30 December, 2005

New New New New


I have been walking all these days so tired and saw a stream of water. I do not know what is on the other side. I could see a bridge. Everything on the other side seems to be new and fertile. It is full of suspense. All look fresh and new. Let me cross the bridge and see the new side. It is suspense and thrill.

Yes....... I am tired of last year. Last year gave me so many ups and downs. On December 31st (Yes it is 12:01 a.m now) when I look back, I can see the trail I have walked. I have gained experience in many things. I know that I did those same mistakes. But I want to give up on few shortfalls, and look for a better future. I now know which will give me pain. After all I did not walk on bed of roses, also not on only thorns. I saw few roses in the form of blogger friends. Let me dream of walking into garden of roses. H O P E . The four letter magic word which enables all the lives across the world to live for another day/month/year.

The wonderful picture in this post was taken during one of those walks in Wales.

Wish you all a Happy New Year.

23 December, 2005

World is small


Believe it or not. It happened to me. It was a Sunday and I was shopping in the Town Centre, (Malls and Plazas are called as Town Centre in UK) with my family. After a nappy change for my daughter we decided to have some snacks and were walking towards the Samosa shop. Suddenly I saw a Asian family walking towards us at a far distance. Though the entire family did not see us, I had a quick look at the guy and screamed......"Dey........" and the gentleman looked at me for a second and screamed back calling my name. I never knew what happened. Many trespassers noticed our scream and so our wives. We shook hands and were overwhelmed, surprised, hugged each other. He was no one than my school /class mate who studied together along with me. He selected Science group and later became a Doctor. I remembered seeing him 12 or 13 years before in a peak traffic in Chennai like in Movies, and remembered him saying that he was in Germany, doing higher studies in medicine and working. I have never seen him after that. We were excited so much, and took few minutes to realise that our wives may be wondering and exchanged introduction of the families. It was 11.30 in the morning and we never knew anything until 7.00 p.m. in the evening. We had gone to a small juice shop and then to my house and were chatting so long when our better halves reminded us about the time. The children were asleep. We talked so much. What a great surprise! I never thought that I would meet one of my childhood friend in a Town Centre close to my house. I knew that he was in Germany for 10 years and never knew anything about him. So everything was a great surprise. I realised that the World is small. I am sure some of you would have met someone like this surprisingly. I am planning to spend this Christmas Holidays in his beautiful house in a small countryside near Liverpool. He has specialised in Cardiology and is doing very well. I am happy to spend few days and taking my family to his house to spend few days and have fun talking about our good old days. His kids are also well acquainted with my kids and so we are going to have a great time. He lives in a countryside and I am sure that I may get some beautiful English Country side pictures. My Nikon FM2 is getting ready with me and I do not wish to part away without wishing you all a 'HAPPY CHRISTMAS' .

The picture in this post is our Town Centre with decorations for Christmas (but not of this year.. taken couple of years before).

21 December, 2005

Nature and History



MOTHER EARTH is beautiful. She has given us all everything we need to live on this earth. Water, Forest, Land and whatever that is required for our existence. What are we giving back to her? This had been in my mind for long. We had wonderful trees in our house bought by my father. We had a huge Mango tree, Coconut trees, Satukudi(Orange and Satsuma), Neem tree. Our neighbour had huge trees especially badam. During summer days, I have slept in open terrace looking at the stars, and listening to the winds, which used to come from those trees. We had the fantasy of listening to BBC, and other foreign radio stations while sleeping on the terrace. The news and music heard from those foreign stations, used to appear as though they danced according to the tunes of those wind. As soon as we got up in the morning we used to wonder at those leaves which would have fallen from those trees after dancing to the wind blown previous night. Sometimes the trees will stand still. It used to make us feel whether they are on strike. Oh....Nature ! How wonderful it is! I wonder whether we are going to leave all these for our next generation.

Due to the interest in Photography, I have always fallen for nature. The pictures you see in this post were all taken in Aberysthwyth, a small town of Wales. It is one of those coastal town of Wales. I enjoyed each and every moment of my stay in Aberysthwyth. Sea is wonderful part of nature to be admired. Sea, Land and Mountain are great combination. I have tried to capture them in Aberysthwyth.

The picture you see below is of a ruined castle. I heard that there used to be lots of war in those days. This part of castle is what you see today, after many wars have taken the major part. Wars could give us only ruined buildings and ruined Castles, poverty and bad memories. What else can the wars give? When will the world become peaceful without wars?

19 December, 2005

A small road side park

We were just walking after a short bus journey in Edinburgh. WAIT !!!Something in my mind asked me to brake for a break. Took my camera saw this park through the viewfinder. I thought I cannot wait for this light. It is very rare to get such lighting that too in Edinburgh. My friend's wife who was my guide for the city tour was walking ahead. I did not have the mind to call her to stop for a minute. Just clicked after setting the right aperture and shutter speed. This was also my screen saver for a long time. I love this picture very much.

