Monday, December 17, 2012

Bangkok Experience

I will surely talk about Bangkok this time :) The city was hot and humid when we landed. Not knowing where to go, the only place that came to my mind was Khao San Road - I had read about this place as a backpacker's hole. All I wanted was a budgeted place to stay at Bangkok and I knew this place offered such.

But as they say, all things fall in place; it turned out that it was the perfect place to be. It had an amazing night life, night markets that sell from cheap trinkets, clothes, books and good food. Khao San Road had it all; and above all it was just a km away from the Chang Pier, Chao Praya Road and the famous Grand Palace complex. I did read about its proximity to famous places and seen the map as well, but had forgotten all about it until I discovered it again.

Got an amazing place to stay for 700Baht at the second hotel we saw; the first one offered a room for 300Baht but was a matchbox hole with no ventilation. Cheap food and drinks and though it was walking distance to famous places as I said, got almost duped on the first day. This is what happens. As soon as you get onto the street, tuk-tuk guys hustle around you offering you to take to Grand Palace and such. We thought we could talk to guys in the hotel or other shops and get the directions to Grand Palace. But it seems none of them knew where Grand Palace was!!! Maybe they were all small town guys here to slog hard and earn some money. We talked for a while and came to an intersection, having a huge map was a big mistake. A guy who was well dressed walked by and offered to help. How we got duped is a separate post in itself :)

Thailand is all about street food, you will never go hungry at all. Hygenic and cheap food, they are available when the devil goes to sleep or at the break of dawn, at the most sophisticated business district or at toursit spots. What amazed me is how they take pain to keep the streets clean; these food cart folks dont leave the garbage behind. The varieties are mammoth; you just need to have an appetite. A lip-smacking sea food at 30B and you get squids, octopus, sappers and what not. Unfortunate if you are a vegetarian like me.

Here is the food market just opposite to Grand Palace on the banks of the river Chao Praya.

 The aroma is electric again, not everyone may like it but if you are there, experience it.

The Khao San Road, its a sleepy little street during day time and the sun prepares to set; the mood alleviates.  Clothes, accessories, books, food, pub and fun all go hand in hand. The street is closed for motorists and cars.

This is what I mean. 

A pub was celebrating 15th anniversary. The waiters dancing to Gangnam Style 

 They were offering free buffet - but again unfortunately I couldn't taste much apart from the desserts.

I was watching this man prepare a dessert. He was so quick and efficient and churning out the blue sticky dessert. I later found out that this dessert has chicken shreds as a topping :-/

Among the desserts and street food in Thailand, these are the famous. Khanom Buang are small crispy crepes made of rice flour and has sweet fillings like coconut cream and shredded coconut. They are a treat to eat. 

This lady was preparing nuggets of some meat. 

Chefs at work. 

Fruit cart. I ate Dragon fruit and Yellow Water melons for the first time :) 

How many of you are saying Yummm? Sea food grilled - noodles, soup, or with rice. She is grilling octopus ordered by my husband while I was just looking. 

As lively as the street gets. 

The music and drinks flow until 4 AM. These folks are sitting and dancing on the road which actually is a nice wide road for cars and tuk-tuks.

Snacks anyone? Crunchy and protein filled

Well...You dont need an ID :) 

Monday, December 10, 2012


Bangkok was the first destination. What it means is that I knew it was Bangkok but where in Bangkok? More often, we try to forget the vastness of our mother earth and just assume that things can be easy. Bangkok is one big city and not knowing where you want to go after coming out of an airport is a case of insanity. Tired due to lack of sleep and early morning blues; the answer to the taxi driver's question of  "Where to?" after exiting Suvarnabhumi airport was confusion and exchanged looks.

We did spend a good 30 minutes soon after landing trying to figure out where to go. A true traveler has no fixed plan, and has no intent on arriving - Laozi. I so believe this. What fun is it if you know which hotel you are staying, what kind of bed you will have and what food you will eat for your next meal? How predictable? OR how so BORING?

Thus, never thought while flying or back home when planning where to stay, what to do, what to eat. All that was known was the cities in that order so as to book the flight tickets. I have always thought if I was a traveler or a tourist? Which category do I belong? Is there a distinction between the two? At least not for the locals of the place. We are all visitors to them. 

To me, there is a distinction. I call myself a traveler; oh no! not the kind who shun the "touristy" places  like monuments, heritage sites, museums, parks, markets. I would definitely visit those touristy places; if not what else will I have to see? But additionally, I would also explore the hidden gems of the land; to get an authentic experience. Now such places have also become 'touristy' with travel shops offering an 'authentic' experience.

