Nov 24, 2010

'Cat'egoric denials

THIS ....


Dedicated to all happy-go-lucky romeos !! :-)


Nov 11, 2010

A story of exams in colleges told in pictures


Oct 12, 2010

The appalling fate of the apostrophe

This post is for the love and support of a long-time friend - the apostrophe. In friendship, it is but true that with deeper understanding, the bonding grows stronger. That is how we became thick friends. Out of many friends that I met in the grammatical highway, the apostrophe remains unique because not many people seemed to understand it rightly. It was bullied, abused and tortured. Alas,  there was even a strong movement waiting to just eradicate it from the planet. Its only respite and reason to live are a few understanding people like us. 

We feel for the tigers and small birds and oil-bathed fishes facing extinction. What about the silent murders of genuine language, friends? I, for now, raise my voice in favour of my friend apostrophe, at the risk of being called a nerd or a loser or worse still, a purist! Doesn't matter. It is for the love of the known.

Do you think Wren and Martin or Tholkaapiar did not laugh heartily for a joke in their lives? Do you think they did not love and make kids (of course in addition to making some rules) ? The point is they were normal people too, who were also smitten by the love of the known. They knew the language and its intricacies and fell in love with it. 

The apostrophe is now facing a three-pronged attack  from evil forces. Let me try to negate them one by one.

Threat #1. Problem of plenty:-
Oil is scarce. Apostrophe is not. Use it as you like it!
There is a great human tendency of adding one more lock to the already existing 1672 locks on the treasure-case, should a doubt just arise about its safety. After all, what stops them? Apostrophes are stuck in this problem of plenty with people in doubt. Who stops them from using one where ever an 'S' follows? Just Do It... O pity!
How often do you listen to people writing plurals in possession- apple's , banana's, martini's, masal dosa's .... Please note that these are rogue corrupt materialists who want everything in plurals and in their possession always. They are huge threats to the sanctity of the world and the recent global economic recession was a direct cause of their adventurous overdrives. 

Be frugal with apostrophes. You can't litter the conversation space with apostrophes just because they are free to use. Know where to use it and act wisely. In future, you definitely won't get a message like "1411 apostrophes left". But "1411 proper-users of apostrophe left" is definitely possible. 

Threat #2. There are enough curves already. Who cares? :-

There are enough curves already there.
Why bother for one more?
If you think its okay, THAT'S NOT! It has to be "it's" (or) "that's" if you were bothered about the underlying message of Paris Hilton's

Sure there is no dearth of curves around in this world. So if you think there is no point in bothering about another innocent unglamorous little curvy punctuation, (and if you think the blonde won't notice the apostrophe that you missed), think again!

There are too many people in the world who just don't care about the finer details. They don't bother to read between the lines of a loan contract and eventually sink the world in recession. They don't bother to  spot and appreciate the girlfriend's tiny ear-piercing from yesterday and end up breaking relationships. They don't bother to read all their answer options thoroughly before missing the "All the above" in the 5th option. The apostrophe is just another redundant detail that they omit. 

Wake up! Pay attention to detail! The apostrophe can teach you a a lesson of watchfulness. It can save your home, woo your girlfriend (only if you don't bother to bother about her apostrophe abuse) and earn you reputation and status. 

Threat #3. I hate possessiveness:-
Gentlemen, I thoroughly understand if you are open-minded and resent your girlfriend's possessiveness. You  may know to use the apostrophe but it is an attitude issue here with you. You don't want to show off possession. You are liberal, broad-minded and can go with anyone out there. The apostrophe is a sign of closed-thinking, possessiveness and obsolescence to you. 

Your attitude can be changed easily with a changed perception. Please do not think the apostrophe as your girlfriend's possessiveness. Think of it as the divine feeling of anger and thirst for the blood of the bas***d who takes your girl away from you. The apostrophe will look more beautiful than your girl's curves to you now. 

Have you ever noticed? The apostrophe's possession context symbolises a divine truth. You never use an apostrophe to show your material possession. It is "mine" and not "mine' ". It only reiterates the possession of the second or third or any nth person. It politely asks you not to boast about your materialistic possessions and be aware of the possession of the other man and respect it. Is it not the message given by greats like Gandhi as prescription for global peace and brotherhood?

As you see now, the apostrophe, my dear friend, is a soft and genuine symbol of abstinence, wisdom, respect to humanity, global peace and also your girlfriend's curves. There is absolutely nothing to hate about it. Please save the apostrophe!!!

