Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Five Day Fever

Bangalore will now have the world's first roller-coaster for everyday use. The Bengalooru Mahanagara Palike (BMP) is constructing a series of 5 hump-backed flyovers on Sankey Road, all in a span of 5 days. Ingenious Malaysian technology is being used, where interlocking concrete blocks will be assembled lego-style, to create a flyover system overnight. At the end of the 5 day period, Sankey Road will look like this:

The deadline for completion has come and gone though, and I don't see no humps on that road. Not even a speedbump. Since my faith in the BMP is strong and unshakeable, I have come to the inescapable conclusion that the flyover was built well in time, but instantly ceased to exist due to one of the following reasons:

(1)The flyover system came to life, logged on to shaadi dot com in search of a life partner, and moved to Scotland.

(2) The Police commissioner felt that the flyovers would cause giddiness, and that anything involving light headedness beyond 11pm was illegal and had to be dismantled.

(3) A passing family of giants needed braces for their dentally challenged children.

(4) Smallsquirrel, self, and other respected Bangaloreans decided that the flyovers were actually donut halves and ate them for breakfast.

(5) The concrete lego blocks were smuggled off to suburban Bombay, where they now house a family of 8 each.

(6) Flyovers No.2 & 3 next to Opus sprouted legs and ran for cover on Karaoke night, and so the entire project had to be cancelled.
In light of the extenuating circumstances above, it is only fair that we forgive poor BMP for its inability to produce the said flyover system in the stipulated time.

We must therefore not lose hope in their ambitious 30km tunnel highway from Minsk square to Devanahalli, and can rest assured that it will indeed be complete by next year, as promised.

BMP, We love you. No, really.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

One chilly evening at the Yathiraja Matham

Note: The conversation below is in Kan-Tam (Kannadized Tamil), spoken quite widely in Malleswaram, with dialects as diverse as the families that speak it. I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to skip the vernacular and stick with the translations though :)

Anri, Yeggu, ippodhella kaaNrdhe ille? Kaaryon jaasthiyaa?
(What di Yadugiri, haven't seen you in ages. Been busy?)

Ille ma Sheerangu, aar maason Cincinatti-k patpoindhe, chin paNNde haathke.
(No ma Sriranganayaki, I was visiting the younger daugher in Cincinatti for 6 months)

Oh, annual visitaa? Apdi ikka unde haidhi? AvLe paath 5 varshath kitte ardhe.
(Ah, the annual visitaa? How's that daughter of yours doing? Havent seen her in 5 years at least)

Hoon ma, ingthik varthke aiykundille awlaale. Office karyon, pash-haLde schoole, yejmanarde vaaley, adh, idh ant time-e shik-kyundille awLke. Athkey ticket anpichoodra, naangl rand peron poit varthke.
(Yeah, yeah.. You know how it is, Work, children, husband's job, etc. Thats why she flies us up there every year instead)

Adh sari. Naanon yejmanaron hathrathle Minneapolis poit vandhon 6 maasathke. Ande peri paiyon ang ikkandha, gyaapkon ikkardha?
(Oh yeah, I know that one! The old boy and I were just up in Minneapolis for 6 months to visit our older son recently)

Oho aama, anna? Odh paanengl rand pero ange? Thalihe, paapa pathkordhe, phone le vaarthey sholrdhe: athnyeva? Athva engyana alchkund ponana, paiyyon?
(Oh, Yes, no? And what did you two do there? Cook, take care of the baby and talk to relatives on the phone? Or did he take you out somewhere?)

Hoon ma odho Taco Bell ant restaurant ikkardhe, angthik alchkund pona wor na dinner ke. Awnde haath leno jasthi dooron ille ant kaanrna. Namde rajma ikkardhe, athk kothambri sopp pot chapati le shuththi kudthaa. Parvayille, nanna indhe.
(Yeah, we went out once to this restaurant called Taco Bell. Didn't seem very far from his place. They dished us some weird Rajma and corriander wrapped in a chapatti. Wasn't too bad I suppose.)

Adh sari. Naangl yengyon jaasthi poville ma. Thalihe panni, papa-de karyon ella pathkorth-kullye sariya pochi. Paapon rand perkon office le shene karyon ant thonrna. Time-ey shikville engLe angyon appale alchkyund porthke.
(Ah ok. We didnt go out much ma. What with all the cooking, cleaning, looking after the baby and all. Looks like both of them were really busy at work. )

Aamva? Neengl vapas vandh aan pinne rand pero Europe trip patpona ant aaro sholkyundindhaaaa...? (sly smile)
(Well, r-e-a-l-l-y now. I heard they went off on a Europe vacation after you guys came back. (sly smile) )

Oh.. ha ha.. err.. aama ma, paapon, odho break vonon, break vonon ant kirchaadkyund indha appolenme. Naangl innu sheth naal irkunma irndhdhe. Adhe holidayk time ach ant begon anpichoota.
(Oh.. ha ha.. err yes, they were talking about that while we were there. We were infact supposed to stay on longer, but they sent us back early so they could go, poor things.
Aama Ne, nee unde naatpaNde daycare centre le thuNi thochkyund indhe ant kaette....n? (smirk)
But how about you? I heard you were in charge of the dirty laundry section in your daughter-in-law's daycare center? (smirk))

Umm.. errr... Ann ma, varme washing machine le adth potkundindhe athnye. Ange adhellaa periya kaaryon ille.
(Umm.. err.. well I .. just loaded the clothes in the machine and dried them out. It wasn't a big deal really... )

Hmm. Paapon. Nee yenmana chollu. Indh vysle ang poi oddhaadrthk badhla, ingye santhoshma irndh filter coffee utkund, kovilk poikund-vandhkund irklaan. Anna?
(Hmm.. Poor you. Eh, but who are we kidding. At our age, I'd rather do filter coffee shots and hang out at the temple here, than slog it out in a foreign land, what say?)

Aama Ne. Namde Malleshwaron thaa gathi namkellaan. Sari, appo vapas pore angthikke?
(Pfft, tell me about it. Malleswaram's the bees knees for the likes of us! When are you going back?)

Sadya (Thank god) ma, naat likely in thee neeyar future.

Nee lucky ma ude. Naa July le wapas ponmaardhe. Thirpyon Taco Belle- gille ant engyana alchkund ponaka adhHaLe kothambri marathk nethaad-vechoot vare.
(You are lucky ma, leave. I have to go back in July. But I swear, if those freaks take me to a Taco Bell again, I'll personally string'em up on their stupid corriander plant* .
*kannada idiom: will string you up on a corriander plant = I am angry but love you too much to wish you any harm

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Hungry kya? Carols ga!

The terrible part of last week was that I had to do the million-mile schlep to E-City for a training programme.

The bad part of last week, was that the training programme had a homework assignment! I pleaded with the taciturn trainer to let old men like me off the hook, but my passionate entreaties fell on deaf ears. I was left with no option but to drum out a jargon-filled prez, dressed up with my infamous technical diagrams. Since the trainer didnt die laughing or make me stand in a corner after he saw it, I assumed he'd just eaten bisi bele bhath, or was just plain stupid. Not that I was complaining.

The good part of last week, was a chi-chi-pooh-pooh concert at the Park Hotel dahling, attended by Bangalore's insufferable who's-who. What was I doing there? Well, aside from showcasing my natural talent at being insufferable, I was also playing sound engineer for the evening's performance: A Christmas concert by my music group.

The choir had been rehearsing 3-4 times a week to get this concert together. The first half consisted of excerpts from Handel's well loved Messiah. (You know, the one where the conductor runs 440V up everybody's spines and they go "Haaaaaa-le-lujah! Haaaaa-le-lujah!" in perfect 4/4 time.) Being on a break from singing and all, I was deputed to perform the supremely arduous task of hitting the play and pause buttons between soundtracks. Blonde Swedish counter-tenor, sweet brunette German soprano, and the extremely talented Girl 1 (Mallu soprano, choir director) were in full form, as always. The choir was tight, well rehearsed and comfortable. The mood lightened up considerably in the second half, though the music remained just as tough to perform. Swedish and german carols, jazzed up versions of popular christmas songs, Girl 1 going slightly nuts on "I'll be home for Christmas", and finally, the quick paced, but light-as-air Carol of the Bells.

The wonderful part of last week however, were the free cocktails and hors d'oeuvres after the concert. Yes, I use this word specifically, as I ate like a hors till they were all oeuvre. While wine and cocktails flowed like water, the ardors of my crazy-ass week melted away happily into nothingness.

And the best part of last week was the "order whatever you want on the menu" dinner for the performers, after the concert! Haha! If the poor Park Hotel staff was expecting a bunch of air-kissing, food-picking socialites for light dinner and polite banter, weren't they in for a surprise! Especially when they had to reckon with Bikerdude, the lean (err), mean (uh-huh, oh yeah!) eating machine! Muhuhahaha.