12 December, 2005

The Mountain I climbed













Atlast we climbed the Mount Schiehallion. My friend's wife had prepared wonderful Lemon rice, Vegetables mixed rice, and Curd rice. After finishing them (only reason that we should not feel the weight of the carry bags) we started climbing my first experience of mountaineering. I had my Nikon FM2 set with me. I was fully confident that I may not fall down because of my new Nike shoe. After a great struggle I reached the top. My friend Varadhan and his family had reached before. They allowed me to stay only for few minutes since they were already waiting in the cold for my arrival. It was getting colder and we were worried that it may get to freezing temperature shortly. I took few pictures from there. Looked around and took the neigbouring mountains. Took another picture of the top of the mountain. It is really breathtaking experience. I have produced below few information about the Mountain which I found in the internet. I want to climb more hills. Just cannot wait anymore......

The conical Mount Schiehallion ("the fairy hill of the Caledonians") has long been considered a sacred and mystical mountain by the gaelic Highlanders of Scotland. Its topographical features are somewhat reminiscent of Mt. Shasta in California, USA, which is held sacred by the North American Indian tribes. In his classic work Cuchama and Sacred Mountains (1981 USA), the Buddhist scholar Dr. W.Y. Evans-Wentz comments: "In the scriptures of mankind, certain mountains are considered sacred; and they are referred to as being sources of inspiration and revelation to prophets, saints, and sages. Mountains rising on high and merging into the invisible depths of space come to be looked upon as being the abodes of heavenly beings, the repositories of wisdom, and the founts of spiritual illumination." He goes on to say, when speaking about Mt. Omei, a sacred mountain in China: "Phenomena of most unusual character are associated with this Sacred Mountain, and at least some of them may merit a more than purely mundane explanation. The monks and pilgrims who frequent Mt. Omei believe these phenomena to be self-evident proof of its sanctity."
Geographically, Mount Schiehallion is located at the very centre of the Scottish mainland. In his work entitled Schiehallion, published in 1905, the Rev. John Sinclair, M.A., B.D., Parish Minister of Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire, writes: "Schiehallion is distinguished as a widely known and very beautiful mountain. It was on its sides, in 1774, that Dr. Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal, made those famous observations on the attraction of the Pendulum by a large but determinate mass of matter, which afforded the data from which the weight of the earth was approximately ascertained; and, accordingly, wherever there is an association of scientific men throughout the civilised world, the name of Schiehallion is familiarly known to them in this connection." The Rev. John Sinclair who, as the Earl of Caithness was the head of the Sinclair Templar family of Rosslyn Chapel fame, also writes: "I envy not the man who can climb Schiehallion without experiencing certain emotions of reverential awe, which raise the thoughts of the heart from earthly to heavenly things. I can truly say that in my climbings of the dear mountain, I invariably felt myself, as it were, in a sweet atmosphere of Bible imagery, thinking of Moses, Elijah, the Saviour, and others, when they climbed those sacred mountains in the east, and there held communion with the great Father of spirits....The poem entitled, 'The Second Sight: A Rannoch Mystery,' has got at least this one merit that it is an attempt to picture out a form of belief in the superhuman which has probably existed among the people of the district for many hundreds of years. In former times it was the males that were the seers of the Rannoch Israel; but in our day the Deborahs and the Huldahs have taken up the role of revealing the mysteries of the present, the distant, and the future."

11 December, 2005

Hill Climbing

This picture was taken in a place called Queen's valley on the way to Mount Schiehallion in Scotland. This is known for its isolated, tranquil, clear clean lake. I have little interest in Hill climbing. The Mountain you see at distance(left side of the picture), almost touching those clouds is Mount Schiehallion. I decided to join with my childhood friend and his family to climb the Mountain. My ever first mountaineering experience in Scotland. (Please do not ask in comments whether I climbed anyother mountains). I admire this picture and had it on my computer screen for long time.

08 December, 2005

See you tomorrow

The best time of a day is the above picture. During childhood I have always wondered where this Sun goes. I have nagged my mother daily about the sun's departure. I believed that the sun will go and hide or take rest and come back in the morning. But something I wondered during my childhood was why it is so hot when it comes up in the morning and it is so cool when it goes down in the evening. Thought Sun also used to get tired while going home.

I am sure everyone would enjoy seeing this picture. It brings back beautiful memories. I could remember women from Villages returning back from forests with firewoods on their head. Sheperds returning back with flock of sheep was the usual site whenever I crossed villages in Tamil Nadu. How many of you know that you cannot see the clear sunset everyday. Also, sunset may look as though they have been for long but the actual sunset is very quick. Sometimes within 5 minutes it will disappear. Before I realise what a beautiful sunset it is, and go home and take the camera... it would have gone.

This particular scene was in a place called Carlisle. I clicked this from a train while travelling from Scotland. I love nature and got addicted to it.

27 November, 2005

Holidays and afterwards (3)


