Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Life as an equation?

I only laugh at those numerous "character tests" found generously scattered everywhere - in books, magazines, internet. And with time, the popularity of such tests only seem to be on a rise. Ofcourse, with no disregard to others' feelings, I would only want to wonder why is that people seem thrilled when such tests 'claim' to reveal what they are - infact people would know better about themselves - won't they? and therefore, do they need a test for that?

What I deem to be funny is the way things are interpreted.
You like to go by the sea for holiday? then you are a sober and dull person.
You like to go to the hills? you are full of energy and enthusiasm.
And some poor little souls, would even find all ways, totally disjoint from their taste and mood, to alter their likes and dislikes just to fit into that 'seemingly perfect category'.

As I keep saying, life is such a wonderful thing and I just can't accept it as an equation. If x=y, then z=?. Mathematics and Science, according to me, will just not work on life's boundless horizon.

I like black and like black because I like black not because I am boring or dull or negative.

Isn't it high time to stop analysing people by such tests based on their likes and dislikes? And if you notice the analysis generally has two shades - a positive one and a negative one and generally the positive one carries the person off his feet and then the negative one brings him back making him remark "yeah! how true....".

And there are many such illogical attributions :
black for negativism, white for purity or goodness, height for success, depth for down fall...
Well, its okay as far as you attribute goodness to something but why attribute negativism?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Me? Beautiful? Ofcourse...

Who ever said beauty is only skin deep or looks don't matter? These statements, I would say, are heights of hypocrisy. Though I can understand the rationale behind such statements, I really wonder if people can be judgemental without going by looks (ofcourse, unless they are visually challenged)!

I've always felt the person with attractive looks has an edge over a person with not-so-attractive looks - be it an interview, a VJ hunt or even match finding to flimsy ones like who a VIP would probably shake hands with in a crowd, randomly choosing a person from the audience or next to whom a fellow passenger might take his/her seat!

All of us are entitled to form our opinions of people - not after years of being with them but by the first impression(s) which gushes into our minds by that very first glance. For some reason, some faces kindle a liking within us while some cultivate incomprehensible dislike just for no fault of theirs.

I am no better. But as I think now, looking back, almost all of the close relationships I made, relationships which I cherish are with people whom I might not rate as being very attractive by looks.

There have been times, long time back, when I used feel low for being dark and not being as good looking as I would want myself to be. And times when people have given me thumbs down, during various - but probably trivial - occasions because (I presume) of my looks. But fortunately, I have matured with time. I have realised that its not those momentary judgements which matter most but the long lasting impression which you make on others is what goes the long way.

I can't make myself adorable by my looks but definitely I can by what I am or by what I can be.
As I type this, I am reminded of this line from Padayappa :
"Mugathai therndhedukkum, nirathai therndhedukkum urimai unnidathil illai,
un vaazhkkai mattum undhan kayyil undu, adhai vendru edu"
(You don't have the choice to choose your face or your colour but your life is in your hands - win it!).

For all those people out there who have or had feeling as I did, remember that you are beautiful by heart, even if not, you can make it beautiful and this beauty is eternal.

Monday, November 14, 2005

My! My!! (Part-2)

(continued from Part-1)

Is virginity the only factor to approve of a woman's quality? What about the quality of mind, heart and soul? What about those women who cause family feuds, the mother-in-law who torments her daughter-in-law, the wife who nags her husband to put his parents in an old age home, the mistress who subjects her little maid to all physical abuse, the women folk who gossip about the lady in the neighbourhood, the selfish woman who would not want to part anything of her with anyone - how better are such women than a woman who has lost her virginity before marriage?

And what about those numerous rape victims and women subject to sexual abuse due to various circumstances? Don't they have a right to live? a hope to have a happy married life? Why should they be shunned of marriage just because they have lost their virginity and that too due to no fault of theirs.

And what about those 'loose' girls who gave in to their desires? Can't they turn a new leaf? or wouldn't they make loving wives? A mistake once done can't be regretted for? and amended?

I really pity women in this aspect. It can never be ascertained on similar lines (on virginity) in case of men and they are not questioned either; but with women, their whole life seems to centre around it. Is this fair?

I respect culture, tradition and strongly value ethics too. But given a detour from the normal route, should it turn out to be the end of the road? I know it would definitely take time for us to accept such rational concepts but with time, thought and love, am sure it is possible - ofcourse for the better. Even people adverse to my views, hope you give it a thought before making your comment.