Anyway, my point is a traveler should be open minded and embrace the place as is without complaints  with a hunger to experience. Oh yeah! there were times when I exclaimed "How do they eat this?" but this is my natural human tendency. Complaining is what one must avoid.

The mystique that surrounds the traveler - aah no words to express. Folks, go out and experience is what I would say. The spirit of adventure, grittiness and that urge to experience the unknown is how a traveler differs from a tourist. But its difficult to be a pure traveler; my own travels have been touristy often but cant be avoided. Just the spirit and open mindedness is not enough; one needs enough time as well; free from the clutches of career, finance and responsibilities. I dont get the luxury of letting myself lose with time being more luxurious commodity than budget. How I wish my parents left me good property and money! :-P

So I wouldn't agree if someone said a traveler is one who eats only local food, moves very slowly or lives in a shack to live the way a local would does not necessarily make one a traveler. I have seen such 'travelers' mingling with fellow travelers holing up in a hostel sipping cheap beers; not really venturing out anywhere to experience the place or talk to locals. To me, its about learning something new, experiencing the place, taking a piece of the spirit of the place with me when I leave. The thirst grows and compels only some of us and prepares you for the next you wouldn't even dream of. I never thought I would turn up one fine day in the rain forests of Costa Rica or feel the silk cotton trees outgrowing in the ruins of Ta Prohm at Siem Reap. And who knows maybe I would be walking the landscape of Tierra del Fuego on my way to Antarctica?

What each one of us gain is our own making; the goal is learning about yourself and the world and discovering yourself in the process. Every destination is not a check list to be ticked off; but a point of departure to another place. It need not be exotic location; it could be anywhere. A traveler cant differentiate between a good place and a bad place, wont be able to answer "Which is the best place you have been yet?" For him, every place is unique and offers something different and the possibilities are endless.

When you are a traveler; you are blessed to experience every little thing and cursed with a drive to discover.

Aw, I started to write about Bangkok and realized I deviated. The travel bug in me took over. I will leave this piece as is; Bangkok in my next post :)

Friday, December 7, 2012


Yes, I had this long long wish to visit the Angkor Wat and play in the turquoise waters of Phi Phi. This year, I was contemplating whether to visit Indonesia along with Cambodia. It turned out that Thailand and Cambodia were convenient. And yeah, also had Morocco, Jordan, Madagascar, Turkey in mind; maybe definitely in future.

The experience was as expected different. Be it the food, people, culture and the history. It is nice to see people just let you be, no ogling or no teasing; of course except few tourist places where they pursue you to take a rickshaw or try to have you in their restaurant. This trip was another semi backpacker adventurous trip. No prior hotel booking; with just the plan of where to go next; we had to search for stays and food only after landing in a place.

English is not widely used in both the countries; and even if used; its difficult to follow their accent. Took us a while to follow what they were communicating.  Food was challenging - with exotic stuffs like frog, crocodile, grasshoppers, silk worms and scorpions as snacks. I did a mistake; didnt budget the trip properly; so it was a bit stressful. I think I am now a seasoned traveler and yet need to a smart traveler. Few things could have gone well; and few things turned out better than expected.

Thailand was clean, people were good except for few cons here and there at tourist places esp the tuk-tuk guys. I was actually surprised to see their infrastructure, roads and  other facilities. Cambodia took us like 30 years back. The country is poor, the civil war and the genocide is a deep gash in the heart of Cambodians. You cant avoid feeling depressed and you need the gut to watch the gruesome prison and killing fields. Beggars and street kids selling stuff everywhere; the Siem Reap area is where all the tourists flock to see the great Angkor Wat.

The trip was somewhat a circuit. Started at Bangkok, went to northern Thailand the city of Chaing Mai. Chaing Mai was quiet, green and hill country; it was good for trekking, hiking, kayaking and other such outdoor activities amidst rain forests and rivers.The next stop was Phnom Penh - the capital of Cambodia via Bangkok and from thereon to the much awaited Seam Reap. Back to Bangkok to Phuket to fall in the Andaman sea.

The trip was 16 days; at times I felt we were rushing but we do not have the luxury of long holidays to live the life like a local would. I think that may happen after retirement. I did not show special interest towards photography this time. The reason is that its not possible to capture the details the way you want to when you are pressed for time. For that, you have to make a trip twice, first time to see it all yourself and the second time to capture it on camera.

