Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Kancheepuram shines and fab india fades

I finally did it. I accompanied amma to a carnatic music concert.

A brief trip with her to madras during the music season had left me somewhat scarred. While all the concerts were superb - my impressionable soul was scarred by the appearance of previously unknown extend clan members such as chinna thatha's mudal ponnu,* T nagar pattu teacher**, Kotturpuram mele veedu mami***, periama's US naathnaar**** - all kancheepuram saree clad and immediately appraised of my age, my gothram, my ability to cook (or not cook- depending if she felt close enough to the person in question to admit my deficiencies), my inability to sing but ability to appreciate music. This would be followed by an interrogation by kancheepuram maamis- skillfully ranging from - which ragaam did I most appreciate, -what I thought of the singer, -if i could adjust to life abroad, -whether I planned to let my hair grow,- did I notice the singer falter in her second composition? All of which I has no response for - the degree and intensity of the swaying of some music academy type ancient person's head in the audience was my measure for whether something was good or bad.

It was very traumatic and filed away to be revived to cheer myself up after particularly bad vivas or RCC interviews. They were a piece of cake compared to music season kancheepuram maamis.

So I went with some trepidation to Good shepherd's auditorium in Bangalore to hear Nithyashree sing. We dint run into one acquaintance and while the regular mamas and and maamis were there, they seemed somewhat disprited, the kancheepurams a we bit less shiny, and the kancheepurams looked anxiously around them at the long haired boys and girls in fab india faded kutras jute bags and digital cameras. I even saw a girl in a business suit- pants shirt a blazer -in plaid. I saw some short skirts and someone in something that resembled a fur jacket. It was very disconcerting - watching the energetic and eager fab india kurta clad music listeners or office wear clad music listeners who turned up apparently simply to listen to music and did not have on their agenda to find their long lost yet very close family friends and pounce on unsuspecting your girls and boys and size up their potential. I unconsciously found myself checking to see if my pottu was in place and gave a loud sniff when a knee length cargo clad bald boy hurried to find his seat- reaffirming my kinship to kanjeepuram maamis.

(I promise not to turn into one of them tho)

post about actual concert coming up.

*chinna thatha's mudal ponnu, - grandfather's younger brothers eldest daughter
**T nagar pattu teacher-
music teacher from T Nagar
*** Kotturpuram mele veedu mami-
the lady who lives on the top floor in Kotturpuram
****periama's US naathnaar -
mother's sister's sister in law who now lives in the US.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cross Posting

go see my post on riffcafe


Thursday, August 14, 2008


Had a conversation with the a friend today who remarked in a rather conversational manner how all of us were so interchangeable. Well you know who the "us" my friend is referring to don't you? Well, its us -the ones who want to take up travel journalism, or work with children, or take up designing and give up our high paying jobs. To be wealthy and to do be good at whatever is making you wealthy just does not cut it. The us- the ones who are jaded, who laugh when somebody says that a long chat later they discovered they were in love, the ones who also moan about how we will never find that love we laugh at precisely because we laugh at it. The ones who just have too much work but are too numbed by it for it to be enjoyable. The ones whose idea of socialization means a drink and certain kind of music and maybe certain kinds of movies. The us who cannot have any other activities besides our jobs in our life- not even families, and are constantly vaguely unhappy knowing there is something more out there.

Well I think its all bollocks. Well not ALL bollocks but some bollocks. I think that this angst/discontent is a sort of social visiting card. Something that you hand out to other people you meet that says - hi i am a young working professional, working at[insert law firm name/financial institution name/consulting firm name], and (in most cases) live by myself in [insert big city] and (in some cases- ok few cases) lets do each other or (as in most other cases) lets go get a drink and hang out.

I agree most of the set may in fact be sad or discontent or angsty or frustrated - but not this homogeneously angsty or discontent. I am sure beneath the required amount of angst to classify one's social set there are genuinely happy or sad or excited or childish or mature people who are uniquely unhappy or discontent

To quote Big Feet (who in turn quoted Tolstoy) : every sad story is different. every happy story is the same

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Cool Cousin

Did everybody have one? The same sex cool cousin? Or is it just a girl thing?

I know that most girls had a cool older female cousin.

I had an older cool cousin who was actually a cousin-aunt i.e she was my fathers cousin. However those were the times when my grandmother and her mother were procreating more or less simultaneously, therefore my grand uncle was more a brother to my father and my grand uncle’s children were more of our (i.e brother and me) cousins rather than our aunts or uncles.

There was a good 8 year age gap between me and Cool Cousin and a 12 year age gap between me and her also cool older brother. My Cool Cousin naturally developed an easy camaraderie with my brother who was only 4 years younger than her, rather than with me -I was an annoying and childish and bull headed and an unshakeable tag along.

However to my 10 year old mind, the 18 year Cool Cousin was naturally the coolest- a source of both inspiration and envy. We would have our bi annual or so visit to Chennai to visit our grandparents and therefore also our cousins. Most of the other cousins were either too old or as yet unborn for us to bond with and therefore this pair of cousins i.e Cool Cousin and her older brother (really our fathers cousins) became our favorite cousins.

I would at once try to be adult (to match her cool 18 year old) and a baby (to be coddled and baby-ed by her 22 yr old brother) resulting in a curious and most times frustratingly annoying mish mash of persons. I would want to wear her clothes, her shoes, her jewelery, hang out with her every minute of the day which she smilingly and uncomplainingly let me do, even though she’d much rather gossip or play games with my older brother. I would follow her around getting into her clothes, ruining her shoes, insisting she used all her make up on me which I would invariably ruin, and play with me me and only me (the unsaid is me to the exclusion of my brother), while at the same time howling and screaming when she joined me when I was quietly playing my childish and imaginary games by myself. (Her favorite story is how I bawled and screamed because she sat on my imaginary invisible container of rasam and thereby ruining the imaginary feast I had prepared). I wanted her very much to include me in that 18 year old world she inhabited – the world with best friends who are not your parents, the world with secrets and giggling and words 10 year olds don’t understand (im not talking about the naughty ones but the words like cool, groovy and lyrics to english songs). However it was impossible for her to share this world with an 10 year old who screamed at imaginary rasams being spilled. To add to it all there was my brother, who firmly believed that I was definitely not part of that world and though he may not be 18, he was certainly 14 and certainly closer to her cool 18 year old world and sneered with disdain at my pathetic 10 year old world. Being in a world that your sister inhabits is probably the heights of uncool for a 14 year old boy. So he would try to drag her away for games and movies and such like muttering resentfully at my determined tagging along. Cool Cousin of course laughingly let us tail her around. I was after all her ‘cute lil baby cousin’ (yech! I dint want to be the baby!) and my brother was fun near her age playmate, all the while completely unaware of our internal shoving and pushing to be granted the cool points by her. My brother invariably gained the cool points simply by virtue of knowing the right movies and the right games, leading me to form an alliance with her older brother. He would much rather play and kid around with me that spend time with his so uncool sister. She would be much pained by this elder brother defection as I would be by the defection of my own. My brother would always take her side while hers would take mine.

