Friday, September 3, 2010

Pics taken with my new mobile

These are some of the pics I took with my new Nokia 5800 ExpressMusic phone. I am not much of a photographer, but I think these pics have come out reasonably well. It had just stopped raining when I took these pics, so if you look carefully, the leaves and flowers still have water droplets on them :)

Only thing I wish for is that the jasmines had also blossomed. It would have been nice. They didn't, I guess this isn't the season for them. Whatever. The camera is 3.2 Mega pixel by the way.

This is the Tulsi herb.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Last One

The following is the last in my list of articles for the NXG :)

Thundering revelations

I woke up in the middle of the night. Thought I heard a loud explosion. As I opened my eyes and tried to come to my senses, I saw the tube light blinking. Then another explosion, louder than the previous one I guess. I closed my eyes in fear on hearing it. It was then that I realized that it was raining outside, the thunder is what had woke me up and the light had come from the lightning. Well, nothing unusual about it. It has happened many times before. What was unusual was that it seemed too loud and too close.

I couldn’t get any sleep after that because I got too scared. The lightning seemed to become brighter and the ensuing thunder grew louder and louder for every passing thunder and I grew more and more terrified, by every passing minute. It was as though I was going to get hit next. After that I don’t remember how and when I dozed off. The next morning when I woke up, I was just as terrified as the previous night. I asked my mom to make coffee and we discussed about the thunder showers last night over coffee and newspapers, outside on the patio.

My home is in the outskirts of the city. The weather was cool and moist due to the heavy rains last night. And the leaves and flowers of all the plants seemed greener than usual and fresh (they seemed happier :)). We later heard from the local folk that several television sets had been damaged because of the severe thunder storms the previous night. Luckily, nothing happened to our electronic gadgets.

I have always remained an ardent admirer of Nature. But on that fateful night, I got scared of it. There has been a lot in the news about cyclones hitting costal areas and everything standing in their way getting torn away. It reminded me of cyclones, hurricanes and tsunamis that affect so many people’s lives. Most of all, this incident made me wonder how small we are before Nature and that no matter how much man achieves, we are still at the mercy of Nature.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Another article for NXG

The following is another of the articles I had written for the NXG, but didn’t even send in this one. This article I am pretty sure will still hold good about Chennai.

Early Morning rush

Our beloved Chennai becomes more beautiful and bustling during the busy hours in the mornings. With a sprawling population of 4.34 million, our city gets on the go during the early mornings. Neatly ironed shirts and pants, girls and women wearing chudidhars, salwars, cotton sarees and the like, nice accessories and trendy footwear that go with them, the bags they all carry, school children in their uniforms, the charts and books some students carry with them, the ID cards which talk for themselves, are all very colorful and vibrant.

People driving their two wheelers, cars, or commuting through shared autos, crowded buses, vans, on their way to work or college, some of them sighing at the red light of the traffic signals and the traffic, as if they have just spotted their enemy or boss (the Author is not responsible if there is an overlapping of sorts for the Reader), while others looking at their watches anxiously, clearly in a hurry, road side shops, the smell of fresh filter coffee filling the air, vegetable and fruit vendors on the streets, the air smelling good with the fragrance of jasmine and ‘sampangi’ (don’t know what the English name is) flowers from the flower shops by the roadside, the tea stalls full of people taking tea, reading newspapers and discussing about the current affairs, the walkers by the streets- some walking alone with their own thoughts, and others chatting with their companions as they walk - these are a few of the common sights and smells in the mornings; it is all so refreshing to watch.

And what best way to observe all these than from an MTC bus! It makes us realize that the city is so enthralling with life and color. Chennai may still have a long way to go in certain ways when compared with many other cities of the world. However, ours is a city, beautiful in its own right!

Just to make things more clear I had written this article, the previous one and another one while I was still in Chennai and all of them are approximately nine months old. There is one more article pending and that is the last one in my list of NXG articles :)

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Article for NXG

This is the article I sent to the NXG supplement of the Hindu, some nine months back. It did not get published, and since my blog is the one place where I can do as I please (now, how cool is that? :)), I am posting it here now.

