Sunday, December 05, 2010

Bicycle diaries

Cyclists are the least respected species on the roads finishing right behind the stray dogs.

Functional cycling in Hyderabad is a myth unless one possesses a geared cycle.

If one is not mowed down by the ratty buses (which stop within whispering distance behind you), one might be, by the share autos.

The famous "Cycle gapla auto ootradhu" seems to transcend all linguistic and cultural barriers in the autowallah world.

After a fall, one loses trust over the cycle and always expect it to Murphy at the most critical time.

It is always better to get down from the cycle and roll it across the road in case of traffic jams.Waiting with ill-mannered, bellicose drivers who give a hoot for the traffic rules may make the one on the cycle very nervous.

The infinite undulations in Hyderabad speak thus: "What goes down, shall come up and shall break your backbone, while pedaling up ".

Never let the cycle zoom on the downward slope for the fear of cracking already cracked craniums . Hyderabad is NOT Madurai.

Exploring by-lanes is a bad idea without Google maps installed phones.

Cycle bells are useless. Portable loudspeakers MIGHT work.

If you can't procure one, yell at the pig who drives his fancy car like he owns the universe.

Also, don't hesitate to use the choicest words in your vocabulary when the said car owners reverse without knowing the existence of rear-view mirrors or the fact that they could actually turn their heads once in a while.

When in doubt, park.

Sigh, and take the share auto.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Not the best of times

Bad luck comes in bouts I suppose. Here I was leading a reasonably peaceful life with my company , glorious food, the shiny new Macbook Pro and then everything started becoming skewed. It all started one fine Saturday morning after a month I joined. My room-mates being honest software engineers are generally over worked and don't manage to pull themselves out of bed until noon on weekends. I, having planned a nice "More Kozhambu and paruppusili" for that day's lunch sauntered merrily to the stove and lifted the benign looking vessel from the burner. 15 seconds later my finger had become swollen, thanks to the now not so benign vessel. It had turned out that one of my late rising room-mates had actually pulled herself out of bed that day and had made some kind of fry. The vessel despite being empty was virtually boiling hot and when clamped to my poor finger, had scorched it.

I have this paranoia about doctors. I have never been to a proper hospital in 8 years (not counting my internship at Apollo last year). This is partly due to the fact that I was raised up in a predominantly homoepathic household where belladona, rhustax, aconite and phytolacca rolled about freely. Having a genetic disposition for throat infection we clutched to our Bio 6 with fervor and scoffed at proper medicine. I was not even vaccinated for Hep C until I freaked out reading a Michael Crichton novel and hastily got the required shots. The second reason happened to be the fact that my father, having worked in the medical college branch of his bank, virtually knew every other specialist and I was in "Uncle" terms with most of them. We popped into their houses on Sunday afternoons for the rare cases of allergy or sprains and got ourselves redeemed for free.

Given the background, I naturally soaked my hand in water and nursed it with coconut oil for the weekend. After a couple of days, I opened the rather elaborate first aid box at office and found that Soframycin was listed under burns medication.

I was going around with Soframycined hand until I started noticing that my hand was not recovering and I was finding scales around the finger which looked like fungus. Then I did the unthinkable. I googled my symptoms. The only results I found for "Fungal infection after burns" were of autopsied cases which froze my blood. The next day I rushed into this Dermatologist near my house. He asked me to make a fist and pooh poohed at my fears. He even offered to show me photos of real second degree burns. Then he charged me Rs 400 for a 5 minute consult.

Having had free consults all my life, I gaped like a gold fish and returned home feeling like someone who had just been robbed out of the wits. I started using this egregiously expensive tube of medicine and went home for Diwali. Soon this burn started morphing into a full blown fungal infection which disappeared twice every seven days and re-morphed on other days.

I came back to Hyderabad armed with to-dos and not tos from this skin doctor friend of my father's and antifungal creams. The glitch is that he had seen my hand at its pink of health, literally, when it was raw and cherubic. This means he had to wait a week until our friend, the fungus, wiped away the rouge. I ended up spending sleepless nights with a hand itching like crazy and without being able to actually touch it. It started looking very ugly and the prescription behind the tube said that it was for "weeping eczema". I don't really know who the "weeping" referred to.

After all this happened, one day, I decided to cycle to office on a Sunday because I felt like drinking Pepsi and really not feeling like buying some. I raced gleefully in the beautiful bends and curves until I felt my cycle jilting. Shortly, I was on the other side of this small road completely dazed. My cycle was lying abandoned on the other side and I realized that I had practically been thrown up in air, not unlike the things that generally happen to "other people". I had sprained my elbow and not to mention the tennis ball sized bruises on all soft tissues. I went around wearing my bruises gallantly for a while recounting my adventure to the entire amused office who had come to know about the incident.

If this was not enough, that very night I casually took an ear-bud and stuck it inside my ear for the buds' intended purpose. Two seconds later, I became absolutely deaf. My working ear had blocked itself completely. It was complete silence and yes, a bit scary.

The next day I was yelling at my room-mates unable to hear my own voice. I convinced that things were not quite the way I want them to be and went to this multi speciality clinic. I told the receptionist that I wanted to see a general doctor, a dermatologist and an ENT specialist in no particular order. The guy looked behind me expecting to see two more people and when there was none, said that the ENT specialist was the only one on call that day. After poking with a gigantic needle inside the ear, she found a big wad of wax that I had pushed inside the ear unknowingly. More poking ensued with a bigger needle and when the last bit was unplugged, even the otherwise annoying traffic of Kothaguda junction sounded like Lata Mangeshkar's voice.

