Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Rajanikanth Revisited

OK - it's hard to grow up in Tamil Nadu and not be exposed to the phenomena that is Rajani! BTW - my uncles used to know him in his Shivaji (Rao Gaekwad) days - just before he became a bus conductor...

Somehow its hard to associate Rajani with this sentimental song... love SPB's rendition. (Yep I am an unabashed SPB fan...)

...what did you think of his "top knot" in this magnificent song from Thalapathi?

...and I will never forget this song - my first ever intro to a classic Rajani film...

...and a long time ago in a land far away we were taken to see this movie as a exeat during a long weekend..

Monday, June 28, 2010

Of Guests and Challenges...

Its’ nothing to do with the unwelcome folks who come visiting or the horrors of what to cook for fussy Aunt Petunia who is part diabetic, part hypertensive and part susceptible to major allergic reactions (all in her hypochondriac mind). Nothing to do with a friend’s terrifying monster (“just hyper active darling – he’ll outgrow that stage”) who will leave your house looking like a horde of monkeys have ransacked it. What it is about is for want of a better phrase is “imposter perfumes” – read on…

I went into one of those “Discount” perfume stores that sell designer brands for less. Firstly the store itself was so depressing – filthy lino floors, dull lighting and rows of cheap shelves and glass cabinets packed to the brim with cheap perfumes. The interior of the store was crammed with tables sporting dusty white tablecloths on the tops of which were heaped monstrous handbags with colors and designs that were probably made with Medusa in mind. On top of that was the blaring, discordant music that even I (kinda deaf) found loud!

What caught my eye was the prominently placed “Challenge No. 5” and “Guest”. Fan of Calving Kleen? You could go for “Escapades” or “Enter City”. Is “Empire Armani” more your style or would you rather go with “Blue for Men” – a blatant copy of “Jean Paul Gaultier”? Jump through the “Hoop” for “Joop” and notice it’s “J. Adore” not “J’dore”.

Would I recommend your buying any of this? Most certainly A) if you want to expose yourself to dubious chemicals and B) you want to chase out uninvited guests with some strange and terrible scents!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Overheard in a "Steel Kadai" in Bangalore

This one was one of those quaint little shops whose shelves were
crammed with stainless steel pots and pans, plates and glasses, idli
stands, pressure cookers and the ubiquitous Corelle tea-sets. Steel
buckets and some large drums were crammed at the entrance and rows of
shinning ladles of assorted shapes and sizes were bunched together on
the sides of the shelves with coir ropes. Also crammed into the shop
were the Proprietor and his two assistants as well as a young boy of
about 11 or 12 who served as a general dogs body.

The proprietor had shiny obviously dyed hair slicked down with copious
amounts of coconut oil. He was dressed in a white shirt and a equally
pristine white dhoti. He had just finished sticking agarbathi sticks
into a bunch of bananas on a little ledge that held a idol of Ganesha
and a garlanded photograph of his deceased father when I walked in to
buy an idli stand.

As I stood waiting for one of the assistants to unearth the elusive
stand in the size I was looking for, I saw a middle-aged lady walk in
with a tall girl.

Proprietor to Lady: Vanakkam …Soukiyama? {Welcome and How do you Do?}

Lady: Vanakkam Saar … (pushing the girl forward) – idho ival namma
pona wala mara magazh ( Let me introduce you to my future

Proprietor: Romba Santosham…neenga yaar uda “would-be” – US le irraka
paiyyana? {That’s great …are you the US guy’s intended?}

Lady: Illae…illae … avan chinnava … ippotha padikirthiku poi
irrakaan. Ival naama Ravi --- adho UK le irukanae ---avanwuda Mrs.
{No, no the US guy is too young he has just started studying there.
This girl is for our Ravi who is in the UK}

Proprietor: Adhu seri? Kalayan yeppo vechirkeengo? {Oh I see.
When’s the wedding?}

Lady: Aduthu maasam… appotha Ravi ki leave kadikirithu. 17th vara
pora – kalayano – 23rd – choultry kadikilae athanala Gateway hotel le
arrange pannirko. { Next month coz that’s when Ravi will get leave.
He’s arriving on 17th and the wedding will be on 23rd. We couldn’t
get a Banquet Hall at such short notice and therefore the wedding will
be at the Gateway hotel}

Proprietor: Very good. Romba Santosham (to girl) Unga pear yenna ma?
Bangalore karan ah? { That’s great …what’ s your name? Are you from
Bangalore as well?}

Girl: Naan Vaishali ... namba yella Chennai karan…nethuktha ingae
vande. { I’m Vaishali, we are from Madras – I just came in last

Proprietor: (Before he can stop himself) – Aiyo --- kalyanathaku
munnadiyae mamiyaar veetlae thangirkeengla. {What the… you are
already living with your in-laws even before you are married?}
(suddenly realizing he sounds so crude) – Excellent, excellent – athu
seri neenga yenna padchitirkeengu? {Excellent, excellent – what have
you studied?}

Girl: Naan engineer.

Proprietor (with a knowing grin) – ah Software ah?

