Saturday, May 28, 2005

the roomie in love


I guess the last blog was heavy and when I read it back again today morning, I couldnt fathom why I wrote it anyways. This blog is about love too - just from a different perspective.

I have stayed with various roommates for almost 10 years now. Most of the roommates have been my age group every point of time with plus/minus of 3 years. I have had roommates of either gender, roommates who have stayed with me for anywhere from 30 days to few years. I have had same roommate in various cities, in various parts of the world. And a quick recount of rommates that I have stayed with, with a minimum period of 3 weeks as a baseline shoots close to a staggering number - almost half a century.

Of all these roomies, the toughest to manage have been the ones who had fallen in love. There should be a law that states that people who fall in love should not be allowed to share rooms with other bachelors. It is so frustrating and killing most of the times, notwithstanding the complex that these people impose upon the other bachelors who have not had any luck to have girlfriends themselves.

The most irritating is the phone calls. These lovers get phone calls at the most odd timings one can imagine. Sometimes it is so amazing to see the perfect timing with which these girlfriends always call their lovers exactly when his poor roomie just started to catch a calm quite sleep/nap. And then the lover boy starts to talk in hushed tones, laughing, giggling and the single roommate suffering starts. He can neither hear what they talk nor can he be deaf. At the end he to close his ears tightly with pillows and sleep. And the hushed phone talks just wont end. Any plans to do shopping or movies could be delayed by countless hours if because of that one ring in the phone.

Next is the ding ding of the messengers. It just never stops. These people are crazy to keep talking on phone and keep chatting through the messengers all the time. Someone's gotta call Yahoo and ask them to change that bell sound. The lover-boy's roommate has to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry while the Romeo sits there with the cell in one hand and typing in the messenger with the other.

Few weeks into the 'love-life', the Romeo is always entangled with the confusion of Friends Vs. Girlfriend. He would want to keep his girl happy all the time, but at the same time never want to give up his current 'all boys' gang. For a few weeks and even some months he will end up watching the same cinema twice, eating dinners twice at times. In the attempt to keep both the parties happy, the Don Juan will force his roommate to be an accomplice in telling lies to either the friends gang or the girlfriend about his plans as required.

Cinemas, TV Sitcoms, Songs - all will become unbearable with this lover around. He will start attempting to organize his life with his girlfriend's taste and will attempt to get his roomate bond with his girl. This will initially lead to a atrocious romantic movie for the single roommate one evening with the couple, who will be holding hands and enjoying the lousy picture. This is the most hazardous point. Once this ice-breaking is done, the girl will start frequenting the house - initially for a few minutes and then slowly she will take over.

If this romantic tale ends in success, then all is well. But if not and the Romeo returns back to the club-of-single-frsutrated-men, it is the roomie who has to accompany him to bars, pick the tab, clean the bathroom after the puking and talk for countless hours to bring sense into this guy. Furthermore if the girl's father is a bigwig, the roommate has the biggest risk of beaten black and blue for being an accomplice of the lover-boy.

Falling is love is a torture. But being the roommate of a guy in love is even a bigger torture.


the memorial day


Clear night sky. Twinkling stars.. Slow cool breeze...The right amount of light....The right amount of darkness.......She was there.......Waving, smiling & waiting.........

It was as if it was all a dream. It was as if none of this ever happened. It was as if they never knew each other. It ended abruptly, just the way it began.

He loved her. He adored her. He liked the way she smiled. He liked the way she yawned. He liked the way she bit her lip when she swore by mistake. He liked the way she called him. He liked the way she didnt return his call. He liked everything about her.

She was all he wanted. She was his life. She was in his dreams, eyes closed or open. She was the only person who could increase his heart rate in milliseconds with a glance.

They met as friends. They talked and talked and talked. They chatted for hours together. They gifted each other for every silly reason. They seemed just the perfect match. They seemed to be as if in love.

And it all ended. In one shot. She fell in love with someone and was out of his life, forever.

She moved on. But it was a sudden brake for him. He didnt know what to do with himself. He fought his tears. He fought his feelings. He fought for unbreaking his heart. He fought to continue his daily life. He fought his growing beard. He fought every memory of her in everything that he saw. And he tried to move on...

