Friday, December 10, 2010

Things that can be written easily

The easiest things that can be written are romantic poems. As Wordsworth defined it, 'the sponatneous overflow' ensures that powerful emotions are distilled into poetry or prose.

Blogs, diaries,journals are also easy to write for two reasons. They are based on our experience and do not require high levels of writing skills.The other type of not so difficult writing is report writing. you write what you observe; a series of events, a performance, a product; you give all details and describe the sequence of action in it's normal progression.

Writing a speech is  a slightly more difficult task which becomes easier if we are passionate about the topic, are familiar with the audience and have something useful to tell them. Writing an essay or a thesis requires that the writer has some general knowledge and reference skills to highlight all aspects of a certain issue and put forth a conclusive argument.
Higher levels of creative writing like novels, plays and epics require inspiration, talent, commitment and creativity to bring to life a world of imaginary characters.
But the most difficult things to write, according to me, are didactic poems for text books. Not being a generation of preachers, we teachers are not inspired to spout lofty morals in rhyme.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Plastic , the magic as well as the logic of it

I love plastic, the range of  colours it comes in and the shine of it! Plastic bangles and ear rings go very well with casual wear and synthetic sarees.The amazing beauty of matching plastic accessories is literally invisible to the Indian eye, which thinks of gold as a synonym for jewellery. We Indians never seem to realize that gold ornaments get to look so dirty and dull and don't really match the dizzying variety of fabrics and designs of the times.
Apart from accessories, the use of plastic as a watertight dust proof cover is indisputable. No other cover, made of paper or cloth, can protect as plastic does. It looks hip too and is inexpensive. There must surely be a way to recycle plastic and rather than make a hue and cry of plastic degrading the environment, we should find ways to dispose off waste plastic successfully.
Personally, I think few things can look as pretty as a red, shiny, plastic mug.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Some unfulfilled wishes/hopes

1.attend the republic day parade in a foreign university
3.ride/drive a car with the hood open
4.visit/bathe in a hot water spring a book or two everyday
6. be surrounded by thousands of books the whole day long
8.write for three or four hours everyday in the metros (not just projects, work for a period at least) near the beach as I did in my childhood

Well, it could go on if I set my mind to explore my heart and my heart to approve of what my mind says, but 10 is a good number. tata

Monday, November 1, 2010

I have always had a sneaking suspicion that men sing better than women; this sounds so outrageously disloyal to my kind, ie womankind, that I console myself that the faults of the male species far outweigh this one superior gift of theirs. Initially I used to justify my feeling that men sounded better by saying that being a woman I was attracted by the male voice. But after years of listening to music I feel more and more that men sing with greater finesse, experiment with a variety of nuances and let go of inhibitions and stereotypical singing to a far greater extent than women. The range and power of their voices are definitely superior.For those who don't listen to much music, I would recommend that they listen to the male and female versions of "Katrin mozhi" from the film mozhi and the mohammed rafi and asha's singing of "Abhi na jao chodkar" from the film hum dono. There have been exceptional women singers and exceptionally and universally popular ones but men do seem to sing better than women,

Saturday, October 30, 2010

when to hope and when not to

It's a difficult decision to make; when to hope and when not to. Somewhere in the chaos of creation, growth, development leading to utter chaos, hope springs  and survives.When all our efforts are defeated and there is a great deal of mess to contemplate, very much like in the climax scenes in movies, some problems are resolved and some progress is made.
The problem is when some one close is abusive and thinks that no one will ever come to know.
What can we aspire for, in this scenario?
The situation is not one of utter hopelessness as hoping is a habit of the human mind and tomorrow it will dream and plan and work in hope and find several ways to lick its wounds.
The solution in such cases is to wait and watch and......hope that there are ways out of abuse too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

kicking magic out in the name of logic

This film has been suitably modified for family viewing - How I hate these words! I always feel cheated when a movie has been tampered with by a group of do gooders who have no artistic qualification, but have been given the authority to tamper with someone's creativity. Who watches movies with families these days? I wonder!
This mangling and taking away the essence of a movie was evident when one of our English channels telecast ,"The ugly truth" . I still remember watching the movie the first time on a dvd and laughing spontaneously all through it, even when I thought that the protagonist was a sick character spouting cynical gibberish and that some of the scenes were obscene.In the tv version of the film, several scenes were cut and the story became confusing, but what was unbelievable was that the elevator scene, where the lead characters discover their attraction for each other,was cut, making the story look lame.
Indians always believe that their artistic roots are religious and either adopt them with feverish seriousness or mock at the same as humbug. But most Indian traditional practises are not impractically spiritual. An example that I can give are the 'varnams' or simple compositions in carnatic music, which help the student learn the various ragas. As a student of music, I used to translate these varnams, usually in telugu and used to find them flirtatious. For instance the first lines of the bhairavi varnam may roughly be translated as follows," The female with dark hair is in love with you" The first lines of all varnams translate into lamentations of love.The music teachers of the past who framed such a syllabus were clearly aware that this theme would go well with young learners. They were of course careful in placing the name of a deity at the end of each paragraph, implying the the object of love was the lord himself. The stanzas usually ended as they do in the bhairavi varnam, with Sri Rajagopala deva! or Sri Venkatesa!
There have been several instances when modern artists and film makers have been seen as threats to Indian culture and its conservatism. This creates an image that all Indians are extra spiritual and are unbelievable kind and trustworthy. We, on the other hand know that we are as normal as they come and should do our best not to hide behind stereotypes assigned to us.