Following all this drama, Suhasini in some function voiced her support for Kushboo and said "Thamizhagalarukku mattum komba molachirukku?". For this, the Nadigar Sangam seemed to have woken up from their slumber and asked Suhasini for an explanation. Why the heck should she offer an explanation? The comment was not intended against all Tamils but only in response to those agitators who claimed that Kushboo's remarks were against people of Tamilnadu. Periyar during pre-independence remarked that Tamil is a kaattumiraandi (barbaric) language and encouraged people to learn English which, he felt, would make them 'universal'. Even few years back Karunanidhi said that the Tamils in Malaysia have better patriotism for their language that the Tamils in Tamilnadu. Sarath Kumar, who seemed so agitated in front of the media against Suhasini, doesn't seem to mind the other remarks from his own party and that too targetted against the whole Tamil lot.

And those numerous stupid people staging agigations? Don't they have better work to do? Better problems to address? Are they the sole representatives of the people of Tamilnadu? Who gave them the right to talk on behalf of us? Where do they go when they hear : about those gruesome rape stories? about those numerous concubines which a famous (notorious?) man may possess? about the politician with many wives? about the agonizing tale of a man sexually abusing a one-year old? Such ghastly incidents and even worse tend to happen, not elsewhere, but in our very own Tamilnadu.

'Morality' is very subjective and capping oneself on moral limits should be exercised by oneself and cannot be imposed upon. Its rests upon individuals to assess what is moral or immoral by listening to their conscience.

My! My!! (Part-1)

Seeing the recent fuss being made over Kushboo's remarks to a magazine, I cannot consider these agitations as anything more than cheap publicity. I didn't know, initially, if it would make sense to write a post on this but now with Suhasini being dragged into it and the Nadigar Sangam asking for an explanation from her, I deemed it appropriate to post about it now. Anyways, sex is not a taboo anymore. Ofcourse, these opinions are my own and I am entitled to them and you, in your own right can object to them! [Also, apologies, if my post seems outright crude and point blank - couldn't help it!]

The Background : India Today had conducted a survey and found that certain percentage of teenage girls have had pre-marital sex. When asked for Kushboo's comments on this, she said that its only advisable that girls have safe sex and that educated men should not expect their future wives to be virgins anymore. To this, a section of the public objected strongly (probably instigated by some political parties) saying that Kushboo's remarks were against Tamilnadu's culture and that she should apologise or be banished from Tamilnadu.

My view to this :
First, aren't people entitled to their opinions and views, well, atleast when the opinions are generic and not specifically intended towards any particular person or group. In that case, Kushboo's remarks are certainly general and not intended for any specific person or group.

Is pre-marital sex new to our culture? There have been many works in Tamil where eroticism has been depicted with subtle details between lovers - obviously between lovers who weren't married. What about the story of Kunthi who bore Karna? Ofcourse, people would only want to circumvent pre-marital sex considering the negative consequences it would create but given the situation we have today, the next best thing you can advise people who give in to the 'temptation' is to be safe. Isn't this (unprotected sex) the reason why we see so many babies being abandoned in dustbins, numerous cases of teenage pregnancy and still worse girls/women ending their lives?

Coming to the second point about men not to expect their wives-to-be to be virgins (2 many 'to-be's huh??), I think it would be apt to debate on 'virginity'. I read somewhere that Periyar once said that women should throw off their karpu. He went on to add that "Its only because of this that men domineer you. Throw it off and there will be nothing to thrust their control upon you women folk". People hailed Periyar then as a champion of women. His words definitely made sense - but the same people who worship him for being a rationalist, cannot seem to accept a similar view from Kushboo.

(To be continued...)

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Water Water everywhere!

Unprecedented rainfall in South India! Flooded rivers, watery roads, slushy houses. Looks like the constrast which life offers is best personified now. Until recently, Tamilnadu was reeling in drought and water scarcity was the order of the day! And today huge (that's huge with a capital 'H') quantity of water is going waste into the sea. Again, how long would this water sustain us from yet another dry period? All this put together makes me wonder if even the drought situation and floods is man-made? Inadequate water management - or probably scant regard to a precious commodity!

Considering Madras alone, the two main water resources - Adyar and Cooum rivers - have become drainage flows. Infact many people would even chuckle if I were to refer Cooum as a river. Once upon a time - certainly until the mid of last century - there was a boat house on banks of Adyar river and the Buckingham canal was used for navigation.

