Sunday, August 17, 2014

House Hunting in Chennai

Once we decided to move to Chennai, the next big hurdle was to find a house. Yours truly and the boy friend set out one fine day to start looking for a house. The broker who promised to show us a couple of houses turned up late. So we were waiting at this junction when boy friend gets this idea that we should walk around and look for ‘to let’ boards. If we find any good house that way, we could save the broker fee. So off we go.

The first house that we find is more like a shack on third floor, the roof of which would probably make it an oven in hot Chennai summers. We were more or less decided on the let's not take this house line when the house owner decided to question us. He asks, "Is it for bachelors or family?" We give him that how on earth can you be so dumb looks and say it's for a family. Then he gives us a bigger shock, asking us whose family, his or mine. We finally tell him that we are the family. He is not convinced. He continues looking at me, "So why are you not wearing kumkum, thali, toe rings or any such things which married women generally wear?” I try telling him we are Christians and hence do not follow such customs. Then he is like these days Christians also use these things. (May be the guy believes that everyone who lives in Hindusthan should follow a Hindu way of life. So much for the change that is in the air!)

He adds, how he would know if we were students trying to pass off as married couple. I want to ask him how that matters to him as long as he gets the rent on time; but give up. Since we were kind of decided that this house is not for us, we didn't waste any more time in explaining things. In any case the man did not seem the type who could get convinced by anything that we could have said.

By the time we were back, the broker had turned up and we resumed house hunting with him. After a bit of roaming around, he took us to a house we kind of liked and decided to pay the advance. The house owner did not ask any difficult questions. We gave our names for the rental agreement and anyone could make out that we belonged to different religions. No questions were raised on that or on marriage. May be he thought that since he is overcharging us by a few thousands, the least he could do is to go about it politely.

Around the same time, a friend in Hyderabad who had rented house, says her house owner was so concerned about her marital status that he would ask her every now and then if she was really married. Exasperated, one day she made him sit and watch her marriage video completely.

In a house near ours, a team of bachelors were asked to vacate a rented house, because they were too noisy, their TV was on most of the time, and they had visitors (read girls).

Moral of the story: Single women, unmarried couple, bachelors, rented houses are not meant for you. Get married, follow all customs and traditions meant for married women and if we are satisfied, we might allow you to rent our houses.

Monday, June 23, 2014

സിനിമ, സ്കൂൾ, പിന്നെ ഞാനും

ഇന്ന് ഐ ഐ ടി ഫിലിം ക്ലബ്‌ സംഘടിപ്പിച തമിഴ് ഫിലിം ഫെസ്റ്റിവൽ നു പോയി. ഇന്നത്തെ സിനിമ 'തങ്ക മീന്കൾ'. സിനിമ ഇഷ്ടപ്പെട്ടു.

സിനിമ കണ്ടപ്പോ ഓർമയിൽ വന്നത് പഴയ ഒരു പരീക്ഷാക്കാലം. ഞാൻ അന്ന് രണ്ടാം ക്ലാസ്സിൽ. ഏതോ ഒരു പരീക്ഷ കഴിഞ്ഞു ഉത്തരകടലാസ്സ്‌ തിരിച്ചു കിട്ടുന്നു. (മിഡ് ടേം, ഫസ്റ്റ് ടേം, പിന്നേം മിഡ്  ടേം അങ്ങനെ നമ്മടെ സ്കൂളിൽ പരീക്ഷ ഒഴിഞ്ഞ കാലം ഇല്ല) കണക്ക് പഠിപ്പിക്കുന്ന റജീന ടീച്ചർ ആണ് പേപ്പർ തരുന്നത്. മാർക്ക്‌ എത്രയ എന്നൊന്നും ഓര്മ ഇല്ല. പക്ഷെ എന്റെ പേപ്പറിൽ തെറ്റായ ഒരു ഉത്തരം ശെരിയായി മാർക്ക്‌ ചെയ്തിരിക്കുന്നതായി അടുത്തിരിക്കുന്ന ഒരു കുട്ടി കണ്ടു പിടിച്ചു. (നമുക്ക് മാർക്ക്‌ കിട്ടിയ പോര ബാക്കില്ലോർക്ക് കിട്ടേം ചെയ്യരുതെന്ന ഐ ഐ ടി ലോജിക് തന്നെ അവിടേം) അതും കൊണ്ട് ടീചെര്ടെ അടുത്ത ചെല്ലുന്നു. ടീച്ചർ പറയുന്നു ഞാൻ ചോദ്യത്തിലെ അക്കങ്ങൾ എടുത്തു എഴുതിയത് തെറ്റി പോയതാ. ഞാൻ എഴുതിയ അക്കം വെച്ച് കണക്ക് സെരിയാണ് എന്ന്.

