Friday, July 31, 2009

A cuppa tea and a few thoughts

Mohd Rafi: Today is the 29th Death anniversary of Mohammed Rafi. I found out this website dedicated to his memory. There was a time when Rafi saab's songs flooded Vividbharathi, India's favourite radio station. That was when, as an adolescent, I dreamed dreams to the tune of these songs. Do visit the site, pay your respects and listen to a few of his songs.

Horoscope: My horoscope for the day says, "Don't propose any sacrifice which you may regret later." I haven't the foggiest what that means. I read it every day, nonetheless. I guess most of us do. Not that we believe in it, but every morning it is essential while browsing the cartoons and entertainment columns to take a peek and say to myself, oh, I see I am going to have a fabulous day and all my colleagues are going to fall at my feet. It's another thing that the day would end with me in tears! I go back to read it again the next day. So today, as was advised, I did not propose any sacrifice that I would regret later.

Homeopathy is a difficult medical science to follow. One who decides to pursue it needs to put his body, mind and soul into it. It is easy to get lost and lose faith in the medicine because of its slowness in healing.

Monsoons this year have been playing hide-and-seek with us. They made their appearance in June, then disappeared, again unexpectedly showed their face in early July. After which we concluded that this year's monsoons, sigh, have been very truant, well, what can be done? they are gone and we hope to get a more favourable monsoon next year, and then suddenly there they are! Laughing with glee and pouring down on us when the three-year-old wants to take a walk after his afternoon nap. The climate has been playing very naughty games with us this year. One would think the climate is a three-year-old as well.

Blogs: I read a lot of blogs during the day. Some are my regular visits, even though they may not feature in my blogroll in the right frame. Some I chance upon from other places. But as in everything else, I have felt that the first impression decides whether I stay long or not. I find myself put off by small fonts, black backgrounds, long, long paragraphs of posts with no breaks in between. Which is why my blog looks like it is designed for the weak of the eyes (large fonts).

The month is over before I realised it. It has been a busy month, I must have read the same pages of text over and over and over again, about 40 times at least - no, I do not exaggerate. Every time I see something I missed the last time, so again I propose changes, and then again, and again. I hope it is finally over today, the end of this week, the end of this month, I hope it is the end of my reading work!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Karna and Parashuram

The greatest epics of the Indian soil, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, have been placed in this world with a purpose (well, several purposes). Each scene, each action, is a lesson to those who wish to learn. If you have heard the stories at least once, they have this ability to stay in your mind and emerge at a seemingly insignificant time.

One of the stories that I find quite appealing is Karna's encounter with Parashuram to acquire a skill that no Kshattriya could learn, that would make him one of the most powerful of them all. However he had to tell a lie to gain his end, and, when Parashuram came to know of it, was punished.

The following text was copied from this site:

Karna was keen to acquire the Brahmastra mantra from the great teacher Parashuram. However, he knew that Parashuram gave instructions to Brahmins (the priestly tribe) only. So he disguised as a Brahmin and beseeched Parashuram to accept him as a shishya(disciple). Parashuram accepted him as such and started giving him instructions. One day when Parashuram was resting with his head in Karnas lap, it so happened that a bee stung Karna on the lower portion of his thigh. It was very painful and he started bleeding. However, fearing that if he moved his legs, he would awaken Parashuram, he did not move at all and continued to suffer. When Parashuram woke up, he saw Karna bleeding. He asked, Son, tell me truthfully who you are? A Brahmin cannot suffer so much physical pain. Only a kshattriya (the warrior tribe) can endure so much discomfort. Karna was obliged to disclose his identity. Parashuram was greatly annoyed because he was a sworn enemy of Kshattriyas. He therefore cursed Karna that as he had learnt through deceit, he shall forget the vidya (skill) which Parashuram had taught him, at a crucial juncture.

Parashuram's curse was to prove Karna's undoing. At the Kurukshetra battle, when face to face with Arjuna, Karna forgot the Brahmastra mantra taught to him by Parshuram. The wheels of his chariot sank in soft earth and he was immobilised. At that time, Arjuna defeated him.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Questions of a 3-year old

1. Why do the same advertisements that I see in my TV appear in my neighbour's TV as well?

2. Why do we eat daily? When will we stop eating?

3. Why do buses have bombs on them? (He has been watching too much TV, and there has been too much bad news lately!)

4. Why do we have necks? Is it to turn our heads about?

5. Doesn't the donkey catch a cold if it stands in the rain? (After seeing one on the road side, standing motionless in the rain)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Guide - the Book, the Movie

The Guide, the book (1958) by R K Narayan, and Guide, the film(1965) were both released before my birth, so it was perhaps inevitable that I saw the movie even before I heard of the book. In fact, at my first viewing, I did not know it was the adaptation of a book. I perhaps did not even completely follow the story, I loved the film for its songs. Ah, the songs of Guide! The hair on the back of my neck stands in reverence even as I think about them. The lyrics are mind-blowing, and even if you don't understand them, you would enjoy the melodious voices of S D Burman, Lata, Rafi and Kishore.