How many of you know that there was a huge lake in the area now compassing Kodambakkam, T.Nagar, West Mambalam, K.K.Nagar? It was called the Long Tank and later as Mylapur Tank (not to be confused with the artificial temple tank beside Kapleeswarar temple). No wonder these areas get inundated during rains today - now you know why!

So all the major water resources are either polluted, encroached upon or ignored. So recharging ground water has come down drastically whereas ground water withdrawal has increased manifold. Rain water harvesting was an expedient scheme. But again how many of us really understood its significance and implemented it in full earnest?

Imagine a clear Adyar or Cooum river with neat parks by the sides, boat clubs, fishing spots, a steamer passing by to ferry passengers in the likes of Kerala! The alternate mode of transport would not only be cheap but eco-friendly too (considering the motor-less boats), apart from the bliss of travelling in a boat! More importantly, two sources of water are intact ensuring water supply for major part of the year!

People never seem to value the importance of water. You are likely to find a fully turned tap open to wash vessels when just half of that 'turning' would have sufficed. Drinking water is used where recycled or probably unpotable water is all that was required like when washing cars, floors, watering plants, shaving/brushing with the tap turned on, showering in full flow for long time, using buckets and buckets of water for washing clothes... the list goes on and on.

Instead of lamenting at the government always, we could do our little best to counter the water scarcity - use buckets/mugs instead of running water thru' hoses, showers, use alternate water (recycled, hard or dirty water) wherever possible, implement rain water harvesting, reduce water wastage.

I have an idea for the government too! The government can probably introduce another water line in houses/industries and other establishments. The pipeline would be in a different colour to differentiate from the regular drinking water line. This line can supply treated (or recycled) sewage water. Ofcourse, it could be made potable too but alteast the public can use this water for 'other' purposes - wash clothes, utensils, floors, cars or water plants. Major beneficiaries would be industrial plants and hotels were large quantities of water is consumed. But will this work?

I read some nice posts on similar lines here and here.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Holiday? Say that again!

Had a tiring week at work?
Not to worry, the weekend is not far away.

Want to catch up some sleep?
There's the weekend again!

Bored of everything.? Just want to relax and do nothing?
There's the weekend for that too.

Weekend seems to be the perfect excuse to do nothing. Probably that helps in a way too - to rejuvate one's energy, morale and spirits! But what about those 'mothers' who have no weekends, no holidays and who's only motive seems to be in the interest of others' well being?

Imagine a tiring trip back home. You would only wish if your place of retreat would come to you than having to walk till there! THUD! and you snuggle into your bed taking the previlege of not having to worry about any consequences. But even then, the 'mother', inspite of the fatigue, is all sleeves up in the kitchen just to feed the hungry stomachs.

Then there are the festive seasons. In today's era, the whole family is glued to their televisions or out with friends, except one soul - again the 'mother'! There is breakfast time, tea time, then lunch, evening snack time, dinner and apart from that the special occasions, guest visits, special luncheons, dinners... whew!

How often have we taken this role of a 'mother' for granted? Have we acknowledged the role in gratitude? or even given a thankful thought?

At times I wonder if even falling sick is a blessing in diguise for such 'moms' - a temporary rest to their legs which are in constant motion, a momentary stop to their toiling hands and probably a holiday forced upon them by God but definitely not for their minds. The mind is still pondering - what happens to the home without me? did he have his breakfast? did she have her clothes ironed? was there anything at all to eat in the house?

Yes, that is the 'mother' for you. Probably every one of us have such 'mothers' in our homes but maybe in different forms - a dad, a granny, an aunt, a warden, a care-taker or maybe even a house maid. The world may have changed with mind boggling technological advancements but a holiday for a 'mother'? Not yet - probably would never be! Let's give a thought as to what best we can do to give her, from time to time, a holiday which she truly, worthily deserves!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


My anger knows no bounds when a person barges to into a queue for no big reason. Given any situation, a normal Indian would only want to get to the front at the cost of others. There is no distinction here - you could expect this kind of insane behaviour from any person - well off/poor, educated/illiterate, man/woman - there is no bias here.

