Monday, April 30, 2007

Benz Diaries - Comrades

I must confess that my life did not revolve around just the 6 of us. There were quite a few people whose company has enriched my life. So here we go......
One of the most laconic of personalities, an eternal romantic, one whose gait ensured that you would not notice his presence even if he stood right next to you. Let me introduce you to...Dead Body. The type of person on whom you can always depend on for a game of chess, an hour or two of movies....basically anything that has got noting to do with studies. We have been partners on a lot of occassions and have also been chucked out of our class together (he was the innocent victim of my assault). Watching him on the basketball court would definitely make you appreciate and understand how the 'dead' phoenix rose from its ashes.
If i was flanked by the Dead on one side, on another side I also had the venerable company of Thaatha. The perfect example of 'think twice before you speak'; he would do the same even when you ask him as simple a question as what his name is. He would bring us all to our wits ends with his irritating patience - time literally comes to a standstill when you are with him. He hadan interesting sing song accent which we all liked. Oh yes....despite being the Thaatha, he was a very fit person with 'Abs' to die for!!!!!
Have you guyz ever had a bully brother - who with a smile in his lips would exasperate you like anyting? We had one such character - the Sambar. Its a name derived not for any deer like characteristics but for reasons epicurean by nature. A 'stocky' oak of a person, he took immense pleasure in needling all of us. you never knew when he was telling the truth, when he was lying....when he was normal...when he was serious....all of this he used to do with a very dead pan impish expression. he also had a serious side to him which got overshadowed by his appetite. a 'Gurunaadhar' for quite a many of us...practice made him one of the better cooks amongst us...and frquently eating what he cooked made him aprreciate 'outside' food all the more. A very practical person, who at times had a dangerously short fuse - a veritable mixed bag. This is Sambar for you.
Next, we come to the king of anxiety, the guy who brought laughter to all of us with his rib tickling replication of Vijaykanth, who HAD to go home every weekend and who grew a moustache to cover up darker secrets - let me welcome one of the two Homo Sapiens H1 of our group. An extremely spiritual and honest person who could be sarcastic if required. A victim of Scientist's infamous Lunge - to this day we could not figure out what made Scientist do what he did!!!!!!!!!!
One of the two Homo Sapiens...this brings us to the other one who had an eerie similarity to H1 - he too was spritual and honest. Now I wont draw any inferences........but still........
H2 loved keeping his room clean (the one thing I hated). I always had the feeling that he required a Jambavan to get really worked up. This was one person with whom I could be myself. And by virtue of that misdeed was I branded the secretary of this ignominous club of 2 members.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Benz Diaries: The Beginning

A combination of serendipity, sage like advice and my own urge to move out of Chennai landed me in Karaikudi. My first step on the soil of Karaikudi would have given any Bharathiraja movie opening a run for its money. The railway station with its huge banyan tree seemed to welcome me with open arms as did my father’s cousin (who lived there). The roads had a dusty and dry look to it. There was a slight doubt in my mind: ‘Have I made the right choice?’ This was my first experience outside of Chennai and despite the general friendliness all around; there was a queasy feeling in my stomach. In a way my initial inhibitions were good – as in whatever nice was to happen to me in the following days was doubly sweet and any deviations from the niceties were expected – so to say.

Murugappa Hall was the place where we all assembled for our admission. The place was teeming with multitudes of boys and girls just out of their schools. If ever there was one commonality amongst us, it was he wide eyed anxiety that was seen across all our faces. Almost all of us had come with our parents. In the glut of activities that took place, we befriended some. But mostly it was a case of testing the waters. Spontaneity lost out to calculated and practised curtsey as the number of strangers far outnumbered the acquaintances and the sole constant was the we had to live together………in SCH.

SCH – the semi circular hostel was where we 1st yr boys had to stay. It was one expansive hostle with neem and peepul trees all around. There were about 60 rooms in all, across 3 floors with 4 guys made to share a room.