With new hope in my life, I resumed my day. Today, I found that the fungal infection had spread to my right hand. Now, I am just using all my self restraint to prevent myself from Googling. The plan is to go to the best dermatologist in place and scream for help. The first pictures I have taken on my Mac are of my mutilated hand to be sent home for additional consultation.

Not the best of times.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The way words swirl around the tongue!

In a sudden spurt of enthusiasm- Here goes,

ஆங்கிலத்துக்கு இணையான தமிழ்சொற்களை கண்டுபிடிப்பது மிக இனிமையான பொழுதுபோக்கு. "rather" என்ற சொல்லுக்கு சொல்லப்போனால் என்று தமிழாக்கம் தரலாம். " I would rather drink a coffee now instead of tea later" என்பதற்கான தமிழாக்கம் "பேசாமல்,பின்பு டீ குடிப்பதற்கு பதிலாக ,இப்பொழுதே காபி குடித்து விடலாம்." இங்கே rather "பேசாமல்" என்று உபயோகிக்க படுகிறது.
நேற்று போக்குவரத்து நெரிசலில் சிக்கிகொண்டபோழுது பக்கத்தில் நின்ற மினி பஸ்சின் மீது "சிற்றுந்து" என்று எழுதபற்றிந்திருந்ததை கண்டேன் . அப்பொழுதுதான் ஏன் பஸ்ஸை பேருந்து என்று அழைக்கிறார்கள் என்பது புரிந்தது. இதில் "உந்து" என்பது வேர்சொல் (root word?). ஆனால் உந்துதல் என்பது "stimuli" or "acceleration" or "encouragement". ஒரு வாகனம் முன்னால் உந்திசெல்வதால் உந்து என்று சொல்கிறோம். பெரிதாக இருப்பதால் பேருந்து என்றும், சிறிதாக இருந்தால் சிற்றுந்து என்று கூறுகிறோம். இது "noun from a verb"க்கு நல்ல எடுத்துக்காட்டு. எனக்கு இன்னும் லேப்டாப் என்பதின் சுத்த தமிழ் வார்த்தை தெரியாது. மேலே சொல்லப்பட்ட வகையில் யோசித்தால்" மடிமூடி" என்று தமிழாக்கம் தரலாம்.

இன்னும் பல தமிழ்வார்தைகளுக்கு மிகச்சரியான ஆங்கில வார்த்தைகள் இருந்தாலும் அவை என்னவோ தமிழில் ஒலிப்பதுபோல் ,தோன்றுவதுபோல் ஒலிப்பதும் தோன்றுவதுமில்லை. ஒரு சிலநாள் முன்னால் தியானம் மோனம் என்பதற்கு நிகரான ஆங்கில வார்த்தையை என்னால் பல நேரம் முயற்ச்சி செய்தும் யோசிக்க முடியவில்லை. எழிதாக "A state of deep concentration", or "profound passion" என்று சொல்லலாம். ஆனால் "it does not ring the same bell". இந்த உபயோகத்திற்கும் இணையான தமிழ்ப்ப்ரயோகம் என்ன என்பதும் தெரியவில்லை . "தலையில் மணி ஒலிக்கிறது" என்று சொல்லலாமா அல்லது "காதில் மணி அடிக்கிறது " என்று சொல்ல வேண்டுமா என்பது தெரியலவில்லை.

ஒரு சில வார்த்தைகளை "onomatopoeic words" என்று கூறுவார்கள். அந்த

வார்த்தைகளை கூறும் பொழுது அவை எந்த செயலை குறிக்கின்றன என்பது

தெரியவரும். "buzz of a bee", "Whirr of the washing machine", "babble/gurgle of the flowing

stream" - இவை அனைத்தும் அந்தந்த ஒலிகளை நினைவுக்கு கொண்டு

வருங்கின்றன . தமிழிலும் இதை காணலாம் "தேனீக்களின் ரீங்காரம்" "சலசல

என ஓடும் நதி" "சல சல என என்ன பேச்சு ? ". இங்கே சல சல என்பது "babble"

என்பதின் மிகச்சரியான தமிழாக்கம். It feels quite the same, doesn't it?

While one can potter around, botch up, splatter and flatter in English, தமிழில்
தில்லாலங்கடியாகவும் , குறுக்கெழுத்து புதிர் போடும் திறமைசாலியாகவும் இருக்கலாம்.

ஒவ்வரு வார்த்தையும் ஒவ்வரு மொழியின் அழகை கண் முன்னால் நிருதிக்காட்டும். கம்ப ராமாயணம் தெரியாவிட்டாலும் ,
அந்த அழகை ரசிக்கும் அளவுக்கு ஒரு மொழியை தெரிந்து கொண்டால் நம் மொழிப்பற்றை நினைத்து நாம் பெருமை கொள்ளலாம்,என்பது என் தாழ்மையான கருத்து.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Duck's back and a deaf ear.

The latest hot news in my family seems to be the fact that my little cousin failed to make it to the top three in the "jumbled words" competition.My visibly distressed grandfather prattled off snide remarks whenever possible and my cousin shook them all off like a duck shaking water off its back. When my mother, who happens to be his doting aunt, pointed out his lack of interest in knowing pretty much anything, my cousin stuck his lollipopped tongue at her, and immersed himself in Pogo channel.

