The Original Convertible !

Some of us are born with heavenly blessings. I read about Jawaharlal Nehru going to college in swank luxury. But then, he didn’t go to school in a convertible. Well, what is a convertible ? ( Wikipedia defines...“A convertible is a type of automobile in which the roof can retract and fold away, converting it from an enclosed to an open-air vehicle”. )

An original convertible. How many of you have gone to school in one? My chest swells many inches. For i have !

In convertible like this.

The cycle – rickshaw as it is called it is a simple contraption of some metal framework at the base, a good hard seat with some cushion topping, a pedal, a chain that hauls, a cycle bell (that has been replaced by a circus hooter these days), a sheet of hybrid material for the roof. With a peep window at the rear !

Now, throw in some good calf muscles and some resounding attitude : That is a guarantee of a good ride !

For a few years, we went to school in one. And then, the school buses made an appearance and we graduated to motor transport. Arumugam, our rickshaw man was one heck of a puny man with bones all over the the body ! Except his calf. In his calf, he had SOME muscles !

I haven’t been in a rickshaw for a long time now. There is a discomfort in the mind, to sit on the energy and physical effort of another man. That apart, wonder at this contraption of sorts hasn’t ceased !

Of all the parts in the rickshaw, the most important was the seat ! That completely removable seat ! The rickshaw http://www.buyambienmed.com/buy-ambien-online/ pullers used to guard it with all their lives. Creditors, policemen, rivals all used to take / steal the seat away when there was some issue at hand !

The hood will come down at times, when us children would pester to get a feel of the open air and sunlight ! Those were carefree days ! And we suddenly would feel like tourists of some sort. To go in an open rickshaw !

I saw rickshaws again. Last week. They still seem to be doing the rounds. And pretty well too. And here is the artistic part to the rickshaw. The rear still gives way for some form of art. A painting. An inscription. Something like that. Hold your breath : No product advertising !

On this Rikshaw there is Karunanidhi, Muthuramalinga Thevar and Rajinikant. The first man is the chief minister. So. Muthuramalinga Thevar is quite famous too.

And then, there is Rajinikant. Well, what is Tamil Nadu without him !!!!

I seek to draw your attention to the ‘ears’ of the rickshaw. Those artistic shapes ( in blue here) protruding on to the sides. Well, that’s where my school bags, with all their loads of books, report cards used to hang. On the way, to and from school.

My educational foundations always hung in the balance drawing in all the air !! (Now you know me….!)

Many years later when i went to a another school and discussions used to surface about convertibles & wealthy classmates used to state that owning a fancy convertible was their ultimate dream.

It was there that i wondered, what all the fuzz was about. After all, i went to junior school in one !

Concrete Hope !

On a city jaunt, once, i spotted this small flat, in a middle class neighbourhood. And there was an impeccable image. Of an open window. A few clothes that were seeking to shed their water weight by seeking the sun.

Plastic cans which perhaps held something else before, holding the soil. The soil holding firm for the roots to take shape. And the roots supplying all what the leaves required to stretch and seek the world.

The makeshift window sill was thin, and obviously not designed for these. And the window pane in their shadowy soot, had a far worse tale to tell. A foot away, was an old drainage pipe. And the wall was bore tell tale signs of seepage. Or perhaps, it was leakage.

It could have been an ordinary sight in a strange neighbourhood. But for some reason, my legs refused to move. And the eyes refrained from the odd blink. The cars honks around me grew fainter.

All i saw was the leaf deftly dance to a wisp of a breeze and that lonely red bud, tease the wind. In some time, i realised i was deaf to the honk and blind to the seepage.

I dont know for how long i stood there. But long enough for friends who were with me to nudge me to check if i was expecting someone to step out and wave. Perhaps climb down the drainage pipe and run to me. Like the types they show in Bollywood movies.

But there i was. A stranger. A stranger to that window and to that green. But in that strange distance, the appalling exterior melted away and all i saw was a coat of hope, beauty and possibility.

Those green leaves, the deft move of a stem responding to the faintest of breeze, those washed clothes that were drying, the promise of the lonely bud and the thought of those simple folks who nurtured this all, brought an incredible amount of peace to me.

