Thursday, November 29, 2007

perks

I have always been bitten by the travel bug. Nothing energizes me more than a journey. Sometimes to the familiar and at times to the new. A large part of my agreeing to switch job was the promise of travel. So here I am once again in the planter's paradise called Chikmagalur. My organization runs a vocational training college for the economically depressed locals. I am here to review their progress. The work is incidental and the beautiful locale is for free. Couldn't have asked for more, could I have?
Oh...the broast chicken dinner at the 1865 Kadur Club was close to heritage.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sitting at the airport waiting for boarding call makes me anxious. Its the usual motley crew of blank faces, impatient faces....faces that betray every human emotion.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

indecoffellionnov :)

4 individuals (one behind the camera!)

4 professions

4 organizations

4 languages

3 religions

1 bond

Déjà....what?

It’s his birthday. She picks up the cellphone to wish him. The phone shows ‘no network’. She gets up and tries the landline. It’s dead. She dresses and walks to the public phone booth at the end of the street. That’s dead too. Her cellphone is still showing ‘no network’. That's odd, she thinks. What’s happening today? She drives to office. As she greets the front desk girl, she tells her with a big smile, “Guess what? I am jobless. All phone lines are down today!” What? By now her worry has given into panic. She walks to her desk and picks up the phone. What if the front desk girl is wrong. Dead. Her cellphone’s dead too! She rushes out. Without giving in to logic, she tries every phone on the block. People stared at her as she ran from public booths to shops and even to other offices, trying frantically to call him. She starts yelling. “I have to make a call. Can anyone help me?” The traffic sergeant walks over and tells her politely, “Lady, calm down. All phone lines are down today”. But she is past caring. What am I going to do now? I promised to call him on his birthday. He will never forgive me. She starts to cry.

Right at that moment her cellphone beeps. It’s a miracle!

“Happy Birthday darling!”

Huh??” his sleepy voice responds. “Are you ok? My birthday isn’t until tomorrow…”

Monday, November 19, 2007

take a break...

Who: Alice, Clyde, Auvese and I

When: Saturday (11/17/07)

Where: Devarayanadurga

Route: Bangalore - Dobbspet - Devarayanadurga

Distance: 70 km from Bangalore

Best Part: Rocks with good views

Description: This is on NH4, the main highway northwest for Pune. At about 51 Km, just past a bridge after the town of Dobspet, a sign on the right indicates the road to the Devarayanadurga. It passes through farm fields, through the town of Urdigere (about 16 kilometers). There is a left detour which takes us through the jungle to the Hill. There are two temples, one is Bhoga Narasimha, which is at the foothill this is a temple with a kalyani. Then there is a road which takes us to another point at a higher altitude to the Yoga Narasimha temple. This is an old structure but well maintained. Climb further up from the temple to the rocks to get a breathtaking view. The wind at the peak is imposing but cool...there are lots of monkeys...good place for rock climbers. There is also a police signalling center. This is only place where we can get mobile signal (all carriers) to make any calls to Bangalore.

Stopovers: Dobbspet and Namada chilume

Fuel Stations: Dobbspet

Tips: Watchout for the water hole on the way to the temple, the settings for this place is awesome. There is also Namada chilume (water springs out of barren rock) which is a beautiful place.

Friday, November 16, 2007

My new office has a breath-taking view of the Cubbon Park and the Vidan Soudha...

diwali

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

my wow moments...

I have never been particularly religious. Brought up in an environment where rituals weren’t enforced, I am a believer but not overtly so. To date, I know only two prayers by heart. The Gayatri Mantra, taught by my grandfather when I started speaking and the Lord’s Prayer, that I learnt in my catholic grade school. And I usually recite both at one go.

My grandfather followed a ritualistic regime while allowing us to have sacred personal beliefs. His house had a prayer room on the top floor where there was space for all the 33 million Hindu Gods (exposed to non-discrimination of Gods, it still astonishes me to discover the various hindu religious sects and sub sects). The rituals were simple and non-obligatory for his family members. He read the Gita every evening wearing his un-dyed raw-silk dhoti and ‘angavastra’ after a fresh shower, sitting cross-legged on his woven prayer mat, with incense stick burning along with oil lamps. Awed by the setting as much as by him, we made it a point to be a part of the experience during vacation time. The evening prayers ended with a song praising all the Gods and distribution of ‘prasad’, which consisted of savouries prepared by my grandmother. Sitting on a jute mat, looking at the shifting shadows from the flickering flames and listening to my grandfather’s voice filling the room, was my earliest experience of wow (wonderment of world).