My grandfather is the most amazing/amusing man I have ever known. He is almost like Peter Pan, stuck at 16. He talks about Macro-economics for full 2 hours, impromptu at that; Repeatedly tells me I owe him everything for making me read "Robert Louis Stevensen" when I was 8; Reads "Phantoms in the brain" with as much enthusiasm as my room-mate; Understands Wodehouse; gets gored by a bull after wearing a black T-shirt (which happened to be the bull's non-favourite colour); walks 8 kms a day; makes a zillion in stocks; talks how my company (everyone's company to think of it) will go bankrupt in two years. He is too good to be true. If there be a Mannaarkoil mafia, he would be The Don.

My grandfather's non-subtle remarks amused me now more than it amused me as a kid. It included facts like how I missed the Nobel in medicine by refusing to take it up as a profession. This is a man, who thought I had a shot at Olympics (in gymnatics, mind you), when I hung upside down on a tree at my back-yard. He even got me an ice-cream that day.

Contrary to the expectations that kids these days are more sensitive, my cousins seem to have taken it for a fact that to survive in my family filled with accomplished relatives, one needs a lot of selective deafness. One has to wade through a sea of criticism, not give into the genetically inherent intolerance of criticism and restrain from hitting the roof. I remember being the same age as my cousin is now and being asked what "half times half" was. I thought it was one and when I did, the crowd erupted with joyous throes of how they knew I will not clear JEE. I remember being weepy and heavily upset when my mother took it as a personal failure in her mathematical training of me.

My cousin after being asked what 10/2 was, replied that it might as well be four, but he liked to deal with "big numbers" not trifling things like tens and twos. Having said so, he munched on the Murukku my grandmother had made and listened to my Grandfather's horrified banter with not as much as a quirk in the eyebrow, and ran away to play guns.

When I listened to my cousin's very convincing argument of how his C grade was oodles better than "Samyuktha's A grade", I knew, Nobel or no Nobel, the kid will make it big in the corporate and will sit on his billions one day to laugh at people who had known trivial things like what 10/2 was- also at people who had cried for not knowing what half times half was.

Friday, October 15, 2010


This was a tag I saw somewhere sometime before. Now that I really want to write something, I am taking it up.

1. I obsess over things that I might lose; Even a lost hair clip worth two rupees can cost me a couple of days' sleep. I used to have an emotional attachment towards my pencil box at school. I remember bursting into tears over my lost Camlin Flora pencil in ninth standard, with an amused class looking on.

2. I like routines. The fact that I seldom keep them does make me plan and replan and re-re plan the next day’s work. I like to spend time in planning, though I know it won’t be of any use. Many a day has been spent drawing colourful time-tables for exam preparation while not actually preparing for one.

3. I always lock the door. It comes with years and years of spending my time alone at home. My parents would call up every afternoon after school, asking me at least three times to lock all the three doors of my house. When I grew up, they would get extremely irritated by my perennially locked room.” Well, so you reap” would quip the wise men at this point. It still happens and my irritated room-mates would have to knock every time they come back into the room.

4. I like pictures of colour splashes and photos of crayons more than anything else. I had the biggest Crayon collection ever, when I was a kid.I stock up markers/ highlighters of all colours at my desk. I also like the colours in Google, the bouncing ball logo, as well as the bubble patterned room in my floor.

5. I hate when people crunch/munch/glug near me when I am irritated. I had a mad urge to grab the popcorn off this random person sitting next to me in “Inception”. While others were gasping at Nolan’s masterpiece, I was paranoid by the incessant munching.

6. My coffee has to be perfect. It has to be scalding hot. I’d rather not drink coffee than to drink ones that are less perfect. I loathe CCD/Barrista coffees.

7. I always press the “a” in my keyboard a nano-second before the first letter and hence chats with me will have a lot of typos like “amdurai”,”asid”.

8. I pick up useless details to an astonishing level of precision. As long as the detail is absolutely unimportant, it is bound to stick on to my mind for the next 20-30 years. The moment people say that something is important, that part of the brain automatically switches off and I let the important details float over my head like a hazy cloud.

9. I am always at a loss to know how conversations should be ended, while chatting/mailing/smsing. I try to ‘smiley’ my way out but always feel bad when they don’t “smiley” me back. Weirdness.

10. I am practically phobic of social gatherings. I always end up freaked or depressed after the gazillion weddings/conferences I have been to in my life. I don’t mind talking to a huge crowd, but standing amidst one would push me down in dumps at least for a day.

We are done. Anyone who still blogs, can take it up. :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Life and everything

After ‘successfully’ completing three months in a corporate environment, I sat down to make the mandatory self assessment for the performance cycle. Despite getting stuck on the first line, I noticed that my outlook on life has markedly changed.

1. Internet will destroy mankind one day. I desist from adding up the hours that I spent before the computer lifeless and jaw slack, flicking through a zillion webcomics and wiki entries for I really don’t want to know and stop doing it.

2. If internet does not complete the job, Facebook will deliver the knock-out blow. I don’t want to start on how easy it becomes to lose track of time stalking random people, seeing photographs of friends’ of friends tickling their dog or making funny faces. It is much more interesting than to simply get the hell away from the computer and pick up a book. The little blue globe emanating the number of updates every 15 minutes does not do any good; Really! How else would I know a status such as “ma frenz’s fren saw a cute lil mouzie in zeir home”, and the other multitude of internet denizens ‘liking’ the same, after I did!

