Sunday, October 31, 2004

After sound, the smell

Today has been a day of smells.

And smells the kind I love: FOOD!

It was coming on for a bit, actually. Yesterday, someone said 'biryani' and instantly, I was swamped by that exquisite blend of uniquely Indian smells that make that dish food for the Gods! And me.

After biryani, the brew. Later in the evening, another colleague said something about grabbing a coffee and instantly I could smell the aroma of coffee - grinding (my grandmother used to do it at home), brewing, boiling, bubbling over, frothing! Aaaaaahhhh!
I'm not sure about this, but there is supposed to be a Starbucks study which indicates that 90 odd percentage of coffee drinkers hit the cup for the smell and they can't actually stand the taste!

But that was not all. The assault of Smells had just begun for me.

Last night I could smell coke. Well, i mean Coca Cola- the coldness, the freshness, the fizz. That's a new one, even for me! And then, I could imagine cold coke trickle down my throat - The agony and the ecstacy!

Synaesthesia. That's what it is. When one sensory perception leads to another, the second without any independent external stimulus. Like I smell non-existent coke and feel it trickling down my throat...Prof.V.S.Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition and Professor of Neurosciences and Psychology at the University of California , San Diego, of course says it much better.

But back to where we began.

Today, the smell business got really serious. I was getting back to office after a rather hard day on the field- speaking to medics, one after the other, about illness and disease can be quite tiresome. But let me not get into that trip now. Saving that post for a rainy day!

Now, where was I? Ah! Smell. I was driving back through Peter's Road and right bang in the middle of Royapettah, I was assailed by the smell of frying food- samosas, maybe pakoras, maybe cutlets, even oily bajjis. These smells began as a mere wisp, wafting past, and then swirled around me, slowly surrounding me, envelopping me - wholly!

The smell carried me until the General Patters Road -Mount Road junction, after which the aroma from Buharis took over! This one brought up visions of some pleasant subzi-gravy and piping hot tandoori rotis, layery parottas.

I guess all this is still within the realms of what any person, mildly sensitive to pleasant smells can feel on an extra sensitive day. You know when I was tempted to think I have ESP- extra sensory perception, when I knew the smell monster had taken me over - wholly?

When I opened a box of idlies, took a deep breath and then forgot to breathe out...



Thursday, October 28, 2004

Niche Blogs

Talk about niche blogs...

Just discovered that my badminton-crazy friend has spent time, energy and money on Check out Dev's site if you are similarly inclined!

We already know about Drive Blogger's 'auto' site, Suderman's own movie site and Karthik's attempt at paying homage to one of the best movies ever made- Thillana Mohanambal.

Any one heard of anything else niche? I'm quite intrigued. So, let us hear!

May the Force be with all of us...


The Passion of Christ

I watched The Passion of Christ over the last couple of nights.
No, I do not make a habit of watching movies split over nights. But this time, the er.. brutality was way too much to handle at one sitting.

Admittedly, it is like no other movie I have ever watched before. I abhor violence -especially of the mindless variety. And if it had been any other movie I'd have walked out of the theatre or plain switched off the TV. But I did not do that this time. Or rather, I did turn off the TV. But switched it on again the next night. I kept coming back to that brutality, as if transfixed by the violence.

What amazed me completely, was the way I was convinced -right through- of the reality of the scenes unfolding in the movie. With violence, I generally feel a sense of distance. I guess it is one way I handle what happens on screen - with the sheath of disbelief. But this time, the Roman/Jewish violence WAS so believable. And I do not mean only the lashings or floggings. The swell of hate from the Jewish mob waiting to condemn Jesus of Nazareth, nearly brought my dinner up.

Why was it believable? Perhaps, because Christ himself was so much more believable! Despite all his passion and new found evangelism, Mel Gibson, still manages to give me Christ who is more human; Mary, who seems more mother-like while looking angelic; Mary Magdalene fresh, young and sorrowful; Peter, disgusted with his own betrayal. Except for the single event where Jesus restores the severed ear of the Roman soldier, he is beaten, battered, crucified, nay, slaughtered, certainly no prophet, no miracle maker.

