Monday, January 31, 2005

Double Mazaa

Looks like a very good day today for me... Arvind asked me to do design for a new script that we need to develop for automating the testing process and he agreed to my design without any questions! Wow! It may sound silly for many, but for me this is the first time that a design by me was accepted without any modifications in the first shot itself... Arvind was confident that i could do the coding in a day.

And this script was the major work scheduled for this week. So if i finish it off by tomorrow or latest by wednesday, I am gonna be vetti for the rest of the week. Hurray! Leaving home as a happy person.


Happy B'day Gorgeous!

Important lesson in life: Dont think too much about the past. If you do, then your present and future becomes a big ?... I dont know, this is something have to learn fast.. Sometimes, I think too much about my past, the happy memories of college life, sad feelings when i had disturbed a few, a lot, I dont know, I have to get out of this vicious circle somehow!

Anyway, yesterday(actually from day before yesterday night), had a visitor at RSAS HQ. Sundi was there. went to another enthu filled, illogical, tam movie: Thirupaachi. Typical Vijay stuff. go there with your brain kept inside a locker room, enjoy it, come back, and take your brain out of the locker room. Important thing to note: the vulgarity in the lyrics of the tam songs these days, its increasing like a tsunami wave! Not that i dont enjoy it :P, but dont know if it shud be OK with other audience! Hmm. So Safin has won the Aus Open title. Good. I dont know! Somehow, i dont seem to like Hewitt, for no reason! So am happy at the result...

Today, seems like Preity Zinta's birthday today. Was watching Soldier on the TV during lunch and lotsa SMSes kept pouring in for the beautiful woman.. Dont know if you like this one or not, this was one guy wishing her: 'Preity, know whats the difference between smile and your face? Smile looks good when its there on your face. But, your face looks good even without a smile!". Wow! Look at these fans! How do they think of stuff like these!? My brother is yet another hard core fan of her, his room at the college hostel, full of her posters. So, here is me wishing her Happy Birthday: "Preity, hum apne Dil Se kahte hain: Aapka Kya Kehna! Chori Chori Chupke Chupke aap hazaaron ke dil me aa gaye. Aapko Har Dil Jo Pyar Karega, woh hamesha aapko bahuth kush dekhna chaaahega. Happy Birthday Preity. Keep entertaining us with lotsa hit films and also with that gorgeous smile of yours"

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Return of the Empress...

Another Holiday! And another day at work... Woke up to a very good news: Return of Empress Serena to the tennis arena with a bang! Yes, she has won the Aus Open title.. actually switched on the TV when it was the third set and was surprised that it had gone into three sets.. i thot she wud win it hands down. later found that she had a back problem and had to be treated on court.. so that was what made her lose a set. scoreline: 2-6 6-3 6-0.

Had some training stuff to do at work and it all went fine.. Then, had a very fruitful discussion with a friend of mine for little more than two hours on IM. The discussion was mainly on my future plans and she had very good advices to offer...Feeling lot better now... Actually she was about to leave when it was 1:57 minutes of chat, for she had a dinner treat in the night.. I made her wait for atleast 3 more minutes so that we can celebrate 2 hrs of continuos chat :).. Yeah it sounds funny.. Long time since i chatted with someone for such a long time continuously and it was great...

Oops. Forgot that i came to office to prepare and send a report... Have to go back to it.. Bye son, catch u later...

Friday, January 28, 2005

Disappointment and day of 'upsets'

Nah. Nah... Not talking abt me here.I should say I am a die-hard Serena Williams fan, but somehow yesterday wanted Sharapova to win. Dont know why!? First set, was "set of unforced errors" from serena. she didnt play the way she wud normally be.. she gave it all away to the russian. second set...sharapova was again up and serena had a very bad line call when he was having a break point on maria's serve. the linesman initially moved his hands to signal 'out' then signalled 'in'. The 'chair' wud have seen it clearly, but no overrule.. There had been so many errors from the linesmen at this Aus open:like the other day during Hewitt vs Nalbandian clash. Then i thought, if justice had to be done for this blunder, serena shud win this set. and not only she won the set, but also the match. 2-6 7-5 8-6.. Incredible fightback. the russian had 3 match points on her serve and she cudnt convert them.

But, the biggest upset for me that day was roger losing to safin: 5-7 6-4 5-7 7-6 9-7 in a 4.30 hrs struggle. i wanted roger to complete the grand slam this year, so this was a big disappointment.. it was the perfect birthday present for safin, though. he plays hewitt now in the final.. shud be much easier for safin to beat hewitt. lets see. on the women's side: serena vs davenport... I bet, serena would demolish davenport like she did to mauresmo, in the QF.. not more than 5 games shes gonna lose in the final.. lets see what happens!

For me, it has been the same old 'work and home' week. played baddy after a long time and played it pretty badly.. looking out for any baddy court nearby, so that can play atleast in the weekend.
lets see...

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Of kitchen sink and drain pipe...

Hmm. 5 days have gone past.. Weekend was good. Saw a very good 'tamil' movie after a long time on saturday. KAADHAL, which translates to 'Love' in English, was very much different. It was all natural, logical, and there was no stuffed-in comedy. All the four of us at RSAS loved it while watching at our Home Theater aka laptop for other people. Sunday, saw 'Mystic River'.. Didnt find anything great about the picture. Cant say extra ordinary performances from Sean Penn or Tim Robbins to bag Oscars! Yesterday nominations were out for this year's awards too! Lets see what happens this time.

Apart from Oscars, Australian Open is keeping me busy these days. Cmon, King Roger. You have 2 more matches to another Grand Slam. Sincerely pray Roger makes a Grand Slam sweep this year. Sharapova is at threatening best. Lets see what happens against Serena in the semis.. Monday was spent mostly outside office, doing 'Tax Saving Measures'..Deadline was nearing for that... Yesterday had a guest at home. Mama had come from Kochi for a meeting which got postponed! Members of RSAS were giving company to him at different time periods all through the day..

