to learning and sharpening our mind. And it was all fun and the competition was intense.

Even card games had some purpose. There was a game of Etiquette ( or was it Manners?) where we had to source our missing cards but could acquire it only when we prefixed it with Please may I have the six of hearts and a Thank you if it was handed over . If in haste the magic word was forgotten we would have to give back the card and lose a turn!

More recently with my kids we have played Cluedo, Uno, Pictionary, Boggle and had just as much fun.

The irritation of the other occupant of the house (:-) was what prompted me to buy the registered board game so that participation of all inmates(?) was possible. And I hope to have more evenings of fun (and togetherness) and expand my vocabulary.

The online game though had some words which had me stumped - Jo (?) - sweetheart , Xi 14th letter of the Greek Alphabet - Qi - Chinese - circulating life's energy.

And when I am alone I shall continue playing with strangers with stranger names who type in messages like gg, gl, lol, ty. Who knows these words may find their way into the dictionary sometime in future!

Till the matter is sorted out in court, I personally feel that Scrabulous might actually increase the sales of the original Hasbro board game just like it did in my case.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bird Brained

Ever since we moved into our new home in March this year, it has been an ongoing battle with the pigeons. The balcony has a ledge and the birds found it convenient especially in the few days the house was vacant ( before we moved in) to set up a nest. Fortunately there were only twigs and no eggs and I had no qualms about dusting it off the ledge. Besides the mess that was created, they would fly in suddenly and frighten me out of my wits.

I first covered most open niches with newspaper. To some extent it worked. I went online and did some major research. I realised that it was a universal problem.

I read that that the UK Government was also troubled by the pigeons dirtying Trafalgar Square and at one time had four Harris hawks ( the air force - Stripey, Squirt, Nelson and Nathan) to scare the birds away. However some said that the expenses incurred were so high (£28 per pigeon ) that they felt "For that sort of money, you could have got a few MPs to run round the square all day chasing the birds away."

Some troubled souls online offered remedies like guns ( most effective they said) or pin tacks ( however much I wanted to get rid of them, this was a cruel method, I thought), soapy lather so that they would slip as soon as they set their little feet on the surface ( some found it funny!). I chose to hang some Cd's around. The neighbours must have thought I had queer ideas of decoration!! They did reflect bright colours as the light streamed on them. It did seem to work initially but they soon got used to it and on cloudy days they were of no use. Then I finally found some packaging material that fitted into the ledge and there was peace for a while. Since the house is locked for most part of the day the pigeons worked undisturbed and tried their best to dislodge the material. They succeeded partially and then settled to remove the sticks from the top of the broom that was kept out at a corner for their nest.

Not to be outsmarted I took some brown tape and rolled it over the top of the broom. I had a huge smile plastered on my face, but not for long when I found the birds trying to dislodge the sticks from the bottom of the broom!. And so the battle continues.

Well, one thing for sure, if ever you are called bird brained, take it as a compliment. They are definitely smarter and more hard working than some humans I know!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Stolen Antiquities ...

A remark by my daughter and the editorial in today’s paper on stolen antiquities prompted this post. The children had been to the Tower of London and they felt that they had paid a stiff entrance fee only to view the crown jewels of which most were from our country!

The editorial in The Hindu was about the reinstallation of the 1,700-year-old Aksum Obelisk that was recently completed at the world heritage site of Aksum in Ethiopia. The Italians returned the obelisk that was taken to Rome by the Italian troops. After successful mediation by UNESCO, the Italian Government returned the obelisk and also paid for the transportation and the reinstallation. The article states that not all stolen properties would have such happy endings.

On our visit to London we spent time at the British Museum and browsed the different galleries where some of the priceless antiquities that were seized from the different colonies where the British ruled are on display.

As the value of the antiquities is being recognised it is not surprising that illegal smuggling of some of the stolen treasures is on the rise and these find their way into private collections and shockingly into some renowned museums. Laws are thus being put in place to put a check to this. There are some like Michael Kremer, a Harvard economics professor and Tom Wilkening, a graduate student at MIT who suggest that instead of flatly banning the export of antiquities they should allow them to be rented. Their argument is that a poor country may not have the money or the know how to dig up, catalog and store the artefacts. And this might further encourage the smugglers to gain easy access to them. And they feel a leasing arrangement might infact protect the treasures! Interesting thought!

