Saturday, December 30, 2006


Saddam Hussein is executed. I am actually very surprised to see a link in CNN with Husseins family photos. I wonder how it would be if one were to put the pictures of Saddam with his children [with a close up of the one with a smiling Saddam cheek to cheek with his daughter leaning against him] in a loop and telecast it as an accompaniment to the news. The other interesting aspect is how modern the women in the picture look.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Viral fever

Fell sick. I have been congratulating myself on being reasonably healthy and then I fall ill. I havent been down and out like this in a long while. Disnt go to work, didnt read... just spent the time on bed coughing my head off. It gave me a great excuse for a lot of things.

Another new year around the corner. Gonna reboot.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Saw 'Casino Royale', sketched, read trashy romance novels, cooked for friends, read more trashy romance novels..

I was cooking after a really long time for guests. The normal cabbage side dish and the dal turned out to be better received than the malabar curry I labored over.

Casino Royale -perhaps I will write a detailed review. After weeks of lethargy, I am inspired to write.

Monday, October 23, 2006

phantoms in the brain

A voice piped up a casual 'hi radhika' a few days ago. I was on the phone and when I turned I saw this person, a very familiar face, but I just could not place him. I drew a blank as to where I had met him, what his name was, whether I knew him well.. Complete blank.

I pretended I was on a busy call, gesticulated I'll talk to him later and asked for his email id. A variation of the old and dumb, 'how do you spell your name' ploy.

I just finished reading 'Phantoms in the brain' and I was wondering what this signifies. Maybe I saw him very often so the visual reinforcement was there, but there was no supporting data - perhaps I didnt know anything about him to make associations and thats why I failed to 'remember' him.

What an amazing book though. It left me with a feeling of bereftness. It was almost like I lost my sense of identity. If I were to suffer a stroke in some significant part of the brain, my personality could undergo such a change I would no longer be 'me'. What is me today, perhaps a serendipitous confluence of wiring, could change in a fleeting moment. Made me want to rush out and buy a helmet.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Railway booking

Had to sit for about an hour to cancel a ticket. Jayanagar booking office had my favourite 'multiple servers single queue' model. No stress of always finding the other queue moving faster and a truly first come first served model. They have chairs to sit and you keep shifting which seemed ungainly initially, but left me thoroughly appreciative by the end of the hour. I couldnt understand the logic behind the pooh bear and mickey mouse stickers adorning the walls. Even some plain vanilla print-outs about the Indian Railway, some impressive numbers and factoids would have been better.

"No chance", was the repeated answer the booking clerk gave to a lady who started off with the 20th and kept going up to the 25th for the date of journey. It is a bit surprising that we made a muddle of something so busy and were running the risk of bankruptcy. I hope Lalu turns his attention next to the horrible Railway stations. If he fixes that, he could definitely give a run for the low cost air carriers' money.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Ryder cup

US has lost the cup again.

Near my office there is a golf course. I see a surprisingly younger crowd there sometimes in the morning or afternoon when I walk past, looking rater wistfully, I should add. Whatever happened to the middle aged men with pot bellies and bald heads?
The other unexpected sight is the group of women labourers in multi colored saris fixing the grass.

I read PG Wodehouse - Golf stories. I still laugh out loud despite reading for the umpteenth time whatever yarn the Old Sage spins.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Reading the mind

Very interesting read. At some point we would be able to replace any body part seemlessly without any degradation of service. Nothing could highlight our understanding of the working of the human body better [sans the brain of course]
I should worry more about a head injury I guess than getting 'locked in'.

So lets see what else do I need to be immortal now - I have my DNA, I need a memory download and upload and maybe the Mind-Algorithm specific to my DNA I guess.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I was following a thread in which a man talked about the physical abuse he had experienced at school in a website related to the school. He basically outlined the kind of experience he had had with deep felt emotion and took a stand that the system that condoned this kind of behaviour still might exist and it ought to be brought to light and fixed. Seemed like a no brainer to me. Guess what? The network jumped down his throat - condescension, dismissal and the great - it made me a better man replies abound.

