Archive for the ‘Pheelings’ Category

We often ask rhetorical questions with a hope that people don’t respond to it literally. Here’s a definition if you’re wondering what a rhetorical question is:

A rhetorical question is a question that you ask without expecting an answer. The question might be one that does not have an answer. It might also be one that has an obvious answer but you have asked the question to make a point, to persuade or for literary effect.

Nevertheless, Indians have always been the avant-garde in the advancement of the English language. There is absolutely nothing that we cannot able to do!! Another invention of the Indianised English, to add to our longstanding tradition of closing taps, calling cousin brothers and sisters, coping up with things, is the art of converting a statement into a question by just changing the tone of the statement. In fact, this is so common that we don’t even realise it. Here’s an example:

You have the car keys?

You locked the door?

Of course, while talking, with the tone, and by the addition of a ‘no’ or a ‘na’ at the end of the sentence (based on your geographical origin in India), we convert it into a question. I thus present you the anti-rhetorical question: a statement that is made to sound like a question. So the next time someone tries to snub you with a rhetorical question, you shoot them back an anti-rhetorical, and then point it out! Happy arguing!


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Here’s a little ode to my alma mater, keeping in tune with the nostalgia-flooded posts that I’ve been coming up with of late. It’s been over four years since I passed out, and the visits to my school (despite living just a couple of hours away) have been thinning down. I’d read Amrutha write about how Chennai had changed over the years, and my primary school memories were rekindled.

Yes yes, we all wish we went back to those toddler days of primary schools, when all we had to worry about was passing the next tamizh tervu (Tamil test) or finishing that Hydrilla experiment without breaking the glassware borrowed from the Quest lab or the School day rehersals. No career driven plans, no worries on earning, no issues on being single, no need to drive anything but the bicycle with side wheels ensuring I don’t fall, no need to blog! 😛

And I’m dedicating this post to a particular aspect of my school days – music! Vidya Mandir was one of the finest schools in the city (no this isn’t open to debate, and any libels in the comment section will be deleted: a warning to P.S. products), and a considerable amount of importance was given to extracurricular activities. In the undying words of K.S.R.,

Vidya mandir students are allowed to grow. PS students are made to grow. DAV paththi sollave venam.

Now, coming back to praising extracurriculars, learning music – both Indian and Western was an integral part of our school-life. The Indian music classes were invariably praises to several Hindu Gods on the likes of Muruga muruga thirumaal maruga neatly printed on a book titled Gaanamanjari, and were never enjoyed as much as the Western music classes were.

No, we didn’t have rock bands playing or Bryan Adams singing, but what we had was priceless – a nice big piano and a dedicated teacher whose name was Meena miss (often confused by parents with another teacher with the same name, but the kids knew who’s who). There were so many songs I still remember: some Christmas carols, some romantic, some just plain funny! The class was invariably split gender-wise (almost was an unsaid rule – we just never interacted until we came of a certain age, if I might put it that way), and the girls usually almost always were annoyed with the boys singing Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling, Clementine (varying the extended e at the end of Clementine making it sound more like a donkey’s bray). Another favourite was the Twelve days of Christmas, counting down to a partridge on a pear tree.

Hole in my bucket

And the hole in my bucket in the title is with reference to this infinite-loop song, which usually involved the whole class being split into two – the boys playing Henry in chorus, and the girls becoming Liza. I still remember one instance when we sang it twice in series, almost like film buffs screaming “once more, once more” on seeing their favourite numbers. And here’s the lyrics for those of you who have been in that room and sung that song:

