Friday, 11 November 2016

Back to school

Found this sometime back. Looks like I've gone back to being a kid in case you are wondering what I'm doing with my life. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Winning irony of a defeat

My first instance of a full blown defeat happened when I was a kid.
I was eleven and was such an endearing human being. I did my brother's home work when I had nothing to occupy myself with. I mopped the floor and got paid 5 rupees every time I cleaned my own house (actually it was rented). I was nice in a way that was never pretentious. These days I am being nice around strangers and I am well aware of my staged niceness and pleasantries. Fuck you adulthood. I had my first major crush on my neighbour and I cried myself to sleep when I was asked to stop playing a game of hide and seek with this guy and the other boys of the street because we were becoming adolescents and it wasn't a good thing to hang around boys around that age. Eh? Doesn't this remind you of those old ads on sanitary napkins?

One evening in 2004, I took part in an art competition for kids which I later figured out was a HUGE scam. If you see an ad about competitions in your local newspaper from this lunatic called Sukumar, please find him and smack him on his obese face. A few weeks after I had taken part in his lousy competition, I phoned the number that came along with the ad. I was pretty sure I had done a brilliant job of drawing "My favourite festival" (which happens to be Kaarthigai).

Yes, this is Sukumar.
Oh the results?
Which category?
Ages 9-12..wait a minute. Sub Junior. Hmm.
What was your name again?
Oh! Yes. Congratulations! The name here reads Vandana. You are getting the first place.
Yes. We do have a prize distribution ceremony next month. We will send you the invite.

My family and I waited for the invitation and we did get one. Amma still makes a guinea pig out of me for all her experiments in the name of fashion and she has been doing this since I was perhaps 4? I don't know. If you see any picture of me wearing unfashionable clothes, be sure it was always her idea. I wore a salwar kameez she had stitched specifically for the big day. Grand mother also happened to be at home and she insisted I dressed my hair with jasmine flowers and I acquiesced because I was being...nice.

Appa, my brother and I reached the venue on time. My brother was six and stupid and, played with the flowers in a garden nearby. I sat in the front most row of the community hall not having an iota of knowledge of how the universe had conspired to give a HD view of my first defeat. A bunch of kids and their parents had turned up for the function. It was a full house. There was a girl beside me who happened to be giving me the cold stares. I, being the nice one, held my hand out and congratulated her. Everyone gathered there seemed to have won a prize or two. I was certain she had won something. Thinking of this I feel funny because it reminds me of a truth- Assumption is the mother of all fuck ups (except when you are a mathematician or maybe I am assuming again).

They started reading out names of the winners of each category and slowly, the proceedings of the prize distribution began. I wasn't feeling all that good all of a sudden. I don't remember how the girl beside me and I started talking but somewhere in the course of the conversation, I asked her name.

Oh! I am Vandana too. G.Vandana.
I am Vandana Ravi.
Nice. Which category did you take part?
Sub Junior. I won the first prize.
Uh. Really? But, but I was told I too won the first prize.
Umm.. Maybe there are two winners taking the first prize. What coincidence!

I flipped because something felt patently wrong. I could sense something soul crushing making a headway. I told Appa about it and he did not doubt the coincidence. He walked around the place in search of Mr Sukumar to clarify the details. Moments later..

Sub Junior Category: First Prize goes to Ms Vandana Ravi.

I remained rooted to my seat. I felt Vandana Ravi elevate. Ashamed. Embarassed. I wished I could dissolve into a liquid and slip out of the hall. But, I was curious why I had received the invitation. Did Mr Sukumar want to invite all participants for the function and entice them into signing up for another scam? Why did he send it to me?

As Appa and I were trying to figure out the reason from the organisers, they called a very familiar name on stage.

Junior Category: G Pranav Hari wins the first prize for drawing a beautiful rose. Is G Pranav Hari here?

The six year old kid was blithely whispering stories to the flowers of the garden. He sprinted towards us and tried to grasp the one flowing from my shoulder length hair.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

This is when my blog loses her virginity

My blog attained puberty on the eve of 2nd April 2015- the day I was hired.

Until then, my blog knew absolutely zilch about what blogging can take one to. She was startlingly conceived in the womb of as a sole reason to take part in a competition held by Google Web Academy. (I am still frustrated over wasting those nice Android, Youtube, Google etc. stickers on my obese Dell laptop. I mean, I totally missed the great opportunity to flaunt them on my Mac. Ehm. The company's Mac.)

