Thursday, 30 July 2009

Those who can, Do.

I once interviewed with a consulting company. Yeah, I know. A bit crazy of me. But it was a technical consulting place, very good guys, and they sort of insisted I go up and see them. I told the person who was visiting my university that I was not sure, considering my leanings, but he said something like 'Young people should not close doors' - yes, I was a young twenty-six or twenty-seven year old girl back then.

Anyway, I thought they were a bit screwy from the beginning. For one, they refused to reimburse my hotel cost, although I was a starving graduate student and all. I persisted and I think they finally coughed up the hundred bucks it cost me. The car they sent to pick me up was late. I had made the (cardinal) mistake of only having the landline phone number of my contact person in the company. Of course it was early morning and he was not yet at his desk - this was in downtown Boston so he was probably caught in traffic. Somehow, after talking to a billion assistants and feeling thoroughly hassled (not to mention very warm in my suit), I reached the place.

I did some deep breathing in the car and walked into the office. All swank buildings and all, like I was not at all used to. I walked up to the reception lady and stated my case and she, thankfully, knew about me, and herded me over to the various people I was supposed to meet. I also had to make a presentation (of course), and eat lunch with one of the guys, these were said to me as if I should be stressed out (equally) about both. Of course, I eat presentations for lunch, and am the queen of small talk (at least I used to be before the pre-occupations of adult life and No TV Week Celebrations and further sliding into Kenny Bubble World made me into Madame Dork), so I was like 'Oh how wonderful.' I was already hungry so I was hoping some coffee or something would be offered soon, and also that bathrooms would be easy to find.

The day went pretty well, I met some of the standard people, including one or two Indian guys. Of course I had gone to college with one of them, a fact I discovered then and there and was most pleasantly surprised about. I had my presentation, the room was dark, some guys used the opportunity to nap, and all of them asked questions. Lunch was a standard issue sandwich at the office (which is good, one thing I absolutely hate is a working Indian lunch as defined in the U.S. and involving going to the local Indian joint and coming back with your jacket smelling of curry and a superlicious look on the guys face that says 'Your food smells').

The final interview was with the main guy, some sort of V.P.(Research) or something like that. Same one who insisted I come all the way over to see them. The minute I walked in and the preliminaries were done with - 'I am really happy I came, you have wonderful facilities, I surprisingly discovered Sethumadhavan, a guy I went to college with in Chennai Yada Yada.' 'We have completely renovated this building, back in 1992. Our chemistry division is being pumped in with funds for computational work now. Yada Yada'

Then the guy asked me, what do you want from a job, now that you are almost done with grad school. So I answered that I want the opportunity to learn everyday. Then he cut in with 'We don't have time for that here, we are responsible for delivering results, and cannot sit back like academics thinking and learning, we need to DELIVER RESULTS' Of course then I said, 'Okay then perhaps this is not a good fit. I do thank you for your time. I will carry on then and go to my post-doc gig.' He actually smiled then! I mean, I suppose I COULD have at least had the decency to express disappointment, and hope for something in future or whatever. I mean, really, the place was fantastic in terms of facilities and people, and they were surely doing some cutting-edge research, and clearly a big part of it was my cockiness that I had a position already to look forward to, that I was real excited about. Nevertheless, I do wonder at times. Oh yes, they would have paid me bucket loads of money compared to the other choice - a small matter that rarely, if ever, enters my line of vision.

But all these years later (it has been what, eight or nine years now I guess), I was reminded of that day in my brown skirt suit in Boston at a consulting company. I think all things considered, I found myself in the right place, after all. In the past nine years of my working life, I have learned all sorts of sorts of things, and nobody has once stopped me and said, 'Stop learning, start doing' It counts.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Binge Exercising

I cannot think of any other name for the type of exercising schedule I have of late. I sincerely hope my days of binge drinking are well and truly behind me, of course. See, my AIM is to really exercise more regularly. But a completely weird combination of factors (unfortunately, I don't think laziness is one, since that is a factor I KNOW to conquer) force me to have a work-out week that looks like this:

Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Basketball game (PM)
Friday: 8 KM run (AM)
Saturday: Bike Ride (AM)
Saturday: Basketball game (PM)
Sunday: 10 KM run (AM)
Sunday: Basketball game (PM)

I mean, this is just crazy right? Sometimes, I even skip the thursday game and my entire weekly shot of exercising happens on Friday PM - Sunday PM. Overall, its not enough exercise. Basketball games are not reliable generally in toning, though they are usually fun. I am not running as much total distances as I should (or could). My crosstraining with kick-boxing; my very valuable gymming sessions are gone, flown right away...

Gotto do something about this. Pronto. Meanwhile another Monday: Rest has passed me by (almost - unless I go for a bike ride now in the evening with the monster on the back but I may not, she is in dance class right now and has some homework to do).

This Sunday I ran a race, 10 KM, it was really nice, it was on the East Coast Road, which is (sort of) a highway, and organised by Chennai Runners. I should have chosen a longer distance, but I chose 10 since my schedule has been not great of late, and, I was sure the weather would kill me. Fortunately, neither mattered, and I felt completely comfortable throughout, and had a great time. Plus I got interviewed to be on NDTV-Hindu (a new TV channel). I am ashamed to say that the interview was AFTER the race, and I looked as fresh as if I had just woken up (I am a morning person, remember, I don't have groggy eyes when I wake up). Which also goes to show that I should have at least run 15 kilometers (yes, we had a choice). The company was wonderful, and organisation (which was by runners, always a splendid idea to let runners organise races, aside from the fact that they cannot run in a race they organise, which is sort of sad) was splendid. Now I am just looking forward to the next one, and hoping to be healthy enough to do 15 or 20 next time around.

As it was on a peopled road and general junta was still around, got some interesting comments. I waved at everybody I saw, gave them my full-fledged smile and so on. Then some boys said 'Tamizh ponnu daan da' (meaning, fuck, check out her earlobes machaan, they are yellow from the manjal).

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Reading Corner

When chox moved south (and east) wards and would talk about all the wonderful libraries and book places in her city, I used to feel a pang of jealousy. My options in Mumbai were limited to:
Crossword at walking distance from home &
L'Amour Lending Library, likewise.

While I spent sufficient time at both places, the grass seemed greener on her side of the septic tank for sure. Occasionally, I justified or rationalised it in various ways. Oh yes, her kid is older, places in Mumbai are way too far (like going to Strand was a day's expedition, and happened twice in seven years), yada yada yada.

So now, here in Chennai I expected nothing more than the ability to go to Landmark once in a while (a bookstore I like more than Crossword, generally, maybe just 'cause of some vague memories of being completely taken aback by it when I first came to Chennai for college, all those years back, in 1991).

But guess what! Life has been more than good.

* I have been a few times to Landmark already. They have two locations (as far as I know) and I have visited (and sampled the ware, obviously) at both
* A crossword store reasonably close to my place exists. It works for situations when speed is of essence.
* A sudden stop-over at a random handicrafts exhibition revealed an upstairs Book Fair. Not the best of things, definitely cannot find things you are looking for, but what prices! I found some of the authors I like to read.
* A friend took us to Tiruvanmiyur to a slightly better Book Sale/Fair. It had a better selection of books for me, and very reasonably things for the monster. So yeah!
* The friend told us plenty more places to go to, especially for the kid. The prices are really good at these local (non-chain) book stores, and most importantly, these places are close to home.
* Found a couple of large lending libraries - some dusty, some nice. One right by ludwig's place I have my eye on.
* But best of all, absolutely best of all is a Children's Reading Room I found at work, in the Library! Imagine that! They have maybe 500 books for children. A fairly wide array, actually. This works out well because we can go there through the week when I have stuff to read (which is often these days, thankfully, that beats having meetings for sure!), and I dont have to bother to put her in the creche since she can easily spend a couple of hours reading there. (and yes, chox, next time you are here, kids will like it).

