Thursday, October 28, 2010

My addiction to auto-travelling is due to many reasons.
1. I am driving-challenged.
2. I have arthritis and cannot board buses.
3.I hate waiting for buses.
Since I am a seasoned auto-traveller, I feel I am highly qualified to advise people on the rules to follow .
You must know that auto drivers follow Newton's First Law of Motion :viz(I love the word viz- it is now becoming extinct)An object continues in its state of rest or uniform motion in a straight line unless acted upon by an external force.
Hence never disturb a sleeping/gossipping auto driver-they have increased the auto fares mainly so that they have more time to relax.
Autos are uni-directional- they wish to continue travelling in the same direction until they come to a dead-end,so never ever ask them to turn around.
They hate U-turns.This I have found out, applies to all auto drivers. Unfortunately we have to take a U-turn to reach our house.The auto drivers either tell us U-turns are not allowed, which we rubbish loudly, or grumble so much our day is ruined.
They never have small change.They are experts in approximations. They always round off the fare to the nearest tens.They hate people who produce the exact change,

One should be careful about airing one's political views while travelling in an auto.Even if you are airing it only to your captive audience-your co-passenger-remember that Big Brother is watching you.If the auto driver's political affiliations are radically opposed to yours, you might find yourself suddenly and unceremoniously thrown out.
Never talk religious sentiments.The Driver's ID might say he is A clean shaven Nanje Gowda but the driver might be a bearded Abdul Gafoor.
The inscriptions on the back generally give you a lot of information about the driver.Unfortunately you can only read the inscriptions on other people's autos."Swetha- Swaroop' Happy small family .Appa ammana ashirwada-Parents have paid for the auto- willingly or unwillingly.Rajkumar's photo- better speak shudh kannada or else.
A couple of days I autoed to Avenue Road in the evening. Wrong time. wronger place to be in,but couldn't be helped. We tried to catch an auto to return home. A stream of empty autos went past, refusing every 'sawari'.They all turned left, and stood in a line.All this with a humungous Hoysala parked right there!I went up to the inspector .seething with righteous indignation and complained. The inspector immediately took up his walkie-talkie and bellowed to his assistants to"get Madam an auto".The whole of Avenue Road froze for a moment and then you could see a lot of autos running for their dear lives from the vicinity.But for one or two of them it was too late, The assistant nabbed one and hollered for the madam ,and immediately a lot of impostors swarmed around him.We got into the auto and heaved a sigh of relief-too soon.The auto driver travelled a few yards to be outside the purview of the Hoysala and stopped.The driver demanded that we should pay extra -Pray,why, demanded my husband-for the time wasted in the peak hour traffic replied the driver.A heated argument ensued. Meanwhile I was busy taking down the the number of the auto.I switched on the camera in the cellphone and clicked a few bad mug shots of the scene. The driver caught on and started the auto, He took us home in the most circuitous route and dumped us in front of our home unceremoniously.I scuttled out of the auto like a frightened cockroach , glad to be in ine piece.
And last but not least, always pray while travelling in an auto--pray that the driver has had a good breakfast, doesn't have acidity,or a nagging wife,hasn't been jilted by his girlfriend-or just chant a shloka or take a valium.
If all fails,do not despair==the metro will soon be here!!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pedestrian woes

Being a pedestrian in the world of snazzy cars, scooters, motorbikes, scootys , and bicycles is a tough job. If you are a NRI and a pedestrian by choice in India(My God!!Drive in Bengalooru traffic! Never!) you get sympathetic and respectful nods. But a desi pedestrian has a tough time.

FAQs for the regular pedestrian :

1. How do you ever get around, ajji,(when I haven't dyed my hair) or aunty (when I have )....
Answer : This one is tough. Yes auto fares have gone through the roof and my arthritic knees protest when I clamber on buses. Add to this drivers who start the bus when I am still on the footboard,"Ajji, we don't have all day, climb fast" and it is a major problem.

2.How do you ever cross the roads?
Answer : Crossing the roads is not a major problem. you go to the zebra crossing and pretend to never look at the voluminous traffic. The pedestrian lights bleeps for exactly 25 seconds which you can manage if you are either a star sprinter or if you can fly. If you are neither ,just cross the road after taking a deep breath and reciting prayers. Have deep faith in the karma theory or chant 'Que sera sera'.
Look sternly at any driver who is revving the engine threateningly. Alternately, if there is a policeman around, you can get into an argument as to how it is impossible to cross the road so fast. they generally guide you across the road and they will glare at the drivers for you.

Another good option is to pretend you are an ambulance and bleep furiously and cross. The drivers then will either really think you are a human ambulance or that you are an escaped lunatic (after all Nimhans is really closeby) and let you cross the road.

If all else fails , keep all your transactions on your side of the road. Choose the friendly neighbourhood bank on the same side of the road.