The intriguing aspect to his posting was that it is a military school. It is a rather ironic twist in my opinion to actually expect anything better from an establishment whose main intention is to develop and reward unquestioned loyalty, submission to superiors and aggression.

There is a beautiful dialogue in 'The seige' where Major Devereaux says "Our military is not trained to police a civilian population". Unfortunately nobody asks him why.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

funeral rites

Was steeped to the neck in hindu funeral rites. I found the underlying logic in the elaborate rituals intriguing. For example, in one ritual everything is done in the reverse and it is followed diligently. If you usually go from right to left, in this you go from left to right. If you usually serve food one way, in this you do it the other way. Then there is a million little strict rules on how the 'darbai' has to be held, how it has to be swiped in the ghee so many times, how the food has to be cooked etc. Very complicated, sophisticated and intricate. It must have been embellished over the generations.

I also observed how everyone has a role to play. When the man dies, needless to say in the patriarchal society its the son who is important. But other stakeholders like the daughters, the wife's brothers, the deceased's brothers and cousins all have a role, I noticed with surprise. Its to safeguard the property no doubt, I thought cynically. And that includes the women.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Adult behaviour

Dont behave like an adult if you can help it. Consistently behave in an immature fashion. Like a petulant child. Random tantrums, illogical behaviour should be thrown in from time to time. I find people constantly clamouring to appease the irrational and are extravagent in their praise when such a person does something remotely sane. I have noticed this time and again especially in a strong job market like in India now.

On a related note, my mothers favourite quote which I cant translate properly is that only the horse thats runs gets beaten.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

my blog is blocked

If you are in India you cant read this blog. Nor googleblog. I skimmed the newspaper this morning and am startled to find such lack of coverage. Cant they squeeze in a bit about free speech and blanket censorship between coverage of potholes and botox treatment?

A totally unrelated observation - I saw two crows flying. The one flying higher dropped a twig [I think] and the one below caught it deftly with its beak. Talk about poetry in motion. Do animals play? I mean non competitive, non sexual, just for the fun of it play. I dont remember Jaren Diamond commenting on it.

Monday, July 10, 2006


Wasted. Not in the druggie alcoholic sense but more in the, did nothing worthwhile sense. After spending Saturday morning staring at the ceiling, went shopping in the evening. Stood in a long queue in front of the fitting room. And was thoroughly irritated by the women with loads of clothes who felt compelled to parade each and everyone of it to their boyfriends or husbands. I wanted to shout ‘make up you mind already’.

Read Melvyn Bragg’s 'A time to dance'. Though it was well written, I didn’t feel very sympathetic or moved about the protagonists. I felt strangely blase about it, though I haven’t read Lolita.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Desingu rajan...

Reading 'Textures of Time'. Very well written book. Desingu Rajan, I learn now was actually Tej Singh a Rajput prince, in Senji. I laughed remembering the much mustachioed Madhavan pretending to be Desingu raja.

The book gives a wonderfull perspective on whats historical writing. I am yet to come to the tamil version - I am now reading the Marathi version - he is Jai singh in that. The book is such a delight.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


I try not to blog about work, but this is too good to pass. My colleagues played a prank on my new boss. My boss had been away and was returning after three weeks. Now he had never met me. The interview was over the phone. I had joined during his absence.

This is how the welcome back prank went.

One colleague sent out a message to my boss – “I need to talk to you about some issue” – late last night, setting the ball rolling. My boss walks in around 9:15 AM, asks someone how things were. That person says something like – “Well, not so good. We have some issues with the new lady”. Then someone else walks in and complains about me saying it’s very hard to work with me. Now my boss gets really worried. He takes the first guy a senior person for a 1-1, asking for specifics... Examples... “She is rude, obnoxious” - they all repeat. I got in around this time but as per our plan stayed out of that section. Another lady, a much prettier one at that, walks in and introduces herself as me. She promptly gets on the phone and starts talking loudly some non-work thing. S, the mastermind, asks her about some random server, very politely. ‘I’ respond very rudely. My boss clearly upset now, is trying to get a handle of the situation. ‘I’ step out. More people come in, in sufficient intervals and complain about me. He calls M, who referred me and asks him, “Was she like this in the previous company? Answer me? Everyone is complaining”. He says, “She is going through some personal problems”. My boss is very angry now. He says, “I am going to fire her. Do you have anything to say about that?”