That aside, in our very own neighbourhood we have the Salar Jung Museum , where we have the largest one man collection in the world on display. The amazing collection is worth a view. It has been rumoured that when the collection was shifted from the original building which was in a dilapidated condition a lot of artefacts went missing. The Museum is one of the better maintained ones in the country. In comparison the Albert Hall Museum in Jaipur is a let down. The building itself is beautiful and imposing. Alas, the maintenance so poor. The beautiful collection of exhibits have no adequate lighting, birds fly at will and dirty the place, there are layers of dust on the glass counters, the description boards are pathetic.

All that taken into account, I know it may seem unpatriotic but some of our treasures are infact taken care off in a befitting manner and admired by so many at the British Museum. And to top it all entrance to the Museum is free! Until we learn to respect and take care of our heritage, we can leave it to the British to do this for us.
In return maybe they should give us a concession on the entry fee at the Tower of London.

A year ...

My daughter and son in law celebrate their first wedding anniversary. We wish them years and years of good health and happiness.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Photography not permitted.

This is a signboard that greets tourists at most Indian tourist spots. Most strange!. At some places they have an extra charge for a camera and a heavier fee for a handy cam. I can understand if you do not permit photography for security reasons at defence areas, airports etc. But at popular tourist spots? Most other places do not have any restrictions on photography at their international airports

It was most annoying when we had been to Jaipur. The forts were so beautiful and just waiting to be captured on camera. And you had some toughie checking bags for cameras being smuggled in. In the era where most mobile phones have built in cameras it seems so illogical. When you are trying to woo the tourist to India this is one rule that can be done away with. I have tried looking for sites where I can make a suggestion/feedback to the authorities concerned.

With wiki maps for the general public and satellites that can photograph all minute details on ground, it is time for those in the Tourism Department to wake up and abolish rules that were perhaps made in the 18th Century.

Monday, August 11, 2008

India gets her first gold medal!!

Abhinav Bindra brings home India's first gold medal in the individual events. A proud day for all of us. And once again the media has gone berserk. True the lad deserves it but before long he will have the MNC's at his doorstep with ad contracts and there will be award ceremonies in quick succession. We hope that unlike our cricketers the young man, who has had his emotions in control, will not succumb to the all the hype and remain focused on the sport and serve as an inspiration to youngsters.
We hope there will be a lot of introspection and pave way for better coaching of our sports persons ( he had a foreign coach) and facilities ( his father provided shooting facilities of olympic standard at home!!). Not all can afford that at an individual level and that is the least the nationals sports body should provide talented sports persons.
There's more to sports in India than just cricket!! Cheers!

The Howrah Bridge

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Breaking News

I read this interesting article in Campaign India. The author asks 'Why should TV channels outdo Perry Mason'?. He goes on about news that followed the bomb blasts in India. The TV channels instead of reporting news were busy trying to solve the case.

He says quote -Why do news channels feel that they need to “crack” each case before the official investigative agencies do? Why can’t they limit their coverage to accurate and timely reportage of the news and of the facts?I find it an insult to my intelligence if a reporter, within minutes of the first blasts, propounds a theory on why the terrorists selected locations a,b and c. I find it an insult to my intelligence if a reporter, within minutes of the first blasts, tells me who is responsible for the attack.I’ve used the first person singular, but I refuse to believe that I’m alone. I think it’s time someone said to the news television channels:“You are not the Home ministry. You are not the Central Bureau of Investigation. You are not the Director General of Police. You are not even a beat constable.” unquote.

News channels seem to have forgotten their objective of reporting facts. They seem to be eager to create news and sensationalise their report. In a recent case, they even proclaimed an innocent man a murderer
With the number of news channels that are available, it seems that they are trying their best to outdo the other. There are many instances when news on TV leaves one very disturbed. The channels do not seem to have any respect for privacy and treat subjects with little or no sensitivity.

It is therefore of no surprise that I turn to what are termed 'mindless programs' on TV for a little entertainment. And wait for the newspaper the next day, partly to read the news and more for the daily crossword.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Friendship Day

The first Sunday in the month of August has been declared Friendship Day. For almost the last 7-8 years a friend religiously calls to wish me even when she is overseas. My children were very amused the first time she called ( after all wasn't this supposed to be for their generation only) .
Even though we do not believe a day be proclaimed for friendship, yet the list of those who call or exchange mails has increased over the years. As a friend wrote in a mail I received today- fond memories always treasured keep our bonds strong despite time and distance.
That speaks volumes.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Sunday Breakfast

