Showing posts from 2012

A Christmas Debut

Back in those tedious school years, December indeed heralded a season of merriment. Right after the Dussera break in October (usually), it would be a month of unit tests or even half-term exam. And after that, it would be time for the school plays, and the Christmas play...or even a film show if the heavens were kind. And then, it was winter vacation. For a month I could forget about my dismal performance in the exams – of how I had rearranged and relocated Mughal dynasties, or how I had come up with my own laws in Physics.
But the merriment was really about the school plays. They would usually start post lunch, and on such days, the morning classes seemed to go on forever. There would be a general restlessness in the classroom in anticipation for the afternoon hoopla. The teachers usually went easy on us on those mornings...I mean they would not even have the heart to punish me by asking me to face the wall or stand outside the classroom for this or that indiscipline.
I was extrem…

The Silence Makers

Raise your hand if you, like me, associate silence with sound. How many times have you noticed the silence in a room because you heard a clock ticking? Or because you heard your own breath – in, out; in, out?
My grandma’s home had one of those old pendulum clocks. It had a black frame with a round, cobalt blue dial if I remember correctly. The pendulum was metallic and had little flowers etched on the shiny circular bob. It gave out a basic ding ding every hour, and one note for the half hour. It had to be wound everyday – the key was kept on a small shelf provided near the dial.
When we cousins stayed at grandma’s for hols, my uncle made a big deal of the clock-winding. The clock was high up on the wall, and he’d stand on a foldable aluminium chair. We kids would gather around, looking up, mouth open, eyes like dinner plates. With every turn of the clock key, uncle would huff and puff and wipe his brow and tell us, ‘You need a lot of strength to do this. Now drink up your milk.’

Another Time, Another Place

There are days when the mind refuses to stay still, like a fly beating against a glass pane. It’s tiresome having it buzz around so much, when all I want is some peace and quiet. I’ve never tried meditation: perhaps it is time to start it. Today is one such tiresome day. A malfunctioning throat is irritating to say the least. I took a medication last night, and only after I swallowed the foul pill did I realise that it has caffeine – so I was awake for a long, long time – mentally preparing for my assignments and experiments, thinking of growing old, thinking of the storm across the Atlantic, thinking of my running, thinking of new shoes, thinking of a friend I need to get in touch with, thinking of The Sister and The Niece...and finally thinking of those days with Amma.
Remembering those days always ropes the mind and yanks it to a rest. We had strange and funny and wonderful days together. On days such as this one – when a frog sat in the throat, I would sit in the sun for hours, …

Light Of The Mahalaya

As the Pitru Paksha culminates in the Mahalaya Amavasya, I have sombre memories of elders in my family performing the tarpana. In fact, whether we celebrated festivals or not, any rituals that involved ancestors were never trifled with. I’m sure this was, and continues to be the practice in many households.
The practice fascinates me. There were ancient civilizations all over the world who ritualistically worshipped their ancestors. They called upon their ancestors for guidance and blessings during special occasions; and these occasions were usually in tandem with the seasons, and therefore harvests. In times of unforeseen difficulties, the ancestors were called upon to guard the race. Thousands and thousands of years later, even as we have made astounding progress in understanding the world around us, it is humbling to see that millions in India still follow this practice of remembering ancestors, seeking their blessings and guidance. Many consider this practice as superstition. I’…


I’d just about started middle-school (meddle school as far as I was concerned). I guess it was mid-term holidays. We had loads of homework to keep up the ‘industrious momentum’. I had elaborate plans of keeping a slow momentum though, but they were thwarted by Amma’s x-ray mind-reading techniques.
On one such difficult morning, I was struggling with a Geography exercise. I had to label the locations for great deserts of the world. My Gobi was passable, though it had usurped half of Russia too. Sahara was bang on. Atacama – now was that a desert in South Africa? South America? Indonesia? Errr ...the moon? Amma had already checked on me twice to see how I was getting by. If she came around the third time, it would mean I’ll have to do one of her impromptu tests. Thank God she did not work for any education boards – we would have a lot less graduates. She always maintained our tests in school were not vigorous enough. Or worse, she would unleash Appa on me.
Now Appa always maintained o…

A Mysore Wedding

I don’t know why but I remembered a wedding story that Appa always narrates and we end up cracking up hysterically.
Now this was 1977or thereabouts. I don’t remember the principal character. But let me use a generic Iyengar name – Seshadri. Seshadri was a dashing young man, all of 23-24. He worked along with Appa and my maternal uncle in Bangalore. With a B.A. degree and a job in a government undertaking, Seshadri was the most eligible bachelor in the Karnataka Iyengar community.
It looked like even in those days Seshadri had a rebellious streak. Seshadri might have had a body that resembled a beedi (according to Uncle), but he was extremely fastidious when it came to keeping up with current fashion trends. Bell-bottoms, shirts with huge geometric designs and collars that resembled the wings of a Boeing 777; and of course shoes with heels to make up for his short height. Seshadri had even tried to grow side-locks a la Elvis, but he had crossed the line this time as a Sri Vaishnava.…

7 Insignificant Things About A Highly Inconsequential Person

Amit has accused me of writing inspiring blogs...and has even given me this award. At first I thought he was being cheeky. Then I realized he was not...he actually meant it. But I tell you I wash my hands off all responsibility – if you have issues with this award, please catch hold of Amit. Amit – you naive one...thanks for the award. I feel humbled and....oh darn it! I grabbed the award with an evil grin and did a hop and a skip. I’m bloody flattered out of my socks.
So now, just grabbing the award is not enough I believe. I have to inflict further suffering on you, poor readers. I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself. And then, I am supposed to accuse someone else of being inspiring. Let’s get started shall we?
1) I’m a coffee addict. I neighed like a horse and shrieked like banshee when some twat of a minister wanted to make tea the ‘national drink’. I mean really? That sludge that needs to be boiled and boiled? That damn slush that half the population can’t prepare dece…

Faces And Moments

Vacations are all about ‘faces of interest’ rather than ‘places of interest’ for me. Watching faces and guessing stories behind those eyes must the world’s best pass-time. And of course - clutching at moments  that float across like psychedelic soap bubbles - moments that burst into oblivion in the memory; moments that have to be savoured real-time. The deck of the lake ‘cruise’ boat was nice and warm, and I sat like an ancient Egyptian facing the sun: the warmth too seductive, the rolling motion of the boat too hypnotic – I went into a trance. Suddenly something tugged at my leg and I opened one eye. ‘Oops! Sorry!’ a shrill voice called out. The owner of the voice was about two and a half feet tall. Tiny fingers clutched at my jeans as she tried to haul herself up – little legs clad in little pink boots flaying about. I pulled her up and she let out a ‘poof’ of exhaustion. She looked up at me and mouthed a shy ‘thank you’. She had apples for cheeks and the summer sky for eyes. Her h…


The past weekend was too frenzied for my liking. At my energetic best I manage to potter around, but usually, remaining in a python-like state is the norm. This particular weekend however was thrown out-of-gear by an email from my editor.
She wanted my photo along with a short bio for their catalogue. There’s really nothing much to say about myself, so the short bio was not a problem. But the photo is an insurmountable problem. I did ask her if I can send a Pink Panther picture – but there was no response from her. I guess she is the silent, sombre type and finds such emails extremely frivolous.
Anyway, I knew this could not be a ‘passport’ type photo as my friend terms it. It had to be more classy, as befits an author, even if the said author is below average. So I looked up some author photos to get an idea. My heart sank. Each author looked more exotic than the next.
Some looked into the camera: wide-eyed innocence; chiselled chin; arched eyebrows; an alluring movement caught i…