Last five days, it was time for philosophies and advices too. Learnt the important funda of 'Kitchen sink and Drain pipe' which in simple terms for you jike would be: I have to be a gud dad for you and shud be telling gud gud stuff instead of cribbing all the time. Since i liked this funda and respect the person who adviced me abt this to me a lot, lemme give it a best shot. At times, i cant avoid, like one more comment today from Ashish who sits next to me and today being a holiday and seeing me at work he commented: "What are you doing today here!? I cant see you here on normal working days! How cum u r here on a holiday!?" ... Now, i am just writing these golden words here 'cos i wud come back to it may be years later, think abt it and laugh/cry abt it.. Not sure, how the emotion would be that day...

Another gud stuff that happened was, i had a long session with another friend of mine and the topic of discussion was on life, happiness in life and stuff like that... Shud say am feeling better after that discussion.. May be gud times are ahead for me....

Friday, January 21, 2005

Strange things happen....

Ashok always tells this 'fact': "I dont do anywork seriously unless the deadline is near". Is it the way most of us operate!?

It was a very bad day to start with.. Some communal protest happened. On my way to work, i saw buses lined up in a queue with pieces of broken glasses all over.. It was like school kids standing in a Q with a uniform.. How good/bad the analogy!? It got worse as i came near my office.. Scores of policemen all around the place.. What the hell is going on? I wasnt expecting any mail asking me to work on something: Arvind had said all of it yesterday in the call... But, as always, when you least expect something, thats when something shows up... Mail from Suman: These are the files you have to prepare and these are the testing you have to do and we want it done by today... Boss! Whats this? Whats happening!? I cant complain, can I? Have to obey.. So i started doing something which i really didnt wanna do... As i was doing it, there came the mail from HR: "Protest may get even ugly in the evening.. Already many parts of the city are blocked.. Please plan to go home early today" What a nice mail on a Friday afternoon!? What else can you expect? But, what abt the deadline? Arvind would kill me if i dont do it... Already there were other 'boring' stuff which I had been postponing all these days and i dont wanna add one more to the list...

Thats it. My mind is made up.. Whether i like it or not, "I" have to do it.. So somehow, i pull all my energy and start working.. One thing, i noticed with me is its always the "starting problem" that troubles me.. Once i start, i do continue till : a)its over.... b)have reached a point from which i have no clue on what to do next...So i never noticed the time turning into 8 PM and bravo: the whole day i didnt chat a single word... Time for me to call arvind... I have some update for him atleast.. he asks about all the pending stuff and i tell him: Yeah, arvind. I know..anyway am gonna come the next 2 days, thought its a weekend.. so shall complete it...

I dont know.. I got the "josh" tonight and since talking to him, i have been sitting before the comp... Now its like 3 AM and still the enthu is there.. The thing is someone else had occupied the server when i had my sandwich break at 2 AM and i am not able to connect :(.. So, where do i hide this "josh" guy whos there inside me, huh!? If i am this guy all the time, there wont be any complaints in life and there wont be any posts like the previous one!!!!


Thursday, January 20, 2005

Serious Restrictions!

Remarked Indy: "Everybody goes home for lunch from the office. You are the only person who comes to office for the sake of lunch". And i laughed at it with her. What she is saying reflects what my life "truly" is. Look at me! What have I done with the "only" life i have been given to live with. Totally spoiled it.. There is no aim/goal and i dont know where am currently heading to. If i think on it, it scares me. Even if i see at it superficially also, everything sucks with me! Nothing is OK with me: Be it personal life or professional life. My parents are tired at me. How many times they would have told me to be serious in life and try to do something useful in life! Never paid any sorta attention to it. To tell you the fact, jike, they are not worried abt my younger brother at all. But they too are scared at what am gonna do in life!

If i look at it professionally: look at me. i have no work to do. even if there is something to do also, it is the most boring stuff you can imagine in this world. what do i do? how many days do i have to live like this...? Time is running like an Olympic 100 m race and it wont be too long b4 i realise that i am old enuf and i cant do anything!

This has to change. I know i can do anything in this world if i wish to. But the thing is: I dont put any sorta effort and i am too too lazy. I have been living a life where i had been thinking abt other people, what their problems are and what can i do to solve it. This is gr8, i mean, i like it, and thats why i do it. But, what i have been forgetting is that "i" too have a life.."I" too have to prosper in life... So, the deal jike is this: From now onwards, everyday when i go to bed, i have to sleep with the satisfaction that i have done something useful today.. I have to have set goals and everyday i have to feel that i have worked something towards the goal. So, no unnecessary stuff in office from now like useless browsing for a very long time and i have realised, i spend too much time in chatting. So no YM, no MSN, and no other forms of chatting till atleast say, 8 in the night.(Cmon, i cant stay aloof from my friends!...) And no TV at home.. Avoid it as much as possible. Its killing your valuable time. Also, dont sleep like a pig for 8-9 hrs. 6 is more than enuf at this age for you...

Lets get serious and do some useful stuff in life. I have tried and failed at this so many times, but not this time.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Life beyond .C"OM" (Part 3)

It was around 9 AM when i got up. Everyone else was out of the bed already and i got up at the right time to talk to santosh. he had reached his school and his exam was also over... Poor guy.. he shud be missing kochi a lot... The day after Saasthapreethi is Sooryanaarayanapreethi, i was told. There would be prayer in the morning and then again we wud have lunch at the temple.

After talking to santosh, did the daily routines and got ready for the puja today... Today i found the place straight opposite to saastha inside the kitchen we have at the temple. Straight view of whats happening without any hindrance. Saw the abhishekham and deepa aaradhanai.Also, saastha who was taken out of the special room, was now back there. He wont come out for one year now! Then, of course was the time for the lunch. Today's lunch was too too good. especially the payasam. Remarked mami: "nowhere in the whole world you would get payasam like what you get in kochi". true.. the taste was so so good and when its served hot, nothing like it. I had 3 rounds of it before i finally got up.

