Friday, June 30, 2006

The talking pictures tag

A really sweet tag by Kusum

1.Most desired celebrity

Tom Selleck
Comment:He is been my crush since teeny bopper days. His screen persona is mature, with a sense of humor and great warmth. A gentleman to the core, what I like most about him is the ability to look gooofy and manly and romantic at the same time. My kind of man ;)

2.Want to do this some day

Backpack through Europe: It might happen next year!
Comment: I want to back pack through Europe..taking in the sights and smells of rural Europe.

3.Want to visit this place

Amazon Rainforests
Comments: World's greatest natural resource - the most powerful and bio-actively diverse natural phenomenon on the planet. It is being destroyed just like other rainforests around the world and I want to see it in this lifetime. Sort of a pilgrimage since I am a Nature worshipper.

4.Random Favorite

Tom the cat with spunk
Comment: I love Tom, he is so much like me..of course without the getting clobbered part. He has so much fun plotting all those things against Jerry and looks so dejected and sooo cute when he doesn’t succeed!. Then he is all smiles again and back to plotting more goofiness. He is determined with a childlike innocence and so engrossed in his aim in life to catch the mouse. And he has a good heart *muah*

5. I was tagged by Kusum
Post the picture of the place where you were tagged, and if you picked up the tag yourself then the picture of the place you picked it from. ( was unable to do this part)

I tag Alexis, Jiby, Mathew, Venus and Ganja Turtle,Pophabhi
to carry forward this tag.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And Dingo we have a cure!!!

Dingo urine found to repel kangaroos!

"How is dingo urine gathered? Carefully, study says [ :)) ]

Australian researchers say they have discovered a new repellent that can help with everything from rehabilitating old mine sites to reducing the amount of roadkill. It's dingo urine. (click on link above for full story)

This is so obvious isn't it when you think of it? You may even say "drat! why didn't I think of something like that ?"

There is this old Hindi saying that the 'power that made your mouth made the two hands too to help you feed and fend yourself'. So true!

I am sure there is a cure for everything that ails us ( even football ..ok kidding don't lynch me guys :p) on this very Earth. I just hope we discover more such natural solutions for our problems like pests, illnesses and other problems that beset our daily lives.

Imagine if the Dingo had gone extinct...!! A very viable and workable Kangaroo control method would have been lost and the authorities would have to resort to expensive and elaborate deterrences to keep them in check.

I wonder what secrets are there in Nature that needs us to use our common sense to detect and I wonder what we have lost in the fauna and flora that have gone extinct. Maybe a dreaded disease, more deadlier than AIDS will emerge in the future... and it's panacea will be extinct with that tree that we cut down.

Anyways here's wishing people like these Australian Researchers the very best. Hope you find cures faster than we can smite the axe.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Free loaders

My friend who works for a leading PR agency had recently applied for a job with a small IT company that is into Educational Software. This was her attempt to join a regular organisation from the proprietorship environment of PR Agencies. Since she does not have experience in making a Media Plan from a company perspective vis a vis a PR agency perspective she approached me for help. So I sat down with her and made entire years Media Plan to roll out the company's product in a phased manner. This was the company's attempt to make a splash in the media. The Media Plan was a kind of a pre-interview test for her.

The Media Plan was approved instantly and she was called for an interview. She went for the interview, but the interviewer failed to appear as he was apparently busy. This went on two or three times. The HR manager was always evasive anytime she called to enquire. Finally she gave up calling them.

Today she got a shock when her own agency was sent a mail from the IT company asking them for a quote for a Media Plan and roll out that the IT company had apparently "prepared themselves". And guess what? It was the very same plan that I had made.

I just cannot believe this. My friend cannot fight without letting her present employer know; besides she has lost faith in the system, because in jobs like Communication and PR, written tests are the norm. But if your written tests are used to cheat you into giving free work then what do you do?

I am so pissed off!!

Monday, June 26, 2006

State of indifference

When you are going towards Ooty by road, you reach a small village called Gundlupet. On the main road there is a small circular traffic island from where you have roads going in four directions. Take the left turn and you will come across a small thatched café. Just an ordinary dilapidated wayside teashop except for its menu.

