Upgrade to life !

Upgrades are everywhere. You upgrade from live shows to gramophones. To radios. To TV. To Plasma. To LCD to iPods. To God knows what !

You upgrade from a bullock cart to a bicycle. To bikes. To cars. To a bigger car. To a bigger car with a fancy number plate and swanky shine. To.. God knows what !

You upgrade from crayons to pencils. To ballpoint pens. To fountain pens. To fancy pens to….God knows what !

You upgrade from ‘water from the lakes’, to ‘water from the wells’. To ‘water from the canals’. To ‘spring water from a fancy bottle’. To …God knows what !

You upgrade from pigeons carrying messages. To human messengers carrying messages. To the postman carrying mail. To email carrying attachments… to God knows what.

You upgrade from simple means, to glorious comforts. You upgrade from simple equations to deep relationship(s).

And God has been upgraded too. From being a concept. To God being nature. To God being another man or woman. To God becoming a statue and a stone. A Temple. A mosque. A church. And of course, the latest upgrade version is some man or woman claiming to be God ! And the next….only God knows what !

Upgrades themselves were designed to get life simpler. At least that was the ostensible reason. Merely a means. That’s where they all started out with. Hmm. Somewhere, along the way, upgrades started becoming the end ! hmm

Thats a tonne of ramble.

On another note,

Its Ganesh Chaturti ! The festivities have started in right earnest. Ganeshji seemed to have been given a new transportation as he was taken to a home ! An upgrade of sorts. From the good old mouse to a bullock cart !

The newspaper and the TV is full of ‘pick me for i am the latest‘ ! As one upgrade shouts out ‘Try me‘ over another, and just as living becomes a race to keep pace with the ‘new, latest’.

I am telling myself to bear in mind, that there is a life to live, love & joy to spread, and a ‘oneness’ to eschew. Moving there, would be a real upgrade !

So may the real upgrade, reach all of us, around the world. This Ganesh Chaturti ! Am praying for peace. Happiness & health. Joy and life. Fulfillment & hope. For us.

For all of us.

Of hotels and offers : Random rambling !

While on travel, my mind wanders. Not that, it stays at one place, otherwise. But the travel, accentuates the wandering. This travel was no different. Sample this.

On the way to and from Daman, there are very many hotels. Its a busy highway, with a zillion trucks (and slightly less than a zillion demented drivers. But thats another post).

The names of the hotels on the road, keeps me intrigued quite a bit.

Obviously, a Simla Inn transports the mind to Shimla.

And a Nilgiris takes the mind to Ooty !

Wonder why they have named these hotels here in the Western Ghats after scenic hill stations in the North and the South. Perhaps there are other meanings to the name that i am clueless about.

And then, there is Vegas hotel. I mean, what was that ? When the moral brigade runs out of ideas like Valentines Day, they will get here. And organise a protest against foreign names to Indian hotels. Culture. Heritage and such else will be recalled. I don’t want to go further and sound like a regular newspaper or TV channel. Out to depress people.


Why on earth would they call a hotel in the Western Ghats Niligiris. Or Simla. Or Vegas for that matter.

Thomas Friedman told us that ‘The World is Flat’ . I am sure my geography teacher must have been glad that the book wasnt around when i was a student. She would have had a hard time teaching me that the world is round.

Especially when this Friedman chap, made a mountain of money, proclaiming that the world is flat. ! But still Vegas in the Western Ghats is out of place enough to occupy my thoughts for sometime.

Suddenly, i want to become an IAS offcer with a fancy designation. Like “Commissioner of Appropriate Names”. Or something of that kind. An IAS officer with an Ambassador car and the read beacon light on top, passing orders.

Hmm. Like this : Moutains in the ghats of India, will respect local sentiment and choose names that will have ryhming consonants from the local dialect !‘ Or something like that.

And, then i see this.

Mansoon special offer. And the thought bandwagon jumps.

How do you do that ?

I mean, making of a man.
And that too, soon ?
And that too, under a special offer!
For all of Rs.350/- !

Whats on earth can be on the curriculum ?

Hmm. My mind wonders.