Breakfast on a Sunday ( on most days ) is the dosa. Sometimes the plain dosa and on other days the rava dosa, adai or pesarattu.
The tradition started when we got married. We started our home only with basic necessities. And the mixer-grinder did not figure in that list. We however received a tiffin carrier of dosas from my dad's place. We had a household help who would come on his bicycle each week with a tiffin carrier of dosas and accompanying items like chutney and sambar.
Soon I learnt the art of dosa making and this was replaced by dosa batter which we picked up each weekend. Dosas were restricted to Sunday mornings, since these were days we got up late and had breakfast leisurely without having to rush to work.
It was almost a year later that we bought our first mixie. The Sumeet mixie was the most popular brand those days. And the dosa making began at home in real earnest. Soon we had friends coming over for breakfast on Sunday . I had to wake up earlier than the rest so that breakfast was served at a convenient time .

I had a family with a healthy appetite which meant that I was in the kitchen making the dosas for almost an hour. And it is because of the Sunday breakfast that I never ever got to watch the popular TV serial of Mahabharat that was shown from 9 to 10 am. All that I watched were glimpses of each episode as I kept walking from the kitchen to the dining area serving hot dosas and waiting to hear the magic words I have had enough. After a while the reputation of the dosas slowly spread and we had friends (the bachelor kind) who landed up each week. More recently my (then) son in law- to -be who used the dosa breakfast as an excuse to spend time with my daughter . :-)

With the move from the traditional iron tawa to the non stick pan, the quality of my dosas did get affected. The oil usage was also reduced on health grounds. But without any doubt this is still the favourite breakfast snack at home.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ma (oh) thoughts on the Olympics

Olympics time here again. Nothing much to look forward to. It is sad that a nation of a billion cannot produce a gold medal winner. We would probably end up with a paltry tally of bronze medals ( if we are lucky). Who is to blame - the lack of coaches and facilities, the corrupt sports bodies. Considering this, those who even qualify in the heats deserve appreciation. The sheer grit and determination to have seen them through obstacles in their training should be applauded.
On the flip side, I have wondered if talent is going unnoticed. The person who jumps across the road divider would be ideal for the hurdles event, then the guy who sprints across in front of your car could well be in the 100 metres track event, the guy who pedals furiously and tries to overtake should be in the velodrome.
A sheer waste of talent!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Art class

The picture on the right is that of a coaster with the picture of the New Market, Calcutta. The one on the left was what was done during a power cut at work. It is larger and in ink. Posted by Picasa

Monday, July 28, 2008

Another of those nonsensical names for me....

To profess her love for me, the elder one got this

I like it!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

A day off

We took off today. For no reason at all. It must be years since we took a holiday like this - for no reason. And we just sat at home. We wondered if this was how retired life would be. Just the two of us at home, watching TV, listening to music, reading, no rush - sounds great and very relaxing, but I must confess it was rather boring. Is this how retired life would be , we wondered. I remember the time, as we rushed to work, we would see these old men in their sparkling white dhotis, sitting in comfortable cane chairs reading a newspaper, and think enviously how lucky they were. And now we are maybe a couple of years younger than those old men and I have my misgivings. Is it really a good life? We do not have too long to wait to find out!!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Simple courtesies - a thing of the past?

The other day I called to complain about the phone service. A government department known for their lethargy and disinterest. Imagine my surprise when the lady was not only polite but promised to have the problem rectified. I found myself relating the incident to many and later it struck me that it was disheartening that the pleasant customer service had taken me by surprise. Shouldn't this be the norm? I am baffled when I find a banner stating 'Customer Service Week' in a bank or a super market. Shouldn't it be customer service all the year round?

Forget organisations. At a personal level I find that simple courtesies seem to be a thing of the past. How many instances are there when you find someone trying not to meet your eye to avoid greeting you. Do men offer a lady or an elderly person a seat in a crowded bus? How many people hold open a door for others?

At public places we are sometimes shoved aside without the polite excuse me. At a show people talk loudly and do not put off their mobiles even after several requests. Niceties like thank you, please and excuse me are terms that seem to be forgotten . People jump the queue. Children are allowed to run and throw tantrums in public places while the parents do nothing about them.

Pleasantries are not about the other person you are dealing with. Whether they deserve it is not important. It should be a natural behaviour on one's part. It is a reflection of who you are, and how you were raised. And it is a trait that is worth passing on to your children.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wise sayings..

We cannot control or feel responsible for anything that happens or doesn't. Life is meant to be enjoyed or else God will be upset that we have not made use of something he has blessed us with.

I did not say it. I wish I could be credited for something as wise as that!! I had to share it with you.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Chennai Central Railway Station

Above - The Station then in 1920 - photograph from the Hindu Archives.

