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Asking questions

27 January 2007 5 comments

One of my pet signatures reads “No question is stupid if I ask it!”. I am of the opinion that in any marriage, love or arranged, it is very important that the couple ask many many questions and get to know each other before they enter into a lifelong relationship. That’s what I told Anjali very soon after we started talking. Ok, ok, her full name is Geethanjali and I call her Anjali. Last month, NYT had a very interesting article titled “Questions Couples Should Ask Before Marrying”, which I found in its “Most Popular” section. Now, we are discussing all the points mentioned in that. I highly recommend it for all couples 🙂 A very relevant example – “Does each of us feel fully confident in the other’s commitment to the marriage and believe that the bond can survive whatever challenges we may face?” MSNBC reviews this set of questions here very well. Its bottomline is “A strong couple won’t have trouble discussing important issues about compatibility and handling inevitable differences. But it’s short-sighted to think any answers lie in a list of questions”. There is a Muslim set of questions targeted at the male here, not all of which are good, but still worth a glance. What do you think, people?

Categories: Family, Me, Society

House hunting in Bangalore

23 June 2006 5 comments

The first time I was in Bangalore (2001), Alex and the others did the job for me. All I had to was occupy the single bedroom(BR) I got allocated to me in the 1BR house we rented in Nanja Reddy Colony off Airport Road. They went through the broker Baasha (a Kannada Jain) whose house we occupied. We paid a whopping 7k for that small house. Inspite of it being furnished, we were cheated the first time. When rents dropped very soon after its peaks in 2001, the place went for 5.5k when we vacated. The company had laid off one of our mates and so we stayed there for about 7 months. For the second house, I only identified Wilson Garden as midway between Bannerghatta Road and Residency Road. Prakash and the rest did the job that time through two brokers — for which we faced problems later. We were six of us in the pretty expansive house (owned by a Gult family) – a 3BR home we picked at a decent 7.5k. I stayed comfortably for more than a year and a half.

The first time I went hunting for one was when I intended to stay alone in 2003. I picked up the latest copy of Free Ads and looked for the cheapest possible option. There was a 1BR flat in Austin Town for 2.5k – a bargain in my opinion – given the rude start we had to rents in Bangalore. It was an old redox (red oxide) BDA flat built 25 years back. It had a equally-sized BR, hall and kitchen (I never used this), quite big for a bachelor with no material possessions except a few dresses and books. The owner was a Gujju businessman, pretty loudspoken. Satisified with the bargain, I happily paid the advance the same day and occupied it the next day. I stayed there for a little over a year and a half. I decided that it is time I got myself closer to where I work and so I intended to shift to Domlur. Gopi and I looked at a few places around the Airport Road junction and had almost finalized one when I made it here.

This time though, it was a little different. It is 2006 and I am looking for proper homes where Abi, my mom and Madhu can stay. Needless to state, I pick up the latest FreeAds and make a shortlist of the houses I can call/visit that day. Townhall is where she works and my choice of areas would be Basavanagudi, VV Puram, Jaya Nagar, Shanti Nagar and Wilson Garden. Abi says she doesn't mind commuting a little more if the home is perfect for Madhu. I start with one in Ulsoor – the Tamil heartland in Bangalore. I know it is quite far, but the landlord had advertised for a decent Tamil family — such ads are real funny — which I am sure we are one. I talk to his wife, check out the 2BR redox place on the 1st floor and am pleased to an extent. There is no separate entrance for the house, but it is spacious. Sometimes, the landlord is as important as the place and he looks gentle. He asks for 4.5k. I even take Amma to have a look. All along, she has been used to forcing herself to others' opinons and this time too, she didn't think too much and was okay with the place. The landlord and his wife are very elderly people and try to sell us the advantages of the place. He runs a temple nearby and I am sure Madhu would have grown to be a very religious girl if she lived there. I tell them I shall bring Abi later in the evening and promptly pay a token advance if she is satisfied. But doubts still linger in my mind.

Armed with a house at hand, I go ahead. I call the second guy who has a 2BR house for 5k at Sakkamma Garden, quite close to South End Circle. I manage to converse in the little Kannada I know with his wife. His name ends in some iah and is so tough to pronounce. I figure out that he is away and I need to come back later. The weather is a tad pleasant and threatens to rain just like it has over the last several days. I call the third guy, a Muslim banker at Jaya Nagar 4th T Block. The house is right on the T Block Main road, a lot closer to Abi's office and again I am satisfied with the 1BR home on the 1st floor and the banker. He quotes 6k as he has bachelors ready to pay the amount and is willing to reduce it to 5k for families as is the case with me. This house is definitely better than the last one, though the kitchen is smaller. The biggest advantage is its proximity to Abi's office. This guy also speaks about the many advantages of the house. I promise to bring Abi to have a look in the evening and go back to Sakkamma Garden.

