Thursday, December 20, 2012

Another blah post

No, I did not get run over by a water lorry or undergo a lobotomy. So put all that conspiracy theory to rest. Where were you hiding all these days, you ask. You won’t? What do you mean you couldn’t care less? Never mind, I’m going to tell you that anyway. I am still polluting the atmosphere of Toronto as I have been doing since I set foot here eighteen months ago. Eighteen months away from home is a long time, isn’t it? Add to that the heartbreaking fact that during this same period I haven’t had a drop of  ‘Vathakozhambu’ – a dish I’d totally die for – and you get what is commonly known by the name  ‘homesickness’. The soundness of my reasoning may stagger you but I would be not deceiving you when I say it didn’t take me long to reason that to get over homesickness one must go back home. :P

The step 2 in the plan was to walk over to manager’s cabin in the most appropriate moment and let him know of my epiphany. Contrary to what I thought, I succeeded without breaking a sweat in convincing him that the waste paper basket under my desk has learned more about the project in four months than I could do if I worked here a thousand years. And that it would be beneficial to the project if I stay so far away from it that I couldn’t be detected with a telescope. While he did not actually dance upon hearing it, one could read from his face that he was happy. He wore an expression not unlike Sreesanth’s after he hit Andre Nel down the ground for a six.  Why, it’s a matter of great interest for psychologist as to what makes one so happy when one is certain that he has seen the last of Balaji Srinivasan.

The poor old manager’s joy did not last long, though. He soon made a heartbreaking discovery that he was bound by official rules that didn’t allow to send me packing at once. He even went so far as footing all the expenses himself, if that means never seeing my blasted face again, but rules are rules. One moment he was happy like a cat that came upon a bowl of milk, and next moment, he was forlorn because the milk is too warm and he has to wait until it cools down. That’s life, folks. My team mates are not any less disappointed, either. They even got a farewell gift for me to guilt me into not changing my mind. :P Gotta love these people, what? So all that I’m trying to say is that folks down in Chennai can rest easy for a couple of more months. Enjoy your Balaji-less life for a few more months. Let your hair down, get naughty or go kill a cop. You’ve got yourself a few month respite. But that’s not going to be of any use, you know. Know why? Because the world is going to end on Decemeber 21st, anyway. So there! :P

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Remembering John

Today(Oct 9th) marks what would have been 72nd birthday of my favorite musician John Lennon. He is not around in person but his music lives on. I was chatting with a friend(a fellow beatlemaniac) and he asked me what were my favorite Lennon songs. That question stumped me. I thought hard for a while but I couldn't put my finger on any one of them and say, "this is my most favorite one." There are no songs that I like better than the rest. But I have what I call "seasonal favorites". One day my player would be looping "Tell me why" and the next day I'd listen to nothing but "Girl". It depends largely on the state of my mind, my mood, events happening around/to me. Sometimes I like them for no reason. These are the Lennon numbers from my most played list at this point of time (I think I recognize a pattern).

Tomorrow never knows:

I am no music historian but I believe psychedelic music was practically non-existent before this song came along. I always feel this song makes better sense when I am high. :P Turn off your mind, relax and float downstream.

Across the universe:

A song that winds me down at the end of a long day. A song I turn to for comfort during emotional turbulence. It perks me up when things seems to falling apart at the seems. Jai guru deva, nothing's gonna change my world.


Ah Girl... sssssssssssssssssssssss!

There is a place:

A song from the Beatles' debut album. A simple song but what I love about it is the harmony of Lennon and McCartney. Is there a duo that sings harmony better?

I am the Walrus: 

This song is from another planet. Another song from Oh-my-god-so-I-am-so-high-I-am-levitating playlist. Oh John, what would I do without you?

All you need is love:

Could there be any list of John's/Beatles' songs without this one? A seemingly simple message that  almost everyone seems to overlook: love is all you need.

In my life:
This one tears my heart apart, every time.

And your bird can sing:

John said it was one of his throwaways, fancy paper around an empty box. I say, it's better than the best song of most bands. You can't miss George's marvelous guitar riffs.

Baby, it's you:

Not John's own song but I love the way he has sung this one. I like it better than the original.

I feel fine:

I am in love this song and I feel fine.

Did you like any of these? What's your favorite John number?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Blah Blah Blah!

Paul McCartney is coming to Canada to perform in a couple of concerts. Great news, what? He's one bloke I'd gladly walk many miles in tight shoes to see. But when the nearest venue is over 3200km away from Toronto, even the most die-hard fans of the former Beatle would pack it in, go home and watch videos on youtube. Sure, I could fly to Edmonton or Vancouver-- I'm not ruling that out yet -- but the idea of splurging on a ticket that would put me at the back of a stadium and several thousand heads between me and Paul doesn't seem too appealing. I'd rather put my money on The Chokers winning the T20 world cup, thank you.