Friday, 24 July 2009


At times I wonder, is it better to ship the duo off in the morning and then

(a) go running


(b) come to work

Today I chose (a). It rocked.

But now I have 1.5 hours less at work. Which means again, a choice

(a) Screw it nothing can be done may as well chill


(b) Put the nose down and work dammit.

Bleddy what do I choose ya?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Pecking Order

More tales from my rather few biking opportunities in Chennai.

The road will be ruled of course, by buses. They are wonderful. Spectacular concept in public transport, energy efficiency, emissions view-point etc. But are driven by maniacs. Not as fast as the Mumbai BEST buses, but in a more maniacal, trigger-happy manner. They will honk when they choose to. Usually after creeping up slowly on you and being inches from your face.

The dubious distinction of being second shall go to the lorry drivers. So what if they are overflowing with sand, water, oil, whatever? They will drive fast. At breakneck speed even. And they will honk. In a really angry blare. They are the second-in-command, dammit.

Next, but, by no means of less importance to mankind are all the vehicles belonging to the Tata Sumo category. Includes Scorpios and Quali (the plural of Qualis), and such others. Don't ask me. Their role in life is unclear. They might be, at any given point of time, be transporting
(a) School Children
(b) Families enroute to Palani Malai
(c) Prostitutes to the red-light areas, wherever that might be
(d) Call center folks to call centers
the driver might be taking a joy ride through town, since he anyway has the keys to the Sumo. Barring this, last instance, such vehicles carry upwards of fifty people at a time. Why waste that corner over there, stuff it with a child, go on, do it.
They will, of course, be in a tearing hurry to get to Palani Malai lest the mountain closes and will do their 'level best' to run over any opposition - be it a car, an auto, Thatha, or Kenny.

In this category we put all call taxis. They are excused their bad road sense and lack of knowledge of rules. They are hard of hearing because of THAT WOMAN in their main office who keeps disturbing the countryside by yelling into the radio. "No. 312 No. 312 Yenga Irrukenga" or something like that.

The testosterone machines on bikes are next (and no, this does not include the rather few friends of mine who insist on riding motorbikes). They are in a hurry. They need to
(a) get to office and eat lunch
(b) get home and take wife to beach
(c) meet girl-friend in shady area; stopping only briefly to pay off cop
(d) reach Tasmac! they are having a sale! (yeah right).
In any case, they are quite immune to the knowledge of what is behind (wife + kids) or around (Kenny in a car, Barathi Call Taxi, Karuppaiyah Water Carrier, Sumo with kids, whatever). They Need-To-Go. Thats it. Rest is irrelevant, at least, so they wish, and therefore they honk honk honk. And if you try to cross the road because suddenly they have slowed down to check out Ponni going to temple in half-sari, be warned! They will immediately speed up and honk loudly, thus serving two purposes:
(a) Doing away with you and
(b) Attracting Ponni's attention with display of maleness.

Passenger cars (owner-driven or driver-driven) are next. Along with all the fellows riding black coloured cycles slowly. The reason the latter is in this category is simple. You don't mess with him, the poor sod is only waiting for Tata or Mahindra to make a Rs.5000 car (constructed entirely out of cardboard; and running on Perumaal Theertham) so that he can get out of his rut.

FINALLY! FINALLY! the last in the list, the one everyone conspires to annoy, hit, aggravate, or, at the very least, honk repeatedly and unnecessarily at, is Kenny On A White Bicycle. The guy at the store already told Kenny, 'Why do women need bikes with gears?' 'What purpose do you need a bike for?' 'It comes only in one colours, take it or leave it' etc. Lets say his name was Makesh (as in, Mahesh). Makesh told Saravana (which is my absolute favourite Tam name btw) who told James-uh who told everyone else to watch out for this and to immediately honk. Even if you are at Nandanam Signal and Kenny is at Park Sheraton (doing what? checking out the store next door and going 'Rado ki Ghadi Haathon mein'), Honk Machaan, Honk.

(All names, including that of major auto manufacturers have been used merely as advertisement for their wonderful products).

