Sunday, December 30, 2012

Year end post

Working on a social network, a new one at that, is an *incredible* experience. The type of people I deal with/see online (pretty much every one mentioned here), the kind of problems that come my way, and the sheer awesomeness of working with some of the brightest and the coolest people I have ever met, makes working in Google+ the best thing that happened to me this year.

The most important thing that I have learnt this year is to consciously work on not letting small stuff get into my head and wreak havoc - decisions that I cannot influence, situations I have no control over, lost keys, crashing Excel, last minute change of plans and trolls who find fault with my grammar on Facebook statuses. It seems so much easier to get by the day without holding an active grudge or without 'willing' certain things to happen.

This year I worked on fretting lesser and on giving myself occasional breaks. I  bought great shoes and literally gave them a good run for their money. I averaged at least 20KMs a week and did 4-5KMs even on the tiredest of days. I realized cooking calms me down in an almost therapeutic manner- cooking and games like this where one sets up a restaurant and runs it. I wore my spectacles more often and got lesser headaches.

I indulged my whims and got a nice massage almost fortnightly. I alternated between masala tea and filter coffee. I made my days by eating absolutely delicious Ada Pradhaman/ MysorePa/ plum cakes at work.

As always, it is great to have a bunch of friends, old and new, who nudge me on to the nice, joyful, "embrace thy life" path whenever I slip into the whiny and paranoid mode that just makes the lightness of being, unbearable.

2012 was *nothing* like how I desperately wanted it to be. However, it turned out to be pretty cool and perhaps much better than how it could have been. I think I shouldn't really bitch about the universe and the grand schemes it seems to have plotted against me, considering how bad things could have been right now.

All that said, I have no expectations from me or from 2013. Hakuna Matata.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Pleasures of anticipation

My colleague and friend who had just taken up running was planning to buy shoes. Egged on by my relentless rant about running injuries, he switched his mind from the low end Fila shoe he had been pursuing in Myntra to Asics. Since we don't get fancy gait analyses done in Hyderabad, he and I started reading up extensively on what shoes one should buy and how to analyze one's gait.

We found out that Reliance Footprints were the only retailers of Asics in India. Since the store was located so conveniently opposite to our community, we spent about 2 hours analyzing shoes and talking jargons like professional runners and thereby irking everyone in the vicinity. We were smirking at other people who were randomly buying the likes of butt toning shoes without knowing their feet type, pronation and heel strike. We were amazed how people buy shoes for 7000 Rs because the lady in the poster who was wearing them looked good. It appalled the researcher in us as we had spent more than two days doing gait analysis to the rest of the team.

This is when we realized how our middle class upbringing had imbibed a deep sense of optimization within us. We were both talking about how much research we put into when while buying anything slightly higher than our threshold of normal expenditure. For example, my entire office knew that I was going to buy a scooter as I had asked advice from everyone I knew. I researched day and night on automobile portals which is probably why I gape at people who walk into car showrooms the day they decide to buy a car and come out with one. The anticipation & the torture I put myself through to perfect the deals I get and the amount of reading I do before I buy stuff, make the experience of buying anything insanely satisfactory.

 Recently, I read an article about a research that talks about what makes a person happy. Apparently, it is not so much the money as much as experiences and how anticipation makes anything far more enjoyable. Experiments show that waiting for something and working hard to get it made it feel more valuable and more stimulating. I can completely empathize with these statements because like most of the children in Madurai, I was brought up in a performance based reward system. There weren't malls to walk into and then come home with a pair of Nike shoes. I used to grovel on the ground begging my mother to buy me a box of poster colous or this really fancy Ballerina Barbie complete with comb and a change of dress. My mother would hint that if I got a 100/100 in quarterly exam I might be considered for a packet of Artoons sketch pens. For the next two months, I would live the dream. I would spend the waking hours thinking about the pens and make a mental list of things I would do if I got those sketch pens such as how I can decorate the first page of my rough note, how I can touch up on the labels on my books with a little flower or basically flaunt them at the girl who already had the pens. Life would look 1000 W brighter with the sketch pens.

