Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Long time..no see!!

I am pinching myself...I am actually sitting and posting something onto my blog:). Ah, not bad! It feels like getting back home after a long time..

It is that time of the course where you have scary reminders coming up on the notice boards - "Attention, students doing economics elective.." blah blah..submit your assignments by such and such date; The college would dutifully remind us to turn in assignments to clear the course..:(..and you suddenly realise you have all the things coming flying at you. you wishfully hope you forgot that something called sleep existed and unfortunately, it would keep coming back to you the most, when you don't need it!!

Ok, only few more days, my dear blog, don't you feel abandoned..coz' I will be back soon and I love you too much to leave you unattended!! :)..Bye, bye for now!

P.S: Just a thing to mention, all people who had given their opinion on brand India, have been acknowledged in my "rushed up" dissertation.Thanks people! :)

Monday, March 21, 2005

How many words??

The dissertation mania has caught on and nobody at college acknowledges you with a “Hi, how are you?” anymore; it is just a “Hi, how many words?”. This dissertation fever gobbled up my entire weekend and my work was growing at less than 50 words per hour on Saturday and was literally driving me mad.

Books and papers scattered all around, some stuff downloaded from the net, I sit like an idiot here, staring at all that is lying around and trying to gain sense out of all the intellectual ‘wealth’ (well, not actually, but the attitude seems to be reversing because of over indulgence in the act of gaining knowledge!) that I possess. Ok, this guy says this, that guy says that and after all that, I wonder, “Why should I brand India?” and ultimately, “What is branding??”.:

Type a sentence and I go to Tools -> Word count. “10 words”, MS word shows with earnest. Oh hell! Just ten words, but I spent five minutes writing it!! This is total inverse relationship between time spent and the final outcome! Dazed, I continue; this net is a huge temptation. I vow to myself to stick to google and not go anywhere else, no not even to my blog. I gave myself very few allowances, for the last three days – “You shall visit your blog only to see comments and type some lines, nothing more, do you understand??” And mails, not more than two per day! “Dissertation, dissertation..” Oh dear, this is sad!

After I finish a paragraph, in what seems like ages, I would think I felt tired and I needed a break. A slight desire would pop up there, to probably sneak into yahoo messenger to catch up with someone online or just drop in five lines of mail to somebody saying, “Boy, am going crazy!” or just pick up my phone and call someone, whom I haven’t spoken to for like days together! I would think I am feeling sleepy, switch off my monitor, tell my mom to wake me up after 10 minutes and those 10 minutes would just vanish and I would ask for another five minutes. Now after all this, when I am done, if I had all the time in the world to sleep, I am dead sure I would just be sitting and blinking.

At college, the lab is a sight of utter confusion and tension, people walking in, walking out, and I would wonder inside my head, how many words these people would have typed. (One girl told me it is 8000 over and I almost shrieked and fainted!). Look at me, such a donkey, I have struggled and managed a bare 4000 odd words and I still have thousand more to reach the minimum mark of 5000. I already feel like an exhausted athlete running with all my might towards the finishing line!! Sigh!

Somebody says the deadline is 5PM Monday and there is a word around that the petition that all of us signed for date extension has reached who it was supposed to have reached. I had signed it for solidarity, (sometime mid last week, VERRRY confident that I would wind up work neatly) and now it looks like I join the extension gang in its truest sense.

Tools -> Word count, dissertation, chapter 5, 276. Time spent 45 minutes. (Time spent brooding, don’t ask!). I am thinking and trying to be original.

Tools -> Word count. Size of this post, 507 (already? I feel like I have more to type). Time spent - 7 minutes.Not bad. But I am being original here too. Wonder what the difference is? ;)

Ok, that is my break! I take a deep breath, decide all good things should come to an end now and all bad things will also come to an end soon and I am opening my other window – “I – n-d-I-a-n a – r-c-h-I-t-e-c-t-u-r-e c-h-a-r-m-s .........." (Charms?)

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Answer and help!!