What is this four lettered word - love - actually mean ? Is this just a sudden impulse, an abstract meaningless entity, an urge or a temporary solution to a wandering mind in a confused stage ? What is this energy that brings in two less known people so close that they can forget everything else in and about the whole world ? What is this strong force that can give unimaginable strength to the weakest person at yet make the most powerful person astoundingly weak ? What is this sensation that has the power to remain strong and torture one long after the actual relation has been broken ? What is this feeling that has the might to remain alive and ensure a very slight smile to oneself on seeing a photograph, a coffee shop, a cinema, corner bench of a park ...

Clear night sky. Twinkling stars.. Slow cool breeze...The right amount of light....The right amount of darkness.......She wasnt around.......Silence........

And he hummed........

Someday, When Iam off little low,
When the world is cold,
I will always feel a glow
Just thinking of you....


Monday, May 23, 2005

may the force be with us


And so finally the saga ends. The American epic that happened long long ago in a galaxy far far away has come to an end. And it ended where it all began.. .. ..

STARWARS is not just another movie. It is a legend. An epic in its own might. It is the Ramayana or the Mahabharatha of a history-starved United States. Almsot every high school kid knows the story inside out. Almost every 30ish has patiently waited for years together to put the jigsaw in place.

And STARWARS was not a story told in totality in a single shot. The movie was spread over for years together, the first one releasing in 1977, the final one in 2005. Furthermore, it was not a movie released sequentially. The 4th, 5th and 6th episodes came out one after another with gaps of 2 years each. Then there was a huge gap of 16 years from 1983 - 1999 when the first episode came out. Then 2002 saw the second and finally 2005 the third.

Can a movie be released in ridiculous sequencing and still be a superhit ? Can a movie with queer characters with unpronouncable names have a huge fan following ? Can a movie which is nothing but a video game with dialogues run full houses for months ? Can a movie whose end is fully known still draw loyal crowds to a cinema just to watch missing pieces ? Can a movie when released, ensure that all its previous episodes are fully rented out of all video stores ?

Yes, yes and yes... George Lucas has not just tried but proved that all the above can be done and much more. He has created epic heroes. Aniken SkyWalker, Luke, Han Solo, Princess Leia, Senator Amidala, Obi-Wan Kanobe, Master Yoda are all immemorable icons - not just in Hollywood, but of American epics.

And when I went to the Starwars 3- Revenge of the Sith, I couldnt supress the excitement, the curiousness of what actually happened that changed the cute Ani into the fearsome Lord Darth Vader. The movie was high dose of stunts with the light saber killing thousands and thousands of the ewoks and whoever came in its way. The coup by the Sith was simply terrifying and the invicible Jedi were just reduced to a handful and had to go into hiding. But what was more impressive, was the message the movie delivered.

It was all about fear. Fear for the safety of the loved one. The fear to protect someone he loves drove the chosen Aniken SkyWalker to embrace the Sith and turn into Lord Vader. The fear to save his lover made him mad to believe everything that was said by anyone whom he thought could help protect his lover. He became a traitor to his own master and his own clan. He became faithless in the right way to live. He became self destructive and switched over to the dark side, the very side that he was born to destroy and bring balance to life.

"When I see him I see fear. Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to Anger. Anger leads to Hate. Hate leads to suffering".

...this powerful message from Master Yoda is definitely something to think about.


Saturday, May 21, 2005

at india inc. , we mean business !!


It is one year since the Congress led UPA government took over the reins of the Indian Union. After ruling the nation for one full term, Vajpayee and the BJP looked forward to a second chance, but the people thought otherwise. Congress won the election and was asked to form the government with a wavering support as usual from the self-respectless and aimless Communists and rest of the so-called secular parties. After a staged drama in front of 10, Janpath, Sonia decided to remain the Chairperson of the UPA and let one of the economy whizkids Manmohan Singh to take over the leadership at the Centre.

Dr. Manmohan Singh has since run a government, fairly well and with very minimum controversies as possible. Though he has rated his government to be at 6 out of 10 on his self-appraisal at the end of the year (which has not gone well with Sonia), on a relative scale the PM himself has done much better - and much needs to be commended for the selection of some of the ministers and the apt portfolio attached to them.

