Friday, June 30, 2006
it sounds like wyoming .no,it is not in usa. it is in india. deep down south. a long six and half hours drive from chennai. the town is called kumbakonam. it is a temple town .famous for its oppilliappan temple and aaravamudan temple.both lord vishnu temples.the people of kumbakonam are supposed to be very intelligent. and cunning too .in the old days this word was incorporated in the oxford english dictionary and meant 'the act of being cunning'. and there is a flourishing silk trade in this dusty town.
my mama's last beti(he has five of them) got married on 28th june. on the 29th i had an important board meeting in kolkata .almost a hobson's choice. but then thanks to easier flying these days and good roads, i made it to both.
first the wedding. it was a typical iyengar marriage. welcoming the bridegroom, kasi yatrai,maalaimarthal,oonjalaadudal,palikai,rakshabandanam,kanyadaanam, mangalyapujai,mangalyadharanam,paanigrahanam,saptapadi,homam,ammi middittal and aashirvaadam.there were many emotional scenes,with my mama in tears during kanyadanam and hema sobbing while hari was tying the knot.met a lot of relations.had the typical kalyana sappadu and drove back to chennai.reached around 8.30 and was up early morning next day to take the kolkata flight.
i had never driven so much in the south at a stretch. and i passed through cuddalore,pondicherry,kaaraikaal, seerkazhi,chidambaram,mayalaaduthurai(mani shanker iyer's constituency). cuddalore was badly devastated on 24th dec 2004 when the tsunami hit south india. nagapattinam and velankanni also took the brunt. though i was in the heart of chettinad, i had no time to stop and savour the famous chettinad cuisine.pondicherry was a french colony,french is still being taught and is also spoken by some of the locals .and it is one of the best cities in south india.
it was a pity i couldn't visit the temples around tanjore due to paucity of time. i must visit them . my sister-in-law told me that she has already visited 106 out of the 108 divya deshams spread throughout the length and breadth of our country. for sri vaishnavas from the south it is an important soulsatisfying achievement. the other two divya deshams are not reachable in mortal form.thus ended my soujourn to the bastion of the tambrahms.tanjore.it has produced outstanding and brilliant people."it is the cauvery silt", said my friend kk.
Sunday, June 18, 2006
it is more than a fortnight now when the first monsoon rains lashed mumbai this year. for starters it was quite a downpour. it took everyone by surprise.and the bmc was totally unprepared for an early onset of rains. the result was a bit of a nightmare on the roads due to clogging traffic. thankfully the rains receded and things cleared up. but it did send a shiver down everyone's spine. a repeat of 27/7 of last year? after that initial show of fury,the rains have disappeared. we want it now as it has become unbearbly warm.the metereologists have been forecasting that the monsoon is around the corner and that it would commence any day now. the earlier the better.
the other day,as usual,i took our dogs for their morning walk. i looked up at the sky. it was a bit overcast but didn't look as if it would rain. they love this outing. i take them to the oval maidan,which is bang-on opposite our house,and once they are safely inside,i let them free. they have a great time running around to their heart's content.cherry loves to chase balls. i throw them and she runs,picks it up and returns it to me .i got a frizbee for them from bangalore. but then in the first use itself it got chewed. i also got those rubber balls which make a noise when they are pressed.they also got mauled by cherry.i know when she is tired and that 's the time to return home. mango runs too but he doesn't like to chase balls. he is a bit of a loner,not as friendly and affectionate to strangers as cherry but a very lovable character. and after i bring them back and k takes them to wash them up i go to the nearby milk kiosk for buying our daily milk requirement. the milk boy has gone to his 'muluk' and in a way i am happy. it gives me that extra walk. i actually need to walk and exercise much more.
in the mik booth,i was in for a bit of a shock.milk prices were raised just like that by 2rs from rs 15/litre to rs 17/litre. no reasons given for a 15% increase. do we have a choice? i quietly accepted the hike,paid up and returned home. in my young days when i grew up at kolkata,even a 1np increase in bus fares would result in scores of buses being torched by the public. is our reaction today a sign of maturity or meek acceptance? i don't know. when i returned home, i asked gb for my cuppa tea. adrak et al. i sipped and almost threw up. instead of sugar,she had added salt. when i complained she insisted it was sugar. so,i went to the kitchen,and had a look at the jar .it looked sugar alright.then why the salty taste. the mystery was quickly unravelled.she had topped up the salt jar the previous day with sugar by mistake.
after the milk shock,this was a double whammy. literally rubbing salt into my wounds.
i asked gb to throw out the whole stuff. she thought for a while and said " nahin saheb,main rakkoongi.aapko jabi neembupani chahiye,thoda milaan doongi.thoda namak aur thoda sakkar. aapko donon ka taste saath mein mil jayega"
two in one.that is gb's innovation.
kabhi khushi,kabhi gam.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
politics is a great leveller.one moment your star is in the ascendency and in another your are down in the dumps.laalu prasad yadav, ex cm of bihar,and now a cabinet minister in the central government knows this better than anyone else.he is not the one to be dispirited by his setbacks. as a matter of fact he fights and comes back bouncing. known for heading the most corrupt goverment in bihar for more than a decade and for shielding murderers,rapists and other criminals he has umpteen cases against him for amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.he was even sent to jail for a period of time but managed to get bail.that he lived a 5 star life in prison is a different story.
the media is in love with him.he has a native sense of humour and is quick on the repartee.he often gets painted as a clown or as a joker.surely,he must be hurt about his negative image.at the same time,the very fact that people want to see,hear,feel and chew more of laalu gives him one helluva kick.
in an earlier posting,i had written about laalu dolls a la barbie dolls.it had become a craze.and then there were laalu khainis(tobacco) which also became an instant hit. and the latest to hit the stands is lalu toffee. called 'laalu ka khazana' it has become a big hit with the children.like laalu himself,laalu toffees are soaring in popularity.they are available in rs1 and rs2 sachets.the wrapper is colourful and it carries two different caricatures of lalu-one as a politician and another as a magician.in the last three months about 300,000 packets of 'lalu ka khazana' have been sold in his homestate- muzzafarpur,chapra,gopalganj,madhubani and darbangha.lalu chocolates are even being hoarded.
when asked whether he has tasted his toffee,he replied 'i have heard about it. you taste it and let me know how good it is".
brand laalu has established it self.and shrewd businessmen are capitalising on it. the railway minister's rusticness and down to earth commonsense have impressed the high and mighty too. laalu himself is quite gung-ho these days with a dramatic turnaround in the finances of the railways'. ge chairman jeffery immelt and iim (a) faculty have praised him to the hilt.
when he visited pakistan a few years ago he became so popular that he was the envy of other indian politicians. there is a joke that lalu and bill clinton got on very well. once when he visited the white house,he decided to learn english from clinton.they were locked up in a room for many days and nights .people wondered what was happening. finally a dishevelled clinton emerged speaking the bhojpuri dialect!
his wife rabri(sweet) is a great source of strength for him.after all when he had to resign the post of cm when he was neck-deep in various scams,he played the masterstroke of appointing his wife rabri as the leader of their rjd party and she became the cm.that caught everone unawares.she was a homemaker,illiterate and knew nothing of politics .she carried the mantle as cm for a full term.
his brand value is no less than sachin tendulkar's or bigB's or even mahender singh dhoni's who hails from the same region. soon laalu will start asking for his pound of flesh. no free lunches anymore for the clever businessmen.