Sunday, December 26, 2010

Santa is late this Christmas!

Santa was supposed to bring a bicycle each for my daughters this time around. But he didn't arrive in time for Christmas. The snow was perhaps holding him back. His assistant managed to deliver some chocolates with the glad tidings that Santa will come with the promised presents in a day or two. We don't have the Chimney for Santa to slide in, nor the stockings on the door (the cycles wouldn't fit in anyway!). But each year, Santa watches how the kids behave and brings sweet things they desire.

Does my daughter believe all this? Well, she likes to believe, though she knows that it's her mama and papa who play her Santa each year. I like the idea of Santa too. My parents gave me no such illusion. But the image of santa riding the reindeer sled through snow flakes and across skies, carrying gifts for children world-over, sliding down the chimney with his big fat belly on Xmas eve, leaving gifts in pretty stockings...well, some imagination, but I think children like to go with it, just like they love fairytales. And of course, they grow over it with time.

I had a lovely christmas with family and friends at my in-laws place - kids dressed as santa claus, christmas tree all decked up, twinkling stars & serial lights, bamboo crib with baby Jesus and the rest of the cast watching-over, a feast with rich plum cake, white forest, mom-made mushroom & cauli-flower biryani, pepper chicken not turkey (cooked on firewood for that smoked flavour), FIL-made naturally fermented nutmeg wine (2008), chocolate & butter-scotch icecream topped with apple and banana...and the works!

The only sad part was that Becky, my 2 year old, was unwell and couldn't enjoy it much, although she did try to play along. She's getting better though!

I'm now looking forward to the New Year. Hoping to start with a bang! Wishing you all a very happy and prosperous 2011!

This is in continuation to the comment I posted on Aparna's Blog. I should perhaps say "inspired" cause I've been so un-inspired and tied-up for the last 11/2 months, drawing a nil on my blogpost. So thanks Aparna, for bringing this post out of me :D

Saturday, November 13, 2010

After Math

Distinction in school. Double Major in Math & Physics. Dream of a flying career in the Air Force.

She had successfully done her solo in gliding (winch-operated glider). TheWing Commander (NCC Air Wing, 2 TN Batalion) knew she was good at it, encouraged her to become a fighter pilot and helped her with the preparations. Her senior who had succeeded, also gave her some tips. She had the NCC 'C' Certificate, which was an added advantage.

There were only 3 centres for the PABT (Pilot Aptitute Battery Tests) - Mysore, Varanasi and Dehradun. Though she had opted for Mysore because it was closer home, she was allocated Varanasi as her exam centre. Her family, relatives, friends, classmates, fans (yeah, she had a huge fan following at the University), lecturers to the Chancellor, fellow NCC cadets, Wing Commander, Squadron Leader and more or less the whole of the city geared up for the day when the lady fighter pilot would return with her badge, beaming. One of her friends was going to Mysore to attempt the PABT. They exchanged their good lucks and went their way. Her dad accompanied her, because Varanasi was not familiar territory. It was a long journey, from Coimbatore (in Tamil Nadu) to Varanasi (in Uttar Pradesh), by train.

The hippie culture in Varanasi still existed. There were rickshaw pullers and mule-carts. There was chaos and dirt. Dope and dreams. They found a decent place to stay for the night. The next morning, they headed for the exam centre. There were more than 185 aspiring pilots, from North, South, East and West. The accompanying family members / friends were asked to return to their place of stay. Completely organized and disciplined, the whole process. Candidates were split into groups of three and allotted rooms where they were allowed to settle down. A girl from Orissa (daughter of a high ranking Air Force Officer) and another girl from Haryana were her roommates. Breakfast was served at the Canteen. Then they were asked to assemble in the gallery for a briefing.

First there was to be a Written test (On basic Air Craft Instrument reading), and candidates selected in the Written test would have to go through the Machine test (To judge if the candidate can control simple joy stick and rudder controls). A candidate was allowed to take this test only once in his/her lifetime. Failure in PABT test permanently debars the candidate from appearing for flying branch. And, there would be Physical tests, Medical tests, Group discussions and Interview.

She was excited and looking forward to giving it her best shot. The written test results were announced. Only 20 out of 185 had made it. She was one of them. The other candidates were sent back home, dejected. The twenty 'proud' candidates proceded to take the Battery test.

It was pretty much like a video game parlour. Two different machines. One had a steering wheel which worked just like the ones in a car. There was a moving lead shot and grooves that were placed in a zig-zag lane. The task was to use the steering wheel to veer the lead shot into each of the grooves. Each groove fetched a point. There was a time limit. She was good behind the wheels and was confident on getting this one right.

The second one was quite like an inside of a cockpit with a screen that had a small square and an outer square, a joy stick, 2 rudder pedals under the feet and a lever on the arm of the chair. There was a moving spot of light. The task was to use the joystick and pedals to focus the light within the smaller square which fetched more points than the bigger square. There would be occasional beeps (deliberate distractions) which had to be silenced using the lever on the left arm of the chair. She had maneuvered a glider with ease and found it way too easy, made a mathematical calculation in the mind and came out smiling.

The candidates discussed among themselves their performance. A punjabi girl candidate (who also had a solo wing in gliding) was the one other candidate who was just as confident. All candidates were called to the Gallery. An Officer started 'We are disappointed with the results this year. Only 2 out of the 20 candidates have made it through the Machine test, who will stay with us for the rest of the selection tests...'. There was a lump in her throat, but she was still smiling. Roll number of one candidate was called out. It wasn't her, nor the Punjabi girl's. It was some guy's, who seemed surprised himself. He was son of so-and-so in the Army.

Her heart was now beating in her ear and she could hardly hear anything. The second roll number was called. Thud, she landed on the ground. It wasn't hers. It was the Orissa roomie's. The Orissa girl had said that she had barely scraped through the written test and had no hope of getting through the machine test, because she couldn't really figure out how it worked. She was daughter of so-and-so in the Air Force.
She (back to the protogonist of this 'real' story) was disappointed. She hadn't tasted failure. It tasted bitter. She didn't like it one bit. Her mind was racing at supersonic speed. What next, since there was no second shot! She got out of the hall to see her father waiting for her. No words between them. The emotions were running high. Dad tried to make small talk, console her. But she was lost in thought. The journey back was tough and seemed to take forever. She had to get back home with nothing, just a shattered ego and nothing more left of the dream. The aftermath was tough to handle. She wasn't ready for this. But nothing would jerk the tear out of her eyes.

There wasn't going to be a flying career, unless of course she wanted to consider getting a CPL (Commercial Pilot License). Her Wing Commander gave her a choice between CPL (50% sponsored by NCC) and Air Force SSC (Short Service Commission) Officer. But she was dejected. She wanted to be a fighter pilot and had failed. She suspected if there was some favouritism / bias, because it just didn't add up how she could have failed. She had made her decision. She shot down the option to get into the Air Force. She heard there were many pilots with CPL in their hands and no job, so she ruled out that option too.

She was at the crossroads. No more of Math or Physics she had decided. She didn't want to be an academician nor a scientist nor a researcher. She met her friend who had attempted PABT at Mysore. She didn't make it either. By sheer coincidence, they both chose advertising. They did their Post Graduation in Advertising & Communication Management. A soaring career in advertising took her to greater heights. The aftermath wasn't too bad afterall. God has His ways! She can now fly a jet plane with her feet on the ground :)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Lost and Found

Long, long ago...when I just started to walk, and maybe when I realized that my legs could actually take me wherever I life played out like a nightmare.

My dad was deputed on the auditing job, so we literally travelled country-wide back then - Dad, mom, my sis, and myself. It was some place in Andhra Pradesh, if I remember right. We didn't know the local language (Telugu). Dad & Mom managed with English and the spatter of Hindi they knew.

