December 23, 2009

New chaos

Last night, the government once again shot themselves on their foot by giving a new statement on the Telangana issue. This time they said that the government would meet with all parties concerned and take another look at the situation, in the light of the United Andhra Pradesh agitation. No mention of their earlier commitment to split the state.

9 Dec: KCR goes on a fast, agitation in Telangana, they announce Telangana state.

23 Dec: As a reaction, Lagadapati and a hundred others begin fasting, unrest in Andhra, they announce something to the effect that Telangana has been put on back burner.

What kind of 'intellectuals and elders' are these, who come up with such half-baked decisions? What kind of governance is this?

Now, 48-hr bandh, everything closed, buses being burnt...


K Chandrasekhar Rao of the Telangana Rashtriya Samithi goes on a fast unto death for the formation of a separate Telangana. On the 11th day of his fast, with violence and unrest mounting, the Center takes a decision overnight to 'begin the process of a separate Telangana state'. People are dumbfounded. Ministers and MLAs resign (100+ so far); people all over Andhra and Rayalseema start an agitation; Hyderabad is much sought after, much like Krishna caught in the fight between Rukmini and Satyabhama in Sri Krishna Rayabaram! Now the announcement from the Center that Hyderabad would of course be the capital of Telangana, simply because it is_in_Telangana.

Noise and unrest everywhere; unpredictability; disruption in normal life...the children have already had three unexpected holidays because of bandhs...oh, I pine for some quiet and peace.

I really do not know what to make of all this. Of course, the Telangana agitation is a very old one, so there really is no need for anyone to be surprised by this (as is the reaction of many, especially young people). Telanganas have been a downtrodden lot, and they deserve some resources and attention. But I am not sure if carving out a separate state is the answer, especially because I don't see a smart leadership. KCR has neither the strength nor the charisma; TRS fared very badly in the recent elections; so what are these jokers going to do, being in power, heading a state?

I am very much a Telanganite...well, half father is from Warangal and my mother from Bangalore. But I love my language and the culture I have grown up in. Telanganas are very large-hearted and simple people. They are not shrewd and smart...which is perhaps why they have ended up likes this. But then, I am married to an Andhra and I have blended well into Vijay's family. So I find it very difficult to shout "Jai Telangana". What for? Can't KCR and company ask for a better deal without a separate state? Maybe not, when I see the thugs who are running this state.

I'll stay out of the politics. I just feel very sad that this is happening. I basically hate partitions. I still feel sad about the India-Pakistan partition. Nothing to do with the shape of the map or anything, but the whole idea of a separation. Does it have to be this way?

We wait and watch as events unfurl before us...but I do feel that 2009 has been very bad for AP. The elections with the unexpectedly disgusting results (Congress won by a huge majority); YSR's gory end; the no-rain, then too-much-rain-and-flooding where hundreds of people lost their lives. And now this unrest all over the state.

It has also opened a pandora's box, and the effect is showing in many other parts of India too. And all this when we, as human beings, should come together with just one agenda: not to abuse the Earth further...

This, I am told, is being idealistic, and it is not good to be this way


Harsha Koda said...
The 4-walls or the compound wall or state's border is another way of 'restricting entry'... not about better lives for the people who are enclosed within...

... thank god for Doors, and gates... people will always find a way to get to the other side.

When the whole world (starting from the unification of Europe) is looking at 'getting together' as solution to problems... we are looking at 'splitting' for problems
4:25 AM, December 14, 2009

Sadhana Ramchander said...
Politics...and vested interests. And a confused leadership above. The whole thing is ridiculous. Do hope things will settle down soon.
4:56 AM, December 14, 2009

December 07, 2009

Weather watch...Hyderabadi winter

About 5 years back, I used to take out the 4-5 waist coats I have, around September, and wear them on and off. In the recent years, I haven't been able to do that for it has been too hot for waist coats. Come November-December, I would be able to live in silks and the few synthetics that I have. Cottons made me feel cold, and I kept them away for the always-on-time summer. This has been my measure of the post-rainy and early winter weather.

Since some years, no waist coats at all till November. This year, it has been pleasant and cold since Nov, as it should be, at least early morning and night. The minimum temperature has reached 15 degrees centigrade. Daytime is as usual, hot (30-31 degrees C).

One funny thing, though. The Tabebuias (the yellow ones) are a perplexed lot this year. I saw the ones on the Necklace road flowering fully in Jan-Feb (right time for them to flower) last year; then I again saw flowers on and off in July-Aug (surprise!), and now, in December, they are flowering again...not turning yellow completely, but some yellow peeping out from the truly a confused tree, poor thing...and it doesn't even know about Copenhagen!