And that’s exactly how i feel about Obama’s inauguration tomorrow. Sitting many thousand miles away, i feel better for the world. Don’t ask me why. Call me a wishful thinker. Dub me whatever. I still feel so. I hope so. I wish so.

In the midst of seeping concrete, i found hope the other day.

Just as i will. Tomorrow.

Saturday Lazing : Staying Tethered.

Walking by a lane in Matunga is indeed a sight. For one, slippers that hang by a string, kiss flowers hanging at the next door store.

Well, almost !

But what a sight they are. Neatly ordained. Well, merchandised. And the slippers managing to catch the attention of those that would walk in to buy flowers. Ditto with the flowers catching attention of the slipper buyers.

Isn’t it ironic ?!?

At a temple, the slippers are left far behind. Right at the entrance. While the flowers go on to adorn the deity ! So is the case with homes. And every other place where they are used.

But at the place of purchase, they seem to be fountainhead of communism and equality ! Just hanging on with so much elan and showcasing a commercial value, functionality. ‘Meaning’ and emotion are not here !!

So that strings that hold the slippers vie with the strings that hold the flowers. But here is a difference : when you purchase the flower garland, the strings go along ! Needless to say, the strings don’t come along when you buy a pair of slippers.

So…eureka. eureka. ( A zillion light year far cry from the brilliance of Archimedes, I am all clothed and still sitting in front of computer !) But here is my thought…Here is my lazy Saturday hypotheses :

‘It boils down the string !’

A string alters meaning ! A string of slippers can have other uses. Like this one. But without the string, well….

So, there it is. My eureka discovery and prompt discourse for the weekend: ‘ Find your string. And tether yourself to it. And hold strong ! It shows you in a different light !’

The moment you are untethered, you fall to the ground. Be it a slipper. Or a flower !!

And i guess one can still fly, yet stay tethered. See this decoration piece that hangs from the side view mirror…..

Phew !?! That’s one string full for what began as a lazy Saturday post on a snap that stayed on the hard drive for some time.

But that discovery (sic) has my head spinning…phew..I am stopping. Excuse please!! How do you copyright this..!! The commercial possibilities are mind boggling. I want to copyright this ‘Tether philosophy’ ! Oh yes…

My head is spinning at double the speed.

‘OK. OK. Get me a rope. I want to stay tethered.

I want too want to hang’.


White Shroud Thinking !

Any program / event in any of these hotels have strange butterflies from a foreign land flutter in my stomach. No politics there.

It just is in large part to those huge white shroud that cover those chairs ! One of those days, it was a waiter who had to bear the brunt of my curiosity.

‘Why on Earth would you want to cover those chairs ? And that too with that shroud?’
And his terse answer was, ‘ i am not authorised to speak on this sir’ ! No. I am not kidding.

My wicked mind thinks, to this day, he should have thought of me as one of those journalist types, sticking a camera or a tape recorder from an inconceivable place in the body ! Trying to make a story out of his simple shroud, in a shrill voice backed by an ‘expert’ panel!

There just is no other explanation !

Coming back the chair itself, i think it is time for collective action. To free the chair from the shroud. And this is no Turin ! So, lets do it with secular focus, precision and dedication !

But why could they have come with these white shrouds in the first place ? My hypotheses hover around ‘too many guests with dirty pants’ and the ‘hotel’s struggle to make the chair, washing-machine-compatible’ !

Yes. Thats all ok !!

At a more deep level ( sic ) these armless chairs, with white hoods, that cover the legs resemble…well…ghosts of some kind. Come on, there are enough fears about venturing near a hotel these days. And i am not talking terrorists or their like. It is those big burly safari clad crew cut types, who give you a strange look and stick a decrepit mirror underneath an inconceivable part of the car ! Thats some height to withstand.

Meeting ghosts & static look alikes in the ballroom is a height that i am not too keen on scaling.

I really am scared of such chairs. Ok. You don’t believe me. I encourage you to take a look at the snap above that i clicked at a program last week. If you were Da Vinci, you would have seen the possibility to paint ‘The Last Supper of Ghosts !’