Monday, October 18, 2010

emotional intelligence

People with low emotional intelligence are supposed to suffer in life. In an audio clip I heard as a part of a class room lesson, a doctor speaks of husbands who choose to ignore the emotional side of their wives and kids and end up being uncared for and unmourned for.
MS word has underlined the last phrase in the previous sentence in red and in spite of the  horror the word conveys, you wonder if the spelling is wrong. So complex is life and so crazy are humans.

Back to the topic, the husbands have, at least a few of them, opted to let their emotional intelligence rust, as it is not possible that all men are morons when it comes to emotions. And I wonder at what point in life we stop using our intelligence, be it intellectual or emotional.
As kids as young as four or five, we can belt out lyrics of the latest hits and then stop listening to music, losing a portion of our personality.As teenagers we take terrible risks, missing important tests, criticizing figures of authority aloud, dressing exactly as we like, parting our hair any own way, and then we let the rut envelope us and stay seated through a lot of nonsense, for propeity's sake. We let our senses get dull and end up feeling like losers.
Whatever happens to the brilliant, lively five year old US?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The magic of partiality/ the logic in impartiality

I was teacher's pet. My teachers made much of me, my answers in class rooms and praised me at parent-teacher meetings, though I was not a particularly successful student. I especially remember a quiz I participated in, in class XI, when I felt that my class teacher had manipulated the scores of the quiz. We won and there was no way we could have scored that much.
When I became a teacher,being the super serious geek that I always will be, I took particular care to be impartial in all situations. I scored the answer sheets scrupulously and conducted competitions with  fairness.Yet some students complained that I was partial. I assumed that they were just jealous of the toppers and confidently asserted that they were entirely mistaken and that I was totally objective. I challenged them to prove me partial and all that they could do was cry hoarsely," No ma'am, you are partial" It so happened that I taught this class for five years continuously. Even when these students were in class XII, one particular group continued to chant 'partial, partial' whenever I worked with them, although it started to seem that they were not so loud or so upset anymore. On my part I continued to dismiss their claims, but slowly, I had a strange feeling that this group was trying to tell me something. It was as if they were convinced that I was partial but couldn't prove that I was.
I enrolled in evening college for a course in psychiatric counselling the following year. It was as if several windows had opened in my brain. We had some sessions on body language and studying cues given by people and on listening skills. Slowly it dawned on me what these students had stubbornly tried to convey.

I had never given extra points to the toppers, but definitely had smiled more at their quick grasp of fine poetry and classy comedy. I had not realized that backward students felt left out in these situations. I had definitely not smiled, infact, had probably never smiled at them.

I had never praised the toppers or encouraged them out of proportion , but I had looked at them a lot when I taught, because they supported me with their undivided attention and diligent nods. The teacher should look at all the students more or less equally and even if she could not smile at all, should show appropriate facial expressions which would make all the students feel included in the game called class room.
As if to prove how dense I had been I came to know that the leader of the gang that had accused me had been suffering from cancer during her days as my student. And I had never known.!

Monday, September 27, 2010

The 'logic' behind family honour

The Indian family may be as protective as an eye lid. If soap enters your eyes, the lids shut tightly; so tightly that you can't splash water to dilute the soap. The eye burns like on fire and  fingers try to pry the lids open, to no avail.. If something goes wrong with the families here, the protective shutters are down instantly. No one can cross these barriers or help this family. A drunken father, a violent husband or a cheating wife; all lurk behind the closed doors causing pain and sorrow to those around them. Anyone who complains against a family member, for all the truth in the complaint, is considered  a traitor of the worst sort. The family honour is more important than any cruelty or injustice suffered by its members.

Once a colleague Ms.P, brought one of her wards,let's call her Sajitha, a girl from eight grade to me because her sister had confided to  her that her she was worried about sajitha's behaviour. I want to put on record parts of the conversation I had with the kid.

Sajitha: Is it wrong to fall in love?
Raji: Fall in love? No.
S: I am in love with a doctor. He loves me too.
R: Are you sure he loves you?
S: Ofcourse!  Wherever I go, he follows me.
R:Who? The doctor?
S: Yeah. When I went to the hospital, he was there; when I went to the market he was there. I told my aunt, "The doctor is here and smiling at me." She told me,"Keep quiet" I saw him in school too.
R: How do you know that he followed you? He may have come to the market by chance.
S: That was confirmed when I saw Pandi ( the cleaner of the school bus). He watches me through Pandi when I am in school.

R: How do you know that?
S: I was running up the stairs and stumbled and fell down; when I looked up, Pandi was there staring at me. That instant I knew that Pandi was his messenger. He stands behind the school wall and Pandi tells him what I do.

