Saturday 28 November 2009

There is a nip in the air . . .

After evoking memories of Jim Reeves in my last post, the season of Christmas is something that is constantly knocking in my mind's door. I realise that there is precisely 26 days left for Christmas. I am not a great Christmas aficionado nor Santas come and give me gifts, but there is something lovely about this whole season. Chennai is essentially a hot place and so the winter season is quite welcome with its chilly breeze and cool days. The air is heavy laden with a languorous spirit which is good as well as not so good.

While we were children, this was that time when there were exams followed by holidays which used to bring happiness and joy. Of course we would dread going to school after the holidays as our results would be given.

Our house is located in a very "prime" part of the city where on the right we have railway lines, on the left is the airport and in the middle we have the national highway. Come winter, we can hear all the sounds so clearly -- the siren of the trains, the taking-off and landing of planes, the buses, ambulances plying on the roads. Even though the sounds are not quite welcome, we have subsumed them into our life without any difficulty. This reminds us of the arrival of winter --the clear sounds.

Last evening I played 'Winter Wonderland' CD 2 where jazz singers croon Christmas numbers with their signature style and rendition. This season is also a great one which reminds one of romance and past loves. Winter romances are lovely as they turn out cosy and warm (Sigh Sigh). I don't know why but whenever I fantasize about romance, its the winter season with the chilly breeze.

This season also brings out the lovely scarves and stoles that have been tucked away for the entire year. Imagine wearing them in Chennai during a hot day!!!! There are carols conducted everywhere. Songs, holidays, good spirits are what make this season so very special. Ah! I forgot the gentle chilly breeze and the moisturizers which can used in abundance for the skin becomes sooo dry. And the icing on the cake: the early morning and early evening mist which gives a smoky effect to the whole place. I wish winter lasts forever.

This day last year:  Why do I  not smoke but write and talk

Thursday 26 November 2009

Cravings of a weak body and mind

Coming back from Madurai has left me fatigued and sick. All I do is curl up and sleep and drink hot water at regular intervals. But sometimes when one is sick, strange cravings occur which need to be satiated at the very outset. And guess what was my craving: JIM REVEES' Christmas songs. I so much wanted to listen to his songs and see his pictures. So here I am writing a blog post as well as watching the gentleman croon on You tube.

Jim Reeves is not Jim Reeves alone. The very mention of Jim Reeves brings a mish-mash of memories which include childhood, Christmas, love and many others. I remember my mother playing records of Jim Reeves. It was a huge disc and the pin had to be set at the right place otherwise there would be screeching noise. The very process of the setting the pin is a lovely memory. Every Christmas had us playing his songs and the season's flavour starts right from the first week of December. Well there were the other songs like 'Welcome to my world,' 'Bimbo,' 'Mexicali Rose' and others which would play during the rest of the year.

Jim Reeves never failed to continue being with our family. After the record player, it was the cassettes. We had plenty of those small rectangular cassettes (my God, I am talking as if it was a hundred years ago) which we played and played resulting in the voice of the singer becoming funny and coarse. Then we reverted to CDs which we purchased and still have them. But the days of the record was the most unforgettable for it was a ritual to bring the player and set it for the raptures to unfold. The records used to be kept in a safe corner of the shelf safe from any damage.

Punctuating all this was the radio which played/plays Jim Reeves quite frequently. Again I owe this to my mother who tuned into All Asia Service broadcast from Ceylon (now Sri-lanka) and listen to the deep-baritoned Raj who played Jim Reeves almost everyday. I tune into radio stations even now and request Jim Reeves but my mother has ceased listening to it.

I introduced Jim Reeves to many of my friends and made them glued to his deep voice. Jim Reeves is one of the singers who became quite famous in India and Sri-lanka. When I think of the tragic death he confronted, I am quite overwhelmed.

The world misses Gentleman Jim!!!

Now for some Jim Reeves trivia: His favourite poem which hung on the wall in his office and featured in several Jim Reeves books:

The Indispensable Man 
by Saxon White Kessinger
Sometime when you’re feeling important, 
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom, 
Sometimes when you take it for granted 
You’re the best qualified in the room. 
Sometimes when you feel that your going 
Would leave an unfillable hole, 
Just follow these simple instructions 
And see how they humble your soul. 
Take a bucket and fill it with water, 
Put your hand in it up to your wrist, 
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining 
Is a measure of how you’ll be missed. 
You can splash all you wish when you enter, 
You may stir up the water galore, 
But stop, and you’ll find that in no time 
It looks quiet the same as before. 
The moral in this quaint example 
Is do just the best that you can, 
Be proud of yourself, but remember--- 
There’s no indispensable man.

