Saturday, September 21, 2013


Warning: This could be quite gross - gross for people who cannot accept the truth.

On a recent overnight train journey, while I was still awake and wishing to get a berth with my RAC ticket, a sudden commotion erupted in the compartment next to mine. I looked over to see a flurry of activity which made the TC spring into action. Calls were made, a man detained, women's pleas to let him free and much more. The reason- the man in question apparently was testified against by an 8 yr old girl for molesting her. He, the girl said, put his hand over her mouth and touched her body.  
For all those people who have chosen to advice me to wear 'decent' clothes, 'be in group', not to go to less crowded places etc etc., let me clarify that here was a girl, just 8 year old, knowing no provocativeness whatsoever, wearing clothes that covered her from head to toe, travelling in a 'fairly crowded' train, and with her parents. Now, my dear friends, kindly explain what made the man touch her????

As I sat there stunned as the little girl testified, men from the entire boggie converged in. Some drama happening here??? Oh sure it was! Cause, later the women folk related to the accused, including his wife, begged the child's parents to take the complaint back... Huh??? Would they expect such forgiveness to happen had it happened to their daughter?? "My husband would never do such a thing", his wife reasoned. But, how did she know? Why would a sleeping child get up in the middle of the night to identify and testify against a man if not for his illegal touch which has sent a chill down her spine?

While the man was taken away, the father of the child slept with her on the same berth so as to give her assurance and protection. Was he destined to live a life of a watch man throughout his life? Is that why they say, to have a daughter is like having red hot coal tied to the ends of your saree??

I want to know, what is it that makes men reach out and touch? 
What is it that makes men so curious? 
What is it that makes them ‘want’ an unknown person of the opposite sex? 
Exactly what is it that makes them want to touch our breasts? 
If you want them, then go for an implant surgery. You can fondle them your whole life!

Image source:
 Scene X: Years ago, anatomy dissection class: We had finished dissecting the soft tissue of the maxillofacial tissues. We now had to cut open the skull to learn the insides of the skull cavity. A saw was brought and the students given a chance to saw away the skull themselves. I wanted to do it too. I raised my hands to show my interest and a voice from behind said, "You cannot do it, it is difficult.. It's the boys job". The voice was that of a girl.... How did she know it was difficult if she had never tried? Why did she resign without knowing? Why did she give up even before she got into it? Me being me still went ahead and begged for a chance which I was luckily given. While I sawed away the bone, there was not one voice of appreciation. I was slow I agree, the bone yielded slowly, I agree. But we were there to learn, not hurry. Concentrating hard on the job, I heard another voice, "Leave it ya, it’s not for us''. This time too the voice was that of a girl, my best friend at that.

Scene Y: Orthodontics (ortho) pre-clinical lab: A department where you learn to straighten thin wires and bend them into various shapes and mini shapes to become those braces that you have seen. It is indeed a task. The finger pricks, the rough marks, altering the surface anatomy of our fingers to some extent will attest to that fact. In one such class, when a certain appliance ripped out the skin of a friend I heard a voice, "Ortho is a subject for the strong, for the men folk to specialise in...". This time too the voice was that of a girl.

Scene Z: A function: As I was bidding adieu, I was asked when I would be returning back to my place. The night train, I replied. “Never travel by night. It’s better to be safe than to be sorry’’, I was told. “Haven’t you heard of the stories?”, I was asked. The advice was from an aunt. A female once again.....

How many times will we women folk refuse to raise against the obvious? 
How many times will we be submissive? 
How many more times will we resign to our 'gender'?? 
Let me ask, how many times have you taken your two-wheeler on that street where you have heard that accidents are more? Many times, isn’t it? You still take the road despite accidents, you still go by flight despite crashes and hijackings, then why should I not travel by night? Why should I live my life in fear?????

When can I live life without worrying???

Image source:
Scene A: On the roads. With my back pack across my shoulders, I was riding my vehicle at around 4ish in the evening. At a fairly busy circle, while I slowed down to let a vehicle pass ahead, a hand suddenly shot out, groped at my breast and suddenly he was gone. An ‘unknown’ touch paralysed the rest of my evening!

Scene B: A crowded movie theatre. Engrossed in the movie, I felt something sliding by my side. Concentrating for a split second, I ignored it. How can it be? It was my friend sitting by that side. Moments later the hand came up again and this time I was not mistaken. A ‘known' touch paralysed me for many days as I tried shrugging the memory off..