The effect of such a good food was instantaneous. I slept today in the afternoon for more than two hours... When i got up, i had to face it... I had to leave kochi that night..Though i dont wanna do it, I have to. I started packing my things making sure that i dont miss anything there.(last time left a blue jeans :).. )mama told me that tonight there would be auction in the temple and they would be auctioning the unused stuff from the fest and there would be huge demand and people would be quoting huge prices. Materials which were bought for 100s would get sold in 1000s. he said santosh never misses it even if he has any exam the next day.. Poor dad... his heart wants santosh there, but he had to send him to school. Thats how life is...

vinish told me that they have a paanduranga temple there and they have a bhajan there starting in the evening. he asked me to be there so that i could listen to atleast few songs before i leave.. I said ok and went along with him. Had a nice darshan of the lord and unfortunately the bhajan was getting delayed and i had to leave before hearing any song. So came back home. mami asked me if i had been to the temple. I said "No". She asked me to say goodbye to saastha just before i leave from kochi.mama also wanted me to show the auction. So we both went to the temple and unfortunately the auction did not start. But i prayed to saastha and later i found sreeram there in the temple. and what was he doing? Cleaning and disposing stuff from the kitchen... Oh God, cant i be like him? So said goodbye to him too... Told mami that i bid farewell to two VIPs in the temple.. she was getting ready for the bhajan too.. So finally, said Bye to mama and mami and fortunately there was no auto strike this time. Got an auto just outside thekkemadom. mama told the auto driver the place to drop me and he told me how much to pay the person. So finally, left them there and was on my way back... The auto driver on the way took time to fill petrol and check his gas.. so i got delayed by 10 mins or so. meanwhile mama messaged me whether i have reached the boarding place, and when i said No, he got worried.

Finally, reached my borading place on time. mama was happy that i reached on time and wished me happy journey. the auction had now started.. so i sit in the bus thinking about the three wonderful days of my life and guess what movie they play in the bus? 'Manmadhan'. I didnt tell you, jike.. santosh is a big simbhu fan now and it was simbhu's movie they were showing... :)...The bus reached blore the next morning on time. called up mama and told him that i arrived safely.. Hmm.. now what? back to the same old office.. When i go back to work, see hell lot of e-mails from Arvind staring at me... Yeah, i know Arvind. PSR testing is gonna start. The deadline is next week and we have lots of things to work on.. So am back to my .COM life again.. Its gonna be a long time before i get a break out of it... But these three days at Kochi, i would never forget in my life.. It has left me with lotsa sweet memories. Let me leave you jike, with this song:

Yeh jeevan dil jaane, dariya ka hai paani
Paani tho beh jaaye, baakhi kya reh jaaye

Yaadein... Yaadein...Yaadein...Yaadein...

Life beyond .C"OM" (Part 2)

Vinish? What sort of name is it? And what does it mean? I was curious to know and i asked him. The story behind the name goes like this. his grandfather's full name was V.N.Subramanian and in short he was known to Kochi as V.N.S. So in memory of his grandfather, they have modified V.N.S and named him as Vinish. Official records state his name as Subramanian, though! (Oh, my God! One more!). Vinish explained how children are named in the family as such. If you are the first son, then you get the grandfather's name from your father's side and the second son, gets your mom's father's name. Now that explains everything wrt to both the Subramanian's and Krishnan. So, vinish is doing his Ph.D here at Bangalore, is also associated with various other spiritual activites and in fact hes known as "Krishna Das" in his spiritual circle.

So after the dinner, we both went home and took the books which Vinish's org has published. The money that comes out of it goes to tsunami victims. He has sold almost 1000 books so far and he had got some books here to generate funds for the relief. He and mama told me that the night b4 Saasthapreethi, guys have lots of work at the temple: ranging from cutting the vegetables, cleaning the utensils for cooking, cleaning the temple as such and decorating the temple. I was told the activity goes on till 2 or 3 in the night.. I didnt wanna miss anypart of the fest and I was ready to go back to the temple anytime now.. As myself and vinish were distributing the book on 'professional ethics' at a home, we heard the sound of crackers. mama told me that the cracker sound is the signal that dinner is over and we are ready to start the night's work.

Vinish is an amazing person with amazing memory power. Seems hes coming to Kochi after 10 years and he seems to be remember each and every person in the street, their sons/daughters, grandsons/granddaughters! Man, its too tough. He remembers all the shops, schools, streets. You name it and he remembers it... Whenever he sees someone, he always goes to them and enquires abt how they are, hows their health etc.. He is also a very good singer, mind you! Since this was a guys-only activity, mami had gone to bed... She has a busy day ahead. And the house keys, we were told would be there with Franklin, the watchman for the street. Vinish told me that they didnt have a watchman before and they had appointed one apparently after some theft... Mami told me how nice person their watchman is. The setup was such that whenever we needed to enter the house, we get the keys from franklin, and give it back to him once we are done with the work inside and when we are going out.

I asked vinish why are we having this festival in the first place? Whats the significance? The story he told me goes like this: "Seems there was a Yakshi [Jike, think of yakshi as some bad omen] and she was troubling the people of Thekkethalam... Seems saastha controlled her and tied her with string and after controlling the yakshi, he took the form of Vibhudhi [holy ash] and went inside a cup. The cup with the vibudhi inside it, is still there in a seperate room of a temple and this room is opened only once per year, that is on the day of Saasthapreethi, and puja is done to this form of saastha on that particular day. The festival, think of it as we thanking saastha for all the good he hass done to us and praying for a better future too".

I had the chance to go inside this room where He is kept for the whole of the year. Now, He was taken out and was kept outside in the puja area. Songs and hymns were sung and the night-duty also started. First, all of us, took out all the vegetables that are gonna be used tomorrow from the store room and they were all segregated. Then, people started cutting them. I didnt wanna sit idle there. So myself and vinish, got the keys from franklin,went home and got some knives and started cutting vegetables. On the other side, Sreeram and Co were cleaning the utensils that would be used for cooking. On one more side, guys were making Thoranams that would be used to decorate the temple. On one more side, guys were cleaning the doors that lead to saastha. Inside a room, kids were packing the prasadams that would be given to all the devotees who wud be visiting the temple tomorrow. As i was cutting the vegetables and watching all these activities, remarked an old man to me: "Nowhere in this world, would you be finding people working together like this for a festival". True sir, very much true! Thats what makes Thekkemadom special.