Anyway, I finally got around to reading the book now only - 50 years after it was first published. I believe the film has done as much justice to the book as possible (though it made the film rather too long to contain all the events of the story). True that some of the flaws of the characters in the book were straightened in the film. The heroes of a book can be defective, but not so of a movie. That part being sorted out, the only difference I could note was in the ending. The book never mentions whether it rained after all and ended the drought, or Raju survived his 12-day fasting. However in the film, it rains, and Raju dies.

The best part about reading R K Narayan's stories (Malgudi Days, Swami and Friends, and so forth) is that the characters are quite ordinary people. There is nothing "larger than life" about them. They make mistakes that you or I could make, they sometimes fail to see life flow alongside them, and plunge into its depths, swallow a great deal of water and emerge gasping and breathless. So does Raju flow with the tide, be overwhelmed by his emotions for Rosie that he lets go of his life, his Mother and every principle he lived by, finally finds himself in jail. On emerging from the jail, he is again led downstream by the current towards a small village, where he finds himself being hailed as a saint who could work wonders and bring them rain in the severe drought of the year.

Through his thoughts, we too wonder about Life, what we do with it and where it leads us.

At every mention of Raju or Rosie, in every page of the book, I saw Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman. Dev Anand, whom someone once called the "Gregory Peck of Indian cinema", more popularly known as the "Evergreen Dev Anand".

Beautiful book, beautiful film.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Thought for the weekend

Sometimes we find ourselves in a sea of depression, gasping for some reassurance, and unknowingly pass by little babies of good news lurking around the corner, striving to catch our attention. We may be looking for big, big slices of happiness, not finding which, we tend to drown in our miseries.

It's so disheartening that we have everything we need in this world and yet we yearn for something else, which may not be what we need or want or something that could give us happiness or satisfaction.

It is perhaps the cost of being human... the "most intelligent species on earth"...

And yet, sometimes I think it is this very sense of not being satisfied that leads man to follow his heart and dream up his amazing inventions, which make life so easier for us.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Likes & Dislikes on a Thursday

My dislikes...
* seeing children unhappy
* being hungry
* a long wait for someone who doesn't respect my time
* racking with cough in the middle of the night

My likes...
* children playing and squealing with laughter
* my National Flag fluttering in the breeze
* people's eyes lighting up, when they laugh at a good joke
* kitten with big round eyes prancing around
* the yawn of an infant
* songs of the Kishore-Rafi-Mukesh-Lata-Asha era

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Total Solar Eclipse

Astronomers in this part of the world have been spending an excited dawn searching the skies for the solar eclipse of this year. It began at about a quarter past six and went on till half past seven, total eclipse visible in the northern region of India stretching from Gujarat in the west to Assam in the east.

Here at Bangalore, the eclipse was supposed to be 65%, the sun would rise already partially eclipsed, however when I got up around 7 and took a look through the sun-glasses, I was surprised - contrary to what the scientists predicted, it seemed to be a total eclipse! However, the sun was totally eclipsed by clouds, and not by the darkened moon.

News from Mumbai says the early morning sky-watchers were disappointed to the point of tears because the Rain Gods played mischief and the torrent did not stop till the eclipse was well out of the way.

News from Trivandrum is more encouraging, sun watchers have been able to see the promised partial eclipse, and they have breakfasted, content with the sight.

Do you have experiences to share about today's eclipse or any previous ones? Photos, links and comments welcome!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mamma's Babies

She calls them Mittoo and Cheethu
She speaks to them daily
She calls them Mamma's babies

She feeds them milk and fruits

She showers love on them

They ought to be very happy
They have everything they need
Except, they live in a cage

They cannot fly out as they wish
The cage is too small
They cannot even spread their wings
They're parrots, for God's sake...

Blog Plagiarism

Mike Althouse, at The 25 Year Plan, has brought my attention to some bad goings-on in the blogland, which I think other bloggers should know.

