Friday, December 12, 2008

Wedding - The 'comeback' post

I've off the blogosphere for quite some time now - I just now realized that I haven't blogged after my wedding! I'd wanted to blog a few times but then the lazybone in me got better of me. Let me start off my 'comeback' with my thoughts on my own wedding.

For the first time in my life I was thankful to belong to the caste I come from - every other time, it was disappointing to see financially better off people get ahead in admissions and appointments due to their caste. I'm digressing - the point about Malayali Nair weddings is that they are over in a matter of 15 minutes. Some of my friends from outside Kerala who attended my wedding were surprised to find how short the wedding was.

The only tough thing about the wedding was posing for the photographers. What made things worse for me was the fact that the photographer was a family friend - which meant I couldn't shout at him. My funda was (my folks blame my MBA for thinking like this) that I was the customer in this case (of the photographer) and that he was to do my bidding. Sadly this was not the case and me & my wife were made to smile awkwardly, tilt faces by 20 degrees to the right and what not by these bunch of people wielding those heat generating arc-lights. Many times, it appeared as if I was acting out a movie directed by these photographers - on some occasions, these chaps did order a 're-take'.

Afterwards when I got the video of our wedding I realized that it served two purposes: one, a comedy movie for everyone to laugh at the expense of the lead pair, and two, for some people to use as some sort of a register to find out who all came for the wedding.

One important lesson that I learned was about wedding gifts. It was specifically mentioned in wedding invites from both my side as well as my wife's side to avoid gifts. In spite of that I have ended up with at least 15 sets of cups, three dinner sets, many clocks, etc. I now believe that if at all I have to give a gift, I would give as cash (Gift vouchers are even more painful). Or it must be discussed openly with the recipient and purchased accordingly. I got some very useful household items as gift from close relatives and it worked out well because they got it confirmed from my side that no one else was getting me the same gift.

That's a pretty long post already... Signing off for now.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wedding Sari blues

"There are only four types of saris. The cream ones, the blue ones, the green ones, and the maroon ones." said my friend Sethu, circa 2002. I'm in total agreement with him. I am still clueless when my mom gets confused over buying one from two saris, both of which look the same to me!

With the wedding preparations getting into the groove, I am being bombarded with questions about the sari for the bride. One conversation with my cousin (sister) went on like this: -

Chechi [elder sister]: Have you bought the sari?
Me: Yes, mom said she bought it in Trivandrum
Chechi: What's the colour?
Me: athu onnum ennikku arinjooda chechi, ammede aduthu chodikkanam [I dont know all that, must ask mom]
Chechi: So you didn't get to see the sari?
Me: No, it was bought after I left Trivandrum last. Anyway, as far as men are concerned, all saris are the same
Chechi: That's not true. If you see a beautiful lady in sari, wouldn't you turn your head?
Me: That has got nothing to do with the colour of the sari.
Chechi: It has.
Me: No, it is just what's inside the saris that make us turn our heads!
Chechi: njan ariyathe paranjatha, ini avarthikkilla [I asked unknowingly, please forgive me, I wouldn't repeat this!]
Poor Chechi. Her impression about me as the studious quiet guy would have been shattered. There was more fun due for me. The same evening I chatted with one of my female friends. It also went on similar lines: -
Friend: Amma said ur mom said saree edukan povukayanennu, edutho? [my mom said your mom is going to buy wedding saris, did you guys buy?]
Me: eduthu. [Yes, bought]
Friend: what colour
Me: what color? how dare u ask me such a question?
me: u definitely are bringing shame to our years old friedship
Friend: poda, tell me...
me: i dont know!!
Friend: don't tell me u didnt ask
me: amma bought sari yesterday. Her family bought a violet one, so this one is probably not violet
Friend: :)), poda, u didn't ask alle[right]? koranaga [monkey]
Me: how come it took u so long to realize?

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Since I have met one of my school teachers and spoken over phone to another two in the last three days, it is time now for another nostalgic post.

The teacher I met taught me maths at Kendriya Vidyalaya (KV). I and my friends were 'outstanding' students in more than one way - in the same period, we would get praised for quickly solving a tough maths problem (outstanding), and soon be sent out of the class as punishment for talking in the class (standing out).

One of the other teachers I spoke to today was our class teacher in tenth standard. She is one of the most sportive teachers I have ever met. Once one of my artistically gifted classmates had drawn a picture of devil on the blackboard. He couldn't erase the picture before this teacher came to class. When she sat down on her chair, the picture was directly behind her and the whole class started laughing. She turned at look at the picture and asked, "Is that me?" "Yes ma'am", the whole class replied, though the artist never meant it that way. "Good drawing skills" was her remark, without any anger. In contrast, out physics sir would have given a sound thrashing to the poor chap, and the whole class would have to listen to a lecture on 'showing respect to teachers'. How ironical that by her reaction she more than won our respect.