Girl: Illae – Civil.

Proprietor: (grin replaced with a puzzled look) – Appo Raviyoo Civil
thane? {Is Ravi a Civil engineer too?)

Girl: Illae – avar MBA pannikara – ippo periya Financial companylae
valae paathitirkaaru. (No, he’s completed his MBA and is currently
working with a reputed Financial firm)

At that point my own idli stand was finally found and I was forced to
tear myself away and focus on business at hand. I did manage to hear
some stuff in between that told me the girl had come to buy some
tumblers (glasses) and they spent a long time in making their
selection. By then my transaction was complete and I walked away with
this little episode etched in my memory.

Out here if I wanted to buy some crockery I would head to some
soulless chain store, pick out what ever is placed on the shelf with
no friendly salesman to discuss the merits of “it may have a nice
design but the steel is low-grade” or “that set is excellent and our
overseas customers have no problems putting it in the dishwasher”. If
I am not happy with my purchase I can always return it to the grumpy
looking customer service rep with an attitude to match. She couldn’t
care less whose marmagazh I was unless of course I happened to be
Jennifer Aniston!


1) The "steel kadai" is a mom and pop store that stocks and sells stainless steel utensils, cutlery and crockery

2) Tradition dictates that a bride-to-be may not enter or step into her in-law's house until the wedding ceremony is over. In fact there is a special ceremony to welcome the newly wed into her new house. A few generations ago - the date and time of the bride entering the house used to be picked out some 15 to 20 days after the wedding ceremony!!

3) Hopefully my "Tamil" rendering makes sense - methinks it may be slightly better than Aishwarya mouthing dialogues in "Raavannan" - lets wait and see.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Malfoy, Weasley and the Diamond

It’s the calls of “good eye”, “good swing buddy” interspersed with
shouts of “Tag him; TAG HIM”. It’s scents of newly mown grass that
suddenly steal up your nose as you set your canvas chair down. It’s
the sight of the little players carefully hanging their bags up like
seasoned professionals. It’s when you have to do laundry every night
as the uniform is needed every other day. Welcome to little league
baseball season.

Even before you say “But Quidditch wasn’t even remotely inspired by
baseball,” let me hasten to explain.

For the last three summers we have been regularly taking the little
tyke to baseball practice and the house league games. Therein we came
across “Malfoy” a name I assign to a arrogant parent. Cold and aloof
he seems barely acknowledges any of the other parents and yes he seems
to be sufficiently rich too! And he does have whitish blond hair and
the kid is a kind of a bully. Now you know where the Weasely comes
from – a nice set of warm and friendly parents except they don’t have
red hair.

When we first came to this country we were absolutely clueless about
baseball. We thought we would be able get the game since we come from
a cricket crazy country – but that didn’t quite pan out! In fact when
I took the tyke to a game at the stadium – he was most excitedly
watching what I term “non-action” below – while I happily had a good
snooze - that I was suddenly snapped out of when someone hit a
home-run and the stadium erupted into wild cheers. I suspect I must
have given some die-hard baseball fans quite a complex that afternoon!

The tyke of course can reel off all the rules in his sleep. He went to
a game last weekend in a picturesque little town surrounded by
beautiful farmland. We had delicious home-made ice-cream from one of
the shops on the quaint street and the next day while waiting for the
game to start, spent the morning keeping warm and cozy in a little
coffee shop as the inclement weather outside was, brrrrrishly cold
and inhospitable. Tyke’s team won the tournament in a set of
well-played matches as all teams were equally good.

Tonight will be a flood-lit match and Tyke’s casting anxious glances
at the grey sky praying there’ll be no lightening! (For the
uninitiated coz of the metal bats and the metal protective fences
around the baseball pitch – no-one plays baseball in a thunderstorm
except of course the infamous Vampires from Twilight!)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

...and they lived happily ever after

When my mom was married it was a lavish affair and the wedding was the talk of the town for months to come. My Grandpa was quite a prominent person in his locality and though a wealthy man was prudent with his spending - except for the wedding - and he did that because that was the norm and that was what was expected.

A generation down the line my own wedding was a quiet little affair - a simple ceremony in the local temple followed by a reception at a modest hotel. The menu was traditional and the guests got a rosebud or two and the "tamboolam".

Of late the weddings I have attended seem to only get glitzier and more swanky. Professional decorators dazzle the eye. The wedding buffet includes everything from Chinese to Italian to the chef frying up hot dosas of a griddle not to mention an array of desserts and sweets. Guests are assured of a professionally done up goody bag with perfumes for the ladies and perhaps digital diaries or silk ties for the men and age-appropriate toys for the kiddos.

Recently a colleague of mine told me all about the tantrums her daughter has been throwing to ensure she gets the perfect wedding. The money she has spent on her wedding dress would happily keep 2 families fed for a month!

Don't get me wrong - if you have the money and the energy - by all means it is your wedding so go ahead and celebrate how you deem fit. But what I see is that there is so much of emphasis on the clothes, make-up, catering and arrangements the real ceremony seems to be of the least importance when ironically that is what the wedding is supposed to be about!