Saturday, December 31, 2005

There is someone out there....

I desperately want to blog on something nice, but once again, the last 4 days have once again been very very tight - probably the most challenging days in my career. The events that unfolded and my participation would make it one real fine blog, I think. But I cannot write anything for the sake of professional ethics.

All I can say is that I must have taken 100s of calls and missed as many. I was sitting with groups of people working things out late into the night. Papers sprawled around, issues on hand, and my strong aim to maintain honesty, principles in whatever I do in these moments of high stress. My words never had more weight ever before.

Its hard to believe that just before things built up, I had entered the office sleepy tired and thinking if I should go home. And then since that point to now, I have been operating like I need no sleep. Thank God, for making the mind/body flexible enough to rise up to such occasions.

For some reason when things get really tough, one begins to see the world so well. For some reason when you seek help, people offer it? Also I keep getting surprised about the ideas that pop up in my head when in trouble... like someone out there is invisibly pouring it into my head? I keep thinking ... how did I get at that? How did I write that? How did I know this is the person to seek help from? It cannot be me alone... it must be a sum of energies of some kind people and spirits trying to be with me? Its almost like a big scandal - the coming of the problems and the solutions thereon... it just seems its all scripted somewhere like a drama.

And then when I come home last night, the dogs on my door have multiplied from 5 to almost 8!! Like they know I need some company tonight. Quietly they move as my car approaches, stretch out, take new positions and fold up again... watching me as I step out of the car to my door. I look at one of them kindly and the dog kind of perks up in anticiapation... and then I turn away... I do not like to offer my friendship to someone I cannot offer a large amount of time & love. Its better to live off tacit acceptance?

Hope today, things quieten out, and tommorow with the new Yyear brings in much more fun, understanding and time on hand.

So, here's wishing all of you there and also to all the friendly dogs of this world a very Happy New Year!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2005

From the corner of my eye

Been busy again (when am I not!). But that does not mean that I closed my eyes to my world around. I have been watching things pass by, from the corner of my eyes!

So, here that remains from the week that was, inna my head -

Two fat policewoman go into a park in North India (meerut) and begin slapping away happily at young couples in name of moral-policing. One couple goes missing in shame. The country goes up in arms; the policewomen are suspended. The tip of the iceberg is removed to grow one more day.

For while the TV relayed the above sad incident, my country is full of faceless citizens who are slapped each day without a problem. I cannot forget once my uncle slapping one of our servants at home - a person who was like my friend, accusing him of stealing. I have seen enough policemen slapping young people on the road - at short notice. I have seen landlords booting their labour. I have seen policemen in a park blackmailing a whore and abusing her & him. I have seen forces men caning a young person black and blue because he played dirty in a movie hall run by the forces- showing dirty movies! Just a few examples. And of course I have heard much much more - gruesome acts. Frankly, I doubt I will ever have and will see the police as a force that can and will ever protect me - unless of course, I use the services of my connected relatives or office administration. Think of my faceless brothers and sisters in the country. They no longer smile because they are sweet. They smile at you because they need your favours. Else, your power is and hold is just too enormous for them.

This girl who is a popular folk dancer in the movies today was once buried with her umblical cord attached by her own mother! Until her aunt decided that she could do with a girl child. Reminds me of my grandmother sharing a dark family secret of one of my great great grandfathers who burnt part of the house... so he could burn... you know what. Sometimes, India seems so much of a mess! The reason - we defend everything about our cultures in name of some external evil force. And with that we defend everything wrong in it too. So, it does not evolve. Instead what do we do. Jump between modern times and earlier times, like jugglers. Sometimes, we just get tired and stop jumping and end up sitting wherever we last dropped. Its the 'modern looking, western oriented people' who take up the visible task to change... and of course that has its own pitfalls. But then, thats what happens when we stop changing ourselves... others will change us... the way they want to!