Moral: Never offer free dinner to a hungry choir.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Bangalore Winter Cameos

After due diligence and deliberation, I have decided that Bangalore in the winter is what reminds me the most of Bangalore.
And therefore I present below, 15 things not to miss in a Bangalore winter:
  1. The ethereal morning mist on the Sankey Tank.
  2. My naturally botoxed face after a freezing bike ride.
  3. The blue, dew-covered lawns at Cubbon Park.
  4. The insanely pink Tabebuias in full bloom all over town.
  5. Street dogs curled up in little bundles inside dustbins.
  6. The Bangalore Boom inducers - avarekai.
  7. My great-aunt's lovely Christmas pudding.
  8. Hot hot rava rava idli at Adigas.
  9. Missy M in her red sweater.
  10. The artists' walkway at Bengalooru Habba.
  11. Christmas lights on Brigade Road.
  12. Open air concerts at the Palace.
  13. My mother serving bisibele bath and bonda to delighted carollers at 10 in the night.
  14. My numb fingers on the guitar accompanying well fed carollers at 1 in the morning.
  15. And my birthday. Cash, cheques, facelift coupons and trips to exotic destinations accepted, thank you.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I couldnt believe it. An hour ago I was struggling against time to send out a last minute doc to the boss, and now here we were in the airport, two insanely expensive samosas down, boarding a flight to Sossegado land!
Yaaaaay! Two whole days of sun, sand, corpulent Brit tourists, and sea!

"Humph", said the budget airhostess, as we got on the plane at Bangalore. I beamed back at her, hoping to make her day as good as mine. She threw her head back, howled at the overhead bins and gnashed her teeth at us in a most friendly fashion. Before she could reach out and snap our heads off politely, we dived into our seats and hid under our recycled budget-flight magazines.

From my foetal position in the impossibly crammed Spicejet seat, I saw the arid beauty of the Deccan slowly giving way to the lush green of the Sahyadris, and we soon touched down at the immensely charming Dabolim Airport. Minutes later, we were whizzing away to Calangute on the spectacular Goa highway, winding through villages, shipyards, pretty churches and amazing views of the sea.

Bags down, we set off instantly for the beach on a rented Activa. After wading across row upon row of slowly cooking white skin, we finally reached the sea. I'd almost forgotten how magical the Arabian sea can be in winter. Placid, emerald green and ethereal. Disturbed only by the incessant roar of waterscooters, wailing kids, paunchy uncles, and extremely silly looking parasailers. All very pretty though.

Out of the water and ravenous, we drifted into the nearest shack and ordered everything they had. I decided to be goody two shoes on the first leg of my trip, and ordered a glass of nice Goan port wine. The waiter plonked a whole bottle of the good stuff in front of us, and then set down huuuge platters of food with large helpings of chips and tartar sauce. 'Ow English luv, I thought, looking around at the astounding number of identically dour faced, sunburned Brit tourists sipping G&Ts and digging into chicken teeka masollas.

It was heartening though, to see that Goa had indianized quite significantly since our last trip. We saw more than a few twenty-something yuppie Indian couples dotting an otherwise lobster-pink peoplescape. Mostly punju, unfortunately. Their embarrassingly crass accents seemed to bounce right off the grim, silent walls that the Brit tourists had raised around themselves. Ah well, I thought. Silence was never an Indian virtue, and it would do the old coots some good to hear boisterous Indian chatter for a change.

"Tattoo brother?" Asked a local, and showed me into a beachside tattoo parlour. Two stern faced East European women were inside, getting mehndi tattoos. One of them was visibly upset, and was admonishing a Goan boy tattooing her foot with an extremely ugly daisy chain: "I had appointhmenth ath eleffen. Now I am lathe for ze anozer apointhmenth. Zis is verhy unproffessional". "Yeah, yeah, I'll do a good design", replied the Goan boy, with an unfazed Goan grin. What he meant of course was "Yeah fool, that'll teach you to make hourly appointments when you're ankle deep in Mehndi at a beach shack in Goa!"

"Come. I make. Good design. Ae Jigness bhai, book lao." said the main man. Okayyyy, a Gujju tattooist. Excellent! He pointed to various designs in his book and I shortlisted the following :
(a) My name in Gujarati
(b) My mother's name in Hebrew
(c) Celtic design containing a pot of Undhiyu and a pile of Thepla
(c) The words Anna-Saaru-Che entwined on a rose.
(d) "Lucky Laxmi" in purple and green disco dots.

I asked him how much he charged. "Sirji main aapse sirf 5000 maangoonga . Bahut kam daam hai." I resisted the impulse to to tattoo "Poda maanga madaya" (Go away mangofool) on his forehead and run. After much bargaining, he agreed to draw a much cheaper, temporary tattoo on my shoulder that looked like the imprint of a size 12 shoe.

Fake tattoo in place, all I now needed to do was scream "O yaar bill lao fatafat" to the waiter and I'd be the perfect yuppie Punju Goa tourist.

If you can't, mins..matlab.. beat 'em, Oye join 'em yaaru !!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Cardboards - Part Duh

And I'm back :)
Here you go childrenses.. By popular demand, Part II of Cartoons on the Keyboard, a.k.a..

Cardboards - Part Duh

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


My dear boys and girls,

You may breathe a big sigh of relief as I will not be writing much today. For I have channelized my prowess on the keyboard, borne out of ten years of non-stop yahooing, into more creative avenues. Therefore, kindly have it, the following batch of Cartoons on the Keyboard, OR:


More to follow (or not as the case may be) :)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Missy M and the potter

Missy Morkozhambu, by the way, is the best baker in the world. And I don't say this lightly. There's sponge cake, and there's Missy M's sponge cake. There's chocolate torte and then there's hers. Worlds apart. And whoa, those cheesecakes! Slurp city downtown!

When Benson Town was under seige and all the shops had closed down, she stepped into her garden, plucked a papaya off her tree, mixed it with godhi hittu (aata) and baked a glorious papaya gateau. Another day she made a kothambri soppu (corriander), avocado and strawberry bread which was, well, interesting.

While she says the secret to her phenomenal baking is gobs of amul butter, I haven't given up searching her pantry for that little vial of magic potion that's actually responsible for it. The most wonderful part, however, is that I am her self-appointed food taster. With her success rate of 100%, I am only too happy to stuff myself to bursting capacity with all her goodies, while giving her my extremely satiated two-paisa opinions on them.

Missy M made a green almond sponge cake the other day, which she had layered with chocolate and pistachios. She'd also made an unpronounceable Italian dessert with bansi rava (semolina), and called wondering if I wanted to drop by and try them out. Didn't I just! In about 43 seconds, I was squeezing through her front door, trying to prevent Coco and Buster from squeezing in with me. Dogs out of the way, I addressed myself conscientiously to my assigned task of stuffing myself silly. No eggs, she announced, since it was Deepavali after all.

The almond sponge with pistachio and chocolate icing was wonderful, as expected. Or as Appa would say "Mundiriparuppu, pista, vennai, sakkarai ellaam potta kasakkumaa?" (Cashew, pista, butter, sugar, all put means bitter it will be aa?). As always though, there was Missy M's unmistakeable touch, that made it a superlative almond sponge with pistachio and chocolate icing.

A quick kodbaLe break later, I was onto my next arduous task: sampling the unpronounceable Italian dessert. It was a cake-like kesari bhath, with the consistency of a very very fluffy Mysore pak. I blinked appreciatively at the legendary baker, unable to move any more muscles in acknowledgement of her fantastic culinary creations.

"Alright", she announced, "I figure you could use a walk. Care for a stroll down Williams Town? I need to buy some clay lamps." "Glurgh", I replied, indicating that I needed to be rolled off the Benson Hill first. So off we went: one goggle-eyed cake-taster and one diligent baker-deepavalist.

Williams Town, though adjacent to Benson Town, is in stark contrast to it. It struck me as nice and quaint, though not particularly affluent or spectacularly beautiful. Neat rowhouses abutted a sweet looking park, in the old world Bangalore style. The vaulted mangalore-tiled roofs of the rowhouses stuck out at the back, while their modernized frontages lined the clean streets. A few 1950s-style biscuit boxes with rounded verandahs stood in pristine splendour in their little gardens. A bunch of boys, a gaggle of girls and an assembly of aunties stood around in groups discussing the happennings of the day. We saw kids bursting crackers and lighting lamps, old men readying themselves for the evening namaaz, and several young people at the shrine of the virgin, lighting candles and singing softly. I was amazed at the diversity, and charmed by the old-wordliness. Missy M snorted a pretty snort and strode on smugly, reminding me that we were in the Cantonment after all.

A few well-swept streets later, we found ourselves at the central square of Pottery Town. "Wow. There's a potter's square in Bangalore?", I said, looking around in amazement. "Um, yes", said Missy M, "but it's been here forever, and we've never thought of it as one." I gaped open-mouthed at the quaint potters' shops around the square. Huge terracota planters, lamps, urns and basins lay around everywhere. Shopkeepers looked up at us lazily and went back to doing nothing. I meandered off into one of the shops, fascinated by some large urlis that seemed perfect for my irritatingly non-blooming water lilies.

"Focus", said Missy M gently, as she dragged me into a shop where she spied the diyas that she wanted. The sweet toothless adukulajji (betelnut grandmother) at the shop took an instant liking to us and made us come into her house and see all her wares. Pots, that is. We bought about 75 lamps for 100 bucks or so, and walked back through Williams Town, stopping to admire a collection of unsold clay ganeshas that escaped this year's mass-drowning. I chattered incessantly about the quaintness of it all, until Missy M suggested cooingly that I shut the hell up, as she was getting a migraine. I muttered my remaining remarks to my sandals and followed her back home, where she fed me home-made pizza and sent me away.

So if you're into quaint small-town 1950s enclaves and aren't afraid of jumping across a nullah or two to buy some pottery real cheap, go check out Williams Town and Pottery Town. And if there's enough of you coming that way, I'll ask Missy M to set up a bake-shop shop next to adukulajji.

Monday, November 12, 2007

You hate me, but I love you!

So this new donut place opened up the other day near work. Being the full-on Thames nan maga that I am, I ran off instantly to sample their wares. I was not disappointed. The donuts were the yummiest I'd ever eaten and sold for like 20 bucks a go. There were all manner of killer combos involving medium to large scale sugar overloads, with caffeine fixes to boot.