Do go to his blog and read about it.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ice Age3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Ice Age has come of age. Sid's herd is no longer the slow-moving, big set of bachelors they were when they restored the human baby to his Father in 2002. Manny is ready to become a father, Sid is the self-proclaimed foster-mother to three little dinosaur babies, Diego has tired of the absence of challenges in life and leaves the herd in search of adventure. The return of the Dinosaur Mother in search of her babies serves to bring the herd back together, as she carries away Sid with her to the world of the Dinosaurs, because after all, Sid is the "sticky, gluey stuff that keeps the herd together". Life picks up pace and everything happens in a Whooosh followed by a Whooosh, and the herd goes through enough adventure to make Diego want to stay back with the family.

Scrat's misadventures with his nut and his new mate become exceedingly dull and repetitive that one would want to cry, "Somebody give him an acorn, and teach him to keep it!"
Some of the jokes were not really meant for children.

The herd has become bigger, with the arrival of Ellie Junior, who they name Peaches, and a non-resident member from the Dinosaur world, the whacky weasel called Buck.

As always, I was left wondering if the movie was completely man-made? Is it possible that there is a world still covered with ice and inhabited by mammoths somewhere, that a set of men are secretly filming? How else can one explain the perfect animation and life-like animals?

The occasional ripples of laughter from the audience and the "awwww" when Peaches first arrives perhaps meant that everyone enjoyed themselves thoroughly, though more than one little baby started crying every time the dinosaur roared.

I see another adventure in store for lil Peaches and her Father, and Uncles Diego and Sid, in the form of Ice Age 4.

Now Showing. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.
Running to full house for the third week in cinemas across Bangalore.

Friday, July 17, 2009

5 Thoughts for the weekend

1. I have noticed that when my son asks me, "Can I do it?" I agree most amicably - almost irrespective of what he wants to do - but if he does it without asking, I get mad at him. I believe he knows it, too.

2. There are stupid Questions, stupid Answers and stupid People. However, all three don't necessarily occur together.

3. Mothers don't have eyes on the back of their head. They just know when and where and how to look. Because they have been where you are, and done everything you do.

4. Even the most solitude-loving and independent of us needs the reassurance of company at times.

5. Some adolescents think that middle-aged people were born directly into their middle age, and have no experience of going to college or hanging out with friends.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Putting yourself first

This cough has completely drained me. So much so that for two days I was totally (almost) invalid. Mothers are not supposed to be ill, they should always be bouncing around so that their kids' needs are attended to without any obstruction.

When you board a plane, one of the instructions that the air hostess gives you in the mime act of theirs is how to use the oxygen mask. Either as part of that demo, or separately I do not recall (when we are travelling with babies) they guide us to use it on ourselves first, and then on the baby, in case an emergency arises. On my first flight with my three-month old son, when I heard it, I wondered why it was so, my baby would need oxygen, doesn't he deserve to get it first? Then it dawned on me that if I collapse by the time he takes in oxygen, then it is inevitable that he collapse as well. I should take good care of myself so that I am around when he needs me. But I have often seen Mothers around me put their babies before themselves in everything. (So do I, very often.) They skip their food, forget their medicines, miss their friends' parties and lose much of their sleep so that their children can have their food, medicines, sleep and parties.

Isn't this in accordance with the rule of Leadership which says, in an event of the highest crisis, the Leader should not be too gallant and sacrifice his life, because if he is gone, the Fate of his scattered people without a rudder to direct them, is also doomed?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Obsession of the Internet

I had not realised that I am so dependent on the Internet. It is when power is down for a long time or I am bedridden that I begin to experience withdrawal symptoms. I know that I can do without the Net for a day or two. But still I yearn to be before my PC, and I crawl to it and keep myself connected.

I remember about ten or twelve years ago, when I saw the Internet in action, for the first time. Someone browsed a couple of pages to show me and I asked, "So? Why is everyone so crazy about this?"

Some time later, I created a hotmail account, which made life a little more interesting. But there was nothing more to do in the Internet, I would connect only to see if someone sent me an email. The connection was so slow that I had to type "" and sit for about 15 minutes so that the login screen would come up. Sometimes half way through the loading, it would stop and I would have to refresh it - and wait another 15 minutes. It was a true test of patience, now I can't imagine waiting 10 seconds for a page to appear.

Googling became a hobby several years later. Every time I hear something new, I at once think Google. There is nothing that Google cannot explain. My obsession with blogs is a very recent phenomenon, as I have elaborated earlier.

