Archive for December, 2005

preparing for a wine and cheese party

December 31, 2005

Received a wide selection of cheeses from shortindiangirl through oldhen…..getting the other things organized. Crackers, boards on which the cheeses can be displayed, cheese knives, other short eats, flowers to brighten up the home….hope to be surrounded by friends tomorrow night. Tonight is the building party which I hope to enjoy thoroughly!

Grover’s La Reserve, Sauvignon Blanc, some Rose wine….and some fruit juice for anyone, like me, who doesn’t drink wine.

Went for a long walk in the sunshine and cold weather….did I mention, I LOVE walking??

Here’s hoping that everyone is as happy throughout 2006 as I am right now…!

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I am not going to let my spouse forget this number

December 29, 2005

We drove down from Pune to Mumbai…two hours on a superb road, and we were in Chembur at 1830 hours. It then took us two and a half hours to reach my husband’s cousin’s home at Goregaon West…we literally INCHED there, and reached by 2100hrs.

We had to catch the Vadodara Express, leaving Mumbai Central at 2330 hrs. The cousin suggested that going to Mumbai Central was an impossibity…we should catch the train, 0010 hours departure at Borivili station. “No,” said my dear husband, “I am more comfortable with Dadar.” “Are you sure the train stops there?” I asked. “You pessimist!” he said. “99.9%, it will stop there.” “Yes!” assented the cousin. “As you say…99.9% the train stops at Dadar.” So we took a cab to Dadar…reached there at 2320 hrs.

…..Guess what. The train didn’t stop there, the porters informed us. We scrambled into a local train ( a car to Borivili would be useless) and travelled in a dense crowd. My husband asked some regulars on the train, ” Which platform does the Vadodara Express stop on?” “That train follows this local,” said they confidently. “It will probably stop on the same platform after this local train leaves….99.9% same platform.” My husband could not bear to meet my eye.

Thank goodness…this time the 99.9% was 100%…the train came in about 2 minutes after the local left…and we caught it.

I am going to refer to 99.9% once in a while….

Thoughts about a trip to Maharashtra and Gujarat…

December 29, 2005

One thing I find very funny is the fact that all buses in Maharashtra (and in Pune, even autos) have their licence numbers written on the back in sides in numbers more than a foor tall. I can understand the route numbers being written so large in order to ensure that passengers can clearly see which route it is…but why the number plates? Do Maharashtra buses get into so many accidents that it must be easy for the other party to get their licence numbers?

With the Pune autos, it looks even funnier to see these HUGE number plates on the small vehicles!

But after Bangalore…how I loved the concreted, shiny, GOOD roads in many parts of Mumbai….

But in both Pune and in Vadodara, I have become familiar with what I call the “two-wheeler/terrorist headgear fashion”. NO ONE of course wears helmets while riding two-wheelers, but many people, mostly women, wear a scarf that fully encloses their heads, so that only their eyes show. This gives them the unnerving look of Jaish-e-Toiba terrorists…but all they are trying to do, I think, is to avoid the exhaust fumes of the traffic….

Uncomfortable…

December 23, 2005

What can I do when I get compliments which I don’t feel I deserve?

In Chennai recently, several people complimented me on conducting a traditional wedding for my daughter, “in an excellent way”….I was not keen on rites and rituals which belonged to child-marriage days, and would have made a simpler ceremony out of it if my daughter had not insisted on the “whole 9 yards”…literally in the case of the wedding saree, and figuratively, in including all the rites and rituals….her father even added fireworks!

So when I am complimented, I shuffle my feet and am unusually at a loss for words….

The same thing happens when someone compliments me on having a good voice. This is a gift from God or Nature as the case may be, and I have little to do with it. Shuffle-shuffle, mumble-mumble, weak smile!

Coalition against Corruption

December 22, 2005

Am going in the evening to this initiative…hoping for some headway against the besetting evil of our country!

details:

http://www.pacindia.org

BTW…do NOT go to

http://www.pacindia.com

..it is a porn website!

Pride…and prejudice…

December 20, 2005

My spouse did his B.Sc at Shillong and later took the “by three” course at IIT
Madras. I don’t think this was due to any academic drawback as he topped the
European School Certificate when he finished school in Bangalore, and topped
the University in his B.Sc. This may sound irrelevant bragging…but
wait…it’s relevant…

When we were based in Chennai, he was added on to the IIT Alumni egroup.
At the time, we had only one email id which I used to access ( my spouse has
never been an active emailer, and I do most of his correspondence for him).
I found that the moderator of the IIT egroup seemed a gregarious person, who seemed to have bounced back from a most horrendous brain surgery. I was quite impressed by his joie de vivre.

When some of the jokes on the egroup started getting a little risque, I
wrote and said that there might be other women reading the emails and hence
he might like to tone it down a little bit. To this I got a reply that he
and his wife found it “very strange” that I was accesssing my husband’s
email id.(How his wife was reading my email, I don’t know!) Then he asked who my husband was, as he could not place him.

I told him that MH (my husband) had done the “by three” course. I was amazed by the
tone of the reply to this. He actually said (after 30 years’ interval!) that
he would not have cared to know someone like MH even if he had been in
the next room in his hostel, as he was a “by three” student and they didn’t
like these people who entered IIT by such means when the others had got in
by merit.

