Monday, November 30, 2009

From Ms to Mrs Libra

Wedding bells wedding bells jingling all the way.
Wedding season has reached our blog flying all the way.

There was once a feminist

And an analyst

When they met, things were hazy
And they drove each other crazy
And when they fought there was frenzy

But soon fell in love, so very rozy

We are happy to announce the wedding of Ms Libra to Mr Leo

Well that means Ms Bhuji ( me - Teena Augustine) is getting married to Mr Who
(Sunoj Samuel a.k.a the editor)

We invite your presence, request your prayers and seek your blessings Watch out for the remaining parts on the series on "marriage matters- Journey to the altar", on our blog.

Please vist our wedsite
for more details.

Friday, November 27, 2009

An aged wine

"Uncle, could you help me open this gate", it took me sometime to process these words, actually the first word. I looked on both sides to see this uncle whom the little kid from my building was asking for help. Then again the kid said, "uncle, please help me." And this time he looked straight into my eyes and there was no mistaking the fact that the 'UNCLE’ was me. I felt as if being hit by a meteorite, straight from Jupiter. I always knew the Jupiter in my horoscope was up to something. I helped the kid with what he wanted and as no good deed goes unpunished I got it once more, "thank you uncle". This was as much I could take in a day and I ran for cover.

That was three weeks backs and it happened again yesterday. I thought there was something wrong with the kids in the building, but when the grown up guy at the grocery shop said, "please give me change uncle," I realized that this problem had manifested itself beyond my building compound. Why do they call a guy, who is still an year away from thirty, uncle? I don't wear a moustache (sorry guys out there with one) neither do I have a bald patch anywhere (sorry again) nor am I married (sorry sorry sorry). So then what part of me makes me an uncle? Not very long ago people used to call me Chotu, then a few years after they called me Bhaiya (bhaiya has a complete different meaning in Mumbai, so beware) and now they call me uncle. This transition happened so stealthily that I was caught like a rabbit in the headlight. But this one had gone too far and I decided to do something about it. So after burning a lot of mid night oil (anyways it costs less per barrel now) I have come up with this formula which is going to shut up all the kids. So brethrens (mustached, bald and married) I give to you the one solution that will remove the terms "uncle" from our lives, once and for ever.

So here is the formula

so if x < .5 then we can be called uncle if x =.5 or > .5 then we are to be called bhaiya

This might look like a complicated equation but I am told that children in kindergarten now learn vectors and algebra and therefore this would not be difficult for me to explain it to these kids. Armed with this lifeline I ventured out and caught the most harmless looking kid and started explaining him the basics. Everything was fine until it was to do with the kid's father’s age; the kid wouldn't know of it. So he spontaneously called out for his mom (as for every kid its - mum knows it all). I thought this is now getting complicated and I should be prepared to cover the whole thing with another story. But what came next caught me off-guard. Promptly the mother steps forward and asks the kid-"beta, did you wish uncle Good Morning today?" Even before the kid could say 'no' I heard a big NOOOO going in my head. What? The lady just also just called me uncle. I felt as if being thrown off from the top floor but hitting the ground instantly; there was no falling in between. I couldn't believe that the lady, who probably looks older to me, plump as a pumpkin and has started to show grey, asks her kid to address me as uncle. This was like Iran calling the Vatican a terrorist state. I realized I didn't had a formula ready for the lady so wisely said the good mornings and good byes and decided to deal with this another day.

I started climbing the steps, back to my apartment, thinking that one set back is not going to deter me from this noble cause. Half way through I felt uneasiness in my legs. I felt the uneasiness from the calf muscles rising upwards. I persisted and climbed another floor; the pain starting to increases with every step. I stood and took a breath and with the same breath came the realization that maybe age has caught up with me or maybe it has taken a lead. I called for strength from the powers above and somehow made it into my apartment. I sat looking at my legs and thought; maybe it’s time to come down from my high horse and accept the uncle tag. What kind of a young man would not be able to climb those silly steps? There was a time in history when I could have beaten Usain Bolt on these steps. Maybe the kids are able to see through me and I am not. With a 'sigh' I let the feeling to sink in. I suddenly felt ten years older.