A few weeks ago, the India Today carried a very interesting artcile profiling some of the charismatic and active ministers who have taken their ministries seriously and go about selling India Inc., to the rest of the World effectively. As I read the article I was fascinated by the way these ministers went about doing their business and also the fact that majority were from our own Tamilnadu. A successful manager is one who identifies the strengths of his followers and taps them appropriately - looks like Manmohan has done this fairly well choosing the brand ambassadors & salesmen of India Inc.,

Our own P.Chidambaram, the Harvard grad with a World Bank/IMF network in place is a minister who can talk in equal ease about Shah Rukh (remember his main hoon na?) and Tiruvalluvar and the GDP figures for decades; a minister who responds to SMS queries almost immediately; a minister who believes in outcomes rather than outlays; a minister who can tell the World Bank to walk the talk effectively.

Praful Patel, the minister of Civil Aviation who has made discussions of Civil aviation more prominent in the Parliament more than that of Railways (inspite of Laloo Yadav) is a typical Donald Trump kinda businessman used to boardrooms. Salesman of Destination India, he has already created waves by opening the skies with US and Europe - the Delta, Jet, Sahara, Austrian, Virgin Atlantic and what not..

With an IFS background, Mani Shankar Aiyer, a seasoned Congressman - the Petroleum minister is one of the few who can directly relate to almost every visiting foreign head of state. A Cambridge man, a crypto-communist and a Gandhi family loyalist - the man has utilized his diplomacy connections well to establish backdoor negotiations with Myanmar & Algeria on Oil.

One of the heirs of the DMK dyansty and the man who managed the cable empire of the South - SUN network, Dayanidhi Maran looks exaclty like a Vice President of a IT Services organization. Using MBA techniques to govern, Maran has so far showed no patience for typical sarkari responsiveness. This man can not only just run a bitter campaign against Jayalalithaa in the noon but in the evening can also talk about Gartner magic quadrants & BCG matrix and all the rest of management jargons to impress MNC leaders and persuade them to invest in the nation.

Kamal Nath, Pranab Mukherjee are some of the other ministers who definitely deserve a mention.

Of course, the UPA government have their own share of cartoon-like/ lazy/dumb/pain-in-the-ass/non-performinge/embarassing/(& all of the above) ministers - like Laoo or Renuka Chowdhry or Shibu Soren or TR Baalu, no doubt; but the few brand salesmen as above are indeed trying to make a difference - and with visible outcomes. Wasnt this youthfulness, freshness and energy expected from the erstwhile BJP ? Wasnt the same vigour, passsion & commitment to make a difference expected from the Vajpayee/Advani leadership ?

A scientist and no-nonsense man for President, a wizard economist & a respected global leader as the PM, a set of well-educated grads for key portfolios - Is this the route towards Shankar's Mudhalvan .....?


Sunday, May 15, 2005

the national anathema ?

Hey ..

There is a very popular line from the very popular Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge about which I had blogged here. SRK keeps saying "Bade Bade deshon mein Choti Choti baatein hoti rahti hein" - in big countries, little things keep happening... - and this cannot be dismissed as a ishtyle of a hopeless romantic in a boy-meets-girl kinda hindi movie. This is so true and it always puzzles me how the Prime Minister or any leader for that matter can keep tab of what is happening all around this nation, decide what is important, prioritize and run the state..

There is always the bunch of jokers who keep inventing some controversy or the other in the otherwise peace-seeking nation. These so called 'patriots' come up with crazy ideas that disrupt the normal lives of normal people for whatever political advantages and there are followers for these 'leaders' too. They are either caste-related, religion-related, language-related......, In short, identity - related, enough to instigate anger and hate that will sustain for a few weeks or until the next election, maybe.

And this never stops.. (We had discussed a similar such act in the knights templars of today )

On such issue thatz ongoing in the same vein is the issue with the National Anthem. Early this year, seeking advice on a petition, Supreme Court asked Center if the reference to SINDH should be removed from our national anthem. Sindh is currently in Pakistan and it didnt make sense for these petitioning patriots to refer to Sindh in the anthem that they sing so respectfully !! After going back and forth on this subject, the Supreme Court finally made a decision on the subject that there was no need to change the anthem.