Today, she will give space to opinions and lessons learnt from people I meet. Today she loses her virginity, of being so full of herself. 

A week and a few days earlier, four of us from office (read: a random bunch of girls who were transitioning from being acquaintances to being friends) decided it was high time we had a good vacation. We came across an interesting IRCTC tourism package which clearly was bang for our buck. 

The OOTY-MUDUMALAI trip unfolded in the course of few days. At the end of the trip, I was high on stories and had an orgasmic urge to blog than to tweet. 

Idyllic view from the plantation of Tea Factory

I have three topics at hand:
  1. What I learnt about traveling with aquaintances, first-mover advantage and the domino effect of decision-making.
  2. Open letter to people taking unsolicited selfies and what it means to feel sexually harassed. 
  3. One man wolf-pack at Tea Factory nailing engineering, marketing, and sales at one shot.

Over the past 14 months, I've had to deal with a number of words. If you think of it, everything comes down to a 'name', an 'emotion', a 'place', a 'thing' that's got an identity through a word. I'm a kleptomaniac for words. I write down everything I find interesting, mostly sentence structures, new idioms and unlike most lazy kleptomaniacs, I give a spin to them.

Do I use these borrowed and distilled words for personal blogs or do I use it for the company's blogs? Or, do I use it everywhere till it becomes a part of my identity?

While I constantly battle with these thoughts, keep reading this space. Upcoming post on topic 3: One man wolf-pack at Tea Factory nailing engineering, marketing, and sales at one shot.

Monday, 15 February 2016

To you.

Aha! I'm here finally, not wrenching my brain over 'my-next-beautiful-Medium post'.

If your hand, by some stroke of paralysis...not luck, innocently pushed the follow button on Twitter and one day you discover you've been following me and by the conspiracy of improbability, I've also been following you (pause for a moment and imagine this phrase 'you follow each other'), you know we are going nowhere. We are probably just staring at each other.

How romantic!

So this is for you, not for the unwaveringly judgemental eyes of the public. This is for the eyes of the beholder. Yes, YOU. Enough of you, let's talk about me, Vandana Guru.

Caveat Emptor: If you so happen to read this, please take diversion to the previous post and decide on reading this or decide to decide or whatever. I'm going with J.D Salinger's quotes. He's kickass.

Like you, I came wailing to this bright blue world with so many dreams. Happiness is a very relative feeling.  Today I had bhelpuri, hence the good mood. Tomorrow, I might dine at Carlton. I'm not experiencing happiness, but a lower degree of sadness. This is something I keep saying to myself, and you should know because it keeps me grounded.

 I am a kind of paranoiac in reverse. I suspect people of plotting to make me happy.

Dreams. The first type is obviously dream-dreaming. Green Eagles. Elephant flying over the office building, I'm wearing school uniform and studying in the office with college friends. Bulls running inside a temple. Also, gory ones. Get it? Wait, I can also Lucid dream. :)

The second type is briefly explained in the previous post. Lofty dreams.

I'm sick of not having the courage to be an absolute nobody.

Things I'm hankering after without thinking about you.

What you like.
What you like doing.
What you like doing when I tag along.
What you like doing about things you have no control.

I don't exactly know what I mean by that, but I mean it.
I like music.
I like learning new things.
I like planning and prioritizing.
I like it if you can simply sit in one place for a long time.

I'm sick of just liking people. I wish to God I could meet somebody I could respect.
I don't believe in Zodiac predictions, but I'm darn sure you could be one among the four- Gemini or Cancer or Pisces or perhaps, Capricorn? I was kidding. Remind me to read The Luminaries someday, will you?

Friday, 4 September 2015

Read this.

As my birthday draws in closer I thought I should write this in my blog so that whenever I come back to my blog I’ll re-read it and get motivated to move my arse and get shit done.

I thought I’ll make a bucket list (make that a Sintex tank list) of things I have to do, or get or experience before the game ends. Because everyone says, "one thing off bucket list." and here I am, 22 years old with no freaking bucket list at hand.

There may be a lot of things that might seem impractical or highly unreachable, but it’s no harm to just write them as well. Right? I suppose that's how wishlists work. Anyway.
I have written it in no particular order. And I’m hoping to continue revising this list. 