As this was going on, vinish also introduced the people out there to me one by one... Tea was served to all of us working out there, so that we are energised and dont fall asleep :) ... As it struck 12.30 in the night, we were all done with the cutting of vegetables, but other work was going on. I asked sreeram:
Me: How long would this work go on?
S: Upto 2 or even 3..
Me: When wud the function start then?
S: Around 5 or 6 in the morning.
Me: Then, wont you be missing it all if you sleep after 3?
S: Yeah, but I always get up late in the morning. So it should be fine...
Me: I am leaving... So is vinish... we have to get up early, you see...

The thing I have noticed with sreeram and also his father for that matter is that they are silent workers.. They always would be doing some work or other, whether you are doing or not! So we both came back after the night's work.. My cracked heels wasnt giving me sleep for sometime and then I fell asleep.Got up at around 7 AM i guess.. sreeram actually asked me the next day if both of us got up early and went to temple.. No! Dont you know we wanted to sleep and that was just a reason to leave :).. Actually not! I didnt get sleep for quiet some time and so couldnt get up early.

This time after taking bath, i tied the dhothi myself, hurray! (there was no santosh, so had to do it all myself) and went to the temple. Was told that the first main part of the function was the abhishekam to be done to the yakshi. they call it kaavu (guess thats what its mallu for a forest, forgive me if am wrong).. The place where the idol of yakshi is there is surrounded by trees and was told that we even have snakes there! So the abhishekam went on well. It was also done to the trees surrounding her.. After this was over, we came back home for breakfast. After that we all waited for the decorated elephant to enter the street and leave.

Once the elephant went back, went back to temple again.. periappa was saying now we wud have Thullal. what is that? vinish asked me to see it all for myself.. he even asked me if i wud get scared easily or not? why? whats gonna happen now? Ssssshhhh... wait and see....So saastha was decorated well and we all were sitting there... certain group of people had come(was told they were from bangalore too) and were sitting close to Him.. Chanting and singing started... People who were sitting close to Him then started singing and these songs were sorta different. I mean the tone and the rhythm were different from the normal songs.. As this was going on, suddenly an elderly person started behaving strangely... He started shouting, stamping the floors, started moving side-to-side and then shouting and making sounds he started moving towards Him and went there and started crying, praying... Then i understood, whats happening out there and what Thullal meant...Some spirit has taken over him and the people who were sitting near saastha were controlling the spirit.. They applied the vibhudhi and made him calm down.

Then one after another, different type of spirit seem to have come inside various people. This i say by the way in which they behaved differently.Though i didnt notice it now, seems like the spirit of saastha also comes inside one of the persons sitting close to Him and he was the person whos controlling the other spirits coming towards saastha. vinish was explaining me that the spirit always comes inside people of some particular family and this has been going on from one generation of the family to other. Also, i noticed that, the spirit seems to come inside only men and not woman! So, aftet Thullal was over, we had deepa araadhanai and neyveidhyam for saastha. Then, the person inside whom the spirit of saastha had come touches the pile of plantain leaves kept there and after that only the lunch is served. i was also told that place where payasam is cooked was chosen so that it is straight oppsite to Him and hence neyveidhyam can be performed easily.

It was lunch time and we had magnificient lunch at the temple.. Gives you a lot of pleasure to eat, right, when you know that you are one of the perrsons who had cut the vegetables for the lunch ? And there was a very very huge turnout today for lunch.. And you should see kids of 5 or 6 years carrying jugs of water with them crying, "Vellam.. Vellam". Even they want to be a part of it, isnt it? This i have noticed so many times in Thekkemadom. Whatever good stuff the elders do, they pass it on to the kids: Even when these guys play, they also include kids, atleast as a Joker, so that the legacy continues!

After lunch what? Of course, people would like to take a nap after such a great lunch with so many varieties of food. mama, periappa and vinish all went to sleep. mami asked me to wake her up in 30 mins. I was happy to get the good old job which i used to do at college: waking up other people. People used to leave note at my hostel room with the time i had to wake them up.. Anyway, i was not feeling like sleeping and asked her to give the photograph collection she has at home.. I was going through mama and mami's snaps in hyde, santosh's poonal snaps, Big B's poonal snaps(Why am i still referring to him as Big B? Hey, jike, lemme introduce the most important person in my life, the person without whom this whole Kochi episode wont be possible at all... Jike, put your hands and welcome Subbu...), subbu's BITS snaps, the cutting from various newspaper which had the news of him standing first in the state in his class 12. The collection even had a telegram from the Kerala Education Minister congragulating him on this achievement(Man,am living in the house of a VIP)... By this time, mami had got up and was working on the Kolam. Kolam, for you jike, is what women put and decorate in the space in front of the house with. And even this had to be different for Saasthapreethi. Morning kolam was in the shape of '#' and now the kolam was put specifically for 'Vanji Paatu'. The myth goes like saastha would go in a ship in the evening and so the kolam should reflect that and hence women in the street put kolam in the form of a ship.. Mallu, seems Vanji stands for ship... Now, mami noticed the cracks on my heels and told me that people in kochi never have cracks on their heels. Seems like whenever they get these cracks, they go and rub their heels against a rough surface(like the stone thats used for washing clothes). she asked me to do the same. I tried. but got immense pain and so left it as it is...But now, have been doing it continuosly for some days and i could see some difference. pain has reduced and i am able to sleep better in the night. this was the same treatment which my thatha had also suggested and it seems to be paying off ....