It surprises me what took the SC so long to arrive at this decision ? The national anthem is a song sung out of respect, loyalty and faith. It is not a glossary or Index of a list of states within the Indian Union. It is to remember the sacrifice people have made to save this holy land and remember it with pride. It cannot and need not be altered for every geographical or political change that occurs. It is surprising that the SC took so long to arrive at this decision considering the fact that it is the same Supreme Court that endorsed that it is not offensive or a crime to remain seated when the anthem is sung. .

This is just starting a trend. It is only a matter of time before portions of NorthEast or Kashmir or Goans come and stake a claim to refer their provinces in the anthem. And fighting for such a noble cause would obviously declare the leaders as true patriots in their local states laying a foundation for a strong political future.

But then, it is just not a simple matter after all, is it ? As some of my passionate friends would argue, "it is all about a painful history that takes a longer time to heal". "It is not about removing a word from a poem, but about saluting the song that refers to areas that are willingly with the enemy", is what they would say.

Well, what can one say, when after all these years there are still controversies that the Jana Gana Mana was originally written in praise of King George V when he visited India and the only reason it was chosen over the more popular Vandemataram because Vandemataram personified India as a Goddess and the Muslims wouldn't like such a thing !!

Chao ....

Friday, May 13, 2005

srirangam - malgudi days live


My dad was born at Srirangam and we used to frequent the place one of the school holiday seasons. I always liked the old temple and the queer history associated with it, which is blogged here. One after the other, most of my relatives have migrated to Chennai and elsewhere and our trips there became infrequent and almost stopped a few years back. This time during my vacation and I decided to go up there and take a look around. Years have passed by, but Srirangam still remains the same with little or no huge changes.

For those of you who have seen Agraharams only in movies, Srirangam is a typical Iyengar bastion and very much like the ones shown in movies. Everyone around talks in an unmistakable typical Brahmincal slang of Tamil. The man of the family works in a school, college, post office, LIC in Trichy town; the woman of the house divides her time between cooking and visiting the Thayar Sannithi in the temple. The kids are in school all morn, cricket on the roads all noon and sloka class all evening. The elders come out at night with their foldable cots and sit and chat about good old times for few hours with the neighbours while the kids try a few "floodlight" matches much to the fury of the calm society.

Srirangam is had majorly 3 streets running around the temple - that is all . The houses start one over the other and a boundaries can be seen only in street corners. Most of the houses were constructed in early 20 th century, revamped once every hundred years or more. They typically look like a long tunnel, the entrance leading all the way upto the backyard. Natural lighting struggles to enter most homes. The houses themselves are huge, but always appear messed and fully filled. Mostly there is a old man from a few generations before, lying in a bed, mumbling to himself.. He is fed every now and then and each one in the family have their own version of who he is and how he is related. A few houses have 'modern' appliances like the TV, Fridge which when kept nearby a antique almirah and remain undusted for long time, look antique themselves. Hot water supply is done with firewood stoves; no one sleeps in the so-called 'bedroom'... it is more of another store room anyway.

The Srirangam college-boys study mostly in St. Joseph's. Bishop-Heber and National are also popular. Jamal Mohammed is not viewed with affection, though. Off late the trend is to go to Shangmuga Engg which is an hour away from Trichy. The girls try to get into Holy-Cross or Indira Gandhi but many of the Srirangam angels get into Seethalakshmi Ramasamy collge much against their wishes - this college is also called as Pattu maami college locally since the students are expected to wear sarees everyday and not any of the 'modern' dresses. A Srirangam collegiate can be easily spotted in Trichy town - he will be wearing a whitish shirt and a dhoti (in recent days it has changed into cotton pants), sporting a namam and carrying an unmistakable yellow bag (manjap pai) having a eversilver tiffin box containing curd rice and pickle - the whole package is like a uniform.

The transport is primarily by a bus service called TST. Though it stands for Trichy-Srirangam-Trichy, it is abbreviated generally as Thallu-Sir-Thallu for its notorious breakdowns. Srirangam is an island on the banks of Cauvery on one side and Coleroon (Kollidam) on the other and it is connected with Trichy town well. The TST service runs almost every 5 minutes in either direction.

