Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Gulab from the Gulag

I love this description of engineers.....

"An engineer? I had grown up among engineers, and I could remember the
engineers of the twenties very well indeed: their open, shining intellects,
their free and gentle humor, their agility and breadth of thought, the ease with
which they shifted from one engineering field to another, and, for that matter,
from technology to social concerns and art. Then, too, they personified good
manners and delicacy of taste; well bred speech that flowed evenly and was free
of uncultured words; one of them might play a musical instrument, another dabble
in painting; and their faces always bore a spiritual imprint."

Aleksandr I Solzhenitsyn

The Gulag Archipelago

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

On my way to become the BEST Union Leader and Other Bombay Stories

Firstly, a summary of the routes I have been taking to reach my offices; one in Shivaji Park, Dadar and the other at Bandra Kurla Complex.

Route 1: When I was staying in my company's Worli guest house during the initial few weeks of my stay in Bombay

Worli-Prabhadevi-Dadar(spend some time here)-Mahim-Bandra-Bandra Kurla Complex

Route 2: When I shifted to the project guest house at oshiwara (which i call, O! Shit War eh??)

Oshiwara-JVPD-IRLA-Milan Subway (u need to see this)-Khar-BKC

Route 3: After I have shifted to Chedhanagar, Chembur


All this travel has shown me the sheer size of Bombay.

That apart, the last 4 days starting from Sunday have seen various run ins with BEST. And all of them were hilarious considering the context.
1. Sunday, 20th August: I was going from Chedhanagar to Andheri East. I boarded the 533 Ltd bus and asked for a ticket to Andheri Station. All of a sudden the conductor started cursing me in marathi. I thought that he was asking me to go in front, and I added fuel to fire by refusing to do so. At the same time it struck me that the bus was not moving. Then, someone gently pointed out that I was holding the rope used to signal to the driver to stop/move and my holding it was interpreted as a STOP.

2. Monday 21st August: On the 348 bus towards Rani Lakshmi Chowk from kalanagar, I found a seat at the end of the bus, and guess what, THE ROPE was hanging ominously in front of my eyes, as if BEST was gonna hang me to death!!!
3. Tuesday 22nd August: I was supposed to go to Shivaji Park from Chedhanagar for which I had to catch a 354. Accordingly a 354 came, but i disregarded it cos it was jam packed. Right behind it was a 368 Ltd with the board Prabhodhankar Thackrey Chowk which I remembered having seen somewhere. I assumed that it would go to Dadar and asked for a ticket. The conductor stared at me and said, "Age 354 hai. Woh Shivaji Park jaati hai. Usko chod ke, mere bus main chadke, meresehi Shivaji park ka ticket maang raha hai!!!! Utro agle stop main...." (There is a 354 in front which goes to shivaji park. you leave that bus, get into mine and to top it all, you ask for a ticket to shivaji park.. Get out!!!!)

4. Wednesday 23rd August: On the way back from kalanagar, i got into a 373 Ltd which would drop me at a place near home called Amarmahal. And as fate would have it, the bus broke down at Sion-Trombay Road near Chembur colony. Great!!! Soon the announcement went, "All guys get out and push the bus". And so dear reader, it is because of this noble endeavour that i have performed that i am writing this blog with great difficulty.....

Wonder whats in store for me on Thursday the 24th of August.................

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Confusion about one's TRUE identity can be frustrating at times. Specially if you are forced to defend the identifying factors (irrespective of their proportion) and sometimes make a choice at the cost of the others.

I am referring to my roots. Hailing from Palghat, speaking Tamil at home and staying in Bangalore for 20 years should be an advantage in my opinion. But at certain times, the devil raises his/her head and plants the question, "Where do you belong?" At other times like say, when the membership of the different language sanghas in IIT Delhi is concerned, the question that arises is "Which sangha do I become a member of?" Obviously, becoming a member in all the different sanghas (I am referring to the Kerala Sangham, Tamil Mandram and the Kannada Sangha, which for some strange reason was christened Aravali Kannada Sangha.) was not feasible keeping the wallet factor in mind. (all these sanghas charged approximately Rs. 100-150 per year, a princeley amount for a student). Hence, one had to choose. My reason to join the Tamil Mandram was due to the fact that most of the guys living in my wing were Tamils and i had met all of them and even had a nice jolly friendship with most of them. In contrast, I hardly knew any one who spoke kannada on campus. The kannada sangha hardly promoted its activities (if they had them) and when I did get to know a few Kannada guys, it was too late!! I had already committed my cash.

Thus, it was with a feeling of guilt at having betrayed kannada that i went to the book exhibition at pragati maidan in delhi in january this year. The english section was given my best effort and I ended up purchasing Foucault's Pendulum and The Mandala of Sherlock Holmes. I then decided that i had to purchase a kannada book. if I were to lie, I wanted to purchase a Kannada book because i had interest in kannada literature. On the contrary...the feeling of betrayal was gnawing inside me and plus, I wanted to show off in the hostel. Accordingly I went ahead and purchased a few plays by Girish Karnad.

As Jan went into Feb, Feb into March, then April, May and even June and July, I found that i had covered only Foucault's pendulum...I then put my hand inside my bag and extracted the first book that I found, and it turned out to be "Bimba Mattu Itara Natakagalu" (Bimba and Other Plays) by Girish Karnad and Mahesh Elakuncharvar.

