Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy 2-0-0-6 !!!

Just another day,
nothing much happening here.
Yet it 's customary to say,
Happy New Year.

My resolutions for 2006
Will talk less and listen more.
Will be punctual.
Will be sincere at work.
Will shave regularly and be presentable at all times.
Will take ownership and act responsibly.
Will shed negativity.

Will try my best to keep my Resolutions atleast till Pongal.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

MiG 21 or Tik 20?

Four crashes within one year makes me wonder if MiG 21 should be renamed to Tik 20. Yeah, it was state-of-the-art in the 1971 war. Yeah, they were used in the Kargil war. But it is time for IAF to consider alternatives and expedite the phase out of these MiG 21s. They are proving consistently lethal, whether to enemies or not , to our own men.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Capital Punishment - A spot of dilemma.

A non-believer of capital punishment and euthanasia that I am, I was closely following the Tookie Williams' clemency appeal. It was turned down. Just when I was feeling bad for the guy who will be dead by the time you read this article, I heard Pat Buchanan on the radio quote:

"When you delay execution in such cases; the identity of the victim is lost and
the accused gets a whole new identity."

It is so true in the case of Tookie. The guy is convicted of committing gruesome murders in 1979 and now after 26 years and a few children's book later, the deliberation is about the values he has added to the society instead of the murder for which he has been convicted.

I feel that Governor Arnold did the right thing by turning down the "clemency appeal" sighting

Without an apology and atonement for these senseless and brutal killings,
there can be no redemption.

This has made me wonder if my position regarding Capital Punishment is correct. However I still strongly feel that euthanasia is immoral. As I debate myself...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Sheila Teacher - Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Mrs. Sheila and I walk into the school together. I don't utter a word and we are about to part in two different directions - she heads towards the staff room and I go towards my class. Just then, I turn back and say "Thank you, ma'm" to put an end to the awkward walk of silence. She acknowledges and fades away.

I walk into the classroom thinking, "If anybody had to say 'thank you', it was she. Why did I thank her? For giving her a ride?."

Anyway, I quickly get back to the task ahead - the task of completing the Physics assignment. I now have a good 30 minutes before the school officially begins. I sit down and start writing the assignment straightaway. One by one everyone enters the class. And when Karthik walks in I ask him to give me his notebook so that I can copy the assignment rather than having to look for the answers from the text book. It is far more easy that way - If you know what I mean. By the time the bell rings I make good ground and I am pretty confident of completing all the assignment before the 4th period.

As expected, I complete the assignment during the recess and sit pretty, now eagerly waiting for Mrs. Sheila's arrival so that I can get over with the viva-voce too; especially thinking," she knows me by face and is sure to remember the huge favour that I did for her (the ride in the morning)."

The bell rings for the 4th period to begin and Mrs. Sheila arrives promptly. As usual she starts off with the defaultees. "Stand up, those of you who haven't completed yesterday's assignment.", she orders.

Today, there are only three people standing. And surprisingly there is no one from yesterdays list of defaultees. Wait... No... I take that back. Slowly Arun, my saviour yesterday, gets up smiling at everyone who looks at him. Yes, he has not completed his assignments today also.
"Man, what guts? This guy has no fear. " I think. My admiration for Arun grows manifold, witnessing this bold act of his.

Mrs. Sheila starts off with him, recognizing him very well from yesterday. As I said earlier, she spots her prey and she is a delight to watch when in full flow. But just that, this time it is my good friend. So I consciously deny myself any enjoyment from the sufferings of my saviour best friend, Arun. However the entertainment is too good for my weak resolution. I join the class in laughing for every slap and verbal abuse showered by Mrs. Sheila. This way twenty minutes go by and Mrs. Sheila throws the four defaulters outside the class and settles down to resume from where she left yesterday. She calls out for those who did not complete viva-voce one by one. My turn comes and I duly finish up with her. As anticipated, Mrs. Sheila was nice to me. At the end of the viva, "Come and meet me at the staff room", she whispered. And "next" she moves on.

Sheila Teacher - Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

The next day morning, I wake up a little earlier than usual and get ready to go to school. I am not sure if it is the fear or the cold steady rain outside that has disturbed my sleep. Nevertheless, I pack my books and just when I am about to leave, "I will drop you in the school in my car" affectionately dad offers me.

The overnight rain was good enough for the already bad roads of Chennai and by now the potholes are filled with dirty water.

So I quickly take the offer and sit in the car. This way I also gain a good five minutes to complete my homework.

Dad slowly takes the car out of the house. The five minutes that I thought I would save is already lost and more - he drives the car at snail's place.
As we move towards the end of the street, a pedestrian woman steps aside carefully to leave way for our car. My dad acknowledges by a nod of the head and slows down (further) to ensure that he doesn't splash on the lady. Only when she looks up I realize that it is Mrs. Sheila. The expression on my face changes at the very sight of her and my dad is quick to pick that. "Do you know her?" he asks.
"Mmm, yeah she is my new Physics teacher. I didn't know she lived in the neighbourhood", I reply.
Dad, immediately slows down the car to take a second look.
In my mind I say, "You can't go slower than this."
But he seems to have different ideas. He stops the car and offers a ride to Mrs. Sheila.
Mrs. Sheila hesitant at first, obliges and gets in after noticing my school dress.
Mrs. Sheila doesn't know me as her student. She just knows a few people in our class. Afterall she has been in the school only for 3 months.

