Wrong place Wrong time

Ok..It has been quite few weeks since I updated the happenings around me.

The first and foremost that I want to share here is my Delhi trip fiasco. My dear husband is currently employed in Delhi and ever since I returned from that ice-cold foreign nation I didn’t get a chance to meet him. So we promptly planned for the trip on May end. On the clutch of curiosity, my hubby completely forgot the horrendous climate Delhi had at the moment. I being a total naïve to northern part of India packed my bags eagerly to enjoy the trip. In this whole mishap, the soul that suffered hard was my baby daughter.

One thing that Delhi made me realises is that, it is a pure bliss to spend summer in Chennai. Delhi made Chennai a safe heaven. On the first day evening, we went to India gate in the whopping 44-degree hotness and my poor daughter cupped her cheeks unable to cope up with the blazing temperature. We soon cancelled all our plans to visit the world famous tourist spots except for the wonder Tajmahal.

Yes we couldn’t cancel our trip to the world wonder mainly because my hubby already booked tickets and it was not possible to cancel them later. That’s how we landed on the world most beautiful place in the worst possible climate. I don’t want to go in detail on this disaster further…

Now, coming to reading I have been quite consumed by the series ‘The song of Ice and Fire’. This is one of the most brilliant stories I have read recently. This series is comprised of seven volumes and I am still at fourth. Next to Harry potter, this series has already gained a special place in my heart. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Well…this is for now.

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Something interesting

Even if you are least bit interested in reading, do check these links. It will entertain you.

Link 1

Link 2

Link 3

Even though, now trains are not my regular mode of transport, once it was. I used to travel endlessly to reach other end of city those days. With not many tools – like a mobile or mp3 player or an ipod – to entertain me, I longed for something to vanquish all the lonely hours before I am starved out of boredom.

It was only in those long train journeys, I met a bunch of girls who were so fascinated by Shidney Sheldon, Dan brown and other authors whose books in general will have a tag line “ From #1 New york times best selling author” . I used to see them discussing and exchanging the books they read. I had often noticed a gleam of most peculiar nature emerge on their face, whenever they discuss books . I was puzzled – or rather troubled- by greed for not having something and someone to debate like this.

One day a thought hit me like a bullet and the same evening I was in the second hand book shop near Moore market purchasing a battered copy of a novel “The Salamander” by Morris west for 20rs/-. My first novel ever! I have still have that book with me.

Gradually books gripped me. I became one of those characters in this post.

Now coming to Chennai local train readers, I am disappointed. I am referring same trains which once had me interested on books. I often travel in ladies compartment and from what I see, the passion for reading has been deeply dipped ever since everyone is occupied with that little monster “Mobile”. People prefer to utilize their train journeys on managing family problems via cell phones. If they lack in family problems, they get happy and hear songs in FM that is played amidst scores of ads.

The last time I saw someone reading a book in train was months back. He read “One night at the call center” by Chetan Bhagat.

Recently, in my office food court, I saw an elderly American lady reading in Amazon Kindle. Amazed by it, I was tempted to grab, to have a good look at the device and the book she was reading. But then, my friend soothed and reminded me that grabbing others reading device may not be a moral thing to do. Hence I suppressed the urge.

Having vented out all these, I want to end the post with the books I am reading now. One is “Education of a wandering man” by Louis L’amour. I came to know about this book here. Next is “Wodehouse on Wodehouse” by PG Wodehouse. Both are sort of auto biography. I am having a great time reading them

Singara Chennai

I am a traveler. For the past 3 years, I have been traveling 70 kilometers each working day.  I should not be confused with the people who can even watch vast empty lands with gleeful eyes, call themselves great travelers and write travelogues. No, I am not a Bill Bryson, rather different. Perhaps, I can be taken for the tired traveler who get down at Central bus stop after just been pick-pocketed, who deeply regrets that he has to stick to this blighted 1B bus, no matter how much he detest travelling and loosing his wallet in the rush. Just like him, it is not with the fascination to explore the world that I have been zooming along the city daily,  but merely because of the fate that is forced on me. Unfortunately, my office is constructed on other end of Chennai.

