Monday, October 11, 2010

Nugget store

When all the money I needed was the 50 paisa coin
for the old man to fill air in my bicycle tyre
on the way back from school,
where friends were made
who would never be lost.

When maximal guilt was after I returned happily
having played a quick game at a new place, with new found friends.
But to some very worried faces and an angry one.
Four hours had stretched into eternity
along with several search expeditions.

When I couldn't sleep without my mother next to me
telling me things that I would remember forever.
Like the time I lost a gold earring
and she defined what precious was.
It wasn't it, but was me, she said.

When staring at the stars,
like they held the answers,
dreams were dreamt of a future full of questions
but answers too.
And those in joyful abundance.

When stories were spun
of places and people that had been seen
and those just imagined.
And worked with friends,
these thoughts only imagined
could then come to live.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


When somethings you did seem pointless and somethings that happened and some people are just not comprehensible, and it all happens one after another, it is hard to shrug every one of it, off with a "stuff happens". There is increasing fear that more *stuff* will follow. I wonder who said "patta kaalilae padum".

But there are things that bring forth hopes of better things. New people whom you connect with quickly (but had to leave abruptly). Old pals with whom you laugh until the stomach hurts (but only over the phone). A new place that you are moving into where you can hear the sound of water fall into a little pond and see water lillies from your bedroom (but have to break a back for getting all the stuff into, alone). Random pings and emails that never have to *say* that they care (but from super far).

But there is definitely silver, lining all those brackets. Though, the more I bring myself to start thinking, it all really is gold.

These simple-little-things - that's the stuff that seems to matter :)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Why do we use-n-throw
When we can create everlasting beauty?

Why do we recall the bad
When we could be thinking of all things good?

Why do we draw more borders
When we can be pleasantly inclusive?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bits and pieces

It is happiness when a home is made in two years. When you leave it to return home, it is strange. And stranger when a teary farewell is involved, and that is followed by a joyful return.

It is hard to come to terms with the fact that I will probably never be able to spend as much time with the new friends made as I am used to doing now. We will meet again, that isn't the question at all, but under different circumstances. Things will change. Everything changes.

With an exception, I just realize - the feeling of home. It is the same, just as it was a year and a half earlier when I left it, just as it was many, many years earlier when I was born into it. The permanency of this place and the way I feel here suddenly now explain my absolutely unsentimental farewells in the Chennai airport (And with that, crashed my pride in being one of the unsentimental types. Damn)

But is this good? This taking comfort in things permanent? And this helplessness when faced with temporariness?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Endless Nonsense

Since the time seems to have come for everyone around me to think that I am ready for marriage, the following possibilities arise:
1. A god-fearing, very pious, verry nice guy - probability = 0.01%. No more talk about this!
2. A kinda-sorta-god-believing guy - probability = 80%. Some more talk warranted.
3. An atheist - probability = (100 - 80 - 0.01)% - More talk less warranted. But warranted nevertheless.
Given that I'm an atheist, this is a very good, first, high level classification of possibilities. Ok. Now I'll get to the next section, titled, Next What?, and talk a bit about some of the interesting possibilities in each case, leaving out the boring, lived-happily-ever-after ones. It could turn into a tragic movie or a comic movie from here on, depending on the case, depending totally on who is seeing it and more totally on how you see it and so many more undependable factors. Ok. That won't make any good movie. But let me talk about it anyway.
Case 2 - God believing guy: This guy believes in the benevolent god. He sees me. Within two weeks, he decides god cannot be benevolent. He turns atheist!
Case 3 - Atheist guy: Within 2 weeks, What have I gotten myself into? Is this the fate the god almighty has decreed because of my past sins? He becomes a pucca god-fearing guy (now that he has been punished, the fear cometh automatically, No more punishment please), seeking forgiveness for all his past blasphemous thoughts. Oh dear merciful lord! Will I ever get to heaven?
And are we stopping with the nonsense here? No, no! There is a sequel too!
Case 2 - Part 2: I become like the guy in Case 3(Part 1)!
What fun it is for conversations with people whom you know for far too long to turn into such banter! Moments of enhanced nuttiness indeed!

ps: My next post will not be about percentages. God promise! And no, this one was only about probability.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I am old enough!

I was 18 and it was the first time that I had planned to be away from home for five full days in succession. Leaving home on Monday morning, the plan was to stay in the hostel until Saturday afternoon.

After multiple enquiries of "Anninu ethunaina??" (yep! I'm a pucca fraud Telugu... and a pucca Tamil, so that translates to "Have you taken everything?") from mom, during the grumbly eating of the worst on my list of breakfasts, waving off the packed lunch box with, "Hostel food is supposed to be decent ma, and I'll have to carry the box around for a week after today's lunch!?", paying 10 rupees to the auto driver instead of doing the 10 minutes walk which could not be afforded that day (as many others), I was happily sitting in the college bus and dreaming about the five full days of independence. And purposefulness.

