Monday, October 29, 2007

Boston, MA

Pic: In front of MIT
Blogging is a strange thing; there is so much to be written, and it depends on you to pick the right topic to be written about. I thought I was bored of writing travelogues, but then after a rather eventful weekend, I just could not think of writing anything more important. It was planned weeks earlier that Yadu and Karthik would be joining us for the weekend here at Boston. Boston is one of the cities on the east coast which can make you feel absolutely pleasant. There is a feel good factor associated with this city, so famous for education and sports, among many other things; a touch of class that can be experienced by staying in this beautiful city. Truly English!

Pic: In front of Harvard

The best part about friends visiting you from far off places has more to do with staying together than just touring the city. You look forward to meeting them with a sense of longing to catch up with the good old times. All of us hailing from the same school, we generate tonnes of gossip, talking about totally trivial things that can leave outsiders stupefied. Every small talk is magnified, extracting information from wafer thin connections, coming up with out of the world conclusions, exploring the tiniest bit of clues to frame the unwanted and still feeling unsatisfied with the amount of talk. Every second is utilized to unravel as much information as possible to get the feeling of completeness.

Yadu and Karthik joined us on Friday night, and off we headed to the dance club. I had never been to a dance club before and the other three wanted to make sure I did not come up with dumb excuses to avoid the proposal of going to the club. I had no choice but to join them to shake my legs to some foot tapping music. Shubhika had a reservation at one of the clubs in downtown Boston. I felt it to be a different kind of an experience. The fun lies in seeing how the crowd behaved to few glasses of alcohol. Luckily, I had my share of soda and obviously, the other three were not surprised. We reached home well past midnight dropping Shubhika on the way back. The three of us retired to the warmth of the comforters with some amusing talk. Not exactly some, since it was early morning before we actually slept. Karthik was trying his level best to put on an act of drunkenness, failing miserably.

The next day, we got up late, save for Yadu, who had got up early as if he was supposed to burst crackers early in the morning of Diwali. We were up quickly, and two of non-Rolla members joined the party. We were to make a quick tour of Cambridge, the heart of education in MA, well actually, USA. Every visitor to Boston would want to see MIT and Harvard. Shubhika and I have been to these places many times in the past with many different people. This was my fifth trip to the Mecca of world class education. Every time I go there, I am filled with a sense of positive energy pepping me to great heights. It is great to just stand in the campus, and know that you are at a place which is considered to be the best. The cameras just clicked away. The walk from Harvard to MIT on Massachusetts Avenue is simply superb, and we always make it a point to walk on this road rather than take a T (Boston metro transport). The evening was just as great, as we helped ourselves to some good Ethiopian food. Saturday night was long with talks till early in the morning.

Pic: Boston Public Library

Sunday it was, and we made sure that we went to a posh restaurant for lunch. It is not everyday that Karthik agrees to treat us, and so, we went to a good Italian restaurant for lunch. We then spent some good moments in downtown at Copley Square, one of the oldest parts of Boston. The Trinity church facing the Boston Public Library was a sight to behold. As always, it was beautiful. We entered the library and we were just too happy to see the structure inside. We saw a nice corridor connecting the library to a central fountain. This is where Karthik and I decided that we will film a small video enacting the South Indian super star Rajini. The director in me and the actor in him produced a video of absolute entertainment leaving us in splits. In the evening (night show), we decided to watch the latest Hindi movie, Jab we met, and contrary to the reviews, we did not appreciate it much. We reached home close to midnight, and ended up watching the videos and pictures, chatting till 3. A couple of hours of sleep, and off we went to the airport, and two hours later, with eyes full of sleep, got back to yet another day full of work.

A superb trip having all the ingredients of fun was finally over. We were already discussing about where we should be meeting next. Time flies so fast that it would be a matter of time before we realize that the next meet is around the corner.

In general, when it comes to travelogues, a right balance should be achieved between the description of the place and the group, and invariably my writing tends to shift towards the latter.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Inspiration at 200 continues...