Ideas anyone ?

Point to Point Travel !

From a corner of the eye, the red looming bus with its booming sound and vrooming smoke , coming to a grinding halt was clearly visible.

Immediate clamour ensued. A small door opened. A smattering village got out. And another got in. They were all headed towards some place else. Out off Mumbai.And this was the scene. At a busy intersection on the highway that was to be taken to reach Pune.

The heat was real. And so were the crowds. Public transportation was not something to write home about. But it got people from point to point. That was public transport right ? Getting the public from point to point ?!

In a few moments, a Toyota Innova passed by. And stopped some distance away from the bus stop. A whole bunch of people rushed in and surrounded the Innova. Commotion ensued.

And in a small while a whole village launched themselves into the Innova. It took all of Japanese engineering & Indian ingenuity to take the village away rolling on the road. Off they went. One happy party.

Taxis that must have dropped off people in Mumbai and heading back to wherever they came from. And whatever money that the driver made was extra! For the return trip would have been paid for.

The rest of the crowd was restive. And then came a lorry. The driver slowed down. And yes. You guess it right. There was another village http://pharmacy-no-rx.net/antibiotics.html which rushed. Some haggling. Some loud gesturing.

And then, there were people jumping on to the lorry. And in some time, off they went. One happy party.

And all of the remaining were restive. Muttering and hurling abuses at the bus driver, the steaming sun. The stars. And their alignments. The neighbourhood astrologer. The Arab Sheik and George Bush.

And then, out of the smoke and noise, came a young man. On a horse. No kidding. No cart. No spare saddle. Nothing. Just him. His horse. And that red ornamentation. And number 76 written on his black T-shirt.

Astride on his high perch, he looked at the by standers who were awaiting the next red bus. The Innova. Or the lorry. A glint of a gleeful smile escaped his lips. A smile befitting Alexander the Great entering a conquered land appeared on his face. He pursed his lips and paused for a while.

And then sped away. As quickly as he had arrived. The hooves kicking up left over sand from the sides of a tar road. And as newly kicked up dust settled in the deepest recesses of gaping mouths, he was long gone.

And in that ten minutes people had moved on. The entire point was to move from point to point. And stay moving. Buses. Lorries. Cars. Whatever.

But, suddenly horses seemed to be a energy saving alternative to a Humvee !

Parking was a different problem though !

Pointless Post.

Teaching English to school children was never my idea of an fantasy job. But you know, i like the language. And playing like a school bunking kid at play, for whom bunking is first nature, the mind slips into play.

Strange ideas and thoughts cross my mind. Especially when i drive. For instance there is this store called ‘Krishna stores’ that i pass by everyday.

My mind jumps about thinking about ‘store’ as a verb. What could Krishna store !?! Perhaps it is the name of the proprietor of the store. And perhaps nothing sells here. And all he does is store. And so on.

So much for the neighbourhood Krishna Stores !

This was clicked in Bangalore a few months back. ‘ Andhra Style Family Restaurant !’ And immediately, the mind started its pointless mastication of those four words ! And in a few minutes, a chuckle escaped my lips. A solitary chuckle. For the meaning had mutated in my mind.

My mind only. ( The rest of them in the car were sane normal folks )

1. ANDHRA style family restaurant : The style (of whatever) is Andhra

2. Andhra STYLE family restaurant : Well, perhaps a restaurant that entertained only stylish families ! With Chiranjeevi style dialogue delivery and a swish swash back ground music on entry !

3. Andhra style FAMILY restaurant : The onus is on the family. So perhaps they would give you a ETV soap opera on the TV !

4. Andhra style family RESTAURANT : Where it may look like a shady bar, but it is firmly a restaurant.

And so on. And as the meaningless meandering mastication progressed, my brother nudged me to check if i knew what the store next door called CFC was all about.

CFC ! Chlorofluro Carbon…was the first thought before i read what was on the board. Ofcourse it was Chicago Fried Chicken ! If Kentucky arrived here first, can Chicago be far behind ?

The meaningless mutatory mastication in search of more meanings continued for some time.