Peacock Meat
Rabbit Meat
Deer Meat
Quail Meat
And other miscellaneous small animals from the Bandipur Forest.

The ‘restaurant’ does thriving business and its patrons are local politicians and other big wigs. Long time back on our way to Ooty my Dad developed a headache and needed some coffee. That’s how we landed up at this ‘Café’. The owner is a very friendly and nice man. He became very friendly with my Dad and even offered to parcel some of the ‘forbidden’ delicacies, which my father declined politely. My heart sank when I realized that this was a well established ‘business’ several years old. The suppliers are the tribes that inhabit the forests, the very same tribe that fought off the Taj Hotel venture that was to come up in the area.

Last year in Ooty we met up with the Conservator of Forests for Nilgiri’s and he told us proudly, that they now had 35 tigers in the Tamil Nadu (TN) side of the forests. When we informed him about the café, he said that there was nothing they could do as the café was in Karnataka. The animals were safe in TN but once they crossed to Karnataka they were easy pickings.

The very next month the UN lauded TN for its excellent work in conservation. The moment you enter into TN you can feel the difference. The Mudumalai Sanctuary (the TN name for the same forests) is well kept with check points. You are asked not to carry plastics into the Nilgiri’s. This year I saw less plastics flapping in the wind on the Nilgiri hillsides.

We were also fortunate to be taken on a guided tour of a man made Shola forest. A Shola forest is a ‘Rain Forest”. This means the trees in these forests absorb rain water and release it into the ground via its roots. So there is no wastage, no flow of water carrying top soil and ground water also gets recharged. These trees grow very slow, it takes almost 40 years for one tree to reach a height on 6 feet.

What amazed us was a revelation. The Shola forests in the Nilgiri feed the underground aquifers from which springs the Cauvery many miles away in Coorg. The Shola forests of the Nilgiri’s feed the Cauvery !!

When we went to Coorg last year, what struck us most was the cleanliness of the place. No plastics littering the roads or crowding tourists. The reason…not many hotels in the area. We stayed with our Coorgi friends in their Estate and thus were able to feel the animosity against Karnataka that simmers in the area. The reason? Coorg was an independent State till 1958 (not sure of the date) before it was merged into Karnataka. The discontent is due to the rampant felling of trees by contractors who have ‘friends’ in the corridors of Vidhana Soudha. The Coorgis are a tree loving people and believe in planting 10 trees for every tree that is felled. They also feel out of control of their own motherland. There is not a single college or decent school in the entire area. Coorg contributes a sizable chunk of revenue to the State through it’s coffee produce.

When Karnataka polled 4th in the corruption list, the joke going around was that we had bribed our way to the 4th position while we were actually in the first position.

As you enter Karnataka from Mudumalai there is this board welcoming you to Karnataka. As a kid I asked my Dad, how people could distinguish between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. He said, “You see the policeman at the border checkpost who is putting the entry fees into his pocket? That’s the beginning of Karnataka."

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Thank you!

Yesterday, I missed the car pool as usual [ :) ] and was forced to take an auto from Forum to work. As we were waiting at a traffic light, a guy in a motorcycle came and stopped next to us and asked for directions to a bank. The auto driver said he didn’t know. Since I knew where the bank was I told the biker to turn right after the signal.

The traffic light turned green and to my irritation the auto driver took the left. I told him to turn back and the road was going in the other direction from my office. He didn’t stop, instead he turned around and told me that the guy who had asked for directions was following us right from the time I got into the auto. And the auto driver took the left turn so that he would not follow me till my office.

I was shocked. Of course this is a regular thing with some guys, but this was scary as the auto driver told me that he had seen the guy on the road where I was standing to take an auto. I thanked him profusely. He then took a small deviation and bought me to office. When I got down he advised me never to give directions to guys as some guys have this habit of chatting up girls in the guise of asking directions.

I was a little shaken in the office. Later it struck me that the auto driver had actually saved me a lot of trouble by taking that left turn.

Whenever you are, “God bless you!!!”.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Some facts about myself...