Anyway I did get few good pictures. At Bangkok, it was mostly street life, food and the grand palace complex and Wats(temples). Here are few pictures of the Grand Palace complex at Bangkok

The Grand Palace complex at Bangkok - official residence of the King. The complex has numerous buildings, halls some converted as museum, pavilions, lawns, gardens and courtyards. A view of Wat Phra Kaew - The temple of Emerald Buddha along with Phra Sri Rattana Chedi.

Wat Phra Kaew has a plethora of buildings. Its the most sacred Buddhist temple in Thailand. 

Emerald Buddha - is the palladium of the kingdom of Thailand; like the sacred tooth relic of Sri Lanka. Its 45 cm tall sitting Buddha made of green Jade. It was mistaken for emerald and thus the name stays. Only the king has permission to touch the idol. According to the legend the image was created in India in 43 BC by Nagasena(a Brahmin who became a Buddhist monk) in the city of Pataliputra. Its a long story; you can find it here Emerald Buddha. Photography was prohibited; I managed to sneak a snap

Phra Mondop - Library build in Thai style beside the chedi.

A close up of building, intricately decorated with colored glass pieces. It glitters so bright that one can't see them well during a bright day.

The Chedi and Prayer rooms

You kind of get lost in these numerous sisimilar looking buildings. Top of it; the names of them are so alien to you that you dont remember what is what and how politically or socially or religiously important they are to this country.

A close up a pillar stuck with colored glass and other knick-knacks.

A gold painted wall.

Phra Thinang Chakri Maha Prasat - its a throne hall. The architecture is Western lower half and Thai roof.

At the far end is the Phra Thinang Dusit Maha Prasat

A royal guard

The sprawling complex

The Dusit Maha Prasat is a throne hall built on a symmetrical cruciform form and looks beautiful. The hall is built in the shape of a tall mountain to represent the mythological center of universe - Mount Meru.

A fruit cart outside the complex

Bangkok's true spirit lies in street food. Pictures of food and more later.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lost Childhood

A child in his growing up years sees his father as a hero, as a savior. He hopes his father can be his best buddy as well his mentor. For most fortunate ones, their wishes come true, if not completely, partially. His father cannot be his best buddy but he still can be a good mentor. However, for the less unfortunate ones, father is a dream, a costly wish and in the later years; the father is a lost dream.

A father had everything in his life he could ask for - a loving wife and two lovely kids. But as they say; few people don't realize the value of their possessions. They seek pleasure that is either fake or not permanent. This young man of 26 years started neglecting his family gradually, company of his friends and his vice of gambling providing him more pleasure. The crack in the marital relationship was subtle in the beginning; but got the worse of it as years passed by.

The arguments grew big, verbal duel got nastier, fights erupted between the man and the woman; the house turned into a hell from where the children could find no escape. Their lives were in constant fear and anticipation of the next fight that could erupt between their parents; when is the next time they will have to miss their meal, their sleep? When will be the next time their parents blackmail them to drink "poison"? When will the next time come when their parents left them alone to fend for themselves?

Sometimes, the fights would last days; mother beaten, bruised and bleeding while the father absconding. Gradually, the children wary of the brimming turmoil; worried if they can go to school the next day in peace? Will they be able to spend an hour or two in silence instead of pleading their parents to stop. The wants of these kids were not toys or candies or clothes, their wants were peace and harmony in their life. To be able to have an innocent childhood, to have a carefree life.

What responsibility is that to be having to dispense advice to your parents at that age? Or to isolate yourself from friends to save being embarrassed? As years passed by, the scene changed; each of the parent seeking love and solace out of wedlock; that awkward moment of children having to face newer mucks.

And one day, the father left home forced out by the kids; unable to bear the sufferings; they chose the better of the worse. Life moved on; the children growing up to finish their education, finding jobs and a place in society; nurturing their own small family now; trying to heal the wounds; meeting with the father once in a while.

One of those days, at the funeral of their grandmother; the father was worried that their kids have been without food since morning. He was lamenting about it and was pursuing the kids to grab something quick to eat. The once tiny lovely girl; now a woman shot back "Did you worry about us being hungry when you were pursuing your pleasure and we were helpless kids? Now we are grown up, earn our money and know when to eat". The father was speechless and the daughter sorry that she uttered those words.

But the damage was already done; snatching away the life that rightfully belonged to the kids - long ago when they badly needed them

Monday, November 26, 2012

Of Tones and Slangs

We had a small convenience store; which my mother looked after. Our home was in a tiny 10x10 shop; wooden frame draped with a heavy screen partitioned the "home" and the shop. While my mom was a home maker taking care of me and my infant brother; she also managed the shop.

