Sunday, November 26, 2006

Legal vultures

Mr DJ an elderly small time businessman went to court, because the then Bishop of Bangalore was selling Church land to a powerful land mafia. I am not going to talk about the case here. The case unfolded some startling truth about our lawyers.

When the case was registered, the page in which the entry was made was mysteriously torn off. Therefore summons could not be issued to the land sharks. Then the lawyer fighting for Mr DJ leaked out all the case details and preparation that made the other party have an upper hand in preparing their defense. Finally DJ got monetary aid through a philanthropist and hired a good lawyer and won the case.

A friends Dad was fighting a case against an illegal commercial construction that had come up in his neighborhood. Even in this case, lawyers of both parties got together, exchanged files and prolonged the case for their monetary benefit.

Another neighbor, a retired couple gave their house for rent and moved to their expatriate son’s house. The tenant broke the walls inside the house and made cubicles that she let out as accommodation for working women. Here too, Lawyers of both parties worked together to keep the case going without conclusion.

And there are thousands more such cases. A little bit of enquiry with a friends Dad who is a Supreme Court lawyer revealed some disturbing facts. Unlike the US, here in India laws governing professional conduct of lawyers is practically non existent and what little exists is outdated. It is next to impossible to stop your lawyer from sharing information with the rival lawyer and as a rule lawyers get together and prolong cases. If a lawyer does not appear in court when a case is called, he can get away with an explanation like a traffic jam.

Lawyers getting pulled up for misconduct or malpractice happens but in the rarest of rare cases. And what is disquieting is the fact that there is no debate or discussion in the media or anywhere about this. Nor does the government seem interested in changing the situation. Lawyers are a united lot, and as a result clients fear to complain against them because no lawyer will take his case after that. There is absolutely no way the common man can get his lawyer to discharge his legal duties as per laid down rules as the rules are almost non existent. The lawyer always acts in his interest, never in the client’s interest.

Why are we, the fastest growing economy in the world so slow in changing our outdated laws? A death of a colleague about which I wrote in this post, bought to fore the ridiculous traffic laws we have. Rules are regulations governing lawyers is the urgent need of the hour and a step towards speeding up trials and clearing back logs.

As William E. Gladstone rightly said: “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

But is anybody listening?

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A fine actress and a finer woman

A comment left by Mathew in the last post "What ails us" bought back a flood of memories. Memories of a fine actress called Sukumari,who made us laugh, cry and think with her innumerable memorable movies.

I noticed Sukumari for the first time in Boeing Boeing. She was absolutely wonderful as the Anglo Indian cook. Her “I don’t care a damn’ attitude was a treat to watch and this movie owes a lot to her presence I think.

I don’t know if she set a precedent of sort by boldly showing the different facets of the Malayalee woman, as I do not know much about the chronology of her career but she broke the monotony of character portrayal of women in Malayalam cinema. The 'characters' she portrayed were bold, self confident and assertive. The nose in the air society lady, or the bitchy neighbor or the bossy Colony President…and even as the sensible lady of the house. She was like a breath of fresh air. And she got a generation of NRK kids like us hooked to Malayalam cinema. At least in my family it did. There was a revival of interest in Malayalam cinema with the arrival of some good comedies starring her. She also evoked a lot of fan following among the women. Ladies connected with her ‘characters’ as they were easily identifiable people from daily life. She is so comfortable in front of the camera and lives and breathes the ‘character’ she portrays.

Her very presence is warm and she gives you that feel good homely feeling when you see her. Even in her interviews she comes across as a down to earth simple Malayali lady. Surely a person you can look up to especially today, when there is such a dearth of role models. And this where Sukumari has come up trumps. She has universal appeal.

During the good old days of VCDs, we used to sit down as a family and watch Malayalam movies. And no prizes for guessing whose movies were top favorite. Those were days of some good movies. There were other actors and actresses too who were very good, but Sukumari ruled the roost in my house as far as us kids were concerned.