Women dont seem to have any rest on Saasthapreethi. If you have noticed, all the activities had been done by Men.. There was never a women intervention. If you think jike, that Saasthapreethi doesnt have anything to do with women, then you are wrong. Now, we have Kummi coming up. Kummi: exclusively wor women, where they go around a lighted lamp, singing, clapping their hands and dancing...One of the different ways in which you can show your Bhakthi towards Him.. Since vinish was a good singer, myself and vinish left to temple with mami and this time it was filled with 90% ladies. I met an elderly lady, whom vinish introduced to me as the leader of their ladies wing and she is also the main singer of the ladies group. Microphone arrived and she started singing. She was singing the story of the birth of saastha. Other ladies started repeating whatever she sang and also started doing kummi. kummi, mind you can done at diiferent pace depending upon the pace in which the singer sings the song. So the singer controls it all. Since it was difficult for this elderly woman to look at the book, concentrate on the thaalam, sing and also to hold the microphone, i was sitting beside her and I was holding the microphone for her to sing.. (After the kummi was over she told me this: "The women sitting next to me asked whether you were my grandson and I said Yes. So who are you actually?"... Then i explained her, who i was and where i came from. Got a nice paati though).. Among the ladies who were doing the kummi, mami was fabulous.. She remarked to me and to vinish after the kummi: "See, i could do the kummi non-stop with this body of mine while others took break in the middle".. She was referring to the fact that she was little fat.. One more old lady, who according to me was the best among the ladies who did kummi, came over to me smiling and said:"This is nothing..You should have seen me doing it some years back.. I was even better then.. Now since I have become old, am not able to do it like the way i used to do it b4"... Look at these ladies... The fact that they are old, or look little fat doesnt matter to them at all... Its the devotion to the lord thats important to them...It was almost 7 PM and men started coming to the temple and started complaining to the ladies that their time is up and the men have to start their sahasranaamam. So the ladies shifted the place to another area and this time did Edhir Kummi, by which what i mean jike, is two ladies doing it at a time.. Now, vinish was the singer and the ladies were dancing to the song he was singing...And what do we see? Like young guys who follow what the elders do, now kids who are girls start doing kummi seeing what their moms/aunts/grandmoms do!

After the kummi was over, the next thing that was happening was the breaking of coconuts which were offered to saastha. Even i broke some... This was the most dangerous snap that i have taken on this Kochi trip...i then got the coconut as prasadam back home.. mami was remarking that santosh always brings home a huge load of broken coconuts that it really becomes difficult for her to manage with those! Now, we were all waiting for the arrival of the elephant again.. I was having my dinner at home when the sound of music announced the arrival of the elephant carrying saastha. the music came from the Kottu, from the instruments that are standard to kerala, the same instruments that we see in TV or in movies whenever an elephant comes out for procession. The thing is that in the group of musicians who are playing, only 1 or 2 are the professionals. What amazes you is the rest of them are the guys from Thekkemadom who match the experrt with everything the expert plays.Not an easy stuff at all..! mami was saying that these guys go around to many other streets apart from ours and the group again consists of youth, kids and old men..And apart from guys who are playing the music, there are also guys who are dancing and appreciating the tunes being played..The ritual now, is that of Padi Alathal.. What i mean by that is we give Nel (rice) as offering to the elephant thats carrying saastha.. The elephant stops before everyhouse and takes the offering. After the elephant reaches the end of the street and now that everyone has done with the offering(this actually is confirmed), saastha is taken from the top of the elephant and now is the time for Vanji Paatu as i said before.. It is imagined that saastha is going on a ship, but actually two guys carry Him now.. Before Him, there are men who are singing the Vanji Paatu. Cant u imagine fishermen/boatmen singing when they are on a boat? Similar to that men sing song in praise of Him here. The song was totally in mallu and what i could remember out of it is : "Thai thathha thigathithha thiga dhithai thaga thai thai tha"(forgive me if am wrong..).. Now saastha go backs to the temple for the climax of Saasthapreethi..

We go back to the temple and men and women have already assembled there and they are all singing in praise of Him. I see the same group from blore there and they take over the singing now. I was sitting at a place from where i can comfortably see whats happening around there. Suddenly the spirit of saastha seems to enter one of the persons sitting over there. Similarly the spirit of the Yakshi comes inside another person and we again see the happenings of Thullal in the afternoon. After all the spirits have been pacified by saastha, the persons on whom the spirits of saastha and the yakshi have come are taken around the temple. Abhisekham is now done for them and after that they are taken around the temple again and this time all the men and women who have come to the temple do a namaskaaram at the feet of saastha and take the vibhudhi prasadam. For few people saastha says something personal in their ears and asks them to do something in the future fot their well-being. When i did the namaskaaram, i wasnt told anything though.

So when all this was going on, sreeram was there sitting at one side of the temple and with what me and vinish observed, he was literally falling down asleep. I asked him why dont you go home and sleep!? Reply: Smile and he said they would serve appam in the end and he is waiting to eat it :) .. I can imagine, there would be some pending job and hes waiting there to do it.. Just as i was thinking abt this, few guys came and called him. Now i know.. he goes there and holds these people who are still shivering and shaking from falling down bcos the spirit is making them shake and shiver... Finally after every person has done the namaskaaram, the spirit finally left those people.. We had a deepa araadhanai and yes, appam was served along with bananas.. Appam was made wonderfully well and me, mami and vinish were all in praise of it..So, when this was all over and by the time we came back home and slept it was 3.30 in the morning... Never in my life have i stayed awake for a festival, like this one... This one indeed has been so so special..

Life beyond .C"OM" (Part 1)

The bus to Kochi started late by 30 min.. I called up mami and was asked to take an auto from Jos Junction to Mattancherry. "Be careful.. Not more than 70 rupees", I was told. I had my dinner packed from Dell. Veg Burger and Fruit Bowl. As i was having my dinner, i just realised that its an AC bus which I have boarded. Bangalore cold has already done enough to my heels. The cracks on the heels have already been giving me sleepless nights for some time now. Immense Pain! One more sleepless night, huh? The DVD player started playing and I was watching Mallu songs, with 80% of the lyrics, barely I could understand... The video was played for more than 2 hrs! Cmon guys, already something is gonna spoil my sleep! Dont add something more to it! Anyway, they gave all of us a shawl and it was very much soothing.. Somehow, I didnt feel any pain on my heels that night and I slept properly and continously after a long time..

Got up at around 7 AM. I was told the bus would reach Ernakulam by this time, but it didnt.. Was stopping at every possible stop! Shit! When am i gonna reach Kochi? Was getting irritated and finally reached Kochi at around 8. Mama asked me to call me up as soon as i get down the bus so that he can tell the auto-driver the route.. I did the same.. There were lot of autos and not even a single person was willing to take me in!? Huh? whats with this? Mama, whats happening here? He asked me to wait and said that i would be picked up in 15-20 min.. I told him, I was standing near 'Woodlands' and I started waiting.. Was 8.30 and no signs of nobody coming! Then came the Kinteic Honda.. The familiar scooter and the very familiar face. The first person(familiar person i mean) whom I saw just now gave me indications of how things are gonna be for the next three days! I was standing on the opposite side of 'Woodlands' and he was coming on the other side. He didnt spot me though I spotted him instantaneously... He was searching for me all over there, still didnt spot me! He lifted his cell phone and started making call to someone.. I thought the call would come to me and was looking at my cell, but no it was not to me ! "Mama, woodlands dhaane!? Inga Avanai Kaanallai". Just as he was giving the news of me not there to Mama, he looked around and I was waving my hands all over the place.. And then, that majestic smile!