My sense of alarm started to rise  three fourths way through this conversation and at the end of it, I realized that this girl was probably hallucinating. Although I was  in my twenties, I  realized that the girl needed far more than counselling. I spoke to the girl's sister and she told that her mother had suffered form mental illness, had undergone treatment and had committed suicide. She also told that her sister did many things just like their mother used to. She would sing loudly all of a sudden, in all sorts of places; she would hop in circles around the room for a long time and so on. I told her to bring her father. The father came. I told him of my conversation with his daughter and said that she needed help. He was silent. He left. I heard that he had removed his kids from school and they were nowhere in town.  He refused to attend phone calls from any of the teachers.
The same year my daughter received a prize for acting in a school play. This father was the dignitary who was called to give her the prize. The great Indian family, with the venerable father as its head, is an honourable institution.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Today I set a match box on fire when it was in my hand. I sleepily, carelessly struck a match; the lid was slightly open on the match head side and when I struck all the heads caught fire,actually, a tiny fountain of fire erupted in my hand. Stingy that I am, I opened the match box to check how many sticks had burned out ( it was smoking like a cannon) and found that only two had not burned out. The craziest thing that happened to me. And I actually found a picture to go with this!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

poetry in unlikely places

Poetry is sometimes discovered in the most non-poetic of places
Like in big English text boks--

In between catchy colourful captions
simplified prose and photographs
Lucid lines leap out
And a surprised child feels prickles down her spine
Looks up to see if others feel the same

Faces around her show in turn, polite interest,
studious intent, suppressed boredom
The teacher in her plaited cotton adjusts her glasses
She glances at her coldly not exactly saying, "I dare you to think!"
The pupil bends down quickly, finding none to share the thrill

As the woman scribbles on in a shady space
Trying to ignore the cigarette smoke
A menial supplying tea asks,"Writing a poem about the rain?"
Too surprised to share the truth, she wonders
how poetry is sometimes recognized
by the most non-poetic of people

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Which city has the people with the lowest levels of G.K?

I listen to Suriyan FM (very local of me, btw did you know that among non English speaking tamils in Madurai, the word local means low class?) because their collection of songs is the best (don't they have the best of everything?) Everyday the radio jockey belts out a question on social issues and tells everyone to call her on 23232 or some such number and share their views. Today her question was, "Which category of people should be given maximum awareness on environmental degradation? and Why?" Then she started chatting away on the ozone layer and said that the hole in the ozone layer was not actually a hole but just a thinning of the former caused by the fall in the ozone levels.

The problem started when she started talking about ultra-violet rays. She clearly did not know the term, "ultra-violet" , much less the concept of what it was. She kept saying violet rays and stammered every time she said it.Hollow, shallow, being terms that come to our minds when we try to label the dispensers of such 'knowledge', shouldn't she be the one who needs to be made aware? She holds a mike and has the attention of millions of listeners going about their morning chores taking her words in and believing them to be true.She should improve her awareness level before she tries to spread the same.Or she should stick to questions that come within the purview of her general knowledge such as "which actress looks great in police uniform?" or "How many legs does an eight-legged spider have?". As for the title of this post, well....if your 'cityzens' get any dumber than this, let me know!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I absently picked a novel from a second hand book stall thinking it was written by Sue Grafton, only to realize when I was a few pages into the book that it was a biography by Sue Crawford of a heavy metal rock star called Ozzy Osbourne. I clearly remember teasing my daughter and her friend for suggesting I listen to PinkFloyd by imitating the yelling and the distorted super fast guitar. On the blurb, Q magazine calls the book unputdownable and I actually found it to be so.
The tone of the biography is very unemotional and the language is deceptively simple and readable.Am sure that to achieve this level of simplicity, the writer must have written and rewritten till she used the minimum number of words to give us the picture of the bad boy in a supposedly objective manner.This she manages by keeping the tone matter of fact and the content a matter of facts too. (The books unputdownableness may also be due to the fact that goodie goodie first benchers like me are fascinated by people who let go of their lives in flamboyant depravity through substance abuse)
. The writer's sympathy for the star is obvious as she plays down some appalling parts of his life; like the time he returns to his farmhouse from a tour, feeling very tired and his wife calls him to feed the chickens and he comes down with a gun and shoots them down and is finally stopped by a neighbour in the process of chasing the last one around the house.Or his alcoholic excesses when he shoots 17 cats, which were his pets; The author mentions these incidents once and has no comments to follow up. Of course her tone shows some emotion when he almost strangles his second wife, the one who revives his career and helps him make a fortune, to death. But at the same time she spends half a page describing how he shed tears of joy at his baby daughter born to his second wife. Clearly the author is subtly humanizing the singer.She sounds like a female family member from Madurai, who portrays the husband or son with fondness; throwing a golden glow on their originally drab human skins. She also says repeatedly that most of the stunts by the singer were just for the public and he was not so crazy as he showed himself to be. Wonder why she is partial to him?

But I really like the book a lot, coz overall, it makes interesting reading. May be the fact that it was first book I read after I started wearing reading glasses and I realized how comfortable it was to read with them helped me appreciate the book. I also listened to this guy on you tube. He sings very well.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

tough times ahead.

