Archive for January, 2006

Bloody gift

30 January 2006 7 comments

I have a fear of needles just as many kids do. My doctors always knew I hated injections. Every time, they compared me with Abi who was fearless most of the times. In fact, my family doctor at home ensures that she always injects painlessly in my hip. She is so considerate of my arms and my fear. Whenever I get sick out of town, I don’t have a choice. I must say I have grown up(!) to allow myself to be injected ever since I have been in Guindy. But whenever I get sick at home, I let myself be pampered by my doctor who always keeps my fear top on her mind. I shall be the same little boy for all of them there.

Blood is another thing I used to fear. The first time I saw a goat being slaughtered at one of the temple festivals in my granddad’s village, I stopped eating mutton for 3 months. I hated the experiments with rats in our biology classes. I only listened to the different stories that people said about those experiments. In fact, I did not want to take up medicine primarily because of these two fears deep rooted in me and of course my aversion of drawings. I have always opted for the easy way out, never the one to do (hard) work.

College and blood donation have a perfect correlation. It is when you cross 18 that you become eligible to donate blood. Every collegian enjoys the time he crosses 18. One of my collegemates wanted to host a site which listed all donors in the country. One easy NSS activity was having a blood camp. There must have been a lot of blood camps during our college days. There were countless jokes about the juices, the fruits and the biscuits you get when you donate. The fear of the prick was always greater than my urge to donate. Abi beat me to this too. She proudly told me she donated blood at her college. I simply let any news of blood camps through my ears. I don’t remember any such event when I was at Bangalore. I’d have ignored the news.

It is the time of the annual blood camp at our bschool too. The first note about the camp, the instructions for the same and the multiple reminders did not create much impact on me. I shrugged it as I have always done in the last 8 years. At class, I turned around and asked a few of my neighbours. All of a sudden I realise that there are a lot of folks who share my fear of the needle’s prick. Well, I decided to be different. How naive I had been to think that I had been different in donating. With that, I took the plunge and join the hordes of bloody people who have been fearlessly donating their blood ever since they turned major.

At the camp today, I volunteered to be in the second lot. I was anxious. I was happy to find myself weighing 65kg. It felt different to lie on the bed. The fellow gave me a red object to grip. The prick was uneventful. But surprisingly my blood was flowing slower than normal. It must also have been hesitant. My anxiety decreased on seeing my neighbour who was so excited to donate blood fast. I gripped the red object tightly to make the flow faster. After a few minutes, I was done. I was still anxious to an extent. After some rest, I got the juice and the oranges. Yes. I have donated blood for the first time at 26. I hope, my change continues!

Categories: Society

Structured thinking

26 January 2006 2 comments

Some time back, I asked Bhu, one of my good friends from CEG, “What is the single thing he learnt from his US MBA”? He is in his final year at bschool and is done with his placements. He replied, “Structured thinking or thinking through a problem from different perspectives”. I replied with a :p emoticon. Many friends rightly blame me for being sarcastic most of the times. Bhu also asked me if I was being sarcastic. To be frank, I did not think highly of structured thinking, especially as the one benefit of an MBA. Do we need an MBA for that? Don’t we all think in an organised manner when it concerns us most? Later I wondered what structured thinking could mean. I am so picky about definition, aren’t I? Maybe, it was his top-of-mind-association (thanks to my MBA) when I asked him. Breaking down a problem into its several components and deciding on the important ones is probably what he meant. I did not think much about it.

But as I started to read the Mckinsey Mind, the first chaper was on how to frame your thinking. Thinking in frames is the first thing a consultant at the Firm (refers to Mckinsey) will learn. Now structured thinking made sense to me. A friend tells me and I dismiss the idea. A book tells me the same thing and sets me thinking. How stupid of me! The last time I experienced thinking in frames was at a very useful innovation workshop by Erehwhon, for fairly experienced geeks. It was a revelation. But as with most corporate training programs, I haven’t put it to much use. To break out of my monotony, I must apply my brains a little more. Jo chided me that I don’t think and I wondered how she reads me clear quite a lot of times. Mee tells me my writing has improved over the half year and I really don’t know how. I felt better as she said that. But has my thought process really improved here? Yes, it must be because there is no alternative.

Categories: Books, Bschool

The pass

25 January 2006 2 comments

Much as I would like to believe that I am having a great time here, I can not help feeling that I have become lazier and more disorganised too. Maybe I want it to be this way. 2006 has been one of the laziest starts to a year in my life. It is the time I realise that something I have yearned for all along remains so distant to me still. I am wrong for sure. You do a few things, wish for a few more and hope that you get to a point. Having reached my short-term destination, I consider myself big for it and feel that it’s not such a great thing after all. When do I consider things really worthwhile? It’s the cynic or the skeptic in me. The cynic is the worse guy.