But my friends it’s not yet over for you. The baton for this noble cause is still up for grabs, the formula is still not patented and the fountain of youth awaits you on the other side. Who knows some day the world would remember you as the one who championed for the cause of the "not yet uncles." As for me, I have realized that this wine has now aged, though very soon and with much persuasion. Anyone interested in a rare, 1980, vintage, sparkling, white ............Anyone????

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Marriage Matters - Journey to the Altar- part 3

I can't believe that we have come so far but this is the 100th post on this blog and I am thrilled. As Jils asked yesterday after the party at Mc D, I thank all the loyal fans and the loyal anonymous critics. I should thank our dear editor who introduced widgets and rennovated this site, without whose guidance I would not travel this far.

I was restless reading his sms, I remembered cursing him, “you would not be happy for hurting my feelings.” But more than that my mother’s feelings. My mother was happy that I agreed to marry and she had started dreaming of my wedding day. I had broken the news to my sister, on phone, before my arrival and told her to convey the same to mom. I had instructed her not to ask me anything and to avoid telling my brother. But my brother had overheard mom’s conversation and I could see the situation was gloomy when I reached home. “It’s not the end of the world that a proposal is called off”, I said. My sister and mom showed me the shopping they had started doing. I remembered the excitement in their voice over phone in the past one month. After dad’s death they had found a reason to rejoice, through the wedding plan. “Mom liked this guy”, my sister remarked. I smiled.

But in the midst of all this I still could not believe that this did not work. The whole incident taught me a lot. It made me reflect on my resilience, inner strength, humility and attitude. I knew many of my relatives and friends had thought that this was a done deal. I had to face them all now. I decided to cheer my family. I played the fool, smiled, took snaps went for a pizza treat and some shopping. Ideally I would never get out of home when I came for vacation but I did it this time and I admit we had the best time ever.

My thoughts escaped to him, the stranger I had never met, the stranger whom I had started to like. I expected nothing, but each time I opened my mail box I saw a mail there. Either rationalising the action, apologising for the mistakes, admitting his world had changed and things were not like before. Anyone who knows me would believe that I might have lashed at him but I prayed each time I read the mail for a miracle to happen. I prayed to lord to gift me the power of forgiveness and humility. I decided to follow whatever my family said. I had another proposal lined up. He was an engineer in Wipro, right here in Chennai. This proposal also came at the same time with the other but I discouraged it because I was interested elsewhere. I thought maybe god was indicating I should not have done that.

This guy said he liked me and everything seemed conducive, that my mother was hopeful and suggested I go ahead and meet him. I cried not knowing why, I did not want to marry and I kept hoping this guy turned out to be bad; but all the checks ensured he was not. I showed his snaps to my friends expecting negative comments on his appearance but maybe from the previous experience they preferred being neutral. Final discussions went on; I was told I would have to leave the hostel as he worked near my institute. I prayed fervently those days and decided to be submissive to lord’s plans.

I kept wondering how he was coping, though it was his decision. Somewhere I felt he was like me and if I felt this bad, he would be finding it hard too. I had summed up courage and rang him on my way back from home. He seemed surprised but spoke to me. I felt foolish later for doing so.

I was trying to get ready to battle my nervousness of meeting another guy in two days when I received a call. I could not believe it was from him. Somewhere by then I had resolved my inner conflicts and accepted we came from different worlds, which had no possibility of meeting. This made my conversation easy. “I was happy to be a friend”, I said. I asked him to move ahead in life. He listened silently. There was calmness in his voice and then I told him a guy was coming to see me in two days. I explained the situation and he panicked. “Are you trying to get even with me?” he asked. It took me some time to understand that he was not expecting me to walk out of his life. I tried telling him how upset mom was and now I have no rights to make decisions as I had made a mistake already.

“What if I apologise to everyone? Will you accept me?” I thought it was the typical male syndrome, they don’t value when they have something and when they lose it they want it back (read thing as woman- men often seem confused about the C – word). I was worried if it was a bigger mistake and I had no strength to go back and explain back to people at home. It happens in movies and in real life such situations are not that interesting. I asked lord what he was planning. Why did he make me go through all the pain, humiliation and sarcastic comments if this was what was written? I remembered someone saying every time you make a mistake don’t forget to learn your lessons. Anyone who knew me would say she would have given him tight because she is a feminist. But that’s not what happened.

