Saturday, December 30, 2006

RIP - December 30, 2006

It's over. Saddam Hussain has been executed. The news channels inform you that he was tried and executed for the mass murder of 180 odd people of a certain village where he escaped an assassination.

I'm no fan of the man, but somehow his death in this manner was most disturbing. Call him a despot, dictator what you will but the people who consigned him to this death are no less. Singularly the American president has become the biggest bully, despot, mass murderer, psychopath and every other vile term that comes to mind.

The American presidents of old were men of principles, and they were led by Abraham Lincoln who immortalized the fundamental principle of patriotism in the line “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. Today American presidents have decided that they will determine the destiny of other nations and they will unilaterally decide what “other nations will do in exchange for what they choose to do there”.

If history is a teacher, then the silly American presidents have not learnt their lessons. The Second World War was won with brute force. A decision to bomb two towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Harry Truman has gone down as an acceptable act of war, because it was done by the Americans, the saviours of the world. I’m sure if the same bomb was launched by the Axis powers on any of the Allied nations then we would have had another mass murderer. Why judge Hitler and Truman on different yardsticks?

Strange are the kind of double standards we live with, America has the biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons and has been the only nation to use it in an act of war and yet nobody condemns them. I suppose even a small portion of their arsenal would suffice to decimate the world but yet they choose to retain such huge arsenals. And the hue and cry that is raised when any of the aspiring nuclear nations try to develop their nuclear expertise is appalling. India among others was till date treated like a nuclear pariah till the supposedly “ground breaking”, “earth shattering” agreement with the US was signed recently. I do not know the gist of the treaty but knowing how the American presidency works, I’m sure it is loaded unfavourably towards India.

Vietnam, Korea, Cuba, Somalia, (well actually what is known is a few what is unknown is numerous) are some of the countries where the American president over the years has been humiliated over the years for his follies. The stories are all similar and they have the same sickening end after a stupid unpardonable entry into the country by brute force, the Goliath is always slayed by David with the contemporary equivalents of a slingshot and pebbles. Goliath is so shocked that he cannot beat a quick retreat and he is so big when he falls he causes greater damage. However the price of the collective follies of the American presidents is paid by the poor unsuspecting civilians who are wounded, maimed and often killed. They are often reduced to an insignificant statistic with a glorified term “collateral damage”.

The massacre of the innocents is probably the worst possible crimes committed against humanity and their spin offs including lawlessness, riots, starvation, poverty, diseases etc etc the visuals of which are the staple of most news channels are born from that space between the two ears of the American president. He is a criminal and the blood of so many innocents is on his hand.

At the risk of sounding stone hearted, the 9/11 incident did not deserve the kind of public outrage that it got. The incident was yet another bombing in a city, however the media blew it up and the fact that the crime was done in America made it the mother of all crimes. I’m sure that the world would not have blinked an eyelid if the same happened elsewhere. Bombay has suffered worse and will the world give the same knee jerk reaction to those explosions?

9/11 was but David’s answer to what Goliath had done in David’s town. It is said that “As you sow, so shall you reap”. I was pained at the extent of collateral damage that the people suffered there but surely the reactions could have been discounted by at least 80%. The Al Quaeda is protesting with the weapons at their disposal to defend the rights of their people . But they are not americans, they are muslims so they are terrorists, american backed gunmen are "freedom fighters". We see enough similar incidents where the comparative factor should be the number of lives lost, irrespective of the colour, race or nationality. Are Americans, God’s gift to humanity and the others children of a lesser God?

It will be grossly unfair to condemn the president alone for this, the rest of the world has approved of this big bully attitude and have fallen in line because they benefit from it. They get aid, they get technology, they get the friendship of the big brother etc so they turn a blind eye to every excess committed. The price they pay, the loss of their self respect. The pariahs of the world who stand up to the American hegemony are victimized, sanctioned, condemned, invaded and if given a chance executed. Now that Saddam has gone, Bush Jr. will surely get bored and will have to start on a new adventure. Iran looks like a good target and the fanatic Ahamed Jinad looks like a good punching bag, then there is always the favourite Kim of Noth Korea. So there is more excitement in store for Bush.

I read some where that Bush is devout Christian. I fail to understand whether Christianity is different in America, for Christ came to speak of love and universal brotherhood. Surely he must have heard “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and he and his predecessors will have been taught “Love thy God with all you heart, with all your mind and love thy neighbour as yourself”. I suspect that in their busy schedule to save their world they had little time to save themselves.

The American president today is a bully but his true nature can be seen as compared to their national emblem the bald eagle:
“It is said the eagle was used as a national emblem (of America) because, at one of the first battles of the Revolution (which occurred early in the morning) the noise of the struggle awoke the sleeping eagles on the heights and they flew from their nests and circled about over the heads of the fighting men, all the while giving vent to their raucous cries. "They are shrieking for Freedom," said the patriots. Thus the eagle, full of the boundless spirit of freedom, living above the valleys, strong and powerful in his might, became the national emblem of a country that offers (sic) freedom in word and thought and an opportunity for a full and free expansion into the boundless space of the future – From the internet.

However this can be seen in true perspective in the words of Benjamin Franklin who said

I wish that the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country, he is a bird of bad moral character, he does not get his living honestly, you may have seen him perched on some dead tree, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the labor of the fishing-hawk, and when that diligent bird has at length taken a fish, and is bearing it to its nest for the support of his mate and young ones, the bald eagle pursues him and takes it from him.... Besides he is a rank coward; the little kingbird, not bigger than a sparrow attacks him boldly and drives him out of the district. He is therefore by no means a proper emblem for the brave and honest. . . of America.. . . For a truth, the turkey is in comparison a much more respectable bird, and withal a true original native of America . . . a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards, who should presume to invade his farmyard with a red coat on.”


At the advent of a new year, I pray for the departed soul of Saddam, may he be forgiven his sins, for all those who suffer from dictators, despots, wars, etc and for the perpetrators of the same. May God give bless and heal them.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

O Holy Night!

At 11 PM on Christmas Eve, I was bristling with nervousness in the choir room in St. Luke’s. The moment of truth was to dawn in a few minutes and I was nervous. Let me explain. This Christmas I wanted our choir to sing a few numbers in the classical style complete with a four part vocal harmony. And for the first time I was actually conducting my choir for a big occasion. And the day was Christmas 2006.

After several hectic practices that were crammed in the last week we scraped together a collection of songs that spanned different genres and styles. From our usual “jing-bang” numbers to the sublime classical they were all there. And to render them was assembled the best people I have seen in a while.

Of great concern in the Catholic church is the decline of good classical church music primarily because the old school of musicians passed away without building up a sound second line and secondly because of the lack of good trainers today. So even though it has been a long cherished dream of singing classical music my lack of musical knowledge and training coupled with my inability to play any instrument was the biggest handicap to achieving my dream coupled with the fact that our choir if we may be permitted to call ourselves thus is made up of a group of enthusiastic singers with very little music in them but who compensate with tremendous enthusiasm, dedication and hard work.

So relying purely on the ability of self and of the choir to memorize the various parts; we worked on them till we managed to make discord sound like music. It was a dream come true during practice but could we replicate it all on the big day?

We did our best and we even sang the acappella version of “Silent Night” in addition to other carols that I arranged with simple harmonies. Were we good? I do not know. But I do know that it is not impossible to dream and make dreams come true.

I did get words of appreciation from a few and the usual brickbats from a few after the service but I truly know that my choir had done a truly wonderful job and our great journey has begun. We have taken the baby steps to being a truly good choir and we have not fallen.

Skeptics had written off my dream and even worse mocked the ability of my choir to sing but on that night, that Holy Night a new beginning was made.

Becoming a truly good choir is within our grasp. We need a little help from good music teachers, lots of hard work and commitment from everyone and above all the blessings of God for whom we sing.

Kudos to every member of the choir who sang that night, who backed me till the end.
I am proud to have been a part of this beginning and I pray that we go to great heights.

...---...!!!

I was robbed last night!!!!!!!! This morning when I woke up at 7.30, I could not find my mobile phone. Actually this phone was a gift from my brother. He had upgraded himself to a superior model from the Sony Ericsson stable; I think it’s a K-750i. So I was using a Sagem My SX 6 2 model phone. Now this phone was carefully selected after much research by my brother and it proved itself. With a nifty camera and tiny MP3 player I finally had my first gizmo phone. I had mused myself with sharing files via Bluetooth and really enjoyed the phone. But disaster struck me last night for the 4th time.

So we start again from the point where I woke up this morning at 7.30 and discovered my phone missing. A frantic search revealed my deepest fears to be true; I had lost my mobile yet again. A thief had opened my bedroom window and after cutting open the Netlon mosquito mesh had somehow managed to sneak away with the phone which was lying 6 feet away from the window at the head of my bed. A visit to the police station followed which resulted in a very courteous sub-inspector visiting my house and taking a written complaint from me. He inspected the house and gave a small talk on safety measures to be taken by us for the future and left with an assurance to contact us in the event of any developments.

I came to work with mixed emotions, gratitude in greater part that the loss was limited to the phone only and sadness at loosing a beautiful and expensive phone and more importantly the contact numbers of 300 people that I will be hard pressed to recover ASAP.

