Monday, November 19, 2012

Write home about

I watched quite a few uninspiring movies, traveled a bit - even to Madurai which usually at least inspires a blog or two, but haven't found anything to write home about. It is the dilemma of a blog that is sort of neither here nor there. My blog is not intended as an update of what I am doing on a particular day or week to my friends, nor is it the Bridget Jones's diary equivalent. Though I could potentially write it as the latter - we do share one thing in common. Nevertheless, I am unable to fight the ennui that engulfs me from time to time when it comes to blogging.

Anyway, 'The Hindu' newspaper today took an interesting diversion from convention that I thought was worth blogging. The broadcast media stuck to conventional coverage of the demise of Bal Thackeray. So did all the western media with their predictable epithets. 'The Hindu' had the editorial - A troubling legacy' and an article 'Why I can’t pay tribute to Thackeray' that were interesting in its lack of sensational adjectives and in its objective commentary despite the time of publication.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Salute to Mary

One of the TV channels flashed the headline - Hail Mary!  And Rajyavardhan Rathore said it right - what a story - woman, married with kids and from the northeast.  I think north east aspect is especially worth noticing. It was quite touching to watch her family celebrating.

On a busy news day - Curiosity on Mars, Gurudwara shooting and Anna disbanding his team, the news channels covered the story with remarkable and unusual sensibility.  Same thing can't be said about the Gurudwara shooting though.

Got reminded of the great Ali.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I attended one of Stephen Covey's lectures many years ago. After some clever videos and nuggets of wisdom, he opened the floor for questions. And that's when the real fun started.

It was readily apparent Covey was not one of those speakers who would preface their answers mindlessly with 'great question' or had high level of tolerance for anything in the name of question.

There was quite a clamour as many from the audience ostensibly wanted to ask a question. The mic was frantically passed around and many distinguished looking men and women stood up and spoke. But as it happens many times, they were not really questions.

The surprising part was Covey called it. He said, not once but repeatedly, looking the person in the eye, "Sir, I am opening the floor for questions. Not assertions, not comments, not arguments, not opinions disguised as questions. Please step up only if you have a question"

Every time I attend a conference when invariably there is at least one person who does the above, I think of Stephen Covey.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012


Was very excited this morning at all the coverage Higgs boson was getting. My faith in popular media is restored.

It inevitably reminded me of the Rig veda, particularly the Nasadiya sukta [10th mandalam]. This verse is the most appropriate salute to this moment, to the eternal quest that nameless whoever of the Rig Veda and the scientists of today share. 

'Who really knows? And who can really tell? When it was born and where this creation come from?
The Gods came after; Who then knows when the universe first came into being?
That out of which this universe came, perhaps it held it firm perhaps it did not,
He who looks down from the heavens only he knows or perhaps not'

Ah, the romanticism of Physics.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Slow track

I am much stuck by the fact that I have been blogging for ten years. I have moved, changed jobs, travelled, gone through so many ups and downs and through all that I have blogged. Yes, some years it was just a lousy single post, but still I am thrilled. 

I never imagined this point. It makes me wonder what is it that I am not imagining about the next ten years. Ten years seemed such a long time then. The next ten years does too, but the quick passage of the last ten and the blogs seem to solemnly remind me to choose well what I want to do.

The unconformity of the Cliffs of Moher that I visited last month reinforced this point. 

Slow down, relish that is the theme of the times for me.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Last week, I stumbled before coming to halt in front of the grocery story I frequent. There was a large crowd in the front. I stared nonplussed and then it clicked. The crowd was in front of the small florist - it was valentine's day.

There are those cute cards, more news coverage on some fringe parties reactions, the usual columns on what is or isn't Indian culture keepers views, nostalgic articles by middle aged men on their valentines, a few two liners on the kind of partners a few young men and women were looking for. What was missing was hopeful writing.

I do realize there is possibly one in a thousand who believes in grand passion, the whole Romeo-Juliet sort of thing in this fasttrack generation. And I think its a good thing.   But still it all seemed so prosaic.

There is this one article that someone wrote many years ago for Valentine's day on the kind of man she wants. She wrote a column in possibly 'The Hindu' about her ideal man who would be a combination of Mr.Darcy and Rhett Butler. I still remember that! Why aren't there articles like that anymore? Isn't a single character in the whole Harry Potter series worthy?

