Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Chennai Visit

Yes, yes, I know I have been missing from this blog (though whether I have been missed is the more important question, in my opinion) but that’s because I was in Chennai, dear reader, didn’t you know? Well, I am not going to bore you with a detailed chronological account of my Chennai visit but will restrict myself to the highlights, as I seem to do with cricket nowadays.

Friday, 6.45 AM: Jogged on the road next to the Elliots beach for an hour. Hadn’t planned on doing that, but when I got up in the morning and saw that the night rain had left behind a blanket of coolness in the air, I just couldn’t resist it and went out in my Lee Coopers since I hadn’t brought my Reeboks along. It was a good run, my first long one on a tar surface. And though it was cool, it was still pretty humid and by the time I returned home by around 8.15, I was drenched down to my socks.

Friday, 6 PM: Caught up with an old BITSian friend after almost six years. We discussed the travails of getting married as easily as we might have discussed a sadistic professor or a boring course eight years ago. Some things don’t change but some have.

Friday, 8 PM: Sis came down and I offered to finance any shopping requirements. So we went to four shops, looked at 203 tops, 77 skirts and 52 other items of female clothing and I, surprisingly, had a good time. She finally settled on a grotesque looking metal ring, which covered half of her finger and vaguely blamed me for necessitating her to buy a new wardrobe to go with that ring. Mom had a small heart attack when I mentioned I had bought her a ring, she had visions of a diamond or two slipping out of my wallet, but I assured her that it cost only Rs. 135.

Saturday, 10.30 AM: Visit to Burma Bazaar, Parrys Corner, along with couple of cousins and one of their hubbies to shop for cheap pirated CDs. Bought about 8 CDs each having at least 3 movies on them for 500 bucks. If the CDs work like they are supposed to, it’s quite a bargain, me thinks. Some good old westerns, war movies and Hitchcocks in that bunch. Don’t know when I’ll get to watch them though. It’s been some time since I have kept my home theatre busy, its getting wasted, bit like me.

Saturday, 5 PM: Went to TVK Nagar, where lots of our stuff is packed and stored in that house over there. Spent a couple of hours rummaging through my cartons and old papers looking for a short story that I written when I was 14, titled, “The Boy with the Gun” (*smile at the thought*). Couldn’t find it and was extremely disappointed but chanced upon some of my old school report cards from the time I was five years old, patted myself on the back quite a few times as I went through my scores and the comments from my teachers. Laughed a few loud evil laughs when I went through my sisters’. Was lucky she wasn’t around.

Saturday, 11 PM: Went for nice long late night stroll on the beach. Stared at the black expanse spewing out those white reams for quite some time, as the silent salty wind ruffled my hair. Then spoke to a friend on the phone for more than an hour. When I reached home, I realised I had forgotten my sis’ Scooty at the beach and went all the way back to get it.

Sunday, 9 AM: Being the function day, it was quite hectic. Took some photographs with my new camera till the time I was given charge of the family Camcorder which occupied me for a good couple of hours more. There’s some hidden potential a la Nagesh Kukunoor waiting to be discovered, I think.

Sunday, 11 AM: TV Sankarnarayanan, one of the leading names in the Carnatic music circles who also happened to be a friend of my uncle’s turned up for the function and decided to sing and give his blessings to my cousin, attending whose ‘upanayanam’(sacred thread ceremony) was the main objective of my visit. I do not understand classical music but his clear voice sang a song, which seemed to me full of sorrow, hope and joy. And when he invoked the blessings of the gods and my aunt who had passed away many years ago, my uncle and many relatives of mine had tears in their eyes. Yes, I got it on tape.

Sunday, 3 PM: Rounded up three of my cousins hubbies, borrowed my uncle’s Honda City and went looking for some cold beer in town. Since there wasn’t much time before I left, we settled on some warm beer from one of the regular wine shops, went to the beach, rolled up the windows and drank. Cribbed about Sehwag’s form, Bangalore’s infrastructure problems and the reservation issue.

