Wednesday, December 30, 2009

When not to say Good Morning!!!!!!!

This post has been picked up by Bangalore mirror dated 31st December 2009
This morning, I woke up to hear the sad news about the actor, Dr. Vishnuvardhan's demise. Always when a child is born, you feel great and when a life is lost, there is an unsettled, unknown feeling of sorrow, whether or not you know the person.

The clock doesn't stop anyway. I had my work day ahead, so, I stepped out of my room with a cup of tea as usual, to watch TV. Usually some music is on, mostly devotional. Today, there was a news channel that was telecasting ( is still telecasting, as I write this post three hours later) the proceedings at the actor's house. There were a lot of people around, grieving over the loss.

There was this telephonic condolence talk that was also being relayed. A caller who seems to be a great fan of the actor starts off his condolence note with a 'Good Morning'!!!!!. How can you say Good morning when it has not been a very good morning for most fans and near and dear ones of this great a very actor?

I have noticed and even written about how some phrases ( How are you ) have lost their real meaning in the minds of people. Today, I added 'Good Morning' also to that list. Schools and our family teach us to wish 'Good morning', but there is also a place, time and context for most greetings of the day. In Tamil they say, இடம், பொருள், ஏவல்
அறிந்து pesuga.

May be people should start thinking twice especially when giving a condolence note. What we took from education matters more than the number of academic degrees we have to our credit. Good morning can also hurt sometimes. Will people consider??

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Marathahalli Ring Road needs some attention

Yes, if it sounds like a newspaper headline, so be it..

One evening, I was on my way back from work on a Volvo bus. Just the previous night, I had gone through this wonderful piece of work:
http://themadmuggle.blogspot.com/2009/07/chicken-that-never-crossed-road.html
An article worth your time and effort.

So, it was easy to imagine the chicken trying to cross Marathahalli Ring road. If it ever did, it would be on CNN-IBN Flash news. The ring road is quite wide; a two way road, each has got two lanes ( or is it three? shall check today); then there is a lay-bye area sort of a road on both sides, used by two wheelers and pedestrians to reach the side roads on the ring road. So, if you set out from a side road to cross over to the other side, you will have to cross four stretches. Do not talk about pedestrian crossing here. Between two signals on this road where you see the Zebra crossing lines, the distance is at least ten minute walk. There are times when you need to cross the road and cannot walk ten minutes to reach the pedestrian crossing at the signal. On an average traffic day, it takes about three minutes, some common sense, some sense to gauge the speed, and some patience to cross this road. All this statistical ( they say, most of it is incorrect or most days!!!! Don't question me on those lines...:)information is for us.

What about animals? When I was just thinking about a dog or cat or chicken (unless it escapes from the broilers') trying to cross this road. Just then I saw a dog victimized in a hit-and-run accident. No one seemed to have any problem. My bus crossed the scene too. If it was a human being, there would have been a traffic block and some action would have been taken. Just because it was an animal ( sadly with no road sense required to cross the Marathahalli Ring Road ), I guess no one bothered.

The mind is argumentative. I was thinking that this dog must have been a stray dog, because domestic pets have tags around their necks and people chain them and take care not to let them loose on busy roads.. So, if it is a stray dog, it does not have any care and anything that happens to it, is seen as no one's problem. This bothered me a lot for quite a long time that day.

The mind is also very imaginative and very creative. The best idea my mind could come up with was to put a fence on both sides of the road; the pets/people wont be able to cross the road at random points on the roads. Every few meters, there can be a break in the fence where a pedestrian crossing can be laid out. There could also be a gate arrangement like you have in toll gates or railway crossing. In regular intervals, the Gate is closed and people and pets can cross. This way there can be a better control on the accidents - people and animals. The traffic signal can remain as is, but closely tuned to the time that these gates close and open. The technology can make it possible.

You cannot teach people to think and make the right judgement and cannot rely on luck or fate to keep safety. We must go one step further and enforce something to this effect, so no one has an option, but to comply with the rules.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Dec 26th 2009 - Five years later on Bay of Bengal

We were on Christmas vacation; on a mini-tour of the places of historic importance with my cousin's family.

Day before yesterday, the 26th of December 2009, Afternoon 2:00P.M; Poompuhar Beach, Near Nagapattnam, Tamil Nadu.

I stood on the rocks that blocked the waves of the ocean from the shore and enjoyed the sea breeze. In a moment, for some vague reason, that I am unable to place, my mind went back to the same day, four years ago, on Bay of Bengal. It was the Tsunami day, 26th December 2005. I took a careful notice of the waves now and sensed that they were quite violent.