3. It is very easy to develop psychosomatic illness when one works. One just needs to decide that he/she hadn’t gotten enough sleep the night before and sit through the day, moaning out to the entire floor, graphic and violent descriptions of how the head feels. Also, it is very easy to keep staring at the knees and sprout a terrible limp at 5.30, just 15 minutes before the aerobics class. This pain magically disappears while walking a kilometer to procure gingelly oil for the day’s dinner.

4. In three months, I have noticed how mindlessness becomes equal to adulthood. Somehow monotony is an acceptable norm. As I said sometime before, pushing oneself off bed every morning actually becomes the most difficult job of the day.

5. It is slightly frightening to see how easily one can lose the will for the bigger picture, the will to read Wodehouse, the will to blog, the will to solve crosswords. Instead it is so much easier to be sucked in to the vortex of Chick-lits and get entertained by all those stuff that needs only a lifeless form to press the play button.

6. Start exclaiming “Dude” when ‘morally’ outraged. One of my friends actually went back to his chat history, to see if I had said “Dude” in the course of a stirring conversation.

7. One starts to know the importance of similar backgrounds, and people who can think on approximately the same lines, share phrases from the same language and appreciate curd rice as much.

8. If there is a slight consolation, it is the fact that I haven’t started consulting Anita the psychic, Paul the Octopus and the other wise oracles of the Facebook about deep dark mysteries of my life . Maybe it means I still have vestiges of sanity left, or maybe it is just because I can’t go about the day after Anita calls me “Uttara, Sweetie”…

9. Filter kaapi and non tea bag chaaya is how coffee and tea should be drunk. Learn fellow humans that no froth is equal to the froth obtained by continuous back and forth transformation of fluid from a tumbler to a dawara and vice-versa.

10. I learnt a few days ago that how I work will slowly start defining me and how important it is to model the way I work on someone I respect. It is good to be inspired by people or maybe other little things. What matters is to stay inspired. It gives hope and makes one wait for the “And then, ...” part of the story from the “Days rolled by…” part.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

What is in a name!

I was glancing at all those paintings the kids of my colleagues made when they came to "Bring your Children to work day". What caught my eyes were the names more than the paintings themselves. I think these days parents go to a great extent to be creative in naming their children to arrive at such awesome names like "Aadhvik" or "Amogh" and somemore that I forgot but had meant to note down.

Most of the Tamizhians do not have a family name. Our meek looking initials, when expanded become a nightmare. Infact, I remember shuddering during my ED class on the prospect of writing Uttara Madurai Ananthakrishnan in those 5mm specifications.I am pretty sure that it would have taken the entire A2 sheet.

We should admit that our grandparents were deeply religious and faithful to their grandparents with whom they shared their names. In the annals of my family history I can see the following going on in an infinite loop from times immemorial

My Father's name: Ananthakrishnan Srinivasan

His Father's name: Srinivasan Ananthakrishnan

Thankfully, I put a stop to this loop by just being a girl. My father's brother was cleverly named; after his maternal grandfather. He was called "Bakthavatsalam". Until I was 10, I was under the notion that he was very rich because his name was "Pathu-latcham". The girls were not spared. My maternal aunt was Vengadalakshmi which was a name that ran in the family. I recently found that she managed to change her name to a rather unfrilly, nonexotic " Vidhya".

I think our parents were too busy in planning our IIT-Stanford eductation that trivial things like names did not matter. They pulled up the first name that came up and stuck on to that, without perspiring over Menakha Gandhi's book of Indian baby names. In fact, I am called Sandhya at home because I was born when Sandhya Rajagopal was reading the evening news in DD. Quite a QED, you see.They stopped short of proceeding to put the same in my birth cetificate because of another uncle's intervening at that point to grant my given name.

My friend Bhageshvar, who beheld the name Bageshwar before being numerologically transformed, says that he was named thus, after an apple juice company in Shimla. Or some similar story involving apples and Shimla where his parents had gone on for a tour. Srivatsan prefers not to be bothered how his name originated and but is extremely thankful that they didn't add his Sub-caste's insignia to the end. I bet that his kid might be named Tesla, given the penchant. But let us wait and see, it might be Fourier or someone equally complex,in the real sense of the word!

Oh where has the age of Thirumalai Nambis, Varadharajans and Ramasubramanians vanished? In a few years from now, we will be calling kids in two letters; say "Ta", "Ra", "La", "Nu", "Mi", that sound quite like The Hindu Crossword clues.

Whatever might be the case, all names all equal, but no name is equal to Arul Mozhi Varman. People, go ahead and take it up. Not only it is a challenge by itself, but it willl seperate the Tamizhan from the Indian. Arul Mozhi Varman Ananthakrishnan. What melody, with alliteration and all!


Sunday, September 05, 2010


Often, I wonder at the way circumstances impact a person. If it is not the opportunities inherent in these circumstances, it might be the prejudices that are born out of them. We learn to read people, start thinking about unspoken words in pregnant pauses and also learn to manipulate and deliver what others want. Those prejudices that are born, take shape and grow with every false smile, every polite conversation and meaningless sycophancy, mostly to project ourselves as someone others want to see.It is rather scary to see how our prejudices prevent us in taking a rational decision and believe in people who will in turn act on their prejudices.It is just a probability that our illusory persona had made them lean towards us. Conversely, their mind would have probably learnt to sniff out one false twitch of muscle from another, again by circumstances, that they would start repelling us before we do.