Therefore, while I cringed at the violence and shook with the impact, I still thought it was the classiest film on the passion of Christ I've ever seen, or will see. After 17 years of convent education, which gave me ample time to study Christianity in the appropriate atmosphere, I'm convinced Mel Gibson brings us closer to what could have happened to Jesus Christ. Had Jesus Christ ever happened at all.


Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Sound security

It was one of those regular press conferences that we journalists are used to attending. When you do two a day, you get familiar with the ritual - signing the visitor's book, coffee in paper cups, bondas soggy with chutney, the inane questions...answers...
But today was different. Sitting in one of these non-soul-elevating conferences, brushing aside the bonda, I had a moment of epiphany.
Journalists can, if we are covering a particular beat (subject), even predict with a certain degree of accuracy, a blow-by-blow account of what is to happen next...
It began like one of those conferences today. Usual rituals, same journalists, small talk, big talk... I'm avoiding the specifics, because they are not important.
At one point, Dr.Mohan Kameswaran (the ENT surgeon, heard of him?) said, "Do you know why hearing is so important to us?"
What kind of a question was THAT? Don't we all know how important it is and precisely why.
But his answer was my epiphany:
"The most important function of hearing is to connect."
How true! Sound connects man with his surroundings, simply. In that, is his security. The feeling of belonging somewhere comes from the sounds/noises we hear everyday.
Have we not felt it before? Quite unconsciously? When that irritating creak of a fan that has a faulty bearing makes you feel at home, or the incessant mute whirring of the air conditioner tells you "boss, you are at work". That is security.
When the hair on my neck stood up, I had a feeling it was not merely the air conditioner blower.

Then, I heard that familiar scrape of a chair hurriedly pushed aside - that made me secure too. Secure in the belief that I was among a tribe of journalists, patient ones, who want to leave before it is actually time to.


Tuesday, October 26, 2004

New skin a.k.a. I did it, again - Part 3

New skin! I know you guys out there are all sighing (some of you shrieking), "Not AGAIN!!!"
YEah, I'm overdoing it. But my fascination for what I seem to have
stumbled on by accident has simply swept me up - body, soul and mind.
Decided to go back to my old screen- it's sure better, thanks guys, all those who
urged me to get back. Except, this time, it was more difficult to put the links in.
As in, it did not already have a provision for links. Took all day doing it! But its up and going
and is all that matters!

May the Force be with all of us.


Sunday, October 24, 2004

Of fairy tales and pumpkin coaches

This is probably overdoing it. Three posts in a day. But since the idea is to write when one can, what does it matter. Plus, the first two were just vanity!

I am not sure how many of you saw this really grand advertisement for the 'Cinderella' pavadai, by the RmKV store - a little girl wears a pavadai that spreads out in a perfect geometric circle around her as she sits.

I saw it. And it makes me want to be a little girl again, so I could wear one of those pavadais. The best thing about wearing a pavadai was being able to twirl yourself around and then sit, with the skirts ballooning about you. THAT was one of the many pleasures of my South Indian childhood.

We would even have competitions at that- my sister, the cousins, neighbours, me- all of us who wore 'pavadais', turning and swirling till the world became a blur and the skirt, a balloon! The kids that got their skirts to swell most won, naturally. When we got a little older, the losers began to console themselves, "It has to do with the cut of the cloth." But, their faces still fell as their skirts did.

Whatever else we did, we din't call it the Cinderella pavadai. Today, 'pavadai wearing' is not for me... dredging deep into my memory's recesses, I remember we used to call the swirling-ballooning ritual 'thattamaalai.'

But, when did 'thattamaalai' become Cinderella?