As I mentioned earlier this is the fourth phone lost by me and the 6th in my family overall. A brief story of all my losses follows:
1) Motorola E 350 : My first colour phone, a horrible display and a squeaky ringer not withstanding, this was my first colour phone in the time when all carried B&W. I lost this during a jumble sale when somebody stole it from the cash table where I was counting the money
2) Nokia 3315 : The stable second best seller of Nokia after the rugged 3310. This phone somehow slipped out of my pant pocket when I was riding my bike and got lost somewhere near the Sun Plaza near the Gemini flyover.
3) Nokia : Hmmm I cant remember this model but I know its another economy model. I lost this in a teashop outside Munnar. I had inadvertently left it on the table in the teashop and when I went back it disappeared along with the waiter who served us.
4) SAGEM My SX – 6 i: Don’t tell me you forgot the story above already?

In between the above mentioned my folks have misplaced one Samsung CDMA and yet another Nokia low-end between them. One simply misplaced and the other pick pocketed on the bus.

So finally let me come back to the reason for this post, if you read this, please send me your contact numbers ASAP!!!!!!
I have a limited memory and I’m really picking my brains to build my contact list so please help.



PS: The heading reads SOS in Morse code, in case u havent figured it out.

The murderous statue

Note: This post was started long ago when the mobs ran riot in Maharashtra over a silly statue. However I did not finish it then, so the relevance may be dated.



Heard about Alice in Chains? They are a rock / metal grunge band popular in the West in the eighties and nineties. I’m not sure how their name originated but maybe they saw some Alice chained up somewhere. If an Indian band would want to get inspired for a name similar to that they can try “Ambedkar in a cage”. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have deep respect for Baba Saheb Ambedkar and for his contribution to Indian history. What deeply saddens me is the actions of all those who claim to be his fellow countymen today.

Now why Ambedkar in a cage you may ask? Drive down the many roads of India and you will find high up on a pedestal a statue erected to honour this great man. But what shocks you about many of these statues is that they are encased by a wire mesh cage. I found out from locals that this was done to protect the statue from vandalism. Those who have followed the news recently would know what happened when some mindless characters vandalized a statue and the widespread reactions it caused. Buses and trains were burned, public property vandalized and damaged and police shooting to quell the mobs resulting in deaths.

I remember vividly the day almost 4 years ago when I had to organize a “mela”( it’s the desi term for a sales promotion event, actually a mela means a fair but our melas are focused on a single loan product like cars, bikes etc) in Thiruvallur a small town near Chennai. The road to Thiruvallur goes through certain villages which are dominated by the marginalized. I strongly dislike the term caste and more so the scheduled caste and as they are victims of oppression, the term marginalized will suffice. In each of these villages you will see Ambedkar in a cage and shockingly on that fateful day one uncaged (if that term exists) statue was garlanded with a garland of slippers by some antisocial. Whatever be the reasons for this act the villages exploded and in the carnage that followed 2 unsuspecting farm labourers were hacked to death. I remember the victims being transported by ambulance past me. Later on I was told that it was indeed a massacre of innocents and those two poor farm labourers had little to do with the incident. The so called malicious minds among the perceived upper classes do such acts to show their contempt for the marginalized. Caste is so rigid in the interiors that we still see stories of two tumblers and entry barriers in places of worship etc.

The first question that comes to mind is why do people associate so much importance to a statue of a dead man that life is given a go by? Is that silly statue worth two lives? Is that one statue in Nagpur or wherever worth the lives of so many who perished in the mob outrage? I have commented in an earlier post that when man started seeing god in stone, he forgot that god lives in you and me. So we deify stone, concrete, wood, metal, ice and every other imaginable material as God and flesh and blood as refuse.How many disputes have arisen over statues and buildings? Where is the end to all this?

The next question, we are in the dawn of year 2007 and still we find caste the biggest issue dominating the news hours. Politicians still keep the caste fires raging to ensure their hearths are burning daily. Demands for reservation and more reservation ensuring that meritocracy is thrown out of the window. When will we see a country that is not derailed in the march of progress by the evil of caste?

Big questions these, but like I mentioned before the start to all these begins with self.
I don’t believe in idol worship and will never worship any god in such forms.Likewise if memorials are to be constructed to honour some human, I will not contribute in cash or kind for the same save if it were to build a hospital or the like.

Next mine is not a same caste marriage, I declined to inform my in-laws my caste antecedents as I am above my label. Next I don’t care what the label of my fiancĂ©e is. When it comes to my kids they will never have any label tagged to them and I will teach them that merit is the only key to success. I don’t discriminate among my friends and I never will and If I should see anyone in my circle who does so, I will do my best to stop it.

Will these make a difference, it will to me and from me to those around me. At the risk of repeating myself,

“It only takes a spark to get a fire going,
And soon all those around can warm up in its glowing”

This is my spark……… Where is yours?

Merry Christmas

Seasons greetings!!!!!


Merry Christmas everyone and best wishes to a joyous new year!!!!!

Hey it’s that time of the year when hope fills the air. It’s Christmas, the biggest birthday party celebration across the globe. It’s the birth of Christ and the dawn of hope yet again. It’s the season of love and giving, of meeting old friends and relatives, of exchanging sweets and gifts, of carol rounds and parties, of heavy lunches & dinners, of Santa Claus and Christmas trees, of stars and cribs, of night masses and carol singing.

I’m sure that all of you will have done all or at least many of the above said, but at this time take a brief moment to ponder over these lines of a carol:

“Presents glitter on the tree,
Gifts for him or her or me,
But we find the best of all,
Mary’s baby in a cattle stall”

Point No 1: When we receive gifts we utter a spontaneous thank you to the giver of the gift, and we have the greatest gift of all……….
This is the time to say thank you.

Point No 2: We have been gifted far more than we realize and most of our gifts do not come wrapped in glittering paper and ensconced in a ribbon but they re nevertheless far more precious. As we realize the value of these gifts, be it our parents, or home, our physical faculties, family etc let us spare a thought for our brothers who do not have them. If we can do that this season will be the best way to celebrate this season.

Merry Christmas everyone and best wishes for a joyous and prosperous new year.

M U L J B E A S E L

The great annual St. Luke’s M U L J B E A S E L !

Now don’t look so confused, in case you still did not get it and are very bad at solving jumbles, read the title again as The great annual St. Luke’s JUMBLE SALE! This is the annual social action effort of the youth fellowship of my church. I’m going to retire in the space of a few weeks but I look back at all the activities I was privileged to be a part of by virtue of being a member of WS4G. WS4G or We Stand For God is the youth fellowship of St. Luke’s and over the years has done its bit for the underprivileged.

During the season of advent we endeavour to turn waste to wealth by the jumble sale. The jumble sale to the uninitiated is the collection of articles that have outlived the utility value of their current owners and are sold to raise money for charity. Over the years we have built up remarkable competencies in procuring and selling material as varied as used clothes to consumer durables. Clothes, furniture, books, footwear, music tapes and cds, vessels and kitchen implements, consumer durables are usually to be found here.

We usually get several small entrepreneurs to participate in the sale with their products and this brings in additional revenue. Food is another revenue stream for us. Our average revenues for a day’s hard work and a few evenings in the run up to the big day are around 30 K nett. This money is then given to various charities supported by our church.

This year was more of the same, lots of stuff, a few shops, good biriyani and all earned us $$$. It was a good sum and it was in excess of the average but for the sake of modesty we will not reveal the same.

Our success over the years has spawned many copy cats but I’m not too sure about the commercial success of them.

We have learnt many lessons from the jumble sale over the years. From planning, budgeting, organizing and project execution with experience as the sole and probably the best teacher. Procurement, logistics, and above all actual sales of the kind that cannot be taught in a B school are some more take-aways.

Till date we have never lost money on a sale and this is creditable since we always start with a zero balance and always begin with a loan for the seed capital. And always we pay of the loan and other incidental expenses including transport, promotion and most importantly food for the volunteers.

The keys to the success of every sale are 1) The generosity of the parishioners who often give away good articles with significant residual value for the sale 2) The good planning and promotions done prior to the event 3) The ability of the volunteers to dispose of everything by the end of the day

However what must not be forgotten in the midst of all this is the commitment of the volunteers who set aside one Sunday and a few evenings prior to that to do voluntary service for the poor. The biggest key to the success is the effort of every single individual no matter how insignificant it may seem that eventually makes the Christmas of an unfortunate brother or sister a little better.

Kudos to my friends in the WS4G for this year’s event and for all the earlier ones. Nostalgia is already biting me as I realize that this is my last as an active member but the takeaways will stand me in good stead when I go ahead for bigger challenges.

I'm too busy to blog!

Nothing in Particular!!!!


I just can’t believe it, but it is actually more than 15 days since my last post. This has nothing to do with my creative juices drying up or the usual writer’s block, it’s just that I was too preoccupied with lot of other things. What with Christmas and my wedding on the anvil, I somehow contrive to clutter up my day with N number of things that stop me from blogging.