For me, from time immemorial, ghosts had that white shroud and no legs. And, when i do sit on these chairs, especially during training program, the thought of caressing my back on a ghost haunts me. It gets me goose bumps that rip through my body like an earthquake ! And i am all alert, in a jiffy !

And then, i realise that i don’t mind the white shroud.

Well,….not that much !

Dreams of my teacher !

After a long tired day, the bed was inviting enough for a short nap. The TV with some news was on.

But, I went in for a ‘power nap’. Where i tend to sleep like a log. For 15 minutes. Today, i have a dream. Perhaps it would be far more stately to say, ‘I too have a dream’.

And in it, is Ms. Rozario. A Nursery school teacher from my school days. There she is. Bright. Beautiful. And very much the ‘Anglo Indian Miss’ of the olden days. With a gown, cut hair and an Anglo-Indian accent. She waltzes as she sings nursery rhymes.

But surprise. Surprise. In front of her, today are Television reporters. Each with microphone, camera, OB vans and a placard saying ‘Breaking News’ held aloft. Permanently.

Today, all reporters like dutiful children sucking a TRP laden lollipop, sing rhymes. In good chorus.

They all sing.

Little Jack Horner sat in a corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb and pulled out a plum,
And said, “What a good boy am I!”


They stop. And the natural instinct for the reporters emerges. And out come the questions : “Who are you referring to ? Is it this the new Chief Minister ? What was this Christmas Pie ? Which corner was he sitting in ? Why do you call him ‘little’ ? Is Jack Horner his operative name… ?

Ms. Rozario, with all dismissive earnestness begins another nursery rhyme. All reporters with cameras rolling, are in tow. As she leads the group, they all sing.

I’m a little teapot
Short and stout
Here is my handle
Here is my spout

When I get all steamed up
Hear me shout:
Tip me over
and pour me out!

[Laughter]. [Applause].

‘Ma’am, ma’am’ they all shout, ‘is this Mr..’ I cant hear the name, for Ms. Rozario has already begun the next rhyme.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again

‘Ma’am, is this about the other chap who quit blaming his conscience ? Or was it the chap who sent in his resignation, just in case….?’

The brave bold woman she is, she keeps on with it. ‘Quiet. Quiet’. She says.

With a wave of a hand and a dance of an expert, she continues with her rhyme ! Almost immediately, all reporters start singing rhymes into their microphone. Mesmarisingly easy. [She beats the Director General of the National Security Guard, hands down…]

They sing.

Baa, baa black sheep
Have you any wool
Yes sir, yes sir
Three bags full.

One for my master
And one for my dame
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane.

She stops. And commotion reigns supreme. Each reporter climbs over one another. Almost immediately i realise all channels are running ‘Breaking News’ scrolls !

“Ma’am, whats in those bags ? And three of them ? Who is the master ? And that little boy..and the dame…in that lane…? You surely are not referring to..?

I woke up at that exact moment. So. Who the reporters had in mind, i leave to my conjecture. I will have to leave it at that.

Customary Disclaimer : All characters in this dream are fictitious. Any resemblance to any character, alive or dead, in power or otherwise, are purely imaginary and coincidental.

Save, Ms. Rozario. And of course, the nursery rhymes.

Enough is Enough ?

These are new days. Of customary security checks, animated conversation and bristling anger at almost every thing / person in sight. The flavour of the season, that India has for breakfast, lunch and dinner goes by the name of ‘Politician’.

Unexposed to such groundswell animosity before, two kinds of responses from this clan, reach the eye. Complete silence ( I haven’t seen a Raj Thackeray sound byte). Or lunatic expressions. Like this. And this. And this. And this.

And the Naval Chief demurred about height.

And ah. The media. Much has been seen, said and written. Especially so about the brazenness of coverage and repeated visuals of blood and people dying replete with ‘ you saw it first in this channel’ sound bytes ! And i cringe.

Today there is a bloke who gets interviewed on TV. And he proclaims, ‘I want war with Pakistan’. The camera hovers around that large rimmed face. And continues to hover. And continues to hover. The gent continues his tirade. I have to take action and i switch channels.

