Sunday, July 26, 2009


this morning went to brahmotsavam festival at Sri Ranganatha temple, pomona village, with my friend in his car. on the way back, o.c-vahanam was not available, and i had to take the public transportation.

used a cab service to get myself dropped at the nearest train station. being so accustomed to the plastic in the city, i carry no more than 20/30 bucks on me. the cab driver took 20 of these.

about four minutes was left for the arrival of the train. the sunday schedule - one train every hour.

i rushed to the touch screen enabled ticket vending machine. i gave all the inputs it requested for, and to my shock found that the credit option was disabled. i gave benefit of doubt to software, and started from scratch again. but the same result.

it was not a bug but a feature !

i counted the few dollars left in my wallet, added all the coins i had, but could not make the amount the machine demanded.

being sunday, the ticket office was closed. no help was anywhere near in the two-track-no-high-raise-platform-station that befitted the description of the malgudi railway station. as i was thanking my stars, the train pulled in.

30 seconds lay between me catching the train, and a one hour wait on the malgudi station.

i went to the conductor who descended from one of the coaches. "hi, i only have credit card. the vending machine does not accept credit card".

"that is fine. just get the ticket", replied the conductor.

"no, sir. the machine does not take credit card".

"use cash", promptly came the reply.

like a school boy who forgot to do his homework, i said, "i don't have enough cash on me!".

the conductor looked at me up and down once, and said, "i can't do nothing. speak to the chief!". saying so, the he pointed in the direction of a train car at the front.

i ran up the station platform to the chief conductor, an elderly gentleman, and explained the situation to him.

the chief said, "get into the train, we shall see."

i was relieved.

after the train started moving, the chief approached me and said, "it is seven dollars for your ticket sir".

"can i pay by card ?!", i asked, very well knowing the answer.

"how much cash do you have?"

"three dollars".

the chief smirked, gave me a free ticket, and said, "carry few dollars, it is valid where ever you go!".

Thursday, June 11, 2009

snip vs swoosh

during childhood days at madras or madurai, the cut was always a summer cut, a 10 minute comb-scissor play of "snip, snip, snip", and i was released from the throne.

the longest part of the sunday ritual was the wait to ascend the throne. this wait sometimes could be up to an hour, but was painless as the time was well spent glancing dailies and weeklies - "dina malar, dina thanthi, saavi, kumudham, anandha vikatan", listening to 60s/70s tamil hit songs on the grandpa-radio, and the repartee that ensued amongst the sunday idlers.

every customer, acquaintance or stranger, was welcomed with "annae, vaanga annae (brother, welcome brother)", by the barber/s. "ukkarunga (please sit!). edho pathu nimisham (just 10 minutes)".

the just arrived customer joins the bench of customers, some probably doing their third just-10-minutes wait. the bench eventually starts discussing movies, roads, water supply problems, news, sports, what-not, and of course politics.

like time, the plank on the wall that says, "arasiyal pesadheergal! (please don't discuss politics)", is not respected.

at the end of the entertaining & g.k. enriching wait and the hair cut, a mere ten rupee note exchanged hands.

in the US, there is no wait to get to the not-so-royal-throne. and i am required to give specifications for the cut with numbers- "3 on the side, 4 on top".

"swoosh, swoosh", and within a span of 4 minutes a clean job is done. fifteen dollars leaves the wallet.

the other day, i decided to break the convention.

"hi! can you please use scissors ?" as not much of the black substance was left on the top, i added, "just cut a little from the sides, and leave the rest in tact".

my barber started scissoring very slowly. he went on-and-on, artistically. i felt as if I had asked a maths phd to recite the multiplication tables.

after about one hour of effort, and a little over a small amount of strands cut, the customary, "how does it look"- look was given to me. the work was neat, very neat indeed.

i heartily thanked him, pitied and tipped him heavy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

kalakal kaapi

well, it's been an year since the d'kation (decoction) extraction began!

started off with a travelogue, strolled on to a political view, threw in a few anecdotes, couple of movie reviews, so-called-poems - picking up kaapi-likers on the way, and an year is gone.

hey kaapi-drinkers - you have been my inspiration to continue my hobby. thank you all!

well again, this aandu-vizha-post (anniversary post) i like to dedicate to my soon-to-be-life-partner - kala. (the reason why march was blog deprived ;-)

here is the attempt-at-a-poem that i wrote for her on valentine's day!

a single no more on valentine,
dusted and sold rights of 'koi humdum na raha' pristine,
profit boom reports phone company on magazine,
i don't know why i wrote that line!

see everywhere my angel divine,
imagine like had caffeine-cocain combine,
making me do things asinine,
can obtain shoreline in dark mine or ravine,
when i have you, my valentine.

