Tuesday, 7 September, 2021

Sleepless Night

Sleep deprived,
Eyes are wide;
Where's my conscience gone?

Open wide,
mind and sight;
Charting waters known.

Thoughts,
Barbs,
Forgotten taunts.

Fear,
Angst,
Late come retorts.

Swirling mind,
Memories torn,
A long night now beckons.

A baby's thoughts

Imagine the thoughts,

Lurking behind,

A baby's babbling coos!


The days before

Words come by,

When she frets and boos.


"Don't you get?

My superb wit,

Bumbling forth with glee.


Just you wait,

Till I state,

Every word i mean.


For now I sate

My growing distaste

Running amok unseen."

Impostor Syndrome

The more I grow,

The weeds too grow,

Planting doubts afresh.


Do they know,

That I don't know,

More of what I said?


She's smart how,

Concede it now,

But what if it's a farce?


What if they saw,

The seeds I sow,

Are worth a lot, lot less.

Monday, 6 September, 2021

Meditation

 If I were a ray of light,

Forego, I would, the speed of light;

Oh, wonder what ways to take

What a journey I could make.


Fly along the banks fertile,

Touching every leaf so mild,

Taking in the Viridian shores,

Waking up the flowers from snores.


Cruise above the waters blue, 

Pristine sands, Sparkling hues.

Light up every crashing wave,

Recede away when tempests heave.


And then I reach the heavens high;

Parting through the cloudy sky.

Every breath - so calm, so still.

Reining in the tumultuous will.

Thursday, 2 September, 2021

Hindsight

Such drastic turns
Life does take;
Up and down, 
Devious and snaked. 

A tiny step, 
A second's wink, 
May cost you more 
Change a course. 

You do not realise 
how strong you are 
Till hindsight shows 
A nightmare it was.

Mirage

A shimmering mirage,

Born of heat.

Tempting the heart

Of wishes incomplete.


The thirsty heart,

Parched and dry;

Rushes to the barrier,

Heartened and high.


Blooming hope -

An oasis come true.

Can one cope

While passing through?


Broken wishes;

Crushed out hope.

Never again to dare,

Forlorn and lost.






Tuesday, 12 February, 2013

Your classroom is here.

It was an article about three websites that compelled me to put down my thoughts now. Three websites which are now revolutionizing education in ways never before imagined - Coursera, Udacity and edX. Three revolutionary websites which provide online courses to students all over the world, taken by professors of the world's most renowned universities, on subjects ranging from astronomy, biology and chemistry to business, law and medicine. And this is not even the best part. This incredible wealth of knowledge is, my friends, free of cost to everyone.

It is absolutely incredible - the amount of information and knowledge that you can access now with your fingertips. Never before in the history of mankind has universal equality, in the truest sense of the word, been  accomplished. Think about it. Each and every one of us, equipped with an electronic device - a desktop, a laptop, a tablet or a smartphone - and a working internet connection, can get any question answered on any topic; whenever you want to. The truly remarkable consequence of the internet is thus, to me, intellectual equality. Barring the blocks and firewalls in a few countries (that is a completely different debate altogether), anyone anywhere in the world can learn about anything on the web. 

The earlier disadvantages of geographical limitations and economic disadvantages have all but disappeared, or are disappearing in due course. Imagine being in the world about two decades ago. You are researching a simple problem. Trying to understand an industry, let's say. What would have been your sources of information? Visits to physical libraries, scouting through numerous books and publications, trying to figure out  an expert on the industry and primary research. How about now? With a few clicks, in a matter of hours or rather minutes, you can possibly learn about any industry that exists in the world (non existing as well, perhaps). Of course accessibility, awareness, affordability are all still issues. But the extent of those issues are mere specks compared to the mammoth proportions of information barricades which existed before the world wide web. Take a bow, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau.

Everyday I find my innate curiosity jumping up and down with excitement at the sheer variety of the subjects I can get my hands on. Right now I am enrolled in Game theory (Coursera), The Modern World: Global history since 1760 (Coursera) and How to build a startup (Udacity). Courses taken by distinguished faculties from Stanford university, University of Virginia, MIT and serial entrepreneur Steve Blank. My personal favourite among all the astonishing knowledge banks on the web remains khanacademy though. Not because Salman has Indian roots (though I am incredibly proud of this fact) but because of the simple and lucid manner in which he handles topics as simple as basic arithmetic to complex financial conundrums like CDOs or the fiscal cliff. And he is not a teacher by profession.  Education, my dears, will never be the same again. Cheers.

Monday, 30 January, 2012

Tea for two and a piece of cake.


It took one eventful year and Preeti Shenoy's new post to push me back into scribbling. I say scribbling purposely. Sabbaticals that last an year doesn't really qualify as writing. Anyhow, her post Tea for Two.. is doing its job well as a creative prompt, I must say. There you go Preeti, Voila!