‘I’ had returned to my seat in the meanwhile. Very angry, he calls ‘me’ for a 1X1.
While he was having the 1X1, we all barged in with a 'bakra' cap and I introduced myself.

It was totally hilarious. I must say though he bore it really well. He laughed and said he was a much-relieved man now. Good news is he has a sense of humor. Possible bad news is he might psychologically still think I am like her.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Podcasts I heard

Last I heard Forum - conversation with Greg Palast. Surprisingly funny. While talking about free speech and England etc., he says matter of factly, "We can give our first amendment to them, we dont use it anyway".

There was also an itconversations piece with a neuro-surgeon. If only I had steady hands..

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Changing jobs...

My new job takes me to this group of buildings hosting a lot of IT companies. It reminds me of this place in New Delhi that I visited long ago. It was a conclave of all sorts of government buildings. I get the same feeling here. Lunch crowd in the food court was too much. I have decided to bring lunch here on.

Since I have already established my gardening abilities, I was most horrified to see a flower in a forgotten plant. Yes horrified. Whole night I tossed and turned imagining it crying for water and finally with all its energy producing a flower to grab my attention proving that it hasnt died. Felt terrible.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Driver's wedding

Attended my driver's wedding. Thoroughly embarrassing. I was sort of the chief guest. He made sure I blessed the mangal sutra first and his mom held my hand to her eyes. I realized how some thing that wasnt a big deal for me might be one for someone else.

Breaking a streak a man today told me he was jealous of me.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Auto II

This time the auto driver wasnt maniacal. He was downright suicidal. When I finally arrived at my destination I heaved a sigh of relief. My life would have been utterly unfulfilled if I had died without knowing the results of the assembly elections. Was the exit polls intriguing or what. I have to know if Karthik managed to split the caste vote, if indeed Vijaykanth managed to garner so much support, if poor Vaiko didnt do well. Its a nail biting finish, no doubt.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I got into an auto driven by a maniac. Ofcourse this maniac was the only one who would give me a ride. He zipped and zoomed past blurry objects without a care in the world, refusing to allow me to meditate on the plagiarism scandal. Now I dont have anything intelligent to say about the role of the packaging company or genre literature.

Monday, May 01, 2006


Saw this man sauntering in the mall. An open shirt over a tee, baggy shorts, shades, good shoes - the works. And prominent across his throat, the thread of twice born.

Have been wanting to blog. But my time is spent on watching TV and reading tamil magazines. Election is so entertaining. The tamil voter is being wooed with a remarkable intensity. The campaign is so colorful.

Finished Guns, Germs and Steel. Remarkable, sort of an 'Aha' book. I could almost see the bulb turning on in my brain when I read some passages.

Also discovered some unfinished pieces that I had written long long ago. My writing has deteriorated considerably. It is official. I am getting older, not better. What a depressing thought.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

New glasses

I got a hip new glass. Spectacles that is. I told the optometrist somewhat frantically that there is something wrong with my depth perception after I put it on. He told me in a couple of hours my eyes will adjust. I suppose he meant my brain. What an amazing piece of machinery.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Watched a lot of movies in the last three days - Iqbal, Rang de basanti, part of Sinbad, Byron.

Cant understand what the fuss is all about for Rang de basanti. I thought it was quite mediocre and glib.
Iqbal ranked much better as a mushy movie. Kukkanoor has come a long way from Hyderabad blues. I still think Bolywood calling is his best so far. Nevertheless, Iqbal is to be appreciated for daring to be slow.
Whos bad - Sinbad! Only a hollywood movie can think of a tag line like that.