How are you Sreeram? More than 1 year and still the same Sreeram. I was happy that I saw him first than any other person there.. I mean, there are certain people, who leave ever lasting impression(good one, i mean) within very less time you have been with them and hes one among those.. Everyone in Thekkemadom loves him and why not!? Where can you find such a soft-spoken, helping, caring, kind.. ok, am stopping the adjectives here... Jike, hes one of the persons whom you have to meet in your life. So on my way to Thekkemadom I was confirming the route with him: MG Road, exit it and you enter the Kochi Shipyard, exit it and you get on to the first bridge, exit it and after sometime travelling with the railway track on the side, the second bridge and exit it and travel through a zig-zag route(which i can hardly remmeber) and you hit Mattancherry. I saw the Palace Road and told him, "I know the route from now onwards!" Reply : smile... And it seems there was an auto strike that day in that particular area! Thank you very much, auto-stike! Asked him why he hasnt got ready for Pongal yet... He said that he just got up and when was having coffee, mama called him up and asked to pick me up and so he didnt have time! Typical sreeram stuff!

So finally I entered Thekkemadom.. Said my morning wish to his father, then on my way to VI/1736...Enter it and there was tharpanam going on in the hall and i saw one more elderly person with mama doing it... Didnt disturb them. Crossed the hall and there were three enthusiastic people waiting in the kitchen for me: Mami, Santosh(these 2 i know) and i was introduced to the third person as Vinish(forgive me if have spelled it wrong :) )...He was Santosh's cousin. Santosh, btw, jike is mami's second son.. My lover boy, doin his 12th class in TN.. Vinish, btw, seems is studying in blore, wow, and is doing his PhD there..

This was the day am gonna spend with Santosh. He was the first one now to acknoedge the fact that my tummy has reduced a lot. Yipeeeee! So we were talking abt my Gym adventures, btw, and also abt my ill-fate with girls i get close to :(... So, it was Pongal and the atmosphere was great. I got myself ready... We all had bit of pongal and vada and left for the temple. The elderly person whom i mentioned with mama, by the way was mama's elder brother who has come down from mumbai for the fest.

Saastha Temple at Thekkemadom is indeed a marvel in itself.. Has got every bit of the classic Mallu temple in it: the way it has been built, the pond at the side, the trees that surround! Shirts, baniyans, lungies all barred... Have to be on dhotis! And me, i dont feel like comfortable in a dhothi at all(Dont even know to tie one, in the first place)! There is always a sense of insecurity... Santosh helped me in tying one and off we left to see Him. Morning, it was the time for Abhishekam and men were all chanting mantras. Its really nice to hear these mantras.. I dont get a chance to hear them that often. Felt like the odd-man out... Every other person seem to be knowing every bit of all mantras and i seem to be a big zero... Was atleast happy that got a chance to hear it.. Many dont even have chance to hear it in the first place. When all this was going on one side, Sreeram and Co were busy with their preparation for the evening...I was introduced to the group and man, every second guy in Thekkemadom seems to be named as Sriram. I had so many Srirams around me!!Anyway, Its the youth who organise, who take care of finance and everything and elders pitch in as and when needed. Like, seems the lord would be decorated with flowers in the evening before Maharajyoti and elders were now advicing these guys as to where to get the flowers of good quality and also in affordable rates.. This is what makes any fest in kochi great.. Everybody takes part in it and everybody, be it a child, a youth or a old person, equally contribute and equally enjoy.

Coming back from the temple, had a great lunch which mami had prepared. Then it was all left between me and Santosh. We played with the Big Brother on YM for some time and then after that, all of them had the afternoon nap, we two were all alone awake.. The greatest thing I think, I have done so far in my life is to stand first in my state during my class 12 exam and so I was more than happy to share the tricks of the trade with my lover boy. What to write,what not to write, how to write,where to write, what would you do to boost your scores, things like that. Then, we both also started filling santosh's application form for the engineering entrance exam... He slept off halfway through it and his friends also came for his help to decorate the temple for the evening, but NO he wont get up. After much of struggle, we then woke him up finally.. By then, evening had come...

Santosh had his sanskrit exam the next day and so he was not staying for Saasthapreethi and was visibly upset. All his friends started scolding him for not staying for the main fest. he even asked mama whether we can get a medical cert stating his illness :), but NO, mama wont bulge. For him, the test means a lot for his son's career ahead and he didnt wanna take any risk with that. So, myself and Santosh went out for shopping now, which included getting things for his stay at the hostel(The purchase also had pickles made of prawns and we as veggies dont have it. Santosh explained me and and his mom that he had to do it as a result of his 'commitment' to his friends). While all this was happening, my advice session continued and both of us even didnt miss to go to a "Bhel Puri" stall. Santosh said, he likes it very much there and whenever hes there at Kochi, he always has chat items from there. Yeah, the taste was perfect. :)

Evening, we all left to the temple. Saastha was beautifully decorated with lots and lots of flowers. There was singing and chanting all over.. The singing group, i noticed even had a child of not more than 8 or 9, playing Mridangam. See, these are all the things that makes you wonder. Not only are the elders keeping up with the age old tradition and values, they make sure that they pass it out to the next geneartion and the younger generation is very receptive and accepts whatever is passed on to them. Amazing stuff.. So we have the jyoti lit and its time for dinner now. Dinner cooked for everyone from the area at the temple and served at the temple.

But, we all returned home for it was the time for my lover boy to leave. He didnt have food at the temple for it was getting late for him, and so he had it at home. mama was angry with him and mami for this and santosh responded back: "Anyway, am not staying here tomorrow for Saasthapreethi , so what is the big deal?." Mama insisted on him taking atleast some prasadam before leaving and so he had little payasam for santosh from the temple. A person working with mama had come to drop santosh at the bus stop. So we all wished him all the very best for his exams and bid farewell(mami, a tear-filled farewell, cant change mothers, can we?) to him and then left to the temple for dinner.