So, Preeti is publishing her third book - Tea for Two and a piece of cake - which promises to be just the kind of book I would love to cuddle up on my beanbag with a cuppa on a rainy afternoon..
My friends and I have been readers of her blog for ages. Lucid, down to earth and endearing, her writing was one of the reasons why I started a blog in the first place! Her prompt now is for anyone to complete in their blog "If I could invite anybody for 'tea for two' today it would undoubtedly be .................................."

Hmmm.. A lot of choices rush into my mind. Amongst friends, siblings, relatives, idols and so on, in the end the one person I know I would want to invite for a tea for two would be - my husband. Ok technically, I don't need to invite him per se, but of course, he is the one person I would share my cup of tea with and not to forget the cake, all my life. I admit I have not really mastered the perfect cup of pure milk tea he prefers. Yet he drinks the tea I make everyday without the slightest frown. Coming to think of it, it is also symbolic of our relationship.. About two years ago we did not even know each other; but now after an arranged marriage and 8 months later, I know I have found my soulmate, my partner in crime, the kid who sees the kid in me, my best friend, my critic, my strength. This is to you, to us, to love. Cheers.

P.S: Thanks Preeti.. I wouldn't have written this for him if not for your post...! :)

Sunday, 16 January, 2011

Kerala Café.

Not in recent times have I seen such a touching and realistic portrayal of life in Malayalam movies. It has been at least a couple of years since Renjith's Kerala Café - the concoction of 10 different short movies by different directors - was released. I regret not seeing it before. An excellent brew of emotions, the twists reminding me of O'Henry classics, brilliant performances by some of the best actors in the industry - I am surprised at the kind of reception it received among the supposedly mature audiences of Kerala. The 10-story gem of a movie could just gross over its costs.

After a long day of infinite assignments, classes and work, I was deprived of sleep yesterday night. The best option next was either a sitcom or a movie. Whose Line Is It Anyway has been the recent routine. Somehow I stumbled upon Kerala Café in one of those long forgotten must see folders yesterday. I had read a few reviews so the idea was to see a couple of the short movies and hopefully go to sleep. But every single movie made me long to watch the next, and the next.

Two parallel stories with one moving slightly ahead, and in the end, reaching a tragical symbolic connect between the two, Bridge was easily the best. The first story of a motherless child being deprived of his pet kitten by his father. Another of an old mother taken by her son on a long awaited trip 'to see the ships in the city'; In the background is his poor family and the incessant nags of the wife about how she has been taking care of the old lady. At first the son taking his mother alone on a trip and the joyful moments they share brings a warmth in your heart. But the climax is so tragically unexpected that it is haunting me still.

Puramkazhchakal of Mammootty and Sreenivasan is another one I loved; And hated for the way it hurts you in the end. The extremely temperamental passenger played by Mammootty is mocked by everyone on a bus. But little do they, including Sreenivasan, realize the reason why he is rushing to his home, his dear ones.

Happy journey
is another gem which oddly reminded me of the bus journeys from Kochi to Bangalore. Set in a 4 hour bus journey, this one shows a middle aged man JK (Jagathy Sreekumar), trying to flirt with the girl in the next seat. Slowly during the course of the journey, her meek demeanor changes to that of a creepy determination and a fear grips him forcing him to see life in a new light. With a fitting climax this one was a treat to watch.

Island Express, which is a take on the old Peruman tragedy, has a new treatment and some very good performances by Prithviraj, Sukumari, Kani and Maniyanpilla Raju. The boldness in the portrayal of the life of Prithviraj and his friend is something unseen of in Malayalam movies. Lalitham Hiranmayam was a portrayal of infidelity and conflict in relationships and stood out for a strong performance by Jyotirmayi and Dhanya. I felt Suresh Gopi could have been used better though. On the same rating would stand Aviramam; showing Siddique who attempts suicide after sending his family for a vacation. Shwetha Menon has brilliantly portrayed the wife.

All the others - Makal, Mrityunjayam, Nostalgia and Off season - could have been way better. Given that Revathy was the director, Makal could have been much more gripping and lacked the depth one would expect from her. Mrityunjayam, being the horror story, to be honest, left me confused. Nostalgia was a tight slap on the Malayali hypocrisy and is successful in making one hate Johnykutty (Dileep); but it was definitely not worth the opening shot. The humorous take in the middle, Off Season, failed to strike a chord despite Siraj being the protagonist.

A few such shortcomings apart, this attempt by Renjith to bring together 10 of the best directors and most of the acting geniuses in the industry together, deserves a standing ovation. For me some of these stories were the best movies I have seen after the times of Padmarajan or Bharathan. I feel sad to say that I can point to no movie in recent times which can much up to the best of the lot in Kerala Cafe. Hope it changes. But for sure, Kerala Café is a must watch.