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Shocking Sunday!

When Kiran said she would be in town, I was of course ecstatic at the thought of meeting her. When the mad momma said she would be here as well, and Dipali, I just thought it was a bunch of coincidences, because, hello, its Chennai. Not party town Bangalore; or Bollywood's own Mumbai. Chennai. Of the jasmine flowers and early morning suprabhatham (ear splitting decibel levels) and the evil Tasmac. Of course, I said, would love to meet you all.

Kiran kindly gave me Itchy's number and I rang her and asked her if the meet was still on, and she was so surprised! I should have guessed that something major was on the cards, but of course, being the dork that I am, I thought, okay, coincidences, sunday lunch, meet a few people, and zip back home for the basketball game.

The day started well. I went for a long bike ride since Guns cancelled the morning run. I came back and we decided to do something strange and visit the temple. Which is walking distance from the house. So I decided to wear a sari, since that would give me the opportunity to try on my new blouse, an Orissa or Ikkat or something of that nature. Maroon in colour. Monster decked up in a new paavadai. We went over and returned home for Pongal. Then I decided to change my clothes as it was not that comfortable, and the blouse did not fit that well after all, and despite everything I looked as flat as ever. Monster decided to change too. I was appalled to find my skin coloured maroon (dammit). Anyway I stupidly chose a white (ish) shirt and wore it on top of the pinkish maroonish skin (dammit). A few hours later I discovered that the entire shirt was turning pink (ugh). We went to a store and I briefly considered buying a tshirt and changing into it. I bought a tshirt but gave up on the changing. I figured it would be dark and no one would notice...

So then we showed up at the designated restaurant RIGHT ON TIME. Which is normal for me, but SO not normal for the husband! We happened to be in the area though and he got tired of showing all his old hang-outs to us, plus the valet guy seemed over-enthusiastic to whisk away our car to where valets whisk away cars, so we went in.

I saw the number of guests listed as 20. TWENTY? My god. I knew Art lived here. I supposed Itchy lived in Chennai too. Knew Kiran would not make it. Who were all the rest supposed to be? I had no clue!!

After an initial very hilarious "You Who" "Who You" type meeting with Poppy, The room filled up with all the lovely ladies, the many kids, and the (relatively) so paavam husbands! Noise levels were immense. I spent a lot of time by Dipali's side mentally memorising names of the girls, and watching the Mintlet gurgle. The husband found a number of unexpected connections with the guys. The children were bubbling with joy. Somewhere in between some food and drink were ingested, photos were taken, gifts exchanged, and before we knew it it was time to scoot!

As far as an outside person could see (like for example, some really zapped zonked waiters), it would seem like we were all bosom buddies from when we were so high. While the truth was that this was absolutely the first time I met any of these girls (except for Ro; whom I had met briefly in Mumbai during an IndiaHelps thing). The best part is that inside me I really feel as if this was a big family function! I have already begun to miss everyone!

Monday, 20 July 2009

Teacher Man

(i did like the book, but then again, i would sort of like anything - even a movie - which has a teacher as a protagonist).

My daughter, aka the monster, is against male teachers. She does not like them, she insists. I will not go, she will say, if the teacher is a man. Of course, she won't play with boys, she will say. The truth is though, she ADORES her (cousin) brothers, and would do anything to get some attention from them, hates when I say they are her cousins (which to her feels less close than brother), enjoys hanging out with and playing with all our male friends, and, this past weekend, went happily to the school for some sports classes they are having as extra spice (where the coach was a man). She does pretend to wince if a bunch of boys get up to boisterous playing, and watches from a distance, but if they will let her join them, she is really, happy. I often tell my sister that the monster's problem is that she knows too many words. And therefore thinks it necessary to use them in random expressions of opinion. Of course, mostly I know to ignore her or at least probe to figure out what she means, really. Or to watch her in action and figure out for myself. Gosh, this I must say, she does not make it easy for me, the monster.