It is actually amusing, how in this age of free thoughts,we let the people in circumstances shape us up rather than the free thoughts themselves, which lie dormant under the buried layers of experiences we have accumulated.

End of the day, if we get to bed knowing that our sense of identity had withstood one more day, we should feel lucky.

Or proud.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

On Tamizh

Recently, I discovered that my ears have become extremely sensitive to Tamizh. Be a random snatch of personal conversation on the elevator or a kid sqawking "Enakku Vendakkai Vendaam" in the super-market, I find myself turning and noticing them. Often it becomes embarassing to blurt out, "Tamizha?" after knowing very well that vendakkaai cannot be Kashmiri or Russian. When I stumble upon surnames like "Varadharajan" or say "Ramanathan" at the intra-network at the office, I start noticing them in a different light; as someone who might know the impact of Senthil- Goundamani culture on every Tamizhian's life or someone who would prefer (or even secretly prefer) to down in gratefully, the Sambar Idly every morning instead of cold milk and toast.

For the past 10 years, I have never skipped reading Ananda Vikatan or Kalki and now, my only contact with Tamizhnadu comes from face book. I am scandalised that I don't even keep track of the upcoming Vijay blockbusters, or the next TV channel that captain might have started in Tamizhnadu.

Also, it is amusing when there is an incomprehensible pause after I say, "Hey, I am Uttara and I hail from Madurai". A couple of seconds later, eager to push the conversation back on to tracks, I volunteer helpfullly "But hey, I studied in Coimbatore.." Amusement escalates to irritation when people say "Oh, I thought you were Tamil".

Tch-Tch, 500 crores on Ulaga Tamizh-maanadu. Tis time they start thanking Rahman, Kamal Haasan and Rajinikaant.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ego Post *Smirk*


After a long long time, I had enough patience and time to sit and solve The Hindu Crossword. Took two hours, but the rush of finishing it is AWESOME. Here you go. Answers with explanations!


1 Would the salesman soar to a theme repeated in music? (7)- reprise {Rep+rise}

5 What a query seeks (6)- easy one- answer

11 Invigorate with some Payyoli venison (5)- container clue- liven meaning invigorate in “Payyoli venison”

12 Alumna, o'so peculiar and inconsistent (9)- Anagram of “Alumna, o'so” - anomalous

13 Desolate place made famous by Eliot (9)- wasteland- eliot ‘s work-googled

14 The girl about to return is so thin (5)- good one- she+return (er)= means sheer

15 A hoodlum would add a plug to it (4)- Ugly- Don’t know how it fits, but got it from the rest of the letters

17 Old instrument found right in the middle of broken oil can (7)- good one- anagram of oil can +”r” for right=clarion

21 One male, out-of-date, in a deadlock (7)- (one=I) + (male=M) + ( out of date=passé)= impasse= deadlock

22 Strip the skin of poacher's first slippery swimmer (4)= Peel J (poacher’s first=p + slippery swimmer= eel)

26 He would lead a novice into drug (5)= pilot (Got it from he would lead. Guess has some pot funda to it)

27 Relatively smaller fish, a subordinate (9)= underling= sub-ordinate

29 A German terrorist, heartless and losing head, reformed by university official (9)- Registrar- complicated, got from university official and the other letters

30 Say hello, get to receive a note (5)- Awesome one- get+note (musical note =re) greet meaning say hello

31 Go back escorting girl on a pleasure trip (6) = Outing! Go is back and hence is g & o, and pleasure trip. Guess nitu thing is slightly dumb

32 Commercial poetry unfavourable to one's interests (7)= adverse! J brilliant one. Commercial=ad+ poetry=verse)


2 Part of the roof whereunder one may overhear talk (5)- eaves [Basic civil engineering to rescue and also from the eavesdrop thing]

3 Money put up for a curdling agent (6)- rennet- it is a cheese like thing. Money is “re” and then found cheeses starting with re.

4 POW camp that put gals at jeopardy (6)- anagram of gals at= stalag [Prisinor of war camp]

6 Craft of Biblical survivors (5,3)- easy- Noahs ark

7 Everything, with a bit added, is nutritious (9)- awesome one- (everything= whole)+(a bit=some) = wholesome

8 Place to relax with others around Oregon (6)= resort , from place to relax

9 Weapon for a second grade, depressed shooter (7)= good one-> (second grade=b)+ (depressed=low)+(shooter=gun) = blowgun

10 Venetian attraction, first of dories in a churning lagoon (7)= (first of dories=d)+(lagoon) anagram= gondola

16 Publicity for a Chaplin film (9)= limelight!

18 Enthusiastic supporter of division at home accepts appeal (8)= partisan(Got from meaning and division=part)

19 Draughtsman's tool (1-6)= T square (ED!)

20 Voyages of a student involved in brawls (7)= flights (Fights+l) got from the meaning of voyages and fights

23 Spectacles include harbour in Portuguese town (6)= OOOH visual clue! Spectacles=OO, put (harbor=port) in it. Oporto is in Portugal said Google!