And now in July 2008

I took this picture ( as usual from a moving car) - I had read an article about the history of the station and had been determined that I would also take a picture of the station. Unfortunately when we arrived, we got off and walked towards the parking lot away from the main building. I was disappointed, and in the events that followed I quite forgot all about it.

Luckily, as we were on our way to take the train back home, this view suddenly sprang before us. I was not seated in the front, but it did not deter me and I dug into the bag and pulled out the camera just in time to get at least a reasonably good view of the station quite a good distance away thanks to a good 8 MP camera that I had with me.

Quoting from the article it was probably inaugurated around 1873. Conceived as a subsidiary to the main station at Royapuram, the building was designed by George Hardinge, a famous British architect living in Madras. The Central Station with its clock tower is an enduring landmark. The building has gothic elements and is well maintained. Its biggest advantage is that there are no steps to climb with luggage. Early on, all the best trains started from platform one. It is significant that all the premium trains now start from platform nine, 10 and 11 while platform one has trains doing only short runs. Interestingly, it’s the only station that has a platform numbered 2a -Actually meant for delivering water and goods to the station staff, the Shatabdi now starts from here.

The elder one would probably remember this station - the number of trips made home from Chennai and she would also be thankful that there were no steps to climb!!

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A wedding...

Back from a family wedding. Quoting a friend - once in a way we need some emotional bonding with the family - and we did this totally. It always surprises me that these days I look forward to such events. There were times in the last twenty five years that I did dread the family outings. In the early stages of our ( married) lives these outings caused quite a strain. I had to be on guard, on my best behaviour and so on. Maybe our priorities change and we appreciate what the others have gone through or we just mellow with age and are more adaptable. It does not happen all the time. For some it is quite the contrary. Thankfully I do not belong to that group.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Monday, June 30, 2008

Sights at the station

It has been some time since we went to the Secunderabad railway station and it was a pleasant surprise to see it all done up. At night when the darkness hides the filth on the tracks the station really looked good. I did annoy those who were with me as I took these pictures.

The Rajdhani train was at the Secunderabad station. The train that has been totally branded by Airtel with their message Barriers break when people talk. Great way to advertise considering the fact that the train covers the distance from Delhi to Bangalore. The cost is estimated to be Rs 6 crore per train and the maintenance and annual fee amounting to another 3.5 crore per year.

But the other side of life at the station - those who do not have the waiting rooms or even the confirmed reservation - use the platform to relax and sleep.

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ma (oh) thoughts - 3

Do your bit towards bringing down global warming and preserving natural resources and see it reflect in your savings. Turn off the light when you leave the room, walk whenever you can, use a single large load option while washing clothes , turn down the heat/gas when food begins to boil.
And do it even if someone else is paying the bill!!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

any takers for this one?

We shall never forget this purchase. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and we had just dropped in at this exhibition on our way back and were well on our way out until someone spotted this object.

It was a ooh and an aah and the salesman just caught the look and expression and let off his sales talk. It is from one single piece of walnut wood, exquisitely chiseled from Kashmir, blah, blah blah. Our man fell for it hook line and sinker.
It is not as if we did not appreciate the piece but for the price that was being quoted?? Definitely not thought the three of us and walked away. Only to find that someone had stopped and made the purchase. We were told that we had no aesthetic sense.
It still finds a place of pride in our living room. At least out of respect for the price tag.

Monday, June 23, 2008

A place so serene...

If only the lake was not that polluted. But beautiful nevertheless.

Taking control of our lives...

Was it a coincidence that I read an article about taking control of our lives and that very evening I had a person over for dinner who has done just that!!
First, the article. It talks about a book - The Secret, which reveals “the most powerful law in the Universe” as unearthed by Rhonda Byrne . The film and book of the same name ( I have not read the book or seen the movie but am quoting the article) suggests that we take control of our lives and fulfil our dreams with just the help of our own thoughts and feelings. This is due to what Rhonda calls the “power of attraction”. This law states that we end up attracting into our lives what we want with which we can handle our lives the way we wish to. We just have to wish, believe and then rejoice according to her.
And now to the person ( a close relative)* who I believe has made things work for her without reading the book!. She in fact did tell my elder one ( when things were not really working out) that she should always think positively. She advised her to keep talking and dreaming about whatever she wanted in a positive manner. Over and over again. And she said that before long the dream would materialise into reality.
If you go by her* life, her career, her plans for her family, you will realise that she had ensured that it happened just as she destined it to be. It has never seemed to amaze the rest of us. I try hard on and off to adopt her philosophy. It does not always work. Maybe the pessimistic Libran attitude is quite the opposite. But off late I have realised that if I want something very badly, I tell this lady and ask her to pray for it to happen. After that simple act, I am sure that I have put things on track and it helps!!
So, if you can't take control of your life at least entrust it to someone who can!!