Saturday, 1 January, 2011

Déjà vu

That strange feeling of familiarity, that veiled recognition of what I am going to say, the reactions, the sequence. Premonition reversed? You could say that. It does not let you predict future. At least for me, the feeling is an afterthought; "I've been through this before." A fleeting remark; An obscure passage; A passing scene; At the most unexpected of times, in situations with the most improbable chances of repeating, that feeling of weird familiarity washes over. Weird? yes. Eerie? no.

I say Déjà vu is God's own way of rewinding our lives. :) Why, you may ask? Well, I believe he wants to give us a good second chance. Grab it. Live it again.

The sabbatical of El Misti hereby ends. And I get a Déjà vu. I hope this was its last. :)

Thursday, 30 April, 2009

Go Green!!

The days after my siblings’ annual exams were over. My Sis has completed her 7th and Bro, his 4th standard.

"Hello...”

"Heylo Jiyachuchy!!! Occasion, occasion!!"
[Well the etymology of this particular word, termed by my little sis, still looks very strange to me. Nevertheless, Occasion essentially means vacation, the summer hols.]

"So happy now, eh? How was the exam? Which one was it??"

"Malayalam. It was good! Yo yo!"

"So what plans sweetie?"

"I am starting Go Green."

"You are what?"

"Starting Go Green. You must join ok. Admission fee is Rs.2. Fine is Rs.10"

"Fine for what?"

"If you throw waste around, if you use non recyclable plastic bags, if you cut trees, if you stamp on grass..."

Background conversation to our housekeeper lady:
"chedathi, ini pipeile vellam leak cheythal patthu roopa fine vaangum ketto, go green!"
Translation: If you keep the pipe open and water leaks again, you will be fined for Rs.10.
I can only imagine chedathi's reaction: Gulp.

"Ok Ammu, What will you do with the fine?"

"With the fine? Oh, that we will collect.......

I'm so proud of my sister! How socially responsible today’s kids are....

...and divide among the other members!"

"What??? Aren’t you supposed to do something useful for the nature??"

"Then how will I get money for myself??"

Ok. Kids today are business oriented. Highly.

"Hmm Ok. So let’s see. Who all are the members yet?"

"Bro is already a member. njaan avanu nammude prasthanathe pattiyulla arivukal pakarnnu kodukkukayanu.

[Oops. Did she swallow a Malayalam dictionary?]

You are a member ok. You can be the vice president."

"No no Ammu, its ok. I'd rather be secretary. Make bro the VP."

"He doesn’t want to be VP. He just wants to be a dedicated worker."

Whoa!!!!! Are these my siblings themselves????? From the day both of them set eyes on each other, I have never seen such camaraderie.

"Great! So is mummy in??"

"You know what jiyachuchy!! Mummy is taking plastic bags to the shops every day!! I'll fine her ----- (an incomprehensible amount)!!"

"..........."

"And then, she is forcing us to eat chicken and fish!! (I don't like where this is heading to...)
Nammal bhakshikkan vendi konnodukkunnathu karanam ethrayethra mrigangalum pakshimrigaadikalumaanennoo lokathil ninnum illathayi kondirikkunnathu!!!!"

Gulp. Dumbstruck. Partly dazed by this onslaught of heavy Malayalam and partly by the glaring possibility of being a Vegetarian.

"Er.... Athe Ammu, does that mean we have to be pure vegetarians too?????"

"Well I am going to be one. Bro has informed that he can't be. So it's OK."

WHEW.

"So what is the Agenda? Are we not having some action plan?"

"Of course yes. First thing I am going to do is stick posters on the walls."

"Er.....Which walls?"

"Colony walls."

"........."

"And then I'll start a community in Orkut."

"That sounds good. Hmm.. But don't you think the posters idea might be too much...?”

"Why not??"

"Well, the owners of the walls MAY not agree you see."

"Oh.. !@#!@#@$"

"Hmm.. Never mind. We'll distribute fliers. I feel so proud of you Ammucha! So what should I do next??"

"You have to ask all your friends to join too. AND ask them to suggest a Malayalam name. Once they join, I will give them ID cards. Ok then Jiyachuchy, Go Green!!"

Cut.

Though I could not stop laughing that day, her enthu took me completely by surprise and I am still delighted.

So here we go.

Go Green!
Ammu aka my sister cordially invites you to join the Go Green
campaign by paying Rs.2 (Cheque/DD/Coin).
The manifesto is in the process of drafting and will be shared with you upon completion.
Interested members please contact the secretaries (yours truly) with suggestions of a malayalam name for the campaign.
GO GREEN!!

Monday, 2 March, 2009

"How dare he call one of us a slumdog??"

"How dare he call one of us a slumdog??"

"Oh! But the story....where is it from???"
"Who cares, the matter is not his to judge!"


"Why but it swept the Oscars and Globes!"
"Bah! those are just capital plays!!"


"You mean to say the film is to blame?"
"Hmm...Ofcourse yes! It throws all the bad cues."