Waking up on a holiday to a lot of work
Looking out to find the beautiful trees stand still outside my door
Enjoying some of the work and wondering a bit if it is worth the effort
attending friendly business calls
wondering if what am trying to do will work out or will turn out to be too much work
chatting with nosy no good relatives on phone
wondering if circumstances might  not let me complete and succeed
and still continue to work like nothing's on my mind
belting out a hot song with the radio without thinking about it (continuing my work)
knowing that my salvation lies in reaching out to a needy child, doing it and basking in its love,
Being attacked by harsh words that hurt like boiling water on tender skin (continuing my work)
getting dressed to an inaugural function and staring at my dead eyes in the mirror
realizing how wonderful and balmy the weather had been the whole day
attending the inaugural and forgetting  my life in the curious looks and friendly smiles of strangers
and in the jalebis and samosas of course riding back, getting back to work,
doing chores and then doing the dance called routine
telling myself that the tough times ahead are there because I had taken the easy route in youth
and saying my favorite prayer:

O Hidden life, vibrant in every atom!
O hidden light, shining in every creature!
O hidden love, embracing all in oneness!
May each who feels himself as one with thee know he is therefore one  with every other!

I know I will sleep tonight. It was a tough day. First, I should get back to work.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Feeling bankrupt

Today I lost all the data in my hard disk (external) as a virus from a college computer cleaned out 150 GB of movies, hundreds of books, several thousand pages of downloaded worksheets that I had accumulated over the years of teaching, audio tracks that I had selected and segmented for various classes( nearly 2 GB), photos from my mob cam, all  my latest music reviews and letters. I actually started this blog to record my music reviews, particularly the unpublished ones along with unpublishable asides.
May be its time for me to write my own study materials rather than go back online and download.Aaaaaaww, that was years of work. BTW the materials that I cooked up worked far better than the ones I downloaded, as they were customized for the batch that I was handling.
I think this is a message from heaven to start working differently and I'd better think that than anything else.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What logic is this?

One of my students, a stock broker, told me about his journey by bus to Madurai. A passenger in the bus had wanted the bus to stop at a small town where it was not scheduled to. The conductor informed the passenger that the bus would stop only at madurai. An hour or so into the journey, the passenger, (let's call him Murugan, coz I hate being vague) Murugan called the conductor of the bus and handed him his cell phone saying that the state minister for transport K.N.Nehru was on line and wished to speak to him. This was bolt from the blue for the conductor. It seemed the minister was really on the phone and the conductor told him that he too was an office bearer of the ruling party at the district level and then the minister asked him to adjust with Murugan and do what he wanted.The bus then made a detour and left the highway and stopped at the town. Now several questions arise in the logical part of my brain.

1.Why should the minister even attend the call of such a person?
2. Even if he did attend it  accidentally, why should he give importance to a local rowdy?
3.Has he no other pressing duties and commitment rather than personally solve this minor, silly, insane problem?
4. Is rowdyism moving on to a level that such public display of bullying is permitted and even authorized?
5.Was there no one among the public who was not enraged and who questioned the unwarranted delay caused by this drama?
6.Why would a powerful person such as Murugan travel by public transport? If the minister was at his beck and call, he should be able to travel by car.
Help me answer these questions, plz

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Not so logical or magical either....

Fast mofussil buses with smart accessories remind me of dads on their way to work;
Overcrowded city buses of pregnant women,
Rushing lorries of strangers,
Cars which speed by with windows closed of  rich relatives,
Brightly painted school buses of teachers,
Auto rickshaws of noisy neighbours,
Motorbikes of youth, cycles of children
In the journey called life, people adopt their own style and their own mode of transport
As for me, am a pedestrian who enjoys walking in the rain, my head covered by a shawl
walking my way through the slush, getting wet, walking and watching, walking and watching

Friday, August 20, 2010

Two score and two years ago!

Two score and two years ago I started the process of living. I grew up for ten years and then I started to watch and learn, lessons right and wrong, for the next ten years. During this period I was a judgmental adolescent who rejected everyone.Then for the next ten years and some I had a wonderful time,joyful days,hours, months, weeks; years bringing up my kids and continuing to study.The last decade I became a by product of the boom period in India which started in 2001; a full fledged professional.
What am I going to do the next forty years? Just work for a living? Search for worthy people/causes to adopt? Master mind the rejuvenation of the Indian subcontinent? Write?

Friday, August 13, 2010

The twisted logic of a cranky dumbo!

A school drop out has joined us as an office boy. He loves to grab people's attention by staring hard at us and by asking irritating questions. One busy day........

Shiva:Ma'am! Is sir fond of eating drumsticks?
Raji: You think you can bug me with such questions!
Shiva: NOOOOOOOOO Madam! I want to knooooooooow (He thinks he's funny drawling away)
Raji: Hence forth, every time you ask me a question, I will charge you Rs.10.
Shiva: Why Maaaaaaaaa'aaaam?
Raji: All right, I keep tab from this question onwards. When I give you your salary, I will take Rs.10 for myself. It's official now.

That shut him up. But he couldn't reform right away. He now owes me 70 bucks.But he has his own way of taking revenge on me. Today I chanced to go to the locked up first floor at six in the evening and was shocked to find all the lights and fans switched on.He enjoys watching people yell at him. Out of school and still not out of it. n am not going to yell at him! let him figure that out!