I was tagged by Kusum. Here are some unknown facts about myself.

My Accent: Neutral and the voice is husky :)

Booze: White wine preferably, but if you can’t afford it I will settle for Rum and Coke or a Beer ;)

Chore I Hate: Dusting…but I am a cleanliness freak so I will dust no matter what :(

Dog or Cat: Dogs… the more the merrier

Essential Electronics: Electric Chain Saw :)) ( My PC, Laptop, Hair dryer, I Pod)

Perfume: Rose from Sonia Rykiel

Gold or Silver: Neither, I love my best friend ;) (‘Diamonds’ for the uninitiated)

Home: Namma Bengaluru forever!!!! ( was almost born here in the seventh month but the good doc was in no mood to pander to my hurry and made sure I stuck in there for 8 months :p)

Insomnia: Never, I sleep like a baby

Job Title: Communications Specialist

Living Arrangements: I live with my parents.

Most Admirable Traits: I make friends for life and have been the person to say ‘Sorry’ even if it was not my fault just to save a friendship. I have friends right from Kindergarten :)

Number of Sexual Partners: Zero, Zilch, None, Nil, Nought (wow that is five already, way to go baby!!!)

Number of times in hospital: Every time I saw a sexy Doc ;) ( about 4 times)

Phobias: Train bridges.

Quote: ' Life is like a coin. You can spend it any way you wish, but you only spend it once.'

Religion: Catholic

Siblings: Two elder brothers

Time I Wake Up: 6:30 am come rain or shine or Saturday or Sunday *groan*

Unusual Talent or Skill: I can juggle three balls :)

Vegetable I Love: Brinjal and Ladies Finger and Karela ( I like veggies)

Worst Habit: I think too fast, work too fast and tend to get impatient with people whose cerebral processing are slower than mine and hence take on jobs alone. It is difficult for me to work with slow movers.

X-Rays: When I broke my hand and when I had to join this company during the mandatory Medical Check up.

Yummy Food I Make: Cooking is my hobby so everything I make is yummy ( or so I like to think) But I make yummy Pastas and Desserts ( both are challenging to make)

Zodiac Sign: Cancer

People tagged to do it : Anyone who would like to take it up ( I am hoping it will be Alexis, Mind Curry, Ganja Turtle, and Jiby. Come on guys make my day) :))

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Sr. Mary and Creation

As a kid I would be taken to church every Sunday for Mass. This was something you did back then without fail. In fact I could never imagine missing Sunday Mass. It was a big no-no though I didn’t know why. At Church, I sat and fidgeted and turned back to look at the faces of people and yawned. I just could not relate to the service, as I didn’t understand it. And 45 minutes was too long for someone like me to sit through. Sometimes I fell asleep, as the atmosphere in the Church is so peaceful and the droning of the prayers made your lids droop. This continued for some time and by the time I was 8 or 9 I resented going for Mass. But there was no escape ...this was something you did like taking your meds and shots and doing your homework.

Around the 9th year of my life an angel in the form of an Irish nun entered my life. Or I should say flitted into my life. And life was never the same again. She was slim and sprightly with warm blue eyes that twinkled and you felt that you could look into her soul through those eyes. She was the kind of person you would instantly like. She was put incharge of my class as our spiritual guide and mentor. Something must have been wrong with us for the Principal to transfer her from catechism classes for the senior girls to us lowly 3rd year primies.

To begin with we were the most talkative class in the history of the school ( or so the nuns and teachers told us). This was noticed in Nursery itself. It is funny how some classes in schools get the naughtiest or quietest or most talkative kids. It’s like the stars or some unforeseen force connive to bring children of similar traits together. When my brother M joined school his class was the naughtiest and also the cleverest group of boys who had come together in a long time. They drove the teachers up the wall, but they are still remembered affectionately by the faculty for their innocent goofiness.

Sr. Mary was a non-conventional kind of Nun. She is one Nun who would perhaps have been ex communicated from the Church if the Vatican only knew what she taught the young girls in her charge. Before she took charge of our class for Catechism and Retreats, I think her predecessor had briefed her about the little horrors that she would be teaching, the word of God.