I would promptly not get the agreed upon marks in that very important quarterly exam which stood between me and a much better life the sketch pens promised. This used to make me cry in buckets and my parents would see me getting down from the school bus with swollen eyes. I would moan so much in misery that my parents used take pity on me and get me the damn sketch pens anyway. I have never gotten anything I asked for immediately though. I didn't get the Barbie too. My mother got me a much fatter and an Indian version of Barbie, Barbini,with lot of curls which looked not unlike the doll that kills people in Child's Play.

Barbini, still around, with the Pyjamas I painstakingly sewed for her during my fifth std summer holidays

It took 98% in my tenth board exam to be considered for my first computer. It was never really about whether my parents could afford anything I asked for, as there weren't anything that was unaffordable in a place like Madurai. Not like now, when my little cousins converse in Reebok, Puma, I-pod, Galaxy Tab and Park Avenue and eventually end up getting super disappointed if their bags are from Roshan. In my time, Roshan bags and Bata shoes were practically luxury goods and it took many a fiery elocution contests to transcend to that level!

I guess the next generation will never know the drastic difference in the quality of life that possessing a phone (with a manual lock over the dial-pad), a computer, an internet connection or going on an one week tour of Bombay (for which your entire family comes to railway station to bid farewell), brought about.

Thanks to globalization, deals and mostly my credit card, I succumb to the perils of online shopping more than impulsively than a wiser version of myself would approve of. But thankfully, this is restricted to clothes. For sporting goods, watches and bags that I keep looking at, I would show up in analytics tools as the customer who proceeds to the checkout with a full cart and closes the window at the last stage. Thus, I become the victim of re-marketing as all the goods on my abandoned cart  show up on every damn website that I open thereafter, begging me to reconsider their charms.

 These days I make a conscious effort to get back to the  anticipation based approach to happiness. This way I can rhapsodize to my heart's content and relish the vision of owning something a hundred times even before I own it. Hang in there Jabra Bluetooth headphones, there are only 30 KMs of running every week, six more months of ruminating and a full marathon for me to be worthy of your possession!

Monday, October 29, 2012

That kid in the Bharathiyar costume

 Airtel Super Singer is a show that has always irritated me so much. It is not so much because of the drama as much as the not so subtle hints my mother gives me on how useless I am in general. Now that I am not at home, it becomes incredibly convenient to watch it on you tube as you can watch a 4 hour show in less than 40 minutes whooshing through all the " I am so excited Sir", "It is an honour Sir" and the quitessential "Eendra Pozhudhinum Periduvanukkam" bits of the beaming parents.

Whenever I watch this show I always think of this kid who came in dressed as Bharathiyar

This cracks me up so much every time I see it. It reminds me so much about my own childhood. One, for the way the kid skips around with the poetry (Barathiyaar namma Baarathiyar), two, the fancy dress. On more than numerous occasions, I used to perform gigs like this.I used to be Tiruppur Kumaran in all the Fancy Dress Contests as the role involved minimal dressing up. We borrowed a Kurta from this neighbour's kid. My father would fashion a Khadi cap using a pillow case and with a kajal mustache, I became Tiruppur Kumaran. I used to *exhude* confidence, snort derisively at kids coming in much elaborate get ups such as the complicated Hindu deities (Ardhanaadeswarar, comes readily to mind) or the standard cotton sareed, Mysore-Sandal-talc-on-pinned-up-hair Indira Gandhi types. I would swoop in and do my very passionate speech about the flag and get back to reading Famous Five. This fetched me many, many accolades such as the Barathiyar Kavidhaigal/Sura's quiz books/Thooku vaalis (that were later polished and given away as wedding gifts). I constantly wonder how my parents hunted down such arcane competitions, allowed me to skip school and promptly reported to duty for the said competitions with flasks of hot water.  After we exhausted places to use Tiruppur Kumaran, we had to find a high ROI get-up that suited the general fieriness of my mother's speeches. We used Vanjinathan for a couple of places and then switched to a general mode of "Indian soldier". Again, we used random pieces of junk we could find around the house and thus I became a soldier in a navy blue raincoat and clutching the flag that *had* to be present. I suppose that was the last time I did a fancy dress.