I was allotted room 212 and had roomies from Chennai, Trichy and Chengalpet. It was a really diverse group with even more diverse tolerance levels; the consequence of which was that in the span of 2 months it was divorce by mutual consent. This marked the beginning of an eventful stay in Karaikudi. I moved over to R211 as a non resident citizen to make it 5 in a room. This room was no less diverse. But more importantly each of us complimented each other wonderfully.

There was Nattamai, the venerable wise guy of our group whose wisdom increased in direct proportion to the no. of days he remained without a bath. A connoisseur of good food, good music, good gossip… name it, he likes it. A practical and a principled guy – what we dreaded most in him was his mace like left hand and his paranoiac affinity to illaiyaraja.
The we had TC. One of the most sincere sigamani you would ever come across. Owner of an acerbic tongue which he wielded sparingly, TC famously lived by the clock. I have never seen a person whose bio clock is as synchronized with our time clock as is TC. A very hard working person who tends to get anxious a bit too much – he went on to become the pride of the Pulsar family.
Following these two was THE man. Quarter – the mirasdar of Managorai; where his fellow Managorians used to send a herd of goats across the road to stop a route bus. He was one guy who never got tired of nakkals, naiyyandi and all other wise cracks which used to be under perennial production courtesy quarter. He was liked by one and all; so much so that any and every passing person used to inflict a mortal wound on him. He was and is my conscience keeper; someone I can always bank on to get the true picture of anything without any frills. He is one of the few guys who is almost always in the quest of self improvement. Also he is probably the only guy who is a teetotaler and yet seems like a congenital drunkard. Quarter needling nattamai was a sight fit for the gods. We used to split our guts out trying to control our laughter.
The other legal member of the room was mottai – from the forests…..err …tea estates. So much has been said of this guy and I shall contribute my two pence to it. He is someone who comes closest to my definition of a soul mate. He was all that a person would ever want to be…and more. Where I faltered, he stood firm; giving me the courage to fight once again. This apart……he was famous for turning a quack of a dentist in Madurai into a rich man in the course of our 4 years.
Then comes yours truly. I was similar to nattamai in maters involving bath. I was one of the lazier guys here, preferred novels over academics, took pleasure in facing off with lecturers, and slept like an oaf. Along with Scientist, we formed the sleeping beauties of our room.
Which brings us to the 6th member….yes…one more non resident…..Scientist is his name. for him bath and sleep are inverse functions and he doesn’t leave us to doubt as to what he prefers more. He was a sedate guy with a keen mind. Very helpful by nature…and as much a mech.engg as he was a compsci one.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Brotherhood: A Bag Full of Mysteries

Two friends who are having nothing worthwhile to do in life but have a balcony view of the scene below – a hundred odd candidates; guys and girls with the anxiety that is almost always prevalent when you are about to decide your career.

What catches the attention of these two guys is the black handbag that seems to be sticking like leech with the girls...ahem...a girl.....

Guy1: “Yaar…yeh bandhiyan kya rakhthi hain uss bag main? Har waqt usko le kar hi ghoomthe hain?”
Guy2: “Uthna kuch nahi re…..they have their pens, fir lipstick, dekh ke lagaane ke liye ek mirror, fir kerchief, tissue papers….woh perfume waale….aur unke purse…..par poore paise purse ke baahar handbag main hoga…….”
G1: “Uthna kuch nahi bol ke ithna bol diya be?”
G2: “Oye…abhi toh shuruaath hi ki hai……they also have their cell phone, uska charger, kangi, small small bills of shopping that they had done long ago…..”
G1: “Thik hai….yeh bathaa…..tu yeh sab kaise jaantha hai?”
G2: “Teri bhaabhi jo hai mere saath….you should see her taking something outta the bag…..PC Sorkar ke magic show dekhne ki experience aathi hai mujhe…each time something or the other (almost always unintended) comes out. Isi liye main bol dethaa hoon…..jab milke hi jaa rahe hain toh paise ki fikr kyun? Aur cell fone main meri pocket main rakh loonga….in dono ke alaavaa aur kuch isthemaal nahi kart hi toh bag hi kyun?”