അന്ന് അത് അത്ര കാര്യം ആയി തോന്നിയില്ല. പിന്നീട് ഉത്തരം കാണാപാഠം പഠിക്കാൻ പറ്റാത്തതിന്റെ പേരില്, ക്ലാസ്സിലെ നോട്ടിലെ അല്ലാത്ത ഉത്തരങ്ങൾ എഴുതുന്നെന്റെ പേരില്, കണക്കു വഴങ്ങാതെന്റെ പേരില് ഒക്കെ കിട്ടിയ വഴക്ക് ഓര്ക്കുമ്പോ, പിന്നേ ക്ലാസ്സ്‌ എടുക്കുന്നെന്റെ ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടുകളെ കുറിച്ചു പഠിക്കുമ്പോ, ക്ലാസ്സിലെ മിക്ക കുട്ടികളിൽ നിന്നും വ്യത്യസ്തമായ ചിന്തകളുള്ള പഠന രീതികളുള്ള കുട്ടികളെ കുറിച് മനസ്സിലാക്കുമ്പോ  ഒക്കെ റെജീന  ടീച്ചറെയും ആ കണക്കു പരീക്ഷയെയും ഓര്ക്കും.

ഇത് പോലെ ഉള്ള അപൂർവ്വം  കുറച്ചു ടീച്ചർമാർ പല സമയത്തായി പഠിപ്പിക്കാൻ വന്നു. പിന്നെ ക്ലാസ്സിൽ പഠിപ്പിച്ച ഉതരമല്ലെങ്ങിലും ഞാൻ എഴുതിയ ഉത്തരത്തിലുള്ള ശെരി  കണ്ടെത്തുകയും എനിക്ക് വേണ്ടി വാദിക്കുകയും ചെയ്യുന്ന എന്റെ അമ്മയും. ഇത്രേം കൊണ്ടാണ്  പിന്നീട് വല്യ ക്ലാസ്സുകളിലേക്ക് പോയപ്പോ ഉത്തരങ്ങൾ കാണാതെ പഠിക്കാൻ പറ്റാതെ ഹുമാനിടീസ് വിഷയങ്ങല്ക്കും കാൽക്കുലസ്സാദി കണക്കുകളിൽ കുടുങ്ങി സയൻസ് വിഷയങ്ങല്ക്കും ഒക്കെ മുന്നില് ബുദ്ധിമുട്ടിയിട്ടും പലപ്പോഴും വഴക്കൊക്കെ കേള്ക്കേണ്ടി വന്നിട്ടും പഠിപ്പിനോടും സ്കൂളിനോടും ഒന്നും വെറുപ്പ് തോന്നാതിരുന്നത്. ഇപ്പോഴും പഠിക്കാൻ തോന്നുന്നത്.

നന്ദി രാം, ഈ ലോകം ഒരു ചോദ്യത്തിന് നാലും അഞ്ചും ഉത്തരം ഉള്ളവര്ക്ക് കൂടിയുള്ളതാണെന്ന് ഒരിക്കൽ കൂടി പറഞ്ഞു തന്നതിന്.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Don't Do This to Yourself!

Women, women, women, don't do this to yourself, your bodies. Don't put off taking care of things that bother your bodies until finish the last chore in the house. Don't put everybody else's needs before your needs, at least the medical ones. That pain in the tummy that hurts you, that out of the cycle blood clots that surprised you, that lump in the breast which bothers you - don't ignore any of these. These are symptoms that your body gives to tell you that things are not fine. Your body deserves proper medical care at the right time and if you don't do it, nobody else will!

