Monday, December 5, 2011

Lowered defenses

A lazy, quiet morning with nothing to distract the random trains of thought that start from someplace and meander through the remote, lost feelings deep inside. A fleeting vision of the hibiscus shrubs that we had in our terrace at home in Madurai a decade ago (I am growing old). The  small tank-like structure in the terrace had the parapet wall as one side and was filled with soil. The hibiscus shrubs were there ever since I was a baby. Ayamma (grandmother) tended to them and then when she could climb to the terrace no more, mom took over and added more plants nearby. A house in the packed streets of Madurai - we can peep into the neighbours' houses on either side, they are too close to have any space left for plants outside the house- the small tank in the terrace was our garden. Photographs taken on occasions at home often had the shrubs in the background - our only nature patch at home. A quick slideshow of those frozen moments passed through the mind. The joint family days - running behind the big cousins, not wanting to be left out of any fun - the gang-leader-cousin digging the soil with a stick and showing me the earthworms underneath. Picking the longest and the most unfortunate one out of the soil, captivating it inside a box filled with leaves and a tiny water container. Adding natural fertilizer(goat dung)  to the soil and checking on the plants every hour, expecting them to shoot up like the beanstalk in the fairytale. Watering the plants was a herculean task - had to fill the pot with water to the brim from a tap 5 meters away and carry it on my hip to the plants, lift it up to the tank and pour the water in. 9 out of 10 times I'd drench myself when pouring it in and get bashed by mom for not being careful. Breaking away branches to have a stick-fight with the little sis. Plucking and grinding the leaves into paste, applying it on my face - impersonating the beautician on tv. The huge hive that built up under the tank - just when I had convinced my mom to get someone who would chase the bees away and get us the dripping honey - the bees seemed to have sensed our intentions - they left an empty honeycomb and shifted to the nearby tree branch. Many years ago our garden was removed from the terrace as the water seeped into the building and seemed to cause damage to its structure. Back then, it was a welcome change for me as it meant less work and more space in the terrace - I could peep down on the street from the parapet wall which was not possible earlier with the tank in place. More time spent gazing down at people on the street. Forgotten shrubs. 

It was with a little jolt that I remembered them in the morning. Memories that tend to slip away and get lost forever. I don't want the shrubs to die that way. 

Bondhu and I ran 20 minutes late to 'Mayakkam enna' yesterday evening. We kept chattering away in the theatre till the marriage scene, after which I got totally engrossed in the movie - thanks to the amazing editing. The first half was entertaining. The second half was gripping. I liked it enough to overlook all the flaws.  <3 Especially 'Kanna thorandhu paaruda,mundam', 'Poove poochooda vaa', 'life-ayum restart panna nalla irukkum', his shock near the pool of blood, the serendipitous passing of kumudam, 'idhu sundar pona maasam vaangina award' and the final chasing of  Madesh - the quiet  'Thanks' to him - Unexpectedly amazing - Selvaraghavan, Dhanush, Richa and the whole crew. 

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mokkai Movie Week

After a weekend at Indonesia devouring 2 KFC chicken buckets, a quart kilo of honeycomb cake and 2 extra large cokes since morning, it was my bad that I took the first row in the movie hall to watch 'Tree of Life'. Biblical verses, abstract art, dinosaurs, bacteria, embryo, big bang and finally the white dwarf - people sitting on either side of me were either sleeping or swearing. I couldn't sit through it - not even for Brad Pitt's occasional appearance. It was the height of my tolerance that I didn't give up on the movie till the end and kept expecting something good from it (blame the reviews GRRRR..). The first row and the nauseating feel of honeycomb-to-be-puked-out made it my worst experience ever in a theatre. I wasn't ready for such soora mokkai - didn't have enough strength to withstand the onslaught.

It was a perfect day for a mokkai movie - I felt enough cheerful, strong and even eager to ogle at Shahid in the supposedly-crappy 'Mausam'. It was NOT a romantic movie. Better labelled a comedy flick. Shahid and Sonam were the riot couple - literally! I wonder how it'd feel to be affected by every damn terrorist activity that goes on in any part of the world.

