Writer's Blog

Transient Thoughts

Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Was just reading Som's blog ( wrik.blogspot.com ). He has written about how he could eat his first omlette. That got me thinking about my own doings in the kitchen.

My sister and I had this point-system for household chores. Different chores had different points and whoever had the lesser accumulated points had to take up the next chore at hand. We had put this A4 paper up on the inside of the cup-board door where the points were all written down. There were two columns under each of our names. One column contained the points earned and the other contained the cumulative sum. So we could quickly tell who was leading and who was lagging. Quite an ingeneous scheme right? When my aunt saw it however she did'nt seem to think so. Anyways.

I learnt to make dal earlier than my sister did and I made out that it was a difficult job and allocated a whooping 25 points to the activity 'make dal'. Perhaps the reader would appreciate the weight of 25 points more if I listed down what other tasks one had to do to earn 25 points. But I have forgotten. I only remember that 25 points was quite something. To be fair to myself, I did think that 'make dal' deserved 25 points till my sister learnt to 'make dal' too.

To boast a bit I can cook a lot of things actually: Rice, dal, vegetables (bhindi, beans, cabbage, potato), fries (bhindi, potato, karela, cauliflower) and chappattis (starting with raw, dry flour and arriving at round and round phulkas). And ofcourse tea and omlette and boiled egg. When I went home this time I took a step towards learning to cook non-veg when I learnt to clean a fish.

I remember my large partly self-cooked lunches during my college vacations, comprising dal and rice and vegetables and boiled eggs and buttermilk. And the nap till 5.30 in the evening when I woke up to see 'small wonder'. Wow, those were the days.

Monday, July 28, 2003

Went to a Bharatnatyam performance on Saturday. At Rabindra Kalakshetra.

The thing started with a prayer from a Chorus of kids of various shapes and sizes. The girls were heavily made-up, with red-lipstick and lots of powder. They looked like puppets. The boys were loudly dressed, that's all. But the prayer itself was excellent. Carnatic classical. I envied those guys. Learning music from childhood is something. I had been started on music as a kid myself, but I generally ditched it because gully-cricket seemed more interesting then. Anyways, I will write about my mis-spent childhood someother time.

After the prayer, there was a small prayer-dance by kids. More girls. More lipstick and makeup. Reminded me of the time my sister had participated in a dance competition as a kid. Another thing, the song they were dancing to, that was in raga Shankarabharana and sections of it I have learnt in Flute. Listening to it gave me a real kick.

Before that. The chief guest at the Show was the famous producer/director of Kannada cinema and theatre G.V.Iyer. Sri GV Iyer used to live very close to our house when we lived in Vijaynagar, Bangalore some 15 years ago. I know from my Mom that he produced the first Mahabharat (or was it Ramayan and was it a serial or a Movie?). I used to see this Wooden Rath (I mean charriot) in his compound everytime I went to buy some chillies or Corriander leaves from a veggie shop.

After the prayer-dance, some lady came and spoke about the performance of the evening 'Geet Gangadhara'. It was written by a minister in the Kingdom of Mysore in Sanskrit. It is modeled after Jaidev's 'Geet Govind' and it shows Shiva in a romantic light. All the speech making in the evening was in Kannada, by the way, and Lokesh who I had gone with was getting pretty pained.

So the dance was about Shiva and his estrangement with Parvati because of his 'friendliness' towards some 'Rishi-kanya's'. And about how he charms Parvati back into good humour. Enjoyed it very much. Especially Parvati's facial expressions. Again felt this urge to study Sanskrit. If I had understood the lyrics of the songs it would have been so much more fun.

Saw 'Phone Booth' later in the night. Four Stars. Must See.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Something reminds me of this beautiful ghazal...