I haven't been following the world cup closely, but did India thrash England and advanced only to play Australia, SA and Pakistan? Quite shrewd of England, I say. Got into an argument with a Pakistani at work today and I have fiercely defended India to defeat them this Sunday. I believe India has never lost to Pakistan in a world cup game. Let the history repeat. Last time I had an argument, Germany and my ego took quite a beating. Will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut? :P

Reading "In A Sunburned Country" by Bill Byrson. Just about fifty pages into the book, some of  the prejudices I had against the Aussies disappeared and in their place came respect and admiration for a country that has prospered so well from unpropitious beginnings (don't be surprised if I rooted for Aussies next Ashes :P). Save for the inclination of most men to wearing knee high socks with shorts, nothing seems disagreeable about the aussies. They seem be extroverted, friendly people who love to drink cold deer. I so wanna live in Australia for a year or two. Bill Bryson never fails to amaze. The extravagant amount of research that goes into his writing is quite evident. And he so effortlessly(so it appears) presents them in a way that's amusing, educational and leaves you wondering who could you touch for a loan to book tickets to Australia. I will try to write more about this book when I am finished with it.

I am not trying to be cool or different, but seriously, I don't see why everyone is going ga-ga over Barfee? Definitely not a bad movie, but nowhere close to being called a masterpiece. Call me conceited or judgmental, I lose my interest to watch movies the moment heroines drool over butterflies or fireflies. Why don't we have more characters like Manimegalai from Engeyum Eppothum? On the plus side, Illeana looks stunning. :-D I can't believe she is the same girl who acted in a stupid Tamil movie called K.D.

So long!

Update: I just got the news that Ilayaraja will be doing a concert in Toronto next month. I know they will charge heaven and earth for a front row seat, but I think I can buy myself a seat somewhere towards the last rows if I sold one of my kidneys, no? :P 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Living on the edge

Unclean was the first adjective that one would reach for when describing our house. That spot has now been claimed by the word 'unsafe'. Sadly, the first causality happened to be SV. Poor fellow, it's always him. What happened was this: SR wanted jam, I threw the bottle at him, he did a Kamran Akmal, the bottle crashed and shards of glass scattered all over the living room. According to some statistics that some one with nothing better to do must have surely written, there is a jam bottle breaking down every minute somewhere in the world. No big deal. But what sets us apart is that, instead of cleaning up the mess as most sane persons would do, we drew a map around the danger zone and put up a signpost for our hapless guests. A few minutes later, I spilled some detergent and the danger zone was enlarged. So much that there was no way to reach the kitchen from my bedroom. So I constructed a bridge with two chairs and a table. Perfect. All was well with the world until SV, despite all elaborate warnings, miraculously stepped upon a shard and sustained a minor cut. Luckily, no serious injury, and no veterinarian service was needed. We all survived the day with no further accidents. Tomorrow is a new day. :-)

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A moment to remember

I remained silent for thirty minutes. If that isn't a sign of a million butterflies doing salsa in my tummy, nothing ever is.

"I need you to be with me through this," I spoke finally.

Same words spoken to a loved one may sound romantic, but when I uttered them to my dive instructor moments before plunging deep into the ocean it was a plea to save my life.

"You are a born swimmer, buddy," Mike assured me. "You know swimming ever before you were born, you know that?"

"May be so, but it all changed after I was born. I am as good a swimmer as a hippo."

He gave me a chuckle and put his arm on my shoulder. I expected he'd say a few encouraging words but he grabbed a hose and deflated my jacket. And that was the beginning of a few wondrous moments that I will always cherish.

With an oxygen cylinder strapped to the back and a pipe shoved into the mouth, breathing ceases to be an involuntary action. Breathing takes up all your mind space. What if oxygen cylinder breaks? What if I run out of oxygen? What if I face breathing problems? One knows the odds of any of them happening are high, but better sense takes a hike when one sails in "uncharted waters". Yes, I had my training in shallow water before diving, but would you feel safe sky-diving with a parachute you bought on eBay? That's how it feels.

Mike lead the four of us down to the ocean bed, one at a time. I was the second one to go. I was too preoccupied with my breathing that I observed nothing. When I hit the bottom I looked around and found M kneeling down comfortably and drinking in the ocean's beauty (which was evident from a loud burp M let out later). For some reasons, I struggled to stay put.  I tried to kneel down but I kept floating up. Mike found it amusing. He didn't think it was a problem worth looking at and he flitted up to check on others. I clutched at an iron rod sticking out of a wrecked ship to save myself from being swept away. Whoever is behind this ship wreck, I love you. Twelve feet deep into the water, the pressure drop caused an acute pain in my ears. It was as though my ears were being pounded from inside the head.

Presently Mike appeared with the third person. Oh boy, ain't I glad to see you again!  A wave of relief washed over me. Never has been a person more important in my life. The fourth person has already panicked and chickened out. Yea, that's just the confidence booster I needed! Mike signaled us to demonstrate important hand signals he had taught us.  Oh great! Here I am, wondering what song they will play at my funeral and you want to have practical lessons? One hand still clutching at the rod, I showed him the signals. A great feat given the state of mind I was in. Just then "the third person" faced problems with breathing and had to be guided back up, leaving M and I stranded in the middle of an ocean and anxiety. Two swimmers have dropped out and two non-swimmers are still sticking it out, haha! M grabbed my arm and signaled if  I was okay. I was going to reply in the positive but just then I had a hamstring-pull from trying to kneel down awkwardly. Now then, I wish they would play 'In My Life'.

