Dec 31, 2008

2008 in review

The curtains for 2008 are slowly closing down, with a glimpse of 2009 in the near horizon. The year has been eventful in many ways. Here's a summary of how 2008 fared for me, just for records that I can look back after a few years. (Flashback - 2007, 2006, 2005)

- The most important event has been relocating to our own cozy little nest which was worth a four year waiting period. It's a new and interesting experience for both my hubby and myself to setup a new home, buy required stuff and get everything in order.
- The excitement of a new home became very visible with us celebrating Navrathiri, Diwali and Christmas in our own unique ways - our first Kolu (arrangement of dolls) and our first Christmas tree decorations. Keeping traditions alive and celebrating every festival in a simple, yet memorable way is one of the rules of our home.
- From work perspective, I got a promotion this year and also made a role change.
- Getting DML award in PGSEM is a special moment.
- Visited three new places - Madikeri, Mangalore and Marari Beach. What an unplanned 'M' coincidence!
- Managed to read a few books although I would have loved a slightly bigger list
  • A pocket full of rye by Agatha Christie
  • Fire on the mountain by Anitha Desai
  • Ladies Coupe by Anitha Nair
  • The goal by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Fox
  • The 3 mistakes of my life by Chetan Bhagat
  • A year by the sea by Joan Anderson
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Talkative Man by RK Narayan
- My writings got published as a chapter in a book. First baby steps towards my dream of a writing career.
- Listened to Dr.Abdul Kalam's speech in person for the first time
- Stayed in a college campus (IIMB) for the first time as part of a 3 day leadership workshop. Having been a day scholar throughout my school and college days, it was a new experience.
- Watched a cricket match from Chinnaswamy Stadium for the first time. Wish the match had been more interesting!
- My blog hasn't been very active this year but I want to keep it alive as much as I can.

I am hoping 2009 will be an interesting and challenging year for me. Here's wishing you a very happy, bright and colorful new year!

Dec 29, 2008

Original better than a remake

Ever since Aamir announced that he would be remaking the Tamil blockbuster "Ghajini", I had been waiting to watch it. I absolutely loved the Tamil version where Surya did a remarkable job and ofcourse Asin portrayed a beautiful role. A couple of songs by Harris are still playing in my iPod as my favorites. Talking about the Hindi version of "Ghajini", I'm completely in love with the romantic melody "Guzarish". Sonu Nigam's hummings throughout this song is just too good. Only Rahman can offer such magic to ears. Although I'm not a fan of "Behka" (I still prefer "Oru Maalai" from Tamil), "Kaise Mujhe" makes up for it - a haunting sad song and an excellent instrumental rendition.

There is not much of a change in the screenplay except for the climax. Aamir fits the role perfectly as the one with short term memory loss, chasing the villains and bashing them. But I'm highly disappointed with the younger looking Aamir, falling in love with Asin. There were no emotions between the two which made both of them look out of place. The chemistry between Surya and Asin was one of the highlights of the Tamil version which was missing. If I could spot something better than the Tamil version, that would be Jiah Khan's normal acting (Overacting by Nayantara was so irritating!) and the climax (am glad I didn't have to hear the bad dialogue that Nayantara says in a serious tone "Oruthana mattum konna suyanalam, rendu peraiyum konna podhunalam").

If you have not seen the Tamil version, then I would recommend watching Aamir's Ghajini. Or else, if you are a big fan of Aamir like me, then you shouldn't miss it!!

Dec 15, 2008

listening to talkative man

The unpredictable Bangalore traffic on a Friday night enabled us to reach the bus stop an hour earlier. Thanks to the talkative man, I was able to escape the boredoms amidst squeaking honks and crowded waiting rooms. No, I didn't meet a friend or a stranger but one of RK Narayan's novels "Talkative Man". What better way to break the reader's block than to pick up a RKN novel and enjoy the familiar territories of Malgudi! This is the first RKN novel I managed to read in 2008.

The protogonist TM narrates his experiences with a visitor named Rann in his home town Malgudi. Characters like TM (his actual name not once mentioned!) are very common in small towns, with their stories and gossips doing the rounds in streets and lanes. Thanks to ancestral property and wealth, TM leads a comfortable life and focuses his time and energy as a journalist writing about incidents that happen at Malgudi and sends them across to leading newspapers, with a hope of getting the words in print. With Rann's entry, TM's normal routine gets affected by Rann's intimidating personality and his background activities. These two characters form the main crux of the storyline. Sometimes, you feel sorry for TM and even angry at him for his passive stance against Rann, allowing him to stay in his home and not questioning his activities. The new visitors of Malgudi have made TM quite a listener!

"Talkative Man" is an interesting and quick read (~ 120 pages) except that it lacks the wit and humour that's so prevalent in RK Narayan's other novels. Even the emotions seem to be missing for a change. It's definitely not one of the best RKN's novels.

Dec 12, 2008

Breathing some life

Lately the number of my blog posts have come down drastically. I find it difficult to put words on paper, call it the writer's block. There is another block that has hit me hard these days - the reader's block. It's been a while since I have read a novel or a non-fiction (last was "The Kite Runner"). My attention span has been reducing as time progresses. So many thoughts and questions arise which I safely put aside and do not dare to ponder too much.

December is usually a month of joy and happiness, with Christmas and New Year, wondering about my new year resolutions which I hardly keep up. But it used to be fun, just to pen them down. This year, the mood is different - globally due to recession, economic slow down and horror faces of terror, with a few of my dear friends getting impacted hard. I cannot wipe off their sorrows or frustrations but I'm trying to just listen to them so they can talk and let out their anger which might help them feel a bit relieved.

I don't have to watch "Vaaranam Aayiram" to understand this but whatever happens, life has to go on. Speaking of VA, it's a wonderful movie narrating the relationship between a father and a son. I have never felt so touched by any movie. The protogonist is a common man who undergoes similar events of trials and tribulations like the rest of us. Surya has done an excellent job and has evolved into a versatile actor. The movie is definitely worth a watch.

Anyway, I can't wait to shatter my reader and writer blocks and get ready to bid farewell to a not-so-good 2008 and welcome 2009 with lots of hopes.

Nov 23, 2008

A trip to Mangalore

Although I have been living in Bangalore for six years, I haven't explored much of Karnataka except for the nearby Mysore. I feel it's quite strange given the fact that I love to travel. Early this year, I visited Madikeri with a bunch of friends and it was a fresh experience. Last weekend, it was the turn of Mangalore. With a big group of friends interested in this trip, our travel planner took the efforts to book the tickets and a place to stay.

A big surprise came to me when I noticed the cranky side middle berths in our train. The railways would be making great profits but it's so very inconvenient for common people. A person of short stature like me found it hard to fit in my head. I wonder how the tall guys or girls would manage. The morning breeze and the scenery reminded me of my numerous Kerala trips. After a quick shower at the hotel, we got dressed and were ready to satiate our hunger pangs over complementary breakfast at the hotel restaurant. The hotel manager would have dropped the idea of free food, looking at the way we all hogged the dosas.

We spent the sunny afternoon at the Ullal Beach playing a game of ring. After lunch, we headed out to the enchanting Bekkal Fort. This is the place where Manirathnam shot the Uyire song in Bombay. A stroll around this fort with the breeze and the sea for company is a perfect way to spend an evening. The beautiful sunset and the rocking waves were so romantic.

The next morning, I was so looking forward to visiting St.Mary's Island. I felt it wasn't worth the hype. But I collected some cute sea-shells, adding to my collection. After a quick visit to Krishna temple at Udipi, we rushed back to catch the train back to Bangalore. When we thought the fun was over, we were wrong because a game of UNO in the train made the trip even more interesting. An interesting weekend got over and it was time to get back to the routine. Karnataka has so many beautiful places to see. Hope I could visit more new places next year as well.

Nov 10, 2008

Goodbye Dada!

After reading Skely's post, I felt I should note down this day in my dear blog. I'm glad that we won against Aussies with all the might and strength. A convincing victory it was! But I want to write this post for a different reason. One of the three veterans has signed off today from test cricket; yes, I'm referring to Dada a.k.a Sourav Ganguly. I have been following his cricket career completely ever since the England tour in 1996 where he made his test debut. His back-to-back test centuries, many successful opening partnerships with my idol Sachin in ODIs, the way he smashed the Pakistani bowlers in Sahara Cup at Toronto, his aggressive captaincy inspiring many youngsters like Yuvraj and Kaif and most importantly, his classy off drives and cover drives making him "next-to-God in offside batting" - He used to be my second most favorite Indian cricketer (Do I need to say who the first one is!).

The time will come when the other two will also face the same day. I want to scream what Joey says on Rachel's 30th birthday, "Why God, Why you are doing this to us?".

Nov 2, 2008

An emotional read

I have never felt this way while reading a novel - eyes welling up and emotions stirred. "The kite runner" provided this new experience and am glad I read this book.

With 5 hours to spare in a train journey and with a couple of magazines in my handbag, I wondered how I would be able to while away my time. I don't know if I'm fortunate or otherwise - my reading speed is pretty fast and I was confident that I could browse through the magazines in an hour. I suppose God has heard my thoughts. An old man was selling a bunch of books and I chose "the kite runner".

The initial part of the story was a beautiful narration of the childhood friendship between Amir and Hassan set in the backdrop of Afghanistan. There were funny and playful moments until a disaster happened which changed their lives forever. I stopped at this juncture during my train journey.

