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


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..................



Then Scroll down . ..................

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.....)