Dec 29, 2005

la la wonderlaaaaaaaaa.......

This was how my mind was singing with joy and excitement on Sunday night. Amusement parks always amuse me. Thrilling rides that send a chill down your spine, Screams that you let out though you are not that scared, Exploring the unexplored, graduating slowly through the levels of toughness of the rides and finally returning home with exciting experiences are all that amusement parks offer.

The day dawned. An unusual Monday morning. No blues or greens. Just a sense of anxiety. A team outing on a Monday to Wonderla. Can you ask for more? I got myself ready and left for office. We had planned to leave by 9.30 but we were late by 30 minutes as usual. Indian stretchable time, I suppose. Since the traffic was not that bad, we managed to reach the place by 11.10. It was very surprising to see so many kids and youngsters waiting in the queue. Finally we got the tickets and entered the park at 11.40.

Our first battle was against a hurricane. Don't worry, it's not Rita or Katrina that smashed New Orleans. That was the name of our first ride. A three arm roller mounted at a good height. It was one of the high thrill rides. All these rides make you feel very scared when you look at them. But once you take your seats, it's just amazing. All your internal organs are swayed, churned and toppled. After you get down, you feel a sense of achievement and satisfaction and then you say to the same ride that made you fear, "hey, I conquered you. You are no bigger than me." and give a proud smile.

Since we managed to complete all the tough ones first, the drop zone was a child play. Splash was very entertaining and many of us took the ride twice. On top of all that, a nice way to end the day on a water pendulum for which you don't have any support other than your hand grip.

Food was good and affordable. The negative part of the trip was the cost of the ticket. It's definitely overpriced at 480 per head. But no regrets as long as someone else sponsors for you ;-)

My best team outing in the past three and half years. I strongly recommend Wonderla for people who like going to amusement parks, who do not face any health problems and most importantly, who has the guts to face these thrilling rides like me.....

Dec 22, 2005

My blog

I'm pondering now, deeply, about what I have for my precious blog. Thoughts flowing like Niagara falls but they don't stop for me to pen down. I need Dumbledore's pensieve, I guess. What to write about in my blog? Perhaps, about my blog itself and the wonderful experiences that came along with it.

If you notice, my first post was in June 2004, titled "Cup of Coffee". A real life experience which I managed to put it in words. Yes, I managed it. I can always speak about a particular incident. But when I want to write it, I always felt a roadblock. Pen tip touching my diary's pages while my mind is searching for appropriate words. That was how I felt until June 2004. Then this amazing phenomenon called blogging entered my life and everything changed. I'm not exaggerating here. Unless your communication is effective, it's very difficult to succeed in this high-competition, fast-paced world. I believe this concept to the fullest. That's what is motivating me to attend Toastmaster sessions. That's what is giving me the urge to blogging.

On Dec 31st 2004, I decided that I'm going to blog regularly in 2005, one post per week at the minimum. I had put that down in my diary as well. I read somewhere, guess it's one of Robin Sharma's books, that a goal unwritten is a dream. All of us have dreams, big dreams. But to achieve them, our dreams need to be transformed into goals. And these goals got to be written down in paper. That's what I did. Although I couldn't achieve all I had planned for this year, I did manage to achieve a few of them. A detailed post on this coming soon.

My passions, a few travelogues, books, music and movie reviews, my ramblings about life and society, stories, poems - what a nice way to express my feelings !!. Thanks, I was able to explore some of my hidden talents and unleash my creativity. I always had the feeling that I wasn't very creative and my right brain doesn't function at all. Blogging proved me wrong. I had lots of fun not only in writing my thoughts, but also reading others. Most of us never express our feelings directly. Through blogging, I understood the traits of many of my friends. Without blogs, I would have never known that my hubby has a flair for narrating incidents in an interesting way, Gandhi and DD for their good acumen in poetry, Biju and Preethi for their nice, little stories.

Thanks to all those who have been reading my articles and taking time to give their comments. Hoping to write more and yeah, revive my "Amidst a terrible desert" episodes.

Dec 8, 2005

My precious....

Tagged by CK

Clear blue sky
Lush green fields
Fully grown coconut trees
Triangle shaped sand temples

Fresh water lake
Infant's innocent smile
Dew drops on leaves
Little lamp near a Tulsi plant

Pulley on top of the well
Sounds of the temple bell
Calf running towards his mom
Ganesha idol at the foot of banyan tree

Jasmine flowers
Steam engines
Malgudi's essence
RK Narayan novel

Slow moving clouds
White spotted deers
Soothing flute music
Hot cup of cardamom tea

Early morning
Temple hymns
Sunset evening
Pretty rainbow

Twinkling stars
Bright full moon
Snow clad mountains
Crystal clear stream

Slight drizzle
Milk cooker whistle
Refreshing lemon juice
Lunch on plantain leaf

Ambrosial filter coffee
prepared by father,
Watching one day cricket
accompanied by brother

Whole hearted laugh
with loved ones,
Special someone's hug
and supporting words
Precious life this is
God's gift of love.

Dec 1, 2005

My resolutions for 2006 - Part I

Tagged by my hubby

New year has always been very special to me. It gives an opportunity for a new beginning, a fresh start and time to look back on what I have accomplished in the past year. I had set a few resolutions/ goals for 2005, have made progress on a few of them but have broken some resolutions. Anyway, no harm in trying them next year as well. Yes, I do believe in trying again and again and again.....Will list down what I have accomplished this year sometime in the end of December after I do a thorough analysis.

Here I go....with a few resolutions for 2006 in order of priority

1) Get up at 5 AM everyday (This was one of my goals for 2005 but never managed to accomplish it for more than 3 days)
2) Do some physical activity for an hour everyday to keep my body in good shape (Have learnt a bit of Yoga/Pranayama, tried jogging for a couple of weeks and off late, doing some skipping. But very very irregular in 2005)
3) Learn to play violin (Have been postponing this for the past 2 years, giving lame excuses to myself like unable to find a good teacher)
4) Become a competent toastmaster (There are 10 levels to reach this goal , have completed 7 levels so far, hoping to complete the remaining 3 next year)

This is all I have thought of so far. Will come up with Part II soon

Nov 28, 2005

Management education - Why?

I have been hearing from quite a number of people about the relevance of management education. Why is there so much of hype and attention given to MBA? Is it justified? Does it give hollow confidence to callow students? I'm going to list down my answers to these questions. The following are my personal opinions and they might contradict with others.

The world is in such a volatile state these days that unless and until you diversify, it is very difficult to survive in any industry. This volatility is very well exposed by the information technology industry's ups and downs in the past decade.

The trends are changing. Times when our parents and relatives would work for a single organization throughout their career are gone. People are looking for a change these days. The risk taking abilities of people are also flourishing. Job hopping and industry hopping are no longer alien terms. In such changing times, a management degree gives the much needed fillip for youngsters to pursue different and difficult careers.

How many youngsters are there in the country who would want to become an entrepreneur as soon as they finish their basic graduation? Very few. This is because they don't understand business. Our education system focusses more on science and technology in the school curriculum that students can't think far from medicine and engineering. Even after they pursue engineering, most of them are forced to take up post graduation courses like M.Tech or M.S. either by their parents or just by peer pressure.

According to me, unless one is interested in pursuing research after their post graduation, doing an M.Tech or M.S is a sheer waste of time, money and effort. Let's take an example. A person , say A fresh out of computer engineering joins an organization. Another person B goes to US to pursue his MS in software engineering. After two years, A has 2 years of industry experience whereas B has a post graduation degree in hand. Who would be more valuable? If I were the HR head of an organization, I would give more preference to A than B. B is as good as A 2 years before. An engineering degree or for that matter any basic degree is just a platform for a person to grow. A post graduation degree in the same technical field is not widening the platform, instead a person's technical expertise is widened a bit. It neither provides indepth technical knowledge nor it aids in identifying any specialization thereafter. All I can think of as the benefit of doing an M.S. is the exposure, nothing else. It depends on the individual to weigh his options between exposure and work experience.

Getting back to our main topic, an MBA immediately after graduation will not give enough returns. It would just be a continuum of the college education. This is where it gives hollow confidence to those young callow just-out-of-college students. When a person starts working, he gets to know his organization. Although he might not know the intricate details of how the business happens, atleast the work atmosphere triggers his thought process and he starts to question many decisions. After a work experience of 2-3 years, doing an MBA would give him good returns in terms of knowledge, networking by which he gets to understand the working model of different organizations and different industries his peers were part of and a wide variety of career options to choose thereafter. Infact, many universities abroad have imposed a restriction that only people with work experience for a minimum of 3 years can apply for MBA courses.

Domain knowledge in sales, marketing, finance and HR can be applicable in any field and in any industry. This variety would help a person to identify his forte and grow in that. Moreover, these fields are irreplaceable and industry-independent. Even if an industry dooms down in future, a person with such a qualification will be able to move over to another industry in no time. This is why an MBA is surrounded by such hype and hoopla and it is certainly justified. Anyone in India would want to have some backup plans and it is quite understandable, given the type of traditions and customs we follow.