And the growing up years and vacations went by. School go-ers became college go-ers. And college go-ers became fresh members of the working force. Bi annual vacations disappeared. Cousins got married, cousins moved abroad, new cousins were born. Brothers and sisters grew up and learnt that they had far more in common than parents. My younger counsin in Chennai demands that I find for her multi coloured hair bands that I sometimes wear along with platform shoes and insists next time I am in Chennai, I make time to go to the new cool coffee day by the beach where she and her grown up crowd ‘hang’ and rolls her eyes as her younger sister gabs hysterical rubbish about dolls and balls and tries to grab the phone from her elder sister to tell me all about them.

Monday, June 30, 2008

booty shaking in bangalore

It seems bangalore is hip and happening again with curfews for pubs/clubs being sneakily extended (without any official sanctions of course) and clubs becoming little braver about letting people dance in their establishments.
(Earlier they would rush up to you and ask you to please sit down lest the mean old uncle from excise department should make his routine surprise visit.)

So off I went to claim my share of the party bounties being distributed......Whatay bounty it was... So we went to the club at a fashionably (though not intentionally) late hour of 10:30 and found it packed! The crowd at the door made me take a deep breath before I jumped in and waded my way across. Once we were in we seemed to be on some kind of unofficial railway track with trains of people at the back wanting to go front and ones in front wanted to go back. As people kept shoving and pushing past me to go front, I wondered where the people thought they were going. Clearly some much evolved mysterious communication/synchronization was taking place that ensured people could just keep pouring in and in and in while the dimensions of the rooms remained the same. Mysterious and great powers at work.

But doesn't this happen to all of you? It does to me. Anytime I am in a club I am always 'in the way' no matter where I place myself.

We all settled into our allotted two square centimeters and proceeded to shake our booty....all of us adopting our trade mark stances... first Apps -the boxer: feet apart, clenched fists held close to the body as if to defensively ward of blows and moving shoulders rhythmically front and back,  second Tic Tic -Stevie wonder cum karate kid: palms straight, held in karate style in front of face, with unrelated  head bobs ala stevie wonder/other blind musician, the third person -Small is a little perturbed that space is too small even for her but quickly recovers to her standard beggar person stand: hand upturned and swaying in front of face.

As we hipped and hopped, trying desperately to be the new level of cool in the club, in walked three cricketers upping the cool quotient to an unimaginable level. Camera phones were whipped out. DJ decided to change the genre of the music (they switched to punjabi-one of the cricketers was harbajan)  I desperately failed in being 'with it' by informing people who told me Kaif was there, that it was a fosters promotion not kingfisher. ( Kaif -K F getit ? oh nevermind ).
Then I finally managed to absorb that green shirt was Kaif red one-zaheer , turban -harbhajan (tho that I knew already) and with that information processed proceeded to jiggy with the cricketers. (so what if they dint know it?)

We are the only place in bangalore that can open later that 11:30!!! whooped the DJ enthusiastically. Groan I want to be in bed at 11:30 I thought mournfully concerned for my creaking bones and aging muscles. This curfew makes you soft and when they sneakily spring these extended times, it catches you unawares and unprepared. A drooping Small and and collapsing me finally managed to drag an impervious Apps and heroically enthusiastic Tic Tic out of the place and proceeded to Empire where Tic Tic made us climb 4 maybe 5, maybe 6 maybe a zillion floors to the roof of empire to fill our starving selves. Small nearly collapsed and got eaten in the long journey to the roof. Unfortunately she made it and we ate grilled chicken instead.

Full and danced out we returned tired and sweaty and cigarette smelly, crashing into our beds happily albeit soberly.

If you wanna run cool gotta run on heavy heavy fuel.....

Thursday, June 19, 2008

what a crappy world

This is inspired directly from CBM's what a wonderful world.

I am glad CBM is happy as are many other people by the Majestisity and beauty and clean-ness of the monsoon.

But I am not. And I live in Bangalore, so the rains aren't even causing the trauma of being marooned or catching diseases caused by rat urine and overflowing drainage ditches

Still its dark and gloomy and frizzes up hair and its cold and my feet have turned into ice which i hate hate hate....clothes are put out to dry inside the house. Clothes smell...the house smells...everything is wet.

basically im grumpy.
Listing out some rain songs- is it a coincidence all of them are sad...or wistful ..... or melancholy...or whatever
A-Ha- Crying in the rain
Madonna- Rain
Blind melon- No rain
grateful dead -Box of rain
CCR- have u ever seen the rain

Edited to add: Now CBM is grumpy too...evil eye!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


There is something about instant messaging.....
It makes you say ''hi wassup'' to people you dont normally talk to

You can have long conversations that you would never have if you just walked up to someone's desk (how long and in how many ways can you sit on someones desk and say one of the two: ïm bored, i am hungry- thats my two main IM subjects)

The best part is that you believe you are only multi tasking - talking AND working you see. (ya right! I have had whats up sent at 10:30 that dragged into a conversation that lasted till mid afternoon- it could never happen in a non IM space)

But what to make of this strange communication medium? I dont know if I quite approve or disapprove.

I do know I have used it extensively- to express boredom and hunger as mentioned earlier, but also to receive a quick response to jabber into the phone responding to irate or annoying clients/vendors, to source drafts to be converted into agreement by the end of the day, long philosophical discussions on the life and the universe, for prompt unscientific surveys, for whining, for advice, for venting ranting, bitching, or after work plan making.

I also do know Ive used every conceivable mode of communication it offers, through status msgs and pictures and smiley faces.