The shop assistants, imported as always from a different planet, nodded and shook their heads for everything. Several sweet delights later, I waddled back to work and realized my wallet was gone. "Aiyo!" I screamed, and huff-puffed back to the donut shop. "Did you see my wallet?" Nod, shake. "Wallet, purse. Left here. Anybody saw?" Nod shake. "No?" Nod shake. "Yes?" Nod shake. I gave up, wrote my name and number on a paper and told them to call me if it turned up. Nod shake.

The wallet contained credit cards (easily replaced, whew), cash (as good as gone) and.. gasp! My Driver's License!

I quailed at the thought of getting a duplicate. The prospect of coaxing, cajolling, pleading and... shudder.. bribing my way through the RTO, had me wondering if I should bother getting one at all. But knowing my penchant for getting goosed by the traffic pulliss wherever I go, I figured I pretty much had to.

I made a few calls to friends who'd been in similar situations before, and figured out approximately what to do:

(1)Lodge an FIR with the police, get it attested (Bribe opportunity 1),
(2)Go to the RTO, pay Rs 235 duplicate license fee
(3)Submit several papers to the assistant RTO for approval (Bribe op 2)
(4)Collect my license 3 days later (Bribe op 3)

Four years in a Gowda college taught me to suspend my dignity for long periods of time to get my work done, but the art of bribery had, for some reason, always evaded me.

"Bunnrrrreee, koothkoLi, tea-gee kudeetheera?" (Come in sir, sit down, tea and scones perhaps?) said a pleasant SI as I walked in to the police station and told him my story. He read my FIR, written in the best Governmentese I could muster at short notice. It was a jewel of colonial composition. Every sentence had at least three of the following words : kindly, respected, faithfully, the same, therein and purse. Susy miss would have given me 10/10 for following the "Official letter format" down to the last tee.

Bunnree plodded through the letter and asked me how I could prove my wallet was stolen. "Err umm, it wasnt there when I looked for it?" I said. Dry sarcastic laughter ricocheted off the walls of the police station. He tossed my literary gem nonchalantly in the dustbin and glared at me. "Take down", he commanded. I almost fainted. Strip torture?? Oh no! What did I let myself in for!!In a few seconds however, I realized that his intentions were considerably less evil, and I faithfully took down the following letter:

"Bariri (write)" :

Two: Yes Eye, Sadasivnagra Polittashionu


I walking roadu, coming aaffice to hotelu.

Aaan date-u, timu ella bariri (Aaan date time write ri)
When I going backu, purse miss-seddu. Pursu containing faalowing eyetams:

Aan bariri yenen itthu antha (Aan write what all was there).
Yif yanybody returannu, please caantactu my numberu.

Number gimber addressu giddressu ella bariyappa (Number gimber address giddress write father).
Saaaaaar, kindly request give that ackka-naalijmentu this FIR faar duplicate licensu.
Regardsu, gigardsu hesaru-gisaru bardhu sign haaki.
(Regards, gigards, name, geeme, sign put)

I nervously handed my hen tracks back to the SI, who gave it a once-over, regarded me with a beady eye and sealed and signed the letter.

Whoa! That was easy- and they were actually sweet(u) !!

Off I went to the RTO, quailing again, thinking of the number of touts Id have to avoid and the corrupt officers I'd have to deal with. There wasn't a soul about, save one non-scowly man sitting by himself at a desk on the second floor. I touched the center of my chest(Bangalore version of Namaskara), and he nodded back.

"Banni, banni heLi." (Come, come, tell me). Wow, polite, but my jaded soul suspected that the politeness came with a price. This one's gonna fleece me dry, I thought, as I told him my story.

Luckily I'd gone online to the RTO website earlier and managed to get all the documents for the duplicate license ready. He looked at them and told me to go back to the police station and get an FIR acknowledgement challan. "Saaar", I said, scratched my head and tried to look harrassed and helpless. I asked him if the stamped FIR copy that I already had wasn't enough. He cleared his throat, flung my papers back at me, and looked ahead grimly.

Back I went to the police station, and haltingly told the SI I needed a challan. "Challan close aagide" (out of challans), he said. "Uh oh!" said a little voice in my head. Money time.

Suddenly a dulcet voice from heaven came wafting through the sultry air of the police station.
"Yaaeh, compter nal idiyalla saar faarmyattu. Sumne print haaki sign haak kotbiddi papa avarige. Math-mathe yaak barak heltheera" (Yaaeh, just print the damn thing out and sign it I say, why make this poor dude come again and again"). I turned around and saw a tough looking ladiss police with woollen scarf around head (winter, you faallow?). I beamed at her gratefully and was rewarded with a scowl.

I grabbed the attested print out, almost fell at everyone's feet and looked around waiting for someone to say "Saaaaaar.. hehehehehe scratch scratch" which is how I've always pictured people asking for a bribe. Noone moved. I left!

Back at the RTO the next day, the helpdesk people (Wait there's a manned helpdesk?) guided me up to a series of neat queues (Whoa!) near the cash counter where I paid the prescribed duplicate fee and had the receipt flung in my face. Took a deep breath, collected the receipt and went back to non-scowler. He muttered something about pinning the papers in the wrong order, scribbled all over my application, and sent me off to get my picture taken.

At the picture office, an efficient young lady looked up my old license number and, wonder of wonders, brought my old license up on her screen. "Allright, you may go", she said, and directed me to another guy who looked like Lt. O'hara from Duckburg. He scribbled furiously in a ledger, and wordlessly handed me a slip of paper with the collection date written on it. I waited briefly for Lt. O'hara to scratch his head or object to my existence, but left after he glowered for 5 more minutes at his ledger.

What? No bribe?

Arrived bright and early on the collection date and went straight to Lt. O'hara. He rolled his eyes sideways indicating that I go meet Gladstone Gander at the next table. Gladstone eyed me meanly through his half moon glasses and continued working. After a practiced 5 minute pause, he looked up and said: "God has given you eye. Father has given you spectacle. Take ten minute, sit down and kindly read distribution time." Uh oh, I thought, bribe time. Read the distribution time: one hour later. Whew.

An hour later, Gladstone had assumed an even more evil expression than before. He rummaged about and fished out a smart looking duplicate license card. Flinging it at my face, he slapped a piece of paper down on the desk. "Sir?" I asked in my smallest, scaredest voice. Gladstone flashed me a look of utter contempt. "Haiyyyyo.." he said, slapped his forehead, rolled his eyes, looked at O'hara and gave me another vile glare. "Ree swami! Sign haakri, Receewadu antha." (Swami (sarcastic), sign I say, received like that).

Signed. Waited. Gladstone started barking at someone else. And I left!!

What? No bribe?


Moral: They scowl, frown, treat you like dirt and all that, but a little obsequiousness and a total suspension of dignity can get you very far indeed in government offices.

Seriously though, hats off to the Yeshwantpur RTO! Sure they don't have the best bedside manner, but they do their job!

And thank you, thank you, my dear scarf wearing, scowling godess!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Biker Banter

My first biker memory was of running over my brother's foot on a grey hand-me-down tricycle when I was about three. Since my vocabulary then did not yet include the word "sorry", I just laughed insanely at my brother, pedalled away furiously, and crashed into a wall.

When I was 8, all the Trivandrum bois (including brother) started to learn how to cycle. Not to be outdone, I persuaded a senior boi to hire me a rusty green rattletrap from the cycle shop for 25p a day. The chain would lock itself tight every 10 feet or so, and send me flying into random puddles. When I finally mastered the green bike, I yelled to mommie dearest to look out of the balcony. "Look ma, no hands", I said as I careened down the slope leading to our house, and crashed into a wall.

My brother's red BSA SLR (with pump) was the most beautiful thing I'd seen. Using it, you could go anywhere you wanted in the world. Even all the way up to Prashanth Nagar (3 km away). The bizarrely vertical hills in Trivandrum, however, were not the easiest to negotiate. You had to get off and push your bike up cliff like inclines, and clamp both breaks down hard as you free-wheeled down them. My first brake wire snapped when I was half way down the Prashant Nagar incline. "Ende ammachiyey!!" I screamed as I hurtled down the hill and crashed into a wall.

Sriharikota was the flattest piece of land I had ever seen. No hills, no valleys, nothing. Just a flat-as-a-board mass of windswept scrubby tropical evergreen forest stretching out in every direction. "Heaven", I thought, as I climbed onto the BSA SLR that my brother had discarded in favour of a TVS champ. Little did I realize that Sriharikota's gusty winds were craftier than Indra's celestial nymphs. The wind would be behind me as I cycled into school all fresh in the morning, carressing and pushing me gently forward. On the way back, it would hit me square in my face. I'd huff, puff, wheeze and collapse on the pedals, only to find myself red-faced and barely breathing, 10 feet away from the school gates.

One cyclonic day however, the wind changed direction. I hopped on as usual at school and pedalled away furiously, expecting to make slow but steadyish progress towards home. The wind however, swirled back around me, jettisoning me out of the cycle path faster than a GSLV D3. "Orrey babooo!!!" I screamed as I flew over the footpath and crashed into a wall.

My rusty red steed followed me to Bangalore, where my home of course had to be located on the steepest incline in Malleswaram. Anyone who has cycled up the precipitous sloped of Kodandaramapuram and 11th cross, knows that it is a near-impossible task. "Pooh", I said when I first saw it, and set off to conquer it immediately. Switching on Sriharikota-wind-in-my-face mode, I monkey-pedalled up the first 15 feet easily. Suddenly the slope became twice as steep, and my world, half as bright. Half way up the slope, the infallible bikerdude, err.. fell. No more breath. Infact, almost no more life. Cycle slid back. "Ayyayyo, hoythallappoww..", I screamed as the cycle capsized, jingled, slid and crashed into a wall.