Entrepreneurship has received the needed light, thanks to the various electives as part of MBA. People who had apprehensions on how they could go about establishing their own organization and what facts need to be kept in mind can find answers while doing an MBA. I'm sure the professors of good management institutions would be willing to share their knowledge on the different facets of entrepreneurship.

If a person is more inclined towards technology - the ifs and whys and the subtle nuances of technical know-hows interest him and he prefers to contribute in the technical line to an organization, i.e. he is employed by an employer other than himself, then he doesn't need an MBA. Also a person who would want to pursue research related to his technical interests doesn't need an MBA. These are the only two kinds of people who wouldn't need a management degree.

Before joining an MBA, M.Tech or M.S, the most important consideration is to take a few years to identify the next step and the reason behind choosing one. The best option is to work during these crucial decision making years and do the analysis.

If research and technology are the ones that interest you the most, do an M.S AND a doctorate.
If management and entrepreneurship are your passions, do an MBA.
If working under an employer keeps you happy, then gain as much as work experience as you can.

Nov 24, 2005

வாழ்வதே சிறப்பு....

அம்மாவின் நீங்காத அரவணைப்பு
தங்கை பாப்பாவின் புன்சிரிப்பு
நெய் சாதத்தோடு பருப்பு
கொடுப்பது பாட்டியின் பொறுப்பு

தாத்தா கடை இனிப்பு
தம்பியின் கண்களில் பூரிப்பு
நண்பர்களின் விளையாட்டு அழைப்பு
ஓடினான் போடாமல் செருப்பு

யாரும் காட்டவில்லை வெறுப்பு
எதற்கும் இல்லையே மறுப்பு
வளர்ந்தான் மனதில் சினப்பு
மேஜையில் புத்தகங்கள் குவிப்பு

கண்டான் உலகின் செழிப்பு
சொந்த அலுவலகத்தின் திறப்பு
அழகியின் முகம் சிவப்பு
அவளில்லாமல் அவனுள்ளம் தவிப்பு

சென்ற பாதையில் குடிப்பு
வாழ்க்கை ஆனதே இழப்பு
தாயின் மடியில் பிறப்பு
எமனின் கைகளில் இறப்பு
நடுவில் வாழ்வதே சிறப்பு....

Nov 23, 2005

One day@the cricket stadium

A memorable day it was. Third day of the third test match between India and Australia in Chennai. The day before, Sudha (my brother) and I were so desperate to go for the match. Thank God, both of us had study holidays during that time. So no need to bunk college. We departed from our home at 5.30 am. Reached the stadium at 6.45 am. To our shock, there was a huge crowd with the queue going far and far from our sight, waiting for the tickets and on top of that, not even a single girl in that queue. I walked slowly towards the end of the queue, uncertain of whether we would get the tickets.

A policeman called me all of a sudden. I got so scared. "Is the cricket match only for men? Are women banned from this place? Why is this policeman calling me?", with puzzled looks, I walked upto him. He said, "There is a separate queue for women. You need not stand in this long queue". "Where is the queue?", I asked with a low tone. He pointed me towards the ticket counter. Not even a single women in that queue. I was so excited that I thanked the police uncle and rushed to the counter, got 2 tickets worth 100 each and ran towards my brother. Both of us entered the stadium so proudly as though we have accomplished something great.

After the security checks, we entered our stands. The ground looked amazing with a layer of dew drops on the fresh green grass. I ran towards the end of the stand, as close as possible towards the ground and occupied a chair in the first row. Sudha warned me that as day goes by, it would become very hot. But I ignored his warning and decided to sit in the front row the whole day.

Entered our cricket team and the mighty Aussies for net practice. As soon as we saw Sachin, we started shouting "Sachiiiiiiiiin Sachiiiiiiin". He didn't even give a glance at our side. Very busy practicing for the match, I thought. A round of Biscuits, kadalai (groundnuts) and murukku, we are done with our breakfast. Slowly the crowd was building up in the stadium. At 8.30, the stadium was almost full. The match started in an hour's time. India was batting their first innings after Aussies posted 300+. I remember vaguely that India's score at the start of the day was 30/1. After a few overs, the second wicket went down and the entire stadium was so jubiliant to welcome the master blaster.

Initially Sachin was playing slowly, taking singles and occasional 4s while we, the crowd were doing rounds of Mexican wave. It was fun, actually. Our energy levels were so high, looking at the people gathered. Slowly, Sachin gathered momentum and was smashing 4s of Shane Warne's bowling. Justin Langer was standing closer to our stands and people behind me were waving hands and saying hello to him. When he turned towards my side, I gave a vanakkam (namaste) in a typical Indian style and he gave a vanakkam back. The crowd was saying "Ooooooooo" while I was blushing.

Another round of Biscuits, kadalai (groundnuts) and murukku, lunch is over. When Sachin was in his 80s, he hit the ball in the air towards our side. Michael Slater standing closer to us was about to catch the ball when we shouted "booooooo". Poor guy, I guess he got tensed and he dropped the catch. He turned back and stared at us. On 94, Sachin hit a six and reached his 100. What a shot !!!

The wickets fell down later and we got to leave the stadium before the entire crowd starts leaving. Although people might argue that it's more comfortable sitting at home and watching the match, I would definitely say that watching a cricket match live in a stadium is a wonderful experience. All cricket fans must experience this atleast once in their lifetime. Overall, it was a memorable day for me which I would cherish forever.........

Is there an end to it?

"Ma, I'm leaving for coaching class", says the 13 year old Aravind. "Drink a glass of milk and leave. You had just come home from school", replies the mother. "No time, ma", he says taking his cycle and rushing towards his class. Such incidents have become a common sight these days.

Open the newspaper, you see advertisements of different coaching institutes coxing to grind the brains of these young students with IIT-JEE, SAT and PMT entrance coaching classes. There was another unique ad that I happened to see recently. A small kid holding a thick management book with spectacles over his tiny eyes and the caption reads "Start early". Many students in 9th and 10th std are attending IIT-JEE classes apart from their regular classes at school. They are being forced by parents, relatives and neighbours to multitask all these classes and churn their little brains with almost every single concept of Physics and Chemistry. I say relatives and neighbours here because most of the parents get influenced by these peers who put their kids to these extra classes and this inturn makes them feel insecure about "their" kid's career. "Oh, maybe he should also join these classes from now on, Only then he would be well prepared four years from now", says Aravind's dad, as though IIT is the end of the world for all these 9th std studying students.

A child would get to understand his interest only in these growing-up years. But they don't have a choice. They are too small to take their own decisions. Naturally, it gets grilled onto their minds that IIT is their ambition. Why don't we think of any option other than medicine and engineering during the deciding days after 10th std? If a student is inclined towards these fields, then it is perfectly fine. But if he/she is forced to join, worse effects are bound to happen in the future.

What has happened to our Aravind? After a few years...........

Aravind has indeed got a seat in IIT after 4 years of strenuous hard work and dedication. His childhood is gone now. Enters teenage, he finds himself in one of the most prestigious, at the same time a tough course. The hard work and struggle continues for another 4 years. GPAs, ranks and semesters torture him. Praying to God that these 4 years should pass quickly, he spends his days. Now in 3rd year, his uncle asks him to prepare for GRE and take up his higher studies in US while his distant cousin says that MBA is the best option and that he should start preparing for CAT. Pulled from both ends, he finds himself confused in choosing one of the two paths. His dad says in a cool manner "Why don't you prepare for both these exams? You can try both these options and go ahead with whatever you get selected for". Aravind stares at his dad, thinking "Tu baap yaa villain? Am I a man or a machine?". But he is left with no choice since it is instilled in his mind that he is still not mature enough to take his own decisions. Slogging with his engineering exams, he prepares half heartedly for GRE and CAT. Exams came and went. But his marks were not upto the mark. Dad shouts "I knew you were going to flunk. With so little preparation, how were you able to go and watch movies?". "Dad, It's been a year since I watched a movie. Since my friends insisted, I went last week", Aravind replied softly. "I'm putting you in an intensive coaching class for GRE. The classes start from tomorrow. Better prepare well this time. You need to join your MS next year at any cost. Look at Santhanam, your cousin. He is doing his PhD there. He got through GRE in his very first attempt. And her sister, Usha, she is going to join MBA this year. Get some inspiration from them", his dad spoke angrily.

"Ma, I'm leaving for coaching class", says the 21 year old Aravind. "Drink a glass of milk and leave", replies the mother. "No time, ma", he says taking his bike and rushing towards his class. And the saga continues.........

Nov 21, 2005

ஏ நிலவே !!!

ஒரு கோடி பூசிதறல்கள்
ஒரே ஒரு மலர்ந்த முகம்
ஏ நிலவே !!!

