Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Blouse Piece Transactions

Whats a Blouse Piece ?

In India, a blouse is a cloth thats worn inside a saree. It is supposed to cover the chest and some part of the shoulders and arms ( apparently the only way fashion designers can introduce any sort of fashion in this thing called saree is by setting arbitrarily varying lengths for the blouse in the arm region).

A blouse piece is a raw piece of cloth that is unstitched. Women take this piece of cloth and stich it to their respective sizes.

Whats the deal with the Blouse piece?

Now in India we have something called "Ladies Sentiments" ( All plural even if it just refers to 1 lady and 1 sentiment). When women in India visit houses of other women, a blouse piece is given as a gift to the guest before she leaves. I have no idea why of all things it was decided that a blouse piece would be gifted to visiting guests. Lets say, there is a lady who is a complete stranger to the whole "Ladies Sentiments" thing and she visits someone's house in south India. How would she feel when the host gifts her and she opens the gift and find that its a blouse piece. What would she think? "Why this gift? Is there something wrong with the blouse I am wearing? Was it so bad that the host shuddered on looking my blouse and decided to jump out of the window buy a blouse piece and come and gift it to me?. Is the host being judgemental on me?"

What happens to these blouse pieces after they are gifted?

Now many caterpillars become butterflies, many boys become men. But the mutation of the blouse piece into an actual blouse is not that straightforward. The probability of a blouse piece becoming a blouse is 0.2. Thats right!! 2 out of every 10 blousepieces make it to the blouse level.

Think about Euros, Dollars, Rupees, Yen. Think about the CNBC advertisements where they show currency getting fastly printed and counted, people exchanging money rapidly in world business centers. You may not have heard of a currency called the blouse piece. This is the curency of south India. Statistics reveal that every minute of the day, 10 blouse pieces change hands. Women all over the world are travelling and exchanging blouse pieces rapidly.

When a blouse piece is receved as a gift, a lady decides what she has to do with it? If its of a color and material that she lacks at that moment, she will convert the blouse piece to an actual blouse (provided there are no further hitches in going and stitching it with a tailor). But this conversion is very rare considering that fact that she has around 500 blouse pieces stocked in her cup board. This is the reason why the blouse piece remains a blouse piece for a long time. The life cycle of many blouse pieces are codemned. They stagnate as gift items for over 5 to 6 years until they are gifted to poor people or domestic maids. There again their chances of continuing as gifts are still bright.

This very moment thousands and thousands of blouse pieces are gifted and regifted. When time comes to a standstill and the yellow sun becomes a red dwarf star ( I think there is no supernova in this solar system and I debated for 5 seconds on whether our sun will becomes red dwarf or white dwarf), when all human beings have become extinct like dinosaurs and a new species begins to inhabit the earth. They will find thousands and thousands of unstitched blouse pieces lying around in the southern parts of the Indian subcontinent. Imagine what would they make of it. If we judged dinosours based on fossils we found, what sort of judgement would they pass on human beings? Even worse, what if the fossils of dinosarous we are looking at is in reality some sort of dino blouse pieces and we completely understood dinosarous wrongly?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

You Just Get One Shot

Dronacharyar was taking his proteges along for a trip during their training phase. It is said that Dronarcharya was the greatest teacher in Archery who ever lived and among those following him as a group of students was the great Arjunan, Duryodhanan, Ashwathaman, Nakulan, Yudhishtiran and the rest of the band. This is a story, which you may have heard before. It is a special story for me. This is my chance to say this story in my own words. So hear it again.

Dronacharyar stopped a few hundred yards away from a tree and called Ashwathaman by his side. He pointed to the far away tree and asked Ashwathama "Do you see the tree over there". And Ashwathaman says "yes". "Do you see a bird sitting on the branch of that tree", asks the revered teacher. Ashwathaman says " yes! I can see". Upon which Dronacharyar instructs Ashwathama to take his bow & arrow and take aim. He says "don't shoot! just take aim".

Ashwathaman, who is chaffing at the reputation being second best archer in the world to Arjunan, takes out his bow and arrows and marks his target ( which quite far away) and he places his arrow on his bow and pulls the string towards him, ready to shoot. His rivalry with Arjunan is well documented and he wants to be known as the best archer who ever lived. Dronacharya now asks him, " what do you see Ashwathama ?"