When Mike reappeared I signaled something was wrong in my leg and I wanted to go up. He took hold of my leg and gave it a gentle massage. By Jove, that did soothe away the discomfort and I was rather enjoying the massage. Yay, I am getting myself a massage at the bottom of Georgian Bay with aquatic life teeming around me. Am I awesome or what? :P Mike asked if I still wanted to go up. Heck, no! I want to stay on till oxygen runs out.

It took me a few minutes to get over my anxiety. Funeral scenes playing out before my eyes faded out eventually and what unfolded before my eyes took my breathe away. It was a blue paradise. All around me were fishes, floating and gliding gracefully, oblivious of the intruders in scuba diving suit gazing at the marvel that is aquatic life. Here, a shoal of golden fish amusing themselves by swimming in circles around a shrubbery, and there, a huge solitary fish floating about thoughtfully as though it were trying to figure out the purpose of its existence. I glided ahead and put an arm out hoping some of them would bump into it. A few of them darted away while the rest swam their way around my arm. Tiny little silver bubbles it emitted seemed like mercury drops. A fish jamboree. There were more varieties of fish than I could hope to learn their names in this lifetime.

Tucked under Mike's wings, we swam farther into the ocean. Or he did all the swimming while we grabbed his arm to keep level with him. And what lay ahead of us? Another sunken ship in one piece. It must be suicide point for ships. The ship must have been languishing at the bottom for many decades, for every inch of it was covered in green algae. Mike tapped a railing and signaled one and eight. So one and eight, huh? That's 1800 in scuba diving parlance. Gee, I was really focusing during the theory class. Are you trying to say 1800 people sank with this ship or is it the time? Whatever! It turns out the ship had taken up its adobe here during the 18th century.

A little more of floating and our time was up. Only a few moments ago I was aching to go back up but now I wished I could turn into a fish and live happily ever after down under. It was time to say goodbye to our hosts who graciously put us up(and put up with us) at their Eden.  M stole a beautiful little shell. A little something that would remind of a beautiful evening spent in a paradise. Aren't you carrying anything, M asked. Oh yes, memories that will last a lifetime. :)

Friday, August 24, 2012


We were taking a stroll around the harbor front, watching the sun go down over the Lake Ontario. M shouted "look there" and five eager faces turned to see a huge board bearing the words "Boats/Canoes for rentals". The next thing we knew, we were in there chatting with the guy at the reception.

"How long are you renting for?" the canoe owner asked.

"We're thinking of paddling to the island and back. That will take an hour and a half I guess," replied M.

"Wonderful. All six of you going?"

Yes. The six of us then signed a paper that claimed  the canoe owner should not be held responsible if we ended up inside a shark or something. I guess none of us read through the paper before signing it. We were too excited to get on the water.

"Any of you know swimming?"

We all looked at each other expectantly. That's when we realized we have gotten ourselves into a pretty good mess. Six non-swimmers venturing out into one of the largest lakes in the world. Sounds exciting, machi.

"We have life jackets," I pointed out the silver-lining.

"When the boat topples, life jackets will keep you afloat. How are you guys gonna swim back?" he asked, fixing his gaze on G as though to suggest that a canoe bearing an overgrown male is bound to topple. G looked offended.

 "Surely help would be on the way?" 

"The Island is quite far and usually deserted. A perfect setting for a murder I would imagine," he chuckled.

The last thing on our minds was to paddle our way to our graves. Sure, the lake looked beguiling and all that, but I want to live to see India winning a gold medal in hockey, thank you very much. But the sly dog that he is, he breathed not a word about the potential life-ending risks involved until we paid him. And there would be no refund. Yeah, right, that's company policy. Periya Kekaran Mekaran company! I so wanted to take him along and murder him in the setting he was so bragging about. Too many wily schmucks in the world and not enough tigers to eat them.

And then he revealed to us the only way out of the soup: he'd would send along with us one of his men, an expert lifeguard and also a skillful canoer. Steering the canoe is a skill that's apparently beyond novices so he'd steer it for us while we paddled away. A perfect solution. Only, it came at the cost of few more freshly minted papers. The guy knows the Achilles heel of his customers - the fear of death.

That's how we paid for the service we scarcely required. Once or twice we were scared out of our wits when our canoe rocked precariously in the wake of passing motorboats. But otherwise we were in control. We even decided on the color of our outfit when we participate in the next Olympics in canoeing. I told you, we are all geniuses. :-D  It was a great ride but the greatest ride was had by Mr. Expert-canoer-cum-lifeguard. He settled himself near the nose of the canoe and barely moved till the end. He was just a happy passenger who was being shown around the lake by six sweating, grunting, panting, paddling nincompoops.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Blagh phost

Waking up at ungodly hours gives me a longing to write silly blog posts. There was sunshine when I started from work but by the time I got home the temperature dropped suddenly and there was a bit of chill in the air. I snuggled into the blanket and had a refreshing nap. It was so heavenly that when I awoke I was sure I needed another one. Another one I most certainly had. It was well past midnight when I woke up again. Yes, the day has begun. Many Many hours to kill till I can nap blissfully again when my morning status call begins.