Trusty steed was replaced by two-geared Hero-Puch, trendy student-carrier of the 90s. After two years of plodding through city market on my way to college in a BTS bus, I was convinced this was my ticket to coolville. I conjured up supercool images of slicing through the market lanes at breakneck speeds of 30kmph, and dazzling everyone with my beautiful white moulded wheels. My joy was short lived. A scooter pulled up next to me at a traffic signal. The kid on the pilion tugged his father's shirt and said "Appa appa, can we buy this bike? It's so small, I'm sure it's cheap." "Aye cheh!" said the father. "Puchchu gichchu ella huchchare odsodhu" (Aye cheh, Puchch, gichch and all only mad people will ride). "Whaaaat? Bu..but.. Waiiiit!" I screamed, chasing after them, and crashed into a wall.

With my first salary, I bought the only four stroke motorbike on the market that was semi-cool and affordable: a smooth, beautiful black Hero Honda Splendor. I got on it, never got off. My ample rearside moulded itself to the shape of its beautiful black seat. I would sing loudly as I drove in the rain, and curse just as loud when the first trickle of rainwater got into my chuddies. I would take off on long lovely bike trips down Kanakapura road friends and significant others. When my office moved to Hosur road, I would be the first to get home, squeezing through the monster traffic on it in record time, escaping the incessant mind-numbing squawk of RadioCity on the office bus.

We've had a strange love-hate relationship, my bike and I. It has always been my best friend, fixing me with a baleful stare through all my trials and tribulations through its single square eye. I'd park it outside cinemas, pubs, garbage bins, rock shows and friends' homes, and always find it waiting for me dourly when I returned. It's been towed away, bashed up, scratched, dented and scoured, but never left my side. Probably because I had the keys.

When it grew old and would stop in the rain, Id take it aside and curse it gently until it sputtered reluctantly back to life. When it had its customary flat-tyre at 11pm on a Sunday evening, I'd always kick the other wheel and abuse it in the most loving manner, while the impossible-to-find mechanic would smile evilly and say "tube hogbittide(gone) saar". And whenever I jammed its non-existent brakes, it would always oblige me with a hair-raising squeak and crash into a wall.

My relationship with my big beautiful black steed has probably been the longest (and perhaps least healthy) attachment I have had with any mode of transport in my life. It is no longer mine though, but I really hope it's happy wherever it is now. Somewhere nice, I hope. Leaking last year's monsoon water from its torn seat cover into the pants of someone nice, I hope.

I loved you, my little black beauty, though between all the screaming and singing, I don't think I told you that often enough.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Ring out the old, ring in the new

Bangalore's pretty old christmas-cake cottages are biting the dust like never before. People are moaning ceaselessly about important pieces of history being lost to the world forever every time one of them does.

People who've lived in them seem strangely dry-eyed though, having gone through a lifetime of dealing with rusty pipes, leaky roofs, stuffy kitchens and a 100 year accumulation of wild life in their cupboards.

The majority of us, however, just move on. We tut-tut when they go down, but happily waltz into the shiny modern apartments and malls that take their place. Is this an exclusively Indian phenomenon?

To ascertain this, I met up with a cheerful lady in in a diaphanous red saree for pani puri on 8th cross the other day. Her long flowing black hair was barely held in place by a crown of gold. She beamed at me in a most motherly manner, while using her tri-coloured flagstaff to pole-vault gracefully across a puddle to reach Rajanna's chaat trolley. After we ordered one masaaley and one pani sweet, we proceeded to converse thus:

"Vande mataram."

"Mataram vande, my child. Rajanna avre, solpa khara haaki." (Mr Rajanna, lay on the green chutney)

("Kottey! kottey..!") (Giving, giving)

"Maathey, why is the west so obsessed with preserving its architectural heritage, whereas we, as a nation, are largely unbothered?"

"Thoo some easy question ask I say."


"Seeee.. Western culture is visible and tangible and therefore needs to be preserved thus. India's is not. We look down our noses at everything ephemeral, such as brick, stone, life... and this pani puri. . gulp..

"I don't know about this really. It's lovely to say and all, but do we really believe this, deep down? How many of us are truly detached from life and the yen for aquisition?"

"Yen aa? Rupiss no?"

"Shh. No really, Even my thaatha, who'd say "Yennathai ozhachchu, paadu pattu, saaptu, thoongi.." (Whats the use of working, toiling, eating, sleeping..) was probably just saying it for effect. We're just complacent and unbothered, is what I think."

"True, but not necessarily in a bad way. We just don't see merit in preserving stuff that has outlived its value. What is not used crumbles to dust sooner or later. "

"As if. Just because you are Bharat Mata I should believe everything you say uh?"

"Hello I am new age Bharat mata. Bharat akka even. But look around you. The only Indian architecture that has been preserved culturally, is that which is still in use. Places of worship, government offices, rice-paddy terraces, etc. The rest of it - the forts of Rajasthan, the ruins of Hampi, the great baths of Mohenjo Daro - are all preserved by the Archaeological Survey of India, who probably do it out of sheer force of habit. I'm sure even the ASI wouldn't have been this gung-ho about preserving stuff, if it hadn't been formed in colonial times. "

"So why aren't we, as a culture, motivated enough to do it ourselves?"

"Boss I think we have our own ways of dealing with history and preserving our culture. We are not big on physical reminders. Our detatchment from material things has infact often been misunderstood as unbotheredness. History in my opinion (as new age Bharat mata), is meant to be learnt from and let go of."

"But Mummy Indie, our history is precious. How would we remember, if we don't have icons to represent it?"

"You don't need physical icons. Especially redundant ones. Besides, if all your ancestors were this hoity-toity about ringing out the old, you'd be sitting on 40 centuries of redundant architecture! Rulers regularly demolished and rebuilt entire kingdoms to suit their current needs. That's part of life. You can't expect an entire country to preserve 200 generations architectural heritage just because your highness wants iconic evidence of it! Maaad I say. Take pictures, make movies, document it, compose songs about it. Grumble about it if you want. These are Indian things to do."

"But can't we at least preserve the facades of our buildings and modernize the insides, like the west does?"

"Thats just silly. Why should a city look like it did 200 years ago, when everything about it has changed? It's like stuffing a dead pet. "

"Err I guess you have a point, but doesn't culture need an anchor? Something that stands as a reminder of its unique identity, something that will remain static over generations, for people to relate to?"

"An anchor can only be dropped when the sea is deep enough. The west has anchored itself on architecture that represents the zenith of its power, which it attained about 150 years ago. New India is only 60 years old after all, hasn't reached the peak of its power yet. I'd probably guess that buildings that survive 50 years after we reach our heyday, stand a greater likelihood of being preserved."

"So you're saying western preservation efforts are all about power in the end? And that India will start preserving icons that represent the peak of its power, whenever that happens?"

"That's what I'm saying."

"But hello, you're contradicting yourself. You just said we are culturally ephemeral and aren't into all physical reminders."

"Uff. Boss, India is land of contradictions. Leave off now. As it is I have a permanent headache with this stupid crown. Chumma don't eat my head and worsen it. Want to split one dahi puri?"

"Thank god you're pretty ma."

"Ei, suryanige torchaa? (For sun only torch showing aa?) When ledis-god only is standing in front of you, which other god you will thank I say? If you fools had drawn me a chappal, I'd have hit you with it, insolent fellow. Ri, ond dahi haaki." (Sir, put one dahi puri)

("Kottey! Kottey...!!")

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Of Kunjavvas and soLLe kaatas

Growing up all over the south has made me a victim of complete and utter linguistic chaos. I speak Malayalam when I mean to speak Telugu. I confuse random people in Malleswaram by breaking into Nellore Telugu when I need one kg bendekaai. I perplex priests in Kottayam by asking them where the college hostel is, in Bangalore Kannada.

My parents are Tamilian, though my mother's family has been in Karnataka since the 11th century. Probably for the weather. My father, having moved out of Madras in the 60s, speaks Tamil like an orthodox Kumbhakonam vaadiyar. So no help there. Plus, my dad had a transferable job which made us relocate to Kerala and Andhra during my childhood. I spent my wonder years swearing at my brother in Trivandrum gutter-malayalam, and my teens up a jamoon tree in Nellore, from where I conducted several conversations with passing cows in villager-Telugu. Resultantly, I murder all these languages with the ease of a college canteen chef.

My zealous quest for a South Indian Esperanto, has however, made me stumble on many charming crossover languages, spoken by small cut-off communities that migrated centuries ago from one linguistic region to another, each with it's own little nuances. This post is about them. For my sanity alone, Ive grouped them by crossover-category, with example crossover sentences, as follows:

Tamil-Kannada crossovers
Widely spoken all over Karnataka. Ancient tamil words, completely out of use in mainstream Tamil, are combined with contemporary Kannada idiom, resulting in a machine-gun-like, super-efficient, hilarious set of languages that are a riot to listen to.