Ashwathama replies " I see the bird, its legs, the twigs on the branch in which the bird sits, the small mango behind the bird, the leaves surrounding the bird, a small worm on the branch that approaches the bird." The surrounding crowd is amazed. Bheeman could barely see the bird and nobody else had the eyesight to spot so many small details that Ashwathama so casually spotted. The fire burned inside Ashwathama to outbeat his greatest rival and this fire allowed him to see what other could not. Dronacharyar does not seem impressed and tells him "Shoot! but you shall miss". Ashwathama, son of Dronacharyar, is insulted by the prediction of his own father and fires his arrow. He misses. He was given one shot and he missed. Dronacharyar would never give him another chance. He wouldn't want it either.

So Dronacharyar calls upon Arjunan, who as the books say is standing quietly behind the crowd watching the proceedings. "Arjuna, do you see the tree and the bird in it". Arjunan replies in affirmative. "Take aim then Arjuna, but do not fire your arrow until I say so".

So there stands Arjuna. And as great many writers have described before, he stands in a majestic posture with bow slightly tilted skywards, his powerful body arched as much as the bow. Observers seemed to feel the urge to see once more in order to distinguish between the man and the bow as they seemed to have merged into a single entity. So there stood Arjuna, on windy day like a statue, unmoved as Dronacharyar took the time to ask the question. "So Arjuna! What do you see". Arjunan replied "I see the eye of the bird O' teacher". Dronacharyar smiled and asked once more " Do you see anything else ?". Arjuna took his time and said " No! I don't. I dont even see the feathers. I just see the eye of the bird".

Dronacharyar said " Shoot and you shall not miss". Legends never descibe what happened after Arjuna shot the arrow. It is assumed that once he fires - the target is his. So Arjuna fired and that is the end of the story.

What got me thinking about this story? I always think about this story. There are small stories and big stories that move people. Such stories influence people and remains with them forever. This story among the millions of stories in the great epic Mahabharatha is to emphasize the value of single minded focus and concentration in acheiving success. Opportunities knock but once. From my exerience during such moments you always have to see the eye of the bird, the core of your target before you take aim. It is the sighting that counts, the firing is almost incidental, a mere confirmation of the sighting. I have so many times noticed this as the key difference between success and failure. It is in the sighting.

Now in this computer age steeped in algorithmic approach to life, you may think "once I get the understanding on the importance of sighting. I should be able to crack the problem". But let me tell you friends. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Arjunan was given a difficult test but his story is under typical conditions. Silence, nothing else but the bird to focus on, and nothing but the wind to disturb you.

In life, when you are moving towards the most significant test of life, a test, which if you shall pass will not only make you great but will open the key to your dreams - may not be in such typical condictions. You just get one shot.. Imagine that shot in a James Bond movie. Now I am not comparing or contrasting Bond and Arjunan. I would never think of doing so. I am trying to find an example which a modern day youth can identify with. Bond is dangling on a cliff a rope ( a thin slender rope) is tied to his left leg on one side and a tree on the other side. This is what stops Bond from falling down 10,000 feet. He is upside down, shaking in the air, it is biting cold with a lot of fog, the enemies are firing at him. His target is a mile away and moving. the vision is blurry. Bond then looks into his gun and finds that he just has one bullet left. He just gets one shot. He has to sight the eye of the target in that moment, fire and win.

Ladies and gentlemen! This is the typical modern day test to acheive your goals. This is real life. There will never be an ideal time to run towards an opportunity of a lifetime. There will never be an orchestrated test. This is not to belittle Arjunan's feat ( he may have had other tests which was much harder than my favorite test which I quoted above) but just an explanation of tests the way I see it in the modern world. You just get one shot and if you fail, it's gone forever. You will only be left fighting for lesser trophies. The one shot separates people. During that one shot a person has to shut out all the other ambient noise and zone in on his target. That is the essense of a true warrior. There is and was only one Arjunan in times when many great warriors lived, so it is natural that in todays age only a few will hit and many will miss. But it is the process of sighting gives valuable instructions on the irrevocable nature of life.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Turn Back The Clock

Another day is ended
And I still can’t sleep
Remembering my yesterdays
I begin to weep
If I could have it over
Live my life again
I wouldn’t change a single day