"Thank you, sir" as she seats herself in the back seat.

"Not a problem at all. I am going there to drop my son afterall. Why not drop his Physics teacher? haha" he responds and eases her into the conversation.

"Which class are you studying" she questions turning towards me.
"XI E mam.", I answer obediently.

"You live here Ma'm? I have never seen you before in this route." I pose one back at her.

"We recently moved here to the 43rd street. Its just been ten days", she responds having a first time complete look at me.

I realize that she is not going to forget my face after this.

"What is your name?" she quickly asks.

"R. Rajesh Ma'm" I reply.

Dad adds to his tally by posing a few questions to her. But the car hasn't moved much in the meantime.

I must agree that some good personal information about Mrs. Sheila were revealed through their conversation.

Now I can tell the boys all about Mrs. Sheila's family - that she is unmarried and lives with a brother and an old mother; that her brother is studying for IAS and she is the only breadwinner of the family. Just as the conversation continues, dad asks Mrs. Sheila "So do you take tuitions outside of school as a supplemental income?".

Mrs. Sheila gets a little uncomfortable with the question. But she pulls herself together and replies, "No, I think the school has some wierd policies that the staff should not engage in private tutoring of our school students".

Dad is smart enough to understand from her reply that Mrs. Sheila would love an additional income oppurtunnity, if only it was not for the school statutes that prevent her.
So he quickly rubbishes the school saying "Yeah, they have all kinds of rules, most of which is absurd and nobody follows" giving Mrs. Sheila the much needed confidence for taking private lessons.
"I want to put Rajesh into some tuitions. So if you are okay, you can teach him in the evenings. I would be more comfortable if he takes tuition lessons from his school teacher than some third person", he adds.

Mrs. Sheila, obviosly uncomfortable with the question, in a dilemna, replies "I will think about it and let you know through Rajesh before the evening"
And with that we reach the school.
We both get down and dad drives away.

Stay tuned...

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Aagaya Chunaami (Tsunami)

SUNTV News was reporting the recent rains that created havoc in Chennai. There is this usual voice that reports "Sirappu Cheidhigal". The camera was showing us all parts of the city - Mowliwakkam, Madippakam, Velachery, Vijay Nagar, Saidapet, Virugumbakkam.... The scene was really bad. Each house looked like an island of its own.

Just when I started feeling bad for my fellow Chennaiites and useless; sitting miles away from my hometown, the reporter went on to describe the event as "Aagaya Chunaami". I laughed for the next thirty minutes - non stop . "Aagaya Chunaami" hehehe.

Who said Tamilians are not imaginative? Who said Tamil is not a descriptive language.

I agree that in Tamil, we refer to electronic equipments by its functionality like "thulai pesi" for telephone; "pada pudippu sadanam" for camera.... but can anybody come up with Aagaya Chunaami?

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Gadget Addiction & Conflict

As long as you don't have it; you don't need it.
If you have it; You cant live without it.

I now can't imagine:
a world without electricity,
a world without automobiles,
a world without telephones,
a world without TV, RADIO
a world without tapes/cds,
a world without camera,
a world without movies,
a world without cellphones,
a world without laptops,
a world without internet,
a world without ATM,
a world without TIVO,
a world without conflict.

Well, everything in the list but the last one, was invented in the 19th/20th century.

1. This makes me wonder if the world really existed before! Is history a well conceived story?

2. Is it fair to trace to the earliest conflict and say that the world was created around that time.

3. Are we fooling ourselves when we talk of World Peace?

Tell me if you know.

Am I out of my mind?

In the morning, I laugh about a story that a guy died kissing a girl because of peanut allergy.
In the evening, I feel bad that Inzaman was run out on 97.

Is something wrong with me. Or is this how the world works.
I wonder...

Friday, December 02, 2005

Yeah Right

Teacher : Two positives will never give a negative.

Student : Yeah, Right

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Gere-ing up against AIDS in India. - Heroes Project

Richard Gere who has been actively involved in India, supporting various social and political (Tibetan Independence) causes, is vigorously campaigning against AIDS. He has joined hands with Mr. Parameshwar Godrej to launch a three year initiative called "Heroes Project".

His brother, David Gere - Assistant Professor of World Arts and Cultures at UCLA, has been putting up his own AIDS awareness program - Make Art/Stop AIDS.

Recently, Richard Gere with the help of the South Indian Cine Artists, organized a cultural program to promote AIDS Awareness. The program was held in Hyderabad with many stars getting involved and performing on stage. The stars include Chiranjeevi, Kamal Hassan, Nagarjuna, Sharat Kumar & Radhika, Venkatesh, Revathi and other new entrants.