I am gonna make this really short.
Ok, I have a question.This is for one of my assignments that I am working on right now.
When you think of India, as a country, what sort of an image does it invoke in your mind? Let me make that clearer.Usually, When we think of Japan, we think of technology and when we think of Italy, we think of fashion?? So, what do people relate India with? This could be a positive or a negative image.

Also, If any of you (esp. those abroad) has any idea of what foreigners think of India, do let me know.

It would be great if you could also add a line on whatever makes you think, India stood for 'that' particular thing.

I just thought it would be great to have some feedback through my blog apart from other information that I have collected. All help/answers deeply acknowledged. :)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Umm…yummy, yummy!!

I am just back from a walk round our complex. It is rare that I do such good things to feel fit. The reason today, however is quite different. After an uneventful but hectic day at college, I came back home at around 8:30 PM. Today is Karadaiyan Nonbu (a function) and the moment I landed at home, amma was waiting. After I washed my hands and feet, she made me sit in the puja room and tied the nonbu charadu (a yellow colour thread) round my neck. The customary namaskaram sessions followed. First thatha and patti, and then amma and appa (with the usual sarcasm that I show;)).

And then was time for dinner. It was one of the most delicious dinners I have had in the last few days. This is indeed a rare occurrence, me saying that I ate well, given the pathetic eater that I am. Interesting menu there. First, I had two pieces each of Vella adai and Kaara adai (Imagine them to look like medhu vadaas, the difference being that vella adai is made of jaggery and kaara adai is made out of rice). Ah yes, there was also a generous helping of Vennai (butter), as I rejoiced every mouth of that adai that went in.

Now, to the usual course of dinner – there was amma’s famous thakkali rasam. (She is brilliant with it, I should say) with thayir pachadi (raitha) for a side dish. Fine slices of thakkali (tomato) garnished with fresh looking coriander leaves and of course kadugu thallichufied (for the lack of a more fitting English word, I resort to using Tanglish), the pachadi was a delight!

While I was feeling almost three fourth full and contemplating on making the move, my mom, pushed in a copious amount of rice into the plate. As I nibbled away happily, the verum saadham (plain rice) that I am so fond of, amma was back with buttermilk. I ain’t an ardent fan of moar saadham but today there was a nice side dish. Maangai thundam!! I was delighted raw mangoes were back in Chennai. Neatly cut and with a right amount of chilli powder and mustard, Maangai thundam was the gateway to eater’s heaven. After all that, I got up with great difficulty, quite amazed at what I had achieved for the day’s quota of food. Amma was amused and she had to say, “at least with this reason, try walking.”.Too much hmm…..

Now am back after the walk and I thought thrice before typing this down, coz I would probably see people steaming (first my sis, hey – I thought of you when I ate the food, ok?). Couldn’t resist. Now, before people pounce on me… am off!!!

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Err… Blogger errs!

Yesterday morning, I opened my blog, clicked on the comments and I got this alarming message, “The blog that you are looking for is not found” or something to that effect and it gave this huge button, that said, “Back to dashboard” and I dashed back to my ‘dashboard’. Strangely enough, it wanted me to login to see my own comments!! How funny!

I thought something was terribly wrong with my blog. Panic!! Worse still, it was intuitions coming true for me!! Just the day before, I was wondering what would happen if the entire blogger system crashed. Mo assured me it wouldn’t happen and I felt safe and secure! And now, it seemed to be coming true! I have seen Orkut going down many times, cutely responding, “Bad bad server. No donut for you.”, but Blogger, this is the first time! (not that I have too much blogging experience, but still..)

On Mo’s advice again, I mailed blogger support too, telling them I can’t comment on my own blog and others as well. I also got my sis to do some R & D on it, at 12 in the night (S’pore time!)

Oh well, in between all that confusion, I managed to do something useful too. I finally (FINALLY) managed to add links to other nice blogs that I visit. (Blogfather, aren’t u happy and proud of me??).

Meanwhile, blogger support mailed me back sweetly today morning and I just couldn’t help appreciating the prompt response. The mail below,


Thank you for reporting this error. We are working on getting the comment
pages up and running normally again as soon as possible. We apologize for
the inconvenience.