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A Steel Fork on a Glass Plate.......

When we get to meet so many people from diverse backgrounds, we are bound to like lots of things and imbibe them into our own is equally likely that there are few pet peeves that keeps gnawing us......
Here i am listing some of my pet peeves that I have come across....the often repeated phrases....flogged so much to death..that we tend to forget whether it is required or not....
  • A teacher in one of my tuitions...."OK, lets call it a day...." : Naanga mattum idhu raathiri nu sonnomaa?
  • "What I want to say the end of the day......" : Yaen? idhu kaarthalai elaam vellaiki aagaadhaa?
  • "X doesnt translate into Y per se": Appo edhuku adha patthi pesarae?
  • "You have to think out of the box...": Dei daabur, munnadi neraa yosi, adhuku aparom thaavi thaavi yosikalaam
  • "To tell you the truth....." : Yaen? idhu varaikkum poi pesirundheyaa?

And then you have people...telling......quote..unquote....bla bla bla.....which is accompanied by convoluted scratching in thin air.....some give an expansive scratch...while some give a very modest fig leaf type of scratch.......all this in the name of being expressive...being a really good communicator..........aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Brotherhood: The beginning

There are very few things in the world for which ‘MAN’kind have a convergence of …..interest…..revulsion….and dread….

Interest catching topics are cricket and girls. Even the antics of the most obscure of cricket teams – be it Timbuktu CC or Jolly Rovers would have its passionate critics. And girls….needless to say has many guys letting out their opinion as if they are connoisseurs of vintage wine (it’s another matter that we guys for all the bravado we show when we are in a ‘all guyz’ group turn into a thalai aatum bommai when with our girlfriends. For the uninitiated – refer to the lilting head movements of the Tanjore dolls). More on this later.

What piqued me so much that I am wielding my pen despite the pathetic state I’m subjecting the readers to….is the sorry state of the brotherhood when it comes to doing one thing they dread most – shopping with and for a woman – be it their wife, girlfriend, sister – the feeling of dread is the same.

Despite the urge for many of the thai kulams to take me to be a MCP, let me tell you…girls are great when it comes to patience, style and all that (after all how many times have they spent their time shopping with and for us…and taking us through its basics). It is just that a very potent combination of chromosomal disorder (for guyz) and a wide variety of apparels (for girls) makes the life of the brotherhood a tight rope walk.

The other day, I was out shopping with my sister. A bird’s eye view of the shop would’ve given you the sight of random black heads (with cropped hair) moving aimlessly, fidgeting….not knowing what to do. Change the plane to horizontal viewing…. A look at the faces of the men (accompanying the girls) shows no randomness.

There is an expression of martyrdom, helplessness, a ‘why me?’ and ‘bali ka bakra’ look written all over their face……all over my face.
Picture this…..a husband and his wife….
W – ‘how is this salwar?’
H – ‘Nice..sits pretty on you’
W – ‘and this jeans and tops?’
H – ‘wow…its great too..’
W – ‘which one shall I take?’
H – ‘(in all magnanimity) have both of them darling…’
W – ‘No..I want only one….tell me which one?’
H – ‘hmm…the jean?’
W – ‘No…I wanted the salwar’
H – ‘well….have the salwar then…(thinking the matter is closed)’
W – ‘so the jean wasn’t good?’
H – ‘(losing his cool) look….you asked for my opinion…I gave it…if you don’t like my choice…no problem at all….go ahead with yours…’
W – ‘how can you be so indifferent….blah blah blah’

The plight of the brotherhood is further aggravated by the fact that we cant comfort each other (in the shop). Doing anything other than dutifully waiting on our partner will be taken as indifference and disinterest……and what not!!!! The only solace we guys have is when we look at some other guy who gets it even worse than us.
There are exceptions no doubt….but in general this has been my observation. Maybe guys need to take a crash course in patience…making choices…and in being as good a partner as possible….Maybe girls need to accept the fact that we guys are morons when it comes to shopping.
Until then….we may lose interest in cricket…we may even become tight lipped chaste speaking guys….but the dread of shopping shall continue....such is the plight of the brotherhood

Friday, April 13, 2007

Crumbling pedestal.....Confusing Ideals...