யாம் பெற்ற இன்பம் பெறுக இவ்வையகம்:  Shahid's mom was killed in a riot. Sonam loses her home in Kashmir and meets Shahid in Punjab. She leaves Punjab with her Uncle's family during the Babri Masjid demolition (I wonder why that affected this family in Punjab) - they go to Mumbai and her uncle gets killed in the Mumbai blast. Some Scotland scenes where girl-boy meet. Thank Heavens that there were no riots in the Scottish history from 1992-1999 (I'm pretty sure there wasn't any. Else why would Pankaj Kapur have not included it in his amazingly stupid script?!). Shahid, an Air Force Army officer gets called for duty from Scotland to India for Kargil war where his left arm gets paralyzed. Some mind boggling, complicated, pointless happenings as Sonam tries to contact Shahid - she comes to Punjab, goes back to Scotland and then to America! Attack on the twin towers by Al Quaeda - innocent Muslims are suspected in America and hence returnth the family to India via switzerland ('cos it's safe'). Some foolish scenes in Switzerland, where boy meets girl but not the other way round cos girl was sleeping just then. Ahmedabad riots - this pair has to be there and has to meet (impromptu again for the umpteenth time) when running away from the rioters (Mind voice : Better stay together, you idiots! I want to go home, for crying out loud!). They did stay together - but they still killed me - Shahid rescues a horse from a raging fire in the riots and a helpless kid from a giantwheel (which he scales with one hand - his paralysed hand activated when the kid had to fall and he holds her mid-air and yeah - kisses the kid while hanging for his dear life with the other hand).
Then cometh the dialogue that I savored for long - :
" You lost something and are incomplete. I lost something and am incomplete. The kid lost something and is incomplete. Come,let's start a family together."
The nearly empty theatre resounded with laughter as this one was uttered by Shahid to Sonam, with the kid and the white horse in the bg.
And yes, it's a Bollywood movie na - made with high hopes of being a runaway hit (A feeble mind voice : Pankaj Kapur, நீ நெஜமாவே லூஸா இல்ல லூஸு மாதிரி நடிக்கிறியா) - it had to end with a disco song.

Well, all that said - Shahid did look most charming ;).

Monday, September 26, 2011

ஆரண்ய காண்டம் (Anima and Persona)

Aaranya kaandam was released in June this year - a nightmarish time for me, before the QE. I didn't notice the movie - it came and went. I never read or bothered to know more about it. It just came and went. Wish I'd noticed it - I feel raving guilty about watching the good movies online - that's my two cents against video piracy ;). It's funny how I chanced upon watching the movie now. This is the hyperlink chain that led me to the movie : Supersinger (distracting flash headlines on that website)--> SPB.Charan and actress Sona filing cases against each other (what! is that Charan in that picture!!WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM!)--> Secret behind SPB.Charan's weight loss (??!!? did he suffer any financial loss??) --> SPB.Charan speaks about Aaranya kaandam (neraya solraaney..enna padam idhu..) --> Aaranya kaandam (as Anima and Persona won the Grand jury award at the SAIFF,NY). That hooked me on to it and minutes later I got absorbed in the movie.

It is not just another gangster movie. Every scene, every line of dialogue is there for a reason - in building up the brilliant screenplay- that is proof by itself that the movie is simply perfect. No unnecessary masala - just enough to make it toothsome. To mention a few of the many things I liked about the movie : most of the actors - esp Jackie Shroff (as Singamperumal), Guru Somasundaram (as Kaalayan - what a characterization!), Master Vasanth(as Kodukkapuli) and Ajay Raj (the Chennai 28 guy) as well ; the comedy element blends in smoothly - Jackie's English (:-D) tickled me to pieces. Ravikrishna's voice and dialogue delivery fit the bill for the second time in a movie (Ponniyin selvan was the first).

Some thoughts to while away the Time (I'm going to capitalize It from now on. Let me respect It this way at least ;) )... why was the movie named so? Aaranya kaandam - the chapter in Ramayana when Rama and family live on exile in the forest and Sita is kidnapped by Raavana. It literally means 'Forest chapter'. Thank goodness that except for 'Kasthuri' (another name for Sita) and her abduction,  nothing else has been picked up as such from Ramayana (Mani Ratnam having exhausted it already!). In the director's words : "The film deals with the animal instincts of man and traits that erase the boundaries separating man from beast. In the Jungle called life, man continues to draw from the animal within".... (Acc to me -- enna 'animal within'?? we are always animals...Not possible to classify man and beast - we are animals - we just have some traits that make us different from the OTHER animals. In nerdy terms, 'human' is a subset within 'animal')...

Singamperumal is a cranky but dangerous,old beast when he desperately tries to prove that he is still very much in possession of all his youthful endowments. Pasupathi(Sampath) - when care for his wife and presence of mind in the face of death overcome everything else. Kaalayan reminds me (in some ways) of Ed, one of the hyenas in Lion King. Kodukkapuli's animal trait is summarized in the dialogue exchange - the Timing of which I loved:
Pasupathi :"Unga appa-na romba pidikkuma?"
Kodukkapuli :“Appidi ille – aana avar engappa.”
Another notable dialogue is from Subbu(newcomer Yasmin Ponnappa: the climax left me satisfied with her performance, of which till then I was doubtful) as the femme fatale: “The best thing about being a woman is that it’s a man’s world.”  

And what makes all these animals human? Their immense love for money and the extremity/stupidity it drives them to? The director thinks along similar lines : Gajendran is 'humanly'/less angry when it is about money issues but when his brother dies, it is a 'mad elephant's rage'.The human trait is 'love for money'. The rest is the beast in us. Let the beast survive ;).
Looking forward to the next movie from Thiagarajan Kumararaja.

Friday, September 23, 2011

This day, two years back..

Another proof that time is the most powerful factor than ANYthing else in the world - it affects everything - right from petty emotions to huge, impactful happenings in life. Show me something that can beat time. I found this small para written by me, two years back.... And it tickles me - how time has played with my mind and the way I think about the same things now... :) And how right a judge I am of myself - and how rightly I chose my supervisor ;)..And it serves as a warning to me as well - to pay heed to time and respect it more than what I'm doing now... Here goes the para..