If there were to be “Malayalee’ of the year award my vote would go to Sukumari and I will even indulge in some fowl play to make sure she gets it :p She deserves it.

She is the quintessential Malayali lady!

Friday, November 24, 2006

A love letter

A note to certain readers and commenters of Think Pad:

< begin angelic smile >

If you do not like the posts here, kindly leave without littering. And if you must comment then please read the post carefully. The posts here though are not worthy of being nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature or even internalization, requires some amount of intelligence to be understood. My posts are statements, period. They are not open to debate unless so indicated by me.

I admit to the following:

You are a bad writer: Yeah!!!
You are biased: Yeah!!!!
You are catty, bitchy, childish and gossipy: Yeah!!!!
You are *all the bad words you can look up in the Dictionary*: Yeah to that too!!!

Now that we have cleared the air, there is no need for you to repeat this in the comments section.

So….shooo, begone, vamoose, scram etc.!!!

This blog started out as a friend’s circle where we discussed matters of mutual interest. This is a mutual interest group and a lot of people have fun reading or commenting by joining in the discussions here. And the people in my blogrolls plus the people who think I am the greatest [:P] constitute that circle. If you do not figure in that Blog Roll or friends circle, then please consider yourself a guest here and conduct yourself accordingly. I welcome difference of opinion given in “unparliamentary” (read as “Indian Parliament”) language. But please do not tell me what to write and how to write, what I am or not. There are people who do that ( < end of angelic smile > $%#^@&@#&!!) < begin angelic smile again > and when they do, I take note.

I have definite opinions about certain things that I have experienced or observed ( not the staring kind of observation you dirty minded people) and till my Amma’s prayers that ‘ente daivame ee penninnu nalla budhdhi kodukaname!” goes thru the yards of red tapism in Heaven and reaches God after greasing saintly palms ( in which she is an expert) and fructifies, there is less chances of me changing my opinions than a saint sneaking into a bar in hell and remaining sober or a virgin.

Thank you!

Coming soon: A Guide to Reading and Commenting on Blogs.

Sneak preview: Tan tandaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan!!!!!!!!! < input your favorite music if you don’t like mine >

Second Paragraph, third line of the 'A Guide to Reading and Commenting on Blogs' says:

And XYZ said silverine you are the greatest!!!! *applause* Right way to comment!
ABC said: You are a lousy writer! *Triiiiiiin* Wrong way to comment

p.s before I go in to get dandaas from a customer Mr Dattatreya, whose name was mispelt by my team mate to Datta-3, I want to say that I will delete offensive comments from now on. I just changed my blog template at ENORMOUS expense and risk of brain death ( a Biryani meal for my bro and his friends who spent the afternoon drinking beer and cracking dreadful PJ’s while my bro changed the template drinking beer cracking worse PJ’s) and I don’t like to get it dirty.

p.p.s I know this is useless but I HAD SO MUCH FUN WRITING THIS Yahooooo!!!!!!!!

p.p.p.s I promise there wont be anymore p.s!

p.p.p.p.s but you wont hate me no if there are more will you? *pout*

< end of angelic smile >

p.p.p.p.p.s I am sorry but I have to say this. Inspite of repeated reminders and a post, I am HIGHLY DISSAPPOINTED in all you. Can’t you read English???? I said FIRM RED RIPE TOMATOES, FRESH EGGS, GREEN CHILLIES AND CORIANDER LEAVES if you can spare some!! grrrrrrrrrr

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

What ails us?

Some time back, I was shopping at the Bangalore Central Mall with my friend. There were a group of Malayalee newly weds too, shopping at the Foodworld. The moment the wives saw us, ie me and my friend, they suddenly went clingy …it looked like they expected us to make a grab of their hubbies and make a dash for it. Ignoring them we continued browsing and then my friend who had gone ahead into the cookware section turned around and shouted out to me that she had found something interesting….but the whole problem was...she spoke in Malayalam. She broke an unwritten rule…”never speak Malayalam with each other in Malls”. You will realize why as I get deeper into the narrative.[:p]

The atmosphere around us suddenly changed…the mallu couples froze for an instant and then with an inward groan I saw the all too familiar change in the couple’s attitude. The “lets show them we are as good or even better than them” attitude that dissects you and then shows you how much they are like you or better.