Monday, August 2, 2010

on vegetarianism!

I generally keep silent on this topic as debates keep crackling into raging fires among the very small minority of vegetarians and the so called non vegetarians.

I give the second group this epithet because unlike caucasians, mongoloids and negroes, Indians who eat meat, consume it only as a side dish on sundays whereby it forms a very small part of their diet. So much so that after a lunch where they consume some small pieces of mutton and a few pieces of chicken along with huge quantities of spicy rice, they don't take dinner. They fuss about the heaviness of Sunday lunch and avoid snacking on Mondays too. A vegetarian and an outsider to these habits, like me, compares them to foreigners who eat a whole fish or slabs of meat on their plate along with a sprinkling of vegetables and comes to the conclusion that most Indians are vegetarians who also eat meat occassionally.

People make fun of what is strange to them. Indian meat eaters often mock at vegetarians because it is done for religious reasons and goes with the status that attaches itself to people from the upper castes. But a lot of people from non meat eating groups have started eating meat and a lot of nonvegetarians have stopped eating meat for health reasons. so it is time to stop looking at these groups and rigid and generalize.
Personally the decision not to eat meat or feed our children meat was discussed at home and my husband and I decided not to do so as it would hurt the religious sentiments of the older members of my family.Once the decision was taken it was convenient to stick to it. I don't have a revulsion for meat; neither do I feel attracted to it. I guess this is the case of most vegetarians; they have simply decided not to eat meat and in the same spirit they should also resolve not to worry about people who comment.
Ofcourse we should discriminate among the commentators.
For instance, some of the foreigners who talk to me about it are totally astounded and say they would die without meat. One of them asked me if I was not tempted to try meat and asked me why I should not try to eat it. These were genuine reactions and deserved genuine answers.Or they might be objective scholars like bala who wonder why not? why evernot? Or they may just have no one else to mock at, at that point in time. Or worse, they may have been wanting to mock at you for something or the other and this topic seems to rile you particularly! If we analyse people who comment about our choices, we too can react or ignore with due consideration to the other party.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

how life tastes to me sometimes

Depression tastes like bitter gourd;
happiness like syrup;
problems like the unexpected chilli you bite in to sometimes;
entertainment like soda;
satisfaction like a cup of ice cool water;
boring work like hot water
sadness like tepid tea when your nose is blocked;
confidence like piping hot coffee;
friendliness like rosepetals and coriander;

okay! pitch inwith your flavours!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A discovery....not so logical

Computers behave like people sometimes. They don't co-operate, the window just doesn't open. So you wait for sometime and then restart. This works most of the time and you are let off with a comment like there has been a serious error that should be reported to microsoft. Sometimes restarting thrice, four, five, six, seven etc times should be done to woo the booting device. A trick that works ( i told you this is not so logical, right there inthe title) is to press the dvd drive and the cd holder slides out. This somehow helps the system to boot. Sometimes there is no way the system would boot, but all that you have to do is wait and summon the task manager again and again by pressing ctrl, alt n delete. Then all of a sudden you get to see some instructions like press F4 or press r for repair because blahblahblahblah bah. Then when you do that there is a silent grey (dark dusty elephant grey) stare from the screen. So you give up on the repair and restart again, it actually boots.Pretty boring stuff I know bt I just want to share this experience as it might help other computer illiterates like me.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The magic n logic behind attire/clothing.

There was a time when women purchased two silk sarees a year and owned a third one, just in case they needed it. There was no concept of a wardrobe and even queens who possesed quite a few sarees kept them in quaint wooden boxes and wooden almirahs. I remember a scene from a tamil film 'Nalla thambi" when the comedian-hero N.S.Krishnan throws open almirah of the princess of a zamin and shows some neatly folded sarees and tells the camera ,'Why should one woman own so many sarees.' I guess a woman from the lower middle class today would have a bigger wardrobe than the one inthe film that had strong communist overtones. And she would sneer at the hero character and look at the 'black and white' film and wonder what colour and texture the sarees were.
Being the boring non consumer of sarees and many other consumable things that i am, I have often been shocked when I had inadvertantly joined other women in their shopping expeditions. Many of them shop for hours and purchase several sarees at a time. But their practised eyes are highly trained in spotting new designs and unique colours from the hundreds arraigned in a shop.
Today clothes define a person. We find it hard to shake off the impression that a person in a suit makes on us.Funny and it shouldn't be so, but it is so, isn't it?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

just an announcement

Have suddenlylost interest in playing video games; now agreed that i decided to act mature and selfless and be active and live life without escaping into all these things and tried out a totally different style of work! So have been getting more organized, buying more socially acceptable clothes like silk sarees, but i never imagined that by reducing my escapist activities and gettin more involved in serious work, iwould actually lose interest in playing video games! An addict from the time of hand held games, I wish to put on record that my inability to be addicted may be considered as a loss!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Magical moments

An unimaginable variety of people attend my spoken English classes. Most of them are not students wanting to improve their placement prospects. A woman in her fifties who wants to chat on skype with her NRI son's colleagues, a cameraman who finds it difficult to narrate stories to his hindi /malayalam /english/etc/ speaking colleagues in cosmopolitan Chennai, lawyers who wish to take up high court work, bakers, research scholars and nurses who wish to work abroad,home makers who want to hold their own in parent-teacher meetings, party members who wish to expand the radius of their presence beyond Madurai,blushing brides waiting for their visas..... the list is long and the drama which unfolds when they interact for a couple of months is a potential mega serial or situational comedy.

