Thursday, March 25, 2010

PSBB Teachers 22 - Girija Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 21 here)

Sanskrit - '95-'98

Mrs.Girija Krishnamurthy - Girija mam was this "healthy" bespectacled teacher who taught us Sanskrit during the 6th-8th. She was my first Sanskrit teacher, I think (assuming it was not Lakshmi Krishnaratnam mam) and not sure if it was because of the language or her, but I immediately took to the language. She was also responsible for kindling my interest in learning the Bhagavad Gita and also in participating in my first ever Gita-chanting competition back then (not that I won :D). She was obviously quite well-read and was a genial-yet-serious type teacher.

(Part 23 here)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

PSBB Teachers 21 - Nalini Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 20 here)

Maths/Class Teacher - '96-'97

Mrs.Nalini Balasubramanian - Nalini mam was a fair, very very slightly plumpish teacher who was my class teacher in 7th std and also taught us Maths that year. I think she initially taught in KK Nagar and got a transfer from there. Her hand-writing was especially neat & looked pretty on the board. Needless to say, her Math was good. Two incidents I remember with her -
1. She once had Madras Eye (though the city was renamed Chennai by then...ok ok, sorry :D) and for a week or so, wore big black glasses. If I'm right, her eyes were also swollen a bit then.
2. During my childhood, I was prone to injuries. On one such occasion that year, I was ottifying Nithya (a classmate who recently got married) and when she came chasing me, I immediately shot off without looking where I was running. And suddenly, I turned to see where I was headed when I ran into the parapet wall and collided - result: a deep gash between the eyebrows and lots of blood. What pissed me off most was not the pain or the blood, but the unsavoury location my veera-thazhumbu (I was by now quite proud of my injuries) would have - the next day, I came to school and Nalini mam asks me - "What man, this new Naamam and all?" much to my classmates' delight. And incidentally, she also had this habit of including "man" while addressing us guys. :D

(Part 22 here)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

PSBB Teachers 20 - Mahalakshmi Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 19
English - '95-'96
Mrs Mahalakshmi Kumar - She taught us English either only in 6th or both 6th and 7th. Her son, Krithikesh was my partner during exams and if I remember right, her husband was in the army or something. Again, another of PSBB's impeccable-English teachers, she carried herself extremely well too (not that the other teachers didn't, but she did so quite noticeably :D). She also had this nice demeanour where she was quite strict when it came to studies, at the same time, being quite friendly and casual with us students. I very vaguely remember some incident during one of the school anniversaries I had taken part in, where she was also one of the organizers, but the details totally fail me. :-(
Oh yes, yet another super mam. :-)

(Part 21 here)

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Manmohan Singh - Son of Fortune, Destiny's Child, etc.

Let me, at the outset, make it clear to you that I am "just another stupid common man", no detailed analyst or well-informed commentator of Indian politics. What follows is simply an opinion based on my perception of facts.

I became political at the turn of the millennium, when I was about 16 years of age. Until then, politics, to me, was mainly about Congress at the national level and a Dirty Mudslinging-filled Kennel at the state level (I'm from Tamil Nadu). As far as politicians were concerned, the few names that popped up in my mind were Nehru & 3 Gandhi's - "Mahatma", Indira & Rajiv (the 3rd chiefly due to my mom who, like most women of her generation, fell to the dimpled charms of the bloke) by default, and also Sardar Patel, Rajaji, (more by accident than by design, or simply my ignorance) mostly that's it. When the then-new government came to power, I don't really remember how I felt immediately then. Over the 5 years though, I became more aware of "GOVERNment" in the real sense, and (at the risk of sounding cliched) definitely did feel something (good) roughly on the lines of Cultural Nationalism. By the end of the five years, I probably moved from politically-{ignorant+not-at-all-passionate} to {somewhat-informed+quite-passionate}.

