Posted in Uncategorized

Dry spell

It may seem like I am running dry on fuel to light my blog fire. But the fact of the matter is that it was a holiday week (last week – The American Thanksgiving weekend) and I made my work week short. We were able to spend some quality time in Memphis with some family. So all in all, the mind was just getting refreshed for a few more weeks of the grind before yet another spell of holidays. Well..I think the last 6 weeks of the year have slowly turned out to be my most favorite time of the year, even though I don’t celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. These weeks give me an oppurtunity to be home a little more often than the remaining 46 weeks and more importantly not to work for at least 2 full weeks out of those 6. The weather turning inclement is just a small dampening factor in the general holiday spirit of things. In general, things take quite a big downward spiral once we get back to work in January. Foot deep snow to shovel every other week, bone-chilling weather, some bitter freezing winds, darkness spreading even before 5 PM and not getting to see any kind of sunlight for most of the week because of my crazy work hours – they all are gloomy thoughts that won’t hamper my holiday mood right now.

For now, between Nov and the end of the year, there are gifts to be bought (thankfully only a few), parties to be attended (unthankfully only a few again), hours to be spent with Nakul (there can never be many of those), some nice places to be visited & good unhealthy stuff to be eaten. Who complains? I may even get some ideas to write about. So the dry spell, if you notice any is the holiday effect. Hang in there!

Posted in On such things...

On Catabiosis and such things…

Aging is a necessary and an inevitable evil. Terming it evil may just be a matter of perception but the universal fact remains that getting old is not what you and I want, yet we will do so against all our good intentions and will. I was browsing through some family pictures of a recent engagement ceremony thanks to the powerful online connectivity of the twenty first century. The images of some of my aunts and cousins just made me stop for an extra moment in a poignant way as I flipped through the pictures one after another.

We try to visit our family and home town almost every year. But these 2 week trips to India are not the same as having our feet rooted there and living there. I still carry memories of my childhood with me – of the many short & livid moments that filled my life in my home town as I grew up, till I was 17. Even though I spent 8 more years in India after leaving for college, those memories, events and images from those rooted 17 years are what I have in my mind when I think of someone in the family or some place around my town. It is funny sometimes to actually try to equate the current reality with my memory – some of my cousins in my instant and colorful memories were as old as I am today. It does not matter. And that is why when I flipped from one picture to another and as I saw some wrinkled skins here and some gray hair there, some pale faces here and some shrunken cheeks there, some drooped shoulders here and some dark eye circles there, these younger and colorful images of the same people came rushing to my virtual vision. I wanted them all to remain the same yet what is now is what I do not want…Then as I stared at some faces and some familiar grimaces & smiles (in the pictures), I felt sorry for them. I do not know why.

A few minutes later, I was done with viewing the online album. Droplets of those pensive thoughts pervaded through my mind as I continued with my day’s work. Later that evening, when my mind was unburdened with the spreadsheets and decision points at work, I got back to my memory lane jog.

Wait a minute.. Why should I feel sorry? By the same token, I am sure the younger members of the family could have a similar image of me and should justifiably feel sorry for me for having grown older. May be they do and that’s not for me to guess. But do I really need that empathy just for growing up? If growing old is part of everyone’s life, why should I feel sorry for someone who is older than me and for being older than what I want them to be? Am I being arrogant and snobbish & hence my empathy for them? I don’t think so as those two qualities don’t result in empathy. So am I being reluctant and concerned? Probably a little bit of these two.

Now the “age old” question – Can we do anything about aging? Of course there are age old answers for this. Everyone talks about why aging as we think is not bad at all, what matters is your physiological age and not your chronological age, etc. So my question really is – Can we do anything about our sensitivity to aging?

Philosophically, it is possible to be sensitive to the problems associated with aging and not be sensitive to the actual process of aging itself. Is it practical? We know the skin has to loosen, we know the eyes have to lose their luster and we know senility is just one more step towards the ultimate. Still, how can we conquer that sensitivity?

