Monday, February 28, 2011

We have Cricket in our Blood

We have cricket in our blood
We take sides
We glare at the bowlers
We hold our breath at possible run-outs
We jump in joy at a six
We clap for fours
And we pray earnestly ... for that single, for that no-ball, for that missed catch

No matter if we are watching a rerun of Lagaan, or the movie Patiala House on big screen or a cricket episode of Saas Bina Sasural on TV,
The World Cup in Bengaluru

And when it is a TIE
Strangely we don’t feel let down
We rejoice
for ...The match was good

cricket in our blood!

We do have cricket in our blood?
This is a picture of my grandson playing with his plastic cricket set. He is growing up in US, a country that is not really a cricketing one!

Now Electronic gadgets, Review rules, Powerplay, make the game all the more absorbing and interesting.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Minutes that Matter

About being on time

For us Indians punctuality is an acquired habit. Generally we are quite happy to be vague about the minutes. Perhaps this is got to do with our ancestors who worked by the movement of Sun and Moon and not digital time machines.
At about four can mean anytime between four and six.
In a week's time, definitely means not less than 15 days.
I will send the mechanic just now..means today....maybe
At one time I had a major problem with being on time.

Then I met this amazing lady, a math teacher called Leela. She later became a good friend of mine.
But a math teacher set me ticking...err pun intended!
How do people become late? If you need to be ready at 8, you just are…right?’ she had said in genuine wonder. And I turned hot under the collar (actually I was in a saree…so no collar to hide that hotness!!!) as I had checked-in 15 minutes late.

But that set me thinking.
But how to be on time, every time? I asked her.
She looked at me like I was pulling her leg. Then she figured that my question was for real.
Let’s say…she began, in true math teacher style!
I need to leave for work at 8.30
I have 3 lunches to pack, breakfast to be done, a cheque to be written, and a call to be made.
I give myself 2 hours to get all this done. Bath and personal details would require 20 minutes. I keep aside 10 minutes for interventions. That means I need two hours thirty minutes to be ready at 8.30
So I begin work at 6.30.

I was not convinced. What if the newspaper is interesting? What if Sudoku takes longer than 5 minutes to solve? What if I got up late? What if…
She interrupted me with a wan smile...Basically if being on the dot matters to you, you will be ready on the dot! Maybe you don’t mind being late. She finished, in her typically no nonsense wisdom. And I almost hated her.

When guests for dinner tell me, ‘we will reach by seven, seven-thirty’… It is really OK. I am at home. Dinner is ready. Vagueness with time does not alarm me. But the other day, we were to meet friends at the Lodhi Garden. ‘Aaan! We will be there by ten, ten-thirty’ he said shaking his head in confirmation.
Now what does that mean Ten? or Ten Thirty? Imagine waiting at Lodhi Garden for half an hour. I told him, we will be there at ten past ten, you please be there at the same time.
And believe me we cruised into the parking lot at almost the same moment…they were in an auto and we in our car. The day was good and we really had fun exploring Delhi.

I don’t understand people who say - I don’t use a wristwatch. I am not bound by time. And to top it all they are perpetually late for everything. You know … Kind of huffing and puffing through the day. With the world on my shoulders kind of look!!
I think of Leela again. What is amazing is that her logic does work.
• Being punctual is a habit.
• Being late is a habit.
We need to decide which habit we want to adopt.

MG road, Bengaluru
How to be on time every time?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


A mobile hospital is parked in front of our apartment. Loud announcements invite attention. The treatment is free. Patients are served fruits. A dentist, an optician, a lady physician, a geriatrist, and a child-care specialist are on duty.

I get a call from a kind lady. My number has been chosen as the lucky one. They are giving us a week's vacation at Goa, and a parcel of gifts etc. I need to just go and pick it all up. And I dint even apply!!

When people are being so nice
You wonder
What's the catch?

Perhaps this time there isn't any? ...

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A blue balloon bursts

People in Delhi converge to India Gate. It’s like this.
Don’t know what to do? Let’s drive to India Gate.
Visiting for the first time? Let’s go to India Gate.
Family outing? India Gate.
Couple wants a quiet stroll? India Gate.
Tourist? India Gate.
India Gate
We went to India Gate after dinner. It was almost 10 in the night. Many others thought like us…so we had plenty company. Obviously no tourists here. All pakka dilliwallas. They like to say ‘dill-wallas’. (grand hearted)