I am a passionate Hindu (a more appropriate term would be Sanatana Dharmi, but I digress), but more than that, I believe in & desire national progress that is uniform & not tilted... plus a fluidity of power (I would like to say the former and latter are related, but I digress once again). Hence, though it did definitely make me happy to see a Hindu-friendly party in power at the center, what captured my imagination more was the administration and simply, a feel-good factor that emanated from Delhi and permeated to all corners of the country. I must, at this point, add that since I was nonexistent physically and/or mentally during any of the prior regimes, it is not really fair for me to comment on the governance or mis-governance that existed pre-1999 (However, a cursory reading of the actual history of India post independence coupled with the state of affairs of the country around 2000 despite the fact that a single party had held power for most part of the 50+ years until then should be a clear-enough indicator of what transpired all those years when that party was in power).
Anyhow, this post is not about any of the parties or any of the government(s) (though they are very much relevant & play quite a significant part).

This article is about Manmohan Singh, India's Prime Minister of today.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Weekend as Anti-Climactic as Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya

Eat this, nitwits (self-addressed, if that is the case)!
Disclaimer: Since I believe there are some wisecracks (in the event that I'm not one myself) who are likely to interpret the piece below as either me describing the girl-in-question's actions as quasi-romantic overtures or as me mocking the girl (for whatever reason), let me categorically state that the sole intention of this post is to be a parody of me and me alone. It is my belief that the girl is just a very friendly type whose actions were good-natured and bereft of any hidden ulterior motives.

This weekend was, surely, one of the more fun weekends in all my 3+ years in the US. Road-trips, however small, are always fun, especially if you're the only guy with a driver's license & you've got a fun gang to go with. Tentative plan was this - Rent car on Saturday, visit the temple in Lemont, Devon-shopping, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya night-show, and on Sunday, leave for an early-morning trip to an acquaintance's place in the suburbs for a 108-Vishnu Sahasranamam-chanting session for his son's birthday, and finally return the car. All the while, having played (chiefly) Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya songs over and over again in the car stereo.

Well, at least, this was how I had envisioned the weekend to go. Folks who follow this blog or my twitter will probably also know how much I've been anticipating the movie all these days and I guess the same could be said of the weekend as well.

So then, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya, for me, was rather anti-climactic (and I don't say this because of the ending). Not that I complain - I had more than my share of enjoyment in the movie and wouldn't mind a second visit, had I been in Chennai, just for one reason (the First Love-factor). If my feeling of anti-climax in the movie was primarily because of my expectations from the movie (apart from other very relevant reasons), the anti-climax to my weekend car-rental was somewhat of a parody on me.

So everything actually went pretty well - we managed to cover all the places (just) in time. However, since there was no iPod-Car cord, we had to make do with some 2-yr-old Hindi-Tamil-English CD-collection. After the movie however, there was a genuine compulsion to listen to VTV songs while riding in the car. Also since the Sunday-plan was totally solo, though it was about 1:30 AM by the time we returned home (I had to leave at about 7 in the morning), I meticulously got hold of an empty CD and made an audio CD of VTV.

Sunday morning was easily the highlight of the entire plan. I managed to leave at about 7:15 and the (romantic) setting was near-perfect - a mild haze hanging around, but quite bright. The temperature, by Chicago's winter standards - definitely decent. And a solo car-ride. What remained to be seen was if the CD worked and by Jove, it did! So I set off, to the tunes of Omana Penne and by the time I reached the suburbs, I'd lived up the entire feel. That's when I thought I absolutely had to let my 2 other mates feel the joy too, considering the fact that they'd felt so bad at not listening to VTV songs in the car the prev. night. Since I'd to return the car by 3 PM, I decided I'd leave the acquaintance's house (even if the 108-times hadn't been completed) at about 1, come back home by 2'ish, pick up my friends, go for a 1-hr'ish drive and drop the car by 3 so we could have a little fun together as well.
So far so good, yes? Only so far.

We managed to finish by 12:45, but then, there was lunch+cake-cutting, and I had no heart to leave before the boy cut the cake. Apdi-ipdi it was almost 1:40. Ippo dhan mega-twist. Since my host knew I came from downtown, he asked me to drop this Golti (strictly referential usage) girl who'd also come from downtown.

There are times when a combination of contexts make the big picture entirely different from how it would've been had any of the contexts been true separately. This was one such classic example.