"It often pays off to think about my life from another person's perspective... I gee up if I'm lazy or slow down if I'm doing too much enthu pattani work....

Right now- my life is good... New college, new friends, new places to explore... Not too much of newness either...Some precious old friends who add more joy to my life... Academically--I'm still hibernating!... Fishing for a cool supervisor, ready to put up with my tardiness and occasional bursts of inspired hard work.....

This city,Singapore-- inspires me a lot--to stay organized... The discipline here is really cool and I love the way every litte thing is people-friendly here..... especially to the specially abled people. Despite the skyscrapers, cars, industrial growth..the city is till green..The greenery may be artificial but still it serves the purpose... I like the blend of competition at workplace and relaxed weekend with friends."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

எனது முதல் தமிழ் வலைப்பதிவு

தமிழில் எழுதியோ, நல்ல புத்தகங்களை படித்தோ வெகு காலம் ஆகிவிட்டதை நினைக்க வெட்கமாக இருக்கிறது. எனது தமிழறிவை சிறிதேனும் தேற்றிக்கொள்ளும் விருப்பம் சில நாட்களாகவே மேலோங்கியுள்ளது.

ஏர்டெல் சூப்பர் சிங்கரில் இந்த பாட்டை கேட்டபோது அதன் மூலப்படிவத்தை கேட்க மிக ஆவலாக இருந்தது. யூட்டியூபில் தேடிய போது ஒலி வடிவம் மட்டும்தான் கிடைத்தது. அதை மேலேற்றிய ரசிகர் பாட்டை பற்றி சில சுவாரசியமான செய்திகளை கொடுத்திருந்தார். அதைப் படித்தபின் பாடல் இன்னும் அழகாக செவியில் பட்டது.   

படம்: முத்தான முத்தல்லவோ
பாடியவர்கள்: மெல்லிசை மன்னர் எம்.எஸ்.வி, எஸ்.பி.பி
இசை : மெல்லிசை மன்னர் எம்ஸ.எஸ்.விஸ்வநாதன்
பாடாலசிரியர்: வாலி
வருடம்: 1976

ராகத்தை பற்றியோ, அழகாக ஆங்காங்கே வரும் சங்கதிகளை பற்றியோ பேச ஞானம் இல்லையென்றாலும் , மனதிற்கு பிடித்த சில விஷயங்களை பகிர்ந்துகொள்கிறேன்.   

மேலேற்றிய ரசிகர் சொன்னதை போல் இது வெறும் பாடகர்களுக்கிடையே மட்டுமன்றி,  கீபோர்டுக்கும் வயலினுக்கும் இடையே ஒரு உரையாடலை போல் பட்டது. எவ்வளவு அழகாக இசையை அமைத்திருக்கிறார்! எம்.எஸ்.வி.யின் குரல் வரும் முன் கீபோர்ட் இசையும், எஸ்.பி.பி. பாடும் முன் வயலின் ஓசையும் வருவது; எம்.எஸ்.வி. குரலில் விழும் சங்கதிகள் கீபோர்ட் இசையை போலவும் எஸ்.பி.பி. யின் குரலில் அது வயலின் இசையை போலவும் அமைந்ததைப்போன்று எனக்கு தோன்றியது. பாடலின் இறுதியில் இரண்டு கருவிகளும் பேசிக்கொள்வது கேட்க கேட்க திகட்டாத இனிமை.

பாடல் வரிகளும் வசீகரமானவை. ஸ்வரங்களான பஞ்சமம், தைவதம் கொண்டு பெண்ணை விவரித்ததின் அர்த்ததை தேடியதில் ஸமஸ்கிருதறிவும் பெருகிற்று. ;)

 எனக்கொரு காதலி இருக்கின்றாள் அவள்
ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களில் சிரிக்கின்றாள்

எனக்கொரு காதலி இருக்கின்றாள்
ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களில் சிரிக்கின்றாள்

கீதம் அவளது வலையோசை
கீதம் அவளது வலையோசை
நாதம் அவளது தமிழோசை
தமிழ் ஓஓஓஓஓஓசை

எனக்கொரு காதலி இருக்கின்றாள் அவள்
ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களில் சிரிக்கின்றாள்

கீதம் அவளது வலையோசை
கீதம் அவளது வலையோசை
நாதம் அவளது தமிழோசை
தமிழ் ஓஓஓஓஓஓசை

எனக்கொரு காதலி இருக்கின்றாள் அவள்
ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களில் சிரிக்கின்றாள்

பஞ்சமம் பேசும் பாவையர் என்றும்
பஞ்சமம் பேசும் பாவையர் என்றும்
பஞ்சணை போடும் எனக்காக
தைவதம் என்னும் திருமகள் மேனி
கைகளை அணைக்கும் இனிதாக

எனக்கொரு காதலி இருக்கின்றாள் அவள்
ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களில் சிரிக்கின்றாள்