Bus Journeying

Who said you have got to make use of your own vehicle because public transport is not so interesting?
It can be fun you know. MTC bus journey in the city can be enjoyable (conditions apply!). I travel by them to college every day. It takes about one and a half hours in the mornings and a solid two hours in the evenings (phew!). The following are some of the interesting observations I made:

Number 1: You may have waited for a particular numbered bus for even up to half an hour (especially in the evenings), but two or three of it, will come one behind the other, often racing each other (causing you to curse with rage!).

Number 2: Okay, now is the best one. Let’s say, you did not give the right change to the conductor and he (mostly) does not return your exact change, falling short of a 50 paise. What do you do? My advice: Shut up. If you ask for it, you will get a cold stare or will get scolded badly for not giving the correct change! Just kidding, you have every right to ask back your money, at least be prepared as to what to expect after reading my article ;)

Number 3: Even if the bus is literally empty, many young guys prefer travelling in the foot boards (boys will be boys?!). This of course, is not applicable, to AC buses and the closed door ones. They particularly find joy in hitting the bus, singing some dumb songs, and exhibiting ‘monkey’ like behavior. And they travel in groups. Nobody bothers as long as they don’t bother someone. Some conductors don't allow this and yell at them to come up, but most don't mind.

Number 4: Passengers are often kind to each other- like all good things in life, conditions apply; say for instance, not applicable if the bus is too crammed. When people stand with heavy bags, people sitting get it from them and have it until either one of them gets down. This is particularly helpful for school kids (who, by the way, seem to carry bags that weigh more than them!).

Number 5: When pregnant women travel standing, people seated always get up and give place for them to sit. This is applicable for very old people and mothers with infants or toddlers too.

Number 6: Commuters help each other by passing money and tickets (some passengers though, can be quite unwilling about participating in this free trade, don't disturb them, for your own good!).

Number 7: Most of the drivers are passenger- friendly, even if they had already started from the bus stop, when they see people coming towards the bus, they wait until they get in.

Number 8: Now, here is information, which many people don't seem to know. If you get the so called 30 Rupees ticket from a conductor in any of the MTC buses, you can travel anywhere within the city, in any number of MTC buses (except AC buses and the night buses), for the whole day. You can make use of this if you switch between buses, saves money. And there are other kinds of tickets also, like you can avail the same facility for a month by paying 600 bucks.

A few points in this article may be superannuated now. For instance, point number 8 was not so well known back then, but awareness about it would have improved by now. And the 30 bucks and 600 bucks tickets’ rate may have changed. But I suspect that it will not be so, coz the TN Government rarely increases the rates of bus tickets; even after the Central Government announced the increase in the fuel prices recently, the TN Govt. announced that it won’t increase ticket prices. Over here, the ticket rates were increased by one rupee the very next day (sigh) - for ordinary buses, for ACs it was much more. The rest still hold good I guess.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Some more on Bangalore

One thing that is pretty scary is the rash driving. Bangalore’s road fatalities are the second highest in the country, next to Delhi (was in the papers on June 3, 2010) - about 860 deaths and 6100 injured annually.

Normally, you would think drivers will reduce their speed when they travel towards or through crowded places. Well, you won’t see that happen here. They still keep pressing the accelerators. This is one of the reasons I like Chennai. Drivers there were more careful.

There will be moments when some vehicle will approach you so fast, making you think ‘This is it, he is going to hit me’ and just as you anticipate it, he will stop the vehicle suddenly. They highly rely on the efficiency of the brake system, just one more of the reasons for automobile manufacturers make their products all the more perfect I guess.

And it is pretty scary to cross some roads, coz there is little organizing. There is this route I take in the mornings to go to office, where there is complete chaos. The road has been blocked owing to construction works for the Metro (underground Railway Network) and only two wheelers can pass through.

One can find vehicles coming out of nowhere from all directions and you can also find bicycles driven on platforms! I don’t know if pedestrians are meant to walk on their heads. It’s important to maintain a 360 degree watch.

When I told that there is too much rash driving in Bangalore to a person I had struck up an acquaintance with, he just said “If you say Bangalore’s is rash driving if you go further north, to Pune and all, you’ll die”. Hmmm, I wonder how that will be. Not the dying part, the driving part :)

Talking about people, they seem good hearted. And there seems to me more tolerance (as in, for all the right things) and understanding than there was in Chennai, because Chennai tends to be a little more conservative. And the attitude of the people here is nice.