 Speaking of a wasted childhood, I should bring in our musical adventures at this point. My mother's music stemmed from the fact that her best friend used to sing "prayer songs" at all occasions at her office which would make her go green with envy. This is when she decided that her progeny should become the prayer song singer, her own perception of prima dona, which is how all this started.
When I was in primary school the biggest deal of the year was the zonal cultural event at my mother's office. When I was in first standard, I did something so similar to the Bharathiyar kid. When they announced the results, I was  amazed and indignant that they didn't give me a prize that I proceeded to bite the chief guest (incidentally the Chief Post Master General) who was giving away participation certificates. My terrified mother had to get me off his arm and console me saying that I had won. Eventually, I ended up participating for the next five years in the same competition in carnatic, light, folk music,key board and mono-acting category.

 My mother's idea of good music was based on public opinion as she didn't have a clue and neither did I. She thought the "swaras" people sang were incredibly neat and lot of people seemed to say "Waarey Wah" when kids sang them in competitions. She urged my music teachers to teach me songs only with swaras. After they refused, we decided to do it our style. I used to randomly make up ga-ga-ma-ma type swaras  regardless of whatever song I was singing with a flourish at the end.

Once there was this competition in Tamizh Isai Sangam where I was singing "Pazhani appanin Padamaravel" with my usual improptu swara making. This old guy who was the judge threw his hands up in despair and said loudly to his fellow judge "How do they let these people inside" while my mother seethed with anger holding the hot water flask!

 Once there was an eating competition in one of these "events" and I thought with gusto "Aha! This plays right up in my alley!". Rules were simple -The person who could eat the maximum number of Murukku in 5 minutes won. I rolled up my sleeves and got to business. I was in a staggeringly clear lead when my frontal incisor which had been shaking precariously till that day, decided to fall. I was devastated that I lost something like an eating competition.

There were shows that we used to put up from the dance class. There was this gypsy song where I was the male gypsy called "Singa" in flaming red costume and was paired up with a girl who was, obviously, "Singy" and who wore my refurbished Gujarati Choli. It was a number about social evils which the dance teacher decided on after finding me rigid as a rod to do any "Snake Dance: which was the first choice. I did this same gig for about a year in so many places and then we chucked it as it was too much trouble to dress up with no particular reward in sight.

These days when I see my apartment kids participating in dance or music shows that they put on for every damn festival, I keep remembering my childhood filled with such incredible Tom Fooleries, the bundle of useless certificates from Ilaingar Narpani Mandram/Kalaivani Maadar Sangam and also the associated memories of the kid in the Bharthiyar dress!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Hyderabad Marathon and Sphoorti!

I have never been an athlete. In fact, I have never ever been to my Physical Education class all through school. I guess I couldn't make an effort because of the dozen respiratory diseases I had - Chronic wheezing, bronchitis, tonsillitis- you name it, I had it.  I never really made an effort knowing I was much better off in quizzing, debating, erm, even painting and music.

However,when I was in college, I discovered how much fun running was. I jogged (and still do) at a snail's pace, walked in between my running bouts, and yet, I did run. This is when I got fascinated by people who run Marathons. Considering my track record and genetic predisposition to get bored with anything, running a Marathon is the highest level of discipline I can achieve in my life. 

My running history is not great; nowhere near some of my friends' IronMan, SFO/Mumbai Marathons. I have never even felt the need to compete in an event that involved sports. However, this time after a putting a lot of thought , I have signed up for the Hyderabad Marathon where I will be running a Half Marathon.

It is an insane 22.5 KMs and Hyderabad's heat is bound beat anyone down (Here is a wish that they have Marathons at night :D). The route extends from Lakdi-ka-Phool (Near Hussain Sagar) to Hi-Tech city. I leave it to the people in Hyderabad to digress.