After more than a month, the Diwali break provided a good relaxing time to continue this superb novel. Following the disaster that hit their lives is an emotional journey of Amir, his quest for his lost friend, his journey from Afghanistan to Pakistan to United States and back and most importantly, the unfolding of the political situation in Afghanistan. The journey is painful, nostalgic and sentimental. We not only understand the emotions of the characters but also the transformation of the country.

A power packed writing of human emotions, turmoil, guilt and redemption makes "The kite runner" a must read.

Oct 29, 2008

Interpretations

While browsing over the newspaper this morning, two contradictory news items struck hard on me that has been disturbing my thoughts ever since I glanced at them. One was the unbelievable rent rates (around 10 lakh rupees a month....you read it right! it's for one month and not for one year) that high flying corporate executives are ready to shell out on exclusive villas in Bangalore. Although newspapers tend to exaggerate the figures, even if I reduce this amount by 50% and consider it as 5 lakhs a month, it's still a huge figure for rent which I'm not able to digest.

I turned a few pages, wondering how people are ready to shell out such monstrous money on rents. Another article caught my fleeting glance. Because of lack of growth hormones, a 22 year old woman in Gulbarga district still has the physical and mental traits of a child. Since her family couldn't even afford a single meal in a day, they couldn't spend on the hospital expenses to get this defect on her pituitary gland rectified. She has to live with this defect all her life.

I face such contradictions often and I keep questioning myself and searching for justifications. I don't want to argue whether capitalistic or socialistic beliefs is the right way to go forward - each has its own positives and negatives. I haven't understood either of them in a deeper sense. But there are lots of questions for which I'm searching for answers. It could be that my inclination towards philosophy is increasing.

Oct 20, 2008

Bon South - a premium menu

Email that I had sent to my Consumer behavior (CB) Professor and my projectmates at PGSEM on Sept 02 2008 below:

While coming to work today, I came across this restaurant "Bon South" in Koramangala which specializes in South Indian veg and non-veg cuisines. This initiated some CB related questions on brand associations and culture in my mind.

1) The exterior ambience of this place somewhat looked like a continental/Italian restaurant. Will someone looking for a South Indian cuisine identify with this exterior?

2) The brand name (Bon South) itself sounds non South Indian. How can consumers relate to it? I feel this is where the restaurant "Malgudi" has touched a chord. The external appearance, the doors resembling traditional Chettinad homes and ofcourse, the brand name has clear associations to South India.

3) Most importantly, the menu offered by Bon South (got this info after some Internet search) has a range of options from all four South Indian states at an exorbitant price (similar to their vegetarian counterpart "South Indies" in Indira Nagar). Typically South Indian cuisine is less expensive than North Indian cuisine. I'm not sure how charging 120 rupees for a plate of Dosa will work. I might be hitting the "people are like US" syndrome. Serving on fancy cutlery with delicate forks and spoons may not work for South Indian menu. Krishna Cafe charges around 100 rupees for a typical South Indian meal on a banana leaf. Though it is expensive, this place is always crowded because the offering strikes a chord with the consumers.

We can say that "Bon South" is trying to offer a different experience. Their success depends on the target segments (upper class and NRIs) as well as their core offerings (menu variety and quality).

But the brand associations, food habits and internal reference prices also play an important role. Isn't it? Something to ponder over.....

After a long Diwali shopping experience, my husband and I decided to have dinner at this new place "Bon South" in Koramangala. Although my initial perceptions of this place was not so great, there was an urge to validate my perceptions. We got our table as soon as we entered (8:30 PM is too early for a weekend dinner, I suppose). To our surprise, we were given wet towels to freshen up. This is the first time I see this kind of service in a restaurant and not inside an airplane. The menu had listings from the four South Indian states though I wish vegetarians were given more options.

While waiting for our starters, a neat bowl of fryums (vaththals) was placed with 3 different kinds of chutneys - coriander, coconut and tomato flavors. I have never tried fryums with chutneys before. It was a new experience which I could try out at home on one of the forthcoming cold evenings.

As expected, the pricing was on the premium end with the starters and mocktails priced 150+ rupees. We ordered a plate of vadas made of plantain flowers. It was good and tasted very much like the typical masala vadas. For the main course, I went for neer dosas and maammidikkai curry (raw mango and lentils curry) while hubby ordered his favorite aapams and some chicken curry. It was a satisfying meal and at the same time not so heavy on our appetites. The best part of the dinner was yet to come. We were in two minds whether to go for a dessert or not. I'm glad we chose the former. The elaneer payasam tasted divine with tiny bits of tender coconut floating in sweetish milk. It was a perfect way to wrap up a good meal.

The service was superior and of high quality. By the time the bill arrived, the waiter promptly took our valet parking receipt to bring our car back to the entrance. As a thank you gift, we were given a small sapling. A nice gesture, I should say. I'm not sure if this attention to little detail, a high quality service and pretty good food will compensate for the exorbitant price they are charging (Meal for two could easily exceed 1000 bucks). I would recommend this place if you don't mind splurging on a South Indian full course meal.

Oct 14, 2008

First experience at Chinnaswamy Stadium

My first tryst with watching a cricket match live from a stadium occurred long time back in Chennai. It's been more than six years since I shifted to Bangalore but never got a chance to experience live cricket from Chinnaswamy stadium. This indeed came true last Sunday on the fourth day of India v/s Australia test match. With tickets being booked online, all we had to do was reach the stadium on time. I was expecting a huge crowd on a Sunday morning but people started thronging the stadium only after 11 AM. As I entered the stadium, I realized that this is the last series for Ganguly. Although I am not a big fan of him, I felt a little sad because Sachin's last series may not be that far. My childhood hero (he still is!!) has started to play lesser number of matches due to injury concerns.

When the players were busy with their net practice, we settled for good seats in our stand. After a while, the stadium started to erupt in loud cheer. While I was wondering what the fuss is all about, the two umpires were walking down the pavilion. I guess only in India the umpires get such a warm welcome! The innings progressed slowly with occasional fours from Zaheer. It was rather a slow day compared to my previous experience in the Chennai test match. We expected India to wrap up second innings of Aussies by the end of fourth day but to our disappointment, Australia stuck there and ensured India didn't get an upper hand. At one point, the innings went too slow that we started to play UNO cards. The occasional Mexican wave and the few wickets gave us a chance to cheer and shout from the top of our voices.

It's been a long time since I followed a cricket match the whole day. During college, I didn't mind sitting in front of the TV and watching cricket for eight hours. Those days, I used to watch the county matches when no other international matches were scheduled. My interest levels have dipped in the past two years but these one-off experiences seem to revive my interest.

Oct 8, 2008

The first drizzle

My contribution to Cafe Writing - Sept & Oct Project

dark clouds beckoning to pour down
mist traveling from distant mountains
Cool breeze adding to the glory
I stood there contemplating

A tiny droplet caressing my palm
announcing the arrival of monsoon
injecting a fresh stream of energy
I stood there motionless

glad to have caught the first splash,
the murmurs of threatening thunder
passing cryptic message from the heavens
I stood there in awe

hot cup of tea awakening my pallid senses
rivulets flowing swiftly by my side,
swooned by this magical evening
I stood there feeling blessed

Oct 6, 2008

அலையும் நானும்

Rambled this piece during a quiet evening date with the sea and the waves at Marari Beach

கரையை தொட்டுச் செல்லும் அலையே
என்ன சேதி கொண்டு வந்தாய் எனக்கு

என்னை ரசிக்கும் உனக்கு பரிசுகள்
பல கொண்டு வந்தேன் தொலைதூரத்திலிருந்து

உன்னிடம் எதையும் எதிர்பார்க்கவில்லை
உன் புதிர் மொழியின் அர்த்தம் தேடும் வேளையில்

எதிர்பாரா நேரத்தில் உன் கண்களின் பிரகாசத்தை
உணர இதோ கொண்டு வந்தேன் ஆழ்கடல் சிற்பிகள்

எத்தனை அழகு எத்தனை வடிவம்
என் சமர்ப்பணம் இந்த அதிசய சிற்பிகளுக்கு

வெள்ளை கூடை கொண்டு சேர்த்த
பல வண்ண பூக்கள்
தொட்டு எடுத்த என் கைகளும்
நிறம் மாறிய அற்புதங்கள்

ஆதவன் மறையும் வேளையில்
மேகக்கூட்டம் ஆடும் நடனங்கள்
அமைதியான இந்த தருணத்தை
எடுத்து செல்ல முயலும் வார்த்தைகள்

தென்றல் தீண்டிய என் கூந்தல்
கவிதை எழுத துடிக்கிறதே
அதை கட்டுப்படுத்தும் என் கைகளும்
போராடி களைக்கிறதே

காற்று திசை நோக்கிச் செல்ல
கால்கள் இரண்டும் பறக்கிறதே
மேகத்தின் உள்ளே நீந்திட
என் மனமும் அலை பாய்கிறதே

Oct 4, 2008

Word clicking this moment

With the clock striking midnight and my fingers busy typing a case analysis (and one more case to read for another course), the stress that's building up is automatically cooled down by this brilliant romantic yesteryear melody "Gazab kaa ye din" from Qayamat se Qayamat Tak. What a superb classic! This perfect moment has to be recorded in my dear blog. Music can be a coolant, a refresher, whatever you might want to call it. Sometimes I wonder if my iPod (and iTunes) has some artificial intelligence abilities. Because the songs it picks up in shuffle mode suits my mood so nicely (thanks to Apple!).

This song reflects my fantasy in some way - getting lost in an isolated forest with my loved one where no laptops, TVs or mobile phones will ever work. The innocence and fresh feelings the two characters portray in this song is just amazing. When I listened to this song first time in Doordarshan long time ago (remember Rangoli on Sunday mornings!), it brought a smile to my face. Aamir was so cute and I don't think anyone would have made a better pair to Aamir than Juhi.