-An earnest friend's open request


Sep 13, 2010

The atheist I admired at the Luz temple

Let us leave the arguments on which side I am going to be in for now. For now, I am neither an atheist nor a theist. This post is about a poor, cheerful, sentimental atheist whom I admired at a Ganesh temple in Chennai recently.

It was the birth day for Ganesha and the famous Luz Pillayaar temple was bustling with cars and crowd like his pot-belly. The time was around 9 30 PM and I get down from the 29C bus and walk towards my shelter at Luz Corner ie five blocks behind Ganesha. As I was crossing the road, I see a cyclist pedalling parallelly to me. As per the theory of relativity, he seemed to be static with my frame of reference as we were both travelling at approximately same speeds. But as per humanity, I sensed a different sense of relativity with the man.

He was pedalling with an old lady in the carrier, whose face was filled with joy and pride. This cyclist was talking to her as he was pedalling and I overheard the conversation as thus: (roughly translated into English)

"Look ! Look at the number of cars and the number of people here. All are people like you...Devoted to God. But not like us.. they are rich. Their biggest concern will be their posh cars and parking spaces even when they are waiting in line to be blessed inside. We are not like them .. We can walk in carefree and drop a prayer or a hello and walk on......

Look at the crowd. Look at the energy and life in this. Forget rich and poor. The festival is for all. What are you doing with your small 'pillayaar' (Tamil name for the Lord Ganesha) at home? If you want to pray and celebrate Chathurthi, do it in style amidst the big fellows in the famous temple.. Won't I take you here ? "

I thought at that moment that he was a pious god-believing mother-loving young worker-class man. In the next few minutes, half of my assumptions turned out to be right and this paradox increased my admiration for him. He stopped his bicycle amidst Corollas and Santros. There was no room to barge into the temple but the sanctum santcorum was visible through the grilled windows outside.

The cyclist finds a position with the best view for his short mother outside the window and talks on...

"Here you go. Now pray and talk to your God. Ask him everything except for making me believe in him. Don't try to go deep inside the crowd. They will squeeze you in the excitement.

If you want to pray, I will make you pray in style. Doesn't matter whether I do or not. I will go buy some stuff and come. Wait here after praying. Don't go inside. I won't be far. I will be within eye-shot only"

Now, hold on,  I thought he too wanted to wish Ganesh when he pedalled his old mother here. What made him bring his mother, who was praying simply in her home with her small clay 'pillayaar', to make her stand amidst the city's top richies at the Luz temple? What status is he looking to showcase? From his talks, I understood that his home must not be in a normal pedalling distance from the temple. So , why?

Whatever, I admired him for respecting his mother's (or anyone's) belief in spite of his atheism. For I know a lot of people who force their opinions on others in sensitive issues- be it atheism, religion or even an IPL team.

I admired him for taking the effort to provide the best Ganesh Chathurthi experience to his mother. How many sons at his social class would bother to make his mother feel 'a part' of the big society at least for an hour?

I admired him for his individuality. Even if he was obliging his mother's wish, he did not give up his stance on God and walked away with this knee-fold lungi to the petty shop at Luz Corner , within his mother's eyeshot.

Seems there were worthy lessons of life to learn from this lungi-clad athletic worker-class atheist. Let his mother be proud !!!


Aug 8, 2010

My angel's flower-bud sister

O my love angel ..
Your scent , a dew-dipped flower's name
Even a flower bud too heavy on your delicate frame !

Awaiting your arrival , 
Excitedly oscillates my life's beat
Chatting with the park and your empty seat .

At that moment
A shine yellow flower bud falls on your place
From the shade tree that understood my trance. 

The flower bud
Then looked at me with a smile reminding yours
Trying even in vain to emulate your fragrance .

What do I do ?
Command it, to vacate my angel's seat ? or
Converse with it to soothe my wait's heat ?

What do I say ?
That my angel is prettier than it by miles ? or
That both have beauty unique in different styles ?

To my relief then
You walk towards me , wings flapping ,
Aroma, Breeze and Delight as friends flanking.

Now I am confused .
Romance is best experienced in solitude. 
With too many intruders, are we diluting its magnitude ?

You come within kissing distance 
Are you going to blow away your flower-sister
Or doubt that I sought another company with a look sinister ?

As I twitch in fear
The poor bud melts in awe at your appeal
My heart captures the moment , savouring its feel .

Without much thought
At a gentle stroke, you swept the bud down the chair
The heart-broken tree cried and shouted it was unfair .

" O poor cute thing "
I empathise with the bud and hold it in my palms
And look up to see your eyes, fiery like nuclear arms .

