Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Bannerghatta School Picnic

My blogging cycle seems to be following some kind of a distribution (Chakku, could you please specify which? ;-)), and here I am once again after a brief hiatus.

Anyway, the past couple of weeks has been fun. A lot of fun. And today’s post would be dedicated to the best school picnic I’ve ever been to. Nope, this is not a nostalgia post.

The volunteers of the Dream School Foundation organized a trip for the kids of the Thiruvalluvar Government School, Malleswaram. There were 65 kids in total, from classes 3rd to 7th, and they were taken to the Bannerghatta National Park. Accompanying them were 5 teachers and the headmaster, and 11 volunteers. And me being one of them (the volunteers, that is) gave me the chance to enjoy a picnic like this after a long time.

Before I begin the narration on the picnic, these are what this particular set of DSF volunteers does:
  • conduct vocabulary sessions for the 3rd & 4th standard kids
  • helping them to get acquainted with a slightly advanced level of English before they formally face it as part of their curriculum
  • get them acquainted with words used in day-to-day life, and hence hopefully aid in sentence formation
(Oh, and then there is me, who, as all the other volunteers insinuate, cause the distractions in the class, and prevent the kids from being serious.)

The 11 of us who had volunteered (headed by Megha) were:
Achuth, Akshai, Ameya, Anu, Dhimant, Indrashis, Megha, Pavithra, Pooja, Vikram and me.

As a result of the many “not being serious” exercises with the kids, I came to know their musical tastes quite well, and took the job of the DJ, dishing out one gaana paattu after the other. :)
[Though most of the volunteers braved the music, there was one who decided to opt out of the musical extravaganza-filled bus during the return journey…and paid a good price in the other bus. :P]

The bus ride to the zoo was an eye-opener for me. Just the initial tinkling sound was enough for the kids to guess that the song being played was Appadi Podu, and up they went in unison! And what followed after that was pure mayhem…of the good kind.
Knowing the initial lines of all songs is great.
Knowing all the lines of all the songs is exemplary.
Knowing all the lines, and all background music of all the songs? No words to describe that!

The official requester of songs from the kids was Suresh (on whom I could write an entire post…one heck of a kid!), who forwarded his requests to “Pepsi Uma” Akshai, and I did the needful.

The bad conditions of the road led to a few…err…unpleasant incidents in the other bus. While the kids in our bus were quite oblivious to the road conditions, and enveloped by the incessant music being churned out. (thank to me! thanks to me! :)))

After reaching the park came the toughest part of our job - trying to hold all the kids together and prevent them from scampering away. And surprisingly the kids behaved quite well. Perhaps not so surprisingly actually. They were staring with rapt attention at all the animals and the birds. And in the few places where the creatures weren’t clearly visible (the goddamn snakes (!!!!), for example), one of us did a recon and managed to spot it for them.
[At this point, we were faced with a sudden crisis situation. Something that we hadnt’t prepared for; a few of our volunteers decided to turn into kids themselves, and encumber us even more. Inder did the job of goading this cattle…I mean these Kids (Pavithra & Anu)…both of whom, as Achuth said, sat down in most places to memorise the biological names of all the animals. :-)]

After a tiring tour of the zoo, the kids (and the Kids) all ended up relaxing at the playing area, while the guys went out to carry the food from the buses. Vikram, who had taken care of the food arrangements, also proved to be a master-thief by entering a locked bus through the window, and letting us all in. And then began the arduous task of carrying the huge barrels through uncertain terrain. All that hard work and effort prompted the highly chauvinistic “Women…now go serve the food!” from me, and won the approval of all the guys. ;-) (Before all the women’s lib (creatures ;-)) start baying for my blood, I would like to make it noted that the guys also helped in the serving.)