In India, for the kind of population we have, things would only be better if people were more disciplined. By discipline I mean exhibiting the same while waiting in a traffic signal, waiting to get a ticket, waiting to get into/out of a cinema hall, waiting to pay a bill, waiting for your turn in a hotel, waiting to get into a crowded bus, waiting to get darshan in a temple and waiting to get a freebie somewhere. Why can't people just stick to a queue when things are no better when you try to go out of turn!

Next time you see a person cutting a queue - stop him/her! Its only because of our apathy, such lot take the situation for granted.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Planetary motion

Astrology... an interesting topic - especially when it comes to debating whether astrological predictions are to be believed or not to be believed. Before I go on to say if I believe in astrology on not, let me give a note on how I got interested in astrology. There have been instances where predictions of astrologers, whom I know personally, came true. And there was this famous astrologer - Lion Parthasarathy, who's lecture I had a chance of attending to when he was the chief guest for one of our school functions. Later another programme of his featured on TV for which Radhika was the host. He says that astrology is a science - not something related to intuition. Further, if a horoscope is correct and if the person analyzing it has got good knowledge about it, then its just like reading what is in the horoscope and nothing based on intuition. He added that in the past horoscopes were used to predict a person's health conditions and therefore the royal doctors (vaidhiyars) were also astrologers. Mr.Parthasarathy, as he himself quoted, was a English lecturer in Presidency college and then took interest in astrology, studied about it (I think he even did a doctorate thesis on the same) and became a full fluedged astrologer.

The Naadi josiyam is another sect of astrology which interests me. Its astounding to learn how few sages in the past had written predictions for almost every human in this world - or more to say for those who are 'destined' to see their Naadi josiyam predictions. The serial Chidambara Ragasiyam on Sun TV every Wednesday at 8.30 pm provides some interesting insights into the various aspects of Naadi josiyam.

What I argue with most people on astrology is that - I do not contemplate on whether astrology is true or false. Infact I have known many cases where the predictions have come true and I have read and heared that there is no 'predicting' but only reading thru' one's horoscope. There have also been miscalculations by astrologers - I guess more to do with the astrologer's shortcomings than astrology's.

I can favour astrology if its going to give a positive ray of hope to someone who has been draped in misery. If his stars say he is going to have a bright future and if this is going to make him live in hope, then good for him. But mostly I have seen people restricting themselves from taking a step in a new venture owing to unfavourable predictions. Well, if man could control his destiny, wouldn't life be all the more easier for all of us?

Life definitely gives us shocks and surprises and I feel its these that make a person more stronger and give him the energy to face the turbulences. Ofcourse, many remain steadfast and see themselves out while few do not. In such situations, when relying on astrology, we either tend to dwell on the future and restrict ourselves or worry about the future and spoil our present. As I've quoted in my blog subject, the real greatness in life lies in 'living' it with both the pluses and minuses added with momentary surprises too. Knowing what the future holds for you is like knowing the end of a mystery movie before hand. Ofcourse the choice is yours, but as most people would agree, the excitement and thrill is in watching the movie without knowing the story or its end - isnt it?!!

Monday, September 19, 2005

Made up!

I find it very funny when people wear make up. Ofcourse its one's very own prerogative to do so but I can't understand why, when the beholder can very well make out that the face is 'made up', take all pains to make it look more artificial?

Dark or fair, smooth or wrinkled, clear face or pimpled, I like faces as they are. I mean, it makes the person look all the more natural and pleasing. You know that when a person wears make up, the seemingly impressive face is not original and what's the point in showing up a false image? I can understand people using cosmetics for health reasons like maybe oil, sun screens, moisturisers and the likes but those garish coloured lipsticks with a one-inch thick pancake, added with thick eye liners, mascara, bleached hair, waxed face, threaded eyebrows - hmmm.. at times these people are no different than mannequins. And can't understand why that more than men, women are obsessed with cosmetics.

Looks like marriage is the occasion of a lifetime for a girl - the time when she could literally try out all beautifying(?) techniques with a whooping bill! I remember how my cousin had cashed out about 5000 Rs. for her wedding make up! And since the wedding took place in a small town, she also arranged for the beautician to come down from Madras - so boarding, lodging, travel costs exta. All this just makes me wonder - is this fuss worth it at all? And in all the snaps, you only see the bride as a pale while ghost - too much painting to make her appear as her original self! Do these girls realise that their close ones love them not more or less for the extra powder dabbed onto their skins?

