Friday, December 31, 2004

Why we need a new year NOW!

Suddenly at the end of this year, I'm tired. For the last few days, I've been hoping the year would flip over fast. Perhaps I have been hoping, naively, for a clean slate, for a happiness trigger.
I think we need that now: A happiness trigger.
Though I did try to keep it out, this post is not going to be a clean slate. However much I would like it to be. It is my hangover, my albatross, my modern rime.
If you are thinking tsunami, you are thinking right. But I'm also thinking Kumbakonam, before that. First, fire and then, water. Elemental displeasure.
There has been a great deal of sorrow this year, especially in the last part of this year. Two gruesome tragedies, distinguished for me by the fact of my participation in them. If bodies charred out stiff in Kumbakonam, they floated in the tsunami. Worse still, the survivors' sorrow knocks up your insides, refuses to let you sleep and makes you feel so irrelevant in the scale of things, so inadequate for being unable to do more. If you are doing anything at all.
There are a lot of lessons from each tragedy, I'd be a fool to ignore them. Not lessons on where to build houses and how to maintain schools - they are there too, but in the most crushing calamity, life doles out the most reassuring balm:
THIS TOO SHALL PASS, for the rest of us, spectators, who surge to reach out.

Happy New Year, folks! May the Force be with us!


Sunday, December 26, 2004


I nearly never lived to write this tale.
But now, it seems merely insignificant.
We were meant to stay over at GRT's Temple Bay Resort at Mahabalipuram overnight Saturday and then drive back, leisurely on Sunday evening. We nearly did. But then we did not. Thanks to my sister, we had to come back late Saturday night. Like I already said, in the light of the great tragedy that occured this morning, so trivial.
It did occur, though, to my journalistic mind that had I been there and survived, there would have been an excellent story to tell- what we call "first person account". But that is just my journalistic mind. It is used to thinking this way.
But another part of my mind also numbed as I watched the Coast Guard helo pick up survivors from the sea, it cringed when the bodies of children playing cricket were brought to the Government Royapettah Hospital, it sighed when news came in of early-morning walkers being swept up by the tidal waves, it heaves when it contemplates the number of bodies that are likely to be washed ashore in the next few days...
How unawares we were caught. It shows us, does it not, the Tsunami, that Coastal Regulation Zone is for OUR saftey. Violating it has probably been responsible for the catastrophic nature of lifeloss. The question, though, is how long we will remember the lessons Sunday's Tsunami taught us... whether we will once again build our greed houses over the watery graves...


Saturday, December 25, 2004


santa.3, originally uploaded by errum.

Blog Folks,
This time there is just this thing to be said: Merry Christmas!
May the Force be with us!


Thursday, December 23, 2004


link.cobra.reut, originally uploaded by errum.

For the first time in my life I saw a seven metre cobra out of protected surroundings, last Saturday. Where? At the office!!
When I saw it of course, it was nothing like the picture above (with due credit to reuters). And I guess it was a kind of anti climax, watching the snake being pulled irreverently out of the glove compartment of an old- rattling Bajaj scooter.
The owner of the scooter apparently found the cobra while digging on his land somewhere in Ambattur. He found the snake in a ditch, lying un-characteristically inactive. Emboldened, he picked up the reptile, shoved it into the box of his Bajaj and went from newspaper office to newspaper office exhibiting his booty!
Which is how he turned up at our gates too. By then he had done four offices, with poor Slytherin (as a Harry Potter fan, how else can I call a snake?) riding in the front, choked, rattled and fatigued by the heat and the journey. In addition, he had to put up with the ignominy of being exhibited at every stop. Not surprisingly though, the poor bugger was all but dead when he got to our office.
A colleague called up the forest ranger and he drove over with the official snake catchers. Slytherin, meanwhile, tired out by the highly unflattering routine he was being subjected to, could not even lift his hood up.
The ranger was livid at the treatment meted out to the snake. He told the Bajaj owner that he could have been arrested for possession of the cobra and possibly, for killing it. At the end of this conversation, Bajaj owner lost his bravado and meekly handed over his trophy to the snake catchers.
"It has been badly affected by all the jolting and heat of the scooter box, completely worn out. We have to release it into the wild immediately and see if it survives," the Ranger said.
I hope Slytherin will live to hiss his tale.


Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The argument begins... and continues...

I'm not going to kid myself that I am beginning this debate, or even continuing it. While I like to steer clear of controversy, this time, I was swayed enough to turn my head to dedicate a little space on my blog to thrash it out.
It is not essential to arrive at a conclusion, I am aware of that. I'm looking to see how the blogosphere is reacting to the recent events surrounding the arrest of Baazee chief Avinesh Bajaj in connection with selling CDs of the DPS MMS incident. In fact, if you ask me, the true battle has begun only after the arrest of Bajaj. Until then, the DPS incident gave rise to a whole load of emotions: incredulity, titilation, shock, anger, disgust, surprise, and if there was a debate, it was only a moral debate.
However, we are now forced to consider the law. As did Karthik and Kiruba after an incident that we on the blog are more familiar with. You wonder why the concern. Both of them (above) have since removed all references to the incident, perhaps because a certain someone has preferred to lodge a complaint with the police, so why would I mention the unmentionables?!
But then, the point is that we are now forced to consider the law. In our ignorance of the law and its long arm, we get suspicious, some of us who talked about freedom of expression have now realised that freedom is infinitely preferable, expression be damned. Which is where we are left standing, or should I say, st(r)anding. In ignorance, though God knows, not innocence.
What are the provisions in law (the various laws including IPC and the IT Act)?
What is the extent of freedom we will be allowed to enjoy in cyberspace?
What defines propriety?
Have we expanded the panic threshold and lowered the threshold on crime?
Will monitoring be uniform and consistent in all incidents?
What is the relevance of such regulations in a medium that is distinguished by the freedom it allows?
Of course, DPS is probably the first hi-profile crime that we are exposed to. Hi-profile, considering the age of those involved in the porn MMS and the manner in which it has spread through the web. Coincidentally, Kareena Kapoor and Trisha Krishnan have been shoved onto the bandwagon. It certainly has entered the realm of sensational, now celebrity. But after the dust dies down on this sequence of events, the above questions remain.
We have to attempt to find answers for them. And meanwhile, consider the option of being a responsible cyber society.


Saturday, December 18, 2004

Back to Basics: An experiment

rainbow%20gaia, originally uploaded by errum.

Gaia: May the force be with you!

Gaia is SHE : the primordial element, therefore the ORIGINAL force.

P.S.Thought I'd try Flickr blogging since img src is not working for me. Always says tag broken! :(


Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Kids say the darnest things...

My cousin turned seven last week. And I missed it. To compensate, I decided to buy her something that she'd really like. I did think of a cycle, but her dad said it was his domain. So what could I get that was close? Hm... A pair of roller skates.
Good idea, eh? I thought I was really clever.
So I had it wrapped up in a small box and then popped it and said "GUESS!"
I said she could hold it, feel it and shake it, but she had to say what was in before she opened it. This is how the conversation went:

Vidya (my cousin): Is it a cycle?
Me: How can a cycle get into this? No. Think.
Vidya: Hmmm... Barbie?
Me: Barbie? This heavy? Nah!
Vidya: How many guesses do I have?
ME: Well, you have one more left.
Vidya: Give me a clue...
ME: Even in your wildest dreams you cannot imagine what is in the box.
Vidya: Then... is it a tiger?
Me: WHAT??!!!!!!! How did you come up with that one?
Vidya: YOU said WILD dream.

I was left wondering who had got the better of this conversation.

P.S.:Oh, she loved the skates!!