The late Sunday evenings are best to watchout. Oldies sit outside in the poorly lit verandah talking Rajaji Vs Indira Gandhi; kids are on street playing rubber ball cricket occasionally aiming well against their grandfather; Earning members listen to radio news and argue about the new pension scheme; women visit a relative six houses away or the next street; the youngsters sitting on the balconies conducting their secret love affair with the member of other sex in the opposite balcony while pretending to study all the time; every passerby is looked upon curiously and all discussions mellow down until he is out of the street and the next topic is all about him - and it is all the same even in 2005 !!

With a rich heritage and a proud history, the town still lives almost the same as its roots. Srirangam is the typical Malgudi.


Thursday, May 12, 2005

the show must go on


There are a lot of unexplained mysteries that happen around us every single day, maybe even every single moment. "Aha", "Really?", "Wow", "I cant believe it!!", "Oops" - all this is followed by a wave of curiosity that pushes us to figure out and decode the mystery.. and when we cant, which happens in most cases, they end up getting converted to conspiracy theories or just remain being mysteries forever.

It is not an anticlimax, but the one such mystery that I got wondering about is our craziness for movies. I can understand the fact that we all need entertainment and some of us may like a lot more of it than a few others, but still it doesnt explain why we must be so mad about movies. What is the big fun in watching a puny man in his late teens bringing down 50 people in 10 minutes or patiently go through the torture of 20 scantily clad extras dancing with even more undressed herione ? Well once or twice is sounds fun, but the same stuff again and again and again ?...

Of course it is ironic that I, of all people, write about this. I do belong the club of cine crazy morons who keep watching the same movie multi million times. I did watch TITANIC eleven times in theatres because it got 11 Oscars..(and then tons of times in DVD). I spent almost a couple of thousand rupees to watch Kandukondein Kandukondein - 8 times in DEVI multiplex (I hope my mom doesnt read this!!). And I can go on and on with examples like this - but will stop here since on retroscpection, the first couple of them already make me look like a idiot.

Anyways, movies running for 50 days, 100 days, 1 year - I can understand... but a movie playing for 500 weeks - almost 10 years in one theatre ? this is crazy. The Hindi superhit Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge celebreated 500 weeks of continious run with a 60% full theatre every weekday and housefull every weekend at a theatre in Mumbai. This is simply amazing, considering the fact that 9 years after its release, the movie still pulls people to theatres - in the world of pirated VCDs and DVDs.

What is so special in that movie ? A jobless happy-go-lucky NRI kid born to a cartoon-father, falls in love with a bespectaled, slightly dark, already-engaged Punjabi girl whose father is a strict & stubborn man. He comes to India, fights for his love and wins the girl with her father's consent. In between there are songs shot in parts of Europe and in our own Punjab - THAT IS ALL ?!!?

When the movie was released, college gangs thronged the theater - it was at a time when there were no good romantic movies with superhit songs for a very long time.. So DDLJ created a mania, formed a cult of deewanas who ensured the success of the other copy-cat movies that followed the same trend. Every college gang made group bookings; every teenager memorized the dialogues; the Mehendi Lagaake rakhna song was sung at every dance party - the movie was a mania....

This was 9 years ago - but why is it still a superhit today ? Now there are movies of more richer and naughtier heroes and super sexy heriones shot in more exotic locales. There are movies with better songs and definitely better storylines. There are movies where Shah Rukh and Kajol have given better performances than DDLJ... - it just is a mystery why the movie is still running aiming for 600 weeks in that theater without any unqiue attribute anymore.

A simple calculation of the person-hours spent in watching this movie in one single theater is simply mind boggling....Neverthless, let me return to watching DDLJ in my DVD ;)

and the craze goes on and on ..


Wednesday, May 11, 2005



There is one lesson from my English Reader that I havent yet forgotten from my school days. And ironically, it is about forgetting.

Human memory is one of those ultra-complicated unable to fathom secrets of biology. It 's capacity cannot be assessed in any unit and any scale whatsoever. And what's worse, it is virtually impossible to control what is retained and what is not inside that storage area. That is the saddest part, since there are certain things that you wish got wiped out of memory ...

