Tuesday, August 07, 2007

India - A Study In Contrasts

I had occasion to read two posts recently - posts written by two friends , one on how Indians compare to the western 'developed' world , the other on the tragic happenings in our underbelly , something all of us conveniently prefer to ignore. The two posts provide the perfect answer to why India can never be uniformly developed , why the gap is just too great - between a middle class looking to the west , criticising the poverty , the dirt , all that we *know* is wrong with our country - and the truly under privileged , whose story we just dont bother to hear.

We ( I count myself amongst the cursing middle class ) , prefer to gripe about the system , about why the buses dont run on time, how the garbage is never collected, why the politicians are so corrupt, how the whole system is wrong etc etc. And the rationale for all this criticism ? We are tax paying citizens, and have a right to determine how our hard earned money is spent. Spare a thought for our fellow citizens, who never had a decent meal , no proper health care facilities, in fact arent even educated enough to protest , like the rest of us civilized folks.

Next time you see that potholed road and open your mouth to complain, spare a thought for this gentleman. His breed proves the saying, 'Hands that serve are holier than hands that pray' (or complain!!!).

Saturday, July 28, 2007

When Two Become One

Its a small step for a man
(Three rounds around a fire to be precise)
But a giant leap in his life

Goodbye to the good old days
Staying awake at night , pandering a thirsty throat
Sleeping the hangovers off in the morning
Swearing things couldnt get any better in life

The old was good, but the new is better
Divine Conductor, keep the music flowing

(p.s : The wedding snaps will be up on the web just as soon as I can get the idiot photographer to replace the photo CDs he gave me of someone else's marriage)

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh

(Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh, Kahan Shuru Kahan Khatam
Yeh Manzile Hai Kaun Si, Na Woh Samajh Sake Na Hum) - 2

(Yeh Roshni Ke Saath Kyon, Dhuaan Utha Chiraag Se) - 2
Yeh Khwab Dekhti Hoon Main, Ya Jag Padi Hoon Khwab Se

Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh, Kahan Shuru Kahan Khatam
Yeh Manzile Hai Kaun Si, Na Woh Samajh Sake Na Hum

(Mubaarakein Tumhe Ki Tum, Kisi Ke Noor Ho Gaye) - 2
Kisi Ke Itne Paas Ho, Ki Sabse Door Ho Gaye

Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh, Kahan Shuru Kahan Khatam
Yeh Manzile Hai Kaun Si, Na Woh Samajh Sake Na Hum

(Kisi Ka Pyaar Leke Tum, Naya Jahaan Basaaoge) - 2
Yeh Shaam Jab Bhi Ayegi, Tum Humko Yaad Aaoge

Ajeeb Daastaan Hai Yeh, Kahan Shuru Kahan Khatam
Yeh Manzile Hai Kaun Si, Na Woh Samajh Sake Na Hum

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The One Legged Man

Vivek cursed himself for the hundredth time. Why had he decided to take the shortcut. Now he was in big trouble. His car had broken down in the middle of nowhere, it was getting dark and there was not a soul in sight. Adding to his irritability was that he was stuck right next to the graveyard. Though not by nature a superstitious man, he wished his car had chosen a better spot to break down.

"Babuji". The sound, over his left shoulder startled him. He turned around. It was a villager , with a blanket wrapped around his shoulders, using a lathi for support. The villager had a lantern with him.Vivek sent a silent prayer of thanks.

"My car broke down. I must get some transportation immediately. Its urgent".

"There is a dhaba two miles from here. I can show you the way. Iam going that way myself".

As they walked, Vivek noticed a hollow sound. He looked closely at his new found companion and found the answer. The man had a wooden leg. Vivek hadnt noticed it before. Perhaps it was because of the darkness. Vivek lost sense of time as they walked. The tip-tap of the wooden leg was dulling his senses.He looked at the man closely. He seemed all at peace with himself, not in the mood for idle chit chat. The silence however, was weighing down on Vivek.

"What were you doing at that lonely spot", Vivek suddenly asked. The man stopped and looked at him. A curious stare.

"I was waiting for my wife. She didnt come. Perhaps tomorrow...".He sighed wistfully. "The doctors say it will be any time now".

A chill slowly crawled up Vivek's spine. It all seemed so unnatural. He was following this stranger, unable to see more than a couple of feet ahead. For the second time that day, he prayed to God.

"Babuji , whats the hurry? Why do you keep looking at your watch?". The sudden shattering of the silence startled him.

"I have a meeting tomorrow. I think I will be late." Vivek dared not look at the stranger as he answered.

The stranger shook his head wistfully."Today's people. Always in a hurry. Babuji, think of time in terms of years, not in days. You will be more at peace with yourself". And the stranger bared his teeth in a smile. To Vivek's heightened senses , there was something distinctly menancing.

Suddenly the stranger stopped. Pointing ahead, he said, "Babuji, there is the dhaba I was telling you about.You will get a bus from there." Vivek looked in the pointed direction . There were lights some twenty meters ahead. He hadnt noticed them before. Too busy worrying about his situation.
He turned to thank the stranger. But the man had vanished. Almost into thin air.

He ran towards the lights, stumbling. He rushed into the dhaba. There were quite a few customers. Two trucks parked nearby. Everyone stared at him as he rushed in.

"Relax saab", said the dhaba owner, "you look like you have seen a ghost".

"I think I did", Vivek stammered." There was this man with a wooden leg, I met at the graveyard".

The dhaba owner laughed uproariously."You must have met Salim langda. Ever since he had his leg amputated he likes to fool people. You are the third this month..."

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Sentence

He looked around the crowded room. The group of people were gathered around the round table, discussing his case animatedly. Looking at them , he was reminded of the jury members in the film , 'The Twelve Angry Men'. Except that, this was not a movie. This was his life that they were debating and arguing. He let his eyes wander around the room.

At the center of the crowded room, sat the man who would pronounce the sentence. The judge.In regal clothes, aware of his own importance, his face inscrutable, the judge surveyed the room and the people in it. He looked at the judge. he had no idea what words would come out of that mouth - but he realized one thing. Today whatever the judge spoke, would determine his destiny. He looked at that splendid form - and prayed.

The judge cleared his throat. A hush fell around the crowded room. "We have decided".You could have heard a pin drop. "This man", he tried to make himself as small as possible as every pair of eye was trained on him, "is sentenced to life imprisonment". Everyone looked delighted. "Without parole". He looked at the judge , hanging on every word.Could what he was hearing be the truth? The judge continued, "I sentence this man to holy matrimony, wedded to his beloved, whose happiness shall be his sole purpose in life".

Sachin surveyed the room. And smiled.

p.s : Iam getting engaged this Sunday ( May 13th ). Marriage in mid July.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Dalal Street for Dummies

Diversify to Derisk

Henry Markowitz won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1990 for his work on reducing Portfolio risk by diversification. Essentially it means the more company shares you own ( if the companies are from different sectors, still better ), the less vulnerable to risk your portfolio will be. Very commensensical, one would say. Would it surprise you that our UTI proved that theory wrong. UTI's US-64 had the shares of nearly 3000 companies in its kitty at one time ( though most were not traded in stock exchanges would be a small matter ). Still its performance when compared to the benchmark BSE Sensex were abysmal.