Well, some people of course in India are aiming to change quick and far. For instance these beautiful ladies above who were once - men! Good for them, they got very good support in the audience which discussed their circumstances. In fact, the audience almost put one guy to shame. He asked, " Ask these people, can they ever be a mother?". And this recently-turned woman said, " So what was motherhood to you. Your birth or being raised by your mother." He never spoke after that.

I saw few movies on the TV, including my favourite malayali movies. Again, did not understand all the words but was still laughing, crying and getting excited anyways. I have to write about Kerala in my blogs soon. That is one special part of my life.

Its been rather busy for me anyways. I have 4 large events to manage within a short span of 40 days. Plenty of daily activities and deadlines. And each one has to be creative in its own way. Its hard to explain to people how much energy it takes in form of concenteration, anxiety and co-ordination. For unfortunately, one of the key aims in my life is to make everything look easy. A personal aim that I borrowed from the swimmer Greg Louganis, the olympic star. Who when asked about what is your aim in your sport (diving/swimming), and he said. " When people see me diving, they must feel its the easiest and most natural thing to do..." Heard it when I was in school and never forgot it yet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Just changing my bulbs

Just a little too busy and changing my 'bulbs'. Hopefully, will write tommorow with brighter lights!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Talking with my Moon

Ok. I know you been scarred often.
But it is not so easy here too, ok?
Yes. Neither of us shine from within.
But well both of us do reflect well. no?
What's important is that we do it when it gets all dark!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hanuman & Karthigai Deepam

Today, I went along with my friend to a nearby temple by the road. Just walking distance. My friend and his family went to pray to Hanuman. So did I for a moment, but I quickly sought permission from God and allowed myself to spend most of the time taking photographs. Well... I have always considered most Gods as my friends, except of course when I need their support and then I am their humble servant!

This is Balaji. Another incarnation of Vishnu. Lord Ram (as in ramayan) was re-incarnation of Vishnu. And Hanuman was Ram's dearest sevak (one who serves). So, where is Hanuman in the temple?

Hanuman is the smaller idol below. As a sign of a person who cherishes serving Lord Balaji. Now, while Hanuman chooses to serve him with all his love. I love Hanuman. Because he remains a bachelor. Just like me!! Lolz. He had enormous powers within him right from childhood, but was totally unaware of them till much later in his adulthood. And that too he was to be told before he realised. I like that kind of person and surely that kind of God!!

Coupled to this today is also Karthigai Deepam festival, very popular in Tamil Nadu. The story is equally exciting behind it :

"According to legend, Goddess Parvati once playfully closed Siva's eyes and the entire world was plunged in darkness. Hence She did penance at Kasi , Kanchi and Thiruvannamalai. The Lord, pleased with Her penance, appeared before Her on Karthigai day in the month of Karthigai. To mark the occasion, Karthigai Deepam is lighted on that day. She prayed to the Lord that the people who worship Him as Arunachaleswara should be forgiven for their mistakes, committed knowingly or unknowingly"

While seeking the above information I hit upon more information about the Arunachaleswara temple which you can read here. Its quite interesting. It also contains a a good description on why Brahma, the creator, does not have many temples in his name.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I am a proud Bengalooru-ian!

A British built, now, the High court in Bangalore

If you came to know India recently, chances are you may know it because of Bangalore? Because of the IT boom?

Anyways, now please, we are changing our name from Bangalore to Bengalooru. The spelling is still being debated. Could be Bengaluru too. But I advise you to practise it well if you plan a trip after November 2006, when the name changes. Else when you arrive in India and people tell you Bangalore does not exist, you may just feel like Jim Carrey in the Truman Show!

Last two weeks, I have been receiving a chain mail about the history of Bengaluroo and I suspect it was a smart way to build a positive opinion for the plan to change name. Well, the name change is not going to solve the city's severe infrastructure problems, but then, if one waited for it, we would never change the name! Lolz.