Perhaps, in its re-invented avatar the pavadai has morphed into an ill-treated step-sister raking the coals in the fireplace. Then, when you wear the Cinderella pavadai, perhaps you'll get one glass slipper free, and a pumpkin coach to ride on too!


Saturday, October 23, 2004

I did it, again!!

I just seem to be getting better! Or should I say, like my little cousin, better-er and better-er!
I not only put the links on, but I also managed to make it look better than it already did.
It was like a pale colour (like you see with view my complete profile) and din't really stand out well. So I changed the html coding colour - and it has perked the site up a bit!


I did it!


I did too. Cracked it. All by MYSELF. The links by the side...
Always knew I had it in me! :)


The Diwali Countdown

Not that this is a decent hour to be doing this kind of thing, with the bad neck I have too. But just testing out my busier half's laptop and had to stop by!
This is the first of the Diwali jokes I've heard this year...

and Surprise! Surprise! it is about Jayalakshmi!

*** Intha Diwali Special release : Jayalakshmi Vedi -- Enga patha vechalum, pakathula irukura
police station la poi vedikum!! ***

This week began bad, what with being ridden with flu etc..., but there should be a better way of
ending it!


Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Veerappan milestone

In the history of Tamil Nadu, as it will be written, we will read of pre-Veerappan and a post- Veerappan periods. In his death, as in life, Veerappan seems to charter entire news pages.
Suderman, dead men do tell tales...

The Hindu is carrying a special Veerappan page (pg 12) tomorrow.

I shall keep this short, yes. After 20 years, we've trapped Koose Munuswamy Veerappan, but I did think it would be STF commander K.Vijay Kumar who would do it, if it were ever to be done.



The long and short of it...

This one is dedicated to my friend who thinks my blog is longandboringandrecommendsthatiwriteshorterpieces.


Its amazing how I could have, even for a moment, imagined
that I could be the lady and mistress of my blog. Merely weeks
into blogging, I already have these surrogate sub-editors pouring
over my copy spilling red ink! I guess they are with me to STAY.

Sometimes I wonder if free will is all bunkum...

Also, since I take criticism well :), I shall endeavour to keep my posts
er... shorter!

May the (short) force be with all of us!


Monday, October 18, 2004

Drunk-on driving!

Today's quota. Truth to tell inspired by Ravages a/c of getting back his two-wheeler after service. A little cheating, since I wrote it some time ago, but in my blog, I RULE !!! :)

I have a confession to make. I am a chronic two-wheeler addict. Actually, I havent worked out yet whether it is to do with two-wheelers as a genre or my own particular machine. But considering I'm presently writhing in the throes of withdrawal symptoms, I can barely think beyond two wheels.

So much so, my head is spinning, whirring so fast, its strange. Yeah, I know you are going to say its my low pressure. It ain't. In fact every time I think about how I can't just saddle my scooty and rev up, my pressure shoots up. Quite the opposite, I must say.

I'm not trying to imitate De Quincey either in prose or wit, but believe me, I feel as deeply as he did about his servility to opium. Especially because I was once convinced that I could never be an addict. My `mobile' friends have warned me, told tales of their dependency, but I listened to them raving with a superior smirk, comfortable in the knowledge that it could NOT happen to ME. Addiction, I mean. I thought it was a question of will power, until I discovered that it has nothing to do with the will or its power. Addiction, simply happens to you, whether you like it or not, whether you want it or not. I wonder if there is this chemical in the brain that causes two-wheeler addictions, you know, the equivalent of the alcohol thingie.

What happened? Well, this. A few days ago, my bike stopped twice on Mount Road. Yeah, peak hour. Anybody who has lived in Chennai will know exactly what this means. The first time, I just about evaded a cyclist on a suicidal mission. The next time, I managed to avoid becoming an obituary note on the Sports page of
The HINDU. Considering it was a tipper lorry I had side-stepped, there would have otherwise been very little of me to recover. That is a very sobering thought. Does this make me an addict?