It was just a week in this new place. My mom gave me an oil massage and left me for maybe about 5 minutes to get some hot water for the bath. Meanwhile, I ventured out of the bathroom. Reached the gate, opened the lock and wandered about the entrance (Not sure what exactly happened here, because this is a third person account that I am relating here).

Our milk-maid was walking down our lane to deliver milk at our house, when she saw this stranger carrying me and walking in the opposite direction. He didn't look related to us and she'd never seen him in the vicinity before. By instinct, she realized there was something wrong. She immediately approached him and enquired who he was, how he was related to me and where he was headed with me in his arms...He muttered something under his breath, but was visibly shaken. She threatened to report him to the police unless he handed me over to her immediately. He couldn't get himself to say anything, since this must have been something he had least expected. He thought he could get away scotfree. He did eventually. But at least he was frightened enough to put me down and make his escape while he could.

Back at home, my mom was all anxious and wondering where I had vanished. Her eyes were welling with tears and flooding down her cheeks. She didn't know what to do. The Bank Manager came down and consoled her saying they'd do everything they could to help find me. And then, the milk-maid made a grand entry, with me in her arms. She narrated the whole incident.

I was lost and found. It was a miracle indeed. My angel in disguise! I still wonder what would have happened to me if the milk-maid hadn't come there that very moment . He would have probably whisked me away, given me a begging bowl and sent me out in the streets to beg. It's big business I hear. It happens, really! Hundreds of children are, this very moment. It's sad, but it's the truth. Wish we could do something to stop this horrendous crime!

Friday, October 22, 2010


My dad is a man of few words. His ‘KISS’ act can rattle anybody, anywhere, anytime. Here’s a classic case, which I for one, cannot erase from my mind.

I was at the NCC Republic Day Camp, New Delhi (Yes, the last 3 posts were about that, and no this is not Part IV cleverly disguised with another title!). There was just a week to go. I was asked to report URGENTLY to the camp office by my camp commandant and superiors. I entered to see worried faces and a glint of sympathy somewhere. They handed me a telegram and waited anxiously. I ripped it open, my heart almost in my mouth.


It was from my dad, of course.

I hadn't written or called my parents in the almost 1 month period that I had been in the camp. My camp superiors were furious. They got me to write a long letter to my folks back at home, right there, just in case I changed my mind when I got back to the bunker.

The telegram had served its purpose. My dad proved it yet again. Keep It Short and Simple (KISS) if used appropriately gives the desired (most effective) results. And this true story proves it beyond doubt.

You’re wondering why I didn’t write to them or call them? Well, that's me. When I get out of home, I presume everybody else knows I'll do fine and just let me be.

And here’s another lame excuse… I didn’t have a mobile phone back then, in 1996. Making a telephone call, meant waiting in long queues, and others breathing down your neck if ever you get your turn. Receiving calls was also long shot, since the lines were almost always engaged, that any sane person would give up trying.

Someday, I'll mend my ways.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Finally, here is Part III of RJ@RD 1996

RJ’s experience in NCC-Republic Day Camp… If you would like to know the whole story, what went on during the Training Camps and the Journey to Republic Day Camp (RDC), New Delhi, click here for Part I and Part II.

Garrison Parade Ground, Delhi Cantonment: The story continues...
6 AM, Guard of Honour Training begins. RJ and a fellow girl cadet from TN (Tamil Nadu) Contingent, after the grueling ground leveling task and mouth-chattering bath, wear their Uniforms with Jersey, Gloves, Cummerbund, Beret, Boots and the works, run to collect their Rifles. They’re running 5 minutes late. As they near the mist-covered parade ground, they rejoice they are the first to fall-in. As they get closer, they realize they are among the last. A dressing down and 2 rounds around the Parade Ground for being late. Nice warm-up, is how I see it!

We’re congratulated for being selected to the elite Guard of Honour Contingent, told how privileged we were. They gave us instructions and the training roster as to what to expect. Actual training began. 5 minutes parade, 10 minutes break (spent wisely – making new friends, getting our shoes shined by boys who were available at the ground, yapping and napping, alternatively). This went on for a while. Then break for breakfast. Again fall-in, 5 minutes parade, 10 minutes break went on till Lunch time. This was getting to be fun. And good food added to the cheer.

Evening was for cultural competitions. We draped ourselves in the Kancheepuram Yellow with Red & Gold Zari saree and Maroon Blazer (our formal attire). We played cheerleaders in events we didn’t contest ourselves. Then some delicious Dinner. Food choice was good, perfect for the cold weather – Rice / Roti and Chicken (non-veg) / Paneer (veg) was on the menu most days in addition to other North Indian delicacies. And desserts such as Kheer, Gajar-ka-halwa, fresh fruits salad etc. Slurp! No wonder, I put on weight in the one month at RDC, Delhi.

As the competitions were getting tougher, the bias for the ‘M’ contingent seemed to be getting more obvious. In the last 2 years, it was the TN contingent that had won the PM’s Banner. And we were rallying for it this time too, to score a hat-trick. Our scores at the end of every day decided the ranking and TN was No.1, M was No. 2 and K was No.3 for most days.

RJ was selected for Guard of Honour for the Chiefs of Army, Navy & Air Force, the Vice President and other VIPs & VVIPs, with high tea party with them. RJ was even chosen to represent the Contingent in the High tea Party at the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Official Residence of the President of India), the highlights being – tour around the place, audience with the President (Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma), Cultural Evening and of course the yummy grub part of the high tea. Burp!

Lest you have begun to think if this was all about the good food and a lot of breaks, nope, we had competitions going on remember? The Prime Minister’s Rally on the 27th of January (after the Pageantry RD March on 26th of January), was the high-point of the Guard of Honour Contingent. Plus the Prime Minister’s Banner (for the winning Contingent) was to be announced that day. We were all ready for the Rally. We had had many rehearsals before. And many security checks later, stood firm and proud with our rifles. It seemed like eternity. I had these black-out moments many times, but kept wriggling my toes in my boots and kept myself standing with my weight balanced between my ready-to-give-in-any-time legs and my sturdier standing-me-straight rifle.

The moment had arrived, march, brisk salutes with the rifle, and all eyes on the PM. It was a moment that was to stay etched in my memory for a long time to come. Just as the PM passed by our Contingent, the shortest girl (from D Contingent) in the farthest corner swooned. The PM didn’t know a thing. None of us knew either, until we got back to our assigned seats in the Gallery. The cadet was stealthily whisked away by the medical team. There were a lot of other events to witness. Military and Paramilitary Battalions, men & beasts (horses primarily) marched away in unison. It was a sight indeed! Then Parasailing, Gliding etc by the NCC. Air Show by the Surya Kiran Team.

We had our hearts-in-our-mouths moment when a freak accident occurred on the ground. A cadet who was supposed to take part in parasailing, had her sail tied to her, with the sail kept flat on the ground. When a few helicopters part of the air show flew close to the ground, the sail opened up and she was air-borne without warning. She hit the side rails many times over and collapsed to the ground. We thought that was the end, because she was lying motionless. She was given emergency treatment, and except for a few bruises and fractures, she didn’t have serious injuries. Thank God!

The Prizes were distributed. TN, TN, TN….first in 13 out of 18 Competitions. And the Prime Minister’s Banner goes to ‘M’ Contingent. We are shocked. The Prime Minister (Narasimha Rao) must have been shocked as well, because he was the one doing the honours, and TN was leading all along. He even asked, how is it that TN wins most of the Competitions and some other Contingent walks away with the Banner? We wanted to protest, but it would take away the spirit of the event, so we refrain. The whole Contingent was crestfallen. The others sympathized with us. And that was an eye-opener for many of us, to the bad world out there. Our commanders consoled us, said we were the real winners. We held on to our trophies, proud that we truly earned it.