Few things troubled my mind during my holidays in Chennai. The traffic, roads, rain, health care, discipline, and people. I wanted to enquire about the charges for sea mail and started walking towards the post office near Habibullah Road, North Usman Road, T Nagar. I walked casually until Habibullah road, trying to notice down something unusual. Nothing was happening in order. There was chaos everywhere. A rich man stops his car in the middle of the road, without worrying about the Traffic users and so many other things. But when I had to cross the road, which was just 50-60 feet wide, I started struggling. This is just because of having been disciplined in abroad and forgot the road ethics of Chennai Managaram. I stood there for 15 minutes and still there were no signs of the traffic stopping. In the meanwhile, I noticed atleast 20 people would have crossed from my side. I lost all my talents of crossing the road. I found a old lady in her mid 60's waiting to cross the road. She was beside me and I murmered that I have been waiting for long and how risky it is. She never showed any attention towards me though I became more cautious about her than me. At one point, I was about to grab her hand and pull her when an Auto just missed her. Somehow while safeguarding her and crossing, a motorcyclist was there with a pillion rider and were talking loud over the mobile and did not bother about her and suddenly after coming near her did a twist like stunt in the movie and passed us. After crossing the road I noticed the lady entering Post Office along with me. Inspite of my repeated grumbling about the traffic, she did not respond and later found she was deaf when she was talking with a staff across the counter in the Post Office. It shocked me. Oh..... was this the reason she could not respond to whatever I grumbled when we were crossing. If she could not hear me how she could have heard the traffic. Suddenly she walked towards me and sought my help in filling up a Money Order form. I started filling it up. After I filled the form for Rs250/- and handed over the form to her, I noticed tears rolling down on the lady's cheek. She told while sobbing that the recipient is none other than her mom. Somehow I could not tell anything. Definitely the other lady must be in her late 80's or early 90's waiting for the postman everyday for this money. How much of strain this lady has taken to send this MO to her Mom. She would have been narrowly hit by vehicles while crossing. I would have not preferred my mother to do this job at that age. Her tears meant a lot to me. I wondered and asked her to take care of herself while crossing. This was only one old lady whom I met within 20 minutes of being on the road, in one part of a huge road. How many old persons would be crossing like this for different reasons in this kind of traffic, where there is no safety measures, like Zebra crossing, Pedestrian Crossing or Signal. I tried to locate any of these safety measures while crossing back and I could not find anything on this busy road. I did not want to do any permutations and combinations but I understood the city is developing, but not for good. There is no balance in the developments. Common public is not safe.

While thinking about such things in life and reading a newspaper in the balcony I noticed a Fruit vendor with his son selling fruits. My cousin said that they are Father and son and though the son was in his mid 20's, never co-operated with his father and has to learn lot in the business. I was watching them quarelling while selling fruits. The father was always criticising his son. Suddenly I noticed the father walking towards a shade and sitting down. My cousin asked whether he was not feeling well. He said he was tired. My cousin went inside to prepare a cup of coffee. I saw him vomiting suddenly and shrinking on the road. I told the son to take care of him and rushed towards the fridge to take a glass of water. Suddenly I heard the son crying loudly..... aiyo...aiyo...aiyo... I rushed towards them. Within minutes there were few people around us. We handled the situation calmly and helped the elder man to lie down comfortably. We enquired whether he has had any problem before. He told me that he is a heart patient and had tablets in his pocket. I found that he had sweat and suspected it to be a heart attack. We called an auto and tried to convince the fruit vendor to visit the nearest hospital. For few minutes, he was reluctant to go and was adamant to continue his business. The son new nothing and was just crying. I had to force both of them to visit a Doctor immediately. We pushed their fruit cart inside my cousin's house and asked them not to worry about the fruits. My nephew called the nearest Doctor immediately and informed him about the arrival of this patient. The Doctor who happened to be a cardiologist was ready to receive him. All this took more than 45 minutes. Anything could have happened. Later we heard that there was nothing serious and the elder man was asked to take rest. We saw the son doing the business for the next few days and said that he will be taking his Dad to his home town for Diwali and come back later. After two weeks I saw the Father and son strolling with their Fruit cart again and quarelling with each other during their business. On seeing me he thanked for my help. I enquired about his welfare. What I could wonder is about the public health system that prevails in our place. Those 45 minutes were crucial. He was lucky that nothing serious had happened. Whatabout millions of people in the country. What is the emergency medical care? When will all such thing come. Most of them are ignorant about their health. If we had not forced, he would have continued his business without seeing the Doctor. People talk about developments happening in the city/country. Where .... Where....?

When you walk in Chennai roads, you are sure of being greeted by one person every few minutes, with this question...." Sir.... Yenga sir poganum...?". He is none other than our Auto driver. They never allow you to walk. I even joked with few of them...."Yenga...naanga roadla nadanthu pogavey koodatha.... Udaney auto-vai niruthi yenga sir poganummnnu ketakareenga...Yennakku poganummnu than thonradhu ....aanal yenga poganummmnu theriyalaiye..?" (Shivaji Ganesan, Gowram Style). One morning when I wanted to visit the Visa office at Egmore, it was tough to get an Auto. None of them was prepared to come. Suddenly there was a nice gentleman who stopped his Auto and took me without asking. I just told him "WCC.." hoping that he may not know UK Visa office. He asked whether it was to UK Visa office. I was surprised. Later he found that I am in abroad and enquired whether he will get any chance in his future births to visit any foreign country. I started my humble talk to him..... motivating him, that it is not impossible even in this birth. Suddenly he came to the topic, and cursed for Love marriages. I could not understand. He said that due to Love marriage he was in a difficult position. His wife has been admitted in a Hospital, with complicate delivery, and he has been driving Auto like mad without taking a break even the previous night, to earn Rs.3000/- to pay the hospital fees for his wife's delivery. I encouraged him to be bold and he will surely succeed in his life. He showed his fingers which reflected the signs of tiredness of holding the clutch. He wanted to note down my phone number and thank me once his wife delivers safely. I just wished him good luck deep from my heart. He started conversing in very good English, about his fate and family. Because he married against his parents wish, he could not go to them for help at this time. He hesitatingly asked whether I could help financially. Probably he found me too friendly. He was ready to take me to the hospital and show his wife. I did not have time. He wanted to touch my feet while getting down from the Auto. I told him not to do so. I started doubting for his behaviour. But still I decided not to go to great extent to help him since I could not afford to. The maximum I could do was donate him 150% more than what I was about to pay for the trip. He was very happy with that and thanked a lot and drove away. I had a doubt whether he conned me. But if he had done so, I cannot do anything. He will reap what he sows. I just carried my business, by not worrying too much and felt happy that I could do something to someone with good intentions.

