Dec 28, 2006

2006 in review

2006 is coming to an end. It's that time of the year to reflect upon how this year has been and how I fared in my goals/resolutions.

1) I made a very important change in my job. Although it's not a drastic career move, I can feel the effects that this change has brought in. The move from one company to another has been very good so far.
2) Attended Yoga classes (again!) in Jan and Feb this year. Didn't complete the course as I skipped the final week's classes. I repeated the same mistake in 2005 as well. Hope I complete the course in 2007.
3) Completed two Dream a Dream's Computer Programmes 101 and 102. My first step in teaching has been amazing. I want to continue this activity in 2007.
4) Blog updates - written 69 posts so far. This blog has become an indispensable writing pad for me.
5) Wrote many Tamil poems in my blog. Never knew before that writing poetry will be so engrossing.
6) Completed my OCP Performance Tuning exam. I plan to complete my final OCP backup and recovery exam in 2007.
7) Bought a Toshiba laptop and an ipod. Working from home has become very easy these days.
8) Visited Mantralayam - Shri Raghavendra temple for the first time.
9) Had a good vacation in Dubai.
10) Tried many new Indian recipes. Though I didn't keep a count this year, it's been a wonderful experience in the kitchen so far.
11) Have become crazy about "Friends" episodes.
12) Visited Mysore after a long time.
13) Completed reading the following books
- "The vendor of Sweets" by RK Narayan
- "By the river Piedra, I sat down and wept" by Paulo Coelho
- "My days" by RK Narayan
- "Angels and Demons" by Dan Brown
- "Delhi is not far" by Ruskin Bond
- "The power of relaxation" by Tanushree Poddar
- "The Zahir" by Paulo Coelho
- "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach
- "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" by JK Rowling (A revision before the movie releases in 2007 :-) )
14) Started reading these books but haven't completed yet
- "Lamp is lit" by Ruskin Bond
- "Black lentil doughnuts" by CK Meena
- "Jack Straight from the gut" by Jack Welch
- "Getting things done" by David Allen

Dec 24, 2006

முதல் மாற்றம்

எனக்குள் பிறந்தது
காதல்
இதயக்கதவின்
சாவி துவாரத்தில்
எட்டி பார்த்தேன்
உன்னை !
கதவை தூள்தூளாக்கி
என் மனதில்
நுழைந்த கள்வனே !
நீ யாரோ என்று
சிந்தித்து கொண்ட
வேளையில் ,
ஒரு புன்சிரிப்பு
என்னை அறியாமல்
என் கண்கள்
உன்னை நோக்கின
இது நான் தானா?
கேள்விக்கணைகள்
என்னை துரத்தின
மருபுறம் திரும்பினேன்
உன்னை மறக்க
நீ என்னுள் நிரம்பி
விட்டதை மறந்து
இதயப்பாறையில்
பூத்து விட்டது
சிறு காதல் பூ
என் கண்களில்
தெரிகின்றது
முதல் மாற்றம்.

A rough translation in English

First Change

Love is
born in me.
I peek
through the keyhole
of the door of
my heart,
I see you.
Breaking the
door into pieces,
you enter my heart
as a thief.
Wondering who you are,
A slight smile without
realizing it,
My eyes look at you.
Is it me?
I'm chased by questions
I turn towards
the other side to
forget you.
Trying to forget
that you have filled in me
In the rocky heart
blossomed a little
flower of love
In my eyes
I see the first change.

Dec 20, 2006

Mysore - a nice getaway

This post has been in the draft mode since 13th Oct 2006. I managed to complete it today.

My hubby and I finally made a one-day trip to Mysore. I had been to Mysore thrice before with other family members but this is the first time hubby got to visit Mysore. We wanted to see what's so special during Dussehra. We booked a cab and started our journey at 7 AM on a chilly Sunday morning. There was absolutely no traffic on the road and it was a smooth ride on the highway. I have never seen such a well laid road in India ever before. The flowers and plants that are on the separator of the road is a wonderful sight.