Nevertheless, I was thankful that her class teacher is female. Less things for me to discuss, I figured. It was hardly up to me, so I was just sort of crossing my fingers and hoping it would be a reasonable lady, not a floozy-sort. I am glad to say, after the first Parent-Teacher Meeting in school, that she is cool. I thought she handled the mommies who were arguing regarding biscuits in snack-boxes (and other absurdities) very well. I know I would have lost it and yelled or something. She is dealing sternly with the nonsense the kids throw at her, though when she talks one on one with any child I have noticed she is gentle.

The monster had not learnt cursive writing in Mumbai. She only knew printing. Now, suddenly it felt like she was throw into the deep end as this thing showed up. I myself don't know the proper cursive writing, the traditional one. I just sort of join my letters all together willy-nilly. Of course Tamizh is another thing that is brand new to her (and me, to a large extent). So we have great fun everyday with this. Learning Tamizh is leading to some hilarious things as the pronunciation is almost as strange as English. Like the 'Cha' is sometimes 'Cha' but at other times it is - Sa or Ja or Jha even.

So I checked with the teacher if she thought everything was going okay, considering we are new to the place and so on. And of course, I had to hear that the eating lunch was not okay. Meaning she is too slow and distracted while eating. I nodded sagely and resolved to do something about it (that is, something not involving popping veins in forehead). But of course I feel quite defeated (even as my mom watches from afar and smirks) by the whole thing. I know its something related to some parenting choice early on, and that I should count what is good or whatever, but its just exhausting.

Anyway, all told, as the calendar rolls out a month in I standard, I give us all - monster, husband person, me, female class teacher, the school, a 'Good Going Guys' sign.

Edited to add: Forgot to add that someone said, when I told them which school she goes to, sort of in surprise - "Is that not a school only for brahmins?" It was a young person so I was not offended by all the varied insinuations there.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Booku Chukku

I read it two weeks ago and I have still not said a thing about it. Whats up with that now. See, the thing is, I don't do reviews of books. Or movies. In general you can say that I don't write anything coherent or sensible about anything, and you would be right. But at least a usual non-review? That I can do.

So, Bringing up Vasu.

I, of course, love Parul's blog (and her). See, she loves MJ, and ran in the Standard Chartered Extravangza in Jan. What's not to like? Oh yes, she is totally hilarious!! (I do object however, to how tall she is, but am willing to forgive her that, maybe it makes the words that come out of her funnier).

I was hopping about on one foot, saying I need to find Parul's book, I need to find Parul's book. Mum, who was here then, was irritated. But accompanied me to Crossword patiently. The one on Venkatnarayana Road. Have I told you I hate this store. I mean Sriram can go to hell, really. Of course I go there real often, at least I used to back in Mumbai when we lived a stone's throw away from one of their stores.

So that was out.

I was back in Mumbai for a day around then and I enthusiastically reached the airport (on the way back) early as I know there is a landmark store there now. But no. They did not have it either. I think that one is a crossword masquerading, for purposes of style, as a landmark.

Mum wanted to try and find some special sari in Mylapore for grandmom. I was super excited to go. I woke up, went on my morning run with the boys, came back, ate, and got dressed and we head out. Of course, my creepy plan was to quickly get done with sari shopping and head off to Nungambakkam.

Which we did.

And the first thing that met the eye at Landmark was Parul's book. Hurray!

I read it in one day. I read it in the car, at the table, in bed, etc. etc. I found so many things I could relate to (and, thankfully, many things that were new to me!). I am by no means a new mom, I feel like I am as old as the trees, and that the days of fear that I will roll over my baby and crush her feel like they belong to a different age. So, in a way, I relived those days through Parul's book, especially after I had the sneaking suspicion that Dr.BIG! was the same one who did me the honor of cutting me up (and later admiring my stitch and saying 'Ah! What a beauty!').

In short, its a real fun read, not only for mommy-creatures but for everyone, and all the characters are lovable (even the ones you are supposed to not like), and I really enjoyed my day with Parul's book. Thank you dear. Heres waiting for the next one!