  •  Ice-creams, sprouts with masala, steaming tea from kettles, bead chains and post cards were all on sale.
  • Soap bubbles poured into the spaces around us as the man blew bubbles vigourously trying to attract kids and their generous dads.
  •  A glowing blue ball shot into the sky and gracefully descended on a parachute. A young man caught it and threw it back into the sky. He had a powerful throw…this man.
  •  Paper birds bobbed in slender metal cages no bigger than a woman’s fist.
  •  A balloon seller chanted ‘Balloon … Lelo … Balloon’. He held a dozen full blown round balloons. His hungry face was hardly visible behind the bouncy lot.

balloon seller at India Gate
   A family of six adults and two kids came by. One of the kids had a balloon and the other had a bewildered look. A woman, perhaps his mother, strode up to the balloon man and said,
 ‘Look what you did. I paid good money for the balloons. And the balloon broke’.
 ‘Madam’ said the man helplessly, ‘balloons do burst’.
 ‘What? I just bought them. My son had hardly played with it. And it broke’.

 Balloons don’t come with lifetime warranty do they? We looked on at the scene with interest.

 ‘What to do? …. mem’ .. she cut him short…
 ‘How could you give him a balloon that burst?’
 The woman screamed some more and walk off in a huff.
 The balloon man looked at his bhai (the balloon-man’s friend or brother). The bhai nodded, and called to the little boy and said
 ‘Lelo beta, ...Take little one, take this balloon’. And he walked over to the boy holding out to him a large orange balloon.
 The woman was not done.
 ‘He had a blue one’, she said. ‘Give me a blue one’. 

 We looked on in total disbelief. 

 The balloon man took the trouble. He separated a blue one from the large bunch carefully and handed it over to the woman. The exchange happened in two swift moves.
 The family walked on…
 The woman came back to the balloon man …
 Thumped a twenty rupee note into his hand… said gruffly, ‘keep the change’…  And walked away!

We smiled in relief
 The balloon man silently put the note into his pocket and said
 'Balloon…Lelo…Balloon'. It was just another day for him!
 Dilliwalle or dill wale?

Friday, February 18, 2011

How do you kill time?

About being your own boss
At home after homework was done, and the table was tidied, we had to find ways of keeping busy till it was time to have dinner or it was time to sleep. This was called KILLING TIME.
Listening to radio Ceylon, Binaka Geetmala, Tintin and Phantom comics, walking to a friend’s house (for notes) and back, were popular time killers. Boys were allowed to meet at the corner shop for chai and chat.

At college it was a favourite expression. ‘Just killing time’ till the next class…We sat at canteens, stood around in libraries, or talked to kill time.

At office, wandering off for a smoke break was legit time killer. If you are not a smoker, too bad, no legit reasons for you! Except ofcourse the loo…but then too many trips could make them feel you are sick or preg! That is the fun of having someone watching over you. You break rules, and kill time.

If you are the boss, how do you kill time? That is like tripping over your shadow!!
You just can't.

So that is when you grow up? When you get to spend time and not kill it??

Killing Time

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Dead famous - Roald Dahl

And his chocolate factory

This book by Andrew Donkin is absolutely absorbing and amazingly informative. Donkin captures the biography of Roald Dahl in a series of interesting incidents. The book has
  • narratives, imagined pages from a secret diary, made-up letters, imaginary newspaper headlines and war stories.
The illustrations by Clive Goddard are fabulous. The details in the illustrations vary depending on whether it is supposed to be by Dahl aged five or Dahl aged 20…making it all the more juicy and real!

What is intriguing is the connection Donkin draws between incidents in Dahl’s life and the stories he wrote. Mrs. Pratchett he says was the inspiration for The Witches. The daily train rides in London lead to Galloping Foxely. And the successful Someone Like You had many real life experiences to thank.

Donkin tells us how Dahl was an agent for Shell, a fighter pilot, a spy, played practical pranks, and nearly lost his nose!

All in all, a must read for Dahl fans.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Quirks of a Kannada Wedding

About Smartha Kannada Weddings

Every wedding is special and unique. But some things are so typical to the smartha kannada Brahmin weddings that I have to share them with you.
‘Pe-pe-pe-dum-dum’. The volaga ostensibly called the nadaswaram is a much awaited part. Ofcourse sometimes the artists are painfully ill trained…then it becomes the much dreaded part! However pe-pe-pe-dum-dum’ is a must!

The purohit who is referred to as Shastrigalu guides the families through the rituals and is chosen with care. We are particular about the mantras and the chanting and we take it all verrry seriously. Grim faces gaze at the happenings on centre stage…and enjoy it thoroughly!

The arati tatte causes a lot of chatter. Is the arati water ready? Where is the arati tatte? Bring the arati. Who will hold the plate? And then two appointed ladies take the arati in small circles in front of the groom or bride, who drop coins or notes into the plate. No matter if the collection is Rs. 2 or Rs. 200, it is divided with much easy banter between the two ladies who perform the arati.