I forget that I cried just two years back for not even trying hard to get past the blocks. Here also I am not even trying. I began well, as always. One fine day, I come unstuck and  there stop the efforts. Unless some angel falls out of the heavens and helps me prod along! I won’t even trust the angel too. I must come out of this lazy bug that has bit me for the last two months. On campus, I fulfil my basic needs and do barely more. People here see me as some one stuck to my room and rising only for the classes, the quizzes and the daily football game. Football provides the perfect place to escape. It shows me how lost I am. How I miss sitters! How I do not even run with the others! I dare not risk my leg happy losing the ball than playing with it. But I continue to play football.

The 18 month duration of the course looks ideal for me. I know that I will be out in Mar 2007. I shall have an extended vacation with opportunity costs. I shall know more stuff and wonder how I shall use or apply them, if at all. I shall not strive hard. I shall get away with doing minimum.  Crossing the stretch would be what I will do. Passes are enough for me. At the end, I’ll be still out with a branded identity which I won’t very much like. I will remember this after five years. These are the rambles of an idle mind. I shall pass! I shall pass!

Categories: Bschool, Me

Jailbreak stories

20 January 2006 6 comments

We have a fascination for escape tales, don’t we? I recently saw “The Shawshank Redemption”, after reading Kiki(?) rant over it in a few posts. The movie was very good and deserved the No.2 rating in IMDB currently. I must be one of the laggards to watch it. There are several memorable moments in it. I liked a part of its tagline, “Hope can set you free”. An innocent chap is jailed because he is icy. He changes the life of the inmates in a pleasing manner and cleverly escapes to the Mexican bay for a free life. The turmoils he encounters in the jail and the manner in which he handles them make for very involved watching. I have to read the book now, “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”. The part I liked best was when the Irish (he’s Black but) prisoner describes the icy chap as ” He strolled, like a man in a park without a care or a worry in the world, like he had on an invisible coat that would shield him from this place.” How I wish I can be like this!

The first story of this type has got to be “Chateau’d If”, a part of the celebrated “Count of Monte Cristo”. This was in our Gulmohar English textbook, Class 7 or 8. I was hooked the first time. I had a habit of reading the stories even before they were taught. I continue the habit to this day, but only the stories happily. Our English teacher also whetted my appetite calling the book fantastic. Every time Appa and I go to Madurai, I would insist that we walk to a bookstore opposite the railway station and get novels. Some time in Class 9, I got an unabridged Count of Monte Cristo, all of 1034 or 1069 pages. That was my first big book. I didn’t get to read it fully till our even longer vacations between the Class 12 board exams and the first day at engineering college. But I liked it immensely and count it as one of the greatest books I have ever read. The innocence of his love, the infidelity of his friend, his stint at the prison (Chateau’ d If) and the Sinbadi way he gets his revenge are all out of the world when read the first time. This book gets mentioned in the Shawshank Redemption too.

Another similar book I knew pretty late was Papillon. My college companion Amal referred me to it. I read his copy of the book when we were in our final year with all the time in the world. I don’t remember much of it, but I liked it that time. Amal was a latecomer to books, but started getting fond of them pretty fast. We bought books at an old bookseller in the Adyar pavement close to Adyar Signal (the flyover shifted him close to the bus stand) and at the many shops in T Nagar. He killed himself a year or later after we passed out. It is interesting that unless you meet folks frequently, you can just imagine them living forever! Cheers to all the innocent tales that abound in jails.

Categories: Books

Thai Pirandhaal Vazhi Pirakkum

14 January 2006 8 comments

That’s the name of the song DD used to telecast every Pongal. Pongal is a unique festival because it is celebrated in so many names through out India – Sankranti, Lohri (I heard it here) and Bihu. I always thought it is the truly Tamil festival – the harvest festival that thanks the Sun God. In that sense, it could be my only festival as my name refers to the God too. It is religion independent, I felt. Pongal at home is an awesome experience and I have missed only one before.

On the previous day, we tie small parts of a cute plant to the entrance. The day starts with assembling the Pongal stones in the front yard of the house. Abi and Amma finish the kolam early in the morning in spite of the Margazhi (rather Thai) cold. That reminds me of the days we used to go to the temples during Margazhi to get the prasadam between 5 and 6am. The ‘manjal’ (turmeric) plant is kept near the offerings. We use dried palm leaves to start the fire. Stoking the fire is the only work I do during the festival. Just before it boils over fully, we howl (call it the olam), my appa does it well, to praise the God. Thus is cooked Ven Pongal.

