Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I have support :)

I don't believe I am saying this, but I can so relate to what Bangalore Times has written today :)

Nasty on the Net
US researchers recently reported that
hateful text messages, abusive emails and cyber-gossip are giving bullies new
power over their victims. BT explores

PEOPLE who have never been bullied are now becoming victims of cyberbullying. In chat rooms, via emails and even on blogs the vibes are getting nasty. So, how bad does it get? “It’s easy for anybody to post any kind of comment in response to your blog because the people posting nasty comments knows for sure that they will never see or meet you,” says Aravind Krishna, business analyst. Aravind, a regular blogger, says he’s seen crazy spats online, most ending in racial abuse. “That’s when it gets nasty and a whole chain of people get involved. The comments drift away from the actual topic of the blog,” he says.
But the comments depend on the feedback the blogger gives, believes Ravi, another blogger. “Responding to feedback is the prerogative of the blogger. If the feedback is positive and acknowledged, the person who comments feels satisfied. If not, over a period of time, the person feels slighted and tends to express himself with views opposite to that of the blogger. This then degenerates into an online mud-slinging match, with others taking up cudgels either for or against the blogger. People like to feel important online too. So when they’re ignored, the abuse begins,” he explains.
Amita, who has been blogging for the last five years, agrees, saying, “This happens, and there’s little you can do to stop people from leaving their opinions, especially if you have an open comments field,” she says. She believes that what you write about also determines the sort of reactions you get. “If you write on sensational and controversial topics, you have to be prepared for all kinds of feedback because few people know how to make their point in a polite way,” she adds.
According to copywriter Swaroop B, “If someone has posted a nasty comment, the blogger has the option of deleting it, but there are now malicious software codes designed to populate your comment box and attack it like a virus. This blog spam attacks your comment box in bulk and automatically posts random comments or promotes commercial services to blogs, wikis, guest books, and other public online discussion boards. Any web application that accepts and displays hyperlinks submitted by visitors may be a target.” Swaroop says he usually misses the constructive comments among the nasty ones. “There’s sometimes so much abuse that the meaningful contributions are lost,” he says.
Is there a way to handle malice on the Net? “Many of the popular blogging platforms offer in-built options for bloggers to block commentators or spam. Validating who you are with an email ID is one method. IP address blocking is another,” explains Ravi. But there are always loopholes. “Unfortunately, this is not foolproof as a person can easily change his name or comment from a different machine with a different IP address,” he adds.
Amita simply resorts to deleting unsavoury comments. “I delete and ban the IP address. The other way to ensure you’re not spammed is to have moderated comments, which means that the comment appears only after you have reviewed it. Some bloggers even prefer not to have comments at all. Also one can install spam filters; it’s a kind of hurdle that might put off someone who’s just trying to be nasty,” explains Amita.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Clearing out

How much junk gathers in two years' time. In the little space I have here at my desk, there are a zillion files and folders. Dusty, useless. A million old notepads, none of which even makes sense to me now.

The only interesting things I have found are the doodles and scribbles from long, seemingly unending meetings. Little scraps of conversation, tic-tac-toe, sketches, a bit of creative writing. Here is one such. The meeting in question was so boring that I remember the finer details of the chair I was sitting on that day. Pardon the bad poetry, but such was the day.
A silent scream of ennui
emerges from the pit
of my stomach.
With no place to go,
it explodes in my head.
Wild hair and errant eyes
Flailing arms and torn clothes
My spirit bangs its head
on the walls of my heart.
System error.
Hard disc failure
Ctrl Alt Del
Ctrl Alt Del

And yet another. This during a post-lunch session of in-house training. This was the only way I would stop from snoring.
"Where is the question," he asks. Where indeed is the question?
I am looking, I am looking; don't rush me.
The cupboard, an old carton, rigid chairs, an office table... Where in the world is that darned question? It couldn't have slipped out, it's too soon.
Is there a shredder in the room? Perhaps it fell into that. Uh-oh...
Hey! What's this falling off my head? It's a word...
Oh no! The question fell into my thought shredder...!
:D Who said nothing creative happens around here? Might be really bad, but it ain't dead.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


A certain Anonymous sent me this comment. Made me think a while, this one. Should I or should I not approve the comment? Considering it had absolutely no connection with the post for which it was left, I should probably reject it. But then, is my ego that hurt that I won't publish it? Am I such a brat that I can criticise the world but can't take criticism? So anyway, I decided to reject it and put it up here instead. And write a letter to dear friend Anonymous.

Dear Anonymous

If I knew your name, I would send you a thank you note for the advice. This hiding behind anonymity is so sad... But I am thinking, if you are so concerned about my eyebrows, you need a life. Don't you think? Nevertheless, thanks for the beauty tip. Again, if I knew your name, I would approach you for such tips. tch... such a loss...


Monday, November 19, 2007

Itching to go back to college

Just what is it about beautiful college campuses that makes you go look up courses that you could probably do?
The idyllic setting, the open-air cafeteria, the on-campus hostels, the long flight of stairs, the pristine quiet of the library, the low murmur from classrooms, the unending monotony of corridors, the trees that have witnessed tens of generations.
The memories of campus life, the exam fever, bunking classes, sleeping through lectures, cribbing over canteen food, passing notes in class, curling up with a book by the tall windows, the sheltered and uncomplicated life with friends, friends and friends.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


I work to live. I do not live to work.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

It was a photographic moment.