"But many of our people were at the world's stage!"
"Thats because they went and honoured that stage!"


"Isn't it a pleasure to have our men honoured?"
"Right but those sadists; laughing at our plight!"


"You think they really keep thinking about us??"
"Oh yes always yes. We are the real focus."


"What if one of us, had made this one up?"
"Might all these crowns, to Button, have gone!"


"So what really got us the fame and fortune?"
"Packaged poverty, beggars and more!"


"Isn't it all about love, hope and resolve??"
"The slums!! they keep showing those slums to the world!!"


"Isn't it a real picture, what truly is?"
"Why can't they show some good realities??"


"Reality? Now when did that start to matter?"
"Oh always we need to focus on real life!"


"Why then no uproar over K series?"
"What who.. Oh I... hmm.. don't have no time!"


"Don't you think the marketing's really what matters?"
"But see he shouldn't have called one of us a slumdog!!!!"

Friday, 16 January, 2009

"Always look on the bright side of life"

Interesting name, isn't it? Well my first experience watching a play was so overwhelming that it is impossible for me not to write about it and so! Here I am, going to end my sabbatical.. ;)

My friend was so smitten by Evam's 'Five point someone' that every now and then we would 'plan' a great evening watching a play... And like all other great 'plans' of ours, it remained a 'plan'. Well, I suppose that's what plans are meant to be. ;)

Anyways, last week she sends us info about this new play by Evam, "Always look on the bright side of life". A few online searches and many interesting reviews later, 6 tickets were booked for the 14th of January, 2009. There, the first live professional play of our lives...! (Well, for most of us! :) )

The venue was RangaShankara, The troupe, Evam and on stage, a bunch of extremely talented actors and dancers.

Eventhough the play was due at 7.30, we reached the venue almost an hour and half early. One look at Rangashankara and boy, I was smitten. A great building, which is more of an artwork, welcomed us. Spiralling staircases, a beautifully laidback Cafe, an outlet of Sankar's and a vast hall exhibiting curios about the latest plays and their authors. My roomie was so inspired that she wanted to join the troupe then and there; And she could have been recruited for her 'historical drama histrionics' immediately, but they were not conducting any audtions. :( (Thank God! ;) )

Evam volunteers were everywhere - selling the Muchos brand (A corporate gift idea venture by an Evamite), making us play dartboard and throwing loops! We didn't have anything much to do for about an hour obviously, so we played and I got a smiley ball!! :) (Well, i.e. after an extremely 'enthusiastic' elderly gentleman was done with the arrow and the loops.. :) )

Little did we know that most Bangaloreans knew the following fact:
If
Start of play : 7.30
then
Stand in queue by : 6.30!

Merrily playing, we did see some people forming a long queue...
"What a long queue, isn't it!"
"Oh! poor guys, they won't get any tickets now would they?"
"No no... Lucky we came early.. smart, aint we...?"
"Yeah, yeah... I wonder where the entrance to the theatre is..."
".....er......"
"Do you think......"
"Oh my! thats the queue for the entrance!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Oops..Come come..... Lets join them.. Thank god..! The queue is short.. Just round that corner....
and that.....!
and that....?!!
whaaaaat the????!!!"

It seemed the queue was endless. Even in a movie theatre I haven't seen a longer queue. Anyways, once we were allowed inside, we did get a good seat unlike what we expected and very soon the play started.

3 pretty girls danced to the tune of a foot tapping song and suddenly, the 'cultural police' comes in!
"Hey hey hey! what the bloody hell is going on here...?? !"
(That was the only line he chanted during the whole play.. ;) )

And then 3 mavericks entered the stage. (Now I know one is KK, the other Sunil and the third.. Dunno! :( ) They were the main actors throughout and I must say, extremely witty and talented. No wonder they were nominated for the MTV youth Icon awards.

They discussed at length about what to stage (I loved the Drrrrrrrooooona part) and finally settled on Monty Python. And true to it, the play was full of tiny snippets of wacky situations from everyday life...

The best one was the Pope ("Poppy.." :))) ) and the flowery Michelangelo with his Last supper featuring 28 disciples, Kangaroos, a circus and 3 Christs!! The ones about the forgotten German musician, the abuse and argument departments et al were extremely hilarious.

Some of them were a bit boring though; for instance, the ruthless Principal and the grieving parent, the Murder mystery... But on the whole we thoroughly enjoyed all of those 76 minutes.

As Evam quotes, it was one hell of a funny wacky crazy comedy! :)

Friday, 29 August, 2008

Tired of your Network?

CASE ONE

The other day, I saw a huge ad in front of a Mobile office (Lets call it Aircel)
STD at 75 paisa for first 400 minutes... National SMS free!

I hold a Vodafone connection.
STD and SMS at 1 rupee.
I read. I sigh. And I walk on.

CASE TWO

My friend tells me about this new offer which he can get me through his company connection... It will give me a 40% reduction in the bill. And free SMS!
I turn down the offer, again.