I was trying to cross Southend Road the other day , when I saw a senior citizen in the middle of the road , with the traffic whizzing past , The poor man had a neck problem and could turn his head only in one direction.He had managed to cross half the road , by turning right, but was now unhappily stranded in the middle of the road, I bravely went to his rescue, following all the aforesaid rules and helped him. I could already see the halo around my head. He thanked me profusely and said, "You can cross the samsara sagara , but not a Bengalooru road"!!

3.Do you have to depend on others to ferry you around?
Answer : This option actually saves a lot of headaches. Depute work.. cos, well, they can use a vehicle and you can't.

4.Can you do multiple tasks in a day?
What multitasking? Those days are over. In this day and age, if you can survive crossing the road even once a day- your job for the day is done.

And with that we come to the end of our Q & A session. For any further questions or complaints on road safety and best practices for pedestrians - well there's nothing you can do ....go back to chanting your favorite prayer and take the first step in good faith.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

My friend's blog set me thinking, as all her blogs do. She is truly a thinking woman's blogger.('woman' here stands for all of mankind,just like 'No man is an island').
Well, my marriage has lasted forty stormy years, and I do feel I am eligible to dispense words of wisdom.Ofcourse, you might say, ' It is not growing like a tree, In bulk doth make Man better be' etc. nevertheless I shall proceed.

The first thing to remember is that togetherness is highly pernicious to a marriage.It would be ideal if one spouse is a night owl, and the other an early bird.The less time you spend together, the longer the marriage will last. (just like King Vikramaditya's' kaadaru maasam ,Naadaru maasam') My husband and I have an ideal arrangement.He goes for a walk, after I return.He sleeps when I finish my afternoon nap. In the evenings, he goes for music concerts, I am busy with tuition.As the day ends, he watches tamil serials, I watch Hindi serials.It is imperative for a good marriage to have as many TV sets as possible.Channel selection has been the reason cited for so many divorces.

It would ofcourse be ideal to have pre-nup agreements on major issues. But in India this would have the man running helter-skelter out of the engagement. There is sure to be a great aunt lurking somewhere who is sure to say"My God! what kind of girl asks for this?".

This would be ideal, because it is never the big issues that cause rifts in a marriage. "Is Barrack Obama a good president?, Should Jaswant Singh be expelled from the BJP?", these things don't break up a marriage.It is the little things that do.
What are the little things? When I was a newly wed, Bangalore was a heaven on earth. Winters were very chilly. Our bedroom had , believe me, six windows.My husband used to open all six, and have the fan on, full blast. He never noticed that I was freezing .By morning, I would be an icicle. I had to stand near the 'venneer anda'(water boiler) for half an hour to thaw.Those were the days when parents were not so sympathetic.When I went to my 'maika' I complained to my father about this.He listened to me patiently and I was delighted. He got up thoughtfully, and I was sure he was going to call up my husband.Those days it was not so easy to make long distance calls.We had to call up trunk booking and the operator would answer only if she wanted to.She would say "Yes Moddom, I will call you back". If you were lucky, the call would come through by next week. My father was gone a long time, and I was a little puzzled. Then he came in and thrust a package at me. I opened the packet and found two extra thick blankets.I got the message, ofcourse.

Another thing that causes marriages to break up is snoring. If both spouses snore, they can snore in harmony, and even have snoring competitions. It is bad if only one partner snores. then you either use ear plugs, or just remember what I read in the digest -'Snoring is the best music this side of heaven, ask any widow'.

Food is again a contentious issue. Some husbands have the habit of comparing their wife's cooking to their mother's.I never had this problem as my mother-in-law had never cooked in all her life.It is best to practise selective deafness on these occasions-you might turn up the volume of the TV, bang a few dishes,hit the punching bag, count till hundred, but never ever fight.

Another major reason for fights is naming the offspring. I never had this particular problem, as my mother-in-law insisted on naming all her grandchildren.I had a friend who wanted to name her daughter Chetana while her husband insisted on calling her Sirisha. The child got so confused she ended up with schizoprenia. Just imagine, if the grandmother had insisted on calling her Indira, the child would have ended up with multiple personality disorder!!

Children's education is always another issue. Don't feel victorious if you get the portfolio. It has its pitfalls. Recently, my cousin's daughter,25, complained that her mother ought to have made her learn Bharatanatyam. "But, Diya, I wanted to join you since you were six, and you were the one who refused to " said my baffled cousin."Mother," came the irritated retort"I was too young.You should have forced me to learn".It is clearly a no-win situation.

The list is endless. But if you survive the first ten years, half the battle is won.I feel the government should institute Param Vir Chakra and MahaVir Chakra awards for people who celebrate silver and golden wedding anniversaries, Is anyone listening?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Glueless bonding

I need very little to thrill me.I get an immense thrill when two jigsaw pieces fit together . There used to be a lovely 'ping' when they bonded ,but Seren hated the sound and silenced it.Being technically challenged, I couldn't put it back again.I didn't raise my voice because all this saatwik eating has made me docile.I can hear my pragmatic older offspring harumphing, but I do have these 'Thoda pyaar, thoda magic moments, when....