A lovely November evening when the sun is warm and it is cold in the shade. A sun-warmed bench on which sat two girls, their laughing faces turned up towards the two brothers who stood with sunshine on their shoulders. There was happiness, contentment, a bright tomorrow -- all packed into that one frame.

Full sigh-worthy material... :)
But then, it all seemed so far away.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Air Deccan is Air Deccan is Air Deccan

Really. Doesn't matter who has bought it over or how the uniform of the air hostesses has changed. Doesn't matter if the logo is different or that it is called merely Deccan now. It is the same unreliable, incorrigible airline.

Monday, 12th November
12.07 pm: SMS from Air Deccan that our 8.15 pm Kochi-Bangalore flight has been rescheduled to 10.15 pm. We slap foreheads, make frantic calls to reschedule all evening plans. Dad thinks the whole SMS thing is a prank.
5.15 pm: SMS from Deccan saying the same as above. We sigh. And dad is convinced.
5.30 pm: We call Deccan's new tele check-in number and are checked in by a very polite boy to seats 5A and 5C.
8.02 pm: We leave for airport
9.05 pm: Arrive at airport and join the long line at the check-in counter where things are moving v.e.r.y. slow
9.35 pm: We finally reach the counter, where I give the ticket and say, "We have already done a tele check-in." The boy at the counter looks at me with great amusement and says, "Tele check-in? Heheh! It doesn't work!" So we ask him what he means it doesn't work, because we did actually do it. He waves off all that like we were talking in our sleep and insists it just doesn't work. "It is all done manually here," he says, and proceeds to write (yes, write) out our boarding passes. New seats allotted to us: 10A and 10B
10.15 pm: Forget having taken off, there hasn't even been an announcement on what has happened to our flight. The Arrivals alerts still shows the Bangalore-Kochi flight as "Confirmed". Whatever is that supposed to mean? What is confirmed? That it has taken off from Bangalore? That it will land in Kochi? Aargh.
10.30 pm: Still no announcement. Still no plane. The Deccan passengers are the only ones left in the lounge.
10.35 pm: There is some commotion at the gate and we join in. Yes, this is the queue for Deccan flight Kochi-Bangalore. We don't run or scramble like one would have earlier to get a seat on Air Deccan flights. We have been allotted seats, remember?
10.40 pm: We are in the aircraft, walking towards 10A and 10B. Air hostess standing by the aisle announces: "There are no seat numbers, you can sit where you want." Duh... We can't take it anymore. We stare at her with complete blankness of mind. "So what about tele check-in?" Apparently, she hasn't heard of the concept.
I wish we hadn't either.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Just Femme

To please take a look. It cost Abhipraya many sleepless nights, but it is finally worth all the work and the wait :)

(In case the image doesn't show, that's JustFemme)

And ladies, please write for the magazine :)

Monday, November 05, 2007


I feel bad for these chaps with remodelled, revamped cars that are supposed to go vrooooooooomm, nice and noisy, and grab attention and all that. Makes me go tut-tut, poor chap. Because I think of how they would simply love to go vrooooooooomm. But all they can do is:
vvrroo... (brake; jaywalker crossing road)... vvvvrrrooo... (brake; horrible pothole)... vvroooo... (brake; signal)


Sunday, November 04, 2007


Sunday morning, sunshine and drizzle. Aah such possibilities, such delight!

But no... the peace and quite, the joy of the rain -- all lost in half a dozen blaring loudspeakers sprinkled in a 200 metres radius around our home.

Some nitwits are celebrating Rajyotsava today. A monstrous stage has been put up right across the road to our house. The loud, oh simply unbearably loud, music began at 7 in the morning. It's a Sunday, dammit... And who EVER gave them the permission to cut off the road?
Are you a lawyer? Can I file a PIL?

I have nothing against celebrating the land and the language and whatever else this is about. But for four days in a row, with the grand finale involving drowning the weekend for an entire neighbourhood of unsuspecting hapless people?

In comparison, homeland seems to be completely uninterested in what happens to their language. And certainly, I prefer that disregard to this frenzy. I want to go home. whimper...

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Wish list

~ A bag of over-ripe squishy tomatoes to throw at all those motorists who insist on going beep-beep-beeeeeep-beeeeeep at all times
~ A sound proof bubble in which I can put myself as and when I wish, for those moments when I need absolute solitude
~ A device that can send electric shocks strong enough to stun a person for at least half an hour -- to be used on all those "roadside Romeos" with raging libidos
~ A dream recorder
~ World peace
~ Unending, surplus supply of fresh water
~ A cottage in some quite corner of the world
~ Enough funds for a world tour

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Tell me why

~ Why are these NRI types the way they are?
Oh things are so difficult back in India.
Haha, you must read this mail about those poor Indians.
Check out the pictures of my swanky new house in foreign country. Oh poor you, is your roof still leaking?
Man it is so hot in India. And all these insects!

Do they remember they once lived here? And no matter where they settle or how long they live there, they will always be Indians?

~ Why does a saree not come with a "fall" fixed to it?