Every one in the city seems to mind their own business, not one bad experience of ever being disturbed by others or unpleasant constant stares so far, which, I think won’t be the same case if I were in Chennai.

That doesn’t mean things are rosy all the time. I have seen people have nasty fights- once, between the conductor of a bus and a commuter. Another, between a customer and a stationery shop employee (or rather, boy- I pity him). The fights were intense and scary, and it sometimes escalated beyond verbal confrontation. But that’s only between the two of them. They don’t disturb others.

As an aside, that is not all about Bangalore; will post further as days go by. So, until my next post stay cool and stay safe.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

To believe or not to believe

I have always been enthralled about the world, just like you- at how things and beings are made. Of the many questions it poses, one question remains to be perplexing- where exactly do we exist? Like for instance, where exactly this ‘space’ is and how much space is there in space.

It is said that we are on the Earth which is in the Solar system inside the Milky Way galaxy and that there are other galaxies such as this Milky Way… blah blah blah. We know only so much. But where exactly is that? This reminds me of the very last scene of the movie ‘Men in Black’. It is a beautifully imagined one.

We have relied on science for long to answer our questions. And we will continue to do so. But some say science will only spur more questions than it can answer. And it is said that religion (or rather, faith) begins where science ends.

It’s convenient to believe in some supernatural power coz it gives you a feeling of hope when you think all is lost; lets you to believe that everything happens for a reason. Or when you accomplish something of importance in society, it gives you the ability to stay humble (not that atheist’s are too boastful of themselves ;)). It also gives some explanation when things happen beyond one’s control or power.

May be it’s enough to know only so much. May be it’s best to leave it at that, without venturing further. May be God Himself wants some things to be abstract. These are what believers would perhaps say. May be ignorance is bliss. But then, isn’t knowledge power?

The presence of God has for long been a mystery. Just like the question- where are we. Perhaps it will remain a mystery for eternity. There are some Believers who believe in science also to an extent. They would perhaps say it is up to the Maker of all the Worlds to decide whether or not to give us humans the answers. But then, is there a Maker? Atheists would say only science will eventually give us the answers- it is just a matter of time.

And I am stuck in between. I have been a follower all my life- whether I did or did not believe, because of my family I guess. I do not know how I should describe myself- an atheist or a believer. So another question remains, do I believe or do I not? Not an easy one for me to answer I suppose.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A little on Bangalore

Bangalore has many nick names- India's Silicon Valley, Garden city , Science City , world's best known back office (this term is applied to India itself in a larger context), to state a few. And all of them seem apt. There is also one called ‘the Pensioner's Paradise’, I am not so sure whether it is apt in today’s times.

It is a city with a modern outlook and a modern population- friendly, and quite fashionable and trendy. To mention all my experiences and observations, about Bangalore, this one post won’t suffice. So, I will break them into many posts and write about them now and then.

First, to talk about transportation, the promptness of service is commendable. One thing really sweet is that the drivers stop when they see someone on the road gesturing for the bus to stop, at least in my route- the Hosur road, on the way to EC; don’t know much about other routes. The ventilation is poor though, I have seen many people feeling giddy coz of the poor ventilation, more so if the bus is crowded.

One irritating thing about bus travel is that no matter how crowded the bus is, the conductors will try to go through the crowd of people, pushing them aside, and stamping people's foot. So, next time bus is crowded, and the conductor approaches you, what do you do? My advice: move as far away from the spot asap, for which you would have to do the same thing the conductor does, pushing aside people, stamping feet! (Sigh).

In Chennai, the conductors don’t move around much. They just sit in the seat assigned to them and people pass money to the conductor and he/ she passes back the ticket and the change. This process is a complete relief compared to the practice here and seems flawless as far as I know. It would be much better if Bangalore also adopted this strategy.

And then, there is hardly any checking, that is to get hold of people who don’t buy tickets. In the four months I have been here, checking has happened only once. A person I knew, a fellow student from my training class (who later became my friend), got caught on that day :)

Anyways, the point is there is hardly any checking. So, this gives scope for conductors to cheat, some conductors get money from you without giving you the ticket. Oh and I should mention, they give you generous concessions for your travel.

