Dec 17, 2010

Baby Songs

If you are crappy and you know it, wipe your ass
If you are crappy and you know it, wipe your ass
If you are crappy and you know it
And you really shouldn't show it
If you are crappy and you know it, wipe your ass!

Wet your nappy and you know it, raise a stink
Wet your nappy and you know it, raise a stink
Wet your nappy and you know it
And you really should just throw it
Wet your nappy and you know it, raise a stink!

If you pee-pee and you know it, piss some more

If you pee-pee and you know it, piss some more
If you pee-pee and you know it
And you really want to shove it
If you pee-pee and you know it, piss some more!
PS1: Inspired by an episode of two and a half men, where Charlie sings some jingle to make a kid piss.

PS2: If I ever have kids, I will sing this to them...

Dec 12, 2010

Punch Drunk!

If you drink a lot of port wine, and then promptly puke (yeah, yuck!), would it be called deportment?

And if your friend offers you more port wine after this incident, can it be said that he's reporting you?


You may begin, but I also need tonic.


The slush you are drinking is a cheap commodity. The one I have is an elite brandy.


Once, I was so drunk I didn't know whiskey to open my house with.


If you see a joker too many, maybe you are overdoing the rummy part.


Whenever you think you have offended someone, it might be a good idea to tell them "Please beer with me"


I love to eat rice, but I can't drink its wine for God's sake!


Once I saw a girl merely nodding to the barman and he brought her apple wine. Turned out, he knew what was in cider mind.


Once I went to a fancy dress party where I think I saw the green fairy, but turned out she was absinthe.


PS 1: Inspired partly by this lady's post on random word play. And partly by the wonderful booze session with my friends yesterday night.

PS 2: Some years ago, I was a chamathu, god-fearing, pure vegetarian, teetotaler Iyer payyan. Who only hit on, you guessed it, fruit punch.

Nov 18, 2010

Of Home Visits, Closet Outings, Bigoted Priests and other random stuff

And, almost 10 days after returning from a very nice, very fulfilling (stomach-wise) home visit, I decide to pen it down... extremely long, mostly random, definitely boring, largely personal, but then, the whole purpose of this blog is to look back at all this 5 years down the line and chuckle at how silly I was...


This was a trip filled with nostalgia... the first wave of nostalgia hit as soon as I landed and saw a cut-out of Kalaignar, Varuga Varuga nu varaverthufying me to the land of the Ulaga Tamizh Manadu! The second wave of nostalgia hit when I got into the bus to Bhavani, and listened to random songs like "Sendhura poovae..." and "Devadhai pol oru penn ingu vandhadhu thambi, unnai nambi." And 33 bucks and 100 km later, I was home!


Within half an hour of reaching home, my brother had downloaded all the games that I had taken from here on a pen-drive (for the record, NFS, Cricket 2007, and most important, MK4!!!) and we settled down to a good old Mortal Kombat session. And I won! Haven't lost my touch! Btw, we have a computer at home now. With internet connection. Progress. Prosperity. Or as my mom puts it after watching our MK4 sessions, paithiyakarathanam!


I spend a weekend attending a friend's wedding. Third wave of nostalgia. Meeting school friends after almost a decade. Memories of sitting in the same bench together for 12 years come rushing back. Sigh, why did I not keep in touch? The old bugbear, laziness. Must make amends.


The first round of 'meeting relatives' begins. And the usual question tumbles out: "When are you getting married?" The funny thing is, they are convinced that I actually want to get married, but I am too shy to tell my parents and hence, they tell my mom "Avan apadi thaan aparam aparam nu solluvan. Nee paaka thodangu." More than anything, they are worried I'll find a girl from 'some other caste'. I wish. 12 years in Bombay, and I have come up with zilch. Or actually, three whiny V-day poems. Sometimes, I think my relatives think too much of my capabilities while the gals in Bombay unfortunately don't. They really need to switch their opinions on the subject of SRK's general attractiveness, if you ask me.


The whole week at home is spent in a simple routine: Wake up, have breakfast, read the Hindu, try to solve the crossword, give up, read books, pull Mom's leg, bear with her pulling mine with the dreaded "marriage" question, lunch, siesta, read some more, MK4 session with bro, eat dinner, sleep. Aah, if there is Paradise on Earth, it is here, it is here, it is here!


Actually, have to elaborate a bit on the "pull Mom's leg". I finally came 'out of the closet'. No, not that I am gay. That might still have been accepted probably. But I am something worse. A non-believer. Blasphemy!
To her credit, she did accept it with more calm than I gave her credit for. But I can see it makes her queasy. I told her I take the occasional drink and she was ok. I told her I dig the occasional chick (the feathered variety on the plate, not the tight jeans and high heels ones), and she was ok. But this religion thing makes her fret. I ask: "Payyan kuduchu kuttichevuru aanalum paravallai, aana pora pokula govinda govinda sollite ponum nu oru aasaiya?"
She smiles. And says "One day, you will believe." One day...


She also tells me that the kovil gurukal told her that it is written in my jadagam that I'll be this kudarkam pesum kundamandi. I am more concerned as to why the gurukal has been looking at my jadagam. And get into one more discussion of if and when I get married, I will not allow horoscopes to be looked at. I will be starry-eyed, but only about the girl. Not about whether her fifth house has Guru or Shukran. Or whatever they see in that!


And after 5 days of such kundamandi talks, Diwali arrives. And I happily gorge on the sweets, the omapodi, the muthusari, and as a reward for all this er... divine food, I submit to visit the temple. The temple is actually a nice one, being on the banks of Cauvery. Plus, it has this legend, which is nice to read about till you actually come to the end of it (not in the online version, but it is inscribed in the temple). Which is that, after a British Collector is saved by the Goddess, he wanted to thank Her, but the wise men decided that he is an "alien" after all, and can't be allowed inside the temple. So, they make three holes in the wall from which he can have darshan, and the holes are still there. The temple priest proudly points it out. I am disgusted. Your God(dess) didn't discriminate when she went to save the guy, but you act holier-than-thou by not allowing him inside, and now, you are proud of that legend? Sigh!


The temple visit has 2-3 more incidents. First, I bump into this really caste-obsessed priest who, admittedly in good fun and because he knows my parents well enough to joke with them, playfully tells them "Why don't you shift to the agraharam? Why do you want to stay in the midst of all the shudras?" I don't know if my shock showed on my face, but he did lay off that topic soon enough.

Only to get on my case. "Eppo Kalyanam?". I smile. I have learnt that while some of them are really matchmakers, most of them ask it as a matter of polite courtesy. And that smiling and saying "All in good time, by God's grace" usually shuts them up. I don't mind calling upon God to get out of such squirmy situations.

And then, we meet another gurukal. Who asks me my 'nakshatram'. Which, like Karna in the Mahabharata facing Arjuna, I forget at the nick of time. Damn. (But, you should note that I do remember my mythology). A brief lecture on how one should remember one's birth-star. So, before this gets any more embarrassing for me, and more for my mom since she is known around the temple as a very devout lady, I quietly slip away and sit on the steps leading to the river. And admire her in full flow. If there is anything remotely divine about that place, it is the majestic flow of the river. But that is just me.