Bring down your average cost

I bought shares in a mid cap company. The prices went down and I bought more. The vicious cycle continued till this particular stock formed nearly 70% of my portfolio. Bring down your average cost, the experts will tell you. Don’t throw good money after bad, I reply.
It was very recently that I came across this quotation from economist John Maynard Keynes, "The markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent. " But I have always tried to be positive in my thoughts. The way I look at this is a couple hundred more shares in this company and they should be inviting me to join the Board of Directors. And then we will see who is laughing on the wrong side of his face

The Sachin touch

I believe I have the Midas touch. True , I may not have benefited personally , but what the heck, you cant have it both ways, can you. Shares I bought , and then sold for a pittance in profits have since reached the stratosphere. Consider this - Indian Rayon bought at 74, sold at 80 ( current price is 1200 ), M&M bought at 80 , sold at 120 ( current price is 750 ) , SBI bought at 185, sold at 215 ( current price is 1100 ) - the list goes on. So the next time you want to make a killing on the stock market, just ask me what share I recently sold.

Don’t listen to the 'experts'

I was disillusioned by the so called 'experts' pretty early into my stock market foray. You would have one expert talking glibly on the TV, singing paens to company X - 'X is clearly on an uptrend , will surely rise 20% in one month'. One month later , by which time X would have dutifully dropped 50% and numerous investors having lost their shirts are trying desperately to hold on to their chaddis, the same expert would be back on TV screaming "SELL X!!!" without so much as a polite "Sorry , I screwed up".


There Is No Such Thing As A Free Lunch - this is as much true of the share market as it is of any other field. It’s a zero sum game - one man's loss is another's gain - unless your stock is going only one way - UP. Two words of advice : Caveat Emptor - Buyer beware applies here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Bus Journey

Tushar hurried in the rain to catch the bus. He was muttering curses under his breath. It was imperative that he catch the bus, and it looked very likely at the moment that he would miss it. There were no autos or taxis to be seen anywhere. He had forgotten to bring his raincoat or umbrella which was why he was now wet to the bone, splashing through the knee deep water carrying his bag in his arms. At last , after what seemed like an eternity, he reached the bus stand. Thank God, his bus was still there.

Tushar climbed on to the bus, avoiding the angry stares of his fellow passengers, all looking at the person who had delayed all of them. 25 , 25 he muttered and found his seat. The aisle seat on the driver's side, third row from the back , the only empty seat in the whole bus. No sooner had he settled into his seat than the bus started.

Tushar hated onboard movies which was why he had opted for this bus, which never showed any. He also preferred the window seat , so he could stare outside. Unfortunately on this trip he had to make do with the aisle seat. He turned his head sideways , wanting to get a look at his neighbour. She was staring out of the bus - he could only see her silky smooth hair. Dressed in jeans and Tees. Tushar had never been the kind of guy who waits for the other person to start a conversation. Accordingly , he bent forward and said, "Hi, Iam Tushar".

She turned her head. Her face looked lovely - oval face with a dark complexion , perfectly sculpted , full lips and somehow hauntingly familiar. Her eyes were what struck him the most - deer's eyes. "Hello, Iam Priya", she replied, smiling in return. Thus encouraged, Tushar plunged recklessly ahead.

Priya was going to her hometown, she explained. A guy was coming over to see her. She had never even seen him, nor bothered to check out his picture that her parents had sent her.

"Why?", Tushar asked, surprised.

"Iam in love with another guy and am going to marry him. Why should I be bothered about a guy whom I have never met , who is coming to my place tomorrow to see me, whom Iam never going to marry anyway", Priya shot back, her face proudly defiant , her eyes sparkling.

Tushar felt as if a jolt of electricity had passed through him. For he remembered now why Priya's face had seemed so familiar. Hers had been among one of the photos his parents had sent to him, the girl he was going to meet tomorrow. Indecision gripped Tushar's heart. Should he tell Priya that he was the guy supposed to meet her tomorrow? How would she react then? 'No, better to keep quiet', Tushar thought. Still he felt a strange feeling of loss, for in that brief interval, he had come to like this lovely , smart girl.

Priya's phone rang. "My boyfriend", Priya said shyly. She turned her head and soon they were exchanging sweet nothings over the phone. The sound smote Tushar's heart. He tried hard not to listen and curled up to try and get some sleep. He woke up suddenly in the night. Something had woken him up. He looked around. The sight and sound of Priya sobbing shocked him. He was too embarassed to ask her. He would talk to her in the morning , he promised himself and went back to sleep.

When he woke up the sun was already high in the sky. He had overslept. He turned to Priya's seat and was disconcerted to see she was no longer there. Her stop had come and gone. He felt at a loss for words. Would he ever know why she had been crying? There was only one thing for him to do , the only decent thing. He could not go ahead with the proposal with a girl who so clearly loved another. He would tell his parents he was not interested in that girl , and then hopefully, Priya would have the life she dreamed about.

His parents reaction was typical and expected. They could not understand why Tushar was pulling out from the proposal at this late stage, when he had been so enthusiastic all along. But Tushar was adamant, and they had to give way. His father called up Priya's house and explained how they would not proceed with the proposal. Something to do with horoscope matching , Tushar's father mumbled over the phone. The rest of the day passed really slowly. His parents did not speak to him once. Tushar himself was happy that he had done the right thing by Priya, that she could now get married to the person she loved. As for his parents, time would soon bring them back to their normal selves.

He woke up early the next day , waited for his mother to bring him his cup of tea in bed , as she always did. She came and he was shocked to see her eyes were red. She had obviously been crying. She couldn’t look him in the eye, just flung the newspaper in his general direction. The news item was on the third page. A small three inch column. 'Jilted girl commits suicide' , went the headline. His eyes blurred as he read the news. Priya was dead. What had happened? He would never know. "I did the right thing", he wanted to scream , but he knew, in the eyes of his parents, Priya's parents , he would always be the person who had sent their daughter to her death.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Liar Liar

Disclaimer: This is a true incident narrated as it happened. The conversation you hear is that spoken by a guy on his mobile phone - a guy who was my neighbour in the Volvo bus yeterday on the Calicut Bangalore route ( Didn’t know in my wildest dreams that such pompous idiots actually exist ). The comments in italics are my thoughts at the time. Since I did not have any intention of posting this on the blog at the time, some of the thoughts may be a bit lurid. Also as it gets late , my thoughts become more violent as I realize Iam not going to get the sleep I bargained for. Also the conversation was a whole lot longer, but this is all I remember today.

The bus had just started from Calicut , the lights have been dimmed and I am getting ready for a good night's sleep.This guy calls up his girlfriend on the phone and starts talking. I can only hear his side of the conversation.