Blogger Support”

Thankie blogger, the comments do seem to be back!!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Standing and Praying:)

This is strange. A mere glance at a book of short stories by Rabindranath Tagore, at home, sent me on a flashback session. Let me explain. I thought of Tagore, then I thought of the National Anthem, and then I "flashbacked" to the prayer sessions at schools. It brought to my mind, so many memories of those morning assemblies.

I have been through seven different schools from LKG to class twelve and at every place, I had this huge task of learning the assembly prayer songs, as a new comer. The only one thing that was common was the National Anthem. And believe me, every school that I went to, the last part of "Jaya hai" would go totally off track, "abaswaram" to say it in music parlance. The pitch of some people wouldn't rise beyond a certain level (and it isn't their mistake, of course!) and while some will be on tune with the "Shruti", the rest would almost sink it to a level of their comfort. The result, well..! It was also the time, when we used to pledge, "All Indians are my brothers and sisters" and some smart alec from behind would murmur, "except one..!"

While we sang the prayer, there used to be the late comers outside, standing and peering through the grills of the huge main gate of the school, wondering how their day would begin, probably 5 rounds around the school ground, or a nice whacking from the PT teacher.

The other interesting part used to be the check whether you were in "full uniform" or "non uniform" (What words to coin?!). I remember in DAV, where we used to have prayers only on two days, I would polish my white canvas shoes frantically those mornings, cut my nails. There were some girls, who would come to class with shoe polish and nailcutters, worse still, some of them used to polish up using white chalk pieces!!

And once the prayer was over, we had the appointments (the captains/prefects/house captians) dutifully sharing responsibilities. Once the first person checked the condition of your shoes, you needed to deposit your palms into those of the next checking "appointment" and hands just used to glide into theirs for checks.

Talking about appointments, I can recollect some of my own experiences with it. Not at many occassions, but I have felt great pride in exhibiting some leadership. During first standard at MCTM, I cried and made a big fuss at home about going to school and my dad had to come and speak to my class teacher. Mahalakshmi "miss" the next day, made me the I-B leader who would lead the students in a line to the prayer session! Crazy?! That's how I was. Then again in class five at Chinmaya Vidyalaya, I used to stand in the front in the assembly and we had this really strange practice. We had to come forward, salute and shout, "Class five - C, 32 present, 2 absent!". I can't explain how proud I used to feel!

There were also the "thought for the day"s and news and prize announcements. It was indeed great fun to have been a part of all this. It would fill me with so much of excitement and pride!:)

And of course, how could I forget those silly people who would faint in the assembly because they haven't had food? (not that I am a great eater, but I never used to skip breakfast;)). Everyday, there used to be at least 3 cases of people fainting and teachers would rush in and drag those kids to the labs (usually, chem and phy labs where we used to have long benches to sleep on!)

Eventful, if something has to be said about prayers in schools. It gave me a sense of belonging to the school, whichever one I studied in, the sense that I was part of this huge group and an arena where you would see laurels and feel proud. It was also a place to giggle and see some funny experiences. To quote one, it was my first day at Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) in Tiruchengode (a rural area near Salem). I had joined class three and was standing in the prayer, the first one in that school. Old students were curious and excited. One of them looked at me and said, "Hey this is not the way you stitch your pinaform (for pinafore!)" and she asked me, "What is your name?". "Anupama", I replied hesitantly. "Anu enadhu?"(Anu what?) she asked and not waiting for an answer, continued, "Uh! what a strange name!" (in Tamil). Ah, Prayers...!

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Speaking of unheard voices..

Looks like it’s the docu movie season. Last Saturday, I got a chance to watch Anand Patwardhan’s “War and Peace”, with the filmmaker himself, in college. Today again, I had been to the private screening of docu films by Arun Vaidhyanathan, in Chennai. (Acknowledgments again: REFLEX, thanks for letting me know). More on this in tomorrow’s post.Let’s go on to today’s post, which is fairly long!But do read on..as I always say;)
Today, the 8th of March is celebrated as world Women’s day. While all the fanfare that accompanies the day (in celebrating womanhood) is something to feel happy about, I just couldn’t help thinking about the thousands of young girls and women, who are faceless and live the most miserable of lives, in India and many other developing countries.