Mandyam Iyengar Tamil: "Vaaron, vaaron. Coffee utkolreera?" "Anne ma, ippo thaa theerthamaadyoot vandhe." "Innu sheth podhle utkore."
(Do come, respected person. Would you partake of some coffee? Nay, mother, I just suffused myself in hot water. I shall partake of some in a while)
Hebbar Iyengar Tamil: "Kitki ella muchyoodu pa, sheegron." "Inge solle kaaton jaasthi ikkarna."
(Close all the windows quickly. We have a mosquito menace)
Bangalore Iyer Tamil: "Yennango, tiffin acha?" "Hoonungo." (Well, did you have your tiffin? Yes.)
Bangalore Cantonment Tamil: "Masth bejaan male vandhitkeedhu love-raj. 'Naathk ivlo vardhne therley." (It's raining a lot. Don't know why)

Telugu-Kannada crossovers:
The settling of Shettys and several other sub-castes from Andhra in Bangalore, saw the evolution of a peculiar brand of Kannada-Telugu, that has the melifluousness of Telugu combined with the cadences of Kannada.
"Em bava, mayintki vachnara ninna?" "Hoon ra, nee intlo naa beegam-chei marchpoi vachesthi." "Oh adh meedh beegum-cheina bava, adhe yevrdhani alochna cheskon undmi ."
("Hey brother in law, did you come home yesterday?" "Yes. I had left my keys behind." "Oh were they yours? I was wondering whose they were.")

Kannada-Marathi crossovers:
Spoken extensively in the Hubli-Dharwad and Gulbarga area. Completely the territory of the legendary Thoppai Mama. Kindly oblige :)
Aye bai, parghihann esht kotti? (Hey lady how much are those sweet-tart peppercorn-like fruit that contain large pips?)

Kannada-Konkani crossovers
Spoken in Karkala, Mangalore and its environs. Almost perfect Konkani, but a completely Kannada numeric system. Originally evolved to confuse family members from the Konkani diaspora about the ages of their female children.

Malayalam-Konkani crossovers (Konngani)
Mostly malayalam, except for a few key Konkani words
"Genabadhy Bhattarey, enganey undu? Ithra divasam veetilaayirunno?" "Nakko Nakko, njaan Kodihaaluvare poyathaa."
("Mr Ganapathy Bhat, how are you? Were you home all these days?" "No,no. I was in Mangalore")

Tamil-Malayalam crossovers (or Talayalam)
Another significant branch, with a large section hailing from Palghat. Other large populations exist in Trivandrum, Nagercoil and Trichur.

Trivandrum: "Kuzhandhaai, paal ambudum kudichutaaya. Bhesh, bhesh. Naalikku choakLayyte kondu vaaarein kaettiya?" (Child, did you drink all your milk? Very good. I'll bring you a chocolate tomorrow.)
Nagarcoil: "Enna chechi, unga veettile cabLe TV vandhittaa?" (Yo sista, did you just get cable?)
Trichur: "Ee ende pennnnil innnngu theeeeeeeraaRaayi. Ramaswamy maamayindeduththu ichchiri medichondu vaadi." (Mostly malayalam) (My pen is out of ink. get some from Ramaswamy mama)
Palghat: "Ennadi Kamalai, yedhukku indha neraththulai choarukku oda-oda resaththa vittu nanna chappitindirukaai?" "Yaen maami pandhrendu aachallo." "Aiyo Illai dee, paththumaNi aakkum. Enna, un cLoakku sariya nadakkalaiya?"
("Hey kamala what sort of time is this to eat rice and runny rasam?" "But maami, it's 12 after all." "No dee, it's ten. Isn't your clock working?")

And finally: The South Indian Esperantos..

Kodava takk: A charmingly perfect Kannada-Tamil-Malayalam crossover,with a sprinkling of Telugu (debatable). Spoken by people in Coorg, a border district in Karnataka.
"Kaveri kunjavva, engane ulliraa? Undit aacha?" "Oh gauji madiyand ullo." "NingaLa kandittu naaku bhari khushi aachi."
("Aunty kaveri, how are you? Did you eat?" "Oh I'm in great spirits." "I am very happy to see you."

Sanketi: This wonderful quadruple-crossover language is spoken by Sanketi Brahmins, orginally from Shenkottah in Kerala, but now settled in Bangalore and Mysore. The language seamlessly blends in Tamil grammar with Kannada and Malayalam phrases, and throws in a small sprinkling of Telugu words and case-endings. The language is not spoken outside the community, so I never had a chance to learn it properly. I will, however, attempt to write a conversation that I overheard a long time ago. Corrections are welcome:
"Ay Harsha, Raju koowde. Attathle rotti vechikkrani. Vandh sawda cholle." "Raju paai yerinji orangikyund ikraani." "Aiyo, orangikyund irundhaa yendhirpi vaaNaa. Yendhpinne neegl rend perko kalyanathe kurichi vivaramuga chollrani."
("Hey Harsha, call Raju. I've kept some roti on the shelf, tell him to come and eat it." "Raju is fast asleep on a mat on the floor." "Oh if he's asleep then don't wake him. When he's up, I'll tell you both in detail about the wedding.")

So, yeah. Now you know why I'm like this only.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Monsoons on Moore Road

" 'Ey Clyde! Just 'eard de good news chy.. c'ngraats. "

"Thanks men, whe'yall went? I came 'ome last week but y'all weren't dere. "

"I was in Austrailyer chy, visiting Jo's brudder'n' 'is huncles. "

"Ah, say so! I was so 'fraid y'all ran off widdout telling me even. "

"G'on m'n, 'ow I'll go widout telling y'all. 'Ere only I'll stay until y'all drag me off. Hey what chy, I 'eard 'Arriet's come first in music 'n' all? Give 'er my love, no? What she'll do now? Litrachur ein?"

"No m'n, Im tellin'er to take up Cannadda. Never know when dey'll make it a bloomin' first language 'ere and land all of us in a bloomin' mess. "

"I know chy'. If y'ask me, dey should send us all 'ome and speak Cannadda till dey turn blue in de face. Dose Tumkur blue grapes are dere no? Laddat. "

"Whae' m'n. Hopp'tunities are much more now 'ere no, wid call centerz 'n'all 'iring like nob'dy's bloomin bizness. We c'n teach dose blighters a ting or two. "

"True chy. No point goin'way anymore. 'Appy we're 'ere only. "

"'Ey whats 'appning to de city m'n? 'Sbeen raining cats 'n' dogs all week! Miranda's 'ouse is c'pletely flooded, poor thing. Bluddy raining, raining all de bloomin' time. Never used t'be like dis in Bangalore b'fore, no? Gets me hangry whenever I tink about it. "

"No point gettin' hangry wid the rain chy. F'get it. 'Ow dose bloomin' corporation buggers've f'gotten our Seppings Road no, laddat. Umbrella y'ant eh? "

"No m'n, whats de use, I'm already soaked like a bluddy spongecake even. Hevvry day 's' bin raining m'n, like bloomin' Cherrapunji. "

"I know chy. If y'ask me, we should change the name of Roger's Road to River's road I swea'. You sh'look at 'ow much water's c'llected dere. "

"I swea'. Dat Lloyd's dere no, in Hulsoor, tell'im to repai' 'is boat 'n' bring, we c'n row down de street hevery Sunday. "

"Ey by de way, I 'eard Jake's got a new job 'n' all? "

"No men, 'oo'll give 'im a job. But I swear, 'f 'e doesnt get one soon, 'e'll 'ave it from me. What 'e thinks, dis is a bloomin' soup kitchen or what. I'll give him two bluddy uppercuts on 'is kidneys and kick 'is bloomin bottom out of d'ouse 'f'e doesn't find a job soon."

"What chy, 'e's only 25 no, littl'un 'e is. Let 'im find 'is hown feet first chy. Den y'all c'n 'dvise 'im."

"But I'm so 'fraid m'n. 'E's getting into bad company wid all these Cannadda boys from college. Dunno whe' 'e's 'eaded, dat boy. Praying hevrryday 'e doesnt become like dat Leslie bugger men. Sitting shamelessly at 'ome wid his mudder. "

"Whae' chy, 'is mum wants 'im dere no? 'Oo'll look hafter 'er udderwise. All dese old biddies no, clever dey are. If y'ask me, dey should all sudd'ly dis'pear from de planet in a puff of smoke. 'Ow dose Thoms' mutton puffs dis'pear after Sunday mass no, laddat. "

"Krekt, I swea'! Hokay m'n, come by at Christmas ein? And give my love to Lizzie, Ralphie and Hannabel."

"Cert'ly. Y'all coming f'de wedding no? "

"G'on chy, has if we'll miss it! G'bye, God Bless. "


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Carnatic contortionism

Where have all the quirky artists of yesteryear gone, I hear you ask? OMG I knew we were related! I often ask this myself!

Artist vakras (idiosyncracies) at a concert have been a dying art form for several years now. They have been almost completely obliterated by the new breed of rigid necked, poker faced, young artists of today. Whaaat is this I say?

All these self-righteous, modern music teachers are to blame for this, I tell you. I have personally seen them correcting the facial ticks and grimaces of young impressionable pupils right from their childhood. I myself have been a victim of this modern brainwashing. My beloved and late Shakunthala Teacher, a well meaning and very talented Trivandrum AIR artist, would always tell me after an inspired grimace during a difficult varnam passage: "Kondhaai, moonji-geenji elaam pannapdaadhu kaettiyo? Yellaarum un paattu kaekarthukku bathila, un moonjiyai paapaaLaakkum." (My child, don't make face-gees. People will look at your face instead of listening to your song. Ok? Ok.)