And guess what....the next song that's playing now is "Shauk hai" from Guru. I'm telling you, iTunes has a way to read my mind :-) Now I can get back to my case with no complaints.

Sep 17, 2008

The Marari experience


When a three day vacation is in the offing and you will be starting from Dindugul in Tamilnadu, what better place to visit than the lovely Kerala? It has almost become a ritual for me to visit Kerala once a year. And everytime I go, I want to keep coming again and again. Combining this vacation with my wedding anniversary celebration, the travel planning part of my brain got activated. I looked into different resorts and travel possibilities, booked the train tickets and finally narrowed down to Marari Beach resort in a village named Mararikulam near Alleppey. I love planning a vacation and it makes me realize that travel planning could be considered as an alternate career :-)

The resort is around 60 kms from Ernakulam railway station. With the exorbitant charges for pickup claimed by the resort, we decided to arrange on our own. Thanks to the taxis right outside the station, we were able to reach the village for a reasonable price. The vast expanse of the greenery inside the resort took us by surprise. After the registrations, hubby and I headed to the restaurant for a cup of tea. We couldn't wait to go near the quiet beach. It took us some time to accept the fact that the clean beach was all for ourselves. A few fishermen were setting off at a distance. Since this is the end of off-season, very few visitors from abroad were staying in the resort. A row of hammocks beside the shore was a perfect way to relax and unwind. While admiring the serene surroundings and the tall coconut trees, our stomachs started to growl and we had a nice, sumptuous breakfast. There are many activities that one can take up within the resort. Country Boat rides and sunset cruises are also available but at an extra cost. As we have already experienced these boat rides in Kumarakom, we decided to spend the time in the resort for the next 2.5 days.

The naturalist took us around the resort, explaining about different flora and fauna. The vegetable garden, recycling mechanisms, bio-composts and other treatment plants show the environment friendly mechanisms they have been adopting. He is a very good photographer and helped us to take some amazing snaps for spiders, butterflies and fishes. It was a bright and sunny day and our moods were upbeat. Lazing around on the hammocks with the breeze gradually taking us to a short nap - one might appreciate the complete relaxation. We spent the evening in the beach, enjoying the sunset and collecting sea shells. Even the waves didn't want to disturb the peace prevailing in the beach that they decided to keep it low.

Cookery show by the chef gave a glimpse of the preparation styles of traditional fish curry of Kerala. Having shown tremendous interest during the show, the chef was wondering why I didn't taste the dish. A vegetarian by nature but doesn't mind watching the preparation of non-veg dishes - that's me! The day ended with a romantic, candle light dinner and live classical music.

Thunderstorms and heavy rains woke us up the next morning. We prayed that the sky clears up fast so we could get bathed in sun's rays and get tanned. Our prayers were answered and we celebrated with a bicycle ride around the village. The roads were very bad but there was just no traffic. While hubby enjoyed a swim in the pool, I finished reading an interesting book "A year by the sea". To wrap up the relaxation process, we tried out some meditation in the evening along with a guide. The next morning was the tryst with beautiful butterflies in the garden, with my camera trying to capture the beauty as much as it can. After a heavy lunch, it was time to bid goodbye to the resort and head to the railway station. The sun didn't want to bid farewell so it had sent its dear friends, black clouds and downpour.

We just loved this place and it was a memorable experience. CGH Earth does it again, after our superb Coconut Lagoon experience. A trip to Marari Beach can relax, refresh and rejuvenate.

let the rambling begin

Although unattended and unvisited, I don't want my blog to end up like the hundreds of blogs that started around the same time as mine. I wouldn't call this huge gap as a writer's block. I believe a block would occur when you sit down to write something but words don't come out. But this didn't happen to me, rather I was busy shuffling between many things that I didn't happen to sit down in the first place and ponder. I need to allocate some time to reflect and analyze my course of action.

This brings to my mind an interesting book that I got to read - "A year by the sea" by Joan Anderson. Although the perspective is different, I can relate to the protogonist's feelings in some way. Joan aged 50 years feels that she has been living her whole life running around with family responsibilities and taking care of her kids' demands. One fine day, she decides to let go of everything and move to a small cottage by the sea shore for a year. Living by her own means, reflecting on how her life turned out to be and drawing inspiration from the sea and seals, she turns out to be a strong and happy person. With no rules to abide by, she sets a course for herself, takes risks and tries out many new activities like selling fish which she wouldn't dare to dream about on a normal day. It was an interesting and thoughtful read.

One starking perspective was the engagement with nature that can be a healing and a rejuvenating experience. Living in a metropolitan city like Bangalore with rushing around all the time, such engagement seems to be rare but those few moments can have a big impact. For instance, the other day I went to a nearby grocery store to get some vegetables. It was a weekday evening and so the crowd was comparatively less. The fresh vegetables of varied colors and shapes, the aroma of coriander and mint leaf bunches and the sheer variety of vegetables got me all cheered up. I bought minimal quantities of different veggies and my refrigerator is now neatly stocked up. I have been trying different South Indian dishes for dinner these days, call it the repercussion effect.

Last Sunday was rather a special tryst with nature. With cloudy and gloomy days gone past, the sun was shining brightly. The afternoon rays entered my living room through my orange colored curtains, giving a bright orangish feel to my home. The mini red roses in my garden blossomed like a flower bouquet, adding more sheen to the green grass. The squeaking squirrels were running around and the tiny butterflies were playing with the flowers. Such a beautiful afternoon cannot be complete without a hot cup of cardamom tea. It was a heavenly feeling and hoping to have more such moments every week.

Aug 7, 2008

The view

My contribution to 3WW - XCVIII

The sun so close to slumber
clouds creating hues and shapes
in the canvas of blue sky,

a loner bird alongside
vast expanse of the lake
wings flapping briskly

Reaching for the million stars,
unnoticed but unruffled
time bound but unflurried

rhythmic movements in the air
a linear flight to be admired
the view spectacular and gorgeous!

No mere coincidence

There is one name that I'm associated with in one form or another in the years of my life so far - be it a friend, a neighbour, a hero or a class mate. And that name is "Karthik". My childhood friend who used to be my neighbour is "Karthik". I had another younger friend in my apartment with a similar name "Karthikeyan". In high school, one of my friends who used to be a big fan of cricket, updating me with scores regularly in class hours is "Karthick". As though real characters are not enough, the fictional characters came to the limelight.

My most favorite Tamil movies are Mouna Raagam, Kaadhal Desam and Alai Payuthey. Guess what, the heroes are "Karthik"s. Karthik's character in Mouna Raagam, although it's a guest role is etched in my memory forever. The few scenes between him and Revathy have portrayed beautifully, the playfulness, fun and love. I cannot stand the fact that he gets killed due to unforeseen circumstances.

Kaadhal Desam has two heroes - a poetic, simple and down-to-earth Karthik, a charming and handsome Arun. The short verses that Karthik writes thinking about Dhivya (the heroine) are simple and adorable. Wish I could write such poetry! Madhavan is perfect for the role of Karthik in AlaiPayuthey. Although Indian cinema has seen many movies of the genre "Rich boy falls in love with poor girl", Alaipayuthey is different in its execution and style.

When I thought that association with the name "Karthik" cannot go on for so long, I meet my soul mate whose name is "Karthikeyan". One of my best friends in the past six years is "Karthik" although everyone calls him by another name always.

I'm not sure how many more "Karthik"s I am going to meet in the rest of my life. Although it's a very common name in South India, this irony in my life seems to be interesting.

Aug 4, 2008

Another meaning to DML

Ever since I started learning about Oracle database sometime back in college, DML always meant Data Manipulation Language. But from July 2008, DML means something else and also a special one. I'm one of the top rank holders in the first year of PGSEM 2007 batch and I'm part of the Director's merit list (in short, DML). It's a nice feeling to get this award since the competition among the 140 students in my class has been intense throughout the year. Although I was aware about this award when I enrolled in PGSEM, I never aimed for getting this award until Quarter 4 started (I swear!).

Due to the initial enthusiasm, Quarter 1 went really well for me. In Quarter 2, there was a huge monster called Macroeconomics which pulled down my good CGPA very badly. In Quarter 3, another not-so-huge monster called Law swallowed some more decimal points from my CGPA. At the end of quarter 3, I was at rank 15. That was when I realized I have a chance to get into top 10. With encouragement from good friends and little more hard work, I finally made it to DML.

Yippee....I can now proudly frame the certificate and hang it on my living room wall :-) The year that started well and ended well! Something to cheer about after a busy year of work and studies!

Jul 28, 2008

Seeking solace

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings - Solace

As the day dawns, ushering in hope and inspiration along with a bunch of to-dos hovering in the air, the much needed solace is a hot cup of tea. My morning begins with switching on the gas stove, brewing tea and mixing it up with hot milk. No matter what, I can never skip this routine. Although my hubby keeps suggesting that I should either wake up early or skip having tea on Fridays and Saturdays when I have to rush for my MBA classes, I can never give up my special tea (might skip breakfast, though). Infact, I claim that I can make better tea than the ones served in many restaurants. This obsession with tea didn't begin until around 6 years back when I moved from Chennai to Bangalore. Coffee, Boost and Bournvita used to be my favorite beverages then. Tea is something I prefer to have anytime of the day. I'm working on a term paper for my Consumer Behavior elective and guess what - the topic that is assigned to me by chance was "link the current trends of the tea industry with respect to consumer attitudes". Isn't that a good irony?