In my case, VTV-influenced solo romance (I was already imagining another solo-ride back home with VTV songs), prospective_shared_enjoyment with Koottaaligal and a desperation to get back in time formed the main context. To this mix, the addition of a Golti girl had ominious signs of a personal comedy. This has very little to do with the girl's looks (not good-looking, but definitely not bad-looking). When we left in the car, I remembered the Ennai Konjam Maatri-setting and realized - never in my dreams did I even imagine such a setting could be so comic. And the conversations that ensued certainly added to the comedy element more and more.

And then, out of the blue, I lost my way. And the feeling that I was going to let down my hopes-needlessly-kindled-by-me comrades increased. So to save last-minute hassles, I decided to fill gas now than later. Stopped at the first gas station. Then I realized I didn't know where the button for the gas-latch was. Can you believe it? I SEARCHED FOR THE GAS-TANK-OPENER BUTTON FOR A FULL 5 MINUTES. And this girl sees me blundering around like a fool. Then I saw some button and pressed it. Wrong move - the bonnet opened. Finally, one punyavaan helped me locate it. It was right below the seat. :-(
Then I swiped my credit card to fill gas. For 1 minute, the machine got stuck. Then I re-swiped it. It said remove the nozzle after lifting the lid. I removed the nozzle, but I couldn't freaking find a lid anywhere there. Again this gentleman helped me out. Thankfully, I had the presence of mind to ask him directions and he guided me to I-55 N. Feeling like a total idiot, at the same time relieved, I thought may be we could make it, when I saw the time - 2:47. Holy Cow! Can you believe it? Two Forty Seven! Cursing myself, I cut through the 35-mph zone at about 60 and after 10 minutes, got onto I-55 N. My hopes of dropping this girl somewhere & getting my buddies was out of question, the question now was - Would I reach the airport in time? All this while, the girl was chattering away, having no idea of what tension I was in (nadoola she managed to look at my hand-written directions and say that my hand-writing was like a girl's :D). And somewhere, she asked me my Full name. I was like, what?!!! And then told her my name, since I wasn't in a mood to go into the details. She then said - "Ok, I'll add you in facebook."
I had no idea I could laugh in such a tense situation, but this was hilarious beyond measure. Suppressing my ROTFL, I told her I was an Orkut-loyalist. To this, she replies - "Oh, then I'll add you there. I keep Orkut for my India contacts & FB for US-contacts, but it's ok."
I almost closed my eyes and said - "Aandavaa...epdi epdi?"

So then, the short highway trip was over and I finally reached the airport to return the car at 3:09, escaping the extra-day charge. But wait, the comedy isn't over yet. After figuring out what her options were for getting back home, we were going on the train and I was sitting back & recollecting the entire comedy of errors - thinking how a prospective solo-followed-by-group-romantic adventure became a parody - laughing inside at how weird intros happen, this girl hesitantly asks "Can we exchange phone numbers?" Sethutten, sethutten nejama. :D

When I reached home and recounted this tragi-comedy of errors to my mates, their obvious-initial-irritation gave way slowly to humour until they literally started rolling on the floor laughing. And then, the C'tore guy comes up with this killer line -
"Naamala thedi pona athu nelaikathu....
Athuva Nadakkanum..
Nammala pottu thaakkanum..
Thala keela pottu thiruppanum.."
Not to be outdone, my roomie quipped - "Manasukkulla Golti Golti'ngudha?"

Yeah, some weekend that was. :D

(PS: I repeat, "Golti"-usage is strictly to refer to the girl's identity, there is absolutely no hint of malice intended at the girl anywhere either through this word or through the self-parody. Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Jai Maharashtra. Jai Telengana.)