Monday, December 13, 2004

M.S. - a tribute

It was mildly nippy when we groggily jumped off the train at Pallakkad railway station. It had not been a pleasant journey, the last minute rush from the office, managing to catch the train just about on time, not a wink on the train.
Naturally then, when we got off the train, I was hanging by the very edge of a very frayed temper. As we waited, for another bunch of people coming by a later train to catch up with us, it was not pleasant. All I wanted was a wash and maybe a few minutes of shut eye. Instead, here I was trudging across the tracks, heavy bag in hand.
That is when it happened.As I remember it.
Suddenly, from across the tracks, came a clear voice piercing through the nip in the air, rendering the Venkatesa Suprabatham. It was a voice I had learnt to recognise even before I could read the two letters that went with it: M.S. In that moment, and as I listened on, that divine voice rained on me, drenching me entirely, chasing away the irritation, soothing my nerves. Unconsciously then, head lifted high towards where the sound came from, I drank in the voice along with the cold February air. There was just me and this divinity.. this bhakthi.
That then, is what made M.S.- M.S. Her complete devotion, mellifluity entwined with bhakti, impressing even non deists like me. But you don't have to be a believer to admire her - because when she sang, you FELT a stirring deep inside. Being weaned on a diet of the greats of Carnatic music, M.S. for me, was a divine world all by herself. No one could sing "Bhaja Govindam..." or "Maitreem Bhajatha..." as she could.
The other day, one Friday, at Isabel Hospital, a seminar organised on the occasion of World Disability Day, began just as the strains of M.S' "Kurai Ondrum Illai..." played on a sound system faded out. Only a few feet away, in the same hospital, M.S. reclined on the bed, recovering from her viral infection. The doctors had assured us, indeed, "Kurai ondrum illai."
But then they were just doctors, not the Gods she sung so fervently about. They could not extend their assurances: her immortality was beyond them.
It was within her. Her voice will play on...


Saturday, December 11, 2004

Yawn! Doing a Rip Van Winkle...

The first week of my holidays has just confirmed what I call my "Sleep Theory."
I believe, very passionately, that all the sleep we have lost accumulates like bad debts, until we can pay them off. It has a great
threshold limit, but if we dont pay off, the burden will ruin us.
Now, why it makes sense to say so now: For a week now, my biggest
achievement is being able to sleep rather er...continuously through the day. Save the time I spend on the net, I'm mostly asleep, when I'm not reading.
Ah! And talk about reading, I've the pleasure of saying, that after years, I have actually, several times this past week, fallen asleep while reading - the book going limp in my hands as my eyes flutter shut! How many years has it been since I've done that! Fondest memories of childhood are visions of my sister going to sleep over her chemistry text book! It was the ultimate opiate! Sadly to say, only for her. Much later, when I was old enough to be
an insomniac, I tried hunting for that chemistry text to fall asleep over. Did not work once for me! Irrelevantly here, I was a commerce student! Tch!
Well, so I sleep like Rip Van Winkle and God knows I have not had enough sleep in a really long while. The bloody mobile always rings, late into the night and before the sun is up. You cannot always not answer, when it is work.
However, this is holiday time and my sleep is so deep, I cannot even hear the phone ring! Did not think that would ever happen to me, nay, never.
But I prattle on... endlessssssllly. Yaaaawn! Er... mmmmm...nnnn


Thursday, December 09, 2004

Three for luck!!!

This is just to record the ever expanding presence of journalists in the blogosphere!
There is Feroze at - until recently (has it been a year or more?) a journalist and though he has quit, i still think of him as one. This is a photoblog, with some great pics. The fireworks one is my favourite.
Vanitha, with Deccan Herald, Bangalore has just joined the blog-flock. Check out
And there's my ol' buddy Lakshmi, who Shyam has already linked up! How she does all the things she does and manages to blog simply blows my mind.Way to go Laksh!

Three cheers, then!

P.S.Sorry, can't provide links, because I'm working on a machine that's er... not so compatible!


Ye gads!

Imagine spinning a story around a coke bottle and keeping you
rivetted to the screen too...especially,when:
a. The main character speaks in a series of clicks and clacks you cannot understand.
b. The first fifteen minutes of a movie is a proper documentary.
c. The voice over which continues, fortunately or unfortunately, throughout the movie is a total DOCUMENTARY voice.
d. You just about figure out when the documentary ends and the story begins... and get confused again with the VOICE.
e. When it does not look like a documentary, it could well be a cartoon picture.

We could actually list many more reasons if we put our heads together. But THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY is a roll, despite everything, or perhaps, because of everything!