It was the 80s; we stayed in an industrial estate in North Bangalore which had easily 500+ small and large scale industries. ISRO was coming up; Kirloskar was a big company with 1000+ employees. We catered to cigarettes, beedis, betel leaves and nuts, candies, bananas and such. A small time business you see.

Since it was house cum shop; my mom would leave the shop unsupervised while she attended to home needs like cooking, washing etc. I don't recall if I started school already or was it one of those days when I had a holiday. But I do remember two episodes; one is not related to other. But these two show how language and mannerisms can bring confusions and misunderstanding.

While my mom took care of my brother or was attending to house chores; she would make me sit on a chair in the front of the shop. I had to let her know if someone came over to buy some stuff. I managed the sale once I grew up a year or two :) Anyway one such day; a man walked by to buy a cigarette. I continued sitting and yelled at my mom "Yaaro vanthurukka".

The guy picked up a fight with my mom about how I addressed him without respect(in singular). He understood "vanthurukka" as vanthurukkaN". Notice the subtle difference here. Regular usage in Tamil would be "vanthrukkaR" addressing with respect. "Vanthurukka" is the Brahmin slang which is equivalent to "vanthrukkaR". My mom had to explain the nuances to his guy who was not willing to listen. The episode left me flustered.

The second episode was something similar. There were lot of Malayalee immigrants who set shop in that part of town. Now, it is very normal for a Malayalee to address someone as "Yaey!" which is so offensive to people here. A poor Malayalee who was new in town addressed my mom "Yaey" and guess what? She yelled at him until he ran away :)

What my mom failed to understand was this guy is in a similar position as her when I uttered "Vanthurukka" :-)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hello World

void ()
    printf("Hello World\n");

The first program we write when we learn our programming techniques; be it in any of the computer languages and doesn't matter at what age. Imagine yourself standing in front of a huge monitor with two speakers on either side and a giant keyboard as a door mat. The monitor is actually an office building and the 2 speakers are extensions to office. You are entering the world of computer by placing your right foot forward by typing and executing the above lines of code :)

Well, well, I am sane and very much here. Been busy and been free as well. Just that losing motivation to blog. I think it happens but that's ok. I am back. I see Anil has quite few posts that I definitely should read. I was procrastinating at work; there are situations and times when you dont know why things are happening that way. You just cant question; yet remain confused. The phase continues. So I thought let me take a break; anyway I have to face and live with these confusions for a while. So off I went on a 16 day trip to Thailand and Cambodia.

Now, what do I say? The people and food definitely was shocking. Whoever says "I love Thai food" just after tasting Pad Thai or Tom Yum soup; I wont believe you. You have not tasted Thai food really. So shut up! The art and culture are borrowed from Indians whereas the Chinese have influenced the food. Its not everyday and everywhere you see the images of churning of the ocean of milk back home; I could see them everywhere.

Cambodia was a different experience. Siem Reap housing the world famous Angkor Wat is one among them. The people and the country seems to be 30 years behind. Food again was a challenge. The civil war has taken a toll on Cambodians.

Anyway, travelogues are pending. I am yet to finish my Sri Lankan Sojourn. I think I have become wary of documenting everything I see and experience. I dont know if I will write my experiences of these places. Let's see.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Well, my travel sojourn to Lanka is not complete yet. I abruptly stopped writing about them. When you visit a new place, meet new people, learn about the place, discover the culture; gaze in awe the food, the practices; to the amusement of the locals; you want to come home and share it all. You want to save all those experiences somewhere; in a diary; for you to read years later and reminisce or better write about it and share the joys with others. But after a while; you just stop doing it. It doesn't matter holding onto the memory; what it matters is experiencing the experience then and then moving on. But I think I will share them here; sharing is good :)

The final leg of journey was falling into the sea to laze and relax, with a can of beer in hand. Yeah, so after those cultural, high country and other tours; traveled along the coast from south east to south of Sri Lanka. The base was Hikkaduwa; from there roamed around Galle and back. The days were just as what the beach days could be;  a room with back door kissing the Indian ocean; bright sunny days and partying nights.

The towns along the coasts were interesting.Visited turtle hatchery, roamed around the village of Rathgama - now known as Lasith Malinga's village, explored the shops selling famous Ambalangoda masks; haggling at a workshop hoarded with antiques. Connected over a common language with a couple of Muslims jewelers..and not last but the best - being invited to Indika's home for an authentic lunch. It was once in a lifetime experience; I do not remember how many times I have told this - once in a lifetime experience.

Never mind my incapability in expressing the joys of travels; words can never do justice. Nor even pictures; however let me try :)

Hikkaduwa beach; thronged by Europeans....