In fury
You stare cold and walk away from me
I see in my palm , a cute yellow enemy .

Helpless , 
I blame the flower bud and the tree
And run for you on a convincing spree. 

= Writtten in Tamil by Vetri Kumaran . Adapted in English by Gomathi Shankar

Jul 30, 2010

When was the last time you cried ?

So I had a hunch that young men and young women cry differently , i.e. their crying behaviours are different. A study of buying behaviours can get boring after some time, isn't it? Hence I chose to do a small survey on crying behaviour. I surveyed a set of youngsters. 52 of them responded, 33 men and 19 girls. Interesting were the facts ... Lets see !

I thought men can remember more vividly when they cried last time - my logic : Tears and anger matter a lot when they come out rarely and hence will be remembered a lot. Turns out otherwise. 100 % recollection ratio in girls and men fall slightly behind. Possible logic (?) : You don't forget the last time you had breakfast/dinner (or) quite seriously ... girls keep to their emotional disturbances even after they cry it out or it is a victory memorabilia kind .. to fondly remember that i cried it out and now I am free from that head-ache and now looking for the next reason to wet my eyes.

I asked them what made them cry the last time they did. Not surprisingly, a majority of girls said 'Personal Sorrow'. Surprisingly, 6 % boys said 'Social Injustice'. What do I take from this ? If a child is spotted begging in the streets, some men cry out of sympathy for the child but the girls go a step further and cry for their pledge-related brother (All Indians are my brothers and sisters!!!) ??? Both guys and girls have admitted to venting out their anger in tears in near equal proportions. I guess they should be the heated break-up arguments between them . 

Surprisingly, men admitted to be moved to tears by a touching book or movie three times more in ratios than women. And we always thought that the women need handkerchiefs while watching tear-jerkers !

Then I asked what are the most likely reasons that can make them cry. Certain surprises were answered. Women caught up with the tear-jerker count this time. And they outnumbered men in all 'Personal' - labelled categories now. What do we take ? Women tend to cry out at personal issues and take a lot of issues PERSONAL. And men do the vice versa ?

The next question is the recollection ratio - With what accuracy can you recollect how many times you cried in the last three years? Men led at the extremes. 100% accuracy should mean that the issues had a huge foreground and background and still itch in their minds. <30% recollection is the casual 'I don't even know if I cried' types. Women  lead hands down in the 75 % recollection rate. At hindthought, we can recollect our breakfast menu schedule with almost this accuracy right ? (!)

Then we see how they respond if they were caught moist-eyed by their peers. Sounds like an embarrassing situation right? They say that too loud and clear. Interestingly, men outnumber women in feeling embarrassment, shame, helplessness and even wish to reverse the memory of their peer. I guess, women are quite cool with crying maybe. And men do crave a lot for support than women mind you ! While the women nearly match the men in all the above feelings, they show a very peculiar character in feeling angry (!) when spotted. O, we just thought they were cool with it ... O oh, they also say that women can't be understood easily eh ?

Lets see how cool they are . Strangely both of them find not many problems when their onlooker peer goes on to say to others that he CRIED and actually uses the word CRIED. I, for one, have seen many men evade the word even if spotted, blaming the dust and trivialities. Seems people are cool with it on the surface and then feel the heat inside. 
I remember an occasion two years ago in a dingy boys hostel room where nearly 30 men were packed in a lights-off room watching a movie called 'A Millionaire's First Love' (not porno , the lights-off is for the theatre effect :P ). After the end of the movie, lights went on and every single man in that room had tears in his eyes and believe me, every single man wiped the tears and blamed dust almost as a reflex action. Since everyone was on the same side, we came to a consensus of convenience that there was a lot of dust in the room and it had to be cleaned soon !

For one, men and women, though not distant as between Mars and Venus, seem to have distinct crying behaviours, distant enough to be in the opposite sides of the earth's spectrum.

So, when was the last time you cried ? 

Now say Cheers

May 22, 2010

Chronicles of a weak week

Health is wealth. Accepted! (out of experience). But one can not deny that today, only when that wealth gets stolen, one gets to steal some pit stops from the race. Of course those sick leave days are not all that sick. Here is how I fell sick and spent a weak week recently.

Wonder why I was despised so badly by a few invisibles, I was officially food-poisoned a fortnight back. The invisibles were truly invincible too. As a matter of fact, the above sentence is an upto-my-best attempt at describing energy loss from the body due to gastric problems such as nausea and amoebiasis to the least embarrassing extent. So, long story short, I was poisoned and had to seek refuge at the locally available panacea- mother's care and home food- to recover and write this chronicle. Lets move ahead to the brighter side of the dull ill days.