So life is going on at a break neck speed as this is also our year end at the bank and everyone wants to end the year on a high. (High, only in terms of business numbers!). So work is actually keeping me busy. And not to mention the fact that choir practice for the night mass kept me totally busy.

How repetitive and redundant do I sound????

Also I must confess I had a sudden attack of sloth so I simply did not blog, but now I’m back and back with a vengeance as you will see.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Miracle at MCC

Miracles happen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


A miracle happened last evening and I am a testimony to it.

The 9th annual Christmas carol night started yesterday in MCC school at 6.30 pm. To those who are fond of Christmas carols in Chennai, this is a regular much awaited event. Organized by the alumni of the Madras Christian College the event spanning two evenings invites leading choirs and song groups of Chennai and other places to perform for a discerning audience.

The program is held in the grounds of the school and is always under the threat of the elements. The north east monsoon is still active during the earlier part of December and organizing events like this in the open calls for a lot of faith. Chennai was treated to a few unexpected showers on Sunday so the venue was already soggy and the event seemed on the verge of a washout. However the rain held off and the programme went on schedule.

I enjoyed the show, savouring the fare dished out by the performers. The repertoire included western classical, Indian classical in Tamil (really enjoyable) & a Malayalam choir. Then the Chariots from Pune and the Cantibles showed how wonderful male voice acapella singing can be. Of special note are The Chariots a group of students from Africa who study in the Spicer college, Pune. They enthralled the audience for a second time with a Tamil song which was as enthusiastically received as was the next number in Swahili. Music knows no languages.

A duo from Ireland then sang a duet and two solos in the opera theatre style. One of the duo a doctor from Chennai is now a leading player in the Irish theatre scene. The lady, Mrs. Judith Sheridan (I hope am right) then showed us why she is very highly rated in Ireland with her stunning voice.

Anyway coming to the miracle, the rain held off till the programme got over and when the vote of thanks was being delivered the rumble of thunder filled the air. The compere bid us farewell and asked us to return today and closed with the line and here comes the rain. And it poured!!!!!!

The entire audience was a testimony to this, you may think that it is an exaggeration of sorts but the compere announced that the programme went on the strength of the prayers of many and the words were proven yesterday. The rain held off till every song was sung and every speech was made. Also the sound engineers had enough time to protect the expensive equipment from being damaged. If that was not a miracle then we must redefine the word.

To all those who missed out yesterday, the programme concludes today. It’s free. Come, you may see another miracle today.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Discriminate not

I
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I saw this hoarding on Nungambakkam High road (Uttamar Gandhi Road if you please) and I just couldn’t resist taking a picture. If you can read it with a little more effort it says how 3 letters can cause us to discriminate. It was a beautiful message against AIDS on AIDS awareness day. Kudos to the creative team of the responsible ad agency for such a superb effort. (Apart from Sharad Haskar's work this is one hoarding I don’t mind seeing again and again)

But when I think about the hoarding and the message it has a lesson for all. Often seemingly insignificant things make us all discriminate among our brethren. I have done and so I do feel a little guilt. Forget caste, colour, creed, social status, sex etc, sometimes ability and egos can cause us to discriminate and often look down on others. My ability to do something better than others has caused me to look down and discriminate against those who cannot do likewise.

Age has mellowed me and now I think twice before I do anything like that. I guess we mature with age and experience and I’m thankful to both. I know that just because someone has AIDS does not make him / her any less a person from the others. And I have friends from all races, cultures, castes (its deplorable the term still exists) and I value each one of them for what they are and not for what tags they carry. If we must discriminate, we can: against those parasites who still keep the fires of discrimination alive for personal greed be it caste, creed, race etc.

I regret my past for my indiscretions where ego more than anything else made me discriminate
against my brethren on few instances and hope that I may never discriminate from another again.



Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Christmas Concert






Hi!!!! It’s been sooo long since my last post. I was busy with a Christmas carol concert! Christmas is here, well actually its advent time. So the great season of hope begins.

Anyway coming back to the topic of this post, I was fortunate to sing with the John Milns Chorale, a Christian choir led by Mr. Jabez Janagaraj. If you have followed the classical music scene in Chennai over the years and the choir music in particular, then these two above mentioned names would stand out. The John Milns chorale (JMC in future) named after a protestant priest who was an outstanding tenor in his time is led by Mr. Jabez, a die hard fan of the old school of classical music and choir singing.







Since inception the choir has performed in various churches and other public shows,recently the choir found itself at a crossroad. The increasing age and the acute failing health of the leader had made the very existence of the choir a big question mark. However like a true champion Mr. Jabez rose from his sick bed and whipped the choir into shape and we sang at the historic St. Mary's Church in Fort St. George on December 3rd.


It was not truly a concert, more of a Christmas service with the songs interspersed with readings from the Bible, but it was a dream come true for many of to whom the very thought of a concert seemed such a distant dream a few weeks ago.

So we sang accompanied by an orchestra with violins, violas, cellos, trumpet, flute and an awesome double bass. The orchestra was led by Mr. Jerry Fernandez (he has played for most of the leading film music directors including Ilayaraja). The song list was as diverse as they were beautiful, carols from Germany, France, US and a host of other countries came alive before an audience that just couldn’t have enough. The small church was packed and the overflowing crowd sat wherever they could. Yes, D was there with my folks. And she captured a little of that evening on her camera.

It was a truly memorable concert and we got a large share of accolades but personally we knew that we did well but not well enough. And since in Chennai we do not have any other benchmarks but ourselves we knew that we could have done better. But it was a good concert nevertheless in a truly historic setting.










As I sign off, this is my salute to Mr. Jabez, truly a genius. He taught me what little I know about choir singing. His musical talents are unrivalled and it is a privilege to sing under him. He is eccentric and many do not take favourably to him for the same reason, but I know that geniuses are permitted their eccentricities. There will be a huge void in his absence that will be very difficult to fill up.

To those who missed the concert, you may get another chance to hear the JMC at Divine Mercy shrine on Jan 22nd. And you are invited!







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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Friendship

“A friend in need is a friend indeed”

Haven’t we all used this statement to eulogize the merits of friendship? How many times we would have mindlessly said this to promote friendship? I was introspecting about my life recently and the profound effect my friends have played in it to make me what I am today. Many have come and gone but all of them have made an impact. As I was introspecting this phrase came to my mind and then I realized that it needed a second thought!

A friend in need is a friend indeed, now what does that mean? If you need something, does that make you a friend to someone? So if you don’t need anything are you not a friend? Or is a friend the “someone” who helps the person in need? Is friendship just helping the needy? Do we not call this act charity or even more grandiosely philanthropy? Is this the definition of friendship that we have grown up with? Do we believe that friends are there to only help us when we need something?

I searched the web for an explanation to the origin of this phrase and the result given below is as vague as the phrase itself:

Meaning
It is sometimes suggested that this phrase means, 'someone who needs your help becomes friendly in order to obtain it', that isn't supported by the derivation though (below). Most people understand it to mean, 'someone who helps you when you are in need is a true friend'.

Origin
A version of this proverb was known by the 3rd century BC. Quintus Ennius wrote: 'Amicu certus in re incerta cernitur'. This translates from the Latin as 'a sure friend is known when in difficulty'.

The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations lists it as existing in English from the 11th century. The earliest version I can find is from Caxton's, 'Sonnes of Aymon', 1489:
"It is sayd that at the nede the frende is knowen."

The morality play 'Everyman' also contains similar lines. The play's date is uncertain and scholars place it a 'late 15th century', which could be before Caxton's work:
Fellowship: Sir, I say as I will do in deed.Everyman: Then be you a good friend at need;

Source: http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/143400.html


Friendship is way beyond this silly proverb or quote or whatever you may choose to call it.

There are so many other quotations that describe the duties and responsibility of friends and friendship. As we know and have used them also, I refrain from quoting any. Blood they say is thicker but we know “Greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends”. We do not have the choice to choose our blood line, but we can choose our friends.

My friends have really made life worth living, yes they were not there always when I was in need, but that does not make them any lesser friends. My friends have shared my joys and my tears, been through my ups and downs. They have taught me and learnt from me many things. They have put up with my whims and my fancies, my ego and my idiosyncracies, they have been my safety belt when I wanted to do something rash as also my launch pad when I wanted to simply break free.

Simply put, they have shared my life and made my life a part of their own. My friends have given me money and material when I was in need, but when I will remember them I will remember them for the most precious thing they shared with me, their time. Ultimately the time that they have spent with me is the best gift I have received from them till date and will do so in the days ahead.

So what is the use of this post, firstly it is an occasion to say a big THANK YOU to each and every one of my friends who have shared their lives with me and made my life a part of their own. Secondly to think and wonder how to correct and improve that silly statement that caused this post…


A friend in need…….

(Your help will be appreciated!)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Read this and you will get nothing, maybe a smile

This morning I got yet another "key to a miracle that will happen to me within 24 hours subject to me doing something" SMS. Its quite simple actually, a seemingly innocuous and sometimes very spiritually soaked SMS lands on your phone. Roses from our lady of Fatima, or blessings of Infant Jesus or some wishes from Hindu Gods start the message. You will be promised a miracle if you send the message to N number of persons within the next few minutes. A stern warning may follow for non believers who just delete the message.