Friday, June 13, 2008

A new home

As a proud mother, I watch my daughter and my son in law ( from a great distance across the seas) set up their first independent home.
It is an exciting stage in her life. And I am sure she will enjoy the independence and at the same time appreciate the luxuries of the past 10 months where there were others to share the responsibilities.

Let the Music play...

I went for the music programme by Shiv Kumar Sharma. He plays the Santoor. This was the first time I have heard him live. And it was a great experience. Sitting just three rows away I had a clear view of the instrument and how it was being played. He kept us entertained by his music and his remarks and generally gave the audience a lot of insight to the music he was playing .
The instrument originally comprised of 100 strings, but the present one that he plays has been modified to 87. He uses two curved mallets of walnut wood and with his eyes closed most times he twirled them around these 87 strings to produce great music. Since we just had a downpour in the city he stuck to the Megh Malhar raga and used the instrument to bring alive the sounds of rain and water by just varying the pressure on the strings.

My own understanding of classical music is limited. And strangely I appreciate classical music best when I watch the artiste perform. Off late I have attended Western, Hindustani and Carnatic music and have enjoyed them all.

Shiv Kumar Sharma spoke about the beauty of Indian classical music. The performances can never be rehearsed. He said that most times only the ragas that might be played or sung would be decided in advance. The accompanying artistes come to the stage with just this information. On stage the musician improvises the raga keeping to the fundamentals as it flows to him. No two performances of the same raga would ever be identical. It is therefore to the credit of the accompanying artistes that they need to be alert to what is being played and give the necessary support lending to the melody.

While the Hindustani artiste creates an aura about their art it is time for the Carnatic musicians to keep in tune to the changing times. Their performances are in no way inferior but they do not seem to get the reception the other musicians command. It is time they added some glamour to their show. It is time for the carnatic musicians to move on. If they had noticed, even M S Subbalakshmi , the grand lady of Carnatic music had her own style - the flawless make up and the beautiful kanjeevaram sarees were glamourous to her time. The musicians should take a note from the Hindustani counterparts. Change to more contemporary style of dressing ( Shiv Kumar Sharma wore this bold rust kurta with beautiful embroidery, and the stones on the rings sparkled as he waved his hands). Introduce the music to the audience. Speak about the raga. Add some humour. Keep the audience involved. And in the process keep classical music alive for untrained ears like mine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

if only it were true...

Cruella ...

I wonder if the kids perceive me to be Cruella deville.
The younger one called me from Delhi today. She said she had a stye and was wondering if she should take the day off. I asked her so many questions that she finally said, never mind, I'll just go to work!
It's something I just seemed to have inherited from my father. He never was one to encourage us to stay at home. In all his working years I had not seen him take a day off unless it was an emergency. He had a great pain threshold and illnesses and aches never got him down. Vacations were planned well in advance. No impulsive decision to stay at home. It did not matter to him if he had not availed a single casual leave in a particular year! There are very few of his kind these days. But his attitude did rub off on us. And I followed the same rules with the children ( maybe the younger one managed to stay back on few occasions)
The elder one was not given too much leeway and consequently did win quite a few awards for full attendance at college causing a cousin to ask incredulously 'you did not bunk a single day of college?'

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Develop the habit of reading...