“If this happens you won’t ever regret in life, and I won’t ever leave you in any trouble”, he said. “But you still have not seen me”, I said. “If I can feel this without seeing you, trust me it will work”. Trust was a heavy word to digest at that moment.

But what do I tell the guy, whose coming in 2 days? “Tell him you are in love”, he said. “But am I”? I asked. “At least I am, though I am scared to admit it”, he said. “And remember you are in love with a devil and I with an angel”. Now no one would believe what troubles the devil and angel has been creating since then. But the devil always kept his word -“If this happens you won’t ever regret in life, and I won’t ever leave you in any trouble”.

I won’t say I am an angel to have given a second chance to someone. No, this was a miracle in my life which transformed many lives. A miracle I witness daily. Forgiveness is a big power and so is love and this series is a testimony of god’s work in lives of ordinary people. Sometimes some incidents change us for lifetime. And to all who ask if this is not too personal yes it is- but it’s a testimony, I promised to write.

Picture abhi baki hai dooston- Wait for the hilarious family meeting

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Friday the 13th

Our dear editor is out of town, precisely renovating his home for his wedding ;). This post is very dear to him and he has been waiting to post it on a 13th Friday. This also happens to be my favorite post.I did a great research to create the pic too :P . So here I post it on his behalf.

She sat there at the airport thinking about the happenings of the past few days. She had another hour to kill before her flight back to Bangalore. She was trying to reason; to satisfy herself as to what she did was the only way out. Quitting her job was a tough decision; after 7yrs in London and after achieving so much, it was not easy to let go. London had become her second home: relations were built, routines were set, people knew her, she knew them and life was comfortable. There were even subtle hints from her managers in Bangalore that if she wanted she could make London her home. But maybe it was the ‘seven year itch’; she wanted change, not professionally maybe personally, more than ever now. She could have even managed without quitting, if her manager allowed the one week’s leave that she wanted. After all, it was only twice in a year that she would visit India and this was the more important one. But her new manager in London had a mind of his own or maybe it was the recession. Finding a job was the least of her concern; there would always be jobs for her in Bangalore and this time she would have a ‘no travel’ policy. What was worried about was her relationship with Rajan.

He had just finished another call with her; the eleventh call today and it was the longest one. He was not convinced that coming back to India was a smart move. They were almost starting to argue when he pulled himself back. These were bad times and there were indications that it would turn out to be much worse than the ‘dot com’ bust. Though he was much more comfortably placed this time, had become a manager now and was having enough savings to tide over any downturn, he was worried that both of them being IT professionals, there was too many eggs in one basket. But there was no convincing her. She was hell bent on following the tradition that they both have been having from college. It started on a 14th of Feb during their college days and has continued so long. Even after moving to London, she would visit India, every year, during the second week of February. They would spend time together, on long drives out of Mumbai, catching up with friends and family and spend time experimenting with any new restaurant that would have opened in the past year. This had become an annual ritual for them, which was followed come high wind or deep sea. But now he was growing weary of her determination and steadfastness; which he once absolutely adored. But this was least of his concerns. He was worried about the future; their future. All his friends were either engaged or married and some even had children. There was growing pressure from the family to settle down. He had tried discussing, about her, with his parents before, but to no success. Religion was becoming a barrier, greater than he had ever imagined. A beef eating Christian girl into a Brahmin family; never, that was his father’s last verdict on the subject and on Susie.

The lady at the check-in counter pointed out that her luggage was over-weight. She explained that she was going back for good and that’s why the extra stuff. A little pleading and coaxing did the trick and she moved on to the immigration desk. There was something that stuck her during her last call with him. He seems to be adamant at her decision to return as if he doesn’t want to her to return at all; contrary to their of courtship days when he would persuade her not to go back, entice her with jobs in Bangalore and beg her to reconsider. Even when she brought up the topic of marriage he didn’t give a convincing reply. All he said was that his parents were not ready and spoke about family and customs. She wondered how the tables had turned; previously it was her who was not ready to go the extra mile, defile traditions and family honour and he tried to convincing her to go ahead at any cost. But now when she was had put all that behind her it was he who was taking a step back. She was very well acquainted with his family and they never seem to have a reservation about this girl, who appeared more than a friend to their son, their only son. Sitting in the waiting room she remembered that how little they ever spoke about marriage in all the years. It was their careers that took precedence and the subject of marriage consciously avoided. She started thinking that maybe the physical distance between them had taken a toll on their relationship. They had worked it out between them that a call a day was all that was required to keep things up and running. They discussed about everything under the sun, as if each were speaking to a shrink and yes it was therapeutic. Until two months ago the routine was followed without a glitch but a few no calls was dismissed by him as the downside of his growing responsibilities as a manager. Even in the few recent calls he seemed to be a little aloof and needed to be eked on to participate in the conversation and even then there little talk about love and belongingness. The thought never occurred to her, of another person in their life; in his life. Her name was Shruthi.