Monday, February 16, 2009

my dear army officer

my thatha (grandpa, mom's dad) - a perfection demanding, brisk walking, british english speaking, melody songs loving, hindu crossword cracking, arithmetic wizard. but the icing - a very very short tempered man.

to give you an essence of the shortness - when he is tempered, a crying child in the next house will freeze, put a finger on its mouth, and put one on its mother's.

as a kid, i admired him for his knowledge, but avoided the army officer. i had to keep my radar sharp, lest i would have to undergo a smartness and sharpness check by the officer, which i used to fail consistently.

periodically, he would set a trap for the evasive kid, capture me, make me sit, and teach me wren-yuck-martin. those doses of grammar sucked, and the homework he gave, zapped my energy. even multiple cups of maltova was not enough to re-energize. (amma should have given me coffee then!)

i rejoiced when my parents moved to madras, away from thatha's 'guantanamo bay' - madurai. thatha-payrun (grandson) meet ups reduced, and even when we did meet up, grammar was not on the agenda.

years have rolled.

now, when i turn back, i notice that the little impeccable qualities, crossword solving prowess and peter-english that i possess have their dues to the seed implanted by my dear army officer.

today is his thithi (death anniversary - 9th). in his remembrance, i raise a cup of coffee to him, without any sugar in it, the way he used to drink it.

why is it that the scent of a person is more palpable when he/she is not around ?

i miss you thatha.

Monday, February 2, 2009

cow can fly

"c..o..w...cow, c..a...n...can,", actor1 reads out from a hand written notebook.

"cow can fly", repeats actor2, a second grade school student.

"wait a second! cow can fly? no it cannot be", said actor1.

actor2 gives a look of an inverted exclamation mark.

actor1 confidently says, "this is wrong kanna (dear). there must be something else here as 'cow cannot fly'."

"no!! cow can fly. my teacher told me."

"cow cannot fly. you might have noted down incorrectly", kindly said actor1.

an offended actor2 objects, "no....cow can fly. my teacher told me so."

"cow does not have wings. it cannot fly. let us rub this...", said a bit less kinder actor1.

"NO....cow can fly..... my teacher told me so. do not rub it", says actor2, and grabs the rubbing hand of actor1.

"ella pa (no dear)....let us change this."

actor2, now an angry actor who is almost in tears - "don't.... rub..... my..... teacher told me", and starts crying.

actor1 continues rubbing the almost indelible pencil writing about cow's flight.

the crying actor2 presses hard on actor1's hand, and pleads, "no. my teacher will scold me, don't rub."

actor3 intervenes. "amma, leave it. let the cow fly today." the actor turns to the kid, "dei! ask your teacher tomorrow and correct it. if your teacher still says 'cow can fly', let us all go to her house and watch the cow take off."

actor2, the little-dear-incorrigible brother of mine, was relieved and was all smiles.

Monday, January 26, 2009

SALE! SALE!! SALE !!! Everything Must Go!

over the last few years, i have seen the caption put up as a sign outside a good number of shops in new york downtown. i thought it was a strategy employed by a shop to push its products. once the sale is done, the shop would either rename or relocate.

the same sign met my eyes outside a circuit city outlet. this time, for a change, i did believe the shop's outcry. circuit city, the number two electronics seller chain, has been short circuited.

yesterday, me and my friends, on our way back from a drive to point pleasant beach, decided to stop over at the outlet. heavy crowd and light discounts (10-15%) were omnipresent in the shop. tvs and monitors were selling like hot cakes.

a 60 year old business being shutdown in this fashion was a bit saddening. i felt for the employees who seemed to be engaged in hara-kiri.

PS: money savers, you might want to check circuit city stores in a week or two for better discounts.

UPDATE : jan 31 - got the battered flier from the battered company. check out the store if interested.

Monday, January 12, 2009

six two

in india, one is blessed to have the option to outsource certain mundane, trivial chores. ironing of clothes is one of these. damn! how much i miss it.

when I was in hyderabad, I used to walk to the ironing lady's shop, that was couple of streets away from my home, to drop clothes. the following day i collected the clothes minus the wrinkles.

on my first visit to this shop, I was unwelcome-d by a 5 year old kid who was standing at the shop's threshold. upon seeing me, he ran into the shop, stood at a distance, and stared. i gave him a smile, and a wink. no change of expression on his face and he continued to stare.

the kid welcomed me the same way on my next visit. my broken telegu, like "ikkada ra…" (come here), peter-english-hi, didn't help.

on the third visit, he garnered some guts ( I dunno from where!), and walked up to me. i smiled. his stare had now metamorphosed into an awe.

the kid set his head in a pendulum motion, and starting at my knee began to raster scan me. as his eyes reached mine, he stopped, sighed, and exclaimed, "enthaa...bedha manishi!". (what a big human!)