Finally when I said bye to all friends and relatives and went back alone to the airport after completing the formalities, started thinking about my holidays in the waiting lounge..... Great experiences, heavy rain, flood, people,traffic, Diwali, Noise pollution in West Mambalam, Mambalam Mosquitoes, Mobile phone nuisance. There was announcement for my flight, and I walked towards my plane........ thinking of the best of all 'The bloggers meet' in Chennai... and all the other bloggers. My next meeting will be more lengthier... Who knows I may land in one of our blogger's house. Let us blog.......regularly.

26 November, 2005

LOL


Imagine you are in Africa. You have been tied hanging on a tree
with a Rope anchored on the ground, a candle is slowly burning the rope, andthe lion is waiting for you to drop and be his lunch.
Your survival hinges on the rope staying intact, there is no one around to help you.
The only possible way is to somehow convince the lion to BLOW the candleout. How do you do that?................. ......


Think Some time..................

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Then Scroll down . ..................
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23 November, 2005

Holidays and afterwards(2)

I suddenly found that the landing time was nearing. The air crew were rushing to set things alright. We started looking down. Many times I have felt bit bad when the plane flies around Madras. Having flown across continents, especially on some major cities of the world, and seeing the twinkling lights of those cities appearing grand, it appears very dark when we fly on Madras. Even our Bombay is grand. I have always admired while flying over Dubai. Anyone from the plane can make it out that Dubai is a rich place on looking at the lighting over the city. Unfortunately when we fly over Madras, I have looked into the eyes of foreigners visiting for the first time. They used to wonder whether this is the place we need to land. My Italian co-passenger asked me the same question. I have been handling this always by saying the Airport is in suburb. (Sand not sticking on Moustache story). Also the anxiety of reaching our hometown dies soon on seeing the looks of the airport from the air-craft. This time I found that few letters in the word 'INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT' missing. Why can't it be just named as Madras/Chennai International airport. This was another question posed by foreigners to me. Why the names of Cities change in India example Madras/Chennai, Bombay/Mumbai. Most of the foreigners have wondered. Let me stop with this and not make the citizens start another demonstration.

After the plane touched land and stopped it took another 20 minutes for the doors to be opened. It is awful to see the passengers on their toes waiting to rush out. These are the crucial moments. Anyhow after much relief the doors opened and crowd started moving out. I also do not understand why our people who are very disciplined in other international airports (atleast tend to be) start rushing once the plane lands at Chennai. I remember a gentleman once commented to his wife in Frankfurt " Yennama... disciplined manusha parthiyadi . Ahah.... yeppadi ozhunga queuela nikkara....". The same gentleman started trying to squeeze himself in the middle of a queue in Chennai. I intervened and said " Yenna sir... Neenga than Frankfurt-la appadi praise panneengo.... Ippa super squeezing in the middle....". He blushed and started moving ahead.

Needless to say while in the queue some of our Tamil youngies who return with their families speaking Tamil as if they have just learnt it in the flight annoys me. We used to call them as MGFT (Mother Gown Father Tie) in our school days.

The next disappointment was in the baggage clearance. I never know why the baggages arrive so slowly. This time I had to wait for more than 2 hours. Though we need to appreciate the way immigration officials quickly dispose the passengers, also few can be trained how to smile. After dreaming for a holiday, and arriving at our hometown, these are the first public servants whom we come across. Though many little things like scanning hand baggage, treating passengers , packing luggages facility available at the airport, scrutinising the passport photo and the passengers like CID Singaram have changed in the recent years, there are more areas which have to change a lot. Everytime I have seen few assistants asking for money to innocent oldies returning after nursing their grandchildren/daughters sugaprasavams. Hope the changes happen soon.

After all this ordeal, when you push yourself out of the Airport there are hundreds of them waiting to see their dear and near ones. Finally old diesel 'Ambassador' welcomes you with dur...durr....durr...durr engine sound.

I stayed at my cousin's house in TNagar. Mosquitoes outnumbered my relatives in welcoming me when I reached TNagar. You would have heard much about those rains, floods. The roads were so bad in so many parts of the City, I had to fold my jeans till knee level, remove my shoes and socks (Mind you they were not stinking... I wash them daily) in one hand and all the documents in another hand to reach the VFS office the next day in order to apply Visa for my Mom. I think this is not the best season to visit Chennai on Holidays.

