Sunday, December 16, 2012


Folks from India - do you remember those blue inland letters?

For the longest time ever I always thought they were "England" letters.  My parents  used to regularly write to their folks back home using inlands.  I remember my mom or dad leaving a small space at the very end where I inevitably would write:

"My dear Uncle/Aunty or Grandpa/Grandma,

How are you?  We are fine.  I went to school today.

Write soon."

And then would follow a drawing of a house or a car - colored most painstakingly.  After this came the most important task of all to go and drop the letter in the mail-box and wait for the reply where the usual comment would be "By the way Uncle/Aunt/G'pa/G'ma liked your drawing.  They say you've improved a lot".

When my sister went off to Medical School and I was given the privilege of actually writing a whole half page to her.  By then I had graduated to writing poems!  "There was mouse who lived in a house, His tail was blue and one day it grew etc". (Probably put her off Literature for life!)

And the terror of telegrams.  Telegrams meant one thing - either a death in the family or a serious illness with summons to hop onto the next available bus.   It was the maids that communicated arrivals of the dreaded telegrams.  "You know madam - one of those horrible telegram things arrived at so-and-so's house.  Madam So-and-So burst into tears and they are leaving for the bus-depot in an hours time."

Few years later - it became acceptable to send telegrams for Birthdays and Weddings and later extended to congratulating someone on passing their exams.  Since the amount you paid was based on the number of words - the less said the better.  The P&T came out with a list of standard greetings.  So all you had to do was to pick the number.  So if it was someone's birthday you simply said "17" and the recipient would get to see "Many happy returns of the day" - while you paid only for that one word.

Here's what I found...from the Rourkela Post Office site - looks like not much has changed ...

List of Standard Telegram Greetings

1. Kind Remembrances and all Good Wishes for the Independence Day (18)
2. Sincere Greetings for the Republic Day Long Live the Republic (19)
1. Heartiest Diwali Greetings (1)
2. Id Mubarak (2)
3. Heartiest Bijoya Greetings (3)
4. A Merry Christmas to you (9)
5. My Heartiest Holi Greetings to you (20)
6. Heartiest Pongal Greetings (26)
7. Heartiest Gur Purb Greetings (27)
8. Heartiest Onam Greetings (29)
9. Heartiest Ugadi Greetings (33)
10. Wish you a Happy Bihu (35)
11. A Happy Easter (36)
12. Heartiest Greetings on Buddha Jayanti (37)
13. Heartiest Guru Ravidas Purnima Greetings (39)
1. A Happy New Year To You (4)
2. Many Happy returns of the day (5)
3. Hearty Congratulations on the new Arrival (6)
4. Greetings on the occasion of Parvushan-a day of universal forgiveness (28)
5. Heartiest Congratulations on Greh Pravesh (38)
1. Best Wishes for a long and Happy married life (8)
2. May Heaven’s Choicest Blessings be showered on the young couple (16)
3. Wish you both a happy and prosperous wedded life (17)
4. Convey our blessings to the newly married couple (25)
5. Best Wishes on your wedding anniversary (30)
1. Congratulations on the Distinction conferred on you (7)
2. Hearty Congratulations on your success in the Examination (10)
3. Best Wishes for a safe and pleasant journey (11)
4. Many Thanks for your good wishes which i/we Reciprocate Most Heartily (13)
5. Congratulations (14)
6. Loving Greetings (15)
7. Wishing the function every success (21)
8. Many thanks for your kind message of Greetings (22)
9. Best Wishes for your successes in the examination (23)
10. Wish you a happy retired life (31)
11. Wish you a speedy recovery (32)
12. Congratulations on your victory (34)

Thursday, September 6, 2012


So another one has gone by...

In my mind will forever be etched "Pilavullakandi Thekkeparambil"  and the 1/100th of a second miss.

But it seems to me - if way back in 1984 without all these hi-tech advancements in sports, the training, the scientific fitness and nutrition regimes - if Usha could make it to the finals and almost get there - why hasn't it happened subsequently for other Indian athletes?   I'm talking specific about track and field - not other sports.