"Hi , Iam on the bus"
So am I
"We have just started from Calicut. Whats with all these South Indians? The names they choose for their places - Malayalees, Tamils, Kannadas they are all the same."
Oh ho that’s rich coming from you Mr Snake-in-the-Grass Gujarati

"What are the others doing? Some of them are talking on their mobiles like myself, while others are dozing"
And a unfortunate few are trying to

"Hey Nisha, I saw your pic in your profile.Were you wearing any lens?No ? Oh so you have cat's eyes"
Tu bhi yaar. Cut the crap. Hmm Nisha. Nice name.

"Are you in the kitchen? I can hear the sound of utensils"
She is with her lover right now dumbhead and they are making love on the kitchen table
"Its raining again, heavily. It always does this. Thankfully it didn’t rain before I got on the bus. I don’t have an umbrella. I have found it often happens with me. When I want something to happen really badly , I just have to think it and it just happens"
Is this guy for real? Who does he think he is ? Welcome to God's Own Country O Exalted One.
"I don’t get angry at all. I mean when Iam getting angry, it means Iam handing over control of my feelings to someone else"
Not very original in our thoughts are we, Mr Wise Guy
"Hey you are breaking up"
Hooray. Perhaps the guy will take a hint and hang up

"Don’t worry. Let me cut and call you again"
Oh No there goes that hope. Maybe there will be no signal and I will be saved. Who am I kidding? Whats a poor mobile signal to a guy who controls the weather?

"Thank God, I got you. This paid one week vacation is really good. And the company doesn’t deduct it from my 27 days Annual leave either"
Good for you. Unfortunately, Iam not on paid leave, I need to go to office tomorrow.

At this point, Nisha decided to take matters into her own hands and cut the phone. May the Gods shower their choicest blessings on you , dear lady.

The rest of the night was spent fighting over the shared arm rest. Luckily for me , this guy never got angry , so things didn’t turn out too badly for me.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Interpretation of Dreams

Subhash woke up. He hadnt had a good night's sleep. He had been dreaming about Shwetha the whole night. No reason really. He hadnt gone to sleep thinking about her. Infact , he rarely thought about her now - it had been like this since that day one month back he had decided that the two of them were meant to go their separate ways.

His mind wandered back one year. His second day in office. He had seen this vision in a black salwar kameez, with the face of an angel. He had never believed in love at first sight , but then and there she had become his first ever crush. It had taken him one month just to summon his courage and speak to her face to face. And from that day on , they had been the best of friends.

Shwetha was already married and Subhash himself was committed. Perhaps that was the reason he never unburdened his heart's deepest secret to her. He didnt know. He knew he loved the girl he was engaged to , but he treasured his crush for Shwetha - a feeling not likely to be reciprocated because Shwetha probably was unaware of this secret. And so he had decided, never to reveal to her his true feelings for her. He had argued with himself for days , but what clinched it was that in his heart he knew there was no future for any such relationship. And there was no point in ruining a perfectly good friendship by trying for something that was never to be.

And now he was resigning and leaving for a land far away. It was unlikely that they would meet ever again. His mind had fluttered at that point , wondering if he should not tell her the truth before they parted. In the end he had decided that it was best that all this remained buried in the recesses of his heart. Which was why it was so strange that he should have had this dream today.

He had dreamed that Shwetha had come to his place yesterday. He had been alone there. They had got talking and accidentally their fingers had touched. The feeling was electric. He could have sworn that she blushed. An then one thing led to another and before long they found themselves in each other's arms. At this point he had woken up. Subhash was disturbed by the dream. He didnt know what to make of it. Did it mean that Shwetha actually reciprocated his feelings - or was it just his own mind playing on his feelings, leading him to believe what he wanted to believe.

He sat in bed for half an hour , trying to analyse the dream. Try as he might he could not make sense of the dream.Frustrated , he got up , dressed and went to office. Wonder of wonders - the first person he saw was Shwetha. She started as soon as she saw him. She came upto him and whispered, blushing , "What happened last night should never have happened. Please, never mention this to anyone".

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Go Springboks Go

Angane pavanaayi shavamaayi.enthokke bahalamaayirunnu.malappuram kaththi,machine gun,bomb,olakkede moodu.. This memorable dialogue by Thilakan in Nadodikattu best describes the reaction that came to my mind this morning around 2:30 am while the last rites were being performed at Port of Spain.

India lost to Sri Lanka yesterday, putting to an end the intricate Net run Rate calculations all diehard supporters of the team were indulging in.

However , we can still afford to smile. This was best exemplified by this sms message on Asianet Plus . "Bermuda ki Jai" , went the message. The sender's name ? Dravid.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

A Series of Events

Madhavan was now at the head of the checkout queue in the supermarket. He fidgeted, praying the checkout clerk would not get suspicious. His plans were set. He had already rented a room in the nearby hotel. Go back there, have a heavy dinner and then the sleeping pills mixed with the vodka should do the trick. Pity that he, the local bank manager, would need to end his life this way. But there was no other way. He had only one regret - he would not be able to help that young lady, now what was her name, yes Priya. She really needed the loan for her husband's treatment. He had decided to sanction it, but with him gone now, there was no chance she would get it in time. Oh well, everyone had their own problems. His own was he had used the bank's money to dabble in shares. The auditor was coming for a surprise check tomorrow and there was no way he could escape detection.

He laid down the two bottles of sleeping pills on the counter. The clerk looked startled and asked, with a smile,"Not planning a suicide, are we?". Madhavan laughed, real loud. The laughter sounded fake even to his own ears.


Gopal looked up, startled. The man standing in front of him in the queue had suddenly laughed.What an insane laugh it was too. Sent a chill crawling up his spine. Looked a respectable gent.Oh Well , he had enough problems of his own, without enquiring into why others would laugh out loud suddenly.

But at last , it looked like his own problems were coming to an end. He had lent a considerable amount of money to his old classmate , Priya. She had urgently needed it for her husband Suresh's treatment. The only problem was , the money had not been his in the first place. It belonged to the local goonda Mahesh. And now Mahesh wanted the money back. It had really looked curtains for Gopal , because he knew there was no way Priya could somehow get him the money. And God knew, he couldnt raise any himself. And just when things had started looking really dark for him , he had got the call from Priya. She had succeeded in getting the loan from the bank. Gopal had sent a silent prayer of thanks to the unknown benefactor, the bank manager.

"Julie...I love you"...His mobile was ringing. Gopal let it ring for sometime so he could listen to his favourite tune.


"Julie...I love you". Ajit was startled. The mobile phone of the man standing ahead of him in the queue was ringing. Set so loud too. Ajit screwed his nose in disgust. Why wouldnt the guy pick up the phone. Ajit's nerves were all jangled. They usually were just before a job. This wasnt usually how he started out. But he had had to come to the supermarket because he had forgotten his gloves. And he was nothing if not thorough.

Ajit quickly paid for the gloves and hurried out of the supermarket. As he turned the corner , he bumped into a lady. His right hand automatically went towards the gun hidden in his inner jacket pocket. He looked up. She had a pretty face. He calmed down. "Excuse me madam", Ajit asked, "can you tell me which way is the bank?"


Priya was humming a song as she walked home. There was a spring to her step which had not been there for some weeks now. The bank manager, Madhavan, had saved her. She would now be able to repay her dear friend Gopal. At last it looked like all her problems were solved.