To travel 70 kms in Chennai is not easy. It requires lots of patience. Traffic signals are trauma inducers. Horns blowing drivers, who mistakes horns for frustration outlet, are sort of mindless zombies. To a person who travels amidst such suffering, sight seeing is the only way to ease the pain. However, if you look at the options for sight seeing, Chennai, once, had limited things to offer.

In the initial days, once I was out to travel, it was hard to see many good looking face. With Chennai’s heat setting ablaze, I could see either a helmet-headed or Churidar-dupatta-headed image whizzing past me.  Even four wheelers were not up to the mark, when it comes to amusement. Many of them had the shielded window  that made impossible to view anything beyond my own face’s reflection on their shining window.  Other options were signboards and posters adorned Main road walls. It was invariably the best entertainers once. It was only from those film posters , my general knowledge on cinemas and Chennai theatres improved considerably.

The other spot which initially held my attention was Marina beach. I have to daily cross the beautiful Marina to reach the other end of city. It always had something animating to offer. When the mornings were entertained by the middle age health conscious folks of Marina, the young love birds kept me amused when I returned back in the evening.

In spite of all these, slowly the beauty began to fade. After 2 years of ardent traveling, I was quite used to all these sights. Even the lovers of Marina couldn’t keep my attention.  If I happen to eye an couple in a Hero Honda, once glowed face of mine would just sigh and resign.  There were not much difference in the movie posters for the past few years except for the hero and heroine. The recent SURA poster is one best example. Gradually I started to sleep off while travelling and have been sincere in doing that .

Then one fine day everything was changed. The beauty began to blow back in. Chennai has something extremely fresh to offer this time. Those beautiful folk paintings. To the eyes which literally stares at laptop screen for the whole day, those fine looking pictures are like a glimpse to heaven.  I refuse to sleep in cab these days not wanting to miss the sight of them. Chennai, at some areas, looks like a art museum now. Did some one name this city as “Singara Chennai” ? , oh ! yes it is . …indeed….indeed.

To view some of these paintings, visit this lovely blog.

Here are some pictures from that blog.

A trip to temples

When the trip to temples was proposed in the dinning time, my hands most naturally went for the head, which in turn bowed down a bit. Despair danced on my face. I was rather rattled, to the core. For some reason, probably the effect of reading some obscure philosophical books, I stopped being religious for quite a while. That ‘quite a while’ accounts for 2 years. Hence when sudden announcement of family trip to a series of temple near Tirunelveli and the compulsion of my participation was put forth , I slowly coughed twice and raised my objection. I, in fact wanted to be a dove of peace and recommended my family superiors ‘Why can’t we go to Goa and pretend that temple is there’. The problem in being a women, especially working women, and raising objections against noble deeds such as visiting temples near Tirunelveli is that, the women under discussion will be judged as a object of loath and such object in general will be given lots of advice in the name of reformation. Though my heart was with Goa, I didn’t want to be that advice-needing-detestable-object in the family circle, so after some sappy talks I succumbed.

Thus our morning of march 13th was at Tirunelveli. The gist of this great trip is to visit the “Arunjunai Katta Ayyanar Thirukkovil” near Ammanpuram and another abridged version of this temple at Virudhunagar. ‘In order to make the trip more effective,’ suggested our elders, ‘on the way to the destined place we should visit many Vishnu temples’. Mark my word, these are places even Google will end up saying – ‘Your search didn’t match any documents ‘. How my relatives found them out ? that’s a topic that needs tedious research. My suspicion is on a local astrologer who is in good terms with my uncle’s family. Whatever.

Of course, temples are not boring as religion always does. Putting aside the agnostic side, I let my artistic eye to appreciate the beauty of marvelous art, which had made South Indian shrines so unique. Nevertheless, one cannot let artistic eye stretch out infinitely. When the dose of temples increased dramatically, the artistic gleam wore out gradually and I blinked like an stuffed frog. In the course of journey, those who had got the close up face shot of mine, would have sensed the severe strain replacing the usual exuberance. I saw the same strain in some of my cousins too. On the same time, at the other side, my aged superiors were at top form busy doing rituals and collecting prasadams with the eagerness of Olympic medalist collecting his gold. At the night of 13Mar I wished I should be spared from temples tomorrow at least.