யாரை தேடி தேய்கிறாய்
தேய்ந்து தேய்ந்து மிளிர்கிறாய்
உன் அழகு
ஆண்களை வசீகரிக்கிறது
பெண்களை தலை குனிய வைக்கிறது

உன்னை வர்ணிக்காதவர்
பூவுலகில் இல்லை
உன்னால் மயங்காதவர்
எவ்வுலகிலும் இல்லை

அழகின் சிகரம் நீ
காதலின் தூது நீ
விடா முயற்சியின் மூலாதாரம் நீ
இன்ப குளிர்ச்சியின் ஜீவாதாரம் நீ

உன் வரவு இல்லையெனில் உலகம் இருண்டு கிடக்கும்
உயிர்கள் அமைதி இழக்கும்
இத்தனை வலிமை உன்னிடம்
ஆனால் ஏன் சிறு கலக்கம்

யாரும் முழுமை இல்லையென
உணர்த்த வந்த புதியவளே
அடக்கத்தோடு இருப்பவளே
ஏ நிலவே !!!

என்னை மறந்தேன் ....

கடல் அலைகள் என்னை எழுப்பின
முத்துக்கள் காத்திருப்பதை அறிவிப்பதற்காக
இடி மேகங்கள் என்னை எழுப்பின
மழைத்துளிகள் பொழிய காத்திருப்பதை அறிவிப்பதற்காக

இதமான தென்றல் காற்று என்னை எழுப்பியது
சங்கு பூக்கள் மலர்ந்ததை அறிவிப்பதற்காக
புல்லாங்குழல் இசை என்னை எழுப்பியது
நான் என்னை மறந்ததை அறிவிப்பதற்காக.....

PS : Both these poems were taken from my boot camp training notes dated July 2002 :-) ..... Guess it's easy to find out who was the inspiration behind these poems.

என் வாழ்க்கை....

பச்சை பசேல் புல்வெளி
நான் மட்டும் தனியாக
இனிய இசை என் செவிகளில்
மிதமான தாளம் என் கால்களில்

வானம் எனக்கு குடையாக
பூமி தாய் மடியாக
தனிமை எனக்கு துணையாக
வாழ்வேன் நான் நானாக

கவலைகள் மறந்து
தவறுகள் துறந்து
மகிழ்ச்சி ஒன்றே குறிக்கோளாய்
வாழ்வேன் நான் நானாக

பட்டாம்பூச்சிகள் வட்டமடிக்கட்டும்
குயில்கள் கானம் படிக்கட்டும்
ரோஜா முகம் மலரட்டும்
நீரோடை வழி திறக்கட்டும்

நீல நிற குறிஞ்சி பூக்கள் கம்பளம் விரிக்க
மூங்கில் மரங்கள் புல்லாங்குழலாய் மாற
வாழ்வேன் நான் நானாக........

Nov 18, 2005

Are you ready to be a leader?

"Leadership wisdom", the latest I read from Robin Sharma's works was an enriching experience. I have read his other books "The monk who sold his Ferrari", "Megaliving" and "Who will cry when you die?". He projects some basic concepts and then narrates them using stories or experiences in daily life. That's what makes his books more interesting and inspirational.

Although some of the leadership rituals he portrays might sound idealistic, they are not impossible to implement. What should be the characteristics of a visionary leader, how one should treat his employees, what principles one need to focus on so that his subordinates accept him and most importantly, trust him - you get answers to all these questions and many more in Leadership Wisdom.

Julian Mantle, the protogonist of this motivational story after quitting his high profile job of a lawyer goes to Himalayas and returns home with full of ancient wisdom taught by the sages of Sivana. The Monk who sold his Ferrari talked about the rituals of personal effectiveness while leadership wisdom focusses on the eight rituals of visionary leadership.

Some of the rituals which I liked personally are "Link paycheck to purpose", "Reward routinely, recognise relentlessly" and "Focus on the worthy". The most interesting part of Robin Sharma's books is that the concepts and techniques he shares are always linked to a connecting theme. His writings doesn't go with just preaching self improvement techniques. And that's what makes his books worthy reading.

What amazes me is the fact that atmost importance is given to the sages in Himalayas and their preachings. It motivates me to take a travel to the holy mountains. That's always been a part of my dreams , yes, to visit Himalayas and to experience the feelings that many people talk about, including our superstar Rajni.

Next in my agenda is to read "The saint, surfer and CEO" by the same author. I had started reading this book sometime back, finished half of it but somehow didn't manage to complete it.

Any Robin Sharma fan out there? Comment on your opinions on his books.

Nov 17, 2005

Day-to-day happenings

A severe headache trying to break my head into pieces. Not sure which incident had caused me this pain. Rather I should say, several incidents that are happening in day-to-day life are disturbing me for the fact that things are not in my hand.

Traffic jams - Is there a way to control them? Why can't people follow traffic rules? I feel like slapping every person driving a 2-wheeler and rushing through the traffic taking the pavement. Idiots, why you guys are in such a hurry? Is there any Formula-1 race happening everyday on Bangalore roads? I really support the message that Anniyan movie portrays. Only when there is a severe punishment like life sentence, people will obey the rules.

Yesterday while travelling by bus, an old woman aged about 50 years was spitting paan all over the road. The government has not asked her to paint the road in red. With no regrets whatsover, she was happily doing that. I felt like blasting her but controlled my temper. I got down the bus when I noticed a young college girl dropping the bus ticket on the road and walking towards her college. Why don't people think that our country is also our home and it's our duty to keep it clean?

Today, the government bus didn't come at the right time and I had to take the next bus. Thank God ,my stop is the starting point and I got a seat. With each and every bus stop, people were thronging into the bus. I was worried that the bus might topple. An old man got inside the bus. There was hardly any place to stand and he was standing in the footsteps. Why don't the buses come at the proper time? Even if the bus is stuck at traffic, one would expect the bus to arrive atmost 30 minutes late. But the bus didn't turn up at all.

I face such situations everyday and feel that I couldn't do anything to sort out things. And on top of all that, a Desi from US comes to me and complains that the country is polluted and how people come to work everyday etc etc. Hey, you were also once a part of this country. Don't forget that. Why do such people ever come to our country?

The problem with me is that I become emotional, I'm not able to think peacefully about what I need to do. I get very angry at such people. Anyone facing the same problem like me? Any suggestions on what I should be doing? Please don't tell me that I should just go on with life with all the bad things happening around. I cannot.

Nov 16, 2005

One night @ the call center - a breezy read

This is a kind of a book which you would want to read it on a lazy Saturday afternoon after a heavy lunch. If you liked Five point someone (by the same author Chetan Bhagat), you would definitely like ONTCC.

The book starts off with a stranger narrating the experiences to Chetan about six people who work at a call centre in Gurgaon. The whole story revolves around the incidents that happen in one particular night and how the lives of those six youngsters change after that. A very realistic story, I should say. The narration is fast paced, very interesting and ofcourse, unputdownable. But the most important thing that makes this book captivating is the style of writing, in simple English with no complex jargon. I would prefer to read a book without looking at the dictionary quite often. What I look for in fictional books is good time-pass and a gripping storyline, nothing else. For those of you who have similar interest like me, go and grab a copy of ONTCC.

Chetan, Looking forward to your next book.

Nov 15, 2005

About me......

A country rich with different cultures and heritages,
My mind full of different thought processes.

A country with enormous potential to become one of the powerful nations in the world
I acknowledge the tremendous potential within me.

Lots of confusions prevailing in Kashmir
My head filled with so many whys and hows.

A country possessing both good and evil
My mind personifies two different personalities.

Now I tag Akilesh (If at all, he writes sometime in the future!)

Oct 28, 2005

Doom Doom Diwali....

Lights everywhere,
Diwali is here.
Make your hair oily,
Says the old granny.

Bright happy faces,
Wearing colourful dresses.
Lip smacking sweets,
Eat them with ease.

Friends and cousins coming home,
Don't be reading a tome.
Fight them for crackers,
Come out with flying colours.

Zooming bomb rockets,
Don't put them in your pockets.
Flower pots blooming high,
Conveying Naragasura bye bye.

Happiness everywhere,
Sadness nowhere
Asking for this wish,
along with a sweet dish.

Wishing you all a happy, safe and bright Diwali :-)

PS : am taking a short break from blogging for the next one week.

Oct 24, 2005

A head-start

I don't know from where to start. Ok, flashback, turn your calendar pages to August 2005, to be precise, 14th August 2005. That was the first time when I visited Ananya, a school for under privileged kids as part of my first volunteering activity with Dream a Dream. I was feeling very scared. How am I going to interact with the kids? How am I going to be playful throughout the day with a new set of people? I was pondering over lots of questions on my way to Ananya. Finally we reached a place, almost like a resort in Kerala with lots of trees all around the place and small tents here and there. Needless to say, little kids like the fresh flowers in the morning were playing in that place. As soon as we got down the car, the kids swarmed around us, asking for names and other details. They were so open to newcomers like me. Holding my hands with their soft, little palms, they took me on a site visit around their school and showed all kinds of plants and trees, giving a translation of names in Telugu, Kannada and Hindi. So knowledgeable were these kids about their garden that I felt like a toddler among these experts.

While waiting for a walk to Jerry's farm (that's where we would spend the entire day playing treasure hunt), Durga and Sowmya taught me "Mana Manakka One........." . It is a very interesting "girls" game where you clap your hands and make expressions as per the lyrics. Then it was my turn to teach them a couple of games. "Categories" and "Concentration" had stuck my mind all of a sudden. I remembered the days when Preeti, Ramya and I would play these games in our apartment terrace (Guess I was in 8th std then!!!). The kids liked these games very much and we played many rounds. The day went on with treasure hunt and other games. Overall, a nice beginning for my stint with Dream a Dream.