As such thoughts rubble through my mind in the middle of some waving silence, I know what and how I felt when I saw those pictures, was just a real human moment. The care, the tenderness, the cherished memories and the way all of them came together to create a poignant moment actuating the humanness in me is beyond the boundaries of the philosophical containers I may try to build around them. Try hard or not, you have to grow with your age – You have to believe in capturing good memories from all the ages.

* Catabiosis is the normal process of aging of cells.

* Links to my other “Other such things” – Good-Byes, Baby Names.

Posted in Miscellaneous

Culture Police

The Detroit mayoral election is over. And it was probably one of the most unexpected election wins you had ever witnessed. Kwame just whizzed past Freedman when every pollster thought that the latter was going to win by at least 10 points. I personally do not think that there was any foul play even though that was the first thing that came to my mind when I read the results the following day in my Chicago hotel room because as of 2 AM, Kwame was trailing by more than 6-7%. As the Detroiters have proved, Known evil is better than an unknown one. I bet this is good news for the Super Bowl organizers as they can expect to have some wild parties thrown around the city for the next few weeks aiming to boost city’s economy all within the boundaries of law and mayoral code of conduct – of course it may pinch the tax payers’ pockets a little bit and may even frustrate them!

A frustrating news event in the past week was the Suhasini episode. I do not have an answer to people who ask me where Tamil Nadu is heading to. Is it over indulgence of the self proclaimed culture police? Or is it just another case of the hundreds of caste/region based political outfits and their leaders trying to take political advantage of anything and everything that can put them in front pages? May be it is both. Probably the latter inducing the former. Whatever it is, the state that is the richest in the country in terms of arts and culture is going towards a path of self destruction, all because of misunderstood and misinterpreted self-pride.

When Dravida Kazhagam led the Hindi agitation movement in the 1960s, even though it felt like they were trying to isolate themselves from the rest of the country, there was a rationale behind the movement and the cause was justified. The whole Dravidian social reform movement was a major chapter in the history of Tamil Nadu politics and anyone who grew up in Tamil Nadu at that time (or in the next decade like me), have a deep hang-over of what it meant to the people of the state at that time. What we witness today in the form of Thirumavalavan, PMK, etc. are rotten leftovers from that period who neither were there to have mustered any courage to rest their heads on rail tracks not knowing if the moving train would actually stop a few feet away or not, nor are here, to have to muster more courage & exhibit intelligence in understanding and working for real issues facing the people, like water, food and housing. They think they have to shoulder the palanquin of Tamil culture to future but what they don’t want to admit is that the palanquin will not fit into the tunnel that leads to the future and it needs some mending. They are marching because there are some thousands who are ready to listen to them and follow them no matter what their case in point is, notwithstanding the fact that they are being led to a dark age. If there is anyone who cries foul at these so called leaders and tells them that they are doped & two centuries behind, they are ready to yell back, file lawsuits and even drive donkeys to their front yard to burn their effigies. Bottom line, they just want to win some votes and this cheap gimmick is working well in their short term aspirations but hurting the state in her long term aspiration of growing.

I am not upset at all because it was Suhasini, someone who I respect not just for her acting skills but also because of her stature in the field as an outspoken, intelligent and a smart woman. Just look at the amount of law suits that are being filed against Kushboo, Suhasini and everyone in the tamil movie field in general. Don’t we have any other pressing issue to worry about other than taking a “well voiced personal opinion” on an issue that is threatening the human race (AIDS) entirely out of context and quoting it in an entirely different context, trying to draw meaning out of it and using the media to blow it out of proportion so that the person who originally voiced the opinion comes across as someone who has worked against Tamil culture and Tamil women all her life? And the chief minister of the state who herself is an educated woman, could not even come out in open and pat the above person on her back because if she did so, she has to worry about her next re-election bid. Instead she throws more brickbats at the person and abets the growing lawsuits that are being filed in every district court and session’s court you can think of. If a well-learned woman chief minister cannot address an issue that is so woman centric and that is a critical one for the state that ranks in the top 5 AIDS list in the country, who else can?