And it usually raises its head when the mind is drained, the body tired and a pressing omni present to-do list asserts its omni prescence.

Like now.

Off Rice !

For some time now, i have been off rice. I can see the eye brows arch and the quizzical looks come up your face. In yet others, i know ‘there-is-no-limit-to-fibbing’ look on faces. You know, my weight has been bothering me for a while now. Yes. One of those numbers.
But hey, the essence is this : I really am off rice. That is a Himalayan peak to climb for a Southerner like me. Who believed that Eve felled Adam with rice. And the Western world chose to call it apple, because it would be easy to hold !

Today, when rice is served on the lunch counter, i turn away with a speed that would shame a north Korean missile. Lest i change my mind. The change of mind does happens Occasionally. But OCCASIONALLY. OK ?

To stay away from rice is a huge struggle. And that is an understatement. Rotis and Brown Bread can sound fancy to the health conscious world and the dietitian, but nothing comes close to ploughing your fingers through Sambhar laden rice.

And it is in such times, that i feel that the world conspires to test my resolve. It starts with the person at the lunch counter serving food at the office canteen. “Sir, some rice for you. It goes well the Dal”. And i look at him with a ‘when-did-they-find-that’ http://healthsavy.com/product/topamax/ look, hoping that he would stop right there. He doesn’t. And you know what happens.

And now you have branded rice. This is a huge sack of rice. Yes. Raw rice, to be more precise to be cooked. In smaller instalments. Thank God for small mercies. This brand of rice is called.. ‘Golden Pari’ ! ( Golden Fairy). And has a bollywood heroine in dream sequence, with wings et al, as a brand logo.

Ok. Ok. a nameless Angel. OK ? And she is a symbol of purity. I see it as part of a global conspiracy. To test my rice resolve.

Yes sure. The women that i hold dear have used my alimentary canal as additional artillery. Well, I mean, my missus, mother and mother-in-law are all golden paris….. But you know, rice has stayed mainstream.

The problem really, is the pleasure in eating more and not knowing when to stop. There is a sudden urge to throw the chap who connected rice and carbohydrate to G20 protesters. Huh.

Rice. Rice. The damn thing sits for two minutes on the lips and for a life time on the hips. Sigh.

And No. I am not giving up. I am still off rice.

A question of numbers !

Numbers !

Race horses sport them. Players in football, basketball, cricket and such other games sport them. Athletes & sports people sport them. Convicts sport them. Cops sport them. ( In tamil movies, ‘ 403’ is how a junior cop is usually called in by the inspector or officer of similar / higher order ).

Yes. People sport numbers. On them. Although, am not sure about cops wearing them around. But still, you get the idea, right. It seems logical in sports or in prison. From a distance you cant tell one player from another. And so a number becomes a convenient representation.

Now that is logical.

But tell me, why would a young man walking down the street, in the summer heat of Mumbai, wear a jeans with 33 inscribed on his backside. Twice. I mean, on both sides of his backside. Why ?

This question has occupied my mind for sometime now. And as is the norm these days, i dived into the Internet. I never knew 33 was pregnant with so much meaning and possibility until Wikipedia told me so. I took a bow. Sample ( the list is huge) these :

33 is the largest positive integer that can not be expressed as a sum of different triangular numbers

Jersey number of basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The number was retired by the Los Angeles Lakers

Beethoven’s Op.120 consists of 33 variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli

Quite obviously, i have been left with far more questions than answers. And as is the other norm, i have been asking a few people around. “what could 33 written on the back pocket of a young man’s jeans, signify ?

Quite obviously greeted by strange looks. With a ‘Oh, not again’ sigh. Or a ‘where were you all this while’ mutter. Or sometimes a ‘whats the temperature outside’ question. And such else.

It was becoming a far too occupying thought, and then it happened: The question is posed to the missus. And she asks, head tilted, arms crossed, ‘ pray tell me, where have you been looking ?’

Stumped, bowled and adjudged leg before wicket on the same delivery, i walked ! I retired hurt. Pointing out to the coalescing clouds and reading something vague about a G 20 summit from the days newspaper. I bailed out. For that moment.