The challenges and pressures of day-to-day demands and the expectations set by myself sometimes need to take a backseat when I indulge myself in the music of A R Rahman. Regular readers of my blog would have noticed how crazy I am about his music. For every mood, there is a perfect song to give me company. When I want to reminisce the first feelings of falling in love, there is "En Swasa Kaatre". When I feel romantic, there is "Kannukku mai azhagu". When I feel nostalgic about someone I've been missing for a long time in my life, there is "Shauk hai". My day doesn't end without hearing to his magical tunes. When I'm sitting in my cab going to office, when I'm working on my projects, when I'm relaxing, when I'm about to sleep, his music is always there. My ipod understands my liking for Rahman's music so much that it plays his tunes mostly when it's in shuffle mode.

A hot cup of tea with a soothing melody of Rahman is a perfect solace that can comfort and cheer me up anytime.

Jul 17, 2008

Exciting journey

With a year just whiffed past offering an experience to remember for a life time and another year and a half to go, I'm sure the zeal and passion I have for my PGSEM course will continue. So what if I like to be the first bencher, not bunking classes and being attentive? I'm having my share of fun. During my engineering college days, I used to hate attending many boring lectures that I would bunk and sit at home. But at IIMB, every session is packed with action that there is no reason to bunk. Every week is brimmed with varied activities - be it quizzes, assignments, case analyses and ofcourse, exams that test your application of the concepts and not your memory. Along with 13 core courses in the first year, I also learnt how I can squeeze time out of my daily routine, prioritize the tonnes of work that land up in my plate and optimize my workload.

The confidence that gave me in first year led me to take 4 electives in this quarter. "You have taken 4 courses and one of them is CB!! Oh my God!", my friends asked me in the first week of this quarter. With a slight puzzled look in my face, I replied, "Yes, I hope I can manage...". CB stands for Consumer Behavior, a very interesting but at the same time demanding course. In the fifth week of this quarter, I'm managing 4 electives, although the other three are not as demanding in terms of workload compared to CB. I guess I made a good choice in selecting the right balance of courses, if you could say the right balance falls within the domain of marketing. I have taken 3 electives in marketing - "Consumer Behavior, Advertising management and Product management" and the other elective in the Public Policy area - "Business, Government and Society". All four courses are unique in their own aspects. The literature and the articles that are distributed to us as part of the reading materials (apart from the usual pillow size textbooks) are an excellent compilation, giving more of a practical understanding of contemporary issues and viewpoints.

I have made the right decision in joining this course and am sure the next year will be as interesting and engaging as the first year. Many of my acquaintances think that PGSEM is not its worth without the official placements. People perceive the benefits of a product or an offering in different ways; for some, it is placements; for some others, it is networking; for a few like me, it is the overall experience that makes this programme unique. I just want to sail through and gather myriad shells of learnings and experiences.

Jun 26, 2008

A dream come true!

Having been an ardent admirer of Dr.Abdul Kalam, his books and his vision 2020, I always had the dream to hear his speech in person. This dream turned a reality at IIMB last evening. I got to experience how a good opening of a speech can make a powerful impact, a lesson I learnt from Toastmasters. He started off with the following verses:-
Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Just walk beside me, and be my friend.

Dr.Kalam painted a picture of his vision 2020 and highlighted different areas such as infrastructure, energy and agriculture where management graduates can play a vital role. He also urged on the importance of employablity and put forth key leadership traits such as vision, exploring the unexplored, courage and integrity. Creative leadership means being a coach rather than a commander and a mentor rather than a manager.

More than his talk, I admired the way he tackled the questions. When a guy listed down a series of problems that India is facing, he encouraged him to think about what he could do to solve some of these problems. Youth should enter developmental politics and not political politics.

As a fitting end to the evening, he made the audience take an oath that we would work with integrity and succeed with integrity. An experience I would cherish for a long time!

Jun 23, 2008

Not so long ago!

Seeds of leadership were sown when I fought for the fundamental rights of kids - to play and have fun.

As I sit in my balcony trying to make sense of the extremes "business of a business is business" and corporate social responsibility, the kids in my apartment complex are enjoying the company of each other, playing some games and shouting on top of their voices. I could feel myself being transported back to 14 years when I was one among them. Every evening, after school it was a fun evening with my neighborhood friends. Being the eldest, I came up with new games and activities.

"My son is preparing for CA. Do you know how tough the exams are? Go home and stop playing every evening" - my neighbor uncle blasted us one day. I boldly replied "Ask him to close all the windows and study". I didn't care much about his son's studies then.

When I look at the kids today, I regret the fact that I have grown up. I sit here, admiring these little kids and their tantrums. Although kids have become more sophisticated these days, the basic premise remains the same. Amidst their games, they stare at me wondering why this aunty (???) is looking at us and not her books. Do I tell them that they are more interesting than the Milton Friedman's article? :-)

Jun 19, 2008

fine to falter and flounder

My contribution to 3WW

a horrendous job to
wade through the dark forest
dried leaves, brown sticks
strewn around everywhere

holding hands together
frequenting this wonderland
quite often, hoping for
a treasure to get exposed

someday rain played spoilsport
drenching the brown mud and rocks
making the grounds slippery
bringing alive the sucking leeches

undeterred by the lashing wind
unscathed by the oozing blood
determined to discover the trove
working diligently, we dug deep

an old wooden box
locked tight by its side
with intricate carvings
revealed itself with pride

fine to falter and flounder
the only objective to open,
there she lies, our sweet pie
the cute kitten, feeling shy

Jun 17, 2008

A quest

My contribution to Cafe Writing - May & June project

Aroused by the pure rays of the sun
wakes up to the mellow voice of the cuckoo
with no need to scurry, admires the beauty
of the shades and colors of morning sky

devours the tunes of enchanting temple bells
the fragrance of burgeoning jasmine bushes
every reason to feel zealous about the dawn
unscathed by the hustle and bustle of metros

nerves her to hit the road yet again
in her embellished bullock cart
waving hands to the men and women
of the distant green fields

a nomad by choice, wandering through life
befriending toddlers and children on her way
humming to the tunes of the rustling leaves
in quest for her destination, nowhere

Jun 16, 2008

Sign off, Saturdays!

A perfect weekend it was! With the last free Saturday for the next one year (My 2nd year of PGSEM begins this Friday), it has to be something special. I woke up late at 8:30 AM and prepared myself a hot cup of tea. I love to sip my tea slowly and glance through the newspaper headlines. A day began that way makes me feel so good. I don't like to rush around this morning routine. But I don't get to have such a luxurious time every morning.

It's been a month since I shifted to my new home. But the cleaning hadn't got over yet. After 2 days of efforts, my home now looks so neat. The feel-good factor cannot be explained in words - with my bookshelf neatly stacked, my study table arranged with all those colorful, not-so-frequently used MBA textbooks, my music system plugged in and ready to be played anytime I want. Sifting through the horrendous pile of items and characterizing them into useful and junk is not an easy task with a person like me who loves to cling onto each and every piece of item. "I might use my 5 year old java notes sometime later", "I can play this old flute in my free time", "This is my college ID card, I can't get rid of it" - with lots of such thoughts and arguments, the weekend passed with repeats of a couple of hours of sorting and arranging, aptly rewarded with an episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S for the efforts that we had to put. I ended up watching around 8-10 episodes and all I could hear in my dreams were Ross's "We were on a break!!".

Experimenting with cooking new dishes used to be my favorite past time on Saturdays a year ago. I happened to catch up on that as well. The only thing that was missing was a lazy siesta after a heavy home made lunch. All these tasks were made possible, thanks to one main reason - I didn't switch on my laptop for the whole weekend.

Jun 11, 2008

The 3 mistakes of my life

Here comes another interesting, witty and melodramatic novel "The 3 mistakes of my life" from Chetan Bhagat, his third offering after "Five point someone" and "One night at the call center". This new book has a similar flow in terms of simple phrases and day-to-day conversations. Contrary to his other two books, this one is slightly serious and touches upon real issues like politics and religion.

The protogonist Govind plans to start his own business (a cricket shop in particular) along with his two best friends Ishant and Omi. Govind has been responsible right from his childhood and has been supporting his mother. Mathematics is his passion and he can only think in terms of numbers. Ishant, a local cricketer is very passionate about the game. His attempt to join the army failed because of which his dad is unhappy about him. Omi, the son of a priest is a very reclusive and aimless person but very much inclined towards his religious beliefs. There are other interesting characters - Ali, a young cricketer who has tremendous skills with special abilities; Vidya, Ishant's younger sister and the love interest of Govind; Bittoo Mama, Omi's maternal uncle who plays a pivotal role in this plot. The story is about the impact of three mistakes that Govind commits in his life on other people's lives. A fast paced, at times witty and at times emotional narration; A typical Chetan Bhagat style, I should say! But at times, the incidents became very serious. Maybe, Chetan tried to give a complete picture and not just the fun aspect of these characters.

The story is centered around Gujarat and the lives of people there. The way he has interwoven real life incidents (Ind v/s Aus Kolkata test match, Gujarat earthquake, Godhra violence, 9/11 etc) with the storyline made me think if it's indeed a real story. There are a couple of glitches I couldn't stand - too much use of the F word by everyone, including Bittoo Mama who is supposedly an elder person involved in active politics, lots of management jargon in the first half when Govind and his friends have just started their cricket shop. These doesn't gel with the dialogues and seem to just hang around.