Since I am running, I thought it would be nice to support a cause. At least, this commitment will get my butt out of the bed and motivate me into practicing.  I am supporting this NGO called Sphoorti who provide shelter and educate about 140 destitute and orphaned children. I have pledged to raise Rs.5000 for these kids in 57 days. It is not a great amount, however, it might buy these children food for day. Please contribute in this page. I couldn't think of a nice personal message when I signed up, but do make a difference! Remember Rs 300 is the tax you pay for a dinner in that over priced restaurant and yet, despite what we think, Rs 300 will actually buy food for 10 children. And all you Americans, if you have been in India/ are from India, you will know the Indian definition of "destitution". These are kids who are really, really poor and in some cases, are rescued from unspeakable conditions. We are yet to have anything called Child Safety and what you contribute will definitely make a difference. ( Also, a dollar is equal to Rs 55 which should give you more reasons to contribute :-) )  I just realized that Rs.5000 is only 91 USD!

I think Google matches your contributions. I will update this page once I confirm the same with someone at office.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Joy of doing nothing

It has been months since I had a weekend at home doing nothing. Either I had been away or meeting people, or shifting houses or constantly worrying about something. I finally got to spend one weekend at home doing nothing and actually thinking about nothing (probably I was too tired to do so). The forthcoming weekends are going to be filled with activity as I go from one metro to another meeting folks.

My latest visit to the US was filled with longing to return back home mainly because of the number of unfinished things here that required my presence to be finished. In a series of quickly progressing events, I shifted home, bought a bike (motor one). The new apartment is brilliant what with a vista view of the Tennis court from my bedroom in the tenth floor and 2 huge pools to swim in.  Since the giant window in my room faces the east, I get woken up so very early in the morning. The "thwangs" of the balls hitting the centre of the tennis racquet is a very relaxing and a pleasant sound. It gives me a sense of satisfaction that someone is actually playing good tennis. On a side note, I was wearing my Google Cricket League shirt around in my US office and I had to assure one of my team-mates that I did not play in the league and had signed up for it to get the T-shirt. When I was asked what game I played, I laughed and said that my childhood was spent in music, dance and keyboard classes than learning to play anything at all.  Awesome tennis court mandates I give another shot, but my last tryst with the said game was not at all  assuring, especially when the 4 year old kid who joined the classes with me progressed faster than I did. I don't think I can pick up anything with complex control or co-ordination *now*, which is why running seems to be the most uncomplicated athletic pursuit.

 I also have a new dogless jogging track to run and I have been either running 5 KMs every day ever since I moved in. This walking/running business is so soothing, except that I keep expecting a dog to appear out of nowhere because of past experience. For example, today, I mistook a very frisky kid  and a football to be dogs from a distance and actually jumped off the jogging track.

 I have also learnt to float on my back in the pool. Whenever my swimming instructor shouts "chin up, chin up", the following picture (Ophelia by  Everett Millais) keeps flashing morbidly in my mind.

Some more pictures of the apartment and then I will be off. (Click to see the full picture)

Looks even better at 5 am

View from my window (Park is called "Central Park" :D)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Late night regrets

It is high time that I find something new to do in my life. Probably, this time, I will focus better than I have done in the past. It has been a long time since I did anything deeply gratifying and it irritates me to no extent that I am slowly beginning to let the hope go that I will be doing anything at all again with the same level of passion that I had for things while in college.

Ugh. Time to bite the bullet.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Oh, it's that boy from my class!

My visit to Madurai has begun with a startling discovery that they have opened a mall near Gokhale road. I discovered it after reading this article. It is very elegantly written not discounting the fact that mall or not, it is still situated in Madurai. I also noticed that one Mr. A.Shrikumar has written the article. I remembered vaguely that a classmate of mine with the same name, ignoring the rest of school's mad sprint for engineering/medicine, took up liberal arts. I have not seen him since I joined college and recalled my mother telling me that he is now working as a journalist at The Hindu. I know and remember him because of this funny thing that happened when I was in fourth grade. Apart from the zillion other competitions that TVS had, there was one that was an intra co-curricular affair that happened every year with about 30 different competitions including English handwriting, Tamil handwriting, etc. 