We stopped around 9 AM at a small restaurant (forgot the name, it's opposite to a big petrol bunk) for breakfast. Hubby tried a different kind of idli called Mallige idli. I guess it's made out of Aappaam batter. I didn't like the taste of it and I settled for normal idlis. We then had steaming hot coffee. In another 20 minutes, we were in Srirangapatna. Our first spot was Tipu Sultan's summer palace. It's such a nice place with greenery around and beautiful flowers. I got surprised to see the ticket price different for visitors from abroad. The entry ticket is 5 rupees per person if you are a localite and $2 for visitors. I don't understand why the price has to be partial. If tourism industry has to flourish in India, these different pricing schemes should stop.

Sangam was our next spot. It's a feast to eyes to see the flowing water from all three directions. Good that we went after monsoon. There were coracle rides as well. But I was feeling scared to get into a crowded coracle. We took some snaps and bought a couple of idols made out of black stone. We then visited Ranganatha Swamy temple. I love the smell inside these old temples. I'm not sure if it's because of the basil leaves or something else. There were many shops selling artefacts and paintings which were damn expensive. We were feeling thirsty by then and had tender coconut water outside the temple. I don't understand why we don't get sweet tender coconut water these days? It's been a very long time since I tasted something like that.

It was 11.45 AM and we headed towards Mysore. "Welcome to heritage city" banner greeted us. We first visited the famous Mysore zoo and was thrilled to see the giraffes, different kinds of monkeys and birds, tigers, zebras, African elephants etc etc. The zoo is maintained well, except that the huge tigers could have been put in bigger cabins. Poor things, they were feeling restless and couldn't roam well in the small cabin. We couldn't find a single place inside the zoo where we could get some snacks. All we could find was a cool bar serving Coke and Maaza.

We came out of the zoo at 2.30 and our stomach was growling. We treated ourselves to a nice, sumptuous lunch in a restaurant next to the palace. It was a crowded place and we had to wait till 3 PM to get our food. We then headed towards the palace where a very long queue awaited us. Apparently, everyone was interested to go inside the palace. We were in no mood to spend the next couple of hours standing in the queue. So we changed our plans and headed straight to Chamundi hills. I bought an offerings plate from a local vendor while hubby was waiting in the queue to get pooja tickets. Suddenly, a monkey jumped towards me to pick the bananas from my offerings plate. I screamed at the top of my voice and hubby came to my rescue. For the next 30 minutes till we entered the main temple premises, I was being watchful, covering the offerings plate with my handkerchief. Though the monkeys look cute, there were just too many of them.

It was a nice, cool evening when we started to descend from Chamundi hills. What a wonderful view of the city! We waited to take a few pictures of the sunset and the huge Nandi statue. It was 6.30 PM and we decided to head towards Brindavan gardens. Our driver mentioned that it shouldn't take more than 45 minutes to reach this place. What we didn't expect was a traffic jam that stretched for the entire distance. It was 8.45 when we reached Brindavan gardens. We were very disappointed that we couldn't spend more time in such a lovely place. But the musical fountain show took away all the sadness and tiredness. It was definitely a treat to our eyes and ears.

We reached home at midnight, remembering the nice times and new places. There are so many beautiful places to visit around Bangalore. This is definitely on my to-do list for the next year.

Dec 19, 2006

Anticipation

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #38 - Anticipation

"Papa, I want that icecream", said little Mannu, staring longingly towards his dad Babu. "How can I reject my only kid's request?", Babu thought while his hands were reaching for his pockets of a torn shirt that he was wearing. All he could find was a one rupee. Meanwhile, Mannu's mom Savitri called them for dinner. "Mannu dear, I will buy you a icecream tomorrow. Now let's go and eat food", said Babu. How can he explain to his 4 year old son that he had no money and that he was waiting for his greedy contractor to pay his salary? "Ok papa. Promise me that you will buy icecream for me tomorrow", said Mannu. "Promise Mannu. Come inside now", Babu called him and gave him a hug.

Their house is a shack with just enough space for three of them. Their only possession was a trunk with their clothes. Towards a corner was the kitchen space, with a few old vessels. All that Savitri could manage for dinner was a small pot of rice and a cup of sour curds that she brought from the house where she works as a maid. "What did the contractor say? Will you get your salary this week atleast?", sighed Savitri. "Seems there is some problem between the builder and contractor. He has informed us that he would definitely give the salary this week", Babu told her in a sad tone. He has been working as a labourer in the city's biggest mall construction site for the past six months and his salary was never paid to him on a regular basis.