My home town is on the Bay of Bengal coastline and my house is around 10 km away from the beach. The beach in my home town is THE major attraction and we have no count of the number of times we have accompanied our guests to the beach.

To me, the beach is
a great place to spend time with people,
where we get to meet old friends...
where you get to see diamond sparkles in crystal clear water on a sunny morning...
where you realize that the globe is more huge than you can imagine...
where the horizon's straight line ( of course, an illusory effect..) amazes you...
where Christopher Columbus comes into the picture...
where we get to see ships, the only ones to know the sea better than the sea animals and Nature...
where the sun set looks grand than anywhere else...
where you feel very close to Nature..
where your ego levels come to a balance...
where your temper is of no use...
where you realize that the tides are stronger than you know...
where you are a helpless being that cannot encounter the ocean's wrath...
where countless people lost their lives on 26th December 2004, on Tsunami day..

There stop my imagination and thoughts on the sea because on the black day, I did not understand Tsunami as much as the fishermen folks and the shadeless people by the Bay of Bengal coastline understood. I had a good breakfast that morning ( for which I am thankful and will ever be thankful) and with no idea about the happenings around me, came to the balcony ( similar to a porch) to see a whole town migrating ( read as running as fast as fast can mean to each of them ) towards the hillock on the west of the town. The sea had come in by about 7km into my town and my house was still 3km from the water attack and about a few feet above the ground level. This pattern of constructing a house a few feet above the ground level was conceived ( When something is not prevalent in a place and some one starts the practice, it can very well be termed a new idea, especially in town life style.) by a newbie contractor to whom we are still thankful. The aftermath stories - you would not want to know; but I can say that at least 5000 fisher folks suffered loss of life and property.

I did recall all of these day before yesterday at Poompuhar beach.. Rocks lining the coast made it seem like a safe day at the beach, but the tides were very high. Yesterday when we went to the same beach that we all knew so well, I saw flowers here and there in the sand.. There was also a poster of a little girl who was lost to the sea five years ago. Wonder what the beach will mean to the girl's family and the generations to come in her family....

When I walked in, I noticed that the distance between the road and the sea shore had reduced; the sand is no more the bouncy white beach sand, but wet tightened mass of sand that showed shades of black sediment; and the waves are higher than we had seen on normal days... It seemed that the sea is not very quiet, it seemed that there is some connection to the same time four years ago to the present time frame...It might seem that I am blabbering, but trust me, if you had been on the coast line, you would admit this... I tightened my grip on my little niece's hands..What I didn't think was the tides were higher, stronger and denser than I can handle... I slowly moved backwards, far enough to just let the sea waves touch our feet..

At a distance, we saw three children heading straight into the sea, without knowing what it means to walk into the presently violent ocean.. On the shore, sat their parents watching them... I wonder what people think of themselves when it comes to parenting, especially when on a beach, as violent as the Bay of Bengal.... It took a policeman to come over and tell people to keep close to the shore!!!! Where is commonsense? What does adventure fun mean when there is a chance of losing a life? Wonder what is more important - Chatting away to glory standing on the shore or doing the same thing holding on to the child's hands in the beach.....? Wanted to scream!!!!!! exactly what I am doing here in this post....

If you are a parent, please realize it, at least when you are taking your child to the beach. By the way, the sea does not know the age of the person it is engulfing, so please take care.. The East coast line is more violent these days than it has ever been.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Hello People,

Christmas Greetings to all of you.

I wish you and your family Merry Christmas and a very happy holiday season.

Enjoy the moment!!! :)

Smile,
Dew :)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On Photographs

I was searching for some work artifact ( yes, my work related old references are called artifacts) and stumbled upon a folder with some of my pictures, old and new. Although I am always for hard copy photographs and photo albums, of late, we have all shifted to soft copies mostly.
When I ran a slide show of the pictures, few thoughts came up:
  1. A photograph's clarity is directly proportional to the camera used.
  2. The thought flow in your mind just before someone clicked a picture of you, also defines how beautiful you look.
  3. The traffic, the climate, the travel, and the peaceful good night's sleep - All these define your actual look.
  4. Good, Bad, Ugly - Its all photo technique, some natural and some artificial.
  5. If you are going by looks, a photograph is a bad idea. It is usually valid only as on the day it is taken.
  6. Photographs in the mind, hard disk or photo album are excellent keep sakes and records of fond thoughts.
  7. Photographs can teach you time travel, to the past mostly.
  8. Photographs can tell you how vast your mind space is, although to you it seems encapsulated in a shell of skull or a fist-sized heart. ( The debate on where is the mind has not ceased, so I have included both heart and brain when talking of mind space).
  9. A photograph need not reflect the real you.
  10. Photographs can bring out the artist in the photographer.
  11. If you think, a photograph has not come out well, always blame it on the camera. :-)
  12. If you think a photograph has come out well, say Thank you.
  13. No matter how beautiful you look in a photograph, it is how much you matter as a person to your people, that really brings about a joy in them, when they look at your photograph.
  14. You may be photogenic, but if your actions and words did not catch any one's attention in a positive note, your photogenic face would not either.
  15. You have a photographic memory, especially when it comes to remembering how someone made you feel. So, does your neighbour. Make sure, you do not hurt someones feelings, as much as you can.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wedding