Picture courtesy:
The poem courtesy:

Wednesday 25 November 2009

Jil Jil Jigarthanda

Now is that a tongue twister?!?!? I just returned from a three-day trip to Madurai, an ancient and renowned town of Tamil Nadu. I had to go there for doing field-work and collecting materials for my research. Now the research and other details will not be given importance in this post as much as the cold beverage Jigarthanda. Well, the name is quite funny and nice to pronounce. Jigarthanda can be literaaly translated into Hindi as 'jigar-heart and thanda-cold.' 'Jil Jil' is the tag which makes the name sound rhythmic and funky. The words 'jil jil' can be translated into Tamil as 'cool cool.' I would have definitely liked to dig into the etymology of the word but then I shall do that on some other occasion.

Now to the drink itself. If one goes to Madurai, one cannot return without having tasted Jigarthanda. I first learnt about this drink while watching a travelogue series on Madurai. This was long long ago. Even in Madurai only one or two places serve this drink. This drink is a blend of a sweet rose/sarsaparilla syrup, ice, kulfi ice-cream, a jelly made by soaking almonds and making a paste and thickened milk. A glass of jigarthanda costs about Rs. 10/- for a small serving and Rs. 15/- for a slightly larger serving. The resultant concoction is a delicious drink which melts into your mouth making you crave for more and more. This time I limited my consumption to a glass but during my previous visits, I allowed gluttony to take charge of me and had two-three glasses.

The shop which served this drink was not very crowded. I assumed that local people had grown a bit weary of the drink and given that it was not the crude and dry summer season, they kept away from jigarthanda.

Now you know when your travel itinerary includes Madurai, don't leave the place without having Jigarthanda along with witnessing the famous Meenakshi temple and the Tirumalai Nayakar palace.

Nice to be writing after a brief gap of about three (only three!!?!? Seemed like ages. Sigh!) days.

Saturday 21 November 2009


Have you heard this word before? Well I haven't. I was reading an interesting blog today and found this word. How many words are there in this world and a life-time seems quite short to know all of them.

Coming to feral: Well, its from the Latin 'fera' and it refers to an animal which has escaped domestication and returned to the wild.

I guess this word can also exemplify me at times. I always feel wild at certain times when I am away from home and on my own. I can't identify myself as being domesticated too. Am I feral?? Strange questions like this pop at times when I am least prepared for an answer. Life is like that after all.


Thursday 19 November 2009

The first step

Some of my ruminations this afternoon while traveling in a public transport service prompted me to translate it into a post. The reflections were on first steps. How many first steps does life have for us. Its just amazing to think of all those first steps. Some are here. Maybe you can share your first steps too after reading this one.

The baby's first steps are the literal first steps which make parents so very excited and thrilled. Imagining no steps for the baby paves way for a fear that it might be unable to walk at all. The first step in this context is walking.

The first step towards realising a career is the chosen area of study but now many of them do not do what they studied. In fact their careers and qualifications are in dire contrast. Nevertheless there is a first step!

Now for something that is close to the heart. Literally! The first step in love . . . The first glance and then you know it all. Now for the career part, one knows what the first step should be but for love, it is unexpected. You do not know when (maybe arranged marriages are different) it shall come and if it comes, how should the first step be.

There is a first step in blogging too. Deciding the template, the first post, the excitement . . .

The first step after a death, loss of trust, accident (any loss for that matter) is something which demands a lot of emotional strength and comfort from people closest to us. The first step in this case needs a lot of reflection and introspection.

There are first steps in almost every aspect of our lives. I cherish all the first steps. The first step is indeed vital for "A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step."

Photo courtesy:

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Everything is connected to everything else

Today's paper carried an article which had the headline "UK kids to be taught respect for bees and spiders." My initial response to that was, 'Good.' Now respect is something that is pretty outdated these days. When humans cannot respect another human, extending respect to non-humans is something laudable. I was quite happy with this progress by the UK government. Children should realise that every living being should be respected for its intrinsic self-worth. This is what the philosophy of Deep Ecology propagates. The founder of Deep Ecology, Arne Naess, stresses that the core principle of Deep Ecology is to treat every organism with equal importance. This treatment enables a joyful and peaceful co inhabitation with different members of the ecosystem.

Children as well as adults derive a delightful pleasure by stamping cockroaches and small insects. Stray dogs and cats are tormented mercilessly by children who love to hurl stones and empty cans at them. Furthermore fledglings are also displaced from the nests when curious kinds want to take them home. Now if the government passes this as a law, children will learn to take care and respect the space that these organisms have in the environment.

If only humans realised that one small change in the ecosystem caused by the extinction of one specie could affect the entire planet, then I guess they will be responsible citizens. I hope all the governments pass similar laws to reiterate the fact that everything is connected to everything else which is the first law of Ecology.