Taking a slight deviation from the main story, I feel that I have to tell you about the handwriting bit. I remember the handwriting competitions very well because it was the age where a person's success in life was measured by the slant of the copper plate. My mother blamed her handwriting for all the opportunities that she missed in her life. Egged on by my grandfather and the fun gang that our family is, there has always been a medium to heavy paranoia around handwriting. I copied pages and pages of Macmillan's handwriting books, perfecting the loop of my J’s, the curve of my e's and the slant of my t's. I wrote in pen while at home even when I was in first grade when the rest of the kids were just scribbling with crayons and pencils. I used gel pens; the ones whose blue was slightly more vivid adding flavour to my perfect copper plate. There was one gel pen whose blue was more like purple and when they stopped making it, I wrote to the manufacturer and got him to ship me 50 pens. My handwriting was thus renowned in my parents' circles and was proudly displayed when someone came home (Exhibit A).
Exhibit A (Writing in 5th Std)

After a year at college, the copperplate lost its "pointiness" and started having wide spaces in between the joints, overall reflecting the amount of time I spent writing records, which varied between 30-35 minutes. In the second year, the time reduced to 20 minutes and the tittles over my i's and the crosses over t's missed their marks by inches. By the end of third year, my records became very well known for the extremely illegible scrawl and many a lab prof have shuddered at my written work (Exhibit B). I once told this gleefully to my mother, who literally clutched her heart and left the room.

Exhibit B (Writing in the third year of college)

Coming back to the main story, it was my fourth grade and I had just joined TVS. Of the 13 or so cultural competitions I had entered  (even fancy dress as the little known Bhikhaji Cama), there was a poetry recitation competition for which Shrikumar and I were chosen from Fourth "A" to represent our class. I practiced the following for days together

To My Sister
O my sister remember the stars the tears the trains
The woods in spring the leaves the scented lanes
Recall the gradual dark the snow’s unmeasured fall
The naked fields the cloud’s immaculate folds
Recount each childhood pleasure: the skies of azure
The pageantry of wings the eye’s bright treasure.

Keep faith with present joys refuse to choose
Defer the vice of flesh the irrevocable choice
Cherish the eyes the proud incredible poise
Walk boldly my sister but do not deign to give
Remain secure from pain preserve thy hate thy heart.
~ Theodore Roethke

Phrases with fancy words like "Immaculate folds" & "Pageantry of wings" stuck to me so much that I was able to retrieve this poem in Google just by searching for those phrases. I practiced this darn poem for days together. All was well, until the day before the competition, the class teacher called Shrikumar & I to tell us that she had made a mistake and only one person was to be selected from one class. She reasoned that since I was already in 13 or so contests, it made sense for Shrikumar to go for this one. 

I was heart-broken. I cried and cried at the abject breach of fairness that my mother had to ring the bell of justice; er, call the principal's office demanding a selection process by a neutral judge. It was the time of monsoons and the next day, it rained so much that my school was flooded. We were wading through the rainwater as if we were crossing rivers. I remember flying into the class and dragging the generally very nice, soft-spoken Shrikumar by his arms, through the heavy rain and water to the next building for the impending hearing by our impartial judge. 

Imagine yourself as a principal of a school and having to put up with such situations- a completely barmy kid at one hand and a nice kid almost driven to tears by the aforementioned psycho kid, at another. It almost reminds me of this passage.

"How this situation arose, we do not know," said Dumbledore, speaking to everyone gathered in the room. "It seems to me, however, that we have no choice but to accept it. Both Cedric and Harry have been chosen to compete in the Tournament. This, therefore, they will do. ."

However, it was not the case. I waved and gesticulated and thundered the well-practiced poem until the teacher was forced into choosing me. I remember seeing Shrikumar's parents, the next day, coming to our school to talk about the emotional trauma their son had to go through.

He & I buried all the misgivings of the past in middle school. It is nice to know that he is doing great what with his selection to IRS. Whenever I think of him I always remember that rainy day of the poem and my more than maniacal competitiveness. Though this madness sprouted time and again through college, I give it to CIT for totally sapping this spirit from me by the time I finished college and converting me from 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Everyone knows everything these days!