The few days before the camp ended, we were taken on Delhi –Agra Darshan. It was time to say goodbye to RDC, and goodbye to the series of RJ@RD 1996 Posts. Thank you bloggers for your patient hearing :)

* Images courtesy Google Images / Wikipedia

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Part II of RJ @ RD 1996

This blog is Part II of RJ @ RD 1996 (click on the link if you have missed out on Part I , if you would like to know the whole story). My journey to/through Republic Day Camp, the story continues...

At the final training camp, just 2 days to get our backpacks ready and head to Delhi for the RDC…the cadets were given permission to go home to do their laundry and get cleaner clothes. RJ’s folks weren’t home, so she went along with JN (fellow cadet) to her place.

We put our clothes into the washing machine and went on JN’s Hero Puch (motorcycle) for some LMS (Last Minute Shopping), with JN riding pillion. On our way back, it started drizzling. We didn’t have much time to hang around (take shelter) since we had to be back at the campsite by 5.30 pm.

RJ & JN were cruising (on wet slippery road) at normal speed (it’s a Hero Puch not a Harley!). At an intersection, a truck decided to cross without indication and all of a sudden. RJ clutched on the brakes with all her might. Narrowly escaped colliding head-on with the truck, but skidded right across the road. RJ scraped her knees badly with the pants completely ripped-off at the knees. JN got a silencer burn on her legs. A huge crowd was gathering. But the brave girls, didn’t want a scene and picked up the fallen Hero (motor cycle) and scooted.

We escaped JN’s mom’s scrutiny, went to the bedroom, applied some anti-septic cream, changed clothes and put up a normal appearance like nothing had happened. Ironed the clothes, packed, took an auto and dashed to the campsite. Nobody noticed anything unusual, obviously (we tried hard not to overact!). By night, I had fever and a fellow cadet who coaxed the real story out of me alerted the camp commandant. They rushed me to AFMC (Air Force Medical College) Hospital nearby, gave me a tetanus shot and some paracetamol for the fever to subside. Back at the campsite, and everybody chided RJ & JN for behaving irresponsibly. We got away with our sheepish grin and innocent nods.

Next day, was d-day. The cadets got to the Railway Station. RJ’s folks were also there, waiting to see us off. RJ was trying hard to hide the limp. The folks noticed that the fellow cadets were being extra nice helping RJ with her luggage. They asked, but RJ pretended not to hear. RJ and the other cadets got into the compartment and occupied their seats. The folks stood by the window to bid their adieus. And then…

The Wing Commander came by RJ’s window and enquired “Hope you are doing fine now!” And RJ was like “damn, not now!”And mustered a feeble voice that sounded more like a sheep bleating “yes sir, yes sir (3 bags full!)”. RJ's folks were perplexed. The curious mom asked “what’s happening? You’re walking like you have one flat shoe on and the other heeled, others are carrying your luggage, everybody is extra concerned about you…Tell us the truth!” Confession time, so RJ tells the story (can’t get away with anything, from your parents, can you?!) And then, more chiding over the “ting-ting…announcements”, “chai, vade” and the chaos at the Station. The Wing Commander and Camp Commandant also pitched in. On the receiving end, there’s nothing much else you can do, but nod your head gently (to vigorously). The train started to move, and RJ was relieved. Quickly waved “goodbye”, promised to stay in touch and looked forward to the RDC we’d all been waiting for, eagerly.

01 January 1996 - Garrison Parade Ground, Delhi Cantonment

It was a cold winter morning in Delhi. We were transported from the Station to our barracks in a big army canter. The boys were led to their tents. The girls were taken to their barracks, which was like a dormitory with many cots, no mattresses. The sleeping bag was used as a mattress-cum-quilt. They settled down and there was a call for breakfast. Bread, jam and butter. And apples (from Kulu Valley, we were told). It was the sweetest apple RJ had ever eaten. A good feeling already. Lunch was even better. And dinner was, well what can I say, the best! RJ suspected if this was like a demo version where everything would look good at first glance and the real thing would be hell (with all the bugs), considering the bad taste of food still lingering, from the training camps.

On the first day, the cadets were allowed to get familiar with the whole place which was huge and it took us a while to find our way around. 2nd Day, morning up by 4 am, and level the ground with our bare hands touching the cold soil and some spade and tools to make the irregular terrain right outside our barracks into a beautifully landscaped area (part of the competitions). Then brush our (chattering) teeth and have bath in hot water (that turns cold by the time we get to the bath). Then slip into our uniforms and get ready for a long day of drills and competitions. This was pretty much our routine for the whole month.

Various competitions are conducted in National Integration Awareness, Drill, Line & Flag Area, Cultural programmes etc, amongst the16 NCC Directorates, to decide the Champion Directorate for award of Prime Minister's Banner. The first was of course in drill. The whole contingent is judged and given points based on performance, uniformity, uniform (including the sparkling shoes and buckles), precision and other such parameters. Then cadets are selected for the Guard of Honour. Cadets from all contingents are mixed and asked to march forward one row at a time. Then each cadet is judged based on their individual performance. The selected cadets are retained, while the others are sent back. RJ was one of 2 girl cadets selected from our contingent for the Guard of Honour. The other cadets get a 2nd chance in the RD Parade selection. Each selected cadet earns some points for the contingent.

Later, we discovered (cadets from other Contingents), that there was clear bias in the selection. The chief commandants were basically from 'M' Directorate. All cadets from the 'M' Directorate had their butts (riffle butts I mean) painted white, which you can clearly distinguish from a distance. And each one of them from that contingent (12/12) made it to the Guard of Honour, inspite of their not-so-great drill performance. The rest of the contingents were fuming. It was an unfair competition, everybody knew about it, but the show had to go on. So we took it up as a challenge and competed with greater vigour.

Break for scrumptious breakfast. And break from the post (it's getting longer than I intended). I'll be back with the rest of the story, when we pick up our riffles and fall-in at the parade ground, for guard of honour training....


For those of you who are not familiar with these abbreviations:
  • NCC: National Cadet Corps
  • RDC: Republic Day Camp

Friday, September 24, 2010

RJ @ RD 1996 - Part I

Once upon a time (it's been ages, hence the start), in 1996, RJ (now RGB) was one of 2 girls from the TN contingent to be chosen for the Guard of Honour, Prime Minister's Rally…

The preparatory camps were grueling. Felt like prisoners under leash. Hours of non-stop training under the hot sun. RJ was in the Air Wing. With uniforms, beret and shiny black shoes, we moved about like robots tuned to precision at the command of our commander. The part of the skin under the beret and sleeve was in stark contrast to the black colour (sun-tanned or rather sun-burnt) that made up the rest of the exposed areas.

Our barracks were most often School or College Campuses, where classrooms were converted into bedrooms (sans the bed – just sleeping bags!) during vacation time. Wake-up time: 5.00 am. Bed time: 10 pm officially (when lights were switched off), but 12 midnight unofficially. The girls had to wear their hair in the figure of 8 (plaited in two and crisscrossed to form the figure of 8 with a net and many pins to hold it). Thankfully RJ had short hair, cut shorter for the crew-cut look, which meant - less time spent on dressing up.

People from different backgrounds, some didn’t know a thing about hygiene and left the WC unclean after use. The early birds got cleaner loos, which got progressively worse through the day! Sometimes these WCs itself seemed a luxury, coz we had to use trenches (pits dug out, and covered on 4 sides with rexin). The queues for taking a shower were usually long, that some conveniently skipped it, the others took showers en masse, but RJ went first or last to avoid the awkwardness of waiting, skipping or sharing.