My best part of my stay was the bloggers meet. It was really exciting. Srivatsan had intimated me about the place and time. It was bit difficult to get in touch with him. During my first conversation with Srivatsan, it looked as if you had talked with this person many times in your life. He is such a friendly and wonderful guy. I started admiring him for being a Ilaiyaraja fan and also that he adores Enfield, Bullet as I do. We decided to meet at 'Newyorker' a restaurant near Rani Seetha Hall. I was there on time and went and occupied a six seater in advance. Believe me I did not put any kerchief for others. There were two persons waiting in front of the restaurant. I guessed that to be 'Jo'. I requested one of the waiters to invite them inside. My guess was right. Jo arrived with a huge smile and his friend. Jo is a very humble and simple guy. Then arrived Srivatsan. Since I had seen his picture in one of the blog and he was walking with a helmet it was easy to guess. Srivatsan is a very interesting person too. After few minutes Prabhu Karthik arrived. He looks fairer in his profile than in person. I do not blame him because he rides motor cycle on Chennai roads. He was simple and we never wasted our time. Vatsan seems to be familiar with the menu and I took his advise in ordering. We had a wonderful time. We requested Jo to sing a song and I recorded it. Vatsan requested the restaurant manager to reduce the volume of music played and they did so. ( Athuthanda.... Chennai.... indha voorula nadakkuma.... Balaji inside me laughed...Yennakkul oruvan...) Though the meeting was short it was also sweet. Another friend of Jo joined us. He was also a bit humorous. I think all of us had met for the first time except PK and Vatsan. But it appeared as though we were meeting for the nth time. This is one of the advantage of bloggging. I should thank PK for being there with patience, in spite of his busy work. After our lunch we decided to have a picture and split to meet Jeevan another blogger. I cautioned Vatsan about my fear with Chennai traffic. But Vatsan took me on his Enfield so safely. It was a pleasure to be a pillion rider along with Vatsan.

We reached Jeevan's house and it appeared that Vatsan was familiar with Jeevan's family. Jeevan appears to be very shy. Looks are deceptive. I could never believe whether he is the one who blogs regularly. He is so quiet and hardly talks. He introduced his family. His mother was proud of him and so his grand mother. Though she did not talk much, I could see from the happiness on her face that she was proud of her grandson. After having a formal chat, Jeevan played his keyboard for us. WOW.... He is so talented with his music skills. I was surprised when I came to know that he did not have any formal tuition in learning those skills. He played couple of songs for us. I remember how much I struggled to play the first line of 'Vasegara' song when I had a key board. Jeevan could play the full song. Hats off to you Jeevan!!! Please remember each one of us are talented in our own way. Everyone is unique. With a heavy heart I left Jeevan's house. It was unforgettable to see him waving out from the balcony. I looked back after sitting on Vatsan's Enfield. The greatest surprise came later. During my conversation I came to know that Vatsan was a product of 'THE SCHOOL' in Adayar. I have always dreamnt of putting my kids in 'THE SCHOOL'. No wonder why Vatsan is such a nice person. School moulds children. Later Vatsan dropped me closer to Pondy Bazaar from where cursing my fate(to travel in an Auto) got into a Auto. There was a surprise inside too. The driver asked whether I was a non-chennaite. When I questioned him back, he said that he was surprised by my respectful language. He said that he was treated with respect after many days by a passenger, and felt elated. He is a native of Coimbatore and he has hardly found any Chennaite calling him with respect. I changed my views on Auto drivers too. He did not argue for the fare and I did not want to under pay a good Auto driver. He was so good that he was chatting with me for five minutes after dropping me at home.

My mother who was looking from the balcony asked " Yenna auto driver friend eh... Ivalluvu neram pesindu iruntheenga. Oru vellai avarum blog adhu idhunnu ....".

I walked into the house smilingly thinking about the wonderful day I had.

( I promise I shall finish my holidays and afterwards post with one more episode....
to be continued....)

20 November, 2005

Holidays and afterwards (1)


Holidays are to be enjoyed. I made up my mind before leaving for holidays to just keep cool and relax . My plans for the holidays were to
meet some old time friends (not by age but those whom I have not met for long).
Taste different kinds of food at different places and different restaurants.
Try to mingle with chennaites and catch up the normal things which I have been missing for few years.
Meet our bloggers and know each other more.
Take plenty of pictures.
Visit few shrines in South Tamil Nadu and take pictures.

But whether I completed all is what you will know after reading my next few postings.

It was all a nice start from early morning drive to Birmingham Airport. My favourite friend Rashid who owns a Cab was there to pick me up at 3.45 a.m. from home. My son got up at the right moment to say bye. It was not my intentions to wet my wife's and son's eyes, but it happened. A slight drizzle greeted me and conversations with Rashid did not allow my minds to wander. I started thinking of using my new DVD Handycam once I finish check-in formalities. There was nothing interesting to shoot. I found an elderly Tamil couple in the plane. I wanted to surprise them by talking in Tamil and just smiled at them while going to loo. People from Coimbatore are very respectful. The couple started conversing very nicely. Looked like they were longing to talk to someone and I was the perfect match for them. My talks would have given them a small preview of my life so far. The gentle lady was nodding her head more, and trying to know more details about me. Anyhow, it was all smooth. After reaching Frankfurt, I took them to the terminal and left them, and went around to do a small duty free shopping. ( Thought about people whom I have to meet and wanted to make them chocoholics).