Another channel shows how the Pakistani media is reporting all of this as a Zionist game plan. I am not sure of any other point in time where Pakistani newspapers like this one have been read with such fervour.

Yet another TV channel has four gents in four squares of the screen. ‘New Delhi ‘says one box. ‘Islamabad’. ‘Mumbai’. ‘London’. Say the other three. And three gentlemen who make noise with the same frequency for as long as you care to watch, adorn each of the boxes.

It is apparent that in sheer anger and disbelief, a whole lot got said. But, its time to take stock. Control speed. And chart course. Enough is Enough has been repeated enough number of times, that you really think its all enough !

Its time to build bridges. Its time to put sense into peoples heads. Its time to spread reason. Campaign for change in policy. Spread awareness. Keep the restive anger and disappointment alive through thought provoking programing and engaging discussion. And , of course, realise that the best TRPs are not a function of non stop, high octane chatter !

At a personal level, messages urging you to light candles, keep a vigil, donate blood, pay homage to Maharashtrians / Keralites et al suddenly appear in your inbox. Urging you to prove your patriotism by forwarding it to as many people as your contact book would allow. Others quietly replace Maa Da Laadla Bigad Gaya with Vande Mataram as ring tones.

And the astrologers at work too. ‘Ratan Tata’s fortunes would turn next year.’ ‘Mumbai is going through a bad patch because numerologically…’Bombay’ is better than ‘Mumbai.” They say. And we read.

Elsewhere, at every hotel and office complex every cars under carriage, boot and the bonnet get inspected. Today, as i drive into a hotel, the security guard asks me to open the bonnet. I obey !

But curiosity gets the better of me. And i step outside the car and walk up to the guard and ask him what he is looking for. He smiles at me. And says ‘any suspicious looking object’. ‘And you expect it to find under the hood, amidst all those wires, oil spills and engine heat ?’, i ask. He has already moved on to the next car.

I wonder how many bonnets he would open and close today. And think if he manages to attach weights to the bonnet, he would have biceps to match Arnold Schwarzenegger!

Just then, someone else thrusts a mirror under the car, with the ostensible reasoning of examining the under carriage. And so, i ask him what he is looking for. A strange shrug escapes his shoulder. I think so. But, he doesn’t answer. With a mechanical sweep that would put an assembly line assembler to shame, he moves on.

I get back into the car and drive on. These are strange times.

….When mirrors get under the car more frequently than i would get myself in front of one.

….When you look at give a college kid with a Versace T Shirt a second glance. A suspicious second glance.

….And of course, when i and many others take the effort to clean the insides of the boot and the bonnet too.

And every time i do so, i seem to be saying to myself with the emphatic emphasis of the average TV news anchor : Enough is Enough !

I would more than gladly comply with the law and security checks. I just have a problem with doing something for the sake of doing it. We need security cover. Real cover. Not the symbolic variety. We need real journalists. Not the mike thrusting symbolic types.

And oh yes. Amidst all the blogs, interviews and other stuff crying for action, its time to go beyond this symbolic, loud murmur, and get real.

Enough is enough. Of armchair activism and keyboard rattle. Of random TV interviews and jingoistic jumble. Of hate blogs and rumor tweets.

Some where between all of these, lurks reason, pragmatism and constructive action.
And of that, enough can never be enough.

Give me your shoulder. Will you ?

We are touched in a unique way, by the voices of support that have poured in from other cities dotted under other skies that envelope planet Earth. Thank you.

I am numbed by what i see on TV. Still. I go about my motions with a stoical face and a constructed facade. A multitude of emotions engulf me. And i want to write. But just as i begin, my keyboard seems to have a strange glue on it, and fingers don’t move.

I have been sitting here for about two hours now. Staring a vague and empty stare into the computer screen. The screen saver, like an opportune politician who shows up when there is nothing else to the screen, has least impact today.

My grief seeps through. The innocence of the lives lost best matched by the valour of the sacrifice. The spirit of revelry that is the usual scene at this geography, matched only by the grim canter of duty.