The intention of the program was noble. However, I feel that the focus was lost as there was no substance in the message. Every now and then, between two performances, some star who can neither dance nor sing, walked to the stage and said "We should stop AIDS. AIDS is dangerous" and that was all. There was no emphasis on AIDS prevention, the facilities available,information about AIDS Care Centres, symptoms and the risks of extra-marital affairs.

It was funny when Radhika and Sarath talked about how they met, commitment... . It served more as a reassurance of their relationship to each other than it seemed like a message to the public.

It is an irony that they along with Kamal, Nagarjuna... were chosen as ambassadors for an AIDS initiative. May be they are "pure". May be they take neccessary precautions. But it didn't get conveyed. Ridden with a personal life of sex-controversies, divorces or re-marriages, all of the above stars and most of the others who were present, were best fit only to talk about "precautions" and "safety". But, they didn't choose to touch that subject.

The need of the hour, my friends, is frankness and acceptance of the reality. With India and in India, Tamilnadu almost topping the charts for the number of AIDS patients in the world, we cannot claim to be a conservative society. Come on, how long can we pretend to be a "One man- one wife" society and deny what is out in the open.

When Kushboo frankly spoke about pre-marital sex and urged girls to be smart and use safety precautions, she was ridiculed by the entire Nadu. The Dalit Panthers and the PMK from the political arena were joined by the same cine association to condemn one of their very own Star for what seemed to be the most appropriate statement in the fight against AIDS. They started talking about "Tamil culture", "karpu"...

How in the world are we going to spread awareness with this kind of an attitude? To gain political mileage in the Dravidian state, these so called activists are detrimental to a much required fight against a monster which has already affected 5.1 million Indians and if left could spread to 20 million more by 2010. For facts check here.

There is a big mis-conception that rural India is where AIDS is spreading rapidly. And the reason cited is illiteracy. I beg to differ. Many people are very aware of the repercussions of stepping into unsafe territories - yet they do it due to the urge and the lack of safety measures at that point in time.

This is because of the time constraints that they are forced into such situations. Imagine the situation of a young boy and girl who are attracted to each other. Unless they choose to wait till marriage, there is no way they are going to find the required time and place to get together. If they find a place, they don't have enough time. Obviously, they are not going to waste any more of the less time that they have thinking about what is morally right and wrong or shopping for what is required for precautions. The case is the same for extra-marital indulgences. When emotion kicks in, brain stops working.

1. The society needs to accept the reality. This will allow for people to follow their mind without having to fear of being outcast from the society.

2. Morality needs to be imbibed from a very young age. It's not enough, if we just have a sex-education class in school for 30 minutes when they attain the age of 15 or so. It has to be implanted into the individual's character from childhood. Only then it will be a reflexive action to say "no" without having to think at the crucial point.

3. Women are nor more sacred than men. For every man that steps out of matrimony, we should accept that there is a woman who is knowingly or unknowingly involved. I am only talking about heterosexual relationships here. The western society seems to have accepted this very well. India should be willing to digest this fact and open up to the reality.

World Aids Day falls on December 1st. Let us hope that the awareness programs are modified to address the causes, symptoms, cure and counseling facilities rather than the surface level entertainment that does nothing more than heat up individuals to go looking for partners forgetting the underlying cause.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Legends of South India - Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari.


Rajaji's greatest service to mankind, in his own words, is his translation of Mahabaratha and Ramayana to simple English. In my view he is the greatest statesman that India has ever seen.

Gandhiji himself stated, "Rajaji could see six months ahead of me.". This was very appropriate as Rajaji was the first and only person to support Jinnah's Muslim League's request for Partition of India inorder to co-operate in the freedom struggle. While he was ridiculed for this view of his, after years of bloodshed, it was understood by the other leaders that it was inevitable. Such was his insight.

In 1921, Rajaji wrote from prison;

Freedom will come; but immediately thereafter or even for a long time it may not bring the people happiness or a good government. As soon as freedom comes, there will be a scramble for elected places; in its wake will come corruption, injustice and the wickedness caused by money and an inefficient administration. The life of the people will be like hell. Many will feel that the older regime, which was comparatively more just, efficient and honest, was better. What we get from our independence will be only freedom from indignity and slavery. Our future lies in making our youngsters good citizens by giving them from early days an education, which is likely to create good conduct, righteousness and mutual love. If that is not done, it is certain that they will be crushed under the wickedness of injustice and wealth.

How true it turned out to be! It is a shame that it still continues to be that way.

He was a champion of social justice. He fought against untouchability and believed in the equality of all humanbeings. He was later grossly misunderstood and accused of introducing "Kula Kalvi thittam". Politics played its part with EVR Periyar putting a spin on what was purely intended as a vocational course in addition to regular school.