First of all, why the hell does a saree need a "fall"? Why is it called that? For years, I thought it was a miracle product that would stop you from tripping and falling. Then came the idea that it is probably there so that the saree falls well. But whatever that is, why don't the sarees come fixed with a fall? Why does one have to go hunting for the right colour and a tailor who will fix it in an hour?

~ Why did the squirrel choose my balcony to die on?

Probably in memory of the onion stalks and methi leaves it fed on

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Spent the day at this quaint little town, where every second house seems to be a workshop of artisans making wooden toys, beads and bowls. Where all colour seems to be reserved for the wooden knick knacks. Where the world seems to go by under a fine layer of saw dust. If zipping down the Bangalore-Mysore highway, you would hardly notice the town but for its row of stores with brightly painted wooden horses.

The carpentry is all around. From bits of wood lying around to piles of logs to the finished products at the stores that line the highway. In the artisan's hands, we watch as the shapeless piece of wood attains shape, character and eventually, colour. Bright shades, happy faces, simple technology.

They have trouble sourcing the wood, but they put immense trust in Mother Nature. There will be wood, it won't be a problem. They have to bribe forest officials, they get into trouble when they are trying to procure the wood, but they have to go on. They have found alternates in cheaper, easier to source wood. But it just isn't the same.

Rather than the domestic market, they prefer the international. Of course, the money is better. And perhaps the recognition too. They export just about anything from napkin rings to jewellery. For these foreign shores, the artisans have drawn up new designs, thought up more and more innovative things they can do with wood. For the local markets, they remain the toy makers.

It's been a year since the Channapatna toys got the Geographical Indication (GI) certificate. But no one knows. Not the craftsmen, not the government official who sits at the government establishment that offers training to young carpenters as well as employs them and sources products for the government showrooms. So obviously, questions as to whether the GI certification has made any difference, draws a blank.

The bigger workshops have their own "design studios". When an export order is placed, they sometimes get bits of fabric. Their job? To match all the products -- be it rings or salt cellars or jars -- to the pattern on the piece of fabric. With some skilled painting, they can make the wood look like terracotta or metal.

They tell us that many people have to write about them. They come, speak to them, take pictures, and then disappear. Never hear from them again. We aren't going to be any different, are we?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Experiment of the day

Pancakes served with generous helpings of maple syrup :)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

100th post!

yip yip yip 100th post 100th post 100th post!!!!


It's taken one year and five months, but hey, 100th post 100th post 100th post!!!
San, thanks for your... err... three and a half posts. It wouldn't have been possible without you.

Sunday, October 14, 2007


I'm reading reviews of Laaga Chunari Mein Daag like one possessed. Why? This is why:

"The men are hardly there in the film" says Rediff
"And the fact is the men here -- Abhishek Bachchan and Kunal Kapoor -- are nothing more than mere props" says The Hindu
"As for the male actors, well they don’t really have much to do" says The Indian Express
And CNN IBN doesn't even have a mention of the male characters

Is this happening? Isn't this what we have been reading for decades about women in cinema? Ha!

Of course, it's a completely different story that the film has been unanimously trashed :)

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Bangalore Walk

Last Sunday found us waiting in front of Trinity Church on MG Road as early as 6.45 in the morning. All ready to take Arun Pai's popular Victorian Bangalore walk. We had been promised that no matter how many times we have walked down MG Road, Mr Pai would still manage to surprise us.

And surprise he did. Unknown bungalows, private tennis courts, farms -- all on MG Road. And trivia. That the road is built along a ridge, that all the roads branching away from it slope down, that the Trinity Church was then the highest point in the town, that the road is this wide because the army parades needed wide roads. And history. The plot where Winston Churchill probably had his house on, the memorial plaques at the church, the dancing hall that later became Plaza, the suit maker who still runs a roaring business.

Talk about colonial hangover! For the two of us now, MG Road has transformed to South Parade. We see the spires of old buildings, we notice the slope of the road, before we see the swanky sign boards and glittering window displays.

And of course, sigh over what development and "Namma Metro" is eating up. The promenade and Plaza, for instance.

Starting point, Trinity Church, 7 am

The stained glass, facing the rising sun

Err... I am just pretending that is mist. It's smoke :)

Basking in early sunlight

The East Parade Church

Mayo Hall

Beauty and the beast: Mayo Hall and Utility Building

More of the same

Plaza. Soon to be Metro station

Sunflowers :)

Not in a field though...

But in a vase, at office

Pretty nevertheless :)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Where is the restroom?

Bangalore's own version of the Oktober fest is on. Sponsored by -- who else -- the king of good times, beer flows. Bands play. Stalls sell everything from clothes to jewellery to shoes to food. Contests that can win you goodies. People sat around on patches of grass, at tables randomly scattered around, in the middle of the roads. Great atmosphere.

And then one went looking for the loo and there ended the happiness. All of two stalls for the women, while the men had the luxury of at least six. True, there were more men than women. But of course, men don't need loos, do they? They chose dark corners, not-so-dark corners, random walls -- in short, anywhere they pleased -- to do their business. But of course, women have no choice do they? The queue to the women's loos had at any point in time some 20-25 desperate women. Of the three hours I spent at the event, a good one hour was spent standing in the darned queue.