"Ma, today papa will get me icecream", said Mannu in a cheerful tone. Savitri and Babu looked at each other, hoping that they would get some money atleast today. But the day was the same as the previous few days. The same disappointing reply from contractor awaited him. Babu didn't want to disappoint his little kid's wish. "Raju, Is it possible for you to lend me five rupees? I will return as soon as the contractor pays our salary", he asked his friend. To his surprise, Raju lent him money immediately with a smile.

Mannu was waiting for his dad eagerly that evening. He was going to eat icecream after a long time. As soon as he saw Babu in the end of the street, he ran towards him. "Papa, are you getting me an icecream tonight?", asked Mannu. "Sure dear. My little prince will have his favourite icecream!", Babu said happily.

It was a cool evening with the breeze blowing steadily. Mannu was awaiting for the ringing bells of the icecream vendor cart. The vendor who passes through Mannu's street at 8 PM everyday was nowhere to be seen that night. He was getting restless and after a while, he started crying. "No icecream today. The vendor cart has not come", Mannu was feeling disappointed. Babu couldn't bear to see his kid cry. "The vendor will come late Mannu. Let's wait", He tried to console him. 30 minutes passed and Mannu was sure that the vendor was not coming. Suddenly he heard a distant noise of the ringing bells which persisted for a long time. He looked at his dad hopefully.

Babu asked Mannu to wait inside the house while he decided to go and get the icecream. It was dark and the street lights were not working. Babu started running towards the street where he was hearing the ringing bells. He ran across different lanes and finally found the cart. "Give me an icecream. My son has been waiting for your cart. But you didn't come to our street", said Babu, gasping for breath. "No icecream sir. The last cup was bought by this little girl", said the vendor. Babu couldn't believe his luck. How is he going to see his anticipating kid's disappointment? His eyes became wet which the little girl standing beside him noticed. "Uncle, take this icecream to your kid. I will have it tomorrow", she said. Babu was so happy to see the little girl offering her icecream. "That's very nice of you. I owe you an icecream the next time I see you".

Looking at his kid relishing the icecream, Babu's heart was filled with joy. "A helpful Raju and a kind little girl live in the same world where a greedy contractor lives", he wondered.

Dec 14, 2006

Stop cribbing and complaining

This statement is to all those selfish, complaining, irresponsible people in the country, cribbing about the country's state of affairs, corruption, poverty, bad infrastructure, poor performance in sports etc etc. All these morons know is to complain and do nothing else. I know their typical characteristics :-
They eat a chewing gum and throw the wrapper on the road.
They throw the garbage bags wherever they want.
They complain about how things are better in other countries.
They keep talking only about those countries and their leaders.
They have no respect for traffic rules.
They don't care about other unprivileged people living in the same city as they live.
Their ultimate aim in life is to settle abroad and crib about India from wherever they are.
They bash at all the sports personalities, especially Indian cricketers on their poor performance. Oh yeah, they think given a chance, they can perform better than those non-performing cricketers, hitting sixers every ball and taking wickets one after another.

I'm tired of such people. I wish I had the power to transport all of them to a island far far away from India.

Either take the responsibilities in your hand and do something about them OR keep your mouth shut. If only these people realize how much time they are wasting by constant whining about India and understand that they can invest the same time in some activity that can bring a tiny miniscule change, India would be way ahead by now.

I strongly believe that if something has to change in our country, it is the mindset of such people. Things would fall in place as soon as this change happens.

I learned this powerful thought in Art of Living session "You are responsible for everything". It's certainly true.

If my street is full of garbage, then I'm responsible for raising this issue to the concerned department and getting it resolved.

If I see a vehicle bypassing the traffic by riding on the pavement, I'm responsible for letting the person realize his mistake.

This is applicable to each and every human being. I just hope people like us understand our responsibilities and work upon them.

Dec 11, 2006

Punishment & Reward

My contribution to Sunday scribblings #37 - Punishment & Reward

This topic has brought a little smile on my "monday-morning-blues" face. Now I have a good reason to relive my school memories yet again.