My shopping was over and after a relaxed stroll around the duty free shops, went back to my terminal to see the queue having grown faster than India's inflation. We Indians have certain originalities, out of which standing in a queue is remarkable. I have hardly seen some well formed queues by desis. Some of the ladies were handling their first grandchild and their daughters were not showing keen interest in learning those techniques. As usual the fathers were busy in gossipping politics or their visits to Niagara. I have always cherised meeting people at Frankfurt Airport especially in the terminal to Madras flight. You can hear people conversing loudly in Tamil and it gives a great enthusiasm for people like me who have hardly heard someone conversing loudly in Tamil in UK.

"Lokku Lokkunnu irumbareengaley........ antha muffler katikongo...." this is the lady to her husband.
Most of the uncles hardly speak and just used to follow the instructions.
"Ivanga kooda namba Vimala irukara Los Angeles-lirindhu dhan...varangalam. Naan appavey sonnane illaiya.... namba vooru than paaru...". This is the gentleman to his wife about the newly found friends.

I always meet someone in Frankfurt who is known to me. When I was looking for someone this time my efforts did not fail. I met Venkatesh my ex-colleague who was returning from his official trip to Switzerland. He was very much surprised. By the time I reached my seat, it was the next ordeal to find a suitable place for hand baggage. This is the biggest drawback, if you want to be gentle in getting into the plane. You will never get the newspaper you want, and space for your handbaggage. Somehow I managed to get some space this time and I knew my journey is going to be horrible after seeing a gentleman next to me, who must have been in his 60's and was reluctant to smile. He had a monkey cap and was keeping his eyes closed. My seat on the left was still vacant and then came a gentle lady. She was full of smile and a contradictory person to the one on my right. I thought she was a German but later came to know she was from the same place as our congress party president. She gave me lots of information about Italy and I shared lots of information about South India. I loaded her with so much of informations, she complimented about it while getting down at Chennai. It was one of the best journey, because of our conversations and she enlightened me with so much of informations about Italy. I was really excited when she told me that her trip was long time wish and was keen on seeing Temples, since she was fascinated by her brother who had visited Temples of Tamil Nadu for 5 times. I felt happy for getting an opportunity to let someone know more about our country, customs and traditions(I could hear somebody saying.....Oh.......do they exist...). We enjoyed the plains and mountains of Turkey, Istanbul and Iran. The whole trip was memorable. But I never thought my happiness was so short.

(To be continued.....)



21 October, 2005

Life as we live

Do you know which is the best Camera in the world? It is your mind. It is more powerful than any cameras. I always keep looking at the old pictures taken through my mind which helps me to smoothen down my life. In one way the reason I like photography is because of the link between Mind and Camera. When I saw this scene in Kew Gardens ( picture),London I wanted to keep gazing at it for hours. But I could not do so because of time. That is where the Camera comes in hand. In those days, I used to just click it with 'Mind', so that we can rewind it later. But nowadays I use my camera (not because mind is getting old, mind is always young). Just keep looking at this picture. Imagine you enter a hall with Glass roof and suddenly come across a small pond full of this kind of plant. Oh........ it was spectacular. Keep thinking about few drops of water on these leaves and they appear as dews on the leaves but it keeps rolling. The water drop is on the leaf but is not attached to leaf.

The life is like that. We need to be attached but also should know how to be detached. It is scary when you think that nothing is yours. Even breathing and walking is not by us. We cannot take pride of anything. The subject is very deep. I do not want to 'scare' anyone. Sometimes we never want to know the truth. Because Truth is scary and frightens us. Most of us want to live life just as it is. Never want to explore. If we do it, then we can find the meaning. Think...Think...Think. Watch your action. Your thoughts will change you. Do not live a meaning less life.

By the way the picture above was judged as one of the best 5 pictures in a photo competition held at my work. When a rating was done, for the best picture this did not get a chance. The well captioned picture got the prize. Still, I was happy with that.

I am taking a break from routine and leaving on holidays to Chennai. Hope to meet some bloggers in Chennai. My next post will be from Chennai.

17 October, 2005

DIWALI or DEEPAVALI
Life is like a giant wheel and roller-coaster . Sometimes you go up, and sometimes you go down. Certain moments lift you up and certain moments pull you down. We need to learn to live with both. As of today, I turn back to see those wonderful moments I have had in my life. Most of the good ones were during Diwali. As we talk about it each one start having their sweet memories. I have had wonderful years of Deepavali. (Let me call in our own style)