There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then fix it, dear Henry, dear Henry, fix it.
With what shall I fix it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I fix it, dear Liza, with what?
With some straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With some straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, some straw.
The straw is too long, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The straw is too long, dear Liza, too long,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, cut it.
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza, with what?
With an axe, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With an axe, dear Henry, dear Henry, an axe.
The axe is too dull, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The axe is too dull, dear Liza, too dull.
Then whet it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then whet it, dear Henry, dear Henry, whet it.
With what shall I whet it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I whet it, dear Liza, with what?
With a stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With a stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, a stone.
The stone is too dry, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The stone is too dry, dear Liza, too dry.
Then moisten it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then moisten it, dear Henry, dear Henry, moisten it.
With what shall I moisten, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I moisten, dear Liza, with what?
Try water, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Try water, dear Henry, dear Henry, try water.
From where shall I get it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
From where shall I get it, dear Liza, from where?
From the well, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
From the well, dear Henry, dear Henry, the well.
In what shall I fetch it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
In what shall I fetch it, dear Liza, in what?
In a bucket dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
In a bucket dear Henry, dear Henry, in a bucket.
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.

*Book picture courtesy Boyds Mills Press.

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Alternate title (as suggested by Nick): Ode to pattasu! 😀

This year, Deepavali (a.k.a. Diwali) was all too peaceful. Not a single matchstick lit, not a film watched in full on TV. Well I did watch the fast and the furious on HBO of course, but that has absolutely no relevance to theIndhia tholaikatchigalil mudal murayaaga, thirayarangugalukkae varaada dumeel thiraippadam .. kaanathavaradeergal (first time in Indian televisions, a film that hasn’t even made it to the theatres, don’t miss it!) that we usually see on TV. Most of yesterday went into reading/commenting on this post by Krish Ashok, and a visit to a temple in the afternoon. This morning, I flipped through my reader again, saw hawkeye’s Deepavali in Madras and nostalgia poured in!

Gone were those days when I used to bother Appa asking when he’d buy (let alone take me to buy) firecrackers for me (roughly two weeks before deepavali began). I used to do my homework right: collect the price sheet from every local shop, tallying who was cheaper, so that I could fit all that I wanted within the budget (which was usually about INR 500-700 – yes, we never had luxurious deepavalis). I used to take all those threats seriously when dad warned me, “if you don’t fare well in the upcoming tests, nopattasu for you this year.” Finally, we used to go over to the nearest TUCS shop (until Subhiksha came into existence of course) and buy till I’m partly satisfied (Appa just always knew how to negotiate with me – I want five, he starts at three, and stays at three). Once my precious was home, I used to sit and adore it until Appa finally decided to split it between my sisters and I, so that we would have no further discrepancies and all’s fair and square. Being the youngest at home (and the only boy) was always an advantage, all that bursts was almost always unconditionally given away to me (even my sisters’ shares).

Deepavali planning and execution used to be with this kid Kaushik, who used to live downstairs. His dad used to buy crackers from town a couple of days before Deepavali (always heard that you could get crackers there dirt cheap). We used to sit and discuss for weeks as to what all we wish to buy, as to how we would finish it up. I’d make sure I witness how the crackers are being distributed – usually fetched me a little bijli packet that would last a good three days. We used to meet up every evening bursting one after the other, trying to burst two together, trying to burst them without killifying the thiri, and when daddy dear wasn’t in the neighbourhood, we’d toss a couple of them to watch them explode mid-air.

On Deepavali day, the day used to dawn early – by four thirty I’d be at my bathed best, all set to start blasting! Appa, being the eldest one at home, used to start with a red-fort, and then I’d go mad with all the tiny stuff that I had –busvaanam, changu chakrams, stones (ever heard of them? tiny things that go on glowing), saatai, and so on. Once it dawns, I used to go home and hog all the amazing food mommy dear’s made, and then go off to visit all my relatives to start my Deepavali collection. Generous 100 rupee notes, all for one namaskaaram and a chamathu payyan expression were always worth the additional ordeal! And in the evening, an additional session in between movie breaks used to go on, and I used to save some up for Kaarthigai – which used to follow up a month later. A couple of years in the middle, I even saved some firecrackers so that I could use them up for New year – yes I was this meticulous kid who used to save stuff up for the future (note the was – mom thinks I’ve done a volte face of late).