24 Admired — dead or otherwise (6)= adored. Sort of container

25 The accent of a born blackguard (6)=brogue (got from other letters. Apparently it is a shoe, can be considered as a blackguard)

28 The things revealed when kismet is reversed (5)=kismet reversed= items J

Tuesday, July 06, 2010


It being an awesome day, I took a long walk to my bank that is a couple of kilometers away from my office. After finishing all that I had to be done at the place, I was about to cross the road, when I saw this little girl, not more than 4 years old trying to cross the road. She was obviously a road-side dweller and should be one among those who live under the bridge near Cybertowers. The kid was frantically trying to cross the road and didn't realise there was a bus that was coming whizzing towards her. I was right on the divider and was petrified. I kind of screamed at the kid and she stopped on the other side of the road as the bus grazed past her. Again, almost unperturbed by what was an extremely scary encounter, she tried to cross the road , when a guy with a CTS bag, stopped and held the girl back.

By this time I had crossed the road and in my broken Hindi asked her if she was out of her mind. The CTS guy parked his bike and took her across the road, while I walked back all shaken up.

The girl was tiny! By normal standards, she would be in kindergarten using Crayolas making stick diagrams for her parents to put up on the refrigerator or their office desks.

Something about all this is incredibly sad. And knowing that I can't really do anything to change any of this makes me feel like a piece of insignificant lint.

What is the bloody use of having a government that doesn't bother about children begging on roads? It is a travesty of the entire concept of pursuit of happiness, democracy and all those big political words.

Life seems to be ruled only by probabilities. We are what we are because some dice seems to have been rolled that way.

What a shame!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Milman-ed and Halkias-ed

Something happened today that made me realise that I need to stay in touch with engineering. Running at 10 km/hr, I was trying to figure out for twenty minutes, how the heart beat indicator on the tread mill works. Somehow, I couldn't quite figure out where the transducer was and I couldn't imagine it to be on the running pad. If so, imagine how sensitive the sensor should be and how much of amplification needs to be done.

The intrigue deepened when I noticed a small sticker proclaiming that it housed a wireless receiver. I can't imagine how a wireless receiver will work to retrieve heartbeat from a moving target. Even if it is a receiver, there *has* to be a transducer! Communication has never been my forte, but imagine the noise cancellation and the processing that needs to be done even to indicate in a fluttering colour scheme the heart rate of a very dynamically moving object.

Unless one has actually worked on a bread-board with transistors, he/she would not realise how tough it is to make the darned thing amplify. Compound this with VLSI techniques which can house millions of transistors in a small chip, designing it, testing it, give it an error tolerance. Multiply all this with the task of detecting microvolts of heart beat. Trust me, bio-signal processing is one of the toughest areas to work on.

Somehow it works out to be beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, July 01, 2010


First rains in new places are special.

Sitting in this bubble, I didn't realize that it was pouring outside. Scrunching up my face on the glass window and leaving nose prints all over the sheer glass, I felt that someone had pressed the mute button; for I could see that it was pouring and yet, it quite didn't feel so.

I wish I had been sitting on the fifth floor watching the rain, from above, rather than second handedly in the first.

First rains in new places are as special as the first days, first book and the first quiz. In Coimbatore I remember coming back after engineering drawing classes to the rather deserted mess when it started pouring. The first pang of loneliness struck and slowly ebbed down as I gulped down the rather sugary tea.I remember dropping my A2 sheets in the muddy water outside and after feeling too good to sit and redraw the elevation and side-view figures, I submitted the frayed ED sheets the next morning. Not unexpectedly, this went unnoticed.

Today's mute rain shall remain in my mind for quite sometime, though I didn't have the wholesome excitement of meeting my ED professor the next day with my wet frayed drawing sheets. But, it is rather scary that in this phase there is nothing to be scared about and also, nothing much to look forward to except for the endorphin induced moments of euphoria.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Emperor's new clothes

The glitzy malls, extremely over-priced coffee shops, watches priced at least a six thousand rupees, shoes, make up, accessories, purses, more accessories; the money and the people who buy in a wave of their hand somehow do not equate to the rest of the country. How has purchasing power escalated so much with a huge part of the country struggling to go to schools? I am sure everyone has an opinion about making a difference, but strangely, the hordes buying pretty pink shoes to go, perhaps, with their pretty ponies, speak of losing ground and identity; amidst other things. Do all objects nouveau make a person more than what he/she can ever be, as a person?

Where is the child who cries out about the Emperor's new clothes?


Reminds me

Friday, June 18, 2010

Doing No Evil

I have always had a thing for lifts.When I was little, the ones at my Dad's office in Madurai had very unsightly grills, almost never worked and yet, were highly revered. Even today,when I stand in glass walled escalators or the ones that are as large as rooms, my brain kicks in to an awe mode. The sudden jilt in the pit of my stomach when I go up one brings back a lot of memories of all the other things I used to fancy as a kid; like new Enid Blyton books or fresh Tinkle Digests or long pink pencils that had a pony tail like fluffy thing attached to the end. Though I have outgrown the pencil attachment, I still fancy the lifts.

For this particular reason, I was strangely excited to see a dedicated lift "lobby" out here at Omega building in Hyderabad. Omega stands in the hi-tech city as one of those massive buildings and strangely without any indication that it housed Google inside. Not many people know about Google being here, and definitely not the fact that, this is the second largest office after the headquarters at Mountain View.