This was the best opportunity for Jayalalitha to have shown her assurance on the Women’s Rights issues & Independence and her support for the exploited women. But she chooses to ignore the activists because they do not count as much in terms of votes compared to the “exploited women” who can still be exploited to come and vote for her plus those who exploit them, the all egoistic male voters. I just hope the legal system in the state does not get carried away and takes a balanced view at these before putting all the loud mouthed politicians and lawyers in their respective places. I know that would be too late – too much would have happened to spoil the state’s reputation by then. But even if Suhasini manages to throw a legal slap in the face of Sarath Kumar, who has his own political agenda and seems to have suddenly jumped from the skies to rescue Tamilians & their culture just in time for the elections, I would be happy. That would mean that we still have a glimmer of hope and the state will do well, after all.

Posted in Cricket

Indian Cricket Idol

The unceremonious dethroning of Saurav Ganguly should really have hogged the headlines for many days in a nation which was once ruled by Kings and Princes, and which has had a strong whiff of Royal odor in its air for centuries. Truth be told, it did capture all the sports column headlines for a day but the next day when Rahul Dravid was made the captain of the Indian cricket team, the man who was once ostensibly the most aggressive captain to have led the Indian team, the man who was slammed by many a western media journalist to many an Indian journalist’s delight and the man who led & played cricket with some quirky bashfulness which are characteristics of any successful Indian in any field (if you ask me), was suddenly the most “unhappening man” around. He was virtually pushed out of the newspaper columns and even the domestic games he was playing did not get any coverage thanks to the sudden surge in the fortunes of the Indian cricket team and their unassailable 4-1 lead in the series against Sri Lanka. I have no problems at all with India winning so comfortably in their home turf. The joy and satisfaction I get clicking on the “Scorecard” link on my most frequently visited cricket website and getting to see another hard earned win by Dravid’s men is no less or more than the satisfaction I got on those innumerable occasions when I forced my younger brother to play cricket with me in a familiar turf & smashing the living daylights out of his pitiful cricket playing soul. So what am I whining about?

Greg Chappell…my friends. At this moment, I am not in favor of his superlative coaching attitude – nor his approach. The ouster of Ganguly and his coterie bond within the team has got nothing to do with my dislike for Chappell. Chappell is a respected Cricketer and I think he has done his bit in coaching & cricket governance in his home country, in a very respectable way. But the environment in Indian cricket and BCCI is a little too cold & prickly, for what he is used to. That apart, I think his “Either you are with me or you are screwed” attitude is not going to win him many friends in the long run. I think that is important if you want to take the team a long way. Well, so far he seems to have won a lot of friends in BCCI, selection committee and even the Indian cricket media. The man wants to completely control the team, own the team and wants the captain to nod his head for every single decision he wants to make & the captain differs from. Apparently, during the recent Zimbabwe tour, he walked for the toss with the second-rate Zimbabwe Board team’s captain while Ganguly and Dravid were still busy getting their last minute cricketing skills right in the nets. That demeanor was not only audacious but also meant to send a message to his then worst enemy Saurav and also to anyone who was watching & wants to lead the team – “Don’t really need you – so what if you are the captain of the team?”

I am not really sure if Ganguly deserves a place in the current Indian team or not. But I think he certainly deserved better when it came to telling him a big ‘Sorry’. He has been in the thick of things when it came to not scoring enough runs in the last few series. He had definitely gone back to playing-cricket-through-his-nerves–days, which was not good for him as he seems to possess a very restless mind. But not a single Indian captain in the past took it up to the predominantly white men dominated cricket establishment and looked at them right in their eyes & showed them the Indian attitude. He stood up to their chin and tried to give two words back for every word he received. He showed them why he didn’t care just because it was a rule – he wanted to show them he just didn’t like it because it was a rule made up by you the “whites” to benefit the “you-lots” and it was highly biased. He was able to do all that and command a respect in the team because his team was winning more often than losing. Not even the Jat Hurricane from Haryana could do that in spite of winning the world cup. Kapil Dev always was plain, honest and open about how he felt but the man lacked the suaveness to convey his anger to the western media. Sunil Gavaskar, the most aired spokesperson for Indian cricket, was a white men pleasing boy during his playing days, specially during his captaincy days. That was why he was the gentleman cricketer of his times. Of course, he is doing his bit now by being a little critical of the establishment’s actions that harm the sub-continent cricketers and not the English or the Australian cricketers – but it helps only to an extent.

