Monday, 21 November 2016

Amreekaa!!! - A fairy tale dream...

That's what it felt like, friends... my recent vacation to the USA

Mmm.... where shall I begin?
Okay, let me start with my fairy tale romance with Lufthansa - my flight carrier.
Checked  well in time for my mid night flight. Ground staff looked a bit disoriented...
The In-flight crew more than made it up.
It felt at home, eating hot South Indian breakfast and lunch - not to miss the pongal, vada and mini dosas.  Basmati rice, dal and paneer

I should admit, the airport and in flight experience reminded me of 'English Vinglish' a lot.
Just one Tamil movie and couple of Hindi movies.
The ground staff and in - flight crew of Frankfurt - Detroit, out did the first set of crew by their kindness and assistance.
Man... how do they keep running about, all thru 8 hours of flight... commendable indeed!!!

After the 21 hour flight ( which felt like never ending one) finally landed at the automobile city of the USA - Detroit.
Met with family, felt really relaxing with all the comforts and pampering...
Mr Jetlag went soft on me... didn't trouble me much thankfully.

Lo and behold! it was long weekend and we had to put it to good use...
We drove to Chicago. Stayed at The Residence Inn Mariotte... wow, cool place to be in:)

Drove around the city. Felt on top of the world, from the Skydeck view point, at Sears Towers (Willis Towers).
Visited Navy Pier to watch fireworks for July 4th weekend.
People and more people, as far as the eye could see. The special firework sight seeing cruise - a guided tour of all those structural and architectural wonders along the way, was a visual treat indeed, especially with the evening lights. The momentum picked up as the night ended with the fireworks display.

Chicago and shopping - oh yes!!!.  The many Malls, Nordstorm, Coach, Levis and all the brand names you can think of... The Magnificient Mile, near Dearborn street, it has it all.
Visit to Chicago would not be complete without a visit to the Devon Avenue - The little India isn't it? I should say, I was very much impressed. Have heard in the past, as to how dirty it used to be...
Its very neatly maintained now, the streets, pavements, the shops, restaurants and exclusive parking lots. Being an Indian from India, the shops did not attract me much, but is a good collection for those Indians who miss being a part of India.

Great food options - Italian, Uno Pizzas, Mexican...
So long.... shall be back soon with next city...

Friday, 11 November 2016


Hiii Folks!

Back from the siesta.

Great vacation indeed... Mixed bag of feelings...
Home sick... Missing family...
Interestingly, nostalgia struck hard too...

Stumbled upon Nukkad Hindi TV serial on Youtube.
What a fantastic series it was!!!

Brought back memories of my childhood "Nukkad" experience.

Our home was a corner plot, bound by three roads perpendicular to each other.
Fourth side was the lane. Full of shops, brimming with life and activity.

A tea shop just like Nukkad series...
It was so interesting, to watch over the different kind and class of people, who visited on a regular basis. Early morning meant brisk business.
Could  clearly see across the street, the way coffee was made and cooled, the traditional way. Between two glasses, the coffee flew across like a rainbow.

Roadside benches  had people reading the newspaper, gossiping, sipping their coffee or tea or munching on the ever popular masala vada.

Next to this was a crooked muddy lane winding in to the thatched settlement.

Adjacent to the lane, was a godown stocked with hay and cattle feed. It used to open once a week or so when stocks came in or sent back thru bullock carts.

These bullock carts used to arrive evening around 5 pm. Once stocks were unloaded, the ox were given water and food. The cart men used to relax for a while. They found the huge mango tree in front of our house to be their haven. The barb wire fence made it easy, to tie the ox, which irked my grandpa. He always picked up a fight with them.

It was a sight to watch those guys cook and wash. They used to buy small portions of basics and veggies. Put it all together in a big vessel on a make shift fireplace. Once done, the three or four cart men used to share it. The night was spent under the breezy mango tree, on the hay stack. Early morning, even before sunrise, they would be gone.

The godown wall leaned almost on to the adjacent tailor shop. He made the best of clothes when he really did. Otherwise, he was no better than the "bewada Kopdi" of Nukkad. He was always drunk. People used to say, he cut perfect when he was really drunk...

The petty shop next to this, was the most enchanting one for us, kids. He sold toffees, candy, biscuits, peanut laddus, goli soda, bananas, pencil, rubber, pen, sticker bindhi, colour ribbons.
The most attractive one being, the different coloured cool drink he served. The shopkeeper had atleast 6 different flavours of liquid fruit mixes which he added to water and served with crushed ice to make a huge glass of sherbat. It used to feel like heaven in scorching summer.