Why?

Why wouldn’t I grab these offers and change my connection to the best one, at once?

Because of the simple reason that I hate to go through that torment of changing my number, Informing my friends, relatives, colleagues, et al.. Wait a minute..! How will I inform my bank n other official services…??
Oh! Forget it!

Well… this will change. Soon.

Mobile number portability(MNP) will soon enter our circles. And the countdown has already started.


What is MNP?

Mobile Number Portability(MNP), simply put, means that even if you change your mobile service provider (Say from Airtel to IDEA or vice versa) your number would remain the same.

It is the newest in the tidal wave of mobile technology. There are other variants for changes like Mobile to Landline. But what we can expect soon, and obviously the most looked forward to, is the MNP.

Why?

There are myriad reasons why MNP should be here.

As I said before, you won't ever have to bother about changing your number. You see a new offer; this one better than your current one; buy it; plan changed. Simple. No hassles.

But behind this huge relief there are other significant repercussions which will affect our lives, or rather our Mobile lives. The simple possibility of losing the customers at once will push our Service providers to come up with new ideas, technologies and above all, lower rates.

And then, the mobile penetration rate in India would climb up rapidly. (If rates can go faster than it is now! :-)) Even though we feel every other guy, be it the street urchin or the local fruit vendor, owns a mob, mobiles in India seems to have reached only about a quarter of the population.

Where?

MNP is already an old story in countries like Singapore, US, UK, Australia, Pakistan etc. The best part of MNP is that you don't have to wait for days to get your plan changed. The waiting period varies from 5 hours in the US to an awesome 3 minutes in Australia!

How?

MNP needs an intermediate governing body to monitor the porting of service.
There can be two types of Porting. Donor led porting and Recipient led porting.

Suppose you want to change your connection from X to Y. In donor led porting, it is your current provider X, who will initiate the porting and complete the formalities.
This method of porting is used only in UK. But the disadvantage here is that provider X would definitely be vexed at losing their customers. So the process of porting may take a loooooooooong time.

Recipient led porting thus seems to be the better one. Recipient network Y initiates and completes the process.

After porting, the routing of calls can take place based on a number of implementations. But as of now, the most popular and efficient routing is via a Central Data Base(CDB) of ported numbers. Local copies of this CDB will be available to every service provider and they will consult this database to decide which network a number currently uses.

When?

"When shall MNP come to India?" has been a popular question since this technology came into being. The answer came very recently. Precisely, on the
2nd of August 2008. Our Telecom Minister A. Raja has declared that MNP will be rolled out in all the metros within 2 months and then to the whole of India in 6- 12 months.

A decade back, we wouldn't have even imagined "A phone for everyone".
Now we are not satisfied with the present goodies. As a popular mail says ' you have 15 numbers to reach your family of 3.' :-)

Technology simply gets better each day.

So, my dear mobile friends, its time to rejoice! :-)

*****12 May 2009*****

Update!!

A good news in fact... Hope it does not get delayed further than this.

Tuesday, 19 August, 2008

A Fork In The Road.

Turning back
On that distant road
All those times
Fetched far in time
Would I regret?
Or would I smile?
When time has flown
And my life is through....

The fork I’ll see,
The way I chose;
The lost way
Or gone astray?
Would I be glad?
Or would I cry?
I chose it right;
Or "Wish I had...”

Wishes and dreams
Pressing around...
But fulfill or give;
Mine or for mine;
Would I ever know?
Or is it right here?
When would I know?
Will it be too late?

Life and dreams
Are parting ways
Or blending in?
The view is hazed.
Amazing bloom
Or the barren doom
The moment I pass
This fork, will I see?

Here at that fork
I stand right now.
Flip a coin
Or blindly choose?
Would I be right?
Would I ever fret?
The help I seek
God, where shall I find..?

Thursday, 7 August, 2008

Work experience = 1 year.


Yesterday was my first anniversary of being a working professional.
1 year as a software engineer.

If you ask me whether I've evolved as a better person or not since I shed my student garb, I don't know what to say. Not much, but this single year alone has taught me how bittersweet life can be all at once, more than the preceding 21 years put together.

Work has not changed me as a person but this one year taught me priorities in life can suffer a mammoth shift. From being a careless, absent minded girl unsure of the future, suddenly I find myself searching for ways to secure a future; for my siblings, my Mom, myself.

Values haven't changed, even after living for an year in the Silicon Valley of India.

Finding new friends, for a lifetime....

Catching up with old mates....
The revelation how exciting waiting for a weekend can be...
Missing home....

Discovering what 'hectic' means...
Learning to meet deadlines...
Managing time...
Missing home...
Feeling guilty when I see that dreaded sentence "Keep in touch"...
Chain mails...

New cuisines...
Added responsibilities...
Missing home...

Being independent.

It seems that just yesterday, we finished our last university exams.