The popular story is : Bengalooru (now Bangalore) got it's name from 'Bende Kaalu Ooru' (meaning 'Town of boiled beans'). That happened after King Veera Ballala II of the Hoysala dynasty, in 1120 AD, was fed boiled beans by an old woman in the forest. However, more learned people say this is incorrect and the name 'Bengalooru' was recorded much before King Ballala's time in a 9th century inscription found in a temple in Begur village near Bangalore.
I am just a layman and I will agree with whichever group is kinder to me.

If you do not know - the name Bangalore came because the British could not pronounce the original name. Just like they changed Mumbai to Bombay and Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala to Trivanduram.

Now there are many opinions about this change. Many say 'whats in a name?' and why cannot the government spend these efforts into the severe infrastructure problems we have. While others think this change will bring us back closer to our culture. Some others see no issue... because when spoken in Kannada, the local language, it has anyway been called Bengalooru. Its only in English that its called Bangalore.

As for me, I am not in a position to calculate the cost of change in a name (books, documents, stationaries, signs etc...) or the social cost of low self-esteem... because we continue to retain a colonial legacy.

However, personally, I like the Indian names more. To me Chennai , Mumbai, Thiruvananthapuram have a nice tang and sound sweeter when spoken versus their old (colonial) names Madras, Bombay or Trivandarum . So, I am rather pleased with this change!

And am keen to call my self a proud Bengalooru-ian or whatever the final spelling be. As for foreigners keen to learn how to pronounce it, I am ready to start a new business! LOLz.

There is only one nagging thought. Should we not get over our sticky obsession with independence? I mean Britain has changed, we have changed. More Indians today live independently in Britain against British in India? Should we not just expand our vision deep back into our 1000s of years old culture and be more confident of our future, instead of getting sensitive about the independence day? How many more colonial symbols are around us - for us to remove? Or are we going to forever feel like we are prisoners 'just-out-of-jail'?

Whatever. All said, I like the name - Bengalooru. And am happy for all who feel better because of it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

How many clicks before you can grow your hair long?

These birds pop underwater and then appear meters away. Took some time to capture this.

Till a few months ago I never owned a camera. When I was a kid I was gifted one but as is the way in my family, my brother took it, considering he wanted it more. And I never gave it a thought. All my life, all the places I visited, all the friends I met, all the events I enjoyed are in my memory. No photographs. I never thought of it.

Now, I bought a camera. A Sony DSC H1. And since the day I bought it I have been clicking away! I still do not know how to use it properly - never good at reading manuals. To my favour the only thing I know is what I want.. so, I think. As a result of my job, where I need to employ many a pics. So, I have a fair idea what my frame should be. But how should I achieve it... is the challenge. And the digital camera is confusing me... am I doing well? Can I now grow my hair long - since now I am a photographer and hence more free than normal people? (Take that lightly, I know I am not!)

Had to zoom a lot for them since they were far inside the lake. And stop myself from shaking.

The thing with digital cameras is that one has the choice to take a 100 pics and expect at least one to be good. As also says - 'Igotnotime'.

But I have this burning desire to shoot at will and with some control of the end result.

Unfortunately, this year, Bangalore climate has always been cloudy and rainy. Very little sunlight around. And with my busy schedule... by the time i leave office its already dark outside.

I like this very much. But is there anything in this pic?

Wonder if its Ok to have only 20% of the pics turn out good? Or should all my pics always be great - or say 70% or more?

Need to find a good site for photography!

I like this picture very much. For me I see a story. Guys doing their jobs but still sensitive about individual and one-to-one and group equations. But that qualify as a good pic? I could never plan it.. so can never take credit for it.

And well... I am 1000s of miles away to be accomplished. However, a thought has been running in my head. Lets say, I catch a photograph which sells for a 1000 dollars and it has a person's face in it or a nice house from some village I visited or an elephant. Should one be sending half the money back to the person? Or to the mahout whose elephant I captured? Or to the owner of that house? Who is the owner of the picture. The picture or the subject?