என்னுடம் வாழும் இன்னொரு ஜீவன்
என்னுடம் வாழும் இன்னொரு ஜீவன்
மெல்லிசையாகும் எந்நாளும்
வையகம் யாவும் உன்புகழ் பேச
தைவதம் ஆகும் எதிர்காலம்

எனக்கொரு காதலி இருக்கின்றாள் அவள்
ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களில் சிரிக்கின்றாள்

தேன் சுவை கிண்ணம் ஏந்தியவன்னம்
நான் தரும் பாடல் அவள் தந்தாள்
மோஹனம் என்னும் வாகனம் மீது
தேவதை போலே அவள் வந்தாள்

எனக்கொரு காதலி இருக்கின்றாள் அவள்
ஏழு ஸ்வரங்களில் சிரிக்கின்றாள்

கீதம் அவளது வலையோசை
கீதம் அவளது வலையோசை
நாதம் அவளது தமிழோசை
தமிழ் ஓஓஓஓஓஓசை

Playing the possum

I have discovered that I have the possum-like trait in me. I play tired and choose inaction when confronted with a particularly huge task. It is involuntary and not planned out. I want to analyze why I do this and how to avoid it.

Dislike for the task?
No, I find that I like it when I start working on it.

Lack of aspiration - grand narrative for how doing the task will help me lead a good life?
uhm..may be

Lack of a plan?
Recently I came across this article in Buzz ,shared by a friend. It says: "The evolutionary perspective on procrastination says we delay because our frontal lobe doesn’t see a convincing plan behind our aspiration. The solution, therefore, is not to muster the courage to blindly charge ahead, but to instead accept what our brain is telling us: our plans need more hard work invested before they’re ready."
I examined if my task suffers from lack of a plan. Nope. It mostly suffers from lack of consistent input.

I jog 5 km and swim later, devour book after book, video after video. I guess that eliminates laziness from the picture??

Lack of motivation?
nope. I won't dare claim that.

Analyzing the above Q and A-- I need to aspire. I do have aspirations which are in no way related to this current huge task in front of me. I am trying to psych my mind into believing that they do have a connection.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Trip to Tioman - A Long Diary Entry

 A local get-together of more than 3 peehechdee studs is by itself fun - given the different timings and demands of each project (so much scene to get away from gmail-chatting and facebooking for a few hours ;) ) . More often than not, one of us would excuse ourself from the gang and leave sooner/join later to 'finish an experiment' (or to 'waste more resources') . A synchronized outing together is a rarity. The only way to bring that about would be to prise the studs a few hundred miles away from the labs and wi-fi and beautiful - if the phone connectivity could also be gotten rid of. A getaway - the mind and the body badly needed it, having been for several months in 'QE mode'. Having 'garnished my academic self' ( borrowed from Aneesh Sathe) as well as several other aspects to make myself more presentable to the QE panel, I needed some wild jumping around and hysterical laughing to tear away that mask and remind myself of the several other qualities (enjoying mokkai jokes and pranks, pulling legs mercilessly till they kick me away, walking away on my own for a while to do some dreaming and chew on some 'phlasaphee')  that have stayed with me through thick and thin and can never be gotten rid of, whatever.

Day 1:
A small Malaysian island surrounded by coral reefs ~200 km away, a bunch of mokkai jokes-loving peehechdees yearning for a holiday - the combo clicked in place and with no further ado, we ferried over the green and blue hues of the South China sea which holds one third of the entire world's marine biodiversity. At the very beginning of the trip - the girls got into the pick-up van first and had to direct the driver to where the guys where put up - slightly drowsy and confused in the dark, one screamed "Left! Left!" while another said "No! To the right!" and our beloved bondhu shouted "Theriyaaddhu!" ('I don't know' in Tamil) so that the Malay driver won't understand it enough to appreciate our stupidity. After such starting trouble, we set off : Sg to Mersing to Tekek to our resort at Juara beach - we switched vehicles thrice in that 6-hour-long-journey. As we neared the Tioman island, we chanced upon 'Omar gift shop' and 'Coffee with Omar'. We looked at the island map and 'Omar guest house' popped up. Enough fodder for our fertile imagination - we decided that 'Theevu Omar -> Thivomar -> Tiomar became Tioman' and cooked a 'Badsha'-like story hero'd by our treasurer, Omar Sheriff.  'Juara beach resort'  - deserves a whole para.

Around 10 cute stilt houses on a well-maintained lawn a few hundred meters from the sea; a clucking hen followed by a handsome rooster over the lawn; some shy kittens; Malay dwarf coconut palm trees outside every house, each bearing a bunch of green or golden coconuts; a couple of hammocks; comfortable,entirely-wooden interior ; a breezy restaurant overlooking the beach with delicious sea-food and enough native dishes to cater even to the vegetarians (6 out of the 9 of us); a very capable, brisk and tireless host who fulfilled our demands patiently; several friendly and ever-smiling helpers; a beach between two green hills; the sea hardened most of the white sand so that we could tread over it easily without sinking our feet in it; little streams joined the sea at the two ends of the long beach; coral remains strewn all over; the beach had it all - rocks,logs, trees, shallow water near the shore and most important - the right number of tourists - not too less, not too many. I couldn't ask for more. It was so picturesque.