But despite its comfort and ease of use and utility in keeping track of people/friends all over the place it still smacks of a little sadness.

So we are bound to our desks and chairs and computers. There is no going out and meeting new people anymore? There is no long soulful engagement with questions of the life and universe on top of a water tank on a terrace. There is no whining and venting with hugs (real ones not *hug*), theres no need for hushed whispering so you are not overheard


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Taggety tag

What Book Are You Reading: Reading No onions or garlic- by srividya natarajan- its hilarious and brilliant...everybody read. before that read Puffball by Fay weldon - its creepy and brilliant. everybody please read. Also "Every Business is a growth business" :P
Favourite Board Game: Scotland yard....tho noone ever plays with me anymore. Also Cluedo- but its become too easy now i loved it when i was 6).

Favourite Magazine: Cosmo. Yes I like i and I cannot lie. 

Favorite Smells: Food (chicken kabab type and also cookies), soap on skin.

Favourite Sound: All music played on my comp, with me in charge of the playlist.
Worst Feeling in The World: So many different kind of bad feelings exist. Cant say which is worst. Probably a combination

What Is the First Thing You Think of When You Wake? Oh god whats the time? am i late?

Favorite Fast Food Place: dont have any right only slow food. But KFC i think...if i ate there often.

Finish This Statement. "If I Had A Lot Of Money I'd.. spend it on vacations and clothes and hide the rest.

Do You Sleep With A Stuffed Animal? Nope.

Storms-Cool Or Scary? Cool.

Favourite drink: Long island Iced Teas

Finish This Statement, "If I Had The Chance I Would ... sigh so many many things

If You Could Dye Your Hair Any Color, What Would Be Your Choice? I like it black.

What's Under Your Bed? A lot of bags with papers in them and old files. And a huge suitcase with woolens and another storing quilts.

Would You Like To Be Born As Yourself Again? Yes

Morning Person Or Night Owl? Both

Over Easy Or Sunny Side Up? ? Both i are they different?

Favourite Place To Relax: balcony, bed, bars

Favourite Pie: Apple

Favourite Ice Cream Flavor: Chocolate. I also like the naturals flavours.

Happy M? now its ruma and cbm's turn

Monday, May 19, 2008


So I read this piece today- If you cannot be bothered clicking on the link - it is about a man complaining about how watching the new sex and the city movie is akin to poking one's eyes out with red-hot pokers, burning skin off, and rolling around in salt for a while.
(A man who has not seen the movie incidentally)

Really? That terrible? I realize that the show is about women with 'inside women jokes' but surely men get it? But then I think about being made to watch 3 hours of cricket or golf and can suddenly emphatize the poking and ripping one's skin off business.

(But what I am still puzzled about is that a lot of women seem to enjoy watching sports...or male oriented sitcoms or movies..don't even ask me what I mean by the term.... but I don't think a proportional number of men would enjoy a sex and the city.... but then again I don't know....there are no numbers for this sort of thing)

While why men hate chick lit/chick flicks and my theories on that itself can create a whole post, this one I think I will devote to understanding why I like chick flicks or chick lit.

( But what is chick lit/flicks...books about women by women? Well those are not the kind i am referring to...I am referring to the happy feel goody warm Sunday afternoon stuff....I have read stuff by women for women like Fay Weldon or Maragret Atwood that are totally not warm or feel goody....... Ill be referring to the stuff I am talking about in this post as Fluff rather than  calling it chick lit or chick flick. There is enough 'chick lit' thats not Fluff)

Truth be told most Fluff really really annoys me - I hated 'maid in manhattan' (ugh ugh...quick poll: how many people actually like that movie? chick or no chick?)  Also hate pink colourful books where there is the heroine who spends first 25 pages fucking up, the next 25 being chased by two men both who have the answer to all her problems and the last 25 picking the nicer of the two and realising that she could solve all her problems by herself all along.

Then why this defense of fluff...cos I really do very deeply love Fluff. Good Fluff. Maid in manhattan, and the pink books all give Fluff a bad name bu just being bad.

Theres nothing like watching Roman holiday for the 100th time on an off day or a quick read of Bridget Jones to perk u up at the end of a brain dead day, or any John Cussack movie ( the ones where he is being cute and mushy, not pyscho. Cute as in serendipity or high fidelity (ha! guy chick flick!)

Sure its silly, sure its ridiculous, and defies reason and is repetitive and can be watched with your brain left behind. Sure its superflous, sure it promotes a slightly regressive agenda that says shopping is fun, shoes are nice, careers are showpieces for clothes, but the life can only be the sweetest with that handsome man sweeping u off into the sunset. (But comeon like rambo has impeccable logic and is a thought provoking film......I know this is no argument to promote Fluff appreciation but I am just saying though equally mindless and regressive action as a genre does not get the same kind of derision that Fluff does)

But hey,  its fiction. We know that. Sure life doesnt change when you have a makeover. There are no great sunsets. But heres what it is about Fluff:

- its easy. Its well defined. there's a formula, there's a pace, there's familiarity, even if it is escapist, it escapes along well known paths and corridors. You do not have to worry about plot twists or new ideas. Its relaxing. (Ironically this is often why the genre fails to be considered as a 'serious' one. And it’s a classic case of cultural snobbery: if it is good it should be hard to get - Not so. A good writer makes the labour of great writing appear effortless in the reading)

-its got style:
I’m talking about shoes and clothes and ...more. The Fluff tone is stunning. Its fast, there are always funny one liners, dialogue is snappy, the sets are pretty. The music is almost always brilliant and it is nice to look at . People in Fluff are always pretty

- its not always about shoes and clothes and men: really sometimes it can be fluffy but not shoes, men - See confessions of a teenage drama queen. And yes Fluff does focus on shoes and clothes and men...but there is a lot more...witty commentary about the world we live in, interesting plots, the characters self discovery , tear inducing triumphs and laughter inducing falls.
- Its identifiable : Sure I have already acknowledged that it has creepy retro 'ride away with your man into sunset' agenda. Fluff has bad role models, Fluff is superflous and sells you thimgs, Fluff reinforces media images of women and requires them to be thin, pretty obsessed about their weight, pine endlessly for that one true love. Sure sure I agree. 
Bad role model?- I agree. But one female character should not have to bear the burden of speaking for women everywhere. (and she so does not claim to!!) But we understand and identify with this crazy shoe obsessed, weight obsessed flawed woman who would love to be carried away into sunset. There is a little bridget jones in all of us.

and here I end my defence of fluff
Also see this and this and this all very nice pieces saying a lot more about Fluff and a whole lot better on both sides.