This post, however, is dedicated to those few, far between (and usually immensely talented) artists, who have managed to stick to their old school ways, and continue to grimace, gesticulate, cough, and slice their way into the hearts of their rasikas. Presented below is my humble attempt at documenting artistic vakras at a lively carnatic kacheri, in the hope that it may be used in the future to rejuvenate this wonderful lost art:

Varaaha Vaidyanathan: For the uninitiated, this is the delicate art of piggyface making. Especially prominent while executing delicate sangathis during a raga: "Thu dhu rin na nu....uuiiium", or during a long phrase in a Thyagaraja Krithi involving words like "munu ju joochuchumu".

Self Appreciater : Breaks into a hearty "aaaan" and "sabhaash" after executing a complicated gamaka. The usually timid violinist is forced to smile weakly and agree, while producing a mouse-like answer to the same phrase.

Audience-confusing thaalam putter: A master of thaalam who never needs to keep time with the music, but will suddenly slap his/her thigh 27 times in the middle of an avartana, and confuse the entire audience.

Exorcist VI: While the usually talented artist sings with abject devotion to various gods and goddesses, all the demons of the netherworld surface on his/her face. "Mah-hwaaaaaaa(scary face) Guh-Na-pa-thiyiwwwwwwum (scowl)"

Roti mandir: Usually found in the North, this artist will begin the concert by kneading some imaginary dough, pounding and pummelling it, stretching it out, and finally rolling it into imaginary chappatis. Needless to say the audience leaves disappointedly hungry after 2 hours of tempting chappati making.

Bronchitis Bhatrachar: The artist who thinks nothing of going "harrrghgthghgmph" in the middle of a subtle sangathi, instantly popping a spell-bound audience back into the real world.

Uh-uh, nope, not possible: The negative percussionist that shakes his head in hopeless despair throughout the concert. If the audience had any intension of sacrificing a bonda-bajji break during the thani, it is promptly pre-empted by an extra bout of intense head waggling during the first mohra.

Shanta Idly Grinder: Goes into raptures while singing "Maadu mekkura kanne nee poga vendaam munne". Sits on an imaginary arisi-paruppu (rice and dal) mixture and grinds away by swaying body in a clockwise motion, now and then tamping down the imaginary batter with a thrust of her closed fist.

Karate Kid IV: The Black belt master at a hindustani concert, who aims expert air-slices at imaginary bearded chinese masters. Most of these singers also have a secret ambition of substituting the percussion accompaniment with a big brass gong.

Comedy Chakrapani: Usually a violinist or a ghatamist with a humungous vibhuti, pottu and fantastic wardrobe, who drives the audience (esp the kids) insane with laughter with all manner of quirky faces, grins, eyebrow waggles, and funny screechy notes, with an "I didn't do that" expression.

Agathi Alamelammal: The consumptive looking "pretty girl" playing the tanpura. Either bored senseless with the concert or completley hypnotized by the buzz of the tanpura she is playing. Nevertheless a good nirvana-esque place to be in.

The lotus eater: An over-humble artist who will anounce all his kritis with hand in lotus bud formation held close to his mouth in a gesture of humility: "This is my wown hummmmble caamposition. Please feel free to kick and spit all over it because I am your wown hummmble servant". An instant cue for various maama-maamis to leave, or catch up with the weekly gossip.

Shruthi sodhapper: The avant-garde flautist/singer who is never satisfied with the tuning of the tanpura. Will repeatedly adjust the strings right in the middle of the song. Worse still is the electronic tanpura adjuster, who will unhesitatingly make shruti adjustments in full volume, making the entire audience tut-tut in irritation.

Mridanga Manikyam: The artist who smiles brightly at the mridangist after every phrase of a manodharma swara. By the end of the concert, the mridangist's polite return-smile gets sealed permanently onto his face.

The overcompensator: A native tamil speaker, unaccustomed to the heavy plosive consonants of other languages, especially Sanskrit. Will overcompensate by converting all consonants to their heavier versions, in the hope of pronouncing foreign words correclty: "YenDhara nee Dhana, Ghendha BhoNi, JhinDha viDhuva Jhaa Rhaa, Kshreeee Raaahaahaamaa". Usually eliciting sniggers from the audience when performing outside chennai.

Blind Fury III: An artist who has cleverly convinced the audience for years that s/he is visually challenged, by screwing eyes shut throughout the concert. The eyes will pop open occasionally during a thani, but close instantly, before the audience catches on.

Witty Waradachar: Makes quips in mid-phrase about the faulty sound system, or the concert organizer, eliciting polite laughter from the audience.

The Devaranama/Meera Bhajan destroyer: The sort that is clearly convinced of the superiority of music over poetry, and the irrelevance of the actual words being sung. Hence if Meera sang:"Maii thwo kirithara ge ranku raaaajee", Krishna would still appear, albeit scraching his nails on a blackboard. This artist is also convinced that all devarnamas are composed using the two imaginary kannada words "Hothle and Hidhlu" and will sing an entire purandara dasa kriti using them.

Nostril Nalini: Eyes permanently fixed at indeterminate spot on ceiling of hall. While Yashoda had the privilege of seeing the world in her son's mouth, the audience now has the dubious one of seeing asteroids and other formations in the artist's nostrils.

Footnote: For all those die hard fans of the artists lampooned here, freeya vidunga (leave off I say). I love 'em as much as you do.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Dankey, Sankey.

When an enthusiastic colonel in the Madras Sappers regiment built it in 1882, he definitely had a different plan for it. It was meant to supplement the scarce water supply of thirsty Malleswaram and Sriramapuram. It cleverly channeled in water from the surrounding tanks and streams into a natural ravine blocked off by a stone bund. Col Sankey's tank turned out to be a disappointment though, when the water turned brackish from the mineral deposits in the soil, very soon after it was built. Its purpose since then has remained pretty much the same - to be a thing of beauty.

Legend in the family has it that my great grandfather actually had to swim across the lake to reach his property on the south bank of the tank, when he bought it in the 30s. The surrounding areas, once a fruit orchard of the Maharaja, was eventually replaced by a residential layout, that has developed its own charm over the years. The lake sees more vistors today than ever before, with its big new joggers park and pretty but rather bland landscaping.

In the 60s and 70s, lines of donkeys bearing laundry lined the bund, and the slap-slap of clothes being smacked mercilessly against the bund wall would ring clear across the lake's surface all the way into my great grandfather's dining room. The less-than dulcet tones of novice nadaswaram players practicing at the crack of dawn on the lake's edge greatly assisted in curdling the milk in my great-grandmother's kitchen. Strangely though, the lake was never really batheable. My rebellious mumsy once dived into the lake for a swim in the 60s to disprove this. She went down with typhoid instantly after.

The 80s rolled in, the donkeys disappeared and were replaced by love-birds of all kinds dotting the bamboo clumps on the lake's edge. A sight that we were well shielded from as kids by our protective grandparents. We would spend all our summer holiday afternoons poking around on the banks, trying hopelessly to catch fish to put in my great-grandfather's tank. A search party was once sent out for me when I had fallen asleep in the bullrushes while playing hide and seek with my brother and our cousins. Hey, it was a comfortable hiding place!

I also remember a time when my aunt stooped down planted a big kiss on my head for pulling her out of knee deep slush when we were looking for crabs as kids. She told my grandmother that I came and rescued her from deathly quicksand with my big muscles. I was 3 feet tall and weighed about 20kg then. I would valiantly assist all manner of people across doorsteps and imaginary dents in the ground for weeks after!

Thanks to BTS (now BMTC)'s dubious reputation for being Bekaada Timealli Sigolla (Never there when you want it), the best bet was to trudge across to Malleswaram 18th cross bus stand to catch a bus to college. My joy knew no bounds when I discovered a secret path on the west side of the lake that I needed to jump across a culvert and several lake inlets to negotiate, to get me there faster. The ethereal morning mist would send white wisps out to the beautiful grassy knolls on the lake's edge for me to catch. Kingfishers would pierce the glassy surface of the water at bullet speed, and emerge with their breakfasts moments after. Water snakes would scuttle away into deeper water the moment they sensed me coming. Man, those mornings!

I'd even made friends with the forest department gardeners, who'd actually time their day with my comings and goings. On my way back from college, they'd say "Swami bandawre. 4:30 aiyth kanrroiyy". There was a secret nook where black magicians would fling vermillion and turmeric at bizarre looking clay effigies by the water's edge. When they saw me slink by trying to look as unobtrusive as possible, they'd laugh loudly, blowing powders in my direction as I passed. I never had the courage to go look at the idols more closely when they were not around though.

When the boat club opened in the mid 90s, the family would dutifully take all visitors out for an obligatory boat ride on the lake. OK lets face it, the lake's pretty and all, but its not really large enough for a scenic boat ride or anything. I still remember an aunt muttering to herself as she got off the boat after a 15 minute circle around the lake: "Ippadi kodakku kodakku nnu poi enna sugaththa kandon?" (What pleasure did we get by rattling around kodakku-kodakku like this?)

The late 90s saw a few bizarre instances of mass fish-suicides. All of us were certain that the water was poisoned, until the fisheries department discovered that the fish had overbred and died of oxygen starvation. Needless to say, the hundreds of cormorants, dabchicks, kingfishers, snakebirds and kites that lived around, had month long foodfests whenever that happened.

The lake, which would earlier dry out partially in the summer, now brims over with water all year round, thanks to the successful efforts of local residents to unblock the water inlets. Bangalore's recently aquired heavy monsoon pattern, and a Lok Ayukta's decision to raise the spillover weir by two feet have in fact caused it to flood heavily of late. The monsoon of 2005 completely washed away the recently completed 4 crore BMP landscaping, and submerged large parts of greatgramps' garden.