Course it does. You'd think after all that stopping it did on me, I'd send it to the scrap yard. I dint. One, I cant afford to. Two, like I said, I am addicted to the damn thing. So I trundled it to the service station and looked frantically for my favourite mechanic. If I love my bike, Rajan understands it best. You could say it all began on Mount Road, or you could say it began when I heard Rajan had quit.

My jaw dropped, "QUIT? You mean Q.U.I.T, as in he's gone, he's not here ...?" I asked like it could not have happened. Rajan's replacement looked at me like I was slightly unhinged (he'd have said `mental' though), rolled his eyes, sighed and explained. Rajan had gone seeking fresher pastures. Well, I dont blame the chappie. Would go myself if there were any to go to, but I felt really sad about not having returned his call the last time. Maybe he wanted to tell me all about it and I wasnt there to listen. Everybody has to have regrets in life, guess this is my quota.

But then, there was this guy waiting with strained patience, wanting to know if I wanted to leave my bike behind or NOT. Just to make sure, I kind of reached behind him, peeped into the work shed for the last time and asked unbelievingly, "Are you SURE Rajan is not here?" In retrospect I can see that it was not exactly the right thing to say, but I dint see it then.

I guess I'm paying for it now. Its been more than three days and I havent seen my bike yet, or heard a vroom. Nothing's wrong with it, I was told, it probably requires an hour's work. An HOUR? It's been days now.

So I get these pangs everytime I step out of home and realise I cant bike it to the office or wherever that day. And then, everytime I see a bus, I blanche. Well, that's still better than when I see an auto. I turn green when I see other two-wheeler riders on the road, or hear another's bike start up. "It's not fair", I think, "Why me?".

Last night after a really exhausting day bussing and legging it around, I put my legs up. I was going to close my eyes, before I saw this wine red helmet, MY new wine red helmet, sitting in a corner assuredly, cocking a snook at me. That was that. I reached for the phone, "Centigo Scooters? I WANT MY SCOOTY NOW".


Saturday, October 16, 2004

The primal urge - what Durex makes of it

I was wondering if I should do it - add adult content to my otherwise er... sterile blog!
And then I thought maybe Suderman should- atleast it will match the rest of the content on his site!

Finally, I think Inky Pinky Ponky sorted things out...

I..P..P.. decided that l wedge in a link to the Durex Global Sex Survey 2004 results on my blog.
I get this stuff because I write extensively on HIV/AIDS and health issues, but primarily because of HIV. In fact it came through an AIDS ASIA e-group.

Now that i've explained why sex gets into my mail box, go ahead and check this out if you want to... or if you have'nt already!

Durex Global Sex Survey 2004

More than 350,000 people from 41 countries took part in the world's largest ever survey of sexual attitudes and behaviour.
The research confirmed France is now officially the sexiest state with the French having sex 137 times a year - well above the global average of 103 - with Greece and Hungary coming a close second and third. Europeans also win hands down in turning their partners on. Topping the table are the British, who spend 22.5 minutes on foreplay, followed by the Germans. And, in many countries, foreplay is increasingly likely to include such sexual enhancers as pornography, vibrators, pleasure enhancingcondoms and lubricants.
The survey also reveals the average global age for first sex is now 17.7 and the trend is towards losing virginity earlier with today's 16-20 year olds becoming sexually active by 16.5.And while more than three in 10 believe the state should invest in sex education to help prevent sexually transmitted infections, asimilar percentage acknowledge they have had unprotected sex without knowing their partner's sexual history.
Finally, on a lighter note, Hollywood stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie top the sexiest celebrity charts taking over from last year's winners - English footballer David Beckham and Americanactress Jennifer Lopez.


Wednesday, October 13, 2004

In the beginning was the word - Why journos blog

It was coming all along. Someone was bound to pick up that question and knock it at our web-faces. SOme one did pick up that question. Actually, two people did.