It was my mom's maid Laxmi who got me thinking when excitedly over the phone she wanted to know if "Junior Amma" was watching the actual  "Wohlumpix"  in person - not realizing that London is on an entirely different continent altogether!  

Shyam did you go to any of the events?

The 1928 Olympic 110-meter hurdles
                                                Well, Laxmi - live TV is the next best thing eh?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tigers and Tamarind and other things...

  • Taking a cue from MIM here are some bullet points in no specific order... "Puli" or tamarind - a key ingredient to sambhar, decided to make itself scare from my pantry one fine day. It must be noted that would be the day when we have guests coming over who are eagerly anticipating "othentic" South Indian cooking. My niece finds it extremely amusing that the word "puli" also means tiger. (OK...OK... there is a variation of pronunciation but let's not get into that with a 4 year old). So I had to rush to the Grocery - and found a new brand - "Rajini". I can tell you while the tamarind did not go and make itself into sambhar with no intervention - it certainly had a tiger-worthy quality. So far all of the brands of tamarind I have been using had been quite insipid, but in this case I can claim I finally found the "asli" puli. 

  • Read the "Weight of Heaven" by Thrirty Umrigar. Very disappointing. She starts of very well but doesn't know how to end it properly. I always keep thinking why writers can't end books nicely - in a "happily ever after" way. Especially here, given the way Frank is portrayed one would not expect him to end up doing what he does - it absolutely does not gel. 

  • Was watching "Land Girls". Pretty decent series. The story and plot were predictable but what I really liked was the attention to detail in the settings. They've taken the pains to create WW2 era settings.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Wildflowers Chicory

When summer starts - wild chicory is in bloom everywhere. I love the blue and I love the insouciant way they dot the roadsides. So I picked up a brush...and this is what resulted...

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


1. You must post the rules.
2. Answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post & then create 11 new questions to ask the people you’ve tagged.
3. Tag 11 people and link to them on your post.
4. Let them know you’ve tagged them!

Okay - the folks I know have been tagged already. So I'll just tag Saumya and Shoefiend for this one.

And I do have a suggestion Shyam you can answer my 11 questions!! (Ha Ha).

1. Which city did you visit during your first visit abroad?

2. What was your first impression of it?
I visited Dubai way back in 1993 before it became the futuristic looking maze of skyscrapers. The very first thing that hit me - was the warmth of the air combined with a fragrance I can only define as being uniquely "Dubaian"- perhaps from the desert?

3. Your most favourite mode of transportation, and your least?
Most favourite would be train and least an air conditioned bus. I suffer from motion sickness and HATE travelling by bus.

4. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
Wow! That's interesting - it has set me pondering. I'll have to get back on that one.

5. Good or bad, what memory from your childhood stands out the most in your mind?
There's not just one memory. So let me talk about some of my earliest memories - waiting at the dining table for my Mom to make raagi malt; plucking tree tomatoes (tamarillos) straight out from the tree and eating them, being given my first doll, spending cold evening painting by the fireplace...

6. Do you like soft pillows or firm ones?
Firm - firm - firm. Out here you get those darn, soft, fluffy pillows that are too high to boot! GAH!

7. Did you like school?
Pretty much I guess. Had its good and bad parts.

8. What would you tell your least favourite teacher, if you were to meet him/her now?
"Grow up!" Looking back I can see how that guy was so immature and silly- everything a teacher ought not to have been.

9. Do you like your name? If not, what name would you give yourself?
When I was a kid I always felt my name wasn't as cool as those of my classmates. Later I realized how lucky I was not to have been saddled with a fuddy-duddy old-fashioned name or an ultra-modern one either!

