Archive for March, 2006

Yellow Moods

30 March 2006 1 comment

Come summer and each one of us looks forward to the day when it will get over. To a little extent, I await the bright sunny days for one reason. It is the season of India's favourite fruit and this post is inspired by this article (aptly titled 'The Mango Fool') on the Sunday Express. This year, a few weeks back, when we were at our favourite juice shop in Mhow, I noticed the menu showing mango. I inquired eagerly despite the fact that we could not see any mangoes displayed and I was disappointed to hear him saying "the menu is a fixed one".

Mango is of course India's national fruit and the most popular by a big margin. One curious fact about it is that the etymology of the word reveals that its origin is the Tamil "maangaai". There are so many varieties of mango and the very word mango makes my mouth water. I have a fascination for raw mango that goes back to my school days in Thoothukudi when the mandatory nextdoor shop to our school stocked pieces of raw mango. I prefer eating it plain, rather than mix it with salt or masala, as is eaten in true Indian style. At home, we would await our Appa's shopping trip eagerly for the mangoes he gets for us. At lunch and supper, mangoes used to go well with the food.

I like the 'Kilimooku' variety better than the Malgoa. I also like to eat it without peeling the skin, after reading that fibres are good for health 😉 There were plenty of mango trees in our vicinity. Sadly they were all forbidden areas and kids liks us were not allowed to pluck them. Who cared? I can vouch for the statement 'stolen mangoes are the tastiest ones'. Talk about ethics. We used to jump into a particular house whose inmates would be sleeping in the afternoon and pluck those ripe and raw 'kilimooku' mangoes silently. The share would be done equitably and we would taste the mangoes as a bunch with borrowed salt and knives. Frooti was one early mango drink and what a hit it was. It is almost synonymous to the mango juice carton category. Maaza and Slice followed.

My schoolmates in Class 11/12 always teased me with "Masakkai" as I was the single largest consumer of raw mango pieces. We used to sit at the Keezhur railway station, observing the girls of the adjacent school, till the station master complained about us to our headmaster. In any case, there are hardly any trains that come to Thoothukudi. It was around that time when Sharon juice shop opened near the Thoothukudi Municipal office, very near to the 'Pazharasam (a Thoothukudi specialty) Paulraj' shop and our schoolmates were early patrons of the shop. The shop introduced a whole new range of shakes like the Sharjah shake (my friend here tells me it's the Kozhikode guys who invented all these shakes) and got us hooked. In spite of such shakes, nothing comes closer to home-made mango juice made by Amma's hands.

In Guindy, we had the Classic or some such name Mallu juice shop just next to the IIT which was our haunt for juices and omelettes late in the night.Why am I saying all this? In Indore last week, I discovered the mango shake when we were out on our survey. Now it is there in Mhow too. A few days back, I had the mango shrikhand, another North Indian dish – very very tasty and aam pak – a mix of mango and rabdi (the milk-based sweet). I cannot now think of anything except mango when I will reach Madras by this Monday. Mangoes for lunch, mangoes for dinner and mango shakes to quench my thirst this summer – I gonna have a great time. I will be double glad if you provide me new recipes that I can ask Abi to prepare.

Categories: Food

A long day in the last leg

24 March 2006 3 comments

23 Feb 11.30pm One of my project mates tells me that I need to present NZ’s STEP and SWOT analyses for our Developments in Indian and World Economics course. I have a cursory look at the slides. I had contributed to the political analysis and had looked at a few pages including the celebrated case of why reforms failed in New Zealand. There is a higher likelihood for a quiz in our last marketing lecture today (24 Feb). So I read our relationship marketing lecture. As I lie down to sleep at 12.30am, I recall the main points of the literature mentally. It feels good to revise this way. The heat is so oppressive and I can feel it in my bed. I think it is time I go back to sleeping on the floor. I look at the light filtering through the windows and I have a faint feeling it should be around 6. I had an alarm at 6 and I unfortunately failed to turn it on. Luckily my body alarm wakes me up 5 min past 6. After a quick mail and blog check, I prepare the case notes on the BA case for our marketing lecture. At 7.30, I peruse the NZ slides for the presentation. I take about 20 minutes to get ready for today’s classes. We have a long day ahead, unusual for our first year and more typical of the second year where schedules go haywire. A quick chat with my cousin leads me to Pixelated Moments, which is a photoblog by a fellow Thoothukudi guy who has lived in Bangalore and Madras.