As she turned the corner, someone bumped into her. She staggered back, her breath knocked out. She looked up. The man who had bumped into her was looking at her. He had a furtive look. "Excuse me madam", he asked her, "can you tell me which way is the bank?". "Take the next left , the bank is the second building on the right", Priya told him. As he hurried along , Priya called after him ,"But it will be closed now." She could have sworn his mouth opened in a grim smile. She suddenly felt chilly. Priya looked around. There was no one nearby. It was getting late. Priya hurried towards home, where Suresh was waiting for her. She smiled as she thought of how he would react when he heard the good news.


Madhavan reached his hotel room, after a long walk.He had wanted to work up an appetite for his last meal. The chicken biriyani he had ordered on the way up smelt delicious. He quickly gobbled it up. "And now for dessert", he smiled to himself. He emptied both bottles of sleeping pills into the bottle of vodka, mixed himself a drink. He switched on the TV. No point in dying an uninformed man. The local TV channel was on. There was a "Breaking News" banner on the screen. He turned on the volume. The announcer was breathlessly blurting out the news,"There has been a burglary at the local bank. The whole bank building has been gutted by a fire believed by the police to have been started by the burglar to destroy any clues." Madhavan watched fascinated as the camera veered to the smouldering remains of the bank. His bank. But but, he realized if the bank had been destroyed it means, the money would be gone too. All of it. So how could the auditor tell if any money had been missing before the robbery.He was saved. The glass of vodka remained in his hand, untasted.

"Thank you God," Madhavan prayed fervently, tears of joy streaming down his face."This was the only chance I needed. I will never do anything wrong again"

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A New Hope

Sriram looked up at the ceiling for the nth time. The noisy fan was whirring overhead. It was his fifth day at the hospital. He had been admitted there after being diagonised with cancer. How slowly the days had seemed to pass.He remembered the day he was admitted like it had happened just an hour back. "You are too young to die", the beaming nurse had said in a reassuring voice. She had a calm ,competent manner, with a lovely face to boot. "I have nothing left to live for", he had almost corrected her.

The same nurse (he had found out her name was Chitra) used to come in every morning around 11, giving him his morning round of medicines. And Chitra always used to drop into his room in the evenings, right before her shift ended. She always had a smile on her lips.And a lively manner. He never could make out how fast the time flew when she was with him. In another life, another time, he might almost have fallen in love with her.Almost , but not quite , he thought bitterly. The sound of the rain falling gently outside lulled him to sleep.

When Sriram woke up the next morning, the sun was already out. And smiling at him from the window ledge was a flower, which had not been there the previous night. He looked closely. There was some soil on the window ledge, and there the lone flower had sprouted, looking like a palm tree in the desert. Glistening with the water from the rain , swaying against the wind, raising its little head up to the Sun, the flower seemed to Sriram to be a beacon of hope. For the first time in days, he looked forward to the rest of the day.

Chitra came and was surprised to see Sriram in a jovial mood. He was sharing jokes, smiling away like one without a care in the world. And she was glad, for she had come to love this morose looking young man. She loved him more now that he had obviously decided not to give up without a fight. With each passing day, Sriram regained his strength, waiting eagerly for when Chitra would come again.

Days passed. And then one day , when Sriram woke up, the sight that greeted his stunned eyes chilled his marrow. For, the flower was no longer there. The whole window ledge was squeaky clean. Like a door shutting out the light, he felt all hope , all prayers , draining out of him. Like the drowning man clutching at the straw only to find it no longer there, he waited like the condemned man for the door to open and bring him his death.

The door opened. Chitra was there holding a paper in her hand. He looked at her, without speaking. He nodded dumbly, towards the window ledge. She saw the flower gone, came over and squeezed his hand."Sriram", she said, "We just found out. The cancer you have got is completely benign. Its curable. Some mixup with the lab results", she continued , but he was too dizzy to hear. There was a roaring sound in his ears.

He felt elated, on top of the world. It seemed almost as if the flower had sacrificed itself, so he might live. It was absurd , of course, but what was logic or reason to a dying man who had just been given a fresh lease of life. Like a mad man, willing to risk his all on one throw of dice ,Sriram grabbed both hands of Chitra in his own. "Will you be mine?" , he asked her. Chitra was silent, but the twinkle in her eyes gave him the answer he wanted to hear.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Cricket Lovely Cricket

Nike just did it ! Its first ever cricket ad - a smash hit , featuring all that is beautiful about how the game is played in India. And talk about timing - two weeks before the World Cup starts.

Took me some time to get the actual meaning of the lyrics , but the Konkani sounds just beautiful. Check out the ad (for those who were on another planet the last week and may just have missed this piece of magic)

Lyrics (Translated from Konkani):

'Wait, partner, wait
First let me play
If you don't play, I'll keep chasing you all day
Our game is like this only
Where we have no time to think
It is the game of cat and mouse
That I have begun to love
And in the falling running breaking
My destiny is entwined'

p.s : I know the transalation is nowhere as beautiful as the original lyrics. If anyone knows the actual Konkani words used in the ad, please post it in the comments.

Dont Think Dont Think

The Idle mind is your worst enemy, thinking pitiful thoughts
Insidious it is , breaking you from within, making you nought
Just one way to escape , be busy, no time to think
Leisure is a fool's choice, only fools stand and blink

Dont lose a moment, dont worry about the Why and the How
Every minute is precious, the best of your life starts Now
Dont pine over your losses, time spent pining is lost forever
Get up , start moving,you must realize its now or never

Life will hand you lemons, remember it was never fair
No use complaining, all you got was your due share
You have your chance, do not sit and on failures dwell
Like the wise man said, the best revenge is to live well

The past is past, thinking about its not gonna help
Seize the moment, swallow all your sorrows in one gulp
Dont blame Destiny , Its not Karma, no such thing as Fate
Because Life is What you make it, the sooner you realize the better mate

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Story Without A Title

It was so dark, Chandran couldnt see anything. He felt suffocated, short of breath. "This too shall pass", he told himself determinedly, gritting his teeth. This saying usually used to comfort him, but not this time. He still felt uneasy, butterflies in his stomach. He had heard that thinking pleasant thoughts relaxed the body and mind. Might as well give it a shot. He had nothing to lose anyway.

He thought of Chandni, in the village they had grown up together. He could see in his mind's eye the bubbly twelve year old , running out to meet him, holding his hands and leading him into the house. They had always been made for each other. She was always the little one, looking upto him in wonder. He would always be doting on her every word. They had been what the elderly people in the village called the Ideal Couple.

They had grown up, she into a lovely young lady, he into a handsome young man. The love they shared had only grown stronger. They really made a most attractive couple. And they were to get married next month. Alas, it was not going to be. "The best laid plans of mice and men" sprang to his mind. He had always been good at quoting others.

He had loved her so much he would do almost anything for her. And he had. Oh why had he ever done what he did. The lure of quick money could be his only excuse.

He could almost see Chandni now, alone in their house ,waiting for the call that would never come...

"Ready Chandran?", asked the jailer.