Amma prepares Sakkarai Pongal, another favourite dish when I was small, in the kitchen. Idlis, vada and chutney make up the breakfast. All of us are dressed brightly and eat on the big banana leaves. Sambhar comes up for lunch. The tasteless Ven Pongal and the sambhar make up for a delightful combo. The evening is usually spent with friends and sugarcanes until the TV came up.

Thus starts the new year for most of us. We don’t usually celebrate the one that comes on Apr 14 much. With that, I wish all of you get a new way to go along this Pongal. Happy Pongal folks!

Categories: Society

The two kinds

13 January 2006 5 comments

There are two types of people.

The gregarious and the solitary. The industrious and the lethargic. The fluent and the reticent.

The gregarious love to be with people. They celebrate birthdays loud and grand. They neither miss a treat nor forget to wish. They are there for the festivals and the parties. Be it Deepavali or Christmas, their presence peps up the audience. They have an inherent enthusiasm to see happy faces when people are together. The other type thinks they are just acting it out and there is no genuine social need ever.

The solitary love to be with themselves. They are either philosphical or psychic. They are comfortable reflecting about events. They think they are innocent. They are the subject of most books and movies. They are the pondering type. The other type wonders if these people are depressed souls and pities these poor sinners.

The industrious are all for doing. They curse God for having given just 24 hours in a day. They cannot rest at all. If there is nothing to do, they walk up the stairs to the 24th floor and count them all. They are the action type. The other type knows that they have been unable to balance their life and will end up being the first to die of doing.

The lethargic are the lazy chaps of the world. They feel that every one is lazy to a large extent but act otherwise. They are spoilt by their ambitious parents, their caring friends, their loving spouses and their stupid children. They make up the average man who is the soul of statistics. The other type just ignores these people in their busy states.

The fluent are the ones with the gift of the gab. They are masters of public speaking. When you speak more, you got to speak rubbish too. They realise that too, but don’t have a choice now that they have been identified as the readywits and the communicators. They sure have a knack for quick thinking. The other type has a love/hate relationship with these guys.

The reticent are the speech-challenged folks. No, they are not dumb but. Their worth decreases with every word they speak and usually think that they are intelligent. They keep to their computers. The other type assumes these are real dumb guys and get surprised rarely.

I have been each one of these at times, more often at the wrong times. Is there any right type for all of us?

Categories: Misc.

I lost my identity

7 January 2006 9 comments

This time when I went home, the truth struck me. It is not as if I were never aware of the feeling. But the truth is that now I feel more that I can never call myself a Thoothukkudi boy or for that matter one of any other place. I was at a local theatre watching “Sandaikozhi” for Meera Jasmine. As I listened to the talk of the others, I felt lost. I have lost all sense of belonging. After almost eight-and-a-half years of living out, I feel robbed of an identity. I can never be a Madras guy. I retain little of that Madrasiness. My little cousin teases me every time I call Abi “e pillai” and we tease her every time she uses “dhoda” to call her brother. In one of these(should it be our?) classes, the professor asked, “Who are from Bangalore?” My hand went up reflexively. But I can never be a Bengaluru huduga.

It seems to be a trivial issue. But with all the globalisation talk (we have an interesting course called International Business this term), I am getting more and more in between and nowhere in particular. As I spoke about this to one of my friends here, he talked about living for others and how as the cream of the country (don’t I get tired of this term having heard it first at CEG as the cream of the state?), our aspirations and lifestyle change much to the chagrin of those around us. Both of us remain small town boys and wondered what effect the actions of others have had on us. In a posh city like Bangalore, you spend above 100Rs. on a meal and your parents ponder over if they have brought you up right. In an elite institution, your peers do a whole set of things and you sometimes feel guilty if you do not do as the others do. I have often done things by myself so much to be accused of remaining cold or selfish. My small heart says if you do things dictated by the others’ whims, you stop living. As long as my actions do not affect others, I am free to live with my idiosyncracies. The key to one’s actions is finding a purpose or passion to do something. When I find that, I will care less about any thing else. I am already off the topic of the post.

Should I be bothered about the loss of my identity? In spite of the efforts of my Thatha, I never had an affinity for our caste. It is yet another useless gift of our society. As we go further into the new century, the proportion of people losing their identities will grow at an exponential rate. There will be a time when this ratio will be so high that one will no longer call himself Indian or Tamilian or Thoothukudikaran. I will be a child of the world or a global kid as B-school lingo shall say. Waiting for those times…

Categories: Me