November 30, 2009

The Jasraj show in Hyderabad

This year, Jasraj threw his US sishyas at us unsuspecting Hyderabadis. Even Chowmohalla could not rescue the situation. And Durga Jasraj seems to be at an all-time low in confidence levels. Some of the other programs they put together were also not good.

I pine for Sawai Gandharva...yes, I plan to go...New English School, Shanivarpet, Pune, 7-10 Jan 2010.

November 23, 2009

What's beetroot called in Telugu?

I have to record this dinnertime conversation for posterity because it is very funny, very Maloo. But you need to know Telugu and Hyderabad to understand it. Any explanation will spoil the spontaneity.

Vijay asked whether Maloo knew the other Telugu name for potato.

Maloo: The other name for potato? Alu gadda?
Ulli gadda?
I know...erra gadda!

We start laughing.

And Maloo says...."Sorry...erra gadda is beetroot, right?

Great logic there...we are in splits now!!

November 20, 2009

A refreshing day

The other day, on an impulse, I set off to the University of Hyderabad, one hour away from the city, to see some chalk art by Tracy Lee Stum. Took a ride with my friend Usha, who teaches there. The ride was great, the weather perfect (cool and cloudy), and I enjoyed chatting with my friend for an hour.

However, when she dropped me off at the auditorium where the chalk art had been done, I discovered that the art work had been washed away in the previous night's rain!

I now had to either sit under a tree and read the book I was carrying, or go to my friend's department and sit in the library, or head back home. I decided on the last option, but in an unhurried way. I decided to take the train instead---I had been wanting to take the MMTS since some time, but hadn't done it. So I walked back about 3 km to the gate, took a shared auto to the MMTS station, then the train to Hyderabad for Rs 3 ! As I walked down the lane to the station, I was rewarded with this photo-op.
The MMTS ride was great, and I got off at our very own picturesque Necklace Road. Then, again on an impulse, went to the multiplex to see a children's film (International Children's Film Festival was on). I was again rewarded---saw a very good film---Siri Raja Siri (Sri Lanka). All in all, a great day! I am now inspired to take a train out of town on an unplanned rail adventure :)

November 11, 2009

Dream coming true...

This is why I was happy on Deepavali! My garden is thriving (see background post 'Dreams'). We not only have trees, but some shrubs and creepers as well. Some are even flowering now. We also painted a few walls with jaju (geru in Hindi). The place looks attractive and children and some adults come every evening to water the plants or to just walk around.

And what's more, we also have a table tennis table in our complex. We play every is back in my life! At one time it was my life...what I am today is because of sport...a post on this later when I have some time, for this topic is very close to my heart, and it is emotionally draining to write about it. One day I will.

In the meantime, have a look at these pictures.

This is how it was when we began

Children painting the drab wall

The little ones had a great time!

Children sowing dhania and methi

The completed wall

Cordia has begun flowering

...and so have some others!

Inauguration of the TT table

The inaugural match: Champ vs champ. We have ex-Champ---Coach Nagender Reddy--- and his son (Vighnay) who is the State no 1, living in our building

November 02, 2009


Three years back, I lost my watch. It was a watch I had chosen and had for a very long time. I loved it; it seemed just right on my hand. But over the years, I got used to its simple beauty, and began to take it for granted. I even wished I would lose it or something so that I could buy a new watch. Of course, I did have a second (and a third) watch gifted by my family, but I wore this one as a matter of choice.

And one day I lost it. It just fell off from my bag into which I used to carelessly stuff it. Very bad...I know. But to be honest, I was a little happy that it was gone. This too is very bad, I know.

And then began my search for the perfect watch. Titan was my first choice. I looked closely at what they had to offer...the heritage collection interested me. But I was disappointed. Nothing seemed good enough. Then I looked at FastTrack. I liked just one among those, but I had bought that for my daughter two years back, and she loved it and wore it everyday. I couldn't buy the same thing. This search soon turned into an obsession...I couldn't pass by a watch shop without going into it; every mall I went into, I headed towards the watch section, and looked for one that I might spontaneously like. They were good...but there was something lacking. If they had the right look, one couldn't read the time. If the readability was okay, the look wasn't right for me. Too much gold, too much steel, too black, too messy; if the dial was good the strap was steel or gold, and I wanted leather; if the starp was good, the dial wasn't.

I then looked at Citizen, XLS, Omega, Christian Dior---at one point I thought expense was not the criterion; I must find a watch that was just right for me.

It was only then that I began to understand what my old watch had meant to me. I did not even have a photograph...I went back and described it to the Titan showroom guy and asked him if that model was still available. He said no, the old models didn't come any more.