Now that santosh is gone, vinish was gonna be my company for the next two days... he was sitting besides me and we were having the dinner together. After the dinner was over, I thought the eventful day is finally over.. But NO.. That was not to the case.. I had no idea of whats there in store for me, the very same night. Because, the action hasnt begin yet !!!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

My Journey Starts...


Got very little time.. This week had been good. Finished a lot of stuff with respect to DOE training, did lot of personal stuff that had been pending and today learnt a bit of JAVA coding... Man, coding is fun.. What a late realisation!!!

Anyway, am starting my journey to one of the places on this earth where I wud like to spend my time and with the people who are really good and have been so nice to "me"!? Thinking abt going there excites me a lot..

Wud let you know abt my sojourn later once am back... Leaving as a very happy person to "God's own country"


Saturday, January 08, 2005

To love or not to love....

Scene: Courtroom. Myself and Jike are sitting at the back with other people. Prosecutor(P) and Defence Lawyer(D), both seem to be ready with their respective arguments. We are all waiting for the arrival of judge.

Judge(J) Arrives.. There s dead silence in the courtroom.

J: Prosecutor can please present his case...

pyaar mein sau uljhanen hain pyaar mat karna
jiine marne ka koii iqaraar mat karna
chaahat kii baaton mein samjho to bas dhokha hai
ye baatein sunne se apne dil ko hamne to roka hai

pyaar mein sau uljhanen hain pyaar mat karna
jiine marne ka koii iqaraar mat karna

pyaar mein yuun to qasmen aur vaade bhii hote hain
lekin qasmen vaade jo maane voh baad mein rote hain

pyaar mein sau uljhanen hain pyaar mat karna
jiine marne ka koii iqaraar mat karna

(For your sake Jike, I am translating it: Love creates endless problems; don't fall in love!Don't make any commitments about living or dying.Understand that behind every loving word lurks only betrayal!I've made my heart impervious [prevented my heart from listening] to lover's talk!When people are in love, they make promises and vows,but he who actually believes in these promises will cry for it later! )

P: So my lord, havent we seen this before so many times? whats there in love my lord? Why do people have to fall in love, huh? To make their love failure world famous so that they are made into feature films? Havent we seen "Romeo and Juliet", our own "Devdas"... Do we need some more examples?.. The idea of falling in love freaks me out!! I dont seem to understand why people have to waste valuable time of theirs in this when they know pretty well that they are gonna cry in the end.. Thats why I say a big "NO" to love and urge everyone in this room to accept these facts...

J: Hmm. Very strong case.. Not sure if anybody can deny whatever the prosecutor claims... Anyway, lets see what the defence has to say for this..

pyaar hii zindagii hai pyaar hai har khushii hai
pyaar hii dhadkanon ka giit hai
pyaar hii dilkashii hai pyaar hii taazagii hai
pyaar hii sabse pyaarii riit hai

pyaar jo aata hai rang naye laata hai sapne sajaata hai re
bhuulke bhii pyaar se inkaar mat karna
apne dil ko pyaar se bezaar mat karna

(Again for your sake, jike: Love is life itself; love is every happiness! Love is the melody of the heart! Love is beauty; love is freshness;love is the most enchanting of human customs! When love comes, it brings with it new colors, it makes your dreams vivid!No matter what you do, don't refuse to fall in love! Don't set your heart against love!)

D: My lord, Love is the very reason we have to live on this earth. Imagine a life where you have to be all alone with no one around you? Can you imagine a life like that? I mean what is the whole point in living on this earth if you are not sharing youe moments of happiness, sorrow with your loved ones... So people, go out, fall in love, be happy in life forever.

J: Ok. We have heard both sides of the arguments.. Judgement is reserved till tomorrow

We all leave the courtroom and all of us are anxious what the judgement is going to be like.

Next day: All of us are waiting for the judge. Judge arrives.

J: Interesting case. "Love" is an interesting concept as it is. There are various forms of love, as such.. Some love their family, some love their friends, some their work, some love nature. In one way or other, all of us in this world are in love with something. Even a serial killer, loves killing, isnt it?

There are various forms in which love comes to us.. Say from the time we are born, our parents, take care of us.. They are the ones who love us the most in this world at this point of time.. Then we go to the school.. We get friends ... They love us too..

No probs in life, so far! Right? So what is this that the prosecution keeps banging about all the time? The forms of love which we saw so far, "comes" to 'most' of us.. We dont have to go back after it...It comes to us naturally.... What prosecution is talking here is the love which "we seek" in life.. They say that this love which we seek for ourselves creates nothing but problems. There are always issues.. It steals happiness from you.. There is no peace of mind.. etc... etc...

Interesting, isnt it? Love which had been so nice to you so far in your life, shows you its other form, where you cry a lot! Suffer a lot! Thats what these guys are saying... Keep yourself away from this form of love... When you know that you are going to suffer, why take the pain!? Valid point... Very valid indeed!

But, my dear friends in prosecution, understand this... Life as such is a mixed bag. You cannot expect that only happiness comes your way all the time... When you are sad, then only you realise the real meaning of the word happiness. True that in the love you seek, there are difficulties.. there would be issues... But, isnt the person who tackles all these and stands up against all these, the most successful and the happiest person in this world...

Think of it this way... Dont you have difference of opinions with your parents? or with your friends? And when you have those, dont u guys sit, talk about it and come to a conclusion that everybody agrees to? If you can do it with them, why not with your love? You never complain when you fight with ur parents or friends... then why make a big deal out of this alone, huh?

Also, if you do have misunderstandings/problems, and you solve it amicably, then it gives u more insight on what your love truly is.. You try not to repeat the same again, isnt it?

So people, nothing wrong in falling in love.. If there is pain in love, then have the pain... If you are truly enjoying the love, then you would also love the pain... It would be nothing but a "sweet" pain.. But, yes, make sure that its all not one sided.. Then there is a problem... If its on both the sides, then theres nothing great like LOVE

I pass the verdict in this case, in favour of the defence...