1. Learning Sanskrit. Like thoroughly, fluent enough to read and relish the finer details in ancient Sanskrit texts. 

A lovely Sanskrit sloka

Update 1 as of 25.07.2016: I may have learnt a few words in Sanskrit but I did not take any conceivable effort in learning it formally. I have to relegate this to some other time. Perhaps times when money and career doesn't matter.

2. Running at least 10 Marathons in my lifetime. Of course, this will require lots of training. Basically, I like the idea of running, both for a real cause and no cause. The last time I ran for a cause was the Terry Fox Run at IIT Madras. It was for cancer awareness. The last time I ran for no reason was to take a train from Taramani to Mandaveli. 

The inspirational Jesse Owens 

Update 1: Finished 4 runs (2-5Kms and 2-10 kms) I think should start jogging more than running because 1) I really don't find time to make this a consistent routine. 2) It's one whole week of enduring causeless joint aches and maybe, running isn't my cup of tea. On the bright side, I might venture into general body fitness. 

3. Visiting Tromsø, Norway to witness Aurora Borealis. Isn’t this such a clichéd thing on bucket lists? Well, even I'd love to treat my eyes with exotic colors- wait I sound American- colours.

How romantic!

Update 1: I saw a friend put up a picture on Instagram. Sad life yo. 

4. Writing a book (Whose title I have prematurely decided and I’m not revealing it) It’s a story, lot drawn from real life experiences. I need time, a little room of my own as Virginia Woolf says and a lot of cash to spend my time writing. 

I get a room with attached restroom and balcony of my own after 22 years (:

Update 1: The book seems to be shaping up in my mind. I am closer to having my own room. Yay to that. Will move to a new house by the end of October. 

5. Painting a life-sized Lord Nataraja on my wall. (Interesting question. What is actually life size for the Lord?) Or sculpting may be? I love Lord Nataraja. I’ve wanted a bronze Nataraja Idol like the one in Kapaleeshwar Temple for such a long time. Talking of Nataraja, I want to visit CERN to see my handsome Lord, elegantly poised and overlooking the Large Hardon Collider, searching for the God Particle. ;)

God and Particle

Update 1: Recently, a friend of mine asked me to paint his grandmother in Victorian style and I am wondering why I said 'Yes' to it. I mean I can paint, oh dear life, give me more time. 

6. Wearing a gown/LBD for a meaningful occasion. I’ve never worn an ‘English’ dress which many of my peers wear to parties and other occasions. One because there aren’t any occasions I'd love to dress up. Two, I feel I’m too fat to see myself in a nice little black dress. I could wear it now if I want to. But, honestly, not even once in 22 years did I want to wear it just because it’s nice and everyone is wearing it. I’d rather wear it when I feel I need to or have to. Let's make it a meaningful wear I suppose..

Emma slaying in LBD!

Update 1: Not yet.

7. Build a house, exclusively for the purpose of teaching Fine Arts to people for free. I have already drawn the picture of how the drawing room should look like-glass walls with creepers and flowing water on the outside. Nice glowing yellow lights in the inside with a marble idol of Buddha receiving the students. 


Update 1: Not yet.

8. Practice Buddhism.  Wait this is probably when I'm 70-ish.

Google "Women in Buddhism"

Update 1: Not yet. I just hope blogspot doesn't cease to exist by the time I get around to practising it. Wait. Maybe, I am not supposed to be blogging by then. 

9. This is got to be the sexiest bucket list goals. :D

Childhood dream job

Update 1: Chemmit has got some traction. I have ACTUALLY put some effort to study subjects I never got to study during college. Very good Vandana!

10. Compose a song. Ambitious one, sing for Hans Zimmer's works. No, give background vocals. No, just get an invite to watch him compose.

The genius!

Update 1: Not yet. Sigh.

11. Learning to stitch clothes-

12. Dating a French nice Hollywood actor. It's okay, dating a nice dude :( will do for now.

Ideal solid dude. (I'm in liquid state now looking at this picture)

Update 1: Umm, this is not happening even in my wildest dreams. (Even local people wouldn't care much about my existence.) This is dedicated to the fan in me.