Along similar lines:
"Kangaroos in the Firing Line"

Sunday 15 November 2009

Modern or post-modern times, Matrimonial Classifieds Rule

I always assumed that as times change, people also change. But the Sunday's classified matrimonial columns have a different story to tell. Reading the classified column especially the brides and grooms wanted is a treat on a lazy Sunday. One comes across several interesting advertisements that I cannot do without reading aloud to my entire family. There are some advertisements which tend to impress me like the the for a HIV+ man who wanted a HIV+ woman as his life partner. Now that is one singular case which impressed me. But this Sunday had an exceptionally well-written advertisement for a groom which went like this:

If your son is handsome,
tall, highly educated, having at least
one Degree from IVY League
or other renowned
University of USA
and is from a
educated family,
then our daughter-
27 years, 5' 7",
very beautiful,
highly educated,
Kshatriya family
could be the ideal
match for
your worthy son.

If these
short details find your
kind approval,
please contact:

This was the exact manner in which the advertisement was printed not one but twice in the same page. This left me wondering why such a highly educated girl would first, agree for an advertisement like the one above. Second, I always assumed that education liberates so why the mention of 'Kshatriya.' That might have been the parents' inclusion (again its an assumption). If the girl was so beautiful and highly educated, why didn't she choose to find someone (now this is not possible with everyone, but still I am thinking aloud). If the girl is indeed what is advertised and considering the fact that she allowed her parents to print this ad in a leading newspaper, then I am thinking whether the advertisement is itself some kind of a joke.

Above all this the final sentence of the ad says that, "If these short details find your kind approval . . .." By what means are these details short. And the kind of groom they require - "handsome,tall, highly educated, having at least one Degree from IVY League or other renowned University of USA and is from a respected, educated family . . . Now look out for the words that are in bold. Now that is a very sophisticated package - handsome, tall, IVY League. Whatever happened to qualities like honest, hard-working, open-minded. Leave that. What about our own Universities. Don't get into thinking about me being parochial. I am not but I am just thinking that if educated girls and parents would opt for IVY Leagues, where would that leave our well-bred Indian University educated men.

Unheard melodies are definitely sweeter than heard melodies.

May the Universe enable the parents of the girl who placed this advertisement find a handsome, tall and IVY League man as a groom for their highly educated and beautiful daughter.

Along similar lines:

Newspaper Travails

Friday 13 November 2009

Friday the 13th!!!!

Sometimes superstitions colour the minds of people but in our case, the events led us to think of the day. It is little surprise that today is the 13th and also a Friday. We, as a family believe that all the days are good and so are the dates. But then, today is Friday the 13th. Lets see what made me think of the day and date:

1. A few things which were on the terrace for drying got lost. Not that the lost articles were priceless. Nevertheless . . .

2. The door of our house which has an internal lock system got jammed with all of us outside. We had to break open the lock to open the door.

3. My sister mixed two varieties of rice which were meant for different purposes. She could not decipher that they were two different types.

These are some random things. Maybe they would have happened anyway. The date and the day is a coincidence. But still  . . . today is Friday the 13th!!!!

Common sense is not so common

Rousseau cannot be more right while uttering: Common sense is not so common. When one realises that individuals around you cannot fathom something as common sense, it is definitely very irksome. Take for example, the windows of the train. While it is raining the passengers near the windows move away but do not close the window. If they stopped to think of the vast crowds of people that will soon fill the train but will not have seats, they will for sure close the windows. as a result the seats will be wet and hence unoccupied. Another fellow passenger, few days ago had the thought but not the common sense. She was talking over the phone in one hand and with the other was attempting to close the window but unsuccessfully. She tried doing this for a couple of times but the gave up. Her complaint: The windows are too tight and cannot close. I, who was a witness to all this, immediately got up and closed the widows using both the hands. Is that not a case of lacking simple common sense.

We live in a colony where each block has four houses. We live in the first floor. After the incessant rains in the past week, the stairs are filled with grime and mud. Our neighbour cleans only the part that is in front of her house but leaves out the rest. Now this is a mighty case of not having the common sense to keep the place clean. People show selfishness in small instances as these.

Sometimes when people are asked to pick up some stray papers that spot the otherwise clean area; They say: "But I have not thrown that paper, why should I clean it?" They very fact that the place will look better if not for that paper does not strike their minds but more so the fact that they should do something that was not caused by them is their concern.

These tendencies of the common sense was restricted to a definite age-group previously and so could be let off by saying, "Oh! its the age, you see." But now, almost people belonging to various age-groups exhibit their foibles. My grouse is that why do simple things not strike people. They can understand rocket-science but normal everyday common-sense eludes them. Now I am wondering whether this is cultural . . .