Considering the thriving businesses of foreign cosmetic industries here, its sad to note that all the traditional, home-made beautifying techniques are being shunned. The traditional ones are not only good but do not have side effects either. The effects of oil, shiyakkai, turmeric (anti-fungant, natural bleach, hair remover, what not!), kadalai maavu and the likes can be replaced in lieu of the artifical, highly chemical-based modern cosmetics. I think its more 'hep' and fashionable to say that "I use XYZ shampoo" rather than the more safer and effective shiyakkaai.

I continue keeping my hopes alive for people to realize and appreciate our own native treasures rather than filling the foreigners' coffers and that too at our own cost?

Priorities displaced

During college days, we had a "gang" and it seemed then that we would be inseparable. 'Inseparable' - in literal sense, which is to talk to each other everyday, meet atleast once in two days, get together in Adyar Bakery's Shakes & Creams - as usual - for the birthdays. And we always pooh-poohed when people said that practically, things wouldn't be the same in the future. "Just wait and see - we would prove we are different" - would be our retaliation. But whatever said and done, things *did* change. Now its only contacts thru' e-mails and meeting once in a year itself seems a distant reality.

I was fortunate to have a bigger gang during my post-graduation days when I moved to a different city! During first year, we used to long for the weekends but things changed upside down during second and third years where we used to hate the weekends since that meant 2 days without classes and all the fun associated with them. Again post-college, people got used with their routine and days together of not catching up with their once-upon-a-time "thick" brethern seemed absolutely fine. How many plans we devised then that we would decide upon a day every year and no matter where people are and how busy people are, we shall all re-unite. All those plans, sentimental talk seemed to have gone down the drain. A mail to the yahoogroup once in a blue moon brings so much happiness and considered a rarity!

Friends have got good jobs, handsome pays, some got married, children but yet when people talk about college life, a sense of nostalgia sinks in and everyone is so elated to talk about it, reminiscence those 'good old days' and long to get back there! Would I want to go back to those college days - having the same kind of fun with friends? ofcourse I would! So what is stopping me from doing it? Though everyone whom I speak to, longs for the same, no one wants to literally do it.

No love is lost amongst friends even today. Friendship is still at its best but the companionship...? the time spared for friends...? Even a trivial occasion during college days would've brought all of us together. Infact we just needed some silly reason to congregate. But now it seems tough to make it to even big occasions like marriages. Reason aplenty - tight deadlines, can't take off, have a kid at home - and maybe valid too and it also makes you relate more to the fact that "Change is the law of life"!

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Snail Mail

Many times I can't stop myself from wondering if the attribute 'Snail' for the conventional mail is fair enough. But when comparing the regular mail with the electronic-mail, the former does seem to traverse in a snail's pace. But inspite of the time it takes, with a possibility of the letter getting damaged or not reaching the intended recepient at all or getting delayed due to strikes or rains, I still love the snail-mail mode the best!!

A handwritten note from a friend, relative, loved one is a treasure worth to be preserved. The very sight of the handwriting makes the writer's face pop up in front of your eyes (just like those movie scenes when the actor/actress' face shows up on the letter).

I still have a huge collection of letters from my friends, parents (when I was in hostel), relatives and even teachers. Each letter definitely seems to me like a priceless antique which I would not want to part with for anything in this world.

During my 'infant' stages of letter writing, I used to be pretty concerned about not to make any grammatical mistakes when writing in English and consciously tried to induce novel words to display my vocabulary skills :-) and with age letters were meant to be more "hep" and "youthful" with lots of jargons, smileys, hanging sentences, more colloquial and wrong spellings.

I used to like it best when I get letters in covers - esp the 1Re stamped ones in bright yellow colour. When receiving one, I felt the person had lots to say. The old inland letters which used to be sealed only on 2 sides added to our challenges. As adolescent kids, we never missed a chance to read those letters (ofcourse meant for others) without opening them.

The postcards were for the not-so-secretive matters. How I remember the origin of "if you do not send this to 15 people within 10 days..." in postcards then and it seems to continue till date thru' e-mails. My dad would showcase his skills on a card by squeezing as much contents as possible on that little space (ofcourse my friends in hostel then would translate that as stinginess). The postcard was and is the cheapest mode of letter even today. By just spending 10 or 15 paise then, you could send a postcard from Kanyakumari till Kashmir.