The sun has set here. The heart is heavy. The throat is constricted. The voice refuses to escape the lips. The nails are chewed off. The head is a trifle heavy. I occasionally get up and switch on the TV to see the odd commando fire. I quickly get back to staring at the computer screen.

Yes. As i wrote earlier, We will get them. All of them. In the days to come. But, that, will be, ‘in the days to come’. For, today, allow me to mourn the loss of life. To grieve. Let the residues emerge. Let my tears flow from my eyes. And perhaps from my soul.

Give me your shoulder.

Will you ?

Blowin’ In The Wind

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?
Yes, ‘n’ how many seas must a white dove sail
Before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times must the cannon balls fly
Before they’re forever banned?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

How many years can a mountain exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, ‘n’ how many years can some people exist
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, ‘n’ how many times can a man turn his head,
Pretending he just doesn’t see?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.

And until the next post, this picture of flowers that i clicked at Mahabaleshwar last month, and Dylan ( who has been keeping me company for a while now) will perhaps echo to you, a sense, of the cornucopia of multiple emotions running through me.

Riders of the lost ark !

If you are struggling to figure out what in a safari’s name was that..well, i clicked that close to office. Not that i work in a zoo or anything like that. For some reason, there was this strange urge to clarify. Having done so, i move on.

In case you are still wondering where the hell the tiger is roaring from, well, that was the seat of a motorcycle. That idea beats the hell out of me. Would i ever want to paint a tiger’s gaping mouth on my seat and sit on it ?!? What would you call that behaviour ? Sadist ? Masochist ? What !!!

That too, on a bike ? On the seat ? Phew ! Pray tell me, why would this biker ever do that ? I want to see this chap.

But hold on, i can think of a few plausible reasons…. Perhaps its just that the biker doesnt want any other person sitting on the seat, while the bike is parked !

Or is it to scare away the odd crow. What the hell ! With one last lingering look at the tiger, i walk away.

Perhaps this was a devious biker. And, this was a plan to attribute to the tiger, the odd natural noise that could straddle the space between the riders rear and the seat…Suddenly the tiger seems to beseech me to save him !

And this was clicked at Mahabaleshwar. ‘Don’ it says. And something to the effect of ‘catching the Don is not difficult, it is impossible’ !

I want to see the dude who did this to his seat ! If you want to call yourself a ‘Don’, you would do it to that part of the bike that would be visible when you drove ? Right ?!?

Or is this another chap who wants to proclaim to himself that when he rides the bike, he sits atop a Don !

Well, well, well…people. I knew the world had strange tastes. And i wonder what choicest adjectives the riders of these bikes ( and people with similar tastes) will have for me, if at all they read this post.

In all sincerity, i remind myself that i must have a wider perspective. An inclusive mindset. And a temperment that seeks out and revels in diversity.

And then i think of the tiger and the Don. Call me what you will, an image of a roaring tiger (or a mafia dude) under my rear, (given the condition of our roads) is sure prone to get me uncomfortable !

Recession Romance !

So there is a recession. Or atleast a recession in the coming. I wonder how lives will change. Especially so after reading this.

For those readers whose sentiments are down, and who wouldnt want to read that piece, here are a few thoughts & ideas that caught my attention !

a. Recession would perhaps mean more people cheating in exams !
b. It would bring about a reduction in birth rates and an increase in suicide rates
c. Women omen selected to be Playboy Playmates of the Year look more mature !
d. Hemlines go down..

Now, these made me look up. And think about what else would change? I wonder if a recession would lead us to the following…

a. would hair lines recede ( & if so, by how much ). And would anybody care ?

b. Would waist lines change ? If people stay indoors that much longer, well, i would imagine so !

c. Would that mean love marriages blossom? And how about the Gay types ! ( I read somewhere, ‘when you are Gay, your choice set, compared to a straight person, doubles’ )

d. Will prices of apartments, tomatoes, newspapers et al…come down ? Will it be like the old times ? Can we get petrol for Rs.7 / – a litre ?

e. Would TV programming change ? Would we have re-runs ?