They keep in touch with me online or on phone for quite some time after their classes. A couple of them follow this blog! There is one student of whom I think almost everyday. He is a sailor, who revealed in my initial grilling about his background that, he had lost his mother at the time of his birth and his dad when he was eight, I think. He was brought up by an elder brother. During class discussions whenever the question of parents came up, he never revealed that he had no parents. He always talked as if they were alive. He was also totally cool about the grueling and unearthly hours of work he had to put in as a sailor.
Whenever I feel frustrated or depressed about the twists and turns of my comfortable middle class life, I think of him and my heart lightens immediately. Everyone is lucky in one way or the other.. I was lucky to have had wonderful teachers and now am totally amazed at the types of people I meet in the form of students! Cheerio!

goings on in class

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Lies are neither magic nor logic!

Lying is an exercise in futility, especially in the long run....The manipulative mind of a liar does not concentrate on facts but only on how facts may be twisted. So the liar forgets the facts once he leaves the scenario which prompted him to create a pack of lies. You can often spot a liar when
a. he uses words like "There were 15-20 people who were waiting for around 2-3 hours".
b. he is nice throughout or nasty throughout coz it's all an act!
c. he expresses his distrust of everyone and has nasty things to say of everybody. A liar doesn't believe anybody.
d. he repeats that he is smarter than everybody else coz he believes that manipulation is all that is there to intelligence.

Finally a liar doesn't believe in himself. He believes that only his manipulation got him whatever he earned and that without that he is nothing.What actually happens is that the liar loses a lot of friends who find out about his lying and sooner or later and withdraw their friendship and favors.
The greatest loss to the liar is that he has spent his precious life honing the one skill of manipulation instead of learning other things that might help him earn a living or have good relationships. He ends up lonely and much poorer than he should have been. At least one or sometimes all of his off spring carry on his legacy of lying to the next generation.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Water: Is it magic or logic?

There are times when you feel the power of water more than ever; as when you think of the sand, which, geologists claim is the powder of rocks made by centuries of water beating on them!

As when you think of the earliest molecules of life forming proteins, which marine biologists claim, were created when boiling hot volcanic eruptions reacted with the ice cold sea water.
As when you think of how much of our blood is water and how we feel energized and cleansed inside and outside by the water we drink and bathe in.

As you look on the scenic wonder that is placid, wavy, thundering down, drizzling, pouring in torrents taking the shape and colour of the container or landscape.

As when you think of how our food is grown only with the help of water how we survive on such food just as we did right from when we were in our mother's womb.

But nowhere will you be more surprised and awed as when you try to clean something in dirty water. The object does get cleaner than before. Such are the magical properties of water!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

some more questions!

1.Is Engineering the ultimate professional course that every job aspirant should pursue? (Now don't answer this question objectively, Imagine that this Q is being asked by your daughter/ sister/ grand daughter/ great grand daugher/ neice/ great neice/ your female reincarnation , who has just completed high school)
2. what percentage of top professionals are engineers?
3. Is IIT the ultimate engineering college? (someone told me that I should have slapped my daughter and made her write the IIT entrance)
4.Will the business scene in India improve? If so, when? (the year, like kalam's much touted 2020)
5, Will it be possible for Indians to start a business that doesn't sell food and be successful?
6. Is there a probability that all Indians will one day,say a good fifty years from now, be engineers?

one more recipe

There is a quick method of making dal powder(paruppu podi) that I discovered after one of my husband's clients started sending me several kgs of fried gram(pottu kadalai) as a complimentary gift.
Grind the fried gram with pepper and salt, may be even with some fried garlic!

LO and behold! your dal powder is ready. The taste is delightful and goes very well with hot rice on a rainy day!
btw it has rained thrice this month! proper rain! got soaked in it too!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A pretty OK road Madurai-Theni

Why wax eloquent on good roads? In all my short sojourns for work or pleasure, bad roads have made me go late for meetings and feel hot sweaty and tired when I reached. I also discovered that good ones look very neat in pictures.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What's in (m)a name?

My name is Rajalakshmi, people at home call me Raji. Even in high school, I had difficulty in pronouncing it whenever a teacher asked me what my name was. I also realized that it was old fashioned in my class where the girls were called Padma, sudeepa, gayatri,sujatha, sudha, chithra,hamsa, aruna, charusheela etc. I would often complain to my dad that I didn't like my name and he would exclaim with great reverence, "That's your athai's, my (dear departed) sister's name"

My own sisters and my brother all thought of refashioning our names to suit our modern lives; My younger brother Sathya Narayanan selected Satheesh, Lakshmi wanted Sharmila, Alamelu chose Urmila and they suggested that it would rhyme if I were called pramila. I hated that too and said Nirmala would be better.Just wishful thinking, we never did anything about it.

Fast forward a couple of decades and read the extract from a dialogue between me and Prof.Krishnamoorthy from Madura college, where I worked for sometime.