"Ready Sir", Chandran replied.

At the jailer's nod, the hangman pressed the lever. Chandran's body plunged down into the dark , empty space below.

"He is dead alright", said the jail doctor, examining the body after the mandatory 10 minute wait.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I Met A Blind Man Once

I met a Blind Man once, afflicted with the loss since he was born
He was tapping his cane on the pavement, walking all alone
A wave of pity rose in me, rage at a Fate so unfair
That one should be denied the pleasure of seeing things fair

I met a Blind Man once, we spent a nice long time chatting
I spoke to him of sights wondrous, which he must be missing
the green fields, the blue skies, the breaking of the sun's light
how does one explain the concept of colour to one with no sight

I met a Blind Man once, I found him very happy, to my surprise,
He told me of why he was grateful, for the simple joys of Life
for the warmth of the sun on his cheeks, a baby's sweet clear laughter
the sweet singing of the birds, the twinkling sound of rushing water

I met a Blind Man once, not once did he complain
He was busy counting his blessings, no time to feel pain
What a change it was from the usual complaints I heard
the backbiting, the gossip that we at office shared

I met a Blind Man once , so peaceful he was amidst the strife,
He showed me all that had been missing in my life
Lost in my daily routine between home and office
I never knew I had been missing such joys

I met a Blind man once , he brought about a change not slight
He taught me "seeing" is much much more than mere sight
I met a Blind Man once, he was one of the rare happy few
Looking back, I wonder who was the more blind of the two.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Swansong of a Loser

I look back and have nothing to call my own
Nothing to show , nothing to mark my time here
The hand was won,the finishing line was so close
Waste not your precious tears on a loser's loss

I feel the darkness closing in on me, no hope to spare
Reach out blindly for the bottle , drive out the despair
Know this is no solution ,but the time's over to make a stand
Numbing my mind's still better than dying by mine own hand

Think not of me too harshly, my darling, I love you still
I gave my best, just wasnt bold enough to fit the bill
I just wish I had the courage to speak out,make you mine
I know I have lost you ,only wish to hold you one more time

To the one who meant to me the most, only this I have to say
The curtain is coming down, for this life was just a play
Not your fault you never did realize, I played what part
My laughter was just to drown out my loud ,sobbing heart

I made light of your fears, the price I pay now is just
Never realized the hurt I was causing you, Iam indeed accursed
I love you baby, only never could tell you in so many words
These words you read , are that of a loser signing off

Friday, February 16, 2007

An Evening With The Gods

So there I was , sitting in the park one dusky evening
When who should come along , but the Three Greats beaming
Vishnu was the first, then Shiva , Another One of the Holy Trinity
Brahma came last with his four heads,though I could see just three

I got up from the bench, greeted them with hands folded
They stopped in surprise - though they be Gods - were jolted
Vishnu asked, "Why do you greet us in this fashion, O Stranger"
I said, "How can I remain seated in such holy company, my Father"

Shiva said, "You must be wise indeed to recognize us, Vatsa"
I replied , "In truth, my Lords it was easy, needed but little chutzpah
You O Shiva with the snake around the neck, Vishnu with his chakra and mace
And you O Brahma, with the multiple heads were the easiest to place"

Brahma smiled and said, "It is well indeed that we meet one so wise,
Perhaps he can solve our problem, which does vex us day and night
Listen to me carefully , for I speak softly and speak but once
Among the Three , tell us who is The Greatest , who the Dunce"

I spoke ( hands still folded ), in tones plaintively
"If it be Chhoti Munh Badi Baat* do forgive me
But if I must judge, tell me what qualifies each of you best
Alphabetically Brahma, you go the first , before the rest"

Brahma spoke up, all three pairs of lips moving in sync back and forth
( Because he was facing me , I still could not see the fourth)
"Iam the Creator, the Giver of Life, from me the Vedas sprung
Who can doubt my Greatness, for I gave Man Wisdom and spunk"

Scarcely had He stopped, than Shiva grabbed the imaginary mike
I stepped back, for his snake was swirling like a wind tossed kite
"I Destroy all evil, put even Indra, King of the Gods in his place
And if you doubt me, I will open mine Third Eye, clear your haze"

Not to be outdone, Vishnu continued from where Shiva left off
"This my Sudarshana chakra can cut the wicked, while they do laugh
Vettu onnu muri randu as the saying goes in Kerala land
Meaning 'One Cut Two Wounds' , transalated for the Malayalam challenged"

I listened to the Divine voices enthralled, the time for judgement was nigh
"Truth be told , you are all neck and neck( no pun intended , Brahma Sire)
Why this childish competition, O Wise Ones, of Who be the Master
Who can compare Fire and Water, or the Earth for that matter."

Listening to this, Maha Vishnu's lips parted in a smile
(Though for Brahma and Shiva to catch on , it took a while )
"My dear Narada, I would have recognized you anywhere
Let us return to Heaven, for long we have missed you sore"

*Small Mouth Big Talk

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

To My Valentine

The Concept of Love at First Sight
Was something I mocked Day and Night
Tis was something shallow to the core
Like watching a play ,shouting 'Once More'

And then I saw Her, and knew at once
I had been wrong, nothing more than a dunce
She had the eyes of a deer, an angelic smile
To make Her mine, would have walked many a mile

A gentle voice reminded me , whispered in my ear
I was promised to One, She betrothed to another
Judge me not , my friends, I am faithful to Mine
Still, who couldnt have looked at her in wonder, but a swine

You are my Valentine, you know who you are
Accept me now ,or leave on my heart a scar
I know you have my number, a missed call will suffice
Know this,am waiting for your call, this of all nights

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

A Messenger From God

Its Sunday morning and Iam lolling around the bed in my friends' place. I usually am at my friends' place on weekends. Waking up at 10:30 and daydreaming in bed because you know its Sunday - as close to Nirvana as us lesser mortals can get.

Tringgg . The sound of the doorbell rudely interrupts me. Must be the house maid. I unwillingly pull myself up because my friends have not yet woken up, the lazy buggers. I go and open the door.

"Good Morning Sir", says this smart looking chap, carrying a book in his hands.

"Good Morning", I reply.

"Sir, can you spare me 5 minutes?".

Sure buddy all the time in the world for you, today Iam at peace with the world.

"Sir, this is my sister".

There is a girl with him. I look closely. And more closely still.This guy is of the kaarvarnan, colour , popularised by our Lord Krishna, while she is much fairer. However three bottles of Haywards 5000 the previous night and going to sleep without dinner, have left me waking up in no mood to ponder the profound mysteries of Life. So I decide to let it pass.

"Sir,for five minutes reflect that God has given you the power to change something that you feel is wrong with the world. What would you choose?"

A no-brainer , really. Poverty leaps to my mind.

"The one thing I would like most to change in this world is the poverty. The sight of half clad children, without any clothes..." , I stopped. I had just realized that other than a flimsy pair of shorts, I wasnt wearing anything else.

"Can you give me one minute?" , I manage to mutter.

"sure Sir", my readily agreeable friend nods.

I hurriedly went in and put on a Tshirt. Came back.