A hearty lunch followed by exploring the beach - coral-picking; crab-chasing; rock-jumping; tree-hanging (Vikky.nesh excelled at it) and what we are always good at - photo-posing ;). The sea soothed our eyes - it sported several distinct shades of blue and green and little boats were moored around. Since the tide was low, we could walk over to little isles of sand by jumping over the sun-dried,green,algae-coated rocks. The sky darkened slowly - both due to the sunset and dark storm-clouds taking over. Having read in several Enid Blyton's books about high tides taking over suddenly, I grew anxious to get back because we were really inside, quite a distance from the beach. It was a sight to behold - black sky, blue horizon, green-blue sea and white-brown sand. As we walked back fast, huge,fat droplets of rain fell - funnily we never got drenched in it - may be the drops were spaced out and we just walked in the spaces.But it was a weird moment - to walk in a heavy drizzle and stay totally dry.

After a prolonged and noisy dinner, it was still storming and we wanted to go to our rooms.3 over-enthu buddies just ran in the pouring rain to the room. The remaining stately people bought a couple of umbrellas (too huge for the price) from the gift shop in the restaurant - the other diners looked at us, amused- 3 of us under each umbrella - pushing and pulling to get some space and stay out of the rain; running in the dark in the not-so familiar way to our rooms. One of the umbrella-holders- King Omar, got so sick of the pushing and random running in different directions, that he held a bottle in front and shouted "Follow the bottle!". His presence of mind in the crisis was much appreciated.;D.  Back in the room, we played cards - Ass and Bluff (which didn't go very well as we were a bunch of extremities - one bluffed all the time, one never did; one doubted her previous player (poor me) every time while the remaining docile ones never bothered to challenge anyone). After playing dumb charades for an hour, we retired to our rooms. Thin walls separated the rooms and hence after a few minutes of conversing by banging on the wooden wall, we slept happily. I spent some more time reading a book (A Passage to India - love it; taking time to savour every line - don't want to finish it too soon).

Day 2:

Our alarm clock (HTC) woke us all up - except the guys - they never heeded the dutious alarm clock. It made her so angry that one of those days she actually threatened them to wake up, standing at their door step with a huge stone in her hand. The guys pretended to get alarmed but it was only to send her away asap and hit the bed again. The girls explored the remaining part of the long beach - the dslr-owners experimented different shots and we were only too happy to pose and suggest new ideas for them. My coral collection grew bigger - I wanted to gift corals to some friends and some of the favorite cousins, nieces and nephews and hence toiled hard, picking or digging up for corals, washing and drying them up. The sun went higher- our beauties missed their sunscreen lotion and hence rushed back to the rooms.
Toast,butter,jam,Nasi lemak,juice,coffee and we got ready for snorkeling. We tried out the equipment, carried them down the jetty to the speedboat and I had fun on the boat, imagining and describing every possible horror that could happen while on the sea to the already-scared people. I don't think I have ever been so close to the deep sea as on the boat. Short cruises on ships can never recapitulate that slashing through the green-blue water that would splash on us and feeling every bump and fall of the boat on the sea. We (Prat, bondhu and I) sang like crazy. After an hour of the ride, we reached our first site - Tulai island. Life jacket, diving mask, snorkel and gently down the ladder into the sea (couldn't jump off the boat - some rocks underneath).

My first look at the World undersea - one of those moments when I feel glad to be alive. Some of those ethereal wallpapers do exist in truth. It was delightful looking at a beautiful form of life that I had never had the chance to see in my ~23 years of life. I flapped around, getting used to breathing through the snorkel(Thanks to the swimming training) - eager to look at the different types of corals. There were not many fish. A rainbow-coloured fish was particularly fascinating in that dark ambience. And to top it all - the water beneath me - I have never before been inside such depth - 5 or 6 Akila's could have stood on top of each other and still not reached the surface - despite the life-jacket, it still felt scary. We called out to each other - enjoying the moment. I grabbed bondhu and helped her move faster cos I could swim - we explored the floor together. She liked the brain corals especially. I then pulled Miss.Lopsided-specs (She slept on her specs- typical her ;) ) along. She had some trouble fixing her snorkel and it made her so cynical - she next doubted her mask and I had to assure her that it was the water that was blurry and not her mask. Anyways these two girls - bondhu and lopsi.. - I admired them for venturing bravely into the water, not a bit nervous and enjoying the whole process - despite not knowing swimming. I would have panicked with faulty equipment.

After an hour or two, we were called back into the boat. King Omar was missing! I took the chance to go back in search of him and snorkel more - I was starting to love it. I screamed for him and the boatman in the neighboring boat screamed back :D. Too many Omar's around. Anyways the King had flapped back around another way and was reaching the boat. When all were boarded in safely, we sped to the next site - Salang.