Saw scores of these star fishes on the rocks enjoying the sun. 

Just outside the hotel room veranda was the sea. 2004 tsunami  has changed the sea scape; the corals are exposed now...

A stilt fishing  platform. Stilt fishing is famous in Sri Lanka. Fishermen sit on the platform where the 3 sticks converge and fish in shallow waters

Turtle hatchery farm. Its a non profit conservation effort by few folks wanting to protect turtles. Turtles are protected; eggs are collected from the shore, hatched, babies looked after and left at sea.Many endangered specieis like Loggerhead, Green back, Ridleys were protected and sustained. The males are left at sea after 3 days of birth; whereas the females are looked after for 4-5 years being left out at sea.

They grow as big as these...and weigh ~50 kgs easily. It was good to see these creatures being protected. The eggs buried in sand, maintaining right temperature and taking care of their food and health with little or no financial help is a great deed.

This one is white; handicapped. In the sense being white is abnormal and is prone to be attacked at sea by predators due to easy visibility.

The world famous masks of Ambalangoda; these are traditional hand painted masks made from Kaduru wood. The masks were used for healing, rituals and witch craft purposes. Each face symbolizes curing a certain disease...

The middle one is the 18 sanni mask which has cures for 18 diseases. Each face represents a disease; the story is more elaborate; as to how these masks were used. I forgot them :)

Vihara built by Japanese after the Tsunami at Hikkaduwa, Galle

The Tsunami Memorial; the 2004 tsunami derailed a train with 1000+ people on board.

An art shop on the sea coast road.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Life Goes On

The San Jose Flea Market off Berryessa Road is one place I would not miss visiting every time I landed in the Silicon Valley. To me, the market is a perfect place to buy knick-knacks, cheap stuffs and a place to kill your weekend. Yeah, I have heard people say that second hands are sold there; who minds? To me, its a cultural hot pot. Where else would I find Mexicans alongside Chinese and Peruvians and Pakis; selling their wares.

I have loved shopping there; never mind if it really were used stuffs.My first camo print trousers; or the I Love San Francisco T shirts to give it to my friends back home, the $5 Shades, the $5 cotton socks or the $5 fedora. The last time I visited was with Gautam and he freaked out :) I have found genuine Mexican leather belts and Peruvian Lama wool knitted bag there. And many more; ballet shoes, tiny Machu Picchu traditional dolls, Chinese purses......

Anyway, the flea market has always been a mystery to me. Where do all these people come from? Are they legal migrants? Why do they have to sell their wares cheap? Who buys them? Old and broken, used stuffs. Crowds are mostly Mexicans, Indians, African Americans; maybe looking for cheap stuffs.

Anyway, what got reminded me of San Jose Flea market was the novel The Kite Runner. The flea market gets mentioned there. After migrating to US, Amir and his Baba live in Fremont and make some money selling off old wares in the flea market they accumulate as garage sale.

Now I was thinking; those Mexicans, Peruvians, Pakis; did they all migrate to the land of opportunity in search of a better life? Now living in welfare and using food stamps distributed by welfare offices? Living in a part of town allocated for immigrants? May be, was I haggling for a $5 T shirt from such folks? Those withered look on their faces; haggling and bargaining, jarring and loud clothing women and men; selling whatever they could sell away to have a life better than the land they left?

Once when I decided to visit the market alone, I called up Harpal to drop me there. Harpal is a Sikh cabbie in the San Jose area; he deserves a separate post. I instructed him to pick me up exactly 3 hours later. I was not carrying a cell phone. 3 hours later; when I walked out; I realized it would be difficult for Harpal since the section of road was blocked for reason I dont remember. I was not sure if I should wait or not. Public transport is not good in the bay area as NYC or LA. Now I don't know which bus to take back.

It was 6 pm; the sellers were packing and pushing off for the day. Well, I was stranded; not something new I somehow find a thrill in such situations. I noticed a man packing off his things and loading it in his truck. I just requested him if he could drop me back at my hotel; my cabbie has not arrived since the road was blocked. He agreed to my surprise. We got talking on the way; he was from Pakistan. Living for 11 years now; no green card, not a legal settler I guess. He makes his money by selling wares in the flea market. He was so happy after learning I was from India. The talks were about how close and yet how far we are; the bloody K issue, how people are separated and all that emotional talk. There was no bit of animosity in him. He was sweet to drop me at my hotel; why should anyone do that?