P.S. The worst part of the whole visit was my Air Deccan flight at 2100 hrs. from Hyd to Chennai. The air inside the plane was stale and stinked. Another half-hour and I would have puked. I will never take that flight again.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


We don’t do a lot of linking and saluting out here on Dazed and Confused but let me say that I am surprisingly awed by this whole reservation drama. (My earlier post on this is here). Honestly, I didn’t think that all this protest would come to much. I thought the enthusiasm would wane and people will go back to watching the India-West Indies cricket series. But that hasn’t happened. There’s hope yet for our country. Whatever happens now, a lot of points have been made and hence certain salutes are in order.

-To the Medical Students in New Delhi who started it all and showed the way for the rest of the nation to follow, I salute you!

-To Dr. Pratap Bhanu Mehta , who resigned his position from the Knowledge Commission and took a stand and wrote this wonderful resignation letter to the Prime Minister, I salute you!

-To Karan Thapar, for exposing Arjun Singh as the nincompoop that he is in this amazing interview, I salute you!

I haven’t done anything by comparison, except for signing an online petition, which is supposed to be presented to the Prime Minister. I can’t see how that will make a difference to anybody when so much else has failed but we do what we can, I guess. There was some talk of a protest march on Fri evening outside my office. It’s a pity I am leaving for Chennai tomorrow for the next few days. I would have loved to be a part of that protest.

I know, I know, if I really gave a shit, I would cancel the trip and join the protest now, wouldn’t I?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

On The Market

I have a confession to make. I am now available on the marriage market. Have been now for the last couple of months, through those nefarious websites. Love has eluded me. No, that would be wrong. ‘Love marriage’ has eluded me, so far atleast, and frankly I don’t really see any dramatic developments happening on that front to change this reality.

Coming back to the marriage market, it’s been great timepass till now, and not without its moments of hilarity. There was this moment when I thought I was chatting online with a girl who seemed to be extremely curious about my antecedents and job prospects when after ten minutes of intense interrogation, she admitted that she was in fact the girl’s mother. Needless to say, I immediately pulled the plug on my computer. Since then, I always confirm who I am speaking to on the phone or online before proceeding with the conversation. If they ask, "Of course, this is ___, who else would pick up my phone?", I relate this harrowing experience and am immediately marked as a guy with a sense of humor, at least I like to believe so.

Then there was this girl, whom I met (the only person till now) who kept smiling coyly and looking down at her hands in response to any attempt on my part to make conversation. After 10 minutes of such coy smiles, hands fisting the handkerchief, whispered answers that I couldn’t hear, I gave up, leant back on my chair in that coffee shop and tried to find a mirror to check if I had an additional nose or eye in my face that I had somehow been unaware of all this time. After a further 15 minutes of contemplative silence from both ends, she finally opened up, but the moment had passed.

There is of course nothing romantic about the whole process. My profile has received more interest since the time I have added the letters ‘IIM’ (truthfully, I might add) to it a couple of weeks ago. A fact not hard to miss is also that responses are more likely from the same caste-language combination, to such an extent that I have stopped expressing an interest in profiles which claim a no ‘caste-language’ preference. All my claims of cosmopolitan upbringing don’t seem to cut much ice there. And no, I don’t happen to look like a gorilla.

It’s a process of elimination rather than selection, really. I won’t blame you if you like me less after reading further. If it helps, I share your opinion.

- Profiles created by parents, relatives, siblings, friends are a big turn off. So are responses from fathers asking me to send MY son’s horoscope across. Reminds me of that Asian Paints Exterior ad (‘Main intezaar karoongi’), albeit a more bizarre version.

- Check height, weight, photo. * Dazedandconfused ducking a hail of bullets as he runs for cover*

- Check educational background and income.

- Check for taboo words like ‘homely’, ‘adjusting’, ‘religious’, which result in flashing red lights going off in my head with visions of ‘Pati Parmeshwar/Sati Savithri’ Indian women.