The other time, has been in a partially dilapidated St. Mary’s church in Bandel, West Bengal constructed by the Portugese in 1660, one evening many decades ago. In no other place of worship have I found the feeling of peace and poignancy in equal measures that will stun you to silence and urge you to scream in jubilation all at the same time. I hear they have repaired the building and even offer package tours for visitors, after being accepted by the Vatican as a Minor Basilica.

Another such experience was in a two centuries old Shiv temple in Buri Jageshwar, Kumaon, Uttaranchal. We had visited this hilly hamlet of 20 odd families for my field dissertation during my final university year. The temple is on the fir enclosed bank of a rivulet called Dudh Ganga, named so since the stream cuts through a narrow valley of quartz stones, which gives the clear water the illusion of a flowing river of milk. The first day when we entered the granite curved temple in the bone-freezing early hours of dawn, we were surprised that there were no hawkers selling the usual ‘dali’ of flowers, sweets and incense sticks offered to the Gods. Later we were told that the deity accepts no offerings. Specially flowers. The village had a complete ban on picking flowers including the ones blooming on the roadside. The puja rituals did not include any offering of flowers. The only expectation was that one sits through the prayers. Sitting in silence on the lonely, cold stone outside the sanctum sanctorum, I have never felt so connected to the world.
But all the Diwali hoopla on media and in my present surrounding, leaves me rather cold and distant.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Ro@School

It was Parent’s Day at Ro’s school today. Through my school days, these were the most dreaded days as the teachers were usually full of praises for the high graders and for those parents whose children were doomed for mediocrity, there was always earnest sympathy.

But this time, as a parent, things are surprisingly different. The children, all forty of them in Standard 2, performed in various dances ranging from a popular Kannada song to a filmy Qawali. Ro was a part of the goanese song “Galiyan sanchi”. The best part was that the children enjoyed performing and was without a shade of nervousness of being on stage. Their smiles overshadowed the oft missed steps and mis-formed lines.

Most of all, there was no pressure to perform. Some may say it’s a bad idea since pressure goads the child to do better, but I would rather have a happy child enjoying himself than a super-smart wizkid. Thank you.

video

Saturday, November 03, 2007

what's in a name?

A well meaning friend has warned me against using real names in virtual space. It was a very reasonable piece of advice. In the current world of Orkut-stalking and identity theft, it makes so much sense to be anonymous.

I remember when I came across the word for the first time. I was about five. During Pujo in my grandparent’s house in Kalyani. Kalyani then was a well known university town. Though the university still remains, the socio-demographic character of the town has gone through a makeover and the town has lost some of its former glory. Back then, you can imagine that the town had a favorable ratio of pseudo-intellectuals with the demography ruled by either students or retired pensioners. Now, both these groups were the flag bearers of moral, intellectual and cultural values that ‘bengaleeism’ is all about. So you could see its impressions all over town. Not surprisingly when my uncle, then a university undergrad, had formed a students’ association he chose to call it “Anonymous”. I believe it had a lot to do with escaping from libel suits cause they were notorious in a robinhoodish way. Their productive work was limited to the celebration of Durga Pujo through public fundraising. The rest of the year, the club members whiled away their time sitting around a bedraggled tea stall debating various issues from across the world and drinking endless cups of tea on credit. One thing you have to give to a bengalee is that he has an opinion on everything under the universe and that no two bengalees worth his fish fries would hold the same opinion. However, the jewel in the otherwise tarnished crown for this Club was the Durga Pujo which the members celebrated in a befitting manner making up for all the angst they have cause their families and neighbours around the year. It was there, while visiting the ‘pandal’ that I came across the word ‘anonymous’ for the pujo pandal was known as “Anonymous er Pujo”. When I asked my uncle’s friend Ajitkaku what it means, being a stanch communist, he told me it means ‘the nameless crowd who struggles to survive’. This absolutely didn’t make any sense to me for as far as I were concerned, everyone I knew, struggling or otherwise, had a legitimate name, including my uncle’s dog Kalia.