"Sir, like you mentioned earlier, try imagining a world without poverty". I try my best to look like Iam trying to imagine.

"How do you feel , Sir"?

"Very Happy".

"Good, now I will show you a picture of how such a world will look like?"

That said he shows me a picture of some happy looking people. Iam bit disconcerted to find only laughing Caucasian blondes. So doesnt God have any plans for us pagan Indians, I think? But his next statement clears all my doubts.

"Sir, if you see carefully, even animals are happy, not only humans". Surely if even animals are going to be happy, not to worry about Indians, savages though they may be.

"And one more thing, Sir, in this happy world, there will be no wicked people". Bingo , that means most of my friends will not make it, but a small price to pay for The Happy World.

"Sir, if you are free next week, I will have a friend come over and speak to you in detail".

"Thats alright , but I dont live here".

"Sir , if you can give me your address , I will ask my friend to come over to your place".

Bzzz , went a warning buzzer in my head. During Deepavali, Hindus have a custom of lighting their houses, hoping to attract Goddess Lakshmi, who would bring riches and wealth. But surely this was different. No riches here, only happiness.

"Tell you what, I will be here next week. Ask your friend to come over next week".

And so I wait with bated breath for the next Divine Message.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Just Another Day At The Office

He looked at the clock. Just one more hour to go. Only 60 minutes left to make his decision. And it was not a simple decision. Millions rested on his words. He could not make another mistake, not at this stage in his career.

He had learned enough from his father. No, he was not perfect, he would be the first to admit that. He had made mistakes, but that was alright as long as he learned from them.And this time he was going to succeed. He knew in his heart of hearts that he would make the right decision - these deadlines seemed to bring out the best in him.

Knock Knock. There was someone at the door. "Who's there", he cried irritably. His aide looked in and said,"Sir, they are here". "Yes ,yes, Iam coming". The aide closed the door. Click.Somehow the sound of that click seemed to clear his thoughts. He knew what had to be done. His mind was made up. With firm steps, he made his way to the room they were all waiting in.

President George W Bush beamed into the television cameras."My fellow Americans",he said, "Tomorrow , we march into Iran".

Kim Jong-il ,Dictator of North Korea was listening in to the live broadcast on CNN. CNN was still beamed across to the Presidential Palace, just not accessible in the rest of the country. Someone needs to know the truth, Kim would always jokingly say. "Whew", he murmured to his Vice President, "that was close".

Stop Bathing Dude

Ever found yourself facing a date and no time to take bath. So you just sprayed on your favourite deodrant. Well, you just broke Rule No 1 of the Modern Day kamasutra.

For all those would-be lovers, never quite able to attract the fairer sex, heres some good news to attract their attention err nose. Read on.

Come to think of it, this is not just good news for all those jilted guys, but may also hold the key to solve water disputes like Cauvery, Mullaperiyar etc.

Food for Thought : Was this study sponsored by the Govt of Tamil Nadu?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tendlya Ala Re

Silverine has recently commented on Tendlya in this post. Since the post was in direct response to India's win against West Indies in the last one dayer, we will try and take a look at Sachin Tendulkar's One Day record.

Tendlya Baiter : You know , whenever Tendulkar plays well, India loses. I almost pray that he doesnt do well nowadays.

Tendlya Fan : What have you been smoking , TB? 29 times that Tendulkar scored a century , India has gone on to win. In fact Tendulkar's average of 57.08 in matches India has won is way better than his average of 32.20 when India loses.

Tendlya Baiter : I grant you that , but most of his centuries seem to come against cricketing minnows.

Tendlya Fan : Must have my dictionary updated. Never knew they changed the definition of 'minnows'. He has scored the most number of centuries - 7 each - against Australia and Sri Lanka.

Tendlya Baiter : He is just too old, man. He should be dropped from the World Cup team.

Tendlya Fan : Now you are just talking through your hat. If you really think India has got five batsmen better than Tendlya, all I can say is,"Wake up dude".

Tendlya Baiter : I dont know , I just hate the little bugger. Iam off to Madagascar.

Tendlya Fan : Take care the sun doesnt touch your head, Wiseguy.Me, Iam off to where all the bright people are going - to the Carribean.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A More Serious Me

This has been some time coming. I have always thought of having two blogs - one for my sensitive (hmmpphh ) side, featuring poems , stories , the lighthearted stuff etc and another one for more serious posts.

So Ladies and Gentleman , for your reading pleasure, I present Sachin Da Politics.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Quiz Prelims at the Office

Today we had our Quiz Prelims at office. Teams of 3 had to answer questionairres of 20 questions. The top 6 teams to be announced on Monday ( Jan 29th ) will qualify for the Quiz final on Feb 1st.

We reached the venue with some trepidation. We were cheered considerably by the fact that there were only around 25 odd teams participating. This made our chances of qualifying roughly 25% Ceteris Paribus ( all else being equal). Our hopes rose higher when we saw the questions. Dead easy. Finals , here we come.

'The first male model for Christine Dior', went one question. David Beckam, we cried. One guy hesitated, 'Could it be Zidane'? Nahh, we shushhed him. Next question was about a Microsoft Windows game that had the word 'hearts' two times in the clue. We weren't going to be taken in by that , were we. We opted bravely for 'Solitaire'. "What is one followed by hundred zeroes", went the next question? Google ,cried three voices frantically, each trying hard to be a hoarse whisper unable to be heard over the next table. The last question was "What is Japanese for one"? Uno , cried one. When another looked unconvinced , he was asked, "Come on , havent you heard of Fiat Uno?".

We were out in five minutes, confident we had got all 20 correct and merrily counting away our chickens before the eggs had even been laid. We were going over the questions , when I had a sinking feeling in my stomach , 'Wasnt Google derived from Googol which meant one followed by a hundred zeroes' ( whoever needs that many zeroes anyway). Another piped up , "Uno is Spanish, Ichi is one for Japanese ". Reached office and Googled ( not Googoled ) for Christine Dior. It had been Zidane after all. The icing on the cake came when the Microsoft Windows game turned out to be Hearts.

From sure finalists to nervous would be qualifiers, the fall was a hard one. Well time or rather Monday will tell . Not too bad though, we did get 16 right.

p.s: This was not however, the high point of the day. In office , I had this conversation with a colleague.

Colleague: So , Sachin, which events are you participating in for the Sports Day?

Self: Badminton, TT and Chess.

Colleague: But , but dont you have to be intelligent to play chess?

Self : Speechless

On that lost-for-words note, I sign off.

A Situation For You

Today I was discussing a situation with a friend. This was narrated to me a while back. I had always been struck by this illustration and today it suddenly leaped to mind. I will now present this to you. At the time of deciding, opt for the choice that pops into your head. Remember there are two options and neither is wrong.

Suppose you are a railway signalman. You sit in a signal box, which is linked to two different tracks - one which is old and no longer currently used, the second which is used at present. You decide which track the train should take and you have been invariably chosing the new one ( makes sense doesnt it ).