Or maybe when shot for personal consumption its all fine?

Is that a tree you are looking at - looking at you? Is it Ganesha? Or is it just my imagination & hope to make this pic classify as good?

Or if I were to see things my personal way - this is not an issue. The world belongs to everyone and everyone in it? And we have a right to remember it the way we want to?

Thursday, December 08, 2005 the very first time. ...1

Some events, people, places touch one in a special manner. Sure, there is a lot I love. But somethings... because of the time, place, the state of my mind or whatever leave a deep impression that lasts a life time. Maybe if I revisit them I may not feel the same about them. But here I am talking of that lasting impression in my mind and not what really lies outside. Below I list some links that I could gather of what touched me at home, in India.

Mithun in 'Mrigya'

The movie 'Mrigya' with Mithun. I was real young when I watched this movie during a sports training camp in hostel. A girl sat next to me, trying to get closer, but I was stuck to the TV, mesmerised by the story of this innocent hunter who kills (hunts down) a person who stole his wife from him... and cannot understand why the feudal law wants to punish him for that. The girl next to me, left me in the middle of the movie... it never struck me she was not interested in the movie! She complained to her parents (who knew my family) who complained to mine that I was so rude to their daugther. You can check a better version of the movie review at ( a site of a very cool director) :

Bhupen Hazarika voice is in my head anytime I want. Here is the link to the song that got me! ' Ganga tu behti ho kyoon' (Oh Ganga... why do you flow?)

I was in the Hotel, in Kolkata, just finished work... all alone. I wondered if I should try a nearby disco for I saw a lot of nice people entering. But then I heard this song and my mood changed for the evening.... no make that a week! This is Bhupen Hazarika, an Assamese singer from the North-East and his voice and expressions are just too much for my heart!

The Song "Gori tera Gaon bada pyara'. (Girl your village is so very loving... I am 'floored') It got me fantasising visiting distance land where I would love & be loved... in a special way. Here is a short version link of the song: Gori Tera Gaon Bada pyara...

Mohan lal is in the centre

Malayalam Movies from Kerala are my favorites. I do not understand the language. But I got hooked to the acting of Mohan Lal - a superstar & the singer Yesudas - whose voice is awesome. Mohan Lal acts with such ease. His smile is so cool and his comedy so spontaneous. And everything he does seems like coming from within him and not some written lines. Unfortunately I cannot get the names of most movies Iiked correct and hence cannot search proper links. Except the ones with names like Vietnam Colony, Chitram & Devasuram. Or if you like to hear a nice Malayalam song from Yesudas click here..

Religious/Mythological movies. I probably saw all of them that were made during my school days. And any movie from Hanuman was a must. Jai Hanuman. Hanuman Vijay. and many more. This year a brand new Hanuman animation movie is released in India and I am all preparing to get the DVD. Here is the official site for the movie: Hanuman - The film

Bihu Dance

The Bihu Dance in Assam. The first night I went to the festival near are home in Assam I was awestruck. It was so peppy, beautiful and s..exy! I was trying to dance like that for the next 3 months. Of course, in the bathroom. Here is some information around it : Bihu festival.

The Periyar river

The Periyar river down Idduki Dam in Kerala. That's where my friend lives. Its a hilly region and the river is below his house. In the night the river's sound makes you sleep very well. And I would be taking a bath there at least 5 times a day. No shampoo, conditioner can compare with the affect of the water here. My hair and body would feel so smooth and silky. Believe me! And the entire region was so beautiful. So quiet at night. I heard a thousand different insects chirping and a 1000 stars above me.

The above pictures is not of the river as it is where I stayed. In that point, the river is fast and narrower. So, there are many rocks and nice places to bath. Unfortunately there is no link to the place I stayed in. But some information can be found at

I am not sure I covered all, or in the right order. But this is what I could write about for now. More later. And of course, the things that touched my heart from the rest of the world.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Worldviews - Before time.