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Body: Temple

"Kenny, my body is my temple"

a friend of mine was fond of saying. This would be before he proceeded to consume, in front of my very own eyes

(a) Six Hamburgers
(b) Three Hot Dogs
(c) Four Local Beers
(d) Some Ketchup
(e) Ruffles
(f) Cake

I would be like, Yeah, Dude. After I had eaten grilled peppers and bread and drunk two local beers.

So anyway I like to think that my body is my temple too. I assiduously avoid things like ghee and butter and don't drink up packets of chips or boondi simply because they are there, on the table.

When I learnt about that word in Biology glass, Homeostasis, I would often tell my mom that its my body's way of achieving that equilibrium. Meaning, I would have two days in which I would be starving, and would be ready to eat anything that came my way (vegetarian of course). Then my stomach would start complaining and I would go off back to my usual diet of paruppu and rice and yogurt and to eating one dosa. Mom could never understand it but is, even today, most concerned about my eating. She would like for me to enjoy my junky foods (and believe me, I like it, at least, what are called 'Savouries' in Chennai). But she is most apprehensive of my tendencies to upset my stomach. She has no opinion on the abilities of cheap beer to achieve the same, lacking in experience in that quarter.

So yeah, my body is my temple. Oily 'Savouries' from Adyar Anand Bhavan or Gran's Sweets; Pastries; Yellow Coloured Burfis; Ice Cream; Road Side Things; Unfiltered Water; Unwashed Fruits; Watered down beer; these shall not cross into it. Homeostasis. Deep Breath Now.

I Clarify: I DONT count calories - don't know how to. And right now my stomach hurts.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009


Long ago my dad would say, the 'Vannans' in Chennai are awesome. They know how to make your whites whiter, how to make starch starchier, how to iron iron-hard etc. Dad was, as I have mentioned earlier, a bit crazy about his clothes. The creases had to be just so. Every damn thing had to be ironed. Even towels (of course he would not touch the 'Turkey' towels with a barge pole), undies, banians, dhotis, handkerchiefs, napkins, bags - just about any piece of cloth lying around the home would find its way on to the iron stand (which was a big fat table with a small mosaic tile on it for keeping the I.B.).

So, of course I came here with stars in my eyes. I remembered struggling when I first moved back to India, to Mumbai. Back in the land of plenty (of soft toilet paper), I used to be responsible for laundry myself. Well, the husband person too. We collected our clothes in those big laundry baskets and come weekend trooped down to the laundromat with it. We scheduled our breakfast in the time it took for the washing. We collected quarters like there was a life after this one, really.

We are in India! Outsource immediately! naive FOBs that we were.

I hand washed our clothes for a few days.

The soap never seemed to get out.

I had a boy come pick up our clothes and wash and bring them back.

He stole three towels and one undie on day one.

We bought a washing machine. It did not fit in the back (yes, just like in Parul's book, go read it).

Our maid entered our lives.

She refused to wash anything till my mum came and covered her in riches (ergo, old saris) and convinced her.

We had a baby and the baby made liquidy potty everywhere she pleased (never on the couch though, god bless her, and the diaper industry).

We finally discovered Laundry Uncle. He is as close as I have come to an Idol. He took our clothes (only the shirts and kurtas that bleed colour, of course), and they came back like new. We have worn the same clothes for ever now because after they came back from laundry uncle, we did not have the heart to not wear them. We even stopped taking that bill or chit on which the number of clothes is mentioned (rather, he forbade us from taking it, after we lost it the fourth time), and he would keep the chit and keep track of our lives with care. However, he refused to move with family to Chennai.

Guru is a nice guy. He maintains an iron dabba shop just outside my home here. His problem is that he considers this his side business (as opposed to his full-time businesses of (a) Being sick (b) Going to Ooru (c) Navel gazing). Plus, his idea of ironing seems to be fold the clothes neatly and hand it back in exchange for Rs.10 (per).