I recently attended two wedding functions; This was after a very long gap, so I guess wedding observations are taking some space on my blog. What I am writing here is not what I noticed in these two wedding functions, but my general observations in Indian weddings.

India knows to celebrate weddings. Applause.. Wedding is a very special occasion - The beginning of a life-long relationship that is the pivot of a happy family tree.

There are extremely grand weddings (You cannot spot the color of the girl's saree, count the number of items on the lunch menu, and can never give your gift without having to wait for an hour in the queue to meet the couple), and moderately grand weddings ( You can tell the saree color, you can manage to taste most of the items on your plate, and can meet the couple fairly quick to greet them).

The South Indian Tamil weddings mostly fall into one of these categories. At a South Indian Tamil wedding you will see/face all these:

Bright colored silk sarees. But also you will wonder how some people manage to walk in to the wedding hall like they would for a beach evening?
Lots of Jasmine flowers. Also you will wonder why some people hesitate so much to adorn their short or long hair with flowers, at a wedding.
People to greet you almost everywhere in the wedding hall. Nice to note :)
At least every third person you meet, asking you if you had something to eat or drink. How nice? and how many of us appreciate this?
At least one person in the dining hall yelling away ( like the sky is falling right on top of someones plate or bananna leaf at lunch) to some one serving Rasam or Rice or Sweet. Wonder why? but makes the dining hall interesting place to spend time.
Loud noise of people and traditional instrumental music. Wonderful :) and Nice:)
People saying 'Hello' to you and asking for that one person in your clan who couldn't make it to the wedding. Wonder why?
All the organizers scurrying around in the wedding hall. Almost always it seems that everything happens in the last minute although the engagement happens at least three months before the wedding. Wonder why this last minute rush, but it is a nice experience :)
There is always someone searching for a key or a foot wear or hand bag or a jewel accessory. Wonder how?
There are lots of sweets that you cannot handle. One or two sweets would do, to cater to most people's tastes. Anything more than that makes you wonder why? and touch it not!!!!
The bride's makeup is very important and no one even thinks about giving half as much attention to the groom's face make-up. All the same, the Jodi looks grand. :-) So, my take is, it is 10% external make-up and 90% mental satisfaction that shows on the face.
Almost in every wedding, the bride does not get all the time in the world to drape her wedding saree. The wedding saree is given to the bride after a lot of formalities only minutes before the 'Muhurtham' or the 'celestial and auspicious moment' that marks the marriage. Even before she places her hands on it, people start calling out " Time for the Muhurtham, Where is the bride?".. So after all that time spent on saree shopping, the bride does not even get quiet minutes to admire herself just before the most important moment in her life. The wedding Muhurtham moment is always hassled for her. Wonder why?
You hear this question soon after the wedding: " Enna maapillai vandhaacha" meaning "Has your son-in-law come into your family?" and you cant stop wondering how people can ask such questions when all they have been witnessing in the last few hours in the wedding hall was the marriage and everyone knows the son-in-law has joined hands with the girl. Strange, but what is even stranger is that you don't get angry.. you only get to smile.. :) The scene is very amusing, though I have controlled my voice of opinion on this : Where were you all this while? and wonder why you are asking questions like this.
I have till date, not understood why South Indian wedding buffets have a lot of North Indian items made by South Indian cooks who claim to be specialized in North Indian dishes. It just wont be perfect to have Naan and Panner Butter Masala catered by Aminjikkarai Bhavan. Wonder why people don't get it..
Almost always, the bride and the groom get to eat after the whole world has feasted over their wedding. Agreed, that may be the norm, but I have heard of instances when some special dishes have got over before they come to the dining hall to eat ( lunch or dinner). It is so unfair, but seems to happen all the time. Wonder why?
After all the care taken to conduct the wedding very well, there is at least one forgotten invitation. You see Person A and remember that you have not sent an invite to Person B. Possible.
After the grand wedding, how many of these people call back to say that the wedding was grand and nice or how many wedded couple write a thanks note back to the people who came in for the wedding? No idea really.