One year.

Unbelievably short, yet long.

Tuesday, 5 August, 2008

Of Two Rupee coins, Feviqwik and Rosary beads...


My siblings and I had this common penchant for swallowing stuff when we were kids. By stuff I do not mean anything remotely edible. Rather coins, glues, stones and beads. And edible stuffs? We prefer to stuff them through other orifices. e.g.:- nostrils.

Let’s go back in time, rewind nearly two decades.

One fine morning Mom gives s me a plateful of mixture and a boxful of toys. Toys include an assortment of beads and chains, which used to be my favourite. Asking me to be a good girl she goes in to bath and I proceed to ‘play’. Minutes later, she came back to find the plate, half empty and the toys intact. Wait a minute…!
"Where is the big rosary???"
I show an "Um!" (Snap your mouth shut, you’ll know what I mean.)
Yep, I had swallowed it.
A metal rosary with three beads.

Epilogue: Neighbour aunty tells Mom, "Don’t worry; there is a problem only if she starts vomiting"
And I start half an hour later. My Dad and Mom were in anguish till the next day when the beads naturally came out. And I never got beads to play thereafter. sigh.

The next episode comes before or after this one, I don’t exactly remember. But the time period is pretty much the same. One fine morning, my mom once again gives me a plateful of mixture and toys (minus the bead versions) and goes into the kitchen.
A sniffling sound brings her back to me and lo!
There stands Jiyamol with a peanut stuffed deep in the nostril. (I honestly don’t remember this at all!)
Our neighbour, I used to fondly call him Ammavan, came to the rescue this time.
"Don’t worry; I’ll take it out" And he successfully stuffed the peanut deeper inside.

Epilogue: My regular ENT specialist (My! he must have made a fortune had I been a kid still) had to do a near surgery to take the stuffed peanut out. And the specimen had enlarged to the size of a lemon. Ok... Not that big; at least thrice the normal size. Cute, isn’t it?

I am proud to say I set the right example at the right time. These vivid, enchanting tales inspired my siblings to continue the legends.

My sister couldn’t exactly ‘swallow’; given the object concerned was a Feviqwik tube.
So she chewed it and got her mouth literally shut up. And it took us a joy ride to three hospitals to get her mouth opened, cleansed and then her stomach washed.

Epilogue: She never used Feviqwik thereafter.

My brother was more of my league.
One fine afternoon, mom was having a small nap. I was reading beside her. And my siblings were playing in the same room.
Suddenly my sis shouts, "Ayyo! He ate the coin! He ate the coin!"
Yup; my brother swallowed a coin.
Guess which one.
The largest possible one - A 2 rupee coin.

Epilogue: Thank god, we didn’t need much of an effort to get it out of his throat before it descended. But it did take considerable effort to calm down Mom.

As I said before, I don’t remember anything at all about my escapades and I’m sure nor would my siblings about theirs, but for my mom who recollects these ‘tales’ every now and then with much vigour.

After all these are memories that would never fade and would make us laugh for years to come. :)

Monday, 28 July, 2008

The Gang of Girls.


This is dedicated to five people.
Five people who have made my college days unforgettable.
The Gang of Girls. :)

"Hi I am Merin Susan George from TocH Public School...!"

The thickly accented girl immediately struck me as arrogant. A typical Jaada, I decided. But time proved me gravely wrong. One of the most innocent people I have ever known, she is now one of the closest people to me.

"Hey I am Parvati. What about you?? I and Merin were together in tuition classes you know. Merin, do you remember that day when Joseph sir was teaching blah blah and we started chatting and sir asked us to keep quiet or get out! I studied in Bhavans. It’s been a long vacation sort of after 12th right? What did you do...?? I got so bored!! And when I went to….Blah blah”

She was the chatterbox. With a big heart and an inversely proportionate stature, she invariably became the life of our class. :)

"Hi"
"Hi… What’s your name?"
"Annie. And yours?"
.....

She was a bit aloof but pleasant. On that first day, I spent most the lunch break with her. All of us were scared of the seniors hovering around; so we confined ourselves to the supposed security of our classroom. Slowly we became friends and then friends, for a lifetime. She was the cautious one of the gang, the caretaker, the disciplinarian; but naughty when times demanded. :) Without her I don’t know what we would have done many a times. :)


"She is Sarah. She was the 12th topper in UAE!!!"

Wow! But I was very surprised by her. She was not at all like an NRI girl, or rather an NRI topper. :) Sarah could easily have passed off as a typical Malayali damsel. Quiet (at first sight), sweetly smiling, with an even sweeter voice. It took me a really long time to get to know her; but now I know I definitely wasted those days.


“Hey, you can sit here… I’m Elizabeth“

She was sitting alone on the first bench the next day. Chubby, pretty and smiling, the moment I saw her, I knew I had known her somewhere. It must have been those vibes you get when you meet those people who are going to be your lifelong fellow travellers. And she, thus, became my twin for many days to come in college.