The dreaded years of English language in school began with short essays, compositions and paragraph writing in your own words. I had to adapt to the language through a series of mind conversions from the local tongue, before it actually took some time to think in English and write in English. When I wrote my first essay in my own words, there was a startling revelation of how hard it is to write something without by-hearting what the teacher enforced upon us. That was class fifth and the beginning of a whole series of problems with grammar and other small nuances. The English text books were fun to read, which gradually got complicated with Shakespeare entering the fray along with a whole lot of Russian writers. As you like it was a brilliant read, and short stories like God sees the truth but waits by Leo Tolstoy, The bet by Anton Chekov, Gateman's gift by RK Narayan, The last leaf by O' Henry just elevated me to an unexplainable trance by getting me introduced to the choiciest of words in the language. Innumerable phrases of admiration for these authors serves as a major source of inspiration to be on constant improvement.

Writing has always been fun and an integral part of my life from a certain point of time. I started with book, music and movie reviews, then went on to travelogues, finally hitting on general topics. There was a continuous stream of thought process running in my head as to what I could write about. I have always believed in simple themes to come out with easy to write topics that can make a difference in your everyday life. The language had to be simple, and that's because, I have never had it in me to come up with extravagant words resulting in hard to write sentences. As I have mentioned numerous times in my blog, my biggest inspiration in the literary world goes to RK Narayan. Reading his writings can induce a feeling of Writing is simple; anybody can write. Simple day to day activities rendered in heart warming style with a set of easily identifiable characters from day to day life sets an example for brilliant simple writing. Passion for the country, for anything that is Indian, touch of Indianness, how certain things have affected my life, fiction, poetry, politics, sports, personality, love, life, religion, philanthropy, Bangalore, Malleswaram, media, movies, books, travel and inspiration brought out the emotions in me and automatically got translated into words.

Inspiration need not come from a single source; for a person like me, inspiration is a cumulative process. They add up from different places, thanks to many different people who are good at so many things. I just have to go to the blog world and see a wonderful talented bunch of bloggers writing some fantastic stuff which has so much of appeal. Everyone has a style of his own; it is impossible to compare different sets of writing and lay a benchmark. Each sentence is rendered in different style, and that to me is one of the most wonderful things. It just gives you the opportunity to admire so many different people. I have been to many blogs, some of which leave me speechless, as the writing is just out of the world and more importantly simple. So, I thank the many different bloggers who I visit for this important source of inspiration. Thanks a lot!

Interface is another important factor for bloggers. Being a racy character, I just want to do things as fast as possible. Most of my friends would associate the word restless to me instead of racy. Waiting even for a split second more irks me to no end. As soon as I open a page, I just want to load it as soon as possible. So, I try my level best to keep the page as bland as possible. The white background, of course, has to come from the Google homepage. Google has just integrated my web life in such a way that I find browsing disconnected from my life if I do not find it associated with google. So, you just have to put up with this page, without any heavy gadgets in the background. So, Ninaivugal would remain the way it is; the page has to be loaded with the minimum of fuss.

OK! It all started two years back, when I used to write certain things and mail it only to a selected set of people. People, with whom I shared the best of rapport and even today, who make it a point to visit my blog regularly for updates. Comments and viewpoints were exchanged with agreements and in equal measure, disagreements. All these things were exchanged through mails. It was only after one of my ex-roommates Yadu asked me to transfer all my contents to a blog did I realise that blogging after all was fun. To be honest, initially it was an obsession. I used to write atleast two posts a week, ask some of my close friends to have a look at it and give their views. As with anything else, there are periods of crests and troughs, and slowly and steadily, I have reached a point where I write no more than one post a week. Comments are written now and then, from people whom I know, and from anonymous readers, who linger in now and then to post their views. It is all fun and at the end of the day, it gives me great pleasure to go back to the past and see how my views have changed over a period of time about certain things in life. Though the blog is personal, I have to tread carefully not to disrespect any section of the society, and that to me has always been the biggest challenge.

So, as the sojourn goes on, I think, I figure out and I write what I feel is most appropriate, that, which touches my emotional chord, reeling a bout of emotions, sensitive and effective, capturing the important and not so important moments of my life, taking me to a literary, fictitious, and non-fictitious world, encapsulating me in a warm embrace, as I cuddle up and realize that I have just written the 200th blog post in the two years of my blog career.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Well, well, well, before I break your head with acronyms, three out of the five refer to the same topic. I am referring to the Harry Potter (HP) series, which had readers hooked all over the world, thanks to JK Rowling. What really pleased me was the fact that there was so much anticipation, that kids and adults alike had lined up stores at midnight to procure the first copy of the book. That really is a good step and it was good to see people give so much importance to literature instead of other trivialities.