Our home minister who comes in in the evenings and generally disapproves of my domestic skills, offered to iron my clothes. I agreed, thinking 'School Uniform' all the while. He cribbed about my iron box. Then he refused to iron the paavadai she wore last week (the Mallu off-white thing). He then proceeded to meticulously iron our dryfit t-shirts, once even before they were washed.

"Band Box"
"Tip Top"
"Saravana Dry Cleaner"
"Red Rose"

The name boards assault me when I drive around. I contemplate starting a relationship with these guys. Give them my weekly dose of 10 shirts (or 5 shirts and 5 kurtas) etc. I imagine getting to a situation wherein I don't have to take away the little bill thing. I expect they will dry clean when they say dry clean. I think of my dad's words. I contemplate some more.

And meanwhile, today I sport a vaguely Kashmir-ish white kurta with embroidery on it. It looks like it was stylishly crinkled, for effect.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009


regular visitors to the home will be surprised, rather, at my latest acquisition.
its a sexy white bike complete with gears, power brakes, and a water bottle (!).
i am super excited to have this, so i can match ludwig step for step.
yes, ladies, a bicycle, like the Red Avon SLR i used to own in my now long forgotten youth.
this morning i woke up bright and early and decided to take HER out for a ride. Seriously I am sounding like my friend NotOld who used to go nuts talking about his RoxShoxShimadzu or something like that (ergo, his bike).
I went across the bridge (carefully changing the gear down, as reco-ed) and zoomed around a bit (hey, at least on my bike i overtake others, which is more than i do in my fat diesel powered car), and returned home all happy.
I was just making the turn into our road from the main one, indicating my hand (when you are a geek, you are a geek for life and in all walks of it thereof). The dude behind me on a (real) bike started honking at me. i was like yeah, whatever (is that a movie now?). I had indicated, he was up there on the bridge still and i was already beginning to turn when he zoomed past still honking. I suppose he was trying to eve tease, what the heck, i promptly turned around and flipped him the finger.

Yeah. Die, you sucker. (Or maybe, i should take it as a compliment. I still got it types).

Monday, 13 July 2009

Push me into a corner, why don't you?

Confusion has been widespread re: my physical location.

Questions such as "Where are you?" abound - questions that I interpret as deep philosophical conundrums and answer, in brief, in my characteristically succint manner, with something like:

"Well, see, back in January, right after the Mumbai (Half) Marathon, we moved apartments in Mumbai. Mostly because I was sick of my 10 minute commute. I could then walk to work. Monster could walk to school, accompanied ably by me. Then I had typhoid. It was a surreal experience. When February came and when it went I know not, as a consequence. March brought with it March heat, which, on hindsight, is the type of heat you have in hillstations in comparison to what I am facing now. Which brings me to the fact that, back in May, we moved again. This time across the breadth of the country, as opposed to the January situation when we just crossed the road. After a night spent in the outskirts of Hyderabad, we found ourselves in Chennai. Which essentially tells you that right now I am in Chennai. And that its hot as ever here. Last night, after a bout of cooking, smoke was coming out of my ears literally, egged on by the fact that I cut some chillis and possibly rubbed some chilli-skin on my ears. So, to answer your question in about two hundred words, I am in Chennai. See the blog name above?"

"Why?" is another question that is asked often.

"I moved to Chennai in order to solve The Hindu crossword"

Thursday, 9 July 2009

How Do I Count The Ways?

The thing is, dipali has tagged me, presumably to write five things about the much-maligned spouse. Five awesome things about him. Interpretatively, others have been writing five awesome things said spouse has done for them. In many ways now is not the time. I am in a perfectly irritated mood, although I am working hard to overcome this. As you will appreciate, although the reasons for the foul mood are many - ranging from a most absurd ironing of clothes by istriwalla to a 'culture' that you can cut with a knife - I tend to blame it all on the spouse, or at least take it out on him. (Don't provoke me to elaborate on the 'culture' thing, for one it will sound like an irreedemable case of cribbo-holism; for another its impossible to have someone understand it).