Should have been born at a time when things were less competitive, life was simpler and when people had to actually work hard to know things. :-)

                                                      RIP Britannica.

I chose not to attend classes while at TVS and spent long and lovely hours poring over these hardbound editions. I owe these books so much for letting me discover so many things so painstakingly that it all meant something.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

We the People

What we've seen our life is such a minuscule portion of what is out there. Most of us are good people. Sitting in our cushy cubicles and raising tickets to decrease the air-conditioning we spend the day meeting our targets. Days get made when a code works, when promotions happen or in some cases, by eating good food. Outside our big offices, we curse our governments for power cuts, for posting budgets that might not favour us. We occasionally get bothered about others who are not our Facebook friends. We have all been brought up well, and in our nice schools and our middle class parents we have learnt all the values we need. We were the darling of our families and though we didn't get everything we wanted, we were always told about the less fortunate ones out there

 When we grow up, we tweak our morals to suit company, to make ourselves likeable and fit in. We learn to lie effortlessly, but we are still good people. We have been taught about how good people get rewarded in moral stories over and over until it internalized.  When we find a group and when we find others who are lesser comfortable than we are, we bully. We taunt and joke about things that we don't feel comfortable about.

 We do feel sad when there is an accident, when we hear about such shocking and sordid stories of murders. We say how foolish it was for a person to have killed herself/himself, over simple things. We sometimes shed tears when we see gruesome images of wars elsewhere and when we hear about shocking rapes. We click our tongues at others' misfortune and sometimes, genuinely feel sorry for them. We pray for the dead. Not everyone, but at least the ones who trend on twitter. We talk of their greatness so much that the next generation might talk of us talking about the dead soul's greatness. We give away money when we feel charitable enough and feel better. 

We all play it safe. We take all this freedom, this lack of landmines and shelling and going through the day without getting killed as granted. The only wars we have gone to is with Pakistan which gets lost in a fuzzy haze of fim actors guild's fund raisers and frantic news coverage. When we get acrimonious we create our own wars. On Facebook. And on blogs.We argue with people and try belittling each other to the extent that is allowed by HR policies.

Somehow we protect ourselves and pretend everything else that is wrong with the world as a chronic disease that can be managed with a dose of indifference. We convince ourselves that what we do will be a  drop in the ocean anyway and won't matter. We know for a fact that the system is screwed up and there are way too many things beyond our control to attempt setting things right. We have learnt enough math to calculate the path of least resistance and maximum comfort. All of us are arm chair critics. We are still good people. So naive, cushioned and protected that we willingly protect ourselves from all that shit out there and set to control at least our own world where we have power to do so. 

We all know that it takes brutal power to step out of our comfort zone and actually solve others' problems. We hail the men and women who do, as heroes. We know these people from our school, our colony and as our playmates. We amaze at their tenacity in overcoming the same middle class paranoia our parents induced in us.  Not just because of how they change people's lives but because they have the guts to quit and step out of the air-conditioning regardless of the paycheck's conspicuous absence at the end of the month. 

We just live. And happily at that. Fifty years down the lane, whether "just living" will suffice is a question that remains to be answered. Presently, our sense of achievement does not have enough data points to draw a conclusion from. When it does, we hope that along the way we did stop somewhere and went beyond our means, at least at one instance and helped someone in need.

P.S- I watched Anbe Sivam for the tenth time yesterday. The more I saw of Madhavan, the more I could replace myself and most of the people I know in his place. I remembered a friend's friend who quit his well paying job to actually teach for under-privileged kids. When I will get the guts to lose my minuscule problems in the enormities of the others,  I do not know. But when I do, it shall be the real life changing moment that all my "Statement of Purpose"s tried to manufacture.

Monday, March 05, 2012


At the beginning of this year, I had told myself that I'd do something small/big everyday that would make me extremely happy for the entire day. Though I was not able to keep this up on all days, I have managed to stick on to it whenever possible. When I look back, not surprisingly, it all seems to be connected with food. Most of my Facebook statuses are about food, which conclusively proves that food comes very high on my priority list.