"3 mistakes" is a light fiction which can easily be read through in 3-4 hours. Don't expect it to be a FPS or ONACC. The style might be similar but the storyline very different :-)

Jun 6, 2008

ஏன் இந்த நிலைமை

என் குழப்பங்கள்
என் ஏமாற்றங்கள்
இன்று நான் தோன்றவா?
மலையின் பின் ஒழியவா?

உலகத்தை பார்த்து
ஒரு சிறு புன்னகை
ஆனால் அதை கவனிக்க
யாருமில்லா சூழ் நிலை

வாழ்க்கை ஓட்டம்
ஓடும் மனிதர்கள்
ஒரு நிமிடம் என்னை
பார்க்காத சிறுவர்கள்

குழவிக்கு சோறு ஊட்ட
நான் இனிமேல் தேவையில்லை
Animal Planet டும்
Pogoவும் போதும்

சிறு சிறு சோற்று உருண்டை
கையில் வைத்து நிலாச்சோறு
குடும்பத்துடன் ஒன்றாய்
வெற்றுத்தரையில் அமர் ந்து

அன்று என் முன்
கதைகள் சொல்ல ஏராளம்,
இன்று தொலைக்காட்சி முன்
கை விரலுக்கு வேலை தாராளம்

A rough translation in English

Why such a state?

My confusions
My disappointments
Should I rise today?
Should I hide behind the mountains?

I look at the world
and offer a slight smile,
But no one to notice
is my pathetic state

Engaged in the race
of life are the adults,
No leisure time in the
hands of the children

To feed the newborn,
I'm no longer needed
There is Animal Planet
and Pogo these days

Small balls of rice
placed in the centre of palms,
the whole family united
together and ate their dinner

in front of me then
lots of stories to tell,
in front of TV now
lots of work for the fingers

Jun 4, 2008

Not so routine but special

When you do something which used to be a routine activity after a very long time, it feels very special. I totally agree with this statement. I used to be a regular listener of Sun Music a year ago. But after a few months, the same songs were repeated and mostly, those were the new songs. I couldn't bear to hear the stupid comments or questions from those VJs. They just spoil the experience of music by continuous talking. Once I got into PGSEM, I stopped watching Sun Music completely which gave me some time in the evening for my course work.

Now, with the vacation and a new Tata Sky connection at home, I turned to Sun music last night. I'm not sure if it was my luck or they have seriously changed their songs collection. My favorite songs started flowing one after the other and moreover, the RJ was also bearable. Some of the songs that I listened to and happily sang at the top of my voice while preparing dinner are these -

Rojavai thalattum thendral from ??
Poongatru un per solla from Vettri Vizha
Mandram vandha from Mouna Raagam
Vaa vaa kanna vaa from Veelaikkaaran
Medhuvaa medhuvaa oru kaadhal paatu from Anna nagar mudhal theru

Illayaraja, SPB and Chitra at their best, I should say!

Jun 3, 2008

A novel experience!

The last weekend was very special for numerous reasons. First and foremost, I had never stayed in a campus hostel either during my school or college days. Thanks to the 3 day leadership event "LCube" organized at IIM Bangalore, I got to experience the life in a hostel as a PGSEM student. What a beautiful campus IIMB has! Although I go to IIMB every weekend for my classes, I never took the time to roam around the entire campus and admire the greenery. The campus is so serene and peaceful, with absolutely no noise from the traffic woes of Bannerghatta Road. This stay also gave me a chance to meet new people - both my seniors and juniors. It also paved a way to know the fun side of a few of my classmates. These three days were packed with action that I slept for less than 6 hours and yet I felt fresh the whole day.

The leadership workshop brought in a lot of fun and thought provoking activities, games and theatre events. Although I didn't get much of the theory that was discussed, I enjoyed the different activities. As groups, we danced, enacted a short play, composed a tune, wrote the lyrics and even sang in front of the group. There was self introspection and deep thinking to understand ourselves. There was also an activity to write my own obituary which set me into deep pondering about my life. Some of the key take-aways from this workshop are
- A leader is no leader if there is no one to follow him/her.
- Trust is very important between the leader and his/her followers.
- A leader needs to be authentic. His thoughts, feelings and actions ought to be in sync.

I participated in a role play event "Practicing pundits" where different challenges faced by the software industry are given as scenarios and the participants need to put themselves in the shoes of the decision maker. The prelims was just a rehash of the OB concepts that we learnt in the first year which we were able to crack through and get into finals. Although my team didn't win, atleast I didn't make a fool of myself.

The quiz prelims on global leaders was so tough that I could hardly answer 5 questions out of 25. The finals was an interesting watch, with hard core quizzers taking the plunge.

A vacation is one that when you come back, you feel rejuvenated. I felt the same when I returned home after stay at IIMB.

My strategy on "Strategy"

Points that I presented to 2008 batch PGSEM students as part of their induction programme on June 1st 2008. My presentation was an overview of "Strategic Management" course which is a core course in Quarter 1.

Disclaimer
Based on my experiences as a 2007 student

Strategy
- Given a firm’s strengths and limitations under certain market conditions and external environmental factors, what should be its objectives in order to build a competitive position in the industry?

What’s this course all about?
- Provides a foundation for subsequent courses on marketing, finance and operations
- Covers many analytical frameworks to identify a problem and evaluate alternate solutions
- Emphasize on holistic thinking when taking important decisions
- Identify and analyze the impact of
- external factors such as Govt policies, market conditions and industry dynamics
- internal factors such as strengths of the firm, capabilities and weaknesses

Frameworks
- SWOT
- Porter’s five forces model
- Generic strategies
- Resource based view
- OCA (objectives, criteria, alternatives)
- Miles and Snow typology

Methodology
- Case based approach of learning
- Typically 2 cases per week with additional articles/theory as readings
- Cases from different industries and firms across the globe – Coca-Cola, Dell, Southwest Airlines, Zara Fashions, Samsung Electronics, Google, Walmart etc
- Become friends with Michael Porter
- 3P strategy (Preparation, participation and postmortem)

Case preparation
- Read the case - don't ponder too much on the facts, don't get judgmental in the first read (45 min - 1 hr)
- Read it again - this time, give importance to case facts. Do not ignore exhibits. Make notes if needed (1 hr)
- Go over the assigned readings/theory (1-2 hrs)
- Read the case again with conceptual knowledge. Make notes based on your analysis (1 hr)

Class participation
- If (any of the previous 4 steps not completed) then exit;
- Participate effectively but don’t get into arguments
- Even if you are doubtful about your analysis, put forth your viewpoints
- Professor or your classmates would either oppose/defend your argument
- Do not disrupt the flow of the discussion by bringing in irrelevant points to the table

Postmortem
- Participate in after-class discussions (typically happens over email)
- Analyze the current trends and latest strategic decisions of the firm
- Has the firm’s strategy you understood from the case undergone any drastic changes?

Term paper/project
- Analysis of an industry
- Evolutionary and revolutionary changes
- Key players and their growth patterns
- Contemporary challenges
- Your recommendations to face these challenges
- Make use of the frameworks/concepts to conduct an effective analysis

End term exam
- Open book
- Case analysis
- Clearly articulate your analysis/viewpoints
- Ample time given, so take some time to read the case carefully
- Don’t jump to conclusions

What did I do right?
- Spent good amount of time every week in case preparations
- Participated in class discussions
- Selected a different industry for analysis as part of term paper, very good learning experience
- Was able to articulate my case analysis clearly in end term

Where did I miss out?
- Not much efforts in postmortem
- Didn’t dive deep into theory (“text book”)
- Didn’t enforce the 4-step preparation process for all cases

Jun 2, 2008

Let the music play!

It's a rare occasion when two albums of Rahman of different genre release around the same time. I was hoping that Ada would be better than Jaane Tu yaa Jaane naa but I was wrong. JTYJN is a superb album with many beautiful songs. Except for one song, Ada didn't impress me that much.
"Meherbaan" from Ada is such a soothing, caressing melody that my eyes have been welling up ever since I listened to this song for the first time last week. It starts off with a similar tune as of "Shauk hai" from Guru but that's just for the first couple of seconds, after which Rahman takes the listeners through a magical journey. I'm just mesmerized by his voice and the humming while the background score goes slow. The instrumental version of the song is equally good. Although I'm not attracted to any of the other songs in this movie, I'm just hooked onto this brilliant composition and voice. This is definitely one of my favorites of Rahman.

The album JTYJN has a range of brilliant songs. This album is on similar lines like Kaadhal Desam, Kaadhalar Dhinam etc. Youthful, peppy and foot tapping numbers! A romantic melody "Kahin to hogi ho" is sung so beautifully by Rashid Ali and Vasundhara Das. I missed her voice for quite some time. This is my most favorite song of the album.

"Nazrein milaana" is a peppy, foot tapping number that caught my attention right from the first hearing. I just watched a trailer of this song and can't wait to watch the picturization of the whole song. The jazzy song "Tu Bole" sung by Rahman himself is a unique composition with trumpet tunes used for interludes and has some interesting lyrics. There is a slight resemblance to Sillunu Oru Kaadhal title track. Another superb song is "Kabhi Kabhi Aditi" sung by Rashid Ali again. I like the background tune that flows in throughout the song. I would call it a morning song as this will cheer your mood for the whole day. And for all the fans of fast paced numbers, there is "Pappu can't dance" which will make you dance.

I guess this movie should be worth a watch, with such nice songs and ofcourse Imraan Khan!