Which is why I'm writing about this today, instead of the review of The Terminal (by Steven Speilberg) that I was eager to write about. Tom Hanks plays a Krakozhian national stranded in JFK airport, NYC - again award winning (Check out lazy geek's review, meanwhile). Mine, will have to wait, am afraid.

To give the devil its due ( ;P ), Ravi started it. He asked the question. Rather, he made the statement. Read it on his blog - about journalists blogging. And this morning, another friend of mine, just introduced to the concept of blogging, wondered why my "glog" (!! yeah, these people do exist!!) was so full of adjectives.

Why, indeed! In fact, why do I write at all? I mean, on a blog. Considering I'm a journalist and have to write for my supper, rasam and brinjal. Would I have not had enough? With words?

If this were one of those black and white movies, i'd start with those amazing vortex kinda thingies, concentric circles that spin and let you know a flashback's going to happen (watch
Kung Pow for the ultimate flashback rip off). The best place to start is the beginning, isn't it?

Not really. Not always. Besides, often you don't remember the beginning. Let's take this in media res, then. From the middle.

What i'm trying to say is that I'm a journalist because I never wanted to be anything else. And why I say middle is because for a very negligible period of my life I wanted to be a space scientist. It doesn't count.

I wanted to be a journalist, in the pre-Barkha Dutt, pre-mike totting, camera- rolling days, basically before journalism got glamourous. That makes me sound old, but the fact is historians will say glam crept up on journalism say five-six years ago. But it's true I belong to the time warp that believed journos were khadi-wearing, bespectacled, jolna-totting, male blokes.

But that's not why I got in. Even then, I believed that the image was a cliche. I'd be a journalist, but I would'nt be that dowdy type, I told myself. Mostly, I wanted to be a journalist because I believed it was the only profession which would allow me to do what I most wanted to - write. Sincerely, I wanted to write to make a difference, move people, if not mountains, to change. Smirking? But, I was young enough to believe that.

Now, I understand, it is mostly a fallacy. You don't get to WRITE in journalism, atleast not the way you imagined you could. I could speak for myself, but then again, a lot of my brethren would agree that their copies are edited. I guess we din't reckon with this bug bear called the DESK, or editorial policy when we signed up on the roster.

But here we are, writing to policies, deadlines, space requirements and word counts.

That is primarily why we blog, I think. It certainly is why I blog. Cos in the world wide web, in my corner of it, there is no editorial policy, or if there is, I decide it: I'm my own editor. No word limits either, no emphasis on facts, on steering clear of opinion or space-page layout problems.
It allows me to do what I thought, quite naively, that I could do with journalism - to write.

I guess all of us do it because of that. But for us, it is because with blogs, we REALLY write.

If I've come off like its a drag working, I din't mean to. I love what I'm doing and I would not really care to do anything else. However, when you sit at office, eight times of ten, thumping inanities on your computer, it will make a huge difference to pull the plug, get on the blog, write exactly what you want to and be sure that it will be published too!

And of course. In the beginning, and the end, there is only The Word.


Tuesday, October 12, 2004

One more drawn into the force

A friend of mine has been inspired to go blogging... check her blog out when you have the time.

May the force be with all of us...



On the other side of - not the fence - the camera!

Theoretically, that title is not right. And it's only my devotion to facts (cultivated after years in journalism) that makes me admit that the first thing in this post is a lie.

Because I'm not behind no mike/camera, since i am a pen pusher, i.e. write for a newspaper. Though I've quite some experience with the fence. In the most trivial-est of issues, I have fun sitting on the fence. Before that moment of epiphany strikes me and I decide which way to jump.
But that's quite not the subject at the moment.

I'm talking about my experience last weekend, when I had to do a shoot with Doordarshan for a talk show on mental illness. Since I'm rather fond of saying things first, and anyway this comment is bound to come up sometime, let me say it, "appropriate choice of speaker!" Well, wisecracks apart, i had to speak in Tamil, or rather, Tanglish, since the organisers insisted a mixture of Tamil and English. They seemed more comfortable with it. I have given talks entirely in Tamil before, so it was not THE challenge.