While the volunteers themselves had their food, it provided a lot of comic moments…like Dhimant’s photo-op joke, and Vikram’s bombshell on Ameya with his “Leos do not like Cancerians”. All that I could say is, “Dude…how can you say such a thing!!” :)))

And then we were on our way back; the other bus with the same “unpleasant incidents”, and Dhimant, again, showing everyone his workplace and the bus went “oooooohhhhhhhhhhh”, and that helped things a bit.
And our bus; with the same song and dance, with an unintended joke by Megha on a Rajni song, and the lecture on Tamil movies to both Vikram and her. :)

We rounded off the day with a hot cup of filter coffee at CTR, and the tired souls trudged back to their respective homes.

Amidst all the fatigue, the feeling of fun never died down.

It was a great day for the DSF and its kids.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Dear old 95

After almost ages (11 years actually), I replicated my bus-catching routine last Friday. Bus rides bring back a lot of memories. And I am not talking about the company bus-rides…those are painful.

For me, a bus ride consisted of this routine:
Walk from school to the St. Mark’s road bus-stop.
Catch a bus to Shivajinagar.
Catch 95 back home.

I did this for 7 years on the trot.
I did this again last Friday.

Our company’s early shuttle dropped me right in front of school. It was 5 o’clock, and all the students had left. I walked to the bus-stand…and then it happened – flood of emotions, memories, etc. Nostalgia at its peak. I remembered…

…the first time that I was thrown out of a bus
5th standard. Bit late to get to St. Mark’s road, and the bus to Shivajinagar was already racing away. So I did what any kid my age would have dreamed of. The act that would have been played mentally a million times, and always dread to try it out in public knowing fully well that I would fall flat on my face. But here I saw the chance. I ran behind the bus, and when it was at its full speed, grabbed onto the right-side bar, and hopped onto it. Simple. Ecstasy. I had done my first “boarding-bus-at-full-speed”. I was beaming with pride…
The bus stops. The driver turns back and shouts at me all the way at the back. He asks me to get down. Pride? That had been whisked away in a whimper. I had people staring at me…the “stupid kid” responsible for the bus being held up. Eyes glaring at me. With my head bent down, I just got down and dragged myself back to the bus-stop. If such a thing happened right now, I would have taken my mobile out and pretended to have a conversation to avoid the embarrassment. No such thing then.
Of course, I did board running buses later on that year, later years…but just not bus number 34. :)

…the way I rolled the 95 bus ticket into a strip and fold it again, before tucking it below my watch strap. The watch seemed to feel a lot more complete. But you never feel the incompleteness on normal days…but trust me. When you tuck that white strip, your watch had a whole new feeling. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the hour hand had decided to jump a few hours.
And always…always, I would forget about the ticket until the time I removed my watch at my table. It would fall down, and I would drop it in the waste-basket.
And yes, I did that last Friday as well. Some things never change.

…the “game”
Ok, there are a lot of games that can be played on the bus. But my favourite solitary game was this:
Close your eyes, and think about something…anything, possible a book you recently read, a movie you recently saw, anything. After some time, with your eyes closed, try to guess which stop you are in.
It isn’t easy. It took me months before I had to remember stuff like, “Ok…a hump, immediately another hump, and then with a few seconds, we are stopping. Yes…this must be Mariappan Palya stop.” Or “This kind of right curving turn can be nothing else but the one after Natraj theatre onto Sampige road”. Pure fun.

…the favouritism
I hate bus conductors. Almost all of them (Ok…obviously not our Super Star. ;-). Especially the ones on the SBI to Shivajinagar route. The buses used to be jam packed with a lot of students, from a lot of schools. But the soft and soothing “oh. Parvagilla…swalpa mundhe hogamma. Slow-aagi iri…tension beda. Oh pass-a? Sari.” for the Bishop Cotton’s girls, and the harsh and angry “Lo…mundhe hogo! Bega bega…pass thorso. Nimbagge gothilva!!” for us Josephites….aargh…that still pains me. @!#!$!$

…the pen behind the ear and the notes between the fingers
The 95 bus conductor was a hero for me. I loved the way he nonchalantly kept his pen behind his ear, and never seemed to lose it. And here I was with a pencil box, a huge bag, and still losing pens by the dozen. And the rupees notes between the fingers…that just oozes style. Incredible style. :)

And by the time all these memories drained out, I was back at my house.
Back to taking the bike out.
Back to taking the car out.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Feeling lazy...