13. Royal Albert Hall. I cannot describe in words my love for this breathtakingly beautiful hall.

Current phone and laptop wallpaper

Update 1: Another friend goes to London. Must have taken a selfie or two just to irritate me.

14. Write a petition seeking conversion of Ambedkar Mandapam into Concert Hall.

15. Set up a Fuel Engineering Department in my Alma Mater. 
Update: Not bad. 

16. I've spent close to 5 years now traveling in the MRTS. I have a massive plan no, no just an intense desire as an interested conceptualist to make changes to the functionality of the MRTS. 
Update 1: Blog post in progress

17. Learn (experiment) the tricks in marketing a product and earn audience even before I manufacture my product. 
Update 1: Learnt.

18. Learn PYTHON Hopefully start by January 2017.

19. Learn to converse in Russian
I would love to like to also add "reading Tolstoy, Vladimir Nobokov, Nikolai Gogol, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Anton Chekhov and the likes. It's alright. I'll make do with the English translations.

20. Spend time with Erwin Kreyszig's and George. P. Sutton's books.

21. Get my spine tattooed :D


Tuesday, 14 July 2015


It just dawned on me that day. The same intense realisation you get moments after a strategically positioned crow makes a perfect lavatory out of your head. I stood smiling for being cheated again by the MRTS as it hit me. ‘It’ here is not the train. It’s a bundle of neurones frivolously forging philosophies for self-assurance. My heavily pregnant mind craved for more of those bitter-sweet experiences I had in college.

Coming to how I had been cheated. I’ll have to take a detour to an analogy.

People, emotions, interests, things -expensive materialistic things, whatever you’ve chased out of peer pressure is an absolute waste of time. You will feel cheated. You will say the same thing if you run like a dog on the train station’s escalator seeing other people run like dogs on the same escalator, only to watch another train disappear in the opposite track. Past four years, I have been thinking of taking moral science and physics classes revolving the Indian Railways. The train, the imposing loud siren, the static escalators, that yellow ticket, the gloomy deserted stations, the swearing and sweating common people of India, have more life and science lessons to teach than the books recommended in bucket lists. I swear.

A couple of days into the beginning of first semester at college, a friend scoffed at me  after I revealed that I had not commuted much in public transport. He asked me a question, “Running la eranguviyaa?” (Can you get off the train while it gains speed?) Now that I’m a pro, I have the answer. I now have the answers to a number of questions that hounded nervous students who were out of the rat race of various competitive exams. Especially the ones asked after the 12th standard board examination results. 

“Does Electronics and Communication Engineering have more scope than the Electrical Engineering? Is Chemical engineering a tough course? Does Bio-technology have scope in India?” How many gullible young minds, including mine, believed a salesman, selling careers on the television. After four years of engineering this is what I will say if anyone asks me what the future holds. Material science is not the next big thing. Future is not for the Aerospace. Mechanical Engineering is not the golden subject of the year. ECE is not the best for the current generation. 

Do you remember Pauli’s exclusion principle? No two atoms can have the same set of same quantum numbers. You are full of atoms, each uniquely different from the other. There’s a truth that’s seldom sold. You can make your own scope with anything you choose because you're unique.

Half-way through the journey in college, engineering felt like an outer calling and sometimes it was like nature’s calling. The system needed an overhaul. But, yeah, I had to get into the system and then fight it as the saying goes. If there’s an option for re-evaluation of my degree certificate, I would request a in psychology. 

Coming to what dawned on me.

As the train crossed the Kasturba Nagar station, I felt an interstellar like moment flash before my eyes. I saw an anxious young girl, shoulders hunched and burdened by the heaviness of a college bag, adjusting her spectacles and checking if the train had reached the station. She looked very distraught because she had her project viva-voce the next day. That girl was me. She was standing there to remind the Vandana from the future that she’ll will no longer be a student. She’ll no longer wait for a train at Kasturba Nagar. She’ll no longer wake up thinking of missing the college bus. She’ll no longer curse herself for forgetting to carry her lab coat/shoes/drafter. She’ll miss the giggles she shared with a cackling bunch of 65 odd classmates. She’ll miss those little achievements she prided when she managed to successfully bunk sleep inducing lectures. She’ll awe at a huge list of things that she never intended to learn at her college.

Adieu, SSN. Had to write this. 

Saturday, 10 May 2014



See I am forcing a smile on your first bday.