I read the books after a long time, actually, really long. After the final edition of the series had come out, I took up to Harry Potter reading. I just wanted to know what was there in the book that people were going crazy about. I read the six books in about two or three weeks time, in between office and household chores. I don't know why, but I could never take out time to read it over the weekends. There was a point when I was reading the fourth book that I felt really bored. That's when I realized that I shouldn't be reading it for the sake of reading, and so, took a break. The break did some good to me, as I came back to finish up the remaining three in a jiffy. I now have moved on to the seventh one of the series, and have just taken a break, since I have not liked it much till now. The break will hopefully help me read the book in a better frame of mind next week.

Being in Boston is just too good, in the sense that access to books and movies have never been easier. We have the Woburn Public Library and the Burlington Public Library which has a huge collection of books and movies. It is just wonderful to go to these libraries and spend time borrowing what you want. That's where I could get the first four parts of the movie collection pertaining to Harry Potter. To be honest, the movies have done commendable justice to the books. I just don't understand when people tell me that the movies are not as good as the books. I just have to tell these people that movies last only for two hours, while on an average, you read a Harry Potter book for close to 8 hours. So, that makes a big difference. I could really identify the book through the movie. It was a pleasant experience to watch the movies. It was as well depicted as it could be. Obviously, there were certain scenes that were edited, but then as I said earlier, it is not an easy task to compress eight hours of matter into two hours.

OK! I loved the movie and in particular, I loved Emma Watson (EW), who plays the role of Hermione Granger (HG). HG impressed me in the book as well, and in the movie, it was fittingly played out by a charming young lady. One of the moments that will remain with me for a long time - EW coming out with Victor Krum to the Yule Ball to me is the highlight of the series. She was stunning, an adjective that can be magnified to unexplainable proportions to describe her beauty on screen. The cute innocence combined with absolute grace and charm led me and Sameer to rewind that scene again and again and again (well it can go on!). Maybe that goes to show why I got up in the middle of the night and was hoping to find EW(HG) somewhere within my proximity. Don't ask me what I was dreaming about! EW, if you ever happen to hit upon this page, please let me know (that's optimism!!!)!!!!

Coming away from Emma Watson, the next two days were spent in the Muggle world. Saturday was a great day with sunshine all around. A perfect day to go out, and out we (Sameer, Siddharth, Shubhika and I) went to New Hampshire (NH) to see the fall colors. The drive was perfect (ask everyone who was driving), in particular the drive on Highway 112 was brilliant. We stopped at various points to capture many different shots on different trails.

Soon, Sunday it was and I went with Kumar to a Telugu (one of my favorite Indian languages) movie, Happy Days (HD), a movie that was a stark contrast to the one we had seen a couple of weeks back. A pleasant college love story, and it just gave me some time to introspect. Could this really be a college, and where had I been during my Engineering days? A question, which I was quick to dismiss before I even could allot some time to it. Some things are best left forgotten! But, the movie was really pleasant with good music and a sense of feel good factor. I just came out of the theater thinking about the good days in Engineering and of course, the fun moments at Rolla (obviously it has to be mentioned!).

So, am just managing to squeeze out time for various things over the week. Let's see how long I can carry this with me.

(Images in this post are used for information purpose only)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Turning up(on!) with a bindi

I had to check the title twice so that I did not end up adding an 'h' somewhere that could result in a vegetable. The whole meaning of the post would have been lost. But, Google has always helped my cause to verify things instantaneously, and here goes the post to convey the right meaning.

Bindi is a symbol anyone from India would be familiar with. In South India, it is referred to as Pottu or Bottu, and since I am from the South, my first reaction would be to associate that tiny dot on a woman's forehead as Pottu. I do not want to write about the religious significance of a bindi since a significant lot has been written about that. I have always wondered how that tiny addition to the forehead of women serves as a nice decorative item. A bindi comes in different sizes and shapes associated with a myriad of decorative features thus answering a big question Why do girls spend hours and hours of their time selecting a bindi?