Arshina-kunkumada tatte...A silver plate and silver bowls filled with haldi - kumkum are prized possession. Every mother dreams of buying a good set for her daughter.

Bashinga is for the special pair. This simple adornment brings unbelievable charm and radiance to the bride. Baashingas are made of pith (now thermocol). While the bride ties it round her forehead the groom pins it to his jari-peta (turban).

Jari-peta used to be a length of while muslin with zari border and the purohit would actually tie it round the grooms head. Now we get readymade turbans with adjustable elastic to fit snugly onto the head!

Just before the actual wedding the groom decides to go away for a Kashi Yatra! Equipped with a cloth bag, a walking stick and some food he departs for this journey only to be stopped at the threshold by the bride’s father. ‘Do come home, accept my daughter as bride and embark on this journey as a happy couple’ … he tells the groom! Kashi yatra is a much awaited ritual that evokes lot of fun and laughter. The groom readily agrees and returns to the wedding hall pampered by the bride’s brother and handheld by the bride’s father.

Meanwhile the bride sits in silent prayer (provided the friends and aunts and cousins allow her to!). She distributes marada jotey to chosen ladies who bless her and send her with good wishes to the wedding platform. Marada jotey is a pair of cane sieves loaded with grains, pulses, sweets, fruits and gifts.

Anthara-pata is a much awaited part of the wedding. The bride and the groom stand on either side of a cloth held out like a partition. The boy and girl hold a fistfull of Jeerige-bella (a mix of cumin seeds and jaggery). After a long chanting at a sudden moment the purohit downs the partition, the boy and girl shower jeerigebella on each other. It is believed...the one who puts it first will have the upper hand in wedded life!

Rice plays an important role in weddings. It is cooked and served as meal. It is mixed with haldi-kumkum and sprinkled as blessing. It is washed and dried and used by the special couple to pour over each other as part of wedding ceremonies. It is offered to the bride and the goddess Gowri as soblakki (parting gift). This here is rice that has been coloured, just for some fancy photo sessions!

Silk sarees, jasmine strings, coconuts, oil-wick lamps and bags of laddu (we call it laadoo). These add fragrance to Indian weddings. South Indian weddings are noisy, elaborate, ritualistic, colourful and yes, ...
you are allowed to have a lot of fun too.

We are not comfortable with dancing, loud singing or noisy meeting...we kind of enjoy it all silently and have fun chatting and updating in the atmosphere of common joy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

How do I pick up the correct key

if I have not decided on the lock?

two keys
There was this farmer who was noted for his generosity. Now one day, he had a lot of things to be done around the farm. So he called to a group a kids standing in the shade of trees.
‘Ohoy! You there’. He said…or something to that effect…
‘Come on. Help me with chores and I will give you what you ask for.’
The boys and girls skipped across the mud road and willingly agreed to help him. Kids can surprise you about what they skip along about!!

‘Dillon, you clean the hen coop. And what do you want for it?’
‘Sir, I want a large red pumpkin.’ He said, in an I am sure…kind of voice’
‘Punit and Simi you give my room a whitewash.’
‘Yes we can do that. And can we take some firewood?’ Punit the elder brother asked, a little apprehensively.
‘O yes. I got plenty of that…I will give you a load of cut and dried firewood,’ he said. I told you he was a generous farmer.
‘Minal you collect the ripe beans and brinjals from the kitchen garden.’ And….
Before he could complete the mandatory question she asked enthusiastically
‘Uncle, may I take a small puppy? I would like the brown one.’
‘Done, you take the brown pup. He is a good one, he is!’
Joss, help me wash the cows will you? Not scared of them…are you? He asked and guffawed loudly.
Joss was not too keen, but he had to agree. ‘Yes, I will do it. ‘ he mumbled.
‘What will you have as reward?’
‘Anything sir. Give me anything.’

By four afternoon, all work was done. Dillon got a large red pumpkin and he was mighty thrilled. Punit and Simi got a wheelbarrow loaded with firewood. You should have been there to see the wide grins on their faces. And Mina ...Oh she was overjoyed to hold the wriggling brown pup and raced home to show it to her mother.
Now, Joss had done an excellent job too. The farmer pointed at a large basket of oranges and looked at him, but he didn’t see a grin on Joss’ face. So he brought out an ornate wooden box and asked him if he would like that………uh-uh not a very encouraging response…

Tell me, Joss, what do you want?
Anything…anything sir…
The farmer filled a bag with good healthy goat poop and said, ‘here …take it…this is the best thing I have.’ For a farmer good manure is a heaven sent!
Joss took the bag with a sigh.
Tell me,
If you do not know what you want how will you know you have got it?
If you do not know what you want, how will you get it?

Plain poop for one is manure for the other!