Hmmm…maybe I should ask HER again one last time. She’s refused me twice already but what the hell. I have nothing to lose. What do you think?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

She Will Be Loved

Beauty queen of only eighteen
She had some trouble with herself
He was always there to help her
She always belonged to someone else

I drove for miles and miles
And wound up at your door
I've had you so many times
but somehowI want more

I don't mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile

And she will be loved
And she will be loved

Tap on my window knock on my door
I want to make you feel beautiful
I know I tend to get so insecure
It doesn't matter anymore

It's not always rainbows and butterflies
It's compromise that moves us along, yeah
My heart is full and my door's always open
You can come anytime you want, yeah

I don't mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile

And she will be loved
And she will be loved
And she will be loved
And she will be loved

I know where you hide
Alone in your car
Know all of the things that make you who you are
I know that goodbye means nothing at all
Comes back and begs me to catch her every time she falls, yeah

Tap on my window knock on my door
I want to make you feel beautiful
I don't mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain
Look for the girl with the broken smile
Ask her if she wants to stay awhile

And she will be loved
And she will be loved
And she will be loved
And she will be loved

Please don't try so hard to say goodbye
Please don't try so hard to say goodbye


I don't mind spending everyday
Out on your corner in the pouring rain

Try so hard to say goodbye

Artist: Maroon 5

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I never used to be big on routine. Or planning. Unlike my dad. He was the type who would make a long checklist before our summer holiday trip to Chennai from Delhi and proceed to tick the items off the list at least 5 days before the start of the journey. Or take the customary leave at the end of the year to study for the correspondence course that he was perennially trying to finish. The type, who would balance all household expense accounts on Sunday mornings. And I was the type who even after umpteen admonishments would fill my school bag with the relevant books and notebooks only in the morning and never the previous night. Somehow, that always used to get my Dad’s goat, though I never understood why.

I don’t know whether I let out the suppressed rebel in me in this fashion, but I have always been the last minute man. We were always very unlike each other, my dad and me. While he was the outgoing charmer among our huge extended family, I was the uninteresting introvert. And with no other popular talent like singing or dancing that I could claim to possess, I always felt that my Dad was a tad disappointed with me in those family gatherings when my smart and good looking cousins would sing and yap away cheerfully to glory. And was I happy with his disappointment? I’ll never figure that one out. I was always a brilliant student though, that was my saving grace, much better than my dad had been and I think we kind of found our peace with each other as a result.

Six years of campus life and three years of sales managerial experience later, I am no longer an introvert, though I would still prefer no company to poor company. I still don’t sing, except along with my car stereo with the windows up but I have done a few things and learnt a few tricks along the way. But the biggest change in me has been the way I have nailed down certain routines and worked hard to make them happen over the last couple of years.

It really started with the gym. Its been a good journey, starting from the morning workouts before office, those painful first couple of weeks to the change in cities, jobs, residences, I have managed to stick with it somehow. The next has been my rediscovery of the joy of reading. That’s been on now for the last 6 months and I have been finishing at least a couple of books a month since then. Not bad. Then of course, there’s been the running, about which I have blogged recently. My blogging has been pretty consistent, frequency that is, no comments on the quality. And for the last three weeks, I have started learning to play the guitar again, using the same guitar, which my parents thrust upon me 16 years ago. I am liking it and don’t be surprised, o patient reader if you are one, to find some musical podcasts happening from this page in about four months time.

And with the way my hairline’s been receding after every bath, I just realised that I am becoming my dad.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Today morning, as I came out of my room on my way to my first bath of the day, I chanced upon ‘Vichu’s Aratai Arangam’, a weekly talk show on SUN TV which my mom tries not to miss as it dissects various social issues concerning the Tamil Nadu populace. I find the host and the participants highly cacophonic most of the time and was going to put in my usual token acerbic resistance when I noticed one of the speakers on the show.

She was obviously middle-aged, short, dark and with typical ordinary Dravidian features. She had a clear round face though. She wore a very ordinary looking sari and her hair was made in a bun with a few frazzled ends hanging around her. In fact, she could easily pass off as one of the many maids who have worked in any of our homes over the years. Her eyes seemed to be focussed on the ground at an angle of 30 degrees and her eyes were unmistakably sad. But her voice. Her voice, as she spoke, was clear and unambiguous, filled with a mix of pathos and pride. I will try and translate here what she said. It will be a sub-standard effort since my Tamil is pretty sub-standard and I didn’t get everything she said.