Byron a BBC production was again a case in point for another bold biography that gets made often in the west. I don't see those much in India. We rarely have good biographical movies that are very honest. Even for people long dead and gone. No doubt because of the fear of getting lynched. A mathematics loving wife [scathingly named princess of parallelograms by Byron] suffering a sensual pleasure seeking husband is worth highlighting.

Monday, April 10, 2006


Election campaign round one. Definitely the punch dialogue award goes to Vaiko. Kalaignar is busy defending his "Free television" promise, Ms.Jayalalitha is repeating the "Your dear sister" refrain. Vijaykanth doesnt own a TV channel so God knows what he is saying. Yep, Vaiko is definitely the star.

"Free television eh? How about free cable?" - his mocking, fully loaded question was an absolute show stealer - (Kalaignar's extended family owns cable companies).

Thursday, April 06, 2006


Lethargy sets in... I don't want to do anything. Everything seems an effort, everything seems boring... Feel like yawning all the time. Life is like a TV program in a language I dont care to understand.

Then.. music changes. I want to clean up my act, start afresh.. I have this unbound energy!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Quixote - Quihotee

Heard "In our Time" episode about Don Quixote. Bragg, quite resolute, stuck to the English pronounciation of Quixote.

So its not just the English inability to pronounce some names [like that of the talapatra which turned to talpot] but also a refusal to change because now we have adjectives like quixotic. I thought it was thoroughly amusing.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pick and choose

While teasing RS about his hourly poll of orkut, I exclaimed with much air of wisdom and condescension - "Ah mating games, they never change". But when I think about it, they have changed.

No more a sudden quote from Santayana or a humming of a few bars from Figaro that subtly hints at a specific taste, no more the thrill of exploration and the joy of the unexpected. Now, we have folks with neat definitions in a blatant board around their neck, conveniently categorized and packaged with appropriate endorsements.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Kodak moment

RR wanted to celebrate his sister's birthday. For some reason I don't remember now, [this was when we were in college together], no one else was there. So he had insisted, cajoled, demanded that four of us should show up at such and such time at such and such place.

We went late. He must have waited for long and must have left. Feeling terribly guilty we decided to find the place. After some tense moments, we arrived right when she was about to blow the candle with only her brother.

There was an expression on his face - relief, joy, anger everything warring and for once he didn't say anything.

Yesterday, he was waiting to pick me up in the railway station as I arrived for yet another function connected to his sister. I reminded him of this.


Traveled to Tiruppur and back. One of India's fastest growing cities. If they'd only fix the roads before it became a nightmare like Bangalore.

Caught the early morning train. Instead of a chair car that could accommodate 75 people or so, there was a three tier sleeper that could fit 65. Needless to say there were a bunch of unhappy people. One man asked in a very frustrated tone, "Is there a way I can get back to Railway and screw someone's happiness?" I thought the tall TTC, aided by some cancellations did as best a job as he could.

Two Americans were traveling in the next bay. From my side berth vantage point, I could see a man, from kerala, talking to them. They were munching a lot of goodies and were constantly giving him whatever they were eating. Pringles, chocolates, some kind of nuts. 'Smell it', one American insisted. They were getting quite chummy, smiling, laughing, learning tamil words and of course eating.

After about a couple of hours, out came the huge book - The holy Bible. I couldn't quite hear what was being said, but could easily make out what the pitch was. The Keralite got very unhappy and tensed, I could see from his face.

The American was turning pages pointing to verses from Mathew and Luke and the Indian was answering in very animated gestures. "I am M.Sc Physics", "Do you know who Krishna is?", "I am not afraid of being in Misery" were words that floated towards me escaping the drowning train noise. After a while the conversation ceased with both parties retreating back further into their seats. The American's smile was gone. Neither of them met my eyes after that. [They were smiling at me before]

What I was curious about was were the snacks part of the script or natural Christian charity?