I was to teach 3 kids  who worked in the hostel and the canteen, Ilakkanam (Grammar) and Ilakkiyam (Poetry), for their SSLC exams, every morning and evening of that week. We had two months to go for the exams. Going home alone by MTC after 8 pm from my college in Vandalur to my house in Adayar was not something I wanted to do for a full week. And if I didn't stay in the hostel, we couldn't study in the mornings too.

I was excited that the kids were also very excited to be studying most of the text in a week! Ofcourse we had apprehensions, but we had a plan!

It was my first time teaching for a week and on a schedule! And the first time away from home. How nicely I was proving I was an adult!

That evening it all started off well. Our study session gained momentum after the first 20 minutes. The kids we were dealing with were super smart. If they had had anywhere close to the general atmosphere I was brought up in, they would have been shining stars wherever they had gone. Mornings from 6 to 7:30, after which they had to go back to their work. And evenings from 6 to 7:30 which is when they had begged for time off, after which they had to get back for dinner time. The kids, I realised, were super eager and super awesome! The study session was very well spent.

But not the dinner and lunch times. Being a vegetarian in a Muslim minority college's hostel, was NOT fun. Parota with lamb curry was the special dinner on Monday. I got to eat the famed parota, but with a sad twist - it had to go down with watered vegetables, aka vegetable kuruma. And then this:

"Seri. Naan poi thayir saadham eduthutu varaen." (Let me go get curd and rice)
"Enga irundhu?" (Where from?)
"Mess dhaan... edhukku kaekarae?" (The mess ofcourse... Why do you ask?)

The two friends had nothing but a "Idhu thayir saadham case aa?" look that I was to figure out much later. They were patient enough though, to explain that there was usually no curd nor rice during dinner on any of the days.

"Nejamava? Eppadi thayir illama digest aagum?" (Really? How  does the food get digested then?)

Amused Silence.


And to myself, Don't ask stupid questions.

Next morning. Up at 5:00 am. So that I could get to the canteen at 6, where our class was scheduled. Bleary, because my usual awakening happened around 7 am with multiple snooze button presses, I took my brush, paste, soap and clothes and a bucket with a mug, which was on the way out of the room and required no guessing on my part. Saw a few girls with their books in the corridor. So early. Girls actually can wake up that early to study?

Went inside the bath room at the end of the corridor. Brushed. Turned to let the bucket fill up. There was just one tap. Not two? No hot water??!!! Boo hooooo  hooooooo!!!!!! A freezing bath at 5:30 am later, I was out shivering and ran to the room. Dhaksh was groggily awake.
"Adhukulla kulichitaya? (Yawnnn) Sudu thanni yaaru potu kudutha??" (Took bath already? Who put the hot water?)
"Varavae illa. Bayangara cold aa irundhadhu" (It never came. It was terribly cold)
(Awake now) "Loosu!! Ezhuppi irukalaam illa?? Adhuku dhaan heater vechirukkomae!" (Stupid! You should have woken me up. We have a heater!)


And to myself, Ask questions.

I will get better at this. Better soon.

The morning session though, was a hit. The kids were up and ready and I wasn't late either. And mid-session, we were giving the awesome tea by the canteen folks. "Padinga ma. Pasanga nalla mark vaangi pass pannatum." (Study well. The children should get good marks and pass the exams) I had energy flowing into me from all directions now.

Back to the hostel and breakfast. The cribbed about breakfast the previous day was past. I was having Pongal with friends. Life is good.

After college, I was chatting up with the dorm folks. As I knew just two girls in that dorm, I was having the history finding, sharing conversation with the rest. "Endha oor? Amma enna panraanga?" (Where from, What does mom do?) and my "Amma, appa Madurai. Naan Chennai dhaan." (Mom and dad are from Madurai but I'm from Chennai only) The pride!

A study session (we were ahead of our time table by now!), another disastrous dinner, and an upset stomach later, the 5-meals-a-day-me of the past was malnourished.

I called amma from the phone booth on Wednesday morning after another study session and feigned total bliss. "Annimae super ma. 10th tamil lessa nyabagam undhi. Super ga undhi, moonu vaalagunu lessa purunjusundhi. Parotta thintini!!". (Everything is fantastic. And I remember 10th grade tamil very well. The three kids are following very well too! I had parotta! )

Then made 2 more calls to ask Sudha to bring lunch for me for Thursday and Manju for Friday. A friend in dire need! I also decided I would ask amma to pack 2 tiffin boxes whenever she could, so that I can give Dhaksh.

And then there was some lady in the hostel (someone whom everyone used bad words about) who created a fuss that morning saying I hadn't gotten the required permission to stay in the hostel. I had gotten all the permissions and even after explaining to her about that and the reason I was staying, she had to bring the roof down. Screaming at me and my friend. Bad taste in mouth. Now my friend might have problems, but she didn't seem too worried. "Andha amma eppavum kathikittu dhaan irukkum. Nee tension aagadhae." (The woman forever yells. No tension!). This decided it for me.