Yeh chaand aur ye mausam ye hawayen ye faza,
Har ek cheez hai apani jagah thikaane se,
Kai dinon se shikayat nahi zamane se..
Tu is tarha se meri zindagi mein shaamil hai,

Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Aaj se kahenge log shaayar Pills ko bhi,
Gum-e-ishq ka chalo kuch to hua faayda.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

Dil-e-naadan tujhe hua kya hai
Aakhir is dard ki dawa kya hai
Humko Unase wafa ki hai ummiid
Jo nahi jaanate wafa kya hai

Hum hain mushtaaq aur woh bezaar
Yah ilahi yeh majaara kya hai

Jaan tum par nisaar karata hoon
Main nahi jaanata dua kya hai

Today morning I was writing the above lines by Ghalib in my diary. Why was I writing them. Because it felt nice to write them. Some sort of thrill. The handwriting starts to slant forward, indicating an increase in creativity and you feel enthusisastic about writing more. In the movie "Finding Forrester" there is this budding writer who starts to copy down the first lines of this Pulitzer Winner's works before he gets the inspiration to stop copying and continue on his own. Just hoping...

Saturday, July 19, 2003

Went to a Santoor recital by Pt. Shiv Kumar Sharma and his son Rahul Sharma. I enjoyed it quite a lot but I am afraid quite a bit of the Panditji's skill was probably lost on me.

Shiv Kumar Sharma is more than 65 yrs. old but still looks forty. And he is quite tall, I could see when the CM ( SMKrishna) was garlanding him and all. Plus Kashmiri good looks.

In a classical concert sometimes the performer sometimes goes very soft and delicate and low pitch and you have to strain to listen to see if figure out what subtelry he is up to. That is when some junta in the audience think it is the end of the piece and start clapping. To be fair to them, I can't say whether it was indeed something the musician did which prompted them to spontaneous applause. Lots of such moments were there in yesterday's concert. The audience clapped so many times and the piece resumed so many times, that I was afraid that when the piece did finish finally, no one would applaud and then what would the performers think? It didnt help matters that the Panditji and his son shared several slight smiles. I dont know whether they were smiles of musical ecstasy or what.

Thursday, July 17, 2003

Today morning I let my supervisor down when he was trying to pull a con-job on Kirti, a summer trainee whom I was guiding. He told him that I told him that he had to stay one more month and finish off some more work. Everything was going on fine, and Keerti was probably on the edge, till they came to my cubicle and Prakash (my Supi) said to me "Hey Anant, You only told me right? That Kirti has to stay one more month and finish some more work" Immediately, without a thought, I said, "No. I only said..." Then I stopped. I realized. But it was too late. Prakash burst out laughing.

I am an ok types co-prankster if I am given advance notice. But on the spur of the moment? Unh Hunh!

In the afternoon, during lunch, our group pulled a prank on Prakash. We told him that we had planned a vacation near Nainitaal and we were taking two weeks off ( In the middle of the project!). We have since gone and applied for leave also. We do it on the net so a mail will go to Prakash. I don't know if he'll fall for the whole thing. My guess is he won't.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Don't much feel like blogging. Feeling a bout of laziness and Status-Quo-ship for the past few days. I wanted to write about a lot of things, though, including, my trip home to Kumta (Karwar dist., coastal Karnataka), the amazing rains there, quawwalis from the film 'Barasat ki raat.', my new cell phone, my new yoga classes, the picture of my 'Kuladevi' that I have installed ( too presumptuos a word, eh?) at home and why etc. etc.

Just to keep my blog alive I am cut-pasting some Hostel stuff I wrote in college.

The creative writing competitions in college sometimes had topics like: "Write a story which starts with the words so and so and ends with the words this and that." I always found these topics painful and irritating. But I couldnt help but participate. (I simply HAVE to participate in a Creative writing contest. It all started years ago when I entered a complete the story contest featuring 'Cadbury's Gems Bond' ) So I generally squeezed in any story between the two phrases and didnt always do a good job of the squeezing.

The following story is an example of one such squeezing. The story was supposed to start with the words "It was the best of times and it was the worst of times..." and end with the words "...it was love at first sight." Read on!


It Was The Best of Times

It was the best of times and it was the worst of times. And since I can't possibly write the rest of 'A Tale of Two Cities' here I will tell you the story of a friend of mine who is in the final year. His name is Dilli; rather it's his nickname. He got it, as a freshie, for claiming that New Delhi was also the capital of Uttar Pradesh.