All of us, except Sarah, were day scholars. So we have surely missed the hostel times. But there is no end to the fun we’ve had on our own. Hen parties, usually at Merin’s house, bearing her cooking ;) , Late night (flop) movies when we all would chat and then doze off halfway through, Window shopping sprees, Excursions, Photo sessions, Crank calls, Anonymous cards, KR treats, Combine studies, Birthday bashes…… Times I’ll never forget.

Things have changed.

But girls, I miss those days.

I miss you all.

[All Names are changed due to privacy issues :) ]

Origin of 'ism's


Disclaimer : This post does not discuss mystifying philosophical queries or controversial radical beliefs.

Then what is this about? Nor do I have any idea because some people call the 'ism's I am referring to, superstitions and many others, beliefs.

Many of the Malayalis must have seen the movie 'Sadanandante samayam’. This is one flick which could be an answer for "Which of the following films agree with this post most?"
(Please forgive the CAT analogy!)
Well my point is that I am just giving some loony thoughts to some loonier isms; I wouldn't dare call them superstitions because for some of us they are beliefs deep-rooted.

The aim is pure entertainment!

Enough of intro; Here we go...!

1.
If the first object you see when you step out of your house is a broom, then your day is doomed. Yes, doomed.
(I am not sure if this 'radical notion' is prevalent in other parts of the country, but in Kerala, Yes!)

Possibly invented by an innocent husband who was prone to waking up late and regularly had the misfortune of being beaten around the house with painfully large brooms; by, obviously, the wife. Very often I get out of my PG at the perfect time to see the cleaning lady sweeping the road, with not one but at least 2 brooms at a time! And I strongly believe this is the sole reason for my sometimes unfairly hectic work and everything that goes haywire in my day. You can definitely account the recession and the rising inflation to this grave fact.

2.
If a black cat jumps across your path, again, your day is doomed. (Scary!!!)

Must have been invented by a chronic cat-o-phobiac (forgive my coining of the term...) for reasons obvious. For e.g.:- If I am to see first thing in the morning, a snake merrily slithering besides me, I wouldn't be particularly joyous. Why Black....? Maybe he/she was black-o-phobic too! I wonder if the glamorous horror status of black cats, enhanced with glowing eyes in Malayalam movies, is a result of this belief or vice-versa.....

3.
If the number of grey hairs on your head is equal to x, where x less than 11, Lady Luck may well be your Godmother..!

Now how insane can this be??? I have escaped the brunt of some friends of mine who fall under the above category and when they fret about the same, I try to put in this, ahem, fact, and thanks to my stars I have escaped unscathed many a times. Some old prince's excuse for his grey hairs (when dyes were still not in use and henna was supposed to adorn girls' hands...), I wonder how such crazy ideas carry on from generation to generation!!!! Well... I particularly pity a particular grandma of one particular neighbor in this regard: She was near 70 and had not a single grey hair. I can see green eyes glowing from several quarters. But people, the fact is,
if the number of grey hairs on your head is equal to............

4.
Don’t call a person from behind if he is leaving from the house.

Aha! This is one 'belief' with strong roots in my family. I used to be regularly on the receiving end of my mother's wrath for the breach of the same. I mean, you see someone going out with their shirt on back to front or say, with wrong chappals on both the feet, well, calm down, and restrain yourself. Don’t call them back. You may ruin their day!

5. See a pot full of water first thing when you start your day. (Err..... Is this considered lucky or unlucky?)
Maybe it’s just a strong hint to take a bath in the morning. :P

6. See a cow first thing in the morning. (Lucky)
Great reason to rent a house with cattle shed. Don't you think this might probably be the result of some shrewd medieval milk marketing strategy?

There are plenty more. Some funnier, some serious, some with specific scientific reasons behind…. But superstitions prevail no matter how far mankind will advance.

I am putting this forth to you to continue the thread….

Unveil your beliefs and please validate the ones above (Strict warning: Purely nutty thoughts alone are allowed!)

Monday, 30 June, 2008

KNot A Laughing Matter!


The most awaited day during school days was our 'Annual day'.

Speakers sat in a queue on the dais longer than the front row audience...
We had to wait for hours through the endless speeches, felicitations and reports to get our much-awaited prizes...
And, if participating, we had to sit with 3 inch thick makeup on, for 4 to 5 hours at a stretch!

Still... Annual days are the most memorable foldouts from the beautiful book of school life.

Most of our annual days would be conducted in the Fine Arts hall, Cochin. So it was a day to 'freak out' with friends.

Freak out --> Going to Fine arts hall from school in school bus (usually in what we call soap petti, an ancient specimen of TATA’s technology. It also remotely resembles a mootta (bedbug)) accompanied ONLY by the Principal, head teachers and well, most other teachers; and then spending almost the whole day with them.

But I must tell you, it was always worth the fun.