Few other observations that I cant forget to include here:
Kerala weddings are the shortest. When the wedding formalities are happening, if you turn around to say Hi to someone, the next thing you know is the wedding is over. The Muhurtham is set for exactly the minute, meaning the precise Moment and you will only see crowd in the hall for exactly fifteen minutes before the moment and thirty minutes after the muhurtham. The wedding party clears off the place in exactly half a day!!!! Unbeleivable in tamilian weddings, but I guess it is good to take the best practices, as said in corporate strategy meetings.

Food is excellent, but for some reason, Kerala weddings do not accomodate Tamilnadu cuisine. All tamilians have complaints about a kerala wedding buffet and all Keralites( no offence meant to keralites or malayalees or tamilians) have a problem with proper Tamilian food. At a wedding buffet, you are only enjoying the variety of cuisine and sharing the joy of the festive occasion and the happiness that lingers in the air, and definitely not talk about how the food was not good or didn't match your taste. But, what I have heard over the years is, at most weddings, 'Food' puts off people more than anything else. Wonder why?

I have not attended North Indian weddings and Andhra based weddings, but I hear they are all usually the extremely grand scale types. People are known to splash money like water for the weddings. I wonder why? but I guess that is the way it is :)

Whether grand or no, a wedding is very special for all the fond thoughts that it brings to everyone in the family. There might be unpleasant memories, but when we hold on to the unplesant, the plesant finds no space in the mind and heart :) What say?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Auto or Gift??

God sends gifts in various forms....
Hey wait... This is not a spiritual post, but one that tells you how my faith in God worked for me, as it always has :)

The 5th of December was a very important day for me, because I had a paper presentation in a writer's meet.
The presentation was important for a lot of reasons:
One, I have not taken the stage for about 10 plus years now.
Two, I cannot keep it short when I talk ( or write, to be honest) and I had just eight minutes to say all I wanted to say on the topic.
Three, I am talking about a subject that everyone knows, so I cannot afford to make mistakes.
Four, my stage fear is very popular with me and my circle of friends.
Five, the audience will have a lot of new comers to the field and I have the responsibility of setting a good example.

The presentation was scheduled at 8:30 A.M and I set out promptly at 7:20A.M. I had estimated about 10 minutes to hire an auto to the venue and about forty minutes of travel. Even if the traffic is heavy( which is very rare on a Saturday morning in Bangalore), I can still be there on time, was my thought.

I took an auto and after clarifying the directions for him, I sat back relaxed, only to find at the next traffic signal, that the auto driver had got confused. After a minor attempt to clarify, I stepped out of the auto ( The auto driver was nice enough to let me know he was completely lost) and waited for the next. The next auto driver was headed to a place called Majestic and he was happy to take me there..[ This happens only with Bangalore autos.. but, it is not a bad idea.. I guess in future, we will have autos in Bangalore that ply between two places and we would have to wait at the appropriate stop to hail autos to specific destinations..].. Though I liked the idea that I have to be going to where the auto was headed and thought that it was brilliant enough for a future implementation, I was not going to Majestic, so had to let the auto go. Then, there were others who had a problem with the road, with the metro constructions, with the route and with the traffic.

When I looked at the watch, it was 7:50A.M. If I get the auto right then, I have a fair chance to reach the venue at 8:30A.M and then to walk inside the campus is going to take me another 5 minutes, which means I will be able to start my presentation 5 minutes late.... Not at all what I expected., But then, the norm says 'Expect the Unexpected'....and clearly I had NOT expected that hailing an auto can be as difficult as it seemed that morning.

I said a quiet prayer stating that I cannot go late and God has to do something about an auto immediately. I took a random turn on one of the cross roads and found two autos there. It surely was not an auto stand. I saw one of the drivers reading the morning's news paper. Of course, worldwide everyone reads news, except me and brushing aside the thought of disturbing his peaceful morning, I approached the driver. He said, he is waiting for the clock to strike 8:00 when he has a school trip, and so would not be able to come. He directed me towards another auto.