Firstly, I'd like to thank you for accepting my 'friend' request. Because it's very difficult to be a friend to a sister than being a brother. I did not say that. Lekha Washington did.Too formal eh? Okay! I'll cut the crap and head straight to the heading "BARBIE-ing my brother". Yep Barbie-ing! Once upon a time, when I was half your present  height, I asked for a barbie doll. But I got you instead.

Out of all the Barbies Mattel made, I loved the Barbie 'Kelly' so much!  Amma assumed I was feeling lonely and said "Look I can't keep buying Barbie dolls!  And stop being such a rowdy! You've mutilated all the barbies into heads and legs that I've bought you so far. I will present you one  more cute Barbie doll in a few months. She is special. She will talk and play with you unlike those lifeless Barbies. You ought to take good care of her."

I was suavely looking at her big belly and made a deal to name you  'Kulli or Malli'. LOL. She did not have the slightest idea of all the plans I had made for you.Note: She said you were a 'she' then. Lol. Remember that automan Jose who pronounced your name as Penn-av Ari?

My barbie and his long (false) mane 

  To my then biggest disappointment, you turned out to be a 'he' on the 13th of May, 1999. You were wrapped in a white cloth they say, but I got to see you only in a stained yellow cloth! You were a tiny piece of unbearable shit! I was angry with people in the hospital ward who were cuddling you, pinching you, incessantly calling you chuchikutti, jujimamu, wondimaa bleh! YOU WERE THE CENTRE OF ATTENTION!. (And still are. sigh)I wanted to pull your round head off, just like how I did to the other Babies...err sorry Barbies. But your big, beautiful, poker-faced eyes with an unshapely pair of eyebrows,  just like the cherubs in Michael Angelo's paintings, saved you from the wrath of my hands. I overheard our relatives say that you'd scored a whopping 10/10 in the APGAR test, beating me by one point.

Even in this? Idiotic boy. I hate you.
Ayoo Vekkatha Paaru!

Okay the next 4-5 years I was walking invisible. I broke your front pair of milk teeth. Accidentally, of course! Surprisingly, you were teething with wisdom. You could easily differentiate a Wagon-R from a Hyundai-Santro without even knowing to read the alphabets! So you were 'automatically' the relatives' favourite. You became "Pranava manthiram" to everyone. Dot.
FYI you're wearing my old frock.

I don't know how everyone with your name becomes magically famous!  I  do not want you to study in SSN to know the real power of your name. Ok. I know you would never do that. Aim higher in life or at least try to grow taller than me by this summer.
Michael Angelo's Cherub ;)

It's been 15 years since you came to our home. And not a single day has gone by without fights for the lamest reasons and letting each of us down like we were mortal enemies.  You are a total antonym to the description of my life. One common thread that sewed (sued) our lives was our hatred to Hindi exams.  I've always known that you were way better than me in music but you are such a lazy ass you never showed any interest.                                                
Such Abishtoos. Much sly looks. So wow!
 I wonder if there is any space left inside your photographic memory. You do so many things that if I had to calculate a ratio, you would have won 20 accolades for every single participation of mine. Sigh.
That said, you ought to know the truth now. If you've ever wondered why there are a few strands of hair missing from your  right eyebrow, it was because of my failed attempt to shape it with scissors while you were asleep. Sorry. A Real Madrid Jersey gift should do as a penalty right?
Same frock. But you're wearing it. xD

Lastly, I don't know if you will ever read this post of your poor, vetty sister who knows nothing other than talk, fight, eat, talk, talk, talk, talk,fight, eat and blog all of it like she's done one big thing in life. Look I cannot  write cheesy-cliched 'I love ya bro stuff' because I just cannot. And I also know that you are too busy to listen my ramblings. Do you know what? When I am 'sup-ed' by friends, I would invariably bask in your success; telling what you've been upto as though it were a major, eventful part of 'my' life. I ain't that rich to buy you a gift that would mount to your coolness Mr.Majesty. Jersey also duplicate one only. Okay? You should know that I've been jealous when you were awake and proud of you when you were out of sight. You eat like a pig and you don't gain even 1 gm of fat! Also you love to spy my history on the internet  and give mini statements to Amma& Appa like an Automatic Teller Machine. Worst analogy but I hate you sincerely for that.
Who let the dolls out? Sorry couldn't censor that. But look at the fun I 've had with your hair xD

 Do I not love you? The answer is complicated. Psychologists term it as sibling rivalry-To hate and love each other eternally. I love to pull your pig tail. I love to irritate you. I love to call you names!
 ayppie irrrthday da mandayaaaa! (just read it the way I tell you every may13th. LOL this post doesn't make it any different.)