And I always used to be particular about getting Standard fireworks. I always thought that the brand spoke for itself, despite seeing this kid go on tv, “Ayyan pattasugal vaangittaene. Ayyan pattasugal, pada pada pada pada, surr zoom, buss, damaal. Deepavali nalla venuma? Ayyan pattasugal vaangunga!”(I’ve bought Ayyan brand firecrackers, and they make all these sounds denoting firecrackers, concluding with a “buy them to celebrate Deepavali”)Appa really didn’t care, “as long as they burst, why do you care what brand name they are? Plus, kaasa kari aakaradunnu mudivu pannitae – kammiya pannaen!

Now it’s all filled with these Chinese-like firework show! Things flying into the sky. I still remember those days when a box of 7-shots was treasured and we used to go counting the seven, and go outraged when there were only six at times. And Deepavali in Chennai has become all skyward – it’s there everywhere, so the need to buy these is lost too. And with the advent of these ones, a lot of old-time favourites have now become extinct. Here’s a little nostalgic run down to all those favourite ones I used to go on bursting all day:

  • Lakshmi vedi. Classic one – the sound would easily scare me almost every time it burst.
  • Kuruvi vedi. Sort of like Lakshmi‘s little sister. Could still be attempted to be thrown.
  • Bijili. 2 packets of these is what used to make the wait up to Deepavali bearable. You can go on for hours if you have one or two friends for company.
  • Double shot. Ah, the good ‘ol burst once at ground level, the second one tosses up and then bursts in mid-air.
  • Atom/hydrogen bombs. The long wicks made sure that the wait was scarier than the sound it generated while bursting. Plus, we used to put a coconut shell over it and watch it soar a good 30ft into the air when the thing burst!
  • Oosi vedi. These were tiny, harmless things. Just cute things that you can see burst.
  • Vengaaya vedi. Whack it against a wall and you’d see it burst.
  • Roll cape. Came with a gun usually, but when we had more shells, we used stones to make them burst. At times, even rubbing it against the wall was fabulous.
  • Snake. This disgusting thing that sent out so much of smoke was usually part of the ending wrapper burning ceremony, when we used to pile up all junk, throw a couple of these ‘tablets’ and set ablaze – it used to send out black tentacle-like things.

No kid bursts any of these these days. Wish I had the company to burst at least some of them! Till then, a little toast to all those wonderful days when I was younger still! Happy Deepavali to all of you! 😀

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Collision course

Sometimes we’re on a collision course, and we just don’t know it. Whether it’s by accident or design, there’s not a thing we can do about it.

On a thursday morning like any other in Bordeaux, three ticket-inspectors were chatting in the lobby of the Pessac railway station; a 15-year old girl was trying to finish her homework due that morning. At the same time, I was taking a shower before leaving for work. Meanwhile the girl had finished her homework, and put on her coat to leave, while the ticket-inspectors were discussing the prospect of France winning this year’s football world cup. By now I had gotten out of my dorm, and sprinted to the tram-stop outside my building and barely managed to get into the tram that was leaving as I jumped in. The girl was now halfway from her home to the bus station when she realized she had forgotten her bus membership card, but didn’t bother going back to pick it up because she was already late for school. The ticket-inspecters were still discussing football, smoking their cigarettes outside the entrance of the Pessac railway station. The girl was now in the bus, and the bus departed. Although she did not have her bus-card in hand, she didn’t bother purchasing a ticket just for the day. The tram reached the terminus near the same bus terminus as the bus left the place with the girl inside. I ran towards the bus, but it had left and the driver obviously didn’t notice a mad man running towards it. It was then that I decided to outrun the bus to the next bus stop. I ran down the nearest road,  wondering if at all it would lead me to the next bus stop. While I was on it, the bus was stuck at a signal outside the Pessac railway station. Just before the signal cleared, those ticket inspectors standing near it decided to get in. In the meanwhile I was finding my way to find avenue Curie, where the next stop was located. The bus paused for an old lady to cross the road, while the ticket inspectors inside were arguing with the girl without her bus-card, and I was still running towards av. Curie. I finally got a glimpse of the bus turning into av. Curie. The bus driver tried to vouch for the girl, but the ticket inspectors had to ask her to get down at the stop.