After Thursday's delicious lunch and the evening study session, I called my mom at 7:30. "Amma, naenu naedae intigu othaanu. Naagu manchi dinner chae.. Please!"  (Ma, am coming home tonight. Please make good dinner for me)

Waited for the PP21 and was home an hour and a half later. Smelled ghee that was being made and followed it to the kitchen and to mom. There was paruppu thogayal and menthulu pulusu. And my mom talking about her day at work.

Home had never felt better. Mom sat me down for dinner and listened to all the praise I had for home food. She knew.

When I gulped down breakfast with "super a undhi!" ("It's super!"), after that particular product (along with many others) had gone up much higher in my now expanded list of what people eat, she really knew.

My friend asked me that morning in college, "Seekaram veetuku poitaya? Amma ku surprise aa??". (Did you go home early so that you could surprise your mom?)

"No way! Apram enakku saapadu micham illama irundhirundha angayae sethirupaaen!" (No way! I would have died instantly if I had to find that she didn't have enough food left for me)

Yeahrrrright I was an adult! Didn't even want to be one.

ps: Food, is the all powerful driving force, for all things there is.
ps1: The children who worked in the canteen and the mess were technically, legally not children. They were above the age limit after which they could work. But that is legality. These were kids, according to my 18 year old brain even.
ps2: We did finish the Tamil text next week. Two kids passed their Tamil and Social Sciences exam and one didn't. They were scheduled to write the other exams the next year, but none of them stayed long enough in the same job for us to help with writing their next set of exams. After repeated attempts in writing to them in the address we had on their SSLC application forms, we gave up trying to get in touch with them
ps3: If you are against reservation, please go and first level the playing field for these kids and kids who have educated parents doing everything they can to get the best education for their kids. All your energy is needed there! There are enough people to do all the talking already.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara

It appears that stars who cannot share screen space talk to us about national integration!

If all the Khans, Bachchans and all the other 20 actors had been bunched up on one screen to sing the one line, this video would have been much better. And shorter. Then they may have thought about adding people whom we really look up to. NOT these actors.

This was a waste of my time. But I got to watch the old one a few times because of this one. That makes me feel good. Always will :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


With fever, cold, sore throat, cough and seemingly infected paranasal sinuses - when the usual illnesses have decided to go the whole nine yards, the stuff you choose to see around you changes a little bit. I realise after 3 years of being away from home, that I am not at home. Not in Chennai. I live in a far away land. And it cannot be mom who does the magic.

It is me who has to double up as is required. And so, I go back to my recipes label and pick out Painless Rasam.

I have had a tumultuous affair with rasam. So to say. I never did like it, once upon a time. And once upon a little time later, I was in love with it. And now, I do not have any strong feelings towards it. Except when the hot ghee and the spluttered mustard and jeera come in contact with the almost made rasam. At that instance, when the rasam is made, I am forever in love with the aroma. My tastebuds itching for some rasam saadham (rasam rice) and urulaikazhangu fry (the potato roast here).

It is the one thing that can comfort, where all else fails. And when you are ill, the urulakazhangu is not needed anymore. Just the rasam and nicely cooked rice will do. *Nicely* cooked (= easily mashable) wasn't how my microwave cooked rice is. Sad. But cooked.

So... many room-mates ago, I learnt a new way of making rasam. The Andhra style, or so my then-roomie said. I am tempted to call it the painless rasam, because, it is as effort-free a dish can be. Made it when I was sick-and-miles-away-from-mom for the first time. And it has been thus for every sick roomie and the self thus far.

2 table spoons of jeera (cumin) powder
2 table spoons of pepper powder (If you have a little extra pain tolerance, you can freshly dry roast and grind jeera and pepper - there is MUCH difference!)
Salt to taste
2 large tomatoes
1/2 spoon
tamarind paste - I used original tamarind today - the standard lemon sized ball soaked in hot water and squeezed out
1/4 teaspoon dhaniya (coriander) powder
1/2 spoon mom-made rasam powder (guessing any readymade brand should be fine)
Mix all these in the vessel in which you make your rasam. Leave it aside for an hour. Not on the stove yet.
After the passing of the hour, put the vessel on the stove and bring to a boil. Then simmer.

Heat ghee in a "thaalippu karandi" and splutter some jeera and mustard. Then a bunch of curry leaves. If you are fond of garlic, add a few mid-sized cloves which you have smashed and peeled, and let it roast in the ghee. Add a little pinch of asafoetida (hing). Add this to the simmering rasam. And give in to the pleasure of the making-life-worth-living aroma. And if you can wait longer, add a bunch of chopped coriander leaves too.

This mixed with rice, you are now ready to get all your clogged plumbing opened up!