Woman: …Ayya, it doesn’t matter who provides the support, man or woman, it is the quality of support, which matters. I lost my husband 10 years ago. Ayya, I was devastated. After all the ceremonies got over, many men from my community came to my house and said Amma, bring out some chairs, we need to discuss certain matters. I said Ayya, I will not bring out any chairs. I know if I bring them out what matters you will discuss. Please go to your own homes Ayya, I am fully capable of taking care of my children and myself.

Vichu (host): And how many children do you have, amma?

Woman: Ayya, I have four children.

Vichu: And how many girls, amma?

Woman: I have three girls, Ayya, and a boy, the youngest. My eldest daughter was in 9th standard when this tragedy struck us. My eldest daughter scored ____ in her school finals and got a seat in the prestigious Anna University in Chennai and did her engineering. Not only that, she was the topper in her first and second years and graduated as a gold medallist. Today she is working in ____. Ayya, even my second daughter scored ____ in her exams and is studying in her final year B.E. Computer Science in ____. I asked my third daughter when she completed her schooling, amma, what do you want to do? She said, amma, I will be a CA. I said fine, go ahead, and now she is studying towards that aim. When I go with them to a temple, they say amma, why should we thank god, you are the person we should be thanking. When two of my girls were SPL (School Pupil Leader) and ASPL (Assistant School Pupil Leader), their school called me to one of their functions and asked me to light the ceremonial lamp. I asked Ayya, why are you asking me to light this lamp. They said Amma, your daughters have requested us. But my struggle is not over yet. My son is now in the 9th standard now. I have to now see that he too achieves his life’s ambitions. During this whole time, Ayya, I have not shed a tear in front of my children. Whenever I felt like crying, I would run away from their presence. But now here, when I see your kind face looking at me with eyes moist, I cannot stop these tears which are streaming down my face…

And as the camera panned the audience, there wasn’t a dry eye present. As my mother sniffed and I scooted into the bathroom, I couldn’t help thinking about two things. How different would my life have been if my Dad had passed away twelve years ago instead of two? And was the mother helped by the reservation policy in education in Tamil Nadu?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Bloody Elevator

The one attached to my apartment. Doesn’t work. At least the way it should. Though I guess it’s not its fault. Its one of those old ones you know, the one with the double grilled black doors, each on the inside and outside on every floor. It’s probably served its useful life already.

But there isn’t another elevator in the building with five floors and twenty-five apartments. One would think that the architect who designed this went on to do an MBA or something. It seems that its gonna cost Rs. 5 lakhs to get a new one installed, which means Rs. 20000 from every household. It is at such a time when you find out that people living in the first 3 floors actually never use the bloody thing, at least that’s what they claim nowadays.

So it looks like I am stuck with the bloody thing till it decides to either die a quiet death or kill someone one of these days. I have started calling it the ‘Gabbar ki Goli’. I’m almost tempted to say "Sardar, maine aapka namak khaya hai" every time I am in it. It really makes a tired effort and lets out a loud groan when launching itself from the ground floor. You hold the walls of the bloody thing as it shakes like the airplane in the movie "Air Force One"and let out a sigh of relief when you are airborne. The mirrors on the walls of the bloody thing am sure have seen many a sweat pouring down a nervous neck.

Just the other day, when I had safely reached the fifth floor, where I stay, I found to my consternation that the outer door was stuck and refused to open to my desperate heaves and pulls. I kicked the bloody thing, closed the inner grill door and went down to the fourth floor to try my luck there. Sorry. Same old heaving, pulling and cussing, but to no avail. I was feeling faint with the exertion when I found a wooden stick inside the elevator and was tempted to beat myself on the head with it. I pulled myself together in the nick of time. With luck, got out on the third floor and ran to the safety of my home.

I was told later that the wooden stick is kept to loosen the ball bearings, which get stuck on the fourth and fifth floors. One has to really reach between both the grilled doors with the stick deep within the contraption when stuck inside the bloody thing and loosen it up before it lets you out. A little scary you know and no, it’s not fun, you dirty minds.