Flashforward. October 2005. As part of my organization's volunteering activity, we decided to spend a day at Ananya. I felt glad that a good number of volunteers turned up for the pre-activities like planning, games selection and gift wrapping. The day dawned and we boarded the bus. Will the kids remember me? Will they interact with our volunteers in the same way they interact with Dream a Dream volunteers? Will they participate actively in all the games? Again, I was pondering over questions on my way.

Having stepped down the bus, I walked towards the place where the kids were playing. Some of them instantly recognised me while a few came close, asking for my name and whether I had met them before. Durga immediately said "Aunty, let's play categories". I can't express how much I was surprised. This little kid recognised in a flash that it was me who taught them this game and on top of that, she remembered the lyrics so well. We started playing and the other kids also joined us.

A round of Mana Manakka, Mary-Mary and two of my games - a perfect start for the day. We had arranged for a first-aid camp. It was pretty interesting, though a few kids (including my hubby) slept during the session. It was good to see many of our volunteers playing the games while waiting for lunch. I got to know some interesting facts while serving lunch.

1) Kids don't like salads. I had to force them to eat atleast one piece of tomato, cucumber and onion.
2) Many kids prefer to mix salt with water and drink it. This kid named Suresh was playing with me asking for more and more salt. Whenever I cross him to serve dishes for other kids, he would shout "Aunty, salt!!!".
3) 95% of the kids like to eat curds as such without mixing it with rice. And yes, sugar is a must. Also, a spoon of sugar is very less. They were demanding more and more sugar from Skely that he got a nick name "Sugar uncle".

It was our turn to have lunch. I don't know how the food tasted much better though it was the same food and the same caterer who serves us lunch everyday at office. Probably, we were too tired and hungry playing with the kids.

The afternoon session was packed with games like passing the parcel (I organized this game :-) . Though I stumbled initially with seven-up rules, I guess kids enjoyed the game) , the ever-green musical chair , the funny lemon and spoon and the fierce baloon bursting. Prizes were distributed to the winners and to all the kids as a small token of appreciation.

After snacks and tea, it was time to leave. It is unbelievable that the entire day passed so quickly. The kids gave us hand-made greeting cards and bid good bye to us. Sowmya, my good friend asked me when I would come again. I said "Very soon". Thayamma always full of smiles said in Kannada "Aunty, when you come next time, I'll get the first prize." She came second in lemon and spoon game. But look at her spirit. "Kids are the best teachers", echoed my mind. Ajay and Jayanthi, cute little kids and darling of everyone, Sharat, the talented kid who can twist and roll his entire body using his right hand, Arun , a nice boy always full of smiles, the two young boys who had sung a Tamil song and danced in front of me - wish I could remember all their names. It was an emotional bye-bye. When the bus started to leave, they shouted "Come again, uncle. Come again, aunty".

Many volunteers are visiting them, spending a day with them, giving them gifts etc etc. It's fine but how are we going to help these kids in the future? Dr.Shashi Rao is doing a great job in giving affection and support to these children. We should support her in the upliftment of these kids. Let's not just show them dreams, let's help them to achieve their dreams. Definitely, this Sunday was one of the most meaningful Sundays of my life and has provided the much needed head start in achieving my goals.

Oct 14, 2005

My take on Bollywood

Watched a superb movie, Iqbal yesterday. Amazing. Good to see a Hindi movie of this caliber after a long time. Frankly speaking, I'm fed up of watching the same old "Soni kudi", "Mahi ve", "Bada-baap-bada bijiness", "karva chouth" kinda movies. I can't bear them anymore.

Iqbal starts off with a beautiful village background and the introduction of the protogonist. I'm not going to put down a set of best scenes here because each and every scene is well crafted in the movie. The story is about how a deaf and dumb person goes all out to achieve his ambitions and how people around him are supporting him in his endeavours. After watching the movie, you get this feel-good feeling and also a strong fire within you to achieve something.

Young directors with good scripts have to be motivated by experienced people in the industry and that's exactly what Subash Ghai had done. The Indian Film Industry always clings to the so-called brand names and believes firmly that only those brands can pull masses to the theatres. To prove it, find out who won most of the awards last year - Mr.Yash Chopra. No doubt he is a great stalwart and biggie in the industry. But a crap movie like Veer Zaara getting all awards is ridiculous. On top of that , people claim that this movie emphasises on Indo-Pak relations. The same old Swiss snow clad mountains, the heroine(oops, Lata Mangeshkar) singing la-la, same kind of song picturisation etc etc - What's so special in this movie to get all such awards?

I was totally disappointed that Swades didn't get the best movie or best director award. A movie, so well taken was ignored. The biggest jokes were Paheli being nominated for Oscars ahead of movies like Black and Swades and Saif Ali Khan getting the national award for Hum Tum. Needless to say, how these industry big shots influence such decisions.

People argue that we go to movies for fun. I can understand very well why movies like Murder and Kya Kool Hai Hum run into packed houses. Films provide a powerful medium not just for entertainment but also play an important role in the transformation of the society. I got positively influenced by watching Swades and Iqbal. In the same manner, people get influenced by crap, dirty movies where women are portrayed as glam dolls.

Only if directors like Ashutosh and Nagesh Kukunoor are encouraged, they would love to make such positive impact movies in the future. But the industry is not welcoming such talented people. I will not be surprised if Bunty Aur Babli wins the best movie of this year.

Oct 7, 2005

Cricket making headlines for wrong reasons.

The recent controversy between Ganguly and Chapell has hit the headlines of all the newspapers across the country. The manner in which this news has reached the public is simply ridiculous. Why did Ganguly discuss about the happenings between him and the coach with the media? Doesn't it sound so immature and childish, very similar to how a kindergarden kid would complain to his mother about how his school teacher had shouted at him? If he has problems with the coach, he should have contacted the BCCI directly. Why does he have to take the coach's viewpoints personally? All these incidents doesn't auger well for the Indian cricket team.

Policies similar to that of Australian cricket team have to be implemented in Indian team as well. If a player doesn't perform well for say, 10 consecutive one dayers or 5 test matches, he should be chucked out of the team, irrespective of whether he is a captain or a favourite of BCCI president or whether he belongs to selectors' favorite states such as Karnataka or Bengal or Maharashtra. Our country's huge talents go unheard of because of such differences. Why do people from North East states never enter the foray of cricket? Is it because they are not skilled in the sport? NO.....They are not given enough opportunities. In a country having the second highest population in the world, possessing such a huge man power, Is it very difficult to find atleast 50 talented, hardworking cricketers?

Many players are being treated as permanent members of the team, no matter how worse they perform. Do I have to mention these names? Ganguly, our very own captain, it's high time for him to just retire and get off the team. He claims that he has brought in many victories for the team under his captaincy. How many matches were his contribution significant in the last few years? India was successful in many matches due to the contribution made by youngsters like Sehwag, Yuvraj and Kaif. At a point of time when our whole country's expectations were carried by the shoulders of Sachin, these players proved that India can win even if Sachin gets out. This is a positive sign for Indian cricket. But such players are not given good chance to prove themselves in test cricket. The same old Laxman and Ganguly are part of the test team for ages. Com'on, selectors, Laxman is not going to repeat the Kolkata innings every time he goes out to bat in a test match. Why is he part of the test squad always? I couldn't recall a good test innings from Ganguly apart from the recent slowest, boring century he made against Zimbabwe, to prove a point that he can bat.

People might argue about Sachin's contributions in the past 2 years. If Sachin failed to make good scores, he had come up with a good performance in his bowling. Although he had been in and out of the team due to his back injury and tennis elbow, he had always strived hard to get more runs. It is evident from the effort he puts in, unlike Ganguly who only knows to show-off and who can't run fast and take 2 runs instead of singles. Ranatunga would have easily taken 2 runs in such a situation. He can easily judge whether a particular stroke would fetch him a single or a two and run/walk accordingly. But Sourav mostly prefers to walk and at other times, he gets his partner run-out.

To be frank, I was also a fan of Ganguly during 1997 Sahara Cup matches between India and Pakistan in Toronto. But I feel, after he took over the captaincy, his attitude towards the game has undergone a drastic change. John Wright was able to adjust with Ganguly's shortcomings but Chapell may not do so. If our selectors and BCCI sincerely wish that India should do well in the coming world cup, they should let Chapell take over the job of tuning our team's performance and groom the youngsters with potential to perform in high pressure situations. How many finals have we lost? Something is terribly wrong here.

Chapell, Wishing you good luck and pleaaaaaaaase help our team to bring home the coveted World Cup from the mighty Aussies.

Oct 4, 2005

What an evolution !!!

I'm not going to elaborate on Darwin's theory of evolution and how homosapiens had evolved from chimpanzees. I want to write about how my personal space has evolved from my childhood.

Personal space - one that I always crave for. It's not just the freedom to do what I believe. It also means the actual physical space in my house, which I can say it's mine. I'm always very possessive about my little kingdom. My brother's belongings can never enter my fort.