S came over to Toronto this weekend and we had a long delightful chitchat. We laughed over the recollection of the many mischievous stuffs we did in Goa last year. With his marriage just a couple of months away, he bemoaned that he couldn't hope for those fun days to come back again, but was also optimistic that marrying the love of his life would bring new happiness and chaos. I've never heard him speak so maturely that it was kind of eerie. We then giggled over many useless photos on Facebook for a while. Boy, didn't I have so much gossip to catch up with! Not being on Facebook is synonymous with living under a rock. Almost all of my batch mates are either engaged or married. The list of all single men could easily be written on the back of a stamp - my name at the top. I was strangely thrilled to note that my cute petite high school crush is now a plump mother married to a pot-bellied uncle with receding hairline. Yes, I am evil. Take a hike, cutie-pie. :P

I borrowed 'The English Patient' last week from the library. It's been languishing somewhere since then but I can't remember where I placed it. Our house is such a mess right now that I'd sooner find a needle in a haystack than a book in my living room. We're running low on internet quota and we've a week to go in this cycle(Yep, no unlimited internet in Toronto. Boo hoo!). I have only the book to fall back on. So I'd better go now and hunt that book. Toodle-oo.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Backbeat - Loved them do

If you are a Beatles fan, Backbeat is one play you shouldn’t miss.

Wedged between two septuagenarians, I couldn’t contain  my excitement as I waited for the curtains to go up. People streamed in and filled up the Royal Alexandra Theater within five minutes of opening the door. There was still good thirty minutes till the show began. The Beatles were the talk of the auditorium- animated elderly men describing with lively details what living through the Beatlemania was like and young children wondering what was all the fuss about (I overheard one kid arguing with his father that ‘Let it be’ was Justin Bieber’s song. And no, the father did not strangle him to death. Love is blind, you know).

The play was brilliant. It follows the early days of the Beatles from their gig at a bar in Hamburg’s Red Light district  till the release of their debut album ‘Please Please Me’. More than the birth of the Beatles, the play was about the friendship between Lennon and Stu, the fifth beatle and a gifted artist, and the beautiful romance between Stu and Astrid.

Beatles were destined for unprecedented greatness from the beginning. There was something magical in the music they produced that drew music lovers in droves. But the band did not have have their best line up when they played in Hamburg. Two weak links apparently stood in the way of greatness – bass guitarist Stu Sutcliffe and drummer Pete Best.

Voorman, a German artist, shows up at the bar and is blown away by the music he hears. He strikes up a conversation with the band and makes their acquaintance. Unaware that he’d be the first one to be hit by the hurricane that’s shaping up, he talks his girl friend into coming to the tacky bar to listen to the band. Floored by their music, Astrid begins frequenting the cheap bar and a romance with Stu blossoms. She persuades Stu to ditch the band to pursue his dreams in arts. Stu stays behind in Hamburg to be with his girlfriend when the band goes back home.

Back in Liverpool, The Beatles sans Stu play at Cavern Club, two streets away from a record store owned by Brian Epstein.  Brian hears of the band from a boy who shows up at the store asking for My Bonny by the Beatles (Beatles did musical backing in that album by Tony Sherdian). He drops in at the club and is — no surprises here — floored. Convinced that the boys will be bigger than Elvis, he becomes the band’s manager and works to get them a recording contract. George Martin offers the contract but on one condition: Pete Best must be kicked out. Richard Starkey aka Ringo Starr replaces Pete and thus was born the most successful and influential band of all time.

The play was also about music. The actors are also musicians who played some early Beatles stuff, rocking, exhilarating, powerful and fun. They played  a few songs that the Beatles had in their repertoire before they started making their own songs. 'Dizzy Miss Lizzy, 'A Taste of Honey', 'You Really Got A Hold on Me' were delightfully good while the rendition of 'Rock and Roll music' had many dancing in the aisle. When they ended the show by singing 'Twist and Shout', the last song recorded for 'Please Please Me' album, there was not one soul in the auditorium who could keep his posterior on the seat.
A beatlemaniac myself, I had many “goosebumps” moments. During the scene when Astrid takes photos of the Beatles, the original photos by Astrid were projected on the screen behind the stage. I had a lump in my throat when some rare photos of young John Lennon came up. The romance between Stu and Astrid was so well portrayed that when Stu drops dead in her arms, one couldn’t help but weep for Astrid. But Paul is portrayed as a whiner, jealous of John being very close to Stu. I’ve have liked to see a much stronger Paul, as I know him. John helping Paul to complete ‘Love Me Do’ gives a peep into one of the greatest songwriting partnerships (my favorite moment in the show).

The cast graciously played a few popular Beatles numbers after the show (As great as the show was, it had none of the popular Beatles songs. Understandably so, because the play was about their early days). When ‘When I Saw Her Standing There’ was sung, I spotted a few elderly men and women standing on their seats, singling along, shouting, flailing, dancing and reliving Beatlemania. Only the Beatles!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Scribbling away

My laptop crashed three weeks ago. The sloth that I am, I didn't ship it off to the warehouse for service until early this week. I would have delayed further if the warranty wasn't expiring this week. Tardiness turned out to be a virtue for once. With my greatest distraction out of the way, reading reclaimed my time and attention. Nowadays I don't read as much as I would like to and some of that guilt faded away when I finished two travelogues in a week - 'A Walk in the Woods' by my favorite travel writer Bill Bryson and Oran Panumk's  'Istanbul'. Wonderful books, both of them. The surge in reading could also be attributed to the mysterious and painful swelling of my toe that kept me in bed for two weeks. It became so much bloated that for a brief period I must have owned the Mr Biggest Toe In The World title.