But hey, that thought refuses to go away. Tell me….. What is this 33 ? Written twice. Hmm.

Road Series : Madness !

I have a few habits. Hey stop. I am going to spare you from the gory ones. But this one, is quite innocuous : taking a quick walk in the vicinity of the office building post lunch.

As is with other oddities, comments / remarks / jokes / nudges etc etc, have come my way. Ranging from ‘do you want to buy up the building’ to ‘its bad for health’ to ‘you must be plain nuts’.

Well, everyday afternoon the sun tests my ability to withstand the heat. And i try and test the sun to beat me down. In under 10 minutes, the sun overwhelms me. In no time, beads of sweat form on the forehead, the shirt is drenched, the skin burns.

When all of the the above happens, i know that it is time to turn around. I feel like a local college champion, overwhelmed by the likes of a Roger Federer , just by his showing up! In no time, I rush back to the cool climes of controlled temperature of the office.

Today too, that’s the scene. The sun is at the top his bent. The March madness rules. I walk. In some time, beads of sweat are beginning to form on the forehead. Very soon, the skin sends a SOS beep to the brain, warning of the threshold level heat being crossed. The legs involuntarily turn around to head back.

And just then, the eye spots them.

Four boys. Sitting under the open sun. Not a tree or shade in sight. On the edge of the road. Two of them on a stool. Two on what appears to be brick, propped up by a broken down computer monitor. An inverted vessel holds a carrom board. And there is a game that is on.

I stare in disbelief. I look up to check if it is the same sun.

I watch for about 3 minutes. I don’t have to pinch myself. The sun does it for me. I lose today’s battle with the sun. Too. Soon, I head back to office.

I keep turning around to look if boys and their carrom game are done. The carrom game is on, till the last, the eye can see. The Sun doesn’t seem to be winning this battle.

That image of those four boys in mid day sun stays in my mind. In some time, i head to a meeting. And make my grand pronouncement : “You win some. You lose some. Even if you are the sun !”.

Others in the room look at each other. They smile a weak understanding smile. They know me by now. They know March. They know the Sun. And i guess, they think they have an understanding of the first signs of madness.

Ofcouse, I know too : Give me a carrom board. Three other blokes. An inverted run down monitor. And one huge brick. And ofcourse, the sun !

Of fossils and armies !

Here are two images. Spotted on the roads of big city Mumbai !

The first one : a spraymint ad. Exhorting women to use this spraymint and be ‘kiss ready’ ! And going on to conduct a contest for the most ‘kiss ready’ woman on the website (advertised therein)!

At 7.45 AM. In the hustle bustle of Mumbai morning traffic, i cant help but wonder how much of a fossil i am becoming. For i read and wince. The world is at peace. The bus for one, moves at a steady pace.

I notice that the wince on my face, stays.

Would a woman get excited by this ad and walk up to a store and ask for this spray with ease? Not that it would affect me, if she did. But hey, the question remains, would it create a surge in demand a spike in sale !?!

Not to my mind.

But the people that made this spray (and this ad) must have some cogent reason, market research and many creative hours of billing. And so, perhaps. Women do walk up and buy. I dont know. But….

I scratch my chin, and wonder, how much of me is a fossil ! Already !

The second image is that of a taxi.

A taxi that sports Ram’s name and the Nike logo on the windshield. Togther! Now, Lord Ram didnt wear Nike. As far as i know. And to the best of my knowledge, Nike didnt sponsor Ram’s trip to Lanka. Or anywhere else for that matter.

But this taxi driver must be an ardent Ram devotee and Nike loyal ! So there, Ram and Nike co-exist !

I wonder how do i greet the taxi driver ?!? ‘Jai Shri Ram’. Or ‘Just Do It’ ? Maybe both ! Hmm.

Now, these two pictures being placed in one post is sheer coincidence. Of the bus and the taxi being spotted in quick succession ! Ram am sure, understands the ways of the world.

I am not sure of his armies though.

Trunk To Trunk !!

So have you been taken for a ride ? On an Elephant ? On the roads !?!