And then, there is this concept of driver cum conductor. Yeah, you are right, the driver distributes the ticket. The driver just parks the bus in some lonely spot, takes out his bag and starts distributing tickets. And you are left to wonder “don’t these people value time!”.

It’s irritating, especially if you have to go someplace important and on time. Though I have witnessed this several times, I remember the particular day when I returned from home one Monday morning; the bus was held for about half an hour, at four in the morning. I couldn’t afford the luxury of sleep since I was travelling alone and had to be cautious about my belongings and all. Had I gone with one more person, I would have slept (Sigh).

I tend to deviate. So, this ‘practice’ should definitely be done away with. But then, like bus travel anywhere, here also it has its ups and downs I guess. Enough has been said on bus travel I think, I will talk more about Bangalore as days go by. It is a captivating cosmopolitan with lush foliage, flowering trees and its salubrious climate makes it a beautiful city to live in.

So far, staying in this city has been fun. It stands two in my list of favorite cities (first ofcourse is my 'singara' Chennai). I had so much fun with my friends here. We were quite a bunch. And our favorite dialogue ‘Naanga anju per, engalukku bayame kedayathu’ (we are five in number, we know no fear :))- yeah right, we ‘sutufied’ (copied) that dialogue from the movie ‘Khaka Khaka’ (plagiarism, I guess… he he).

Now looking back, all those moments seem golden, coz three of them left Bangalore; two got posted in Chennai and one in Cochin. So, it’s just two of us now. I keep telling myself, I should simply make new friends here. Looking forward to happy days!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Learning and appreciating languages

It’s always good to know many languages, more so the one if you happen to live in the land of the native speakers. So, I have been taking some initiative to learn Kannada. It seems to be a sweet language and easy to learn, I hope.

When my friends and I were meant to undergo training in B’lore, we had an interest to learn Kannada. It was an urge more out of curiosity than out of necessity, because Bangaloreans seem comfortable with Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Hindi since Bangalore is a cosmopolitan with a multi-lingual population.

I have been asking two of my colleagues to teach me Kannada. I help one of them with Tamil in return. Unlike me, who has no knowledge of Kannada, she already has some understanding of Tamil, so she picks up fast.

I have been making considerable progress (I choose to believe so :)). I have always heard that the best way to learn a language is to speak it; as often as you can and with whomever you can. And that was the theory.

One fine day, two of my friends and I boarded a bus. We had to get down in a bus stop, different from our usual one. Since we didn’t know where exactly to get down, I told the conductor ‘Stop Inform Maadi’ (implying, do inform when the stop arrives).

The conductor must have thought I knew Kannada. He started speaking too many sentences, too fast in Kannada. I didn’t understand one word. I was looking at him with a blank expression on my face. Some people in the bus started staring in our direction.

It was embarrassing enough. To add to it, my friends started laughing, looking at me. And that conductor seemed persistent. He asked me some questions. I just stayed mum. He continued talking in Kannada, as he distributed tickets to others also. He went on saying something looking at me, even after we got down from the bus, till it left.

My friends kept laughing at me the whole time, and long after we got down. Anyways, I know. I have only me to blame :)......It was later that I understood that he merely wanted to say that the stop is close by, so go and stand near the door now itself. I keep telling myself, it should all be taken in a good spirit :)

So, nothing should deter me from using the language. I cant help thinking that it takes so much effort to learn one extra language.….. Phew!! I really wonder how some people excel in so many languages. I remember reading somewhere that Jackie Chan knew about six languages; it is truly fantastic!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Best Friend's Wedding

Don’t worry. This post is definitely not a review of the movie with the same title as it. Not even close. It is about my best friend’s wedding. My friend and I have known each other for more than 9 years now, 5 of which we spent together during our school days, and 4 of it in different colleges, but managed to meet up now and then.

She got married on the 2nd of September, 2009. Her marriage was in the hometown village of hers, to the far south of Tamil Nadu. I could not go so far and attend it. And her wedding reception was in Singapore (where she lives right now), I couldn’t attend that either.