No it is not really time for a sermon. Or maybe it is. It is summer and we have some young students who intern at our office. At first glance, they are smart. Very smart in fact, they look good, dress well, speak well or at least the first day they seem to. Just into their first week we find that they do not seem to be well informed about anything at all!! Most youngsters just seem to have lost the habit of reading. Maybe television is the main culprit . Most, probably listen to the news on TV and have even given up the habit of reading the newspaper.
There was this interesting article in The Hindu last Sunday in their supplement Literary Review - I shall quote some which really made sense to me. -Reading lists put out every summer by foreign magazines and websites frequently invoke — along with the perfect page-turner — beaches, dripping lemonade, hammocks, pools, picnic lunches, tropical cocktails and long siestas. No beaches for us, and perhaps lime juice instead of lemonade. And yet, how heroically we read on. But can books really help us dodge the heat? That they won’t; but I do believe they can negotiate the summer for us. Think of it as a summer project. Summer reading doesn’t have to be about escapist, dumbed-down fiction. Literature is an elegant escape, and some non-fiction is more riveting than pulp. The perfect page-turner can be anything. So, the real trick, it would seem, is picking a book that engages your imagination just enough, but not so much that your brain’s gears begin to overload. Reading is one of the last solitary activities left to us. Reading takes us deeper into ourselves, and so the escape we make is away from the world and a travel to the self — to the weather inside us.
How true. Reading should be a habit. Start the morning with the newspaper. And not just the sports or the entertainment page. Try making a habit of reading the editorial ( it is not very easy - I admit). This keeps you well informed. Keep aside at least half hour, sometime of the day, to reading. It is best to be a member of a library. We have discovered some good lesser known books of unknown authors - those we would never have bought - picked up at the library. And you end up reading a variety - rather than just one of the Jeffrey Archer or Sidney Sheldon best seller.
And make sure kids are exposed to the written word even before they can read. Just as soon as you think they are old enough to listen - start reading to them and watch them hang to every word that is uttered. As they grow older start with simple books helping them - reading along with them for a start. They should never become a couch potato ( after the previous post - I think it is unfair on the potato). It does make life very easy to have them sit in front of a TV allowing us time for other chores. But switching off the television and reading to the children would ensure quality time with the kids and putting them on the right track. It is only by reading that we improve our skills of communication.
If as parents you do not have the time, ensure that you send for the grandparents. They will do the job for you!!

The ubiquitous potato

The year 2008 has been declared the International Year of the Potato by the UN. On googling the tuber I find extensive research and number of books - one of them titled the History and Social Role of the Potato!!.

I have never been a fond of the potato unless it is in its unhealty avatar like the potato chip or the french fries. The tuber is generally thrown into the shopping cart as a standby item when nothing else is available and is useful when you have guests dropping by.

There is a Potato Council, a Potato museum, a Potato magazine - The Spudsman. WOW. That speaks a lot for a food that was discovered just 400 years ago.

An interesting story of how a french farmer decided to popularise it in his area. Parmentier acquired a miserable and unproductive spot of ground on the outskirts of Paris. There, he planted 50 acres of potatoes. During the day, he set a guard over it. This drew considerable attention in the neighborhood. In the evening the guard was relaxed and the locals came to see what all the fuss was about. Believing this plant must be valuable, many peasants "acquired" some of the potatoes from the plot, and soon were growing the root in their own garden plots

It is time that I treat the potato with a lot more respect.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Room with a view

The view from the living room. And behind the thick foliage lurks a concrete jungle!! Briefly, we can make believe that we are far from it all!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Summer Schools

With just a little over a week left for most school vacations to end, parents must be sighing in relief. The vacation seems to be an endless worry for most parents. Even so, the editorial of The Mint's ( a financial daily) weekend supplement Lounge - wrote in detail of the different options parents have for keeping the children occupied this summer. Options are plenty - there are dance and music classes, cricket coaching, swimming, personality training for those as young as 3 years! And the courses cost a small fortune. And working out the logistics leave the parents a harried lot. Sending children to summer schools does have its advantages I guess. There are some new skills that are learnt. For working parents this is a boon. But strangely mothers who do not work also opt to send out their child only so that they have some time for themselves!! That never ceases to surprise me.
I don't think our parents ever worried about keeping us occupied in summer. They were glad to keep us indoors, if they could, to avoid the summer heat. Children rarely ever said they were bored during the vacation. There was so much to do and no TV to distract us.

For me summer vacation meant I could get up a little later than usual. There were piles of books to read. Music blaring from the old transistor radio. The back yard was set up for the kitchen garden. Board games were brought out. Afternoons spent playing carroms and ludo. Stamp and coin collections were updated.
My grandfather's Underwood typewriter was taken out and along with the Pitman typewriting manual I would progress from the first lesson ( asdfg ;lkjh) to the lesson that would begin the use of numbers that were located on the top row of the keys. At this stage, each summer I would lose interest in my typewriting lessons. This continued for at least 6-7 summers. The self training has stood in good stead and my speed at typing (at the computer) without looking at the keys are a result of the practice. But I still need to look at the keys to type in the numbers!


For all those who thought ( including me) that the builders got the name of the apartment all wrong and named it Snow Drop - some facts. First, I think it should be one word - Snowdrop. A flower. A picture I picked off someone's blog for reference

And seems a popular name too for cottages and resorts in Europe. And if the delivery guy at Dominos sniggers next time we give him the address we could enlighten him.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Vintage camera

The office renovation is still going on. Found carelessly kept aside was the old camera - Kodak Pony 135. Don't miss the leather case.

