Thursday, February 26, 2009

How much is too much?

How much does a man need to lead a normal, happy life?
A “dhoti” (traditional men's wear in India - unstitched white cloth wrapped around waist and legs, like Gandhi wore) and a towel, is all that’s needed, going by one particular example.
Can see you grinning. But I used to know a guy who called himself “Basha” and “Partha” in Chennai. This 60-plus senior citizen lived in a tailor shop at our street and the two dress pieces were all the property he had, besides a rusted dumbbell to do exercise. The tailor had left a bicycle for him and allowed him to stay in the shop. His job was to deliver clothes to the clients. After returning from school, I used to play volleyball/kabbadi and chat with this simple man. When I finished college and went to great Amchi Mumbai in search of a job, my parents had shifted from that street in Chennai, but I continued to visit him and give him whatever little money I could whenever possible. He had a ready smile always as much as Bill Gates had. So I always used to wonder, is life all about money? Can money buy happiness is a never-ending debate. As I always say, what I look forward in life is good friends, healthy lifestyle, wonderful books and great movies. Of course, a happy family circle. Am I asking for too much?

A symbol of affection

Here comes another award, this again dedicated to all the wonderful visitors of this blog. I am lucky to get this award as it comes from a very popular blogger Avinash.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Tough nut to crack

“Slumdog” is good, but then “Lagaan” deserved Oscars too, I told a friend.
“Shut up, you peanut,” he reacted.
“No hassle, peanuts are poor man’s cashew nuts,” I replied.
“But a peanut is a peanut by whatever name you call it.”
“Well, do you know that peanut is an ingredient in the making of a dynamite?” I asked him.
“In that case, I will drop the pea, but you are still a nut,” he joked.
“Certain qualities are inborn while some are acquired from friends like you,” I said. “You are a hard nut to crack,” he shot back and we both went to canteen for a hot cup of tea. We ignored the peanuts lying in the tray.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Holly, here comes Bolly

It was on expected lines. “Slumdog Millionaire” swept eight Oscars at the 81 st Academy Awards including Best Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song, Direction and Motion Picture. Indian music maestro A.R. Rahman brought home two awards with his Jai Ho... composition. My wife rang up early in the morning to declare the news from Chennai, while my colleagues decided to pool some money and celebrate with cakes, which we did. I liked this particular comment from Madrasi Mozart (Rahman): "All my life, I had a choice of hate and love. I chose love, and I'm here." The news has been all around the globe. So I do not want to take more time on this subject as I cannot add anything new.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Great to be back

Great to be back with you all. Missed you all everyday. This blog landed in the intensive care unit and all that was needed was: create a new blog under same name, change the URL a little, import files from old blog to new..and bingo..bounce back. Great Soul Searcher suggested it the first day. But the dumbo that I am..well, let's forget the past..and get going..
Take care and keep your smiles, dear friends..

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

This blog in ICU

Hi dear all, I am lost for words by your love and affection. Please do not post any comments on this blog anymore. I had requested my nephew who is doing engineering degree in Chennai to check out and he had posted "Hello Chennai" yesterday. The problem persists and the only way out as Soul Searcher says seems to be to change the URL. I will reach all of you (at least almost all) through your blogs and for sure we will stay connected. Will keep you posted on the new name but for god's sake forget me not. I never knew the virtual world had such powerful bonding. Wish you all a wonderful time. There we go, we catch up soon, cheerfully. Like we discussed, when doors close, let's not panic but face it with a smile.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Hello Chennai

My frequency of talking to you may be less...
But the frequency for which i am thinking of you is simply gargantuan..
Good night

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Blog technical trouble

Hi everyone, have been experiencing serious trouble with posting stories. Unable to reach the dashboard for three days. Funnily, there is only one computer at office which flashes New Post sign. Here too I am unable to reach dashboard. Have tried everything, changed password too. If somebody out there can tell me how to save the blog, copy the files somewhere else or create a new one in the same name, would be grateful. If the postings are interrupted or the blog disappears, will reach you all through some other way. You all have been a great source of strength. Wishing you all the best.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Shhh, don’t laugh loud

