Writer's Blog

Transient Thoughts

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

I don't know what language I think in, but I now know that I have preference for Mallu when it comes to bad words.

I was at the Petrol Bunk getting the air pressure checked, when this autowalla tried to squeeze in between me and and some car on the left. The back tyre climbed on top of my little toe and back. Ouch! "*********" I muttered, and that was a Mallu word.

Sunday, February 15, 2004


I have nothing against kids. In fact, when my turn comes, I am going to have lots of them. What shall I say, I am a creative person.

But I would rather they were born as five year olds (I am sure this, for different reasons, is a popular wish), with the power of speech and the use of their limbs so that you didn't have to worry about what to do with them . And it is only when they are five, or thereabouts, that their much acknowledged 'cuteness' begins to affect me.

I have never been able to hold a baby/kutti-child in my arms for long. Far from being able to hold him up over my head or toss him in the air as some of my relatives and friends manage to do. As for making wierd sounds like 'Oh lo, lo lo lo' and speaking in simplified child language (Oh ho, where have you been? What did you do in the morning with your Grandpa?) , even the thought of doing it gives me the goose bumps. I do sometime manage to wink at a kid or contort my nose or stick out my tongue, but as I have found out, babies find this much, inadequate.

Needless to say, I am pretty bad society for babies. I get extremely uncomfortable when my cousin wants to introduce her kid to my chumminess. And I don't know what to say. A warm shake hand and charming smile will scarcely suffice ( Probably in England it would, provided you added a 'Fine Weather we are having, what?') and I am under tremendous pressure to entertain the kid for before me it has enjoyed considerable appeasement from it's uncle and grand-parents.

If only just the baby's fooling about my person, pulling my hair or ears etc. would please the baby and the accompanying, expectant adults! These situations are accompanied by uncomfortable silences before the baby is taken from me by worthier arms, or I abdicate wilfully.

I hope all my relatives and friends read this post. I, like Calvin, like to keep everbody's expectations low.

First NightOut

Vasant Habba is an annual, all night, festival of music and dance organized at Nrityagram, on the outskirsts of Bangalore. This year it was conducted on 7th Feb.

We set out around 7.00 in the evening, on bikes. The road there is bumpy and extremely painful to drive on, in the dark, but the trees and scenery and all are good.

The enclosed, open air auditorium, is pretty small. People start filling it up from 2.00 in the afternoon, so that for late comers there is no space inside. However the program is projected on screens outside and there are decent mats/carpets put so you can sit/sleep/lie down and watch.

When we got there, a solo Bharatnatyam performance was about to start. Following which an all-male Oddissi group did their stuff. The twelve steps of Surya namaskar which I do during Yoga were part of the dance steps. Then came a solo-modernistic kind of dance by a 50 types year old man. It consisted of slow graceful movements and we were soon bored. After the first piece the performer took the mike and admonished the crowd for misbehaving (Apparently the crowd inside the auditorium had crossed some limits). The second piece was equally boring and we soon started to crack jokes. We attributed the slow movements to the Doctor's advice against exertion, wondered if they had not paid the performer in full, or if the dancer was just recovered from coma and was sort of getting used to the use of his limbs. We were pretty loud in our laughter and a serious looking female close by was giving us contemptuous looks. I totally sympathise with her. If someone was making noise when I was enjoying something, I would be bugged too.

The modernistic piece was the turning point of the evening. First it woke me thoroughly up, and the programs were from then on progressively better.

Next was a Kuchipudi performance by an all-girl band. It was pretty graceful and stuff. After that there was a halfhour break and then the music began.

The music programs consisted of Classical vocal by Bombay Jayashree, a sitar-cello duet by an Indian fellow and his firang wife. Then, carnatic saxaphone by the famous Kadri Gopalnath. I liked the Saxaphone quite a bit since there were three or four pieces which I had heard before, including the piece 'Alay Payuthe' from the movie Alay Payuthe, the original, Tam, Saathiya.

It was almost 4 in the morning then. After much adjusting of instruments, the Band 'Antaragni' came on. But they were not much good.