And the men who were with me politely waited till I returned from the excruciating wait, said "let's leave" as soon as they saw me, walked out, and promptly found a dark corner and excused themselves.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


In our school timetable, we had a period called SUPW that happened around thrice a week. It stood for Some Useful Productive Work, though some genius had more aptly named it Some Useful Periods Wasted. And through generations of students, the acronym had been pronounced as "Soopa" for some strange reason.

Through the lower classes, we were taught "craft", when we stuck sequins on paper, strung beads and did bizarre things with drinking straws. Later, the girls were told to bring cloth and needle and we were taught to embroider. The boys were told they could do what they wanted as long as they were quiet. Couple of years later, we graduated to SUPW labs. The boys had theirs, the girls had theirs.

The boys' lab, which we only got to see from the outside, looked interesting and felt forbidden. The walls had diagrams of devices, circuit diagrams and other things considered masculine. The girls' lab had samples of embroidery done by old students, it had recipes, it had sequins and drinking straw "craft".

Our teacher had already told us what we would be doing: Our regular embroidery work would continue, but the first lab class would involve making tea and coffee, the next week would be cake making, and so on. The boys prepared for their first class, saying they would learn all about circuits and maybe even carpentry. But what they didn't know was that there was a new teacher for the boys. And during the first class she told them, "For the next class, bring some cloth and needles; I will teach you to stitch."

A joyful little victory. Justice had been done at last.

Friday, September 21, 2007

The mop has gone missing

Oh! Spotted it!
They've used it on Shah Rukh Khan's head in the new Pepsi ad.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

12 seconds

If you are a pedestrian in Bangalore, that's all you've got to cross the road -- 12 seconds. No matter how wide the road is, how many lanes it has, whether it is one-way or not. You have 12 seconds.

But with motorists being as disciplined as they are, don't depend on those 12 seconds. Even after the red light goes, there will be the signal jumpers who will take up at least another 4 seconds. Then of course there is the other stream of vehicles waiting for the green signal. And they start even when the countdown has just about touched 5. That leaves you with three seconds to actually do your crossing.

So all you can do is to be ready with running shoes and sprint as soon as one flow stops and the before the other starts. If you are lucky, you will get at least half way through and to cover the remaining distance you will have to negotiate with the motorists, who may take pity at a sweating panting you and pause.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

You asked what the MG Road promenade looks like now. It looks like this:

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Are you on chat?

Look at the way words have changed... Till a few years ago, to say "I have scrapped you" would have been upsetting. But now, you rush to the nearest computer terminal to check orkut. A few years ago, "I got her on chat" would have made an English teacher cringe. Now, you would just say, "Oh, and what did she say?"

Anyway, this chat is an amazing thing, isn't it? You can be logged on all day and yet have no conversation. Or alternately, you can carry on five different conversations simultaneously. And follow multiple trains of thought simultaneously on each conversation and still make sense of it all. Silences are not awkward. Which made a friend say, I'd rather speak to her on chat rather than call her up.

Something like conversation during a train journey. When there is nothing more to say, you look out the window, watch the rails fly by, fill your mind with the rocking sound of the train and wait idly for the next thought to come along.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Today I have read so much crap that I have nothing to say.
So, nothing.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bollywood, the weaver of dreams

Whatever we say about Bollywood, how much ever we scream ourselves hoarse at how it stomps over other Indian cinema, it has a knack of winning over audiences' hearts. It pulls out strands of hopes and dreams of the common man, paints it in bright colours, makes it larger than life, and gives it back to you in glitzy wrapping. And the audience watches, awed at its own dream magnified.

So when our sports teams keep redefining "rock bottom", Bollywood like a benevolent fairy, swoops down, gathers shards of broken hope, bottles the sighs of disappointed fans, captures emotions and creates a sports film.

On celluloid, a gathering of motley people unites against the Goliath. A team of villagers attempting a hand at the Burra Sahib's strange game, in Lagaan. A motley team of women who shoot up unbelievably in the international arena, in Chakde India. Suspense and drama keeps the audience on the edge of their seats. Fighting all odds, overcoming every seemingly impossible barrier, David wins.

The audience cheers every goal, every run. The team they are fervently batting is finally winning. They go home, optimistic. They wait for the next tournament to come along, hope rekindled. And the team lets them down again. And again. And we turn back to Bollywood to tend to our wounds.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Email stress

I am going to attribute my writer's block to this:

Emails are causing unprecedented levels of stress among office workers as they struggle to cope with an unending tide of incoming messages. A team of researchers has found that one in three office workers who use computers regularly suffer from email stress.

That's it. I am definitely stressed...
The rest of it here.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Post Script

As I sit here in office, a dull thud reverberates through the building, through the chairs, through the tables, through these keys, through me.
Like the pulse of a giant slug.
In fact, it is a giant slug.
Named Development.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Once upon a promenade

Some time early last year, before the feeble winter had died out, San and I decided to see Bangalore in the wee hours of a Sunday morning. Well, 8 am is a wee hour as far as we are concerned.