If only one of the things had been different: if the girl had finished her homework earlier, if she had remembered to take her bus-card, if those ticket inspectors didn’t bother getting into that bus, if the tram I travelled in had reached later, if that girl had bothered to buy a ticket for just the day, if I had not bothered running to the next bus stop, if the bus driver hadn’t paused for the lady to cross the road, the bus would have driven by, and I would have had to watch it just leave again.

But life being what it is: a series of intersections of people and incidents, out of anyone’s control, the girl did get off at that bus stop, and the bus waited just long enough for me to get in. And as I walked into the bus, panting and my legs begging me to give up, I looked up and muttered merci.

Yes, I have shamelessly copied the narration style from The curious case of Benjamin Button. And here’s the irony in the incident: there was absolutely no necessity for me to rush to work that morning. It was a plain whim, which made choose a mad-chase to the next bus stop over waiting another 15 minutes for the next bus. But I must admit, the first two seconds inside the bus made all of it totally worth it!

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That’s football indeed (at least as far as I’m concerned)! In the middle of my facebooking and running around and cooking and of course, working, I have finally managed to make new friends – notably ones of my own age group. So there’s been a bit of partying, and finally – some football! 😀 Almost two hours of running up and down the field, a couple of falls, one brilliant corner, three shots on target (What? Seriously?! They were all to the keeper’s hands though) was more than enough to exhaust me. The kind of game I’ve been used to in the past eight-nine years is very different from how people play ball here in France.

So here’s French football vis-a-vis Indian football. No no, I am not talking about the national team – we all know how good the Indian team is. I’m talking about football at a much lower level – the streets, the schools, the playgrounds. My first love with football began in middle-school. Yes, that’s right before high-school and that’s how we address it in Vidya Mandir. And if you’re from Chennai, you’d probably know the state of school grounds. They don’t have grass, and the mud is pretty red – making your white canvas go a dark shade of brown and your mom go mad at you for having made it a mess. And when it rains in Chennai . . .

The ground isn’t very big either, and it shrinks every year at a rate directly proportional to the increase in the student population in the form of building-extensions. The only times we’ve been to a football ground per se was when the school booked St. Bede’s football ground for our inter-house tournament in high school. That is somehow not the case in Bordeaux – when I went to play, there were 4 football fields back-to-back, with neat grass, proper goalposts, and boundaries drawn, there was a room for changing, and when the clock struck six, practice started.

The weather, of course is more conducive for playing I must admit. But come on! When you’ve the right spirit, you can pretty much play anywhere. And it’s not just limited to football: there’s a huge indoor stadium that’s filled with people and games. They run on a tight schedule: tennis from 4 to 6, basketball practice from 6 to 8, badminton from 8 to 10. There are clubs where they learn mountain climbing, and what not?! You’d find more people out there sweating their fats out, quite contrary to the average Indian teen who’d be licking a good ten rupee softy at Spencer Plaza or an equivalent.

Now after all that shilly-shallying, here’s my point: sport needs to be encouraged in our country. Not everyone gets a view of how well it’s promoted outside our nation, and I’m lucky to find out. I completely agree with Krish Ashok on his view on Indian sport, when he said “bring back those 3 PT hours.” So burn as much fat as you can, stay healthy!

Gawd I knew I sucked at concluding passages, or writing passages at all. My apologies for the not-so-fine structure, but I hope you understood what I meant.

Update: After the first comment, I happened to realize there’s a website for Indian football. Maybe it needs more publicity to catch fire! If you agree, you might want to vote here. So keep clicking! 🙂

Note to all feminists: It so happened to be that there were only men where I went to play football. I would like to emphasise that my title to this post does not imply that I have something against women playing football.