And then we go to Bangalore (ok, Bengaluru) to meet cousins. Awesome time. Made even more awesome since this time it was my sister, poor lady that she is, that was facing the 'Eppo Kalyanam?' heat.
And like the usual sadist that I am, I joined in. Took an issue of SruthiVani, which is this really Mallu mag which happens to have half the pages dedicated to matrimonials, to shortlist eligible mapillais for her. Probably only of Tambrahms or something. Which reminds me, if you are a single, Tambrahm guy, between 28-30 years of age and living in and around Bengaluru, get in touch. Engineers preferred. :)

One look at that SruthiVani thingy and I can definitely say I'm not getting married. Not unless they really invoke the '1000 lies allowed' clause. All the potential brides want tall, handsome grooms. (although I still don't know what's wrong with the short and pudgy ones?). With clean habits (does the fact that I sometimes drink my vodka neat count?). And God-fearing (maybe, just maybe, I can print Dog-fearing, and they'll think it is a printing mistake. While I'd have told the truth. The same way Yudishtira said the truth to Drona about Ashwathama. See, I do remember my mythology! Maybe that'll count for something!).

Need to write a post on why I am extremely uncomfortable with the concept of 'arranged marriage', but then, I have said it before and I'll say it again, it is the socialist solution for guys at the bottom of the desirable pyramid like me, who'd otherwise remain single (happily?) in a ruthless capitalist-style 'date, propose, marry' society...


And that concludes the home visit report. Boring? Don't say you weren't pre-warned!

Nov 15, 2010

A Question of Trust - Part IV

Read Part One, Two and Three here.

Trust is a strange thing - all it takes is a small weed of doubt to be planted in the mind for it to overpower the banyan of trust built over years with tender care. And the capacity of the human mind to seek out information which supports its preconceived hypothesis, and reject anything that does not conform to the conclusion already arrived at, would indeed be amusing, if it were not so predictably tragic...

As he wrote these lines, he reflected on the effect a single line, casually tossed in a conversation, had had on Lakshmi Ammal’s psyche. Mere words, spoken by a person sitting miles away, had caused her to question a committment first sealed by sacred fire and then sanctified by decades of togetherness.

... But the key redeeming feature of the human mind is its capacity to forgive. And willingly, if reluctantly, forget. And thus, a father is able to forgive his daughter after years of ostracizing her. A wife is able to overcome her suspicions, the very ones her mind was convinced about based on what her own eyes and ears had fed her. And a husband is able to forgive his wife for doubting him, able to be empathetic enough to view the situation from her point of view and understand how his sudden affection to a strange girl must have seemed like.

It had all worked out as planned. The old couple’s bond was stronger than ever, having recently survived the agnipariksha, and the father was closer to his daughter than if he would ever have been had he not banished her from his house. Distance does make the heart grow fonder. Yes, everything had worked out as planned. Except...

She had left him. The moment she came to know that she had been used as an unwitting guinea pig in a tasteless experiment, she had quietly but decisively ended their relationship. She had been shocked to know that it was he who had pulled strings to get her onto the project. It was he who had encouraged her to spew hatred against an old man, one she did not know could be her future father-in-law. She shook with disgust thinking that if she hadn’t called Krishna Iyer a father figure, her boyfriend would have been only too happy to test if she ended up having an affair with his own father. Just to test another of his pet theories that deep love was usually forged out of people finding fault with one another. He was unable to convince her that he trusted her enough to believe that would never happen. She had called him a sick bastard for using his own girlfriend as a ‘subject’ in the social experiment he had conducted on his parents. And Kalpathy Krishnaswamy Shankar Iyer, reflected on the irony of his girlfriend telling him she is leaving him because she’ll never be able to trust him, just as he had successfully concluded what he called the ‘trust experiment’ and proved that a few minor weeds cannot shake the deep rooted tree of trust. He thought he had accounted for all the pawns, but one of the pawns had unexpectedly reached the other end and had become the Queen. 

While one might analyze the fallibility of the human mind to fool itself into seeking out information to confirm its pre-conceived notions, while at the same time wonder at its ability to instantly ignore and forget all evidence which goes contrary to its set belief, these are but minor cognitive errors. One might avoid them if one is aware of their possibility, and the way they distort the mind’s decisions. The larger, and usually unavoidable, error is one where the mind believes itself to be infallible, considers itself unique in the sense that what affects other ‘lesser’ minds would not affect a ‘superior’ one like itself, rejects the very possibility of failure, a situation which some learned people refer to as ‘hubris’.

Because, after all, if you couldn’t trust your own mind, who would you trust?

PS1: And that brings an end to another long, I-wish-I-won't-be-tempted-to-start-another-series, story. 

Ps2: Congrats Sampath, for having correctly guessed the relationship between Shankar and Krishna Iyer, 2 chapters back.

Nov 14, 2010

A Question of Trust - Part III

Read Part One and Two here.

Lakshmi Ammal had laughed off her son's careless remark, saying "I have been with him for 28 years now. If he had to stray, he'd have done so long ago." But the changes she saw in her husband's routine disturbed her. It was as if a clock that had been running reliably for a quarter century suddenly begins to chime at odd hours, and run awry. And if that is the only clock in one's world, how does one reset it to the 'correct time'?

She had ignored the early signs. Like when he had changed his opinion on 'that Bengali lady' to "she's not as bad as I thought". Or when he returned a bit late from office, saying he had gone to drop her off to her place. She had kept her thoughts to herself even when his lunch box came back untouched, while the servant remarked that he had seen his master taking the girl out for lunch to a hotel. 

But the proverbial 'last straw' happenned when Krishna Iyer started jogging in the morning. With Ms. Sengupta. And Lakshmi Ammal had to silently bear the shame of the whispered "Paavum di maami, kalangkarthala inga paal vaanga nikkara. Anga enna da na naai maadiri naaka thonga potundu andha ponnu pinnadi odararu ivaathu mama", when she went to buy the milk at 5 a.m. ("Poor maami, she has to stand in the line for milk early morning. While her husband runs after that girl like a dog with his tongue out").

Lakshmi Ammal was not one for direct confrontation. Her mother had taught her better. She had seen her sister being sent back to her abusive husband, just so that the 'family honour' be preserved. But the message had to be conveyed to her husband, and it was up to her to find the way. And thus Krishna Iyer knew something was just not right the moment he entered his house that evening. The house was dark, and the puja room lamp was unlit. "Ennadi, sami velakku ethalaya?" (Why haven't you lit the puja lamp?"). "Veetula velakku etharthuku thaan neenga puthusa orithi pathundu irukkele, avala vandhu etha sollungo" ("You have been seeing a new girl, ask her to come and light it").

“What nonsense are you talking? Who put such ridiculous ideas into your head?”

“Why? They don’t light lamps in Bengal?”


Had Lakshmi Ammal been aware of a certain incident at Krishna Iyer’s office, the one that triggered the changes in his routine, she’d have regretted voicing such doubts. But her absence at the venue at the said time, plus the fact that she had never questioned her husband ever, exonerated her current behaviour in his eyes. And reinforced a lesson that he had only recently learnt, that open communication is the only weapon to clear barriers in relationships.

(Meta-digression: While this writer hates flashbacks in general, and has no pretensions regarding his ability to narrate a story in multiple timelines, it becomes necessary for us to rewind to the said incident to take this story forward. Back to the story).

It had been another long, acrimonious day at the office, when Ms. Sengupta had presented her interim findings to the client management, and her bosses who had flown in for the same, and had been at the receiving end of what is politely referred to as ‘constructive criticism’ from her boss regarding her ability to ‘deliver on the client’s requirements by proactively working to eliminate any apprehensions that the client’s team might have and to achieve their buy-in for the project’. Krishna Iyer had just smirked silently, knowing fully well that when the next presentation happens at the end of the month, nothing would have been achieved on the ‘eliminate misapprehensions and achieve buy-in’ part, as long as he had something to do with it.