I am feeling uncharacteristically lazy today.
Not that being lazy is uncharacteristic. On the contrary. But today is different…I can’t pin it down exactly. Or maybe I can if I continue rambling…

Being lazy has always been my biggest weakness (or strength if you choose to look at it that way). I know that I am supposed to begin working hard. I heard this dialogue in a Tamil movie ages ago,
Without education, a person can come up in life.
Without money, a person can come up in life.
Without brains, a person can come up in life.
But…there has never been the case of a single person coming up in life without working hard.

That scares me. To my bones. Deep.

A quote by my God Stephen King, “Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work

More reason to make me feel scary. Where exactly do I go when I have neither the salt nor the juice.

Ok…I’ve now begun to sound like a goddamn chef! And I know no cooking…apart from 2-minute noodles. Great…a good reminder of another thing that I know nothing about, and have done nothing to improve it as well.

I feel like Mat. Nope…nope, not doormat. Uhmm…actually on more pondering, that’s probably what I feel like. But that would be digressing. Actually not digressing…just confusing my train of thoughts, which is quite addled already. So let us forget about doormats and talk about Mat.

Mat Cauthon is one of the protagonists in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. He is quite lazy. In fact, very lazy. And things happen to him mostly because of an incredible lucky streak. He has no talent that can be spoken of. But just moves around life fuelled by fortune. (Atleast that’s what he has been doing till Book 11. Things could take a turn for the worse in the final volume)

Robert Jordan has an absolutely unique narrative style. Very unique among all the authors I’ve read. There is no segment in the tale that is actually looked at from a third person perspective. As a result, any part of the story is known to us only through the character’s eyes. Eg. A segment featuring Mat as the main character would talk about how lazy he feels, how he hates fighting, how he can’t understand women…but we, the reader, would have no clue as to why the other people he interacts with are doing what they are doing. It’s simply brilliant.

And when I read Mat’s thoughts, I realize that it is eerily similar to mine…most of it. Atleast the parts pertaining to laziness.

Ah…we are back to the topic. So, with this kind of absolute indolence filling every cell of my body, how can I hope to come up in life.

Wait a second…do I see a loophole? Do I see redemption? Do I actually see “light at the end of the maze” (;-))?

What exactly is “come up in life”? There is no universal truth on this. Thank god for that. So, all that I would have to do is to define my “achievements”, and stay contented in the knowledge that I have already “achieved” those things. This seems to be a lot easier than to actually “work hard” and achieve something. Right?

Uhmm…seems so.

But something tugs. Something…I feel like I am cheating myself. Maybe I need to start being a bit more active. I have this restlessness which seems to be quite surprising in its presence. Indolence and restlessness normally do not prefer each other’s company. But maybe I am the Typhoid Tom and and they’ve decided to mess around with me.

I need to make a choice. Either this or that. No middle way. Absolutely no middle way.

Or…do I find a compromise? Sigh…some things never change!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sprinkling pepper on my salt

There were quite a few queries on the “Don’t sprinkle salt on my pepper” quote mentioned in the quotes blog. Here’s the explanation.
At a very basic level, and the instance of its creation, the statement was literal. But, it held meanings at a deeper level. How you ask? Here…

Think of salt and pepper hair.
Got the hidden meaning now?
If you are thinking about hair-dyes, I suggest you go for the metaphor. Got it now?

Anyway, today we sprinkled pepper on salt. Makes sense?
Never mind, just tag along…here are the details…albeit cryptic.

At a time when guys our age are buying tops for their girls, Chakku and me went around shopping for these tops.

Trust me it wasn’t easy. During a time when the sources of entertainment range from video games, computer games, to anything else the DPS-generation finds exciting, it is hard to find tops. I wouldn’t find it surprising if the younger generation assumes that the word top was derived from the word “topless”. Not the least bit surprising that would be.