It was a spur of the moment decision. We were driving to Singaperumal Temple at around 6:00 PM on a saturday night. We were driving out of Madras and crossed Tambaram. We were going towards Kattangulathur and Vandalur. Driving along the familiar path brought back memories of a distant time. I asked my father, " can you tell the security guard I was an ex-student here, some 6 years before and I would like to go inside and visit the place". When told so, the security guard took a look at me, he smiled and said "sure! why not" and let us in. It was a funny feeling and I could feel my hair stand on the skin at the prospect of the experience. I was entering through the gates of my undergrad college ( Crescent Engineering College) after six years. Words fail a person during such moments. These are moments when the meaning of "involuntary behavior" comes into picture and teach us the power of emotions that govern a person's life. We may think we are always in control of our emotions. The truth is, its not as easy as it sounds.

I wish that I could turn back the clock
Bring the wheels of time to stop
Back to the days when life was so much better

Going through the gates and driving through the splendid road that led us to the college buildings was like a journey back in time. The greenery of the trees in the pathway reminded me of forgotten treasures - My memories. I was entering a time machine. We travelled through a rather long winding road surrounded by trees ( which often promtped jokes by people entering my colege gates " And miles to go before I sleep" ). The juxstapositioning of life was splendid. My fiance was sitting next to me and I almost felt like I was introducing my future to my past. An experience which I strongly encourage everybody to journey through.

Lying here in silence
Picture in my hand
Of a boy I still resemble
But I no longer understand
And as the tears run freely
How I realise they were the best years of my life

You know how it feels when you want to say "its changed! but its still the same". I felt it and I was thoroughly enjoying the experience. There was a new flashy auditorium that greeted us, as we turned into the road which would lead us to the college buildings. The auditorium, as grand as it looked, was a rude shock to me. I was expecting volley ball courts and some more trees in the place where this gigantic building stood. There was new map drawn on a newly raised big wall near the Physical training room. This map helped us locate different departments in the college. But this map was telling me in a subtle way " I, your college, have grown big".

You might say it’s just
A case of giving up
But without these memories where is the love
Where is the love

I ran around the college like a kid in search of treasure. My fiance would have probably been thinking " so! whats the fuss all about". My mom later told me that my dad had done the same thing and showed her around his school (which he had attended for 12 years). It runs in the family she remarked. She still remembers the excitement on his face when he showed her around his school. Maybe 30 years from now my to-be wife would be saying the same thing her children.

If I could have it over
Live my life again
I wouldn’t change a single day

I showed them the class rooms I studied in. Showed the historical tree under which many of my friends prepared for the exams in the 11:59:58'th hour ( i am sure that tree determined 20% of Jai's examination results). That tree was still there. The corridor of superstition was still there ( i used to sit in a particular place and study for five minutes before going to exam.. sounds silly now! but it was big for me then).

Why can’t I turn back the clock
Bring the wheels of time to a stop
Back to the days
Oh no no
I remember when
Life was so good
I’d go back If I could

The playground where we played cricket was still the same. My thoughts flashed to a time when my classmate Anwar slipped and fell on his face while trying to catch a ball during a cricket game. Right in front of a girl he wanted to impress. I took photographs and kept clicking away until my digital camera could hold no more. The cafeteria, which featured Viswanath and his GRE book as a permenant feature, had changed. It now accomodates more people and has a hut sort of fancy eating cubicles that you would find in palm beaches.

The classrooms evoked a thousand stories that still remain undocumented. The way Mohan would hide Viswanaths tennis racket in the girl's desks (girl sat in a separate place which was in a small way disconnected from the boys desk) or the casual air with which we would cut classes and go straight toe the movies at 11:10 in the morning. For those who are interested I saw Bhats restaurant on the way back. I travelled back to innocent times when we had so many things look forward to. Our lives were waiting to be sculpted and our life-companions were just a dream without a face ( at least for some of us). I don't think any other experience in my life's journey can match the happiness, the innocence and the lack of care for harsh world realities, that my four years in Crescent. As humble as Crescent is when compare to the greatest institutions in the world, a college has to do a lot ( really a lot) to make feel as proud to be an alum of it, as I feel being an alumni of Crescent. I think the people maketh a place. There is the concrete too.. but its the people that count.