He had tried to break the news to her before but could never gather enough courage to do so. He procrastinated as long as possible but now things were beginning to get complicated. She quitting her job and coming back was the first sign of trouble. He was wondering how he would face her and tell her about this other person in his life. Six months back he interviewed a girl and got her recruited in his team. She had the same confidence and fiery personality that Susie had and it was not long before he got drawn to her. He gave the all the training and personal attention a new comer requires and she reciprocated with care and respect. The need for physical presence of a loved one, which was missing in his relationship with Susie, was a barrier which he had ignored so far but it was becoming too hard for him to resist with his need found love. One night when things got heated up, he crossed the final frontier and made love to her. Though she was casual about the whole thing, he felt a sense of guilt and wanted to own it to Susie but somehow got tongue tied. He always had a tight control over the proceedings of his life but somehow things got into the fast lane and now he was expecting things to crash sooner than later. With 14th Feb approaching, he started getting worried about whether he would have to choose between the two – the one who he loved for seven years but was always seven seas apart or the one who just a touch away and may be worth spending a lifetime with. Sometimes the similarities between the two was so blurred that he forgot who he was with and sometimes so different, but still captivating, that he wanted to keep loving both of them. But with Susie coming back he knew that he didn’t had much time and that tough decision had to be made. He thought of taking her along to receive Susie at the airport.

Her thoughts were broken by the fasten seat belt message as the flight was approaching Bangalore airport. All through the flight she thought about the wonderful moments they spent together. How they first met at the college bus stop but never gave more than a glance during the initial days. How he turned out to be her brother’s school mate. He was no good at studies and how she did all the assignments for him. Their first Valentine’s Day, when they indulged in their first love – movies, by watching three shows in a single day. How she sacrificed a better job, to work with him in the same company, during the campus placement. They never made many friends at office for they never got over spending time with each other. How weekends were always short for long drives, loads of movies and good food. How he always encouraged to move ahead in her career and take challenges head-on. How he sacrificed the opportunity to work abroad, knowing that it was always her dream, gave it to her. How they would call each other every day and talk for hours and hours and would never feel the distance between them. She joins the other passengers and waiting to collect her bags she gives him a call.
He is too confused to concentrate on what’s going on in the meeting that he is presiding. Suddenly his phone rings and he jumps from his seat. He was supposed to be at the airport to pick her up and now she has landed. How can he be so sloppy? Everybody in the room look at him with surprise. He fumbles with his phone and it drops and rolls to the farthest corner under the table. He apologizes, picks the phone and moves out in a jiffy. He had thought of taking Shruthi along and calls her to meet him at the car park. Next he calls Susie.

She is surprised to hear that he is still at office. The traffic at this hour and with the new airport being a civilization away from the city meant that he would take an hour atleast. She gets angry and asks him not to come. He tries to pacify her but she hangs up on him. He curses himself for the slip up but decides he is going to go anyways. He picks Shruthi and joins the maddening traffic on the road. He knows it’s not a wise idea; it might take him double the time to reach there, compared to what she might take if she hires a taxi. But he still wants to do it. He calls to inform her that he’s on his way to pick her up but she doesn’t respond.
She comes out of the arrival and scans the people standing outside, thinking that he is very much there and might just be playing a prank on her. She remembers how he once stood at the arrivals with a placard, bearing her name, which was as big as a blackboard. She waits for few more minutes and then heads to hire a pre-paid taxi. The driver helps her with the luggage and she cannot stop wondering that how the taxi - a white Huyndai Accent was same as Rajan’s. He tries calling her and she eventually picks the call to tell him that she’s already hired a taxi. He pleads with her to meet midway at a location, that they always frequented, which should be traffic free at this time of the day. He asks her about the flight and she tells him that she was thinking about old times. He feels the guilt rising again and only replies back in monosyllables. He tells her he is bringing some one along and then realizes his mistake. She’s taken aback to hear about a girl, whose coming along to pick her up, but has never been mentioned before in her conversations with him. She resists the idea of thinking that there is something fishy and tries to out in.