1. No work: I can't exactly say I was jobless- may be we can say I was workless at my job then. (For further details on this condition, please consult any nearest available software benchwarmer). So with a single e-mail and a bearded and tired status-proof visit to my employer, I was off-work for a week.

2. Home sweet home: Bachelors like me (eligible of course... but that is out of context here) will be accustomed to the "Elaichu poitiye da"s that greet them first up on a home visit. (Means 'You have lost weight'). My visit had an additional sentence too this time, "Nalla velai... Polachu vandiye da". (Means 'Thank goodness, you made it alive till here'). This gives a rough picture about how I reached home. This recovery trip meant a cut to most of the usual home-perks. No feasts, no sweets, no milk too. But when served with proper care, even dissolved idlis (without any chutney) and rice kanjis can taste like the elixir too. That was discovery #1 in this week.

3. Cousin company: Co-incidentally, my enemies chose a summer vacation to poison me. So I was thankfully blessed with the company of cousins and the vacation-visiting sister at home. The television proved to be dull, sickening, nauseating, heart-breaking and tear-jerking (due to the serials for my mother; due to the remote possession statistics for me) as usual. Henceforth, the fifth standard passed cousin assumes a very greater significance in making my stay enjoyable for me. Kids are kids all the time and this kid is an especially bright one. I still remember when I taught him social sciences for his V std annual exam. Reading about the climatic descriptions of the tropical desert regions (Hot and dry; very humid; scanty rainfall etc. ), he argued with me for long why our areas are not classified under this section. At the end of the argument, I had to concede defeat actually. No kidding with the kids , see.....Discovery #2 !

4. IV myth: Three years ago, when somebody authorised an IV for me, I would have been rejoicing. Well, that was college and that was expanded as Industrial Visit. Intra-venous glucose administration is not a funny prescription though. I tried not to capitulate to this IVfication, for I did not want to feel like a patient ending up flat on a hospital bed with a bottle counting 1..2...3... over my head. Strangely, no patient wants to feel like a patient. And all doctors know that. And all parents support that. No escapade.. therefore. One day, two people in the room, three bottles of glucose, four walls to surround, seven hours (I don't get anything for five and six.. sorry :-) ). Discovery #3- All IVs are not fun!

5. Glucose and its different forms: Lying on bed with the mobile phone's company, I actually found out there are too many supplementary forms of glucose available. Texting your pals is the first of them. Having people who respond to your texts when you need them the most is the second. Having such people in plural is the third revelation. Having a friendly father to discuss politics and Bangalore food when you are tired of texting with one hand (with the right wrist supporting the butterfly shaped needle, left-hand texting can consume some energy reserves for simpletons like me) was the ultimate soothing rediscovery. With the glucose and all these supplements, I seemed to get more than the prescribed dose of energy that day. Discovery #4- This IV is not all that bad either.

6. The first touch to older times: Even after glucosification, the gastric infection does its best to keep you away from tasting food, courtesy: appetite loss and a recurrence fear. So the first meal you take in the full course marks a significant feat to normalcy once again. Up and running I may go anywhere, that first normal meal's taste will linger forever. Discovery #5!

7. Ultimate discovery: This can not be actually termed a discovery because the process is ongoing and conclusive evidences are yet to be found. But a week's sickness-assisted solidarity and surroundings provides cope to a lot of introspection. Self-discovery will get a good boost during such times- this is a scientifically proven fact testified by many wise people- of solidarity and adds considerable inputs to your ongoing discovery process. Hence, Self is the actual Discovery#5.5!

PS- 1. From the fact that I am writing this, you can be assured that I am alright now. So enquiries and condolences on that front can be avoided, please.
2. I requested my father to take a picture of me with the IV tubes in the hospital for this blogpost. That was the only occasion when he gave me a cold glare. So no pictures, kindly adjust:-)


Apr 13, 2010

Two days on Two wheels

Bikes have always been a deep passion for me. May be because I was forbidden by super-cautious parents to even touch a bike - forget riding - till I was formally deemed fit at 18 by the Govt. of India to ride one. May be because I did not have one at my home - not even my father had one  - to be used as the rabbit for amateur tests and I had to learn to ride secretly from friends and sometimes shamelessly from friends of friends too :-) To sum up , this passion can be attributed as a function of two factors.
1. They say the longer you wait for your love on a breezy evening, the more beautiful she looks to you ....
2. They also say that stolen mangoes sweeter than the normal ones....
So my long wait for my own bike and the secret stints with borrowed bikes hidden from my home explain the correlation.