It was not a specific incident that made those four years beautiful. It was a million little things that seemed to envelope a person in those four years. It was in the air that we breathed, in the trees we saw. Now I could almost feel at least a few hundreds of those little things among the million things we had left behind six years before. It reminded me of what I thought about life then. The emotion was surreal. It took a burned out digital camera and thickening darkness to pull me out of the place. The stories I narrated made my co-travellers amused. More at the speed and the emotion at which I was narrating to them than the contents of narration itself. To me the story was the essence - To them it was the story teller. As I left the place, I constantly loked back - I was not looking for anything that was palpable or visible. But I was searching for memories that this place was hiding. Was there a pearl I had forgotten? Was there an anecdote that lies buried in the subconcious which this place might help uncover? In this hour long journey, I had uncovered hundreds of pearls and helped transition the incidents and associated emotions to my concious memory. When I make my next trip, in a half dozen years time, I may not be able to recover so much hidden treasures as I did now. But I know one thing for sure, the feeling in the air that surrounded me, shall remain. Life: Its just magic.

Oh oh I wouldn’t change a single day
Don’t let the memories slip away
I wouldn’t change a single day
Don’t let the memories slip away

P.S: The Lyrics is from the song " Turn back the clock" by Johnny hates Jazz.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Are you Patriotic ?

"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel" - G.B.Shaw

Note: This is not specific to India (although examples maybe quoted based on India)

I was listening to a radio show a few days before and there was a 30 minute topic on "Are you a truly patriotic Indian". The program seemed to offer a lot of scope for inanities so I listened. The host of the show wanted to give out the image that he was very patriotic and he kept saying some praises about India, which I anyway completley did not understand ( why did he have to say things like this). I immediately lost respect for the host and began to compare him with some of the biggest idiots I have seen in my life. This was a sample conversation in that show ( reproduced as is). And this program was aired on Republic day ( Jan 26) in bangalore FM.

Caller: Hi! I am Ajay
Host: Hi! Ajay welcome to the show. the topic we have here is "Are you truly patriotic".
Ajay: Hi! today is my birthday
Host: oh! thats great happy birthday Ajay!
Ajay: says something stupid.
Host: Okay! when your friends call you do they wish "happy republic day" first or "happy birthday".
Ajay: Happy Republic day sir . Thats what they wished first.
Host: Are you sure it is Repubic day and not Birthday? And do you wish all your friends republic day?
Ajay: ( in a stupid way) no sir! its republic day only. I wish all my friends republic day.
Host: Boy! You are really patriotic!

I couldn't listen anymore. I was vomiting buckets already. Are these really words coming out their mouths? Our grandfathers must've turned in their graves. I sometimes don't even know the meaning of Republic Day? Why are we republic again? How does that make a difference to the country? But thats moot. Have any of you ever called anyone to wish Republic day? Or even Independence day? I have seen just about every place in India and I have never seen anybody wish anybody Republic day! EVER!

But this is just a sample. Many people seem to think patriotism is good. I was like this before and succumbed easily to the evils of patriotism and the prejudices it created. Overtime I have changed. For the better. Now I get revolted by it. Let me tell you why?
Think about these incidents ( and I quote them randomly)

1) The killing of Rajiv gandhi ( by a suicide bomber) , Indira gandhi and many of poiliticians all over the world. Who killed them ? Patriots!! Except that they were patriotic to a different cause than the people who got killed.

2) The Godhra incident where one religious community burned down a train full of people. And the reverse burning down of that community by another community. Gujarat was burning. Why did all this happen? Patriotism. A strong patriotism to some cause they belived. People were burning each other down because they were patriotic to two different causes.

3) The killing of Tamils in Bangalore during the cauveri issue. The supreme court ordered karnataka to release water to Tamil Nadu. The karnataka farmers were aggreived at this loss of water and so a completely unrelated set of people ran amock the roads of banglore finding and killing Tamils. Why? well if you want to be a patriotic kannadiga you bloody well kill some Tamils.

4) The killing and burning of just about anybody on the roads in Bangalore because some Christian missionary ( Benny henn who?) was coming to give a religious lecture. I did not know about this and so took my vehicle to work. I escaped death by a whisker.

5) The killing of sikhs all over India when Indira Gandhi was killed by a sikh. The killing of members of community X when some member of community X committed a national crime.
6) The smashing down of the Twin towers and the killing of so many young innocent people by " patriots" who believed in some arbitrary thing (which nobody till date is aware of). Makes you feel.. is patriotism safe? is it a violent emotion?