Monday, May 12, 2008


It was Friday night and I a whole long weekend of no plans to look forward to.

I was sitting in my car systematically messaging everybody in my contact list on my phone to make plans. Of course everybody was already at river lodges or out of town or being cool to want to accompany me to the movies or such like. But hey at least I was on my way for 'drinks' with a friend at that very moment.
(Of course the next day was elections so there was no place we could have drinks. My friend and I would find out and quickly reschedule another restaurant...and another...and another..... little knowing that almost any eatery/drinkery in that area was shut that day....we would discover most exasperating circumstances)

As I resigned myself to a dullish slothful activityless weekend feeling a tiny bit sorry for myself, the bright brigade road lights not offering much comfort, I was startled out of my reverie to notice we were not moving. Even though the signal was green, even though we weren't in the middle of a traffic jam.

"Whats the problem?", I asked.

"The vehicle wont start", said my driver stating the obvious.
( yes I have a driver I dont know how to drive I am very ashamed of myself.....but I shamed myself further with what I did next)

"Dadeee the car has stop what do I do", I wailed into the phone (Seriously dude. I dint know what else to do. It was the middle of brigade MG road junction road. People were honking behind me. My friend was calling a million times...cos every place we wanted to go was shut, and also she was now being followed by a creepy boy)

" So you can, maybe, perhaps, consider, figure out yes? no?" stuttered and stammered my clueless father. "Get some people to help you and push it to the corner", he instructed shaking himself out of his confusion "Then we will see."


So i looked hither and thither in my most frail and helpless manner, wringing my hands, flicking my hair looking, hoping some big strong people would come and help me with this giant car and also tell me what to do next. My driver looked small and harried and jumped about also rather uselessly. A bunch of auto drivers looked at curiously and passively. "Dont bother us. If you ask us to help you we will laugh at you" their quite kind curious eyes seemed to say. Nevertheless we asked them and they laughed at us and we resumed looking harried and frail.

My driver dug out some old manual and spotted a helpline number. I called them from my mobile explained my predicament. They listened and offered helpful suggestions - PUSH the car and it will start.

No strong persons seemed to be available or on their way. So I pushed the car hardly expecting the scorpio to move but hallelujah it did!! and strong people did come to rescue . Well strong person. One man...half heartedly he helped me push the car. The car wouldnt start but was safely moved to one side of the road. We called the help line again who insisted we should just push hard enough.

"Enough is enough send a tow truck", I ordered. '
"No we will not call another garage", they replied. (They did kindly give me a number though).

So I called them. They other garage told us to push the car and see if it started. I told them I tried that they dint believe me. My driver told them we tried that and they believed him. Meanwhile my friend checked out each and every restaurant in the area, creepy boy in tow, found them all closed and decided that the only thing left to do was to collapse in a coffee shop and slurp iced teas till such time as I resolved my dilemma.

The rescuers arrived tow truck and all. But first they looked under the hood, inside the car, at the wheels and then...they got behind the car and gave it a giant push and of course it started! Except now it couldnt stop they said. If it did, it would not start again. So I gave my driver instructions to ride like the wind and not stop till he reached home where the problem could be safely handed over to dadee, while I went to collapse and slurp iced teas myself.

Give me an eventless weekend anyday

Friday, May 9, 2008

the big haircut is coming....

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Brain dead

these days my brain has died

half formed words in my mouth have dried

its the heat i tell u, this summer- its too hot,

its fried my head, many tears have been shed, but so what

its still burning, boiling, my head is melting and so is my skin

im a puddle on the floor all melted and gross, im finished before i even begin

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Porrutam* and the Monkey God

*porruttam = compatibility
**anjaneya= hanuman
***periamma- literally translates into Big Mother but means mothers elder sister. In in my case literaaly BIG mother.
****Katcheri - live concerts(usually carnatic music) But in this case it was hindustani

Last weekend was a long restful weekend with both Saturday and Sunday work free. So Saturday was spent cleaning, and doing multiple chores around the house, fair amount of sleeping and television watching till brain turned into mush which surprisingly left mind and body refreshed and ready for the long Sunday ahead of me. What does one do with ones mother on a sunday?

A visit to the Anjaneya** temple it was. The temple is not far away from my house and my mother and I used to visit it frequently when I was a child. It was many years since I had been there and amma was understandably bored with Sunday plans that involved movies and shopping. (How else does one entertain mothers. Please give tips. Bizzarely she hates spas so those are out). So having kickstarted the anjaneya visit plan (and being forced to change into kurta salwar from jeans) amma and I were at the gate when periamma*** arrived at the gate huffing and puffing. We invited periamma in, helped her regain her composure with some cold badam milk (too hot for filter coffee) and we told her that we were just on our way to the temple.
"Perfect" she exclaimed. "that means there is full porrutam"

Amma and I looked at each other puzzled.

"I have a jaadagam****" she continued brandishing a white envelope touched with tumeric and rice paste on the edges "for our dear own mem here. And you were going to the temple too! Clearly the boy is perfect for her. Such a porrutam"

Amma started nodding in slow agreement while I continued to look skeptical. Perimma in response to my skeptical look gushed on "Anjaneya also. definite porrutam"

"Isn't Anjaneya a bhramachari? How does he increase porrutam? He advocates a lifetime of bachelor-ism" I asked.

Periamma was stumped for a moment "but he is big and strong" she countered feebly

"And also a monkey. So boy will also be like a monkey?" I asked.

"shiva shiva" chorused amma and periamma.

"Dont say things like that, you will never get married. Insulting the gods" admonished periamma and muttered something about what happened with Harbhajan and insulting words.

So we set off, amma, periamma and me to the anjaneya temple , did our archanams, pradakshinams. The aanjaneya seemed much smaller than I remembered. When I was younger i remembered it as a huge towering idol carved on a single piece of stone.

Periamma advised amma to place the envelope containing jaadagam at anjaneyas feet, which my amma ignored mainly to avoid the clamour in front of aajaneya.