It was much later in school that I understood the true meaning but the thought of being ‘the nameless one’ always made me uncomfortable. To the extent that I have put my name in bold even on secret ballot and on unreciprocated love notes in college and university. The narcissist in me wants the world to know what I think and feel. Pardon me, therefore, anonymous I shall never be...

Friday, November 02, 2007

all apologies

The grave peril in life is the guilt trap. First, we are born guilty. Then as life progresses, we fall into a pattern of guilt traps each bigger and more profound than the other. It’s like those open manholes on the roads of a monsoon drenched Calcutta. They would leave them open with a bamboo pole and a red flag to warn off careless pedestrians, who have to wade through often waist deep water to get to where they have to. You could watch the water needlessly gushing towards the man holes. Protesting loudly but whipped by gradient, they struggle to be free, to be once again, the light hearted drops in a cloud. But then there was never any escape. Parents and family. Then friends. Then lovers and spouses. Then children. Then some more friends. Like a never ending vortex of guilty you end up like the muddy gushy water, scared and ready to get into the nearest black hole. Guilty for not able to love. Guilty for not caring enough. Guilty for being too strong. Guilty for being too weak. Guilty for holding on. Guilty for letting go. Guilty for lies you told to protect. Guilty for honesty you showed. Guilty for baring your soul. Guilty for not doing the baring in the manner expected of you. The world is a Court of Immaculate Justice and you are pronounced GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I salute...

the auto rickshaw drivers in Chennai. Unlike their country cousins in Bangalore, they never refuse to go anywhere. They shake their heads and smile at you disarmingly and then quote a price. An unbelievable price. But by this time you are so charmed by his civility that you almost give in. But then the bell rings. You look at him questioningly only to find him still smiling at you most politely. You try to tell him how incredible his price is only to have him explain how he has been waiting to ferry you all his life and how his entire life's karma depends on you agreeing to pay his price for the ride. By this time the brotherhood of auto-drivers gather to convince you that you alone can grant him moksha. Tempted to play God, you give in. The ride ends with you shelling out his fantastic fare and he dropping you a block away from your destination saying he doesn't want you to pay extra for going to the bylane instead of the main road.

who? me?

For a dyslectic to get tagged for a Writing Meme is almost an honour. Let me begin by a humble ‘thank you’. Shreyasi, my friend, sees a lot more in people like me than she ought to.

Yes, I write from the heart, cause I don’t know where else to write from. Since my brain is impaired enough for me to never have scored even a modest C+ in Spelling. (I took a few hard knocks to get even ‘grammer’ right.) And this never amused my mother. Though the kind Mrs. Johnson, my elementary school teacher, had explained that dyslexia isn’t life threatening, to my mother I was as good as a cripple. And to add to her bouquet of misery, my hand writing continues to pain her. So while my brother’s grades and his school note books were displayed with pride at dinner parties at home, I was warned never ever to bring a guest near my study table.

So, if you want beauty read Sheyasi, if you want logic and common sense read Niladri, if you want to marry the two read Shefaly. Instead, if you are looking for impulsive, artless expressions that aren’t contained by english grammar, then maybe…

When to write?

At all time. Never let go of a passing thought as too trivial or too random or too scant. Hook the thought and write it out.

What to write?

Everything. Life is a celebration and at times of the bizarre kind. Aren’t we lucky we are able to express it in words and in thoughts? It could be the amazement of an unexpected sunset or could be the humdrum of an ordinary life. There is always something to write about in the exotic and the dreary.

Where to write?

Anywhere. Office when the boss isn’t around, home when the folks are busy with TV, airport when flights are delayed, coffee shop when there’s no company, internet cafe with the next guy surfing porn. Doesn’t matter.

How to write?

With a pen and a paper or as I prefer the word processor (note: my dyslexia can create havoc minus Spellcheck). It is usually just the thought and you. Don’t focus on words as much as the expression. Does it say what you feel? Even if it digresses from Wren and Martin stipulations? Is it honest?

Who to write for?

Yourself. If you want to write for an audience join a talk show.

Who gets tagged?

Rambler, a fellow impulsive blog writer, whose prose are honest expressions of being.

Dusty, for his dollops of good humour.

Rustyneurons, writes wonderfully…but currently in hiding for some reason.

Renovatio, for I am sure he wouldn’t write for the meme.