When one has to totter ungainly to move about, one would rather not move. You know what happens when one practically spends two weeks in bed, with physical activities being limited to tucking into a variety of heavenly-but-bad-for-health food and sipping aerated drinks. The V-shape turns into O-shape, if you know what I mean. And I didn't have a V to begin with. This evening I when stood before the bathroom mirror, I stared at a guy who looked identical to me but was mildly pregnant. :-| An alarm went off in my head. I put on my running shoes, grabbed my player and made for the park.

The evening was a perfect time to go jogging. The park teemed with young children being coached in soccer, parents basking in the evening light and some kids playing in kids playground. I took the trail that runs along the perimeter of the park and started jogging. The length of the trail is unknown but I once measured the distance in songs - it took me the length of 'And your bird can sing' and 'Annie's song', trotting at a decent pace. A big park, what?

I started off perfectly fine. I remembered to breathe through my nose, instead of gaping as I usually do (a sprinter friend wanted to test on me if breathing through nose while running helps :-|). I remembered to fix my gaze on the track and not let my eyes wander (once I bumped into a low-hanging branch). But I forgot a simple rule of jogging - that jogging does not mean madly sprinting as if a vicious dog is right behind one's ass, determined to grab a bite. I raced as fast as I could. No sooner had I covered about one-sixth of the track than I ran out of steam. Terribly out of shape. And to think only two months ago I used to do five laps at one go.

I slumped into the park chair by the playground, out of breath and spent. A total contrast to the exuberant little kids running about in the playground. None of them looked older than four. As lovely as all kids looked, one little doll of a girl stood out in my eyes. Dressed in pink tracks and white tops, she seemed like a little girl out of a Hollywood movie. When I spotted her, she was trying to climb up seesaw (or teeter-totter) that was too big for her size. She clutched the seat with one hand, positioned her knee on the foot-rest and hoisted herself. And up she went on her tummy on the seat. A few deft movements later, she seated herself on the seat. Apparently sometime during this process a little bit of sand got into her mouth, which she spat out. And she was seized with a brilliant idea. She spat out again, this time a little farther. And again, breaking her previous record the third time. This went on for a while until she grew bored of it.

And then she made for one of those things that children can hang from, twist their way through and perform many other gymnastic stuffs. She stood before a bar that was about one feet above her. She scrutinized it for a few moments and figured out that it was within her reach. Knees bent and arms outstretched,  she leapt with a feeble grunt - the whole act seemed as if she was imitating a frog's leap. She caught the bar at the right time and swung on it, squealing with delight. For a little girl, it was slightly dangerous considering there was no sand below to break her fall if she lost grip while on the upswing. She repeated this performance a few times, pausing between acts only to tuck her golden hair behind her ear. This became an instant hit with other kids. Soon all the kids clustered around her and watched her with curiosity (not the boys though. Their pride didn't allow them to play with girls. They'll regret this two decades later, I tell you). Some wanted to try their hand at it, but it didn't work out. Either they were too short to reach for the bar or too long that they could reach without jumping, which sort of make the whole thing uninteresting. Among those little girls, she was the only Nadia Comenci in the making. And an absolute entertainer as well, for which I can vouch. I couldn't have had a more amusing evening.

I tore myself away from the chair and got back on the track. This time I had no worries that I would sprint by mistake, for I was too exhausted for that. Not even if vicious dogs were after my posterior. "Let them have it," would have been my response if it came to pass. Luckily no such thing happened and I finished my five laps, which was lavishly sprinkled with oh-my-god-i-am-dying-i-need-rest breaks.

And yes! Here's a jogging tip: don't jog yourself out of steam, unless you want to spend the night under the starry sky in the park. Or have sympathetic roommates who would come for your rescue. I called up my roommate asking to come for my rescue and he was sorry he couldn't come and said he'd be grateful if I could drop in at the grocery shop on my way home. :-|

P.S: This post is all over the place. But I had to write this. Writing is as excruciating at the moment as jogging for me. I just wanted to scribble it away and scribbled have I to my heart's content. :-)

Thursday, June 21, 2012


It was a hot evening. I was pottering towards home from work, amusing myself with delicious fantasies of my manager being shred to pieces by a werewolf, him yelling out to me for help, and me mimicking him, "Time sheet first, everything else next, sir. Off I go to fill my time sheet". And to my utter surprise, out of some unknown recess of my mind - if you could call it that - popped a song that I promptly mouthed. It went like this: "chaddi phehen ki phool kila hai phool kila hai". At first I couldn't ascertain whose chaddi it was that occupied my mind, especially when I was relishing a rather pleasant day-dream, but presently a realization dawned on me that the chaddi I was singing the praises of belonged to Mowgli, my favorite cartoon character during Doordharsan Days. (How my mind managed to connect Mowgli and Manager is more than I could imagine.)