We sat in the cool court yard for the customary 15 minutes, primarily for a wheezing periamma to recover her breath. She seems to find the shortest of walks quite an exertion these days.

"But i have both my children settled off. why do i need energy these days?" she asked giving amma a sidelong look of admonishment combined with an encouragement to follow her own example, when i commented on her short breathedness. "As long as I have enough breath to arrange your marriage too." she continued looking at my mother, "dont worry. ill take care of all this" she pointed dismissively at me. And in that moment the fact that they were sisters suddenly came into focus so strongly. They were as different as sisters could be. Periamma was usually cheerful while amma would be gloomy. Periamma stole money and cut classes and watched movies. Amma attended classes and took notes and got good marks. They recounted stories of their youth, who stoles whose silk skirt and made a hole in it, who tattled to mother about this and that.

After a pleasant fifteen twenty minutes in the cool coutyard with strains of some classical katcheri***** floating in the background, we made our way back squeezed in an auto which was reluctantly carrying us groaning on the uphill roads much like short breathed periamma. Meanwhile periamma seemed to have recovered her breath enough to tell me about the virtues of a boy with an MS degree and working in Bangalore and not balding and related to her son's in laws well to do siblings in the states. We stopped for ice cream at aavin and bought vadu mangas****** at the Hopcoms next door, periamma maintaining her continuous exposition of the boys merits stopping only for few sharp breaths undiscouraged by my silence and challenging it even with a shrewd "problem enna? love a? but it cant be true if its not turned into marriage no?' offering arguments and counter arguments, arguing herself into a state of confusion when my mother intervened and said "when time is ripe it will happen. after all its her own decision"

"No its not! somebody else has given the yes" triumphantly declared periamma much to my distress not unmixed with some curiosity and then added "its anjaneya's! he has said yes, I will execute" much like a arunachalam rajnikanth(if you dont get this reference i cannot even be bothered to explain it) "monkey like boy indeed!" she tutted and with that she clucked all the way back merrily to her home, fully energized by her get mem married project.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

coimbatore kalyanam


The wedding...

....was not very spectacular except it was 5 in the morning and I have to post about it and get Coimbatore out of my system.

(read part 1 and 2 in the previous posts)

We arrived at 4:30 a.m (I am very scared of my aunt) - my mother and I properly silk saree-ed and gold jewelery-ied. We looked silly walking in that finery at 4:30 in the morning. My mother wanted kumar anna to walk with us to the mantabam. I put my foot down and poor office going kumar anna got to sleep a little longer. However it dint reduce the amount of jewelery my mother thought was mandatory minimum (earrings, one chain, one bangle- all having some gold/silver/precious stone). So we walked alone to the mantabam in all our finery.

There was no one there. A very sleepy looking groom (my cousin) on the stage. Both sets of parents(the bride and the grooms) were up and most uncles i.e my mothers siblings were up. Not one under age 50 person was awake - besides the groom. And me.

Anyway the kasi yatra/ mapalaiayyap was in progress. In this ritual the groom makes his merry way to lead the life of the bhramachari (bachelor). The brides father follows him and advise him to live the life of the grhastri (householder) and ask him to marry his young very available daughter. The groom then returns. I have always secretly hoped that at some wedding the groom will just walk on and choosing to screw the life of grhastri. It has never happened so far.

My cousin was off - well equipped with umbrella, a fan and some reading material (the vishnu sarsnamam). His father in law followed him out. Their interaction happened - in sanskrit. So the priest has to be there too feeding them both their lines. My cousin looked most silly holding the umbrella open at 5 in the morning- no rain no sun. Having acted out the little skit we all returned to the wedding hall. All this happens with great fan fare and the preist chanting things and so on. I elaborate because when i explained this ceremony to one of my friends he wanted to know if they groom and father in law just stepped out for a smoke and a chat and walked back in. No it does not happen like that. There are garlands and umbrellas and fans and fanfare.

Next was the malai mathu. 15 minutes of pure silliness but all of us went aww oooo and chuckle indulgently like its the cutest thing next to miniature kittens(which are just creepy). The groom tries to garland the bride while she is lifted, pulled, pushed by bunch of uncles and vice versa. In any case thankfully at a sleepy 5 o clock neither were my cousins relatives nor the brides relatives very enthusiastic about hoisting these two overweight 20 somethings on their shoulders and so just let them garland each other and be done with it.

Then they were led to the oonjal(swing) where the bride and groom sit. Tuneless aged relatives croon some songs - old favorites like gowri kalyanam and alai payuthe- tunes and words i havent been able to pick up even though i have been to a 10001 weddings by now. There is some part of me that will just never learn to sing gauri kalyanam. New favorites like alai payuthe which is reflected in mani ratnam movie titles i might imbibe. Old and older aunts (married aunts) touch the feet o the bride and grrom with milk and pour sweetened milk and banana into their outstreched hands. Then they will circle rice balls and throw them. After much cursing, heaving sighing, groaning and gasping, as the old and older aunts struggled with all the bending and (fondly wishing for the happier days when the bride was 6 and the groom was 10 and their feet would conveniently stick straight out of the swing) the bride and groom were finally led to the medai. (stage)

After some homam the bride was presented with her nine yard saree (ombodudgajam) and sent off to change into it and I had to scurry behind her. Of course as the groom's sister I am supposed to help her wear it. Obviously I dont know the first thing about ombodugajam's (as was later revealed to my aunts chagrin) so a grandmother was procured. They insisted I enter the room with the bride when she changed. There is no better ice breaker for chicks other than dressing together or visiting the loo. So we chatted while she was being disrobed and robed. Awkward yes but also a good ice breaker- really. I made subtle inquiries about other young eligible marriageable Coimbatore women, as my parents had been going on and on about a particular coimbatore girl they favoured for my brother. However- no luck - its seems everybody in coimbatore does not know each other. I returned disappointed with the ombodugajam-ed bride and deposited her on the medai. 'Her ombodugajam is backwards' hissed my aunt in my ear. 'what? really? it looks fine' i stuttered. After eliciting the name of the grandmother who was in charge of saree tying my aunt made her hasty way. The brides mother intervened and said everything was just perfectly tied thank you very much and if my aunt dint have such 'critical eyes' she would notice that everything was fine too. My aunt's eyes bulged, breath caught in her throat. She could not imagine that a 'boy's mother' could be treated with such little deference.