And while he packed up to leave office at 5.30 as usual, he saw the girl sitting with her ‘fancy’ laptop, with a determined look on her face. And when he came back the next day morning, she was still there, only this time, the determined look was replaced by sleepy eyes as her head rested on a stack of files. “You think those files make for a good pillow?”, he commented sarcastically. And then it happenned.

It was as if a dam had broke, as the flood of tears gushed forth. She had yelled at him first, pointing out how she knew he hated her, and that he wanted this project to fail only to humiliate her. Then she had broken down, telling him in between tears, how she felt all alone in this strange city, how she missed her family and her friends, and how she had looked up to him as a father figure, only to be spurned and humiliated time and again. Krishna Iyer had never been comfortable with tears. All his life, he had been content to leave his wife to tend to the kids, busying himself with ‘the Hindu’ whenever the babies cried. He did not hate kids, he just preferred that they neither be heard nor be seen. And now, here was this fully grown girl, sobbing in front of him.

But either some hidden paternal instinct, or the fact that he secretly missed his own daughter so much, caused him to warm up to this alien girl, in spite of her funny smelling food and her short hair. And impulsively he decided to be a father to her, to fulfil a role which he knew he should have performed for his own daughter.

He missed his daughter. All she had asked for, was the permission to marry someone she loved. Her words came back to him, “Appa, I want to marry someone who loves me for the person I am. Not someone who is looking for labels like Hindu-Brahmin, well-schooled, knows cooking, can sing and dance. And I want to marry a person whom I know, for what he is, not a collection of fancy foreign degrees and a six-figure pay packet.” And at that time, he had wondered what a fool of a girl she was, to refuse a religious minded NRI mapillai (groom) with a green card, one who had not picked up any ‘dirty’ habits in spite of living in the States. He had explained to her how he had been happily married for so long in spite of saying ‘yes’ to her mother after one meeting and 2 minutes of conversation, a meeting he remembered more for the tasty bhajji than anything else. The daughter had said something to the tune of how it would take a selfless woman like her mother to put up with someone like him, and she was sure a lesser woman would have walked out on him. And that comment had led to more arguments, a lot of shouting and ended with him banging the door on her face with the words “From this moment on, you are dead to me...”

And now, he repented those words. And while he decided to help out this Bengali girl by accompanying her on her morning jogs to ward off eve-teasers, and take her out on the occasional lunch, over the days he slowly swallowed his pride and decided to re-unite with his daughter too. He knew his wife maintained contact with the daughter while continuing to maintain a veil of secrecy from him, and he decided to surprise her by buying gifts for his daughter and asking her to invite them over.

And he entered his house joyfully, with gifts in his hands, and a happy message for his wife, only to find the house dark and the puja room lamp unlit...

PS1: I know, I know, long time no update. But a home visit for Diwali and coming back to a deal that needed some late night fire-fighting at office are valid excuses in my book.

PS 2: And this story goes on and on, like a mega serial. No excuses for that, except the fact that a more skilled writer, or editor, could have cured that.

PS3: Need to do a home visit post too. Let' see. Need to decide if I should do it in the middle of this story, or bring it up later. 

Oct 24, 2010

A Question of Trust - Part II

Read Part I first. Not that it is going to help you make any sense of this, but still...

“Hello, Mr. Krishnaswamy, I’m Suchitra Sengupta. I look forward to working with you and your team”, she smiled and held out her hand. Krishna Iyer mumbled a hello, limply grazed her fingers in what he thought was a handshake and turned away towards the CFO’s cabin. It had been bad enough being told that the company was engaging a consulting firm to help modernize their accounting process to be compatible with IFRS guidelines. But to take orders from a 25-yeard old, a woman at that!

“Simply not tolerable! Totally out of question saar! At least they should send some senior person saar. What does this kid know about business to advise us?” KV Krishna Iyer pleaded with his boss.

“Iyer saar. You know it is not my decision. MD payyan US la MBA pannitu vandhurkan. Ippo private equity kondu vara porangalaam. Nammakku atha pathi oru ezhavum puriyadhu. Periya edathu decision, no question saar”, the CFO sounded equally helpless. (““Iyer saar. You know it is not my decision. The MD’s son has returned with a US MBA. Now he wants to attract private equity. We hardly know what rotten shit that is. High level decision, no question saar.”)

“But at least some senior person saar...” KVK still held some hope.

“For the record Iyer saar, she is a graduate from IIM. With a CA and a CFA.”

“Enna saar periya IIM MBA kimbeeyay. Naan antha kalathu B.Com Honours! Gold Medallist! I was drawing up ledgers before she was even born!”

“Iyer saar, I have explained the management stand. You will co-operate with her. And I don’t want any complaints from their side. Or from you.”

KVK stormed back to his cabin, muttering under his breath. Only to see the pretty face of Ms. Sengupta waiting for him. He forced himself to smile. “Tea, coffeee?”

“No thank you. Mr. Krishnaswamy, could you please take me through your processes here. I want to create a process map, and an organizational chart. Would also need to understand your internal audit system. And which software do you use for your accounts? And Mr. Krishnaswamy, please don’t mind, is there any easier way to address you?”

“What do you mean by process map? Or organizational chart? There is no internal audit, I sign off on everything below 50 lakh, for everything else, the CFO does. And no software. Those boys there, they do the accounting entry in the journals. I check the totals daily. Don’t even need a calculator! And oh, you can call me Iyer Sir.”

Suchitra bit her lip. This assignment was going to be tougher than she had imagined. She had dreamt of making high powered corporate strategy presentations to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies when she signed up for this job. Not sitting in a dingy office in Coimbatore with manual accounting, dealing with a difficult client who clearly hated her. But there was a reason she had taken up this particular assignment and she intended to complete it.

She had gotten off to a bad start with ‘Iyer Sir’. And things progressively went downhill after that.

She hated the archaic procedures and the dusty filing system. He hated computers because he couldn’t understand them.

And the mutual dislike extended from the professional domain to the personal. She hated the fact that this man held such bigoted views. He hated her for her modernity.

“I hate the slurping sounds made by a grown man licking his fingers while he ate curd rice!” she said, in her daily calls to her boyfriend, Shankar. Carrying on a relationship with someone halfway across the world was not easy. But she loved him. Loved him enough to not give up.

“I hate the smell of that fish in her tiffin box. Ennavo macher jhol aam. Enna ezhavo!”, KVK muttered to his wife at dinner, about how he had had to first change his table at lunch, and then when he could not bear it any longer, change his time-table! She was surprised to hear him talk about something from work. Something he had never done in, you guessed it, the last 25 years.

“I hate the way he dresses, in cheap polyester trousers and those bush-shirts which are never tucked in. And in such atrocious colours! I hate his oiled hair too”, Suchitra whined on another call.

“Azhaga lakshanama oru salwar kameez potukalam. Idhu ennada na pasangal aatama suit potundu varadhu! Mudiya vera otta nariki vechundu. Bob cut aam. Kandraavi Kandraavi!” (“She could wear a salmar kameez like a decent girl. But this one chooses to wear a suit like a boy! And has cut her hair so short! Says it is a bob cut. Utter nonsense!”), KVK rambled on, surprising Lakshmi Ammal even more. She had never seen her husband this agitated.

In fact, it made her worried enough to mention it in her call to her son in the US. A call he dutifully made every night, even though his father rarely spoke to him, and he had to get all his news from his mom.

“I don’t know what has come over your father. He is obsessed with finding fault with that new girl in his office!”

“Obsessed with her faults or obsessed with her? Kezhatuku indha vaisula kadhal kidhal ayidutho?” (“Has the old man fallen in love, at this age?”), the son asked, half in jest.

That question set in motion a mini-storm in the life of KV Krishna Iyer and Lakshmi Ammal, a married life that had been peaceful forever...