I am not too sure who gave it to us. I googled it and got this link,

I also unearthed a Cannon super 518 which has a bid of $10 on ebay.

I remember the camera my parents had. It seemed to be a kodak brownie - a box camera I guess. The cord had to slung around the neck, the camera held between your hands at around chest or waist level and one had to peer into the lens from the top and the shutter was at the bottom. Many a black and white picture was taken with this camera. The reels were expensive and so was the processing of the pictures. Photographs were taken only on special occasions. It was an expensive hobby. It was a treat if one was allowed to handle the camera and that was rare. And to think that the brownie was a cheap camera introduced by Kodak - sold for a dollar!!
Much later my brother sent the Kodak Instamatic camera from the USA. The camera had no adjustment features - simple to use. And he was kind enough to send the cartridges too. These cameras were also the low cost ones and were not meant for long use. But we Indians ensure that we get most of a product and it was used extensively. However, processing the pictures continued to be expensive.
Of late, I have become shutter happy. Sometimes with the mobile and often with the camera. And the digital camera allows the freedom to experiment without the expense. And though most moments are captured many remain just images on the system and not in print.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Writers block

I don't fancy myself a writer. But I seem to have a writers block when it comes to this blog. I hope it will pass. I have enjoyed updating the blog with various thoughts. Till then.....

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The renovation

It has been two long months since the office renovation began. It all started when we went to order some chairs for our new home. Some work units were spotted and the action began. Delays with material not delivered, carpenters not being available have added to our woes. The summer heat, the dust have added to the agony. Now, the work place is finally taking shape. With the creative guy going berserk in his choice of colours for the interiors, the place looks like a huge playpen! And off and on we generally move back and take in the scene. It is akin to God surveying his creation from above!

I still have not got the chairs

Ma (oh) thoughts - 2

A chat a day keeps the doctor away. The chat with the offspring ( big or small) does wonders to the system.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

ma (oh) thoughts - 1

A new way to analyse somebody's personality - by their ringtone / caller tone.

What do you think?

Friday, May 9, 2008

Lest we forget.....

Some one forced us to make this trip. We were glad we did.
The digicam worked for a few hours and we have these images. We posed for several others. I remember them so vividly and looked forward to seeing them in print, only to discover that the reel had not been inserted properly.

It is ironical that the camera failed to record some of the best times in our life. And both occasions in the month of August!! Posted by Picasa

The Purple squirrel

I am reproducing what I saw in blogs of note - thought it was nice.

Praise for the purple squirrel

Question: Why is this squirrel purple?
Answer (choose one):
1. Because he isn't ripe yet
2. Because his mother threw him in the laundry with all the purple T-shirts
3. Because he fell into a glass of merlot
4. Because he became a serial killer in a vineyard
5. Because Barney the Dinosaur sat on him.
Correct answer: None of the above (but nice try anyway)
A Purple Squirrel is a rare breed, a one-in-a-million job candidate - as I have learned from reading the blogs and web sites of several recruiters and employment specialists. Our company is downsizing and I am making every attempt to get out before the Titanic goes glug-glug for the final time.
So I have learned something new and very useful: A Purple Squirrel is the "PERFECT" candidate who fulfills all the qualifications that describe a job.
In short, a Purple Squirrel is a tough nut to crack. I want to be a Purple Squirrel.

Who would not want to be a Purple Squirrel!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

The Red Pooler

This is a story of my elder born. She was around 5 months old when she experienced her first Indian summer. And she did not take it too well. She refused to sleep. It took us a while to realise that the increasing temperature had brought about the change in her sleeping habits. A friend helped us get a small cooler ( the person whoever conceived the idea deserves an award) and helped us set it up in our home. Since it was rather rusty it was painted the only colour that was available in the workshop and it turned out to be a nice bright shade of red. The cooler was installed and our little baby never kept us awake that summer. She called it the red pooler and we still often refer to the one we have now in those terms - though this one is a ghastly blue .

We are surviving the hot summer thanks to the cooler. I wonder how long the cooler will last. Not many are to be seen these days. Just like the mats of khus khus that were tied in the doorway ( when we were kids ). It had to be watered every few hours. The smell was heavenly and a slight breeze outside would pass through the mats bringing down room temperature.

All these have made way for the air conditioners. And those used to the modern cooling machines are no longer able to resist a slight rise in temperatures.