This house is on the 2nd floor and is bigger than the other two. I seem to be progresing 🙂 It is also much more nearer to Abi's place. The Kannada professor is a softspoken scrupulous guy and asks an astonishing (I mean, cheap, no no, rather value for money in mbaspeak) 5k for the 2BR house he is ready to rent. He does not speak too much on the greatness of the place unlike the others. I guess he must have got enough requests given the offer. I seem to be spoilt for choice today. Abi's Tata Indicom mobile, which I was carrying, calls it quits as I have exceeded the arbitrary limits it was set to. I call the last guy in Jaya Nagar 1st Block Siddapura, house to many nurseries. I am unable to locate a yellow water tank he had told as the landmark on the way to his house. I call him back and he says, "Just ask for XYZH aunty's home". I do that and easily locate his house. His wife — the aunty — is the ward member of that area.

The guy happens to be an Erode guy though he retains little of the characteristic "enungaa", which Abi also seemed to have picked up during her study in Coimbatore. He runs a PG here and I am impressed by his interactions with the guys around. Most of the inmates of the PG are Tamil boys. He shows me two houses, both being BR ones – one on the 1st floor for 6.5k and the other on the ground floor for 6k. These houses are easily the biggest of all the ones I have seen today. 6k is a little out of the budget in my opinion. I think it is fair that Abi decides after seeing the houses. I go to her bank. She sits on the 5th floor amidst some of the most senior people. I talk to a few of them before she is done with her work. Her work timings are till 5pm but she almost always stays till 6 as she cannot go before any of the senior guys who go out much after 6.

It has not rained at all today and I take her to the Siddapura house, just 0.5km away from the back gate of Lal Bagh (as I know it) or the Lal Bagh Siddapura gate (as the owner calls it). Abi also likes the place pretty much. She does not mind about the excess over the budget. Her only criterion seems to be that the house is in the ground floor which suits Madhu the most. Of course, she trusts my opinion that this house is the best of the rest, which come at lower rents though. She does not even see the other places. After a quick call to her hubby, we decide on this place. I go to the ICICI Bank ATM at Elephant Rock, one of my favourite ATMs 😉 to pay the token advance. We go back to have a round of Amma's food. I am very happy that my Bangalore knowledge has been put to use and 3 cheers to Free Ads.

Categories: Family, Society

My best girl

1 December 2005 4 comments

Of late, I have been watching many movies. I watched Ram, Arindhum Ariyamalum, Paarthiban Kanavu, Oru Kallooriyin Kadhai, Gundaka Mandaka, Mr and Mrs Iyer and Children of Heaven in a span of 10 days. Not to forget, I have been irregular with my readings. The shine of a new education is gone. The last movie is an Iranian one. I don’t remember watching many foreign movies. This must be my second or third movie. It could even be the first. Somehow, the subtitles were also not working. But I could feel the movie right through. It is about a poor boy and his sister in Iran. The boy misplaces her shoe. What follows later is best watched. They have to share his shoe. She first goes to her class and comes running to pass the shoes to him. He becomes a regular late-comer to his school. He is a good athlete. A race comes up in the city, with a shoe at stake for the third place. He represents his school in the race and comes first, sadly. I liked the girl’s speaking eyes. There is ample expression of the love between siblings. On a side note, they suspect a girl of taking the shoe and they find that she is poor and not a thief. The movie is emotional. I am always impressed by children in books or movies. And it reminds me of my own sister.

I was in my UKG. I had come to Madras with my Thatha. That was the first time I had come anywhere without my Amma. I don’t know if I missed my Amma much. But my Mama’s place had a TV in those early days and there was this ‘Nirma washing powder ad’ where a little girl whirls around on her flock. That set me crying. I was reminded of Abi and demanded that I see her immediately. My Mama and my Thatha had no option. My Thatha took me to the railway station. We had only the Vaigai Express to Madurai in the day. Off we caught an EMU to Egmore. I complained to my Thatha that Thoothukudi is to the other side, little knowing about Egmore. It was late night about 2pm when we reached home. I was happy to be with Abi. I missed her more than my Amma. That is a long time ago.

We had plenty of adventures and secrets together. She remains my first voice at my home. I used to call her Karuppayi, in spite of the fact that I have a darker skin. During our engineering days, we used to meet only when we had common holidays. We got away from each other. We exchanged occasional letters. Seeing her on her birthday remained a priority to me. If we find a scapegoat – usually one of our cousins – we make sure we rip them apart with our pulling. She knows almost all my friends. In fact, she gently teases my amma on my non-existing girlfriend. In the first two years at Bangalore too, I used to write letters to her. And then, it was only the phone. I would just call her to listen to her voice. It’s a comfort feeling that she is my li’l sis.

In the final year at Guindy, Leela and I were going out together for our coaching classes, Andhra meals and a few movies. We were progressing to be good chums. Abi knew all this and told my amma that I am roaming around with Leela. Amma shied away from the banter, saying that only Appa can talk about it. Thatha said as long the girl is fair, it is all-right. I was silently observing all the melee. Abi incited the fun by adding more stories to the topic. It was almost as if I could find out how my family would react if I get a girlfriend. Unfortunately, Leela happens to be a boy. Oh, the joy of Indian names…

Categories: Family

Parenting!