Ever since, I had a weird feeling every time I thought of her; for some reason, I felt a tinge of sadness. I was trying to comprehend why I felt that way.I couldn’t help but wonder about a lot of ‘whats’. What if she changes? What if she doesn’t keep in touch? What if she forgets me? What made me feel so lost is that I often wonder if things will ever be the same between us. And my worst fear, what if I never see her again, though I believe that it will not be so.

We do get in touch from time to time, but definitely not like before. I pray to God that he blesses her with every happiness. I know that I will miss her. But, no matter what happens, I know this- nothing can take away the rocking times we had as friends. And will my fears ever come true? Only time can tell.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Unforgettable journey

We remember many days for many reasons. A few reasons are pleasant and a few are unpleasant.
The date was June 11, 2010. I kept looking at my watch from time to time all through the day. I was pretty excited coz I had decided to go to my home town Salem for the weekend after quite a long time (after almost nine months I guess). My parents were meant to be waiting for me in Salem. They had gone there a day earlier.

I got into a bus bound for Salem at 07:20 PM in Electronics City. I got a place to sit when the bus reached Hosur. They were screening the movie ‘Pokiri’ in the bus. I watched it for some time and dozed off before I knew it. I did wake up now and then coz the ride was bumpy. Also, my dad and my brother (cousin) called me from time to time and kept asking me where the bus was.

I covered myself with my shawl (how useful dupattas are!) coz it got pretty cold through the journey. When I woke up again they were screening the movie, ‘Imsai Arasan 23 Aam Pulikesi’ in the bus. I started watching it coz I thought it will be nice to watch a comedy movie then and some of the jokes in it are simply hilarious! The bus crossed Dharmapuri.

I turned back to see what everyone else were doing in the bus. Hardly three people were awake. I turned again and started watching the movie. Like the people in the bus, guess the driver also felt sleepy, coz at that instant he drove the bus to the median. The bus which was travelling at a considerable speed, staggered as soon as it hit the median.

For a moment the bus was in the air. People who were sleeping till then, gasped! I was thinking, ‘Okay, anything worse can happen now’ and held my breadth. Nothing can match the adrenaline rush and the fear and frenzy that grips you at that moment. The bus then hit the road. It jerked clumsily and I wondered whether it will ever get its balance. It took sometime before it finally got its balance. The driver managed to park the bus in one corner of the road and by this time the air was filled with the gas from the left wheel (when you stand facing the bus) at the rear.

Everyone got down with their bags. So did I. As soon as we got down, another bus from Bangalore to Salem pulled over, probably seeing the condition of this bus. A few people got into that bus. I couldn’t get in coz I was a little away. The conductor seemed like a nice man. He told me, “Konjam wait pannu ma, antha bus romba crowded ah iruku, adutha bus la innum konjam pera ethi vidaren” (wait for some more time, that bus is crowded, I will send you in the next bus).

I checked the time in my mobile. It showed 11.58 PM. So there I was. Standing in the middle of a road at 11.58 PM, not knowing where I was and not knowing what to do.

My dad called up. I told him I will reach in about half an hour and hung up. I thought I will tell him in person since everything was going fine till now and the conductor said he will see to it that some of us get into the next bus. Less than two seconds from my dad’s call, my brother called me up. I yelled at him and hung up. I felt sorry for him as soon as I did that. I told that myself that it is okay to have yelled since they both kept calling once in five minutes and any person is bound to get annoyed. The number of calls increased ever since the bus crossed Dharmapuri. It was later that I found out that the calls were mutually exclusive coz my dad was siting inside the car and my brother was standing outside the parked car for some fresh air and neither was aware of the call made by the other.

Suddenly I started getting scared. I looked around to see how many more women were there. There was a sizeable number. For some reason it relaxed me. The one, who was sitting next to me in the bus was also standing nearby. Even then, my mind kept asking me weird questions like what is gonna happen next, what if things didn’t go well and I was feeling restless. I told myself ‘Okay fine, if I don’t get another bus in 10 minutes then I am gonna tell dad.’