On an approximate count, I can say, it was the tenth auto for that morning. It was almost 7:55A.M. This auto driver was an old man, a very old man. I hesitantly asked him if he can take me to race course road. He immediately said, "yes". I was super-thrilled. I hopped on to the auto, and directed him to another stop where a friend of mine joined me. It was 8:05A.M. We had about 20 minutes left to reach the venue. The auto was going at snail's pace. It seemed that the auto driver had decided that one inch a minute is the rate at which he would cover the entire 10 km distance. I prayed once again ( that is all you can do, of course apart from the high temper that you can express at such a slow pace).I told the driver how much this ride meant to us. I told him about the presentation and how we had to be there on time and how much of a trouble it was to find him and how happy we were to have finally taken his auto and that we were very thankful. It was a very natural appreciation and release of tension according to me and somewhere I felt, this man is a good contributor to the success of my presentation although there is no technical connection between me hailing an auto and making the presentation. If not for him, I would still be waiting there or thinking of alternatives ( rare on Saturday mornings in Bangalore) but would not have started off at all.

The auto driver rushed ( according to him) in the normal speed and stopped at the venue in exactly 15 min time. We reached at 8:20 A.M, well in time for the presentation. When we paid the auto fare, he said " I understand that there is something important happening at 8:30 in this place and it means a lot for you to be here on time.. My speed today was according to me, 'Over speed'. I am old and I would have never managed to reach here in 20 minutes from where we started, at my usual pace. I am a very slow driver;I better be, because I am old. But good, you could get here on time."

The previous day, the same drive had taken us forty minutes. On this day, it had taken us 20-25 minutes in all. We thanked this driver and I made it a point to tell him that reaching the venue on time would not have been possible without his help and that we were very grateful.
I would surely say, that this auto driver was a major contributor to my talk that started exactly ten minutes later at 8:35A.M. The delay was due to other reasons, but not me, the speaker.

If I had reached late, I would have faced one of these :
- questioning looks from the audience
- hurried start of the presentation
- slight disorientation that usually results from the hasty start
- incoherent flow of ideas
- less-composed self

All of which, I realized are quite possible for no fault of yours, except not expecting that things can go really really tangentially different from what you expect. That's what makes me think that God sends gifts in various forms and the auto, the auto driver were both God-sent gifts to me - Gifts that let me keep my principle of being on time. I also realized that we dont realize that such timely help gifts that are sent to us time and again, in our every day lives, unless we see them gift-wrapped in a colorful paper with soft pastel colored satin ribbons. But why?

Monday, December 07, 2009

Aaja Nachle....Be in the moment

I got a chance to attend this writer's conference in Bangalore last week. The entertainment evening had this wonderful fusion dance number by two pretty and smart young ladies... or I'd just say the girls whose dance cast a spell on the audience....'Aaja Nachle' was one song.... the others I don't recall, as I am not very good at remembering cine bits ( music, stories and characters inclusive). What I definitely remember is that the music notes of the three songs were fused very well and the dance steps were in complete agreement.

So, what makes this dance so special that it called for a post on my blog?

This girl Ms.Damsel forgot that it was the stage and she is performing before a crowd of 500 plus people; she went into a new world where she was with the context of the song, her expressions perfect with the lyrics of the song, and her steps so gracefully tuned for the dance... She lived in the moment; the entire stage, the audience, her costume and the next step.. all seemed to fade in front of her and her expressions and the inner sense of bliss that reflected on her face said just one thing:
"Live in the present"..

After the great performance, it took her three minutes to gather herself back and realize that it was a stage show.... It was such an eye-opener for me. May be all seasoned dancers perform this way, but this performance made me realize, that it is not only the talent, but also the idea of living in the moment gave that extra touch to perfection in the dance.

A lot of people say this.. Live in the present, Be in the moment, Think of the present and other such thoughts that mean being present wherever you are at any given moment. All of us know it is a great idea, but for some reason most of us drift away from the present most of the times... It starts from the day dreaming times back in boring classes in school... True to the proverb,'Habit is second nature', we dutifully carry it forward to the next-to-next phases in life and slowly but surely we forget what it is like to live the moment, to live in the NOW; We either want to day dream( which is okay once in a while) or think of the future.... We want to be in college, while at school, want to start earning while at college, want to get a promote when just into a workplace, want to finish work before we begin... The same applies to clothing, just that with clothes it is the reverse order these days.. Minimalist clothing is the order of the day in some cities.

We think of home when at work and work when at home.. we think of a pending work when talking over the phone to a friend or sometimes multi-task ( talking on the phone with a friend, eating at the desk, and answering an email), we think of A when talking to B, and sometimes we think of food when we pray. Even God does not get our complete attention...

When we don't give our complete attention, we miss the message that the experience has to offer us. Aaja Nachle means, C'mon Dance... and to me it translates as "Be present in the Present". All thanks to the expressive and involved dancer, Ms.Damsel.

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