'Air-mail' letters were of different kind. The neat letter pad sheets - often in striking yellow or sparkling white colours - were trademarks of the 'phoren' letters. The foreign letter was also a stamp-collector's delight. I remember doing this then - carefully tearing off the envelope part which had the stamps, soaking them in water for the stamps to detach themselves from the cover and placing them between book pages to dry.

Grandmothers' letters were another lot. The words were hard to decipher in that they had no comas, punctuations and the spaces between letters and words would be the same. I remember going to the aid of my neighbour paatti for whom I was the draftsman! It used to be a typical stenographer act - fun-filled and feeling the joy of how well your reading/writing knowledge can be put to use. Ofcourse, I would have to re-phrase her words to be more "letter-compatible".

I wonder if in today's era of e-mails, the letter-writing exercise (in English subject) would ever make sense to the students. The neat drawing of an envelope with a little box at the top right corner for a stamp, instructions flowing down mentally : 'From' address on the top right corner for personal letters and left corner for business letters, 'sub:' is a must for official letters, No apostrophe in "yours", the date should figure on the top right corner, no coma or colon after "To" - the letter writing section carrying 10 marks was like a cake-walk.

Just like those numerous little joys which the future generation sadly miss out - should I say because of techological advancement? - the "Snail mail" is another one in that list.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Whatever you earn is all for your stomach (ellaam indha arai chaan vaithukku dhaan). I do not know about other countries, but in India, especially the south, food holds an important part of any occasion. In India, serving food is held high as a ritual. Ofcourse, this is beyond any religion or creed. And I really enjoy in awe to see this kind of significance being attributed to food - especially the old traditional way which specifies norms on how food is to be served.

Since my knowledge is wider with respect to the food culture in Tamilnadu, I'll dwell more on that. I have experienced myself when I go to a normal household where when a person enters the house, s/he is offered water and requesting the guest to have food is considered a "dont-miss" formality. Well, formality or not, I feel many households ask that in full earnest.

A typical Tamilnadu meal (be it from any region) is complete, well-balanced and heart-filling. I cannot but wonder how our ancestors were so knowledged (like many other things) about the balancing act in food. And adding to it is serving the food on a banana leaf - our very own native disposable, non-stick plate! Usage of banana leaves makes you assert that our fore-fathers were very hygiene conscious. Won't you agree with me when I say that eating food on a banana leaf enhances the taste of the food itself? I am sure you would.

There's also a procedure as to what is to be served where and when on a banana leaf. I initially thought this procedure was for some superstitious reason but later realised it was for a practical purpose. Like, the broader side of a leaf is to be placed on the right since most of us use our right hands to eat and it would be easy to have the wider part for eating. Salt, pickle, fruit, paruppu (dal/lentils) all have their own places reserved on the banana leaf. I read some interesting stuff here about the banana leaf.

A traditional meal starts off by serving water, sweet, salt, vegetables, appalam other crispies like vadai and finally rice (to be served only after the guest takes his/her seat). Salt is served as an add-on incase any dish lacks salt (don't ask me what if its the other way round). First would be paruppu (dhaal/lentils) and nei (ghee/clarified butter). This is a source of protein and fat. Sambhar, again a source of protein and vegetable, follows. Sambhar is substituted or partnered with similar items like mor kuzhambu, puli/vatral kuzhambu and the likes. Too much protein is too heavy on the stomach. So for digestion, you have rasam made from tamarind extract and tomatoes (occasionally with garlic and lemon juice too) - all these ingredients help in digestion and to "disperse" the gas formed by the lentils. Again, tamarind extract is acidic in nature. So to cool the effect of this, you end your meal with curds. Just before curds you have payasam (calcium from milk added with raisins and cashews). Your skills on eating from a banana leaf are best known while having rasam saadham and payasam (The rasam or payasam should not drain down your leaf). But inspite of the intricacy of this ordeal, the taste of payasam on a banana leaf just after rasam is just awesome. You should experience it in order to enjoy it.

And to add to these, you have the vegetables for vitamins, nutrients and fibre (roughage) content, crispies for 'accomplice' , the seasonings - mustard seeds and curry leaves (source of iron too) and banana for digestion and the final betel leaves with betel nuts and lime (chunnambu) to give you that extra punch ;-) (not sure about betel nuts but betel leaves are definitely good for health - esp throat).

I can rest assure that of all the places in India (or probably the world), its only in Tamilnadu that you would find an eating place (good or not) in almost every corner and also catering to the hungry mouths almost round the clock (more so in places around Madurai).