My mother with all her good intentions had wanted to me stop wearing "those vulgar jeans things" and in her sweet(not!) own way had insisted on formal cotton Salwars. There I was in a neat, largely CIT-ish salwar and waiting with enormous anticipation of my "office buddy" to walk in. People kept zipping in through the glass doors, with long confident strides and were clutching their laptops as they tossed their heads stylishly.I knew things were going to take a ninety degree turn and be absolutely phase shifted the moment I saw the signature colourful Google on the walls.

It was like a Harry Potter-waiting-for-sorting-hat-to-call-out-his-name moment. Surprisingly, this was the first thing given to me in the office.

Though they call this thing as a Noogler cap, which all the newbies have to wear, this contraption is generally known as the beanie. Readers of this blog should know my historical association with the beanie .

I am not going to rave about the office though
it is absolutely rave-able.

The cafeteria menus I have sent out to friends have created quite a stir and people have just stopped short of threatening murder and have limited themselves to send in hate mails.

Somehow, all this luxury is overwhelming. I have not opened my purse ever since I came to Hyderabad. So, today when I went to watch Raavanan at this hi-fi theater, I was rather amused to see that I couldn't bring myself to buy a can of coke as I have gotten the "every-imaginable- drink- is- free- at- office"notion etched in my mind; in a week at that! Boy,life is going to be tough later on. I should refer to my "no-fan" pages at CIT, occasionally, to keep in touch with the grim reality that lurks just outside the impermeable bubble that Google is.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


After languishing in my last holidays I am all set to go out to the big bad world. I was sitting in my uncle's house this morning before my flight to Hyderabad. A chap came to the house to perform "Dharpanam". I was sitting before the computer ignoring the wrong pronunciation and the hasty ritual to satisfy our buggy moral code. And suddenly, this chap barges in to my room and discovers that he could impress me with his wisdom.

This particular guy, relatively young in mid thirties, happened to be an M.A in Sociology (at least he claimed so) and was apparently doing his PhD. He clung on to my vicinity like poison ivy and started a diatribe on Indian Culture.

The strong points of his outrageous argument ranged from how girls should get married at 20 and not a year after that. He claimed that MNCs and other organisations have brought about the degeneration of Vaishnavism. I was politely nodding my head thinking about how many Heshey chocolates he would have devoured from unknown nephews in the Amrika. He was telling me that software was a bane to India because it ruined the Brahminical society and perhaps conveniently overlooking the fact that it was those software sons and daughters, working 15 hours a day in faraway lands, who were making his purse fatter by the day for the wrongly performed Darpanam. I was politely nodding so as not offend his sentiments when he started talking on how awesome Sati was.

At this point, I shook my head in disbelief. It wasn't his pretentious, unbelievably pompous statements, but the very fact that all such crap comes out of a person who seems to have a doctorate in Sociology.

Why is that the patriarchal society considers itself educated because it lets its females to go out of houses and complete an education? Why is the notion that after 21 years , I have to feel lucky that I am not married and on my way to change diapers. It is this same society that boosts the over inflated egos of IIT-ians of the male variety? How is that I am any lesser than a frigging guy mugging Salivahanan and calling himself an engineer in Nagarcoil. It is the same creed of half-baked religious bigots who consider massacring women and children over issues of temple as a service to lord. God, if he exists at this point would sit and guffaw over these people's arguments.

These are people who have cocooned themselves safely in the wraps of ancient wisdom. They are the class of Indians who claim to be educated and yet yap about Sati and purity of blood. They have neither learnt the scriptures nor know the meaning of any of them. These self impudent posers take it upon them to protect their purity of blood. Last time someone wanted pure blood millions of people were dead. A truly educated person would have the humility to accept all men are born equals and lucky to be themselves, thanks, to the disposition of the genes. They should admire God or whichever superior entity for not twiddling with their DNA making them a dolphin or a penguin fluttering in the oil spill.

Why can't they for once acknowledge that everyone has a right of pursuing his/her owns happiness, albeit the created equal business. I was sick and simmering with rage as the guy ploughed through his arguments that were as impudent as the man himself who claimed to be so wise enough to find girls of 21 who might not retort back at him.'

When my grandfather, 78 years old, acknowledges everyday that he is open to newer ideas and listens to TED talks on behavioral economics with glee, why can't these pretentious people stop hailing men who made it through IITs and then, advising me to get married?

Indian Culture has always survived and shall, without people who take it upon themselves to protect it. I sincerely hope there are thousands of Indian women in the world who could go ahead and discover their potential just to prove all these people wrong. I sincerely hope these women raise their sons to respect women for what they are, else it shall all be Billions of Blue Blistering Barnacles.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Shortest post ever

Uttara B.E.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Double Decker Pencil box

My little cousins(Aged 6 and 7) almost rolled on the floor in a shopping mall asking my aunt for this double decker pencil box which looked hideously green and had a Donald Duck squawking all over. I guess they are in the phase of life, where their social status is determined by the coolness of the pencil box. The more decks it had, the higher you go up in the scale of respect.This double decker pencil box also had a hidden "half decker",if I may say , and guess what, a separate sharpener for crayons as well. There were four tiny buttons which when pressed made secret compartments to pop out. No wonder my cousins grovelled before my aunt to get them one as it would make them as popular and cool as Ajith Kumar and Ilyathalapathy Vijay in their respective classes.