We stopped at a white-sanded beach. Miss.Anonymous loved the rocks in the shallow,clear water and I couldn't convince her that the corals further inside, in the deep would be prettier - she preferred walking around and snorkeling to floating around and snorkeling. We saw more corals, oysters, sea cucumbers and sea anemones. Bondhu and lopsi.. learned to move faster and could do the breaststroke fairly well. I stayed for longer in the sea while the others played on the beach. I learned that Miss.Fitness-first had never gotten inside the water in both the sites - her mortal fear of water prevented her from getting in - I was determined to make her try snorkeling in the third site.

The third site - I'm not sure of its name - was the best- according to me. We dropped in - it was the deepest site of all- and we were immediately in the midst of a school of coral zebrafish. The boatman ( Depp as Captain Jack must have taken inspiration from him for looks)  had dropped in bread crumbs which brought a lot of fish near the boat. There were several huge purple corals and a couple of divers as well. It looked like a desktop wallpaper to me - except for the fact that this was real and I was frisking about in the sea and not squatting in front of an eye-tiring lcd screen. Miss.Anonymous got into the water with a little bit of fuss but refused to get away from the boat. Some calming down and convincing and she let me take her further away. Bravo! She enjoyed the corals in the deeeee..eep though she still shivered every now and then at the depth. She also called out to Miss. Fitness-first to get in. Miss.Fit.. doubtfully wore her equipment (rented in vain) and called out to someone to come and help her in the water. I went to the boat. She reluctantly stepped on the ladder. First rung. I coaxed her. Second rung. Yay! More coaxing. Third rung. I pleaded her. Fourth rung. I fought against her will power to not get in the water. I seemed to lose out and called HTC to help me. Both of us hung onto Miss.Fit's legs. The boatman enjoyed the scene. Miss.Fit never let go of the fourth rung. It was the one aim of her life to not let go of it. No coaxing, no cajoling, no begging, no bad words could move her off the fourth rung. HTC and I were bad losers. We exited the scene, abusing Miss.Fit while she went back to her seat on the boat, triumphant. I snorkeled for some more time and then we were called back into the boat.

I chose to sit in a weird position on the ladder resting on the seat in the bow of the boat. I paid for my choice. We still wonder what induced our boatman to drive so rashly, dashing against the waves. We flew over the sea. And every drop was a pain in my head and ass. Salt water kept splashing onto my face and I had to keep making further choices between holding on to the railing or wiping the water out of my eyes or rubbing my sore ass or the head. I was worried if I would be tossed overboard. I also wonder what made the boatman drive less wildly later. I quickly shifted to a better position. The ride was then thoroughly enjoyable. He was very fast but not rash and that made a lot of difference. I missed my lil sis just then - she would love snorkeling too- and it would be fun to do it with her. When we reached our jetty after an hour, we wished that the ride could have been longer.

We gulped down the lunch hungrily. After a long bath, we settled on the lawn to play cards. The King learned to play 'Jam jam,enna jam,tea jam, enna tea etc' and enjoyed it. In the evening we played frisbee like the amateurs that we are. I missed learning tips and techniques from eskimuman - it was his frisbee that we were playing with. A hearty, clamorous dinner - the King kept hushing me down even when I was not talking. He gets so upset at noise. A looong dumb charades game in the room - when Miss.Anonymous got christened as 'Gujak' ( she owes the name to her multilingual prowess). The King turned out to be really good at acting out and guessing even in Tamil, which he claims to know better than all of us (!). He killed Tamil when he acted out 'dar' and 'muth' (in Hindi) for 'Dharmathin Thalaivan'. I was no less and killed Hindi in return several times. Prat, however, stole the show away by taking the pain(and giving some) to act out the whole cycle of every process she wished to convey. Miss.Fit never joined our childish games - her head was deep inside books all the time except when she would pop up and help us over a difficult clue. Happy sleep again after more pages of 'A passage to India' ( Kingly mokkai - 'If it's only a passage, why so many pages in the book?").

Day Three:
Lazy morning with a lonely walk down the beach with the latest addictive song playing over and over in my ears - more coral-picking and book-reading on the beach chair. Breakfast and lawn-lying while discussing the -to do- list for the day. An hour-long trek to a waterfalls - the directions to which Prat and King didn't want to find out - for the sake of an 'adventure'. It was an upward climb. Miss.Fit, HTC and I led the troupe which could hardly keep up with us. Lopsi called us 'Pei's'(Ghosts cos we glided fast before them) while the King decided that we were not girls (he did try to jog the last few meters to catch up with us - in vain ;) ). It was a mini waterfalls though the pit at its bottom was too deep and hence we ended waddling and playing in the pool.

Vikky.nesh got too bored of it and ventured to climb up a steep,narrow path beside the waterfalls. On his recommendation, King and I followed. It was really a beautiful place above the waterfalls where the creek winded its way into the forest, with huge rocks on either side. Cobwebs glistened between some rocks in the sunlight- the path was scarcely tread and that made it more fascinating. King returned to keep an eye over our bags and entered Bondhu into the tranquil scene. The remaining girls were still arguing whether to wear shoes and leave their bags or not before climbing up the steep path - much to the King's frustration. Bondhu was so thirsty for an adventure and Vikky.nesh accompanied her further up the creek. I lied down for a few joyful moments in the cold water of the creek and then went back to the waterfalls while the other girls climbed up finally. Bondhu returned and convinced all of us that the path up the creek will be a great adventure and thus we followed her. She was unstoppable - over the slippery rocks; Vikky.nesh followed. King and I had a contest to keep our shoes dry, out of the creek, as we jumped rock-to-rock. He was more successful than me- I was more careful and preferred putting my feet into the water to walking over big, green-coloured rocks.