In the meantime, my brother Gautham gifted me a new eco-drive watch, that had no charged automatically with light! I liked new technology and I liked the watch too...but somehow it didn't seem like my watch. My wrist was still unhappy.

Last month I went to a watch shop in Warangal to buy a watch for my sister-in-law Deepthi. I looked at all the models to pick one she might like. And as my ever-searching eyes looked, my eye fell on one seemed soothing to the eye; there was something delicate and special about seemed just right. I asked them to show it to me. And...believe it or was the very same model as my lost watch, whose value I had realised over and over again during this time. I could not believe my luck! With great happiness, I bought it for Rs 750, wore it in the shop itself, and was on cloud nine the whole day...just floating happily, looking at my just right! Here it is, photographed for posterity...and no, I will never lose it again.

This watch, I think, illustrates a quotation from one of our printer friend's emails:
Small small things make perfection
But perfection is not a small thing.

October 26, 2009

Baby caterpillar walk

This little fellow was taking a walk on my keyboard. I rescued him from being crushed by the keys...!

October 19, 2009

Happy Deepavali

It has been a very special Deepavali for me. I am very happy. I will write about this soon. Have been a bit too busy for my liking...what to do?

Since I am posting this after Deepavali, hope you had a great day, dear reader.

October 09, 2009

Weather watch: This is what's been happening

As they say in Telugu: ativrushti, anavrushti...either we have too much of something, or too little...I feel very sad to see the plight of millions of people suffering and homeless because of the floods. Can we ever learn to deal with the eccentricities of nature?

September 25, 2009

Lens and Sensibility: 3 years, 133 posts old!

I've done 3 years of blogging, and am very happy I haven't given up! It makes me as satisfied as it made me in the beginning. Only, I have become more casual about it...while in 2006 when I began blogging, it was still not so common, now everyone blogs, from Big B to Sadhana Ramchander.

I have made some interesting friends because of my blog...Anita Vaccharajani, a writer from Mumbai, who wrote a lovely book on India "Amazing India: a state-by-state guide"; Lakshmi Prabala, a very talented photographer from Hyderabad; and Mayank Bhatnagar, an artist from Jaipur. Their friendship has crept out of my blog's comments box, into the in-box of my email, and in one case, to my phone. I hope to meet these people some day, hopefully soon.

This exercise in writing has kept me in touch with people who I care about, and has also enabled all kinds of people to get to know me better (including my own parents). I recently bumped into Mrs Lakshmi, an old friend who now lives in Sri Lanka...she warmly gave me a hug and one of the first things she told me was that she regularly reads and enjoys reading my blog, and that she knows much more about me now! I was somewhat embarassed, but it felt very good!

Apart from this, Lens and Sensibility has also been a weather watch, especially in the rainy season, when the worry of the lack of rains gnaws at me and then I refer to the previous years' blogs to see how the pattern has been changing (no newspaper database for me!). I inherited this rain-obsession from my father who has always been very conscious of the importance of a good monsoon.

This space has been a travellogue too, as I always write about the new places I go to. And there are always those times when I express disappointment, anger, anguish, and many a time, happiness. So, Lens and Sensibility continues to be a mirror to my life, emotions, optimism.

I thank all my readers for visiting this space, and invite them to keep coming back. There is much to talk about and much to reflect; much to hope for and much to change.

As says children's writer Shel Silverstein, in Where the Sidewalk ends:
"If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer,
A wisher, a liar;
A hope-er, a pray-er;
A magic bean buyer...
Come in!"
...and walk with me as I enter my fourth year of this virtual journey, which, at one end is connected to a very real black keyboard on which type my very real fingers, signalled by a very real brain that three years back, conjured up the words L-e-n-s a-n-d S-e-n-s-i-b-i-l-it-y!

September 21, 2009

Shakespeare evening at Antu's

With Antu (my cousin) being in Hyderabad, can Shakespeare be far behind? We read Midsummer night's dream Sunday evening and it was great fun. Felt good to read the bard after many many years. Used to have a play every year in school...I was in primary school when we did MND and played one of the fairies who is called to scratch the ass's head! In this photo, Antu as Bottom (turned into an ass) and Kobita as Titania who is smitten by the ass because of a love potion smeared on her eyelids as she sleeps.

The kids had a ball, with Maloo playing lion, Rahel the wall and Esha moonshine.

September 09, 2009

Flower at Naimisam

Maloo took this photo at Naimisam, the Jiddu Krishnamurti retreat in Ghatkesar, an hour's drive from Hyderabad, where we had a blissful time listening to rustling peepals and bird song, and playing with Sai and Lucky, the two dogs who stole our hearts!