PS: The usual disclaimer. I am picking names of characters at random, going with whatever sounds right to me. All characters are imaginary!

Oct 21, 2010

A Question of Trust

His fingers started tapping the floor, the rhythm measured and regular. He didn't need to look at the clock to see that his wife was 2 minutes late in bringing him his breakfast. For Kalpathy Venkatasubramaniam Krishnaswamy Iyer (KV Krishna Iyer) was, if anything, a man of routine. And he sat erect, with legs crossed, in padmasana pose, the rhythm of his fingers slowly picked up speed. He didn't like to be late. He hated it more if other people made him late. Especially, if it was his wife of 28 years, Lakshmi Ammal.

KV Krishna Iyer had followed the same routine for the past 25 years. Wake up at 5 am sharp, brush, have water stored overnight in copper sombu, a bathroom routine of 'morning work', shave and bath that lasted precisely 45 minutes, sandhyvandhanam at 6, followed by suryanamaskaram, morning poojai that involved individually removing the dried flower from each of the 24 divine photos kept in the poojai-arai and replacing them with fresh flowers which the flower guy would have delivered in the morning, reading the Hindu (first page, editorial, obituaries, sports page, strictly in that order) while sipping coffee from 7 to 8 am, breakfast at 8 am, leave for work at 8.30.

The plate of steaming idlis arrived. Finally. As Lakshmi Ammal bent to serve him chutney, she winced. The years had not been kind to her back. But she knew, even before she began her well-rehearsed plea, that her loving husband would sooner let her collapse on the floor than agree to sit on the dining table for his meals. He viewed these 'modern fancies' with an emotion that bordered between callous indifference on the rare good days and vicious lecture-spewing hate on most others.

It was the same hate of modern fancies that led him to cycle his way to work, steadfastly refuse his son's offer to buy him a car. 'Work' was a day filled with journals, ledgers, petty cash balances and bank reconciliations. Or at least supposed to be. In truth, it was a day filled with two really pitiful juniors listening to the famed orator KV Krishna Iyer holding forth on one of his many pet topics - society (the glory of the caste system, the wistful reminiscence of the British Raj era, the intellectually bankrupt western influence, the evils of tobacco and alcohol), governance (the blase corruption in Indian bureaucracy), international politics (Pakistan - a nation of crooks!), economics (the US dollar is a worthless piece of paper, made valuable by the stupid Chinese...), local politics (the DMK is nothing but a bunch of godless thugs who want to finish off all Brahmins), diet (vegetarian food is the healthiest! no question about it!), films (Rajinikanth? bah, a non-actor made famous by the deranged fans! Sivaji Ganesan was the only one qualified to be an actor), sports (that Sachin Tendulkar seems to be a good chap, but Rahul Dravid is the best)...

Let it not be assumed that KV Krishna Iyer was a man who whiled away his time in office shirking work and doing chit-chat. In truth, he was too talented to be kept occupied for more than 2 hours a day by the accounting work for Rajalakshmi Industries International, which truly was involved in a global business. Of importing palm oil from Malaysia.

And his routine in office was also a set one, unchanged in the past 25 years. Coffee at 11 am, which he would drink by pouring exactly one-third of it into the second glass, twirl it thrice, sip, twirl, sip, pour, twirl, sip.
Lunch would be from the dabba with piping hot food brought by the servant precisely at 1.00, which will always have 4 containers, one sambhar rice, one rasam rice, one curd rice and one vegetable dish. The combination of vegetables in the sambhar and for the side dish for each day of the week had been drilled into his wife over the years, and he would know before opening his tiffin that the meal for the day would be vendakai sambhar and beans kari. He had a coffee again at 4, this time with 2 Marie biscuits. At 5.30, he would pack up and leave.

Just outside his office, he would stop to buy salted kadalai (groundnuts). "Innum rendu podu... enga kaalathla ettu anna ku evalo periya potalam varum!" (Put two more... In our days, we used to get this big a packet!). The vendor knew this dialogue by heart, having heard the same line for the past 3 years when inflation forced him to use a smaller magazine's paper for wrapping the kadalai.

The evening routine consisted of a quick pradakshinam of the temple on the way back, evening sandhya, dinner at 8 while pretending to listen to his wife narrate neighbourly gossip, a leisurely walk (stroll, actually) for half an hour, and he was off to bed by 9.00.

KV Krishna Iyer found great comfort in his routine. It kept his mind off the fact that his son had not visited them for 3 years now, citing leave problems and some US visa issues. Or that his daughter has not spoken to him ever since he refused her permission to marry her college crush, and she chose to walk out. Little did he know that his routine was about to be given a jolt...    

PS: Yes, in spite of the Ramaiah and Julie.T fiasco, I refuse to learn my lesson and again start a story, with only a vague plot line in my mind of how to take it forward. This one will also be in episodes, but hopefully will not drag on forever.

PS1: Yes, all characters are fictional, so if some Kalpathy Venkatasubramaniam Krishnaswamy Iyer actually exists, or if any of you see yourself reflected in him, no sir, I am not talking about you. Or you. Or you, for that matter.

Oct 12, 2010

Tamil Fans protest against word 'Rajnigandha'

The Vengayam
Our Ordinary Correspondent

Thousands of enraged Tamil fans are protesting in front of the Hindi Prachar Sabha, against the word "Rajnigandha", demanding it to be renamed into something that is not demeaning to the name of Superstar Rajinikanth.

"Rajnigandha sounds very similar to Thalaivar's name... plus our Indhi teacher taught us that gandha means dirty! These North Indians keep referring to Rajini saar as black, bald and ugly, but now they have gone too far with this flower's name. Bloody phools. We want that word removed from every Indhi dictionary!", said Annamalai, proudly waving his badge "Vice President - Rajini Fan Club, Mettunasuvampalayam" in our reporter's face, while two of his cows mooed in the background.

On being told of the subtle differences between ganda and gandha, another fan, Muthu bellowed "Da, dha, tha...  all look the same to us. When Thalaivar wants to convey sandosam, he says santhosam, which clearly shows that they are all the same! And you write kanth, or gandh, it looks the same in Tamil! Try it in Google transliterate if you want!", thereby scattering 'pearls' of knowledge about the Tamil script and google products in the same line.

Meanwhile, another protester was seen demanding that the Amol Palekar movie of the same name be  banned from releasing. When told that the movie was released in 1974, he said "So what? You think we won't ask to ban the movie just because it is old? First that Amol Palekar steals our Rajini Saar's Thillu Mullu and calls it Gol Maal. And now, he releases this offensive movie to demean our Thalaivar." He refused to entertain any argument that Gol Maal had in fact released before Thillu Mullu, pointing out that Gol Maal 3 is yet to release!

Protesters were also seen outside the Singanallur office of a mouth-freshener company, demanding that the company change the name of its pan masala. "Thalaivar's name cannot be used for some stupid pan masala. Who do you think he is? Sania Mirza?", said one more 'tall' fan, while simultaneously spitting out some chewed up Manickchand gutka juice.

Meanwhile, the man in question, the Superstar, sat unperturbed in his home. With Raghavendra calm. He was seen composing an email forward from his id The subject read: Rajnikanth Facts.
PS1: Yes, totally running out of ideas. Totally.

Oct 10, 2010

Nine colours of Navratri

On the first day, they decide to go green
"Wow, you look nice" they pout and preen
What in God's name! I shake my sad head
In that colour, I wouldn't be caught dead!!
But the gals do make for a pretty scene :)

On the second day, they wear grey
as they march to the temple to pray
Now, that's a colour that I don't mind
In my wardrobe, it's one that I can find
So, on this I have only nice things to say...