Juggling with the numerous roles of a career woman, wife, mother, care giver, women tend to ignore or at least procrastinate taking care of their own health issues until the last possible moment. This is more so if the affected parts are female body parts like breast, uterus, ovaries etc. Even educated women associate a certain sense of shame regarding these parts and avoid discussing these outside close female family members even for health issues. All kinds of home remedies are tried and going to a doctor is considered only in case of an emergency. In the case of cancer, delay means death. These kinds of attitudes and social systems cause a lot of delay before the patient gets medical attention and by then it would be too late.

In the case of women, today many simple, non-invasive screening tests like mammogram, pap smear test, etc for different types of cancer are available. These screening tests allow us to detect cancer in its very early stages and get appropriate treatment. In some western countries, doctors advise women to take these screen tests as a part of their routine medical checkups and that helps in detecting, treating and curing various cancers. These tests are available here and are relatively affordable too and it is time we also started making use of these. Early detection is a very important step towards success in the treatment of cancer and hence such tests become all the more important. 

Resolve today to take a better care of your bodies and not to delay seeking medical help in case need arises. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

What We Do to Our Children

      It was a late afternoon. I was a taking a longer but peaceful route home from the department. It was a cloudy but pleasant day. The the four legged denizens were all taking advantage of the lower temperature and were all around the place. As I passed the Kendriya Vidyalaya, I could see kids in small groups on their way back from school.
      A little boy was walking little ahead of me, talking to his friends, happy as any kid would be after the school hours. And then he saw a small puppy walking towards them, wagging his tails. His friends weren't so sure of what to do and they kept their distance. Our hero, the little boy was so happy to see the puppy that he bent down to pat its head and generally to pet the puppy for a while. The puppy started moving towards its mother and the boy followed. The older was bit tensed at first but later relaxed and the boy began to pet both the puppy and its mother, all stray dogs. This friends gathered around them and it was a happy scene.
      And then the boy's mother who was walking a little ahead turned back and saw the boy with the dogs. She started shouting and screaming at the top of her voice asking the boy to leave the dogs. The boy was a bit reluctant and slow it getting. I was so shocked to see what happened next. The lady picked up a stick and broke it into pieces and stared throwing them - at the dogs and also at the boy! And then she dragged the boy away from the scene.
      These are the kind of messages that we give our children. Whatever bit of kindness and sweetness they have inside them we make sure are drained out by the time they grow up. This little boy would get two lessons from this small incident and at his age such impressions will last. First he'll remember that any random act of kindness towards another living being is not generally appreciated. Second he'll learn that violence and cruelty - whether against humans or animals - is acceptable.
     This is what we do to the young children around us. And then we complain these days young people don't have love and affection, the rate of violence is increasing, they are uncaring, and what not. They are learning for what we show them!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

On Reading "Writing Octopus"

One evening Veena and I had an outing and came back to the room. We were very happy. We had just got a copy of K. Srilata's latest collection of poems Writing Octopus. We started reading the poems aloud. We liked them. There was small talk, poems, love, and laughter. It was beautiful. There were really nice, sweet, fun filled poems. There is a poem about the bright blue bird that flew into her house and,
"When it flies out, leaves behind
its bright blue.

The blue hops down
Becomes first one word,
and then, another,
till, finally, it assumes the face of a poem. "

Then we got to the poem "Not in the Picture". I had read it before and told her so far that was my favourite in the collection. Then she started reading it aloud. The poem ends,
"this desire,
for certain photographs. If you are not watchful,
it can stab you through the heart."
Once the poem was over, there was total silence. No more laughter, no more words. We just sat looking at each other for some time. 

These moments are what we get from gifted writers and such moments are what making reading poetry a rewarding experience. It is all the more rewarding, if you have the company of someone who loves poetry as much as you do.