The next day was at Virudhunagar. I know sun is hot, but somehow at Virdhunagar, the sun was at its hottest with the intention of baking us in those bare roads. Thank fully, fate let its helping hand in the form of my cousin. He suggested to visit Grizzled Squirrel Sanctuary near Srivilliputtur, a place cleverly planned to eliminate senior family folks . The end result, we cousins had our time. Of course the sun was hot, and squirrels especially the grizzled ones are not silly like us to wander at forest after lunching heavily. We spotted only a couple of deer and peacock in the 2 hour trekking. However, I enjoyed. With the restored mood, I even not hesitated to visit Srivilliputtur temple on the way back to hotel. With that our two day trip ended.

Man plans, God laughs

I read it in a book, if you want something you wish to happen in your life, all you have to do is sit and wish. The positive waves from your thinking will make whole universe conspire to carryout your wish and make you happy. This they mentioned as “Law of attraction”. Now, when I recall this law, I feel it is fundamentally flawed. My personal experience tells me , if I secretly wish something to happen, however silly the wish may be, the whole universe will make sure to conspire against me, making me wish that I shouldn’t have wished at first place. At the end, a whole lot of things which I don’t wish will crop up.

All I wished was, to be punctual at office by 9 am and be active in the project implementation at 9.30 am. Aspiring to hit office at 9am is a simple appeal and I hadn’t foreseen any practical threat to it. But I was cheated.

The dawn of 5th day of November was not like any other casual Chennai dawns. It was rather different. The grey sky welcomed the morning with heavy rain. Chennai was chill, quite unusually. The climate looked creepy but I consoled myself saying “It is alright. Pleasant climate”. I actively accomplished morning tasks and was soon ready to hop in to the company cab except that it didn’t come. Instead I got a call informing the cab delay. Again I sensed some sinister lurking around me , but I put a brave face and bore it. It happens, I told myself.

After 30 minutes delay, I stepped inside the cab still brooding and calculating the expected time to reach destination. I told my friend , who rather looked pleased on this delay, that I had to hit office doors before 9.30 am, otherwise a fiend in the form of my boss would nail me like a film poster in the street wall. Suddenly my cab driver jerked backwards and grinned.  A kind of grin, you don’t expect from anyone, especially on drivers.

If there exists mutual loathing between any two entities in the world, it is the heavy rain and Chennai roads. When our cab was set to crawl on the water, assuming under which could exist city roads, I started to pray seriously. It was only when we neared the basin bridge, I doubted the “Law of attraction”. I mean, it was the place where I grasped the eternal fact that whole universe was conspiring against me. Quite a lump portion of Chennai’s population were struck, or shall I say submerged, at that landmark. Word wars were wagged everywhere.  People were in the mood to fight and surely not in the aura to pave way for those who wish to attend project meetings at 930am. I first shuddered, then wondered why public were so keen on curbing my office going.  This hadn’t dampened my hope utterly, for I still prayed and insisted universe to instill my wish as stated in that spiritual book. Later it seemed, the universe got the wrong signal.

We managed to creep amidst the crowd, but we were not salvaged. At each traffic signal, there stood all means of transport with the mere intention of blocking me. I stopped sending positive hope to universe. There was no more hope. Reaching to office at 9.30am, then, was like beseeching India to hit 8 runs at last ball of last over at crucial cricket finals.  The drenched Kanden kadhali film poster reminded visions of me getting nailed by my project manager. I withdrew my attention to cab side mirror, where my driver flashed another grin, chewing a bubble gum. Then I understood the grin.

Man plans, God laughs.

‘44C’ – Broadway to I.O.C

Riding in packed Chennai bus is lot tougher than I thought. I have always been one of those reasonably privileged class, who used to go by cab or auto or train or other personal means of transport, who at the traffic signals coolly stare at the mobs of trapped people inside the Chennai city bus and would gasp “ Cha pavam” (Pity !) ” or words to that effect. I had traveled occasionally on city buses, not the usual over-crowded leaning sideways ones, rather on the buses with moderate mass and peaceful driver. Those journeys were not cosy, neither do haunting.

Recent events in my life imposed me to rely on this bus ‘44C’. It was a 1 hour remarkable journey along with infinite number of people in finite space. The bus was thronged at the terminal itself. In the subsequent stops, people who trusted the statement “When there is a will, there is a way”, found a way to shove them inside. I was not lucky to get a seat, neither do the people who got seated were lucky. I mean, One can hardly call the seated passengers as “Lucky”, if every stuff from standers were dumped in their lap and suffocated to death. Here, inside the bus, the pain was mutual and everybody endured it.