The food used to be sticky-yucky upma / kichidi, idly & non-veg sambhar (with worms and what not!), yellow-yellow-dirty-fellow lime rice (even the best of which I hated), rock-like buns (that you could use to chase the dogs guffawing at your plight), rubbery parotta that you could chew-on forever like cud, and such…that RJ preferred to stay hungry most of the time, surviving on bread and jam, biscuits or snacks.

Cherry Blossom or Kiwi black boot polish, a dot of saliva and off we went with brush in hands and a cloth until we could see our mugs on our boots. The Brasso added the sparkle to our brass badges on the beret, belt and shoulder.

For someone who couldn’t stand for 5 minutes without shifting the leg, wriggling the toe, or swooning, RJ made big progress, standing for hours in the scorching hot sun without complaining. Each camp was a challenge. The numbers were dwindling. Only the fittest and the best made it to the final camp.

The cadets (that’s us) were judged on various parameters.
  • Minimum height – RJ was 182 cms, the only worry was whether she would fit in with the rest of the not-so-tall contingent.
  • Drills – Precision in act (the height in which you raise your leg, the clack of the boot when it hits the ground, the brisk march with just the heels touching the ground unsettling a layer of dust below, the click sound when the palm hits the butt of the rifle, as the parade commander yelled at the top of her voice - Saav-dhaan, Vishh-rram, Bayen mode, Dayine mode, Aage chal, Salaami dega salaami shasth, Baaju shasth….), and coordinated timing (ek-do-theen-ek) for every action
  • Being the Parade Commander (PC), Right Marker and Left Marker of the contingent meant straight selection for RD camp. They tried hard to make RJ the PC of the contingent – what with a height, physique and upright posture like hers (ahem!), but in vain. Try as much as they did, one of the superintendents remarked that RJ sounded like she was screaming from 2 kms away and another remarked that RJ needed to get her voice-box tested! So PC was ruled out for RJ :(. Right Marker was reserved for the tallest boy in the contingent and Left Marker for the tallest girl. So Left Marker RJ became, flaunting the red sashay.
  • Best Cadet – RJ was one of the Best Cadets chosen and trained for the Best Cadet competition – Written tests (that included GK), Shooting (.22 rifle), Physical tests (drill) etc
  • Cultural Competitions – RJ was chosen for National Integration skit (On Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, the region we represented) and Western Music
  • Fitness – 4 Kms Jogging early in the morning with rifle in one arm; Break for Breakfast; Drill for 2 hours; Break for 10 minutes; Drill until lunch time; Lunch Break; Drill from 4 pm to 6 pm; One hour Break to freshen up and reassemble; Cultural Activities (preparing for competitions) and Best Cadet Training….phew!
RJ won a place in the TN Contingent for the Republic Day Camp 1996 Delhi, one among 21 girl cadets chosen to represent the State. It was a feat indeed, coz only the best made it to the end. The rigorous training camps braced us for the worst. We became stronger, brighter, more competitive and more confident. And we looked forward to Republic Day Camp (RDC) during the cold winter month of January 1996, like eager puppies still wet behind the ears...

Part II coming soon!

Friday, August 27, 2010

A 6 yard yarn

Onam didn’t mean anything to me until a few years back, when I relocated to Cochin in Kerala. The first job I did in Cochin was a flyer for Cochin Duty Free Onam (Booze) Promotions (For Cochin International Airport Limited]. And a Voice Over Recording for the Public Addressal System for the same promo event at the Airport.

I wrote about the times of prosperity during the reign of King Mahabali (an asura king) and how he was banished from his Kingdom by the jealous Gods in the disguise of Vamana (a dwarf) and that he was allowed to visit his Kingdom every year (during Onam)…the usual stuff, but of course with the RGB punch.

I’ve been working with the company I work for currently for dog years (what seems like eternity!). And every Onam we have celebrations at Office. We come to office dressed in traditional attire - Women in Kerala saree and Men in Mundu, there are some spoilsports of course, who come in regular wear. However, that's the blue-moon day I choose to wear a saree, as I'm otherwise literally born-and-brought-up-in-jeans (borrowed that phrase from The Holy Lama - Patented).

The boys come in early to design the Pookalam - flower carpet. The girls are usually busy decking themselves, so they come right in time to pose for the cameras. That includes me, because draping-a-saree takes longer than slipping-into-jeans! And also the time spent taking pictures at home, because it's the rare occasion I wear a saree (an event in itself!), so family, maid, neighbours and myself...all of us are excited. Even my baby has this questioning "Why do you have that thing wrapped around" look on her face. She tried to lift up the saree, wondering if I was wearing jeans underneath! So much for 6 yards, but the yarn continues...

Morning hours are dedicated to work. Lunch time and we have the Onasadhya (Onam Feast with a variety of dishes served on a plantain leaf, and payasam for dessert). Again the boys do the serving (a privilege we've bestowed upon them) and the girls giggle with glee and gobble away to glory!

I had to return to my desk because a client was online for a job brief. By four-ish, entertainment and games began. Tradition has it that newcomers have to introduce themselves and the others can take a potshot at them, to get to know them better (read 'bully them'). Endless rounds later (new-comers outnumbered old-timers such as myself!) with new talents discovered, we formed four groups and started playing dumb-charades (with malayalam movie titles) and I stay dumb most often because I wouldn't know most Malayalam Movie titles, except for playing cheer-leader and taking wild guesses. As the game hots-up with dumb-struck and dumb-found performances by the actors and the guess-ers, we fight against rules, set our own rules, yell and generally make merry (saving ourselves from what would almost land in fist-fights!). By the end of the game, Team No.3 (my team) had more members and more points than the other teams (hee, hee!). The next game was about to begin, but I had to wrap-up as I had to visit my in-laws who weren't keeping too well. Bid adieus, picked up the saree and jumped into the car.

Chock-o-block traffic. Driving bumper-to-bumper, it took me a good 1.5 hours to traverse a distance of 15 kilometres. A severe headache and backache followed. I was ready to drop-dead! M-i-L gave me some tea and balm (visitor turns patient!). Hubby gave me a good massage. All said and done, it was time to wrap up the day.

Onam thus celebrated. 6 yards off, denim back on...until next year maybe.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fancy this.

A butterfly fairy in a silk top, pretty frock and stockings, a pair of wings that looked like anybody wearing it could actually fly and a wand that had this magical aura about it, which completed the look. It was an outfit my sister bought for my daughter for her birthday and we saved the wings and the wand for the fancy dress competition that is conducted every year as part of the Onam Celebrations at school.

My 7 yr old daughter with cheeks generously rouged, looking pretty in her outfit, went on the dais. As my hubby, parents and I waited with bated breath to see how she would perform, she walked in with an air of confidence and said with subtle hand gestures and a sweet smile to go with it…

"Hi! I am a butterfly fairy

Though I look pretty now

I was once just an ugly wriggly caterpillar

But don’t you know that each one of us is beautiful from within?

Here’s my magic wand

May each one of you shed your cocoons

And become beautiful butterflies!


We heaved a sigh of relief. It had gone well. There were quite a few kids who turned up for the competition dressed up as a bishop, nun, muthashi (grandmother), Lord Krishna, gypsy, paper girl, rag picker, earth, mother India, sunflower, Michael Jackson, princess, fairy, beauty queen, Swami Vivekananda, Dora the explorer….Some of the kids forgot the dialogue they were supposed to deliver after their grand entry onto the stage.

My daughter managed to pull it off. She is otherwise reserved and shy. But loves to participate – Fancy Dress, Elocution, Light Music, Recitation…

I had prepared a lengthy speech for her Elocution competition ‘Keep Kochi Clean’. She won the third prize. Kudos to you, my girl! She learns in a jiffy and delivers without stage-fear. Something to appreciate. Perhaps she needs to focus more on voice modulation, hand gestures and the right pauses. But I guess she will improve, with time. For now, she’s good. And I’m proud of her.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The cold wave

At dawn, I wake up with a sore throat. Atishu, atishu…Hubby gets up. Atchu…Becky baby gets up. Sniff-sniff…Ann wakes up too. She is the culprit. She brought the cold in, from school perhaps.