Yet another muddy lane here, led into the slum, which also housed a small Devi temple. Momentum picked up during the Adi and Thai months every year. The Thiruvizha (Temple Fair) used to take place with all pomp and show. You could see the entire crowd of the hutment, clad in their best and moving about enjoying the festivity. Loud speakers used to blare into your ears broadcasting devotional songs, alternated with drum beats from the temple.

Next was the laundry. Our only source,  mainly for pressing clothes. Though they did take up washing and pressing, it was always a demanding situation, to get the school uniforms pressed in time.

The barber shop right next to the laundry, always buzzed with men and kids. The man cut, trimmed hair less and filled in ears with gossips more. I used to wonder, when was the last time he sharpened his pair of scissors or a razor, leave alone buying a new one.

The next was a cycle repair shop. This man had a full day business between filling air and replacing a puncture.

Just round the corner was a firewood shop, loaded with all kinds of fire wood logs and cow dung moulds to be used in households.

Later, shops changed with time and new ones came about. These shops met with all the day to day small necessities of everyone's life in the vicinity.
The families settled around the society, the slum dwellers and the shopkeepers all knew each other for ages. The whole family was a known face, which kept the rapport going strong. The camaraderie was worth a mention. Many of the shops were owned by the dwellers so it was also a matter of trust and loyalty.

Its becoming harder these days, to see such settlements, who served from heart and not from sale point of view. Its also heart rending to see, a few such shops thrive, in today's world of supermarkets and online grocery services.

So long friends.... Adios!!!

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Hi Folks!
I am back.

Recently, read an article. A much circulated one, in social network.
Its all about, if we wish to be a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean. The conclusion says, we should be like coffee.

This has been in my mind for sometime now. Pondering more, here's what I felt.
This is my own personal interpretation - with all due respect to the writer, who first wrote the article.

Carrot goes in the hot water hard, comes out soft.
Egg goes in fragile and comes out hard.
Coffee bean goes into hot water, changes the water's nature, colour and taste. Makes it a totally different element altogether.
Everyone talks about the coffee. There's no water there anymore.

Is this what we want to be? I agree, we need to make our presence felt. A majestic, worthy impression at that.
We should be a great influence, make Change happen, as that's the only one which is constant.

At the same time, why look to change the other person, be it your better half or superior at office or your own kid or a dear friend. Every person, has the right to retain his or her individuality isn't it??

If not for the water, there wouldnt be a coffee. Even for an instant coffee, we need hot water.
Water adapts to the change so graciously and gracefully. It acts like a catalyst in many a worldly changes.

Why not be like water. Be pliable, compassionate. Compromise, but not without a reason. Be a catalyst in someone's life. Make the better of them and in the process, our self.

Water is so graceful, like I said. It takes the colour, shape, size of the vessel. It gives in, while boiling and freezing. Beyond both points, it becomes a whole new element, but still, water is in there. It proves that its inevitable.
We dont stop using it, just because its frozen or boiling.

More so, water is the only connecting source between the sky and earth. Its never gone and out. What goes up comes back to earth as rain. Filling the water bodies, it goes up again to form clouds only to come back to us.
What a beautiful example, of what life is all about.
If theories are to be believed, isn't this, the life cycle and Darvin's theory all about...

I wish, I could be a cool splash of water on someone, who has had a long day.
A drizzle, on a playful child
A sudden splash of rain, to surprise someone.
A stream, washing away, those long travelled, pained feet.
A cool glass, to quench the thirsty.

Now, do I hear the raindrops in my balcony?? Let me go.
See you soon guys... Adios.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Why does it happen...

"Man deserts wife after she ‘fails’ caste panchayat’s virginity test??"

Sounds crazy isnt it?
Makes you ask "is he out of it?"
Its pathetic to know that its the whole society and not just this individual, which has gone crazy.

Yes, you sure can take this incident and the person as a slice of what today's Indian society is all about.

I am being mean when I say this... I know
I feel sorry I had to say this. In reality it is so bad.

The young girl, all of 20, is put into such shame by the barbaric act and its repercussions. 
Notwithstanding, the so called Panchayat wants to parade her naked throwing hot flour balls on her to see if she can bear it. 
This is how she gets to prove she is a virgin. 
All this because she didnt bleed on her nuptials. Sic, people.
She is qualified to join the Police dept, but she is kept under house arrest by her own father in order to prevent her from lodging a complaint.

In the present century where medical technology is touching greater heights than our foreign counterparts, isnt this a shameful allegation?

Is it a punishment or the so called law holders are trying to satiate their perverted inner self?

From Sita, Anusuya times we have only heard of female being put thru all types of tests. As bad as the Agnipariksha to this day's virginity test.