It usually starts at the fruit counters where I would try out a different fruit everyday or I would make a  different salad with different dressing for lunch . Since the beginning of the year, I have waited for a good amount of time for the fruit counter person to start cutting a fresh papaya or a fresh water melon so that I get to eat it as soon as it is cut. Somehow eating it this fresh makes me feel so victorious. If it happens during breakfast, it is always a sure sign that my day would go very well.
As fresh as it can get

Salad counter

This has also expanded my explorations in the kitchen during weekends where I have pigged over Pricha Kozhabu, Puliyitta keerai, Parapusili and the other Tirunelvelish food. I have been updating my cooking blog quite often these days.

We have a coffee shop in the first floor of our office. It is set up like Starbucks and it belongs to one the most popular coffee shops in Hyderabad. I have started working from this coffee shop for hours together mainly because the aroma of the freshly ground coffee and the general bustle gives me the focus I usually aspire to achieve. My team-mates get quite curious why I keep hanging around in the coffee shop when I have an equally good couch near my place to work from. This couch is legendary as it  is a result of an experiment I did in 15 minutes  to try and see if they would give me a couch if I ask for it. Since then, like Sheldon Cooper would say, the couch is  "a single point of consistency in an ever changing world and if my life is expressed as a function in a four-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system, this spot, would be "0,0,0,0"
The famous couch (0,0,0,0)

Also these people celebrate most of the festivals with aplomb. Brilliant decorations ensue with even more brilliant food. Take a look

Some other festival

They do this every month

Valentine's day

Today has been especially good for simple pleasures. Having woken up way early, I made my own breakfast, something that I had not done ever since I joined Google. I made white soft dosas and smeared them generously with my grandmother's molaga podi. Somehow this put me in a good mood despite it being a Monday.

After coming to office, I realized that we had Bisi Bele Bath for lunch. I kind of like to break surfaces when they serve such food. It gives me immense happiness to ladle the surface covered with Boondi on to my plate, add a dollop of ghee to the sizzling hot mixture. Today, they had hand made Vazhakka (green plantain) chips, a delicacy that only my maternal grandmother makes. Egged on by this, I decided to throw my calorie count to the wind and downed a couple of Rasagollas.

Inspired by the food, I spent post-lunch lounging on the La-Z boy, finishing all the work I had been postponing in a couple of hours. Having just turned 23, I can confidently say that I have never been hedonistic as I am these days.

P.S. Post was written after a mind-blowingly  good cup of cappuccino and one can attribute the general gaiety in the post to caffeine induced optimism :-). Also, I might not post it if I have to edit it sometime later so please excuse any grammatical errors.

Friday, March 02, 2012

Why Calvin and Salinger sound so alike

That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write "Fuck you" right under your nose. Try it sometime. I think, even, if I ever die, and they stick me in a cemetery, and I have a tombstone and all, it'll say "Holden Caulfield" on it, and then what year I was born and what year I died, and then right under that it'll say "Fuck you." I'm positive, in fact.

I can totally imagine Calvin saying this, sans the profanity, of course. If Watterson had let Calvin to grow up he'd be so much like Holden and catching kids in the rye field. The anger in Holden's is the empathy and Calvin's wit make them the best medicines for bad anger bouts.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Sick :-(

One of those times where you feel excruciating pain in both the ears and through the face, lose your voice, lose a couple of kilograms over the weekend and spin every time you stand.  Damn genes.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Saturday mornings and a dog-eat-dog world!

I have never really liked Hyderabad. It is not only the weather or the traffic but the very fact that it is in the middle of nowhere with almost no Tamil food unlike Bangalore where you have a Udupi restaurant at every street corner. There are no parks nearby, no places to really bike around without getting mowed down by a moron. The sun always beats on one's neck and you would end up fearing for life every time you get onto the main road mainly because of these gangs of dogs.