Wednesday 11 November 2009

The MULTI fascination

America is referred to as 'multi-cultural' or 'multi-ethnic.' Now that was something in use for quite some time but off late there are many such 'multi' which are in use. This word has become so ubiquitous that it has become a cliche which absentmindedly embellishes conversations. 

The idea of 'multi-tasking' is spoken about by everyone especially women who are efficient multi-taskers. When we need to go out for a decent meal, we find 'multi-cuisine' restaurants which offer delicacies from various parts of the country and sometimes this 'multi' also extends to cuisines of other countries. Whether the taste is authentic Chinese or Thai requires another post to debate!

Now for hospitals -  There are 'multi-specialist' hospitals where we can consult with the dermatologist, endocrinologist and many other logists under the same roof. How can I forget the gym which has 'multi-fitness equipments' to work on each part of the body and make it aesthetically laudable.

Take the vitamins which have almost become mandatory in everyone's diet supplementary. They are again 'multi-vitamins.' The most common of the uptown crowd - 'multiplexes.'

These are some of the 'multis' that  raise their hood everywhere that I am almost  wary of them.  The  idea of 'one,' 'single,' 'unique' is slowly losing its sheen. But why? Can't something be only one and yet offer the best. Can't a restaurant offer only South-Indian and yet be special and unique. Of course by prefixing 'multi' the idea of 'many' is stressed. Fine. When America is called 'multi-ethnic,' it portrays a picture of unity in diversity but my question is whether that unity is present in reality or the word is just another hype.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Vignettes of a rainy day

I realise that I am dwelling a tad too much on rain. This time its a few pictures that my mobile managed to click on a very heavy rainy day.

This is my favourite. The father and son duo looked very cute and so I asked their permission to take a picture. They were quite pleased, so I assume.


This is taken from the inside of a train. The water droplets are the most loveliest part when it rains.


People rushing to and fro the station Tambaram in Chennai.


This is when the train is nearing my destination. This place is something that I don't even give a glance at other times. But I could not do so this time as this place transformed itself into the garb of an old English countryside in the rain. Ah! the wonders of rain.


Prosopis juliflora basking in the glory of the rain. This plant is quite dusty and unappealing during the summer but here she is all lovely and clean after the spell of showers. The local name of Prosopis is vellikathan (guard of the fence).

Thursday 5 November 2009

newspaper travails

This is a post which is an exclusively personal experience. Any similarities to the experience in this post is purely coincidental and perhaps can happen.

In my house: Reading the newspaper = Being free.

Whenever I sit with the newspaper to devour the juicy bits and pieces of information that is fed, my mother invariably calls out to me to do some chores. This happens quite frequently. My sister will be doing something and I will be reading the newspaper when the door bell rings. The immediate response is: "Ask her to open the door, she is only reading the newspaper." The news item which I started off with a nice frame of mind, a good position in the chair gets altered and there I rush to open the door.

A few minutes later: Please check the milk. Pack the tiffin boxes too.  Why me? You are just reading the newspaper only.

Now reading the newspaper requires a  particular spirit. The letters and words beckon to you only during a specific time. Other times it is just a  piece of long paper which does not even interest me remotely.  Now this cannot be understood by the others (here, my mother and sister). 

The timing at which my  presence is summoned is quite interesting. It is always when I am in the mid way of an article where I just about to know whether the criminal was punished or let go with a warning; whether the Ambani brothers made it to the court or not; the verdict by Shri. Sibal on the IIT issue. Its just at the climax of the news piece that I am called. If I want to complete the news item, the milk will spill or the restless person who chose to make an appearance at the door will ring the bell again or the presswala will leave thinking that there are no clothes. 

I wonder why the world won't allow a person to read the newspaper in peace. Now I know why my grandfather used to take the newspaper with him to the loo!

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Difficult to imagine a world without Claude Levi-Strauss

He is 100. He died. A period to that magnficient work done by him.

I don't know how many of you even know him. His name Claude Levi-Strauss often reminds me of the Levi's jeans but then he was not remotely connected to that. He was an anthropologist and ethnologist who did commendable work on myths, tribal communities, identity, patterns of thought and other fascinating ideas.

The study of literature was incomplete without his books. When we read about myths and the human identity through myths, his theories came in quite handy. Strauss' anthropological theories are quite fascinating and interesting.

I don't want to write everything about him in this post but I would definitely like you to go and read up more on him and his insightful work.

Strauss, may you live on!

Sunday 1 November 2009

1st November


Ten long months have gone by

and two remain.

The year has been wonderful

in spite of  being bitter-sweet. 

Met many people.

Wrote many posts.

To all the lovely people out there

A joyful, peaceful and content November.

Pleasure knowing you all through your posts and the soulful comments.

Anticipating lovelier moments  in blogging!


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