I was in my 9th grade when this incident took place. We had our morning break and waiting for the third session of the day to begin. Our Maths teacher was no where to be seen in the vicinity of our building. All of us were shouting and having fun. An important point to remember here is that ours was a complete girls batch. Finally, our Maths sir entered our classroom after 15 minutes. He was staring at all of us as though we had committed a big crime. "How dare you girls make such a loud noise in my class? Can't you see that the other classes have already begun?", he shouted at us. We were wondering what punishment he was planning to give us then as he is very fond of this brutal act. "Stand up on the bench", he gave a loud order. What on earth does he think of himself asking 14 year old girls to stand up on the bench? But none of us dared to protest against him. One by one, we started to step on top of our benches. When the whole class was standing, we couldn't stop laughing. It was a very funny sight to watch. This made our teacher to punish us even more.

He left the class in a second. We were feeling triumphant that the sir actually gave up on us. But little did our happiness lasted as the sir came back to our class with a long cane stick. "Is he going to beat us? Aren't we big girls now?", we looked at each other , wondering what's gonna happen. He asked everyone to turn our right hands and he started to hit them. Looking at the painful expression of the girl who got punished first, my face became pale. "Why did I decide to take the first row? Within a few minutes, he is going to be standing right in front of me and I'm going to be beaten. If I were in the last row, he would feel tired by the time he reaches me", my brain could already feel the pain. My turn finally came and all I could do was to cry with tears flowing down my cheeks like a stream. I don't know if my tears made any effect on him but when he did hit me, I felt very little pain.

Whenever I think of this incident, I cannot stop laughing. Those few tears are giving me moments of laughter forever.

Anyways, I hope the school kids of today don't get such brutal teachers.

There are many beautiful memories associated with reward. Let me see which memory strand I can take from my pensieve(Harry Potter fans know what a pensieve is!)

This event happened in my 6th grade. There was a quiz competition happening in my school auditorium for 8th and 9th grade classes. 6th and 7th grade class students were watching from the audience section. The quiz started and many questions were passed onto the audience as the participants couldn't answer them. I managed to answer most of the passed questions and I felt very thrilled. When the quiz finally got over, the awards ceremony began and the headmistress was giving out awards for the first, second and third winners from the participants. When we were about to disperse from the auditorium, the teacher who conducted the quiz said "We have a consolation prize for the girl who answered many questions from the audience. Anu from 6th standard gets this award". I didn't expect this at all as I was just happy giving spontaneous answers. I got a pack of Caramilk candies that I took home so proudly and shared them with my mom. I still remember the happiness that I saw in her eyes that evening.

Dec 7, 2006

In the last hour....

This is my contribution to Sunday Scribblings #36 - "In the last hour..."

It was a typical summer. The scorching heat and the frequent power cuts were the norm. The sun was shining bright and the rays had already entered Ravi's room. Ravi was in deep slumber after a night of continuous studies. This had been the case ever since the study holidays began. Today was the first exam and the one he dreaded the most - System modeling and simulation. Though he had prepared well, he always had the feeling that he was going to forget everything in the examination hall. The prickly rays woke him up. He stretched himself and looked at the clock. "Oh my God! It's 9 AM. I have to reach my college by 10 AM. What am I gonna do? Why the hell did my alarm clock didn't ring?". He tapped his clock wildly as though he was going to travel back in time. But nothing of that sort could happen. Slowly the reality dawned on him. He has just an hour to reach the exam hall and his mansion is 45 minutes away from his college.

Ravi quickly got dressed in 5 minutes and grabbed his bag. He rushed out to take a bus. Adding to his misery, he couldn't get any buses to his college for the next 15 minutes. "Sir, what is the time?", he asked the person standing next to him in the bus stop. "You have asked this 10 times in the past 15 minutes. Are you rushing to see your girl friend?", yelled the irritated fellow.

Time was flying and he just had 40 minutes in hand. There were no signs of the incoming bus. He couldn't hire an auto as he didn't carry enough cash in his wallet. He tried to get a lift in the cars zooming past him. But no one even gave a glare towards him. Getting frustrated, he kicked the stone post only to get his leg hurt.