There was more surprise on the way. I could recall the whole song, even though I couldn't make head or tail of the song when I learned it by-heart as a kid. South Indian boys growing up in Chennai could scarcely be expected to understand Hindi. I was overcome with absurd thrill. The memory of this song is my link to the distant past; to the days when I would dash to Prasanna anna's house on Sunday mornings to watch The Jungle Days (television was still a luxury then), and so would a bunch of my friends. Mami (her name has escaped my mind) would give us reproachful glances, and mama would add to her agony... "kozhanthaikalukku ethavathu sapida kodu di". :-D  We were young then and Mowgli was more important than our pride. :P We would have hardly budged until the end of the show even if threatened at gun-point.

Directly I reached home, I jumped onto youtube and played the title song. And I enjoyed it as well as I did as a kid. I can safely say that the child in me is still alive and kicking. :-)

Here's to the good old DD days.  :-)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Sisters aren’t gentlemen

We cleaned our room today. Big deal, you ask. Yes indeed! Our house was as clean (notice the past tense?) as my sister’s is not; she bursts into a hysteric fit at the sight of a speck of dust at some remote corner of the ceiling that’s impossible to see without a telescope. Pallikarani marsh will seem like Queen Victoria’s abode in comparison. There have been occasions when we had to turn away our guest at the door, for fear of having a dead body in our living room (that adds to the “aroma”, you know). Our room is not for weak-hearted. If you can’t stand the sight of various vegetables and snacks in various stages of decay strewn all around you without losing your lunch, if the stench of unwashed socks makes you nauseous, or if Justin Bieber’s songs make you want to slit your wrist, for I regret to say, my roommates hear JB’s songs rather frequently, our room is not a recommended attraction for you. You can surely send your boss to our place, though. We’ll be glad to oblige. A few of our unsuspecting guests have thrown up as soon as they beheld our shinning adobe, so that they will have something prettier to look at. (Ok, no more of “dragging my house through the mud”. There is enough of it already).

Once the decision to clean up the mess was made, we hit another snag. Which one of the three of us was going to clean the kitchen. That’s quite strange because I’ve noticed in other houses that there is always a squabble over who will clean the bathroom. Not in our house. We believe in equality and we make sure that every square inch is as dirty as any other. Despite our meticulous efforts to maintain equality, our kitchen turned out to be a cut above the rest. Why, if we shifted the bathtub to the kitchen, nothing will seem out of place (If you ask me, that’s a gorgeous idea. Most helpful if your guests are on the way to dine with you and you’re still in shower. Not that anyone will come over to our place for dinner unless they are masochistic).

We are mature grown-ups (if you could look past their taste in music) and we decided to resolve the issue the mature grown-ups way. We played Rock, Paper and Scissors.

On the count of three, the other two raised a clenched fist, and me being a supporter of Amma extended my fingers in shape of V. I lost. My arguments that it was not ‘All Reals’ notwithstanding, the mighty weight of “disinfecting” our kitchen fell on my tiny shoulders. (In hindsight, I think RPS is not a game for adults. Too much randomness and very little room for intelligence. Next time we’ll settle issues over Sha-boo-thri).

I bit the bullet and braced myself for the arduous task. Our kitchen does not have enough room to swing a cat. Why, you can’t stretch your arms without knocking over glasses or punching roommate in the nose if he happens to be there as well. Throw in a huge refrigerator and a oven, of which a handful of spiders are at present tenants, you’re left just a kitchen slab, a few cupboards and a stinking sink. I calculated that the operation should not take longer than a hour.
The next one hour I scrubbed violently a tiny portion of the kitchen slab. It still looked no different than from before. I will let you in on an important secret: never have sticky kitchen slab or roommates who can beat you in silly games.

Once I was done with – or rather had given up – scrubbing the slab, I turned to the others tasks at hand. Dishes languishing in the sink (so discolored that you will have a hard time guessing its original color), scraps of onions and other vegetables scattered all around (including inside the refrigerator freezer), adhering to the sticky slab, and overflowing garbage can that gave the impression of a lava-spewing volcano. And then there was my lunch box. Here’s a thing about my lunch box: I always wash it only before packing my lunch. The last time I packed my lunch was two months ago. The last one alone is enough to make my stomach tie itself in knots.

I set about cleaning up the mess like my life depended on it. Room mates extended a helping hand by “tut-tuting” and going “awwww..” frequently. They even danced a few steps (if gyrating hips wildly could be called that). But all miserable things should come to an end. My misery ended after close to three hours.

In the evening I had a video-chat with my sister. I proudly revealed our spick and span kitchen to her, like Abhinav Bhindra would have flaunted his gold medal to his mother. Instead of lavishing praises on how our lineage has been so blessed to have a responsible boy like me, she pointed out how our ceiling was dirty, our stove was puke-inducing and sink utterly disgusting. She raved on until she ran out of breath. No sense of appreciation, you know. I tell you, Sisters are’t gentlemen.

P.S: Title inspired by P.G.Wodehouse book Aunts aren’t gentlemen.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Into Eastern Canada - 1

In Canada long weekends during summer are rare. There is Easter Monday in April,  followed by Victoria Day in May and Canada Day in July. And before the next Something-Day comes up, summer makes way for cold and nippy fall. A better party of my stay here has seen harsh freezing winter (and they say winter his year had been mild!), my favorite recreation during such season being, tucking into bed and hibernating like a polar bear. Rather unusual of me to stay dormant and not go exploring new places. So when a chance to travel east presented itself, I leaped at the chance.