I'm not sure when this started in my life. My toys were usually the kitchen set (choppu saaman in Tamil) in different sizes and shapes - from the plastic model (the tiny blue coloured pressure cooker, cute red coloured pot - Oh, I miss them) , to the eversilver one to the wood variety to the one made of clay. Such beautiful and precious collections they were !!! When I was in class 2 or 3 (not sure!!!), during my weekends, I used to carry my books, all my toys, a cream coloured water bag and a straw mat to a verandah adjacent to my house. Arranging all these things neatly and then doing my homework sitting on the mat on a sultry Saturday afternoon amidst the almond, guava and eucalyptus trees was such a pleasant feeling. That place was mine alone.

My mother was a Tamil Pandit. I used to see her preparing for her M.A. exams, sitting on the wooden chair with her Tamil literature books on a desk that my grandfather had given us. The last shelf of a wooden rack was allocated to me adjacent to my mother's study table. I used to clean my shelf every week and arrange all my books and notes in an order. The shelf also served me as a desk so that I can sit down on the floor and write, keeping my books on it.

I can never sell my books to the second hand book store. I always like to keep them with me for future reference (???) , although I never referred to them later. My brother is the exact opposite character of mine. As soon as the final exams are over, he would want to sell his books. He can't even wait for the results to come. On top of that, he would force me to sell my books as well. Somehow, I managed to save my Maths and Science texts from him.

As years passed by, I started to use my mother's study table. I decorated it with love and care. Additional two shelfs were placed on top of my table which served as my book shelves. A tiny Ganesha idol was sitting beautifully at the centre of my desk. Ink bottles, blue and black coloured with separate fillers, a pen stand with my favourite Hero pen and elegant Camel ink pen standing erectly, a date changing calendar and a small clock were the other proud subjects of my kingdom.

Since my father is into business, he makes use of a lot of cardboard files to file his receipts, bills and vouchers. He maintains them yearly and at the end of the year, I get those old files. I file my question papers, notes and other essential papers subjectwise. While revising for an exam, I had the entire set in a single file. This habit did continue till my college days.

My study desk used to be so well organized that the moment I go there, my concentration levels would be very high. When I came to Bangalore, I had a whole house to arrange things as I wish. But the motivation to keep things organized was never the same as it used to be in the 3*2 square feet area of our 12*12 single bedroom house in Chennai. This is what I had been thinking so far.

Hurray.......We had brought a study desk recently at home. I could feel the motivation to keep MY books and papers organized creeping on me. Yesterday, I found a couple of Karthi's books on my desk and I put them on his computer table. :-)

Back to my form, I guess. Karthi's books, BEWARE. I'm coming......

Sep 26, 2005

We owe a thanks....

We owe a sincere thanks to so many people in the world. Can you guess who they are. The milkman, newspaper vendor, carpenter, plumber, auto driver and the very important maid servant.

She completes a lot of work in no time, far less time than the so-called "upper class" indolent women could ever imagine. But how many of us treat her with respect and deference?

This kind of supercilious thinking is existing in our society from time immemorial. If they come late, what do we do? Scorn at them. We never spare a thought regarding the problems faced by such people. The maid might have a moribund spouse or a 3 year old kid down with viral fever. We can definitely figure out if she is lying or is genuine with her reasons of coming late. The culpable ancestors treated her with disrespect and the family tradition continues. How many of our parents permitted us to play with the maid's kid? Was the kid even allowed into our respective rooms? Did we share our eatables with him/her? As a kid, when we had asked why the maid's child was not supposed to come into our room, did we get a perspicuous reply? Definitely not. As a teenager, when we had elucidated our view points to our parents about the treatment of the maid servant, what were we asked to do? Curtail our thoughts and go back to our books. When we were busy studying in our room, all that we could hear was the elders affronting the poor old lady.

If the parents have an insolent attitude, it automatically affects their children. They tend to assume that an arrogant response is natural and there is nothing wrong about it.

There are few maid servants who would like to pilfer, given a chance. In such cases, instead of blaming her wholeheartedly, we should also take responsibility for being careless. If we catch her red-handed, we should make it a point to talk to her in an assertive manner, find out what made her commit such an act and try to help her in the best possible way we can.

Some of you might contravene my view points. I'm not generalizing here that this is how the maid servant is treated in every house. I have seen women who treat their maid as a sister, chat with them and provide support. This attitude is shown by very few people in the society. If not respect them, atleast we must treat them as a fellow human being.

Sep 22, 2005

Recent favorites

My taste of songs keep varying but the bottomline is melody. After listening to a song, I shouldn't get a headache, that's the main criterion.

"Kumari...." song in Anniyan is one of the nice melodies I have been listening to quite often these days. My mother used to say that Tamil sounds best when it is stressed and spoken. It shouldn't be spoken from the tip of the tongue. You can really get the poetic feel of the language only when you twist and twirl your tongue. This statement proves to be perfect in this song. Shankar Mahadevan's pronounciation is awesome. "En Nenju vimmi vimmi pammi nikkudu", just listen to this one line and you can understand what I'm trying to say. The song is well picturised and the costumes look very apt for Vikram and Co. This is the best song in Anniyan according to me. Unfortunately, Sun Music plays this song very rarely. Often I hear "Andakakka", "Remo remo" and "Kannum Kannum Nokia" which are good songs but not palatable to me.

Thanks to, I get to hear new songs even before the movie gets released. One such new song which didn't impress me in the beginning but totally flabbergasted me now is the "Mayilirage" song from Ah Aah. It always happens with Thalaivar's music, his best songs never sound good when you hear for the first time but they slowly grow upon you. This song begins with a soothing Nadaswaram tune. Whatever be the latest technology developments in music, it can never beat the traditional veena, flute and nadaswaram. I started liking Madushree's voice from her song "Hum Hain Is Pal Yahaan" from Kisna. Her voice sounds similar to that of Sadhna Sargam. This song is a mellifluous masterpiece by the master.

Harris Jeyaraj's songs are always unique, though some songs have a slight tint of Rahman flavour. His recent movies have atleast one nice melody which is impressive. "Totti Jaya" is one such movie where the melody "Uyire en uyire" is just superb. It gives you a feel-good feeling. The voices of three talented singers Karthik, Anuradha Sriram and Carnatic singer Bombay Jayashree have blended in a perfect mixture. A slow, breezy, romantic song that can put you to sleep. A perfect song to listen before slumber.

Another new song from Harris which I keep hearing often in the past 2 weeks is "Oru Malai" from Ghajini. It cannot be rated as a true melody. But the beats are mesmerizing. Sung beautifully by Karthik, this song is the typical hero-describing-heroine song. I would rate this song as a true evening one. Just imagine you are taking a stroll on the seashore with the sunset in the background and listening to this song. You would feel much better.

I couldn't stop writing more about Harris. Another feel-good song from the disciple. "Ennai Pandhada Pirandhavale" from Ullam Ketkume. My husband and I are crazy about this song. After a long time, we get to hear Srinivas' voice. He is such a talented singer, am not sure why he is not given enough opportunities. Competition is so intense in Tamil film music these days. Young singers like Karthik,Tippu and Harish Raghavendra are the most sought out singers. It's good for music lovers like me. We get to hear voices of different people. This trend was started by Rahman, experimenting with new singers and it has worked well.

Tamil film music has always been great and with newcomers portraying their talents, it is going in a perfect direction.

If you are a melody lover, make sure you listen to the above mentioned songs. I can guarantee that you would rejoice while hearing to them.

Sep 21, 2005

Why ????

I'm writing this article after a heavy dinner. A friends get-together. Had a nice, sumptuous Thai food with the usual giggling, cracking jokes and pulling each other's legs. When I just felt everything is going fine around me, this incident happened.

The auto driver was driving swiftly so that he doesn't get caught in the traffic signal. But to his utter disappointment, he couldn't make it. He had to stop for the signal. There I was, wondering how so many vehicles were there in the road at 10:30 pm when an old man came upto me, carrying a bunch of earbuds. He was muttering in Hindi "Khana nayi kaya, aap ek packet karedenge to mein jaakar kaoonga" (haven't had my food yet, if you purchase a packet of earbuds, I can go and have my food). I purchased a packet from him, it was worth 10 rupees. The signal turned green and our auto left. Questions started pouring in all directions into my mind.

An old man aged more than 60 years hasn't had his dinner till 10:30 pm. He is still selling earbuds to earn his daily bread. I feel deep reverence for him. He doesn't beg but he earns through a proper job. But what affects me is the vast difference between the lifestyle of people in this society.

Many a times, whenever I get stuck in traffic signal, the beggars throng the vehicles, asking for alms. I drop a coin only to children or old people. The one rupee I drop is a small amount for me but it makes a big difference to them.

When I talk about such issues to elders, they say it's all fate. Is it already written in my fate that I would be blessed with such good parents, friends and family? What is written in that old man's fate? Run around in traffic signals at such a senile age? Thinking about the patience those 4 wheeler drivers have, honking continuously when the signal count reaches 3,2,1..., I'm scared what's going to happen to that old man.