A busy day ahead, I thrust the milk bottle into baby’s mouth, get Ann ready for school and after steaming, a dose of Rhus-tox (homeo medicine) and breakfast, hubby drops her off at the bus stop.

Then there is a chorus of Atishu, Atishu – replete with Bass, Tenor, Soprano, Alto…. A bout of common cold strikes our family cold. We rub eucalyptus oil and do the customary steaming. Feels good. Hubby and I head to work. Becky stays put at home with maid.

Cold gets cold-er over the day. Develops into fever for Becky and me. I pop a paracetamol pill to get rid of the gnawing headache, body ache and fever. Becky gets the paediatric syrup. We get the steam ready. All four of us get under the blanket, breathe-in, breathe-out.

Next morning, my legs and hands are aching. And my head throbbing. I feel feverish. Muster the energy to get Ann ready for school after the steam, rhus-tox, breakfast and glass of milk. And hit the bed again. I decide to work from home that day, when baby gets a bit too cranky to handle, because of the annoying cold. She wants me to be around. We both do the steaming therapy religiously, get a 2 hour sleep, and the waking hours I do errands for the baby and actually manage some work in between. Hectic day, but baby and I feel much better by the end of the day. My voice sounds nasal. And my kids’ too.

Next day, cold develops into dry cough. Co-oh, co-oh. It hurts. Voice sound gruff. The gnawing headache remains. But I head to work. By evening, cough and headache increases 2-fold. Get out by 7 pm from work. Hubby has an appointment with the dentist. So we pickup Ann from mom’s place and rush to the dentist. I sink into the cozy couch at the dentist’s place and watch lame programmes on TV, switch channels as I hold my throbbing head in agony. The wait seems endless. Ann already has a clip on to correct her cross-bite condition and the dentist says its working fine. Hubby wants me to get my teeth checked as well. And the dentist discovers 3 cavities, says my wisdom teeth are smiling at him, begging to be removed. Asks me to think about it and get back if I want it temporarily filled or removed. I smile. The lady dentist compliments that I have a pretty smile. I suspect if it’s a marketing gimmick. And we dash home. Co-oh-co-oh, throb-throb…have dinner, pop paracetamol and crash.

Becky wakes up in the wee hours, co-hoh, co-hoh. Dry cough. Family steaming session again in the morning. Today is definitely better than yesterday. Hope the cold storm dies down soon.

“A family that steams together, heals together.”


Friday, July 30, 2010

The wheels go round and round

I started riding 2-wheelers when I was in Class 6. The first motorcycle/moped I owned was a second hand Kinetic Luna which I shared with my sister and then graduated to a brand new Hero Puch (geared motor cycle) a few years later.

It was against the rules, coz I was driving without a license. We’ve gone triples too, me and my other tom-boyish friends. The traffic cops have seen us riding in school uniforms and we managed to give them the slip with our innocent smiles and flickering eyes (with head tilted to a side) pleading with him to let us go; as we catch the cop's reflection in our side-view mirror, giggling, watching him helplessly wag his finger at us, as if to warn us that he’s letting us go because we’re kids but he will not be this kind the next time he sees us - school kids, without license, triples – that’s triple offence isn’t it?!

My usual mode of commute to and fro school was on the school bus. But when I had basketball practice, special classes or tuitions, I would take my Hero Puch. My pillion rider would either be my sister or one of my friends.

Once we rode on my friend A’s Kinetic Honda (scooter) in our school uniform, to school. A was tall and hefty with short hair, in the front seat. R, that’s me, tall and thin, with short hair, in the back seat. And 2 other friends ‘D’ and ‘V’, one short with short hair and the other short with long hair and glasses, wedged between us. All 4 of us, happily singing, whistling, riding…on 1 scooter. The traffic cop wasn’t there, thank heavens. Maybe the Lord heard us and He wouldn’t have wanted to play the spoilsport anyway!

My dad had a Yezdi, which I used to ride occasionally. And M’das Sir who used take Physics and Chemistry tuitions when I was in Class 12 used to own a Bullet, which he allowed me to ride once a while. Felt like I was king (no dainty princess this) of the road!

I used to dread the public mode of transport – Buses and autos. I remember, once when my Hero Puch had a flat tyre, I thought I’ll take the bus to my tuition class. I waited 5 minutes at the bus stop, no bus in sight, I walked to the next bus stop, no bus and kept walking… actually walked about 5 kilometers or more, all the way to my tuition centre. Now you know what I mean when I say ‘dread’!

From Hero Puch I graduated to a Suzuki motorbike. This time I was old enough to get a license. Man, I felt powerful. Could race with the meanest of machines. No Harley Davidson, but will make do. That was a time and place where there were very few girls riding (geared) bikes. From what I heard, there was just one other girl in the city who used to ride a motorbike. Hadn’t met her though.

And me with my tall frame, short hair, Levis jeans , casual tees, Nike shoes, no fashion accessories and helmet on, could pass off for a guy. When the guys realized I was a girl, I would get a second and third look and then they would want to race with me. Like I cared! My friend who would pillion ride with me would wrap a scarf around her head and face (to keep the heat and dust away), she could pass off as Phulan Devi . Perhaps why, the co-riders on the road kept a safe distance and were afraid to challenge us to a race. Enjoyed the ride, through the dust, the heat, the rains and of course, some minor bruises!

What I hated though was when my friends’ friends, sister’s friends, mom’s friends and dad’s friends reported to my folks that I ride too fast and that I would be sorry if I didn’t heed to their advice and slow down. Aarrgghh! And I also didn’t like having to clean my bike every other day, take it for servicing once every while and when my dad warns me about not running on reserve fuel for too long (and actually running out of fuel, with the nearest petrol bunk not within a mile)…. Aaarrrggghhh! And when my pillion rider holds me around my waist, sits on one side, gives me instructions to ride (pillion riding or back seat driving!)…Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!

I learnt to drive a car when I was in Class 8 (dad taught me). From Class 10, my dad used to let me drive when we went out as a family. I was appointed the unofficial driver (didn’t have a license remember!). When I got license, I was ready for the kill. Didn’t mow anybody down. I am quite a cautious driver, actually . Just 2 or 3 small dents / scratches in my many years of driving experience (which wasn’t even my fault, really!).

On my graduation day, my dad (no he didn’t gift me a car!) let me take the car (He’s someone who used to take such good care of the car that mom, sis and I almost believed that he loved the car more than us!). When I was pursuing my post-graduation, however, my dad let me take the car out more frequently. And I was always the chauffeur when we went on family outings and trips.

Love to be in the driver's seat, in control of things. Hate the "go slow, slam the brakes, left-no-right, you're going too fast..." instructions that come from the backseat driver, who thinks he/she is a co-driver or navigator. When I'm on the hot seat, it's like I wear a pair of horse blinds, complete focus on the road and where I'm headed. I've had my share of accidents, but none too serious. I steer my way ahead.

When I went to Chennai on my first job, I borrowed my cousin's Kinetic Honda and figured my way around the snarling traffic. The scorching sun was no deterrent. When I got to Coimbatore, where my dad was posted then, I got back to riding my Suzuki. I got married, landed in Mumbai. Then it was - Train for daily commute to work (as a passenger only), Car for weekends, family outings or shopping, Pick-up Truck to ferry items to the Godown when the drivers were unavailable (as a volunteer - Hubby's uncle was a tea-taster and had a tea business). I was again the unofficial driver. (If ever I ran out of a job, I knew I could land a job as a driver, given my experience!). Cochin, I ventured about in Suzuki (my bike) and Yamaha (my hubby's bike) initially and then the 4-wheels through narrow roads that looked more like lanes, alleys, blind curves and dead-ends.