Growing up in 80's and 90's this is the only definition of patriotism I have seen.

So what is patriotism?

Patriotism is a tool which can bring out the deepest darkest facet of human beings. It is a prejudice inducer, a bias creator. It causes the evil person from inside you to surface. In all the instances of patriotic acts in the last 30 years, this is what patriotsim was used to acheive; " we are all of the same community/ same state/ same blood type. They ( the villians) have committed a crime against one of our clan/members. So if you are patriotic you should go and kill them"

This is patriotsim at the macro level. At the micro level its based on caste where people try and polarize a group saying " we belong to caste X he is caste Y and so dont talk to him. dont help him". It makes stereotypes and sweeping generlizations possible. If at any point you suddenly became logical and asked " Once more ! List out the reasons one-by-one why I should do this?" All this violence would never happen. Without patriotism the world would be a safer, better place.

You say these magic words "patriotism", which makes a person believe that he is part of a bigger unit and see the results you get. Tell him if he acts in a prejudiced manner against a person of a another group then he would be considered patriotic. Bang!! there you go!!! you have a patriot in no time.

Believe it or not. In an overly emotional(often demonstrative), less rational and weak country like India.. patriotism poisons people at the grass root levels, at job interview levels. Believe me I have seen it! So bad that in a work place if you ask someone for help, he may or may not help you depending on his level of patriotism. If he has strong feelings about your caste/religion/state ( the state factor is big in Bangalore and many other places) he may not help you. Because not helping you makes him patriotic to his caste/religion/state.. If you are a cricket team selector from Delhi, you bloody well select a few Delhi people otherwise you arent so patriotic.

In a technology era where one does not need to fight for a country's independence or a noble cause anymore, patriotism is an evil evil tool. It makes you loose your logical skills and rationale and converts you into an animal.

If you are thinking this cannot pose a lot of problems ....get a load of this. The people who really want to change a country or system are those who don't like the way it is. If you are a good soul and feel India is a bad dirty country with a lot of corruption and you want to change it. Then first you have to say that India is a bad dirty country with a lot of corruption. This makes people aware of the problem first and then work on the solution. If you say India is a beautiful wonderful country .. then there is no need for change. But when you say the truth, the evil people who want India to remain a bad dirty corrupt country will get upset. So they will use the "patriot" angle. They will say "look he is an NRI, a forign return, a phirangee, he thinks low of India. These bloody foreign educated people. Once they go out of India they start making fun of it"

Since most Indians are fools ( they really are.. i say "most" because I want to exclude myself, my family and friends out) they will immediately take the patriot angle rather than the sensible angle. And before you know they will be supporting violation of traffic rules, spitting on roads, corrupt government officials (who are every where) and traffic cops ( 100% of all traffic cops in India are corrupt). They will say these dirty things are the Indian tradition. That is how stupid most people are.

So there you go. I hate patriotism. The reason why I hate it is obvious. If some one comes and talks a lot of "mera bharat mahaan" to me, I seriously feel like laughing on his face. I have no special feelings towards "India", the brand these patriots have created. From what these patriots have done.. India more like a condom or underwear brand nowadays. I sleep during Independence day ( or catch a movie) and I don't know what the hell Republic day means. I do not stand with Indian flag wavers in cricket staduim because I know that that when they get tired of waving it they will use it as a khercheif to wipe their sweat or worse a lungi. I support the India team only when it plays well or at least tries to play well. I do not consider patriotism as supporting a lazy, spoilt, arrogant, losing team. I do not force forigners ( especially those from the US) to sit down and listen to my stupid praises about India. I do not critisize the US or any other country (even pakistan) for that matter. I do not list out stupid things on why India is a great country or why we are a peace loving counrty ( we are not). The most important thing is I never run away from my problems by saying "America is bad too" and I keep away from the trash-the west bull shit and focus on only my problems. I dont do so because it doesn't do justice to my education. I think people who do all the above are idiots.

If IT investors from the west visit India, I would like to take them to a government office. Show them how corrupt the system is and plead to them to stop investing in the country anymore. Once the IT money dries up because of this reason, the industrialists would want to cleanse the government offices. Wouldn't that be a neat way to stop corruption? Use a thorn to pluck out another thorn stuck in the leg.