Laughter is the best medicine, no doubt, but laughing out loud may land you in a soup. Don’t believe? Well, this friend of mine had this habit of laughing loudly at the drop of a hat. We were returning home in a crowded Mumbai train and cracking jokes all the way. A grumpy guy sitting next to my friend was trying to doze off, but was regularly interrupted by the thundering laughter. Mr Grumpy’s snoring reminded me of the hiccup of a lion. Whenever his head dropped down, his eyes half closed, my pal’s “roar” will shake him up.
And he could take it no more.
“Why don’t you laugh softly?” he suddenly sneered at my friend.
“Why don’t you go home and have a great sleep?” I reacted.
Naturally, two groups formed. One suggested that my friend should reduce his volume, while the other felt that the ill-tempered man should have tolerance in public.
But the overall sympathy was in favour of Mr Grumpy.
“Poor guy, he must be under tremendous pressure at office. Maybe he has two wives and is caught between devil and deep sea,” I could hear some people muttering. But I could not laugh out loud and suppressed it into a smile.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The White Tiger

As my friend was going gaga over Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger, am rushing through the pages. Better late than never. As usual, sharing three paras I liked so far:
“Only three have never let themselves be ruled by foreigners: China, Afghanistan and Abyssinia. These are the only three nations I admire.”
(Another friend argued that China was indeed at times ruled by foreigners. But as I am not an intellectual, I am not in this argument game)
“And only two destinies: Eat or get eaten up.”
“You were looking for the key for years/But the door was always open.”

Monday, February 9, 2009

An eye on spectacles

Those who wear power glasses have a distinctive advantage. They can choose what to see and reject those they do not want to. When I spot a cockroach in the bathroom, I just remove my specs, run for the broom and attack. Sans glasses, all I get to see is a vague image. Klushh.. The poor guy is dead.
It is also my habit to hold my specs in my hand while walking/jogging (if at all I manage to shirk my laziness). The other day a lady came close to me with an angry face. “Pavithra’s daddy. I am waving Hi to you and you are not even responding!” she complained. It was my neighbour, but damn it, how do I know that without my glasses?
My gardener friend from Sri Lanka wanted a printout with his name. He was going on leave and wanted to paste it on his baggage. Tomorrow? He asked me five times. I nodded. As expected, I forgot. When I was walking on the road, I spotted the yellow uniform and surmised my friend would catch me. I removed my specks and kept walking as if I had not seen him. When I came close, I felt odd and put on my specks. Shucks, it was some replacement and my friend had already gone on leave.
Did you ask why not contact lens? People complain I look too handsome if I wear contacts. I am not interested in film roles boss.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A weekend break

When monotony strikes, there's a way to beat it. Just take a break. And that's what I did. Former colleague and good friend Susmita and her cousin Sunil suggested that I join them on a trip to Masafi and I accepted the offer with thanks. We roped in reporter Rasheed too. We moved on a little further from Masafi to Fujairah. A weekly bull fight
show is a regular feature in Fujairah and we ended up interviewing the organisers. We also met a lovely couple, German national Benjamin and his Italian wife, Rosanna. Those few words in German I knew came in handy again. In a few minutes we were great friends and exchanged business cards so as to stay in touch. We were five in the car, including the man behind the wheels Rehman of Bangladesh. Susmita is from Bengal, Rasheed a Keralite, me a Madrasi and Sunil is from Pakistan. Truly global..ehh!
I will let the pictures speak to save your valuable time. Plenty smart, right?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Rumi and mystery man

Over a cup of hot tea, we were discussing Man Booker winner Adiga and his mention about great poet Rumi in The White Tiger. I have not finished reading the book (who can be lazier than me?), so we will discuss the book later.
Editor and good friend Shaadaab Bakht narrated this story he had heard about Rumi. Quite interesting.
An ascetic was crossing the road when he saw Rumi busy at work. He dropped in and asked: “What are you doing?” Rumi reacted a bit rude: “Can’t you see I am busy writing? Anyway, you will never understand.”
The man said: “What great things you are going to write in any case?”
Shocked by the audacity, Rumi had some harsh words for the man. In a moment, the latter grabbed all the pages and dumped them in water. Rage colouring his eyes red, Rumi screamed: “You have spoiled my life’s work.”
The ascetic listened quietly for two minutes, picked up the pages from water and returned them intact, in original form.
“How did you do it?” questioned Rumi in amazement.
“You will never understand,” came the reply.
Ya, there are several things we don’t understand. No wonder, Socrates died saying “All I know is I know nothing.”