Maybe their struggle in life is too huge to hold on to simple grudges and petty issues.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review and Edit

I remember when I was in middle school my uncle bringing in documents for me to take a look at or asking me to draft a letter for him or review the business documents he had prepared. Deep down, I would wonder why does this man trust me in producing eloquent letters. How could he trust me in reviewing the letters he has drafted for correctness?

I would give in to his requests and draft and review letters with much care and sincerely putting my limited vocabulary to use. Grammar classes were always boot camps to me. Miss Vimala; with all due respect to her believed in using negativity to correct kids. Her sarcastic and insulting remarks were a nightmare. I would wish I could just vanish into thin air a.l.a the genie of Aladdin. Why not? I still remember how she made fun of me when I uttered the antonym of noble as unnoble :(

I would do my best in her class and in tests/exams so as not to invite her wrath. Thus began my role as editor and drafter. It would mean calls from folks asking me for spelling, meaning and such others. I  remember a funny incident when my uncle's secretary prepared a quotation for him and the quote was Thirty thousand and seventy tree. She was not fired. Anyway, my husband seeks my review help, few of my friends do it. At work, when my colleagues prepared their SOPs for applying to foreign universities, I doubled up as their reviewer.

It is not easy without knowing what the content is about. It isn't just correcting grammatical mistakes.  Feels a sense of responsibility and at the same time, feels funny. How do they trust me? :-P

Last week, I had to review another SOP and just finished reviewing and correcting a presentation material a friend will be presenting to Brunei Commerce Ministry. Now to think of how Miss Vimala treated me; I can forgive her :-)

Do I see a job in the pipeline?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Perceptions or My Identity

Couple of off-guard comments and questions last week and I have been thinking who am I? Its not a brain raking thought; just on a lighter side.

Two questions; just two. Those made me realize the perceptions people carry around. Oh! is that the way they've been thinking all the while? And on the serious side, maybe that's how I portray myself!

Is your home town really Bangalore? You've lived all your life here? 

My trainer at the gym asked me with shock one day when we talking casually. I nodded, yeah and added, in fact my mom's parents and grand parents are from Bangalore too. My husband's parents both were employed at Indian Air Force. Knowing this, he kinda chuckled and followed with a comment that went something like - I thought you were from some village in Tamil Nadu. Ungala patha pattikaadu matiri irukku. Its a slang to refer a naive and foolish person who has just arrived from village. Tamil folks, correct me if not. Actually, its a more derogatory remark.

I didn't react. I thought for few seconds, I don't look like a freshly immigrated pattikaadu from any village, I do wear well fitted sports wear to the gym, I look in place perfectly, not out of place! I just asked why; the trainer said that my body language does not show any pride of a Bangalorean. Now folks, I don't know how to show the "I am a Bangalorean" pride. I have spent all my life here; I don't go around wearing a Bangalorean badge on my sleeve the way people who arrived a couple of years ago do. Anyway, as the chat continued; his next question was "Weekend plans ma'am? Party?" I said that I don't attend parties or any such activities since I don't like crowd. He was baffled; a Bangalore local not liking parties...Ummm...Perception!

The second incident occurred yesterday when a friend and his wife and her sister came home. This girl is chatty, comments on everything and anything and talks on topics that I would generally blush to talk! Kids nowadays! Sigh! Enough said. We went out and I was thinking to exchange all my read books. I took her with me to the book store while others went to a nearby mall. Now me, I get lost in books; she waited for me to pick up the books and leave, it took me 30 minutes or so (which is quick! I was aware I was not alone and hence cant take forever)

She kept prodding me about how I read all these, when do I get time, don't I find it boring? She picked a couple of books and asked me "From where will you start reading?" That was weird, of course I wont be reading First printed at...., acknowledgements and all that. She found a couple of words and wanted to know its meaning. "Splendid" and 'frigid". OK! I am not a master in English but this girl is doing her Journalism. Pity her employers and pity her readers.

I was finding it unusual really, I hope my feelings were not exaggerated. I also had to explain why some words in a book were italicized while others were not and later to make her understand what I was meaning by explaining what is italicization. Finally, the big question came

Were you a nerd from the beginning?

Well, I didn't know what to say. Why am I branded a nerd? Just because I read books? I don't wear any spectacles. I don't dress like one; I mean the way they show nerds in movies. I am chic, smart and savvy. Does that warrant for a nerd? Ummmphh! Perceptions!

Or are these my identities? :-|

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


One of my favorites from my mom's kitchen is Ennai Kathrikai. For the uninitiated, it is a simple and tasty Tamil vegetarian curry. It literally translates to "Oliy Brinjal/Eggplant". This brinjal curry is made with extra oil than that is normally used in a sambhar.
A whole brinjal smeared with the masala dripping oil - wow! its a heavenly taste.