P.s: Your children will have their initial as 'P'
 so very funny LOL xD

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Jack Of All Traits

"Radio...FM Gold! Aaha!"

         This was the standard alarm tone to which one would wake up, if one resided in Sambandham Street, a few years back.  And the generator of this 120dB noise was the grand old radio box of an 85 year old  TamBrahm lady. Sambandham meaning relationship in Tamizh, best explains her deep-rooted, living relationship with a tree that is no more now.

This picture is only for descriptive purpose. My dear maami has aquline nose!

     Now, she isn't anywhere close to your description of an old, ordinary, sado-masochistic, cantankerous, rabble-rousing, madisaar-wearing madi-aachaaram TamBrahm. Except for her fair, spotless complexion and a diamond nose ring complementing her slender aquline nose, nothing was so typical of her. She was always full of surprises to us.

    Her biggest wealth were her Banrotti jackfruit tree and her profound knowledge in Carnatic music.  Being my landlord, she did her best to impress  and compete with my mother, with her extra-ordinary culinary skillset. I am grateful to her for she taught me umpteen lessons on efficient resource management through her recipes.  

    Have you ever tasted jackfruit rind gravy? Have you let your taste buds indulge in a concoction of jackfruit paayasam? Have you had the experience of drowning in far from appetizing atmosphere of decayed and burnt jackfruits? A year with her and you'll also master the art of literally raping a fruit from skin to seed. 

    She would neither hesitate to shout out our names from the groundfloor and command me to watch kutcheris in Jaya TV nor would she hide the un-digestible fact of making halwa (the infamous dry fruit halwa) out of deep frozen jackfruit seeds that she had stocked 6 summers ago! She was frank, outspoken and way too intelligent  and strong for an independently living  person of her age. The entire street would eagerly await the jackfruit season, hoping that by some dumb luck the fruit accidentally falls into their compounds and wait to watch the drama unfurl around the tree. She would climb the tree (yes, she really did!)and stretch her lithe white figure to unimaginable shapes in the direction of a ripe jackfruit like an incredible Elastic woman. She loved her tree so much that she would decorate it with an assortment of plastic bags to safeguard it from our unflinching evil eyes, keep a check on the fruit count every night at 12  with her mini torch-light. Any change in the count ? She would reprimand the ONYX cleaners as well as the flower vendors and bless them with unfruitful words. (the infamous Sahasranaamam)

      She was and will be the most orthodox person you've ever met yet modern enough to know American geography given her 4th std academic background. "I would become a winged bird in a golden cage If at all I settle abroad." she would remark to our wishes of her settlement in Dallas with her son. She would fondly call her servant maid Lakshmi as 'La-itch-me' ever since she learnt of her Baptism into Christianity. She would vicariously take delight in conducting mock JEE- Joint Excavation Exam, for admission of servant maids into her holy institution.  I vividly remember the day she fired 'La-itch-me' when she saw her stealing her dear Raaja Malli (Kingly Jasmine) flowers. She would never give up even when vegetable vendors  throw tomatoes at her biased bargains. She would hurl her stock of rotten jackfruit seeds in reply. She would oil the joints of the gates with re-used oil and take pride in telling us that it was 'conserved' after her first son's reception function . She would clevery ask for change to pay the autorickshaw in exchange for her Sudish Kamath-like review on the kutcheris she attended.

   Maami was also a good singer and she would regularly conduct Bhajans every Saturday evening with her gang of  previous 'elite' tenants and other maamis. I did butter her sometimes that she would have become like M.S.Amma had she pursued music after marriage. She would slyly smile revealing her pearl like teeth saying "It's not too late" 

    What an inspiration! On one such evening, I too was invited. It's such a prestigious thing if you are invited to her Bhajans. Once when the Bhajan was in full swing, she suddenly stopped playing her harmonium box and called for silence. She caught her frail husband red handed, eating Marie biscuits, just by hearing the crumple of its plastic cover! The point is not only to prove that she had well functioning sense organs but also how much she saw to  that, that her husband stuck to her jackfruit-only diet. How we envied her lucky husband who (naturally) died at an age as ripe as her tree, due to acute constipation!