He was also against public sector enterprises and was a big proponent of free market, liberty and the rule of law. He said, "The first thing that needs to be federalised is elections". And went on to condemn the private funding for elected representatives. He also proposed a six month governor rule before every election in order to eliminate the advantage of the ruling party. These went on to fall on deaf ears.

He was a selfless individual who gave up a lucrative law practice to join the freedom struggle. He was appointed as the first Indian Governor General, the highest post of free India. He later accepted the call to become the CM of Tamilnadu. He did not feel that it was a low position after having been the Governor General. He was never behind power, position or money. He was fearless to speak his mind and was never bothered about the praises or pelting that he received in turn.

A recipient of Bharat Ratna, Rajaji fought for independence and later fought for his ideals. A firm believer of Ghandian principles, Rajaji lived a life of principles as preached in the Hindu Dharma.

And that is why he remains my greatest hero.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Sheila Teacher - Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

In despair, I wait for my destiny - every now and then looking up to see who is at the centre.
Two more complete their viva as I wait perplexed.
I start to inhale heavily and blow the air out of my mouth. I feel miserable.
Suddenly the nerves to my brain seem to be cut off. Except for the ones that send the signals of fear and anxiety. They seem to be working overtime for now.
I do my routine of looking up ... a couple of times. I then turn to the outside to see what Arun and co. were doing outide.
While the other three are standing quietly, Arun seems to be chatting with someone...someone I can't see from my desk. The person is standing behind the door, but the conversation, to me, seems serious. I desperately try to have eye contact with Arun, who understands my situation better than the moron sitting next to me. Karthik is useless in these situations. All my attempts to get Arun's attention are in vain.
While this is happening, Mrs Sheila is getting closer to my number.
Finally Arun looks at me and smiles mischievously.
"Bast..." I call him. "What kind of a person would have fun at a friend's misery?" I wonder, forgetting totally that I was enjoying every moment of their session with Mrs. Sheila.

"Excuse me madam" enters a new voice from the door. This time it is Balakrishnan, the other attender. Balakrishnan in contrast to Pitchaiah is very young and kind of mischievous. He has a different style and is closer to students, especially Arun.
"Was it he who was talking to Arun?", I ask myself. But my brain does not respond to anything but fear. So, I wait wondering.

"Yes, Bala, what have you brought?" queries Mrs. Sheila.
Mr. Simon wants to meet Arun, Nandakumar and R. Rajesh immediately. He wanted me to bring them and the other team members from the other classes to talk about the cricket match this Saturday.
"Now?", asks Mrs. Sheila.
Before Balakrishnan could respond Mrs. Sheila summons us to go.
"I am not even in the team", I think as I walk towards the door.
Nandakumar stops. "Ma'm, I have not completed my viva.", he says; to add to my agony.
I turn hesitantly to hear what Mrs. Sheila has to say.
But to my fortune, Mrs. Sheila responds, "Go ahead, we can do that tomorrow."
"Yes", I vanish. I run as fast as I can to get out of the scene. I wait at the stairs to thank Balakrishnan.
He comes smilingly and accepts my gratefulness with humble grace.
"You should really thank Arun", he says. "At first, I didn't want to risk it. But then.."
My friendship for Arun grew stronger. I am not sure if I would have done this for him. But now I am out and that is a huge relief.
Balakrishnan leaves us alone to take care of other stuff. I thank Arun for a while and all that... for sometime. We laugh about it for sometime.
I then resort to some stern resolutions. Today I will go home and immediately complete the work. This is a wake up call from God.", I pledge with all sincerity, only to trigger more laughter among Arun and Nanda, who comes to term with the happenings and the blunder he was about to cause to Arun's master plan. "All's well that ends well" is the look in my face.

We just chat for the rest of the hour and go back to the class, ten minutes after the bell rings to avoid crossing Mrs. Sheila on the way. By the time we get back, the next class has begun.
I am very anxious to learn what happened during our absence. But everyone is busy trying to solve Mrs. Ambujam's Maths problems.

I desperately distract Karthik, who anyway has no clue about Calculus. "What happened?", I ask.
"Nothing much. Mrs. Sheila just continued with the viva and everyone was done except you guys.", he replied much to my satisfaction.
"Also..", he added,"she gave another homework".
I collect all the details and just keep reminding myself of the resolution that I took near the bathroom in front of Nanda and Arun. I still want to stick by it.

The school day ends with nothing more to add.

On my way home, I see that the boys in the street have already started to assemble.
Kumar spots me, "Rajesh, come quickly. The toss is over. We are batting."
I hesitantly "Mmmm Okay two minutes.".
I quickly go home - shed my bags and change my shoes - all in one action.
As I run out to join the boys, my mother asks "What happened in school? Wait...".
No answer as I run to get into the game. By this time I have totally forgotten about school and my resolution near the Toilet Room.
It is already 6:30 and the game gets over. Everyone returns home.
At around 7:30 I decide to sit and complete the homework - after dinner. I studiously unpack my school bag, take the Physics text book; keep it aside and look for the notebook.
From behind the Computer book, I take out the Physics notebook.
Now I have everything in front of me and nothing to distract my concentration.
I sincerely begin writing the assignments.
Flick..Flick flick.. Oops the electricity goes away.
"Oh ! my God", I say to myself. Even God does not like to watch me this way.
I, with a dejected face, go out. Already Kumar and others have assembled to discuss cricket and girls... our usual topics when the power is out. I join them and again make merry of the situation.
By the time the power comes back, it is 11:30 pm and I hit the bed right away.
This time, I don't even think of getting up early and completing the homework. I know I will never be able to get up early enough. My only option is to complete it before the 4th period.