The tamil writer Sujatha Rangarajan in one of his artciles in the recent Ananda Vikatan has written about how he has started forgetting some of the very simple facts as he is growing old. He states that with the ageing, he is able to vividly remember of his childhood days but finds it tough to recall the name of the woman who opposes Rajni in Padayappa! It is not very unusual for us to hear about old people forgetting stuff so easily. It is common to say 'Oops I forgot.. I must be getting old'. Amnesia is a joke in the movies and Alzheimers is dreadful and hopefully Regan was the last one.

But is forgetting to be worried about ? Or that awful ?

Coming back to my school lesson, the author goes on to say that Forgetting may be one of the biggest boons that God ever gave us. The only caveat to that is it cannot be invoked at will. If we turn around pages of history we find that many of the battles have been fought because society has always found it tough to forget certain events. If we look back at some of the friendships & acquaintances that we have lost in our lives, there will always be a significant percentage that we lost because we just couldnt forget some stuff that has been said.

It is too bad that we can manage to forget silly answers in a examination hall that we try too hard to remember, but cannot seem to erase from memory some of the episodes that we try to forget so hard. Having a Selective Amnesia seems such a neat idea as long as we get to select what needs to be remembered and what not.

Infact our politicians bet a lot on forgetting. They keep dumping one scam over the other and rely on the fact that people do forget. Bofors, Fodder, Airbus, Stock market, Postal, Stamp paper, wealth misappropriation, Military coffin - and still same set people go to the Parliaments and Assemblies every other election.

As a individual, as a group, as a society, as a country and as a civilization forgetting needs to happen. Forgetting gives more gains than remebering in cases. A country needs to consciously forget tragic events of history that only provoke revenge; A society needs to consciously forget the angry words uttered and injustice done centuries ago that only kindle hate; An individual needs to consciously forget the failed love affair that only drives him to sadness and grow a beard ... ... ...

Iam not sure if I would wish for a rewind button if life were recorded. But I sure will wish for a erase button.


Monday, May 09, 2005

idiot, says the wife



This is what Debra Raymond tells her husband Ray atleast more than once in every episode of the very wonderful and absolutely funny TV sitcom Everybody loves Raymond. The way she rolls her eyes in an act of exasperation and says Idiot provokes a good laughter every single time. One cannot but wonder, how is it to have a wife who assesses her husband as an Idiot for most of the day.

Such kind of a thing could never happen to with our parents and the rest of the familymen we knew from the previous generation or prior to that. It is tough to even imagine some of our elderly Indian women calling their husbands as "Idiot" aloud even when both of them are all by themselves. And with our understanding of the typical male-oriented Indian society it is impossible to fathom that such a thing could ever happen... until now, atleast.

Coming to think of it, a wife calls her husband by his name only in the present generation. Even today, that too is avoided when the in-laws and the neighbours are around. There is a immediate drama role that is taken up and the wife starts addressing him as Ennanga types, leave alone calling him an Idiot. As of today, only the parents have earned the right to scold their son, atleast in public.

When I was at Chennai, my favorite Mirchi-Suchi had a radio talk show with the wife-community around the question "What do you do when your in-laws scold their son?". From the wide range of answers given in the show, I concluded that it should be a good fun to watch the wife's reaction when her husband is being taken to task by his parents. A wife like Debra of course will side with them most of the times. But it will be interesting to know what a typical desi wife will do in such a situation. (Maybe some of the 'experienced' members of the married community can come out clean here.)

We always joke around about one of our friends here that he would land up with a wife just like Debra. If that really happens, am sure of the only way by which he will be addressed by her.


Saturday, May 07, 2005

chennai ... changed ?


Ever since I landed in Chennai for my vacation many have been asking me what do I find different there. There are definitely reasons behind that question. The primary one being the fact that Iam an ardent lover of this city . The other reason being that I have been away for more than 2 years and Chennai is supposed to have undergone major transformations during this time.

I spent quite a considerable time at Chennai during my vacation. I re-lived by bachelor life - stayed with friends, roamed on motorcycles, late-night movies, erratic eatouts at Karpagambal mess and Murugan Idly shop, arguing with the auto driver, travelling in the vendor compartment of the electric train... I thought Chennai still remains the same.. Or, does it ?