In the U.S. ,I see a lady with a nosering in the right side, the Tambram in me does a jig. I want to run forward and do a 'gale milana', only I know Altoid would disapprove.Once I did beam at a right nosering only to discover it was a hippie guy!

I sit in Sai Mandir and sing Sai Bhajans, and bond with all of them there.A wonderful 'yaadum oore, yavarum kelir' moment.(translates to' all places are mine , all men are my kinsmen')
I am in a souvenir shop, 'saat samundar paar, I am grinning at a magnet which
says 'You have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince' I ,raise my eyes to find an American smiling at it too and feel an instant bonding across all barriers.
I see a young American at the airport, reading Khaled Husseini.I want to hug her and say ' me too loves his books!'

When I hear the chant 'Sarve Jana sukino bhavanthu' and feel one with all the universe!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Flower Beds Jigsaw Puzzle
Flower Beds Jigsaw Puzzle

I have always loved jigsaws, and I always will.When we discovered jigsaws on the net, Seren was still in college .We used to compete with each other in doing it faster, and you should have seen her face when she came back from college and found that I had beaten her time record!

Seren always had a knack of doing jigsaws. She could assemble the pieces by their shape and colour, a skill I don't possess.The ones we love are Kincaid's. Altoid regularly supplies us with jigsaws.
So what is it with jigsaws? May be it is an innate longing for some order in this chaotic world.When pieces fit together, it really gives you a thrill,a 'God is in His heaven all is right with the world' feeling.

Orange Poppy Jigsaw Puzzle
Poppy Jigsaw Puzzle

I do atleast one jigsaw a day (while in the good old USA ofcourse, in India I would get a whopping telephone bill) In case you love jigsaws here are a few! I suggested to my children that this craze for jigsaws and crosswords were the result of the trauma of my being the neglected middle child, but they do not agree.They feel it is too farfetched.

Click to Mix and Solve

Sunday, May 10, 2009

(s)tone deaf

One of my life's regrets is that I am completely tone deaf. Coming from a family of music buffs who used to sit through all night music concerts of Chemmangudi and Ariyakkudi, I am so obviously the black sheep.My aunt did make valiant efforts.She got me really good music teachers. I used to wonder why my music teachers looked so pained when I sang.I really couldn't sing. My uncle who used to visit us , felt it his duty to make us practise our music. He told me much later that he used to feel quite nauseous when he heard me sing. It was a strong sense of duty which kept him at it.
My aunt tried teaching me veena ( after the neighbours started buying earplugs, I suppose)
She finally gave up on me.
My sister-in-law sings really well.She gives concerts also.Once when she had come home during Navaratri, I asked her to sing. Even though I am tone deaf. I like to listen to music, especially when I understand the lyrics, especially Dikshitar's.Later my older sister-in-law told me that she had said that she did not enjoy singing to people who are tone deaf.

That hurt! I imagined a lot of cutting retorts . It rankled. It rankled so badly I never ever asked her to sing again.

Just yesterday I was listening to some music on the youtube. The Ranjani-Gayatri duo. They were asked a question by a member of the audience.The woman said that she did not know any thing about music.. she couldn't identify ragas or anything , but she did enjoy listening to music.. was that okay? The answer was an eye-opener for me. Gayatri said that it didn"t really matter whether you identified the raga or understood the finer nuances.. if the music touches a chord in your heart that was the best reward for the singer.In fact connoisseurs listen to music on a fault finding mission.
Hurrah!I am back to listening to music.. Never mind if I think Kambhoji is Devagandhari!

Appa's filter coffee

I read emolior's blog with great delight. I love compliments .I just soak in.Unfortunately not everyone in the house appreciates my filter kapi.
Until the time I left for the U.S. in 2002, my husband couldn't or rather wouldn't make his coffee.But when I planned to go I taught him how to. Now he no longer likes my coffee. He makes his own coffee.
When Emolior hears him in the morning making coffee in the kitchen, she feigns sleep.She will rattle something or if need be, kick me to get me to wake up. You ask why? Read on!
My husband gets his coffee powder specially ordered. It has 50%coffee and 50% chicory.He asks for tips on making coffee. Following one such tip, He put coffee powder in the filter, added three spoons of sugar(my mother said, a pinch) heated the filter red hot , ended up with coffee syrup as the sugar melted. The actual tip was , always slightly heat the filter to remove any blocks in the pores, add a pinch of sugar on top of the coffee powder .
He always makes the coffee real strong and believe it or not adds a spoon of instant coffee. The resulting brew can wake up the dead.Jet laggers like Emolior will never recover from their jetlag.
He is always hurt when his offspring refuse his offers of coffee.But pitrubhakti can be carried only so far, isn't it?