Will I procrastinate further and get caught?
Let's see in Part 4..
Stay tuned...

Monday, November 21, 2005

Sheila Teacher - Part 2

Part 1

Pitchaiah enters and he hands over the circular to Mrs. Sheila. He requests her in Tamil, to read it to the class.
Mrs. Sheila pauses her viva-voce with Diwakar and looks at the circular.
She places the circular beneath the duster and continues with her viva-voce when Pitchaiah interferes; "Madam, I have to take it to all the classes".
She acknowledges and reads out the circular:
"All students are requested to bring old clothes and toys for donation to Premananda Ashram. All donations will be collected till Friday and they can be dropped in the Library. Please make sure that the clothes are not torn or unclean."
"That's it", she ends; "You all got it".
I quickly get up , "Ma'm can I bring Jeans and T-Shirt"; in a desperate attempt to buy some time.
She replies "whatever you want, I mean you don't want".
Nalini gets up and asks "Should we put our name" - quite typical of her.
Or is she doing what I am doing? A thought just brushes my mind.
Mrs. Sheila responds jovially; "Make sure you put your initials Nalini."
This sparks some laughter and some murmur in the class.
I am enjoying every moment of it.
Mrs. Sheila returns the circular to Pitchaiah and turns to her table.
Poor Diwakar, he was standing there, half-done and anxiously waiting for the remainder of the exam to be done.
Afterall his fears are far less than mine.
Mrs. Sheila resumes her work and finishes off with Diwakar.
As she calls out the next name, I start feeling very comfortable because there is no way Mrs. Sheila can complete thirteen interviews in the remaining 20 minutes.
I begin to relax. I start smiling and sit back to see what Arun and co. are doing outside. As the hour goes by Mrs. Sheila completes three more vivas. Its just five minutes left for the bell.
Comes Pitchaiah again; "Excuse me madam".
This time Pitchaiah doesn't look much of an angel as he seemed in his previous visit. Ah! only five minutes left and what difference can this make anyway.
"Yes, Pitchaiah, What's the matter this time?" retorts Mrs. Sheila.
"Mrs. Girija wanted me to tell that she will not be taking this class for the next hour and if you want you can continue with the class." announces Pitchaiah.
"Did I hear it right?"; I double check with Karthik who sits with me. He confirms the same
I say, "Shit..."
He asks me, "What happened? Are you not ready for the viva?".
I hesitate, "No...not that. "
"I.. I did not submit the homework"; I tremble.
"What? You are going to get caught" he whispers; "What are you going to do now?"
"I don't know." I reply and turn to the other direction, cutting the conversation short .

All the worries start to seep in. My happiness was short-lived and I start to think deeply and have already submitted to destiny.
I know that there is no escape now. Mrs. Sheila now gets one full hour to continue with the vivas. She can eaisly finish atleast fifteen more . I am 10th in line.
"I am done"; I say to myself as the bell rings.
The sound of the bell triggering the butterflies in my stomach. I bend towards the desk and rest on my folded left arm.

Stay tuned to learn more...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Cricket commentary and English language - A practical training.

During my schooldays, there were a few boys who spoke English at home,read Hardy boys.... I mean a very few. And there were some others who refered to their parents "Daddy" and Mummy" and that was all English they could speak.
I come from neither type . My parents were always amma and appa for me and I never read those novels. And I believe majority of kids were like me.

All the English I learnt, came purely from watching not Hollywood movies but cricket matches.

Ofcourse, I went to an English medium school. But then I had second languages of Hindi and French both of which I cannot claim of speaking fluently, inspite of learning them for 10 years.

My case
It is one thing to read and write but "to speak" requires courage and confidence.

Thanks to Tony Greig and his Channel Nine for introducing today's young India to the language. The language that has helped to bring home a millions of jobs from across the seas.

The interest in cricket and the keenness to analyse the game, have forced people like me to increase the TV volume to follow what is being said by the experts.
After the 1983 Prudential world cup victory, all one talked about was cricket. If you didn't, then you are a girl that is reading my blog now.

To talk to friends during the recess, required full concentration from the toss to the presentation ceremony. From the pitch to the post-match analysis, every factor was explained. And explained with phrases and words that I never knew. Every game was an English lesson. To speak fluently means to construct sentences on the feet. This I learnt from the commentators.

"That ball bamboozled the batsman"; "He caressed through to the boundary"; "Pluck it from thin air; mandatory overs; follow-on..." are all examples of how easy they made it for us.