What do you do when you get a message like that? You can choose to simply delete it as I do on most occasions. The non believers, rationalists and atheists would be thrilled to the core by this act of mine, I’m sure. Alternatively you can religiously send the message to the N number of people, make a wish if so specified and wait for the miracle to happen. I have sent many messages like this, but before you make any opinions about me, let me hasten to add that I have a 10K free message option every month in my Airtel plan and it is my ambition to send that many messages at least once. My current record with loads of junk forwards, miracle messages, blood donations, prayer requests and others stands at 6K only. So I send these messages when I have nothing better to do.

I like a certain type of forward that encourages you to say a short prayer and forward the same to others, a call to prayer is always good and I never hesitate to send them each time I get one myself. But the miracle messages, I’m sorry to say are a conspiracy which must be sponsored by the mobile phone companies themselves. If there will be someone who will gain by this mindless exercise it would be them. Its not that miracles don’t happen, a cursory look around will reveal that miracles happen every minute, but often we don’t have the time to see them. A load of cash dropping from the heavens would be the type of miracle that many will relate to, but these miracles dont happen except in soap operas.

Do people really believe that wishes are granted by sending a SMS or its earlier cousin the email forwards? The most hilarious scam however is the “my son / daughter is suffering from whateveryoumaycallitmia disease and the internet / telephone companies have pledged to give money for every time this message is forwarded to some poor soul”. Many good hearted people have done their mite to help such suffering people by dutifully forwarding these messages to all. God bless them. But has anyone ever considered the stupidity of the message, is it possible to monitor the messages that are being forwarded? Has any company actually given any money? Email forwards will have along thread where some unknown will testify to have received money from Bill Gates who is giving money away for testing his beta version of something provided you flood the cyberspace by sending the message to all your contacts. (Now Bill and Melinda Gates foundation is a champion philanthropist organization and I have huge respect for the power couple for their commitment to society). I have noticed that most of these, if not all of these recepients are firangs, you dont see a single desi winner of a few dollars maybe FEMA is active in the net. Size constraints prevent similar activities on the mobile phone else you would have long message threads on similar lines.

Recently I had 4 well meaning people (my close friends D included), sending me a SMS in the peak morning hour saying that 4 children have died in the GH Chennai for want of blood as the blood bank was unable to meet with the demand for various reasons and it called for donors to donate blood. A very noble cause indeed and as a donor I was ready to donate, but the doubting Thomas in me came to the fore. I had not seen an article in the newspaper or the TV before I left home for office so how did this message come about? I asked my friends who said they had no clue to the origin but they received the message from their friends and trusting their friends and being socially responsible they forwarded the message. I called the office of The Hindu and enquired about the SMS, they promptly checked and verified that it was a hoax. Kudos to The Hindu staff who were really responsive and called back with the information.

The moral of the story, any good thing can be abused by some narrow minded people. In this time of fear from terrorism, bombings, riots, natural calamities etc, the communication aids are the biggest assets in recovery processes. Yet they can be the cause of hysteria and fear. We all use the net, mobile and what have you, but using it responsibly we can really make a difference. Next time a junk SMS lands on your phone or an email lands in your inbox, check is it true, is it useful, is it necessary, if the answer is yes to all three you can go ahead and forward even if you are charged for the message. If the answer is no to any of the above, think for a moment is the message FUN? If the answer is yes, go ahead. (I am a champion of PJ’s and junk message forwards, I told you I’m trying for 10 K) Else delete it and go on, tomorrow you will see that when you wake up, you are living again, you are breathing well, you can see, feel, hear, touch normally. Isn’t it a miracle?

Monday, November 27, 2006

Monday morning blues!

Have you suffered from Monday morning blues? (Actually I would prefer not calling it blues, maybe Monday morning sickness; I love blue so the nomenclature.) Anyway coming back to my initial question, if your answer happens to be a YES, welcome to the club.

Nothing gives me greater discomfort than to get out of bed to get ready for another week of work, well maybe the onerous task of getting up early to go to the gym. (But that is worth another post altogether!). In school I swore to myself that things will get better in college, I said the same thing in college and now after 5 years of work I find that I’m no better than my school days.

Inexplicably I tend to feel the tiredest (if that word exists) on a Monday morning. Its not that I hate work, far from it, it’s just that the weekend has so many good things to offer that the end is so painful to accept. In school or college with a five day week Fridays will be the most anticipated day as it was the prelude to a great weekend. Work weeks generally extend to Saturday and so needless to say Saturday rocks!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t party and paint the town red on Saturdays and chill out on Sundays, my weekend schedule would be quite the contrary. If I manage to get home by Saturday afternoon it means a siesta for an hour followed by the net or the idiot box. Then a choir practice and afterwards hanging out with the choir members would exhaust most of the useful time on a Saturday evening. Then a dinner at home or outside followed by a long drive for desert, rounds off my Saturday evening at around 1 AM.


To the party animals this must be boring, but for several years now I unwind thus. I have been tempted on several occasions to hit the party circuit but I have always declined for a couple of reasons. One, when I was studying I felt that it was a cardinal waste of money to blow up my father’s hard earned money on a party or at the disco. Two, you cannot stag in the night spots in Chennai and I want to party with people I like, so the catch 22 situation arises where the people I like don’t party (actually they wont get permission from their parents) and the people(Hey read the people to mean girls! ; ) ) who party and are known to me, I don’t like. Third, as I’m allergic to smoke and don’t smoke or drink such claustrophobic places make me freak out.

With a long Saturday completed the last day of the weekend dawns late. You don’t expect me to wake up early after sleeping at 2 AM do you? A breakfast that invariably becomes Appams (hoppers if you insist) with chicken curry, stew actually that my mum lovingly makes as the "weekend special" starts off a lazy morning spent lounging on the sofa with the newspaper and the idiot box. Two points of note; one, I have a trace of Malayalee blood and that contributes to my weekly appam diet with stew, two, with the advent of neighbourhood newspapers distributed free I have lots to read, not to mention i get more money from the paper wallah at the month end.

Lunch on a Sunday is a highlight of the weekend, its one meal when the entire family can sit down and eat together on most Sundays. But if you note "the most" in the earlier sentence the exceptions would be caused by either mum or me out on some church work . Lunch follows yet another delightful siesta, then a quick bath and dash to church. On Sundays where there is no extra choir practice this would be around 5 else an hour earlier. The holy mass is followed by the weekly youth fellowship; I am in the last few days of my youth membership. Post nuptials I become ineligible to be a youth and will have to retire! (sad!).Then some bonding with friends over chaat and somehow the weekend conspires to end itself rather prematurely. A leisurely dinner followed by a drive on some days rounds off yet another weekend. I end the day tired out. It is ironical that my weekend tires me out more than my average working weekday and it does so every Sunday with unfailing regularity.

Now after such a lengthy post do you realize why I wake up with a MMS (cool na?) Monday Morning Sickness. I have to contend with sales figures, business targets, irate customers, harassed suppliers, exerted bosses, traffic jams, lunch breaks, tea breaks, coffee breaks, mails, faxes, phone calls, mobile calls, deadlines, memos, meeting, teleconferences, still more meetings, reviews, attendance, online tutorials …….

MMS hits you hard on Monday mornings but mum calls and says that its late and breakfast is waiting. Realization dawns like a flash of light that for my breakfast to be on my table tomorrow and the days ahead I need to meet and take on many more MMS every time. I’m sure that I will suffer from MMS even post retirement when it should happen. However I suspect then it would be a case of acute boredom of not having anything to do till the next weekend.

The cursory glance at the desktop calendar shows another 5 days to go. Ouch!!!! But on the brighter side, today is half done and Tuesday is a lean day at work. Wednesday is a midpoint and from then on it’s all downhill.

Weekend here I come!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Happy St. Cecilia's day!

 To all the choir singers and musicians of the world, a delayed St. Cecilia feast day greetings! Ok, to all those who couldn’t make sense of my greeting, St. Cecilia is honoured in the Catholic church as the patron saint of choir music and singing. The feast day falls on the 22nd of November.

I was fortunate to be invited to sing in the feast day mass at St. Theresa’s Church in Nungambakkam. I was told today that this is a big event in the St. Theresa’s calendar for several years now and many musicians and choir members from various places attend. It was a privilege for me to sing in the choir accompanied by a 40 member orchestra. The orchestra was replete with a host of wind and string instruments. It was indeed fortunate to listen to them play.



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A worthy point of note is that the orchestra was dominated by non Christians. A special song by a group of Koreans who live in Chennai in their native tongue made the statement music knows no languages or barriers come alive.

It is said that the hosts of heaven, make music and joyful noise to God who dwells on the praises of his people. A slice of heaven came down to earth and filled the walls of St. Theresa’s church.

Music is a gift of God and with immense satisfaction I joined the many faithful who today joyously gave back to God what they first received from Him.

Many songs were sung and the orchestra played several pieces too, but today on the feast of Christ the King, the song “Majesty” still rings in my ear and will do so for a long time.

Majesty, worship His majesty.
Unto Jesus be all glory, power and praise…..