I would stay hungry all matter how tough it would be to stay without eating, just to eat mom's preparation.

But as luck would have it, each time, yes each time out of the innumerable times I have tasted this preparation at home; I have ended up being unlucky in savoring the curry. Let me tell why.
Ennai kathrikai at home is always eaten with hot steamy rice. I would scoop out a spoon of ennai kathrikai and also some gravy, mix it well and start feeling the heaven, I mean relish it with a sense of gratitude to my mom for preparing it.

I am a fuzzy eater, if that's what it is. The habit of segregating curry leaves, onions to the side of the plate always make my eyes rove around for "non-eatable" particles. Well, no offense here.
Don't know for what reason, mustard, curry leaves have always been in the list of "non-eatable" for me. Also Holy Lord, the onions..they are the UNTOUCHABLES; so in this process, I always end up finding....guess what??

A WORM :-(.

Oh yes! I always find a worm somehow having escaped the cleaning process in brinjal(They remain unnoticed as the brinjal are just slit into 4 in this preparation). I have found them in varying sizes, to fully grown 1 and 1/2 inch ones(yuck!!!! I can still visualize that in my plate) to tiny ones. I am a strict Lacto-ovo-vegetarian. so worms are a big NO-NO for me :-D.

But why me? Why do I get a wormy ennai kathrikai always? The next thing I would do is to throw away the entire heap of rice and remain hungry. My dream of savoring Ennai Kathrikai and finishing off the entire plateful of rice still remains a dream. Hopefully I would be able to live my dream.

This was a post I wrote sometime in 2008. I have still not lived my dream. I found a worm in the Ennai Kathrikkai preparation by me yesterday. Saga continues......

Monday, September 3, 2012

Geometry Box

Yeah, remember those bright orange and yellow colored Camlin heavy boxes which carried utilities that had special place in your school bag?

Every school kid's birthday gift wish. Neighbor's envy and owner's pride. Some kids were lucky enough to own them much earlier than others. And then what a show-off it was. Get the whole group's attention, get the box out of the special zone in the bag, take off the plastic cover that it came with; no not your dirty hands but your teeth that would open the box. Place it near your lips, feel it, caress it and then bite it open. Each of the instrument were neatly put pack in their plastic cover, tucked into the plastic molded holder and shut tight only to bring the box back to school the next time there was a geometry class.

The world inside was all like Calculus and Trigonometry for a high school kid. Compass, double compass(didn't know it was called a divider then), Protractor and what were those 2 other 'scales' doing in the box? For all I knew, the double compass was used to carve out names on the desk. Co-ed folks would have used it for carving out hearts also I believe.

I remember nagging my parents to get me once the moment I stepped into class 5. Some of my class mates already had them . It was also the battle of mass v/s class. Mass being the "ok-ok" Nataraj Geometry box. They had mini versions too. Class being the Camlin ones. The look and feel of the two would give you an idea why Camlin was expensive and tougher to possess than Nataraj.

Only when I shifted to a prestigious convent in high school that we were taught it was not Geometry Box but Geometrical Instruments Box. Aaah! see, sophistication. Rubber was to be addressed as Eraser, Mender was to be called as Sharpener and Scale as Ruler :-D

Of course, got to know that Double Compass was Divider and it did have a noble use than carving out names. For all I knew, Geometry box was an expensive object to possess. Only few kids were privileged to  get them. And once you own it, you need to preserve it so much that you ended up borrowing set squares and compass from friends in the class so that yours remain new. Such care :)

Miss those days? Aah certainly!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fair Weather

Pardon me for MIA. Not been busy, but somehow gave a step-motherly treatment to my blog and other posts.

I have few pet peeves. I think I can put a Top 10 pet-peeve list. Among the top would be people taking/trying to take undue advantage of me posing as friends. Well, they are merely acquaintances. Who is a friend? One who is available to share your joys and sorrows - that is to put it in simple and nonchalant way.

But these lots are not available when you want to share sorrows or even joy and don't bother to share. I know of a young man who falls into this category. What do I call him? Little-close friend? Friend-type friend? or Acquaintance?

This guy is sly. He wants to have fun at my expense. Dine at a good restaurant, coffee at an upscale coffee shop or use my vehicle for commute. Never once was chivalrous of picking the tab or offering to share the expenses. Worse yet, for the sake of being polite, I have accompanied him to shopping and window-shopping for the stuffs I am least interested in.