Meanwhile the experienced priest speeded up the proceedings and lo it was time for thali! -for THE ceremony- the kanyadanam and the one in which I had a good sized role. The father sat on the chair while his daughter sat on his lap. Many an aged father has struggled to keep an overwieght daughter on his lap - another relic of the times when the bride would be no older that 6 or 7 and would probably hop out and run away if not held firmly in her fathers lap. Anyway luckily my cousin's bride was thin and her father looked suitably healthy. My cousin towered over them tall and macho tied the thali around her neck (one knot- the other two were tied by me) under a rain of rice and flowers hurled at them as blessings. And it was over. I hung around uselessly my star role over and forgotten and a lil peeved at my time on stage being taken away- when that wonderful priest called and said thali katna kaikku edhadu koodongo (give somethign to the hand that tied that thali) and i was seated and handed a saree by the brides parents. It was pretty -orange and pink. ''Check if they have included blouse piece" hissed my aunt in my ear. I was happy. Of course if i was own sister i would have got maybe gold diamond what not. But this was ok for now.

The bride and groom continued with their very many other homams and ceremonies including the groom bending to put the toe ring on the bride's foot and the the seven steps. But i was off
towards my filter coffee and a nice full breakfast of vadias and pongals and sojjis and returned home to sleep.

(i returned again to the mntapam in the afternoon for lunch and many politicking and maami talk of 'appron? ava enai sona? idu kela di.... ponnu amma yenai kudutha? and so on but no i am not blogging about that)

end of coimbatore

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

coy in coimbatore- the Nitchyadhartham

I went to Coimbatore. My cousin was getting married there. Getting to Coimbatore was something else. See previous post for full details.

This post is not about that

This post is about the wedding. The great fat tam bram wedding.
(To be honest tam bam weddings are not great or fat. Neither was this one. They are short and thin and scheduled at times so as to ensure the minimum number of guests)

Day 1 was the engagement ceremony. The engagement ceremony is short and sweet and can usually be conducted even without the bride and the groom. The parents get together, exchange gifts. i.e the girls side come bearing various things like fruits and nuts, a diamond ring or two, maybe a gold bracelet, ( these days even candy and it is arranged cutely to spell the names of the groom and the bride, maybe a heart if the parents are 'open' and not conservative - non conservative unfortunately also coincides with corny in most tam bram specimens). I am certain many other transactions take place a little less publicly. In exchange the boys side also produce some gift type items - among which is also a saree and depending on how much you liked the bride some jewelery things. Then the parents sign a contract and thats that. I have been in engagements where there is no boy and no grl, just the parents, engagements with girl and boy teleconferencing beaming happily through a laptop.

Anyway this engagement had both boy and girl.In such a situation the girl is presented with her gift type items including the saree at which point the sister of the groom is supposed to lead her away, help her tie her saree bring her back. Then she has to put sandalwood paste on her forehead and neck and so on. and usually in return for all this the sister gets a saree of her own presented by the girls parents. The idea is that the grooms sister, the brides sister in law is welcoming her into her new family. Now i was the sister in this case. I am the standard sister for most of my male cousins and have collected many sarees and know my role down pat. But alas, when the priest in the medai (stage) called out for the nathnar (sister in law) to appear - there was no sister in law, since i was in a bus or auto or taxi still making my tortuously slow way to Coimbatore. Of course a substitute sister was produced for my cousin, one of the many brides i had welcomed into the family with this routine earlier. My family and i trudged in shamelessly after the entire ceremony was over, me desperate for that cup of filter coffee denied to me after my long tiring journey to Coimbatore. (See prev post).

I was subject to the usual "So you are next tee hee hee" type inquiries. These were relatively easy to field and I don't understand why they ever bothered me earlier. The sort of stuff being thrown at me now was much harder faster and well aimed. ' u next -tee hee hee' is absolutely nothing- amatuer stuff. Now there was a 'u next?' followed with a 'why not?' if that was also sidestepped it would be followed with a blunt ' is there something wrong with you- like a disease or sexual orientation?' and the even more effective technique of ignoring me completely and laying the stress and responsibility on my parents. They turn to them look past me like i dont exist and ask "arent u looking" (i.e looking and for suitable brides and grooms for me and my brother), ensuring casually that it is understood by all that you are property and not a thing to be addressed. Now my father who dint want to come to this wedding in the first place (cos it was a sunday) and who also likes to be cool and non confirmy around my mothers relatives replies - thats that not the way 'our family' does things. In our family we discuss and take into consideration the views of our children and without their consent we dont look. He smiles superciliously for effect. Un detttered relatives badger on- but surely you as a father have some responsibility they point out. He smirks and with an attempt at hilarity says 'i have obtained a 'waiver' from both of them You see my daughter is a lawyer she has advised me on how to cover myself hahahaha' Relatives unamused by attempt at hilarity, unperturbed reference to daughter marriage market damaging education, undettered by smirky nature perster on ' but surely u owe a duty to us' they say. At this point my father is ready to tell them where they should shove their notion of his responsibility to them but my mothers consternation and dont u dare use this in my family versus your family score card shuts him up.

Meanwhile i get hotter and tired-er in my silk saree and my high heels (which were lovely and caused my grandfather to exclaim 'by god! how you have grown! so tall is so few months!' he proudly announced my growth spurt to several aunts and uncles) , still looking or that filter coffee. My aunt rounded on me en route my filter coffee search and gave me a good talking to for arriving too late to perform my sister duties and reminded me that I had better be there at 5:00 a.m the next day to ensure that i did my sisterly duties through the muhurtum as well.

Sigh. For the short amount of time i spent there Coimbatore was a very long trip

Detailed wedding post coming up.

careening in coimbatore

I went to Coimbatore.

What an adventure it was.

We went there because of a wedding. My own mother's own aunt's own son. Of course all this own-ness meant we had to go but a 5:00 am muhurtum and a sunday wasted traveling suggested that maybe we werent that close anyway, despite the own-ness.

So after many 'shall we shall we nots' later (me and my father going shall not my mom going shall) we decided to go. Of course no train tickets were purchased, no air tickets too. So we would go by car. Meaning we got up at 6:30 (on a sunday) and were out of the house by 7:30. My father who likes being the planner/executor in trips (a role he believes he carries with great style; the rest of us just love him too much to tell me what he does actually carry- bags) decided we would take the 'veerappan route'. This was the scenic route, the road less traveled (with reason - earlier it was roamed by veerappan; these days its because the roads are just bad- and there is a nice navigable highway). Anyway when your car breaks down in the road less traveled you are wishing very much you had taken the road frequently traveled.