One thing I have learned is. There is no sense to patriotism. You are basically saying "My country/caste/religion is great because I was born into it". There is no other reason. Because if you were born to a different country/caste/religion you would be supporting that country/caste/religion and not this one. So your "support" depends on who you work for. Which means "merit" is no more a factor. That is anti-intellect and I will not be a part of it.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Young Free & Single

As the curtain draws close on the 'single'ness part of my life, I can't but feel amazed to see the number of books being written about being single. The title of this blog is the name of a song by BoneyM. At some point in time "Young Free and Single" was my favorite song for like years.

I was reading Paul Reisner's (The "Mad about you" guy) Couplehood. Its a really interesting book because of the way he describes the many aspects of being single. Think about this for a moment. It is difficult to explain it the way Paul does but I'll give it my best shot.

You are single. You come back home from the office, open you house door and enter an empty drawing room. There is nobody in the house. Then for the next few minutes you just keep staring blankly. You are not looking at something in particular.. just staring. Then you wake up from your stupor and go near a table... drop your keys, your badge and then stay there staring for some more time. Just staring. Thinking about nothing. Then you go into the restroom for a wash. You switch on the lights and you stare into the mirror. Blank stares. Again thinking about nothing in particular. You start a train of thought and then switch to something else and then give up on thinking itself. You are there for a while ...doing nothing. Then you realize you came into the rest room for some purpose and move on.

Let me tell you! If somebody is videotaping you!!!! they'd put you in an asylum.

Now think about another situation! if you have someone else with you in the house and if you dare so much as to continue with this habit of involuntary blank stares! You will get questions like " what is the problem ? Is there a problem. Did some thing happen at work?" The horrible part is you can never communicate that you are just being blank at that moment. This innocuous situation could easily blow up into " you are hiding something from me! tell me what it is?"

Now! Moms are different from Wives. They are used to these blank stares and stupid gawking postures that sons give out all the time. They have not spared our dads though!! Moms are smart enough to quickly put an end to such activities by their husbands. But they are generous enough to allow their sons to be weird. You stare blankly at a glass of water for a very long time. They dont care!! You take the remote control and keep staring at it without switching the TV ON! Not a problem!. They have gotten used to you smiling when nobody is around. They know you just remembered a joke from an old TV series or you were thinking about some stupid thing you said to some girl or about something that happened at school. But Wives are different they want to know "Why?". Your every action, every move ( or lack of it) should have a meaning. You have to answer questions like "what are your thinking of now ?" ( Pssst... learn from me.. Bipasha Basu is a wrong could end your life on the spot) Living in the same house they wanna know if you are really a human being or just a stuffed toy ( and bloody cruel joke by her mother-in-law)

I think people fundamentally wanna stay single. They are hurtling towards marriage and they are trying all they can to stop this great speed at which they going towards marriage. The put the breaks, throw their legs out and sort of screeeech stop themselves (like in a car).

You say:: my horoscope says distinctly that I could become mentally unstable by 35.
She says: Not a problem
You: I am raving maniac, I am a shoplifter, I scream loudly at 2:00 AM in the night.
She: No sweat! I'll take care of it!
You: What about compatibility. Thats an issue nowadays! Are you sure we are compatible? are you? are you?
She: yes! yes! yes!
You: I am a double agent. I work for the intelligence agency. I could go away anytime and never come back
She: ho...hum
You: I don't exactly brush in my restroom. I sort of go all around the house and clean stuff while I brush my teeth. Are you okay with that gurgling noise ?
She: It will be changed.

(then you try and stun her)

You: I pee in my bed.
She: (calling your bluff) I'll plug it!
You: Look at me!! when we go out together.. I shout at other people on the road, fight with people who don't switch off their cell phone in movie theaters. I am a bad person.
She: I don't care. I still want to marry you.!
You: (fall down in shock)
She: Picks you up and sends you to the dry cleaner.

So marriage is something that happens when you try and do all that you can to stop it! But she doesn't care! She doesn't care that you are a kleptomaniac, a double agent, a bedwetter, "monch monch" - loud eater. She is okay with everything. Can you believe that? Okay with everything. Its just like another you! but only better!

Then you take your legs of the brakes , stop the leg screeching and decide to hurtle away, if not anything else you hurtle much more faster. Marriage happens when you give up on trying to be single.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I should find a place in The Guinness Book of World Records

Starting from July 2003 until now I have made around 150 round trips between Bangalore and Madras. That makes it a total of 300 train trips ( 150 up + 150 down). With each train trip taking around 6.5 hrs I have spent close to 2000 hours on train. Barring the Ticket Inspector, the Guard and the Engine driver, I do not think anybody else would have spent so much time travelling in trains.