Which is why everytime I see the movie, I enjoy it immensely! Besides being an hour and a half full of laughs, the bumbling elephant dung collector Andrew Steyn, the show off philanderer Jack Hind, the suave yet out-of-place Kate Thompson, the outside-rebel Sam Boga are interestingly set against the calm, collected, sometimes puzzled bushman Xixo with clarity of purpose.

And despite the endearing nature of Steyn's love for Kate, Hind's fancy BIG BUS(!), the bluster of Boga, what says in your mind is Xixo's simple single track mind- to chuck the coke bottle off the end of the earth. Or rather, he wants to keep his small community-family of bushmen somewhere in the Kalahari happy and united.

Director Jamie Uys (did you know he plays the Reverend in the beginning of the movie - the man who sends Steyn to pick Kate from er... wherever!) ensures that civilisation loses against the bush, man loses against bushman.

Hmmmm...Like Steyn would say, " interesting psychological phenomenon!"


Monday, December 06, 2004

The road oft travelled...

An odd title for a post, eh?
Well, before it puts you off, let me tell you that this is not going to be one of those deep, ponderous insights about life in general or philosophical ruminations about what has happened in the past.
No sirree. This one is just about what it says it is about: a road often travelled.
Perhaps I should add the tagline... By bike .
On my way home from office, I have gotten into the habit of taking a rather circuitous route - through Chintadripet, Egmore, College Road, Nungambakkam High Road, G.N.Chetty Road and Habibullah Road to home. It started in the days when lorries were allowed on Mount Road all times of the day and puffed exhaust-pipes full of smoke into your unsuspecting face, not to mention the fact that their tanks (drivers too!) and joints (!) were probably filled with unadulterated alcohol, setting them on a crash-course in driving.
Oops! This post is beginning to meander much in the same way at the route I take home.
Course correction
Well, I should be saying on my bike. Because, she is one of the prime movers of the piece. Saddling her every night, at that hour when only the demons, tanker lorries and journalists are on the roads of Chennai, I would flip up the visor on my helmet and take the cool breeze on my face. O.k. The time I get home, the breeze can't be anything but cool, even in Chennai!
But that's above. I'm talking about below. I would know where each and every crevice and pothole on the road lay. So would my Scooty and she would automatically swerve to take the impact off her already squeaking suspension.If she couldnt swerve, she would slow down and go up and down the bump gently. Ah... what delight in the familiarity of knowing exactly when you will go up and go down...
Especially in retrospect. After several months of having given up scooting home at night (thanks to a bad neck and a good car), I suddenly found myself with my cherry red helmet in my hand and the bike key in the other. No other way to get home and what better way than Scooty. Despite days of disuse, she got purring after just one kick.
The visor was up, the breeze was cooler and my hands were gripping the rubber on the handles, with practices ease and control. She knew her route too and the routine - swerved to avoid a pot hole. Ooops! No pothole.
None of those bumps on College Road that we were familiar with; no sign of the irrationally high speedbrakers on Anderson Road, the road did not cave into mud tracks where it should have on Nungambakkam High Road and what was that new pit on G.N.Chetty road?!
I guess these have been there for a while now. But somehow, you dont feel them in a car! How I miss that familiarity of the road oft travelled now, sinking and sinking with its friendly undulations, feeling secure in its predictability!
I just have to get used to the new road now. Until it changes again...


Thursday, December 02, 2004

O Darling, Yeh hai India!

Seen on a funeral hearse in Kilpauk:

Mohan and Bros: Undertakers
Cheap and Best!


Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Not snappy, but finally!

Here, finally, are my pictures of Kottayam. Well, some pics, because I ran out of space on Flickr! And apologies for getting the chronological order mixed up, but like they say in Chennai, "Please to ajis" (adjust, for those who are not locals!)
Check them out at

Hari, sorry about the delay, but these things take all the time in the world, what with our pathetic connectivity! :( But to make amends, I'd like to dedicate this post to HARI The HADRON, without whose insistence and never say die attitude, I might not be writing this at all! Yo Hari!