As I was saying, it was the best of times and it was the worst of times. Best for the mosquitoes, and worst for Dilli. It had been raining for two days in Madras and no one including the mosquitoes knew how to react to this new situation. The mosquitoes had gone and multiplied without control, and clouds of them hung about everywhere in Dilli's room, below his table, below his cot, and around his face, fighting for the only part of him which lay unprotected by the shield of two bedsheets that he had pulled over himself. As a result his face was marked with lots of red spots where the mosquitoes had sat down for dinner. One or two determined ones (mosquitoes that is) had even bitten through the bed sheets and munched at his legs, but Dilli was too engrossed in the Tom Clancy novel he was reading to bother too much.

It was still raining heavily outside, and it was getting quite cold. Dilli had shut both the windows and put a bulb in the socket just above his head to heat up the room. The tubelight was also on. A sheet of rough paper and a pen lay on the table. Dilli had been making a list of 'Things to do - URGENT' when he had suddenly decided to drop everything and cozy up with the Tom Dlancy. 1) Buy Mosquitoe repellent 2)Wash clothes 3) E slot term paper 3) S slot presentation 4) MUG for C SLOT QUIZ 5) Get Darsh's notes for C Slot... The list went on some more. A heap of clothes lay on the only chair in the room, hastily moved there to make space on the bed. A bucket with clothes soaked in detergent lay below the cot, a slight odour emanating from them. They had lain there for two days now, the 'washing clothes' having been postponed indefinitely till the rains decided to stop.

There was a knock on the door. Dilli pretended not to hear. Whoever it was would go away thinking Dilli was asleep. Most likely someone had come to borrow his water heater coil. No point letting all the heat out...

The knock persisted. "Hey Dilli wake up da. Movie!"

Dilli jumped to his feet and opened the door.

"What movie?" Dilli had started to rub his eyes, involuantarily keeing up the show that he had been sleeping.


"I don't knwo da, its such a long movie." said Dilli reluctantly but he was already getting into his slippers, "I have hazaar work to do. Have to submit a report tomorrow."

They walked to the other end of the wing, moving close to wall to avoid the lashing rain, to Saari's room where a crowd had already gathered. Dilli made space int head of legs and heads on floor and plumped down.

Dilli always liked to come to Saari's room. It was much cleaner than his own room and smelt much better too. Of course you could always say that Saari had to compulsorily keep it clean, because of his comp., but Saari was a systematic guy. You could always see in his room freshly washed and dried clothes dangling from the clothesline, held there by clips, like mutton in a butcher's shop. Saari was the only guy in the wing who washed clothes everyday come rain or sun, and who always wore fresh clothes after a bath. He was the object of envy and ridicule in the wing.

The movie began. Dilli had already seen the movie. Most of the junta in the room had. But while watching a movie with friends no two times are the same. The comments passed, the sounds made, the jokes, the combined "Yeah!" that rents the air when the heroine makes her first appearance...The movie is actually only half the entertainment. As Dilli watched, his admiration for Amir Khan grew and Gracy Singh renewed her claim to the post of Dilli's current favourite movie female star.

The intermission in the movie coincided with the Night Canteen timings and the gumbal trooped into the mess for refreshments. It was much later, after the last of them had ordered and eaten his veg-noodles that the gumbal, equipped with chips and masala groundnuts assembled again for the second session. Our man Dilli, urged them to be quick about it. "I have a report to submit tomorrow da." The movie, however, took its own course, and by the time the last of the fellows from the English cantonment had left Amir Khan's village for good, it was late in the night.

"I see a night-out ahead of me," Dilli cribbed to Sonya, "I have a book review to turn in tomorrow."

"What book are you reviewing?"

"Anything. Tom Clancy's Line of Control, maybe."

"Ballu has a ready review on his comp no?"

"I don't want to cog da."

"Pack da. No one puts enthu anyway. You have read the book. You can write the review anytime, if you want to. Then what's the point of putting fight? Tomorrow A slot is free. Go and get a printout then."

Dilli and his wingmates discovered Final Year four months ago and for all of them it has been Love at first Sight.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

I bought a helmet today.

I had been meaning to buy it for sometime now. No point in being co-conspirator in Life's shady tricks.

About two years ago I had written a story. I discovered it sometime ago in my yahoo briefcase. Liked it and sent it to Women's Era. They have published it.

I am taking the liberty of putting it here. Slighsha longish. And the style is "influenced", but anyways.