I stop by the mess at 9 and have a leisurely breakfast of aloo mutter sandwiches before reaching the class in time for the 9.30lecture. We don’t have a marketing quiz. I do a decent job with the presentation in the second lecture. Our professor distributes books for all toppers in his quiz. I am lucky(yes) to get a mini EB volume 5 (He to Ky). He’s the only guy who does this. Who doesn’t love a book? But encyclopedias! I finish surfing through Francis Fukoyama’s Trust, a book on social capital and spontaneous sociability with an equal emphasis on trust in sound economic performance. I have a quick lunch. We have strategy presentations in the afternoon. I have a quick nap for 10 minutes to get ready for the long evening. After having mostly 3 lectures in a day, having 8 lectures seems to be a painful chore.

Most of the strategy presentations are interesting. Our group’s was the best of the day and we all feel proud of the lone member who contributed to the success. By the time the presentations get over, we hardly have time for the next series of lectures which were supposed to start at 6. By a twist of luck, one of thle lectures is postponed to tomorrow and the other starts late at 6.30. I almost sleep half-way through the lecture. My body clock does not co-operate and my eyes are so tired in spite of the fact that I have only been using my mental faculties in the day. I feel irritated when the lecture overshoots by a few minutes. I rush back to my room and grab an hour of sleep before getting ready for the next set of activities for the coming week.

We are in the final stretch of our first year. Next Saturday, we have our last exam of the first year on strategy and the convocation of the outgoing batch. Till then we have one of the most hectic schedules of this year in the coming week – no breaks, long days, project presentations, preparations for the term exams(?) and homesick feelings. Past that, we will be free to do our internships. Maybe, I should look back at the first year now. My selective ethics does not let me blog from the company where I will intern. Maybe, I will change my mind or I will get a net connection at Abi’s place.

Categories: Bschool

One more survey

22 March 2006 7 comments

An interesting activity we did last week-end was a survey for our marketing project. The prof is the scariest one here and so all our guys were out to the city armed with their questionnaires. I have a memorable first experience with surveying. It was in Class 9 when Mee introduced us to the Tamil Nadu Science Forum. About 6 of us did 2 projects. I must be grateful to Mee and her mom for showing us the way. I remember going out to houses in our locality with a bevy of girls from our class. All the observers ogled at the girls. We did our matter-of-fact survey about domestic issues. Being locals ourselves, we used to be warmly welcomed at all the homes. In fact, we would know most of the people ourselves, our sampling location being a small one. Two of us fought to ride on her cycle, for reasons best known to adolescence. I have always admitted to getting worldly-aware a lot late and asked characteristic stupid questions sometimes to the chagrin of my companions. We used to be serve with the choicest coffee (which I abhor). I don’t remember what we did with our responses. The grand finale was a special lunch at Mee’s place where I heartily had a lot of first-time food.

We had one survey at the start of our MBA, which was of course part of our ragging. At the second one in our 2nd term, we tasted the special vadas of Sarafa in Indore. Last Friday, we went to the M G Road branch of ICICI Bank (our topic). We graciously checked with the Operations Manager there if we could conduct our surveys in the branch premises. Our school tag did not help us and he graciously refused us to do anything inside. So the 2 of us stood outside the branch near the ‘Ganne Ka Ras’ (cane juice – my favourite) and waited to speak to the customers. My first target was an ICICI Home Loans agent. I tried to get the questionnaire filled by talking to him. He gave up after the 2nd question, asking loudly if I was indeed speaking proper Hindi. What a way to start!

I handed the questionnaire to the 2nd guy and asked him to fill it up. We progressed slowly. In spite of our expectations that we should have it easy at the largest branch in the city, we could get only 14 responses in 3 hours. That is an average of 7 for the day and 2 for an hour. If I tried to approach any female, she would go away from him as if I were a repulsive creature. Even our success stories were turned off by the length of our questionnaires (4 pages) and started ticking options randomly. Some of our targets blankly said they were not interested. Probably we looked like YACSAs (Yet Another Creditcard Sales Agents). One software engineer in Hyd treated us like dirt and rudely told us we have to listen as we represent the bank and he is a KING customer. It was a hard day. We even tried crossing the road to the mall of Indore – Treasure Island. There were more people from our batch with different questionnaires. Well, the girls seem to be having it easy.