In the name of society what more, what else, how much more and how longer??

Arnt we the society? Isnt every woman a part of the so called society?
If a man cannot safeguard the interest of the woman who has given him her heart and soul, how are we to believe in him.

And, all  the blah blah about the society... who forms the society, who gave them the right to say whats wrong and what is right?

Who gave them the rights to make convenient rules and regulations and naming them as social norms, culture, prestige and family honour?

If Maharashtra should be shameful of such act of coward, down south we should be ashamed of the honour killings.

If love is blind, so are the families of the two in wed lock.
They are blind with superstitions
They are blind with false honour of the family name and their prestige
They are so blind that they cannot see their own child's happiness.

In 2012 whole world was in shock and went numb in mourning over Nirbhaya incident...
The poor girl was glorified, an act was made by Indian Government to stop such gory incidents.
And... did it really stop? arnt we hearing a handful of such cases every week?

Rape, victimization, injustice... Is the government and the hands of law so stunted that they cant reach these lecherous criminals?
How long are we going to read, hear and watch such incidents with dismay with folded hands?

We find time to share jokes, absurd comedy clips and trivia in the social network.
Let's share these incidents of inhumane act. 
Its not just the pen which is mightier than sword, our goodwill, the social network and such courage to stand up against injustice is much more mightier than any sword that was made in the world.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Where are those golden days...

As I listen to a good old hindi song "Jaane Kahaan Gaye Woh Din"....I sing along drifting away in thoughts.

Its yet another scorching summer time at Chennai.
Blazing heat and perspiration running down from forehead to little toe.

Sitting in front of my PC in a high rise apartment, I wonder and drown in nostalgia.

Summer vacations meant joy, happiness, enjoyment.
It used to be filled with small thrills, small eats but great excitement and happiness.

All age groups of cousins, friends met up during these vacations. 
Felt as if they discovered new meaning of life with their innovative games and street sports.

Ours used to be an independent house with a massive garden area on three sides.
It used to be checkered with trees, plants and shrubs of all types, shapes, sizes and hues of green. Summer flowers and fruits waving in the breeze. 
Most importantly the mango tree at the front. This attracted maximum stone pelting by street boys for want of mangoes.

Days began with a yummy breakfast of pazhayadhu (basically curd mixed with left over rice) with Maavadu around 8 am.

Moms and aunts were behind us, yelling from the kitchen, to go take a shower which generally fell into deaf ears.
Finally when we couldnt come up with anymore excuses, we used to queue up and fight as to who will shower first.
Those few minutes of waiting used to seem forever with hunger pangs acting up.

Then it was lunch at noon. The best ever cuisine in the world, "Amma kai saapaadu" or the mothers' touch.
Be it simple sambhar and beans curry, it used to taste so yummy that heart felt satiated more than tummy itself.

The happy tummy and mid day scorching sun kept us indoors.
Each of us used to settle in a corner with some comics or story book, slowly drifting into an afternoon siesta.

And yes, we definitely fought as to who will nap on the Oonjal (the swing).
Our swing used to be huge and strong bound to the ceiling with thick iron chains.
As kids, it could almost fit us all. Lying huddled, legs and hands on each other, swinging in a gentle sway felt awesome as if being cradled in mother's arms.

The aroma of pre evening coffee used to tickle our nostrils, when we all used to wake up for more mischief and fun.

Coffee was always accompanied by fried snacks or fruits. This was summer special at our household.
The salivating aroma of the Bajjis, Bondas, Pakodas wafting in the air from the kitchen made us settle down there.

After a day or two of utter chaos and fiasco, moms and aunts became too smart.
They used to complete making the whole lot and then served us all at a time and in equal portions.
This done, again we march into the garden to water the plants and in the process drenching each other completely.
All the running, chasing, playing hide and seek made us tired. 
If not for this, we stay put at the Thinnai playing Carrom, Pallanguzhi, Ammaanai, Aadu puli aattam or Ludo.

As the sun set, it was time for yet another bath or washing up.
Thatha was particular we prayed in front of god. We were asked to sing a hymn or bhajan or recite something we learnt.
The men of the family would be back by then from office.
It was then family time.

The patriarch of the family, my grandfather, sat in his easy chair.
All aunts uncles, dad & mom settled in the Thinnai (cement benches in the courtyard)
We kids lined up in the five steps at the entrance.
These were specially designed by Thatha using red oxide paint to make it feel cool and smooth as butter.

The cool evening breeze would have set in by now making it easy and comfortable.
The chat went on from good old grandma stories to daily anecdotes...
Movies to politics to changing trends...
Believe me, it was much more interesting than all our FBs and Whatsapp...
Hike and the likes...