The challenge was to say something that has not been said before. But I forget. The challenge, actually, was to feel comfortable amidst that ghastly garden of green plastic that Doordarshan thought was decor. Plastic flowers, plastic mats, plastic chairs, plastic smiles, plastic whatever. It shall be to my eternal mortification that I sat amongst all that er... untactful, politically incorrect plastic.

These are the kind of things we do for love of a cause.

It was Dr.Thara of Schizophrenia Research Foundation (SCARF) who asked if I could be on the show. I agreed because I still have'nt found out how to turn her down. The show itself is called "Magalir Panchayat" and the three episodes that were shot on Saturday were part of a capsule on mental health, in observance of World Mental health Day on October 10.

The anchor, Bharathi Baskar, who otherwise has a rather lucrative job with a multinational bank, is apparently in it because it is her calling. Must admit that she was pretty good, getting junta (including patients who have recovered and media people who have not!) to talk, cutting them short when they rambled and saying the appropriate things in the appropriate tenor.

So where am I, you ask? Well, I dont appear until the third episode of the programme. Or rather, I say some profound things only in the third and final episode. Why this should be appreciated is because the anchor, Bharathi, and Rangarajan of Dinamani ( a Tamil newspaper) said most of the significant things before I could get a chance at the microphone. Come to think of it, it's partly my fault, cause in the beginning, I said I would be happy to add the glamour element to the media entourage so spare me the questions!

They took me at half my word, and spared me the first couple of questions, but I had to reckon with the armageddon at some point.

Soon after that, they thought it fit to wind up the show. And wasn't I glad! After sitting for one-and-a-half hours on a rock-hard wooden seat, at the end of it, I could have been a model for a robot - you know, stiff limbs and all.

Made a break for the exit. Need I add, I was also running before they could tell me when the show would be aired!!! To my comfortable side of the fence: behind the camera, behind the pen, behind the keyboard!


Sunday, October 10, 2004

Cambridge Chronicles...

What have I got to do with Cambridge?

Apart from loving the place entirely, which most people I know do, I was actually in Cambridge for three simply splendid months of my life. In the spring of 2002.
More preceisely: I was a Press Fellow at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, UK. The youngest and most 'cosmopolitan' college at Cambridge. But then, I jump ahead of the story.
In three months, I wrote home about Cambridge, about its people, its history, its greenery, its sheep and bank holidays. Like rambling, travel sort of pieces. But it kept me going - I had fun writing and some people had fun reading!
Also, this is my way of taking Driveblogger's advice to keep putting something new on it everyday, so it will refresh those who stumble by.
Okay. Of course, I'm cheating a bit, cos I'm just putting online what I've already written. Go ahead, sue me! :))
This series is going to be like an epistolary novella... in letter form throughout. Since I wrote it that way, I think it is better to retain it that way. I might may some modifications to ensure that things dont sound very outdated or very rude (believe me, the original can make you blush!!).
And then, advantage is you can stop reading when you want to. Isn't it?!


Saturday, October 09, 2004

Cambridge Chronicles 1: Getting There

Hello Folks,

Sorry about the common mail, but i figured, i wontreally get any mailing done if i dont bunch you people up! Please to bear with me... just the first few mailsperhaps. dont have no idea if I'll be as loquacious as this in future, but u never know, with me! :) Read on... if you have the time to
One of my frends mailed me today, asking me how I felt on alien shores. ALIEN?????? From here, india looks completely alien to me! :) Arright, I don't want to be ribbed about that forever, but that was just a manner ofspeaking.

And no, I ain't jet lagged in the least. In fact I'm raring to go... primarily because this is a real swell place. You love being here, despite the cold. I walked out of Heathrow airport into the open and asked my sister (who had kindly come to helpout intially) where the a/c blower was located, trying to figure out where this really cold gust came from.