On the third day, they opt for pink
"now that's a girlie colour", I think
but horror of horrors, I own one of that
if you say "that's gay", I'll kick your butt
It's a chick magnet, like Barney's wink...

On the fourth day, they put on white
I like it, especially if it is skin tight ;)
It's supposed to be pure like a lily
or something like that, equally silly
say, like ghosts on a new moon night!

On the fifth day, they choose to go red
it's sexy, it says "O baby, come to bed"
Of course, some tend to overdo that part
and end up looking like a cheap ass tart
making us mad as bulls, horny and bent head...

On the sixth day, they  come up with blue
reminds me of camlin ink and some glue
ok, I made that up, just to make it rhyme
god promise, I won't do it a second time
but seriously, what word rhymes with blue?

On the seventh day, they don some yellow
bright, sunny, smiling, like a happy fellow
my mind goes back to that cartoon... Tweety
yes, the bird that spoke like girls: cho-chweety...
and oh, the obligatory Mallu phone joke: Hyellow

On the eighth day, they pick the colour violet
and the boss told the secy: "please file it"
ok, now I am coming up with random shit
coz I am reaching the end of my limited wit
but what the hell, my mind flies and I'm the pilot!

And we reach the ninth day colour: peacock
they say "birds of a feather, together they flock"
but, but, it is not a colour, it is a frikkin bird
but women can identify that colour, so I heard
like magenta, lavendar, or that Ramar-pachai frock!

PS1: Inspired by a mailer that was sent by some lady to all ladies in the company about "what colours to wear for Navratri", dutifully forwarded to me by a colleague who believes in equal opportunity, and thus decided that the men should also support the "uniform" movement.

PS 2: I. want. Sundal. :(

Sep 24, 2010

The AC loses its cool!

Smoke billowed out of the Air-Conditioner (hereinafter known as "The AC") as it vented its anger. It had definitely lost its cool. "Enough is enough. I shall not endure any more of this non-sense!"

"Chill dude, pick a beer, and tell me what happenned?", said the fridge.

"Have you noticed? I end up getting blamed for everything from evil arrogance to apathy to ignorance!", the AC fumed.

"What do you mean?"

"Well, people end up dragging my name into all sorts of arguments...

When they want to accuse someone of ignorance, they say things like 'What would you know, sitting here in the city in air-conditioned comfort? Go to the villages to see the real India', while being perfectly ignorant of the fact that I am present in many rural homes!

Same goes for apathy. They'll utter contemptuously, 'Millions of farmers sweat it out in the sun to produce food so that you can sit here in your air-conditioned restaurant and enjoy it. Think about them the next time you waste food'.

And so on..."

"Hmm, I still don't get it", the tube-light said, showing a flicker of doubt.

"I mean, why don't they say 'What would you know, sitting here in your machine-washed clothes, visit the Dhobi ghat to know the real India' or 'Millions of farmers wade through muddy water while you drink your UV-purified water' or some such tripe?", the cooler joined in, blowing off some steam.

"Well, it's high time someone else got called names. I am tired of being blamed for idiocy for so long!", the TV beamed, happy to have found out that some other box was even more of a dirty word now.

"I agree. It's good to know that I am not the only thing that causes people to get hot under the collar", said the steam iron, warming up to the topic at hand.

"You see, it's about generating a positive spin. I do half as good a job as the AC, and no one has ever blamed me for anything", the fan whirred, "except maybe when people hang themselves."

"If I may I chip in...", started the computer, like the silent person who unsuccessfully tries to get a point across in a noisy GD before being cut off...

"Whirrrr, Whirrr, Whirrr" went the mixer, making no sense, but shredding everything in the process.

"I got it! I got it!", the tube-light started, though nobody was sure what point had been made at all.

PS1: I know. Lame post. But when you take inspiration from lifeless objects in your room, the jokes can neither be consumed nor be durable.

PS2: Not highlighting the puns in italics, since the engineers who read my blog are assumed to have become smarter over the years.

Sep 20, 2010

Oh God! Not again!

"What's with the silly grin?"


"Oh c'mon, out with it. I know something's cooking."

"Why so curious? I told you, it's nothing. Just enjoying the sights and sounds of my creation. How wonderful the sun looks, how beautifully the birds chirp"

"I am surprised. Most days, you are so grumpy"

"So would you be, if you are woken up with a loud suprabatham day after day after day. I can't even hit the snooze button to turn them off! And barely am I awake, and they dump a potful of water on my head!"

"What you don't like to wake up to the suprabatham? It's such a nice song..."

"I'd much prefer that new song. The one that goes Swaminathana Thoongaadhe Va Wake-ah Wake-ah Eh Eh... Swaminathana Eh Eh Wake-ah Wake-ah Eh Eh..."


"You know, the one that had that nice lady shaking her truthful hips... what's her name... aan, Shake-ira!"

"Oh, the Goddess Shakira! God, you have such a Mallu accent!!!"

"Yeah, Why do you think they call it 'God's own country'?"

"Yeah, makes sense. Anyways, I was asking, how come so cheerful today?"

"Well, you know how it is. Usually I am fed up of my job. Day in and day out, I process applications from so many people. Find me a job, make me rich, cure my illness, help me marry, I want a baby... Who do they think I am? Chamatkari Baba Bengali?"

"But I thought that was your raison d'etre... solving the world's problems. I mean, with great power comes great responsibility and all"

"You say that stupid Spiderman dialogue one more time and I'll bloody spin a web and stick your sorry ass up on it!"

"Ok, ok, chill. All I was saying is, you are God, it's your duty to solve the world's problems..."

"Isn't it enough to see that I made a beautiful garden without having to believe that I'll bury wish-fulfilling fairies at the bottom of it too?"


"What I was saying was, isn't it enough that I created the damn world? You know how difficult it is to come up with all this in six days? You can't even write a project appraisal note in that time! And just when I thought that I can take off for a vacation after all this hard work, you ungrateful people want me to stick around solving your silly problems?"

"Hmm... so, you were smiling because now you get to go on a break?"

"No, but every once in a while, in the middle of all the tiring Kashmir conundrum and the misery of millions starving while food rots in the government warehouses, I get called to do this delightful task!"

"Which is?"

"Help Priyanka find a suitable match! Now, this is work that is fulfilling. The kind of work that is the Holy Grail of every HR person who ever designed a KRA form. See, a smart, sexy, successful, single lady wants my help, MY help, to find her a guy!"

"Wow, is that alliteration or hyperbole?"

"Aww, I am talking of Priyanka Chopra! And all you can think of is figures of speech?"

"Figures which leave you speechless. Figures of speech. #sameguy"

"I should have figured that out! Damn, make that omniscient minus one."

"It's ok. So, PC wants you to fix a match?"

"Oh, don't call it match fixing. That's what those cricketers do. All I'll do is find a guy to bowl this maiden over."

"Aargh, bowl a maiden over has to be the most overused cricket pun. Being a God, you could've come up with something better!"

"It's ok. Puns are the lowest form of wit."

"You don't mean..."

"I mean!"

"Ok, you mean! Oh, I keep forgetting the original topic. But, surely, you won't lower your almighty self to become a marriage broker?!?"

"Ah, it's what I have been doing for ages. When people don't want to match horoscopes, they put flowers at my feet to help them decide. One white, one red, and pick one and so on..."

"Why don't they simply toss a coin?"

"They could, and mathematically, they'll probably end up with the same result. But you have to admit, tossing a coin is no way as dramatic as finding two different coloured flowers, placing them at a deity's feet, finding a toddler who's given the task of picking the flower, taking a deep breath and hoping that the flower you want gets picked!"