“Kutty”. This is a tamil movie that I saw in Jaya TV on Sunday. The film literally shook me up for its powerful portrayal of certain grave social problems plaguing this country. This movie won the special jury award for the director, Janaki Viswanathan, in the national awards for 2002 and also the award for the best child artiste, played by Shweta.

“Kutty” is the story of a 10 year old girl called “Kannamma” who hails from a very poor family in one of those many, many villages located in Tamil Nadu. Kannamma loses her father, who sells pots for a profession (who else but the versatile Nasser), in an accident and her mother barely able to sustain herself and her daughter, decides to send the girl to a well-off family in Chennai, as a caretaker and servant maid. The girl, who is taken care of very well, by the husband and wife (played by Ramesh Arvind and Kausalya respectively) there, is ill treated by the man’s mother (played by M.N.Rajam) and his son (nearly the same age as Kutty, as Kannamma is so called). Barring a very few bright moments in kutty’s life, she is unable to live there, decides to run away home, only leading to a shocking climax. The guy who spots her at a “Maligai shop” (grocery shop) near her apartment tricks her into flesh trade, by deceiving the innocent girl that he was actually sending her home. And there the story ends.

Kutty sends strong messages to the audience and these are certain problems that the society just cannot ignore. Firstly, the movie highlights a tendency of certain urban upper class members to look down on the servants and treat them in a demeaning way. It is not a generalisation when I say this, but we can’t rule out this caste differentiation, all together.

The next really significant point that the movie makes is the serious problem of child labour that is widely prevalent in the country despite strong laws condemning the act of employing children. There is this particular scene in the college where Kousalya works – the lecturers describe the mental agony of employing children as servants and also the irony that, they as the shapers of the society aren’t doing anything to alleviate this serious problem. During that time, a boy of about 12 years of age, comes and serves them all tea. The paradox is brought out very well.

Following child labour, the other burning problem that the film addresses is that of illiteracy, especially for girl children. This theme almost runs through the length of the movie. For instance, there is the scene where Kutty gets so hurt by the ill treatment of “periya amma” that she runs to the grocery shop, owned by Vivek and begs him to write a letter. The sequence is wonderfully enacted by Shweta and Vivek. The girl is so desperate that she promises her mom (in the letter), she wouldn’t trouble her and ask for expensive food, that she would do all house work without a fuss and still drink porridge. She ends by saying she is unable to stand the torture at this place. All this with a flurry of emotions that the owner of the shop is dumbfounded and overwhelmed by the girl’s situation. When he asks for her the postal address, she just mentions the name of the village and says it is near Madurai, where she reaches by bus. When Vivek asks for the street, door number etc., she says, “Uncle, I don’t know anything, my parents didn’t let me study” and continues innocently to describe the place saying, there are lot of trees, rocks, here, there..What A subtle portrayal of a burning issue. Amazing! That was one point in the movie, where I broke down.

The interest to learn but the lack of a chance, is obvious in scenes where Kutty would eagerly pour into the books of the son of her employers and get beaten up by the fellow. The last scene, she believes that she is going back home, but as the camera moves up, you see that the train is headed to Mumbai from Chennai. Lack of literacy again, isn’t it serious? While we are left to ponder over the fate of the innocent girl, she actually sits in the train and dreams and smiles over the ‘hypothetical’ situation of going back home. The movie ends with a song, “Enga pora thangachi?” (Where are you going sister?)

There is something that is very basic to all these problems, the very core of it all – Deprivation that is deeply rooted in this country. Deprivation isn’t easily obvious, to people especially in the upper layers of the society. Poverty is definitely a serious cause of most of the social ills in India, where the high order benefits announced at the top level and any big gains made, do not trickle down to the poor and reach the lower strata of the society.