The crazy expansion of the IT corridor has indeed changed things dramatically. Adding to the fact that there are too many NRIs who have come back after the dot-com disaster, the westernization of the city is on a rapid pace. There must be about tens of thousands of IT organizations in the Old Mahabalipuram road - the place is seeing action since the Pallava period only now. Townships are being constructed at every piece of land available and the city limits is almost near Chengelput now. IT organizations fit the description of factories during second world war - transporting millions of worker back and forth every day to their facilities outside the city. The road is to be converted to a six-lane in the upcoming years.

Metro system has grown with the MRTS plying till Tiruvanmiyur. The raliway stations are amazingly huge and constructed keeping the future traffic in mind. As a titbit, with the conversion to broad gauge, some of the compartments have been merged - the first class and the ladies-special compartments are now on the coach !! ;)

Everyone carries a mobile. AirTel, Reliance and BSNL wars have proved beneficial for the user community and there is absolutely no one without a mobile. You can call auto-wallahs with a mobile at the same time finish all your ICICI transactions through your cellphone. Saree purchases over Rs500/- at Kumaran Stores earns a family plan with Hutch ! This is a mega change for me, since I used cellphone last at Chennai when the outgoing was still Rs 8/-.

Though Chennai roads are still the same wrestling to take the huge traffic, the suburban & NH roads have been renovated. The NH-45 renovation for about 100 kms is better than the NJ-Turnpikes - the ride is absolutely smooth with no bumps, there are rest areas at every 25 km, there are spacious toll booths. This road is much better than the EC highway. The 4 wheeler traffic at Chennai has increased with Santros, Indicas and Citys plying about everywhere. The number of star-hotels have almost doubled since the last I was there. (It is still a pity that the much awaited Oberoi towers is still half-baked).

Westernization - recreation of US - seems to be the focus. With Radio-Mirchi FM (the voice of RJ-"Mirchi Suchi" is simply addicitive) where there are traffic alerts during peak hours, the Spencers & Shppoers Stops recreating the atmosphere of Tysons Malls, huge Multiplxes featuring tens of movies at exhorbitant prices, terrific customer service at every place, young girls sporting skirts and sleeveless tops - except for the hotting up summer, there is little difference between Chicago & Chennai...

Yes. Darling Chennai has of course changed - dramatically, amazingly, enjoyably...

But all this apart, when Superstar's Chandramukhi was released, there was the feverish activity, ultra-size cutouts, auto processions, prayers offered in temples, prayers offered to the Superstar, long & huge lines outside every cinema hall - the craze hasnt gone down even by a bit for the 50-something old hero who hasnt made a screen appearance for more than 3 years !

Certain things wont change.


Thursday, May 05, 2005

quarter life crisis ?


[Adapted from a mail forwarded to me a few years back]

This might mean something for those in their twenty-something's... This puts it all into words perfectly - Quarter life crisis - what a neat way to describe this..

It is when you stop going along with the crowd and start realizing that there are a lot of things about yourself that you didn't know and may or may not like. You start feeling insecure and wonder where you will be in a year or two, but then get scared because you barely know where you are now.

You start realizing that people are selfish and that, maybe, those friends that you thought you were so close to aren't exactly the greatest people you have ever met and the people you have lost touch with are some of the most important ones. What you do not realize is that they are realizing that too and are not really cold or catty or mean or insincere, but that they are as confused as you.

You look at your job. It is not even close to what you thought you would be doing or maybe you are looking for one and realizing that you are going to have to start at the bottom and are scared.

You miss the comforts of college, of groups, of socializing with the same people on a constant basis. But then you realize that maybe they weren't so great after all.

You are beginning to understand yourself and what you want and do not want.

Your opinions have gotten stronger. You see what others are doing and find yourself judging a bit more than usual because suddenly you realize that you have certain boundaries in your life and add things to your list of what is acceptable and what is not.

You are insecure and then secure. You laugh and cry with the greatest force of your life. You feel alone and scared and confused. Suddenly change is the enemy and you try and cling on to the past with dear life but soon realize that the past is drifting further and further away and there is nothing to do but stay where you are or move forward.