Then came the band - Indian Ocean. By the time they started it was six and the sky was starting to light. They shut off the projection on the screen outside and we found place inside the auditorium. The weather was cool, but not cold. And the music began.

I had little hopes, but Gaurav, who had gone with us, is a big fan and he was pretty excited. It turned out, I started to like the band, and the music seemed to get better and better. Some fourth or fifth piece was this song called 'Bhor'. It was about a bird which had a Sufi heart, whatever that means. But the song was good. The setting was just right. And I turned my head once right, once left, once on this tree, once on that, and then on the band on stage, and then left and then right and so on, emulating some early morning music show on Doordarshan. It was good fun. The high point of the performance was when in the end they sang the title song from their most famous album - Khandisa. The lyrics were in Armenian, as Gaurav informed us. The song rocked!

Most of the band's lyrics seemed to come from Sufi literature. There was one by Kabir - Jhini re jhini chadariya. Though I do attribute my liking of the band partly to the excellent setting - early spring morning - I think that they are the best Indian band playing now - in variety and quality.

With Indian Ocean, Vasant Habba concluded. The journey back home was very good, since you could see the potholes on the road, well in advance.

Yeh kahan ki Dosti hai, ke bane hain Dost Naaseeh
Koi Chaara-saaz hota, koi gum-guzaar hota!

Yeh na thi hamari kismat ke visaal-e-yaar hota!

(Naaseeh = adviser just like Naseehat= advice
Chaara saaz = healer just like Chaara = treatment
Gum-guzaar = Sympathizer, someone you can vent your 'gum' to
Visaal = meeting )

I wanted to post this Sher by Ghalib for some time, but I waited, for I hoped to write a tolerable English translation for it. I have given up now. The second line is impossible to translate.

Friday, February 13, 2004

Sing Along If you know the tune...

Din Jo Pakheru hote,
Pinjade mein mai rakh leta,
Din JO Pakheru hote,
Pinjade mein mai rakh leta,
Palata Unko jatan-se, Palata Unko Jatan-se,
Moti Ke Dane deta...
Sine se rehata lagaye...

Yaad na jaaye, beete dinon ki...
Ja ke na aaye jo din,
Dil kyon bulaye unhe...
Dil kyon bulaye...

Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Third and last installment of my writings as Masti.com college-correspondent three years ago:

IITM diary.


It was the usual post-late-breakfast chat session on the wing cot.
Various pages of the two newspapers were being read by various persons.
P was scanning the matrimonial section, a favourite passtime.

"F***!" exclaimed C suddenly. All eyes turned to him. " Just
look at what this report says. India's sex ratio has worsened to 933 to a
1000. Pathetic."

" Which means P has 1000-933 divided by 1000 chance of not finding
a wife." chuckled Y.

"Not just me," P retorted.

"I won't have any such problems," said DD ,"Kerala has a
favourable sex-ratio. 1011 to a 1000."

"Oops! That means junta will some junta will have to marry mallu
females" laughed Y. He somehow finds everything funny.

C had meanwhile moved on to another article on the same page.
"Did you know?" he asked, " That 80% of the world's population lives in
Developing Countries ? And that 80% accounts for just 20% of the World's
income. Pathetic."

P at this point drew in his breath sharply. The others looked at
him sympathetically. P is one of the guys who are not apping to the US,
and was hence condemned to remain, for the rest of his life, with the less
fortunate 80%.

But the cause of P's distress turned out to be something else. "
Look at this report. Woman Kills Daughters Commits Suicide. Such things
are happening every day now."

"The sex ratio is getting worse right?" asked y, chuckling again.

"Right." said P sombrely


It's Saarang time and you are greedily feasting your eyes on the
eithth wonder of the world, when your friend looks down at you fron his
5'11, pats you sympathetically on the shoulder and says,
"Forget it Pills, she's too tall for you."
Really the life of a short guy is a tall order.
You try to smile and say, "OK da, as long as she is shorter than you
I'll manage."