Out of the limitless travel destinations on hand, we narrowed down to Montreal and Quebec city. In picking places we were right on the money, but in deciding to take the aid of travel agents, as we were hard-pressed for time to plan the trip ourselves, we had terribly erred. To begin with, our travel guide knew diddly-squat about the places. What he didn’t know can fill up many libraries. And he crammed so many attractions into our itinerary that we hardly got a chance to take a good look at any of them. Most of our time was spent sitting in the bus and peeping wistfully at attractions as the bus glided by. That I didn’t strike him on the head with an axe was only because there was no axe at hand. The trip did help in learning a thing or two about a few places, though, that I hope will be handy when I revisit them.

Our first stop en route to Montreal was Kingston. The circumference of Kingston could easily pass for a F1 Circuit.  So small is this city that Schumacher would quite comfortably finish a lap around the city in his Mercedes in a few minutes. And this city, for a brief period, served as the capital of the second largest country in the world. That was back in 1841 when United States and Canada weren’t bosom buddies as they are today.  They often went into war, hurling grenades and bombs at each other and ripping apart each other’s limbs (my history is hazy. I know not what they were fighting over). Kingston, owing to its proximity to States and being capital city, was vulnerable to frequent attacks and the capital city was shifted to Montreal(which was shifted again to Toronto, first, and then to Ottawa). The shifting of capital put a brake on the growth of Kingston and it’s national importance gradually spiraled down.

But Kingston did not vanish into oblivion. A series of Martello towers and Fort Henry during that the British built during wartime to guard the Rideau Canal (a world heritage site that connects Kingston to Ottawa) against the Americans attract tourists from all over the nation. Kingston City Hall, a national heritage site, that looks over Lake Ontario is a prominent example of Neoclassical style in Canada. (Outside the city hall, the population of flies comprehensively outnumber that of humans, dogs and other species. One cannot open one’s mouth to speak without having flies tangled up in one’s vocal chord). For a small city with population of little over hundred thousand, Kingston produces a prodigious amount of writers, hockey players and musicians, none more popular than Bryan Adams.

Kingston boasts of a number of tourist attractions, the most popular of them being, the Thousand Islands. Over 1800 islands ranging in size from “just about enough for a tree” to “big enough to maroon all corrupt politicians in India” freckle the St.Lawrence river that straddles Canada-U.S border. Renting a water bike to cruise around the lake would be smart and adventurous, as you could stop by any island of your choice to go for a stroll or gape at pretty girls.  But we had to contend with cruise ship that stops at no place, thanks to the aforementioned dodo aka tour guide who wouldn’t let us go off on our own.

A little ways down the river, we came upon a pair of islands a few feet apart, connected by a short white bridge. A hop, skip and a jump(literally) are all it would take to cross the bridge. You could even give a shot at jumping across if you have nimble feet. A mad scramble among the passengers to click pictures of this bridge ensued, as the captain of the cruise announced that this was “the shortest international bridge in the world”.  The Canada-U.S border line cuts through between the islands (Contrary to my guess, the cruise sailed on, crossing the border line. So technically, I have been to the States even though I have no visa or intention to be there). Another island that will grab your attention is Heart Island (located in New York), on which stands majestically Boldt Castle. An aerial view, if you are rich enough to rent an helicopter, would reveal a heart-shaped island. A millionaire businessman of name Boldt(obviously) bought the island and began to build a castle, which he proposed to gift his wife. Four years into the construction, a tragedy struck. His wife passed away of illness, and the construction was ceased abruptly. Singer Castle is another notable castle in the Thousand Islands, though no as popular as Boldt (nothing sells like romance). During winter, the lake freezes over, though not entirely, and serves as a rink for skating, hockey and other winter recreations.

I intended to write about Montreal when I began this post, but I went off on a tangent, mentioning Montreal only in passing. And that means you will have to bear the brunt of another boring post.  So don’t go out to the street and start dancing yet. There is more to come. :P

Thursday, February 23, 2012

On the road to obesity

I stepped on the weighing machine nonchalantly. Not that I wanted to check my weight but it was one of those impulsive acts that you do only because you could do. The weighing machine hesitated for a moment like a doctor about give bad news to a patient. Sure enough, it gave me bad news. The number on the machine hit me like a sack of bricks. It read 179 pounds(81.4kg). I was taken aback, not so much because I had gained so much weight as the fact that it had happened so quickly. I weighed 163 pounds only seven weeks ago. I'd have thought it humanly impossible to gain 16 pounds in seven weeks.

Interestingly, there was no indication of prosperity in my anatomy. I fit comfortably into my light blue jean(unwashed for over a year. I like my jean dirty but we'll save that story for another day) that's been with me for four years. My t-shirt size is small. No perceptible growth in midriff. No MRF Tyre around my waist. I would have said it could be due to my rippling biceps if it didn't remind me of rotten grapes. There was only one way this was possible: this machine was a bloody liar.

I don't believe in the saying 'what you see is what you want', mainly because my manager's cabin is not far my place and I see him often, but there is some truth in that. In the next two days I saw as many as four weighing machines in various places but my solitary moment with a machine came only on the third day. I got on it gingerly and tightly closed my eyes as if that was going to help. I opened one eye and peered at the display with trepidation. And this machine turned out to be a bloody liar too.