Aah the prosperous middle class. This must be the middle class that President Bush is now blaming for the spiralling food prices in the US.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

When I was just a little girl....

Long, long ago there was a little girl. Yes, one more trip down memory lane. It is amazing how the blog invokes memory - of images that were lying dormant in my mind. Or was it the passport application form that I was filling up where I had to write my parents names several times.

My father on his postings outside Hyderabad, would move there and my mother and three kids remained in Hyderabd, so that our studies were not affected.

I remember traveling with my mother ( I wonder why my brothers were made to stay back home) to visit my father who was posted at Rajahmundry. It seemed a long drive. And the sight of the river Godavari was breathtaking. There was no road bridge then and we had to get the car on the ferry and it took almost an hour to cross the vast stretch of water. The guest house of the Paper Mills was on the banks of the river. And there were steps where we could sit down and let our feet into the water!!. I was told that there were crocodiles in the river and was always on the lookout for one that might stealthily creep up.

During one of our visits, we were taken and shown around the mill. I remember the huge boiler ( these were days of not so modern machinery). At the end of the visit we were given a scrap book ( of purple paper). I had paper cuttings of important news items stuck on the pages of this scrap book ( with cooked rice used as glue) for a very long time.

A few years later my father was posted at Bodhan in Nizamabad, this time he was in charge of the sugar mills. Here we made several trips with family and friends. The ride here was also very comfortable since my father's official car was a huge Dodge car. (It was quite fancy those days and on one instance our car was actually mistaken for the prime minister's car and we caused quite a few scary moments for the pilot motorcycle rider since we overtook him!!).

The house at Bodhan was large and had huge lawns . The tracks on which the train with wagons full of sugarcane passed close by and we were allowed the privilege of pulling out fresh sugarcane stems and biting into them ( my teeth were sharp then!!) and juice dripping all over. Evenings were spent sitting sitting on the lawns gorging on delicious snacks. Of course an educational trip to the sugar mills was part of every guests itinerary. The sight and smell of molasses was quite overwhelming. I don't know about my dad, but this was a job I quite enjoyed. I had a lot of fun sitting with the receptionist (while waiting for my father to finish his work) and transfer calls with the old kind of telephone exchange. For some time I was also a lift ( elevator) operator. All this while my brothers played table tennis in the recreation room.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

idée fixe

a fixed idea that becomes an obsession
Some of the things I do are clubbed under the term obsession. I don't know if this is true. But now I have a word for it - idée fixe - pronounced ee-day-FEEKS. It seems like a more fashionable word whether it is an obsessive behaviour or not. Just like suffering from migraine or having a bout of food poisoning rather than a dumb term like headache or an upset tummy. They mean one and the same.
Coming back to the idée fixe that I am supposed to be indulging in - like mundane activities - cleaning the house, washing the clothes etc etc. All I know is that these need to be done - the sooner the better before it becomes more of a problem resulting in severe migraine :-).

Friday, April 25, 2008

The enterprising reporter

In an interview to the Times of India earlier this week, Nobel laureate Dr Norman Borlaug, father of India's Green revolution, said there was still plenty of upside to food production in India and there was no need for panic

This report in the morning paper today took me back to an incident that flummoxed my dad. This must have been sometime in 1973-74. The Nobel laureate Dr Norman Borlaug was in our city and he was attending a conference at the University. My father was to have received him there. My brother was doing his course in journalism and was working as a reporter for a small newspaper . He desperately wanted to interview Dr Borlaug and tried hard to convince my dad to set it up. My father was known to be a stickler for rules and ensured no favours especially to anyone in the family. He refused and did not give it a second thought. Was he not in for a surprise when Dr Borlaug reached the venue (where my father was waiting to receive him) and the car stopped , the door opened and Dr Borlaug stepped out followed by my brother!! Our man had managed to meet him before his journey and my father's colleagues who recognised him had allowed him to travel with the Nobel Laurette in the car so that he could have his interview!! That was my brother those days. I wonder whether he is as enterprising and aggressive now!!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Watermelon juice so refreshing especially when temperatures in our part of the world has touched 40C. My friend and I traveled by the same bus. I got off two stops ahead. But I needed to cross the road, the big front yard and many stairs before I could enter the old house of ours. My friend practically got off at her doorstep. I would always joke that even before she reached home I would have my bowl of watermelon. At times when the bus really got to her place early enough she would in fact have got to her bowl of fruit even before I had moved towards the refrigerator!! We talk about it even to this day whenever we meet ( once in 4-5 years!!)
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