Monday, September 30, 2002


The next time someone outside of India attempts to deride Indian toilets, I am going to ask them if they have ever attempted to use a porta-potty in a crowded fair. Horrible, horrible, horrible.

Went to the renaissance faire this weekend. It was fascinating to see how even the visitors were into it, wearing period costumes, speaking period language... Walking through the streets you would find characters like Sir Walter Raleigh being chivalrous, Shakespeare, an unnamed priest muttering malevolently "sin, sin, sin", an ale wench... They also had these little skits performed by their actors right on the street, to give glimpses of lifestyle - A fight breaking out between two gentlemen, women washing clothes near a well, the guards dragging a man to the prison. It was very well done, you know, the prisoner would beg for mercy to someone walking along. I thought I would say "Off with his head", if he asked me! The smell of cigar and beer and meat was sickening though.

I wonder if a history fair on a similar vein would work in India. Cant say definitively.

Monday, September 23, 2002

Ganesh Chathurthi

This past Ganesh-Chathurthi, as always, I got reminded of that other day - the last day of my stay in Bangalore. Ganesh chathurthi usually has some negative connotations to me because of all the communal violence that is associated with it and I think of the parade as just the wealthy and powerful, flaunting.

But this day was different. I was to quit the city that evening and it colored my moods. The whole day me and my friends wandered about, with no particular destination in my mind, no urgency to do or accomplish anything. My friends, KK & VKG, typical men, did not have anything sentimental to say about my departure, nor any tears to shed and were acting as though it was just another weekend and we were on our usual ramble. I distinctly remember we didn't talk much, but we walked quite a bit that day, sometimes beneath the shady trees adorning the roadside, sometimes on the pavements beneath a blazing sun, sometimes listening to the sound of the birds, sometimes the honk of a vehicle. All the time, Bharathi's "vittu viduthalaiyagi" was constantly playing in the back of my mind.

The day culminated with a visit to the lake where the Ganesha chathurthi celebration was coming to an end. We stood close to the water, gentle breeze caressing us, the sun painting glorious colors on the dusk sky and watched the crowd gathering and with all the drama, the various idols of Ganesha being brought in for immersion. The massive idols kept rocking back and forth to the rhythm as they approached in a steady pace and were sunk one after the other into the water, while the crowd kept chanting loudly, "alli nodu Ganesha, illi nodu Ganesha". I still feel the promise of an answer to some universal mystery that filled the air, that day.

Monday, September 16, 2002

Working moms

Geetha Bennet, in her article appreciates Jodie Foster's feelings on motherhood. (Incidentally, I admire both of their talents quite a bit) Ms. Foster apparently had refused an opportunity to repeat her oscar winning role on Hannibal and had instead opted to stay with her newborn child. Indeed, it is quite commendable.

Though millionaire actresses who have already won oscars deserve praise for making a choice to stay with their kids, those thousands of women who out of necessity have to go to work, get squelched in a crowded bus, get immersed in a mountain of files before their bodies that have just borne a child completely recovers, those women who have to sacrifice the pleasure of being with their child - to make ends meet, to give a better life for their little one, which in my opinion, is also a hallmark of motherhood, deserve equal praise. Especially more than what they usually get.

Thursday, September 12, 2002


I was idly watching a food channel, which by the way is a bad idea if you are stressed out and are already susceptible to overeat. There was this Japanese cooking show where the chef was preparing some creature which I think belonged to a species that crawls, whose name I dont know, with the air of an actor. It was quite theatrical really - his audience went ooh and aah as he threw some part in the air, caught it right on the knife, slammed it and adroitly cut it to pieces. Art of cooking! Like the deft pizza maker throwing the pie up in the air and catching it.

Reminded me of the parotta makers. Back home, come evening, the little roadside food shops would come alive with the sound of the ladles hitting the huge iron pan. To attract customers, the chefs, as they mash the parotta, would break into a loud rhythmic clanging that could almost be deemed a percussion performance. Last I heard, it has been banned, quite rightly though, for noise pollution. Ah well, soon we would rediscover it in TV or some five star hotel would have a parotta festival and would set up a booth where we would pay a good amount of money to hear the kothu-parotta makers of the yester years.

Sunday, September 08, 2002

Water woes

The major wars of this century are predicted to be not for oil but for water. Everyday I read about the cauvery imbroglio and wonder perhaps if there is some truth to it.

Just goes to show, all the help science can provide can easily be messed up by lack of vision and cooperation. Here is an interesting read about the conflict and some solutions.

I remember seeing the huge pipes of the abandoned veeranam project on the chennai roadside serving as homes for many families complete with a screen for a door and a "kolam" pattern denoting the entrance. I wonder if those families would organize a protest if the government after all decide to revive the plans.

Tuesday, September 03, 2002


A local desi television program showed Indian Independence Day celebrations in New York City. The parade was colorful - young girls dancing to popular hindi tunes (with "payal", "sajna" or some such words), middle aged men sporting their cultural costumes, floats with sundry pictures of Gandhiji, Nehruji, Netaji and Shivaji hoisted on the sides... What a circus. Oops! I forget. As the interviewed expatriate Indians informed - it was an opportunity to show their patriotism, to expose the youngsters to Indian culture and heritage. One of those youngsters interviewed said succinctly that he was there to see Madhuri Dixit. The token Americans interviewed, dutifully praised the chicken marsala. I wondered if some American was waiting in the traffic complaining and cursing.

On a related note, Amitabh Bachan was the grand marshall of the Independence Day celebration in Silicon Valley. It seems the maddening crowd jostled, shoved and ran after him. Must have scared the daylights out of him.