The point is that the dirty politics of BCCI and the selection committee has yet again caused a ripple in the Indian cricket stream. With things looking good and even great at the moment what with a thumping win over SL in the one day series & with anything and everything that Chappell & Dravid plan out seems to be clicking in all its glory, I am sure Chappell is soon going to be the new Indian cricket idol.

I just want to be the Simon Cowell of this Indian Cricket Idol contest and say
“If you’ve got a big mouth and you’re controversial, you’re going to get attention.”

Posted in Miscellaneous

Festive Nostalgia

Halloween and Deepavali – Kind of a good combination. Those are the two festivities that could have blocked your Monday and Tuesday of this week if you were quite not in a situation as I am. Pretty sad that I have to spend the Deepavali day away from home – but on second thoughts, even if I were home today, I don’t think the Deepavali spirit in Novi, Michigan is the same to write home (sic.) about as it is in any small town in India. All said, may be there is some amount of nostalgia here. I do miss the Deepavali fun that I grew up with – the week long snack aroma in the house, Mom’s constant update of her 2 page long snack check list, last minute mad rush to the tailor shop to make sure that the new clothes would be ready at least the day before, a 10 PM ‘cracker walk’ – to buy fireworks for the next day and of course who can forget trying to combine that walk with another last minute garment purchase for the grand parents. Then, as I settle down in a temporary bed that is closer to the kitchen wondering why my mom didn’t have to worry about an alarm clock for that night, my sleep is always interrupted by the lack of it, as every 20 minutes or so, I open my eyes to check the clock. Finally, at ‘3ish AM’, I am up and so are my mom and grand mom. Once again the fresh smell of fried oily snacks fill the house and I wait till 4:30 AM to step out into the streets to fire my first ‘cracker’. Ha! The smell of sulfur around my little hands definitely was not healthy and hygienic but hey, it was fun. Well, I did wash my hands thoroughly with soap before I touched anything that was edible. Hmmm.. those days will never come back.

Halloween and Deepavali both deal with evil. Deepavali is celebrating the victory of good over evil and Halloween is just venerating evil. In some ways, Deepavali following Halloween the following day, like this year is a coincidence. A good coincidence.

My last post was also a coincidence in some good way because what followed the next day was the indictment of Mr.Libby. I just didn’t have enough time to celebrate over the weekend. Heard this on David Letterman last week “President Bush is so overwhelmed with all these recent issues and troubles that he is hoping for another National Emergency like a Hurricane Katrina or something…so that…he can do Nothing!”. Cracked me up quite a bit..Ha..ha.

Attapattu and his men are facing the wrath of Chappell’s 11 in India. Ganguly, the man who once stood defiantly against “white cricket establishment”, whom I admired for the grit and the arrogance he brought to the team, for simply the way with which he approached his captaincy, is suddenly the biggest loser of this India-SL series. Notwithstanding his century in the Duleep trophy which proves he is still fit to play Domestic cricket, I am sure Gregory Chappell will not like to alter the balance of this winning team. I wish I had the opportunity to watch Dhoni deliver his blows the way he did in Jaipur. Explosive innings and we got to wait and watch his consistency specially outside the Indian Peninsula.

Explosions – That’s what bothered me over the weekend. New Delhi was the target again and it is an awful way to disturb the festive crowd. I will never understand the devious minds of these trouble makers. Hatred exhibited in its worst form once again – in all its goriness and primitive viciousness. I think what India needs is to get rid of the secular tag and become a Hindu Nation – live to its name – “Hindustan”. No. That is not the religious fanatic in me speaking. It is just an Indian pragmatist speaking. More on this touchy subject later.

Happy Deepavali! And Happy Eid!