Looking back, I realise that this same teacher was also one who practiced management principles in school (we didn't realise it then - performance based incentives, mentoring, 360 degree performance appraisal, etc were unknown terms to us then). Our seating arrangement in the class was decided by her as the class teacher - anyone who scored full marks in maths uni test (the subject she taught) could have a seat of his/her own choice till the next unit test - performance incentive. She arranged students in such a way that a bright student was seated next to a no-so-bright student, so that the brighter students could mentor the others. At any point in time during her class, if anyone felt that she was not teaching properly, or was deviating from the topic, one could raise his/her hand and tell it openly (360 degree performance appraisal).

Today I spoke to her after many years as I had got her number only 2 days back. I could feel the excitement in her voice. I asked her how it was at the KV she taught now. "It's the same... every year old faces pass out and new faces come in. Once in a while I get calls from old students, which makes me happy. Hearing from old students - that is the best gift you can give to your teachers".

I dedicate this post to all the teachers who helped me make who I am. My parents give full credit to my teachers for all the marks I scored in school, as I seldom studied at home.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Chennai MRTS

The first time I traveled in the overhead Mass Rapid Transit System (MRTS) in Chennai around three years ago was out of curiosity. My home state of Kerala doesn't have metro rail in any of its major cities, let alone one that runs on elevated tracks.

[pic: Mylapore (Thirumayilai) MRTS Station]

I became a more frequent user of the MRTS after I shifted my residence to Adyar area, which made Kasturba Nagar station just 5 minutes walk from my house. By then railways had extended the service to Velachery and increased the frequency to once every fifteen minutes. This mode of transport made an excellent alternative to the slow, crowded MTC buses, and the extremely expensive autorikshaws (one has to shell out anywhere between 100 and 150 to travel from Chennai Central to Adyar). At Rs 6 per ticket, and a travelling time of just 20 minutes, MRTS trains are a relief, the only grouses being that the services stops before 9 pm, and that most stations are in bad shape. The station at Kasturba Nagar (at Madhya Kailash signal) sports modern looks (at least most part of it), though the one at Indira Nagar is pathetic. Now that the usage rate has gone up, I hope that railways begin to keep the stations properly maintained and well lit.

[pic: MRTS track near Mylapore]

Thursday, April 3, 2008

One-ways and a new definition of Bangalored

Do one-ways really solve traffic problems? If my personal experiences in Chennai and Bangalore are anything to go by, they do not. They simply divert un-necessary congestion to more places.

Take the case of Little Mount- Raj Bhavan - Halda triangle one way system in Chennai - I personally feel that this arrangement has only made life difficult for pedestrians. The waiting time avoided at the signals have been replaced by waiting time in front of Little Mount court for pedestrian crossing. And if there is no policeman around, then it is impossible for a pedestrian to cross the road, as the road is very wide and all vehicles speed up on this road. In the evenings, the road from Raj Bhavan to Halda Junction (towards mount road) is congested as was the case before the introduction of the one way system.

Similar is the case with TTK road/CP Ramaswamy Road, though I think it is too early to take a call on this.

Traffic has somehow tremendously increased in the last two years and I find more and more roads in Chennai becoming one ways, like it happens in Bangalore. I would like to add a new definition to the term Bangalored (the real one being this whereas my definition is based on personal experiences) - "the feeling you get when you carefully plan your trip from one end of the city to another, only to find at a crucial junction that it had been made a one way overnight! And that you would need to drive at least 2 km extra to overcome this hurdle".

Friday, March 28, 2008

3rd Day's Play - thru chat

Below is an excerpt from a chat I had with my friend (who is now pursuing higher studies in the USA), about my experience at M A Chidambaram cricket stadium, Chennai, on 28 March 2008