Bangalore is going rich,it's the silicon valley of India, all the best brains in the country live in this city - all these sound meaningless to me now. I feel ashamed, I wish everyone in this world can have a decent living. By decent, I mean they should be provided the basic amenities like food,shelter and clothing. Many of us go to posh restaurants, order food and then waste a portion of it. At that
moment, we should think there are so many people suffering from poverty. A full course meal is a distant dream for them.

In addition to thinking how blessed/lucky we are, we should also try our best to make sure that we can eradicate poverty in atleast a few people's lives. In this fast paced world, let's stop for a while and think where we are heading to. Instead of asking what the country has done to us, let's ask ourselves what we have done to this country, to our fellow countrymen. Let's make a sincere effort to bring light into a few people's lives. God has sent us to this world for a purpose, so let's not focus only on our family, our friends, our job and our lives. Let's give our time and effort to make this earth a better place for everyone.

Sep 20, 2005

Special Seven..........

No one tagged me.......... So tagging myself :-(

Seven things you plan (wish I could) to do before you die

1) Own a independent house with a biiiiiiiiig garden , a tree top play house, a small Ganesha temple at the centre of the garden, a lush green pasture for me to lay down and watch the twinkling stars in the night and a swing on the pasture (so even if I fall down, I don't get hurt)
2) Learn singing and sing a song for A.R.Rahman's music in a Tamil movie
3) Start a chain of book stores all over India
4) Visit Australia, New Zealand. Take a Europe tour
5) Spend a month in the Himalayas
6) Learn to play violin, flute and piano
7) Write a novel (maybe autobiography !!!)

Seven things you can do

I can..

1) sleep on an afternoon
2) cook palatable food ( Couple of years back, I thought it's a tough task for me, but now I'm an improved cook )
3) eat cheese, paneer and still be slim
4) watch Sun Music all day (mad about music , especially Tamil film music)
5) sing whenever I can
6) play hide and seek, police and thief, country, cards etc
7) watch any Maniratnam movie n number of times

Seven things you say/write the most

I say..

1) yeah
2) oh
3) kaduppa irukku
4) arukkadhey
5) seruppu
6) okay
7) fine

Seven things you can't do

I can't..

1) eat non-Indian food (except Pizzas)
2) interact with scene parties (one who boasts too much about themselves)
3) watch action movies
4) play computer games
5) be a back bencher (always a first bench pazham and I'm proud of it !!!)
6) watch TV serials
7) walk in a crowded place (feels very irritating)

Seven things that attract you to the opposite sex

1) Smile
2) A clean shave
3) Innocent eyes
4) Soft voice (can't handle the rough, scary voice)
5) Honesty
6) Respect for women
7) Romantic in nature

Seven celebrity crushes

(1) Sachin Tendulkar
(2) Michael Schumacher
(3) Madhavan
(4) Shaam
(5) Shahrukh Khan
(6) Hrithik Roshan
(7) Ronald Weasley (Harry Potter's friend) :-)

and now I tag....


Sep 5, 2005

Ladders of my life

A ladder helps you to climb up a certain height. To climb up a particular stage of life, God has made the divine teacher. A teacher helps a young toddler to move to an achiever stage while he/she stands there and observe the results of their noble profession. On this very special day, Dr. Radhakrishnan's birthday, Teachers day, I would like to thank all my ladders for what they have given to me.

I still remember how Mrs.Ruby used to teach me the alphabets in my English classes with so much of enthusiasm in my L.K.G and U.K.G and how Mrs.Hemalatha used to narrate the rhymes full of action. I can never forget this particular rhyme "One Two, Buckle my shoe......" when all of us, hardly 2 feet in height would dance to the tunes and express the words.

The headmistress of the school, popularly called as "Madam" had the looks of strict and punishing teacher, yet you could feel her kindness once you become her favourite student. Yes, I was one of her favourite students from 3rd std to 5th std. My primary school was not one of the best in my neighbourhood. So my mother wanted to put me in a best school from class 6 onwards. I didn't have even the slightest inkling that the next 3 years were going to be the best in my school days.

St.Marys Girls Hr.Sec School, Chengalpattu. I met some very good teachers and sisters in this school. This wonderful environment instilled in me the competitive spirit. Every teacher I met in this school was very unique, be it Mrs.Sonia ,my Science teacher who taught me a bit of ballet for our annual day , Mrs.Jacintha ,my English teacher whose classes were always full of fun, Mrs.Vijayalakshmi ,my Tamil Teacher , a very soft person by nature. My sixth class teacher was also a nice person (forgot her name :( , though). She inculcated the importance of savings. I can still recollect the Sanjayika scheme(a post office scheme for encouraging school kids to save) when I used to collect 2 Rs every Monday from Amma and put it in my account.

I can't miss out on a very important person in St.Marys. Our headmistress sister. A very disciplined, kind-hearted person. I remember once giving a Christmas card to her where I had written "Sister, I love you". She asked me how much I love her. I stretched my hands to the fullest and said "This much, sister". She replied calmly, "My love for you is as big as the sky, my child". I was taken aback by her words. Kids of my age always perceive headmistress as one who punishes , one who never smiles etc etc. But there she was, giving so much of love and affection for the kids, at the same time, making sure they do well in their studies. From this point onwards, I always had the urge (call it a "veri" in Tamil) to come first in my exams.

Next came an important phase in my life. I had to move out of St.Marys because we had shifted our house to Tambaram. All my relatives tried to convince me to move to a school in Tambaram. But I was adamant and decided to travel everyday to Chengalpattu. My class 8 ranks went down - 2nd, 3rd and once , I got a 4th rank. Travel was taking its toil on me. With no other choice, I reluctantly moved to Jaigopal Garodia National Hr.Sec School, Tambaram. Although I felt the pinch initially, soon I got adjusted to new place, new teachers and new classmates.

Mrs.Wergin, Social Sciences teacher in 9th and 10th std was an inspiration to me. She handled her class with a well planned approach. Her meticulous way of revision had ensured that I was thorough in all the chapters of History and Geography. World maps and India maps were my dearest stationary those days. Can you believe that my past-time activity was looking over the Atlas during those days? Such was the influence Mrs.Wergin had on me.

You might be wondering why Anu hasn't mentioned any male teacher so far. Wait a min....there were a couple (or should I say three?) of male teachers who were my favourites in 11th and 12th std. Mr.Lakshminarayanan, my Biology teacher in 11th std and Mr.Sambandan, my Physics teacher in 12th std. I'll mention the third name (very important person) in a little while. Biology was always my favourite subject. It made more sense to me. Bio sir had handled the subject so interestingly that I felt I should be doing medicine after 12th.

What can I say about my Physics sir? A man of values. He is an M.Phil in Physics, M.C.A and an NCC head. During my 12th std, I had joined Maths, Chemistry and Biology private tuitions. I was a bit hesitant about joining classes for Physics. I wasn't sure how it would fit in my schedule. Thanks to Subha, my best friend who had joined Sambandan sir's tuitions for Physics. She attended the first class and was very impressed with the way sir takes the classes. I had joined the classes from next day. The classes for girls are from 6 am to 7.30 am. Such a late riser, I was. I still am. I would get up at 5.45, brush my teeth, wash my face and rush to the class. Thank God, his house was just a 2-min walk. Most of the days, I would be the last entry to the class. Rarely, I used to go at 5.50-5.55 am. The chantings of Om Nama Shivaya being played from his room, a perfect way to begin a day. Our sir would come at sharp 6, perfectly dressed. Sometimes I would feel like saluting him. Apart from teaching Physics, he also used to give us tips on tackling exam pressures, writing answers in such a way that we get full marks etc. One such tip that is permanently fixed in my mind is whenever you feel depressed and unable to do something, just say these 4 lines to yourself "I'm a confident person. I'm an achiever. I can do it. I will do it".

The third and a very important person, Mr.Raman , a Ph.D in Maths. So far, you have read how teachers have made a positive impact on me. Mr. Raman indirectly made that impact. Fortunately or unfortunately he was my Maths teacher in the crucial years of 11th and 12th std. Just after a week of our 11th std classes, he gave us a surprise test on Vector Algebra. I failed miserably. I had never failed in any of the tests so far. Out of a class of 75, only 5 students had managed to pass the test. Those 5 having private tuitions with Mr.Raman is a different story. The 70 odd students including me were asked to stand. "No hope for you people. Go and join some art classes. Professional courses are not for you fools", these were his words. I came home that evening and cried so much. Appa tried to console me but he couldn't. I decided to join Maths tuitions from 11th std instead of 12th std. Mrs.Rajeswari (we call her mami) came to my rescue. A nice person, very knowledgeable in Maths, most importantly, a very patient lady. She was one of the most important factors due to which I was able to score a centum in Maths. My brother also took tuitions from her and he scored a centum as well.

I might have missed many teachers in this list. But all my teachers had made some difference or the other to me. I thank everyone of you. My ambition is to make a difference to atleast a few children and be a ladder to them.....

Aug 29, 2005

A perfect week......