The jogging track is back now, bigger and higher than before. The old trees that perished due to water logging are now replaced by promising looking saplings. The wild serenity of the west bank is gone forever, replaced by a vast tract of landscaping that is no longer mine alone to enjoy :(

The Sankey Tank has metamorphosized dramatically over the hundred-odd years of its existence: from an almost-forgotten failed project, into a charming and much needed oasis of calm in bustling Bangytown. It still serves to ease the lives of thousands of people around, albeit in a completley different manner from what was intended.

The two most beautiful things about the lake however, are what nobody can ever change: The glorious sight of a full moon shimmering over its placid surface, and most importantly, The warm fuzzy feeling of finally being home!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Duruflé the organ?

6:30am today found 17 of us at the beautiful St. Marks cathedral for a rehearsal, shivering our timbers in the morning draft . A few minutes later, the young organist climbed nervously into his seat, high up above us. He's good. A little shy and perhaps not used to the exacting standards of the choir director (aka Girl 1), who chewed him to bits during the first run through, but he survived. The sombre acoustics of the cathedral seem to suit the choir's voices exceedingly well though, especially that of Blonde Counter-Tenor (baritone this time) who sounds clear as an elven bell.

Those of you that have never heard a pipe organ in a church must rectify this immediately. It is the only instrument that can fill you with awe, fear, calm, sorrow, joy and peace all in the span of a few minutes. You can easily imagine it to be a huge living breathing being, capable of bursting into a thousand booming voices that occupy every corner of your brain. The recently restored pipe organ at St Mark's (MG Road, Bangalore) with its huge flues and reeds almost a storey high each, is the only one in Bangalore that is in concert condition.

The organ accompaniment to Duruflé's requiem, a tough 20th century piece that we are performing this weekend, is melancholy, disconnected at times, and breathtakingly beautiful at others. When the organist pressed his foot tentatively down on a deep d, we all went silent for a couple of seconds, savouring the funny quiver that aimed itself exactly at the middle of our chests and set the entire requiem alight.

Practice was gruelling. The organist has his back to the conductor, and the music is tough as nails. We might have to resort to using the cathedral's fine electric organ- almost indiscernable to the untrained ear from the original, so that we can co-ordinate better. But I'm hoping against all hope that we might be able to use the living breathing goliath with some practice. To hear the wind rush in and out of its great throat as it sings to accompany us.

Modern classical music is free from the traditional mores of composition. Varying time signatures, crazy passages and bizzarely beautiful chords make it a treat to listen to, provided your mind is open to it. It is madness to perform, but completely worth the effort.

Here's what we're doing, among others:
Duruflé's Requiem - A haunting, sombre, yet tender modern requiem by Maurice Duruflé, a famous French composer.
Agnus Dei - by Samuel Barber, originally an adagio for strings, re-written for voice and organ. You might have heard the strings version in the movie Platoon.
Rejoice in the Lamb - A modern composition by Benjamin Britten, a brilliant English composer, set to lyrics written by Christopher Smart, a delightfully mad 18th century poet, who actually wrote from a lunatic asylum.

How exactly a monsoon audience on a plateau in South India is going to react to it remains to be seen :) If youd like to react too, stroll over to St marks Cathedral, MG Road Bangalore, on Saturday 22nd Sep at 6:45pm for an evening of contemporary sacred music accompanied by the beautiful organ at St Marks.

It's in a church, and it's free, so be nice :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Aa Yent-ne Craaass banniiii!

I wandered into Veena stores this weekend and was surprised to see that they have become all streamlined and modern. Instead of screeching over peoples heads for idly, you now pay up over people's heads and get a coupon which you then give over people's heads to get the idly.

The idly however remains just the same. As does the hot-and-cold staff who, on a good day will reward you with radiant toothsome smiles, and completely ignore you the next time around. There are several strange things about the store though, which I shall compile into a compendium of coschans below:

Why is it a shop and not a hotel? What sort of shop sells idly anyway? How can pasty idly taste this gorgeous? How on EARTH do they get those vadas like that? Why do BTS buses have a special wail when they brake to a halt at the bottom of the slope in front of the store? Why does the same idli taste silly when parcelled and taken home? What on earth is Brahmi juice and who is going to drink it when they can have wonderful filter coffee?

To all these I have only one answer: Mwah.
Veena stores, 15th cross, Margosa Rd, Malleswaram.

Needless to say, the idly vada only whetted my appetite, so I waddled over to TRFACTR (The Restaurant Formerly Known as CTR), who are planning on changing their name officially to a heiroglyph of a benne masale stuffed with a goli bajji. Another slew of questions hit me instantly:

Why bother changing the name of a restaurant when nobody cares? How in the name of all things heavenly do they get their benne masale like that? Why don't they hand out xeroxes of the coffee maker's foot for daily worship? Has anyone benefitted from the poster of wise sayings installed on the wall in 1753? Has anyone cleaned this poster since 1753? Can I please sit in the family room? Hello table-sharer, which cross and main are you from?

And to all these questions is another simple answer: Silence.

Just eat your dosa, do not talk. Central Tiffin Rooms (aka Shree Sagar, 6th Cross, Margosa Rd)

Terribly satisfied and strangely unable to move, I decided to roll down the rest of Margosa Road, crash into the flyover-in-progress and worm my way over the debris to Bhagyalakshmi Butter Gulkand store.

Established in the latter half of the jurassic period, they have successfully evolved their menu to support 4 items: (a) Butter (b) Gulkand (c) Butter Gulkand (d) Special Butter Gulkand.
Apparently there are 7 people in Malleswaram who actually buy items (a) and (b). As for me and several other people who like the feeling of being gobsmacked with an industrial strength sugarbuzz, (d) is the perfect choice. To make it, take a plastic sheet, slather on a years supply of homemade butter, add three spoons of gulkand (rose petal preserves) , top up with tutti frooti and sweetened banana.

I ate four spoons of the good stuff, whirled around 5th cross screaming "Sugarbuzz.. sugarbuzz.." and miraculously found myself at 8th cross. Walked into Janatha Hotel, once famed for its sweet sambhar and monster-sized vadas. Still lovely, but considerably less crowded. I think it's because people can't spot it after the strange Palm-Like Dracaena tree in its mini courtyard got walled in.

The vada in my stomach assisted greatly in rolling me down to Asha Sweet centre (8th Cross, Sampige Rd). After loading up on basundi and badami haalu, yodelling Bantu reethi kolu 28 times, whirling around 8th cross and collapsing in a dead faint, I decided to document the remaining Malleswaram restaurants, food shops and wannabes of note below. Kindly do the needful and oblige.

(y) Rajanna's chaat, 8th cross, 5th main. Easily identified by a stertorous "Kotte shiva, kotte!" emanating from a buzz of humanity surrounding a chaat trolley.

(e) Villa Pottipatti, opp Rajanna. Beautifully restored Malleswaram Bungalow, now a Neemrana hotel. They have a french restaurant that you have to call ahead to reserve. Whatever!

(n)New Krishna Bhavan, 3rd Cross, Sampige Rd. Nice, but fairly average always-been-there joint. South Indian Naarth Indian Mini meals type place with an ok-ish speciality restaurant called Gopika.

(r) The Basil, 3rd cross, Sampige Rd. Hmm. Sorry you cant be called that in Malleswaram.

(i) Cafe Coffee day, 13th cross Sampige Rd and 18th Cross 8th main. Eh, you know the deal.

(s)Om shakthi Mess 2nd Cross, Sampige Rd. Palakkad aakum. Their rice servings come on a side plate covered with a layer of rice exactly one grain thick. Fantastic. Oda-oda resaththa vittu aathula panna chorum koottaanum kuduppaalaakkum. Enna, manassilaacho dee?

(w) Shenoy Stores: 8th Cross Margosa Rd. Chakli, nippat, thindi.. y'know... Not my favourite to be honest.

(a) Sri krishna Sweets: A recent entrant into Malleswaram from Tamil Nadu, they haven't bothered changing the spelling of their speciality sweet from its Tamilized version : "Mysurpa". A bit overrated, though their freebies are fun.

(m) Iyengar bakery, Vyalikaval main rd. Lovely benne biscuit, baked nippat and sponge cake. Good stuff. Try maadi nodi.

(i)Butter sponge: An offshoot of the Basavangudi version. Not really great, though their speciality sponge cake: Butter Sponge, is rather nice in an eggless, chavukku-chavukku sort of way.

(a) Amrit Nice Creams 11th Cross, 7th main. Uyyo what a lovely. Run by nice Melkote Iyengar mama and husky voiced mami. Home made vanilla, pyoor saffran and manoranjani ice creams served vith or vithout vooden spoons. Warning: Since the ice creams are made with milk without mixing in lard, they have a distinct paal vaasne (milky smell).

(r) Love Luck stores: 12th cross, Sampige Rd. Well if they can survive with a name like that in the 2000s they've got to be old as the hills. Chutney pudis, pickles, condiments and the like. Good stuff.

(a) HaLLi mane: 4th Cross, Sampige Rd. A faux village restaurant. This newish entrant has gained insane popularity among the locals, and blends right into the food scene in conservative Malleswaram. Skip the North Indian Thali and try out the local specialities: Ragi and akki rotti, ragi mudde, cocum saaru etc. Quite nice.

(ma) Sri Rama Coffee Works: 9th Cross, Sampige Rd. Good old fashioned coffee powder shop. They also sell something called Mammary tea, which I havent had the courage to ask them about. Mumsy has developed a unique communication system with the shop lady. She'll pull up silently by the kerb and pretend to ignore her. The shopkeeper will scoop our weekly quota of filter coffee powder straight from the grinder into a packet and hand it over to her silently with a 10 rupee note. Mother will make blank calls to random people to pretend she is busy and wordlessly hand over Rs 100 and drive off. Strangely though, you can't tear them apart when they meet each other in different circumstances, such as in the 12th cross market or at an oxygen bar.