Just few days before the arrival of Deepavali boys used to talk about it in the school.
"Dey.... They are buying crackers for Rs200/- in Kumar's house...da."
"Dey... I am going to my uncle's house. My uncle is coming from Dubai. We will be having crackers for Rs1,000/-". Nobody had uncles in US in those days.(atleast among my friends). Being in a middle class family, I knew the budget and never used to utter about anything to my friends. After coming home, used to ask my mom, about our family budget. It used to be very meagre, when compared to my friends. I never talked about the budget to them. The amount spent on crackers were estimated with the related rubbish in front of the houses.
"Dey.... did you see the rubbish in front of Sankar's house? I think they have burst a lot da..."
" Come to our street...... Uppili has lots of cousins who have come from Bombay.They all have burst crackers so much it is going to take days to clean the rubbish.".
The best joke among boys was some of them used to collect those rubbish lying in front of somebody's house and after putting them in front of their house used to boast that they only burst all those crackers. Clever ones (like me) used to say that we took all our crackers and burst it in front of their house, because of the cattles in the neighbourhood.
Among girls, dress and ornaments were the talk. All the elderly women used to gossip about the latest design sarees available in Nalli, Rangachary, Kumaran and all the shops in Ranganathan Street. It is really nice to think about this festival which brought so much of happiness to everyone.
I do remember also, the few years when we happened to have no celebrations due to deaths among relatives. I really wonder whether those kind of mourning is followed by people today. In those years, we never used to celebrate even for the demise of Grandparent's cousins. Nowadays it is different. Unless there is a very close relative's death, the traditions are not followed.
I always liked the morning of Deepavali. My mother used to get up first in the street and burst the first cracker of the street and wake up everyone in the street. There was our traditional Nadhaswaram musician called 'Raghavan' who used to come along with his troup. Though Raghavan's main profession was hair styling, his part time job was playing Nadhaswaram. All his accompanice used to be half sleeping (especially the boy who used to put Jalra.It is an art to put Jalra rhythmically and as well as sleep). The length of the music was according to the wealth of the people's house they visited. One of my neighbour was a very stingy man, and they played only for few minutes always in their house. Every house owner used to give them money with Betel leaves, and nuts. I used to wonder what they will do with so many betel leaves.

Most of the children never stopped with the crackers they had. They used to collect the half burnt crackers and flower pots and collect those chemicals in a paper and later used to burst them and get injured very badly. One of my friend Sankar in childhood, got his fingers burnt very badly. I wonder whether his kids do the same now. I had some seniors in my street who used to have the rockets in their hand and light them. One of my friend's uncle called 'Thambi Mama' came from Coimbatore and I still remember the rocket he launched. It came back to him. I always wondered why the rockets fell after certain distance. I wish I was born before Newton. The most dangerous of all was 'The Train'. One of my neighbour was working in Standard Motors Factory. They had a staff society and used to get crackers for cheaper rate. He used to bring all new varieties of Crackers. During one of those years, when we did not have Deepavali (due to my father's demise), my sister and myself got up early morning and started looking through the windows at the entire street who were celebrating merrily. We felt sad for our Dad. I had a doubt whether my father will come back alive the next year and was pestering my mother whether we will never have Deepavali in the future. After the dawn, visiting friends houses was another thrill. Everyone in their Deepavali dress, and walking to show their friends was a common sight.
"Ganga snanam Aacha....sir...." was the usual question among elders.
" Yennanga indha pudavai thaan vanginneengala.........yennakku kooda indha colourla .... vanganumnu aasai........ Yenna jananga.....Gumbalana ...Gumbal...Seri po...nammakku kuduthu vaikalainu...vandhutenga..." was the woman folks grumble.
Some vivid readers will be with their Deepavali malar. The best was 'Kalki' and 'Ananda Vikatan' malars. I still remember one of Madan's ( My favourite) cartoon.
Two boys lighting a Rocket on the road was the first scene.
The second scene will be a gentleman reading newspaper on the open terrace, and the rocket landing.
The third scene will be the gentleman looking surprisingly at the rocket where two astronauts will be walking out of it in a cool manner.

Oh.....god.......those were wonderful days. Later we started questioning about Deepavali in our early 20's. The charm started dying. Again picked up the enthusiasm during our first Diwali after marriage. Normally for most of the new Maapillais it is yet another skill to show before their in-laws. Now after becoming parents, celebrate it for the children. My son on hearing about the childless labour did not want to burst crackers for few years, until he was definite that those companies were not using any child labour. I am proud to have a son like him. Nowdays after the evolution of private Channels, Solomon Pappaiyan and Dindigul Leoni is seen in everyone's house on the Diwali day.

Now that we are in UK, we are missing all these happenings (though not the TV's). But I never like to miss Deepavali. I keep visiting Chennai every year. Yes........... I am leaving to Chennai on 23rd October and hope to see some bloggers when I visit there.

Hi Bloggers of Chennai........... Hope to see as many as I can.

WISH YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY DIWALI!!!

I dedicate this posting to all those wonderful people who make Deepavali a memorable one by working behind the screen like Taylors, Crackers Factory Workers, Chefs in Sweet shops, Tradesmen and many more who work tirelessly to make others happy.

HAPPY DIWALI!!!

11 October, 2005




Running

One,Two, Three... go...
were the first three words which meant that I should run during my early days. There was a huge playground called as "Appollo Ground" in front of my house in Perungalathur. It was neither a village nor a town and was called as suburb or semi-urban. Boys of different ages playing Cricket was a common sight in the evenings. Non-availability of players due to exams, Handles of the bat being broken, or Cork balls being broken were the reasons for not playing cricket some days. During those time running around the ground came in handy. Most of us used to run bare feet which I cannot imagine of doing it even while walking from my bed to toilet nowadays. Just before running if I had glasses of water, I used to hear strange sounds from my belly. One of my friend told that his father advised not to drink water before running. After few rounds, the sound used to settle down. Delhi Iyengar an aged gentleman walking along with his pocket transistor and waving at us was a usual routine. We were told by him that running will make our legs stronger.