An interesting footnote is the other American started talking to another Indian in the same coach couple of bays away within a few minutes.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Read a couple of books. Harold pinter's 'Other places'. He has an unexpectedly simple, strong style with no gimmicks. Alaska was quite intense. The other two were equally powerful but elusive to my limited brain capacity.

The other one was Heyer's Sylvester. Heyer is marvelous. The best author to curl up with after a hard day's work.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Was in chennai over the weekend. Hot. Went to Ramakrishna Mutt. I was surprised how much similar to a church the architecture was. There was even a poor imitation of a stained glass painting. Bought a couple of books in the bookshop.

People often tell me how peaceful it is, but I feel very detached when I visit places such as these. I had the same feeling in Ramanashram. I become very outward noticing people, noticing the place etc., more than normal. Strange.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Protests and rockets

Time of India carried an article on the first rocket launch in anticipation of the nuclear deal between US and India. A fantastic photograph by Henri Cartier Bresson of a rocket cone being wheeled into Thumba in a bicycle adorned the front page. Reading about the young scientists giving a fresh coat of paint to the rocket just before it blasted off, someone scraping something off so the payload would fit in, the difficulties of synchronizing the timing with a four way conference call was so interesting. It catches ones imagination so much. Kalam was then a young man working for Sarabhai. Why do we not have personalities like Sarabhai anymore?

And Bush arrived yesterday. It looks like everyone turned up for the protest. I'd like to do a survey of the economics related to the protestors. How many are rich? How many are professional protestors [that is belonging to a political party and thus expenses taken care of]? How many lost money because of this? How many gained money because of this?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Art - India

I am very intrigued by the lack of Indian artists till the late nineteenth century, of the calibre of the western ones. We have our Ajanta or Chithannavasal from fifth century. We have our various schools like mysore painting, tanjore painting, mughal paintings etc. But not in the likes of western art that is fueled by the imagination and improvements of individual artists till the modern era.

I wonder if anyone has researched the reason for this. We had techniques. One cannot say its simply a lack of individualism - We have individual marks in music and literature. But not any major Indian artists till perhaps Ravi Varma came into the picture?

Tuesday, February 28, 2006


Walked this afternoon. I love it when I get a chance to walk - I dodge the sprinklers with a spring to my step and raise my chin to the sunshine. I usually make it a point to atleast walk one round without my ipod on. But today the pop tech IT conversations podcast about falling fertility rates in developed countries and the cone and the pyramid model and the associated conflicts it would bring, was so interesting that I listened to it throughout. I am reading 'Posthuman future'. That in combination with this podcast gave me a lot to ponder.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Watched (and listened of course) to the song 'Kasto Mazza' from Parineetha in VH1. The shots were breathtakingly beautiful with lush scenery and handsome people. The composition has a joyful and longing quality to it. Or maybe its the voice.

I wouldn't have thought of Saif as a splendid actor. But in this song, he has this fantastic expression of tolerant amusement at his own love sickness. There is thisself indulgent smile. In one point, he sighs and shakes his head as though he utterly understands the burden of love, yet enjoys it.

Lured by the song, I rented the movie. Nothing to write home about.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Having cold and other flu symptoms. Everything becomes hazy, gets a dreamlike quality when I fall sick. And I wonder about useless things like what am I doing with my life etc.

Havent eaten badly cooked chicken or handled bird droppings recently, so cant be bird flu. So hopefully will get over it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006



Unlike the writer of this article, I equate chatting and even email as more of a replacement for verbal communication than an equivalent of a written memo/article. And shortened words are because I cant type as fast as I could speak.

However, I do agree that blogging/email/chat has had a negative effect on my ability to write. Its easily accessible, so I should be spending my time on writing better, but instead, because its easy to reach my friend the moment I write, I don't take the pains to say something elaborate. I don't worry that it better be interesting. I write whatever comes to my mind, quite cryptically. After all, he or she will immediately ask me to clarify, if necessary. I don't argue my point. I make statements. I don't bother about my friend's point because I am too lazy to type, which I would have if we were talking.