One group just enjoyed the mall experience – Pizza Hut and other joints – before returning with a response. Some of our respondents assumed we were from the bank. I spoiled the leisure time of a Big Bazaar employee who would otherwise have seen the good-looking-girls of Indore who keep their faces unveiled only when they enter these joints. Disappointed with our work, we moved to an ATM near the MY Hospital. Here too, we didn’t have a great time and so at 6.30 we called it quits and moved to Chappan – the snacks delight of Indore. I had my favourite “Shikanji”. Indore’s Shikanji (unlike North India’s limewater) is made from rabdi and dry fruits. It is a heavenly drink.

The next day, we went straight to the ATM. This was our lucky day and we finished about 15 responses in 2 hours. One lady called it a timepass and filled it. One student started asking us about CAT. One guy appreciated our questionnaire. Another guy demanded 2rs to fill the questionnaire. I replied poorly that we were students and he didn’t persist with this demand. At the end of our responses, we again went to Chappan. We had “Sabudhana (tapioca) kichdi” and Sabudhana Vada, again Indore’s own delicacies. We wound up with a glass of Shikanji and a pizza at the Hut. I let all my respondents fill up the survey. If I had started asking them, I would have taken a lifetime to fill my quota. Now I shall let the cruncher to analyse the data!

Categories: Bschool

Holi ho…

16 March 2006 14 comments

Holi – a festival I have only seen in Nayagan so colourfully. That ‘Andhi Mazhai’ song evokes such good feelings about Holi and down below we never celebrated Holi. Maybe, things are changing now, but not definitely to the grand celebrations that happen here. Talking about old days, Champak always brought out special issues for Holi and that’s how vicariously we knew Holi. Not that it made a difference to us. Holi and Rakshabandhan were alien concepts to us. Holi is one feel-good festival. Any event that includes water is bound to have fun and Holi has plenty of it. After getting to work, you are very careful about not spoiling your dresses. In Bangalore also I did not celebrate Holi that much and so I have never seen one proper Holi.

Holi is the only festival which we will celebrate just once on campus. Next year, by that time, the MBA would be over. The first day (Mar 14), we had a bonfire called Holika Dahan. It was pretty boring not like the fun I have read or seen playing Holi. The bonfire was followed by a special dinner, one of the few occasions when staff and students get together. We had one marketing plan for our first class the next day (Yes, no holiday on Holi day!) and I stayed upto 2am after a loong time. For a change, I did not be a free rider. It rained heavily overnight. Just like the peacocks who dance colorfully in the rain, we would play colourfully with water. 15 Mar. Our marketing prof was good enough not to give us another assignment on Holi Day. Soon after lunch and the customary mail check in the afternoon, I changed to my shabby shorts eagerly anticipating the fun (called Holi Dhuredi) that was to follow.

Every room seemed to be playing the “Rang Barse” song. I could already see war cries near our mess. People armed with buckets of water were wetting everyone in the vicinity. I walked to our bathroom to get ready. At the entrance, I was ambushed by two enthu Mallus who wetted me first. I got a bucket and filled it with water. Over to the battlefield. We were late. The path to the mess never looked so colourful. The early birds had their share of powder painted onto their faces. We were rolled on the floor and the fun just started. I grabbed some powder and tried to paint a few faces. Within a few minutes, everyone got pretty involved and wet colourful faces were the norm soon. The rubbing and the gay feeling climbed new heights as no one was to be spared. My first Holi was starting to be memorable.

Out came the syringes. Fill it, spray it and enjoy – the mantra of all lucky souls with a syringe. I also had my share of syringe delight. Light and popular boys were thrown into the drum, now full of coloured water. Any one who joined the party late was welcomed with lots of powder and water. There were so many colours – pink, red, yellow, … Some kind soul decided it is expose time and no shirts should be left standing. A lot of Tshirts were torn and poor guys who were wedded to their dresses were made sorry. Every boy flaunted his hairy chest, his beer belly and his brief show – that tiny bit which peeks outside. One had to be really careful not to wring the shirt out of a girl. One could not visibly make out a girl or guy unless they had distinct dresses.