After few years, on knowing the effects of running we started it in the morning during summer. The lakes used to be dried and it was pleasant during the morning to run across the mild wind blowing on our chest and face. Some of my friends used to promise the previous night that they will join us too, but they hardly joined us. Running in the morning made us to experience few things. Most of the early risers used to walk towards the common tap to fetch Palar water (which is drinkable and tasty water from the Palar River near Chingleput). Energetic stray dogs chasing us was a usual scene. Some of the lazy ones used to just lift their head and put it down back after making a bark or two. Newspaper delivery boys cycling fast, with one of their hand on the handlebar, and the other one on the paper was also usual sight. We never missed their style of throwing papers from the road towards the balcony shouting 'Paper'. I wish they all could play basket ball. Also, the milk man walking half-sleep, road sweepers discussing something were usual. I still remember few names of Milk vendors like Murugesan, Elumalai, Kaveri Amma, Sakunthala, Lakshmi and so on... They used to wonder why these boys are running in the early morning. During winter and foggy days some of them used to be scared on seeing us jogging as a group. Again due to so many reasons my running stopped.

After few years, when we were in mid 20's we started it again. This time few girls in our colonies too joined us. We used to enjoy wonderful scenes, like Sunrise, hear chirping of birds while walking back home. I have never run great distance though I always wished.

Later the habit of running stopped and started when one of my friend Nataraj's elder brother Ramji who was working in a Shipping company returned back to land, on holidays. We used to start running by 4:30 a.m and he used to exchange few of his experiences. It was wonderful to know the outside world from him.

Days rolled by and running became history. After marriage running was one of many things which became history. Now since three years, when the cholesterol level shot up, and after I felt that I could not see my feet because of my big belly, I decided to cut down on my fat, and started running. So, it is the same running, but different land, and people. I always like running for the reason that it is cheap, does not require any equipment to carry with except a pair of good shoes. You can do this cheapest exercise, wherever you go. Running helps you to know more places, meet people, and gives a great feeling. The muscles can be really felt after a run. It is a great experience to walk with those tired muscles. You should experience to know it.

There is a beautiful park near my house now and I run most of the days around the park. One day, I was surprised to know that there was going to be a race. The unique feature of the race I learnt was for raising money for Cancer Relief Fund and only Ladies were allowed to participate. I took my family to see the race. Grandmothers, Mothers, daughters, grand daughters and great grand daughters were there. Some of them working together, participated in same colour track suits. When the whistle blew, and the race started tears started rolling down my cheek. My wife noticed it and I wiped them off before my children could see it. It was very emotional to see some ladies wearing T-shirts with wordings on their back like
" In remembrance of my dearest Mom....."
"Dedicated to my dearest sister...."
"I miss you my friend...."
"Grand ma ..I...Miss you..."
"CANCER IS OUR ENEMY"

and so on.

It made me to think. Death is inevitable irrespective of Caste, Creed or religion. People are same all over the world. Everyone wants to live. There could have been someone affected by cancer, or lost one of their friend/relative due to cancer, among the participants. Why do they run? To bring awareness among other public, and to raise money for the Cancer Research organisation to help them eradicate Cancer, atleast for the future generation. World is humane. There are still people who live for others, who love others. I explained this to my wife who is very understanding......YES..... YOU GUESSED IT RIGHT..... She is running in this race next year.

We need to carry the torch and give it to the next generation.

I dedicate this post to those millions of people who are fighting with the disease CANCER.

I am sure one day we can live peacefully without the threat of this diesease. Last week I read that they have found a jab for Cervical cancer.

CANCER! Sorry you need to get lost soon.....

05 October, 2005

04 October, 2005

Is the world going faster..... Sometimes.... I have stood in a corner and watched the world go. It is funny. You see everyone going faster as if there is no tomorrow. After sometime I join the same stream.... The same now with this blogging world..... First day I started reading blogs and went through some of my friends (No it was not Narayanan Venkitu) blogs until the next early morning. Realised that this is a new world..........I am now ready for all the newness...... New friends, New thoughts,New happenings, New humour, New pictures...... and a NEW WORLD. Yes...........

One seed can make the whole earth green.......

I love children. Childhood is the best part in human's life. You realize it only when you have outgrown it. How far are we allowing the children to enjoy. Though one way you envy at the children, for the kind of electronic games they could play with, another way we could only pity at them.

I remember a scene few years ago when I took a day off, to let the world go. I was standing in a corner of a busy road and watching all the children going to school. Most of the parents were walking along with their children and terrorising them by asking questions from their memorised homeworks and lessons.

This was the worst scene.....


A mother was walking along with her son who was so tiny and I followed them. The child was often pulling his trousers which was bit loose. The shoes were too heavy for the child to walk. Mother was asking numbers from 1 to 10 and the spellings. Then she questioned the child to recite the rhymes. Later she asked the child to recite Rhymes in Tamil and shocked me further by asking the child to recite Sanskrit slogas.

Parents...stop! .....stop!.....stop!.... Please do not pressurise your children at a tender age. Let them enjoy this world. Teach them to walk, sing, laugh and feel. Tell them plenty of stories. Give food for their thoughts first. Please leave them. Do not try to achieve through them what you could not achieve. Let them be kids. They will come up brighter than you. Do not worry. Give them your best time and encouragement.

Please be happy with children. They need not be your own children. Smile at children whom you come across every day and make their day happy. Wave at Children School bus ( Not when it is empty or when the teachers take it for a picnic trip) when it is full of children. See how many children wave back at you. It will spread like infection.... Please do it.

I dedicate this post to countless children of this world.