Yup, I did write “younger generation”. Why? Do I feel old? Yes. Do I want more salt? No. Hence the peppering. Though salt is supposed to be a preservative, its metaphoric value is quite ironic.

The suggestion to buy tops came as a consequence of wanting to buy kites. Driving in the morning, this was the conversation between Chakku and me.
Me: Oh…this is the kite season right? A few can be seen…
Chakku: Yeah. It used to be fun those days
Me: True. But it’s been ages since I flew one…sigh!
Chakku: Want to fly them some day? Hey…why not today afternoon!

Just like that.

Took our purchases to the Devil’s house, dragged him out of bed and began “peppering” away. Ameya joined us late…and left early. He apparently had played with tops till his 5th standard, “and then Chemistry took over” (as Chakku aptly put it) :)

The kites did fly some distance. And the tops did spin a lot…well for almost everyone. And there we were getting back to something missed badly. And enjoyed that for a few hours missing all the current troubles.

But all those came rushing back over a cup of coffee (make that 2 cups of coffee) on the Devil’s terrace, as the three of us sat back and waited for age to catch up with us.

“This isn’t the way life is supposed to be.” said a wise man…err…make that wise kid. I think the way to get back at life is to act the way you are not supposed to be. You get what I mean? Pile on the pepper folks.
Life: Loser…look at you. Look at others ahead of you…and behind you. I shall see to it that you never see all that.
Me: Big deal! I really don’t want that. Maybe you want it…but what are you – just life? A non-living entity that thinks it can screw around with me. You know what? I stopped giving a damn. I make my own decisions. I fly wherever I want to. And whatever I want to. Including kites. I can send my head spinning. Or tops. Phawwww to you!

On that note, this weekend ends.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Happy Birthday GOD!

(Picture Courtesy: arrahmanfans.com)

I wish I had a story similar to my dad’s regarding the first time he heard God’s music. In his own words:
I was walking down the road of Thiruchendur to the car when I suddenly heard this song being played in a tea shop. The song had lines ending with aasai. “Definitely not Ilayaraja”. Who could it be? Which movie was this? Two days later, the same song was being played on TV and then all the other information was told to me by your mother – music is by this new guy called A R Rahman. Simply breathtaking!
For me, on the other hand, it was nothing so dramatic. Any Mani Rathnam movie was a cause for celebration – be it the music release or the movie release. I walked into this audio cassette shop in Tuticorin (which incidentally had a photo of Ilayaraja on the board), and bought the tape of Mani’s then latest – Roja. I wanted to check the tape’s quality before I paid the money. He played the initial lines of Chinna Chinna Aasai…and there it was…CLICK.

Just a click. And I was hooked.
Literally as I couldn’t be prised away from that tape for weeks running.
Figuratively as I still can’t be prised away from God.

Now, it’s been nearly 14 years since that day. And the enthusiasm hasn’t dampened one bit. He continues to weave his magic as only he can. He provides those goosebumps just like only he can. In fact that is what separates the God from the mortals.

Listening to the “dil to aakhir dil hai na” or the “vaanukkum yellai undu natpukku illaiye” or the “manmael manjal velicham” has that effect. I would have loved to end this post by listing out some of my favourite songs/albums. As I began to sit down for the task, did I realized the enormity of the task. I do not want to get into such a thing and end up hurting my other favourite songs. So I shall end this post with a simple “Happy Birthday!”

Here’s wishing him the best of birthdays and hoping he continues to enthrall us all with his Godness.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Quotable Quotes

A collection of quotes spoken or heard by me in the last one year. To maintain the privacy of the person who said the words, I shall refrain from naming them. Neither will I mention the situations. Those who find their words in this list would automatically remember the situation.

For the rest, I presume the fact these quotes have stuck around for as much as 365 days or 24 hours says a lot.