One evening Father came home in a cheerful sort of mood. It had been raining heavily and father was thoroughly wet, in spite of his raincoat. He even sneezed, several times his violent and er.. far-reaching, all-encompassing sneeze, meaning he sneezed all over the drawing room, which made Sister decide that a bad cold was on its way and which made Brother dive under the dining table for cover and which made Mother say Tut Tut and reach for the ginger to put in the evening tea. Though a bad cold is not known to put people in the best of moods, it seemed to have achieved that surprising effect with Father. Brother observed this and muttered to Sister that he smelt something Aquatic. Sister replied tartly that Brother had better call a fishy spade, a fishy spade and not try to be funny.

The secret of Father's cheerfulness was ascertained only after several gulps of hot strong ginger tea had made the way down everyone's throats. Father announced that The Bank, meaning the bank that Father worked for had announced a new scheme to provide each of its officers with certain brand new furniture, worth 85000 rupees at a nominal monthly rent.

"The advantage of the scheme is," said Father, beaming, "that after five years we will have the option of buying all the furniture off the bank at around 30% of the original cost. The whole thing amounts to buying brand new furniture for about 35-40% of the original cost. Even lesser if you account for inflation and opportunity cost of capital." He paused and then added, "We have to make the purchase ourselves. They have given us a list of furniture items that we can buy under the scheme. We can choose what we want to buy and submit an estimate to the Bank."

Needless to say (yet it is being said?), the scheme caught the imagination of the family. Everyone was excited and began talking all at once.

"Quick! Quick!" demanded mother, "What are the things we are getting? Where is the list?"

Father said something about being sorry for having forgotten to bring the list home and promised to do so Without Fail Tomorrow. He could recall some of the items on the list, he said.

"It contains all the usual things," he said, "Like TV, cots, wardrobes, dressing tables, washing machine, water heater (geyser), sofa-set, air-conditioner--------."

There were excited shouts and squeals of "Dressing table! Oh my!" "Another wardrobe is just what I needed!" "Vacuum Cleaner!" etc. when Father announced items which the family did not already possess or desired very much.

Soon after, Sister declared that she did not want anything except for a Dressing-Table with stool, another wardrobe to keep her dresses (of which there were quite a few), a writing table if possible, a cloth stand definitely, a Curl-on mattress, a cane chair for her room, and maybe an inverter also. The decision on the inverter she kindly postponed to until after she had found out what an inverter was.

Mother said that all she asked of her dear (Here a startled expression on Father's face) husband was a wardrobe, some new cots, a water purifier, a vacuum cleaner, a washing machine, another wet-grinder just in case, a geyser, a sofa-cum-bed and some new mattresses.

Father when his turn came said meekly that perhaps he would like a good rocking chair to read the Sunday papers on. He looked tentatively at Mother and Sister, as if for their sanction.

Brother, whom none of the listed 'worldly' items had interested much, had noticed the tendency of Mother and Sister to already embark on a heated debate on the desirability and advisability of each other's choices. So he said that Rs.85000 was a lot of money and that everybody's demands would be met, with enough to spare.

This had the effect of immediately calming Sister and Mother. At this tranquil point, however, Father dropped a bombshell.

"Oops! I almost forgot!" he exclaimed, "A PC With Printer Attached is also on the list. That should cost around Rs.50000."

Brother instantly jerked out of disinterest and inaction by this declaration said at once, "Okay, if a PC is on the list then, of course, it must come."

An intense and prolonged quarrel between Brother and Sister ensued. Sister saying that it would be more than Utter Stupidity to allot more than fifty percent of the 85,000 to cater to the interests of just one member of the family and Brother arguing that since the PC With Printer Attached was his sole, one and only, single request and so Naturally it must be met.

Brother and Sister would have gone on with this interesting occupation had not Father exclaimed, "My God its 10 O'clock already! We had better start dinner."

During dinner Mother said that definitely a new Dining table was a top priority. Sister immediately began insisting that the table was in excellent shape, in fact it was newer now than it had been when it was brand new and that Mother was the most impractical mother she had ever been privileged to have.

Mother and Father were rendered speechless. Brother managed to say, with his mouth full, that Sister was the most articulate girl he knew.