It was 9.30 and he decided to start walking towards N.G. circle, hoping to get a bus coming from other directions. He tried to get a lift while walking swiftly towards the circle. A kind old man stopped his car and offered him a lift. To his agony, there was a huge traffic jam near the N.G. circle. There had been a protest and a group of people shouting some slogans were walking slowly across the road. "Why can't they walk fast? When will this jam clear up?", Ravi was shouting from the top of his voice. The old man stared at him but didn't dare to talk to him.

He was just a few kilometres away from his college when he realized it was 9.50. "Can you please drive faster? I'm getting late for my exam", Ravi asked the old man. "I'm not supposed to drive at a speed more than 50 km/hr on this road, son", the old man replied in a calm manner. "Who the hell sets all these stupid rules and why would anyone want to follow it so strictly?", Ravi cribbed to himself. It was 9.58 while he reached his college gate. He thanked the old man and ran towards the fourth floor of the building. There were four rooms allocated for third year students. He wasn't aware of which room he need to go to. He opened his bag to take the hall ticket where his registration number was printed.

Only then he realized, he forgot to bring his hall ticket which was lying on top of his study desk.

Dec 4, 2006

கிளிஞ்சல் விடு தூது

ஆயிரம் ஆயிரம்
உயிரினங்கள்
கடலுக்குள்
மனிதனுடன் பேச
ஆவலாய்!

தன் கூட்டத்தை
விட்டு வெளியே
வர இயலாமை,
புது சூழ் நிலையை
தட்ப வெட்பத்தை தாங்க
சக்தி இல்லாமை.

எனவே விடுகின்றன
கிளிஞ்சல் விடு தூது.
பல நிறம்
பல வகை
பல வடிவம்
ஆயினும் ஒவ்வொன்றுக்கும்
உள்ளது தனித்துவம்.

கடல் அலை கொண்டு
வ ந்து சேர்த்தது
என் காலடியில்.
சிலவற்றை எடுத்தேன்
என் கைகளில்
பலவற்றை பார்த்தேன்
கால் சுவடுகளில்

அழகின் உதாரணம் இவை
எளிமையின் இலக்கணம் இவை
பரந்து விரிந்த
பாற்கடலின் துளிகள் இவை

A rough translation in English

Seashell message

Thousands of
creatures
beneath the ocean
waiting to talk
to mankind!

Unable to come out
of their herd,
Unable to withstand
the pressures of
new environment.

Hence sending a
message through
seashells.
Different colours
Different types
Different shapes
But unique
in it's own way.

Waves brought
them closer to me
I took some
in my hands,
I saw many
in the footprints.

An example of beauty
An icon of simplicity,
They represent the
vastness of the majestic ocean.

Daily visit

It was a sultry summer evening. My classes got over and I was returning home, holding the soft hands of my 70 year old grandma. My school was about 500 metres from my house and my grandma used to pick me up from school everyday. There was no concept of autos or cycle rickshaws in my little village. I was in the 3rd grade and loved the trip back home. My grandma and I used to walk slowly and we stop as soon as we reach my favourite hangout spot "Thaatha kadai" (shop of an old man). I loved the visits to his shop every evening.

I never knew his name till this date. All I knew was that he was a very old man with a long white beard, wearing a dirty dhoti. We always call him "Thaatha" (grandfather). His shop was nothing but a small box of space (around 4 * 4 feet), packed with lots of goodies - colourful candies, little animal shaped dolls made out of plastic, cute notebooks and old colouring books. Thaatha used to sit in the centre of his shop, waiting for the school bell to ring.

I used to buy those colourful round candies that cost nothing more than 10 paise. It was a joyful walk, stuffing the candies in my little palm and tasting them one by one till I reach my house. On some occasions, all I wanted to do was just stare at the items in his shop. How is it possible to have so many goodies in such a small shop, I used to wonder.

Summer vacations were the best. After lunch, I liked to roam around in the streets that were deserted, with the hot humid winds blowing. I took long routes to the shop and bought those little dolls and colouring books for 25 paise. Thaatha always had a gentle smile and used to give us a couple more candies than we actually had paid for. He was a simple man who brought joy to many children in my village.

I don't know if the shop still exists. But I'm very certain that those were the wonderful shopping experiences I had till today.

PS : There is a shop named "Grandpa's" on my way to work that reminded me of "Thaatha kadai" this morning.

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