10. Your opinion of fund-raising balls/parties/dinners organised for/by celebrities?

Hogwash and other synonyms.

and finally

11. Got any advice for me? :)
Nope. And that comes from a person who writes instructions all day for a living!!!

1) Which is your favourite Enid Blyton book?
2) Did you ever see an UFO or see something you thought was an UFO?
3) Which was your least favourite subject in school?
4) Where did you meet your spouse/ significant other?
5) Which childhood friend have you kept in touch with?
6) Are you still good friends?
7) Who was your least favourite boss? And why?
8) If you could change jobs what would you rather be doing?
9) Which book have you read as a child that you would like to re-read but can't find a copy anywhere?
10)Sean Connery, Timothy Dalton, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, George Lazenby or Daniel Craig? Which one do you consider best suited for James Bond?
11)Your favourite poet?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Faking It...

...with my new black running shoes - that look like polished leather and my longer-than-usual trouser hems. So it looks like I am wearing formal shoes, while my feet are high-fiving for being able to wallow in comfort!

A Random Memory

There was a time when we used to frequently visit a small restaurant every weekend. It was small ans cozy and more importantly fit our budget those days. I used to observe two Sikh families that came every weekend too. There was an older couple with a teenage daughter and a relatively younger couple with a little baby (less than a year old). I remember one particular incident where the teenage daughter pleaded with the younger couple to allow her to feed the little one some Seven Up. The dad said, "Alright, just a little." And the girl was so pleased. I can recollect the pink of the mother's salwar and the fact she had her hair fashionably cut, but the daughter was in a long braids.

Funny how you can remember something so clearly after so many years and yet forget where you placed your car keys last evening!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cuts and Bruises

I was neatly slicing the mango and thinking gleefully - no wonder I never got it right before coz the knife wasn't sharp enough - and at that very instant get a nasty nick on my finger. Luckily I had held the mango away from the bowl so the blood didn't drip onto my beautifully cut pieces. What can I say - thank God for small mercies?

In India, the husband bought a new "designer" bed for the newly constructed house. Designer as in designed to make your life a living hell if you decide to move the bed, make the bed or attempt to get the bedsheet straight. Now I happen to prefer my bed to be nice and smooth with bedsheet nicely and satisfactorily tucked in neatly in the corners - army precision et al (remnants from Boarding School discipline I guess). With this bed - no Siree - after a nights sleep it looks like a herd of elephants have rolled about in it. Anyway I manfully tug and pull, smoothen and straighten, and in the course of getting one corner to hold so I can do the other - BANGGGG - goes my leg on the designer edge (cutting edge - if I may add). All I have to show for my work is one badly bruised leg with a long cut and one bed that looks like it has just been visited by a mini tornado.

And did I tell you about my Laurel and Hardy routine? I have two towels in the kitchen - one for wiping hands and the other for the pots and pans. They hang demurely on my oven door and surprise, surprise sometimes manage to get color co-ordinated by some karmic coincidence of the weekly wash. Now one fine day, I was busy with grinding idli batter which involved constant use of said towels. Yep, you guessed it no sooner did I hang one towel when the other fell off - rinse and repeat...

Friday, January 27, 2012

Eerie Muffs and Scary Safety Videos

Why do all the people in Bangalore (I refuse to call it Bengaluru) seem to have developed a fetish for ear-muffs. Poorly designed, bad quality, army print ear muffs. From my mom's Gardner, to the maamis on their morning walks (sarees, hideous maroon cardigans, nikes or reeboks (no doubt handed down from the "foreign residing" daughter) and the omniscient ear-muffs); to the little boys down the lane. On the little boys, the muffs seem to be over-sized and they end up hanging lop-sided!

Okay, even given that to us from the land of minus, we didn't find Bangalore particularly cold - we still found the muffs hilarious. Of course our souvenir shopping didn't include these objects, though I was tempted to get a set as a memoir to the holiday.

Another thing that had us in hysterics was the Safety Video on the plane. The animation on the demo was priceless. The guy's expression was too ridiculous to behold - and I guess the general holiday spirits added to the silly state we were in.

(Poor kid will die from fright not asphyxiation!)