May 27, 2008

Quitting

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #112 - Quitting

It's been more than three years since I started cooking food. With a lot of experiments and trials, I can now say that I've become comfortable preparing a meal. But there is one thing which I couldn't master yet, even after several times of practice. It's the art of making perfect round chapathis (Indian bread). I tried kneading the dough using my hands as well as using a food processor. Once rolled, there was never an even distribution of the dough on all sides. I can whip out such unique shapes that kids can learn geometric figures just by looking at them - rectangles, squares, triangles, pentagons etc etc. You name the shape and I can make it for you except the elusive circle!

I tried harder and put more efforts but the focus shifted from Geometry to Geography. I rolled the dough and shapes of Kashmir started to appear. I rolled some more, extended it downwards and made it into a perfect map of India. I knew my husband doesn't really mind the shape as long as the chapathis are soft. But I cannot entertain any of my guests with such odd shaped chapathis. I tried more and in the end, I decided to give up. So what if it doesn't take a perfect round shape? Anyway, you are going to split it into smaller pieces before you eat. After quitting my efforts, I felt so much better. I was relieved from the pressures of sticking to the rules written by someone.

It was some man/woman in ancient times who invented chapathis and might have given the round shape to it. Now I'm changing the conventional habit and giving a whole new meaning and also adding a fun and educational component to the art of making chapathis. Am I not an innovator, I wonder!

Last night, while making my usual square shaped chapathis with not much thought given to shape, I observed that one of them turned out to be a perfect circle with even distribution of the dough. Wow, what an achievement! I smiled to myself but that was just one sample. The chapathis that followed suit were of my usual style, with new geometric figures coming to the forefront. Maybe, I should apply for a patent!

May 23, 2008

Invisible wave

her eyes searched for him
hoping to catch a glimpse
before leaving for home
a daily routine it was!

her day became colorful
jumping with rejoice
beaming with grace
a secret smile it was!

he's nowhere to be
seen that evening,
wandering around with hope
she returns home disappointed

his first victory in billiards
celebrating with friends,
a sudden momentary discomfort
which he is unable to explain

an invisible wave
starts to form
a telepathic link
for lifetime between the two!

May 22, 2008

Goal

My contribution to 3WW
delayed
edge
focus

trudging up the deserted hills
focusing on the rough trail
his footsteps not so wary,

peeping over his old watch
hoping he doesn't get delayed
his milestone in his vicinity,

placing his careful last step
standing on the edge of the cliff
his eyes immersed in the spectacle of sunset

It's dusting time!

It's been more than a month since I rambled anything. It looks like "my nest" is infested with spider webs. It's about time to clear them up and fill my nest with so many events and changes that has happened. My PGSEM exams got over and I'm on weekend summer vacation. Yay! I can't believe one year has passed by so quickly. I plan to look back and write in detail about the first year as it might be informative to PGSEM aspirants and also to people who wonder what I do over weekends. At work, I shifted to a different group and it's been good so far in terms of understanding a different business domain.

Now, the biggest change! My hubby and I shifted out of the rented house and moved to our own apartment. This is the first time I shifted my house in Bangalore after six years. It's been very busy with preparations for the house warming ceremony, setting up the new home, getting rid of junk stuff and buying other essential things. I can seriously feel the "Monica" in me when it comes to cleaning, especially in the new home :-) With no TV connection, evenings are special and active. I get a lot of household chores done and I don't feel a tad tired. I have got back to my good old cooking habits. The feel of perusing over cook books is something special. "Change" can do wonders, I suppose! A new home, a new location, a new commute route, a new place to buy groceries (yes, it makes a difference!).

Apr 29, 2008

தருணம்

இளநீர் இனிக்கிறது அதிசயமாய்
மனம் கசந்திருக்கும் வேளையில்
எதிர்ப்பார்க்காத தருணம்
தரும் புத்துணர்ச்சி

Apr 14, 2008

Ladies coupe

Six different women narrate their life experiences. They hail from different backgrounds but the one common thread that ties all of them is the influence of men in their lives. And it is this thread that becomes a point of discussion in a ladies compartment of a train journey.

The lead character, 45 year old Akhila takes up the responsibility of supporting her family after her father's death. A strict routine, day after day pushes her to a stage that her family considers her just as an earning member and not as a normal woman who could have feelings and would love to have a family of her own. She remains to be a spinster, searching for the answer if she could stay alone for the rest of her life.

In search of her quest, she boards a train to Kanyakumari where she happens to meet five different women. Janaki, the old lady whose son disrespects her but she believes that a woman can never live alone and that she is bound to be with a man; Margaret, the chemistry teacher whose husband illtreats her and tries to put her down in every possible situation through his harsh words; Sheela, a teenager who expresses what she truly believes but only to be shunt by her father for crossing the boundaries setforth in front of women in traditional India; Prabha Devi who comes out of her cocoon by being a rebel as per her own terms and finds her purpose in being afloat; Marikolanthu who is subject to unexpected twists and turns and her life goes beyond her control.

Each story has its share of sadness and I couldn't interpret if Akhila ever got an answer to her quest. I especially liked the character Margaret who is so typical and can be recognized anywhere in India - a working woman but never treated on par because of the ego clashes and the superior portrayal of her fault finding husband.

The author Anitha Nair has done her homework very well as the different characters are very familiar and can easily be reckoned with. The metaphors sprinkled throughout the novel are pretty intriguing. For instance, Akhila's strict and unchanged routine being related to her starched cotton sarees, Margaret's way of attaching the name of chemicals to different people she encounter, with her husband being the oil of vitriol - sulphuric acid, Marikolanthu's name which means being second to the real thing and how her life unfolds to match her name. A very detailed narration has made this novel a little dragging at places. But nevertheless, it was an interesting read.

Apr 11, 2008

Unplanned perfection

That's how the drive to Madikeri was last weekend (Update: a couple of weekends ago). A fresh experience! As on Friday, I was in two minds whether to go for the trip or not. In the end, it turned out to be a memorable trip.

Only an outdoor event can force me to wake up at 4 AM. We got ready quickly and all our bags were packed. The city hasn't yet started its gear and it was a perfect time to start our Indica's gear. We picked up our other friends on the way and hit the Mysore Road before sunrise. The weather was cool and the day began with a cloudy sky. After a quick breakfast at Kamat, we were back on the road ,occasionally stopping on our way to capture the beautiful scenic spots in our camera. It started drizzling and the downpour became heavy by the time we reached Bylakuppe, a Tibetan settlement area. The monastery was an awesome sight and was neatly maintained. The drive was enjoyable, more so to the drivers who had fun overtaking the Accents and Santros and also being overtaken by the Altos and 800s and hitting 80 and 100 kmph. The road was superb for the most part except for a few kms between Bylakuppe and Kushalnagar.

We stopped for lunch at Kushalnagar and then decided to go to Nisargadhama,a serene island. Rain played spoilsport and we couldn't spend much time in this beautiful island formed by the river Cauvery. Madikeri welcomed us with cool breeze, mild drizzle and spectacular viewpoints. After a bit of tussle identifying the location of our homestay, we reached the place before sunset. Although food not being part of the homestay was a disappointment, we were able to arrange for dinner. After spending the rest of the evening playing cards and dumbsharads, we had a good night sleep.

Waking up late on a Sunday morning doesn't change whether the place is Bangalore or Madikeri, I suppose. After a nice Coorgi breakfast and a refreshing coffee prepared by aunty at the home stay, her son took us on a trip towards their coffee plantations. This is the first time I happened to see coffee plants and touch-me-not plants. The sky was clear and the sunlight lifted our spirits. After an hour at the Raja's seat, we hit the roads again and with no rains, we crossed the bad roads in no time. It was a smooth journey towards Bangalore with pitstops at Kushalnagar for lunch and Cafe Coffee day.

The whole experience has been amazing and I can happily put a tick mark against Madikeri in my to-visit list :-)

The goal

As part of the prescribed readings of our "Operations Management" course, I came across this interesting and insightful book "The goal" by Eliyahu Goldratt and Jeff Fox. It's definitely an eye opener in terms of breaking some of the traditional mindsets in manufacturing processes.

The story revolves around Alex Rogo, a plant manager who is facing the challenge of improving the performance of his loss-making plant in 90 days. If he fails, his plant will be shut down and many workers will lose their jobs. There has been huge delays in delivering the orders. There are issues with throughput and inventory. Priorities keep changing and expeditors are always on their toes. Overtimes or robots don't help either. Although Alex has been putting long hours at work trying to fix issues, there is no improvement whatsoever. On the other hand, his personal life is affected and so is his marriage.

An accidental meeting with one of his professors Jonah opens up a new window of thinking and Alex starts to analyze the processes in his plant from scratch. Jonah's pointers on throughput, operational expense and inventory helps Alex to unravel more pitfalls in the current operations of his plant. He gets to learn more on bottlenecks when he goes on a hiking trip with his son. Many revelations that he experiences in this journey of three months are common sensical in nature. Yet in the name of so-called common practices, we tend to not think beyond and question the many principles that we follow blindly.

There are many valuable insights throughout this book in terms of productivity and utilization aspects, dependent events and statistical fluctuations. The author also hits at some of the common accounting practices that can prove to be detrimental in the effective operations of a firm. Towards the end, the concept of "theory of constraints" fits so beautifully with the learnings that Alex experiences in his journey.

I found this book to be very interesting. I plan to read "Goal II" during my weekend vacations in May :-)

Apr 8, 2008

Unraveling

Tagged by Preethi

1. LAST MOVIE YOU SAW IN A THEATER:
Jodha Akbar - loved the costumes, grandeur and ofcourse, Hrithik!

2. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING?
"Ladies coupe" by Anitha Nair. Just started with it. Hoping to complete in a week.