I feel the "allergic" or "dosen't suit my health" factor is purely psycological. Given the number of people who cannot afford even one course meal a day, I would only request people not to be too choosy about food and be thankful for whatever we get. If being choosy over food is bad, wasting food is worse. I am sure each one of us can do our little best to avoid wasting food. Like it is said "Take all you like and eat all you take". Some thoughts...
  • Pack leaftovers from the hotel and give them to the deprieved lot on your way back home or use them for your next meal.
  • Serve leftovers at home to people in need, if not, atleast to dogs, cows, cats or birds.
  • During big functions like marriages, intimate orphanages or old age homes who would be ready to take un-served, leftover food. (Ofcourse, make sure to intimate them well in advance). The food left over on plates can be given to animal shelters for serving animals (I have heard that some establishments dry the leftover food in sun and use them as plant manure).

"Every grain has the eater's name written on it" so says Kabir in his doha. So be thankful to God for all the grains that have your own name on them and make sure you consume them in the best possible way i.e., by sharing!

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Madras is celebrating its "Madras week" and its so nice to showcase the reminiscence of this old city. Its amazing to learn that its close to 400 years since this city was 'incepted'. I somehow prefer the old name - Madras. Can't seem to come to terms with the reasons for changing this name to "Chennai". There is nothing 'foreign' about the name 'Madras'. As far as my knowledge goes, heard that the actual city of Madras was constituted from two villages (or towns) namely Madrasapatnam and Chennapatnam. There is a reference in today's Hindu about the origin of the city's name :

"There is some confusion about who named the city Madras but
in a map of south India dated 1596 and sketched by the Portuguese,
there is no mention of Madras though Miliapur existed. The Naiks, who
sold the land to British, wanted the city named after their father,

There may be many things which I detest about Madras but to me Madras would remain one my most loved cities ever! On the personal front, I was born here and spent major part of my life here and even now my 'base' continues to be Madras - its my 'home'. These apart I like Madras for its liveliness, briskness and simplicity! The city is up and active from the wee hours of the day till about close to midnight! The best part of Madras is that it has equal mix of tradition and westernization! I have often heard people comment about Chennai's conservative nature but I guess that is what makes Chennai "special". And as its usual self, Chennai is the "non-bragging" kind - never boasts about itself!

The December kutcheries, Adi maasam temple celebrations (sparing the cone speakers!!), shopping in Mambalam (who can miss the ever buzzing Ranganathan street), road side tea stalls, the 'euphoria' during any festive season, the Pallavan buses, Margazhi bajanais, Madisars, the Malls, theme parks, multiplex theatres, night clubs, pubs, wide range of eateries, beach - see... you have them all!

You needn't be an extravagant spender to enjoy life in Madras and that is its strength - giving its best to all kinds of people.

I just hope Madras remains the same - not too crowded, not too westernized, not too many self-centered people, not too costly but yet improving on these lines :
  • Cleanliness
  • Less processions/ bandhs
  • Less posters
  • Less multi storeyed apartments
  • More Trees/parks/playgrounds
  • Clean rivers - Adyar, Cooum and Buckingham canal
  • Still better transport
  • More Rains
  • Better water conservation/management
  • Law enforcement
  • More humane

Happy Birthday again Madras!!

(Read some nice stuff from fellow bloggers' blogs. You can find them here and here.)

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Schools can be fun if only...

How often have we seen children imitate their teachers? Such is the fascination kids have for their teachers. But why when there is a holiday at sight, children's joys know no bounds? And why are daily trips to school such a painful ordeal for children? Education - considered to be the backbone of an individual - doesn't seem to go well with kids? Doesn't it seem like an irony - childrendreading something which is supposedly so important in their lives?

I have personally seen this trend among many kids - they exhibit such briskness and grasping power in their infanthood but seem so drained and dull during school days. I am sure many of you would have seen this amongst children within your own circles. I am not sure if I should blame the education system but I definitely think teachers play a big role.

How often teachers rebuke students based on their physical appearance. "You look as big as my uncle but cannot do this simple sum". Such remarks create a deep impact in the minds of little kids and though some come over it in due course, for many, unfortunately, the wound tends to stick on and they never overcome it.

Corporal punishment is another case. Good that now people are slowly realising the ill effects of corporal punishment and many schools have advised teachers to refrain from punishing the child physically. I still have the images of such brutal punishment in my mind - beating with scale on knuckles, kneeling down for hours, smashing the hand on the edge of desk, caning, slaps, pinching by the ear - oof.. if reading this might make you sick, imagine the plight ofstudents.