And today, I am so addicted to the Internet that if by chance I have to leave my desk for a cup of tea, lunch or to attend to my son, I will feel myself drawn back to it like a piece of iron to a magnet...

Monday, July 13, 2009


The illness that troubles us the most is the one that affects our child.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


How a three-and-a-half year old concentrates on the task at hand...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Thoughts for a weekend

1. Kindness does not expect gratitude in return. The moment one expects a 'thank you', his action stops being kind.

2. Bad things tend to look worse and good things to lose their lustre as days pass by. We get over them both, anyway, after a while.

3. A person who says "Life is tough" is, in all probability, having a better life than one who says "Everything is fine".

4. A bad experience is worth a million advices.

5. Sometimes we get depression for free, sometimes we pay a huge amount to get our day ruined.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Of fevers, colds and coughs

Fever is no fun when you have to swallow a pill, pull yourself out of bed and exert your unwilling body. Fever becomes downright delightful when you have the luxury of lying back on your warm bed, cover yourself up to your chin, have a few favourite books on your bedside, hot water, coffee and warm soup at your bidding. Then Fever... is Ecstasy!

As can be guessed from the above observation, I was down yesterday, even though it was not a completely delightful bout of fever, I did manage to have a relaxing day, with King Solomon's Mines to keep me company. A hundred years old, the book still arouses the adventurer in one.

I sincerely doubt if anyone in Bangalore survived this June without sniffing or sneezing at least for a week (in my case, three weeks). Everyone in my circle has had a course of one of these, and is either in its grips still, or has just started recovering. And this, despite the fact that Monsoon has failed this month.

That is the news from this part of the world; what's cooking in yours?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Phases of Life

Phase 1: You paint your car with fluorescent colours, paste big stickers and play loud music
Phase 2: You change the car paint to ordinary colours, and let it inconspicuously melt in the traffic
Phase 3: You declare that a car is a necessity, not a luxury. As long as the engines and battery function well, nothing else matters.

For some, the three phases translate to ages 20-30-40. For others, it is 20-40-60.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Force of Habit

I borrow the following text from Mahabharata - or one of its interpretations in the Internet.

"Never let Arjuna eat in the dark,'' Drona told the palace cook.

Yet one night, as Arjuna was having supper, the wind blew out the lamp in Arjuna's tent. Arjuna found himself eating, his hand going to his mouth with habitual skill. Arjuna realized that if his hand could find his mouth in the dark, it should be able to control an arrow even when he couldn't see it.


Overheard, on the road:

"The little girl has nice, soft cheeks. She is quite cheeky."

Monday, July 6, 2009

Big, Bad Monsoon

We Bangaloreans are always harsh on the Monsoons.
If it comes on schedule, we complain that the roads flood, the drains overflow and the trees fall down (not to speak of the tragedies that accompany each of these).
If it does not come in the first week of June as expected, we grumble that there is no rain, so no power supply, no water, no harvest, etc. etc.
The grievance list in either case is long.

This year, though the Monsoon was sighted ahead of schedule, it evidently got fed up of the Bangaloreans' unfair treatment to it, and decided to pass by silently on its second trip over the skies of the Garden City, after generously cleaning Kerala of the stains of Summer.

I spotted some of them elusive Monsoon clouds as they appeared on the North Bangalore skies on Saturday evening, not looking down at us, bent on travelling North-West, maybe towards Mumbai, where the people show more affection and respect to them. However, after being caught on camera, I imagine, they had no option but to pour a part of themselves over B'lore. So it rained rather well over the weekend, and Bangaloreans sat back, relaxed. Electric power problem is solved for the time being, now lets enjoy some nice, flooding-and-vehicles-stranded-in-rain issues.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Commute Easy - Car pooling @ B'lore

Commute Easy is an initiative by now well known to all Bangaloreans, thanks to publicity by Radio One FM. If you are a Bangalorean, and haven't heard of it yet, do check out the site. It seems to be doing a lot of good to a lot of people.

The Great Indian Novel

The Great Indian Novel, as author Dr. Shashi Tharoor has mentioned, takes its title not from the author's estimate of its contents but in deference to its primary source of inspiration, the ancient epic the Mahabharata. In Sanskrit, Maha means great and Bharata means India.

There are very clearly two ways of seeing this book. And no other. Either you like what you read, or you are appalled by the way the author has twisted both the Mahabharata and the 20th century slice of Indian history to make fiction out of them.

Indeed, it is the Mahabharata, the people and the scenes of the epic, shot into the twentieth century and ricocheting against the walls of the Indian independence struggle and post-Independence era.