Three or four days passed before Father brought home the list, which he had promised to bring 'tomorrow without fail'. Mother had used the meantime in sharing their joy with their neighbours, for, said she, joy only multiplies on sharing. Indeed the maxim was true, for every time Mother told a new neighbour about their furniture she mysteriously seemed to grow happier. Some unkind people said that Mother derived happiness out of her neighbours' envy. But then people say a lot of things. Getting back, Mother wasted no time and by the time the list reached home the whole colony had come to know that the Family was getting furniture worth lakhs of rupees, enough to furnish a five star suite, absolutely free of cost. Tongues were soon set wagging and Father's name came to be associated with the most notorious underworld Don of the district.

The list that Father brought was as follows:

With the coming of the list the Furniture fever of the family grew. From that day, no member of the family, with the exception of Father, was ever found far from a slip of paper and a pen. The slip of paper contained The Latest Right List of Desirable Items with the corresponding cost tally according to that member of the family. Most of the conversation in the house was centered on the 'new furniture that is coming'. Dinners became more and more simplified, or as Brother said in his college slang, they became Low-Funda, for mother spent most of her time in the evenings discussing the furniture with Father.

Inevitably, the question of space came up in due course. Where would they put the new furniture when it came? Theirs was a two-bedroom-kitchen home. They already had 3 cots, one divan, 8 chairs, 1 fridge, one wet-grinder and 2 wardrobes. All these occupied most of the floor space. And it would be more than just difficult to find space for the newcomers. Something had to be done. Brother, who had already enticed Sister over to his side, suggested that a PC would Use Up Fifty Thousand and occupy less than 4 sq. feet of floor space. He waved his arms wildly to indicate how huge 50,000 was, and how little 4 sq. feet was.

Mother seemed tentative and as if to convince her Brother said jokingly, "It's okay, Mom. No need to be afraid. The computer's mouse is not a real one."

That decided Mother. She had stoically born several jokes cracked at her expense because of her being on the wrong side of the technology divide. Now was her chance to get back at her children. No, she said emphatically, the computer won't come. Besides, she said, when Sister was married, and Brother went to work, what would they do with a stupid computer?

So the problem remained. Where to put the furniture when it came? It was decided that some of the old furniture would have to go. A sort of witch-hunt began. All the existing furniture was viewed with suspicion. The fridge for example was 12 years old and still had given them no trouble. "All the more reason," said Mother, "that it will do so any moment." Even the old solid Rosewood cot in Sister's room was charged with harbouring 'termites with the worst imaginable criminal records'.

Father whose superior Banking faculties and exquisite money sense immediately told him that throwing out any of their furniture would be a terrible waste of money, declared that no old furniture was to be discarded. And that was that.

The next two days saw Brother, Sister and Mother parleying intensely to build a consensus on a common minimum list. Nothing came out of it, however, and Father suggested that perhaps it would be wise to give the scheme a pass.

"Upon my dead body!" exclaimed Mother. Give up the scheme, indeed! After all the things she had told the neighbours.

"Then decide on the things to buy," said Father sternly. "I will give you three more days."

Since they had exhausted all their parleying energies, and given Father's deadline, Brother, Sister and Mother resorted to Blackmail. Mother went on partial strike and gruel was served for Lunch, dinner and Breakfast. Sister sulked all day and refused to do the dishes. Brother remained out of home most of the time and pretended to have depression. No one spoke to anyone anymore. If they did a quarrel broke out. The whole house was thick with cold war. Everyone felt jittery and irritated.

All this affected Father's job. He could not concentrate on his work anymore. He found that he was clearing less and less files everyday.

Finally, he wrote a lengthy and emotionally charged letter to the General Manager (Personnel and Supplies) of his bank and demanded that the subsidized-furniture scheme be withdrawn immediately as it was affecting the productivity of the bank's staff. If the scheme was continued, it was sure to take the bank to its doom, he warned.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

Our history prof. once quoted Shankaracharya about the nature of the human mind.I don't know if I am quoting right but anyways:

"The human mind is like a monkey."

He he. It would have given me great pleasure to stop just there and talk about other things. But as it happens there is more to the quote.

"The human mind is like a monkey. Not a normal monkey, but a mad monkey. Not just a mad monkey but a mad monkey which is drunk. Not just a mad, drunk, monkey but a mad, drunk, monkey which has been bitten by a dog."

