Me Thinks

Saturday, December 24, 2005

I am home

Yes. Iam on a customary 3-week yearly vacation and I am having fun in Chennai. Even though I come every year, this year I see a palpable difference in the lives of people here. They live in style. Well, I know when I say "people", I am talking about the growing middle class about whom we read in every newspaper, magazine, website etc. Cellphone is omnipresent. Try catching an aunty without holding one in her hand and lets not even talk about college students. Didn't I notice this last year? I think things have changed quite a bit in one year, I am sure.
All my cousins from teenagers to not-so-young people have cellphones, talk about cars all the time and they plan on a vacation abroad. I emphasise that the lifestyles of kids who are born to these parents are no different from those of the ones who are born in any other developed country. Thats heartening. Strollers, car-seats, Nestle formula, bathing station, changing table, pump...;-) hmmm.......
My mind rewound a little bit and was thinking of the days when we got new clothes only on Birthdays and Diwali. We waited for special occasions so that we could touch the feet of the elders in the family and add an additional 25 paise to our piggy bank. We had one toy each and the first borns were the only lucky ones to get first hand clothes and toys. These things dont happen anymore, not in the society my family and extended family, friends et al belong to. In no other country, d we find such a great divide between the "middle class" and the class below that. And I am very sure the middle class I belonged to when I was a kid was so very different.
With malls, boadband internet etc being present, if I had any doubts about which countrty I was actually in, they were dispelled when I opened the newspaper and saw Ganguly sporting a V sign for getting selected into the team on the front page of the Hindu. I yelled "I am Home - yes Tilo, I am home.:-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Nothing like having a hot cup of tea on a cold and frosty afternoon. I like the word Chai better than tea. The day I saw chai added to the StarBucks menu, I celebrated by having 2 cups of it though the Chai doesn't taste like our usual tea. I don't remember exactly when I started drinking chai. I wasn't this big a fan till I started making chai myself. Modesty is not my forte and I just love the chai I make. It doesn't matter whether I am the host or the guest, I always volunteer to make Chai. Almost everyone I know knows why. Because I make the best chai or so I claim. :-)

Drinking tea in this kind of weather is blissful. The kind of people I don't want to talk to or see in this mood are the ones that say "I don't drink tea or coffee" with a peculiar expression on their face and a long pause that tacitly says "You do? Poor you! Very sad that you don't have good habits like not drinking tea. Maybe you can go to rehab or something and get over this addiction". ok, I am exaggerating but there are people that assume a moral highground because they don't drink tea or coffee. My friend pointed out this to me and I totally agree. They have to taste tea once and they know what they are missing. I am sure "Kaapi" drinkers would have similar words for them.

Friday, December 16, 2005

National Crisis

Lok Sabha is going to discuss the Ganguly issue. If you think there are more important issues in the country that you want discussed, you have no right to call yourself an Indian. Next week the school kids might enjoy an extra holiday because the Left parties would've called a nation-wide bandh in view of Ganguly's exclusion, which was most probably influenced by a non-Indian called Greg Chapell hailing from a bourgeois land. Hail our Leaders.

Monday, December 12, 2005


I am not an anti-pet person. I've never had one in my entire life. So I can never understand people who indulge their pets. My boss has a DVD player in his almost-a-100k-car so that his dog would be entertained when he goes on a long drive. Although I find this going overboard, I know whose autograph I have on my paycheck and hence keep my views to myself. I go shopping and I am stunned to see an entire aisle dedicated to gifts-for-pets for Christmas. I turn my head away when my collegue kisses a dog on its mouth. Thats gross, as per me. I've never had problems with people who do that but I've always wondered how one could treat a pet like another living "person" in the house.

As an aside, almost all the pet-owners are ignorant about others' inconvenience or their lack of love for pets. At one end you have the pet-owners - "How can anyone be scared of my pet?" At the other end you have some - "why should anyone tolerate your lack of hygenic sense? Take your damn pet away from me. Eww! the hair is all over the place." I am somewhere in between.

But I was really interested in knowing what a pet-lover actually thinks of the world in general and non-pet-lovers in particular. I had to get this off my chest, so I asked this question to a pet-loving friend of mine, whose repartee was "You don't understand, do you? I don't expect you to. Its like people with babies talking to people without them. You can never relate to them unless you have one for yourself." I was appalled. Not because his anology was heavy on emotion and light on actual content and meaning but because someone could actually equate a dog or a cat or whatever you have to the species thats at the highest rung of the evolution ladder. All my AynRand-ish logic of "Man is superior" is negated by a man who equates this great species to that of an animal. If thats how my logical sense would get if I own a pet, I don't want to own a dog .....ever. And here I wait for an answer from some pet-owner. Maybe someday.....

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The Great MS

No, I am not talking about Microsoft here. Its been a year since MSSubhalakshmi passed away. Tilo remembers this diva in her post.