Evening meant freshly made "manga curry" - specialty of my grandpa.
He insisted on cutting the mangoes in thin pieces, marinating it with salt and chilli powder with a dash of gingely oil. He would make it in a big bowl and come up to each of us serving big spoonfuls. 

Oh My!!! yumminess personified... The sour mangoes with a mild tinge of sweetness, the salt and chilli combination running along, would tickle the taste beds of even a non living thing.

Very soon it was dinner time. It was always light.
Amma or athai or chithi used to mix the left over rice from morning with the sambhar and curry or some Thogayal for the side.
Once we kids lined up in front of her she would make large balls of this mixture and place it in our hands one after the other. We used to gobble up as if we havnt seen food in ages.
The same with curd rice.

It was sleep time soon.
Fighting begins as to who will go to bed next to grandpa, and those aunts who were good story tellers.
Finally with that aunt in the middle all kids align around her.

The 10 - 30  days of vacation summed up Ramayana, Mahabaratha and Tenali Raman stories and stayed fresh in our minds in ages to come.

Once in a while it was cinema time or we lined up to go to the Marina Beach. 
The pop corns, samosas and fanta meant way more to us than the movie itself.

Likewise the "thenga manga pattani sundal" and "milaga bajji" at the Marina more than made up for the long bus travel and the crowded atmosphere. Not withstanding the sweltering heat and humidity.

Gone are those days of simple happiness and contentment.
Andha Naalum Vandhidaadho...


Friday, 20 May 2016

That cute little girl at the corner store

All of 3 or 4 years old, in a cute frilled frock, this cute little girl was walking out of her house towards the corner store.

Fluffy hair tied in a pony swaying in the air.
Pink socks and pink and white shoes neatly belted, she was walking brisk.
Her little fingers were tucked in her frock pocket, a shining gleam on her face.

As she approached the corner candy store her face became even brighter. 
Her eyes twinkled like the star. She looked truly a twinkle little star.

As she graced thru the glass jars which were full of candies, chocolates, cookies and jellies, her face was in a state of restlessness. Eyes wandered from this end of the candy jars to the other.

Yea, she was in a fix, what to buy, which to choose, what would each cost and did she have enough? 

It was a sight not to miss. 
Excitement, confusion.... You could literally see her drooling within, at the sight of the candies.

By then the store man asked her what she would like to buy.
She nodded her head up and down.
"Ok, I know you want to buy, but which one? he asked again with a smile.

By then she had somewhat zeroed in on a few of them. Her little index finger pointed at one jar full of cream filled candies in pink and orange.
"This one, ok. How many? store man asked.

By then her finger had moved to the jar at the other extreme which had eclairs in them.
"Those too or that instead of this? the man asked somewhat confused.

She shook her head up and down. The man was slowly losing it but she was so cute he couldnt yell at her.

"I shall give you one of that and one of this, will it be fine?
Is that all? he asked lovingly.

She was somewhat convinced. She is getting the best of the two worlds one each, she hadnt thought of this idea.

"How much"? she muttered in her cute gentle voice.
"A rupee each" the man answered.

She felt even happier. She knew she had a little more than that.
She now had another thought, she had five rupees her grandpa had given her before leaving out of town last evening.

She still has three, why should she shop for only two.
"Shall I pack?" asked the man. she nodded yes.
As he was packing she glanced thru the jars again.

There, her favourite Dairy Milk, small one. 
She had always wanted them. 
She didnt know how to call the store man.
Uncle, Sir...??? 

She held out her hand and waved to get his attention.
"Yes my dear? he said looking at her.

She showed the Dairy Milk and asked how much by voice and thru gesture of the folded palm in question.

"Five rupees" he answered. 
'Oh five each... If I buy that, I will just have that and I wont be able to get these two. 
These look yummy too. what do I do??? pondered the little one.

Looking at her new confusion store man lost it.
"Now my dear, have you decided, I have to take care of other business you see" he said impatiently.

She was a little taken aback. Just a drop or two welled her tiny black eyes.
Now, she had to decide. 

Just then both hers and the store man's attention were drawn a little away, where another store man was shooing away an old lady who had come begging for food at that food joint.

The little angel looked at the old lady, in dirty ragged clothes, her hair all messy and unkempt. 
At first look, she was so scary to even look at her again.
On second look the pretty kid could sense the pain and hunger in her eyes.

Cutie pie blinked her eyes hard once. She had decided.

She turned towards her store man who was back into his business mood by then.
She looked beyond the candy jars at the table top. She could see breads and buns.