       There was a close to 70 year old widowed maami in the neighbourhood by the name Thangamma who was dead scared of our Maami as she forbid her from entering our house for her own infamous reasons. Once Thangamma came to our house for inviting us to her last son's marriage. Unfortunately that same day my maami had decided to apologize Thangamma for she had 'behaved herself' by respecting her prohibitions. She was aghast when she came to know Thangamma was missing from her house and she was crying and demanding the entire neighbourhood to search for Thangamma, while poor Thangamma was hiding beneath our bed for a whole day, pretending to not exist at all and pleading not to disclose her location! Such was the fear she instilled in every being in the street!

      She was what our street people called 'a bond  genre' by herself. A spy, a cook, a singer, a teacher, a debater, a conservationist, a naturalist, a philosopher, a living machinery brimming with ideas. I can pen down more about this extra-ordinarily, multi faceted person's lifestyle. Only thing I fear is the wrath of her sight upon this post and being permanently terminated from mother earth. Do not think I am fabricating my opinions on her relationship to suit as facts for the post. I dare to say that even Gods will acknowledge whatever I've written of her. 5 years of her absence in my day-to-day life has prompted me to dedicate a post on her life.

P.s I think she deserves the title 'JACK OF ALL TRAITS' Anyways, I miss the smell of the tree a lot.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Kapaali Sojourn


               I was waiting for a bus that could take me to the Mylapore market.  Despite the heavy rains, the to-be passengers were eagerly craning their necks from the bus-stop, a few plodding through the shin-high slush to get a better picture of the name plates of the buses cutting through the sheets of September rains. The 10-minute wait was more or less a  weary ritual; hopping about the place whenever the vehicles splashed muddy waters and I was cleaning my ironically blurry anti-fog spectacles. As I decided to take an autorickshaw, I found the namma Chennai auto!

The auto driver is a music enthusiast, I suppose. I was greeted with an A.R. Rahman number- Pachai Niramey from a good stereo set.  The song is so beautifully composed that it worked magic on my nerves, as usual. I wondered how a certain music latches on one's mind long after the song itself has trailed off.  As the auto traversed from street to street, my mind wandered as a rain-laden cloud, through stray thoughts. I couldn't wait to see my dear Kapaali and all his Nayanmaars as it was already a month since I had last visited the temple. 

I reached the bustling market. The sky overhead was beginning to clear. The  long  stretch of maada street ahead of me was glittering with lights, buildings decorated with a slew of Navarathri bommai. A septuagenerian was all in toothless smiles as I enquired the price of a beautiful black Anantha Padmanabhaswamy idol. 

"This one is not for sale. I do pooja for Him everyday." she said, almost as an afterthought. Hotel Saravana Bhavan was all the more welcoming that night. Some shoppers were thriftly comparing prices. There was a crowd of foreign tourists trying to capture the soul of the splendid market. If I were to possess a DSLR camera, I would  find one hour too short to capture the vivid simplicity of Mylaporean lifestyle!  After giving one of my glass paintings and a recent worli painting to a photo framing shop, I hurried to the temple.  

A group of young, headstrong vocalists were singing Bo Shambo and the Nishadam(Ni) in Revathi seemed to fluctuate throughout the song. The constant chant of slokas, strong smell of the holy ash, the damp, fragrant wind, the warmth of temple lamps was significantly affecting all my senses. Kamakshi sannidhi  was thronged by hundreds of devotees who were in an exhiliration of tears and smiles during the deepa aaradhanai. I purged in the process of rapt veneration. Then I entered Kapali sannidhi. There he was! A transparent man with no hidden agendas, the handsome hearthrob- Kapali in the form of Nataraja. Clearly He was one among those who made people draw immense sustenance from the realm of spirituality. One of the Nayanmars caught my attention. He was called Nedumaara-Nayanar (meaning, a tall personality) who not only shared my birth month but also the star! A sadhu with his hair rolled into a humungous turban was giving insights into life's mysteries to keen onlookers, taking pensive pauses and chanting the Siva-naamam.

The framed Worli painting of mine!