But today it is different. It is no more cool to sport a bindi, at least, that's what many of them say. Maybe there are hundreds of reasons as to why a girl doesn't like to wear a bindi, but for traditionalists like me, it is unimaginable to see an Indian girl walk around without that tiny piece of sticker adorning her forehead. Be it the most fashionable dress that she wears, it generates a not so good feeling to see her bare forehead. There are some people with whom you cannot cross the line, and so tend to ignore them. But, if you have seen someone sporting a bindi all along, and suddenly, one fine day, you see her devoid of it, you point that out to her. Of course, as I said earlier, you just cannot cross the line.

It is not the question of what exactly a bindi symbolizes, but it is just a feel good factor to see a girl with it. It may not mean anything to anyone around, but the fact that we have grown accustomed to it tells a lot about it. Last week in a restaurant, my friend was quick to point this out to me, "Oh man!! She looks really good with a bindi. It adds so much of a difference to the appearance. Good to see a typical Indian girl here." Naturally, I couldn't agree more. The touch of tradition that the bindi adds to the girl has to be seen to be explained. I remember the times when I used to end up watching television shows with my mother by my side, "Ma, this girl is so beautiful. Isn't she?" She would immediately retort, "Oh! What's the point! She doesn't even wear a pottu. She would look like a doll if she wore one." I would immediately say "What's wrong if she doesn't wear the pottu?" Without conceding defeat, she would say Indians are supposed to wear a pottu, dwelling into the religious significane of the pottu, by which time, I would have changed a hundred different channels hoping that my mother would change the topic quickly. Invariably, she was left with no choice with a muted listener. But, now, it clearly makes sense!

T-shirts, Jeans and a pottu is definitely appealing (according to me, in my opinion; before somebody argues with me on this point!). Change that to a traditional Indian wear like a saree or Churidhar with a pottu; Man, that is quite a deadly combination!!!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Simple things in life

Simplicity is certainly the norm of life, and sometimes, when you look back in time, you just wonder how in the world, the world has changed drastically over a period of time. There are so many people with whom I can easily share this view How I wish I can go back in time. Life was simple, with all the little things having the greatest of significance and extravaganza was limited to just over the top luxuries, luxuries which do not even qualify as basic necessities in today's ever changing world. Life was all about doing the simple things in a simple way to get simple results and more importantly getting satisfied in a simple way. Simple, isn't it?

Pratap and I go a long way in sharing some of the good and bad times together. Today, at lunch time, we had a brief conversation over phone, and invariably, the talks centered on Bangalore and the simplicity of the early nineties. He told me Praveen, I want to go back to Bangalore and experience the thrill of life as Bangalore was during our growing up process. My father wants the Bangalore of the sixties, but I know I can't wish for something which I have not seen. Atleast I want the way it was when we grew up. I don't have to say that similar sentiments are echoed by another passionate Bangalorean Prasad, with whom telephonic conversations have never been complete without a reference to our beloved city. All of us have the fear of getting alienated within the confines of our region, thanks to the rapidity of the changes.

Class I to IV
Let's just revisit the good old years. My school had two shifts, the morning shift was from 7:30 in the morning till 12:30 in the afternoon for the primary classes, while the high school students had to attend from 12:30 in the afternoon till 5:30 in the evening. Being a nocturnal creature, even then, getting up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready for school was the worst nightmare for me. I used to conjure different kinds of tricks to get that extra minute's sleep that never went well with my mother. She literally used to pull me out of the bed and push me to the bathroom forcing me to do my morning ablutions. There were no two ways about it. I had to take a bath and then go to school. This has inculcated within me a strong practice to never leave the house without a shower in the morning. The whole process of getting ready to go to school would be complete within fifteen minutes (to all my friends who have wondered how in the world I get ready so fast today!!!). The seven or ten minute walk from home to school with fellow toddlers, all of us carrying books as if on a space mission, were the best moments of my life. The discussions that were carried out were the simplest topics having a touch of high importance and confidentiality. Psst...Psst...There is a haunted house behind the school. Whoever goes in never comes out alive. Why do you think the black magic man was there in that house yesterday? Every word of the high profile talk was lapped up in absolute concentration.