You get your heart broken and wonder how someone you loved could do such damage to you or you lay in bed and wonder why you can't meet anyone decent enough to get to know better. You love someone but maybe love someone else too and cannot figure out why you are doing this because you are not a bad person.

You go through the same emotions and questions over and over and talk with your friends about the same topics because you cannot seem to make a decision.

You worry about loans and money and the future and making a life for yourself and while winning the race would be great, right now you'd just like to be a contender!

What you may not realize is that a great percentage of all twenty-somethings reading this relates to it. We are in our best of times and our worst of times, trying as hard as we can to figure this whole thing out.

And so my friends, I feel comfortable that Iam not alone in this crisis.


Wednesday, May 04, 2005

journey into history - thiruvarangan ula

Hey ..

It has been quite some time since I have posted anything up here. As said earlier, I was enjoying authentic sweet, karam and coffee back home. Now Iam back - back to work, back to crazy eating schedules, back to talking English with a fake accent, back to reading news on the Internet, back to rash driving and bluetooth chatting, back to blogging...

For the past few years I have been interested in knowing the history of Lord Ranganatha of the temple at Srirangam. My dad hails from there and I have visited the place quite a number of times. In the late 90s during one of our otherwise boring 'pilgrimage' kind of trips, my mom mentioned something about the Idol being kidnapped a few hundred years earlier. Ever since I have been trying to know more about this fantastic & mysterious piece in history. Early 2000, I obtained a very old copy of South India and Mohammedan Invaders from Connemara with the help of a very very old & knowledged librarian. After almost 3 years, I got my hands on Thiruvarangan Ula - by Sree Venugopalan(more popularly known as Pushpa Thangadhurai) which is all about the great saga.

In the fourteenth century, the Sultans from the North turned their eyes to the South, eyeing particularly the Hindu temples to plunder their abundant wealth. The Tamil kings were running puppet & weak regimes and Hoysala & Pandya kingdoms were just symbolic and mutely submitted to the Khiljis & Tughlaks. Lord Ranganatha from Srirangam was forcefully taken away to Delhi and kept for about a year, when some of the devadasis helped a rich devotee regain the idol and bring it back to Srirangam. About 40 years later, Mohammed-Bin-Tughlak and his strong army surrounded the gates of Srirangam to take the Idol away.... and that was when the Lord started his grand tour.

For the next 50 years, the Lord was kept hidden from the Moslem kings. The North Indian Moslem kings and later the Bahmini Sultans continued their desparate search for the Idol. For the people of South, Lord Ranaganatha was more than Idol of a God - he was the symbol of their hope, their freedom. And those souls who had entrusted themselves with the sacred job of saving their God, it was a holy suicidal task.

Lord Ranganatha travelled from Srirangam through the following route - Azhagar Koil, Madurai, Ettayapuram, Azhvar Thirunagari, Nagercoil, Trivandrum, Kollam, Kozhikode, Sathyamangalam - where he was lost for 20 years.. and after recovery, he travelled to Tirupati where he was retained for 10 years and finally back to Srirangam. The first kings of the Vijayanagara Empire defeated the Bahmini Sultans and brought Lord Ranganatha back to Srirangam from Tirupati and reinstated the Lord with grand celebrations.

I have been following up the route that the Lord was taken along visiting the various places where he was hidden away. This time during my vacation I toured around the small villages around Srirangam through which the pilgrims carried the Lord to escape from the powerful armies of Tughlak. I visited the temples of Srirangam, Gunaseelam, Thirupparaithurai, Thiruvanaikkaval where the Lord is said to have rested briefly.. I had earlier visited Nagercoil, Trivandrum, Kozhikode and Sathyamangalam.

This history of 50 years during the fourteenth century is simply amazing & interesting. The next time any of you visit Tirupati, be sure to look up at the Sri Ranganatha Mandapam constructed by Yadavaraya. It will be at your left on the main hall after you enter the temple alongwith the queue. That was were the Srirangam Lord was worshipped alongwith the Tirupati Balaji for a decade. Funny enough the pujas for Lord Ranganatha were done in Tamil after a huge struggle, while Tirupati Balaji had his prayers rendered in Telugu.