Birthday, first anniversary, a trip to Queen of Hill Stations.....Can a week be better than this? Last week was full of surprises and loads of fun. It all started off with a surprise that I had planned to give Karthi. I wanted to present him our first anniversary gift. But I didn't want to just hand over the gift. I wanted to try something different. Thanks to my first "Dream A Dream" (NGO that we have recently joined) activity, my mind struck a wonderful idea. Treasure hunt in our little home. Ideas started pouring in from all corners of my brain. Most of the clues were focussed on my favourites. You can also call this hunt as a means to identify whether Karthi is aware all my likes/dislikes or not.

I had pasted the first clue at the back of our main door. That clue would lead to the fridge, from the fridge, the next clue would lead to something else etc. I had planned as a sequence of 10 clues and the last one would lead to the treasure. The treasure was a mustard coloured full sleeve shirt. Everything was set perfectly and I was waiting eagerly for his arrival. First, it was 8 pm, then 9 , 10 and I got very angry and upset. Seems like he got stuck with some high priority stuff at work. Around 10.30, I had called him and revealed with disappointment that I had planned for a surprise . He came home at 11 and the first thing he saw was the clue at the back of the door. That was an easy clue and within a few seconds, he found out the word "FRIDGE" hidden in it. The next few clues were sitters and he went past them one by one so easily. Then came "Find out your wife's favourite vegetable". He didn't know the answer and was searching the fridge and the vegetable trays. Finally he found out the clue beneath a big onion. "Is this your favourite vegetable?" was his doubtful question. The next clue was "Find out where I get cooked", said the onion. "Pressure cooker" he shouted with a big loud voice. I couldn't control my laughter. I had never cooked onion in a pressure cooker. I always use the kadai. We call it the "most washed vessel" since I use kadai for cooking almost everyday. Finally he found the rest of the clues and the treasure. I feel he did enjoy a lot after a strenuous day at work.

12 AM is just 20 min away. Yes, it's my birthday. Karthi locked me inside the room and he was doing something in the kitchen. I could guess that he has got a birthday cake for me. At 12, he opened the door with a black forrest cake in his hand, singing birthday song. A happy moment to start off a fresh year.

We were all set for a trip to Ooty the next evening. I had booked the bus tickets 10 days in advance. We reached Ooty around 7.30 AM on Friday. Misty mountains, whiff of fresh air scented with eucalyptus and a calm, cool weather welcomed us. We took accomodation in Hotel Lakeview. Our cottage overlooked a beautiful view of the valley. We had a fireplace too. We got dressed up and got ready for Ooty/Coonoor sight seeing tour. First destination was the boat house, where we took a pedal boat ride. Our hard, stiff muscles were getting tired just after 10 minutes of pedalling. Cool breeze relaxed our muscles and made us enjoy the trip thoroughly. The van then took us to many breathtaking viewpoints where we shot snaps one after another. Neither are we tired, nor our camera. Walking through fog-clad tea plantations having hot, boiled peanuts one by one is simply amazing. Our next destination was Doddabetta, the highest peak in Nilgiris. We couldn't see anything, the entire surroundings is covered by thick fog (mist, Karthi says. Can anyone give the difference between fog and mist???) . The temperature would definitely be below 10 degrees. Thank God, we had bought a pair of hand gloves and woolen caps. In the evening, we reached the botanical garden. I could recall those pleasant memories of my previous trips with Appa, Amma and Sudha, the green coloured seat where Sudha sat and cried when my father didn't give the camera to him and my father took a snap at that very moment (he looks so cute in that picture !!), the India map made out of grass where I took my first photograph when I was in fifth standard, the snack bar where I first tasted tapioca chips (that's my favourite flavour of chips till date).

The next day was a special day. Aug 27th. That was our first anniversary. A year has gone by so quickly. To make this day more special, we had planned for a trip in the Ooty toy train. Although I had travelled in this train before, I wanted to experience it again. We got our tickets and boarded the train. I was so excited and thrilled. I took snaps of the train when it took a curved track, when it entered the tunnel, when it whistled, when it stopped in a station. I was completely in love with the train. During those 60 min, it was just me and the train, though Karthi was sitting right next to me. A completely enjoyable and memorable trip, I should say. We spent the entire evening in our cottage, relaxing and watching the sun set. Time moves so slowly with each and every minute to savour.

We were in a bit of dilemma whether to visit the botanical gardens again or go for Filmi Diwane trip on Sunday. Since I had never been to Pykara falls, I suggested to take the Filmi Diwane trip. 4 couples were squeezed into a Tata Sumo. All our cribbings went off in a flash once we started the trip. The dense and slippery pine forests, never-ending landscapes and lush green meadows were a treat to our eyes. We reached Pykara around noon. After a complete one km walk, there she was, flowing so gracefully, with charming white swirls, chillness all the way through and with reverberating Zzzz, the Pykara waterfalls makes you feel so humble in front of her majestic looks. Our camera lens as well as our eyes lens tried so hard to catch as many glimpses of her in all possible ways. Yet her beauty is so vast that you could only say to yourself that you want to come back to this place again and again.

Our trip to Ootacamund was full of fun, full of peace and most of all, full of nature. Indeed, God has made such wonderful abode of heaven amidst cities of chaos for homosapiens like us......

Aug 15, 2005

Enge sendrai nee.....

Enge sendrai nee
engal manidha vazhkaiin
oru pagudhi anavane...

Annumin nilaiyathil pirandhu
mile-gal pala kadandhu
viraindhu vandai makkal veetukku
un arumai ariyadhavan
min visiri pottu sendran adutha veetukku

nee illamal kannini iyangadhu
kannini illamal iyanga marukkiran
engal indraiya manidhan
nee illamal thuni thuvaikka
marukkiral engal indraiya penn

un mel yen ivalavu mogam
pala per uyirai mazhai kalathil
bali vangi selgirai nee
arasangathin alatchiyathirku
ennai en sadugirai ena
marukelvi ketkirai nee

manidhanin pozhudupokkai
Or araikul adaithu vittai
yarum rasikkamal azhugiradhu
thottathu ottrai poo

dhoorathu neer veezhchiyai rasikka
neramilladhu thollaikatchiyil
parthu magizhum pamaran
than kaipada ezhuda porumai
illadu minnanjalil
kaditham anuppum manudan

manidha vazhkai nadaimuraiyai
oru suttru thiruppi vittavane
thirumbi vandhu vidadhe en veetukku......

Amidst a terrible desert.....Episode 4

Eyes brimmed with tears, Uma said "I'm very proud of you, my child.Your hardwork has paid off". Sundaramma with a smirk said "If you had spent the time in learning cooking and household activities instead of studying for these exams , that would have been more useful for your future".Entered Ravi from sugar mill back home for lunch. "Daddy, I have secured third rank in the state",informed Kavitha in a cheerful tone. "Very good Kavi. Uma, prepare some sweets this evening to celebrate Kavi's success as well as for the guests. From Chinnanur, Shanmugam and his family are coming home to finalize Kavi's marriage with their son. My uncle is also coming along with them. The bridegroom's name is Shivakumar.They call him Shiva. He has a provisions shop. Here is his photo. Look how majestic he is!!",exclaimed Ravi.

Taken aback by her father's words, Kavitha looked at Shiva's photograph. A plump man with a big moustache,aged around 30 years was looking stern through his brown eyes."What's his age? What's his qualification?", Uma asked looking at the photo. "He turns 29 this August. He has completed his 12th std. Now looking after his father's provision store", replied Ravi in a cool voice. Kavitha just rushed off to her room upstairs. While serving lunch, Uma started the conversation with Ravi, the long awaited one, yet undecided on how to convey her viewpoints. "Kavitha is a small kid. Moreover, she wants to study more. Why can't we wait for few more years before arranging her marriage?" muttered Uma. Expecting this question, Ravi replied "Uma, I'm not having a government job. I'm into business. Anything might happen. At that point in time, I might not be able to afford the dowry being asked for. And if Kavitha's qualification goes up, it will be very difficult to find a groom for her in the neighbouring towns. I'm going to finalize this today". Uma understood that this is the tacit end to the conversation. She has to do something to stop this marriage. There is no point talking or arguing with her husband. As always, his words are the final decisions at home.She doesn't want to give up on her vows as well. "My daughter will get all that she wants in her life. My daughter will get all that she wants in her life.", echoed her thoughts from all directions.

After a long hard thought, she finally decided on what needs to be done. "Yes, that's the only way to save my daughter from this marriage. No other choice. It is a tough decision. But I have to accept it for my daughter's happiness.", she stood up in front of God's picture praying with utmost devotion "God, please make sure that my decision proves to be right for my daughter." And she climbed the stairs towards Kavitha's room swiftly, fully confident of her decision. Her thought processes were progressing and planning step by step on what she has to talk to Kavitha now.

Aug 8, 2005

Amidst a terrible desert..... Episode 3

The D-day dawned. Kavitha couldn't sleep well throughout the night. Moments of anxiety and excitement disturbed her slumber. It was the day when she is expecting her 10th std results to come out. "Will I be getting a state rank, or a district rank or atleast a school rank? It can't go worse than that. What will happen if I fail in Maths? Definitely, granny will fix up my wedding tomorrow". "Oh! Stop it, don't think of such non-sense. You had just made a mistake in a 2-mark question in Maths. Why the heck would you fail?", thoughts were fighting among themselves in her mind. Hearing the kitchen door being opened by her mother downstairs, she felt relieved from those miserable thoughts and got up from her bed. Now she can go ahead and ramble about all her tensions to her mom.