More people joined the fray. It is so refreshing to have water poured when one is in a carnival mood. The mess and security folks had a gala time seeing us all in our silly bests. After the water fight and the colour throw, we decided to wind up with a free-for-all shirt blast. Get a shirt, aim and hit the next guy. Quite a few guys slipped down the watery grass, evoking a few laughs. Shirt-throwing at bare backs is a pain and a lot of gentle animosity got aroused. The fights ended with peace treaties, with signals of no-hits. This photo reveals a lot, doesn’t it? Holi

I took a 30minute bath and I still looked so coloured. The festival ended with a kabaddi game. I wanted to play, but did not. The game had its share of joy. What a playful end to a playful game! I bet, everyone wanted to have more rounds of the joyful festival 🙂

Categories: Bschool

The heart-winning match

14 March 2006 3 comments

A lazy Sunday afternoon. Our TV room is sparse. Some are watching the Ind-Eng cricket match. I’m reading it live on cricinfo. I have a curious look at the SA-Aus ODI being played at the Wanderers. Ponting and Hussey are having fun with the SA bowlers. I rush to the TV room to watch it live. At 40 overs, the Aussie score is 300. I go back to cricinfo. More hitting and they easily go past 400 – the first time ever in the history of cricket. They end up at 434, beating the old record by a comfortable distance.

The SA chase starts well in spite of losing an early wicket. They are ahead of the Aussies at each stage. Gibbs and Smith are playing like possessed people. It helps that there is no McGrath or Warne. I rush to our TV room where there are a few more souls. The chase has just hottened with Gibbs getting great shots. The asking rate never climbs below 8. It does not go above 11 also. It is time for the dinner break. A quick bite and back to the TV room. Gibbs had gotten out while I was eating.

No one gave SA a chance. With all their history of having choked at every big game especially when they were chasing and having snatched defeat, how would any one? It was one of those classic tussles between the mind and the heart. Our heart wishes for the Springboks to win and our mind insists that no one could ever chase 434. At 30 overs, SA has 280, a clean 7 overs ahead of the Aussies. Our TV room gets hot. I realize that I’m seeing one of the matches of my lifetime.

Kallis goes without making much. Kemp also goes and suddenly it looks the Aussies will win this match. Come van der Wath. After about 47 balls without a 4, we get a boundary. He hits a few long shots quite easily and makes the target more achievable. Then he goes. One guy says SA cannot do it. We get ready to give him the bumps if what he says becomes true. We lose our hope for a few balls before the next big guy Telemachus plays a rapid fire shots. This is a true last minute match. The room gets more excited and we are cheering every SA shot. You need to be lucky to get a 400plus score.

The Aussies spray their balls, misfield and even drop a catch. There is some good bowling by Bracken. But the SA firmly believe they gonna win the match. Their dressing room is not as tense as one would expect it to be. 3 overs 30 runs. More fours in the 48th over. 2 overs 13 runs. That’s easy. Then Telemachus too goes. Hall the next guy has hit a couple of 50s. 7 runs needed in the last over.

What a heart-stopper it has turned out to be! The 2nd ball goes for a 4. Only 2 more to get. It could be done safely. Hall attempts another 4 and gets out. One more twist. Ntini survives and manages to get a single. It is upto Boucher who has held one end and managed the chase so well till this point. He scoops the ball over the heads of mid-on and the heart wins the match too. We kick the guy. One amazing match…

Categories: Misc.

Glory to the girl

8 March 2006 10 comments

Women's Day is today and what do guys really think about girls? How I have tried to read women along the lengths of my life. Of course, there is the Blank Noise Project against Street Harassment or eve-teasing in plain terms. I have sometimes wanted to be a girl for the sake of knowing the other side. Thanks to my amma and Abi, it has been easy to grow up with a respect for the girl. At the cost of risking the ire of the girls here, teasing is an easy word and there is plenty of harmless teasing where the girls also enjoy the fun. The fun goes away when it becomes harassment.

Street harassment is very common thanks to the growing-up environment of the majority and the general apathy towards the victims in the society. It has been a really long time since we became prude thanks to the cultural invasions over the years. There will always be a few perverts in any society, but for the majority to behave in this manner means a moral weakness. Awareness or punishment is a short-term solution and clearly it requires primary education and parental nurture to make sure that the next generation does not stoop to such evil behaviour.