Espying my Reebok “Cheta, lets go over to the Nike section, I prefer Nike over Reebok”

Seeing my pals hooded jacket “You know, I prefer designer jackets, Ivide designer stores ille?

My friend realized her mistake of speaking in Malayalam….I gave her a annoyed look and instinctively we started towards the lifts. We knew by experience that the situation would become really ugly and pathetic now as these folks would use every opportunity for empty showing off. And we were right as usual. The gals grabbed the guys and followed us. They get into the lift the loud talk designed for our ears starts again.

“I told Daddy to buy a Chevrolet, but he bought an Esteem tch”
“We are planning on a Skoda”
“So where are you going for vacations? We are planning on Mauritius”

By this time the guys were looking embarrassed especially when they saw that we were ignoring them. But the girls were still hysterically trying to drown their insecurities. We stumbled out of the lift and literally ran out of the mall. I was cursing my friend fluently because there was no way we could go back now without being hounded and i had not completed my shopping.

When we used to go to Kerala for our school vacations, my Dads car would attract the same hysterical reaction. We would have perfect strangers walking upto us, asking about the make of the car and then casually telling us that they were going in for a more expensive model. Sometimes the enquirer would be riding a cycle, but that didn’t matter, no way was he going to give us the satisfaction of basking in the satisfaction of having a certain car. Fed up of this my Dad devised a response “No this not my car, I cant afford one, someone lent this to me so that I can drive my rather large family down to Kerala.”

We kids were even coached not to talk about anything that would excite jealousy...we were not even allowed to take expensive toys with us, because my parents wanted to get back to Bangalore without exciting too much kannu kadi.

The Mall incident I have mentioned happens all the time. And this gives rise to the general impression people have of mallus, which make mallus try hard to show that they are not like the rest of the mallus by pretending they don’t know Malayalam, overdressing etc in a desperate attempt to ‘fit in’ and the vicious cycle continues.

( I have observed that Malayalees are a 'nervous' people. We get agitated very quickly. It must be genetic, I refuse to believe that it is because of social factors. Any opinions? )

Sunday, November 19, 2006

We are like this wonly!

A male colleague in my office was very shy of taking photographs. Last week he did take one as he had to get his passport renewed. Since I have often pooh poohed his claims that he was not photogenic, he bought the photo over to me as proof that he looked positively bad in photographs. He was right. He really looked horrible. But this was a defining moment. I could admit that he looked bad and forever condemn him to his beliefs or lie, so that he gets over this phobia. So I told him that he looked perfectly normal, in fact I went a step further and told him that he looked rather cute in the photograph.

In the evening he asks me out for coffee. We have a coffee and pastry lounge in our premises with some of the best coffee selection on the menu, and it is on the house. But folks here often ride down to a Barista or Coffee Day, just to get out of the office. So it is not odd to see a gal going out with a male colleague for coffee as we usually take whoever is free with us.

We drove to Barista in his car and it was there that he dropped the bombshell. He said that he was interested in me and if I had the same feelings for him. I burst out laughing. It felt so funny. His face crumpled, but I just could not stop giggling. With great difficulty I composed myself and asked him if he was joking. His expression told me that he was not. I have faced this situation countless times and have usually got out without hurting egos (I hope) or pride. So I told him that I valued him as a friend but at this point of time I wasn’t thinking of getting into a relationship.

“But I thought you were interested in me!” he blurts out.
“Whatever gave you that idea?” I countered.
“You said I looked cute”
“I meant you looked good in the photograph”
“But you were so earnest!!!”
“Because you didn’t believe me when I said you looked quite normal in the photograph!!!”