Thursday, November 23, 2006

The eagle in the storm

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?
The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it. The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us - and all of us will experience them - we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God's power to lift us above them. God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.

Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them. The Bible says, "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles." Isaiah 40:31

--Author Unknown

Now you may wonder why I’m doing a lot of Ctrl C / Ctrl V from the net in my latest posts including this one, the no-brainer answer is it saves time and I’m lazy. But the fact is that the above said came in a mail today and it had a profound impact on me and I am testimony to it.

Today my day started off in the worst possible fashion, I had a tip yesterday that a big account that I was working on had slipped to competition. With a lot of hope and self belief I met the client hoping to salvage the situation. It was hopeless. The deal was lost.

The storm clouds loomed dark above. This deal was already committed to my boss in the MIS and now I have a shortfall of nearly a third of my target with only a week to go. I came out with the sinking feeling of a dressing down from my boss as it turned out that the deal was not lost because of me being uncompetitive but more so because of my ignorance of my organizational policies and set up.

With nothing more to do than meet another prospect, I waited on the client at his office. I have made several repeated trips to this client and never had a chance to meet him as he was always busy. Most of my enquiries were stonewalled by his staff. So as I waited for some documents the client walked in. He actually asked to see me, so I went in with a slight spring in my step. A polite conversation later the client (a Dr. actually) offered me coffee. I generally decline except for these rare instances where coffee actually helps in building relationships. So over a coffee and pleasantries the client offered me a deal that will offset my current loss. Of course this deal is open to competition and the same pitfalls abound, but the lesson has been learnt and I was mentally preparing myself to meet this challenge head on.

As I left the client office, I received a sms from a friend who sends more messages than me every day, mostly bible quotes. The sms reads thus:
“You have nothing to fear about. The Lord is taking care of you. Judges 18:6”

I saw the light in the darkness. I have indeed ignored God and have relied on my own efforts to succeed everywhere. Today I got a wake up call. So this storm will also pass for I’m safe in his care.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Getting Married (Cotd) The complications!!!

“What goes up must come down.” – Old Red Indian saying.

Ok from the euphoric highs of Saturday which spilled over to Sunday and was still there yesterday too, I have come down to terra firma with a big thud. And hangovers can give you a big headache. I have not got a hangover from drinking simply because I don’t drink at all. But this post is not about alcoholism or its effects so I will get back to the topic on hand.

THUD!!! Well you can take this to be the noise that I would have made when I landed back on the ground this morning after the highs mentioned above. I woke up this day after a late night sleep. As is usual D and I had our usual night conversations that are keeping Airtel coffers full. Thankfully both of us are on a scheme that charges 10 p/ min but that is still money. The fact that my dad exploded recently when he saw my bill of last month which was twice the normal is another topic worth mentioning in a separate post altogether so I shall not venture further.

We normally end our late night conversations when either of us starts blabbering incoherently or just drops off to sleep. Incidentally one night we both had slept off and the phone was still on when I woke up in the morning. The damage will come this month I fear. Yesterday was D’s turn to blabber and so I bade her good night a little earlier than usual. Prior to this I happened to tell her about the proposed engagement plans that my folks were working on. She then told me that the number of people from her side were actually thrice the originally proposed number. As all communication gaps and miscommunications go this was a time bomb waiting to explode.

When I told this fact to my folks in the morning, the time bomb didn’t explode but my dad did! And I had to take quite a lot of flak for sharing such confidential data with D. The bigger complaint was that the fact that the communication channels between the two families were supplanted by D and me who were unwittingly the couriers of information. . My folks say something to me, I tell D and she tells her folks and vice versa. Now this is not intentional it is just shared knowledge, however this is the main reason for dispute.

My folks had initially stipulated that the wedding would be done by the family of the bride while the engagement would be our responsibility. And they want a certain degree of exclusivity in both the events. So there is a big Chinese wall that has now been created and there is very little flow of information. Personally I do not understand the need for such secrecy it is a family function and it needs a lot of cooperation in both planning and execution. Sadly that is not the case. So now we have to start from scratch again to mend relations, ease tensions and heal wounded egos and feelings. It is difficult but it is worth the effort. I look back at where I started and realize how far I have come but I find to my utmost horror that I’m walking in a big circle.

Falling in love is so easy, getting married is so difficult I can’t imagine how much staying married will be.

But as Richard Marx and Donna Lewis sang in Anastasia…..

We were strangers starting out on a journey
Never dreaming what we'd have to go through
Now here we are and I'm suddenly standing
At the Beginning with you

No one told me I was going to find you
Unexpected what you did to my heart
When I lost hope you were there to remind me
This is the start

Chorus:
And Life is a road and I wanna keep going
Love is a river I wanna keep flowing
Life is a road now and forever wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you


verse 2:
We were strangers on a crazy adventure
Never dreaming how our dreams would come true
Now here we stand unafraid of the future
At the Beginning with you

And Life is a road and I wanna keep going
Love is a river I wanna keep flowing
Life is a road now and forever wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing
At the Beginning with you


Knew there was somebody somewhere

Like me alone in the dark
Now I know that dreams will live on
I've been waiting so long
Nothing's gonna tear us apart

CHORUS 3:

And Life is a road and I wanna keep going
Love is a river I wanna keep flowing
Life is a road now and forever wonderful journey
I'll be there when the world stops turning
I'll be there when the storm is through
In the end I wanna be standing
At the beginning with you



This is for you D.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Getting Married (Cotd) Its a long process!

It’s finally over!!!!!!!!!


Pardon the euphoria, but the big shopping is finally over. We have shopped for the wedding and the engagement saris and they now proudly occupy the top shelves of my mum’s cupboard.

Let me recount the incidents of the day chronologically. My day started before sun rise as I had to go to the Central station to pick up mum’s sisters who were coming to shop for the saris. My mum’s elder and younger sisters came on time at 6.35 AM, so you can imagine how early I had to rise. : (

Anyway the entourage was still incomplete with mum, dad, 2 aunts as yet another aunt was to join us as mentioned earlier. This is the wife of my mum’s younger brother. So another pick up was done by me and finally at 10.30 we were ready to go. Thankfully and mercifully we had hired a cab, a Qualis that seated 7 excluding the driver comfortably. So with a lot of mixed emotions I sat in the front seat and navigated to D’s house.

D and her household had worked out several permutations and combinations with their furniture to work out the best possible seating arrangements for us. So when we reached I saw the same sofa lying in the same position, made me wonder what all the fuss was about.

Anyway after the customary exchange of pleasantries mum borrowed a tray to give them some fruits and sweets as is the custom. I never knew that you borrowed plates for that till then. So we sat down into the much arranged and rearranged furniture when we were offered a lot of munchies which I declined as I was not too keen (surprisingly!). And after mum and me declined coffee (I drink coffe/tea only on business trips on compulsion, else I generally decline, mum avoids them altogether). The other chose between coffee and juice. I was waiting for my juice, but they FORGOT me!!!! I waited patiently trying my best to politely indicate to D that I was thirsty. But as she was made to sit next to me and trying to act coy and demure she chose to stare at the floor.

So as is the norm I texted her though she was next to me, (I thought a nudge would be impolite) and waited for her reaction. Unhappily for me nothing happened. So my people rose to leave with me still parched. Then I loudly asked her if she was carrying her cell. That made her scurry to her room where she saw the phone and my waiting text message and made her come and apologize. Finally I got my drink. In between this the chief culprit my darling sister (now she will be officially my sis in law), who forgot to give me my juice came up and we all wished her for her birthday.

After I finished my drink I announced that I’m ready to go. I had already threatened D that she would drive with me in the cab, but she refused as she did not know what would be her parent’s reactions. So when we came down to the cab, D’s folks announced they would take their car and follow us. Then D’s mum (bless her) told her firmly to ride in the cab with us. So with a big smile on my face we set off.
We were followed by D’s folks in their car, a white Maruthi 800 that had the words “Dirty harry” proudly written on it. Now these words may aptly describe my car in its current state, but I was educated by D that Dirty Harry is the name of some character in an old western movie. So there you go.


There was a lot of banter in the cab, the women folk in my family have a lot of humour in them and they are always needling each other. They have a term in Tamil for it called “Coimbatore Kusumbu”, unfortunately no English translation would do justice to it, and so we can call it CK for convenience. But the fact is they are always ready to needle each other. My dad assumed the job of the navigator and our driver was not very knowledgeable about the many options to reach T. Nagar. As the usual NM Road was chocked with traffic I suggested a detour, the driver took the wrong turn and we went on a long ride. To cut a long story short after a couple of wrong turns, one bribe of 50 bucks for violating a No Entry sign and a humungous traffic jam near the Kodambakkam bridge we finally reached our destination Pothys a big clothing store in T. Nagar.

Now let me detract to tell you that the venue was predetermined by mum who was advised to the effect by our neighbour. Personally I was not keen but mum had made up her mind. D had set her heart on shopping in Kumaran, another shop of repute nearby but as she did not want to adopt a confrontational attitude she accepted mum’s choice.