Me: 42 fours, 5 sixes
Friend: !!!
thalle kalippu [cannot be translated, other than to an extreme expression of surprise]
Me: the shots look a lot better when u see directlyand this innings was without flaws - unlike his earlier triple ton
Friend: wow
Me: no lives gifted by the SA team
Friend: I'm very very happy for you... and a bit sad/jealous that I couldn't be there with
Me: :D
u shlda been here
u may not believe - i did mexican waves, used bottles to drum-cheer, boo-ed,
Friend: ha ha ha...
Me: esp to see history made, the typical sehwag shots
as far as i can compare based on hearsay - its like watching rajini movies 1st
day 1st show in a b-grade theatre
Friend: he he he
Me: crowd was amazing man
we never had expected a triple ton this morning
Friend: ::)
Me: when sehwag was on 95, he played a lofted four to get to 99then one dot - u musta felt the crowd roar, and then say oh...when arnd 50k ppl do itit is something
Friend: mmmm ::)
Me: and then another lofted four to get to 103
Friend: and the inevitable roar
Me: the whole 50k were on their feet... rather in air!
Friend: ha ha ha including you
Me: the same happened for 200
Friend: wow
Me: ya incl me! then for 300, it was likefrom 291 - massive six to 297
Friend: wwwow
Me: then two dots...that time the stadium was shouting 'sehwag, sehwag...'
Friend: mmm
Me: and then three singles
Friend: ha ha ha
Me: followed by deafening roar
Friend: he he he he
Sabari: one protean spinner bowled almost the whole day
Friend: ?
Me: that chap kept on bowling a difficult line (described by many as a negative
Friend: who was the poor guyohh really
Me: name's harris... i didnt know him till today
Me: a few overs later, sehwag was hitting him all over the field, with reverse
Friend: ha ha hahow long did this go on for?
Me: most of the afternoontill stumps
Me: there was a huge contrast between dravid and sehwag
technically the wall played well
Friend: and I'd say Dravid did the right job too
Me: but it stopped us from watching the little master
Friend: ahangaaram paadilla
His role was to give shewag company and rotate the strike, which he'd done admirably well
Me: he took 68 from a painfully slow 168 balls
Friend: it would have been utter foolishness to try to score faster with Shewag going the way
he was
Me: :D
Friend: I'd say Dravid did his job very
any other player in his position would've done the sameFriend: maybe expcept for an aussie
Me: but for purely selfish reasonswe wanted the little master and the bengal tiger on the field before EOD
Friend: ha ha haah angaaaram
Me: dravid wld waste away a full over with dot balls, playing perfect textbook shot,
rotating the fielders with each ball
next sehwag wld face the same bowler and punish him to fence with panache
Friend: he he he kshemi nammude dravid alle onnu kshemi
Me: pattilla the crowded cheered whenever sachin was showed on the screen all padded up ;-)
Friend: :)potte tto
Me: the first 50 partnership between them, dravid made 7
Friend: ha ha ha
Me: in the second 50 partnership, he made 4!!!!
Friend: what patience!
Me: ya, patience of the crowd!
Friend: he he he eggchatly
Me: saw gopumon also in the nets
Friend: ?
Me: gopumon - for the un-initiated - is the pet name of one and only sreesanth....
popularized by malayala manorama
malayala manorama had headlines screaming something to the effect that gopumon
saved teh twenty20 for india
Me: for the last over catch
Friend: !!!my god
Friend: embarassing
Me: saw bengal tiger and jumbo jogging around the ground after the days play, before
the police shoo-ed us away
Friend: mmmm
Me: irfan pathan and robin singh gave some fielding practice to the ball boys during
the session breaks
Friend: mmm
Me: btw u wldnt mind if part of this chat finds itself in an update to my blog?
Friend: No, I don't
Me: :D
Friend: :)Somewhere during this chat, you became a kid again
Me: i was one for teh whole day!

Watching a cricket match - directly

There are a few updates due from me, including about my wedding next month – but then this post can’t wait. I watched Sehwag hit the triple ton, at Chepauk! The experience can’t be properly described in words – one has to be there to fully understand the feelings.

It’s been more than three years since I relocated to Chennai, and I missed quite a few matches – the first one I bought ticket for was washed out in the floods of 2005. Though I had to wait another three years for it, it was worth the wait. And the chance came all of a sudden too – since I was in Thiruvananthapuram for the past ten days (as my Grandpa had a surgery – that’s another post pending), I was not following cricket. I realized about the match only yesterday when I was back in Chennai. So I made quick plans this morning to go and watch the 3rd day’s play of the first test match between India & South Africa.

I was lucky to get ticket – the stadium was packed (surprising for a test match). Then came the wonderful feat by Sehwag – scoring 300 a second time in his career. The mood inside the stadium was exhilarating, cheering on the team in whatever means possible. It was interesting to note how people who were total strangers could execute Mexican waves in seconds. Some others improvised on horns and other ‘instrumentals’.

It was disappointing not to see Sachin Tendulkar play as India lost only one wicket throughout the whole day. The crowd was disappointed with Rahul ‘Wall’ Dravid. Though he played his role well, his slow innings was frustrating. Moreover, this meant we couldn’t get to see Sachin, Dravid & Laxman play. The crowd cheered whenever Sachin was shown on the screens, and sometimes boo-ed when Dravid played dot ball after dot ball.