Prof Krish: What's your name ma?
Raji: Rajalakshmi
P.K: That's a good name!
Raji: Is it your mother's?
P.K: No, my grandmother's
Raji: (sick smile)

Of late, with my waist line expanding and cheeks balooning, the name has started to suit me a bit. Or I have learnt to pronounce it with some style and present it( actually i say raji most of the time) properly. I lay the stress as follows...RAjaLAKshmi. hehehe and guess as I move on to my 50s and 60s ,it would suit me far better than if I had been named Kamini or Eloise or Swetha. Imagine being called Kamini patti or Eloise kollu patti!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

One more good road in TN Madurai-Dindigul

Yet another good road in TN! This time I was on a bus! Would have taken better pics but for some sons of Manu who made such loud fun of me that I was startled and almost dropped my camera (cellphone)outside the window. Taking pics can make a boring journey exciting!

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Benefits of blogging


2, Outlet for creative instincts

3.a chance to exchange thoughts with like minded people from our past

4.a way to keep alive the hopes of being a great writer

5. sharpening of our communicatng skills

6.improving of our typing skills

7. getting to read blogs from all over the world

8.experience of discussing things with unknown bloggers

9.getting to read blogs of celebrities (haven't seen the blog of major celebs yet

10. a record of our lives that are so fast paced that you cant remember yesterday, even with effort.

guys and gals..... am sure there are many more..... enlighten me!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Small wonder

Wonder what Lalu would say to the Madurai Trichy road, which is so well laid and smooth and has reduced travel time by nearly an hour because it has four lanes.! Remember, he compared the road in some state to the smooth cheeks of Hemamalini?And not just Hemamalini, I too received what can be considered the compliment of the year- This little girl asked to exchange her ear rings with me...which offer I took up immediately! Don't ask what the connection is between the road and the earring,, just two wonderful things that happened to me within a week.

The Madurai Trichy road

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I searched for the tamil version of 'Qufe sera sera' online and came across a file which had both the English and Tamil versions of the song.I played it in class and asked the group to discuss about how music directors lift tunes from other language songs.At the end of the discussion, they had surprised one another by talking about a number of songs which were not original scores. One of them wanted to download the song 'Unfaithful' and show the others how it had been made into a tamil song. As it was almost time for lunch, I told them to go ahead and stay on and listen to the song. I also showed them how to find the lyrics. When I returned to the class room I saw them singing in chorus to a female voice. They were in tune and sang with some feeling, but their pronunciation was really funny.Guess we will all 'the music in our hearts bear, long after it is heard no more'

Thursday, April 22, 2010

some questions on philosophy

1.Do mosquitoes have souls?
2.What exactly happens when i swat them with my electric swatter?
3.Is there a mosquito heaven?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

This happened

I orkut regularly. Batches of students inhabit my friends page, beginning with Abishek, a quiet boy who grew up into a friendly, respectful, responsible young man, living in U.K at the moment. The site became a historical and geographical record of my friends and I did not wish to try any other, inspite of many invitations to join other networking sites. I
Then I got an invite from my husband to join facebook. Not wanting to offend him, I accepted the invite. Then as I filled the required fields, I came across,"What is your relationship to Padmanabhan ?" So I typed ,"husband' Then the site said, "He has to confirm this" OK! The next day the following statement came up in face book. "Padmanabhan has confirmed that he is your husband" or something like that. To top it all Aruna, one of my students in the past and one who has worked with me in certain college programs cracked underneath "I like it"

Thursday, April 15, 2010

work life balance

Now what is this? I want definitions, break up of 24/7/365 with good examples coz it looks like we are all goin to live long; very long and not going to win a lottery even then. . Am going to use my semi vaction researching this, Right now am actually resting a lot reading alot and exercizing five days a week and thinking if there is a perfect life work balance and need some inspiration from outside. Granted that I have a lot of talent for enjoying little things (alpa santhosham).However, at the moment, I am forty enough to think what else to do.
Suggestions please,

Sunday, April 11, 2010

found him

I think the one who wrote the poem given below is Katsumi tanaka. Correct me if I am wrong

Chance encounters

(one impressive poem by a Japanese poet)

Halley's comet appeared in 1910
(And I was born the following year)
It's period being seventy-six years and seven days,
It is due to re appear in 1986-

So I read, and my heart sinks
It is unlikely that I shall ever see the star-
And probably the case is the
same with human encounters

An understanding mind one meets as seldom
And an undistracted love one wins as rarely-
I know that my true friend will appear after my death,
And my sweet heart died before I was born.

I failed to copy the poet's name. It is in the syllabus of fatima college, i think in some paper with an international name.Bala, you know the name of this poet?

