Showing posts from August, 2006

A minute with the president

There we were (year 1998), all suited and booted, the ‘few’ Indian families in Istanbul, fidgeting amongst other dignitaries waiting at the Hilton for the grand arrival of Indian president KR Narayanan. The occasion, ‘a breakfast with KRN’, arranged by the Indian consulate in Istamboul (as the consulate rubber stamp spelt it).

Meeting the president of the most populous country ‘one to one’, can you imagine that in India or for that matter any other place? Like my wife says, ‘ezhu ayalath kadakkan sammathikkila’ (I have tried to find out where & how that usage originated,, never figured it out – why seven neighbourhoods – so if anybody knows, please…)

Well, he made his grand arrival, accompanied by a number of ‘secret service’ chaps with microphones in the lapel and all that…his ADC (we were always told in our School days at Kazhakootam - that the ADC position is one we must aspire – President’s ADC) dressed smartly and standing next to him in the picture – Shoba, me and Arun. Our el…

Three movies

Four movies marked the long weekend that passed by. In fact the first ‘Lord of war’ was superb. The second ‘Along came a spider’ was decent. The third, Balram vs Tharadas, well, the less said about it the better. Oh! and the fourth, a Tamil one, pretty good actually from K Bhagyaraj called 'Paarijatham'.

And then my son pointed out that our 'Fannaa' DVD had Malayalam subtitles. It was a riot watching the songs. Just imagine the words of the song ‘Chand Siparish….’ translated in Malayalam!!!

Lord of war – Ah! what a movie, with Nicholas Cage the protagonist flashing back on his life as an arms trader. Wikipedia has a wonderful review of the whole movie here so I wont get into too many details.

The movie actually starts with an amnesty international spoof ad for the AK47 on a shopping channel. Like they sell watches and stuff, it is truly hilarious.

On the whole, it was a brilliant movie. The opening lines go like this "There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide c…

An interesting outlook

Women out there, don't take up your rolling pins.. this appears to be a serious scientific study made by some clever guy out there

Those were the days

First of all, I must admit that the impetus for this blog came from the programme ‘Witness’ on NDTV. Regrettably I saw only the last part of it. Curiously, it covered a lot of things that were close to my heart…of times that had gone by…

I remembered the Vijay Scooter. My friend got an opportunity to work in Sweden for a year, so he lent me his vehicle for the duration. It took me a few rides to get used to the big difference in speed, and mind you, the Vijay was indeed nifty. While Lamby& Bajaj ruled the roost those days, riding a Lamby took more skill, the engine was off centre, so you had to be careful with the balance. The Vijay was thus easier to learn. Was I happy on that sleek blue vehicle!! We went all over Bangalore, Nandi hills and all kinds of places on it. Well after an year my friend came back and took it away, and I purchased the first of the modern mobike’s – The Ind-Suzuki…But the Vijay was a trustworthy vehicle indeed…Gone now, no where in sight…Remember the Enfiel…

Mom and the PC

Mom was here with us the last two months. It had been her long cherished desire to visit Britain, and she was brave enough at age 78 to take the flight all alone from Bangalore to Heathrow. What I admired most was her tenacity, coming all the way from Pallavur, struggling with her gait and with a Quadra pod stick to assist, many medications, but she did it and went on to enjoy the sights & sounds of UK..

One of her requests to my son was, ‘Arun, will you teach me the computer’? Arun was initially a bit sceptical about the whole thing; you can imagine how it is at that age. A grand old lady trying to learn computing?? Anyway, he patiently went through the basics of browsing and the hardware with mom. What the mouse does, what the keyboard is meant for etc, where to type what. I overheard one of the complicated topics – The enter key = when and how to use the enter key. That really took some explanation. Then it was the 'double click' sequence, you will not believe how compli…

Kinetic Honda, Pizza hut and Turkey

When I set out for a stint in Turkey in 1995, I recall older relatives from Pallavur who asked, Turkey, is that not in Persia? Your grandfather was fighting Turks in Mesopotomia in the British army, did you know that? Are they not a barbaric lot? And the such..

The Turks have a hazy view of India too. Why not, there are very few Indians living in Turkey, the Turks hardly speak English, and there are probably no Turks living in India. Now and then a few Turks visit India for medical or other obscure reasons. They remember India – Hindistan, from lessons in their school days of Turkish ancestors who once ruled India (Babur is considered a Turk, you see). They mention Urduca or the Urdu language (actually a mix of Turkish, Hindia, Arabic and Farsi – developed by the Mughals as a language for the multinational mogul military – Urdu went on to become a poet’s language!!). Of course they had also heard of modern India as a place with abject poverty and very intelligent computer specialists. …

Filter coffee

RK Narayan saidin ‘My Day’s - Whenever I could afford it, I gave them a cup of coffee at a restaurant on Hundred Feet Road. The cup of coffee blunted the listeners' critical faculties and made them declare my work a masterpiece.
So guys, would you please drink a cup of filter coffee before reading this?Ananda bhavan, after that good meal of ghee roast and vadas, one has to polish it off with a filter coffee served in the steel glass and ‘attified’ (cooled) with the dovarah. Nothing, not even paan can leave behind a better taste in your South Indian mouth! Remember the Mount Ganesh Coffee works at Malleswaram, can you smell the freshly ground coffee? Oh! The intricacies of making that filter coffee!