And we got what we had wanted -- the Bangalore of yester-years; cool, quiet, calm and comparatively cleaner. We walked down the MG Road promenade and finally settled down on one of the cold concrete benches. Traffic was just waking up, sweepers were still cleaning pavements. We got to discussing the old photographs of Bangalore, now framed and hung in ice cream parlours, jewellery stores, and any other self respecting store claiming anything over a 20-year history. We spoke about how much the city had changed, how those old pictures were like capsules of nostalgia, how the city would change further, how future generations would look at pictures taken today and wonder at how the city used to be. Efficient photojournalist that San has become these days, he snapped these:

Little did we know then that drastic change awaited the promenade in less than a year. I don't have most recent pictures, and I'd rather not. The promenade is gone, so of course are the benches, so are the ancient trees. In place of the bougainvillea bushes and cool walk way, there are ugly, muddy and huge contraptions, digging, grinding, piling. Dirty blue tents dot the fringes of the activity, sheltering machinery and the labourers. A green fencing attempts to hide away the slush.

These are only the first steps of the much awaited Metro Rail. When we swap heritage for swanky new facilities, we'll have to wait and watch how many more landmarks will be lost. There are promises that the promenade will be rebuilt and made even more beautiful than it was. I am just glad we got to spend a few minutes walking down it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

What does one do...

When the mind blanks out?
When thoughts flee?
When all the idea-bulbs have gone pop and refuse to light up?
When words desert the pen?

One curls up in a cave and hibernates.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Water world

Bear with me, indulge me, while a wallow a bit (once again) in the joy of monsoon

In a light shower, even slow-moving morning traffic is "ok"

No light shower this. Blinding, thick torrents, in which you can't even hear yourself think.
Heheh... That's our little elephant after his mud bath :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It rained

Last week of May and I started crying out for rain. Blame it on the weather tracker within me. It's been used to damp weather from the beginning of June. So I told half the world I am waiting for rains, where the hell is it.

And then a friend comes up with great indignation demanding what happened to her summer. She tells me Bangalore usually gets rain only by July, which means June should have still been summer, which it anyway wasn't. So she asked half the world where the hell her summer had gone.

In school, rain always meant squelchy shoes, wet socks, dripping umbrellas, a damp desk if your seat in class was by the window. It meant cramped morning assemblies along the corridors. Keeping uniforms white an impossible task. "Games" periods got converted to English or Science or whatever else. Stolen minutes in between classes to stare out the window at rain dripping off tall blades of grass.

Loved those class rooms that looked across the football ground, the empty land beyond, bordered by the railway track, the road after that, then the airfield. The clouds would draw in, the room would darken, the teacher would pause in deference to the mighty roar of oncoming rain. And we would in silence and with a thrill rising, watch the rain coming rushing in from the horizon, over the airfield, across the road and the railway track, and take over the football ground to finally rat-tat-tat on the window panes.

It has been years. But those memories are as fresh as the rain drops beating against my window now. The rain these days has been a mere soft mist though the weather is all wind and clouds and falling trees. And every time it rains, I hear my mother's voice reminding me of what Kunjunni-maash's advice -- never miss an opportunity to watch the rain.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Digital red tape

Who said the red tape is restricted to government offices? All these call centre services these days -- nothing other than the new form of red-tapism.

You have a credit card. You don't get the statement for ages. But the company insists on calling you and reminding you how much you have to pay.
The collection guy calls.
"But where is my statement?"
"For that you will have to contact customer service."
So one calls customer service.
"Can you send me my statement so that I can pay the credit card bill?"
"Sorry madam, we are not authorised to send you the statement, you will have to talk to the collection dept."
"But they asked me to call you."
"I don't know why they did that, we certainly can't send it to you."
So one calls back the collections dept.
"May I speak to Mr so-and-so? He had called me a while ago about a payment."
"Sorry madam, I can't transfer your call."
"So then on what number can I call him?"
"No, I mean, we don't take incoming calls here. You will have to wait for him to call you."

So I wait. In the meantime, the same bank is sending me some document. I tell them I won't be home to receive the courier, so can they please send it to my office address? No they can't. Because it is a high-security parcel, they will send it only to the residence address. So then can I bring some identity proof and collect it from the bank? No; for security reasons, the bank's policy is that they cannot deliver it to someone who walks into the bank.

Oh I have run out of patience typing this out. Suffice it to say this is only half an hour of the many long hours I have spent trying to get some work done. From renewing vehicle insurance to getting the fridge repaired.
Which reminds me, I better get the computer serviced. There goes another few precious hours of my life, wasted dangling on a phone.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Thought parcels a.k.a. SMSs

This thing called SMS -- wonderful technology, ain't it? No, it is not that I have woken up to it only now, but was wondering why we take it so much for granted.

Little morsels of thought.
Anytime of the day.
Just to let someone know you are thinking of them.
In the middle of a stressful day, a word from friends or family, something that brings a smile, a memory, anticipation.
And then to spoil the effect and the romance of "little morsels of thought", come these:
"Get the latest Bollywood downloads at blah-blah-blah", or "Citibank credit card offers you yada-yada-yada".
And pop goes the bubble.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The sun slept in today

Even the sun gets lazy, doesn't he?

Today is the day for the perfect walk. Cloudy skies, gentle breeze, and even comparatively less traffic. The kind of day when you could just walk along streets, rows of mango stalls in either sides. The comforting and at the same time exhilarating thought that the skies would open up any minute and pour down buckets of water.

It's another story that it took the promise of a grilled chicken salad to tempt me out of home in the morning.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

First leg of my world tour :)

My dream is to travel around the world (ideally, to visit every town, every village). Finally the process has been kick started with a week-long trip to Malaysia. An official holiday you could call it.