I did like Mr.Darcy though  it was perhaps in college. [Still way before the Colin Firth mania started] I don't remember the right chronology, but there was a time I was completely enamored by James Herriot and Tristan Farnon . Then there was the Ganesh-Vasanth duo. I walked up and down Thambuchetty street my first trip to Chennai when I was in high school in the hopes of catching a glimpse of one of them. I liked Ganesh [Gannesh if one were to trust the early books] better than Vasanth. My mom promised many times that she'd marry me off to Ganesh. More so in frustration at my lack of responses as I read through book after book.

The interesting part is even after all these years, even in retrospect, I still like those characters. That - standing the test of time - is something quite amazing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Digitally enhanced life

My friend just started a photography business. I looked at the albums with the cute closeups of food and pouting children that she had shot and it struck me how much digitally enhanced our lives are.  I hear music that sounds crystal clear, I watch Television in high definition, I go to movies that are digitally mastered with surround sound, I capture all significant moments in my digital camcorder, again in high definition.

I wonder the impact of all this in the core content of what I experience.

Just a plain picture of a sandy beach feels like I am experiencing something transcendental just because of  the cerulean blue of the sky and the definition of the sand grains. To me somehow the content is still the same as it was in a similar black and white photograph.

And that begs the question.

Am I somehow now less likely to appreciate something in its original un-embellished form? Has all this spoiled me for a normal colored normal sounding... life?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Finding ragam

After many many years I attended two Carnatic concerts this season. I have been to a few conecrts outside of chennai, but there is something about the december season. Much has been commented about the parallel food festival that goes on, so I am not going to go into the details of the aapams and dosas I ate. Beyond the fantastic performances the audience were interesting to study. The ultimate point of this experience is to be able to find the ragam after all and it was quite intriguing to see who from the audience have the ability to do that and who are pretending to know and who are just there for the emotional appeal. There was a visiting professor from some US university who thought I was a student. Made my day, despite that he was in his eighties with possibly failing eyesight. He shared some of his opinions on the singer as well as the rest of the spectators quite caustically. There was a young man who seemed like he had come in by mistake but wrote down ragas for almost all the pieces. The best was the father and daughter - the father must have been in his eighties and the daughter late fifties. The daughter had to sit in a different row and it was fascinating to see the interchange. She would mouth the name of the raga and he would nod or shake his head and if she had an explanation she would write it on her phone and pass it to him. During the RTP there was considerable speculation and a few others near them also joined in the mime. I couldnt know for sure if they got 'keeravani'. I certainly didn't. What an ultimate pattern matching problem!

Sunday, January 08, 2012

By the beach

Every time I go to Chennai I dream of going for a morning walk on beach road. After many many years finally I managed to do that, more than once, this time. Walking on beach road in Chennai early in the morning ought to be listed in hundred things to do in India before you die. It was amazing to have the wind against my face and the music of the waves as I walked about four kilometers each day.

Starting from the lighthouse, as you walk towards the Marina swimming pool, past the wide road you have the stately buildings on your left and the vast sandy beach on your right. The sun fresh from the east shines upon your face and the cawing of the crows fills the air. As you walk past the various statues, you could almost loose yourself in stories from the past. You have Kannagi to think about feminism and terrorism, you have Gandhi to wonder about salt and swadeshi, you have Pope to wonder about the power of language and assimilation. I wondered if anyone would care to unveil a statue of Ovvaiyar these days - we don't know her religion or caste [let me not be loud, someone might claim her], or let unveil the statue of G.U. Pope. There should be walking tours in beach road.

By the third day the waves got ferocious and for the first time I saw the sandy parts of the beach filled with water. Thane showed its might and I could feel the power of nature.

In between on a sunny day I drove down by beach road to Mahabalipuram. It was hot and crowded and I felt thoroughly tired and low.  One of the unsung victim of over population is the wide open spaces - I felt like mourning the lack of an imaginative setting that is a must for viewing the old structures of Mahabalipuram. I guess short of the Pantheon, Mahabalipuram is probably  the oldest structures I have ever visited. [Stonehenge wouldn't qualify :)] It is such a fantastic example of man's triumph over nature I thought as the waves crashed against the rocks close to the temple and the salty air that swept the carvings. I should read my copy of Periplus again.