It's not that you haven't tried your level best to put on those extra
inches. You have tried every exercise in Preetham's Grow Taller In 25
Easy Steps. You have eaten all the right foodstuffs with the right
proteins. You've tried the Ayurvedic medicine suggested by your
sympathetic Uncle. You have even done the 101 Pradakshinams around your
favourite God. But what can you do if the bloody Growth hormones still
refuse to cooperate?

And then there are these science supplements of the popular papers,
which regularly publish depressing articles on why shorter guys are better
off in life. "Good News For Shorter Men", proclaims one such article, "
Though research has shown that taller men are more likely to get faster
promotions and beeter pay-cheques AND are more popular with the opposite
sex, recent studies on rats indicate that SHORTER MEN ARE 20% LESS LIKELY
Depressing. There is no other word for it.

And the feminine part of the young generation insists on wearing
half-foot heels which does not help your cause either.

And your so called friends don't pass a chance to drive home the
point. "Hey Pills, where did you find thar verrrry long jeans da?"asks
one. "It's not that the jeans is long," another whispers loudly to the
first one, "It's the other way round!"

All said and done, are there any real advantages of being short.
No, not the ones like you are less likely to die of heart failure, or that
you get to be in the same league as Sachin Tendulkar, Napolean Bonaparte
and Lal Bahadur Shaastri, or that you have to bend less to tie your shoe
laces. I mean are there any real advantages?
Once in a while you can write an article like this one for Masti.com
at the cost of pouring ghee on to the funeral pyre of your self-esteem.

Simple Pleasures of an IITian's Life.

The other day I was reading Ruskin Bond list out the simple pleasures
of his life : Listening To The Cooing Of The Doves, Watching The Sun Come
Up From My Bedroom Window etc. etc. So I sat down and made my list of
simple pleasures at IITM. So here goes:

* Finding your favourite pickle on the mess table, if not for which dinner
would have been quite inedible. Though IITM's messing facilities are
among the best in the country, mess grub being mess grub, leaves a lot of
scope for simeple pleasures. Other simeple pleasures in this category
would be escpaing dinner in the mess at the expense of a friend who is
celebrating his birthday or raiding a wing-mate's room for grub when comes
back from a trip home.

* Discussing the odd pretty girl who strays on to campus. " Arey. Aaaj
main mandir gaya tha, ate waqt devi ke darshan ho gaye. " and " You know
why V is putting major enthu in Lab these days? No. You should take a
look at the TA."

* Gathering in the common room and wathching India win a tight one day
cricket match. 60-70 guys of your own age in the same room. Willing India
on. Applauding every wicket taken or cheering every run scored. Sharing
the tension. Giving each other high fives when a breakthrough is
achieved, even to guys with whom you scarcely talk. And then when the
match has been one to troop out of the common room congratulating each
other on Sachin's or Zaheer's c achievements. Really, nothing like a
cricket match in the common room. Of course, India should win.

* Going to a class and finding that the prof. has cancelled class because
of illness ( No hard feelings for the prof.). This especially for some
sincere freshies who consider bunking class a sin next only to uttering

* Staying up late into the night singing old hindi melodies.

* Teasing the Mallus in the hostel for their sing song accents.

* Wasting an entire weekend after the quizzes( periodical tests ) doing
absolutely nothing. Letting the utter joblessness envelop you.

* Watching a good comedy in the Open Air Theatre after a hard week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Section Name:Grub
Article Name: Of Gults and Bongs...
Author Name:Anant S Kamath
External Introduction: An interesting Anthropological study

Before you read this article, two gentle warnings. First, most of the
following statements are based on observations on a limited section of
junta. Two, some of the statements have been made without giving them
sufficient thought. Now, go ahead.

Here are some interesting things about the people at IITM.....

The gults:
At first glance they look like a totally arbit lot. You will see
them at the dinner table making arbit jokes, teasing each other singing
the latest from the gult film industry and your first reaction will be
similar to what Obelix's might be : These gults are crazy. But as you get
to know them gults are a very kind, friendly ,jovial and helpful lot.
They make friends easily and they are very good friends. Gults like gult
food which is very very spicy. Anybody who feels that life has lost its
spice is advised to go and have dinner at a gult restaurant. A speciality
of gult grub is the variety of their pickles.

