Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Neighbor's envy and Lalitaji

“Bhala, iski sari meri sari se safed kaise?” [Loosely translated as, how come her sari is whiter than mine?] cooed the neighborhood ladies with malicious envy written all over their faces at Lalitaji when she stepped out into a vegetable market with her son Ravi bete in a crisp, starched white sari with a surf-blue border. After a bit of selfless confession from Lalitaji, a look of triumph light up their faces when they find out the secret of her blemish-less whiteness.

This is post is not quite about HLL's much famed surf ad of the 80's. Not even about the sense of power to housewives which the ad seems to have signified in those days. Not even how Lalitaji became and still is a household name. This rant is about the city that I have come to adopt in the recent times - Bangalore or Bengaluru. Gah! Whatever!

The drivers in this city seem to have this sense of neighbors-envy-owner's-pride deeply instilled in their heart of hearts. So much so, that they cannot bear a scratch-free vehicle on the road. The thought process is pretty much similar to the housewives with malicious envy mentioned above.
“Bhala, iski gaadi mein meri gaadi se kam scratches kaise?” [How come his vehicle has lesser scratches than mine?]
That’s the virtuous mantra most drivers seem to take tad too seriously in this city. Only difference being that the drivers also come fully packed and loaded with malicious intents. It’s after all a slander for anyone to be driving a blemish-less vehicle. They have to be etched with some artsy signature scratches. Oh! A line near the rear door would give Cashmere color of the car a remarkable facelift, wouldn’t it? Hmm, on second thoughts, for symmetry and completeness sakes, the other side too, could be blessed with one. And the rear bumper! Oh, that needs to be nuzzled and pampered every now and then. And what can be a more ecstatic, orgy-like moment than feeling the curvaceous rear view mirror while overtaking. After all, Sheesha akhir toot jata hai. [Mirrors break sometime or other].

Needless to say, my car has been 'beautified' immensely in the last 1.5 months of my stay here. And I am wondering wistfully how I can ward off the evil eye from her and also put an end to the priceless-work-of-art on her body.

I sincerely feel there must be some kind of empowerment that we should've had as a class of Homo sapiens. Whenever a vehicle decides to act ‘fresh’ with your car, one special gaze at the vehicle must either puncture the tires of the said car or jam the power windows or spoil the A/C or automatically get the scars which were meant to be induced on your car. Or better still; create a perception of psychological guilt in the driver so much that he gives up driving a car in this lifetime and takes to public transport thereby reducing the traffic on the roads too.

If only, wishes were scratch-less cars...! *sigh sigh*

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Good and bad moments

Been an okish start to the New Year but a rather morose end to 2005.

The IISc incident left a lot of people outraged and worried about terrorism, against innocent lives being taken away and blah. But to me it was more than that. Not because I lived in the same city as the incident, not even that I lived anywhere close to the said venue, but because the concerned victim was someone I knew so well, who walked in the same corridors and taught in the same classrooms I went to, was a mentor to few of my closest friends and me too in retrospect. Here's a silent prayer to Prof Puri. It’s indeed a great shock to all of us that you had to go away so unfairly. I hope your family and friends are able cope up with your absence. Amen!

New year and the eve was different this year. I went to this remote village in Tirunelveli called Ambasamudram (fondly called Ambas by the inhabitants). The husband is away for a training program somewhere about and I, having never seen Tamil Nadu beyond Chennai, decided to be with him for a few days. And the prospect of staying in a remote village sounded exciting as well as skeptical. Not being used to more than a handful people talking in Tamil at a time around me, I used to find Chennai very 'claustrophobic'. And 2.5 days in a village was scarier thought. But this turned out to be a nice, little township which was just on the base of a hill. It was fairly cosmopolitan and food was simply splendid. Simple, bland and delicious, just the way I like. And the village was extremely picturesque with lovely shades of cleansed green in the blades of grass just like they would look after a rain shower, tall palm trees in the backdrop, clear and clean water of the Tamarabarani River flowing through the region and lovely waterfalls. Did anyone say Tamil Nadu is scarce of water; this is what needs to be shown to them. I can speak of myself being one of them.
I had a very filmi view of the villages there. Sparse, draught-like land with dark, Veerappan-like moustached men with sickles in their hand ready to slit throats of the farmers, hungry and naked children running about with runny noses. But with all the lovely landscape, conservative (maybe) but nice and friendly people, devoid of any of the brashness I had seen in cities like Chennai or movies at large, this was a complete revelation for me. T'veli rocks.. :-)

We visited a dam called Kariyar and a small waterfall nearby. The route was through a forest which was also a Tiger reserve. Very green and beautiful and weather was perfect. There were amazing rapids along the path of the river and I really think, one could attract more tourists in the area for white-water rafting and such. And the next day, husband and I trekked up the hill adjacent to the township. It was nearly a 2 hour trek up along slush and canals and general greenery, not to mention unpleasant, creepy companions like chameleons and insects. On the way back, we lost our trail. We kept going round in the same place. I was getting slightly worried because I was losing out on time to catch the train back to Bangalore. Finally, we went all the way up again and this time we got the path right. I did a dramatic DDLJ-type sprint to catch the train just 2-3 min before its departure. Only difference being that there was no Raj to pull me into the train, it was more like the husband pushing me into it. ;-)

But all in all it was a nice relaxing trip and a good start to 2006. Oh and I, now, know all the hit-and-not-so-hit tamil songs till date. Chandramukhi and the ilk. Will put up pictures soon. :-)