Thursday, December 30, 2004


Was reading Kishore's Changi Sree Ramar Temple - Donate Bricks - $11 each post.

The squirrel story has fascinated me ever since I saw the first squirrel sans stripes in the U.S. Further research on many US squirrel species, got me browsing pictures after pictures of uninteresting, bare backed squirrels. The striped squirrels, turns out are mostly from South India or Ceylon. So the fascination remains - Is this story part of the Valmiki Ramayana? If not when was it added? Was it simply a coincidental addition of an imaginative yet observant storyteller? More importantly how could he have known the existence of a different type of squirrel?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004


The chilling tsunami warning with the understated line - THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF A TSUNAMI NEAR THE EPICENTER, posted at about 7:30 local time in India sits mocking us. As the questions of why it couldnt be prevented plague us, as we blame our politicians, the personnel in the TWC in the US, as we muse on columns about the what ifs, and as the television screens play the sorrow of that mother lamenting her lost children over and over, as we open our valets, as we debate on aid reaching the needy - life moves on remorseless elsewhere and as my friend Rishi said, I suppose, it should.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004


Manish blasts off a telling post on privacy and half the comments are about
where the posters can get the video. ha-ha-ha.


Nice article - I was having some thoughts on representation of women in literature and was branching off to feminism when I read the news of M.S.Subbulakshmi's death. I was stunned to learn that the S stood for Shanmugavadivu - her mom's name. To me its a poignant reminder in many levels.

I cant remember the name of that RK Narayan short story!

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Had the rare pleasure of listening to a wind quintet - orsolino wind quintet - this weekend. Perhaps I am finding more time - I am getting more cultural exposure here in Bangalore. I couldnt figure out if the horn player was actually muting the sound of the horn. It looked like he had his right hand almost inside the horn. I was equally fascinated by the flautist's foot work as he played the various pieces. Such a philistine I am.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


Two days ago I had to suffer the ignominy of getting continuously rejected by auto-rickshaw drivers. I walked all the way home soaking in the highly polluted air, after the hundredth auto driver that I flagged refused a ride. Adding insult to the injury was the way they reacted. The ones that were waiting simply went back to doing whatever they were doing be it chatting or staring at the roof without a slightest indication they actually heard what I said. The ones that slowed down simply sped past.

I have noticed this indolent, uncivil posture and look that I often get from various people whenever there is no immediate reprimand or reward involved. Is courtesy an emotion of luxury?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


I went to Thiruvananthapuram for a long weekend a few days ago. As the plane circled above the lush green carpet, I exclaimed with the sudden realization - "coconut trees, fully covered with coconut trees". It was clear mother nature was very good to our neighbors. The quaint small airport reminded me of Kauai. We went to a back-water resort with a floating cottage. The patio chair I was reclining in swayed gently, and I watched the backwaters and the coconut trees, the changing clouds and the waves crashing a little farther away for hours together. I was deprived of a glorious sunset by the clouds but for someone who thinks rain is romantic, it was divine to go on a boat while it rained. The resort had great food and I managed to find a book I could curl up with. It was interesting to see so many white faces - lot of tourists from germany I heard. Apparently ayurveda sells. Kerala had done a great job marketing their assets.

I visited the art gallery in the museum there to see Ravi Varma paintings. Apart from the usual ones I like, there were two which I had not seen before. One was shakunthala looking back to see dushyanth with the pretext of removing a thorn in her feet. The way she turns, the covert looks she gives was amazing. Then there was the painting of Ravana slaying Jadayu. The tall Ravana has just cut-off the bird's feather and is bringing down his sword one more time holding seetha in his other hand. The way Seetha is rendered in this painting was stunning. She has turned her face, but her petite frame, oh so gentle is crouched in a way that screams to the viewer - how pained and horrified she is. I could almost hear her cries of anguish and could feel her shudder.