And she said 'What blower???? It's the blessed wind. Welcome to England!' Like last night was something like 4 degrees and it showed! We were just coming back from the college pub and we had to nearly run back all the way. But the trick is to be well clad, i've discovered. Since it does not really matter inside the rooms.

I actually love the chill... imagine getting back to 40deg C?! In Chennai. And yes, i have internet access in my room. Which is abig bonus, really. Because net charges can be astronomical for people, especially someone who is yet to get used to NOT saying 4 pounds * 70!!

Just imagine, I had to buy a soap dish for 1 pound 20 and I was like 'phew!' That's more than 70 bucks! For a soap dish?????!!!! But such is the way of life. And it is easy, cos I'm already getting into the groove.

Been downtown to the citycentre and hunted out shops that apparently sell the best stuff at the cheapest prices... and yes, I'm kinda getting used to not thinking INR! Not entirely, but getting there.

In company, though, i do seem a bit like Mr. Scrooge himself. There is this other press fellow with me, Sanjeev Verma, one hell of a spender! To give him the advantage, he has been here hazaar times and just picks up any thing that meets his fancy. I'm simply amazed at his ease with spending.

But there is a booksale there that does seem a nice place to splurge is tempting I admit, but I have my eye on every pound... or shd I say penny...which is why I love the free breakfast, lunnch and dinner, nay, supper that we get here... real wholesomefood, quite tasty, at no cost.

They do seem to have quite a spread for veggies as well, considerate, i should think. Otherwise, I'm just eating the kind of food that I'd love to eat... boiled veggies, salads, soups and yoghurt! Except for the yoghurt(which i have discovered, can be more than just 'Thayir') everything else is rather less fattening... and there is quite a spot of cycling and walking to do everyday.
Let's hope I will c a much depleted me soon enough...but I'm told hardly anyone looses weight in Cambridge! :( Right then, I simply have no choice but to makehistory in Cambridge...

But if one were to get fat, simply on the sites, then it's eminently possible that I become round as a beerbarrel soon. It's such a swell place, it's unbelievable. Especially today is a bright and sunny day... it is quite splendid the way things are just like in all those movies we've seen.
I think I did believe until now, that they were all sets... but it's real, mate, real mccoy. I could go on and on abt these well- paved pathways, lungfulls of fresh breath and the greenery. But that would just be a cliche!

So i'll just tell you about the view from my I sit here typing, in front of me, I have this window which opens out into the amazingly green lawns of Wolfson College. I can even see some blood red tulips and yellow daffodils under the shade of an unknown tree. Today, as the sun shines brightly, the tulips have just gone a shade darker, as have the daffs! Do I have to say more? ;)

I dont really know about London, because I arrived there on a rather cold and grey evening...and left immediately for Cambridge...but I'm hoping to explore it sometime soon... Maybe this weekend, or the next...

Btw, how could I forget, quite a few Brits you meet here, are er... rather one-task people.
Maybe not in the unviersity area. But most of those in clerical jobs, are! Take their tellers away from them and they're done for! Remember not to ask any of those types to do two things at a time, like we're used to in india. They won't hear, or if they do, they'll forget what they were doing first and have to do it all over again!

Hmmm... I kinda like this! maybe I should do it more often! I would, except that I don't think its fair to be uncharitable to somebody who is actually nice enough to pay for you to have a ball! :)There is one thing though, here. Chivalry. In bits and pieces and on its last legs, but it does exist! You just have to try and look weighed down and people will help you carry your bags! Helps. Especially, if like me, you are carrying `India' in your suitcase. Otherwise, they wont even look at you.

But, I overreach. Facts first : there is an amazzing lack of ppl here! It's just a place... very few people around. I'm sure London will be different, but Cambridge really is sparsely populated. THAT, I think is the culture shock. Where are the people, you are asking yourself! After India, and Chennai (with a population of 6 million), especialy!
Now, if I just tell you about my house- the one I'm staying in, I think I can shut shop and go to the
Cambridge University library, where I hope to spend at least a good three hours! More about that later, perhaps.