September 03, 2009

YSR's chopper crashes in Nallamalla forest

We have been watching the news channels continuously for 24 hours ever since we learnt that Chief Minister YSR went missing. I woke up thrice in the night to see what happened. Alas, the drama in real life ended in a tragedy. Goodbye CM. Bad decision to move out in a chopper in such weather. Condolences to his family. Also to the families of the four others who died.

August 30, 2009

August 23, 2009


The autorickshaw driver might dream about buying a Nano. The slum dweller might dream about a small house made of bricks where he and his family would not get wet when it rains. The rich person living in a posh house with a garden might dream about growing that exotic plant, or owning a BMW. Just as there are as many realities as there are people, there must be as many kinds of dreams as there are realities.

I dream of justice. Many years ago, my family of gentle, genteel people were cheated out of a beautiful old house by a cunning builder. We faced tragedy and disappointment, we were denied what was rightfully ours. We have been living in a flat on that very land, trying to forget what happened, and getting on with our lives, putting the past behind us. Our children, who never saw the old house say once in a while, "Oh, we could have had beautiful birthday parties in the old house...why did all this happen?"

Many trees were cut down when the old house was replaced with this complex. With heavy hearts we allowed it to happen. But to the left of the building, there were still some trees remaining when we moved here...huge, old trees, one Alphonso and three sapota trees, all bearing the tastiest fruit one would ever find...and tender memories going back a few generations, associated with them. We could still see the birds and the bats from our balcony, and hear the insects at night. Then one day, a few years back, the axe got them too, and soon they were gone, leaving behind stumps, and some more memories.

The pain will never go away. The agony of what could have been gnaws me time and again. Others in the family are luckily more philosophical and spiritual, and believe that perhaps it was meant to be this way. But I am still angry and restless on and off.

Now suddenly an opportunity to do something in the place where the mango and sapota trees had been (last year this time, this had seemed impossible). I waited and watched, hesitated a great deal, and today, I put forward one little step. I got some saplings to plant there, of my choice---tree jasmine, cordia, tulip tree, tabebuia, sampange (the old house had one). Maybe I'll get a bakula too.

To me the planting of a tree represents hope.

A minute part of a dusty old dream is returning, and I tread very cautiously towards making it happen.

But I am afraid of this dream.

August 15, 2009

Independence Day 2009

Flag hoisting on our terrace, flag hoisting at daughter's school, and then in the evening, a building get-together for some fun and games with I-Day theme. Did a lot of research on the internet while putting together a quiz for the evening. While at it, I discovered some great music for the audio round. Here's a link to one version of Vaishnava Janato.

Do listen to is lovely.

While searching for the songs on the net, I also came across many proud-to-be-Indian comments by NRIs, especially on YouTube. Ditto with comments on FaceBook.

My simple brain cannot understand why, despite such a deep sense of belonging with India, they cannot return to live here, the land they grew up in, and the land where their ageing parents and other family still lead a happy life. Writer Jaya Madhavan in her column in the Indian Express this morning, talks about her life in the US, before she retrned to India, when she felt, "In the land of seagulls/the crows try to merge with the snow".

They go for a purpose, I understand that. But why do they not return?

August 13, 2009

The rain, it does not come

It has not been raining at all. There are clouds...there have been clouds ever since the rainy season began. But it does not rain. It rained on 7 June as though to keep a promise, but practically nothing after that. Drizzled one day a few days back, raising some hopes. But once again, dry clouds. It is as though the clouds have forgotten how to rain. As though humankind is being punished for the way they treat nature.

The yagnas didn't help this time. Nor did the frog weddings, or the cloud seeding.

It truly is a dismal time. More than 170 districts in India already declared drought-hit; farmers committing suicide. Swine flu making big bad news every day. Terror threats, of course---the new world's malaise. Prices of commodities have already been high (tur dal Rs 108 a kg) can expect further price hikes. It is depressing. Maybe I should stop reading the newspapers or watching news. But even if I do can I escape Yahoo's smooth news capsules? And I definitely cannot ignore the technology needed there.

There have been years like this in the past. I tell myself it will pass. It has to pass, and there have to be better times.

My ever-optimistic mother says we still have the rest of August, and the whole of September. It will pour...and we will at least have ground water. I hope she is right. As they say in Hyderabad, "Aapke mooh mein ghee shakkar!"

August 08, 2009

Mother, daughter, grand-daughter

I dream of being able to paint, sing, dance, act. I can do none of these, but attempt to do them nevertheless! I present here, rather shyly, some colours from my amateur brush...

August 02, 2009

Butterfly on water

River Krishna in Vijayawada. This butterfly looks cool and happy...but in reality it was struggling to fly away. The water seemed magnetic, pulling it in...

Something philosophical about this scene.