I have perfected the technique by now, and am able to come out just by using my bare hands. But that still leaves the problem of getting in, unresolved since you can’t loosen the balls from without. As of now, I climb down two floors and call the bloody thing up, then get impatient while the bloody thing wakes up from its slumber on the ground floor and proceed to take the stairs while its making its way up.

Any better ideas?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

With Arms Wide Open

Song dedicated to Ashutosh, his wife Mitalee and the new joy in their life, Arjun. See related post here.

Well I just heard the news today
It seems my life is going to change
I closed my eyes, begin to pray
Then tears of joy stream down my face

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
With arms wide open

Well I don't know if I'm ready
To be the man I have to be
I'll take a breath, I'll take her by my side
We stand in awe, we've created life

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I'll show you love
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
With arms wide open
I'll show you everything ...oh yeah
With arms wide open..wide open

If I had just one wish
Only one demand
I hope he's not like me
I hope he understands
That he can take this life
And hold it by the hand
And he can greet the world
With arms wide open...

With arms wide open
Under the sunlight
Welcome to this place
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
Now everything has changed
I'll show you love
I'll show you everything
With arms wide open
With arms wide open
I'll show you everything..oh yeah
With arms wide open....wide open

Artist: Creed

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Running in the Park

Been doing that for about two months now. Every weekend. It all started coz of the traffic at the treadmills in the gym and I needed to do my cardio somewhere.

The Krishna Kant Park has a perimeter of about 850 m. The first couple of weeks I struggled to finish two rounds. Since then I have successfully increased my run by a round every week and I have surprised myself by the results. Yesterday, ran nine rounds in about 50-55 minutes. That should be about 7.5 km at about 8-8.5 km. per hour. Not bad at all considering all those failed jogging attempts over the years. So now am thinking, that I can add a couple of more rounds to cap an hour of running. And then, I could work at increasing my average speed to maybe 10 km/hr. That would be about 12 rounds in an hour. Who knows, maybe I could run a half marathon in two and half-hours in a couple of month’s time. Hmmm…I think I should buy one of those zany digital sports watches, which record time in microseconds.

Ok, coming back to reality, the first couple of rounds are more or less a cakewalk nowadays and I hardly lose my breath except to let out a ‘whoosh!’ once a minute. By the fourth, I am breathing in and out regularly through my mouth, the sweat starts dripping from the forehead and I can feel the heat of the mud track through the soles of my shoes. By the sixth, my calf muscles start talking to each other and I am trying not to focus on the pain. That’s the toughest part. What does one think while running? How do you keep your mind away from the voice inside which says, "Stop! Stop!". By the seventh, now sweating in buckets and am wiping it off onto my T-shirt. The other walkers (not many runners around) now start noticing and the odd pretty girl gives me a stare. That helps. A lot. What doesn’t is when the shoelace comes off and I have to tie them back. That happened twice yesterday. I need to find a better way to tie those laces. It’s the eighth now and am running in the dark, as the sun has gone down and the lights in the park are feeble and many don’t work. I can really feel every vertical centimeter of the uphill parts of the track now, my hands start aching and I loosen them up by letting them down by my sides. My fingers and neck are stiff and I work at them as well while running. My throat is parched and my lips are dry. Now I start the grunt cycle. That works like this. After every 8 bounds, I let out a grunt. Not as bad as Monica Seles but enough to startle any remaining intrepid walkers as I overtake them. So I go, Clop, Clop, Clop, Clop, Clop, Clop, Clop, Clop, GRUNT! This rhythm helps me focus and takes me through the last two rounds. The last two hundred meters now and I am trying to increase my speed. That’s when I see her. She’s there at the gate, calling my name and holding out her hands towards me.