The film only strengthened my belief and insistence on the need for basic education for girls from poor economic background. If only they are educated, it would do them so much good. It would only bring down the number of girls like kutty, who are finding their ways into red light areas, unaware of what is happening to them. All this is easier said than done, and it cannot happen overnight. It needs a transformation in attitude towards women in so many sections of the society, especially the lower ones. And I believe the media has a really big role to play in the process. I hope that would give those unheard voices and faceless people, a worthy direction.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

I was lucky to catch this!

As I was "googling" today, I ran into this article that combines three aspects (well I seem to be obsessed with this number 3, oh, even my DOB adds up to 3!) spoken of in my blog, at different points in time. Ok! They are matrimony, special children and the fact that we are really lucky to be what we are. Please do check out the article here. It is an article from The Hindu Business Line's archives. I would love to hear what you feel about it too. That's it for now!

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Lyrics that I fell for

Tamil again. It is the title song from K.Balachander’s “Punnagai Mannan”, beautifully penned by Vairamuthu, extremely feminine and deeply expressive of a longing. The song is the plight of a girl who falls for the “Punnagai Mannan” (Prince of smiles, the closest English approximation) claiming that she is his princess. The song ends on a note that come whatever may, she would be happiest with his love. The song was set to tune by Illayaraja, rendered superbly by Chitra. A very,very sweet song.
I was too kicked to listen to it on FM, that I couldn’t resist the temptation of typing the lyrics as the song proceeded.

The Song:

Edhedho ennam valarthen
Unkayil ennai koduthen
Nee thaaney punnagai mannan
Un rani naaney
Panpadum padagan neeye
Un raagam naaney

Sila Kaalamai naanum sirai vaazhgiren
Unai paartha naal thaaney uyir vaazhgiren
Thookam vizhikiren pookal valarkiren
Sila pookal thaaney malarginradhu
Pala pookal eno udhirginradhu
Badhil enna kooru (an indication to successful and failed relationships)

Poovum naanum veru (beautiful and subtle portrayal of difference, when in many cases women are compared to flowers)

Kula deivamey en kurai theerkava
Kai neetinen ennai karai serkava
Neeye anaikka vaa
Theeyai anaikka vaa (anaikka – in its twin meaning, to embrace and also extinguish)
Nee paarkum podhu pani aagiren
Un maarbil saindhu kulir kaigiren
Edhu vandha podhum indha anbu podhum (love these three lines)

(With due credits to the lyricist and whoever owns the copyright:))

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Three 'different' points

A coupla things..

One, I have uploaded the pictures I had clicked at “Swabodhini” Annual day..(Ref: Post titled, “Giving a little space”). Link to viewing photos available on the side bar. (Acknowledgments: Thanks Mo!)

Two, I got to read up this article (the link doesn't seem to work now) on how Nepal’s journalists are communicating on the situation in Nepal, to the rest of the world, despite the suspended media rights in the country. Thanks to the world of blogs, they seem to be escaping the control of the King. It is really interesting to see the power of communication that blogs offer. But the bigger point is, where should this stop? I happened to hear that an Iranian blogger has been sentenced to 14 years in prison. Where does the freedom of expression in a blog end? Highly debatable.

Third, I just had Yanni running in the background and now its Enigma. And I am just drifting to the past. Hmm..thinking of some years back, the four eventful years at BITS, somehow Yanni reminds me of the BITS Audi and OASIS (our cultural fest) times. Oh, terribly nostalgic, music has this undeniable tendency to pull you back in time. I have always felt this strongly. This topic definitely deserves a separate post. Hence, reserved for a future date.
Time to sleep now. Goodnight. :)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

The one month old baby! :)

" Yippe..Ma blog is one month old
With quite a few stories told
and many more to unfold
Days have just rolled
yippe..Ma blog is one month old."

So, that is indeed a surprise to me that I managed this much, probably isn't big deal with so many "senior experienced bloggers" out here...:).
A month has shown me, how much fun it is to blog and get to meet some virtual like minded people..:))

Blogging seems to have become a reflective exercise for me and gives me a great break..What does it mean for all the others who blog? Do I get to hear something?