July 19, 2009

Skipping stones

Childhood...whenever we went on a picnic and found a small pond or a lake, we looked for small flat stones and for the next one hour, all we did was throw the stones close to the surface of the water so they went! It was addicting, and a lot of fun.

Did this at Shamirpet yesterday, after many years. For my children, it was an introduction to this fun outdoor pastime. A friend we met there told me this was now a 'sport' and had a name---'skipping stones', and that there were championships too, and that the world record was 40 skips, and that the French had manufactured a machine to determine the size-weight-velocity ratio of the stone that resulted in ideal skip...or something like that!

So I came home and googled 'skipping stones', and among other things, found this interesting info:
  • Virtually every culture has a term for stone skipping. The English call it 'ducks and drakes', Danes call it 'smutting'; in France, it is 'ricochet', in Ireland, 'stone skiffing'.
  • Eskimos skip rocks on ice; Bedouins on smooth sand.
  • Currently, the Guinness Book of World Records accords the title to Jerdone Coleman McGhee, a Texas engineer who in 1992 scored an incredible 38 skips on the Blanco River.
  • The grandaddy of all such skip-offs is held every Fourth of July on Michigan's Mackinac Island.
  • It was here in 1977 that John Kolar earned the all-time Mackinac record of "24 plus-infinity"---his stone vanished ominously into fog after two dozen skips!
  • There's also a book on skipping stones, called The secrets of stone skipping, by Jerdone Coleman-McGhee.
  • And what's more...someone seems to have come up with this quote: Skip stones, not school!
  • Shakespeare wrote about skipping stones in the original version of Henry V.
Whatever...I am happy I introduced this 'sport' to the kids yesterday!

Image from

July 15, 2009


I always liked Kabir dohe in school. And one doha that I firmly believed in, and which always guided me, especially during my growing-up years was this:

Dheere dheere re mana, dheere sab kuch hoye
Maali seenche so ghara, ritu aaye phal hoye
(O mind, go slow; things happen at their own pace
A gardener may pour a hundred buckets of water, but the fruit arrives only in its season)

And now I am watching Shabnam Virmani's Kabir Project videos . While the videos are honest, meaningful and aesthetic, I wonder if it is because they deal with Kabir Das, and his ideas, which, now that I finished school (!) I realise, appeal to free-spirited and creative people. However, I must give Shabnam---and Shrishti school of art and design--- great credit for this research.

I was especially touched by 'Koi sunta hai', the video that intertwines Kumar Gandharva's life with Kabir's...both geniuses in their own right. Now I not only know the meaning of the songs in Nirgun ke gun, one of my favourite Kumar Gandharva albums, I also know how he sang them with so much came from all the suffering he went through in his life, because of which he discovered Kabir.

Inspired by this video, I delightedly listened, on YouTube, to Kalapini Komkali (Kumar Gandharva's daughter; ah! she really sings like him!) and Bhuvanesh Komkali (his grandson).

And inspired by the Kabir Project, I also pulled out a book I bought a long time back, and began reading it. Written by Jaya Madhavan for Tulika, it is called 'Kabir, the weaver poet'.

Kahe Kabir suno bhai Sadho*!

(My mother sometimes calls me Sadhu!)

July 07, 2009

Michael Jackson

Why am I feeling so bad about MJ's death? I was never a great fan, just a curious onlooker, looking at his life from a corner of my eye. Yes, 'Beat it' and 'Bad' were part of my growing up, but that's all.

I would like to remember him as he looks in this picture, not the ghost he had become. Why did the people around him let him become that ghost? What were the doctors doing? And why is the media constantly harping over the bizarre aspects of his life, instead of simply celebrating his talent? Just let him be. Just let him go.

Celebrities, especially those who belong to your generation often become a measure of where you are in life. Even though I did not hum MJ's songs or follow closely, the twists and turns of his life, he was there somewhere, doing his thing in his own style. Something typical of my generation, or so I like to think. Perhaps that is why I am grieving so much.

My children have now begun to look at his videos, and listen to his songs; they think he is awesome. Something tells me he will become, posthumously, a larger-than-life icon for generations to come. Here's a link to Black or White, a video I discovered with my children. This is the only way I can say goodbye to him.

June 27, 2009

I will not...

I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.
I will not accumulate stuff in the house.

Vijay just went to give away a whole lot of stuff we did not need. And what a lot that turned out to be! I am ashamed of myself and promise that it will not happen again.

All cupboards and drawers are hereafter going to be half empty. Honest...

June 21, 2009

Nature rejoices the first rains!

It is only us human beings who are not easily satisfied about anything, constantly cribbing about the weather---if it is summer, it is too hot; when the rains come, it is too sultry.