3. FAVORITE BOARD GAME?
"Snake and ladder". It was fun to play on the day of Vaikunda Ekadesi with my grandma....the more the number of snakes that eat you, the more the number of sins you have committed...that was her logic!

4. FAVORITE MAGAZINE?
I'm not really a "magazine" person but I used to read Sportstar regularly during my school and college days. "read" means admiring the pictures of Sachin, Mcgrath, Steve Waugh, Pollock etc :-)

5. FAVORITE SMELLS?
Smell of Jaathi malli (a different type of jasmine)
Smell of a Pooja room in a traditional Indian house....it's divine, thanks to the flowers, incense sticks and tulsi leaves.
Smell of fresh filter coffee

6. FAVORITE SOUND? Of MUSIC?
Any form of flute
Sound from a cuckoo bird near my window early morning.

7. WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD?
loss of a loved one....have experienced it once before and don't even want to think about it.

8. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU WAKE
Why is this alarm clock so punctual? Let me snooze for 10 more minutes!

9. FAVORITE FAST FOOD PLACE?
Paani puri in Shiv Sagar, Bhel Puri in Ananda Bhavan

10. FUTURE CHILD'S NAME?
Will a nick name do? :-) haven't thought of the official name yet....

11. FINISH THIS STATEMENT. "IF I HAD A LOT OF MONEY I'D...?
buy a big farm house in Kumarakom, with lots of kittens, a tree house, a huge garden and my own canoe.

12. DO YOU DRIVE FAST?
yes, really fast!....my cycle can overtake a roadside buffalo and a lazing dog.

13. DO YOU SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL?
I won't call it as a stuffed animal.....but I love tiny stuffed toys and they all have names. One of them is very very special!

14. STORMS-COOL OR SCARY?
Scary when I'm outside......but cool when I'm inside my home. can't think of a better time to sip hot tea and munch some snacks.

15. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR?
Indica might be the real name but I've named her "Reby". Hoping to take her for a drive one day!

16. FAVORITE DRINK?
Tea, anytime!.....Coffee is also there in the list but right below tea :-)

17. FINISH THIS STATEMENT, "IF I HAD THE TIME I WOULD.....
write all the stories that cross my mind and publish them into novels.
become a better cook.
read a lot of children fiction (Nancy Drew, Enid Blyton, Hardy boys all of which I didn't read during my childhood)
travel around the world and attempt to capture the beauty in my camera and in my words.

18. DO YOU EAT THE STEMS ON BROCCOLI?
Are those the pieces that sit in a corner of my emptied salad plate?

19. IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR CHOICE?
Non-Harry Potter fans can pass on to the next question.
"Can I get a Weasley color please, to match my hero Ron?"

20. NAME ALL THE DIFFERENT CITIES/TOWNS YOU HAVE LIVED IN.
Chennai, Bangalore

21. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH?
Cricket, Formula-1

22. ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU.
Preethi is a very sweet and friendly person, a great cook. She always has lots to chat about. A very interesting personality, so does her blog.

23. WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED?
A couple of my MBA textbooks, novels from library, all fighting for my attention!

24. WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE BORN AS YOURSELF AGAIN?
Definitely yes.....If I were reborn as myself, I would love to bunk classes and enjoy my college days more than what I did....Everything else remains the same!

25. MORNING PERSON, OR NIGHT OWL?
Night owl....I'm very lazy to get up early, my alarm clock bears the brunt.

26. OVER EASY, OR SUNNY SIDE UP?
too complicated a question for a tuby like me!

27. FAVORITE PLACE TO RELAX?
my bed on a weekend, enjoying my afternoon siesta

28. FAVORITE PIE?
Is brownie a pie?

29. FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR?
Black currant and strawberry

30. OF ALL THE PEOPLE YOU TAGGED THIS TO, WHO'S MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND FIRST?
I would want my hubby to respond....this tag might pull him back to blogging!
Anyone else who finds this tag interesting.

Mar 21, 2008

A pocket full of rye

I have been intrigued by mystery stories for a long time. Though I haven't read much in this genre so far, I have watched quite a few movies and was thrilled. When I heard about Agatha Christie in a movie (Taare Zameen Par, to be precise), I decided to borrow one of her mystery novels from the library. "A pocket full of rye" is a page turner and keeps you guessing until the story ends in a twist.

The head of the family Mr.Rex Fortesque is poisoned by one among the members of his family. The inspector Mr.Neele who handles the investigation unravels the motive and identifies the killer using a nursery rhyme. As I turned the pages, I was guessing who could be the killer and my guesses kept changing. In the end, all my guesses were wrong. A short and crisp storyline and a well connected plot has made this novel a pretty interesting read. I hope to read more of her novels in the coming months.

Mar 20, 2008

Not a final frontier

My contribution to 3WW

A chase of a lifetime
peeking away from daily treasures
one step at a time, you walk
the giant hops twice as fast

with great effort, you catch some
only to find bigger monsters
staring right at you from a distance
tangled by the ever alluring race

taking bigger and wider strides
you reach to master those creatures,
unrealized that you've transformed
to a tamed, timid slave at the end

conquer or to be conquered
money not the final frontier
understand the loss before gain
life meant to be superior

Mar 13, 2008

A scary adventure

My contribution to 3WW

Dark and eerie,
60 minutes to midnight
elders snoozing
after a long tiring day

remote buttons stressed
quick hops through TV channels
wide awake siblings
the apartment's active souls

a sudden pause of the thumb
the title of the movie allures
so begins a scary horror flick
the background score threatens

hands go numb,
heart pounds maximum,
midnight draws close,
characters come alive

fearful to watch anymore
breathing tends to shallow
switching off the TV
scarier nightmares to follow

My brother and I used to watch horror movies in the night when the rest of the family sleeps. I rarely watched the whole movie. Somewhere in the middle, I used to get so scary that I couldn't watch it anymore!

Mar 11, 2008

A goner

My contribution to 3 word Wednesday - rest, sidewalk, twice

A long, clean sidewalk
tall trees on one side
rushing traffic on the other

concrete benches at few steps
providing the needed rest
for tired, worn out legs

An ideal seat for a chit-chat
munching peanuts, sipping tea
cool wind, taking away my hat

outcome of Diwali shopping
heavy bags on either side,
strolled along the stretch twice

here comes Metro rail
with its fiery speed
this experience goes peril

My favorite hang-out stretch in MG Road, Bangalore has been demolished due to the construction of Metro rail tracks. The shopping experience is no longer the same!

Mar 10, 2008

Unveiling India : A woman's journey

Anees Jung, the author has traveled across India, visited different cities and villages to analyze the lives and struggles of women from different backgrounds and the issues that loom large in front of them. Right from birth till the last breath, a woman faces problems and turmoils from her own family and the society. The author narrates her experiences in meeting women from Hyderabad, Varanasi, Kanyakumari, Mumbai and also many villages.

Irrespective of caste or religion, there have been barriers put forth in front of women from centuries which many are trying to break free from today. Be it the act of female foeticide, gender discrimination when it comes to education or work by their own parents, childhood marriage and a veiled day-to-day routine, these issues are rooted in many remote parts of the country. With no education or financial support and their struggles to lead a normal life, women feel stuck with these issues and couldn't find a way out of them. The one shocking verse of an ancient poem I came across in this book made me feel so angry - "Feed a woman less, for she is not going to fetch you anything. She is a burden for whom you need to spend on her marriage and dowry". From an outsider perspective, people might say that such days are long gone and women are treated better in the current Indian society. But there is a bigger entity called rural India where such practices still prevail but is not addressed or discussed, something which is taken as given. Some of the experiences mentioned in the book portray a clear picture of exploitation, prejudices and discrimination, escapism by blaming on the culture and traditions, rules set forth by some unknown saints which people blindly follow and restrict the women of this nation.

When every woman of this country lives her dream, only then we could claim we are independent.

Mar 4, 2008

A special Sunday

I did something last Sunday which I haven't done for a long time. It all started with hubby's plan of attending an Indica car users meet in Cubbon Park. The last time I visited Cubbon Park was way back in 1990. Sunday was meant to be the day to break the jinx, I suppose. We reached around 10 AM and greeted the fellow Indica users. The casual talk gave way to more technical details of cars and SUVs and I started losing interest. Discussing about specifications of cars is not my ideal way to spend a leisurely Sunday morning. I started walking and admiring the tall trees, the yellow flowers on the grass bed, the clear blue sky, the dry leaves and the water droplets on top of hibiscus petals. It's interesting to see different people, taking a nap on the benches, having a picnic with family, jogging hard to stay fit, the visitors and the regulars.

After taking a stroll around the park, I went to Bal Bhavan (children's park) and was thrilled to see the amusement rides. How much I enjoy these rides! This time, I was all alone by myself. I was watching the families that have come together that reminded me of my childhood days when we used to visit Kishkinta and MGM Dizzee world in Chennai. I wanted to go in all the rides but was reluctant to take the plunge alone, not because I get scared because it felt weird to go on a ride alone. One part of my mind suggested that I should go back to the car users meet while the other pushed me towards those exciting rides. What if all these rides are meant only for kids? That would be a huge disappointment. It felt awkward when I asked the lady in the counter whether these rides are only for kids. When she said no, I felt ecstatic. I bought the ticket and the ride on the Columbus (a boat swinging like a pendulum) was so thrilling. The irony was the song being played in the background - "Akele Hai to kya gum hai" from Qayamat se Qayamat tak. The kids who were my fellow companions gave a broad smile and I had so much fun, shouting at the top of my voice.