Segregation of dull/bright students is another common feature in schools. Though the attitude seems to be genuine, the methodology is definitely bound to create mental agony. Infact many schools these day use the term "slow learners" in place of "dull students".

There are again teachers, whom the students look upon for advice, inspiration, as a role model, idol. Infact if one was asked to name 10 of their inspirational personalities in life, a teacher would definitely be one among them.

So it is a no 'name-sake' statement when people say that teachers shape an individual's character. A teacher can be a student's best friend or worst enemy.

This is a humble request to all teachers - do not think your job as menial. The pay may be but definitely not your job. Remember - all that it takes to mould those little ones is your love and care!

Monday, August 15, 2005

Why blame it on rice?

I could never understand the fuss being made over rice in favour of wheat by those diet conscious people. How often I have come across these statements - "I have stopped taking rice completely", "Consuming rice makes you put on weight", "The carb content in rice accumulates as fat". I have only one statement to make on these comments - WHAT CRAP!

Being a rice lover I am (a typical south-Indian huh?), I am never able to accept these baseless facts. I can never imagine a day without a rice meal (ooof, thank God!!) - I even wouldn't mind having rice for breakfast, rice for lunch and rice for dinner. I feel rice is one the simplest foods (you don't have to have exemplary culinary skills to make a bowl of rice) and yet very wholesome. Rice goes well with almost anything from a rich curry to simple curds or ghee! Would I give up on rice? N E V E R...!!

Now coming to the facts... Fat content wise, rice has zero percent of fat and even in carbohydrate content, wheat and rice weigh the same. So I can't help wondering where did this favouritsm for wheat arise from?

If you notice, those hard-toiling labourers in the south consume rice for all courses and for the kind of sternous work they do - their consumption is also huge but you would'nt find an extra inch of flab on them! Most South Indians have rice atleast for two course meals a day and not all of them are fat and not all wheat-consuming people are 'normal' either.

I strongly believe its necessary for people to exercise for any quantity of intake. It becomes all the more necessary when you have a sedentery lifestyle and/or your choice of food have high fat content. I have seen this on myself - I've never restricted anything but made it point to exercise - *at any cost* and you need to believe that I am able to stay fit without having to tie my tongue!! Ofcourse the amount of exercise would depend on the type of your intake! So next time you think about calling it quits for rice, think again - instead enjoy good, healthy food and exercise!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

English - setting standards?

English seems to be the "international" language no doubt - thanks to British imperialism and their love for their language. But surprisingly English is not the widely spoken language in the world inspite of it being the language that is widely "used". Though I love the language and appreciate the role that it plays, I can't stop wondering why - especially in India - English is often used as a yardstick to measure one's intelligence and standard!

This scene might be familiar to many - You step into a posch, hep-looking store in Madras - (okay so you want some examples? Say, a Pizza hut, Subway, Landmark, MusicWorld, LifeStyle and the likes...) and if you were to query an attender, you tend to start off in English or more than you do, the attender starts off in English. I am not able to find a reason for this 'strange' behaviour of us (unless we always speak in English)?

Is it that we see ourselves in a higher pedestal when speaking in English?
or is it that we feel low in speaking in our native languages?
or we feel its only appropriate that we speak in English at such places?

I generally make it a point to start my conversation in Tamil to the attenders unless he does not understand the language - especially in such 'hep' places.

The point I am trying to make here is - I am not the one to raise placards against English. Infact good knowledge of English might take you places but at the same time why should I feel low of my native tongue? I am not very sure about other states, but I find the magnitude of this feeling to be quite high in Tamilnadu where people feel low to talk in Tamil. They would even go at length to show their prowess in other languages but not in Tamil. Why? Can't seem find an answer yet...

Yet another...

... Blog! What else? First, thanks to all those bloggers in the cyber space for making this happen. I was thrilled to find the blog world with a whole lot of interesting, amusing, thought-provoking, touching, informative stuff. Its more pleasing to see people bundled with enormous talent - apart from their usual academics. It has also opened to me a door leading to a new world of friends - people whom I haven't met but yet felt so close, people with whom I could share anything without a fear, to express my 'crap', what not! Hope I can find a small place amongst all you bloggers. When am I getting my 'Welcome party'?