Later, I was stopped in the gates of the temple, due to dress code violation. The north Indian woman, seeing that I was in the same plight as she was, complained to me - "salwar suit is such a decent dress, why aren't they allowing". I just smiled at her, deciding to spare her the lecture of how what's decent and what's not is dependent on the situation. I didn't really have a problem with the dress code. If you could have a dress code for the pub why not for the temple. And I think they have the full right to deem what one could wear and what one couldn't. Ofcourse there is the involvement of commerce in the form of the dhotis rental affiliated to the temple that was doing a brisk business. No wonder they were strict.

I traveled down to Kanyakumari - what a wasted tourist opportunity - and drove my way up to tamil heartland. Rain followed, the huge windmills flanking the roads stood majestically. I munched loads of nongu, palm fruits in palm leaf baskets, and watched the scenery pass by idly. It was very heartening to see green on the same black land I had crossed a couple of months ago.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004


My friend said I'd kill for the view he has. Of the bejeweled Sanfrancisco bay opening into the ocean, flanked by the two bridges and the other high raise buildings. I was thinking about that today, while driving back from lunch. How beautiful it must be. Then I noticed that it was raining. One of those afternoons when the sun is still shining and sparkling raindrops suddenly appear. I smiled to myself about how we miss whats right next in pursuit of something exotic. I agree sounds awfully corny, but is also true.

Friday, October 08, 2004


Mobile phones rule. I used to listen to the traffic reports on the FM stations in the Bay Area - we'll typically go over to Dan or Sal or someone on a chopper surveying all the freeways and announcing the status of various accidents, where, when it will get cleared up etc. Flash forward to 2004 Bangalore. Morning FM. Commuters with mobile phones waiting for the traffic to clear up - christened jambusters - call up the FM station and give an update. Various parts of the city - how long they have been waiting, whats going on, which roads to avoid, all the details. If needed, the anchor person calls the police department and gives an update. Net result - same. Like I said mobile phones rule.

Monday, September 13, 2004


Saw two movies this weekend. Troy and Around the world in eighty days. When is a movie "an adaptation" from the book? And when does it go from being "loosely based on" to "inspired by"? 80 days I'd call it loosely based. The characterization was all very different , route is different, motives are different... but yet was surprisingly most enjoyable. Chan as Passpertout with a french father who didnt talk and a chinese mother who didnt stop talking was as usual fantastic. Philease Fogg grew on me and became likeable by the end of the movie. And then all kinds of cameos - the wright brothers, queen victoria, van gogh... Nicely done.

Then there was Troy. I am not sure if it will even qualify as an inspired by. Forgetting the different fates the movie bestows upon its characters and the very different events, I still thought it was mediocre. Achilles, between charging into battlefield and sleeping around was spouting strong and somewhat suspiciously modern views about Gods at the drop of a hat, but his motives arent clear at all. The premise for his general malcontent is not at all set. Doleful Eric Bana as Hector also seemed to have more modern views. Ofcourse I cannot claim for sure ancient Greeks and Trojans didnt have enlightened views about war and peace, but somehow I found the movie very pretentious. Apparently many thought Helen of Troy was a let-down. I was waiting more for Sean Bean, the dashing 006 of Golden eye as Odyssues. Somehow the screenplay screwed him up. On the whole, Troy seem well set to win six or seven oscars.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


Got back from my trip to Madurai and further south. Acres of flat disconsolate plains, with no rolling hills, no meandering streams, no greenery followed me throughout. So did the scorching, relentless sun, burning, draining the energy. The black "karisal" soil, sometimes ploughed, seemed to wait with infinite patience looking upto the sky for the saving rains. I could not identify the emotion that overwhelmed me. There was a certain bleakness about it, something very pitiable. Yet it seemed vibrant.