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A special day

The fourteenth of February. Boy, is that day becoming a big hype in our country or what?! Special programs, special moral policing (courtesy Sri Ram Sena), special fightbacks (a.k.a The pink chaddi campaign), and of course: special thoughts. Hmmm. So much to that. Shashank says I’d be the biggest fool (term changed to maintain decency) if I’m in France without a valentine on the fourteenth of February. It was sad that I had to spend v-day all by myself, but it doesn’t look like it’s a big deal (not that it would’ve been a big deal the other way either). Nothing’s very special about v-day out here: the air is just as romantic, the weather is ever pleasing – come on! These people celebrate love all year around – so it doesn’t matter that there’s only one Feb14 in the year. But coming to think about it, I did have a valentine. Correction, three. Fun during the week building up to the special day: Johns Hopkins U, Purdue U, and UC Berkeley all royally screwed me. 🙂

Update: This post was written on the 15th of February – it’s taken me a while to put it up. So by taking the last week into consideration, I would like to add NUS to the list (not very pleasant, but true). And this post I came across is good – a good ridicule of Sri Ram Sena and the pink chaddi campaign.

Now we’ve reached the point where I digress from the topic. This month has been pretty eventful: several application rejects. Reminds me of Nikhil’s post: it truly is priceless to receive your first reject letter (through e-mail that too). The application fever’s finally gone down and the responses have started! We’ve been running around with recommendation letters, statements of purpose, transcripts, and what not?! All these days were spent on courier, app fee, score reporting, and now anxiety builds up in anticipation of the response. Now with undergraduation drawing to an end, serious thoughts about what to do with life running rife – as always leads to confusion. But things will eventually fall in place, and life moves on. Tell me about making that line a cliché.

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Good ‘ol college days

Nostalgia – I’m not sure if the word is over-rated. Seven weeks out of college, two weeks all by myself in foreign land, farewell videos played a dozen times, soothing sad music (now is that an oxymoron or what?!), dark lonely night (now this sounds like Shashank’s research topic) – I think all this has finally managed to kick in some sadness into me. College was good – it had all of it that’s required in Bollywood masala movies – from the comedians, that darned villain, the people of the opposite gender (to declare to the world that I’m straight till date), the best buddies (sidekicks), to the hero (Woohoo! Me the protagonist). Four years wooshed past in no time. So I’m writing this entry (without any trace of alcohol in my bloodstream) to tell myself that I’ve had some of the best times of my life go past. This post would be very pleasant to read (by myself) sometime from now – probably ten years down the line.

The four-bedded room – the room-mates from various states – the first time ragging experience – the songs sung to make those seniors cry – the first days in class – the first acquaintances made – the times spent lapping (as Bharath rightly put it) VIT’s main building talking to someone – shopping in Vellore – that special Baskin Robbins ice-cream – the computer programming lab – the chemistry-lab that choked us all – the history lessons that I barely managed to pass – the first summer vacation – bringing my house down – the class that was split into two – the late-night corridor talks – the impossible number of times photos had  been clicked – the loneliness – the Saturday-night walks down to the stadium – the birthday bashes (boy why on earth did I turn 19 that year?!) – the first industrial visit – the organizing skills – the class representative post – the time spent talking with everyone about everything – the department fest – the planned outbreak (with it’s leak to the Dean) – the first chance to become “politicians” (LOL!) – the GRE coaching classes – the celebrations for the department fest – the secret trip to Ooty – the million photographs shot – the one amazing week at college – the graduate record examinations – the talks about grad-school – the trip to Hosur – the first kiss (followed by yet another break) – the first booze party – the freedom out of hostel – the darned power-cuts outside campus – unlimited access to the internet – the million house/prison break episodes – the Simpsons! (d’oh!) – the talk-till-three with Mota – the chosen electives at course – the farewell party – the class party (darn we made that bus take a detour to avoid college security guards) – the tears shed bidding farewell – the pack-up all the way home – feels like it never ends . . . (now I’m using an ellipsis knowing it’s correct grammatical usage).

Well as they say, “life goes on.” And here I am in France utilizing every chance to ogle women, enjoy the romantic weather, post photographs, and oh, learn French (this apart from my work of course). Good ‘ol times. Every one of the above mentioned memory is special to me. I’ve gotten them in near-chronological order, but there definitely are more. And I’m sure all of you would have at least some of those memories lingering in your mind. So here’s a toast (on my blog) to good ‘ol college life! 🙂

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