The first day of class, she asked us some questions about God. We gave some lack luster answers. She smiled and didn’t say anything. After the initial introduction she took us out of the classroom. My school is situated amidst acres of greenery in the heart of Bangalore. If I were to look up at the tree canopy during assembly, I could spot at least 7 varieties of birds. (and that’s what I did during assembly most of the time). Sometimes during assembly the Parrots would make so much noise (they still do) that Sister would stop the prayers and say over the mike “I think God doesn’t like our prayers. That’s why he using the Parrots to stop us from mouthing insincere prayers.” The assemblage would laugh.

Sister Mary made all of us pick up a leaf. And then she asked us why the leaf was shaped the way it was. None of us had an answer. She then proceeded to give us our very first catechism class under the old Tamarind tree that I swear was an air conditioner in the guise of a tree. She told us the reason for the shape of the leaf . As she talked I realized that there was an order around us, a reason for everything. There was a carefully thought and put together plan that ran the giant recycling plant caled Earth.

The class listened spellbound. How could a lowly leaf contribute to the very existence of life on Earth? Suddenly God became more than just an English word. He became a reality. We were confronted with the fact there indeed was a Creator behind everything on Earth and the heavens (even though he was invisible). There was a visible sign of the Creator everywhere. In the leaf of grass, the flowers, the pattern of seeding, flowering, wilting, the seasons, the years, the rotation of the planets…..

This class also generated an interest in biology in me. Things I never noticed before were now objects of interest. And the more I read the more I was vowed by God’s Creation…it’s intricacy, it’s scope, complexity and the SHEER ORDER in its sheer vastness. I was overawed. I developed an intense liking for Biology and it led me on a voyage of discovery and a better understanding of the working of the Universe at a macro level.

Today when I look at a lowly leaf I realize how great God is. And I marvel at His Omnipotence, Omniscience and Omnipresence. And all because of that one lesson Sr Mary took under the tamarind tree many years ago.

(Sr Mary died in Ireland a couple of years ago at the ripe old age of 85. To be continued some day when I can get over the senti, whenever I think of her :) )

Happy Birthday Alexis!

"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, who has sight so keen and strong
That it can follow the flight of song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end,
I found again in the heart of a friend."

This was one of my favorite poem in school and I dedicate this to Alexis on his Birthday (June 19th). Blogging has been like that arrow in the air that found me a friend like Alexis.

Happy Birthday Alexis!!!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Tag of Four

Alexis' Tag of Four

4 jobs I’ve had:

1. Vegetable cutter and cake batter stirrer (for mom), cricket ball collector (for big brother) fetching water, cold drinks, snacks, TV remote (for second brother) grey hair plucker and drinks mixer (for Dad). All jobs except the third, paid well.
2. Copy writer
3. Marketing Communications / PR
4. Integrated Communications Specialist

4 films I could watch again and again:

1. While you were sleeping
2. Shawshank Redemption
3. Bend it like Beckham
4. Three men and a baby
( and many more but I could only list 4 *boo hoo*)

4 places I’ve lived in:

1. A not so sleepy village in Pala (Dad's place)
2. A very sleepy village in Changanassery (moms place)
3. Kerala ( all vacations)
4. Bangalore

4 TV series I like to watch:

1. Caroline in the City ( and M*A*S*H when it used to air)
2. Frasier and Becker
3. Law and Order
4. The Practice

4 places that I’ve been on vacation to:

1. Neighboring countries
2. Dubai
3. Some States of the US (relatives)
4. Some countries in the Europe (relatives)

4 websites I visit everyday:

1. Adforum and Agencyfaqs
2. My company website (occupational hazard)
3. My blogpals blogs
4. CNN, NDTV, BBC etc.

4 books I’d love to read again and again:

1. Onions in the Stew-Betty MacDonald
2. All the Classics and Epics that I have read so far
3. James Herriot and Gerald Durrel
4. The Keys to the Kingdom by AJ Cronin

4 favorite dishes:

1. Kerala Cuisine
2. Lasagna and any other kind of pasta with lots of cheese
3. Chinese
4. Salads

4 places where I’d like to be right now:

1. Trekking in the mountains
2. Outside..walking
3. Home
4. Austria

4 people I’m gonna tag:

Mind Curry, Dhanush , Shruthi , Quills,

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Famine and Plenty

Last week, we decided to spend the day at a Resort on Hosur Road. It was a sort of advance father’s day celebration for my Dad. The place is a sylvan paradise, away from the city. As we walked past the reception we saw a huge buffet spread of Breakfast almost a mile across in the air conditioned patio. There were about 8 diners and the breakfast was enough to feed 50! Soon brunch was laid. There were five diners and the food was enough for another 50. This too was cleared and Lunch was laid out soon after. Lunch had a better crowd of about 50 people thought there was enough to feed 100. Made me sick in the stomach and for once I thanked God that I am such a salad buff. I never progress beyond the Salad counter at any buffet.

We were the last to troop in for lunch after a beer and a swim. There were used plates piled up in a container in a corner. The amount of food wasted was an eye popping amount. I wondered if these diners would waste food at home with the same impunity that they do at buffets and parties. Now...I understand that this is the hospitality business and food is just another commodity being sold. So I am not going to rant about wastage here. But I have seen people eating leftovers in the dustbins outside wedding halls….and I still cannot get that sight out of my mind.

Outside, tending to the vast gardens of the Resort were scores of workers. As I watched them from the air conditioned comfort of the dining hall I couldn’t but feel sick at the situation here. These people needed the kind of nutrition that we get because of the tough physical work they do while we need to eat simply as we are mostly in front of the comp doing mental work.

Of course we all know that such things don’t happen...people are poor and there are people who are not poor and all that blah. What defies logic is that we build satellites, send people into space, break the speed of sound and what not...but we are yet to eradicate poverty and hunger. If we can achieve all those scientific breakthroughs then what prevents us from solving the simple problem of poverty and hunger? Why do we have people living hand to mouth side by side with people who gorge themself to obesity and cardiac arrest!!

Most IT cos. including mine have something called a Corporate Social Initiative, where we adopt an old age home, or orphanage or donate our services like teaching in village schools etc. Such small initiatives are bringing about a lot of changes in the less fortunate people's lives. Ironic isn’t it that it takes a foreign company to instill a sense of community spirit and participation in us Indians? And we talk of our culture and family values?

I think herein lies a possible solution. We Indians have to stop living like islands and get involved in the community. We need to support and participate in community initiatives if we have to move the behemoth of poverty out of our land. But that takes sacrifice, like a Sunday spent in some community work and how many of us are willing to do that?

I hope I don’t sound snobbish here, but I was made to eat everything I had served on my plate. We learnt very early in life that it was better to take small servings or end up gagging because wastage was not allowed. The three of us siblings would trade left overs for odd jobs. You-finish-what’s-on-my-plate-and-I-will-polish-your-shoes-tomorrow kind of arrangement was the norm :)

I know it is easy to blog and sound all proper and do nothing...but I needed to vent some steam today after seeing the colossal wastage in the cafeteria.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Shopping within your budget

What I am going to talk about is old hat. But after observing many such incidents and a few conversations down the years, I do have something to say as this is a topic that rankles me no end.

Take Anita ( not a real name). Anita is a mallu Christian girl, well educated and smart. She is a Senior Software Engineer with us and gets a decent salary. Anita is of marriageable age and her folks are actively looking around for ‘suitable’ grooms. Nothing new here.

Anita’s parents will get several profiles that fit the bill and Anita may like a few from the profiles her parents have gathered. After her parents and she have narrowed down what they feel is best from the proposed grooms the pennu kaanal ceremony begins. This will further narrow down the field to a couple of people that both parties agree on. Till here it is smooth sailing for both parties.

Then comes the crunch. After all this exercise Anita’s father will have to see who he can ‘afford’ among the final list of prospective grooms. The ‘price’ of the groom is taken into consideration and decisions made. If the price is too high, he will have to bargain or pledge land. If the boy’s family refuses to budge then he will have to set his sights lower. He will look for a groom who is perhaps lesser qualified and paid. Most girls will accept the arrangement. Some like Anita will not and decide that they are better off single. But girls like Anita are in the minority. A very tiny miniscule minority.