"Yeah, I agree. So, why do you think picking a guy for PC would be an enjoyable job?"

"You see, the poor girl has such simple criteria. All she wants is a sincere, honest, guy who'll love her unconditionally. And yes, he should be funny. Why, with a bit of work on the funny part, a loser like you could fit the bill!"

PS1: Yes, I know. Been away a long time. Work. And stuff. And running out of ideas.

PS2: The Waka Waka adaptation is not entirely original. But then, the one who came up with it doesn't blog. Not to my knowledge. Consider yourself acknowledged.

Aug 9, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T (Act V)

Act V: The Conclusion

Father Dorai chalked out a careful plan. He knew a friend in Madras who could provide a safe harbour for the fleeing couple. He advised Ramaiah to go underground for a year, till things cooled down. Of course, both men were aware that things might never cool down and Ramaiah could end up never setting foot in the village again. But the young man was ready for everything, love having blinded him to the practical difficulties of scraping out a livelihood in Madras with no employable skills. It was arranged that Father Dorai would convey the plan to Julie through her friend.

Jacob paced his room restlessly, angry at himself for not having chased the intruder the previous night. He had a hunch that his sister way lying to him, but all his threats hadn't elicited the truth. He headed to the local toddy shop, badly craving some sarakku (country liquor) to soothe his frayed nerves. He had already downed a bottle when Mayandi walked in. Mayandi, still smarting from the slap from his last confrontation, jumped at the chance to needle his drunk rival. He proclaimed to his friends, "Ooru kulla ore thiruttu bhayam vandhuruchu da... Periya edathu veetula nethu oru thirudan poonthutaanam... thangachi manasa thiruditaan nu sollaranga" ("Fear of theft has crept in this village. They say a thief entered the big people's house yesterday. And stole the sister's heart..."). The combination of his frustration, his drunken state, the derisive tone of Mayandi's "periya edathu veedu" and the allegation on his sister's honour, combined to drive Jacob into a murderous rage. He pounced on Mayandi and drove a broken bottle into his stomach.

Ramaiah rushed to the bar on hearing of his friend's death. And rushed out faster swearing revenge on Jacob. Rage blinded him to the consequences of his action, its effect on his family, to Julie love, everything. He scoured the village for Jacob, aruval on his back, a singular motive driving him. And before Mayandi's body had gone cold, Jacob's right hand had been separated from him. His head was spared as Ramaiah wanted to deny Jacob the ease of a quick, painless death.

The consequences were quick. For a force normally associated with lethargy, the police moved swiftly and Ramaiah was jailed. But Madasamy Mudaliar was a man of means. He had a youth confessing it was he who had cut off Jacob's hand within no time. The young man was one of many who had grown up on the crumbs of the Mudaliar household, and would have cut off his own hand had the Mudaliar wished it. And Ramaiah walked free, a bit reluctantly, because he preferred the police station to facing his father's wrath.

The senior Mudaliar announced a panchayat meeting for the next day, determined to protect his name as a fair leader, even if it meant punishing his own son. "Twenty lashes should teach him a lesson" he thought. The panchayat was the law as far as the village was concerned, the way it had been for a century, and the police and the government were modern nuisances that were grudgingly handled, with some money and some name dropping. The cops for their part, being largely drawn from the same village, wisely kept their noses out.

Julie, unaware of the harm that her lover had caused her brother, slipped out of her house silently at midnight as instructed by Father Dorai through her friend.  She couldn't bear the thought of causing so much pain to her parents, so she had written a letter on going away with Ramaiah, partly in the hope that her father's love for her might induce a change of heart and lead him to accept her someday. She had no idea that the letter would prove her undoing. Ramaiah had managed to give the security cordon imposed his father the slip, and was waiting for her at the railway station.

As the train started moving, the lovers looked back at their village teary-eyed, aware that they might never be welcome here again. Julie rested her head on his shoulder, and started dreaming of a life in Madras, free from her terrifying brother. Neither of them noticed that the station guard had seen them, nor were they aware that he was placing a call to the Mudaliar as the train was leaving the station...

Ramaiah stood with his head bowed, hands folded, in front of the panchayat, dazed at the turn of events. One moment, he had been looking into Julie's eyes, envisioning a happy future, and the next thing he remembered was a blunt blow to the back of his head. His ears rang with the frentic cries of Julie, and a hazy vision of her being dragged away was the last thing he remembered before everything went black...

He had no idea where Julie was, save a strong suspicion that she was locked away at her father's house. He awaited his fate, as the panchayat deliberated the punishment for his transgression. While the panchayat members murmured among themselves, the crowd waited in suspense. He looked up at his father, the nattamai (head of panchayat), his eyes pleading...

Madasamy Mudaliar stepped into his house in silence. The sight of his son's limp body hanging from a tree returned to him. At the panchayat, he had been the impartial leader, proclaiming that the criminal be hung publicly, as an example to the youth of the village never to tread against the century old traditions of the village. As he contemplated that even the funeral rites had been denied to his son as part of the judgement, the body being thrown into the river, the father in him broke down. He went to bed sobbing, never to wake up again...

Julie's body was found hanging in her room. A suicide note was in place. Not even the most naive policeman believed it was a suicide, but the cops, as a matter of principle, did not interfere with family 'honour' in this part of the country...

Father Dorai sat on the train never to return, silently cursing himself for his hare-brained idea of encouraging the lovers to flee. He had foolishly hoped that tensions would cool down in some time, the marriage would unite the two warring families and peace would return to the village.

He knew that in spite of the 'example' being set, the story would repeat itself, as young lads would invariably be attracted towards forbidden love like moths to a fire...


'One more honour killing' screamed the headlines.

News anchors shouted hoarse about the return to the dark ages and the arm-chair intellectuals decried the medieval thinking of the villagers.

A stray politician voiced his support to the panchayat, one eye firmly on his votebank.

The office-goers got a new topic to discuss about at their water coolers, and a few of them were found defending the village panchayat. "The guy had no education, no livelihood, no means of supporting her..."  - as if education and a good job were a pre-requisite for falling in love. "These good-for-nothing boys, they watch movies and get influenced... I am not supporting the killing, but how can they desert the family honour..." and so on...

And a blogger got inspired to revisit Shakespeare to note nothing has changed, 400 years since the Bard wrote the story...

Aug 5, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T - A Tag

I promised I would end the story this week, and I intend sticking to it. Though I guess most of you (yes, you, you and you) have lost interest and given up on this saying "ah, one more blogger leaving a story incomplete! what's new?"

But, this gives me an opportunity to nudge a few idle bloggers awake... So, I create this tag: Finish the story, in one episode, and leave the link to your blog here :)

I thought of tagging a few people, but realized that most of the blogs on my blogroll have been lying idle for so long, that making the list would be tedious. So feel free to take up the tag, if you feel your blog could do with some updating.

Jul 31, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T (Act IV)

Act IV: A Confession

Ramaiah gingerly felt the broken glass piece on top of the wall of the huge Arputharaj bungalow, careful not to cut himself. He didn’t worry about the pain, but the Rajapalayam dogs that were tied to a corner of the yard would become agitated if they smelt blood. As it is, a stranger’s entry, however stealthily made, wouldn’t go unnoticed by the hounds. But he decided to take his chances. He couldn’t spend yet another sleepless night thinking of her...

He slowly crept across the lawn and climbed the gulmohar. A few carefully placed tenners to the milkman earlier in the day had elicited the precise location of Julie’s bedroom window. As he gingerly made his way across the branch that leaned into the first floor balcony, he was painfully aware that one false step meant not just a broken leg from the fall, but probably his life if Jacob found out who had crept into the house. Or worse, a public humiliation, following which his own father would kill him.