The marvel of cutting across time zones for the first time still hadn't worn off before I was overwhelmed by the large open spaces of Malaysia. Starting with the airport and the roads. Miles of greenery and disciplined traffic. Even the smaller terminal for low-cost carriers was better than Bangalore's international terminal. Took it all in with unabashed wide-eyedness.
The first port of call was Kuching in the state of Sarawak on the Borneo island. The land of tropical forests, mangroves and several indigenous tribes. All the fatigue of two flights through the night and sleeplessness vanished the minute I drew back the curtains in my hotel room. Kuching city lay spread out on either sides of the sluggish Kuching river. A golden domed mosque in the distance with a chain of mountains serving as backdrop.

Just enough time for a quick shower and a quicker bite of lunch and we set out. The city has several ugly and huge cat sculptures -- Kuching means cat and the cat is the city mascot. After the thickly populated Indian cities and towns, this laid back place seems almost deserted. There are comparatively so few people you wonder how much business sense the malls make. Some old buildings, Chinese temples, quaint little souvenir shops.

First stop is Sarawak Cultural Village. Spread across some 17 acres of land just outside of Kuching at the foot of the Santubong mountain is this model village. Developed and maintained by the government, it tries to recreate tribal settlements. Something like DakshinaChitra in Madras. A showcase for tourists. Model houses and workplaces have been built the way tribals build them. There are few of the indigenous people in each of these dwellings, doing the things they would do in the forest -- carving on bamboo and weaving baskets.

We see the heads collected by the head hunting tribe, the feathered head gears of the hunters, the magnificent colours of the weavers. My favourite is the Orang Ulu tribe and their string instrument sape. "It's like the sitar," says Francis, one of the tribesmen at the Orang Ulu house and a superb sape player. Mention we are from India, and he is playing Bollywood songs on the sape. The lilting haunting music dies out, and as we leave, we are followed by the strains of a wooden xylophone, which a craftsman is still working on.

Close to the village is the Damai beach, again with the Santubong mountains looming over it. Damai means peace. And peaceful it is.

By the time we return, there are claps of thunder and soon a mist of rain through the golden sunlight. The river takes on a hundred hues as it rains, as the skies clear, as the sun sets, as the lights come on. We venture out for some dinner. There are cafes and food stalls along the river, the city has cooled down. But the restaurants are quiet and empty. The home food must be excellent :)

The next day, we are off to the Bako National Park. A 20 minute boat ride along the Bako river almost right into the sea and mangroves all along. Apparently, 12% of the country’s land mass is mangroves and these wetlands are well preserved.

The Bako park is the smallest in Malaysia and is home to the long-nosed proboscis monkey, clouded leopards and pitcher plants. The last one was the one I most wished I could see. But such was our luck that we did not even see the most common macaques or the bearded pigs that are forever venturing out towards the park’s office buildings.

The trails through the park are laid out with wooden planks and marked with daubs of red paint every now and then. Our guide Rose tells us that some of these trails can take one to quiet beaches, where it would be just you and the sea.

The next day we fly back to KL, yet again by-pass the city, and head to Melaka. Right out of history books, the Straits of Malacca and the old buildings, the narrow cobbled streets and forts. The heritage society has seen to it that the old buildings maintain their facade; you can do what you want to do with the interiors.

Of all the museums I went to in that one week, the most interesting was the maritime museum at Melaka. Not because of what was inside, but because it is housed in a grounded old Portuguese ship.

Much of the city’s recent development has happened over reclaimed land. As we take a ride in one of the colourful trishaws, the trishaw guy tells us how the spot where our hotel is used to be the beach. "Now we have to go 10km to reach the beach. But it is better this way," he says.

The next day, finally, we enter KL. Cannot but marvel at the efficient infrastructure -- fly-overs, subways, metro and monorails. Soon the Petronas twin towers come into view. For the next three days, I will catch it spying on me at every turn, peeking from between other buildings, lording over the city.

Most of the next couple of days is taken up in attending Malaysia Tourism events. But I do get some time off to walk around the streets, take the metro, window shop. Later, we got bird’s eye views of the city first from the KL Tower and then from the "Eye on Malaysia". But come to the city of the twin towers and not walk the skybridge? So Sunday morning saw us waiting in queue for the coupons to visit the skybridge. Only about 1000 coupons are given each day and people start queuing up early morning. We finally bag an afternoon slot and when the time comes, we step into the high-speed lift that goes at 5-6m per second. The bridge is at the 41st level, which we reach in less than 41 seconds. The view is the same, but the excitement of being on the skybridge was something else.