Now one day you come to your signal box and find one boy playing alone on the old track. At the same time there is a group of children ( five, for want of a better number ) , playing on the new track. And unexpectedly a train comes. There is no time to warn the children, no time to stop the train. You can only decide which track to send the train along - the old , unused one , killing the lone boy or the along the new track, killing five innocent children. Make your decision NOW. ( Note: Both tracks , the old and the new , are equally safe for the train to travel on ).




This situation was posed to me in a session of 20. 18 people there opted for the train to go along the old track arguing that one death was better than 5 ( The Greatest good of the Greatest number ). I and one other opted for allowing the train along the new track which was the course it would have followed if there had been no children in the first place. Our argument was simple - the lone boy took the wise decision of playing on the disused track and to punish him for essentially doing the right thing was not right.

And here the trainer gave his punchline. He agreed that there was no correct or incorrect decision. But he said that this situation illustrates that for the welfare of the majority , you may need to take decisions which are not morally right.

Isnt that what democracy is all about?

Which brings me to this quote by Anatole France:
"If 50 million people believe a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing"

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Speak Out or Shut Up

"In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn't speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up."
Martin Niemoeller

How often has it happened to you? You see something that raises your hackles. You keep quiet at the time, not raising your voice in public. Then from the safety of anonymity provided by your home, you denounce the incident , expousing your righteous indignation to all who may be willing to lend you an ear. Well I have two words of advice for you - "Zip it".

If you see something wrong being done, show the guts to voice your dissent. Break out from that lofty group called the 'Silent Majority'. Its not enough that something has offended you, dont congratulate yourself that you still have your morals, as long as you keep silent you are nothing better than a willing accomplice.

Dont hide behind that oft touted line, "What difference can I alone make"? Your reaction today will make a person have second thoughts tomorrow before doing the same wrong. Its easy to be cynical and take the soft path of being Silent.Much more difficult to stand up for what you believe is right and make a real difference.

Edmund Burke rightly said, "The only thing necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing"

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Dont Shh Shh Me

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.".

Article 19 of the Constitution of India guarantees to every citizen the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. And one would assume an Indian could speak his mind throughout the country without fear of reprisal. The above would hold true certainly for the mass media. You only need to see the issues they focus on to realize that they certainly dont believe in any restrictions on their freedom. In addition to this, our judiciary zealously guards this right. But what about the Common Man - you and me , included.

If we were to judge the freedom available in India against the 'Sharansky Town Square Test' , we would rightly come to the conclusion that India is a 'fear society'. For the test states:"If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express his or her views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that person is living in a fear society, not a free society."

Could you freely go to any public place in India and voice your opinion freely and expect to go unpunished? The answer is No. There is a rising trend in this country to gag voices which may be voicing opinions unpalatable to any group of people. The Government usually takes the lead by banning the offending piece. In such cases where this does not happen, the self proclaimed moral police takes it upon itself to put the perperator in his place. Two recent episodes would serve to highlight this.

The All India Muslim Personal Law Board ( AIMPLB ) has asked for Taslima Nasreen to be expelled from India. An article she wrote in the Outlook has offended the sensibilities of some moulavis it seems. I would advise the moulavis , that this is India, not Pakistan or China. If something is written that offends you, I have a simple advice - Dont read it.

Another case that shocked me was the self imposed exile by artist MF Husain. Arguably India's best modern painter , he has been hounded by the saffron brigade out of his own country because of his paintings of Hindu Godesses. I do not find some of his paintings very tasteful. But that is beside the point. A true test of democracy is how tolerant you are of criticism. If you take the line that nothing that is unpalatable to anyone should be printed, soon you will have newspapers coming out with only advertisements and classifieds in them.

Truly a long way to go before India attains the dream Tagore had for this country.
"Where the mind is without fear
And the head is held high,
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
let my country awake."

Monday, January 15, 2007

The World View of an Atheist

"God made me an atheist. Who are you to question his wisdom."

Iam not a very religious person. I do go to the temple once in a while but those of you who may have read my previous posts on this subject ('Swargathile Leela Vilasangal' and 'The Gods Must Be Crazy' ) would have typecasted me as a non believer.And you would have been right.

I have been inspired to post this after going through some very religious-cloaked-in-the-garb-of-spiritualism posts that I came across various blogs. Isnt it an irony of fate ( Duh!!! What am I talking about , there is no Fate ), that the more we seem to progress , the more we seem to be sinking in the mire of new found beliefs
that defy all logic. Religion indeed seems to be like the mythological Hydra , a poisonous new head springing up for every old one we cut.

The earlier century superstitions have been replaced by the new age Godmen ( and women ) , who having learnt the tricks of the trade from the less revered P C Sorcar and his ilk, would now ascend the throne, commit the ultimate blasphemy of claiming to be God himself ( or herself, depending on which con artist you are talking about ) , all this accompanied to the cheers of their delirious supporters. And the saddest part is these supporters do not consist of the rabble that formed a major part of such charlatans support base in the earlier centuries. No, the new supporters are supposedly educated men and women who should know better.

Is this our vision for 21st Century India? An India driven by IT to take on the world, still keeping one feet firmly planted in the puja room , always ready to give alms to the prayer book armed , sagely looking con artists, all the while ignoring the really needy , the downtrodden , who are not mentioned like the Elephant in The Room.

I can believe in a God who asks me to help my neighbour, not in one who demands I show my loyalty by regular prayer. I can believe in a God who says I will be saved if I do good to others, not in one who claims my only road to salvation is through my belief in Him. If God indeed be so insecure that he feels the need for me to pander to his ego by regularly singing paens of praise, "Sorry , but No Thanks".

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Why Tragedy is King

The question's been posed to me before - why do your stories always seem to end in someone dying. I frankly dont know. There is something about death, about sadness that happiness can never match.

I offer to you these beautiful lines from a song by Don Mclean in homage of Vincent Van Gogh who committed suicide in a fit of depression.

Now I understand
what you tried to say to me
how you suffered for your sanity
how you tried to set them free
they would not listen they did not know how
perhaps they'll listen now

For they could not love you
but still your love was true
and when no hope was left inside
on that starry starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you,Vincent
this world was never meant for one as beautiful as you

I rest my case.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

My Experiments With Swimming

My first swimming lesson was in the river flowing nearby my house. A giant rubber tyre around my waist, surrounded by a dozen expert swimmers , I waded bravely into the unknown. Surprisingly enough , I floated, that is for the first few days while I had the tyre fitting snugly around my waist. The fourth day , my self appointed guru decide it was time for me to strut my stuff. Egged on by his inspirational speech, I dived head first, without the tyre ,into the moving water. Have you heard all the bullshit that our bodies are naturally buoyant and you just have to keep still and you will float up like a cork. I believed that for all of five seconds. Five seconds passed and I was still going like an express train towards the bottom of the river. Then all reason deserted me and I started thrashing wildly about and opened my mouth to scream for help. Now opening your mouth is not such a good idea, especially when you are about 10 feet under water. The fresh river water rushed into my mouth. Mercifully by this time my guru had decided I wasnt in prime form and dragged me to shore. No sooner was I on dry land than I ran home for dear life.