Madurai is just the same. The village pretending to be a town. The temple gopurams are completely hidden amidst taller hotels. Everything has layers of dust. The marvelous stone scultpures still remain callously neglected or worse, lustreless by the oil and holy ash smears. And I noticed the fingers of my favourite sculpture broken. The useless rage that shook me concluded in a solitary tear drop.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004


I was chatting with a friendly salesgirl in a shop I frequent. Somehow, the conversation lead to me asking a question about where she stayed. When she mentioned where, I said, "So it takes what.. about 15-20 minutes to commute?" She smiled a serene smile and said "one hour. I commute by bus". I felt stricken.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004


Attended a soiree on saturday. Much more smaller affair than I had expected, but just as enjoyable. Pleasant evening. Time and space gallery, a charming extension to an old fashioned bunglow, with its low green trees against the grey skies, terracotta horses with bright pebble eyes, with art-work tastefully placed was a delightfull backdrop. Towards the end, for an encore piece, the Cellist picked what he called background music. He asked us to feel free to chat, have a cup of coffee, drag the chair... He settled down with the other two and then smiling at the resolute audience said, "We havent practised. please chat". cute.

After the soiree, on the way back, I met a doctor who does volunteer work for the upliftment of the female child. I told her that my home town is close to the infamous usilampatti. She told me about the research she had done on the subject and the various statistics. We bemoaned the horrors meted out to the female child and sighed about our inability to change the world.

Saturday, July 24, 2004


radhika nathan wins the oscar. She says something very witty as she collects the award. Tom hanks smiles. cut. radhika nathan finishes the New york marathon. Crowd cheers. cut. radhika nathan gets up wearily from her system. She has just tracked the latest virus to a guy in a yacht in the south pacific.

radhika nathan finishes cleaning the piled up dishes of the last one week.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Chores chores

Did a lot of physical work. Nothing exciting. Just back breaking household chores that had piled up alarmingly since I moved to the new house. Reminded me of the days in US without a maid. I dusted, swept, mopped, did the dishes, the laundry till my back and my hands started hurting. I feel a certain exhilaration after physical exertion, a sense of triumph. I wish it were something better though - maybe a long run, planting a flower bed, carpentry, maybe etching glass.

Late in the night after finishing up, I unrolled my long forgotten yoga mat on the now spotless floor and did some yoga listening to Jazz. Then reclined on my favourite chair and listened to the rain lashing on the deserted street. Peace.

Monday, June 28, 2004


My chauffer's sister was married off recently. He had borrowed an exorbitant amount of money from many of his friends (and his employer, I should add). Apparently the bridegroom's demands grew quite a bit more than what he had saved. After listening to his tale of repayment woes, I gave him a very sensible suggestion. I told him to get married.

Thursday, June 17, 2004


Finished reading WD's "In Xanadu". I opened the book with much anticipation, since it was highly recommended and found the beginning somewhat disappointing. It seemed too much of raw history and no personal touch. Then the journey takes them and us to Turkey. After Turkey, the pace improved and I found it more and more enjoyable. I found William Dalrymple funny, curious, erudite and most of all sympathetic to the cultures he crosses. Made me add more stuff to my wish list.

The wide-eyed enthusiast who recommended the book, while recounting, mentioned "they both are almost there, when the authorities catch them. his girl friend bursts out crying. and then..". Turns out she doesn't. Its Dalrymple who feels like bursting into tears. Goes to show.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


Two women have surprised me by their show of political maturity. First is Sonia Gandhi refusing the post of prime minister. Without going into what motivated her - altruism or clever maneuvering, I think this is the best decision she could have made. She has come off stumping BJP and the sangh parivar of their prize issue and the very vocal critics through out the country. Atleast for the moment. It is also the best decision considering whoever is going to become the prime minister has the unpleasant job of keeping the left and the tremulous coalition happy.

Second is Jayalalitha. Amma has managed to completely surprise me by revoking a lot of her acts. Again, shows great political maturity to bow to the electorate and recognize mistakes and repeal acts if necessary. It is pointless to criticize that she has done it after the election rout, especially the one time when she hadnt shown her arrogance.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Flower tree - 2

Found the name. Tabebuia. How ever did I manage before the internet.

Flower tree 1

It rained yesterday and I walked under a canopy of green leaves with beautiful, bright yellow and red flowers waving gently. It was heavenly but I didnt know the names of the trees that gave me so much happiness. I googled a bit and got some possible names but I cant be sure. If at all anyone is reading this and if at all anyone can confirm the names of those trees, do let me know.