He was so focused on not toppling over that he didn’t notice the bright eyes watching his progress with child-like anticipation. Julie knew she should be screaming the place awake, but something stopped her. Maybe, because she had lived such a sheltered life since all the local boys were afraid of her brother, this secret meeting gave her an adrenaline rush. She found it difficult to believe she was attracted to this ruffian after just two meetings. After all, she was planning to go to Chennai for higher education, while the loafer balancing himself atop the tree had dropped out of school after failing to clear the eighth standard in three attempts. But she didn’t pause to question her motives or think about the consequences, she just stood there with a innocent yet naughty smile.

When Ramaiah caught sight of her, his heart missed a beat. All his carefully rehearsed filmi dialogue deserted him, and he mumbled something incoherently. But as they say, love doesn’t require too many words to be spoken, and a smile and a hand being gently held was enough to convince both of them that they had no future without each other. Julie told him to meet her at the church the next day, and said they could talk to Father Dorai to marry them soon. She was confident that only Father Dorai could convince her dad to agree.

The events would probably have turned out if Ramaiah hadn’t dropped his slipper, or if one of the dogs hadn’t started madly barking at the slight sound, or if Jacob hadn’t missed his daily peg that night and had chanced to be walking across the lawn. But that is how events turned out, and Jacob caught sight of a man hurriedly climbing down the tree, leaping over the wall and running away. He couldn’t recognize who it was or he would definitely have given chase. But he did the next best thing, and bounded up to Julie’s room to find out who the intruder was. While he loved his sister more than anything in this world, it translated into a strange form of violent protectiveness, and even two stinging slaps couldn’t get her to change her version of “probably some thief trying his luck”. Jacob strongly suspected otherwise, but even he couldn’t have guessed that the ‘thief’ had stolen his sister’s heart.  

The next morning, Father Dorai was surprised, both to see his usual attendee missing as well as the unusual attendee standing outside the church. Julie had not been permitted to go to church by her brother, while Ramaiah paced impatiently outside the church, desperate to have a word with the priest. Father Dorai was a considerate man, but equally conscientious, and he took his time completing his sermon and prayers before admitting Ramaiah into his private study at the back of the church.

Father Dorai patiently heard his new confessor, all the while stroking his beard thoughtfully. The young man was unlettered but intelligent, appeared rough but was earnest, and Father Dorai could imagine what made Julie fall for this guy. His mind was working out the complications this might lead to, the violence it might trigger, but if Father Dorai had a fault, it was that he firmly believed that he should offer a solution to all who knock at his door. He said he would think of something, and advised Ramaiah to not confront Jacob till then. Little did he know that his advice would be ignored before the sun set on that day. 


PS: For those who are still interested in knowing how it ends (or whether it will end), yes, I am committed to finishing this by the end of the week. Whatever the work pressure.

Jul 20, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T (Act III)

Act-III: A Confrontation

Rev. Francis Dorai did not skip a single beat as the motorcycles roared into the churchyard, and except an imperceptibly quick glance at the three intruders shuffling into the last row, he showed no reaction. Rev. Dorai, ‘Father’ to most of the villagers, was adept at dealing with irritants far larger than three youths barging in. Divine coincidence, he thought with a wry smile, as he was reading “thattungal, kadavugal thirakkapadum” (“knock, and the doors shall be opened”) to his congregation just as the three walked in.

Father Dorai recognized all three youths, and while he continued with his sermon, his mind was furiously trying to come up with some reason for their appearance here. He knew Madasamy Mudaliar well, and could claim to be the only Christian who could walk into the Mudaliar household and come out with all his limbs intact, and thus had a strong feeling that Ramaiah and his friends weren’t here to listen to “Kelungal, kudukapadum” (“ask, and thou shalt receive”).

Father Dorai was well respected all through the village, in spite of, or rather because of, his colourful past. He still retained the athletic build from his younger days as a champion kabaddi player and boxer, but God knows he had abused his body in his youth. Regular rounds of alcohol and the occasional ganja, till one day he had lay drunk at the toddy shop while his mother died of a heart attack in their hut, gasping to see her only son. He buried his past along with his mother, took up doing odd jobs for the church and eventually, a kind priest counselled him to dedicate his life to Jesus and the community. Whether he thought this was a way to repent, or saw a chance to probably save other misguided youth through example, we would never know, but he jumped at the chance. And three decades later, he was still preaching the word of God, as he saw it. His was a sane voice which had calmed tensions while the neighbouring villages burned during the last communal riots.

Father Dorai followed Ramaiah’s line of sight, and this time, he paused mid-sentence. There was no doubt which girl he was intently staring at, and Father Dorai immediately realized the consequences of her brother Jacob finding out the presence of the three youths. He made a motion of clearing his throat, coughed a bit, and announced, “Sorry my friends. My throat seems to be giving me some problems. So, can we continue the sermon later and proceed to the choir?”

“Ulagathil ulla arputhangal, ellam padaithathu Avan thaane” (“all things great and wonderful, the good God made them all...”), the choir began. Twenty voices were going full blast, but Ramaiah heard only one. A hundred people sat in between, and Ramaiah saw only one. Julie was blissfully unaware of the pair of eyes intently staring at her. And so was Ramaiah. Father Dorai slowly made his way to the last row, motioned to him to walk with him outside, and asked him “what brings you here, my son?”, fully knowing he wouldn’t get a honest answer.

“Father, I came to listen to the choir. You know, the songs are very nice”

“My son, I used played kabaddi with your father. Ask him, and he’ll tell you no raider could fool me. I may be old, but please don’t insult my intelligence.”


“Forget her, my son. You know the history. No good will come out of this.”

“Father, I am willing to die for her”

“The problem, my boy, is that twenty others will die for no fault of theirs”

“In that case, Father, I’ll kill myself. I cannot live without her”

“I suspect you have been watching too many movies. Go home, think about your family, think about your father...

“What the hell are you doing here, bastards?” Jacob’s voice boomed from the church entrance.

Father Dorai turned and fixed him with an admonishing glance “Jacob, I will not tolerate such language in my church!”

“You please stay out of this Father. I’ll deal with these high caste bastards. Won’t allow us near their temple, and have the temerity to walk into our church! And you, you forgot the thrashing I gave you last time? You do have some gall walking in like this!” Jacob thundered, and a landed a hard slap across Mayandi’s face.

Ramaiah rushed forward, and with a practiced upper right, had Jacob reeling to the floor. Jacob immediately flashed a knife, which was promptly knocked out by a kick from Bangarappa. Ramaiah drew his aruval (sickle) from his back in rage, completely tuning out Father Dorai’s scream ”Stop it you fool”, when he caught sight of Julie, fear in her eyes, clutching her friend’s hand tightly, silently pleading. He threw away his weapon, turned and jumped on his bike.

As he rode away, he cast a quick glance back, and was rewarded with the sight of beautiful moist eyes, filled with gratitude, and he hoped, love.
(to be continued)

PS1: Yes, yes, I know. I have been extremely slow in taking this story forward. Two reasons. Work, for one. Two, I had no idea how long this will take when I started. I did not have the complete story mapped out in my mind. So, please bear with me while I squeeze out some free time and try to wrap this up. As quickly as my bosses will allow me to.

PS2: Note to self: think twice before attempting ambitious stories. Stick to PJs and puns and all will be well.

Jun 28, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T (Act II)

Read Act-I here.
Act-II: A Revelation.