I returned back in the sunny afternoon, terribly hungry with lunch parcel in the hand. After a quick lunch, I took a nice afternoon siesta. I love these short naps in the weekend afternoons. But in the past six months, this has become a rare event (thanks to PGSEM!). Anyway, when I woke up and switched on the TV, it was a perfect chase by Indian cricket team and a sparkling century by Sachin. After a long time, I spent a couple of hours watching cricket. Such occasional laid back Sundays are really amazing and much neeeded if we have to face busy weekdays ahead.

Time machine

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings #100 - Time machine

Eyes red and brimmed with tears
Rice balls difficult to swallow
Future appeared desolate and grim
Near and dear consoled to support
efforts to alleviate the grief and pain

gripped with deep sorrow
devastated with the death of my mom,
in the painful moment, I receive
a special gift from God
soothing and comforting

the lyrics and the beats
a melody fresh and new
to the eardrums of a 11 year old
playing from the radio
in the rusty old tea shop

life moved on fine
a 15 year long journey
pampered by the love
and care of my dad
and now my hubby

yet the time machine
brings back the sadness,
reminds me of the trembling pain
and the caressing comfort
my precious song of a lifetime

This precious time machine is a Tamil song "Kaadhal Rojaave" from the movie Roja.

Fire on the mountain

One of my favorite genres of reading is Indian Writings in English. I picked up this novel written by Anitha Desai from a local library. The crisp summary at the back of the novel intrigued me and it was worth a read and a good change amidst the heavy management books.

The protogonist, Nanda Kaul having lived a life of obligations and responsibilities decides to spend the rest of her life alone in the quiet, untouched hilly region of Kasauli. Her only companion is the caretaker Ram Lal who clearly understands Nanda and lives in his own way with no disturbance to her solitude. The garden being left as it was, her past time was to observe the huge pine trees and the views of the plains from the hills. The rare hour of afternoon nap has now become a daily routine to her. Time moves slowly at her own pace, reading books and contemplating about her days. She no longer needs a family or obligations. One line summarizes her rationale behind her decision - "Life would swirl on again, in an eddy, a whirlpool of which she was the still fixed eye in the centre". At her senile age, she is happy being left alone until one day the postman knocks at her door and brings the news of her great grand daughter Raka's arrival. Her little abode and her privacy will be intruded by a child. She has to look after a child yet again after years and years of bringing up daughters and grand daughters.

Raka arrives and to Nanda's surprise, Raka is just a younger Nanda. She also prefers to be left alone, exploring the jungles and hills, strolling alone in the dark and not interested in talking or being taken care by her great grandmother. They lead their lives on their own terms, spending quiet moments together during lunch and tea. The occasional story telling about the hills and ghosts by Ram Lal keeps Raka engrossed and interested. Nanda feels left out with her great grand daughter's total ignorance. On a casual evening, the silence breaks loose when Nanda starts to reminesce about her childhood house, the garden and the animals that she was brought up with. Although she tries to create fantasies in the young mind of Raka, she couldn't hold onto her interest as Ram Lal. Ila Das, Nanda's childhood pal enters the scene and the lives of the three ladies are no longer the same, leading to an unexpected twist towards the end.

"Fire on the mountain" is a slow paced, deep narration of the lives of three women, four generations apart. The village is portrayed vividly to the reader's mind with interesting anecdotes and details. The characterization of Nanda is so well written that you instantly start to appreciate her decision. When I started reading it, it reminded me of the old Tamil movie "Poove poochudavaa" because of the similarity in story - an old woman deciding to live alone and her grand daughter comes to visit her. But the similarity ends right there. The novel is not a gripping or unputdownable tale. But it dwelves more on its ability to make readers imagine and transport to the hills of Kasauli, nature, forests and sudden forest fires. The emotions of different characters stand out clearly due to the descriptive nature of their thought processes and their lives in general.

Feb 26, 2008

A rare phenomenon

My contribution to Cafe Writing - February project Options #1 and #6

Option #1 Timed writing - wrote this piece in 9 minutes and didn't edit it.
Option #6 Fiction

You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover’s arms can only come later when you’re sure they won’t laugh if you trip.

~Jonathan Carroll, Outside the Dog Museum


Eyes speak a thousand words
a glance depicts hundred emotions
The whole world transported elsewhere
Every wake moment in deep thoughts

outbursts of temper to dear and near
white roses look extremely colorful
vision towards a distant gaze
day dreaming a daily routine

unusual smile painted on the face
music feels so divine and pure,
catching up on sunrise
not a difficult job anymore!

memorable symptoms
worth a treasure
beginning of love
a rare phenomenon for sure!

Feb 25, 2008

Surprise gift

My contribution to Read Write Prompt - #15

Dark clouds obstructing the morning rays,
leaving behind a shade of uncertainty
"Is it really 6 o' clock?", she wondered
"Did my alarm clock ring early?"

Opening the window, she glanced,
the first drizzle of the summer
the refreshing smell of the petrichor
the croaking noise of the frogs

Eyes yet to be awakened,
she was truly hopeful
a lovely day alone at home
an escape from the drowning lectures

"Get ready soon", her mom's phrase
hardly reached her dreaming mind
Ensuring the clouds are here to stay,
not passing beauty, she rejoiced

Switching on the radio news
confirming all schools declared
a holiday, her joy knew no bounds
the blessed rain's surprise gift

Feb 22, 2008

Passion

My contribution to Sunday Scribblings - #99 Passion

Twittering moment,
excitement at its peak
hands folded in unison,
offering prayers

adrenalin pumped up
heartbeat racing fast,
Irresistible temptation
sun peeps out of the dark clouds

not moving a micro inch,
follow every minuscule action
wide open lids with full focus
eyeballs gazing hard and hopeful

a sixer zooms past
way beyond the stands,
Jumping in passion
victorious day for cricket

Feb 21, 2008

Garden of peace

My contribution to Cafe Writing February Project- Option 5 Poetry

From December to March, there are for many of
us three gardens:
the garden outdoors,
the garden of pots and bowls in the house,
and the garden of the mind’s eye.
- Katherine S. White

Immersed in beauty of nature
amidst varieties of flora
A hot cup of tea in one hand
and a fountain pen in the other
blue ink waiting to give shape to thoughts

serendipitous weather for the afternoon
seated on a wide hammock
ends tied to eucalyptus trees
standing tall, despite the cool wind
chirping cuckoos, respite from noise around

white rabbits and kittens
playing with joy in harmony
jasmine bushes spreading fragrance
blossomed red roses augmenting beauty
the proud hosts of my garden

reverberating hums of honeybees
colourful shades of butterflies
flapping wings of seasonal birds
footprints of ever active squirrels
the frequent visitors of my garden

mellifluous music of the flowing stream
Time doesn't zoom past here,
moments meant to be treasured
bringing the almighty near
My dream garden of peace

Feb 18, 2008

A wish come true!

I have never watched a movie in a cinema theater a day before any exam but I always wanted to give it a try. Exams come and go all the time but a free premiere show ticket of the much awaited movie doesn't land in one's hands everyday. This is exactly what happened to me last Friday, an opportunity to watch "Jodha Akbar". With two exams lined up on Saturday, it was a difficult yet daring choice if you ask me. I took it and now I don't regret it. Those 4-5 hours of preparation wouldn't have made any big difference to my performance, anyway.

Jodha Akbar is a superb movie for its grandeur and magnificent picturization of the forts and battlefields, the colors and wonderful costumes and ofcourse, the brilliant music by Rahman. Ash and Hrithik have portrayed their characters so well that I don't think anyone else could have fit their roles. The songs have been beautifully picturized, especially the "Marhaba" song.

For a person who managed to learn Hindi by watching movies, I couldn't follow many of the dialogues. My friends mentioned during the intermission that the sentences are of pure Urdu and Hindi words that are not so commonly used. Subtitles would have really helped to appreciate this history based movie much better. The pace of the movie, especially the first 30 minutes was very slow that I saw a few people get out of the cinema hall. The movie was very lengthy as well. Apart from these two glitches, the movie is definitely worth a watch.

Feb 12, 2008

Special companion

Now and then, I get this sudden urge to buy myself a bicycle and ride on Bangalore roads, claiming that I could save on fuel and also would help me stay fit. My experience with cycling dates back to my college days (not so long ago, mind you!). In school, I was more than happy to be a pillion driver along with my dad or my younger brother. During the long break between school and college (ah! those wonderful days), dad bought me a BSA SLR bicycle and I started to learn. Initially, my brother was helping me till I get the balance. Yeah, you are right! A 17 year old girl was being taught how to ride a bicycle by her 15 year old brother.

Once I got the hang of it, it was a dream come true. Every morning, I used to ride my vehicle to the cycle stand, park it and then take my college bus. The route I normally take was pretty straightforward, through residential streets and a road encompassing a huge playground where there is little traffic (little refers to fellow bicyclers). There were speed brakers and humps in such roads for no reason. Initially, I used to get down diligently before each and every speed braker, drag my bicycle and then start riding again. When occasionally a lorry or a big van comes from the opposite direction, I would sincerely get down and give way to those huge vehicles. My brother is my biggest critic and he used to advise me that I rather take a walk than drag my vehicle. He still doesn't think that I am capable of cycling. Those were the initial 3 months. After this testing period, it was a bliss or rather I call it a miracle. It became a second nature. Wherever I go around in my locality, my red BSA gave me a good company. She was one of my dear friends for 4 years.

When I moved to Bangalore, I had to give up my bicycle. Cycling is such an enjoyable experience which makes me want to buy one and ride to office everyday. Hope this dream comes true soon!

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