Does the end justify the mean? Or does the means justify the end?
My reaction to this question has been like that of a pendulum oscillating form one end to the other. Though predominantly I believe in ‘means justifying the ends’ principle and try following it to the maximum possible extent, there have been plenty of instances when the temptations of what lies yonder has lured me to achieve my goal in any way possible.
One thing I have learned is not to make a value judgment – neither on myself nor on others. I would rather view each and every action on a case by case basis with more weightage on the intentions than on means or end.
Rama and Krishna, the two incarnations of Vishnu offer an interesting contrast. While Rama never swayed from the path of righteousness regardless of what he had to endure, Krishna was the foremost proponent of dealing with scenarios as the circumstances demanded out of him.
In this context, was Rama’s slaying of Vali in line with his principle (as we see it) of means justifying ends? I don’t know. Frankly it is beyond my comprehension.
Anyway one thing I do believe is that, following ‘end justifying means’ is much tougher and requires a far greater deal of moral courage. I say this because firstly we need to be doubly sure of what our end is, because if the end goal is flawed, we are in danger of falling into a bottomless pit of wrong doings.
Also one needs courage to stand by what he is doing since his true judgment may only happen sometime in the future when the goal is achieved and till then he has to bear the cross of ‘Guilty till pronounced innocent’


Have you ever been in this state? You get grossly embarrassed both giving and receiving praise to/from somebody? Also while getting or letting out terms of endearment? The embarrassment is so much that all you end up doing is let out a grunt, a futile attempt at a wisecrack and a pat in the back of the person concerned? And when you come back from that incident, your mind is filled with lots of ifs and buts?
I have been a victim of my own embarrassment plenty of times. It is not that I have anything against that person nor that I don’t value his/her work or feel threatened by them. If anything, I value them more than my life and each time they achieve something brilliant, I feel myself elated beyond measure. But cometh the time to verbalize my feelings, I get stuck – may be I would make them feel too comfortable? Maybe my words would be misconstrued?
It is more a case of me doubting myself than doubting them. Yet the fact remains that I choke both at giving and receiving.
The pain is all the more amplified by the fact that in my heart, I know it would make them happy if only I tell them all that I feel. After all, how many times have I yearned for those affectionate words that would make one feel valued?
Why does the audacity of a person reduce with his age? Is it the fear of losing his life? Fear of losing his face? Or the imminent realization of his mortality?
When a boy is young and he takes out a vehicle, you can feel the thrill (or dread if you happen to be the pillion rider) when he negotiates a turn. This later becomes a careful and slow (yet continuous) turn and finally when he comes of age, it becomes a wait-watch-turn procedure. We now say this guy has attained wisdom.
But have we ever inventoried all that he had lost to gain that wisdom? Have we ever wondered whether this attitude is carried on into other areas of work? And what its effect had been?
Okay, I am not preaching recklessness in the name of audacity. But I feel that by forgetting that grief & joy, success failure have been bed partners since time immemorial and by trying to shut out the possibility of failure – we deprive ourselves of possibly higher and greater success.
Risk taking – a judicious one at that – has to be encouraged. Of course, this would entail a fall here and a fall there. But it would also ensure that our life is filled with a running stream of water and not a stagnant one.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A new leaf....A new life......

They say that all our sins are washed away with a dip in the holy Ganges. Do I believe in it??As of now.........NO.
But I do believe that there are few people whose inherent goodness is such that even one heart to heart conversation with them would make you feel turning a new leaf with renewed optimism is worth the try.
Regardless of what you have been......regardless of what you have done so far in your life.
And if that person is someone whom you like, whom you love, is someone who you know would always be there for you no matter how the circumstances conspire against you, no matter how miserably you contrive to conspire against yourself - it makes your 'turning a new leaf' effort all the more genuine.
Because you have got nothing to gain by faking your efforts.