Ramaiah slowly sipped the extra sweet tea at the local tea kadai, seated across Bangarappa and Mayandi. Try as he might, he couldn’t get the girl out of his mind. “Macha, ava yaaru, endha ooru, yethuvume teriyadhu, enga poi thedarathu?”, Bangarappa reasoned, taking a long drag on his bidi before offering it to Ramaiah. (“We don’t know who she is, where she lives... how do we search for her?”). Ramaiah sighed wistfully, realizing that in a village where people hid their daughters in their homes till they got them married off, chances of sighting the girl of his dreams again were pretty slim. For in spite of the villagers’ best efforts, he and his gang knew the names, ages, and approximate vital stats of most of the local girls, and he was sure she wasn’t from his community. Every local girl her age would visit the local Vinayagar kovil, and there wasn’t a girl in the village whose thanni kodam hadn’t been toppled over by the gang before the elephant idol got any abhishekam. There had to be a way. Somehow. Anyhow.

There are certain inexplicable instances when Life seems to hand you a little gift out of nowhere. Some call it divine intervention, some, little coincidences. Nobody knows for sure. As Ramaiah polished off the last molaga bhajji on the table and was about to crumple the paper, something caught his eye. “You are born a sinner. Let Jesus lead you to salvation”, it proclaimed, beneath the photo of the local preacher who everybody knew only as Father. But what had held his attention was not the headline or the Father’s mug, but a picture captioned “Join our choir group.” Or rather, a particularly cheerful face leading that choir. A face that he had fallen in love with in a single glance. A face that had haunted his dreams and rendered him sleepless for the past week.

“Enna maapi, Shakila padama?”, Bangarappa asked, seeing his friend gazing intently at the piece of paper. (“What bro, photo of Shakila?”). Ramaiah didn’t respond. His usually sharp mind had gone a bit numb, reconciling to the fact that the object of his affection was, gasp, a Christian! Maybe, he can talk to his father and convince him. It would be difficult, extremely so, but then, wasn’t he his father’s favourite son?

Mayandi snatched the paper from him, glanced at it, and at once, his hands started shaking as he screamed, “Dei, venaam da. Idhu yaaru theriyuma?” (“Hey, forget it. Do you know who she is?”).

Ramaiah shrugged.


“Nice name...”

“Julie Thomas Arputharaj”

Silence. Stunned silence. Ramaiah’s world had turned dark. Very dark.

All thoughts of convincing his father evaporated in a flash. No, he would be thrown out of the house, cut up in two pieces. Madasamy Mudaliar valued his family honour too much to allow such a blasphemy. His head reeled.

“It... It can’t be...”

“It is. I know her brother, Jacob. Semma rowdy. He knocked out two of my teeth just for looking at her in the street once.”

“Oh, but you told me you fell down a ditch and broke it?”

“What else could I have done? As it is, your families are at loggerheads. If I had told the truth, there would have been another round of unnecessary fighting. I’ll have my revenge when my time comes, I don’t want families to go to war for me.”

“I’ll tell you what, all these Christian girls look alike. Let’s go check out whether she is the same girl”, Bangarappa broke in at last. He hated to see his friends so downcast.

“What do you mean, go check out? Are you out of your mind? If they come to know who we are, they’ll bury us in the cemetery next to the church!” Mayandi spoke in a strange voice, mixed with fear and excitement.

“I’ll go. You two stay here. I don’t want you guys to be in any danger because of me” offered Ramaiah.

“Twenty years of friendship and you think we’d let you go alone?”

And the three friends hopped on to their motorcycles and sped towards the church. 
(to be continued)

Jun 26, 2010

Ramaiah and Julie. T

In which I pretend to be Mani Ratnam. And adapt a well known story, and tweak it as I want! Now to get Aishwarya to act on this script!!! Though I’d prefer Asin :)


Ramaiah tucked in his stomach, conscious that dozens of admiring eyes were fixed on his bare torso as his sweat glistened in the sun amidst all the dust. As a strapping young lad with rippling muscles and from being the son of one of the richer families of the village, he was used to being the centre of attention. But his eyes sought only one face, only one pair of bright eyes amongst the crowd. Ah, there she was, Rasathi, laughing merrily with her friends, oblivious to his searching looks. Ramaiah gave a sly smile as he caught her eye, before he was violently thrown up in the air, a sharp pain shooting through his ribs. “Never take your eyes off the bull”, his father Madasamy Mudaliar’s sharp advice rang in his ears as he fell on his back amidst loud shouts of concern. The annual jalli-kattu was delivering more than the usual thrills and the villagers couldn’t get enough of it, the government’s ban on the bull fighting be damned. After all, this was a place where centuries of tradition held more weight than modern inconveniences like the law of the land.

Ramaiah staggered to his feet, taking deep breaths to reorient himself. He fought the urge to turn to Rasathi, to see if she had a look of concern, to give her a reassuring look if need be, forcing himself to concentrate instead on the pair of horns that was angrily trying to tear him apart. His friends, Bangarappa and Mayandi, had kept the bull distracted while he was down, but he could see that they were tiring too. He let out a piercing roar and deftly side stepped as the horns and hooves missed him by inches. In a flash, he had grabbed one of the horns while the bull swung its head madly, trying to shake off both the maddening effect of the strange concoction mixed in its morning feed and the foolish lad clinging to its horn.

His hands ached, the red mud stinging the bleeding cuts on his palms. But he hung on. He hadn’t given up when Rasathi, more stubborn than this bull ever can hope to be, had firmly declined his advances claiming she wanted to remain a spinster and dedicate her life to the local temple. “Who do you think you are, Avvaiyar?”, he had raged, alternately pleading and shouting, to no avail. He strengthened his grip on the bull, hoping his heroics would impress her, little knowing that bull fighting men stood little chance against rakshasha fighting gods.

A violent struggle ensued and he scarcely knew how, but he had mounted the bull and clung on to its neck while more villagers came in and finally calmed it down. While he was being feted by his friends who were now carrying him on their shoulders, his eyes searched the crowd again. And fell on a face so beautiful that he had forgotten all about Rasathi even before he was carried on to the stage for a brief felicitation by the panchayat members.

The face in question, belonged to a girl clad in a simple black dhavani and standing far away from the crowd with her friends. For Julie Thomas, the lovely daughter of Thomas Arputharaj, was well aware of the deep seated casteist prejudices in the village which wouldn’t allow her to take part in the festivities. The sole reason why her forefathers, too far back to remember now, had jumped at the chance to be ‘converted’. While the missionaries went back satisfied for having saved some souls, the oppressed folks had been too focused on keeping themselves alive to worry about such higher aspirations. Of course, they had prospered steadily over the decades, and Thomas Arputharaj was now one of the wealthier men in the village, but they knew they weren’t welcome at the village well or inside the temple. But Ramaiah wasn’t aware of who she was when he had decided who he was going to share his life with after that one brief glance.

What he was only well too aware of was the century-old rivalry between his family, the Mudaliars, and the Arputharaj family. The Arputharaj folks had been servants for generations in the Mudaliar household, long before they had even acquired a surname. Abused and tortured, treated as untouchables, but needed for the dirty tasks of cleaning up the household, which the upper castes considered too beneath their 'pure' selfs. Somewhere, a hundred years ago, someone had revolted, emboldened by the missionaries promising them a live of dignity, a life where the god was a shepherd who didn’t discriminate among his flock. From being never allowed inside a temple to being put up in the front row of a church was a dream. And the Mudaliar household, fuelled partially by the loss of underpaid servants, and partially by the jealousy at how the lowly servants had prospered to become their equals, economically if not socially, had nurtured a rivalry that had involved 14 murders on either side at last count. 

(to be continued)