Also, don’t attempt to read too much into the position of the quotes in the whole post, or with respect to one another. I can assure you that there is no link whatsoever. :P

Being a God is not a tight T-shirt that can be worn and taken off…it is a tattoo.

Don’t tell him how to shoot a 3-pointer. Just tell him, “shoot a 3-pointer”

Carbon is the best. You know why I feel that – the font and the black background looks great.

There is a star. Another star. Oh another one…and we keep following it.

“That is why they say, “naughty at forty”.” Oh ok…chilli we have enough time.

“Hmm…is that so? I thought a girl falls for…blah blah blah”
“Yeah? Right…like we both know about such things”

Don’t sprinkle salt on my pepper.

This is not the way life was supposed to be.

Let’s form the human lapdance chain.

------- and friends. ------- and friends. What friends? Basically ------- and family!

If God were to tell me that….........but you can never…….....I would accept it in a second. That is how much…......

In fact I don’t consider you as my friend at all. You are my sister.

Don’t worry…I wont leave this place until each one has taken a photo with me.

I am fed up. I am seriously fed up.

There are elephants. And then there are women.

Are you dousing water on her hopes? Or are you kindling the dying embers into flames?

So created new folders?

It’s ---------. Don’t call her ----------.

You have a deer-in-trap. And rabbit-in-grass…pick one.

What colleagues? You just went out with ONE female colleague.

Evam Indrashis!

I’ll begin boozing. In fact, I shall drink regularly every weekend. But you must stop cigarettes completely.

In the known, in the unmanifested.

Jan 15th?? Hmm…isn’t that Martin Luther King’s…..

The day Chilli gets married…the very next day I shall get married. Until then leave me alone.

The day Kaushik gets married…the very next day I shall get married. You have my word. Please don’t bug me till then.


We had invited them for lunch. At 12:30, we get a call, “Err…sorry. But you see she has a bad headache. So we can’t come today. Err…sorry!”

A great basketball coach need not be a good player. In fact, he needn’t have played basketball at all. So, in the same way, I am …

Damn! I would have made a great boy-friend!

If possible, stand out in the rains and say ……
How about, “the heavens themselves open out in tears”
Nah-uh…too melodramatic.
Oh…no wonder it didn’t work.

She is tooo good.

There is another word for this. It’s called pimping.

So, when are you getting married?

Is it a leap year? ;-)

Hey. ----- is on the way back home from work.

Instead of contrasting crests and troughs of happiness & sorrow, it is better to be at a flat line of sadness.

I am in Girinagar.
Hey…I am in Girinagar.
Sorry chilli, I am in Girinagar.

Do your drive better than your boy-friend?

I presumed you were acquainted with the modern thing called the internet.


Cut your hair for heaven’s sake!!

You have a belt. It has 3 buttons. One of them is the brahmastra…

If you want to be part of the core, come right away.

You are the weirdest person I know. Without a doubt.

We didn’t notice any babes around that day at Bombay Post. Coz of Ameya. He was….

I couldn’t think of the word “beneficial”. So I had to use utile.

Guys, I heard this joke today.

I had 150 bucks in my wallet. So as I entered the shop, I decided to buy books for exactly that amount. Sounded like a master plan. I came out buying books worth 1500! I am helpless…hopelessly addicted. I have…no choice!

He has…no bridge.

You are GOD. For your patience…I have decided…you are truly GOD.

------ is a decent guy. He is not like -------

I don’t know why I take all these insults…sigh…

Aahhh…message sent. Aahhh…message not delivered.

The steps are half the size of my foot.
The steps are half the size of my foot.
The steps are half the size of my foot.

You think you are the only one having fun. But…

No one is going to fall for the first girl he sees in an arranged married…unless she is a hot babe.

Water water everywhere…

(squatting on hunkers, with the right hand resting on the thighs) I am independent. I am full of…

My throat goes urghhhhhhhhh

Anniyan! Anniyan! Jogi! Jogi! Irulli baba!

Pile On! Pile On!

Oh god! Tell him it is child marriage.

He has…no choice!