Madurai Shanmugavadivu SubhaLakshmi, often called MSSubhalakshmi, was born as a
daughter of Shanmugavadivu, a "dasi" in Madurai. Shanmugavadivu was a well-known Veena artist. MS made no bones about her origins, never felt the need to lie about the profession of her mother nor did she feel ashamed. Her mother was the one that indoctrinated her into the world of music. Its very progressive of a lady to have her mother's initial and that was MS, who always did things that were not considered "normal" by most people.

She along with her brother Sakthivelu were always interested in music. She entered the films, mostly because of her singing prowess. Those days, males used to dress up like females as not many females would come forward to act. She sang Carnatic music in the simplest of forms. She broke the trend or dispelled the myth that Carnatic music was for brahmins. She captured the audience with her mellifluous voice. Remember, she did all this when big artists those days never used to patronise people who were from the so-called lower caste. Her foray into films was a huge success. Even now people remember the song "katriniley varum geetham" from Bhakta Meera. She not only had the tamil audiences spell bound, but also impressed the N.Indians with her extremely gifted talent. No other carnatic music singer has ever been as popular as MS has been with the entire music circle of the country and she also represented India in various world fora and rendered songs. The most famous one was when she sung a sanskrit song on world peace "Maitreem Bhajatha" in the UN
when U.Thant was its head.

Not only music patrons, even politicians held her in high-esteem. Lot of people say that she had an affair with Nehru. She never agreed or denied such talks and continued to do what she does best, sing. She was the second wife of late Dr.Sadasivam. If one listens to her song or even a simple slogam (like the Suprabatham),its very diffiult not to get mesmerised by the voice that makes music sound very simple. She has always been a charitable person. What differentiates her class from the likes of lesser mortals like the Lata Mangeshkars is that she withdrew herself from the music scenario or the December season (considered to be the music season where musicians display their talent & give concerts) & restricted her performances to charity concerts & invocation ceremonies. She wanted the youngsters to be given a chance & didnt want to hog the limelight till her voice died. She didnt have kids but adopted Radha Viswanathan, who sings too but only alongside MS. She entirely stopped singing after her husband's demise and confined herself to the four walls of her house. She is not only a great artist but also a great person, an inspiration to many people like me.

The derogatory "di"

When you complete a very important task and wait for the result and when you have a lot of time, you think about weird things and wonder how and why certain things are the way they are. I am in one such mood.
When I call a guy using the "da" word, I implicitly give him the right to use "di" with me. Thats my view. I don't use "da" with every guy I meet. Some couples use "da" to refer to each other when they are kuchi-kooing. Some girls use "da" amongst themselves and think its very endearing. But guys use "di" amongst themselves only when they want to insult. In movies, you always find the bad guy telling the good guy "Nee va di, unna gavanicchikkaren". And if a guy calls a girl di, he is a branded MCP. Does di sound worse than da? Or is da cooler than di? I think this descrimination perpetrated mostly by women upon their very own "di" is very bad.
I know of a couple where the wife calls the hubby "da" publicly (she doesn't mean any disrespect for sure) and is very proud about her "cool" husband. He is not just cool because he allows her to use da with him but because he doesn't use di in turn. Somehow that just doesn't sound right to me.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Indian Media

Ayaz Amir is a Pakistani columnist and I read his columns in The Dawn regularly. We all know how the leading dailies like Times Of India, Hindustan Times are getting totally crappy these days. It kind of hurts when the truth is reiterated by someone from across the border. This is what Amir has to say about our print media.

Entire regions of India — UP, Bihar, to name only two states — are
in the grip of serious lawlessness and there is not much that
anyone has been able to do about it. But sitting in Delhi or
reading the Indian press you won't get this impression. Only when
something out-of-the-ordinary happens, a high profile killing, for
instance — although in India's wild east even this is no longer
surprising — does it figure in the headlines, otherwise not.

There is a full-fledged insurgency in the northeast — Mizoram,
Nagaland, Manipur, etc — but you won't get to know much about it
if your sole source of information is the Indian press.

More serious than these two problems is something potentially more
dangerous. From the Nepal border in the north right down to Andhra
Pradesh in the south, a wide swathe of territory almost cutting
through this huge country is in the effective control not of any
government, central or state, but the Naxalite movement. This is a
mind-boggling circumstance, about 160 districts of the country —
the total number of districts in Pakistan being 105 — outside
governmental control. But again the Naxalite movement doesn't
figure much in Indian discourse.

True, India's stability or integrity is not under threat. India's
very size is the biggest shock absorber of all, its capacity to
absorb problems of this nature or magnitude commensurate with its
bulk. Still, to insist, or convey the impression, that nothing
troubles the Indian heartland is to close one's eyes to reality.
As already stated, the Indian media performs this pigeon act very