Plants and animals, on the other hand, are not only easy to satisfy, they express their happiness in beautiful ways. I took these photos inside the Hyderabad University campus soon after the first rains. Wild flowers ask people to smile, laburnums pose against the rocks, and a strikingly coloured insect takes a leisurely stroll on the cool, damp earth. And yes, I could finally show birba buddis (red velvet mites, about which I wrote in one of my first posts), to my children!

June 13, 2009

Goodbye Habib saab

Habib Tanvir, one of India's greatest dramatists passed away on 8 June 2009. I saw his famous play Charandas Chor a long time back, and was fascinated by it. I saw it again just 3 months back, and was fortunate to see him in it for the last time.

Habib Tanvir's theatre is original, very genuine, and quintessentially Indian. I also saw another sensitive, gripping play based on the Bhopal tragedy, a few years back.

Here's a good article on the grand old man of the Indian theatre, who we will miss terribly.

May 30, 2009

Way to go, Hyderabad!!

The IPL win...I write a little late after the event, having been busy with the one hundred and sixty one things I need to juggle through the summer vacation. We watched the final between Royal Challengers and Deccan Chargers with a bunch of 15-16 year olds, munching chips, screaming loudly and dancing/rolling on the floor each time Deccan Chargers took scored fours or took wickets! It was super fun, and ended with a mad dance when DC finally won!

Once the match was over, we heard fireworks outside, and people did go about in cars and scooters shouting and screaming. But the rejoicing was nothing compared to the time India won against Pakistan....that of course, takes the cake.

I think the idea of IPL is just sinking in, and people have a problem of deciding on their loyalties. But I bet IPL will be a huge success in the future...I personally think the format is a very clever one, and it will work. Once the cricket-loving masses get the hang of it, there will be no looking back. I like the idea of a mixed least it gives everyone a fair chance to win.

And yes, I want to say something to Mandira Bedi and the other snooty male compere (what's his name?) who said nasty things about Deccan Chargers; and to people like Shah Rukh Khan, Preity Zinta and Katrina Kaif who boasted about their teams...


May 18, 2009

A good picture...

of Malini, by Ragini...taken on the Durgam Cheruvu rocks. I love the colours and the silhoutte.

May 11, 2009


Defeated, they feel, as I do.
Lost, overpowered, dominated, engulfed...

The buildings...they are coming closer.

Photo: Sadhana Ramchander

The answer

I am supposed to write the answer to the riddle in my last post upside down, but don't know how to do that. So, here it is, rightside up.

You ask a door, "If I were to ask the other door which door leads to the City of Truth, what would it say?" Pick the door that's the opposite of the answer.

This makes you somewhat dizzy, but it works!

May 07, 2009

Busy busy busy...

No time for blogging yaar, what to do. But, so I don't break continuity here's a quick question... something I read somewhere.

You approach two talking doors. One leads to the City of Truth, the other to the City of Liars. You are allowed one question to find out which door leads to which city. The door leading to the City of Liars always lies, the is other truthful. What question do you ask, to find the door to the City of Truth.

Answer in next blog. Till then, those of you who still visit, happy thinking! Cheers.

April 21, 2009

Schools, schools everywhere, but...

Been hunting for schools for my daughter who finished Class 10. We started ideally, applying at Valley School, Bangalore, and Rishi Valley, Madanapalle (AP), both Krishnamurti schools, which would give her the continuity in the kind of ambience she grew up in. She made it to Valley School, but for some reason didn't want to go there. She is wait-listed at Rishi Valley, the school she is keen to go to, and to which all of us too would like to move, given a chance.

Of course, we applied for schools in Hyderabad. I could fill an encyclopedia with what I've been seeing.

In Hyderabad, there is an epidemic that makes everyone wants to join schools with names like Narayana, Chaitanya, Ramayya and Guru, which are inhuman training workshops for entrance to engineering/IIT. Classes are from 6 am to 6 pm, there is a rigorous testing system, parents are called and scolded if the child does not do well, and there are many more horror stories that people don't talk about. And what is surprising is that there's no dent in the numbers applying to these factories despite the recession.

Then we have the expensive, 'international' schools that cost the sky. Air-conditioned classrooms, AC buses, et al. On principle, NO.

Then there is the new craze...the International Baccalaureate(IB) course. The curriculum is fantastic and I would love for my daughter to do this course, but again, the course is very expensive since it seems to cater to people who want to study abroad after the 12th.

Some good schools are CBSC, but we want ISC; some are too far away; most have just concrete and no place to play; one school has a heritage building and fantastic grounds, but they say the 11 th and 12th students are into pubbing and parties, and that sounds scary.