Does it end here? No? If helping him were not enough, I was expected to entertain his acquaintance(that's what he mentioned)  who wanted to use my home as bread and breakfast for 2 days. The girl came down to the city to meet her guy friends who could not let her sleep at their house because they were staying with family. Aaarrrggghhh!

Now you know why I agree to all these? For the sake of being polite. But the rage explodes thousand times within me. These past week however, I have been saying NO to all the asks he has been making. Can I use your vehicle? No. Can I use your scooter? No. and

Yeah, I am aware that the fault is mine, all in the name of being nice. I have decided not to be anymore, at least with him

Thursday, August 16, 2012


We all know the most difficult tasks we face each day right? Like waking up at the first shrill sound of an alarm or letting go of our favorite junk food to watch the waist line. But have you wondered what are the easiest things in the world? Here is my list. Now if you are wondering I would say list good things, then you are in for a disappointment.

5. Eating and Sleeping : Well, I have not heard anyone who doesn't like to eat; except for wafer thin models. Sleeping, do I even have to say anything? Just imagine a life where we dont have to earn/study; these are the only two things we would be doing.
4.Bitching : If you ask me, this one is so bad but it feels go good to bitch about someone isn't it? Evil yeah! but its easy!
3. Blame : Passing the buck is one thing we can do with accuracy. I came across a nice cartoon; isn't this so obvious?

2. Complain : Favorite of them all. Just complain, don't offer any help, just complain and wait for things to happen
1. Asking generic questions. Its easy to question, try providing a solution and you will know. Why is it this way? Why not that way? are all primary irritants of our life.

Any other additions?

Saturday, August 11, 2012


I remember well, I was wearing a crisp white salwar with pink thrown in; that day. As every other day, I was waiting to board one of the route buses to office. I did not know about this particular bus number until that day; I did not see it after that day also. The bus was not empty, it was not crowded as well.

I did not find a seat, but it was more than enough that I could stand freely. There was someone behind me who I thought was close enough. You guessed it right, a guy. I moved away and there was nothing eventful until a row of seat was empty. I occupied the window and this guy the aisle. He was dressed like an executive, formals and all that. I sensed he was trying something but couldn't. I don't mind sharing the seat with men; as long as they are well behaved. This fellow was not doing anything so that I could raise an alarm and slap him hard. But at the same time, he was not quiet.

Fortunately, my stop arrived; I alighted from the bus and started crossing the melee of vehicles and started walking. It was a traffic signal; and before I knew he caught up with me. Now, I don't think this was his destination as well, but I never knew. I was walking fast and he was trying to catch up. Once he was walking beside me, he gave a sloppy compliments that I looked great. When I turned around to look at him, he was sweating like a pig.

I was more flummoxed than being angry. Now what was this guy wanting, whatever it was, he seemed so scared. I felt poor for his attire now soiled with sweat. I was near the office almost, he still seemed to be walking with me. Fed up, I just stopped and said "Do you want to talk over a cup of coffee?"

Well, I did not know why I said that, but I knew he was a coward to accept the offer. He just walked away after that. This happened 6 years ago; dont ask me why I got reminded of this incident today.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


Last couple of weekends, I went on a photo walk on the streets of Bangalore. Well, talking about mundane routines and various ways to beat them, photo walk seemed to be a good option. Folks who are familiar with Bangalore know the bunch of heritage colonial structures adorning the city. They are a feast to look at. As with any other developmental works, a bane is the fear of losing these structures.

For instance, one of the castles right on MG road lies encroached by Metro station and a tall glass facade on the other. I thought of capturing some of them since who knows, what happens to them tomorrow? Here are few; I will go for photo walks more often and capture such gems :)

A vintage window. I was stumped to see these huge bungalow right on MG road - Bangalore's financial and fashion district.

Mayo Hall - again on MG road; built in 1883. 

MG road vicinity has lot of heritage buildings. Their beauty is mostly shielded by garish billboards. The police station on Kasturba road is housed in a heritage building, believe it? The below building is the State Central Library in Cubbon park. I am glad the Cubbon park has been left alone. Acres of greenery admits the city is so rare; the real estate sharks have somehow not got their hands on it. 

Originally called as Seshadri Iyer Memorial Hall; this one is built in 1915 in a classical European style with Tuscan and Carinthian columns.

This one is Attara Kacheri built in 1864. Now the High Court. The style is Gothic. It housed the Mysore Secretariat until 1956; they are now moved to the opposite building the Vidhana Soudha.

The opposite building - The State Administrative office - offices of the most corrupt men; sad to say this. The crane in the foreground is the metro work in progress underground.

One of the towers of St. Patrick's church on Brigade Road. Its more than 150 years old.