The rest of the troupe stayed behind one particularly slippery place, cursing and pleading us to return - I transferred the blame (rightfully) on to Bondhu who was so fast and so determined to have her adventure - she was far ahead than the rest of us. There was a small, cave-like entrance from which the creek flowed down and Bondhu was so sure of going into it to 'explore' - I was just as sure to not go inside it. Thoughts of animals and snakes beside the water source had been lurking inside my head all the time and I had reached the limit of my 'daredevil'/'exploring the unknown' mode. We tamed and cured Bondhu of the adventurous spirit that had possessed her and she returned, sulking as we went back down the path, back to the waterfalls and then back on the road. The downhill stroll was far easier- we sang/whistled tunes for the others to guess the song it came from; clicked photos of our heads- each one's wet hair sported a different look; plucked mangoes and kicked stones downhill. The best lunch we had had so far in that place followed by an hour-long walk to a Turtle farm nearby. It was an American project and a sleepy American described about it in an interesting powerpoint presentation. It was a cute, little place where they protected the turtle eggs till they hatched and released the little ones in the same beach from where they had collected the eggs. The temperature at which the eggs were stored affected the gender ratio of the hatch lot - interesting.

We bathed in the sea. It was shallow for atleast a couple of hundred meters from the beach and hence there was a lot of space for us to fool around. Even Gujak and Miss.Fit enjoyed the water. Gujak stayed unaffected by the King's taunts that there could be a sudden precipitous drop anywhere in the shallow part and she could drown. The three 'swimmers' showed off their skills while the others tried to float above the salty water. 'Small boy' Vikky.nesh was the only brave and illustrious non-swimmer who could float. Prat and I piggybacked each other in turns - something that we can't do on the land. After and hour or two, we had dinner. Despite the King's constant complaint that we are too noisy, we were actually complimented for the same by our host - that we are a jolly lot and that she liked watching us have fun the way we did. More playing cards and dumb charades, before which Prat and I entertained the other girls with a dance performance that was recorded and is sure to go down in history as a severely over-acted version. We deserved rotten eggs and tomatoes but were greeted instead, with huge guffaws of laughter that shook the wooden house,according to the guys who were loitering on the lawn outside. More pages and happy sleep.

Day four:
Packing. Breakfast. Goodbyes. An hour-long wait at the Salang jetty where we were entertained by a couple of German kids who were fishing as well as by the beautiful patterns formed by the school of fish that refused to be baited by them.In Mersing, we emptied our wallets of whatever Malaysian currency it had, at Omar's gift shop - he was so gratified. Pitstop again at the Johor bahru Central Mall - we exchanged more dollars for ringgits - had a pizza dinner followed by an hour of shopping - to give time for the King as well as our Malay driver to break their Ramadan fasting for the day. Back in Singapore Woodlands checkpoint, Vikky.nesh and I had a doubt if the man standing before us in the queue was handicapped or not. Vikky's doubts were soon cleared and we were giggling like idiots.
In the van, Vikky.nesh thanked Prat for organizing the trip - she was slow to respond to it - she wondered if she deserved it as it took only a couple of mails to organize it all. The others assured her that she did deserve it and I had to thank her solemnly and cordially for changing my life's direction. Empty promises to upload the photos pretty soon - none of the buggers have done it yet (except HTC, of course). It was a trip that was much-needed and it did what we wanted it to - made us forget Sg and peehechdee. (The signboards on the road instructing us to 'drive safe' , 'have fun' etc brought back all the Sg-sick feeling flooding into me). Several voices bid me to write a post on the trip to mark it as important and thus I did - a low bow to the love and trust reposed in me ;).

The 8 folks I went with to Tioman - you are the best! :)

Sunday, July 10, 2011


Being past mid-year, I want to look back - with reference to a previous post. The biggest happening has been that I can swim quite well now!!! Yes, I WILL boast about it - I was one of those kids who was chased by the 'Swimming master' at school around the pool and tossed into the water. The swimming lessons were on Monday and I tried very hard to fall ill every Sunday night. I would look imploringly at the Doctor, trying to psych him with merely the power of my glance into giving a Med. Cert. pronouncing that swimming can kill me and thus bringing the ritualistic Monday's prey drive to an end. It never worked :(. I have had numerous sleepless Sunday nights. Despite that mortal fear of the watery depths, I surprised myself and the 'master' on the day of the very last lesson. Back at school in Madurai, swimming lessons were offered for the girls only till fifth grade - guys never had the restriction. The very thought that I might never get another chance to swim, zapped up the adrenaline and I did a perfect lap - the only time when I jumped into the pool before being pushed in ;).