I have lost the best of both worlds of talking and writing.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Great news! If I live in a world where eventually everyone can get all the details about everyone else [Sort of like the street I grew up in] I dont have to stress about revealing personal information in my blog. What a relief. All those pictures I have to crop my face out before putting it up in the web - no more.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Temporary autism

I hate confrontations. Usually I am a model citizen [tongue in cheek], meekly taking the injustices/unfair treatments, shrugging it off as part of life. Yesteday I confronted. I yelled. And I was thinking how my mind was not registering the details it would usually do, how it was so inward.

I had an epiphany. This was the temporary autism in a charged situation that Gladwell talks about. Thankfully I didnt have a trigger to pull.

It also brought back my usual - 'I am so unobservant' lament. There must be some mental exercises. There is a beautiful story by Jeffrey Archer. He has dinner with a friend who talks about becoming a writer but fails to notice things happening around him. "What Japanese men?" or some such is the ending.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Jet lag should be kicking in about now. But I feel fine. I cant remember feeling jetlagged during any of my trips. My body must be too stupid to have an internal clock. All that sunshine and it happily adjusts.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


Its a delight to walk here. It was a bit dark, but I finally got to walk a long distance. I had good company too - I was talking and she was listening, what more can I ask? Birds chirped, stream curved along the walking track.

I noticed the street light coming on in some strange pattern as I walked. Do they have sensors, I wondered. It had to be time sensitive, day light savings adjusted too in fact. Or maybe they do some other pattern of lighting. I walked a bit back and forth to check it. Nothing happened. I must have looked funny.

I love the houses here around the little pond. But they seem a bit sad to me. There are no children playing outside in the yards, no grandparents talking politics.. Not much signs of life except for an odd light in one of the rooms. Where does everyone hide?

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Flight trip

Took a cab to the airport. All those allegations about cabbies speeding, flouting traffic rules, generally driving rashly - all true!

People milled about - more men than women, more business travellers than families, an odd man wearing a shirt out of superman costume. There were flights every fifteen minutes. I could see the previous flight speeding up on the runway. My flight started to get on. And all of a sudden I saw another flight landing practically under the nose of this flight. I wondered if this was one of those near misses the TV journalists keep talking about. The rest of the flight was better. The steward was handsome and they gave buttermilk.

Chennai airport was much better. I finished my Georgette Hayer mystery - solved it before the detectives. Eyes nervously at a white guy who was swaying curiously in his seat. Later saw him eyeing a purdah clad lady equally nervously.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Iron Jawed Angels

Spent another night watching a movie. Iron jawed angels. The subject of women suffragettes fighting for their rights in the beginning of the century at the onset of the war is so powerful that it is inevitable that the movie is good. The backdrop of a war that a President was declaring to fight for democracy outside the country while ignoring the call for voting rights for women is indeed most ironic. It would have been ludicrous if it were not so sad. There is a splendid scene when Alice is asked by a psychiatrist [who is sent to find her insane] to explain her cause. Alice, played by Hillary Swank, starving on a hunger strike asks with genuine puzzle - "what's there to explain?"

The political machinations ["I never thought they'd picket a war time president"], political images ["We don't want the President to be spanked"], the condescension [the way President Wilson talks to Carrie Chapman Catt - one can hear the words 'little lady' hovering near his lips], the arrogance [the sailors beating up the women picketing peacefully] were all splendidly captured. I should see if there is a biography on Lucy Stone.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Arlington Road

After a really long time, caught a movie on TV. I like Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins. K-Pax, Shawshank redemption are some of my all time favourites. So I decided to watch this movie. It had some interesting ideas and a very unexpected and clever ending which could have been played up a bit. Its a pre-9/11 movie and it shows. Its unlikely a movie such as this would be made now.

I must check if I can get 'Mirror has two faces' DVD. On the romantic comedies genre, its one of my favourites. It has that fantastic song - 'My favourite line was can I call you sometime!'