The mallus:

the mallus at iitm never talk. They sing. If the gults add colour
to our lives the mallus add music. The accent is irritating at first but
after a while you start to like it. Then, whenever a mallu says, "Appo
pinne..." it's like Hemant Kumar starting with " Na tumm hame jaaano...".
You close your eyes and listen.

The next remarkable thing about mallus is the way they stick
together. When two mallus meet the younger one says "Cheta.." ( big
Brother ) and they start off as if they have known each other for years.

The Northies:
Till recently there were very few of them down in IIT-M. But then
FIITJEE happened and more and more of them are condescending to live in
dull old Madras. Gaali chanting, mess-grub cursing, rice-hating and
Madras bashing these guys constitute most of the hot blood and agression
in the campus. Their crib about Madras is that nothing is happening here.

The Tams:
The localites. The top notch of every discipline. Hardworking,
sincere, intelligent. Bunking classes and not doing assignments is a sin
to these gentlemen, perhaps even worse than using obsenties. They use
Tamil as frequently as the rest of us use English -Very rarely. They are
avery religious lot and never forget to go to
the temple before every test or exam. Some of them wear religious marks on
the forehead everyday with jeans and T-Shirt which must take some guts.
Most tams have learnt some or the other sort of classical music but
they rarely put it on display which is such a pity. Cricket and studies
are two topics that Tams like to talk about the most. And when lots of
Tams start discussing either of these topics they make a hell of a noise.

The rest of India is represented too. But not in such good numbers
as the above four gumbals.

Its a real real treat to sit at the lunch table and just
listen and observe all the different people, which is just one of the
learning experiences at IITM.

Section: Kela Awards..
Article Name: Star Struck
Author:Anant Kamath
External Introduction: This guy predicted he was going to win this

This month's kela award goes to K Naga Siva Srinvas , KNS or Kans
for short, for among other things his researches into astrology.

Kans has been studying and practising Astrology and Palmistry for
quite some time now. He studies people and maps them on to their Sun
Signs. He claims to have found some perfect examples of peolpe who
exhibit all the characteristics of their Zodiac signs. Kans perfoms
secret experiments on people to verify his theories and to get insights
into people's characters. Based on these insights he makes more theories.
In his free time Kans can often caught surfing astrology websites. In
addition to the knowledge he has aquired from reading, he has drawn his
own inferences based on his studies.

Ofcourse Kans never fails to use his standing as Astrologer to get
to see some of the more interesting hands. " I want to give up Astrology,
but junta are not letting me " he laments.

Kans is fighting it out in the final year of Electrical
Engineering. He loves to sing and is taking classes in Carnatic Classical
music. He is also a crossword enthusiast and loves forming clues for his
friends to crack. Kans is also a cul and lit enthusiast and is in the
core group for organising Saarang 2002.

Kans can be reached at ee98239@ee.iitm.ernet.in

Section: IITM Diary (Or Anything else if you please)
Author: Anant Kamath
Title: A Tennis Match
Introduction : When things can go wrong they do.

It was the Wimbeldon men's final. Goran Ivanisevic vs. Pat
Rafter. When I entered the common room, Ivanisevic was leading two sets
to three. I sat down to watch. It would be a good match.

I was supporting Ivanisevic. I don't know why I support certain
players when I do. I remember last Wimbeldon I was supporting Rafter.
Generally I support the underdog, but Ivanisevic was'nt exactly an
underdog. A guy who serves aces like that cannot be.

There was major support for Rafter in the crowd. The whole
Australian Cricket Team was there cheering him. Plus there were noisy,
Flag-waving, Kangaroo-wielding, Face-painted Australian fans rooting for
Rafter. The sight of the Australian Cricket Team members made me a
stronger supporter of Ivanisevic. The Australians are very good at
cricket, but they are not very good at being humble about it.

The English were supporting Ivanisevic. Tim Henman having crashed
out in the semis, and Australia having inflicted a crushing inning defeat
on England in the first Ashes Test, this was not surprising.