Enter school, and the early morning jitters is not exactly washed away. In spite of having all the fascinating discussions, the desk serves as an ideal place to cushion your head with the minimum of fuss. All that changes, when you see your neighbor all smiling. What happened? Did you buy something new? Obviously, that smile can mean that he has got something new. Out from the bag, he flashes out a beautiful pencil box made of plastic, with a two layered holder. There is a small gathering to admire his new acquisition. He proudly explains the various features of the box, as to how cleverly the box is designed so as to hold the extra pencils and rubbers (that's how I call them even though people attribute a completely different meaning to it today) apart from the usual set of two. It is always better to carry extra pencils. You always need them what with the amount of classwork and homework to be done, he says. The other guys just stand there and wonder, "What a brilliant guy he is!! He has thought so much about it!!!" If anyone in the group comes up with a counter argument, our friend here is quick to point out the advantages and convince everyone around that he is not a fool to buy the pencil box without considering all that. Now, he is virtually idolized. If he ever buys anything new on the day of the test or exam, there is no point in flaunting his new found possession as you see, his classmates are in a state of tension. They are more worried about the test score than about his new pencil box, and rightly so! One more important aspect of pencil box skips my mind; if the box had a magnet, the guy would turn hero!

Homeworks and classwork were always a fun part of studies. If ever you completed your homework on time, and realized that the person next to you has not got his homework note book, the excitement levels in the gang builds up slowly. know what, he has not done his home work...Conveying the news has never been faster. In the middle of all this, favoritism also stems. Why do you think he got one mark more than me? Miss(that's how we used to address our teachers in school) is partial towards him. It was always interesting to know what the other fellow wrote in his test papers. As he sensed that you were looking in his direction, he would give out a stare that can give a complex even to the teachers. He used to be as protective of his paper as a lioness is to her cub.

Class V to VII
Discussions used to be on mature lines, well that's what we thought then. More stress on sports and extracurricular activities was laid upon. Did you see the match yesterday? Sachin Tendulkar was brilliant. On an equal footing some other day, He should be dropped man. He is a waste. You also understood the importance of being competitive. I have to outscore him in the exams. Apart from that, little things used to add up to a lot of excitement. My dad took me to this newly built restaurant yesterday. It was too good. Enid Blyton became a part of your daily life. A group of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew fans formed the sidelines. Your eyes used to light up on seeing the bhel puri gaadi wala. But, restraint from home prevented you from taking that plunge of buying outside stuff. Hygiene was top priority. This was the time when you started picking up the big words, but scared to use them in the open. Miss! He is using bad waards!!!

Class VIII to X
Now, a high school student with big ambitions. You want to play the fun and at the same, you don't want to take it too far. Come on, you will be facing board exams in two years is the mantra of parents and teachers alike. Two years is as good as eternity for a high school student. You silently laughed at their forewarnings and at the same time, irritation and frustration slowly crept it. This was the time when you started seeing the girls in the next class with a slightly different feeling and for obvious reasons, you could never tell it out. It would be a scandal, you thought. But, you never let go of the chance to mock at a fellow student looking at girls. You have firmly secured a grip on the most often used terms in school. C'mon you are a big boy now!!! The juniors look upon you as a demigod and you were always ready with your advice. The evening walk back from school now comprised of a whole range of topics. Girls, movies, books, marks, exams, preparations and what not filled your mind, and who better to share all these things with than a good friend.

So, as we were heading back from lunch to office today, Chetan and I were discussing the good effects of school life, and it was just a great way of rekindling the happiness of good old times. Simple happiness filled us big time and today I cannot imagine the prospect of sitting in a class without the irritating ringtone of a mobile phone. MMS services are being used at an all time high with forgettable pictures. Today, not many would like to walk to school. Cars and personal chauffeurs play vital roles in a kid's life. It is time we forget this madness and bask in the glory of those days!

PS: With due respect to my fellow blogger friends, I will be removing the blogrolling page element. Google Reader more than serves my purpose, and I realised that I am hardly clicking on the links from my page. Thanks!!!!