PSBB Teachers 19 - Radha Mam

[Start of Series]

(Part 18
Biology - '95-'98
Mrs. Radha Soundararajan taught us Biology (surely) and also Science some time during 6th-8th. She knew her subject and dealt with us effectively. She used to come to school in a blue Sunny (which was the Scooty of those days). I also remember many of her sentences used to have "maa" in them. :D

(Part 20 here)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya Rants

  • Beautiful translation + Commentary on Mannippaaya -
  • During 1st yr, I wore black & was silent all day coz I'd learnt that Trisha's fav food was Chicken Curry & Brown Rice. #confession #EpicFail
  • I'm a Devadas who found my Paro's bathroom video many years back, but have now found her petitely clad in Chiffon sarees & chudidhars.
  • Everyone's talking abt the hero's Mech Engg connexn, but no one says abt heroine's Math bg. Kaakha Kaakha Maya also Math major.
  • Naasama Poga. I cant believe the fleeting thought of asking my employers NOT to file my H1-B (courtesy #VTV/Jessie) just crossed my mind. :O Such a thing would be #EpicFail because "Kadhala thedi nambo poga koodadhu. Adhuva nambala adikkanum." :D #FailedLogicForEpicFailFeelings
  • Aana onnu da. Jessie maadhiri oru ponnoda enakku loves irundhu b/u aagi 3 yrs later avo enna paathuttu pesaama pona naan avlo dhan. :( #VTV 
  • #VTV tweet of the day: Affected so much that I feel like falling in love, being loved back, then breaking up, and fin. feeling the Pain. :| Correction: Not Breaking Up, but inexplicably being unable to continue the relationship because of my girl's complicated confusion.
  • Movies like #VTV that employ "novel" proposal strategies should realize they are eroding guys' options with every such depiction. Not saying the shock-and-awe in #VTV is "novel", but once this technique hits the big screen, its usability peaks & fades away.
  • Sigh. Seems I HAVE to like #VTV now. But happy KB felt best prfrmnces by Simbu & Trish RT @bbthots KB to Gautham Menon
  • Ridiculous/Dumb I know, but I prayed today morning while coming to work (to God) that I should get over #VTV/Jessie. Seri illa.
  • I cannot believe I am this obsessed with a movie I was/am quite disappointed with, esp with the key element of the movie.  
  • @cowmaaa It would also help to keep in mind Shakti ~= Shalini is truer than Jessie ~= Trisha. But yes, foresight-vindication is sweet.
  • Dear @cowmaaa, the sooner you realize Trisha != Jessie, the better for you, the justification of 9 years of your craze notwithstanding. #VTV
  • Whether the girl ditches the guy or the guy ditches the girl, it's the guy who stays single longest. #VTV #inspirationaltuesdays
  • #VTV is probably the 1st movie I'm very polarized abt (not new), but the polarization being both for AND against [really :-(]. :|
  • Sigh. I guess I'll have to reconcile to the fact that #VTV does indeed have highly polarized opinions. And that totally totally beats me. :(
  • One thing I hated abt #VTV - kindling false hopes of seeing girls in Indian IT companies wearing sarees and churidhars. :(
  • Wonder if the saree-wearing-style in #VTV was to suit Trisha's image or Jessie's. Esp considering KK_Jo, VV_Kamalinee & PKCM (in that order)
  • And I repeat, Trisha & Simbu will make a great pair in real-life too. Celebrity-wise, you cant think of a better match for either. :-)
  • At the risk of sounding contradictory, though I felt the "romance" bit left much to be desired, Trish & Simbu share great chemistry.
  • So in case anyone felt bad about what happens bet. Trish & Simbu in Tamil, watch the Telugu version. :-) #VTV
  • #VTV Trivia: The guy & girl that act in Karthik's movie are the lead pair in Telugu. Likewise, Trish-Simbu are the "stars" in Telugu.
  • Totally loved the Central Park scene in #VTV. Brilliant emoting by Trisha & Simbu. So so loved it! :-) How I wish... If only...
  • Must say special mention needs to be made of the cinematographer - surely has had a part to play in Trisha's resplendence. :-)
  • But yes, after a log time, I ogled at Trisha unabashedly/guiltlessly. Like Simbu says, First Love is indeed unforgettable+lovely. ;-)
  • #VTV - Def. disappointing. Great Chem., awesome Trish, pleasantly diff Simbu + Vintage Rahman wasted. Wud've said fail if not for these.