Went to the Forum mall for sunday breakfast. Was gorging when I saw Sushil's smiling face across the glass. Turned very introspective since he reminded of the screeplays I had planned to write but hadnt even started. Why am I so thoroughly undisciplined I wonder. Must be fear of failure.

I was gazing idly at the dazzling kiosks in the food court, but couldnt find KFC. I had seen it advertised to be in the mall. When I mentioned it, SRK answered it is in the front, right near the entrance. He added with a wry smile "So the protestors dont have to come up all the way". I doubled over laughing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Media rules

Here is a CNN report. Read between the lines "the other two attempted to fondle and kiss her". "alleged prisoner abuse". Oh please. If this were a report about the "bad guys" or the "enemies of freedom", the media would have shouted - "the other two raped her", "prison atrocities". How hypocritical can the media get. Even after being shown the stark realities of war and how horrible things could get and how much atrocities these human beings, be it white or black or brown, male or female, are capable of, western media is still putting up such reports.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


Thought perhaps I could train to run a marathon. You know sometimes how such ideas hit you. Well, as a first step I decided to climb up the stairs to office. I finished the seven floors climb huffing and puffing. Completely out of breath. Disgraceful.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Auto stories

I was late, almost ran and got into this auto-rickshaw. After telling the driver where to go, I sat back and thought of finishing up the last two pages of an engrossing novel I was reading. A few minutes later, sighing at the happy ending, I looked up. And I saw the auto-driver taking a left turn a very famous circuitous route to where I was going. I was furious. I was late. I could have given him more than what he would get now, if he had took me on time. I told him in an icy voice that I was onto him. He mumbled something. We got caught in traffic, there was smoke from the truck in front, I was sweating because of the heat, the minute hand moved. Anger weleld up inside me. I turned about to say something nasty to him. This driver, must be in his forties, probably has a few kids at home, his life defined by his auto and the meagre money he gets. And cheating the likes of me for ten bucks. I stared at his face. I couldnt pronounce the deriding words. After a few minutes we stopped in front of the destination. I asked him to keep the change and walked out.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


Woke up to the sports headlines Maradona is critical and a column on his drug problems. Perhaps a little poor taste, but got reminded of this fantastic scene from Love Actually. TV producers try to silence an exuberant Bill Nighy, who was absolutely smashing as the aging rock star, commenting about drugs. He then assumes this serious expression and implores the kids not to buy drugs. When the happy producers nod their heads at this unexpected caring display, he smiles and says "become a rock star, they give it to you for free". His performance was impeccable and had me laughing so much.

Monday, April 05, 2004


Weekend was good. Danced with great abandon. With all these sleek cameras in the market, can only hope no incriminating photos end up in the internet. Got reminded of Elaine from Seinfeld. Was in a destructive mood so got a lot of cleaning done. Watched the dark clouds gather and loom and then the rain. A nice bonus.

Started reading a book, this time with a self-imposed rule that I wont go to the next chapter unless I finish atleast 80% of the exercises. Finding it tough not to go to the next chapter right away. I am lecturing myself on discipline and application and all those other things that I obviously lack.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004


My unseeing eyes and my wandering mind came into a sharp focus at the site of a butcher curing meat on the pavement. In just a moment before I shot past, the scene unfolded with extreme clarity. He was holding the tail of what I could only presume to be a dead cow and the belly of the animal - the carcass lay exposed. I wondered abstractedly about the lack of hygiene and then was promptly bothered about my own desensitization.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


Staying in a hotel room is affecting me more than i imagined. Woke up last night convinced there is a fire in the room. Bungled about, hit my knee on the side table like in a classic slapstic movie and waited for the firefighters to break in. My sleep drugged brain somehow didnt figure out the green that occassionally flashes on the smoke alarm didnt mean anything bad. Then this morning, mulling over something, I walked straight into an intersection much to the horror and very vocal protests of a driver. The F-word very loudly jarred into my ears and startled me out of the reverie. Glad I am checking out today and am heading home. This short California stay was amusing mostly. Many friends interviewed me about my life in India now. I obliged them ofcourse. It was an interesting study to guess what they wanted to hear and their reaction to what they actually did. "O what fools these mortals be"