Reaching the Hall, we rush to the green rooms and book seats in front of the makeup man.
Well he is one man whom I have admired wholeheartedly in my life. Well, you would adore him yourself if you happen to sit in front of him for 1 hour without breathing, let alone uttering a single word and finally you look into the mirror n say something like..

"Hi! Who.....?"

I can’t understand what on earth made us BOOK seats in front of him.....! To get all that paint (I sometimes wonder if he used old tins of Nerolac) stamped onto your poor unassuming face.
I also admire my Mom a bit more because she can remove the same makeup in 1 hour (My friend claims her mom can do it in 56 minutes...Close but no proof! :P)
That too, with oil, soap and water being the only available solvents, while I am dozing off to sleep after the hectic day.

So that brings us to the glorious dances, one of which is our star here - my most unforgettable.

It was a Folk dance; a group folk dance. I don’t remember the song but it lasted for 10 minutes and was something along the lines of the typical 60s and 70s Mallu film songs (the tribal group dance type).
So well, it was a group dance. I was (un)fortunate enough to be in the middle. 7 of us had practiced for a month rigorously under our dance teacher losing precious classes! (With duty leave of course! ;) ) And finally the D-Day was here...


We dressed up in all the ‘beautiful’ costumes after makeup. I pity those who haven’t got an opportunity to wear them. Colours like fluorescent pink, yellow, gold and orange adorn different parts of the dress. There was a rumor that the tailor used to pick the leftover cloth pieces and fashion these 'trendy outfits'... Anyways, I have a fighting temptation to upload a pic for your reference but my self respect thankfully prevents me from doing it. (No, I will not show you the pic!)
If the dresses are trendy, the accessories are top notch haute couture!
Golden crown, weighing 1 kg each...Bangles of Gold, Silver, Yellow.... A minimum of 5 neck chains... Chilanka (big anklets)... Yeah, Not much. :/
These are the normal fittings for most of the dances...
And on that fateful day, we had long vaarmudis too. (Artificial plaited hair usually a minimum of 1 metre long)


.....The long felicitations and speeches were through...
…..The prayer songs and group songs too....
And then the anchor announced...

"Bringing before you onstage... youth festival prizewinners for Group dance!!....."

Brimming with pride we entered the stage...

The first 2 minutes of the song is sort of a warm-up. We run around the stage and then stand in different poses (There are different terms for these in technical classical dance language but for the laymen’s reference I am using some common comments that we receive from our friends….)


Plucking mangoes’ was an all time favorite - with all of us turning in different directions and then lifting a leg and a hand into diametrically opposite directions with any one of the ‘navarasas’ on face. Considering the effort it usually was ‘dhukham’.
Others were the ‘Sakuntala and darbhamuna’, ‘Getting ready for high jump’, ‘Stork praying on one leg’ etc. etc…


The first couple of poses were over and we turned and ran for the next one…. Suddenly I felt something pulling me from behind… The constraints of the pose prevented me from turning back but I turned my face slightly.

I saw a knot of black ropes.

A second later, to my utter horror, I realized that mine and my friend Swapna’s vaarmudis had entwined!

Then I saw her face.

‘Bhayanakam’.

Wow. Perfect.

Later on I would know from her that the same navarasa was on my face too.

The song was playing on. After a few seconds we both would run in opposite directions.
Either one of us would have to dance with 2 metre long hair (rather a tail) or with boy cut.

We tried tugging at it slightly. Nope. No use. We’d fall down (It was one of the mango poses).
Our heartbeats and the intensity of our expressions increased exponentially.
Hundreds of pairs of eyes were staring at us.

Ommm……Oommmm…Omkaramaya porul moonnayi pirinju……..’

Second Om was through… ‘pirinju…’ and we had to run.

Our dance teacher was almost hysterical and was beating her chest as if to mourn.
And then, like an angel, our Math teacher sprinted into action.
She too, apparently, was watching the scene and contemplating the consequences.
The next second, she ran into the stage behind us, broke apart the knot (Kyunki saas bhi style) and ran out through the other side.

You can never imagine the relief Swapna and I felt then.
I could swear I heard a collective sigh from the audience too. (Wow.. what a sympathetic audience!)

No other casualties happened thereafter. The dance was a hit.

Once done, we rushed to the green room and started discussing frantically about all the mishaps that could have happened!!

The rest 5 of us were unaware of the tragedy-that-could-have-been and expressed relevant expressions like “Whaaaat!!”s and “ Oh my Gawwwd!!”s .
Our dance teacher came running to both of us and started kissing our foreheads as if welcoming the prodigal son home.

All of us were in no doubt that the audience panicked too seeing the event and then rejoiced in the solution.

I ran out of the green room (Changing the costume of course, and using a kerchief to cover my face) to my Dad.

“How was it Appa?”

“It was good. But why did Elizabeth ma’am run in between?”

Oops.