You would think such an experience would put me off swimming for the rest of my life. No Sir. We , from the land of Thachholi Othenan are made of sterner stuff. And accordingly I was back in the ambala kulam (Temple pool ) for my next lesson ( with a new guru, the previous one having been fired for his below exemplary performance). For those who have read my old posts , the new guru was none other than bade bhaiyya.

Now this ambala kulam was very well suited for the purpose. It had steps all around , so one could actually swim very close to the steps and get to safety whenever peril threatened. As an added precaution bade bhaiyya was standing on the steps with a thorthhu (towel ) which would be lowered into the water whenever I needed it to grab and climb up. My lessons in the ambala kulam lasted for all of two days.

The first day, bade bhaiya was talking to an old friend. He had the thorthhu lowered into the water. I was of course swimming , blissfully unaware, that my guru did not have his full attention on how his eager pupil was faring. I accordingly swam as far as I could and reached for the thorthhu. Bade bhaiyya felt a gentle tug on the thorthu and let go , laughing at his friend's joke. Imagine my sense of pure disbelief, when I plunged to the bottom , thorthhu and all. When bade bhaiyya finally finished laughing, he could see neither me nor the thorthhu . Luckily for me , and for you dear readers, the kulam water was very clear and a tragedy was averted.

But 'Never Say Die' is our family motto. The next dawn saw us back at the pond , early enough so my guru wouldnt be disturbed by any old buddies. I was swimming along the steps as was my wont when Vasu Namboodiri, the temple priest ,came to the pond to say his prayers. He saw me swimming and obviously expected me to stop splashing when he neared. You will excuse me when I say that thrashing my arms and legs was the only way I could keep my head above water, and I had no intention of stopping for Swami Aiyyappan , much less Vasu Namboodiri. To cut a painful story short, I splashed water on the devout priest and he cursed me "Nee oru kalathhilum gunam pidikilla" ( Editor's note : Loosely transalated as 'You will never be saved') . Of course I was under water while this was going on , and the curse was clearly explained to me by bade bahaiyya when he had got over his fit of laughter. Ironically enough, exactly one week later I got a job offer through campus selection and a new phrase came into being in my village , 'Namboothiri shapam upakaram aayi'. ( Editor's note : A pun on how Urvashi cursing Arjuna in the Mahabharata actually helps him when he has to spend one year disguised as a woman)

But that was the end of my swimming lessons. The end had more to do with the fact that none of the expert gurus was ready to risk his reputation enrolling me as a pupil. Added to this were pointed comments to the tune of 'For you vellam ( drinks ) is better than vellam (water)'. However, Iam willing for one more throw of the dice. The vacancy for a swimming instructor is therefore still open. Any expert swimmer may apply via the Comments section.

Nothing to Be Proud Of

A friend had posted this article recently. At the time I thought it overly pessimistic. Now Iam not so sure.

I had occasion to go on a train journey recently. The one thing that struck and saddened me was the abject poverty. Little children sweeping carriages for a small coin, old people shivering in the early morning cold begging from people half their age, mothers cradling children to cajole money or food from the coldest hearted. Clearly they had not heard about the newest Asian tiger, poised to become the third largest economy in the world by 2025.

Insulated as Iam in the city life I live, these scenes were stark reminders. True, there are beggars in the city too, but I have all along dismissed them as opportunists, out to make a fast buck. But these were the real people of India. Mahatma Gandhi said, "India lives in its villages". This may come as surprise to Manmohan and co but the Mahatma's India is still poor, living a hand to mouth existence thankful if for one night it does not need to go to bed unfed.

I buy a shirt for Rs 800 and marvel at the new spending power of the Indian Middle Class. I go to Coffee Day , pay Rs 100 for two cups of coffee and sing paens to Globalisation. I switch on CNBC , hear the experts toasting to the Indian success story and bask in the reflected glory. On the way to office in my car, I come across street urchins rummaging in the garbage. I look the other way, preferring to see the gleaming buildings by the roadside, heralding India's arrival on the IT scene.

p.s : I had started this post immediately after the Vizag trip, but feel unable to complete this. Too pessimistic. But sadly enough , this is nothing but the truth.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The Friendly Neighbourhood PostMaster

I guess every village has its own colourful personalities. One such in my village has to be the PostMaster. I hail from a sleepy village in North Kerala which has its fair share of claimants to the Mr DontPissMeOff title, but the PostMaster springs to the mind because of an incident during the recent Christmas leave.

I was expecting a registered post and needed to give an authorisation letter. So whats the big deal, ask the more flippant of the readers. Just sign a letter and have it shown to the postman when he arrives with the concerned article, and he leaves the registered item and God is in his heaven and all is right with the world.And this is where you would be sadly mistaken, for you have not heard the tales the village people sing about our valiant post master.

For you see, our Post Master has a history of refusing registered letters to any one other than the person its addressed to. All your wailings , your entreaties fall on deaf ears. If you cannot find the time to enter the august presence of His Majesty when you are called to , you can kiss goodbye to the the registered letter. Before you can say , "But but ,I have signed an authorisation letter", the registered article will be winging its way back to the sender.

I left my nimble mind to work its magic and sure enough , seconds later , it presented me with two scenarios.

Scenario A : I go to the post office with an authorisation letter signed , and present it to the Post Master. He of course crumples and throws it into the dustbin. A heated exchange ( 2 minutes long , shall we say ) later , I shout Saddam ki jai and slap him on the face, hearing which the village people who are present will recognise him for the Bush charan he undoubtedly is and give him his just desserts while I quietly make good my escape ( after of course, retrieving the crumpled letter from the waste paper bin , like I have been taught by all the detective novels I have read )

Scenario B : I work myself up into quite a steam thinking about the exchange that will take place, barge into the Post office , and when the Post master asks "What do you want?" , shrilly cry out "Nee authorised person nu registered letter kodukilla alle?" (Editors note : which may be transalated into "You wont give the registered letter to the authorised person?") and slap him a juicy one right on the face. and before the flabbergasted guy can recover and say , "Nayinte mone" ( Editor's note : "Son of God er Dog") , storm out of the Post Office.

Now either of these scenarios was pure brilliance , and would have ideally served my purpose ( except , of course for the small detail that I would still be without the registered article , but then which plan is perfect? ) . So which scenario did you choose , you ask breathlessly. Now its been said of me before ( by better men than me, I might add ) , that I remind them of the little boy in the joke who is reputed to have said, "My teacher told me procrastination is the root of all my troubles.I dont know what that big word means. I will look it up tomorrow".

So I thought, and thought. And thought. And did precisely nothing. And may God be praised, when the article in question did arrive, it was not registered but Speed post, which of course anyone can sign for. Which just goes to prove my point that Good things happen to Good people.

p.s : There are other nasty things I have heard about this Postmaster ( like steaming open and reading others' letters, and even gasp, stealing sweets from little children) but all of this is just hearsay and cannot find a place on any reputed person's (ahem , ahem ) blog . I just brought this up in case any of you gentle people are worrying about me betraying my keen desire to bring the palm of my right hand into contact with the honourable person's grizzly cheek.