After a week of pampering at the best of hotels, with the best of vehicles, it was finally time to return home. The calling card had been exhausted, patience had worn out and the suitcase was bulging from all the shopping. So it was with a sigh of relief that I stepped into the Bangalore airport. If you think of the KLIA as a football ground, then the Bangalore one is a mere chessboard. And the actual grounding experience was the wait for the baggage. One can get so used to an organised way of working. After a week of that, here suddenly was chaos. The conveyor belt was stuck and passenger were pushing it along. For a long minute, I missed the pampering. But then, this is home.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


I wonder
... what Mr Bean does for a living
... how a spic-n-span house like the one in Tom & Jerry can be infested with holes
... when in a fight scene, the hero and villain shatter earthen pots and squash tomatoes, who pays for the shattered pots and the squashed tomatoes -- the villain or the hero? Do the vendors go after them after the fight is over?
... if the hero goes back to look for his sunglasses, which he invariably throws away before plunging into the above said fight

I like
... the smell of a bookstore
... the smell of fish being fried at noon that wafts in from a neighbour's house
... the smell of first rain
... the smell of freshly ironed clothes
... the smell of a hundred flowers and fresh leaves as you walk by a florist's shop

I remember with nostalgia
... the afternoon spent under the mango tree at home, discussing Kahlil Gibran with a friend
... the late evening walk with a friend and someone special, wondering what he was thinking, wondering what he would say, wondering where we were headed
... the walk in the rain with a friend under one umbrella, unmindful of one half of me being drenched
... the Sunday sojourns with my mother
... waiting for my father's letters from Calcutta

Friday, May 11, 2007


Been realising that it is good to see ourselves as others see us. Try as we may, we are never able to know ourselves fully as we are.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Oh well

I have given up worrying about the night shift ban. Most of the women I spoke to about this have found it so ridiculous, they are sure none of this will happen or can happen. So then, why should I be the only one worrying so much?

But at the back of my mind, the feeling of helplessness still nags.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Safety of women, my left foot

I guess the only purpose of that bill (see previous post) was to generate some shock waves. In an interview with The New Indian Express (I can't find the link), the state labour minister Iqbal Ansari says that IT , BPO and media companies can get exemptions. Most sectors that have women working in night shifts can get exemptions.

So then why the bill, you ask? In this interview, the minister says that when a woman becomes victim of a crime, the government is blamed for not providing enough security to women. Now when this law comes into effect, the company that employs the women will have to take completely responsibility of the women's safety. Basically, with this law, the government washes its hands off the issue of making the city a secure place for women.

All this apart, I would like to know who came up with this harebrained idea. Was even one woman involved in the decision making? These so-called people's representatives -- did they ask those they represent?

I am being eaten by this damning feeling of helplessness.

Friday, May 04, 2007

When incompetence meets male chauvinism...

... you get the heights of ridiculousness.

How else would the Karnataka ministers come up with something like this? To ensure the safety of women, what do they decide to do? Send all women home by 8pm. No night shifts for women, just send them home fast and keep them out of trouble.

Here is a reaction story to this move.

Each time something like this happens, one thinks this is the heights, it can’t get worse than this. But now I realise, we probably severely underestimate out representatives. They outdo themselves each and every time.

The safety of Bangalore city has been debated time and again. What measures have the government taken? More cops on the roads, well-lit footpaths? None of those. Instead they try say that woman is the root cause of it all, so let her stay home.

I am lost for words…

What happens to the hundreds of women working in BPOs, call centres, media houses? Imagine this:
“Thank you for calling, how may I help you? Oh wait a minute, sorry, it’s 8 o’ clock, I have to go home.”
“Sorry, I can’t finish the page, it’s 8 and I am going home”

Considering the perpetrators of all crimes on women are men, why the hell didn’t anyone thinking of making the men go home by 8??

But the icing on my ire was the fact that two women who heard this said, “Ooh.. how wonderful! So no more nights shifts and we can go home by 8.”

The usually silent feminist RBCs in me are screaming for justice.

Update: Times reports that there really wasn't any such legislation and that the minister merely goofed up by stating so.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A trip home

After nearly a year, I went home recently. What is the point of being just an overnight journey from home if you can’t visit as often as you would want to? But well, that is enough matter for another post.

Anyway, the first two days I found myself struggling not to feel and behave like an outsider, like a tourist. The place had changed, new swanky buildings, more apartment blocks than I would ever have thought possible in that little city, twice as many vehicles on the roads… Ah roads – they were the same!

Roaming around the familiar streets of Fort Kochi, I was fascinated by the many little things that I had merely looked at in passing during all earlier walks there. The quaint buildings, the park, the roads, the cafes, the ancient trees, the “you buy we fry” stalls. Maybe the fact that S was going berserk with the camera helped this feeling. At the Chinese nets, the fishermen called out with a well practiced sophistication that ill suited them: “Come on madam, come up here, take nice photographs, see the fish”.

Drive along the water front and sure signs of the great growth the city is waiting to witness – like a roll call of all the major builders in the country, boards proudly announce the upcoming residential complexes. Advertisements everywhere you look announcing even more such properties, in areas that would have been considered back of the beyond as early as five years ago.

The city is changing faster than I can grasp or keep track of. There’s only one solution – go home often enough!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007


(this is a long pending post...)

There's something to Goa that you never tire of. Is it the sight of the green expanse fringed with silver and gold that you see from the skies? Is it the comfort that you can indulge in laziness as you sit in one of the beach shacks for hours together without as much as moving a little finger, while beer and sea food flows? Is it the tangible energy of the revellers that enfolds all, young and old, within its pulse? For all you know, it is just the sea breeze.

Is there anything that has not already been written about Goa? In this attempt at a travelogue, will I be able to say anything new? I am sure the answer is no. But then, Goa inspires. To write, to sing out loud, to live.