She pointed at a bun and asked him how much.
Store man in a stern voice said, "four rupees".

"I want one eclair and one bun" she said in a clear decisive voice.
The man was now surprised but packed it neatly and handed it to her.
The kid took out the eclair put it in her pocket.
She paid the store man and gently walked towards the old lady.

Now she was brave... No, she wasnt scared, after all she is grown up, as mama says.
She handed the brown packet with the bun to the old lady. 
She was astonished. she hesitantly reached out her hand and took the packet. She could see it had a bun in it. 

Words failed her. Tears welled up. she placed her right hand gently on the kid's head and blessed her moving down to her chubby cheeks caressing them and taking the same to her mouth gently gave her a kiss in the air.

The kido smiled happily.
The store man was stunned and he smiled too. 
He felt an urge within. He reached out for a couple of cookies and handed it to the old lady.

When he peeped out from his store window he could see the cute little darling was walking towards her home with a skip and hop in every step. Her face all lit with happiness and content.
Oh yes!, her mouth was chewing on the eclair enjoying every drop of the sweetness.:)

Thursday, 19 May 2016

So, What colour is your blood??

Is it even a question to debate? you ask...
True, all of us are born with red blood.

But, is it really that uniform, unanimous??

Red has always been associated with energy, passion, ambition, determination etc.
Close home, its always been an imagery and illusion of poverty, hunger, suffering and calamity.

Is that why the same blood becomes so un affordable for the poor...
Is it the reason behind the numerous careless deaths on hospital beds...
On the road side accidents...
Unattended, unhealed wounds and diseases leading to misery for want of blood in turn want of money?

You know what, I presume the rich have it all in blue - yea blue blooded...
Epitome of Royalty, richness, grandeur... They are special... they have it all, they can BUY blood, but can they buy life??

Or for that matter, do those who always writhe with jealousy and greed, usurp land and property, money and gold, as if they were to carry it along to their burial, have it in green? - greeeen blood??. Full of envy, greed, wickedness. Maybe they do:)

White personifies purity, innocence, wholeness and completion. 
Ironically cockroaches have it in white... :)
How I wish all of us had it in white too. 
Pleasure of giving, sharing, living...

Share, you are not going to be able to take it to the other world
While still here and useful, why not share.

Why dont we donate today, not just blood... 
Live and let live.

Shall catch up soon...
Work from Home - Acha Time Pass

Really Guys??!!!

Let's randomly pick men or women in any age group between 20 and 70...

"Oh, you work from home... Oh good for you... Acha time pass hoga na..."

And... here and now, in reality, jostling between household and timelines

Fixed time jobs are meant to be jobs with workloads, targets, office discipline, moods and fancies of superiors and juniors.

Work from home are like take it easy attitude. 
"Everyday is a Sunday for you, why crib?"

Ask those new mothers who take up a second inning job just to balance the budget or earn a few penny to buy a nappy.

Between feeding and changing, between the baby's wailing and giggling, women out there are shoving feeding bottles to the lappy and moving the mouse to feed the child some cerelac.

Still, they do deliver... and deliver the best.

"Need to log in at 10 for a concall" - "come on yaar, relax, you dont need to rush to office in crazy traffic. 
Right, but between the Dal burning on one and cooker screaming on the other
Between the baby crawling and maid brooming... try it out guys.

Try fixing Bugs, create an XL or  give a Presentation on skype.

We feel happy if we even got time just to sip a still hot chai or even run to use the rest room.

At the end of it, while still wrapping up the day's work, 

"What do you do full day sitting at home, watching TV yaar...?
Why is this here, why thats not done, why is the tap still running?
Its not as if you are working non stop. 
You are at home and how much does it take to call for the plumber and get this done." 

Guys, Full time job, you have a cut off time, work from home is seamless... endless.

Before the guys jump on me in defensive mode...

Its even worse for the guys who work from home.

Simply trampled with one word... 
"Oh, you are like a house husband, ahaa!!!.

Acha hai yaar, 
Ghar baite aaraam ki zindagi, kismat yaar...

Poor guys, slogging it out there with the irritant bosses and the time lines
Conf calls and online meetings.

Maids show up in between only to escape like a whiff of breeze.
Men are caught unaware by the already tired wives.
"Didnt you show her the clothes to wash, why are'nt the vessels done, did you really forget to buy milk... Poor souls.

So long... 
Meet you soon. And... pl dont forget to leave a few lines 

Welcome to Breezy Scribbles.

As the name suggests just few scribbles...

Some serious, some useful, some ranting, some breezy...

Come, travel with me and my musings...