We live in this delightful place... called Norton House. I'm on the first floor (the room with the view) and there are a few others in the place, apart from the press fellows. A coupla frendly Swedes, some stiff upper lipped Brits... and the two other press fellows. One of then, is from New Zealand.

Ah, I just got a call. I simply must leave, I guess... the library calleth! Anyway, its been a longmail... I hope not to be so boring or lengthy in future... it's just the initial soakin' in you see, ijust HAD to tell you all about it.
but take care, allovu and do keep mailing...cheers

p.s. did i tell you that i love the brit accent? :) it's something you have to grow up speaking. No short cut, unlike the American accent we can achieve rolling a few 'r's. The closest you can get, is to merely speak slowly and grammatically!


Ah! The New Look!

I simply love this blogging thingie more and more. Initially a reluctant visitor, I'm now addicted - I need my blog fix everyday. And guess what? I seem to find the time allright!
If you dont write, you can change the format. Get a new skin. Like moulting, or morphing. Awesome.
Check out my new skin then, resplendent in Amma-inspired green!
Btw, can inspired/experienced bloggers tell me how to get more people to look at my blog and comment too! ;)


Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Dan Brown - the inevitable has happened

As is inevitable with best sellers (well, nearly all of them), there are finally claims and counter claims have emerged about the originality of Dan Brown's classic: Da Vinci Code.
It was only to be expected, perhaps. After all Brown was merely deconstructing one of the oldest tales ever told. In fact, it is part of legend (in some limited quarters) that a friend of mine
got thrown out of St.Stephens, Mumbai for writing a thesis that claimed that the Bible was written by a group of bored Arabs who stopped for a while at an oasis and told the story to entertain themselves. (O.k. maybe he wasnt thrown out, but certain censure followed!)
But all the same, it is slightly disconcerting that such brilliance (Brown, of course, not my friend) should be tainted with such claims. For those of you who have not got an insight yet, check this out - how some people say Brown did not write his code first.


Saturday, October 02, 2004

The Mother of all Interviews - Karan Thapar Meets Amma

It was the best of interviews, it was the worst of interviews.

On Saturday night, I think I watched with fascination the best interview I've ever seen. OR should I say, the worst.
Karan Thapar (never my favourite anchorperson) blocked and tackled with Tamil Nadu's Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on a variety of issues on HArdTalk India. As he badgered her with questions, she shot back, in anger, insult and impatience, her lips quivering with emotion.
While, most people I spoke to were convinced (immediately after the interview - in the heat of the moment, of course) that they had indeed witnessed 100 per cent entertainment, there were two entirely different points of view.
One group (a few people, admittedly) believes that Amma came out tops. That Karan Thapar got what he deserved.
The other group (I belong to this) thinks Karan Thapar emerged unscathed, with Jayalalitha behaving childishly churlish. Of course, he asked some questions he should not have (about her reading from notes and if she was embarrassed by her belief in astrology) unless the sole intention was to provoke her. But, at the end of the interview, she was revealed as "irrational", "vengeful", "undemocratic" and "irresponsible" - exactly what he said the media had accused her of. While he maintained his professional dignity right through, she even fell to saying it was not a pleasure meeting with Thapar on the interview, withdrawing her reluctantly outstretched hands to clasp them together for a 'namaste'.
So, tell us, which of the two groups do you belong to?
Or would you like to stand somewhere in the great in-between?


Btw, I have a full transcript of the interview for those who care to read.


Friday, October 01, 2004

Chennai - weathering it all

this is from a chennai vasis' heart. much scorched and melted by the Chennai sun.
i'm writing this after i've just come into the airconditioned comfort of my workstation from the heat of the outside. its so hot outside, the tar is melting. can't believe we enter October today!