Metaphors and similis were used at will. I was learning all this while.

Imagine, other than cricket, all we got were sponsored programs in regional languages and Hindi.
Yeah, we were shown the regular "Sorry for the break" and that was all.

In school, it was "Yes miss, no miss, sorry miss".

At home it was "ikada raa naina or kamanaati seekaram vaa" depending on your mother tongue.

There was no better place for a kid where English was spoken or was necessary in the society. Nor were we any longer under the British Rule.

Atleast now we have the Cable that brings Star news ...

From today, if some one asks who my English teacher was; my reply will be Tony Greig, Ian Chappell... in different matches and not Mrs. Girija or Nalini Ravindran.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

God and Science - an old post

Man throws an apple up in the air;
When it comes down, he says;
"All that goes up has to come down" - Newton's Law of gravitation.
God sits up there and smiles; "All that has gone down has to come up one day"

Science is correct only as long as the assumptions made are true.
Religion is true only as long as its beliefs are true.
God is true as long as there is doubt.

If you have no doubts about anything , then you are either arrogant or totally ignorant. And only then you can be a non-believer of the obvious.
The obvious is His existence.

You call Him whatever.
You pray to Him however.
If you believe He is there
Then He is really there.
Thats all you should care;
that he cares.
Leave the rest to Him;
and rest in Him.
For all you can control is very little,
being a mere puppet
and strings with Him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Sheila Teacher - Part 1

Mrs. Sheila, the Physics teacher enters the class with a duster on one hand and a long register on the other hand folded to her waist to ensure that it doesn't fall down. Coupled in her fingers are a few chalk pieces. Yesterday, the school principal had decided that the teachers should bring the duster and chalk pieces with them to every class rather than leave it in the classroom- a measure to cut cost and thanks to the duster fight between Balaji and Subbu last week.

Good Morning ma'm !!! we all greet her in the most uncoherent tone. As we sit down and take our seats, Mrs. Sheila, walks to the center and frees her hands by placing everything she carried, on her table.
"Stand up, all of you" she turns; "Did I ask you to sit" she quips.
We all raise ourselves as slowly as possible. Saravanan, who hardly fits into the desk makes a huge sound as he lifts his body, adding fuel to her fury.

"Did you all compete the assignment", she queries looking at everyone in the eye to catch her prey for the day.
"Now, those who haven't completed it, remain standing and other can sit and pass the notebook to the front desk", she says.

Arun and I, both of us, haven't done the work. We look at each other, puzzled. After a brief stare, as the rest of the class settles down, I choose to sit but Arun didn't want to take a chance.
Not that he wants to be honest. He sits next to this girl Ramya who will surely tell Mrs. Sheila that he is lying. But today he is not alone, four other students (3 boys and 1 girl) are standing too. I have already started thinking if I made a mistake by choosing to lie on a day when four others have defaulted.
"Kavitha, you haven't completed the homework? I didn't expect this from you.", Mrs. Sheila asks surprisingly.
"No ma'm, yesterday..." Kavitha starts to reply.
"You wait..." she abruptly stops Kavitha and turns to the boys.
Kishore is already trembling. Mrs. Sheila has a natural ability to pick her prey and was quick to spot him. She zeroes in on him and reaches out to her ear, dragging him out of his desk.
"Ma'm, Ma'm please maaa...", he begs in pain trying to explain.
"Tell me your usual stories. Did someone in your family die, yesterday. Tell me why you didn't mm?" she demands
Kishore goes blank. Actually that was his plan. He is clearly in void, unable to think on his feet. He goes "No ma'm, no ma'm"; totally in shock.
We all laugh as she drags him to the front of the class towards her desk demanding an explanation all the way. Kishore is still to recover from the shock and yet to regain his reflex thinking. He suddenly replies "Sorry ma'm, I forgot" and slowly looks up. Mrs. Sheila is enraged as the class bursts in laughter. I have already forgotten that I have taken a huge chance, today. Everyone including Arun, Kavitha, Siva and Muthu are enjoying.
"Keep quiet, all of you", she orders.
Turning to Arun, Siva and Muthu, she invites them to join Kishore and asks Kavitha to sit down. Mrs. Sheila slaps the other two and ask all of them to get out of the class.
"Unfair", we all breathe. Just as if she heard us say it, Mrs Sheila says, "Kavitha, I am excusing you because this is the first time you have not done the homework. Don't repeat it and I want you to finish it and show it to me tomorrow." . Mrs. Sheila, having come clear of the suspicion of all the students, goes to her chair. She calls Prem, the class monitor, and asks him to bring all the submitted notebooks to her table.
As he sets out to fulfil her orders, Mrs. Sheila tells us to study for the exams quietly while she corrects the notebooks. She asks Prem to arrange the notebooks according to the "Roll Number" so that she can conduct the viva-voce while she returns the notebook.
I never thought about that. All of a sudden, fear started to seep into me. I didn't know that she was going to conduct the vivas today. "Grave mistake", I think restlessly. Its only 10 minutes into the hour. Usually, she takes atleast 25 minutes to finish up with the punishments.
"I have made a big mistake. Total mis-calculation. I am going to get caught. ", I curse myself.
In the meantime the guys outside have gotten over their stint with Mrs. Sheila and have started having fun silently outside, looking at the younger kids playing in the ground.
"Man, I should have also stood up", I worry from within, watching the time every second, which seems to move ever slowly.
My thoughts are wandering. I console myself saying "I will be lucky. I will escape. The bell will ring". But the very next second, I am in fear. "The games hour seems to finish very fast", I think.
"Excuse me, madam", a voice from outside breaks the silence in the classroom.
Its Pichaiah, our attender. He has brought a circular from the Principal's office.
Come in Pitchaiah, what is the matter? asks the teacher.
Dressed in white and white, Pitchaiah seems like an angel sent by God to me.
Will this save me?
I quicly look at my watch and realise that it is 20 minutes into the hour. I do a quick calculation, only two students have completed the viva-voce. I am 18th in the order. But Jaikumar and Gayathri are absent. Still, I figure out that my chances are high to get through clean.