Just as I was thinking this, a van stopped by. There were some 4 to 5 people in the van. The lady who was sitting next to me in the bus got into the van. Seeing this, I also got in. I sat next to a middle aged man, who was having a sound sleep (and a bit noisy too:) ). I asked the driver whether he will stop at this place called ‘five roads’, coz that was where my dad and bro were waiting for me. He said he will. That was when it struck me that I should have asked him that question before I got in :)

The van had a TV too; which was playing the movie ‘Paiyya’ (lots of TVs and lots of movies I thought). I got down at ‘five roads’. I told my dad and brother about what had happened. My dad scolded me for not telling him sooner. Anyways, he was glad nothing had gone worse.

We then drove to my aunt (mom’s sis)’s place. My two cousins (her kids) had already slept off. My aunt made dosas for me and I narrated the entire story to my mom and others between mouthfuls. My granny scolded me for traveling alone and so late. But that’s just typical of her; she can scold me for anything and everything (wink).

My dad, mom, bro (cousin) and I then drove to our place which is far from my aunt’s home. I was telling the entire story again to my mom down to every detail. She didn’t seem bored. So I went on and on. My dad slept off. My bro, who was at the wheel didn’t speak much; he seemed tired after a long day. As soon as we reached home, I felt relieved and had a good night’s rest. And that was that.

So, all went well. I thought on the day it happened that I should write about it. It has taken me so many days to write though. My bad! When I think of it now, I feel that it is one journey I will never forget for the rest of my life.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

My favorite newspaper- The Hindu

That’s right. I am going to write a review on The Hindu newspaper. Now, did you just raise an eyebrow? Hmmm, I am going to write it anyway :)

I was on my way home in the college bus. The bus was descending from a slope. As I looked out through the window my heart sank. To my left, there was a large open space. That area was always bustling, because a large number of kids used to play cricket there. I have seen them play there even in the noon despite the scorching heat. But on that day, I saw heaps of garbage being dumped in that place. I was thinking to myself, “Darn! Cant they leave alone this place at least?”

The following morning I opened The Hindu newspaper. There was a picture about it in the front page of the DOWNTOWN supplement of The Hindu. The article said about how the place has become a garbage dumping ground and then went on to say that some action should be taken. Less than two days after the article was published, I saw that the area was cleaned up and kids started playing there again.

This historic incident (at least to me :)) took place more than a year ago. I don’t know if the place was cleaned because of the article or not. But the promptness of the Hindu newspaper in reporting news which surround our day to day life, no matter how big or how small the story is seems evident.

I have always liked the Editorials of The Hindu. They are about topics of big proportions. They provide rare insights and tend to be thought provoking. I have been a particular fan of the Sudoku, which features in the Main Sports Page, everyday. The supplements are quite a delight. Unlike many other contemporary newspapers the supplements of the Hindu are decent and exciting at the same time. I am a regular with the Nxg (stands for Next generation) supplement. It has really cool articles and features contests which can win you movie tickets.

There are contests with other supplements as well. Like the Brain Bytes contest in the Education plus on Mondays, the Auto Quiz (a quiz about automobiles) which features in the Metro Plus on Wednesdays, and the Guess Who contest which features in the Metro Plus Weekend on Saturdays. The Crosswords are another attraction. I have always found them very hard though (sigh).

Another thing is that, the newspaper has always been accessible. Any credible place has a copy of The Hindu. My family subscribes it every day. But ever since I left Chennai for Bangalore, I stopped reading it regularly (sigh). Be it my dentist’s place or any library, I could always get my hands on a copy. Whether I made use of it or not, will not be mentioned in this post owing to certain technical difficulties (details regarding the difficulties are left to the imagination of the Reader).

So, The Hindu is one newspaper which has integrity, credibility, accuracy in reporting and I am definitely a fan. Do you suspect whether I was given any money or something to have written such a post commending The Hindu? I don’t blame you. Sadly, I wasn’t. Anyways, let truth alone triumph.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hi all :)

Hi there! :) It feels grrrrr8 to be finally a part of the Blogging Community!
This of course puts me alongside the Big B, Aamir Khan and many others! ;)
I should say I am pretty sure my blog will neither have the attraction value nor the fan following as theirs, but I am sure there will be some readers (lucky enough ;)) to read my blog too!
I intend to use my blog to communicate my views and thoughts across the Cyber Space!
Well folks, I will do my best to keep it interesting (pun intended here!) and meaningful.
So, until my next post, see you!