Back home in Madurai, in my childhood, my neighbours' dogs Saaliny, Subramani and Poornima clanged against gates and bared their teeth at the sight of me at any given opportunity. Once, the lithe and skillful Subramani weaseled his way out of a closed gate and chased me up the neem tree before my house. I had to rouse the entire street before the dog's owner came and told me that Subramani, who was being restrained from the pouncing, really had a thing going on for me. Even the stray dogs on road smelled my presence and Carpe Diem'd by barking their wits out. My wall climbing skills were put to general display, when a motherly stray dog whom I called Mrs.Norris, chased me through a series of ten houses. Pomeranians near my house, were generally snobbish, pampered and they looked down upon most people. If they were not seated on their cushy chairs eating cake, they were yapping at me while swiveling round and round with their little bodies. They did this so much that my neighbours asked me not to come to their houses as "Saaly" and "Jackie" became disturbed after my visit.

It won't be true if I can justify my cynophobia by telling folks I was a cat at some point of time in my eight births. This is because cats creep me out too, what with all the soul searching stare. I don't mind animals like elephants, hippopotamus or the friendly cow (Lakshmi) across the street. I recently read that human brain prepares the adrenaline even if it vaguely sees the presence of threat. It doesn't really put together the pixels before deciding to flee. Maybe this is why I get all prepped up to flee even at the sight of sheep, white gunny bags or anything that remotely resembles a dog at a distance.

When I was in Mountain View, I was shocked to see a flock of dogs as small as chickens lolling about in the Google campus. People brought their dogs to office and they usually had dog fences at their doors. All these dogs looked very well groomed and pretty like their Californian owners. Someone told me that dogs in the US never really bark and are very well trained. Somehow, the fact that the owners can be sued if their dogs bite a person greatly soothed me. I was having a mostly carefree summer with the only worry of mounting credit card bills. One particular day, I was carrying home a horde of things which were to become a part of the 110 kgs of I brought back from the US. On this day, among other things, I had gotten a jar of salsa, to modify it into Tomato thokku. I was waiting for my bus from Sunnyvale, when I suddenly felt something wet and soft on my ankles. I look back to find a monster of a dog, black and satanic, almost like the apocryphal buffalo of Yama, sniffing at my ankles. While a , "Here boy, come on boy" would have been an adequate response to deal with the situation, I yelled bloody murder and gripped a passerby's arm. This was a middle aged lady, who had come out for a run. The passerby now shrieked while the dog which got  more scared than I did, jumped on its hind legs and held on to me. It was so close that I could see the white's of his eye above me. The dog's owner who had sent him to fetch a stick, came to us and pulled the dog off me. It took sometime to calm the dog and the passerby and I ended up apologizing to everyone. The dog, clearly traumatized, picked up the stick, licked a bit of the Salsa and set off mournfully onto the park with his owner.

To get over the fear, I once stroked a St.Bernard puppy named Simba, making sure the owner, a 5 year old girl, held his mouth close. It gave me waves of thrill like playing with fire. The next time I went home, it had grown up to look like a fatcow and that is the last time I enquired about Simba.

After self-destructing my health for the past half a year with oodles of food, late night TV series and no exercising, I have finally woken up. For the last two months, I have started walking/jogging along the hi-tech city road early in the morning. It is a pleasant place lined by Dell, Oracle and Deloitte offices while lie deserted during the wee hours of twilight.  I have become incapacitated to enjoy this beauty without a bodyguard to protect me from dogs. My roommate, with whom I walk this stretch often finds me zigzagging to her either sides depending on the position of the stray. These strays follow us back home and get into a fight with the resident stray of our street for trespassing. Rest assured that I always finish my last mile with a sprint.

 I have been jogging around the huge KBR park which is at quite a distance from my home, on Saturdays since last week. I find the stretch calming and soothing, not only because it feels so faraway from the maddening traffic but also because of the absence of dogs.

For once, I can walk free and feel the sun rays on my face. I can walk without the fear of inciting a dog fight or without worrying about my now reduced agility in climbing trees. Saturday mornings have been reinstated to their former glory! Woof!