Did you ever feel that long back when you were very young, even though you had hardly seen the world - its people & places, you seem to know what was coming your way for the next many years? Did you?

Sometimes I feel so. Not like a future-teller but I feel I got some hints on the way! Hints which I may have missed?

When my parents went abroad for the first time ( and the only time) they asked me what I wanted. And for some reason I mentioned - a typewriter and a rucksack. I cannot remember why those two items struck me but without them I would have hardly done much that I do today. At work I write 1000s of words each month and sometimes I feel its less to do with my flair to write but more to do with the speed I can type with. And it seriously helps my job. My rucksack motivated me and my friends to travel to places which I doubt we would have thought of ... without seeing ourselves as trekkers of some repute!!

And then I wrote two stories during my college time for the college magazine. One appeared, one did not. No one understood what i wrote and frankly neither did I. But now I think I maybe... or at least I recall them.

The first story was about me and a frog in the college loo!! It was about this frog holed in cavity-in-the-wall in the loo and my relation with it each day and how it develops. To the point that I was not sure why I was going to the loo - for my ego knock with the frog or for nature's call! The story continues through various ups and downs and duels/arguments - till we both turn our backs to each other. And finally, I begin to see a new world and meaning into life and the frog gives way to a book that leads me to a mystery world beyond daily vision. If you see closely, the frog depicted my sexual urges and how I try to cut through their meanings and try to find a social & human purpose in it. Well, in a way, I see the world pretty much like that today!

The next one was about vegetables turning into fruits and how the farmers refuse to accept it. Because they begin extrapolating the issue to the point that they feel their world is going to end now. And they start to destroy every vegetable that has metamorphised into a fruit! However sweet it was. Until they reach a point of famine and the die-hard are even ready to starve.

It is only then they realise that one person's garden still has vegetables as vegetables! This is a single, outcasted person. And the farmers query these vegetables as to why they have been so well behaved while their own vegetables plants are changing into fruit plants - The outcasted person's vegetables answer : " The person you outcasted loves us like his family. So we remain so. But you- you own, sow & eat vegetables but you do not love them... you instead love fruits. So, for years your vegetable plants have been trying to be a fruit so they be loved. Now, they have become what you love and there is no going back on that. Because we grow out of love and not because of the seed you plant!"

And so sense dawns and the village is saved.

I wrote this story once - not exactly, but somewhat on these lines. But its only now that I realise that what we become is what we become in the expectation that whether we will be or will not be loved. That's how and that's when we grow. Else its another way!!

Sometimes, in the world today, we are spending so much time aiming to own power. Like, if someone is good to me its because as if I command that goodness? Or if someone serves me I command that service? What we are essentially doing with this attitude is killing the freedom & choice to serve others and putting a premium on command only. So, if the moral-brigade is worried the wives and children are going stray so be it!.

For the wives in the country no longer feel like being the person who serves her husband simply because she no longer sees any love from the other end for her choice. She instead sees that she is 'expected to', 'its her duty' maybe... but never does she feel that she could really be loved & understood for it - as her choice. It does not matter if most ladies are caring... it is not a statistic... its still their choice as against someone's command or expectation. So now instead she rather be what is loved... and not owned. So, it applies to all aspects of culture. People stick to it through love & a sense of choice ( even if the choice comes to them like second nature/naturally) and not by force/ lectures on morality or even the desire to survive in extreme cases. So, I think. Once the thread is broken, everyone has a right to take the full circle and rediscover themselves once again.

We have forgotten the gifts we were given and only remember to who each gift belongs to!

As for me, I am just learning to realise all this.... slowly...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Everything happens in India!