When Ivanisevic goofed up and lost the 4th set 6-2, it only made
the match more interesting.
Just then DD had to walk in.
" Who won? " he asked as soon as he walked in.
" Ivanisevic " someone replied.

I jerked my head towards the TV. The small legend "LIVE" was
missing from beneath the star sports logo.

God! I had been watching a recorded match! And all the while
uttering things like "@$%#" and "Good shot!" and what not. What a fool
the others must have thought me!

Now that I knew the result there was hardly anything in the match.

But anyway, Ivanisevic HAD won ! I would stay and atleast watch
his emotions at the end of the match. All that crying and laughing and
kissing the earth and running into the crowd and hugging his father and
all that. He does these things so well!

But even these simple pleasures I was to be denied. Exactly at
11.30, with the last set tied at seven all, the cable channel went
bzzzzzz. Shit! I was informed of some insti rule which says no cable
transmission after 11.30 in the night.

I had to contend with reading about the whole thing in the
newspapers the next day.

Section: The Writing on the wall
Author: Anant Kamath

The freshies join a fairly modernized IIT-Madras on the 31st of

Our old canteen which we used to call RBG has been revamped. It
is called Nandini now. Not only does it look more sophisticated now but
the range of grub and stuffs is also much broader. Plus a new canteen has
been opened in the hostel zone near the recently built free browsing
centre, with the usual pizzas and puffs and shakes.

And there is this flurry of construction activity which the insti
has seen over the last two months. All the bathrooms in the hostels have
been rebuilt in a very modern fashion, which is sure to please the parents
of the newcomers. The department buildings have been receiveing a
facelift too. All this inspite of the severe water scarcity which caused
postponement of classes for everyone except the final year students.

But the freshies will have one kutti problem. They are faced with
a packed semester of six day weeks. Most Saturdays and even some Sundays
have been made working days to account for the delay in opening of the
semester. Quite a dreary prospect. The only plus point is that the
semester is ending in just three months.

A spate of accidents, sports injuries and illnesses among students
have led the management to moot some sort of medical insurance for
students. The proposal is students pay a sum of Rs 300 every year and get
all their medical bills reimbursed. The IITM hospital itself cannot
handle any major complaints and patients are often refered to Apollo or
Malhar. The proposal if implemented will bring some relief from the
fleecing bills of these hospitals.
Incidentally, from last year onwards fresh entrants into IITM have
been made to sign an agreement saying they will not bring motorized
vehicles into the campus. This was done in view of the rising number of
road accidents in the campus.

Sunday, February 08, 2004

When I was in third year I worked for a website called masti.com as the "correspondent" for my college. I made cool bucks for three months before the .com bubble burst :-) I know I am gloating, but well, what else is a blog for? ;-)

Over the weekend I was reading what I wrote then. Thought I would put it on the blog. I will do so over the next three posts. Some of it is unrevised, unedited stuff, just cut and pasted from my notes:

September Masti

I was in the bogs when I heard the
sudden rush of steps on the corridor and
the frenzied shouts of " run run " in
different languages. My first thought
was that the war had started and someone
had dropped a bomb or something. I
hurriedly finished my toilet and came
out. There were just two guys in the

"What happened?" I asked.

"Earthquaked da! Did'nt you feel the tremors?"

I had'nt which was too bad. I would
have liked the experience.

But many did and many rushed downstairs
into the open. Most guys went down just
as they were - without chappals or
shirts but some had spent some anxious
moments looking for their footwear
before they finally came down.

Many later admitted that it their
first experience of frenzied,
thoughtless running, of just madly
following the crowd on it's way down.
We wondered how it must be to live in
packed high rise buildings with narrow

What could have caused the quake. In
solid old Deccan plateau? The rumour
mills got going. Had Osama dropped a
huge nuke somewhere?

Then the calls from home started
coming in. There was a huge crowd in
front of the hostel's two telephones-
mostly freshies- waiting while people
convinced their families that
everything was alright. Yes, they had
felt tremors but nothing to worry.

Around ten, the news began to spread
that there would be another, possibly
severer quake, later on in the night.
And many a good night's sleep was lost
in anticipation.