I wrote back to him expressing my surprise at the intensity of his response,
and let him know that contrary to his reaction to my participating in MH’s alumnus activities/egroups, I had felt so welcome amongst his IIM
friends that I had actually started the egroup for their batch. Not one of
them looked down on me because I was a non IIT or non IIM person.

It was even more amazing to see his response change immediately. MH the
IIT “by three” was not worth knowing, but MH the IIM guy was. He even
invited me to be a moderator for the IIT-Global egroup. But having had a
taste of the prejudice that persisted after three decades, I withdrew from
the correspondence altogether.

I still feel so uncomfortable when faced with this kind of intellectual
snobbery. Yes, no doubt the cream of students get into IIT and IIM. But does
that mean that those who don’t get in or do different programmes are somehow
lesser beings? This is something, I feel, which every intelligent IIT and
IIM alumnus must introspect about. I do often see youngsters who are from
the IIM’s behaving as though they are somehow superior to non-alumni. Nobody
is superior to anyone else because they have more money or brains or
looks…this is what I firmly believe. Those who are really accomplished
find something good and interesting in every one, no matter how different
the background may be. To me, goodness of heart and real humility about
oneself are what mark out people who are superior to others.

If I think I am somehow superior to another..I am actually inferior.

“South Indian North Indian”

December 19, 2005

The music season has begun in Chennai…the politics are so dirty that it is nowcommon knowledge to everyone…should I just not bother about it, and just attend the concerts as a total outsider? Would this be aiding and abetting the bad situation?

Am just looking at, and listening, to a telecast of what I call “South Indian North Indian classical music”…a bad imitation of the North Indian classical style by an essentially Carnatic musician. Terrible voice production…..BAD pronounciation of Hindi…an incredible amount of makeup on the faces of the musicians, as well as artificial smiles…Why can’t Carnatic music be Carnatic music? Do North Indian musicians attempt kritis? No, they take our ragas and make things of beauty of them, in compositions, aalaaps and kheyals of their own style.

However, there are a few exceptions. I must mention the beautiful kritis of Muthuswami Dikshitar in several North Indian raagaas. And a contemporary musician, Madurai Shri G S Mani, has handled ragas as tough as Mian ki Malhaar and Chandrakauns in his exquisite compositions. His voice culture is something so excellent..our Carnatic music tradition does NOT give enough importance to voice training…I wish Shri Mani could give many of our singers lessons!

We should realize that our way of singing and the North Indian way are quite different, and attempts to bridge the divide must be informed by a standard of knowledge and mastery far greater than what I see today.

I have a similar grouse against the food in most South Indian weddings. Our cooks can cook delectable South Indian food. But at least one meal, there is what I call South Indian North Indian food…PPC…Puri Pulao Choley….soaking in oil, over-spiced, bringing out the worst in the heaviness of the cuisine. Recently I noticed that the naans had even taken over the previous day’s lunch. Only after the muhurtham did I finally get to eat a great, authentic “shaapaadu”.

I think I am aging….!

Names…

December 17, 2005

Inspired by the LJ of on her name, on the occasion of Bangalore’s being re-named as Bengaluru…

Your name is a mix of what identifies YOU (your first name), and what identifies your origin (your father’s name.) Several years ago, a couple I know wanted to admit their daughter to school and have no other name on her school card but her own. They ran into such rough weather with the school authorities that they finally had to cave in. I admire people like M.S. Subbulakshmi (the initials stand for Madurai,her place of birth, and Shanmukhavadivu, her mother) who made a quiet stand for not wanting to go by the paternal bond, but believing that the maternal tie could be as important. She never made a brouhaha about it, but remained M S Subbulakshmi even after her marriage to Sadashivam.

And of course…people like Madonna who manage to make single names a statement of independent identity are on my “admire” list.

This whole re-naming thing is a storm in a teacup methinks. I have heard London being called “Londre” in Italian airports. The Danube is actually the Donau. Bharat is as much a part of our consciousness as India is. So what’s the big deal? Let Bangalore co-exist with Bengaluru. No need to make expensive changes in govt. records.

BTW I was born in Calcutta (Kolkata), lived in Madras (Chennai) and Mejura (Madurai) and now am a happy resident of BeanTown….

What is the origin….

December 13, 2005

Can anyone tell me the origin of the habit north Indian classical singers have, of touching their ears when referring to their gurus?

Hanumath Jayanti…

December 12, 2005

The Hanuman temple near our home is celebrating Hanumath Jayanti..the roads around the temple are full of little stalls that have mushroomed overnight. I wandered around this afternoon in the misty drizzle and enjoyed myself hugely. Miniature stainless steel utensils; tiny cups, agarbathi holders and crude statuettes of men and gods in cheap ceramic;artificial flowers and plants in varieties never seen before on earth;plastic hand pumps with fluorescent green bodies and handles of bright pink;keychains,glass,metal and lac bangles galore; a hundred different varieties of plastic household goods;cheap jewellery, cheap toys, cheap fried snacks and even cheaper, but healthy, puffed rice;gadgets for making “modaks” and “somasi”, with the shopkeepers kneading flour for the demos….I bought my neighbours’ children some bright,shiny, colourful wrapping-paper windmills. I just loved the festive atmosphere and went back in the evening to look at the decoration of the temple itself. With lights and crowds milling around, I felt that truly, the temple was the social focus of the area….I had a wonderful time today.