You fill fine coffee powder of the right proportion in the top compartment; push the plunger down to compact it. The top portion is then fitted over the bottom and boiling water poured into the top. Wait overnight to get an intense decoction as they call it. Add to sweetened hot milk, pou…

Corporate & KANK

The weekend passed by with our seeing two movies, made of contrasting worlds. In general, both were slick, the themes modern, the people glamorous and affluent. Portraying an India (or as in KANK - people of Indian Origin) different from that shown by RK Narayan, Satyajit Ray and Ruskin Bond. The Western worlds are usually shown people of Indian origin as an aspiring breed in movies Bend it like Beckham & Missisippi Masala. So have we arrived?

Corporate – Taut, fast paced, meant for the people who understand corporations and also for those who don’t (the two peons provide you a simple ‘for dummies’ narrative overview now and then)…a movie of corporate machinations - of people around them and people working for them. Bipasha was decent, but Rajat Kapoor and Kay Kay were excellent, if you ask me. I am not so sure, however, if corporations can be so dumb with their manipulations, here it seemed overextended, one usually expects them to be far more subtle and with visions that see well…

The Barometer & lateral thinking

Has always been a classic, so I will reproduce it as I got it. The I in the story is not me, but a professor…here goes

Some time ago I received a call from a colleague, who asked if I would be the referee on the grading of an examination question. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed he should receive a perfect score and would if the system were not set up against the student.

The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected. I went to my colleague's office and read the examination question: "Show how it is possible to determine the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer."

The student had answered: "Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building."

I pointed out that the student really had a strong …

Talking pictures

A view of the world through the eyes of photographers I do not know - All credits to them.


PakistanTexas - AmericaThailand

The Princess spy

"I wish some Indians would win high military distinction in this war. It would help to build a bridge between the English and the Indians."

Whenever I passed the Baker Street tube station in London, it was the thought of Sherlock Holmes that sprang to my mind. Until I read about the WWII - SOE operations centre at Baker Street and the life of an extraordinary spy who uttered the words above.

The SOE, but for a couple of officers, believed otherwise.

Driven by ideals of freedom and calling herself Nora Baker, she volunteered for SOE, which specialised in dropping agents behind enemy lines. Trained at the secret Baker Street headquarters, she proved a poor recruit, being too clumsy, too emotional and too scared of handling weapons… Her finishing report, which the official historian of F Section found in her personal file long after the war, read: She has an unstable and temperamental personality and it is very doubtful whether she is really suited to the work in the field."


Indian tractor to the rescue!

Years ago, I learned how to drive a tractor. We had one of the few tractors in Pallavur then. The first to come was a greenish coloured Russian tractor, followed by a spanking new red ‘International’ machine. The village was slowly weaning away from bullock powered tilling and had started to entrust the work to roving Tamilian tractor owners. My uncle taught me the basics of driving the machine, operating the levers, the plough and all that, and we used to spend holidays tilling the fields. I still remember, the tough part was the individual brake system.. What power! The tractor could climb from one field to the other, traverse steep slopes, go through deep slush with no problem whatsoever…So in the mornings my cousin Suresh and I would set out with the tractor. In the initial forays, the car/tractor driver, Mani supervised us. Once it was clear that we could manage without destroying the vehicle or other’s property, we were allowed to venture out short distances on our own. As the w…

Protect your slippers

For implementation at your place of worship

This was some bright guy's ( attributed to a sardar ,as u would expect) idea, not mine
I agree, Every now & then you need a good laugh..


JY dared me ‘well, if you wish, you could try it, trust me, the taste is good’. But I was not so sure anymore. Bondaegi, up close and personal smelled awful.

I have been to Seoul a few times in the 90’s. Seoul is a great city, real big, with millions of people teeming about, hustling & bustling like many other mega cities around the world. A spanking clean & efficient metro that zipped you around, and taxis that ran on natural gas caught your attention…

Shopping was a national pastime I think, there were many areas kept aside for this purpose, Itaewon – mostly frequented by tourists and a place where I purchased my first leather jacket (subject of a Financial express article I wrote years ago) and many other places like Insadong and Namdaemun.

Our agent and friend JY always escorted us around, he would carefully steer us away from certain places. It took some heavy persuasion from us for him - albeit sheepishly, talk about the ‘Boshin tang’ issue. This was just after the Seoul Ol…

A reminder from an unknown author

This is another of those great pieces that originated from an unknown author somewhere, someplace...