One who wishes to know the story of the Mahabharata and the history of Indian Independence, but does not wish to waddle in the literature of both, could consider both birds hit with one stone, once he reads this book. The skeletal framework of the book remains true to the originals. One could find the men and women of the Mahabharata peering through the windows of the twentieth century and aligning themselves to history. Indeed, the facts and figures as depicted in the Mahabharata are more or less maintained in the novel, except for a few differences I have noticed - that of Gandhari bearing one daughter instead of a hundred sons and a daughter, and Ekalavya refusing to give his thumb off as gurudakshina to Drona, and so on. Ekalavya later resurfaces as the President of India, and Ashwathaman the cockroach (as opposed to the elephant in the legend) is killed to cheat and finish off Drona. I did let out a small chuckle reading the name "Mohammed Ali Karna", the founder of Karnistan.

The magical events of the Mahabharat have been brought to terra firma with a series of scientific explanations - Ved Vyas, who tells the complete story, employs spies in every nook and corner of the world, Amba undergoes a sex-change surgery to return as Shikandin to assassinate the eminent Ganga Dutta (Gangaji alias Bhishma), Krishna unseats his uncle Kamsa in the elections,... Once we separate the thickly entwined Mahabharata from history, sprinkle a little magic over them, we get more or less the original version of the epic.

Surely the author is not serious when he suggests in his disclaimer that there is no resemblance to anyone living or dead. The parallel is all too clear for everyone who knows Indian history. The story begins with an appearance of the Mahabharata fitted to the twentieth century India and somewhere it melts into history and comes up as the politics of today. In fact, if the book were to have a few more pages, one would have spotted the author himself in the attire of the Minister of State for External Affairs.

One cannot but marvel at the brilliance behind the names "Manimir" and "Comea", at the same time wonder why he spared Kerala and New Delhi! The narration at places is so hilarious, and at places the author has switched from prose to poetry that one cannot help but admire the author's literary prowess, with which he dazzles us so much so that we need to keep a dictionary handy as we progress through the pages, and grow tired of occasionally peering into it.

After about three-fourth of the book, it starts becoming a little dry read, on the verge of becoming a drag but things pace up with the appearance of Shakuni and his dice game, and the final Battle of Kurukshetra - which is the General Elections.

More about the book in the author's own site, here.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Thoughts for the weekend

1. The time in my present goes slowly, in my past fleets by and in my future haphazardly.

2. A woman becomes a nagging wife because an unkempt house, ill-mannered children and irresponsible husband are considered her failures.

3. My son asks me, Does God sleep at night?

4. The power of gossip is that no one wants to hear it, but everyone knows all about it and more.

5. Sometimes Life takes us up to dizzying heights and makes us look down and experience vertigo, just to keep us from being carried away in the comforts of our stable life.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Soan Papdi

The delicious Sweet that melts in the mouth!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Joke of the Day

Courtesy Bangalore Times, July 2, 09

Saif Ali Khan: "All I want to do is make great films, live healthy, eat good food, read comic books and novels, exercise and have Kareena by my side. I can't ask for more."

That seems like quite a handful!
Is there anything more to ask?

26/11 terrorist trial melodrama

Mumbai 26/11 attacks & Kasab's Trial:

Why are we making a mockery of ourselves in the name of "justice"? Isn't this going too far?

And every day newspapers carry articles on whether Kasab smiled today, or was depressed, what he ate for breakfast, whether he had a headache or stomach pain, what book the fellow is reading - I am sure none of the national celebrities get so much of attention!

For God's sake, have we forgotten Nov 26, 2008 so easily?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I don't understand these people.
I have given up trying, as well.
I have no clue why they seem friendliest of the friendlies one day and grumpiest the next, with no apparent provocation from me. Granted, they may have their own issues but what did I do to deserve the ill-treatment? As if I am the reason for their misery, or maybe I took their happiness away just by going to talk? The result of their sulking is that my day is ruined (how else can it be, after I go and make a happy statement to them, and get back a spitting reply) and I have no clue why!

I would wish that not many of their kind cross my path, but one cannot choose one's fellow travellers in Life. So it happens that a few of them stray to my corner of the world, to ruin my days now and then. After the first shock (my experience with the first of them some years ago), I learnt that such people do exist, so rather than getting annoyed at the others who come along, I taught myself to say "There's another one of them" and try to keep away as far as possible! It doesn't work all the time, though.

Are you one of them Grumpies, or are you a victim like me?