Now, I'm done with bikes. I'm no longer fascinated by it. The cars too, I would be happy to let someone else drive. Hate the traffic - more than half the commuters don't seem to know how to ride/drive, some dreaming while driving, some others drunk and driving, some talking on the mobile or smoking while driving...add to it the growing number of vehicles on the road, potholed roads...and what have you!

But looks like I will have to drive, at least for now, perhaps until the time I have the luxury of having a chauffeur drive me around town. Then I will gladly relinquish the post of unofficial driver!


* All images on this post (included to make this rather long story on wheels a bit racy) are courtesy Google Search and belong to the owners of the respective sites.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

My 12th Storey

My 7 year old daughter asked me the day before if I knew the meaning of Storey that is spelt s-t-o-r-e-y, I said yes. She was visibly excited (half hoping I would tell her a story) and asked me “then tell” and I said “floor of a building” and she asked “how did you know” and I said “I learnt, when I was little” and she seemed to be happy. For she had learnt it too. Now she knows that storey (also spelt 'story') is not the misspelled version of story (fable or tale), but a word that had a meaning of its own.
Now, she finds the view from up the 12th Storey of the 22-Storey Apartment much more beautiful than before. I think about it, makes me feel happy too. Reality is (and realty isn’t misspelled either!), it does look good from up there. The beautiful city of Cochin – unlike the concrete jungle typical of a city, has greenery all around, with villas, high-rise apartments, shopping malls, corporate buildings and other such concrete buildings harmoniously co-existing with nature.

The 12th Storey is actually our second home. We live in a 3-storey Apartment on the 2nd Storey and my folks stay in the 12th Storey of this 22 storey building, just a kilometer from our place. My daughter goes to the 12th Storey when she’s back from school. I’ve got a timetable ready for her, which needs a new look every other week (to keep her excited and inspire her to stick to the timetable at least until the newness lasts), or else it would turn into crushed paper finding its way into the bin.

Timetable goes something like this… (anticipated response in brackets)

  • Take a shower, change clothes (ok, ok…)
  • Drink milk, have a quick evening meal - my mom being a good cook, it is this time of the day my 7 year old girl relishes and eats the most (yum-scrum!)
  • Study / do homework for 1 hour (grrrr….)
  • Play with other children from the apartment – 1 hour (yipee!)
  • Break – 15 min (hmmmm…)
  • Study for 1 hour (oh no, not again!)
  • TV for 30 min (only half hour? Not fair!)
  • Keyboard Practice for 30 min (la, la, la….)
  • Play at home or simply while away time till mommy arrives (yoo-hoo!)
Then mommy (that’s me) arrives to pick her up. My usual routine, I search the dabbas (containers) on the table, and gobble up the remains of mom’s special item for the day (cakes, bhajji, vada, cookies, pudding, kozhukatta, pazham-pori and her various other specialities & experiments!). I check the time. It’s late, got to go. The just 2-months-away-from-2-year old baby will be waiting in our 3-storeyed apartment.

We say bye-bye to the 12th Storey and jump into the elevator. Meet some acquaintances on the way, say hi, bye and the courtesies or small talk in between. Jump into the car and drive away.

I catch-up with my daughter on the way. She tells me the new things she has learnt. She is preparing for the elocution contest “Keep Kochi clean” which is the day after and she rehearses the speech with all the frills. I pat her on her back and we arrive at a 3-storey building.

We take the stairs up and ting-tong, the door opens to Baby (Becky) - all smiles with my t-shirt wrapped around her neck. She skips about in excitement and shows all her antics at one go, to show us what we’d missed. Transition from 12th Storey to 2nd Storey is complete.

And so goes my story…

Friday, July 16, 2010


She loves to strut around in an over-sized shoe
Walk high on heels with her tiny feet, but she’s all of two

She is bright and happy, naughty and yeah, accident-prone
From day to dusk, she keeps me on her toes, I thus bemoan

When she wakes up she wants the TV music turned on
And until the time she sleeps, it goes on and on and on

She hugs his t-shirt when he’s not around, feeling his warmth perhaps
And wraps my t around her neck to feel my embrace during her naps

She flashes the sweetest smile ever when up to a trick
And the heart, even if made of stone, will melt just as quick

She wants everything her bigger sister takes to study or play
She’s stubborn, nothing more - nothing less is just her way

She claps, she dances, she mimics, her actions speak a million words
And if you’re not looking, she’s on the table, licking up curds

Ne-po is the new word in her vocabulary, which she uses at will
She gets things done her way; you just can’t hold her still

She’s a little devil, at the same time, sweet as an angel
Fiddles with everything, but you can’t pull out the cudgel

She’ll jump off the ledge if you tell her “go”
She knows she’ll land safe, coz she trusts you so

All this and more, she is Becky, my darling baby
And I am discovering myself through her, maybe.

* Ne-po means go-away in the Gibberish Language Dictionary. She uses it - when she wants something (especially if it's something she shouldn't be wanting in the first place), when she wants things done her way, when she doesn't want somebody around her (after using up their service!), when she is fighting, etc. Wonder if we have a word like that in the Oxford English Dictionary that could mean all of this!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

BP levels rising!

The controversy over Deepwater Horizon oil spill / Gulf of Mexico oil spill (also called BP oil spill) is raging. This massive ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is considered to be one of the largest offshore spills with about hundreds of millions of gallons spilling from a sea floor oil gusher, resulting in an oil slick spread over 2500 square miles.

An environment disaster undoubtedly, with a detrimental impact on marine and wildlife habitats, also affecting the fishing & tourism industries in the Gulf of Mexico. Miles of beaches, wetlands and estuaries are under threat. The BP engineers are working overtime to fix the spill or at least contain the damage.

The oil is spilling, the oil slick is spreading, the stocks are plunging, and…BP (read “Blood Pressure” from here on) is rising.

Well, this post is not really about the oil spill, why it happened or what are going to be the repercussions, nor is it about taking stock or pointing fingers. It is about my BP which has of late been on the rise…

Some crude reasons for rising levels of BP include:

  1. Global, National, Government, Political, General:
    • The BP oil spill (since we’re already on the topic), for whatever damage it is doing to life underneath and around.
    • The fact that it took 26 long years to pass the judgment on Bhopal Gas Tragedy and nothing much was done in the meantime to clean up the toxic waste (media frenzy and people fury only on current affairs, huh?).
    • The level of Corruption for moving every file under every desk in Government Offices. And to top it all, their lackadaisical approach (it’s the taxpayers money you’re sitting on, damn it!).
    • The highhandedness of Cops who seem to be out there only to make your life worse (busy meeting their targets must be – no. of cases booked, fines collected etc).
    • Bribe – givers & takers.
    • Dowry – givers & takers.
    • The extremists / rebels who do anything in the name of fighting for justice (religious fanatics, jihadists, terrorists…list is endless).
  2. Neighbourhood, People, Kids, family:
    • Gossip Mongers – especially those who seem to hang around-with and talk-behind-back of the same person.
    • Nosy parkers and peeping toms in the neighbourhood.
    • People passing lewd comments / uncalled-for judgments.
    • Kids acting like grown-ups, watching serials, telling lies or making lame excuses, being bullies (smartasses!), doing anything-but- behaving like kids.
    • Hubby asking you to fetch “this” or “that” when it’s actually closer to him and you’ve just sat down to put your feet up!
  3. Business, Workplace, Job:
    • Loyalty at workplace is hardly rewarded – Hee-Haw! (The jumping jacks make more money a month than what you make a year!).
    • The politics & double games you are expected to play to succeed in your business.
    • Boss who says “yesterday” for deadlines, “today” for meetings, and “tomorrow” for pay hike (but tomorrow never comes!).
    • Colleagues who try to dump the job & client on you, trying to keep their hands clean; Colleagues who send half-baked brief for full-baked ideas; Colleagues who pretend to be morons when they actually are jug heads…(list is endless).
    • Clients who want the best-in-class @ rock-bottom-prices! (And when the agency closes down because they almost did charity business with the same clients for dog-years, end up paying 10 times more hiring 10 such agencies!)
  4. Telephone, Emails, Internet, Computer:
    • Call centre executives (CCEs) who ask for Mr. XYZ, when their records clearly state the customer is female; CCEs who make it sound like the next half hour of product selling actually comes free, just that Rs.123 followed by a few 0’s will show up in the next month’s statement; CCEs (sitting in some Godforsaken place in Chennai) who ask “Why saar…you are the privilege customer, that is why we are giving you these special offer saar!” and can’t take “not interested” for an answer…(the list is again endless, nevertheless annoying!)
    • Phones through which you can’t hear a thing, and must repeatedly say “sorry?, excuse me?, could you please speak up a bit?...” and the person on the other hand thinks you are either deaf or dumb.
    • Computers that don’t work as fast as you do and “hang” just when the work is almost done but you haven’t saved the file yet.
    • Internet connection that’s slow as a snail.
    • Emails that don’t make sense even if you read, re-read, a million times over… and it still sounds like Greek & Latin!
  5. Traffic, Vehicles:
    • Motorists forming 6 lanes, when there’s space only for 2 lanes, and creating a traffic jam (The person in the extreme right lane is hollering & honking the most, because if he doesn’t, he’ll be at the receiving end!)
    • Buses halting in the middle of the road even when there are bus bays / bus stops, sticking their big red butts not letting anyone overtake, on the left or right!
    • Auto rickshaws overtaking on the left and denting the car or ripping the side-view mirror casing off (haven’t replaced it yet…too expensive!) and then having the gall to stop and pick up a fight (starts with wordy duel and almost ends in fist fights!).
    • The old fart engine packed in a box running on wheels, which leaves a trail of smoke & hoot, blackening your windshield and blinding & deafening other motorists within a mile.
    • Roads that are more like gaping holes (not just potholes) with ‘tar’ being a mere filler, in between.
    • No flyovers, pedestrian walkways / crossings, just roads that seem to be getting narrower by the day.
These are just few of the many things that can tick me off. My face flushes red and I think it’s high time I check my BP….Meanwhile send in your chants and sweet mantras that can help me keep my cool :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

A species* that is likely to become extinct


  • They work their ass-off. Hee-Haw!
  • They’re willing to do any job that comes their way. Hee-Haw!
  • They volunteer to do a job or sort a problem, which eventually gets added to their job profile, with no increase in the take home, except for the extra load of work and pressure. Hee-Haw!
  • They lend their fundas – “interface”, “approach notes”, “information architecture”, “rationale”, “process flow”…that soon become the norm at the workplace. Hee-Haw!
  • They yap about all and sundry to keep their sanity. Hee-Haw!
  • They pledge their loyalty to the Company they work in. Even when a bigger better job is offered to them, they refuse to budge. Hee-Haw!

Cover-up agents.

  • They cover-up follies in a diplomatic manner. Hee-Haw!
  • When client asks for schedule: “Will discuss with team and get back to you”. Hee-Haw!
  • When client asks when the job will be done: “Team is working on it. Will keep you posted.” Hee-Haw!
  • When the irate client asks, Why is this blue, when I asked for red: Bloody hell, they think on their feet and with the most convincing of expressions reply: “Blue symbolizes hope, joy , prosperity, royalty…” da, da, da it goes till the client says, yeah…coming to think of it, I’m beginning to like it. Hee-Haw!
  • And so on…

No-moolah. No problem.
  • If not paid a couple of months (financial crunch), they don’t question. They swear allegiance; wear a pair of horse blinds so they are not tempted to jump at the slightest whiff of opportunity coming their way. Hee-Haw!
  • If the last raise or promotion came a couple of years back, they let it pass. What the heck! In fact, they slog harder. Hee-Haw!
  • They sweet-talk others (the not paid, half-paid, demoralized or simply wanting to graze the meadows that seem greener on the other side kinds) to continue working in the company. Hee-Haw!

Thick-skinned, nothing affects them.

  • Not the KMA (Kiss My Ass) policy of the higher-ups. This species would rather swear by the Kick-ass methodology to get work done or to solve a problem. Hee-Haw!
  • Not the laid-back attitude of colleagues. A kick in the butt (or at least saying “I’m gonna kick your butt”) can fix that attitude. Hee-Haw!
  • Not the incorrigible commonsense-less behavior of other teams working on the project who pretend that it is the soon-to-be-extinct-species’ job to tell them if they’re doing their job right or wrong (The species under study would like to call them blockheads, morons, jackasses or what have you!). Hee-Haw!
  • Not the dressing-down from the boss, which is often not even remotely related to what the species is actually supposed to do. Hee-Haw!
  • Not the boring jobs that come their way. Hee-Haw!
  • Not the “deadline yesterday” jobs that may get done “the day before”, but may remain in office for “another week or so” because “some moron” forgot to upload it. Hee-Haw!
  • Not the brown, watery, sugary stuff they get twice a day. Hee-Haw!
  • Not even the HR mandate, as per which, you need to behave like a zombie. Hee-Haw!
  • Nothing, NOTHING can stop this species. But fear is, they’ll soon be extinct. Hee-Haw!
Now, am I turning into a fossil?

* The species (subject of this post), as research reveals, is fast disappearing from the face of the earth. Send in your votes (comments) to sustain this species and to save it from being extinct.

Monday, June 07, 2010

A workaholic’s T20 confessions

  1. Someone who’s so addicted to work, that everything seems double.
  2. Starts with one, then mixes a couple of other. After a heady cocktail, starts all over again.
  3. Stays slumped in the chair, with a morose expression and a blank screen under the pretext of “thinking”.
  4. When there’s a call, swears (Gosh…work is also a 4-letter word people!) and drawls over the r’s and the l’s. Unintelligible conversation pursues.
  5. Calls everybody else a “moron”, thinks everything else is “funny”.
  6. Hates going to a meeting, and stifles the irrepressible yawn begging to be excused with the lamest of excuses “Oxygen depletion”.
  7. Staggers around, drunk in a pile of work.
  8. No hiccups, just goes on gulping it down, sometimes bottoms-up.
  9. Smiles when the work is piling. Laughs when it hits the ceiling.
  10. Is always right. Can’t argue there.
  11. Ain’t a stickler for time. Deadlines, yes. But not the coming in or going out.
  12. And once in, doesn’t bother to leave till the lights are out and the shutters are half down.
  13. Will work-ass-off or kick-ass to get work done.
  14. Got nothing to confide. Life is an open book. And the workplace gets most of the waking hours.
  15. No one questions, not even the big B. Comes dirt cheap, yet very effective you see.
  16. Rub salt, some lime and down a tequila. You’ll know what I mean. Got some more peanuts?
  17. Can’t stay off it, sometimes. Not even some weekends or those weak-days!
  18. Maybe it’s the hangover of yesterday. The head is pounding.
  19. The watering hole beckons. The bartender is ready with the cocktail.
  20. I’m headed to a de-addiction centre instead. Enuff said. 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

On a constant trip

This time, to Fish Pond, Njarackal. With Family and some ex-neighhbours. It’s a backwater picnic spot roughly about 22 kms from our home. The sky is a bit gloomy, with grey clouds and the sun hidden well within its frills. The weatherman (my better half) declares “it’s the perfect weather for some boating, and no it’s not gonna rain today”.