The car broke down - near sivasamudram falls. A few minutes earlier I had suggested we make a quick detour to see the falls.It was just 2 kms away. With clashes in the sort of music that could be played in the car(i wanted- senti crap with guitarists who imagine they are being soulful, father wanted - nothing, mother- the sound of her own voice), and with my father reading my book over my shoulder, and interrupting me just as i was nodding off with his 'when i was a young boy' stories i was fast getting bored of the trip and would have jumped out of that car. A get down and walk about near the falls seemed to be a good way to advertise and obtain that much needed respite.

Anyway the car broke down just as we reached the falls. Rather considerate of the car - to chose a tourist spot. If it was on the highway it might have been even more annoying. So we saw the falls ate mangoes and nellikas and ran away when we saw monkeys eyeing the said mangoes and nellikas, while father went about making alternate arrangements. (hey! he said he was the big cool planner/executor!). It transpired he managed to get a taxi to come pick us up and drop us o Konnegal- the nearest town with a bus stop. Car was abandoned near sivasamudram with driver given instructions to contact the car company who has agreed to come tow it back to bangalore.

We proceeded to Konnegal. the town with the busstop. It had a busstop but one full of busses leaving 'right now'. Now we needed to go to coimbatore. When we said that they laughed at our faces. (i dont know why really- apparently inter state buses are funny) So then we settled to go to Chamrajnagar. Of course the bus to chamrajnagar was leaving 'right now' and if we dilly dallied we would be city idiots or so the conductor implied. Tough small town folks are always hopping into busses without really caring where it goes he seemed to imply. So my mothers murmurs about maybe we should stop and have lunch and maybe we should wait a bit and check out all the busses before hopping into the 'right now' bus was ignored and we hopped in bag and all into the bus that was leaving to chamrajnagar right now, paid our fare of Rs 15 and sat in 3 different locations in the bus. I could read my book in peace. Over 8 people could now read over my shoulder- except most of them dint really want to, but being mished mashed as we were , they were forced to. Loud Kanada music about a young girl being in love with a man because ' his style was different' and 'his speed was different' blared at top volume and was objected to by no one. My dads 'when i was a young boy' stories were easily igmored and drowned under the loud music and clattering wheels and the fact that he was sitting in front of me.

Then the bus took a curious route. I knew from the map that there was highway type road to Chamrajnagar but we dint seem to be on it. Nevermind we would be eventually I thought. Except we stopped in nowhere and were told we should get into another bus which was also going right now to Chamrajnagar. Of course once again my mothers murmurs of lets see if autos/taxis will go to Chamrajnagar were ignored and we hopped into another bus. This time hopping was a little difficult because people were pouring out of every open portion of the bus. While we were enthusiastic to hop where do we hop. We settled for the last step. My mothers murmurs had raised in both pitch and volume and pretty soon the entire bus was aware of my planner/executor father's planning and executing abilities and someone out of pity (im not sure pity for who father or for mother- id like to thinkit was out of pity for me) offered my mother a seat.

We arrived at Chamrajnagar. Chamrajnagar is a small-ish town, but of course inquiries as to the various means to get out of that town cannot be made in one location. There is the Chamrajnagar private bus stop, the Chamrajnagar interstate bus stop, the Chamrajnagar taxi stand, the Chamrajnagar circle (for general idling and shopping u know... what shopping? u ask...u can shop anywhere is what i say). We arrive at the most uiseless of the locations- the Chamrajnagar private bus stop. So we take an auto- first to the taxi stand where we would try to procure a car to ferry us to Coimbatore. If we failed in this venture we planned to head on to the interstate bust stand. We did get a car. An ambassdor with a most uncommunicative driver who would drop us at coimbatore for a 1500 Rupees. Well , still we are not spending some 9000 rupees which would have if we had decided to fly from Bangalore feeling virtuous and not knowing that the car company was gleefully drawing up an estimate of 30-40 thousand for repairs.

So we proceeded- to coimbatore. grubby and dirty and fielding calls from my aunt whose own son was getting engaged and did not have me i.e his own(no no cousin i hastily pointed out and sharply rebuked for) sister there to welcome girl/bride into family. I was suppoused to do the welcoming by applying sandalwood paste to her forehead neck palms and feet along with kumkum (only forehead) and then leading her away to help her change into sari that would be gifted to her by my aunt and uncle. I felt she would feel the same amount of welcome whether i played my role or not.
(anyway i plan to put up another detailed post on the wedding)
So we proceeded, we reached Coimbatore after one pitstop at Sathyamangalam for some much delayed lunch. My mother despite her sharp insistence on lunch and her near breakdown(s) when it was denied to her in our bus hopping sprees- showed little interest in it now. Though I fell on my parotta with glee (parotta in Tamilnadu u say. well its not like paratha it is a very tamil interpretation of the same and is very good also). We approached Coimbatore and our driver proceeded to suddenly go insane. (and very annoying). We then realized having never been in a town bigger that Sathyamangalam, Coimbatore was baffling him. He kept thinking they were several towns lumped together, since we wanted to go to Ramnagar in Coimbatore. So then he insisted we had misled him by telling him we wanted to go to Coimbatore when we were infact going to Ramnagar. Then the main roads began to frighten him and he wondered how he would get back. Then the fact that we dint know where exactly we wanted to go in coimbatore perturbed him some more. Then the fact that it began to rain drove him ballistic.

Meanwhile i was dying. I just wanted to get to my uncles house and be greeted with some nice hot filter coffee. I dreamt of this fliter coffee, I saw it I smelt it in my mind . We reached my uncles house, paid our driver who was still mumbling and muttering, trudged up two storeys, settled ourselves in the sofas. My uncle said 'of course i told the boy (they have a man who runs their house and makes coffee besides other things) that there was no need to keep any coffee since we shd leave for the engagement immidiately being so late as it is.'


Detailed wedding post coming up.

PS: All in all it was great fun. Really.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

flowers and candy

will he wont he
give me flowers
buy me bears
in the tradition of lovers
show me he really cares
im a girl dont u see
material things make sure
i turn into we

head over heels

what did the bat say to his girlfriend?