Stay Tuned to find out...

Monday, November 14, 2005

Chinna Thirai SOAPS - A toll on health, performance and the state of mind

Typically, after yet another tired day at work - writing emails, chatting with friends at the pantry, browsing and a couple of hours of real work... - believe me it gets really tiring, I go back home to relax . I switch on the television, expecting to view some shows that would lighten me up; before going to bed so that I can rejuvenate myself for the evening and have a good night's sleep. I thought - that is what entertainment was all about.

In an attempt to be closely-associated with India - especially Chennai and what's happening there, I watch SUNTV. My typical evening starts with the News at 8:00 and ends with Manaivi at 11:00. While enjoy I keeping up-to-date with the current affairs of TN, its getting harder and harder to digest the thick sentiments of family feud in the SOAPS that follow. Kolangal to Selvi to Manaivi, the drama is too heavy for me to go to bed with a relaxed mind. However, I must admit that I am addicted to watch these programmes - not so much for the quality as much for the satisfaction of living in extended Chennai that I miss a lot.

Recently I have resorted to keeping up late and switch to the American Channels to lighten my mind after the two-and-a-half hour trauma ride. I watch "Everybody loves Raymond" followed by "Friends" followed by "Will and Grace" and end it up with "Fraiser" or at times even beyond that with some late night comedy. It takes that much to get out of the sorrow my mind goes through while watching "Abhi" of Kolangal fight her way through the difficulties or the challenges that "Selvi" has to encounter.
Honestly, it is taking a toll on me and it is showing. I end up late to work the next day. Mr. Maran, how about some genuine comedy during the "prime time"?
Excuse me; not the likes of "Chinna Paapa..." or "Vikramadityaa" ... something genuine. I would prefer your drama to that kind of comedy. How about a serial where the story moves? Even if it means a remake of the English SOAPS mentioned above. Indianised version - i mean. Like "Priyamaana Raman" for "Everybody Loves Raymond". Are we not capable. Our movies have good comedy, why not bring them to Chinna Thirai.
I have been thinking of that for sometime now.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Dodo-ed products

Within the last ten years, several things have been replaced or eliminated from the market in front of our very eyes. Some of them were very popular in the 90's. Some of them were very dear to me. We would never have imagined that these would be outdated ever. From kuchi Ice trolleys in the streets to TVS 50's and Maruthi Omnis in the showroom, the whole dynamics has changed.
I no longer wear a wrist-watch. Afterall every gadget displays time today. I am sure next generation kids will struggle to tell the time from a hand-clock (non digital).
I see no TVS 50s on the Indian roads.
Film rolls are getting replaced.
Audio tapes and walkman? IPod is becoming outdated.
VCR. I still own it. I don't know why.
Dial-up internet? You must be in the deeps of Africa.
TV antenna.
I miss those stray dogs that chase me especially when I want to sneak into the house silently in the nights.
Paneer Soda. Man I loved it.
The big HERO cycle. My friends thatha stills owns from the 1930s.
And finally my YOUTH. Oh! My god I turned 30 this month. I am old... really old... I see some grey hair. I am old..