The first play in this collection is Bimba meaning reflection. It is a title that refers to the reflections of the protagonist Manjula Naik a renowned Kannada writer. The play opens in a setting where she is providing an introduction to the serialization of her latest work, which is surprisingly in English and very well written. It is about a beautiful talented woman who is paralysed waist down, is extremely talented and is very nice by nature.

Once the introduction is done and manjula is about to leave the studio, something strange happens and her image appears on screen and then begins the best introspective investigative piece of writing that I have read till now. manjula's image is her conscience which probes her logically and peels her layer by layer, exposing her frailties, her hatred and jealousy for her sister and finally makes her admit something (I will not spoil the thrill) which one would least have expected.

More than anything, I am of course impressed by the language used, but also appalled at the fact that I have missed out so much in the only southern regional language that i am literate in. During course of reading the play, there were a few sentences that i feel will hit you instantly. I am reproducing them below:

1. "Naanu..andare neenu.." {Me....implies its you..} --> this reminds me of a poem called Me kidnaps me or something to that effect authored by Nitin Kashmikandy in NITK.
2. 'aake tonkadinda kelagina bhagadalli nirjeevavagiddalu. paralysed. daihika sambanda sadhyave iralilla" {She was paralysed waist down. There was no chance of her having sex}

3. "Ee sala, nanage ondu maatra anukoola ittu. Aake sattu hogiddalu. Naanu badukidde" {I had only one advantage. She was dead, I was alive}
4. "naanu english lekhaki malini naik. nanna akka, suprasiddha kannada kategarthi manjula naik nanna kadambariyannu odidodane naashavagi hogi naanagi hosa avatara talidalu. She has morphed into me." {I am the english author malini naik. my elder sister, the famous kannada novelist has disintegrated and assumed a new form after reading my novel. She has morphed into me}

And the final punchline, of which I provide only the translation:

...Meaning, I have to continue my life only as Manjula Naik. After all, my passport, bank accounts, property and financial papers are all in that name. But, to tell you the truth, I am malini naik - my brilliant sister, the one who loved and made love to my husband, the one who did not know kannada, the one who authored the English bestseller............
Bimba..somebody please enact this, and invite me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Beauty and the Beast

The following link is taken from the increasingly informative and oceanic blog of Sharath Rao.

Why Do Beautiful Women Sometimes Marry Unattractive Men

So, the next time anyone says "Mangana kainalli manikya kotta hage" (It is like giving a gem to a monkey) when u see a beautiful/sexy woman marrying an unattractive (in ur eyes, mind you) man, remember that the dice is statistically and probabilitically and naturally loaded in favour of the unattractive guy.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Goodbye Comrades?

I only dream in black and white
I only dream cos I'm alive
I only dream in black and white
To save me from myself

It was the same story repeated all over again in the wee hours of August 3rd 2006, Thursday. The only change was in the colour. Black and white transformed into blood red. Yes, my dreams (I remember all of them) were red yes, but not the red of the rose. It was the red of blood, the red of the Maoists!!!

Every exposure to a topic returns to haunt the same person at some point of time. For some, it returns as a serial haunter in real life, whereas for some it returns as a nightmare.
People might say that dreams are just a sub-conscious working of the mind, while some might say that they are bound to be true if they occur in the wee hours of the morning. I was also taught by my Sanskrit teacher in PUC, Mr. Venkatesh that there are some dreams which are future indicative. For example, if you see someone dying, then that person will live a long life. If you see a poor, contented Brahman, then you will have a long life etc. I am no Sigmund Freud, but all that I will vouch for is the 'will happen only in a dream and not in real life' nature of the erotic or so called wet dreams which provide so much of joy and lotsa 'what-if' questions. I remember one very vividly, wherein all the porn stars from different websites and magazines and movies appeared before me in their most erotic glory, and made me promise that I would stop watching porn. I did eventually though and this lack of "Pondy current affairs" knowledge showed up when I was asked to make a selection of latest porn for a friend.
Anyway, coming back to the dream on hand, it was about the naxalite threat in the jungles of Andhra, Chattisgarh and Jharkand.

In the Andhra episode, I was a police officer responsible for the extermination of these guys. It was a story of how I walked into an ambush, lost most of my men, emerged out of the jungles safely and finally turned the tables on the naxals and sent them packing from the face of the earth.
The Chattisgarh episode was about me being a big time businessman who gets extortion cum death threats from the naxals. The whole story was about how I uncovered the naxal spy in my household in the nick of time and escaped with my money and documents before the naxals mounted an all out invasion. With the benefit of hindsight and past movie knowledge, I feel that the only person who is missing is an equivalent of the sensuous Nandana Sen (see Tango Charlie, a hindi movie for further gyan).
The final dream trailer was one where I was a journalist from The Hindu (which other commie paper can I quote?? HA HA HA) who was living with the naxals in Jharkand and reporting on them for the Sunday Magazine. It so happens that unwittingly I give out some location details in one such report and a crazy local commander orders my execution. The story goes about how I manage to escape from the loony guy and end up in Chennai under Z plus category security.
Hmm..wonder what I need to make out of this. The only underlying theme is "Escape", which brings in other ideas in my mind..something involving Anna Kournikova...If wishes, were horses!!!!!!!!!!!