An unusual scene was happening in the kitchen. Uma was praying to God. Kavitha couldn't understand this behaviour of her mother. She had always admired her mother doing her prayers everyday, after taking a bath, dressed perfectly with flowers in her hair and a big, round vermilion in her forehead. "Kavi, you got up so early today. Results will be announced only at 10 o'clock. Why don't you sleep for some more time?", suggested Uma. Kavi came back to reality from her deep thoughts. "Ma, I feel very tensed about the results. I'm getting terrible nightmares", Uma could sense the tension in Kavi's eyes. Slowly caressing Kavi's hair, Uma said, "Don't be tensed, my child. I just prayed to God that you get very good marks. Go to your room, read a story book and relax".

Anxious looking students started crowding near the school notice board. The results are yet to be posted. Kavitha entered the school along with her friends Mani and Fatima who unlike Kavitha, looked extremely cool. She noticed her Science teacher Maria, walking swiftly towards her. "Kavitha, Headmaster wants to meet you immediately", said Maria in a stern voice. Slightly puzzled with Maria's tone, Kavitha bid goodbye to her friends and started to run towards headmaster's room.

Srinivasan, a rotund, bald man and currently holding the headmaster's post of Government High School, Velappatty was going over the results. Gasping for breath entered Kavitha. "Kavitha, come inside. Your results are here. Congratulations. By now, Maria teacher would have informed you about your marks. I'm very proud of you. You have made the entire school proud. The marks really speak of your hardwork and dedication. Your parents will be very happy", continued the headmaster. "Sir, I'm not aware of my marks yet. Maria teacher hasn't informed me", said Kavitha in a very doubtful tone. "Oh, is it? Here is your marksheet. Take a look", said the headmaster. "English-98, Tamil-97, Maths-98, Science-100, Social Science - 100, Total - 493/500", Kavitha read out the marksheet and looked at the headmaster. "You have secured a state rank. To be precise, third in Tamilnadu", exalted the jubiliant Srinivasan. Tiny drops of tears twinkled in Kavitha's eyes. She is experiencing one of the best moments in her life. She doesn't even know how to express her happiness. Absolutely speechless and thoughtless. When someone is in a thoughtless state, they experience the divine. And here she is, feeling the blessing of God.............

Aug 4, 2005

En Oor

pachai paselana padarndhirukkum vayal
meduvaga thavazhndhu varum kullir kattru
sigappu kambalamaga virindirukkum andi vaanam
kattrodu kalandu varum dhoorathu koil mani

than kootuku thirumbum sittu kuruvi
uzhaithu kalaithu varum uzhavan
indha naal velai mudithu maraiyum adhavan
meduvaga ezhumbum velli nilavu

anandamai vilayadum siru kuzhandai
manamagizhndhu sirikkum annai
thenisai pozhiyum pullanguzhal isai
mella nadai pottu sellum paingili

kidukidu vena odum anil
sezhusezhu vena valarum pasumpul
komadha tharum vellai paal
grama makkalin thooya manadhu

Aug 2, 2005

Bye, bye Gandhi.....

Gandhi, if you happen to read this article, I thank you for the wonderful treat at Hotel Harsha.

Forgot to thank him on Saturday :-) ......Anyways, yet another person from our great group is leaving Bangalore and going for his higher studies in US. Gandhi gave us his farewell treat in the very same place where we all started our dream journey of so-called-adulthood. Hotel Harsha. The place where we stayed during our first week in Bangalore, the place where we got acquainted with each other, the place where I met Karthi for the first time, the place where little sparks of something (unable to put those feelings in words!!!) evoked in me now and then. No, I'm not going to get into any more details on that.

We stepped into Hotel Harsha on Saturday exactly after 3 years and 30 days. The restaurant reminded me of those cute moments when I used to sit and have breakfast with Swati, when we used to wait for the cab to take us to our dream company, when we used to go to the nearby Sanman restaurant for dinner, when I cried on my father's shoulders when he was about to go back to Chennai, leaving me alone in a new city. I have never faced the pain of staying in a hostel during school or college days. People argue that it's more fun to stay in a hostel than in your house. But I personally don't like this idea at all.

As we stepped in, we saw Mr.S (taking the idea from DD's blog ;-) , thanks DD!!) finishing off vinegar dipped onions for the second time and ordering for the third time. I looked at my watch, 7.50 pm. Damn, we are so late. We were supposed to reach the place at 7 pm. Poor Mr.S.....

We placed the order for starters. I just took a glance at everyone's face. All of us have grown a bit mature in the past three years. But when all of us are together, the child within us wakes up, teasing, laughing and having fun without even a slight inkling of consideration of people around us. That's how we were, we are and will be in the future whenever we meet up.

Though the frequency of meeting and having fun together has gone down drastically, our group is just one helluva special and unique combo.

Jul 23, 2005

Half Blood Prince - Simply Unputdownable

Yes,finally I have completed Half Blood Prince, the latest in my precious collection of Harry Potter Series.You can get to know how I got my copy of HBP from my hubby's latest update here. I read the fifth book "Order of the Phoenix" little less than 2 years back. Although I remembered the crux, I wanted my mind to get refreshed of every event happening in OOP. So as soon as I got hold of HBP, I started reading OOP. Weird muggle, eh? On Monday, to my surprise, there were many people all over the world who has completed HBP and started writing spoilers. I was very cautious and made sure my eyes didn't get a glimpse of those stupid spoilers.

On Tuesday, I couldn't resist my temptation to start off HBP, as the whole of Muggle world has been talking about it. Moreover my OOP revision wasn't moving at a brisk rate as most of you would know that OOP was indeed slow paced. "What the heck? Go ahead and open HBP", my mind tempted me even more. There I go, Dived into HBP with a feeling of just Hogwarts and me. From the very first chapter, the novel proved to be gripping. As the story unfolded, I could hardly put down the book. I even planned to take a day off from work and complete it. Such was the pace in HBP, you could imagine. Every situation had a purpose and was linked to each other. There is suspense, humour(couldn't stop laughing in many places especially in "The Burrow"!!), romance and ofcourse, action. Harry was the sole hero, although it is hard to believe that Ron and Hermione didn't have a very big role to play in this book. I'm not going to reveal any further happenings.Hmm...I felt very emotional towards the end, took some time to realize what happened, couldn't easily digest the death of ________.The biggest plus point in this book was how things fell in place for the grand finale. I can't wait to read the final part in this epic series.

Definitely HBP is in the same league as POA and GOF.

When will the master make a come-back?

After a long time, I was listening to songs from Duet,the Tamil movie which had one of the best music compositions I have ever heard. Rahman was at his best, aptly supported by the famous saxophone player Kadri Gopalnath. I couldn't pick one particular song as my favourite. All of them were excellent in their own ways, be it the mellifluous "Anjali, Anjali", the soothing "O Kadale", the peppy "Mettu Podu", the folk lore "Kulicha Kuttralam" and ofcourse, foot tapping number "Kundu Kathrika". The piano, flute and sax blended in such a beautiful manner that it created magic in most of Rahman's fans.

Right from "Roja" days, I have been a very big fan of Mr.Rahman. Everyone appreciated his western style of music but I adore him for his melodies, rather. Illayaraja had given wonderful melodies in the late 1980s, which I had written about it earlier here. Rahman's melodies were totally different than Illayaraja's. I'm unable to put down in words, the exact difference. Nevertheless, both these individual contributors have given their best to melody lovers like me.

I'm very emotionally attached to songs of Roja and Pudiya Mugam. When I listen to "Kadhal Rojave","Netru Illada matram" or "Kannuku Mai Azagu", my eyes get wet sometimes. I'm not exagerating here, these songs take me to such a beautiful place in this planet where I'm all alone and dancing to the tunes along with nature. Then came a movie named "En Swasa Katre". Mind blowing melodies, namely the title track. Wah....even the thought of this very song makes my blood to rush through my arteries and veins.

Some songs are bound to your heart, whenever you hear to them, they make you feel happy, no matter what mood are you in. My list includes , apart from the above mentioned songs, "Sonnalum" from Kaadhal Virus, "Anbe" from Kaadhal Desam, "Narumugaiye" from Iruvar, "Enmel Vizhunda","Minnale","Margazhi Poove" from May Madham,"Thoda Thoda" from Indra, "Ennavale" from Kadhalan, "Vellai Pookal" from Kannathil Muthamittal.Ooof....this is just a very small list. My complete favorite list is a much bigger one.

Currently my comp is playing "Kannuku Mai Azagu". I can feel the melody caressing my hair and putting me to sleep, just like a mother does to her child. OK, Before I go to sleep, I should complete the link between the subject and the body.Off late, Rahman's focus has drifted from Tamil to Hindi to English. I'm very glad that he is going places. But my only request is

Rahman, Please come back with your soothing Tamil melodies.......

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