So it was Pothys and we were guided to the floor where the silks were housed. It was an impressive room with a huge collection of colourful silk saris. So after telling the shop assistant our range we were shown a few saris to start. The shop assistant then asked if we had any colour preference. I had decided before hand that the colour theme for the wedding will be Dark Blue and Silver. Now blue has always been a favorite colour of mine and silver was better than white which would have been very common. So blue and silver it was and we asked for blue and silver.

Now this colour theme is something that neither my folks, nor her folks nor the shop assistants could understand a colour theme. We were flooded with so many shades of green and the shop assistants (can we call them SA for short? ) were trying their best to convince them that they were blue. Now as mentioned before I cant discern colours but I was seeing all red, I was furious that these SA’s could be so colour blind. They asked us for a shade indicator and sadly none of our entourage had anything remotely close to dark blue.

After a while the women started trying out different options and tried to talk D out of her colour fixation. With all credit to D (she is an absolute sweetheart), she stood her ground. I lost my patience and with drew to a corner and amused myself watching the video shoot going on in the shop for some TV show I assume. Finally they managed to come shortlist a couple of saris and D was asked to model them in from of a long mirror which she did and we rejected both. Finally after much searching and discussion the now unfriendly SA’s gave a couple of saris as the best possible options. One of them I can vouch despite my colour blindness was something that looked brown, but every body said it was BLUE. Another was blue, a bright blue that looked very pretty. D looked good in both so when I was asked for the verdict I chose the blue I could recognize.

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In the midst of all this the ladies retreated to another corner and quietly chose the engagement sari which was almost half the price of the wedding sari without mentioning it to D or her folks. The entire process took 15 minutes while the wedding sari took the best part of 2 hours. This sari is in the pink family I think, though I’m sure the ladies may have their own opinion on it.

After this success we decided to break for lunch, as the vegetarians were comprehensively outvoted by the non vegans by 2 to 7 we went to Anjappar the famed eatery where everything that walks, floats or flies are served on a platter, well almost. After a gastronomical escapade we again decided to check for my suits on an impulse. So we descended the restaurant in the rain which had started. (I think it rained because I had idlis for breakfast, I hate them). So we went to a small shop in Challa mall (more details in an earlier post). We saw a few designs that impressed D’s folks and most of mine except for mum’s elder sis. So we took the card and left. It was decided that we would part with D and family as we had more shopping to do, so we said bye and headed back to Pothys.

Amazingly in the next 30 minutes the ladies selected 1 salwar and 8 saris that had to be given to our relatives including the shoppers. So after all the shopping we finally decided we were through with Pothys. While this was happening dad and me decided to check for suits for me in Pothys, but we were put off by the indifferent staff and we decide against it. Not that Potys had a a slecetion of note anyway.

D meanwhile wanted to be around for the thali shopping which was the next in the agenda. Mum agreed to it and so she packed off her dad in their car and she and her mum joined us in Pothys. Trouble was brewing as my aunt pointed out that the bride will not be around when the thali is bought and she will only cast her eys on it before the wedding. Crazy as it sounds it is supposedly the custom. Dad agreed and I was caught between the devil and the deep sea, ok my folks and D if you should please.

Anyway a long meeting took place between D, her mum, my mum and my aunt about the thali. D was not happy with the current chunky design that was being sported by the ladies. She wanted a light and trendy chain to which my folks objected. The compromise was arrived at where it was decided that the thali (technically a medallion) will be bought by us. The supporting chain will be bought by D as per her choice and we will buy a necklace for the equivalent value. D again stuck to her ground and I was told that even her mum could not dissuade her. Based on the compromise we again left. D and her mum took leave with some relief.

My take on the entire issue is that we can do away with the thali. I felt that it was grossly chauvinistic to make the woman wear signs of marriage while the man is not constrained to wear any. I only want both of us to have identical wedding bands as the sign of marriage, but D would have none of it. In fact we were taught by a priest that external signs of marriage are not actually prescribed by the church and we can do away with it. But try telling that to D, my folks and her folks!

So then we bought a necklace for D and a pair of matching earrings. We finally reached home tired. But my day did not end till I had to drop back my aunts who had to leave the same night back to Coimbatore.

It was a long day and this post will give you a fair idea of what happened. It is finally over and now my folks are now getting ready to start the marriage work with a vengeance. I await for my aunts comments and feedback but that will be another post. Till then wish me luck!!!!!!!!!11

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mumbai matters

Hi,
I am in Bombay, Mumbai if you insist. The city that has something for everyone, so goes the refrain of anyone who has stayed in Mumbai for a period of time. Maybe the city grows on you but to me it is one intensely depressing city.
I flew in this morning by kingfisher and the inflight magazine is full of the page 3 crowd of Mumbai. So it is page after page of almost the same faces in cleavage revealing dresses for women and badly unkept look for the men who have graced different events in the last month. One look at the mag and you will believe that life in Mumbai is one big party, i guess it is for some.
The city is a city of huge contrasts. The skyline of mumbai is dominated by the highrises but after craning your neck to see the top floor just look down and the shcoking poverty of the slums comes as a rude slap on the face. It is not that Chennai has no slums but here in Mumbai the slums are everywhere. They really are the two extremes of the city, you see the page 3 crowd wearing revealing clothes as they have too much money and the slum dwellers also wearing revealing clothes for just the opposite reason.
The other important facet of life in Mumbai is the suburban rail service. I believe that they have 3 lines like Chennai. Anyway I was advised take a first class ticket that was priced more than 9 times the second class fare as that would help me to get int the train comfortably. I managed the same but the ride was so depressing to say the least. The tracks run through slums and several decaying dilapidated high rises. They look worn out and so much in disrepair. The city looks so weary and worn out. My meting is in the Hilton, its as posh glitzy and glamorous as any Hilton can be. From the 21st floor the window overlooks a breath taking view of the sea and the Mumbai skyline and also the squalor of the poverty that abounds.
The house that I'm staying is a rented accomodation of my school mate and his friends. The rental for a three bedroom is a mind boggling 40 K for a 3 bedroom house of around 1000 sqft. I'm told that this is a posh area of Mumbai, but the house looks decayed and is not very far from squatter houses. The real estate scene is crazy for legitimate buyers and it is a free ride for squatters with the right connections.
There is lot more that I have observed, but will post later. Mumbai may be a great city but there is no place like home.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Blogging!

I Blog! 


I came, I saw, I blog. I think therefore I blog. I’m jobless so I blog. I’m tired of work so I blog. I have an opinion I blog. What ever the reason may be, I blog.

You are curious about me so you read my blog. You have nothing to do so you read my blog. You are taking a break from work so you red my blog. You are my friend so you read my blog. You love gossip so you read my blog. You want to waste time so you read my blog. You are looking to score brownie points with me, you read my blog. You were just surfing by, you read my blog. Whatever the reason may be, you read my blog.

I blog, you read. The more I blog the more you read. But I will blog even more if you don’t just read but also leave a comment. Comments, criticism, opinions are all welcome as they motivate me to write. I can improve my posts and make the exercise enjoyable for you and me.

So I blog, you read, you comment, I blog more (I blog better), you read more……




Thursday, November 09, 2006

Honeymoon anyone????



The wedding bells are ringing loud and clear in my bank. One of my colleagues has just returned married and he is going on a cruise to celebrate it courtesy his father in law. There are atleast 3 eligible young men (including yours truly) who are awaiting their turns.

The most common question that we face is "where are you going for your honeymoon"? My instant retort would be "somewhere unreachable", but since decorum prevents it, I manage with "some hill station". I do not have the slightest plan of revealing my whereabouts to my colleagues. Anyway I have observed with some enthusiasm my colleague who sits in the adjacent workspace feverishly browsing various travel packages for his honeymoon. I believe he has settled on the road much travelled and is heading to Goa.

Me, I’m keeping my plans a secret. I do not want to go to any run of the mill places and as leave is scarce I cannot afford extended an extended break. Also I will be funding the trip so I am a little conscious of what it is going to cost me. So I have a few options to consider. D is really fond of the Andamans and is keen to go there. She has made two trips there on work and is really looking forward to explore one of the most beautiful locations in India at leisure. So the islands are foremost on my travel plans and they are followed by two hill stations which will remain unnamed.

Anyway all the talk of honeymoon made me wonder how this term come about. A quick visit to the net and wikipedia gave this answer:

"A honeymoon is the traditional trip taken by newly weds to celebrate their marriage. Today, honeymoons are often celebrated in places that are secluded, exotic, warm, or otherwise considered special and romantic. A recent trend among couples is to combine the wedding and honeymoon into one experience or substitute one for another."(Hmmm very interesting to say the least …..)

So how exactly did this term come about?
Again wiki came to the rescue
The Oxford English Dictionary offers no etymology at all, but dates the word back to the 16th century:
"The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure" (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane; now, usually, the holiday spent together by a newly-married couple, before settling down at home.



That is indeed inspiring but what must be noted is that all good things come to an end and so will all honeymoons. The challenge lies in realizing that the honeymoon is not a fools paradise and that the aftermath is the beginning of life. Remember that the waxing and waning of the moon is a continous process and has been going on for millions of years and will continue do so, love cannot afford to do the same. You just don’t love more during the honeymoon and progressively decrease when you encounter life hoping that you will love more again in the future.