The schools we prefer, are the ones that have been around for many many years; generations of children have passed out of these schools; they have established systems and can't go too wrong. But there is one hitch: all these schools have uniforms...even for students of 11th and 12th, which I find ridiculous. Having never worn a uniform ever, the daughter is going to have a tough time getting used to wearing one...but I guess it is a lesson in fitting into another world, I guess.

And then there are good schools that are either all-girls or all-boys...what's with them?

Realisation, all over again, at how lucky our children have been, to have gone to the sane school they have been going to. This is really like stepping into the big bad (uniformed) world outside.

Still praying for Rishi Valley...

April 10, 2009

Is this Bengaluru?

On my recent trip to Bengaluru, we got off and on our train from this station. It has a small-town charm, and I loved it. It also has small golf buggy-type vehicles to transport the old and handicapped.

March 31, 2009

A superb animation film that could be banned

Every time I heard the Ramayana or read it, or saw a mythological with NTR as Rama, or read it to my children, I always felt sad/angry about how Rama treats Sita, and yet came to be known as a righteous king.

This film is about this very issue. Made by Nina Paley, who, Google Almighty tells me is America's best-loved unknown cartoonist (, the animation is brilliant, and so is the use of the Indonesian shadow puppets.

Watch this film at before some of our culture vultures somehow get to America and ban it.

I too didn't like the content of a few scenes, and the tone of some words, but chalta, yaar. All art is open to interpretation.

March 22, 2009

Ten words

It is such a secret place,
the land of tears.

(From "The Little Prince"
by Antoine de Saint-Exeupery;
painting by R C Gorman

March 08, 2009

Women's day blah blah blah...

is women's day,
for, as British poet Anna Wickham says:

"Here is no sacrificial I,
Here are more I's than yet were in one human,
Here I reveal our common mystery:
I give you woman."

Painting by Fawad Tamkanat

February 27, 2009

Ladies tailor

He is perhaps the most important man in a woman’s life; that is, apart from the man in her life.

A woman and her tailor have an affair going, on a continuous basis. It is a love-hate relationship. Love him when he does a good job. Hate him when he doesn’t. Love him when he gives the clothes on time. Hate him when he delays and your planning goes awry, and you feel you have ‘nothing to wear’. Love him when he agrees to do alterations, hate him when he doesn’t…

As a child, on the way to school in a cycle rickshaw with 4-5 other children, we used to pass by a tailor shop, and one of the girls would shout, ‘frocks, frocks’, and we would all look admiringly at the row of colourful frocks in the shop window. We would then discuss the prints, the patterns and sometimes planned on asking our mothers to get similar frocks made for us.

As I grew up, there were many men…oops! tailors in my life. As a child, on birthdays, they made me feel smart and special in the dresses they tailored for me; as a teenager, they helped boost confidence levels; as a prospective employee, those special ‘confidence dresses’ helped me get jobs; as a bride, I once again depended on him---it was almost a matter of life and death! Thus, on my tailor’s expertise, and whims, depended the success of ever so many events in my life.

There were many frustrating moments, of course. Clothes made too tight, clothes made too loose, kapda not shrunk, instructions forgotten, notes ignored, quiet anger expressed nevertheless, and then forgive, forget…after all, this is not the last dress I am going to get tailored! Always preferring the humble and friendly to the snooty and snobbish, I invariably went to some unknown chap close to my house, preferring him to the ‘famous’ ones who charged the sky.

Now suddenly, it seems difficult to find a good tailor. I have changed five tailors in five years. Two, who I liked very much, closed shop because it was too difficult to keep skilled workers. One was too far away; another gave way too much importance to NRIs, and the last made a salwar out of the cloth meant for the kurta, and vice versa.

And so the search is on, despite all those ready-made garments available, to find my ‘type’ of tailor--- the humble, friendly guy who stitches well, gives clothes on time, does alterations if something is not okay, obliges if told that something was really urgent, does not have an ‘NRI season’, and has a shop close to my house.

Is that a tall order?

February 20, 2009

Films for all times

Some films are rivetting, and you can watch them any number of times, from beginning to end, or any scene in between, or just the beginning or just the end, or just one song, or a dialogue.

In my list of films that fit this description are: Dil chahta hai, Mr and Mrs Iyer, Parineeta, Speed, Sound of music, Forrest Gump, Guru, Main hoon na (yes!), Sholay, Iqbal, Zubeida and some others.

Now I add one more delightful film to this list.

It took Slumdog Millionnaire out of my head!

February 08, 2009

Great job, NDTV!

From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the 24-hr Greenathon organised by NDTV 24 x 7, TERI and sponsored by Toyota. It is the first time I have seen something like this being done by a television channel in India. Check out the link below, and you'll know what I am talking about.