Marriages in Kerala is like shopping ( I cannot speak for other states). You look around and buy what fits yours or your father’s purse.

If you are exceptionally good looking and fair then there are many rich men willing to marry you without dowry to increase their snob value and the quality content of their gene pool.

If you are drawing a really high compensation package, then you get massive discounts for the best brands.

If Daddy has the moolah then money is not a constraint.

Some gals fall in love and get away without paying; some have to still pay a token advance even if it is a love marriage.

Then if you are lucky some brands may sell at a cheaper price due to age, short stature or faulty packaging like dark complexion or a pot belly or some physical disability.

The lesser mortal’s a.k.a. the qualified but without above attributes have it the toughest. They settle for cheap substitutes (excuse the language but I can’t think of anything else) and envy the luck of the people with more money power.

After the cold and unfeeling 'transaction' is over the wedding takes place and the Bride and Groom actually look happy in the photos.

This is such a well established system that no ones even notices it and look askance at you when you question it.

p.s. since this is a trading environment no protests about “cheap substitutes making good husbands is a cheap shot” and “cheap substitutes are humans too” and “cheap substitutes have feelings” etc will be accepted :p

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Love or Infatuation?

I was watching an old Hindi movie on TV yesterday. I remember having seen it before many years ago. I love watching old movies. It is interesting to see the cities and towns as they looked those days. Mallu movies disappoint because most of them were shot in studios and the backgrounds are almost always painted on. I saw an old mallu song programme the other day and Prem Nazir was singing in the Nilgiri’s. I was wonder struck at the sight of Nilgiri’s some 40 years ago!!! Infinitely more beautiful than how it looks today even though the movie was black and white. I felt like stepping into the screen and going back in time. How I long to go back in time, to see how our great great grandparents lived. The quaint customs, costumes and the simple homes and empty roads. These old movies are the only vistas we have left of days gone by.

I have always been very intrigued by the romance scenes in these movies. In fact you see such scenarios in the movies of today also. Guy meets a gal or notices her and there is instant attraction. The attraction turns to love even though they meet but rarely and soon they are willing to lay down their lives for each other. This happens all the time in real life too. It is happening all the time in my company. And this is something that I could never understand. People fall in love out of mere attraction and then get married. How can you fall in love with a person at first sight? Or fall for how a person looks. I would never be able to do that.

Look at the way we make friends. We tend to gravitate towards people with common interests and thoughts and people whom we are comfortable with. But when it comes to love, we do just the opposite.

I have met beautiful people who are quite ugly inside once you get to know them and vice versa. It is not like I categorize people as black and white only. But this is what most of us see in the other sex. We never take a holistic view. I think people have the black and white and the grey in them and it is this that makes up a person. And I feel one must know what is black and white and grey in another human being to be able to know the person well. It is when you know and are able to accept the black and white and grey in another human being that true love blossoms. And this love will be enduring because you like this person for what he/she is and there are very few startling surprises. But such a scenario can only happen if we let guys and girls mingle freely before marriage naah? But no, our parents/society prefers to keep the sexes segregated leading to so much conflict in young people’s lives. I am not espousing inter religious or inter culture marriages here. That is left to the people involved in the relationship. But even within our own communities, I think young people should be allowed to meet freely. In fact the Catholic Church has started such a movement in Kerala my cousin informs me.

Maybe my analysis is stupid and skewed and immature but I have seen too many friends, both males and females fall in love because ‘she looked cute’ or ‘he looked like a hunk’. And then after some time the obsession with looks gets over and realities a.k.a. personalities begin to come to the fore wreaking mayhem in a relationship that was based on physical attraction only.

We are such an immature nation/people in romance. When relationships are increasingly becoming fragile the society should device ways to strengthen it and not hold onto old beliefs and prejudices. And the society is us. When you and me change our attitude and stop bitching and stop others bitching when they see a boy and a girl together, the general attitude of the whole society will change.

( Today another such 'love story' fell apart and hence the rant :p)