There is something I witnessed on the eyes of every resident on the bus, especially on the eyes of driver and conductor. It is the gleam of displeasure and drop of hatred. No one was particularly happy over the trip. I asked the conductor to give me a ticket by showing him 10 rupees note. I think that state of affairs had thrown him to deep distress. He was very upset, in fact angry. My 10 rupees note didn’t help him either. He looked at me sternly with every neck nerve of his straining to bust any time , and barked – What is this ? Eh ? What is this ? Can’t you get exact change (3 Rs 50 paise) for the ticket ? .The co-passengers cooled him down. At last I got my ticket.

Then the ride was adventurous. Amidst this crushing assemblage , I noticed some fascinating humans. The foremost being this big female, about some 170 pounds, who bumped on everyone around her without caring much on how she physically harmed others. Then this lean old lady, not so contented with conductor for not returning her balance cash 50 paise, accused him as “stealer and cheater”. Then this diplomatic disciplined gentleman, who pacified everyone whenever a verbal eruption spurted out. Then this bunch of school boys with their backs mounted by bags of size bigger than themselves, were constantly rebuked by others for pressing their boots on others naked feet. Then this middle aged women who frequently asked every seated passengers the same question that “when-will- you- get- down-so-I-can-sit-on-your-place”. Bunch of college dudes who found the foot-board fascinating , and few other blokes who crawled on bus top, were few others who earned my attention in the course of journey.

The audacious tip ended at last when I hopped out from the bus after an hour. I felt exactly like an knocked out boxing player.

On the way to Pothys

The train stopped at Mabalam Railway station. After me, shoving two ladies inside, and two ladies thrusting me outside, I jumped over the platform hearing a voice which betrayed it was not at all satisfied by the way I chose to land. The voice said – Enna ponnu ithu ippadi poguthu?. I didn’t stand back and reply. Soon some mountain sized females from the compartment landed on me not with any purposeful intention of killing me but just for the sake of getting down from the train. I moved to walk on…No I was moved.

I was moved near to stairway to get out from the station. The magical force behind me slowly pushed me up. I didn’t do anything except watching the progress I made on the stairs and feeling substantial number of feet under my high heels. I didn’t apologize. I also felt significant number of stained shoes and rude high heels over my foot and the sharp pain that followed. I didn’t yell. I stared at the people who started at me with an accusing eye – You are the one with high heels no? I didn’t reply “yes”. I went on.

I reached Ranganathan Street- Yes the very same street which is overly popular for the over population it attracts every day. I started to stroll staring everything and took few steps then I couldn’t move. It didn’t take few seconds to fathom the source of hindrance – a clumsy Saravana stores plastic cover which wrapped my feet with great affectionate. Before I could release that cunning cover with such tenderness I was warmly greeted by a woman – thallu ma! (Move I say!) I moved on only to bump on a middle-aged man, who from his piercing eyes seemed to have taken some special interest on the shirt displayed outside a showroom. I didn’t disturb his dilemma to buy that shirt, only to say “make way for others sir”. Instead I took the other gap which was sufficient for me to enter. Soon I was boorishly blocked by a boy who wants me to go with him to stitch salwar, even though I don’t have the cloth to stitch one. I excused politely and went ahead. All these time, though my mind was indifferent to all the interesting incidents that happened on the way, my eyes were busy with its work – Gazing.

After 40 minutes of tireless eternal pushing from Mambalam Railway station, crossing several Saravana stores and other stores which are not named Saravana, at last I reached Alayam of silk- The Pothys. The Pothys people, who seem to have known the hardship that had to be endured in accessing their stores, placed some over-make-up bearing girls dressed like medieval period queens on the entrance to entertain the crowd. On seeing them, for the first time since jumped out from the train, I laughed.

Advice to readers – “Leave pride, take patience when you go to Pothys via Ranganathan Street”,for you shall preserve the dignity then, otherwise you will end up busy with street fighting on the way which may be entertaining for you or others depending on the circumstances.

Image Courtesy here