Acknowledgements: Veena store and CTR pics from the lovely blog of Bellurramki.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Mad gals in Madras

What do two sweet Malayalee sopranos, one blond Swedish counter-tenor and a jolly green Tambrahm bass do when they get together?

Open a nursing college cum online matrimonial agency with inexpensive designer furniture?


Well then?

Elementary, my dear Bhaktavatsalam Seetharam Kumar Korraguntla. They take a deep collective breath and sing 15th century European music.

Hmm. That sounds like err.. fun. 15th century eh? Did Europe have oxygen bars yet? Chicken teeka masolla? Rock shows? Oh wait, they wore afros and shiny costumes, didn't they?

Yes. Life in the 15th century was one big oxygen bar. But since there were only 27 people around, rock show infrastructure was limited to medium sized dining tables around which they gathered, sporting trendy page-boy cuts and linen tunics.

To eat mutton biriyani and butter chicken boneless full?

Yes. And to sing songs and play on lutes.

Ah, dinner music, is it aano? Then sallright. What was it called? Bleat and eat?

Close. They were called Madrigals. Usually 4 voices, two high, one medium and one low, singing complicated music. Usually acapella

Who is Acapella? Is she cute? Single? Available?

All of the above. Acapella is also the word for music that is sung with no instrumental accompaniment. Which makes it harder to perform because there are no instruments to cover up wonky notes, and tougher to sustain the attention of a 2007 Adyar Audience.

Wait, you're performing in Chennai? Two sweet Mallu sopranos, one blonde Swede counter-tenor and one jolly green Tambrahm Bass?



Two sweet Mallu sopranos, one blonde Swede counter-tenor and one slightly tense Tambrahm bass who has to set his tail on fire after the show and rush off to join his relatives at a jolly green wedding in Mahabalipuram yay.

Oh fun. So no instruments eh?

No instruments for the Madrigals, but lute and harpsichord accompaniments for the lighter songs about unrequited love, death and stuff.

Fool. They stopped making such things in the late Baroque period. Where you will get such instruments at such short notice in Madras. From your grandfather's anjanapotti or what?

In Madras, anything is possible. However, to be safe, we have cleverly transcribed the harpsichord and lute scores into music for piano and classical guitar, which are still in production, so there.

And it sounds the same?


Oh. Because the instruments are different.

Correct. And because voices brought up on a diet of nadan kozhi curry and morkozhambu performing European music on a sultry Chennai evening 500 years after it was composed, are bound to sound different. Cooler, but different.

Can't 'ardly wait luv.

Then come over to The Unwind Center's Acoustic Music Fest at KRMM college hall (Behind Adyar Ladies Club), 3rd Cross, Gandhinagar, Chennai at 6:45pm on Sat, Sep 1, to hear us. Four voices, piano and classical guitar (played by a random jolly green tambrahm). We perform for half an hour or so, after which all manner of contemporary sorts will take over the stage. Don't be late ok?


Friday, August 24, 2007

One rainy afternoon on St Marks road..

(Translations in the comments page)

Clap Clap

Me: Wha..?
Aye Rajeskanna, Rajeskanna, lamba saal jiyega tu. Aao teri jindagi batati mai Rosy.
Me: (nervously) Ha ha maaf karo maaf karo.
Rosy: Arre kai ko maaf karna hai re, lamba saal jiyega, gaadi bangla rakhega re tu, chal, mummy ko kuch de de na.
Clap Clap
Me: Nahin mummy maaf kar do. (To friend) Polaama?

Rosy: Ayyo rasaa, Tamil pesuriyaa. Aye Sarasu, Monica, Daally, vaanga dee, raasa tamil pesudhu
Me: Uh oh.
(Chorus of claps)
Sarasu: Adadada yevalavu alaga irukku idhu. Nalla kelu dee, Rajes kannu kuduththudum
Daally: Kudu rasa kudu, nee nalla iruppai, azhagu raasaava iruppai.
Monica: Ippave ivvalavu superaa irukkiye kannu. Indha Monica sonna innum perivana valaruvai chellam.
Rosy: Rajessu, kudra kanna. Naan Rosy kekkuraen illa? Kudu raasa
Me: Aiyyo illai ma (err pa). I dont have any change.
Rosy: (Switching back to Hindi to compensate for my embarrassed English) Toh change kyun deta hai re. Sau rupya de de na Rajes.
Me (idiotically): I dont have 100s. Only 500s
Sarasu: Toh 500 de de na mere Sarukh Khan, Salman Khan
Monika: Kuduthudu rasa, nee periya aakitru aaguvai. Yellarum unnaiyeyyyy paaaaathukittirupaanga. Apparam nee indha Monika vai marakka veyyyy maate. (clap clap)
Me: Ainooraa? Ungalukku 500 kuduthein na naan yenna aaguvain?
Rosy: Aiyo yen kutti Siranjeevi, ainoorla nee suberstar aaguvai, Kavaskar aaguvai, Tata Pirla aaguvai, Yen kannu kutti chellon aaguvai.
Me: Err
Sarasu: Ada po rajesu, ainoorla nalla sandal kooda kadaikkaathu ippa ellaan. Naan pesaveyy maatein unnoda.
Daally: Chalo, tum 500 de do Rajes, main 450 ka chutta deti hoon
Me: Abba ozhinjudhu. Indha ma. Sillarai kudu.
Rosy: Vangikka dee Monica
Slurrpy kiss from Monica
Caress from Sarasu
Two heavy cheek pinches from Daally.

Chorus: Yen Kannnnnu, mavaraaasa, Raaajessu. Nalla iru kannu. Poittuvaren Rajesssu
Me: Err.

Sniff.. Nobody's been so nice to me ever!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Tag-a-raja Kriti

I have been commanded by the infamous KA to write 25 random factoids about my existence. Muhuhaha what you hawe let yuvarself in for I say muhuhahaha.

  1. I like zoning out. I've done it all my life and regularly go "wha...?" in the middle of important conversations. Bunches of friends have named me Zoney M, Blanko, Bladdy Phull etc on account of it. I am also known to make unrelated stupid remarks to save myself from being caught out but only get myself into more trouble.
  2. I will order anything on the menu that I havent tried before. Even if it Kissan jam sauteed with yoghurt and egg noodles.
  3. I love biking in the rain. Love it love it. Until the first drop of water seeps through into my chuddies. Then I hate it, hate it.
  4. I went green last year and sold my mobike to buy a Reva. I have subsequently hit my brain several times with my father's ancestral hawai chappal. Insanely proud though, that good old Jog Falls can give good old Dubya a run for his money. But I want my old chugger back!! wail!
  5. I love Mangalorean food. I also love Mallu food. And Coorg food. And Rasam and baby potatoes. And pretentious chi chi pooh pooh food. And thair sadham. And wadakina wendekai. And.. err ok I like food.
  6. I've joined a gym 4 times in my life and have never gotten past the third month. Whenever I feel flabby I watch a fitness video and instantly feel better.
  7. The world's best masala dosa exists in a pokey little hotel called Central Tiffin Rooms in Malleshwaram. In fact its location is so top secret that they have even changed the name of the hotel so that people dont kidnap the cook. Be nice to me and I might take you there - blindfolded of course.
  8. I adore roller coasters! I'm considering living on one for a few years. I dont even have to use two tumblers to cool my degree coffee. Just pour it off the top of a slope and catch it on my way down. Fun fun.
  9. I play guitar with the skill of a cotton fluffer. I can get away with murder if I threaten to play it amidst company.
  10. I always have an out of body experience when I go to Purple Haze and realize we're headbanging to death metal in a pub on a plateau in South India!
  11. I cannot remember birthdays. Even if I am reminded the day before. Always compensate by being extra nice to the person a month later. I dont think this has worked very well.
  12. When the price of cucumbers goes down in Malleshwaram market, the vendors will cry out with mock incredulity : "Yeld rupp yeld rupp. Yenri idhu?" (Rs 2, Rs 2, What is this (insanity)?)
  13. In 1987 the Bangalore city corporation decided to substitute the water in the Sadashivnagar Olympic swimming pool with dil. HCl. I owe my beautiful pink peeling skin tone to this.
  14. My lifetime ambition is to sneak up to someone in Beijing and say "Are you Chwyneeeeeeeeeeese?"
  15. I want to sign up the person who writes the captions for Page 3 pics in Bangalore Times for a therapeutic public stoning.
  16. Enid Blytons are best enjoyed atop a mango tree.
  17. My mother has steadfastly deprived me of potted meat sandwiches and scones all through my childhood.
  18. Andhra's speciality mango pickle was so named when a famous Australian called Nan Dandee tasted it for the first time and said "Its Awkay mite".
  19. A schoolboy looks ridiculous when he walks through a rice paddy in Trivandrum with his shoes held above his head and his shorts fall off.
  20. Sparrows left Bangalore in 1999. I did not receive a message thanking me for the sunflower seeds and caterpillars. Where are you my little ones? Come back I say.
  21. When your cousin says "They have cleaned up the Adyar" and offers to take you on a bike ride down the bridge, do not go. "They have not."
  22. The best way to get out of a Hijra's clutches is to fold your hands, say maaf karo and dive at their feet.
  23. And just to be contrary, I will stop at 23.

I shall now tag rustyneurons to kindly do the needful and oblige.