This conversation took place on Friday. This conversation takes place a million times with the same results. Most girls I know have reported at least two such incidents in their lives. I have always thought about writing a post on how girls view guys etc but never got round to it. A post by a male blogger on the same thoughts that reaffirmed my observation sort of egged me to write this post. Unfortunately I didn’t bookmark that post.

A word about girls and how we view guys. Most gals regard guys, especially in today’s working environment, like we regard another gal…as a friend or colleague. We rarely look at a guy and say “Oh he is a man!” Guys on the other hand seem to be acutely aware that a gal is a female. Of course there are exceptions, but I am not talking of exceptions here. Over a period of time in the friendship, a girl may notice something in a guy that makes her take a second look at him. This is an instinctive response that perhaps signals the first signs of compatibility between the guy and her. And this how a relationship should be born...according to most of us. We like to take it really slow, because we desperately need the time so that we do not make mistakes. A mistake is twice as costlier for a girl than a guy since girls are so emotional and tend to put in their all into a relationship.

And this is why we girls don’t jump into relationship and get scared when a guy starts showing too much interest in the beginning itself or jumps the gun like my colleague. Haste from a guy is also a sign that he does not have honorable intentions. So guys, if you are serious, take it easy.

It is also in the best interest of the guy (and gal) that they don’t pretend to be what they are not and just be themselves when they are around gals. Perhaps something about you may scare a gal away, but then it is for the best than her realizing it after the two of you have got involved or married. On the other hand by being yourself, you well definitely be spotted by a gal who likes you for your peculiar traits.

And lastly, very few girls are open to a love marriage, so when a girl says “No” please respect that.

(This post is dedicated to a band of sisters of which I am a member and on whose long pending request *with a gun on my head* I wrote this post. I need a trigger to write a post and my colleague did just that :p)

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The lost generation

There are two distinct sets of people in the urban Indian society today. The aging pre liberalization generation (PLG) and the young post liberalization generation. The earlier group is also called the ‘lost generation’ since they did not get the opportunities that we have right now. One of the distinct feelings I get when I talk to these people is jealousy, which masks their pain and frustration

Like babies who suck on pacifiers, the PLG comfort themselves with the belief that the IT workers are an exploited, overworked, medical problem beset people. At most gatherings where the PLGs meet, the talk will invariably veer towards the IT people and how rude they are, how they throw their money around and how unhappy they are etc. They seem to badly want to believe this.

Earlier I would hotly defend the IT industry with facts and figures, later I realized that these people did not want to know the facts. They just needed something that would make the bitter fact that they were deprived of such opportunities less hurting. This generation was equally talented like us but had absolutely no opportunities to work with cutting edge technologies or in multi national corporations. All they could hope for was a job in a Nationalized company where they worked in pre-defined roles under managers who were their senior because of age/connection/caste certificate etc. and not because of merit.

The lucky ones escaped abroad, the not so lucky ones resigned themselves to the drudgery of life in pre liberalization India. They lived their lives like machines, working doggedly, saving and scrimping for the day when they would retire. When you look at the fate of these people who were in no way inferior to us, you will empathize with the feeling of bitterness and frustration that this generation feels. Just imagining myself in their shoes horrifies me. I cannot imagine what an English graduate like me would have done in that era. Perhaps become a teacher or a journalist, beyond that there would be no scope for me.

When I see those old black and white Malayalam movies that my Dad is so addicted to, I can see for myself how helpless and desperate were those times. How an entire nation of incredibly talented and energetic people were suppressed by one family. It took the decimation of all members of that family for the nation to be rid of the stranglehold and find its rightful place under the sun.

What a sheer waste of talent and what a horrific example of suppression of the worst kind. It is like being jailed in a small cell for an entire lifetime. Nowadays when I hear the PLG’s dissing the IT industry and calling us 'cyber coolies' etc., I no longer feel annoyed. I just feel sadness…and I thank God for the opportunities that I have.