I can’t find her when I touch the gate but I know she’ll be there next week. At the end of the tenth.

whoop de doo

if i’m over the moon
it’s because i’m over you
a day at a time
and i’m tickety-boo
i don’t carry on
the way i used to
whoop de doo
whoop de doo

if i’m doing great
it’s because when i get home
i don’t go straight to my answerphone
and the tears don’t come
the way they used to
whoop de doo
whoop de doo

so many little things
are so much better now
they were only the little things

if i’m over the moon
it’s because that’s what i am
funny that once
i used to give a damn
and i’d do anything
in the whole wide world for you
whoop de doo
whoop de doo

anything you’d want me to
whoop de doo
whoop de doo

Artist: Mark Knopfler
Album: Shangri-La

Saturday, May 06, 2006

A Vocabulary Lesson

That’s what reading ‘The Sea’ by John Banville felt like. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s uncool reading a book after it has won the Booker, but when did I start giving a shit. Well anyway, I had to reach for the dictionary so many times while reading it that I just gave up (not on the book, the dictionary) and resorted to making circles around words that I didn't get, with a pencil. More about the book later, but first the results of my diligent work.

Manikins- dummy
Etiolated- bleach, whiten
Quotidian- customary, accustomed
Revenant- apparition, specter
Immured- shut in, locked in
Insouciant- carefree, untroubled
Spire- tall structure, skyscraper
Sough- sigh, whisper
Stipples- dot, dab
Rump- buttocks, bottom
Venial- excusable, forgivable
Lassitude- lethargy, languor
Papules- blemish
Euphonious- melodious, sonorous
Grog- alchohol, booze
Coevals- coexistent, simultaneous
Fronds- leaf, blade
Doilies- floor covering, doormat
Savant- scholar, learned person
Homunculus- midget, gnome
Canker- sore, ulcer
Russet- reddish brown, copper colored
Nosegays- bouquet
Desiccated- dry, parched
Gobs- lump of earth
Refection- principal meal of the day
Kippers- add salt, season
Whorled- spiral, coil
Bungs- stopper, cork
Joggling- hauling, drawing
Cruets- narrow mouth jar
Fuzz- fluff, fine fur
Trilling- shrill noise, piercing cry
Vale- valley, lowland
Casuistry- fallacious reasoning, misconception
Mephitic- stinking, putrid
Cruciform- symbol, crucifix
Staves- post, pole
Pewter- metal, alloy
Satyr- monster, demon
Fatuous- dim-witted, dense
Syncopated- abbreviate, condense
Imprecation- curse, expletive
Purblind- myopic
Cerements- shroud, covering
Plangent- resounding, reverberating
Timorous- fearful, frightened
Littoral- shore, beach
Expatiation- discuss, dissert
Addled- incoherent, muddled
Inamorato- lover, admirer
Putative- commonly accepted

And the following are the words that my pocket dictionary and MS WORD 97 have given up on. Am too lazy to get online and search. See if you can help.


The book itself, of course, reads like a dream (though I hope the author didn’t dream up some of the words). Sample this:

"When I peered wishfully through the mists from the all too real then to the blissfully imagined now, this is, as I have said, exactly how I would have foreseen my future self, a man of leisurely interests and scant ambition sitting in a room just like this one, in my sea-captain’s chair, leaning at my little table, in just this season, the year declining towards its end in clement weather, the leaves scampering, the brightness imperceptibly fading from the days and the street lamps coming on only a fraction earlier each evening. Yes, this is what I thought adulthood would be, a kind of long Indian summer, a state of tranquility, of calm incuriousness, with nothing left, of the barely bearable raw immediacy of childhood, all the things solved that had puzzled me when I was small, all mysteries settled, all questions answered, and the moments dripping away, unnoticed almost, drip by drip, towards the final, almost unnoticed quietus."

The book is dark and melancholic for the most part but Banville does throw up his sharp wit now and then, which jumps up and bites you and leaves you laughing aloud. Like this one:

"When she tottered to her feet the wicker chair cried out in excruciated relief. She really is of a prodigious bulk. I thought if her belt buckle were to fail and the belt snap her trunk would flop into a perfectly spherical shape with her head on top like a large cherry on a, well, on a bun."

Ok, that’s it, Amartya Sen’s ‘The Argumentative Indian’, here I come!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

My Sacred Thread

I was just flipping through some of the old family albums yesterday and came upon one with photos of my sacred thread or Poonal ceremony. This is considered to be an important ceremony with us Tamil Iyers, the initiation of boy into Brahminhood, or I guess that’s how I would put it. Of course my memories of the function are not pleasant. I was a shy kid and never liked being the center of attention, especially one which involved being half naked in a dhoti, sitting beside a holy fire and repeating Sanskrit verses which sounded like gibberish to me, by the dozen, over a period of two days. I think I was about 10—11 years old then.