I believe that life can be one long honeymoon but it depends on the liver (not the organ). It is the call to love and love under trying circumstances. Yes things will not be good always and life is not always be a bed of roses. Life will throw its ups and downs and will take the liver through an emotional rollercoaster but the challenge is to treat both the same. A true honeymoon is that personal space the loved ones spend together that is insulated from the pressures of the world by the love they have for each other. It may be a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year or a lifetime. It can be at home, in the car, a walk in the park, in short anywhere.You don’t need exotic locations or major plans, you just need each other.


So I look forward to the start of life and I hope to make my life a long honeymoon with lots of help from D for I know that Love hopes all things, bears all things, endures all things.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

It’s a colourful life!

This post is related to my earlier post so bear with repetitions if any. I joined my current employer a couple of months ago. As a part of my joining formalities I had to undergo a pre-employment medical check up. From the test I learned 1 obvious thing that I’m loosing the battle of the bulge and that unless I do something about it, I will have problems. The next information that I learned transformed my world from 256 K colours or whatever the TV / mobile guys claim, to the basic colours.



It is official; I’m a little colour blind. No I don’t see the world in black, white and shades of grey but if you were to bring me a RmKV multi-colour sari and ask me what are the colours I will call out red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple, white, black, grey, pink and brown. Maybe I may get a few more but that’s all, with all due respect to the master weavers of RmKV. The fact of the matter is I cannot discern between shades of the same colour and that makes life simple! I see a red as red irrespective of whether it is called blood orange, safety cone or tomato. To me it’s red. PERIOD.



Do you know what a banker’s lamp is? I didn’t till I happened to see it in the shade card (http://www.december.com/html/spec/colorshades.html). Horror of horrors, it is a green. Even worse blue fern is also green. Have you seen a blue cow? It’s yet another shade, thankfully its blue, but a cow???? Now don’t wonder what happened to me that I’m ranting and raving about colours, its just that D and others of her ilk have this habit of coming up with some weird colours that I’m clueless about. Have you heard of bishop's pink? I was wondering when did I last see a pink bishop, till D patiently explained that its the colour of the small cap that bishops wore.
I am yet to figure out which navy wears navy blue, our navy wears white. Maybe that is airforce blue?

Likewise peaches and lemons are fruits. But the orange, well the orange is orange so no confusion.



Initially D had a kind of superiority complex about my lack of knowledge in the world of colours. But ever since the medical report I’m the beneficiary of her sympathy. “Oh, you poor thing, cannot make out colours…. ”. It feels so nice. And she does not make a face when I say her new sari is brown when it would be called something in the maroon family.



When I look around and see, the world is so beautiful and full of colours. So what if it is not in 256 K colours, who has the time to learn the names of all? Lets just KISS!

Keep It Simple Stupid!



Enjoy life in colour!

Getting married (Cotd)

Suit your self!




Hi! It’s been sometime since my last post, 4 days almost I think. So let me start. I had spent some time last week checking out various suits for myself for the big day. I have been looking at the Indian suits for some time and I thought that it would be different from the conventional suits which I think many buy as an after thought or for dual purpose like office or in extreme circumstances a black tie dinner or horror of horrors a funeral!

None of that for me, I want a suit that will be different and trendy at the same time. This is a special day and I don’t want to look like the caterers!!! Anyway I checked out Shoppers Stop, the collection there was terrible to say the least. I was disappointed as the last time (a year or so ago) my dad had got me and my brother suits from there that rivaled the groom of the wedding we wore it to. They were fabulous; sadly their current offering looked like something left behind after a jumble sale. The shop assistant told me rather unconvincingly that new stocks will arrive in the future.

Then on Friday I think, D and me went to T. Nagar to a shop in Challa Mall, you may not know the shopping complex by name, and many don’t but its bang opposite Globus. Anyway this complex has a shop that caters to suits and they have quite a wide selection. They are northies and they have a good Indian suit range you know the sherwanis, kurtas, jodhpurs, bandhgalas etc. These give a trendy and ethnic look at the same time they tend to make the groom look like the groom.

So we happened to see the range and I was sufficiently impressed by the colours on show. I must now interrupt this to mention that I have been medically diagnosed as unable to discern between similar shades. That is two different shades of the same colour will seem the same to me. And above all to me only the basic colours are colours and I do not have the same enthusiasm as D or others of her ilk have for the wildest colours invented. I never knew that there was a colour called PEPPERMINT GREEN, since my kindergarten days I have known that peppermints or “strong mittais” were always white. Likewise peach is a fruit. To me red, blue, green, yellow, pink, orange, black, white, maroon and brown are the only colours all others are the same! So girls spare me.

Anyway D has got a fixation on a black suit with silver trimmings and an orange vest. I know it sounds like a Ramarajan outfit, but it is good and yes D will not call it orange, it is something else. It looks really good and I would not hesitate to wear it. But there are so many more and I have decided to finish my suiting quest there. I think that on the wedding day I will deserve a second look because of what I wear. Clothes make a man, i attest to it!

You are invited to come and see the results on the D-day!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Blogging is fun

How do you blog so much?

I have heard this question from those who happen to read my posts. Their curiosity rises from the fact that I have posted a few topics of late mostly during office hours. They have assumed that either I have absolutely no work at office or I am not doing any work.

Actually I have work and I blog in between work. I’m quite thankful to have discovered the world of blogging. It is really a mode of relaxation when work can really be tiring. To those who have known me and have seen me over the years, it will be obvious that I can be very opinionated (who is not?) and I can be a little more opinionated that others. So I tend to speak out my opinions to all and sundry. This may not be a good thing to do at work especially at my bank where loose talk is sacrilege in their code of conduct. The bank is a highly secretive organization that prides itself on data security and client confidentiality. So generally loose talk or idle gossip is avoided.

To people like me, blogging is the best answer. I can post my opinions, I don’t have to bother who listens and good netizens will tell me their comments. So I blog. But if you wonder how I manage to do it during work, its quite simple actually. I just keep a word file open when I start work and I keep filling up the page in between work. Voila in a few minutes or hours I have a blog. I just login and post. Simple.

Sometimes when my creative juices flow I complete a post at a stretch other times I take longer. But trying to come back to an earlier line of thought after repeated interruptions is enjoyable and when the coherence is still there it is a good post. This post in fact came about during my lunch break time.

Try blogging, its fun. I enjoy it, hope you do too. And remember your manners, if you have read this, do not just go by without leaving your comments.

Ciao!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Art of Kissing

Ok, now that you have seen the title and have decided to follow your curiosity this post is about kissing. I have joined a community called The Art of Kissing in Orkut in addition to French kiss community. The French Kiss is probably the most valuable contribution from France and it is probably their biggest ever export of all times! Ok let me assure you before hand that this post is not related to the fact that I’m engaged.

Those who practice the art of kissing, those who kiss, have been kissed or have gaped when others kiss or just yearn for that kiss will all testify that a kiss is one of the most intimate expression of love. I do testify. : ) You may be aware that where you kiss a person shows different emotions. The hands, cheek, forehead, neck, lips… they all tell different stories.

Anyway we have now established an already accepted fact that a kiss is special and it is a sure way of expressing your love. So do we kiss often? More specifically do we kiss the people we love? Do we take the trouble to them that we love them?

Very often we tend to miss out expressing our love for our loved ones for myriad reasons, if you have missed out, I urge you to go ahead. Tomorrow may be too late.

Having said that, have we ever attempted to kiss God? We say we love Him, but have we ever tried to show Him our love? I do. You make think it very silly, but when ever I feel good about myself or feel grateful for His graces of late I tend to blow a kiss in the air towards heaven. (You know, it’s called a flying kiss). It’s my shortest and sweetest thanksgiving prayer. When I feel like saying to God, I Love You and Thank You, I just send a flying kiss heaven wards. I believe that it reaches Him and he looks down on me with love and accepts my kiss.

Today, I’m really tired, had a long day with a mix of official and personal work but I finally got a little time to pray. My work is all done and I’m leaving home so as I wind up this post, I feel good so God UMMMAA, this is for you!

Try it!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pilgrimage to nowhere


Hi, at the outset let me warn you that this is a controversial post. The objective is not to provoke anger or fury at any reader but it is just an attempt to think about the issue being posted.

Recently I happened to hear two friends talking (no, I was not eaves dropping!) and the topic veered to the recent trip to Thirupathi that on of my friends had made. To those in the know, the seven hills of Thirupathi are sacred to Hindus and is one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in India. It is also the second richest religious institution (it is a massive institution) globally. I have been planning to visit this temple for awhile now but somehow it never worked out. I am a big fan of visiting the South Indian temples of architectural importance to revel in their sheer beauty and I take immense pride in my culture and my ancestry. I must add I have visited many temples and I delight in these visits.

So coming back to the topic, I was not paying much attention to the discussion of my friends till I heard the remark “I saw God, and it was a satisfying darshan”. This really shook me up. Now how can somebody see God, no, I’m not an atheist. I want to know how God can be in an idol made by man. God is universal and it is man’s folly to restrict him into the confines of a small chamber in the seven hills.