The traffic seems to be worst of all days and he is stuck at the last traffic junction and after this it would be a smooth ride. He makes small talks with Shruthi but all the while his mind is somewhere else. She can’t keep her mind off thinking about this other person with him and calls him back. He doesn’t respond. She asks the driver to speed up. He sees her call coming but it’s at that very moment that he sees the green signal and he goes for the accelerator instead of the phone. Once out of the traffic, he pushes the speed up and tries to make up for the lost time. He gets another call from her and he picks up but fumbles with the phone in doing so. A moment’s lapse and he slightly nudges a passing bus in the effort to get the car back in control. But a speed like things quickly get out of control and the car hits the divider, tumbles twice and swirl s towards the traffic coming from the other side. The last he could hear of is Shruti screaming and then sees bright lights heading towards them even as they lie upside down in the car. She starts screaming his name on the phone, the driver turns back to look at her and then suddenly without warning her car hits something head-on, with bone crushing force.

The lone policeman comes rushing to the accident site, which is now surrounded by onlookers, who are taken aback by the intensity of the crash and stand their ground, who even otherwise would have not taken a step to help the victims. Though both the cars look similar, he approaches the upside one first and tries opening the door, but it’s too much for him. He asks for help from the people crowding around. There are two people stuck inside, a man at the driver’s seat and a woman next to him. The man seems to have lost consciousness because of all the bleeding from his head. But the woman seems to stir around. He pulls her out of the wreckage first. She hands him a phone and then looses consciousness. In the mean time the others get the man out from the other side. He calls for an ambulance on his radio and moves towards the other car. He takes the mobile phone; the one the girl gave him and tries to call the last dialed number. He calls the number, which bears the name of a woman but no one picks the call. As he approaches the other car, he sees the people pulling out a woman from the back seat, badly injured and with his experience he’s sure she is close to being dead. He tries calling the number again and then he hears a phone ringing close by. With so much commotion around he’s not sure if it’s coming from inside the car. He looks inside and sees the screen flashing from a phone lying at the floor of the car. He picks the phone and attends to the call. Just then he sees that someone has answered the first phone as well. He now has two phone on both his ears but there’s only one voice he hears; his own.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Video games for raping skills

I was baffled by a link forwarded to me on orkut which referred to a new video game that was designed to give users a high through testing raping skills. Times of India link of Nov 7 could throw more light into this

I was paralyzed seeing the word ‘rape’. The thought of an incident as such makes me shudder and in this Chennai rains when it’s chilly, I am sweating with panic. I am not unaware of such games online, neither am I unaware of material and literature on violent sexual acts. Child porn is an industry and heaven for peadophiles. I have heard people discuss about child porn movies and I did believe they had the potential to influence the subconscious.

But video games are totally different because of the very nature and content they represent. It firstly gives children the privilege to use them considering it was meant for them. The transition from cartoons and animation to video games of violence and sexual nature is seen so obvious among youngsters today that it is difficult to divide a line of control between don’t and do. And then again right to sexuality is becoming a concern among our generation. I have nothing to comment on right to sexuality but violating someone’s right’s is injustice and with high rape statistics in a country like ours access to such games is potentially harmful.

My first encounter with such a contraption was when I dealt a case study of an adolescent who was addicted to porn games like shoot the penis and vagina. I could not fathom what pleasure he found and did he really fantasize it. But my understanding on the issue was grounded when he began talking promiscuously and behave precociously.

The power of the subconscious is not unknown to us and even if we are ignorant, those in research, production, sales and marketing know it better. So each time such a toy or game lands in market it has more buyers.Hence, no point in arguing playing games on rape will not instigate such instances. I am not being biased here and for those who won’t read the India time’s article above, this game mentioned is about raping a mother and daughter in a train, subway and other places. I don’t want to go into the details of groping, undressing games online with superspecialised gay games.