The Freshies have just come and mild ragging is on full swing. "
What is one plus one?" is a favourite ragging question. And the range of
answers is truly amazing.

Most freshies think, think, THInk , thiNK , tHINk and THINK before
finally answering "Two".

But you will always find a guy who contends that 1+1=3. " How ?"
you ask. "ONE father plus ONE MOTHER = THREE people " he answers.

Another guy says one plus one is Forty One. His funda? You stick
the plus to one of the 1's so that it looks like 4.
Give up.

What is 1+1 ? " Please first define the funamental axioms of your
field" say the Maths Studs. Usually the Computer Science kind.

Of course, quite a few freshies do immediately say "Two", and
they are the ones who then get ragged the most.

Lagaan - Opinions

* Lagaan probably will mark a beginning of experiments with period cinema.

Writing on the Wall

This year the management is getting
pretty serious about ragging. Not that
there ever was any serious ragging in
IIT-Madras. Nothing like they have in
places like other colleges in India like
RECs or even some of the other IITs.
Just that the management wants to be extra cautious.

The result of all this being that around
six senior students have been punished
for ragging. Some of them even got a
one-sem suspension. Efforts are on to
convince the management into giving the
seniors a second chance.

Apparently, what peeved the management
most was the seniors' contempt for the
ragging rules. When the freshie
concerned threatened to complain to the
warden, the seniors are said to have
scoffed at him, saying "What will they
do da? At most they will suspend us for
one week. And then we will be back."

The management obviously want to set an
example for the rest.

But as I said before, there is hardly
any ragging at all at IITM. It just
amounts to making a freshie
uncomfortable for half an hour so that
he may be comfortable for the rest of
his four years at the institute. I was
speaking to an IITM alumnus a few days
ago. He was sorry that some freshies
tend to overreact when first faced with
ragging. �� There should be a course for
all freshies - Ragging 101 " he

All said and done ragging continues to be an entertaining experience.

" What is the feminine form of bulldog ?"

"Express your All India Rank as ' a^b +b^a '

"Sing the National Anthem ' are some of the poplular ragging questions.

But the question which has elicited the most interesting responses this year is:
" What is 1 + 1 ?"

Some freshies think, t

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I want to blog, but I don't want to blog.
Here's in brief what I want to blog about. I made a quick trip home over the weekend. The way there was extremely painful, because I only got the last seat on the bus, . because I booked so late, because I decided so late (I am a no-planner too, Som!) There were two guys sitting on either side of me and it was extremely cramped and those guys kept falling over me in their sleep no matter how often I PUSHED them off. I kept wanting to smash an elbow in either face. I kept wanting a gun, either to shoot them or to kill myself. It was really, really bad. I am not exaggerating.
There was this big muslim family going back to Bhatkal for ID. They all had mobile phones and it was nice to hear 'Salam Valaikum' and 'Khuda Hafiz'. I began to think about 'Salam Valaikum' which I read somewhere means 'Peace be with you', and how much more boring 'Hi' or 'Hello' was compared to that. I began to think of 'Namaste' and 'Ram Ram' and 'Sat Sri Akal' and 'Good Morning' and decided I still liked 'Salaam Valaikum' best. In fact just 'Salaam' or 'Peace' is very good too. In fact its better. Imagine greeting everyone with a raised hand and a relaxedly said 'Peace'. One more thing, I just thought, 'Guten Morgen' sounds better than 'Good Morning' even though they mean the same thing, what?

Also in brief what I finally think about
1. ek hasina thi : very well made movie, but the story turns from believable to unbelievable from the first half to the second.
2. Maqbool: Again a very good movie. But I would liked it to be more musical and more theatrical. And I don't think it did justice (did not give enough screen time) to the characters or their inter-relationships. Should have spent more time in bringing out the love between Guddu and Appaji's daughter, for example. One felt one did not know enough of some characters, in fact most characters, to empathize with them. I think they (the makers of the movie) squandered away the two hours, but I dont know where. I liked the song in the durgah, though.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Making Headlines

I am going to get inspired by Sumeet (sumtya.blogspot) and start putting titles for my posts. Adds one more dimension to the whole thing.