Friday, November 11, 2005

The Test team- Testing time for the selectors

It would be interesting to see what the selectors have in mind when they sit down tomorrow for naming the squad for the Test rubber against Srilanka. When it came to the One day series they had the world cup as an excuse for leaving out Saurav, Kumble, and Laxman. The fact that we do not have a world cup for tests, will they cook up something creative.
My take on the team:
Assured Slots
1. Sehwag
2. Gambhir
3. Laxman
4. Sachin
5. Dravid (C)
Wicket Keeper
6. Dinesh Karthik or Dhoni (hard to rule him out)
Seventh spot dilemna
7. Saurav or Kaif or Venugopal Rao or Yuvraj or bowler (unlikely)
Bowlers (Option in pace with two definite spinners in 15)
8. Irfan
9. Agarkar
10. Zaheer
11. Harbajan
12. Murali Karthik
13.R. P Singh

Out of the seventeen named, Yuvraj and Venugopal have slim chances.
Laxman may lose out to Saurav due to lobbying which may prove lucky for Kaif as well. Greg Chappel really seems to like Kaif.
Dinesh Karthik should be given a fair chance inspite of Dhoni's success in the one dayers.
Don't know if Zaheer is fit.
Balaji will not even be in the minds of the selectors. He has to be content playing for Jolly Rovers and Tamilnadu unless he pulls something special in the next Ranji season.
Kumble's drawbacks are age and athleticism. He will not be in the picture as well. But a sad end to a champion career.
Saurav might even eye the opening slot threatening Gambhir. But my mind says Gambhir will win his way.
Eagerly waiting!!!

South Indian Stars

Response to Amrit Hallan of the Writing Cave
It may be true that we have a few veteran actorss who won't give up, but South Indian industry is not short of youth. Hailing from Tamilnadu, my mind immediately thinks of Vijay, Vikram, Surya, Jayam Ravi, Dhanush for a few who have been pretty successsful in tinseltown in the recent past.
The success of these youngsters have pushed veterans like Sarath Kumar, Vijaykanth, Prabhu and Karthik to the back bench. These are ordinary heroes.

Now if you are talking about Kamal, Rajini, Chirru Mohanlal or Mammooty, I would well advise you to remove any contact details in your blog that would lead to you. Yes we want them around.

As a heterosexual male, I don't care for the looks of the pot-bellied heroes as much as I would for the north Indian slimmies who are cast in the same movies, merely for filling that gap. In all, our movies are complete and therefore our heroes turn eternal.
Bollywood will face the same in 5-10 years when Sharukh , Salman and Aamir shed their youth, if you feel they have not already.
Then, you will find that its better to watch Vijaykanth perform than the hexagon-faced Hrithik Roshan dance. After all while watching Vijaykanth in action, my living room TV shakes.

The biggest difference is that South Indian heroes are made over several movies and hence have a niche while Bollywood heroes are judged movie by movie. This doesn't mean we are sentimental idiots. It takes a lot for a hero to get to that status. Afterall, projects and rates in celluloid industry are purely based on the success of the previous project.

Smokies shot from last year

My favourite picture of recent years. Balaji and I at the Smokies

Thursday, November 10, 2005

American Siblings of Indian cities

Recently I came across an article which mentioned about "sister Cities". Sister Cities International is a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network creating and strengthening partnerships between U.S. and international communities in an effort to increase global cooperation at the municipal level, to promote cultural understanding and to stimulate economic development.

Here is the list for the Indian cities

Community - Sister City

Bangalore - Cleveland, Ohio

Baroda - Edison, New Jersey

Calcutta - Long Beach, California

Chennai,Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Denver, Colorado

Delhi - Chicago, Illinois

Hyderabad - Riverside, California

Jaipur - Fremont, California

Mumbai, Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Los Angeles, California

Mumbai, Andaman and Nicobar Islands - Honolulu City and County, Hawaii

Pune - San Jose, California

Shimla - Carbondale, Illinois

Trivandrum - Galveston, Texas

Vijayawada - Modesto, California

More Indian away than when at home

For long, Indians have been constantly migrating to foreign lands in search of oppurtunites ranging from higher education to improving the social and financial status. But such oppurtunites, in the past, were restricted to either the elite or the daily-wage labourers who took up low-end labours. It is only since the early 90's that the migration of the middle class professionals began. Thanks to IT, faster means of transportation and cheaper communication .

While the elites and the poor labourers, who migrated earlier were keen to merge with the society and culture of their new homeland and shed their original identity; the middle class emmigrants seem to have chosen to carry thier Indian identity along with them. I see a lot of desis, here in Dallas, who would never visit a temple at the street corner of their homes in India, drive a long distance every week to a small temple. The sense of longing and belonging for and to India respectively is growing and growing fast among Indians. This is evident when you walk through easily identifiable Indian communities throughout US. This has made living in the United States better than for example, living in Gujarat for a South Indian and vice-versa. This has made it easier for new immigrants to settle down.

On the dark side, Indians have started restricting to socializing within their group without really opening up to the real America. This is sure to rebound on them when their kids grow up as normal Americans. Well, its better to start preparing for that cultural shock now. For, the first batch of American desi kids of middle-class emmigrants are about to graduate high school.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Professor Prime Minister

Today our PM supposedly snubbed Shipping Minister Mr T. R. balu when the latter tried to point outat the meeting that the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu was not cooperating in the relief operations. Manmohan Singh replied bluntly ""They are in distress and we have to help them instead of finding faults". It seems like a teacher who pomptly disciplines a student(bully) when he tries to deviate the class from the topic, by asking some unnecessary questions.
This brought out the professor in MMS. But the irony is that he is in al all-bully classroom.