When Sunday melts into Monday, there are no blues to shoo away, no deadlines to keep. There is only the promise of the never ending waves, the omnipresent breeze and incessant energy. The promise that there is something for everyone. The snooty restaurants that serve Thai food and would rather serve only foreigners. The road side eatery exuding old world charm with comfy wooden furniture. Today's Special boards written in pink, blue and white. The ubiquitous Kashmiri shops selling Pashmina shawls to sun-burnt Europeans. Catchy Goan rhythms wafting alongside aromas of the vindaloo or xacuti sauces.

But this is the happy face that Goa puts up for its tourists. It is writhing within. Families are selling off family bungalows to developers. They are adding more rooms to their old houses and turning them into hotels. Locals are protesting the blind destruction of ecosystems in the name of development, done in favour of the tourist. They dread the end of the "season".

Driving us from one beach to another, the taxi driver says, "The season will soon be over. In a month's time, we will be sitting at home killing flies. Whatever we have earned now will be over in a flash. And very soon, we will fall into the debt trap. This happens every year, nothing new for us."

It is easiest to close your eyes to what lies beyond. And all I do is to wish him a good season, add a little tip to the actual fare, wave good bye and return to the party.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Healthcare is a scary beat to follow.

Lifestyle diseases on the rise, India the diabetic capital of the world, they say, shaking their heads in dismay but eyes shining in excitement -- Think of all those people who will need to come to us for treatment, medicines. Oooh!!

Healthcare industry is booming, we are expanding, a 300-bed super-speciality hospital here in six months, another 400-bedded one there in one year, more more more. So many more people falling ill, so many more rich hospitals to cater to the rich, what happens in the villages?

More and more clinical research process being outsourced to India. More and more Indian patients playing guinea pigs to MNCs.

Disgusting after a point. So I wear blinkers, see only what is shown to me -- growing economy, booming sector, money money money. The crumbling health conditions can go take a walk.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Chocolate Mudpie...

... must have been what manna from heaven was...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mango blossoms

Everywhere! Along the highway, by the city roads, peeking out from behind high compound walls. Bringing with them the smell of summer and the promise that golden mangoes will soon flood the markets.

What joy! :)

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


We have consigned our memory to 0s and 1s.

How was your holiday in the mountains?
Oh it’s all on camera.
Remember how you used to describe the resort, the flowers, the mist?

Do you have so-and-so’s number?
It’s on my phone, I will SMS it to you.
Remember how you could reel off tens of numbers off at the drop of a hat?

Naah, our memory is for better stuff, we can’t waste it on remembering stuff like this! Even our thoughts – we pull out strands and put it away on our blogs, like Dumbledore’s Penseive, so that you can go back, read it, and rethink that thought. But what then do we use our memory for? To remember the details of the most mindless TV shows, all the spicy gossip, the worst of swear words, passwords, pin numbers.

Monday, January 29, 2007

A typical day, and a letter

It could be the middle of the night as far as sleep was concerned. Through its shadowy depths, I hear an alarm that is quickly shut off. I sink back into the dream, holding on to the last fleeting image, hoping the thread has not been broken. After what seems like merely a few moments, am woken up by a gentle "Wake up Sav, I am leaving, lock the door." In the dark of early dawn, fighting the urge to stay under the blanket and keep away the slight chill, I see him, dressed, packed, ready to fly. A quick "bye, take care, call me when you reach" is all there is time for; the cab is waiting. Lock door, wave good bye from the balcony, stumble back to dreamless sleep till daylight streams in. And then thoughts of "Would he have reached, when did he leave, what was he wearing, has he forgotten anything?" The memory of dawn pretty much a dream now.

For how long, this same routine?
A letter from home. I wave it around in glee, colleagues tell me it is great that we still send letters. The letter... only a chronicle of a dream. But the emotion, the joy, the desperation of the dream is too strong to stay on paper. It jumps out at me, envelopes me, throbs within me. Mother's voice asking: "Why do we have to live like this, miles apart?"

What for, this kind of life?

Friday, January 05, 2007

Anything for the camera?

Was stuck in traffic today on way to work -- as usual -- and got to watch a demonstration by MG Road. A camera was rolling. And in front of the lensman, the leaders of the protest in a semicircle, shouting slogans, passionately pumping their fists. The cameraman decided he had enough footage, replaced the lens-cap and the slogans died down. Down came the raised fists and the resolve in the voices dissolved. The protesters stood around, listlessly holding placards, seemingly waiting for the next camera crew to come along and show some interest. Apparently, it's not worth protesting if there isn't a camera to see it.

Few days ago, was watching David Blaine on TV. Watched without emotion as he jumped from a 90-foot pillar (where he had been standing for over 30 hours) into a stack of cardboard boxes placed below. Only one of his many stunts. Would he be doing these insane things if there aren't all those cameras pointed on him? To what extent will he go, if ensured it will be taped?

Thursday, January 04, 2007

SMS your vote

SMS to select your favourite singer on the talent show.
SMS to vote out the worst person on the reality show.
SMS to get yourself into the 1-crore game show.

You think general elections would be more effective if votes were to be sent in as SMSs? Imagine... Big-budget glamourous TV promos. A series of numbers to SMS to -- 1231 for Candidate 1, 1232 for Candidate 2 and so on. Reminders running as tickers even while the evening news is on. Suspense filled music as a booming voice (preferably AB) asks, "Who will win?"

Think it will work?