The divide between individual choices on sexuality and right to involve in sex games are blurry . With cyber police admitting their job is to deal with international security, the entire burden to tackle this issues is confined to schools and families who have no stake in porn movies and video game industry and are in no way responsible for this mess. As for the commercial and IT sector perhaps they get away distinguishing morality from ethics.

Reminds me of a question a Btech on campus asked me recently- Can Technology be ethical? Does technology have moral obligation. She argued technology has no responsibility because we human design it. So where do we stand? Are we responsible? How long will we get away with the typical school essay which says technology is like a knife it can cut an apple and kill people too J

Please don’t tell me rapes have been happening all along so how can you say games will increase it. There are sufficient studies on graphic movies increasing rape. And my biggest concern is why do we need to improve rape skills?????? Skills denote the fact we need practice to master something that will yield a result. So what skills are we hoping to master here?

I thought we should at least ponder on these lines, or be informed. To me the word rape brings a shudder and when I think of an industry instigating it – I am speechless.

Incredible India through my eyes- Milk Sweet

I have always been to air-conditioned eat-out joints all my childhood. Even the shawarma restaurants I had been to never served it the way even vada pav vendors here do. My life in India introduced me to tidbits’ on the street. I soon discovered there were two kinds of people, irrespective of class and caste, when it came to food. One which associated class with food and in the name of hygiene missed out on the best tastes in life. And the others whoevenrisked a dysentery to savour the best, even if it was on streets. I have often seen foreigners, elderly and rich upper class too savouring the local street stuff. I have seen many others who freak out even at the thought of having a bread omelette from a handcart.

I was frustrated after a day’s shopping on the streets of T- Nagar. What irritates me about this street is the madding crowd, resembling a stampede, running crazy in shopping spree. It requires peculiar skills to traverse these paths on weekends. Mom tells me it is like Mumbai locals, people push you in and out and you need not bother walking. And shopping with family was always a nightmare to me. I hate the glitters and jitters they choose and it makes me crazy deciding between colours and collars.

My refuge at such times is the street vendors selling tidbits. I try them all despite warnings from my friends not to trust the unhygienic stuff they sell. That day too I could see salted mangoes, gooseberries, fried cashewnuts, wild berries, Bombay mithai and what not.

And that’s when I discovered this vendor selling ‘manna’.

I saw a mount of white jello like stuff which looked like paneer. The seller was cutting it like pedas . He said it was made of the first milk, mostly that’s rich in fat hence not used at home. This sweet was totally new to me and many others too. He gave two names in Tamil and Teulgu which I don’t remember. The Tamil one was something like “sinnapal”. Well I call it ‘manna’ hereafter. Why I decided to call it so was because when I read about manna in the bible I formed a mental image as a kid and this was something closest to that image. And it was so powerful a taste to have rummaged the attic of my memory and brought up this image.

My brother and sister gave me their weirdest look which could qualify for the tenth rasa ( In classical dance after navarasa there is no tenth one) which proclaimed me as a dehati kuntry fellow, who was more excited at the sight of this thing, made of water from which gutter than at the sight of sarees worth thousands. Mom was all game and so we shared a bite. It just melted in my mouth and was not too sweet, just the way I liked it. There was something about the way it tasted that made me feel it was pure and hygienic unlike any milk peda or sweet I had ever tasted.

For those of you who have tasted stuff from vendors on the street, there is something about the taste that makes you want for more. And I enjoyed every moment savouring it, risking dysentery, which my sister was worried about. Now describing a taste is a tough exercise. I’ll try my best. This thing was soft and clay like. It had no added sugar but it was still sweet. It tasted like paneer but was jelly like.. Rs 5 for that piece would look too much considering other stuff you could buy for the same cost. But all that reasoning happens when you’re done with it, because it’s too irresistible to say no to.

When I asked him if I could have a snap of his delicacy he felt proud and said I could. So here he is. For those in Chennai, he is right outside Nalli silks, at T Nagar. And next time if you go that side, tell him you saw his snap here and that I am big fan of his. Or ask me out, I am always game for a second serving.

Incredible India series salutes you boss

Try your luck and taste ‘manna’

For some, pleasures in life wait at the corners of streets.