Only in the bill counter, we found that each one was priced at Rs. 300 which was outrageous by any standard. Oh, yes, we had to get each one a separate box, because the concept of sharing would spell death knell to the pencil box. As it was impossible to remove the boxes from their iron clutches, we had to get them.

After toppling a couple of mannequins,my cousins were practically thrown out of this dress shop we went next. After a while we heard a sudden ear splitting scream, only then to realise that the kid had walked through the immaculate glass doors and had smashed his nose. Note that this nose had raised huge concerns in the womenfolk of my family who were desperately waiting for some kind of mass to emerge from his face while he was a baby. Our family is pretty nosy, literally; apart from the fact that we go out of our way to poke our rather big proboscises in all the things unconcerned to us, we also use it to smell food from a kitchens, miles away to fantasise how perfectly it should be cooked. Considering that the nose has played such a big part in our evolutionary adaptation through ages, no wonder a button nose raises a huge concern among the elders of the family. Coming back, the kid hadn't really broken it, but the impact had quite shaken him to remain silent and shocked for a good five minutes. And then, he went back to wailing for a packet of Jelly.

In just two days, my cousins had the double decker boxes; only difference was that the decks were dismantled in to parts. They claimed that the boxes had a little accident. They tried to reason that that they can still use the box, each deck of it, as a sort of open shelf, to store crayons and paper bits.

I simply love the feeling that these days I am not the one who gets the smacks in an outing and there is this pair of destructive siblings who can be instigated to go for each others' throat exclusively for my general entertainment.

I love my cousins; especially when their motto is collateral damage.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

How (wo)man maketh an engineer!

After enormous analysis, we found that that my final year project was more of a computer architecture based project and not quite DSP as we thought initially. But it being a po-ta-to, po-tah-to difference, let us not dwell on it further. My role in the project team , took a sudden upturn when the job of documentation fell on my head. Only then, I realised that I hated the word "Alignment' more than anything else in the English language.

After 6 rough drafts and hanging around the HOD's office for 5 hours, we were cradling our absolutely stunning thesis in our hands. I came back to my room drenched from the sweat that the 37 degrees outside blessed me with.

I switched on the fan , only to switch it off an instant later. Because it screeched like a mother of God Banshee. It is very hard to describe the vile sound, but it made the hair on the back of your neck stand electrified. It is the legendary sound that French would have used to polish people off, had guillotine not been invented.

At the moment the world looked bleaker than ever for the fan was the fountain of my happiness. It was with the fan, I strutted around and infuriated my fellow CITians in the boys hostel on how posh and luxurious our place is.

As ever, it was a work for stupendous man. I rolled up my non -existent sleeves and pulled up the chair on to the bed and climbed over the wobbly dangerous blade. My resourceful room-mate who sleeps under that particular fan pleaded me not to fiddle it, as the fear of the fan falling on her head would be a bigger torture than the absence of it.

I knew the solution was coconut oil, but I couldn't quite imagine where it had to go. I tested the fan trying to locate where the sound came from. There seemed to be a hairline crack in the place the blades were fixed, and I presumed the oil would drip down the interiors where I imagined some kind of ball bearing mechanism to be.

I poured a generous amount of "Parachute" carefully and switched on the the fan.

It felt like it was raining grime. A cocktail of cobwebs, grime and coconut oil splattered on me and my room mate who had just come out taking a shower after she had been targeted by the college crows. There was oil all over the walls. Last time I had seen such a mess was when my mother tried to make "seedai" at our home and all of those "seedai"s exploded on to the walls. The screeching was at its peak like fingernails on the blackboard.

What does one do while in a fix? Google. And bingo, there was a wiki page instructing us how to repair a screeching fan page. We pumped our hands gleefully in air, and looked at it.

This was those rare moments when you had to acknowledge Murphy more than anyone else in the world!

The page refused to load and stopped at the first instruction
"Switch off the fan and wait for blades to stop"

My room mate looked at me and said "See? I told you! You aren't supposed to fiddle with it!"

If Google fails a person, it is time to call the father. My father is an expert on "Coconut oil and its application", enough to publish paper, as for centuries, coconut oil has solved most of the problems in my family.

He asked me to unscrew the cup like portion carefully and look for a shiny rod, which he told me was a part of the ball bearing mechanism. I followed it, perched precariously on the chair. He then asked me to pour the eternal panacea over the rod.

Losing faith in the coconut oil, I wanted something with a higher Reynold's number. My eyes fell on the "Close up" tube lying on the table. I asked whether it would do the trick, my father was outraged that his offspring should come up with such dumb idea. He told me that the tooth paste would perhaps short circuit and make the fan burn or do something equally egregious. Now that pouring the oil was a bigger problem as I couldn't tilt the fan so much to pour it over. So I take up a spoon fit the edge in one of the groove and pour oil through the spoon which again became enormously messy.

I came down and with a bated breath, I switched on the fan.

There was a splatter of a bigger blob of slime this time. And before my heart sank, I realised that my powers of hearing had returned. There was quietude. The birds chirped; The lark was on its wing; The snail was on its thorn; And ALL was jolly well with the world again.

These are the times when one "chooses" to play engineer!

Off I go now to read for my "Parallel Recursive Convolution based on recursive formulations of block pseudo circulant matrices" viva tomorrow. And that folks, is the official end of Under Graduation!