I have gone to Madras (ya! Its renamed to Chennai but I prefer Madras) every weekend. The only 2 weekends I was forced to stay in Bangalore was when Saturday was a working day ( the government elections forced a weekday holiday which was compensated by my company on saturday). Whats more great is some times when Thursday was a national holiday ( Pongal etc etc) I would travel to Madras on Wednesday night, come back to bangalore on Thursday night and travel back on Friday night and come back on Sunday night.

I think the Govt of India, the Railway Ministry and Minister.Laloo Prasad Yadav owe me special gratitude and thanks for keeping the dirty, stinking Indian Railways alive and going. I was thinking of writing a blog on my train adventures but then realized I would need a full book or even a movie to document these 2000 hours of journey. My adventures in train has elements of action (I have seen people fight and beat each other up), suspense (from missing people to missing suitcases to missing slippers), drama ( follow this link to read about my last minute ticket tension) , glamor ( he he.. you have to buy my book for this one), sex ( ditto) and tragedy ( the people who fell down).

Over time I have made friends with 2 Ticket Inspectors and had a travelling companion who kept up with my rigorous travel schedule for 6 months and then dropped off. The curious thing was I still do not know his name. He always was in my next berth. The full six months.. Everytime we saw each other we would slam our heads with our hands to indicate "oh! no! not again". We did not buy tickets together. We did not plan it this way. He was just another traveller who travelled back and forth regularly. Just like me. Which is what baffles me. That we got tickets side by side cannot be dismissed as a coincidence. I used to think that the CIA, RAW or Interpol had planted this person to follow me ( or guard me) wherever I went. I slowly began to dream that I was some important special genetic breed and protecting me was a matter of national security. But then he stopped coming. I remembered Sherlock Holmes' "The Solitary cyclist" ( Is that the name or is it the cyclist ? ) and wanted to name this incident " The curious case of an old man in the next berth". or " the spurious traveller" I will dedicate a separate chapter to him on my Train Book.

I can now officially become a consultant to the Railway Ministry and help them develop the dirty trains. I can write a Dummies Guide to train travelling ( I am still serious about it). I have material for at least 25 short stories ( all real life) on train. I am seriously thinking about this book and working on it. Now there is only one catch..A Publisher!!! I am also thinking of a 23 part TV series on these train travels. The whole series is taken in a train or a Railway Station. Its a stunning idea. I have registered this idea as propreitary :-)

So far around 500 tickets have been booked with around 200 cancellations. I have my own train dress. I always wear this dress when I travel. Never missed even once. So there is another Guinness record. I think I have travelled in upper berth a record of around 290 times. Middle berth 7 times. Lower berth twice and Side Lower once. I have also talked with or met people from every state in India during these train journeys. That I could meet people from Assam and Kashmir was a BIG surprise. I can't place Assam on the map and Kashmir isn't really on anybodys map

Guinness Book people! David Frost! where are you?

If you want to buy books

Disclaimer: Some contents of this blog is derived from various internet sources including other blogs and online dailies.

Usually when people want to buy books in Madras they just go to the fancy Landmarks and Odessey bookshops. But is this where you get your best books? No! I say. If you have roamed around in Madras and the city is part of your blood stream you would automatically go to Alwar's Shop ( Alwar Kadai).

If you are expecting some sort of a posh fancy glassed building prepare yourself. Its on the road pavement. Its near Luz in Mylapore ( pretty close to Rex). He has the best books and the rarest books you may want to lay your hands on.

Then if you want more ( Alwar has everything so you would rarely not get what you want at Alwars) then you go to Giggles. This is another humble place which sells the rarest of books. Giggles, is listed as one of the `must visit' bookshops in Lonely Planet's guide to Chennai. Recently, the Booksellers and Publishers Association of South India (BAPASI) presented Nalini Chettur (owner) an award for her service and knowledge about books.

If you are looking for rare Tamil Books then there is a place opposite to Ramakrishna Mutt. Its owned by a person called Dilip Kumar . He is reputed to have the best Tamil Books collection in the city.

Happy Book Shopping :-)