There’s a small foot-over-water bridge to get there. From there, we take a row boat to get to the other side of the fish pond. The men do the rowing. The rest of us do the yapping. The seat that I’m seated on is broken, and I’m trying my balancing act to keep my butt fixed somewhere, lest I slide to the centre where the wood is almost in splinters. Baby adds to the woes. She’s excited to be on a boat and jumping all over me. The sights around momentarily keep me preoccupied and I forget the butt on the broken wooden seat for a while.

Tranquil waters lined by coconut trees and mangroves. There are a couple of platforms built in the middle of nowhere (the pond) where we can stop by and drink-in the view around. But they were wrecked, so we ditch the plan. We reach a place by the shore where there’s place to sit down, fish, lie on a hammock, and generally enjoy the beauty of nature, so we dock there. We wade through the water, as we get closer to the shore. I almost lose my slippers in the sticky mud beneath the waters. We relax, snack, the kids try their hand at fishing and actually manage to catch one fish (we jump with excitement!), lie in the hammock tied between 2 coconut trees and while away time with no cares in this world.

The men take the row boat across and decide to bring two pedal boats instead (No, the men in the picture are not our men, they're fishermen rowing on their boats in search of their prize catch). We get in and pedal across the pond. Simply serene, beautiful and yes, very intoxicating (hope it doesn’t get addictive!). We sort of laze about, not wanting to go back to the concrete jungles and the madness. Then we get to food. We’re famished after the hours of pedaling. So dig in, without waiting for the word ‘go’. Fish curry meals. Daughter eats twice more than her usual capacity. Icecream for dessert. All of us grin silly.

We then head to a beach closeby. The place is called Milky Way. No Galaxy this. But a world of its own. Baby refuses to get out of the water. We linger on. The clouds get darker. There's a brief lull. The clouds close in and break into a drizzle. We dash to the car and drive away. Ah, a weekend spent well!

Monday, as we’re trying hard to get rid of the Monday morning blues, getting ready to get back to work, news that our maid is not coming back hits us like the storm after the calm. We’re wondering what to do, who takes leave to manage the kids et cetera, when hubby comes up with the idea that we could all take a trip to Alappuzha (where my maid is from) to speak to her, plead with her to come back. We jump into the car and get ready for the trip.

When we get there, she tells her sob story. Son and daughter-in-law fighting with each other when she’s away that it almost came to divorce, 2 little grand children, so she won’t be able to come back, and stuff.

We tell our sob story. Both of us working, baby is now used to having her around, it would be difficult to find another maid in a day’s time, school going to reopen in a week’s time and stuff. Baby adds to the sentiment by crying when we leave the place. We are desperate. We tell her that we’ll give her son a job as well. And she promises to come with her son the next day. We leave with hope resurfacing. Our spirits are lifted.

We go shop-hopping (Kallu shop, i.e., Toddy shop). Plenty of them around the place. Toddy shops are popular for their spicy-yummy delicacies & side eats – mostly fried fish, kappa and fish curry. Slurp, slurp! And then some pure sweet toddy. Daughters too have big gulps of the local drink. Now did they get tipsy? Must’ve, bcoz they sort of crashed in the car, soon after.

And what have we...some fine trips - some planned, some at the spur of the moment.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

From Queen of Arabian Sea to Queen of Hills

We set out on a journey. Hubby, 2 daughters, myself and my parents. A whole jing-bang (extended family) was to join us later in Coonoor. We drove down (or should I say uphill?) - From Cochin - the Queen of Arabian Sea, to Nilgiris - the Queen of Hills.

Day 1, Drive to Nilgiri (Blue Hills / Blue Mountain) enroute Thrissur & Coimbatore:
A rather long journey by road. Thankfully we had a few stopovers, visiting family and friends enroute. And the pleasant sights from Mettupalayam to Coonoor was a bonus. Coonoor is a place that goes back to my childhood days. I did my primary schooling, when my dad was posted there. From the time we reached Coonoor, the nostalgia was overwhelming. We were headed to my Uncle's place, in Railey Compound, which was where I lived (way back in the 80s). I could very clearly remember the road that led to the house I used to stay. Memories flashed before my eyes. Gulp! Never felt this way before.

Day 1, Coonoor:
Found a place to park. Had to walk down quite a few steps before we got to the house. Freshened up and set out, on foot. The whole of Coonoor is more or less connected by steps (the short-cut). Over 2 decades, and nothing much had changed. More houses, more people, more vehicles, more heat, more pollution perhaps. But still, it looked more or less the same to me.

We first headed to my old school, my alma mater - St.Joseph's Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School. My heart was racing. Gulp! Gulp! Gulp! as I walked down the memory lane. Many new blocks seemed to have come up. But my classrooms seemed intact. The steps where we used to play "Crocodile", the ground where we used to play "Dog and the bone", the auditorium where I sang, danced and participated in fancy dress competitions, the chapel, the garden, the cafetaria where I ate "delicious cocunut burfee"....brought back fond memories of my school days. I was excitedly playing guide to my hubby & elder daughter telling them sweet anecdotes of my past. I didn't want to leave. I even thought, maybe I should put my daughters in this school, so I'll have reason to come again, and again! But alas, I had to bid adieu, at least for the moment.

We then went to the marketplace. An old family friend who had a shop (provision store), still has the same shop, which got no bigger, just that there were a lot more things. She looked the same too. The veg & fruit market looked inviting and fresh as fresh can be. Met a few old family friends along the way. They'd seen me when I was a kid and here I was with 2 kids my own!

We walked and climbed and panted all the way. Railway Station, railway level crossing, small shops and everything around looked fascinating enough. My legs were literally begging for mercy (my elder daughter was riding piggy-back on hubby bcoz she got awfully tired with all that walking!), so we called it a day.

Day 2, Ooty:
To Ooty by train. As the train chugged along the hilly terrain, we took in the lovely sights around us. The quaint hilly town, the brightly coloured houses stacked up the hill, the rolling greens of tea plantation, the hills and valleys, the tunnels and everything else in between. Feast to the eyes!

Dodabetta (the 2nd highest peak in South India). The drive up was tiring with all those hairpin bends. But I guess it was worth it. Top of the world (err...South India)!

Boat House. A boat ride in the lake. The tall trees on all sides, blue skies above, a toy train entering the tunnel, crisp waters under, mist clad hills around.

Botanical Garden was a pretty sight. What with all the many varieties of flowers, trees and plants. The mist covered the place, slowly yet steadily. Picture perfect shots. The drizzle got us scurrying on our feet and we winded up for the day. Missed the Rose Garden (supposed to have 25000 varieties of flowers!).

Day 3, Kodanad View Point & Kotagiri:
A beautiful drive. Breathtaking sights uphill. We stopped for photo shots, memories for keeps. The view was absolutely stunning from the View Point. More pictures. We spent a while and resumed our journey back to Coonoor. The drive back was just as interesting. We stop by, the men take a leak. We christen the place loo-hills. And continue the journey downhill.

We passed by Kotagiri. Tea plantations, houses dotting the hills, hairpin bends (and baby puke!) and we finally reach Coonoor.

Day 4, Back to Queen of Arabian Sea, enroute Kotagiri and Coimbatore:
We started our journey back home. Road diversion because of peak traffic in weekend. We were asked to take the Kotagiri route.

"Kotagiri, here we come". A relative of my hubby is head of a provinciate. We became his guests of honour. He took us around the place. Not many adjectives left (used up all of them, haven't I!) to describe the place. You have to see it to believe it. Food on the house. And we resumed our journey.

3 weeks after the trip, Back to routine in Cochin:
Memories linger. Photographs do the talking. The trip was a good break from all the heat down here (sultry weather, routine work, yada, yada...). Looking forward to the next vacation already!

So long...