I swallowed my pride and set out to find what could have caused this abrupt boom. I quickly put under the scanner of my mental eye every so-called high-calorie food that made its way to my tummy recently. Twelve scoops of delicious strawberry ice-cream I had greedily devoured in a buffet lunch sprang to my mind first. I shrugged it off at once. Ice-cream could never do me harm. I grew up on a healthy diet of ice-cream. For the records, between my friends, I hold the record for maximum number of scoops at one go at 23 - I was compelled to stop at that - and I didn't so much as catch a cold that time. Strike off  ice-cream.

The next usual suspect was chocolate. But chocolate couldn't have stabbed me on the back because I haven't had much lately. Three boxes of assorted European chocolates (you've got to love your flatmates who don't take chocolates. Bless their diet.), a bagful of tiny, round Lindt Lindor and about a dozen assorted bar chocolates are all I bit into this past week. That's not much, is it? I've had way more than that. Besides, I love chocolates way too much to blame them. My team mates in previous projects would vouch for the extra-ordinary speed at which chocolates disappear into my mouth. If chocolate-eating was an event in Olympics, India could have been assured of a gold.

Next comes sweets. When I mentioned 12 scoops of ice-cream, I should have mentioned that I had half of them with gulab jamuns. :P  That could have hardly contributed to my weight. I'll tell you why: I'm an addicted coffee drinker (or rather was until I moved to Toronto) who drinks at least 8 cups of coffee everyday and I add at least two spoons of sugar. So a quick trip to my calculator tells me that I used to have at least 16 spoons of sugar daily. If sugar heavily contributed to my weight, I'd have a tummy the size of Spain now. If that couldn't wreak havoc, what's half a dozen gulab jamun?

I know for a fact that these won't not conspire against me. For a brief period, I went without having sweets, ice-cream and chocolates and took to eating healthy(yuck!) food. I gained so much weight in that time and I had to quit that silly diet and resort to treating myself to a lavish amount of chocolates and ice-cream to get back in shape. Sure weekend cricket and occasional tennis helped too, but I will give a lion's share of credit to chocolates and ice-cream.

Now I am at my wit's end. It could be the mayonnaise sauce but I'd rather starve to death than eat a sandwich without mayonnaise. Perhaps Sambhar rice laced with ghee doesn't help, but hey, my unconventional ideas notwithstanding, I'm an Iyer and ghee is as much a part of my identity as curd rice is. Veg Pizza, cheese-burger and chocolate muffins are the apples of my eyes and the lure of Coke, which for some mysterious reasons always on discount sale, is too strong to resist. I am on the road to (apparently invisible) obesity and if I don't do anything soon I'd be far down that road. I feel so desolated. I should treat myself to chocolate Haagen-Dazs to cheer me up.

P.S: On second thoughts, I should have written a post on healthy foods I have. I could have summed up in just one word: nothing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Darkness of the mind

Is there a way to shut the door on memories? They always find a way to sneak in at night when they are least welcome. Intruders. They are splinters of relished moments that leave me battered and bruised. Fighting them is a hopeless cause. I give in.

There will be sunshine and warmth tomorrow. After all dawn should inevitably follow darkness.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The wit and wisdom of Stephen Fry

While looking around the library shelves for weekend reading, my sight fell on a familiar face on the front cover of a book. A closer look and I recognized the charming, smiling face of a young man - Stephen Fry. I knew him as a consummate actor (remember Jeeves and Wooster?), but did he write books? I turned the front cover and read the blurb on the laminated cover. I loved his self-deprecating humor and mock humility instantly. Along with Orwell and Wodehouse, I brought him home to spend the weekend with. That's the best thing I have done this weekend.

Paperweight (what a title!) is a collection of Fry's various writing, from radio scripts to newspaper columns. I haven't completed the book yet but I truly enjoyed every article I read so far. Fry has an amazing command over the language. The book is replete with hilarious articles ranging from laugh-out-loud funny to amusingly insightful. He had me in splits with his wit on numerous occasions. To sum up in three words - Insightful, interesting and Intriguing. (oops, that's four words!)

P.S: The copy of this book I borrowed from library is autographed by the author. I am seriously thinking of  holding on this copy and replacing it with a new one. This is certainly one book I will treasure.
P.S.1: Apparently, Paperweight is not Stephen Fry's best work. I read somewhere that his autobiography 'Moab Is My Washpot' is his masterpiece. I can't wait to get a copy of it.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Quick post :)

I thought it always snowed when the temperature dropped down to zero or below. All that changed in the recent past. The last time it snowed it was about three or four degrees and quite warm (by the standards of Canadian winter). Today has been the coldest day of the season yet. With temperature remaining steady at minus thirteen or thereabouts, it was bone-chillingly cold. Surprising enough, not a flake of snow in sight. Bright and sunny morning tricked me into thinking that it was warm outside. I headed out to work armed with but a spring jacket. No gloves, no scarf, no hat, nothing. On a suicidal mission. In winter, dogs and books are not man's best friends. Gloves, hat and scarf, are. I raced to the subway station but I should have known that wouldn't help either. Blistering ears, numb fingers and out of breath. Not the way I would have wanted my first work day of the year to be.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

"In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make."
Happy new year folks!