You are fun to hang out with

love in the air

what do farmers give their wives on valentines day

hogs and kisses!

Monday, February 11, 2008


Two atoms are speeding along the highway, when one of them screeches to a halt and says ' hang o i think ive lost an electron'
the other atom says ' are u sure'
the first atom replies ' yep. im positive'

Friday, February 8, 2008


did you hear about the buddhist monk who refused anathesia during his root canal treatment?

he wanted to transcend-dental medication


What did the mexican fireman name his twin sons?

hose a and hose b


How many spaniards does it take to screw in a light bulb

just juan

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

mirache day 1

well sqeezed a tiny portion of ponds age miracle and rubbed n face. Evertything is still the same as day 0 but skin does seem somewhat softer. am unable to say is this is work of the miracle or just result of face being washed or hey maybe my finger tips got smoother and not my ace! how wud i know. no attempting to rub finger tips on other surfaces to check theory...but am unable to draw any kind o conclusion and give up.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Can miracles happen? In 7 days will that woman be me? will detached arms be thrusting lowers at me? will i be looking at the camera instead and give a beatific smile body less hands thrusting flowers at me happens everyday? will i be cl;asping my hands contentedly and look all lady like? all in 7 days? will i ever be so flattering against a red back ground?

Well lets find out. Lets use the ponds age miracle (yes the ponds age miracle- we cant make it sound oridinary my calling it a ponds age its not a cream ...ita a miracle) for 7 days and see if i can acheive that contentment and supreme happiness that every woman cal only feel when she is against a red background with red roses thrust at her.


Can miracles happen? In 7 days will that woman be me? will detached arms be thrusting flowers at me? will i be looking at the camera instead and give a beatific smile unconcerned about the body less hands and look like im used to them thrusting flowers at me everyday? will i be clasping my hands contentedly and look all lady like? all in 7 days? will i ever be so flattering against a red back ground?

See :-
(click on link)

Well lets find out. Lets use the ponds age miracle (yes the ponds age miracle- we cant make it sound ordinary by calling it a ponds age its not a cream ...its a miracle) for 7 days and see if i can achieve that contentment and supreme happiness that every woman can only feel when she is against a red background with red roses thrust at her.

Day 0

Skin has not yet been touched with the miracle.
skin fells all right if a little dry.
no pimples blemishes pockmarks or other things of that sort
Giant dark circles under the eye
skin looks a little shallow and lifeless.

from tomorrow we will see

what i need is a chomameter - if u dont understand go read the fine print.

Edited to add:
Day 1
well sqeezed a tiny portion of ponds age miracle and rubbed n face. Evertything is still the same as day 0 but skin does seem somewhat softer.
am unable to say is this is work of the miracle or just result touching face just after its washed or........maybe my finger tips got smoother and not my face! how would i know. now attempting to rub finger tips on other surfaces to check theory...but am unable to draw any kind of conclusion and give up.

Edited to add:
Day 2:
I forgot about the miracle today. :( Maybe i can make up tommorow with extra portions

Edited to add:
Day 3:
Was a little more genrous with the miracle. I swear my skin is getting softer and in just two days ..but im still skeptical. How much to attribute to miracle and how much to regular water and soap application which dint exist earlier. I think this test must be completely a more scientific manner....face to be split into two haves one for miracle one not. and i think that chromameter will be very useful ...if u still dont know what it is.....tch tch

Edited to add:
Days 4 and 5
Miracle aplication on schedule. But read fine print on bottle. it says miracle should be applied twice a day. so now am appplying the miracle morning and night and once more thru the day if i can or good measure.
skin is incredibly softer and all doesnt look any prettier mind u...just feels softer....have lil put break of pimples near my nose. dark eye patches continue to remain. skin still looks a little sallow.

Edited to add:
Day 6
Soft soft soft skin...but sill does not look any prettier... challenge has almost come to an end now.
what is it with 7?? ponds 7 day age miracle, olay cream also - total effects - fights the ' 7' signs of early aging. Kellogs break fast serial gets 7/7. and then there are 7 horcruxes that voldermort made. what is this 7 business everywhere....spooky

Monday, February 4, 2008

Roses and Gradners

Roses and Gardners and Karmic cycles...
...well you know what I am talking about

Saturday, February 2, 2008

eye- spy

what did one eye tell the other eye

between us something smells

police people

why dint the new york policeman wear his uniform in his flt to london

cos he was in his plane clothes

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Curly scrunchy hair

So i went to a hair stylist, a REAL hair stylist- not lakhme's dime a donzen stylist not even loreal or any of those other fellows but a real one that was not sponsored by a cosmetic company. (actually there were- wella and werent so different from lakhme/loreal assembly line stylists..i was hoping for a lil more exclusivity sniff)

Anyway dear Ragini washed my hair, conditioned it, put it under something that looked like a giant slad bowl upturned. You know what i am talking about, you have seen them in hollywood movies -in the spa/parlour scenes -a bunch of women sitting with this huge semi sphere glass upturned bowl thing over their heads. Yes! i was under one of those....but its a little disappointing...doesnt do anything..... just releases steam and your head can get nicely cooked. Anyway Ragini washed, conditioned, cut, pulled,teased scrunched and talked -about Rajnikanth (he is so great! and so humble also) - about Page 3 people (i hear even Bangalore has its own page 3....delivered in a most incredulous and vaguely patronizingly congrajulaty tone accompannied with a tee hee), - south indian movies, and -why my hair was so dry and i must never touch these gasp o the shelf hair products (I am a little confused so now i should buy my shampoos online and wait or them to be delivered?)

I negotiated many a sticky moment almost blowing my i-am-so-posh-ive-had-expensive- haircuts-since-before-you-were-born attitude and survived with the 'i know what this giant upturned salad bowl is for' look, took a shot at the 'the leaf unconcernedly through magazine like you have all the time in the world OR totally loose it and threaten to sue' test (good on you ink stained....i leafed, working my way up t be ill-sue-you posh), agonized for hours (even sent a message) over 'the tip or dont tip' test (i dint tip....wait. so did i totally blow my im so posh cover?)

And when Ragini was through hair was eehh ok - curly (scrunched up ragini would say) and fell over my eye. Nice.

what a lot of hot air.....err hair