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Tiny joke for a change

A rogue saw a simple man crossing the road.
“Hey, monkey” he mockingly called out.
“Yes, my son,” replied the shrewd man.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Bruce Lee, philosophica-Lee

Don’t remember whether I had mentioned about this earlier. But Bruce Lee is one of my greatest heroes and I should talk about this. I told a friend that martial arts hides in itself grand philosophy. He laughed. I explained:
There is a scene in Enter The Dragon where Bruce Lee wields the “nun chak,” hits all the enemies, bam bam dishum dishum, and runs into a tiny enclosure. Suddenly, a gate closes, he turns right, another gate shuts and well, all four sides are closed in a fraction of a second. Clearly trapped, all he does is put the “nun chak” on his shoulder, sit quietly in a meditative pose and sport a kingly look. Oof, what poise! When all the doors have shut, what is the point in clenching your fist and banging against iron walls – even if you were Bruce Lee, king of kung fu? Just relax, and that is what the hero did and the gates opened. Don’t believe? Watch the movie again. If this is not philosophy, what is?

Thank you, prof.

Here’s a note from Prof. Nikhil Moro of the US. Felt good and hence posting it. The correction will be carried out ASAP.
“I'm curious about the hyphen in the title. By using the hyphen aren't you making your title an adjective -- when there's no noun to follow! Perhaps it's the old copy editor in me talking but wouldn't your title be better off as "Global Madrasi"? I totally enjoy your (very idiosyncratic) blog -- it's sensitive, honest, refreshing. I'm bookmarking it.”

Monday, February 2, 2009

Chennai: Stink and charm

Expats are a restless lot. For most of us, minds are here, but hearts are back home. No wonder, the song, “Country road, take me home, to the place I belong..” is popular.
Anyway, may be visiting Chennai/Mumbai/Bangalore in three months. This brought random thoughts about Chennai.
• Have been inhaling the foul smell of the Cooum river since I was born. It hasn’t changed until today, even though I have become a teenager now (hey, allow me to bluff). That Buckingham canal could have been one of the most popular water transport facilities of the world. But lack of political will saw to it that it never happened that way.
• Know what? I am shocked by the pay scales in the city. I thought my wife with her award winning experience would land a teacher’s job easily. The jobs did come, but the pay offers never exceeded Rs8,000 ($1 is what Rs48?). Approached an international school in the city. The principal was kind and the children were mostly foreigners. She was selected, but the pay again was same. And the principal summed it up: “Go to the city, check out and return in a week. I will wait.”
• I had watched a Malayalee shopkeeper selling cigarettes and stuff like toffees for children. His shop must be less than 60 sq. ft. He has been standing there and selling like this for nearly half a century (Ya, ya heard this from my dad). And his dressing style has not changed. Same white dhoti and white shirt. Looked quite satisfied after all these years. Want to interview such great people when I return for good. What say?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hiding behind brands

Work for major brands and you are branded. I wonder whether we lose our individual identity when we hide behind brands or multinational companies. Of course, I agree we cannot avoid it and it is part of the package. When I left a wellknown newspaper brand after 17 plus years, many who were pestering me with requests, stopped even the courtesy calls.
The provocation for this post is an observation made by my ex-colleague. He is now the editor of a top brand newspaper in Mumbai.
“How you doing?” I asked him.
“Good, but I get pissed off when people say this is Mr S from “…” newspaper. I am S and that’s it. The name of the newspaper is not my surname.”
Well, do we call it professional hazard? I am confused.