Personally, I have been on pilgrimages and it is my aspiration to do many more time and finances permitting. A pilgrimage site is not where God resides but it is a place sanctified by God by his deeds or by his presence. Every religion has its fair share of pilgrimage sites and holy lands. Lourdes, Mecca, Thirupathi, Sabarimala, Vatican, Jerusalem, Bodhgaya etc all have their respective allure, but tell me do people go there to see God?

I go to have an experience of the place and to learn and delight in the works of God that have been manifested there. Miracles and graces abound in these places and the faithful attribute these to God. I do the same. I value the different faiths, but surely God is also in these places and not only there.

When did God take residence in these addresses? Is not the universal truth that God resides in you and me? Then why do people aspire to see him in these places? Before God all men are equal but man makes distinctions even today. We have been burdened by caste but now even financial standing differentiates people before God. The fortunate few “can pay a fee and see God” while the others stand in a line for hours and days before they reach the sanctum sanctorum where they get a passing glance as they will be more often than not pushed away by the ushers. When did got start charging premium rates for time with his faithful?

To see the image of God as visualized by one or more human beings is one thing, but to see God and more specifically in these hallowed addresses are not acts of faith. What we have in these places is the image of God and not God. Many religions including my own have various images of God as visualized by the makers, however they are just a pointer to worship of the divine being and they are never the divine being. It pains me to see people including those of my faith; paying obeisance to these idols and making offerings to them. Wake up people God is not in these, it is your folly if you want to see God in these. God is much more that what the human mind can encompass let not God be reduced to such trivialities.

We have pictures of our loved ones and often have statues made of our leaders, these are reminders of what the people whose images they bear stood for. We have innumerable statues of Gandhi and when we look at them they should remind us of what Gandhi stood for: non-violence, peace, virtuousness etc. But is the statue Gandhi?

If you have seen the movie Muthu starring Rajinikanth (my favorite), Rajini (old man role) asks where the lady of the mansion has gone to, the servants reply that she has gone to the temple. So Rajini asks, why she has gone to the temple, the servants mock him and say “To see God”, to which our super star points to a small temple and the deity within nearby and asks “so, who is that”. Superstar signs off in style saying “Fools, they are keeping God inside and they go out searching for him….”

I invite your comments….

Monday, October 30, 2006

Getting married

Hi! It’s been awhile since I last posted, basically because I was in a training programme that kept me occupied for a couple of days, also there was nothing interesting going on.
So I just did not bother to post till now, I’m currently suffering from acute boredom that stems from long periods of lazing around. Well this is actually the most hectic part of the month at work, but as business has been dismal there is very little to do.

After long periods of twiddling my thumbs, I decided to write the events of the days gone by. The wedding process is just starting; the first task that confronts us is the buying of the wedding and the engagement sari for D. For those in the know, the engagement is scheduled the day before the D-day. Apparently the sari shopping is a big social event and it entails calling all the close family to get together and go on the mission of sari hunting. Accordingly the big day is fixed on the 18th of this month and our entourage will comprise a minimum of 3 aunts and possibly their respective spouses, plus both our families.

The shopping list currently includes 2 saris and some jewellery that we must gift the bride, so I have scary premonitions of our entourage trooping into one of the big sari showrooms in T. Nagar in the quest for the right sari. I have had bad experiences when two women go shopping together for saris; they never are able to make up their mind. A notable incident comes to my mind where two young women raided a silk sari store for the best part of two hours trying to find the perfect sari while chivalrous me maintained an angelic smile and endured the spectacle of a harassed shop assistant trying his best to maintain his composure. Finally these above mentioned damsels trooped out of the store victorious with a DOZEN GLASS BANGLES!!!!!! So I look forward to the coming shopping quest with a lot of dread.

My only consolation is that D knows my fondness for blue and I have dropped so many subtle hints to her that I will be thrilled with any colour as long as it is blue (Duly inspired by Henry Ford). So that would narrow down the choice of colours but still it is a worrying thought. What is more worrying is the icy atmosphere that threatens to cloud the group during this event. To those of you who know the story, relations are not very cordial between both families and my family is not fully reconciled to this wedding but as they say “Time is the great healer”, I hope that things will right themselves before Christmas.

Getting married has its own share of interesting happenings, it is fun to be in love, but the realization that honeymoons don’t last forever bring me down to earth with a thud. The act of marriage is the start of a new chapter in the book of life, till date I was responsible for my actions and was enjoying the consequences of the same, but soon I will be responsible for not just my actions but hers’ also and the consequences thereof. Responsibilities get doubled and you cannot afford to live the same happy go lucky life like before, but the joy of being married I guess will be enough compensation. Looking forward to it….

Wish me luck!!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Festival follies

How do you explain the callous indifference of some people? It was on the night of Deepavali, after a long day at our church (we were having the festival of the patron saint of the church on the same day) I was retiring for the night. It was a thoroughly satisfying and strenuous day so my bed was so inviting and I tried to sleep.



My reverie was interrupted by D who called for our customary night call that stretches for an hour on an average; we find enough to talk and  burn the networks and keep Mr. Sunil Bharti Mittal happy on the regular revenues we provide. Coming back to the topic my sleep talk was interrupted by some fireworks that were bright and beautiful. As the curfew of 10 PM was already crossed I thought that these may be the last for the night. I was sadly mistaken as for  the next half an hour I was rudely jolted by the loudest crackers possible, it was already past 11 PM.



I was jolted out of my slumber and irritated to the core by this disturbance, I went to the house whose occupants (they seem to have originated from the north of the Vindhyas) were making all the noise. The entire extended family had assembled on the road in their best clothes and dazzling jewellery. The patriarch a respectable looking old man was overlooking his merrymaking flock at the late hour.

Keeping my temper under check I asked the relic if he was aware of the time they were making this unwelcome racket, apparently none of them had a watch or none of them bothered to check the time. So I patiently told them that the party was over, it was beyond curfew and they can wind up.



The relic was not too happy at being interrupted by me nor were any of his flock, they gave me a disdainful look and went about their work. That was it! I let them listen to my choicest verbal abuse, I reminded the relic his responsibilities and also how they were going against the law. I told them that they should celebrate their festival with the goodwill and blessings of their friends and family while now they were getting the curses of so many disturbed souls.



Stung to the core the relic agreed to shut down and I retraced my steps home, hardly had I gone a few feet when one of the kids set off a 1000 wala. I waited till the explosions stopped before I let my verbal abuse fly at them. This time I did not hold back or think about decorum or decency. The threat of a police complaint finally made them realize that I meant business and they wound up their show and went it.



My question is, so many people were subjected to this harassment by these mindless goons yet they choose to silently endure. Why do we get scared from claiming our right? Our right to a peaceful undisturbed sleep has been granted by the courts. Yet we endure such misdeeds in silence. We all suffer from the “Why me” syndrome, don’t you realize you morons, if you sit on your backside, you loose. I got up from my bed and went and fought for my right to sleep in peace, the result, I got peace for the entire block. If every one of us gets conscious of his / her rights and claims them, the eventualities are mind boggling.

Think about it!









 

Friday, October 20, 2006

Driving

Hi! I was wondering about the sudden writer’s block that seems to have seized me. I had started writing a post on more than 2 occasions only to have scrapped them after a few lines. So this is my third attempt let us see if the third time lucky funda works.



I have posted earlier about bad driving and its consequences well the earlier post was more on the negative aspects of it but I have noticed lately that there is also a positive spin-off to this, however on a purely personal front. The indiscipline on the road by a few morons is teaching me patience and self control.



Previously, whenever somebody drives rashly or does something that makes my blood boil the immediate reaction from me would be to bad mouth the offender with some choicest terms. My personal favourite roughly translated would mean “customer of death”. My blood boils when I see one of these customers choosing my car to commit hira kiri or something similar. I go into a tirade abusing the offender with do you not have any other vehicle to die… (You get the idea) and another phrase borrowed from the auto drivers of Chennai, (this is priceless when heard in Tamil) “have you informed at home that this is your last journey”.



However such outbursts distracted my concentration and increased my blood pressure and really put my day off every time. So when I made it a habit to drop D to office (its become a daily routine, we get to talk only during these drives, poor us) everyday this behaviour of mine really put her off. After watching me for a few days she made me promise to stop swearing else dire consequences….. The consequences were sufficiently dire enough for me to keep a check on my words. So often I ended up biting my tongue instead of screaming at yet another reckless driver. (You might see my tongue all scarred!), next she keeps a restraining hand on my hand every time I get irritated. This never fails to cool me off.



Of late I have mellowed to a great level on the road, cursing silently at any idiot who offends me with his recklessness and apparently whistling away my anger. This has immensely reduced my irritable nature and ensures that I don’t start work on the wrong foot. I am keeping my temper under check and also learning the virtue of patience. By constantly talking to myself about restraint and self control I am discovering a newer side of me.



Finally, all said and done, you cannot teach old dog new tricks, so while I am well behaved when D is there, I do drive alone and if ever you hear me screaming “Saavugrakki, veetila solittu vanthuteya” don’t tell D.



Cheers!