Better still, take the green pledge; donate something, however small.

We need many more such gestures. I wish to believe that things can change.

February 03, 2009

My spontaneous reaction to Slumdog Millionaire

I saw Slumdog Millionaire last night and want to write about it before I read anything about it that could change the way I am thinking about it.

1. Through the movie, my insides were taking a roller-coaster ride.
2. It was way too dark for me.
3. Photography was excellent.
4. The shit scene was disgusting and unnecessary.
5. Among the actors, the children were good. Jamal and Salim were good but seemed too sophisticated to be slum dwellers.
6. The dialogue "But for Ram and Rahim, I would have had a mother today" is a classic.
7. I loved the format where the story unfolds with Jamal going back and forth about how he knew the answers, but credit for that to Vikas Swarup, I guess (I need to read the novel).
8. Some questions: why is the quiz master so nasty? What has he to lose?
9. Why the torture in a police station? By the time a contestant wins 1 crore, he is already a hero...a TV interview would have been more like it.
10. The biggest disappointment for me was that because I was so disturbed, I did not even notice Rahman's music. Or did Rahman's music play a big role in making me feel disturbed in the first place? I need to listen to only the audio track once more.

Im my opinion, Slumdog (I don't like that word too) is not a complete film.

It was written that it should win so many awards! :)

And now, I will read all the reviews...

PS: No, the showcasing of squalor, poverty, violence, et al. didn't bother me...for it is just one of a billion images of India!

February 01, 2009


Among all milestones in one's life, school leaving is perhaps the toughest one. I still remember mine...sigh!

Ragini had her farewell party in school, and these words, from the very first book I edited after I started BluePencil, ring in my ears:

'Guzra hua zamana, aata nahi dubara...'

January 25, 2009

Republic Day

Happy Republic Day! I read this article on Yahoo (, and liked it immensely. I post it here, so others can read it and so that I can re-read it. It may not remain on Yahoo for too long.

The supreme law of India

Mon, Jan 26 2009

We know that we celebrate Republic Day on January 26. But sometimes, we may forget why.

It is the birthday of the supreme law of our nation, the Constitution of India, which was passed by the Constituent Assembly on January 26, 1949, and came into effect on January 26, 1950. It contains our self-image, our worldview and our intentions towards one another and non-Indian people.

It's profoundly moving to read the Preamble and the Articles that detail our fundamental rights and duties and the directive principles of our nationhood. Though salted by now in scripture, I find that my heart leaps with a special thrill each time I happen to read something in the Constitution.

I truly rate it as all the scripture we ever need, for leading our lives with goodwill and a sound work ethic. Essentially, the Constitution seems to be about space and responsibility.

We are meant to give each other plenty of space and ensure a fair availability of skillsets and life-enabling facilities. Beyond that, there has to be room for individual merit.

The Constitution says we're to have physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual space, by which we are empowered to take a fair shot at making our lives happen. If I had to pick a mudra or coded handsign to represent the Constitution, I'd do a Namaste.

A Namaste, says, "I salute the Me in You, which both spring from the One." We're acknowledging our connectedness as human beings and also our space in the vaster scheme of things.

The old ones sensed a greater Energy everywhere and in themselves, but couldn't get a fix on it. "Neti, neti, neti" (Not this, Not this, Not this,") they said in a process of elimination.

So what was 'It'? The Constitution does a good job of trying to answer that question. It gathers up much that is good and worth keeping in the history of thought and tells us what our lives as modern Indians should be like.

January 15, 2009

Sankranti sambaralu

This is perhaps my favourite festival, mainly because interesting and colourful things happen everywhere during this festival. In the kitchens of traditional Telangana homes, women are busy making delicious til-based snacks and sweets like chakkilalu, boorelu, ariselu, til laddulu, etc. Early morning, women adorn the front of their homes with colourful muggulu. Boys and men (and some girls like my daughters and me!) fly colourful kites. So there is colour on the earth, colour in the skies, and colour inside the homes of those who have the yearly bommala koluvu during Sankranti...

And, think about it...all these activities are very affordable, and there is no scope for wasteful spending. Added to this, there is no religious ceremony, and so no scope for politicization and violence. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that this is essentially a harvest festival...anything nature is a good thing, it seems to me.

This year, I took a walk down a few lanes to admire the riot of colour on the ground. And as usual, we flew kites in the afternoon. Ragini, for the first time, not only flew kites all by herself but even cut quite a few kites, thus becoming the Kite Princess of our terrace! Malini was more of a kite runner and collected a good booty... what's more, she even cut a kite with one she was 'rescuing'!

Here are some colours I gathered during my walk.