Writing Octopus is a wonderful collection of poetry. This is one enjoyable, readable (read to yourself when you are alone, read out aloud when you are on a high, read to each other when you are in good company kind of readable) collection of poems that I have come across recently. Reading this one is pure joy. It has that power to give you moments to remember. The blue bird that dropped its blue, the baby dolphin in the blueness of the ocean, the oysters stolen from the sea and thrown towards the sky, photographs old and new, and of course the octopus will remain with us long after we have finished reading the collection.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Goa Diaries 2 Old Goa

This time we are a large group and thanks to Shyam we have a good bus, packed lunches, and a planned route. We started at 9 in the morning and the first stop was the Basilica of Bom Jesus. This is the magnificent Portuguese church where the relic of the saint Franxis Xavier is kept. The group is let off to explore the Bom Jesus Church, the museum near by, the Cajetan church, and the viceroy's arc. People form groups and get into activities according to their tastes and inclinations. Some bought candles and went inside the churches, some decided to attend the masses, some went on a shopping spree buying junk jewelry, hats etc, Some found a shop that sells chilled beer and camped there en masse, some others like yours truly (lacking such fixed direction in life) just loafed around watching the fun and taking pictures.
Relic of St. Francis Xavier

Cajetan Church
We weren't done with divinity for the day yet. The next stop was Mangesha Temple. Most of us did a quick round of the temple and found time for some quick shopping. If you can bargain well, you can get some good deals from the shops around the temple, especially if you want souvenirs for friends and relatives.

Then we stopped for lunch, again near a wine shop. We made most of the opportunity, combining our biryanis with beers and some really great cocktails. It was at this place that someone from the group discovered the wonders of coconut and rum and generously carried some back to the guest house.

The last and the best stop of the day was Colva beach. If you want to visit Goa on a peaceful, off season trip and have plans to get into the water and have fun, the place to go is Colva beach. The beach is comparatively clean, less crowded, and beautiful. The way the waves come in and cover you and the recede the way it had come has to be experienced. It was in a shack near the beach that we discovered this really great cocktail of Coconut feni, chocolate liqueur, and pepsi. Sunset at Colva and it was stumps on day 1 of the group tour.

Setting Sun, Colva beach

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Goa Diaries 1 - Calangute

It is our first day in Goa and it is a Sunday! So off we went to Panaji, the nearest city. After a bit of asking around, figured out that Calangute is a popular beach and we can get a direct bus there. So we decided to start our exploring Goa mission with Calangute. The bus went through a route that reminded my friend of Aleppey and me of Kozhikode.
As the number of restaurant cum bars, shops selling beach wear and bright necklaces and bangles, and wine shops along the road side started increasing, we realised we were nearing the beach. The bus dropped us quite near the beach. One look at the crowd, the bright clothes, shorts and hats, beer bottles and cans in hands, there is no mistaking that you are in Goa.
It was around 12 and both of us were pretty hungry. We followed the crowd and got into this nice looking restaurant and were bowled by the ambiance, the view of the sea from the window.  We ordered cashew feni the first thing. The waiter there told us it goes well with something that has lime and we combined it with limca. It had a kind of hard taste. We combined that with steak, rice, fruits etc. Later we found out that the place is called Souza Lobo and is quite famous.
After the lunch, we ventured out into the beach and had fun watching the crowd, the antics of semi clad people and the violent sea of Calangute. Goa in this season is not ideal for bathing or getting into the water and the coast guard was doing a good job of warning people. We did not venture far into the water; stayed on the safety of the shores and watched the fun.
View from the window
Then we wandered in and out of the various shops selling stuff ranging from liquor to eatables to slippers, clothes and jewelry. There are nice souvenir pieces and quite nice looking German silver jewelry. Since we were going to be in Goa for some time and we had ample time left for shopping we did not buy much.

Then back to catch the bus to Panaji and after some beautiful view of Mandovi along the way, we are in Panaji. From Panaji we take another bus to Goa University. More of sightseeing along the way in terms of the Mandovi, Miramar beach etc and we are back in university guest house. We hit bed that day, two tired but happy people, eagerly looking forward to more of Goa experience.