Thankfully, my parents were wise and had clubbed this function along with my cousin’s (probably to share the cost) who is a year younger to me. So I have company in my misery, I had thought. But it was actually worse. My cousin was a different kind of a kid. He reveled in the attention, remained jovial throughout what seemed to me like an ordeal, and made matters worse for me by inviting unfavorable comparisons by all and sundry aunts and uncles. All the photos show me wearing an expression not dissimilar to the one Vinod Kambli had on his face after India went out in the semifinals of the Cricket World Cup’96 in Calcutta while my cousin looks like the victorious Sri Lankan, Ranatunga.

The first day of the function was held at my grandparent’s huge house in North Madras. There’s this photo where I am in a white and pink striped towel, sitting cross-legged on a low stool while a whole bucket of water is emptied over my head as part of some ritual. People all around seemed to think it was funny. I think I used the opportunity to cry some unseen tears.

I steeled myself for the second day which took place in a public hall in Adyar, I think. My priest started earlier than my cousin’s and I remember I was looking forward to finishing mine earlier and watch him suffer while I played with my other cousins and friends. I kept track throughout the whole morning of the comparative progress of the rituals and noted with satisfaction that we had built up a sizeable lead. The checkered flag was not far away. But at the end, my conscientious priest decided that I hadn’t sufficiently internalized the entire Sanskrit gibberish that he had been chanting (and me repeating) all this while and proceeded to an extended impromptu coaching exercise. My face and spirits grew smaller and smaller as I watched my cousin finishing his and being let off. And when I saw him changed into a smart T-shirt and shorts and proceed to wave at me while he played with the other kids, my voice choked and eyes welled up with tears. My myopic priest eventually had pity on me or more probably became hungry and finished the whole thing off.

The thread therefore, never had any significance for me. I never had any reason in my mind to keep it on but didn’t have a good reason to take it off either. So over the years, it had become an accessory, which I used to scratch my back with, (since it is worn across one shoulder and around the back) till it broke. Now and then I would get a fresh one from my parents or when I am required to participate in another of those rituals.

Couple of days ago, when I was in the huge washroom attached to my gym, wrapped in a blue and white striped towel after my bath and admiring myself in those huge mirrors, that I noticed that the thread was obstructing a clear view of my abs. I took it off, rolled it up and slipped it into a blue dustbin with a white lid.

Yes, much better now.

P.S. The one good thing, which resulted out of the ceremony, was that I was presented my first watch, a Titan Aqura, with a white dial and a black strap by one of my relatives. It showed good time for many years.

Some More Chess and Stuff

This post was written three days ago but couldn’t post it due to an internet connectivity issue.

We won! We won! We won! But, of course…:)

Won the finals today. I won all my games in the tournament, obviously. My teammates, two of them pitched in with good wins and draws as well. Couple of hiccups with the organization of the event, some chaos, but all in all, great fun. Today’s game was the most challenging one, though I was never in any danger of losing at any point of time. Played the Sicilian Dragon after a long break. One hardly gets to play the classical dragon at the amateur level since many white players prefer to play Bc4 and d3 when faced with 1..c5, thereby avoiding the pawn exchange on d4 which characterizes every classical Sicilian variation. Anyways, a nicely timed pawn sacrifice on e5 ended in me going an exchange up. Exchanges all around led to a rook vs bishop ending with about 4 pawns each. Elementary, my dear Watson.

Boozed today with colleagues. I got a little bored by the company and conversation though, which was surprising coz normally I am very lenient in such situations. Everybody cribbed about their jobs and bitched about other colleagues for most of three hours. I am generally happy with gulping my beer and laughing at jokes which others crack but there’s only so much Ma Behen gaalis and references to specific body parts that I can listen to in one evening. I had half a mind to leave in the middle but that would have been rude, na? Instead roughed it out and was quite sleepy and releived by the time we wrapped it all up.

These days I am running short of words for these posts. Hell, it’s not the first time. See ya later.