India had a great day, piling 460+ runs for the loss of just one wicket. We had our consolation when we most Indian players, including Sachin came out for net practice. It was a day well spent, and I fully enjoyed the day forgetting everything else.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

A Good Deed

As I and my friends came out for tea during break time, we found the local street dogs chasing a car like mad. We were wondering what all this commotion was, and then realized that a puppy was run over by that car.

The puppy was crying in pain. The many people around the tea shop looked at the dog sympathetically but didn't do anything. We too didn't know of any vet docs. While all of us returned for our classes, my friend Suraj who didn't have class at that time looked up on the internet and located a vet in the neighbourhood. With the help of a chap at the tea shop, he took the puppy to the vet. The puppy got medical care and is now alright.

This act of my friend made me very glad - though most of us sympathized with the puppy's condition, only he took pains to get care to the stray puppy. I'm proud of you my friend!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ancient Story, Modern Language

I had the fortune to read the six volume modern retelling of the Ramayana, by Ashok Kumar Banker. The story is something all of us would have heard and read many times, but what makes this series stand out is that it is not told from a spiritual point of view. The language is also modern, and the narration is similar to that of any modern English Novel.

The characters have been drawn out excellently, and the attention has been paid to the details. At times, it is a bit wordy - certain descriptions could have been more brief. But overall it makes a gripping read. The volumes are titled - 1. Prince of Ayodhya, 2. Siege of Mithila, 3. Demons of Chitrakut, 4. Armies of Hanuman, 5. Bridge of Rama, and 6. King of Ayodhya, totalling over 3000 pages.

The first book has a slow opening (initially a little patience is required, but it is worth the effort), but soon gets pacy as the plot is introduced. The series is in a way Banker's own version of Ramayana, though he tries to stick to the original storyline. Interestingly, he has successfully conveyed deeper meanings, though in a very unconventional way.

The author is now working on the other great epic from India, the Mahabharata, which is supposed to hit the stands by next year. I am eagerly awaiting its release.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Grandma - now only in memories

I was sitting in the library idling away till the next lecture when dad called me asked me whether I could get a flight to Trivandrum before evening. I immediately understood the bad news. When I was leaving last time, I couldn't get any response from her. There was only one reassuring sound coming from her - that of her breathing. I was very sad, and most mornings I dreamt that I was talking to Ammumma - only to wake up and be disappointed that it was only a dream.A few days that Grandma had become so weak that she had to be put on nasal feeding. Though this brought back some energy into her now frail body, it were not to last very long.

While waiting for the plane, I called up home and was told that cremation is to happen only the next day, and the body would be kept in the morgue till then. It was a tough night, with very less scope for private grief as there were a lot of relatives staying overnight.

In the morning, as the body was brought home, I found it tougher to hold back emotions, at the same time, being nice to the people who were pouring in. Grace had returned to Ammumma's face, and her face looked very peaceful, as though she was sleeping. One good thing I felt was that she didn't have to struggle in the ICU wards of any hospital - she was in her room, in the very house she loved so much till her last hour. And, on her last journey to the hospital, she was lying on her son (my uncle)'s lap.

Her absence in the house is something very difficult to come to terms with, after having lived with her for many years. I was her pet grandchild, one of the very few people she listened to, and was the one who ran most of her errands till I left for Chennai.

Ammumma, your house is very empty without you.

When the hunters become the hunted

MBAs, especially those majoring in Marketing Management are supposed to influence others' buying and increase sales, and not by buying things on their own, right?
Sometime last week, we had a course in Consumer Behaviour, where we looked at various ways of connecting to the buyers' emotions, and about providing an 'experience' as opposed to a 'product'.

[That week, at Sathyam Cinemas, during advertisements before the movie began:]

Me: That ad was wonderful right? The emotion of happiness felt was conveyed excellently. Brilliant piece of creativity!
My Friend: Was it? To me it was just an ordinary ad. Maybe because I don't have an MBA

[Two days later, dinner is planned with friends (who also are part of the same consumer behaviour course) at a restaurant in Adyar]

My friend, suddenly calls me up on phone: Sabari, change of plans... we're not going to that restaurant... We'll have dinner at Cafe Coffee Day...
Me: Coffee Day? Dinner???
Friend: Yes... come fast...we're almost there.... click

At coffee day, I ask him: Why suddenly dinner at coffee day? Don't tell me you were inspired by the case study on 'Starbucks Experience'...
My friend grins.

Are MBAs more gullible consumers?