(Among the PLG is a section that is taking this frustration a level further aided by people whose agenda is take India back to the 'good old days' when poverty and unemployment served their purpose and swelled their ranks. Brijesh has written brilliantly about this here. I sincerely hope that the machinations of these people will not bear fruit.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Sculpting life...

Your mother’s love destroyed Maria; her hatred towards you made you a stronger and better person. They say it takes a baptism of fire to make sand into glass. Lesson I learnt today: Sometimes we have to count misfortunes among our blessings.

I left this comment on Sarah’s post some day’s back. Pleej don't blame me for turning a lil bit philosophical...I do think sometimes too, like when I have a cavity in the tooth and it hurts too much to talk :p And if you still feel like cursing me after reading this, blame it on the post "Forgive me" by
Mathew which made me post this after trashing it.

The above comment was nothing but the realization, that there was some sense into the ‘nonsense’ we thought we were taught in Catechism classes. Sounds philosophical and all that blah I know, but it is a hard fact and now that I have had the time to chew on it, it makes a lot of sense to me.

How many of us learn a lesson from kindness? Very few I am sure. But when someone is cruel to you, you make sure that you are not cruel to others because you know it hurts. Someone’s cruelty teaches you a lesson. So should you curse God/fate that he forsake you or thank him for this opportunity to learn to be kind to others and in turn become a better human being?

When someone gives you a helping hand you take it without a thought and a murmured “thanks’ as a formality. But when you have experienced loneliness and helplessness, you appreciate friendship and a helping hand more and you reciprocate it when you see a person in a similar predicament.

And the list is endless. We curse God/fate when things don’t go right….but if things were always to go right with us, would we be human at all? I don’t think so. It is adversity that shapes all of us, not good fortune.

Have you noticed that the some of the nicest people are the ones who have gone through so much travail in their lives?

So where does that leave us? We all want comforts, a happy life…but if you haven’t experienced discomfort and sadness, would we even recognize the feeling of comfort and happiness?

There can be a whole lot of arguments against the above….like so many people living in perpetual sadness, hunger, pain etc. with no respite or hope of happiness, enough food and freedom from pain etc…..some people even turn antisocial due poverty, hunger etc. I acknowledge that.

But at present I am only focusing on what I have observed above and the fact that when we are happy, we should also be grateful for the feelings of sadness and despair that enabled us to appreciate happiness.

(p.s when you are throwing eggs and tomatoes at me, pleeeej make sure you throw in a couple of green chillies too, I like my omelet spicy…. and pleej to make sure the eggs are fresh and tomatoes ripe and firm. A little bit of coriander leaves will do just fine too but if you don’t have it I will not hold it against you)

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Of rosaries, fireflies and kittens

One of my most vivid memories of childhood is the family rosary that is said at the end of the day in my ancestral house in Kerala. In my Dad’s house, rosary was an informal affair. This is a house of six sons, so it was a miracle that my grandparents got them to say rosary and that too without missing it a single day till today.

On the other hand, in my mom’s house the balance was in favor of girls, as my mom has so many sisters and few brothers. Therefore rosary was a serious affair and my otherwise sweetheart of a grandfather would become a disciplinarian during rosary time. Since we split our stay in these two homes, the contrast in the families was quite evident in many areas…one of them being the family rosary.

Family rosary in Kerala in both homes still reminds me of a house with dimmed lights, the altar ablaze with candles and the entire family sitting in various parts of the house. Some people would sit on the ground in front of the altar, some on the chairs in the living room, some outside and my mom with me on the verandah, as there was no way I would sit still for the 45 minutes of the rosary. Wherever people sat, they joined in, as one harmonious group. However this is where the similarities in both households ended.

My moms mother, was very fond of cats. And every time we went home there would always be a poochakutty (kitten) for me to play with. And during rosary, as though by some devilish design, the kittens would be at their naughtiest best. They would catch imaginary insects with their front paws and do somersaults in the air and other such naughty antics that would make it impossible not to giggle. My grandfather would raise his voice often during the rosary and call out my name in a warning tone and I would recede into my mother's lap for a few seconds. But the devil had other designs, because the kittens would come up with some more hysterically funny tricks and I would be giggling again. And they made sure that they used the altar room floor for their antics!! My cousins in the house, who were trained by my grandfather to sit down quietly during the rosary, would look at me with gleeful delight, because I dared to break the family rule of maintaining pin drop silence during the rosary.