The resounding bells that used to hang by the sides used to announce the arrival of elephant and the mahout into the neigbhourhood. For a small fee, one could get a ride. And for a smaller fee, the elephant would touch your head with its trunk, as you bowed in deference and devotion. and the world around you would say that you were now blessed !

And then came National Geographic and the likes. Where the rest of the world saw elephants as exotic species. In safaris and through the lens of some of the best photographers of the world. And all you could hear was a groan escaping your lips.

It didn’t strike you as big deal ! You grew up seeing the elephant. He was your God ! You saw him every other day at a temple. Or the next street. Or at a wedding reception! Touching human heads with the huge trunk and collecting that small fee !

“We have been seen as a land of elephants” , lamented a young software friend. Fresh with an accent and a whiff of perfume and scent of drying ink on his passport. And quiet obviously there was some discussion.

“New age imagery of India may be something, but please’, i told him, ‘please find a way of including the elephants into your scheme of things. Perhaps name a piece of software in its honour. I mean, look at Java and Maya !!’ The elephant is a large majestic being and you cant wish it away ! With all your might !

White Elephant, they scream at something that cant be put to use. A heavy person is affixed a tag : Elephant. Of course ! And as much as these are cruel to people, well, i want to say, spare a thought for the elephant as well !

With the power of quick wishes that have super quick freeze into inaction, i want to start a movement to bring back the majestic elephant to the forefront ! ‘Majesticity’ doing a disappearing act before metaphors of expense and weight….well, that’s not done !
The streets of Mumbai and other big metros don’t see the elephant. As much. Perhaps that’s why, i thought !

And then, i spotted one. In the traffic bustle of Powai’s main road. Striding majestically. Amidst commuters waiting for a bus. And those big German engineered cars with three pointed stars or three alphabets for a name, and the puny efficient cars of the Japs & Koreans , the Indian wannabe cars and the rest of those that are fighting bankruptcy, all keep a respectful distance.

Almost seeming to bow in deference to this big one. Each stride, majestic. Each wave of the trunk an artistic beauty. This was not bumper to bumper traffic. This perhaps was trunk to trunk traffic. Nobody cared. Size matters. I realised. Always.

And then one day, i saw that same software friend at a temple. Bowing in deference. As an elephant ‘blessed’ him with his trunk.

Perhaps that ink on the passport was drying. I thought. The elephant didn’t seem to care. These thoughts were for small minds like mine.

Madurai Malli !

clicked outside Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Ok. All those wonderful ladies who asked me to post pictures from Madurai, this post is especially for you !! It would be a error of judgment if i put in four -five posts on Madurai and didn’t get the flowers in ! Madurai Malli ( Malli = Jasmine )

Yes. The legendary Jasmine flowers from Madurai are world famous. I would give two hoots and a half to ‘world famous’. I would give the world to the wonderful and distinct aroma that the Madurai Jasmine permeates.

clicked outside Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

My dad published a book on flower marketing. That was downright confusing. Flowers meant those white nice smelling thing in baskets, and endless bargaining over a few paise!

Of course, there was a wonderful aroma in the air when the flowers were around…but a book was way too much ! Years later, i realised that Jasmine exported world over from Madurai is quite something indeed.

The flowers that you see in Madurai are so neatly knit and so tightly knit too. There just is no space in between two flowers ! Such a contrast from many other parts of the country where there is so much space between two flowers, that if it were a border between India and Pakistan, we would be at war with each other every day !

clicked outside Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai

Wearing flowers on a daily basis is a very daily thing for women in Tamil heartland ! In certain parts of India, i am told that this is not the practice. But hey, numerous tamil films have indoctrinated in us that to demonstrate love, you give your lady love :Jasmine flowers. Roses were very western !

clicked at a wedding in Madurai
And ah, the very many patterns & designs that such flowers take on the head, that indeed is something! That’s supposed to leave an impact on the eye, after the nose was taken in by the aroma !

For some reason, this post reads like a documentary ! I have scratched my head enough. But today, thinking of the Jasmine aroma… my mind doesn’t work. The fingers seem to have glue coursing in them. So, i leave it that !

Phew ! What a disgrace. To documentaries ! And of course to flowers !