Friday, April 9, 2010


I switched on Zee studio in my English class. The channel was telecasting a movie, 'Never been kissed".The students tried to write down at least a couple of lines of the dialogue and tried to repeat the same with intonation. We watched two 5 minute clips of the movie and they were very funny. But my students looked at me quietly as I laughed aloud.Not because they were super cool like some of the students in the movie but because they couldn't follow most of what was being said.Any way, I decided that I should watch this movie and searched for it online after my class.
I located it and found that my ASUS mini laptop could not reproduce the sound of the movie . I was not sure if the quality of the files was bad or the problem was with the lap top. I spent an hour or so trying to find a good print.(Look at the title of this post!)
Youtube had the movie in fourteen parts and i was sure that my lap top could download these files and the film looked good since the mini's screen was small. But nothing could be heard. The head phones did not help and then i attached a couple of speakers to the laptop. Nothing happened. Sometimes i press my ears to my laptop's speakers if the sound is feeble. Now I picked up the external speaker and pressed it to my ears. And yeaaaaaaaay! I could hear the dialogues. So I lay down, placed the laptop on my tummy, took one speaker in each handd, pressed them to my ears and watched the movie.
Moral of the story: Perseverance pays
Second moral of the story: Read the title of the movie carefully, coz it will give you a good idea of where the film is heading and then invest your time in it. For all my trouble and exhilaration, the movie was just so-so.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Good deed

I performed a good deed today; which is a rare thing for me.I helped my friend prepare her profile for a matrimonial website. Haven't yet got a chance to find out what her family thinks of it.One more good thing that am going to do is give a tip for south Indian chefs, which is that they could prepare tamarind paste at home for the whole week rather than buy the paste at an exorbitant rate or squeeze tamarind juice everyday for kolambu or sambar.
Squeeze the soaked tamarind (half an apple size) and let it boil seasoned or unseasoned, but with salt. Once it becomes thick, you can refrigerate it and add spoons of it to vegetables and pulses and your sambar is ready.
Works for me!

Sunday, April 4, 2010


The most carefree times in my life were when I was a school teacher for eighth graders. The really funny times were when as an English teacher I was given charge of the play for the school day.
Once I wrote a simple script titled "Ulysses” and got the approval of my head, the effervescent and encouraging Revathi Krishnamurthy. I let it out in class that I needed a lot of people for the English play, for acting as well as for playing making props, like a cave, swords and sack clothing. Bhuvanesh, who was quick to realize that this was a chance to get away from regular class turned to his neighbour Prabhu and wised him up. Soon I had nine boys, all ready to participate. It was an enthusiastic crowd. They made swords from thermocol, fought with them pretending to practise and broke them into pieces. This stopped after I got them to pay for fresh materials.
The problem was to identify someone to play Ulysses. All the boys in the class were skinny and sported the blank expression characteristic of boys of thirteen. Prabu Prasanna seemed to be the better looking of the lot but I was not totally satisfied. I scanned the rows of faces in the school assembly. Then i spotted the clear wide brow, the broad erect shoulders, the way Karthik priya held her chin, parellel to the ground and looked straight ahead. She looked like a leader. Yes, this tall athletic girl from class nine looked more like Ulysses than any of the boys.
The boys of course, looked at me crossly when I brought her for the practice. How could I select a girl to be the hero when there were so many boys around. I ignored them and we got on with the rehearsals. The play turned into an action packed one, with lots of movement and one liners!
One year we did Puss in Boots! It was one of my favorites and there was lot of color and action and masks and music in the play. The only problem was that none of the girls were ready to play the princess whom the hero wins in the last few minutes of the play. So I made a secret pact with Ram Prabhu, a small made boy from class XI, that he need not attend rehearsals as he had no dialogue or part in the action, but that he should wear a dress and veil and appear on stage as the princess and no one ever need know who played the part. He was sportive about it and the whole cast was surprised when he appeared in the make up room and wore the dress just a few seconds before the play.
I have many such stories to write about.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Can an actual event be captured in writing with all its shades and nuances? Assuming total objectivity, a photographic memory, superior listening skills, an ability to grasp points of views of people from a variety of cultures and historical backgrounds, a writer requires above all, the ability to distinguish between what people say and what they are trying to convey.Great writers of plays, novels and film scripts manage to do this with varying degrees of success.Lesser mortals like me find this exhausting.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The princess and the peas

The Princess and the peas is an intriguing fairy tale. It starts with a princess who is drenched in an outpour and lost in the woods, knocking on the doors of a castle. The queen who lets her in is not sure if she really is the princess that she claims to be. She decides to test her . She places a tiny pea below her mattress and piles several layers of soft mattresses on it and invites the princess to lie down on it.
Being used to a luxuriously soft bed, the princess finds this one uncomfortable and tosses n turns all night. The next morning the queen makes sly queries about the princess' night and is thrilled to find out that the younger woman had hardly slept. She declares that the lady is indeed a princess and gets her married to her son, the prince.
One wonders how few human beings, leave alone females, are as sensitive as the princess! And a woman, can she afford to be like the princess? Leave alone the fact that city bred girls who play rough sports and don metro sexual garments have no penchant for soft luxurious beds and dainty hands or backs; there is another question worthy of consideration. Is sensitivity related to the body alone? Can a woman afford to have a sensitive mind? If someone decides to make her uncomfortable can she toss and turn in her bed and complain aloud? Or would she be able to wreak royal vengeance on the perpetrators of humiliation that is dished out everywhere in private as well public?
The common (wo) man who compromises and puts up a show of complaisant normalcy lets things pass and is found everywhere. What about the princess? Is such a character around? Hello Princess!!! you there?