I'm glad that the 'last day instinct' drove me to learn swimming at MIT. Now, with regular practice and tips from a good teacher, I CAN SWIM!!!! Swimming in the deeeeee..eeepp! :)

I was halfway through the Illiad in April. Got to resume the read. I am attempting 'Maakelara'. ;) Trying to do the Padmasana under water first ;) - the buoyant force makes it easy. The hula hoop, kavattai, dslr, cards and gifts are STILL on to-do.

Another minor thing to add - the QE is still on my head. I really need to push it off ASAP to make way for more things to add on to the to-do.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Comparing my first year-self and current-self - I bow down to you,Peehechdee. I lost it out to thee. From the carefree sight-seer and tourist, I am now transformed into a full-time, hassled Peehechdee stud. I stress 'full-time'.

Thanks to the over-booked microscopes. I prefer to use the night slots when there are lesser people around me to haggle for their slots and I have an undisturbed 11-hour period with the microscope.

Three supervisors. So subtle is the pulling in different directions that I never realize it until I'm fully through it, worn out.

Weekends come mid-week. Not coinciding with microscopy bookings.

Youtube movies, comics and novels to relax in between work- no more. With QE looming up, reading papers to 'relax' between experiments. AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!!! Pay-back time for all the procrastination aggregated from the past 2 years.

Prospective failure in the quals. Got plans for after. ;) Don't want to go down without a fight though!

The view - watching the sunrise , coffee-vending machine,  midnight Subs and Macs. Only a month more to break away from this routine I have- to my surprise- gotten accustomed to.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Avargal : brilliance from yesteryear

A favourite pastime is to scourge Youtube for full-length movies. Watching movies on youtube feels better and faster than searching for other online sources. And the watching is in bits and pieces over a couple of weeks or in a couple of days if it is gripping.

I stumbled upon Avargal (1977) , directed by the unrivaled K.B. The movie is a timeless classic. I watched the whole movie in one day - leaving it half-heartedly only for unpostponable jobs. The way the protaganist's past is unveiled in the beginning of the film is a poem in itself. The character sketch of Anu(Sujatha) is perfect; of Janardhan (Kamal) is damn lovable. All the characters seem realistic, except for Ramanathan's mother - THAT is utopian.. :-D

The songs are a part of the story too - made me pay a lot of attention to the beautiful lyrics (Kannadasan acc to google).

Check it out when you need less spice and more sense in a movie :

Friday, February 18, 2011

A stuttering king, a swan queen, 127 hours

18 Feb,2011

Morning blues. But then a Royal blue evening - with 'King's speech' and 'Black swan' back-to-back movies. What a day!

King's speech was light, funny, a little heartwarming with thoroughly enjoyable performances from everyone.

Black swan swept me away. Most of the scenes - I had to peep in through my fingers, ready to shut my eyes at the slightest terror. I was totally involved in the madness going on in the screen. I felt/thought nothing else. The movie grabbed and kept my attention throughout. A lot of times I regretted for having stayed to watch it. But then, at the end of the movie, I felt like I'd had an out-of-the-world experience. The theatre hall was fully packed. Noisy in the beginning, pin-drop silence during the movie, the audience remained in their seats for a minute after the end of the movie - dazed.

King's speech was like a ride on the merry-go-round. Black swan - was like the reverse bungee/ the extreme swing ride. I had felt reluctant to go for Black swan, had cursed myself when I was at the venue but at the end of it, felt it to be worth every cent that I had paid. Natalie Portman is the winner this year. Any bets on that one?

25 Feb,2011

Editing my previous post to include a note on 127 hours. I was able to sit through the movie only by comforting myself that- what I was watching is only a movie, that it is James Franco acting a part, that the hand jamming is only an illusion. Aron Ralston - will always inspire me from now on. I was able to relate to the protagonist's character and his emotions. That is what the movie intends to do - build the character up strong in the audience's mind - preparing them for the last 20 minutes. Those 20 mins - when I realized why this movie deserves the Oscar nomination. No, it was not an out-of-the world experience like Black Swan. But on exiting the theatre, I saw the world differently... ;) Cheesy but true.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Given that the world is coming to an end next year (Movie :2012), I have decided on a few things to do, wrap up, tie up all the loose ends, etc.... First things first. In the current mindset, I would love to give up the peehechdee. Unfortunately, I have my quals in May - I need to pass it if I need food and shelter for the rest of the year.

Second, take the max possible time off work to go home - after quals. This time, it is atleast a 6-month break between two visits to home, all due respects to the quals. Get quals over and I fly/flee off to Madurai!

Third, eat like the world is going to end ;) . All the dosais and chutneys and idlis and biriyanis. To hell with the waistline! :P

Fourth, swim across the deep end of the pool. Fifth, sing a perfect ninnukori varnam. Sixth, post all the unwritten/half-written cards, half-made gifts. Seventh, gift myself a dslr. Eighth, make some people happy. Ninth, relearn the Padmasana. Tenth, do a bungee jump. Eleventh, read The Illiad. Twelfth, master the hula hoop. Fifteenth, the kavattai (slingshot). Sixteenth, search for Noah. Seventeenth, help him with the ark. Eighteenth, get into it. I am nowhere near any loose ends.