I have seen several instances as portrayed in ‘Boys’. I have listened to several stories like a true voyeur. I have known what it means to be felt in a crowded MTC bus. Is it fear or is it my morals that keep me away from such vulgar behaviour? If the ‘victim’ is willing to be party to my ‘evil’ activity, will I do it? One guy who did such a nasty thing told me it was so natural for him. How easily he justifies it. Violation of my private space is very disturbing to me. How can it be natural or fun when some pervert plays with my balls or abuses his power? Having several good friends in the other sex helps to a good extent. But there are the Jekyll and Hyde cases too who behave differently in different circumstances.

I am in awe of the girl for several good reasons. Girls are mini-mummies. Their selfless love is so amazing. I keep wondering if I can be as nice as so many girls are. How versatile they have been and how caring they are. It takes me a lot of effort to even think about caring and it all comes so naturally to them. Yes, glory to the girl for everything she does…

Categories: Me, Society

Morality anyone?

4 March 2006 6 comments

One advice I would like to follow is not to be moralistic 🙂 I tend to judge people fast and stick to my opinions thick. I am conscious of this naive behaviour and have tried to reduce it, but it is so tough to be moralistic. It is easier to avoid being simplistic! Being moralistic makes me thick-headed, cynical, sarcastic and bitter. I have been telling myself and the big O (let’s say he’s a footballer) who showed us the Mallu mess in Mhow that I shall try not to be moralistic. It helps me to feel the unalloyed joys of other people.

Placements are the theme of the season in the management schools this time of the year. As is the case with me for most of the college fests or events, I don’t volunteer and prefer to stay happily in my room, venturing out for my daily quota of football and other bodily deeds. One such day the big O and I went for a ride down the road we discovered to the airport. Well, it goes through a village, some green fields, some stone quarries and does not touch the city at all. He tells me it reminds him of some Chenganoor in Malluland.

I led him up a horrible road through the stone quarries which looked ideal for film songs (like the “Ottagathai Kattiko” in Gentleman). I had him worried since his bike is new and the place became a maze. It was mysterious with few people in sight. We roamed around the quarries where we saw big pits, some stone cutting machines and a few souls who stared at us as if we were aliens. He cursed me for getting us lost. We asked some kind souls the way back to the road and reached it. Around Indore, you stumble upon a hillock (‘Tekhri’) if you go out any side. On the way back, we had wanted to sit on one of those roadside mini-walls and so we did.

The wall we had chosen was just opposite to a village ‘bandara’ where a public feast was happening. It reminded me of our village festivals where you slaughter goats and serve all the villagers. Those festivals are always full of lights, stalls where you got exotic food, full of people, fun games like those big merry-go-rounds which you see in theme parks these days, … We sat and observed all these simple folks having fun at their festival. It is fun watching people.

The next day we decided to go to eChoupal. I had read about Bercha (multiple variants of the name) lake near Mhow. After a customary juice at our favourite shop in Mhow, we enquired about the route to the lake. We went through the Mhow colleges which I last saw on the way to Choral Dam. Once we went past the beautiful landscape which has these military centres, we came to the point where you turn left to reach Choral. Bercha lake is on the road straight from that point, aptly named Berchha road. The lake is used by the military for training purposes and is named “Berchha Watermanship Area”.

We saw our national birds on the way. I have seen peacocks in the wild between Kovilpatti and Thoothukudi only before, that too while travelling by bus or by train. We never get to stop and see them. So it was a pleasure. We stopped and went back. There were more than five of them and they ran when they heard us. We decided to see them closely on our return trip, but we couldn’t. We reached the lake after asking a few people on the way. It had the big banyan tree as is expected of a decent picnic spot. The lake was deserted except for a lone young man who we had disturbed. We could see a boat at another end. We decided to check out, but when we saw the “restricted area” notice, we did not get inside. We returned through another route minus the peacocks and went straight to eChoupal where we had idlis and a pizza.

Returning to my post topic, I picked up the very interestingly titled “Morality for Beautiful Girls” a few days ago. The comments on the book called the book’s heroine the Miss Marple of Africa. I was hooked after a few pages. It is so cheerful and optimistic. Botswana is where the stories in this series take place and the author paints a beautiful picture of Africa through the eyes of the characters. There is good humour and there are thoughtful sentences through out the book. There are four other books of the same series in our library and I am determined to read all of them. By a curious coincidence, in one of these books, the author writes “Happiness is in the heads” which was my farewell mail and is my signature these days. Great minds think alike 🙂

Categories: Books, Me