Chaand Ne Kuch Kahaa
Raat Ne Kuch Sunaaa
Thu bi sun bekabar
Pyar Kar.. Oh Oo Ho, Pyar Kar

Aayi Hai Chandni.. Mujse Kahene Yahi...
Aayi Hai Chandni.. Mujse Kahene Yahi...
Meri Gali Mere Ghar
Pyar Kar.. Oh Oo Ho, Pyar Kar

Everyone in the courtroom singing and leaving the courtroom:

Pyar Kar.. Oh Oo Ho, Pyar Kar
Pyar Kar.. Oh Oo Ho, Pyar Kar
Pyar Kar.. Oh Oo Ho, Pyar Kar

Oh! Cmon jike.. Dont pester me to translate this.. just understand the essence of it.. Love is great!

(Thanks a lot to the songs: "Pyaar Mein Sau Uljhanen Hain" from the movie "Kyun! Ho Gaya Naa" and "Pyaar Kar" from the movie "Dil To Paagal Hai")

Bricks,Stones,Sand and Cement

It is sometimes strange, you know... There are things that would appear very trivial to you, but for someone else, it would be "the" most important thing on this earth.. I might laugh at that person.. "Hey, common man, take it cool... This is no big deal!". But if you put yourself in that person's shoes, then it might strike you, "Yeah, this guy is indeed making some sense here"..

The "journey" to my grandpa's house is indeed a big ordeal... Yeah, i am staying in the same city as his, but I stay with my friends here and he and my uncle. So new year day, i started off to his place... I was pretty late.. I told them that i would be there by 11 AM. My uncle had cooked and they were waiting for me and I spent the day in gym, saloon, laundry shop, calling up my friends and finally reached their place at 4.30 in the evening...(Didnt have lunch till then :( ...) So my grandpa serves me my lunch... He is also at the same time getting the house prepared for the Saturday evening sloka session. sloka-->sacred text in praise of the lord... Says, he started this in memory of my late grandmom... You know jike, i loved her a lot... Grandmoms are very special, isnt it? And for her too, I was the pet grandchild for I was her first grandchild... So after my lunch, I sat down for the session... Went for an hour or so.. After a long time, spent so much time with Him... So, it was indeed a different and good "New Year Day" for me...

So, my uncle is a project manager in a software company and so by definition of PM, u know how much time he can spend with family. He is actually constructing a house now and the construction operation is going on in full swing... Once the session got over, my uncle was home and the problem started... My uncle has office on Sunday,ok? He takes off on Fri and Sat. And he leaves pretty early to work too. So the next day(Sunday), if he is leaving to office, whos gonna water the entire building which is under construction? Whats the big deal in watering?There was a debate and then i said,"Ok, let him go to office. I would do it..."

The next day, all the three of us got up at 3.30 AM. My uncle goes to a temple and then he has to cook for us and then leave to work... I dont know, somehow i didnt get sleep and so I also got up... Started working on my notebook at 4 AM. Wow, amnt I crazy!!!... It was arnd 6 and my grandpa made tea for me and after that we left to the site... Since only 20% of the house was finished, I thought whats the big deal!

The long hosepipe suggested me everything... My dear, this is no easy job... I had to make sure that every inch of every brick in the whole of the building is watered... Thatha(tamil for grandpa) taught me how to do it.. I had to climb on the walls, switch sides, go up, come down!Oof! Wasnt an easy task at all.. What i thought wont take more than 40-45 mins seemed to go on endlessly. Meanwhile, a truckload of sand came and thatha got worried.. Is it the regular guy who supplies the sand or is it someone else!? There were some unused bricks lying in the front and they werent watered properly at all! The water had flown all over the street! So he started scolding people out there for their irresponsibility... There were some unused bricks, or rather half bricks(which they use to fill the gaps) lying all around.. So we both picked it all up and put it inside....

Then he started complaining about the people working there, how they cheat us, etc. etc.. Though it may sound stupid, it all made sense to me... Constructing a house is not an easy task at all...I just spent around 3 hrs there and i can imagine how it would be to go there for the whole 9 months it normally takes to construct a new house... Now that the truck of sand had come, we had to wait till its unloaded fully. Thatha said if we dont stay they wont unload completely and we wud be cheated.. Then, we have to also make sure that the sand is unloaded in such a way that there is enough place for the load of cement that is gonna come later....

For him these were the things that were running through the mind.. For me, the concern was that i shouldnt miss gym and on sunday its open only from 6-10 in the morning.. I thought i would make it.. Whats the big deal in watering the construction!!! Now i know how much difficulty one has to face... What started at 6.30 ended at 9.30 and i missed my gym.. thatha said, "Sorry, you had to miss gym today!".... Its ok thatha... I am actually amazed seeing him.. How a person at 68 years of age can work like this!!!... He single handedly has to observe everything wrt the construction.. (I cant blame my uncle too... he has his own issues...)

Coming back from the site, my whole body was filled with sand and mud.. I started working again...had a late lunch... thatha washed my clothes which had accumulated for 4 weeks now.... I continued working on my notebook... For him, if i dont bring the clothes, its a big issue.. he would start shouting at me.. For me it would look trivial.. He has a bad toothache and had to get removed two of his tooth and he has been postponing it for some time now.. For me thats a big issue, but for him its not.. He wud always come up with some reason... "I was at construction site"... "I had to do tharpanam today"... Think from his side, all these would make sense....

But grandparents are cool, right? They live to love you, nothing else.... They say that people turn back to their childhood once they become old... So keep these "old" children happy.... Thats the lesson for you today, jike.. And one more thing.. There is always the other side of a coin.. So dont take any decision in haste.. Listen carefully to what the other has to say.. Who knows! You might have overloooked what the other person is saying....

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Forgive Dad...!

Sorry Jike! I could not talk to you for some time now... How are you doing? My honeymoon is sorta over and am loaded with work.. So cudnt find some time for you...

How is it going with you? Guess you are OK.. So what has happened in the last 4 days with me? Nothing great as such except work! I have got few things to say though.. But dont have time with me now..

May be tomorrow, huh?

Till then bye.