Last month the Thai princesses was denied entry into Lord Jagannath's temple because she was a 'foreigner'/non-hindu. Many Indians would be ashamed of this. And I saw some proof of that at this link at the RSS site, an organisation many would consider xenophobic but well, not in this case. As far as I remember when me and my friends used to go to temples which allowed only Hindus, none had any problem if one was a Buddhist, Jain or Sikh. All these religions are loosely accepted as part of the Hindu way of things, even if the faiths are different. I distinctly remember this when visiting the Pasupathi temple in Nepal, where when one of my friends from Sikkim mentioned he was Buddhist, the priest promptly mentioned that Buddhist are not excluded. Now, I am not sure.

The denial of entry to the Thai princesses is even more ironic considering that Hindu priests/organisations are a significant control in Bodh Gaya, the spiritual birthplace of Lord Buddha.

But I must say here, the above is limited to a few, though important temples.

One of the most unexpected voice calling for Jaganath temple to open its doors for all comes for a recently-in-news person - IG Radha. An Inspector General of Police, a senior position, who has fallen in love with Lord Krishna and who has chosen to dress up as a woman and depict himself as Lord Krishna's lover - Radha. Well it is common news in India for men to sometimes dress as women showing their love for Krishna. Some of course just offer their love without cross dressing. And some just pray to Lord Krishna as a supreme being. Either way its love. But in the case of IG Pandey, he is a senior policeman, working in an institution which through British heritage, puts very high value on the Uniform. So, cross dressing into office in the name of God - is at the least controversial. I, of course, find it cute. Better than the typical policemen with their bullying nature.

Unfortunately, most educated people in India will diagnose this condition very analytically trying to attribute various motivations and stresses to it - so that as modern beings we remain in control of our nature. I am not sure what's really in the mind of the person & why, but philosophically its one of those 1000s outlets Indian culture offers people and we should respect it, in my mind - before we damn it. How we deal with it is very much how we plan to deal with ourselves. Right now the IG has taken voluntary retirement to fulfil his 'union with Lord Krishna'. A slightly different version of covering this incident is found in the Indian Express article.

While India is full of old laws against the queer, has fair amount of xenophobia, can turn places of worship into aggresive commercial zones it is also the country where we have almost elected an Italian as a prime-minister; where eunuchs have become member of parliament; where men can cross dress in the name of God. And of course we have the family, the Himalayas, the IT boom, and people from fair to dark, from buldging-dark-dancing-eyes that tell you all... to the sharp-sherpa eyes which can take on all the snow blindness without flickering.

Everything happens in India!

(note: all pics picked. Click on them to visit the original site where they reside.)

Have some tea. Lets be family.

Originally uploaded by trngam.

Its unsaid. But tea must taste the same across my family. Its not blood, but the taste of the tea we make that decides whether you belong to our clan! The tea tastes just the same across my brother's family, my cousin's homes and about 2-steps-removed cousins too!

If the milk in your place does not help the right taste you are expected to lament and lament about why you cannot get the right quality of milk or so, to confirm that you still want to belong to the family! And must soon find a source to get the right milk.

If your tea has too much milk than acceptable it reveals your low status! However, if you like no milk its OK. If you have too much sugar its another sign of your low status. Two spoons are just pass. But you are expected to have somewhere in the middle of one and one and half to get other people's trust. If you take half spoon you have arrived!

When you marry into my family, all the marriage certificates and ceremonies are of no value. You finally arrive when you can make tea the way my Mom can make!! When my father asks for another cup...

If you are travelling across cities and need to stop en route in a restaurant, you never have tea. You only have coffee. Because no one can make tea the way we can and we are not expected to like it another way.

I think we may agree to marry one across communities as long as the other family can make tea like us.

You cannot bring your tea for test anytime. It is only tested once a week. After the Sunday afternoon nap. And its done only by family members of the age over 65 years.

Once in a while you must be able to dabble with exotic tea which tastes very different. We should appreciate it but soon agree to come home soon.

When we do not like another family we do not discuss them. We discuss the taste of their tea or even the colour or even the way it was served or even the way it was poured or even the temperature it was served in or even where they served it or when.

You see... my family is very simple people. Tea is all it takes to be one among us!!!