The attitude was  by and large approving the fact that no matter who we are, where we are and how we are on earth, there is always redemption in His name. This one visit would suffice to bring unreasonable happiness. Whether one prefers to call it a placebo effect or blessings of an irrevocable faith is immaterial. One can surely achieve a sense of serene contemplation. Kapaali, this way remains the sounding board to all living enitites- from the vagrant cows to the crippled beggars, everyone has a reason to love him.

At the end of the day a typical simple Mylaporean lifestyle is what makes my life more meaningful and happy!

Of course, I did not miss HSB dosa and sambhar. 

Friday, 12 April 2013

Around my world in 15 minutes

  I was seated on a wooden chair with a table that had this number-794698 etched on to its smooth surface. The Timex watch on my left hand read 9.45 a.m.…drat! 15 whole minutes to create a nervous breakdown! Why on earth do they have to test my patience too! “Let’s switch topic!” said my temperamental mind.

         I could see numerous heads- all neatly plaited, wound with ujala white ribbons, some were turning 270 degrees; making vain attempts of figuring out the trade routes for importing and exporting knowledge, some were bent in a pious head bow, probably doing the last minute transcendental meditations I thought, the uber cool dudes were constantly scanning their nail dimensions, some were gulping litres of water to rejuvenate their think tanks, some scratching their heads with an assortment of stationery items, some still in the shock of facing an unprecedented something.

            The girl to my right had a mini traffic signal on her tiny forehead. “…Red from Madurai meenakshi, white from mylapore kapaleeshwar, yellow from guruvayoorappan”. As she smiled at me and showed an ‘all the best’ hand gesture, I noticed the centimetres of multi-coloured threads that clasped her healthy wrist. To my left there was this person (creature!)- continuously twanging the steel scale rhythmic to the beats of her RESTLESS LEG SYNDROME. The invigilator was trying to unseal the tightly pursed lips of a parcel that was carrying the spell of our fates! All I could think was the episode of Mr Bean, where he tries writing trigonometry instead of his calculus paper!....okay 5 minutes spent somehow!.

             What’s next?! My farewell sari! Cha! I should have got that purple and black one. The red one was indeed pretty good for the mighty 6 grand I spent. But still, when only are girls really complacent with their selection?! There was this strong breeze in the 3500 sq.ft auditorium that flapped a beautiful purple sari over my face that had brought the sweet memories of my last days at school. The supervisor was looking gorgeous with her long black tresses left loose to the play of the wind. ‘Crores of crores!.... Will it ever come like this girl?!’ was running as the BGM. No matter how much ever hard I tried to stop, the Tamil song seemed to run ceaselessly! Then the lady handed me the answer sheets to fill my registration number, to read the rules stuff etc.. One look at her mehendi and the song changed to another one as though my mind was being tuned to certain radio frequency. From then, I decided not to touch my earphones before taking an exam. Another 5 minutes I had killed ruthlessly admiring my invigilator’s charm.

          Now I was totally lost! Clueless of what to think! Should I do revision? Nah! I just dint want to tamper my train of thoughts! So I began adding the digits of my registration number. 7+9+4+6+9+8= 43=4+3=7= DHONI= luck! YEY! Happy with the number, I started filling the boxes with my brand new, imported blue gel pen. Then I thought about the good things that happened in the morning. Mom had made my favourite methi chapattis and daal for breakfast. She also showered me with blessings and chocolates(again imported you see..). Thank you amma!  Bro non-hesitantly parted with his brand new watch. Thanks bro! My servant maid had brought big white jasmine flowers. (the least she could do. Though I did not flaunt it over my hair, I kept it safely inside my school bag.) thanks again!  The newspaper man as usual chanted the lines “I’m sure I’ll see your picture in the same newspaper someday.” (It could actually mean anything. All hopes I’m alive beyond that date…anyway, thanks Anna!) I was in my own dream world. The thought of friends and family had created a creamy and delightful mood. Suddenly I felt a gentle tap on my head and heard this voice that said “your time has started dear.” She smiled. I could read the lines of Robert Frost shining through her eyes-‘and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep.’ I took a deep breath and read the first question of my last exam- ‘Virus free germplasms are produced through (sigh! Here starts the confusion) a)…’

Former student of Rosary Matriculation Higher Secondary School.