8 November 2005 1 comment

It sounds like another sober post. But, isn’t any sociable human being fascinated by the art/science of parenting? Every one has experienced parenting. This best-seller has a chapter on what makes a perfect parent. The author talks about obsessive parenting and wonders if parents shape children, as has been told us from times immemorial. He mentions that parenting experts contradict each other very well.

My appa and amma have not been so demanding of me, though I wish they were more communicative. We are all preservers of the silence. But I always am overwhelmed by my appa’s only wish that I do well. This selfless desire of seeing your child develop and reach greater heights is a thing I would cherish forever. Early at school, SHE felt her mom always wanted her to get no rank than the first one. Another of my friends’ mom insisted he does not get a lower rank than their neighbour who stayed in the opposite house. Another friend’s mom felt that friends hindered him from studying well. The best-seller also states that peers influence a person more than her parents. Why so much fuss?

I have also felt in high school that I should let my child grow this way. I would like to make sure he learns to swim by 5, play, read and develop into a well-rounded personality than a uni-dimensional grade-oriented theorist the school systems produce here. It is fascinating that along with the dreams of how my girl should be also come the thoughts of how I should care for my child. In college, I came upon Aruna Raghavan’s columns in the Sunday Express and have been terribly impressed by her insights. She comes from one of the best schools in Madras, PSBB if I am not wrong. Abi’s having a great time observing Madhu grow up. Abi has been reading a guide to parenting. On my advice, Abi also ordered “Your child can be a genius” written by Aruna Raghavan and published by Indian Express. She also liked the book. I am yet to see the book, but I am sure I will need it one day. Let’s see what happens then 🙂

Categories: Family

sparkling wishes

30 October 2005 7 comments

Recently, one of my friends asked me if I am going home for Deepavali. I wondered, “What home? What Deepavali?” If there is one thing an MBA at a prestigious institute ensures is that you forget what it means to have holidays. We have classes on the day of the festival! Once a term starts, time just flies and the only holidays are 26 Jan, 15 Aug and 2 Oct. During my college and work days, Pongal and Deepavali were always at home. Except for two of my birthdays, I spent my precious birthdays at home with Abi or/and my parents.

I am not one of those souls who miss home so much. In fact, there are times when I go for long stretches when I don’t speak to any of them. Three months is the maximum time I have had, without seeing one of them. This time it is different. My third birthday away. My first Deepavali away. I will see them next, probably in the middle of next year. This means a gap of almost 9 months. They ask me if I have got new dresses. It’s been quite some time since I have bought new dresses for occasions. I get them whenever I feel like. Jo got a new shirt for me last on one of my birthdays.

Deepavali reminds me of my bus rides back home. Tickets at KPN were always at a premium. You never know when they start their bookings. There would be some one you know in the bus and the night was spent chatting. The bus always takes a long time to get out of Bangalore, through the Silk Board junction and Electronic City. What a relief it is to read Tamil after the border. Supper most often at Hosur at a Saravana Bhavan(not the original one)! As it gets more dark, the noise of the crackers reminds you of the festival. After a unusually dumb movie, the bus stops at Salem. An early morning tea break after Virudhunagar. As it dawns, I stare at all the posters of the movies that are released today, making a note of which one to see later that day. I always take the bus to Tirunelveli, because there were no direct private buses. Getting down at Tirunelveli or Kovilpatti and catching a bus home, I end up at my home by 9.

After emptying my dirty clothes and the sweets, it is time to feast on idlis and vadas, all the while watching the Deepavali special programs. Abi checks up my purse for unusual stuff. I always wonder what she expects to find in that. Amma feels my hand, happy to see me. Appa asks me about the journey, very typical of him and Thatha gorges on my sweets. I call up my friends who are also at home and we fix which movie to see for the day. Biryani time for lunch. It is a habit to watch a movie on the first day with the crowd in the theatres of the town. If the theatre allows, we whistle, hoot and behave like hooligans. We sometimes go to the beach after the movie and have tasty parottas.

The train back is fully packed, with people from Tirunelveli, Kovilpatti, Sattur, Virudhunagar and Madurai, all boarding on the way. Macroons or murukkus, we happily chat, look at the charts, walk through the lengths of the compartments for several times and pull each other happily. Some times it is cards or it is plain ogling at the playful couple, who don’t mind having public displays of affection. Aavin milk at Kodai Road to wind up the day. Every one is reminded of work for the next day. When you get down at Bangalore Cantonment and hear the Kannada auto drivers speaking Bangalore Tamil with an aamavaa, everything is forgotten and it is a fresh day in Bangalore.

Happy Deepavali folks!

Categories: Family, Friends, Travel