Screw it all. Our anniversary is coming up. Its a good opportunity to stop abusing him and shout it from the rooftops - the thing I know deep inside.

Best Buddy
We have a lot of shared history. More than half my life, at this point of time. And very nearly that for him. It is not easy to be best buddy with me. I crib. I rant. I cry. I am unreasonable. I wake up too early in the mornings. I make too many lists. But he deals with it all with equanimity. I don't even know how.

Peas In A Pod
As a couple, we are as unlike each other as you can ask for. Of course tall-short; big-tiny is the obvious set. But also, he is the Idiot Box to my Chick Lit. He is as passionate about weight training as I am about running. He loves action & drama while I like it all nice and frothy. He likes weak Earl Grey tea while I like my desi boiled to death chai. But we have many common passions. Basketball. Friends - many in common. Beer. Coffee. The Kid. It works.

Long Distance Champions
We have demonstrated this beyond shadow of reasonable doubt. He drove down EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND when I was in graduate school. I took the bus every month or so and cribbed my head off about the delays. Even now, although technically we share the same postal address, we spend lots and lots of time apart. It would be unhealthy if not for all the training we have had. And last friday when he surprisingly showed up for the basketball game, my feet were two inches off the ground, I swear.

Been There
This is something we both implicitly believe in. If you need me, I will be there. Of course he has been tested a lot more than I. He was in the OT, having bulldozed down all objections. He was there smiling proudly when I defended my thesis, chatting up the boys and clicking pictures. And countless other times.

Who, me?
We inhabit very different worlds. My world is full of ink and chalk and people who fall asleep as you talk. His (I presume) is full of air-conditioned chambers where powerful people make far reaching decisions. I talk and crib incessantly about my work world. He rarely does. Of course we went to college together, all my grad school buddies are his buddies too (and to some extent, vice versa), and we share a completely crazy family. Nevertheless, its amazing to me that we still complete each other's sentences, and invariably, about ten times a day (maybe on a sunday when we are actually together and not being world champions), we say 'Hey I was just about to say that'.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

The Other Side

The grass surely is greener on this side of the fence than that. Say what you will.

I am sitting in my original office on this coast of the country, and boy I can tell you, despite the dust and grime and the rain and the slush, I miss it. Glimpsed our original original home (the one in the high rise building) from the flight and of course I teared up.

Anyway, chin up, on to my meetings, and presentations now.

And later in the night, back to my current home, and the trudge upstairs to the current bed, which was this going for it - its bigger. As is the entire household set up there. Including the maid, who is about two times the size of my Mumbai maid.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


On Friday morning was the school annual day. The monster was initially going for a small (non-speaking) role involving wearing a sari but then she said she did not want to do it and the teacher said that was fine as she was anyway in a crowd with others. So we went and sat in the audience and watched. The school being a fine one for upholding ‘Indian Culture’ – whatever that might mean, the entire annual day was based on a mythological theme. Each segment was in a different language – English, Tamizh, Hindi and Sanskrit being represented. In a way it was interesting but mostly I was amazed at the kids in the choir. The individual instrumentalists were really very good, despite being so young.

On Saturday we went to ‘Mamma Mia!’ – a live musical interpretation. It was advertised everywhere and the tickets were not that pricey so a bunch of us went. Unfortunately they were not pricey for a reason. We were way up in the bleachers and could not see any of the background videos that were played. The dancing team, well, danced, and while not into our hearts or anything like that, it was fun to just sing along anyway.

Thus I was transported from AshokaVana directly to a Greek Island. From invocations in a dead language to a couple of Brits cursing on the boat. From cute kids with gangly arms in saffron robes mouthing long dialogues to adults in fluorescent body suits gyrating to Voulez Vouz.


Unfortunately, in my head there was Meryl Streep and Pierce Bosnan on the one hand; and an idea, just an idea, that rather than ‘put up a show’ based on strict parameters and stories, if children are given a free hand (and not made to memorize lines in Old Tamizh) at being creative, we would all enjoy it better.

Or maybe I am just an old crusty dame.