The weekend of April 10 & 11, 2010, became special with my first long ride. Of course the bike was borrowed but the stint was not secret. As I am now legally above-age, my parents have reduced the level from super-cautious to cautious and only advised me to stay cautious on the ride.

Thus it started. At 4 AM from Bangalore. Destination : Kannur, Kerala. Distance: 350 km. Estimated time to reach: 1 PM. Route: via Mysore (Karnataka), Mananthavady (Kerala). What was planned to be a story of two states (my own - not Chetan Bhagat's :-) ) eventually turned out to be a story of three states , leaving us in a near dead state when we reached Kannur at 5 30 PM , hanging onto the last drops of energy in the body.

This is how it happened ... All was well until breakfast at Mysore. At the threshold of the route to Mananthavady, we consulted a God-sent guide about the route. He said the route was bad and suggested an alternative via SultanBathery (Kerala) to Mananthavady which is 30 km longer but a good road. That proved to be the turning point ! And we turned !! To SultanBathery.

I have read once that the best philosophers were long travellers and lost travellers! We travelled long and on the way to Sultanbathery we were lost too (!!). Time is to tell about the quality of our philosophies but sure the ride and the wander opened our eyes to a new experience. Luckily for us, the lost stretch of 90 km was through Bandipur National Park (Karnataka) through Mudumalai wildlife reserves(TamilNadu)  to SultanBathery (Kerala) -  - did I mention about the story of three states :-)

We knew very well that we were lost in the jungle - literally. The only option that we had was to change our plan to accommodate an elephant sanctuary and a tiger reserve at the cost of some historic forts in Kannur. Going back was not an option because poor chaps , we , realised very late that we were lost. The hilly roads were  shady , scenic and inviting. We waved to a few elephants, dears and rode along with a few unknown species of birds - they took the aerial route :-)

Instead of being fuelled by petrol, our ride was fuelled by adrenaline. Ambitiously, we skipped lunch and rode on from SultanBathery to Mananthavady and on to Kannur. This was a stretch of typical Mallu roads - narrow two lanes with a deep turn every fifty feet apart. On an empty stomach, these curvy roads could have given a lot of headspins but we had enough adrenaline to keep us going!

And then came Kannur - after a ride through three states, four hills and thirteen hours. Yes you guessed it right ... we hit the beds in the lodge with the same vigour with which we hit the roads earlier. Stay in Kannur in the late evening was uneventful but as our plan was by now a trip to Bandipur, Mudumalai etc. we were not surprised. Kannur's beaches can wait for another morning :-)

Monday morning schedules and the unknown shortest route to Bangalore made us start early the next morning. The bikes were tired too. We did not risk the unknown and decided to hit the usual route to Mysore via Mananthavady, come what may. In stead of us hitting the roads , the hilly roads from Kannur to Mananthavady hit us hard with their bumps and potholes. Literally, another uphill task !! But we stuck to our tour plan and stopped our pulsar at the drop of a hat to capture the mountain's splendour - the hat dropped very often though :-) . Lessons from the previous day were well taken for you can't become a good philosopher even if you were a lost traveller if you are not a fast learner. We listened to our body's calls and the bike's calls and did not let both of them to get overheated. We found shelters at a a village bus stop and even a Durga temple in the midst of Nagarhole National Park ( Yeah... we crossed another one in this route)!

Except for a 20 km stretch for which the road was real bad, the route from Mananthavady to Mysore was heaven-like, considering what we went through earlier. 5 30 PM this day, we were at Mysore. Bangalore was only a three hour cruise from here in an amazing highway. This window of time and the grandeur of the Mysore Maharaja's erstwhile residence tempted us to accommodate a visit to the palace too. Thus the trip added another wonderful first-time for me at the Mysore palace. Stunning would be a milder description to describe the magnificience of the fully lit-up palace against the evening's darkness. Stunned was I .... :-)

After a brief stint at the Maharaja's place, we continued the last leg of our trip to Bangalore on the expressway. At 1 30 AM when we hit the familiar warmth of our hostel beds at Bangalore, we were too tired to even wave good nights to fellow riders. Two days hence ... those two days on two wheels seem amazing and amazing may well be a milder description. I learnt a lot, lived my passion, soaked in sweat, reeled in some back pain ( :-) ), got lost, found a new dimension of myself and what not ......Amazing !!!

Cheers to my fellow riders - Saurabh Trivedi, Tituts Raju and Ajay Amarnath (the owner of my borrowed bike who shared the wheels with me).