My grandfather would sigh as the rosary proceeded with my giggles in the background. After the rosary he would give his favorite daughter, my mom, the 789th talk on bringing up kids the proper way, and how he had bought up his kids so well and even though she is now married to a guy from Pala (who are no good compared to the genteel people of Changanassery) she should still uphold the family values etc.etc. My eldest brother would sit through the rosary quietly and even lead at times. So the general consensus was that he had taken after my mom’s family. The family would then look at my second brother M and me and say with a twinkle in the eyes that these two had a surfeit of the father's genes in them.

The Pala barbarian, the daughter of the family was married to, would of course be safely ensconced in his home, going through the family rosary at breakneck speed as his Dad was hard of hearing, so that the brothers could open the bottle while the evening was still young. He would have warned his wife in mock seriousness before she set off to her home with his kids, that he wanted us back the same way he had raised us and not changed to wussies, which is what he thought people from my her side of town were. :p My mom countered gamely by saying that a few days of good upbringing at her house, would do a world of good for her kids. :)

During the rosary, there were other distractions too. Thousands of minnaminungu (fireflies) would adorn the darkness around the house like serial lights. Before the rosary we i.e me and my second brother M, would have already kept our Horlicks jars ready for the catch. And we would fill these jars with these tiny glowing worms that we caught. They made such a pretty sight with their flourescent light glowing in the jar. My mom would make us release these before we went in to sleep.

After the rosary, my mom’s brothers would take out the jeep and drive over to my Dad's house, where their drinks awaited. The brothers in laws got along really well. After dinner my maternal grandfather would make a small drink and tell us stories about saints and martyrs. This would be followed by lights out as the family retired for the day.

Rosary, in my Dad’s house on the other hand was preceded by my Dad and his brothers making elaborate arrangements for the drinking and card session that invariably followed it. This would be preceded by my Grandma and aunts preparing the snacks to go with the drinks. With six sons, my grandma was a whiz in making non veg snacks that served as accompaniments with drinks. When everything was set, the family sat down for rosary. Rosary, unlike in my moms house would be uncomplicated and without the long boring prayers and it would be over in half an hour. After which we could go out and play and make noise and run after the fireflies. There was no bedtime curfew and soon people from neighboring estates would join in. The partying will go on late into the night, as most of these men went to school and college together. It is a time of camaraderie, jokes and political discussions. The tradition lives on to this day. Surprisingly there are more priests and nuns in my Dads family than my moms!

In spite of these contrasts I liked living in both houses.

(This post was inspired by this post
by Alexis, which reminded me so much of my home in Kerala

Monday, November 06, 2006

Saturday pataka!!

Yesterday was the annual St Joseph’s College fest “Equinox 2006”. Quite an enjoyable day at the college grounds. I missed last years fest as I was working that Saturday, so we i.e my friends and me decided to go this year. The last show on the menu was various bands playing their music. The ground was packed. Since it was threatening to rain, we decided to keep to the periphery of the crowd so that we could make a dash for it when it starts pouring.

The band was in full swing and suddenly one of the band members, a chubby guy, got caught up in the heat of the moment and took a swinging dive into the crowd. He must have been inspired by similar stunts by popular bands as seen on TV. Inspite of the ground being packed something strange happened. The crowd parted like Moses parting the sea and the band member fell flat on his face onto the ground.

I just collapsed laughing.

The crowd helped him to his feet and tut tuted at the plight of the poor guy. He limped back bravely to the stage with a strained smile, waving bravely at the crowd. Everyone was commiserating while I could only clutch my aching tummy and laugh. That was Saturday pataka after Friday Dhamaka.

What a weekend!!