There are some days at office, when things are going right for you. Everything happens as you predicted. Nothing takes time. You quickly finish things and move on. You feel proud of 'making the difference' and rejoice that you are in the right job. At the end of the day, when you wipe the sweat off the brow (figurative) and sit down to an hour of blogging, you feel the thrill of a day well spent.

Today was'nt one of such days. Came full circle. Back where I started. Square One. Banging head against a wall...

Never mind.

Friday, July 04, 2003

My flute note-book has Esha Deol on the cover-page.
That note-book was given during Training in Manipal.
My flute sir noticed the photo the other day and said with sad amusement to the rest of his students in Kannada "Kahan Music aur kahan yeh sab...". That was the beginning of my going red in the ears that day.

I wasn't too embarassed or anything. The other guys were giving me looks of understanding which probably meant "the old man has old-fashioned ideas". I was pained because an old and learned person could "judge a book by its cover". Well, no one is perfect.

In the next class one of my classmates suggested that I cover the book quickly or I would get in trouble again. I didnt want to do it, as a matter of prinicple. But I have taken the easy way out and have covered it with a newspaper. Let me see if I get a look of approval from the master the next time around.

The reader might notice that the description of my blog has changed from "Selected Thoughts of Anant S Kamath" to "Transient Thoughts".

When I had first called my blog "Selected Thoughts of Anant S Kamath", I had not meant it the same way as publishers mean when they bring out, for example, "Selected Works of O'Henry". The "Selected" in the latter case means "The best" or "The preferred". In my case it meant "publishable" or "tolerable" and mainly "share-able". That is, what appears on my blog is only part of the way I think. Sometimes. That is what "The selected" was supposed to mean. I am removing the word "Selected" because I might have conveyed the wrong meaning.

The motives for removing the "of Anant S Kamath" have philosophical origins, which I will describe some other time.

Let me explain the need for adding "transient". Transient is supposed to mean temporary. Some thoughts published here are thus what just occured to me that day, or even while I was typing. They are thougths which have not been given second thoughts. They are thoughts for which I take no responsiblity. I might retract those thoughts the very next day. They are thoughts I might not defend or even acknowledge in a discussion. I havent chewed on those thoughts. They might not reflect my fundamental, steady state, average values and attitudes in life.
They might not reflect who I am. Warning: They might be thoughts I wrote to get typing practice.

Okay let me apologize for assuming that the reader would be interested in reading the junk I have typed above. Not all of it (or of this), as the above paragraph disclaims in detail, is honest stuff. I am also sorry for sounding rude, pompous, conceited, condescending, obnoxious...I am sorry for occasionally lying.

The blog description is subject to further change depending on availability of blog topics.

Wednesday, July 02, 2003

A prof. from IIT-Madras has come over to TI to give brief training on selected topics. I am attending that training. It is very useful and all. You are taken through all the basics and things are quickly put in perspective for you; And its a quick way to get introduced to a new topic.

But there are somethings which I don't like about sitting in a classroom. The professor, in most cases, knows what he is talking about. And he is prepared. He knows exactly what he is going to say. So he says it very fast. OK this so this because of this, therefore that. All of which you quickly agree with, because it is put in such a logical fashion and two because the prof has already gone on to another sentence and he is making another point.

What I am saying is there is no time to actually question and understand and reconcile yourself with everything the prof is saying. Sometimes you think you have understood the point but actually you havent. You would have found out that you had'nt if you had given it some more thought, for which there was no time. Some profs (or others who are putting you fundaes) have a cajoling or a bullying attitude ("You will agree that this definitely is...") , which sort of makes you 'agree' with them quickly. I myself, when I am explaining somethings, in Design reviews or team meatings, have the cajoling attitude, I think.

The prof sometimes asks questions to keep his audience interested. Some are simple ones asked just to get a response and some are difficult ones to promote thought. Somepeople are blessed with enough confidence to quickly judge which are which and answer appropriately. I end up quickly ( and hence wrongly) answering the difficult ones and consequently double-checking before answering the easy ones. The whole thing is extremely painful. Some questions are trick questions which the prof asks so that he can smile patronizingly at you once you have answered wrongly.

Design that way is much more forgiving that way. You have enough time to make the subject yours before you face an audience which will test your command over it. And several times you get apportunities to pose and answer your own questions.