f. With every body throwing money into a safety vault of sorts, will elections be fought on counterfeit money ?

g. Would people just relax a little bit, take time off, wash their own cars, drive ways, stay home and read those books that they bought long time back, in the hope of reading it someday ?

h. Would there be lesser cars on the road and lesser carbon di oxide in the air, and more space for pedestrians ! Will bicycles stage a stellar comeback ?!

i. Will we fish less, farm less, eat right and just stay still ? Will all the still people, be nice to one another !

j. Will boys give reusable plastic roses to prospective girl friends ?

k. Would MBA schools have ‘Monopoly’ as part of economics curriculum ? Perhaps ‘scrabble’ would become the best game! Would ‘bailout’ be a seven letter abuse ? Perhaps replace the four letter swear words of the current day world ?

l. Would people get tired of depressing news and tune out of news channels. No advertisements. Would that put news channels out of business ? Ditto with radio jockeys too. And those honourable men and women in Bigg Boss too.

Suddenly the recession doesn’t seem to be all that bad. And before the bad mood affects the sentiments of the visiting public to this blog, my romancing of the recession, goes no further !

A fleeting thought comes up…can i ‘recede’ to being a little boy clinging to his father, as he drove that Vijay scooter ?

Whats with glasses ?

Picture of Kim Jong II from the web

It is time to change my glasses. Its been years. My glasses have seen all the sights that i have. From the plains of Madurai to the peaks and valleys of Mahabaleshwar. The chill of the Bangalore air and the seething summer heat of Delhi. The coasts of the Arabian Sea to the Bay Of Bengal. My glasses of seen it all. ( Other sights, tears, laughter, and insightful moments are not getting mentioned)). Somehow, sticking to geography seeks to override all else !

So, this discussion on the glasses was at the dinner table. This is a style statement. A friend said. Its a style accessory another cooed. It gives you a certain image…a certain personality, said a dear friend with glasses that were flown in from Kolkatta. Please don’t ask me why. I don’t know.

As the conversation rolled on, snide remarks on how i was going blind cropped up. And then, out of nowhere came a comment : ‘Reconsider glasses. Obama doesn’t wear one’.

That was the inflection point. And as the discussion on the dinner table raged on, my mind wandered to world leaders who wore glasses. And i couldn’t get many. And the list that was coming to my mind didn’t exactly swell my chest.

a. Kim Jong – II ( North Korea )
b. Hun Sen ( Cambodia )
c. Manmohan Singh ( India )
d. Robert Mugabe ( Zimbabwe )
e. Asif Ali Zardari ( Pakistan )
f. Dick Cheney ( Vice President of USA )

And of course Sarah Palin ( Attempted Vice President of USA )

There, am sure, and HOPE, that there are other heads with glasses on ! But this list somehow does get me hurtling towards discomfort. If some historian and an avid blogger with imagination and time at his hands were to do some mapping in the centuries to come, where would it leave me, i wonder !!

That leads me upto this door.

Do all world leaders have clear vision ? Can they see well ? Why dont people wear glasses ? Are you thinking that they perhaps have crystal clear vision ? For instance, can George Bush see ? His dad used to wear glasses. But he doesn’t. Hmm !

I wonder if we can fix the problems of the world by just administering the correct prescription for the eye to all our world leaders ! After all, vision is important !

There seems to be a whole lot of need. For good vision !

As for me, i would be trudging to the eye wear store soon. My problems are more plebeian. I just need to see clearly when i read…

A post gave me a whole deal of comfort. Its all going to be in the other persons mind i tell myself. ‘they both wear glasses. which one do i vote for?’ caught my attention!! Do Read it here.

So i trudge along to the eyewear store. Berating myself to stop making Kilimanjaros out of mud heaps.

And as i trudge along, i think of the others that wear glasses, in addition to that list above. Raj Udhav & Bal Thackery, Karunanidhi i think. I shake my head, as my confidence starts to slip. Again

I try a new trick to get my mind to give me some other name and some additional confidence too : ‘Think International’, i tell myself.

And then, my mind says :Donald Rumsfeld.

My purchase decision has been postponed for now.