Scene C: Bus journey with a gang of friends. A man chose to open his fly and dangle his precious thing naked, (yes yes, naked) on to a friend's shoulder. Turning to her left to see what was trying to seek her attention, she started gasping for breath. By the time she could gain her composure back he was gone.

Scene D: A fairly crowded over-bridge. A man was seen shagging on the bridge! When did it become his private space, especially with no movie posters around to 'seduce him'? He took to his heals after being shouted at.

What makes you want to show your desperation when you molest?
What makes you want to show your physical power on us when you indulge in raping?
Or are you showing us that you are emotionally weak and hence cannot control your fantasies?
What makes you scan through us when we are just walking down the lane?
What makes you want to know us as commodity, a property you can lay your hands on?
What makes you think you own us and the world? 

And then,

Why are we taught to hold a pin while sleeping in buses to counter the hands that slide through smallest of small openings?Why are we not instead taught to get up and slap the owner of the hands???
Why are we taught not to go out alone? Why are we not instead taught to earn our right to live without fear?
Why are we taught to be submissive? Why are we not instead taught to fight?
Why are we taught to live carefully? Why are we not instead taught to live care freely?
Are we not entitled to live without worry, live without abandon, live our life?  


Beause, without the right to live without constant fear, all other rights are meaningless...

#livewithoutfear #equality #womenrights #molestation

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer blooms and spring reveries

My new routine is to now eat my breakfast standing by the kitchen sink. Yes, it’s because I get really late for work and this saves time. But then, this has a beautiful reason too. The window beside the sink opens up to an exceptionally striking sight - a Gulmohar tree in full bloom. The vivid orange red flowers against the bright green foliage are something which not just makes the present pleasant but in fact brings back wonderful memories of the past.
As seen from my window...
My first memories of the tree are in Mysore during the 80's. A small kid then, I was delighted to walk on the floral carpet made of these very flowers on freshly washed roads (courtesy the rain). Moving on to Bangalore, Gulmohar was very much a part of my growing years. Our English textbook was called Gulmohar and had the picture of the same on the cover page. Now, did the Gulmohar connection pull me to the book and the English language, is something that I don’t really know. 

Blooming in May, the sight of these flowers was obviously associated with summer vacations and cousins. My cousins and I played with every part of the flower. The flowers were used for decorating our wooden toys, and steel glasses were converted to vases so as to exhibit them. The sepals of the buds were separated and stuck on to our fingers to make bloody looking claws. We then made scary looking faces and enacted like tigers and ghosts with those 'claws'. The koli jagala ('chicken fight'- I dont really know why it was called so!) was played with the filaments containing the anther within the buds. Who ever nicked the 'head' (anther) off the filament was the winner, and the game continued until you finished all the filaments in the flower bud. Childhood games back then were really natural, simple and easily accessible. Most importantly they were never a burden on the household expenses unlike the present day.

The tree in bloom 'announced' festivities too. The wedding ‘chapras’ (the traditional coconut leaf shelter outside the house signifying a marriage) were familiarly decorated with them, what with the month chaitra heralding the wedding season. And when all the fun, festivities and vacations were over, Gulmohar still lifted our spirits. While walking back from school, the sheer fun of running to find the flower buds and jumping on them broke the sadness of school reopening after a long summer break.

Hmmm.. From Mysore to Bangalore to Chennai, things have changed, people have changed, time has changed, but the memories of the tree and the tree itself has not changed. Nature in all her manifestations stands as a testimony to our growing up from playing juvenile games with her to now standing and admiring her in full splendor. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

About Mysore again!! - but this time to invite you all to experience the place :)

I made this itinerary for a delegate's two day visit. Figured that it might be useful for others too. So, here I am sharing the content which was collected from various sources including my own experiences. Happy reading and touring! :)

The kings of the Wodeyar dynasty, who founded the city around 1400, laid the foundation for the southern cultural capital, Mysore. Today, it still retains the essence of a kingdom, with most of the architecture and roads belonging to the erstwhile era; far from the traffic cries of neighbouring Bangalore, with crisp, pollutionless air! 

Saturday – Srirangapatna
About the place: There are two clusters of tourist spots in Srirangapatna. The first cluster includes the Ranganathaswamy Temple, the dungeons of Colonel Bailley and Thomas Inman, Jamia Masjid, Tipu Sultan's death place, Tipu Sultan's old palace(ruins), Gangadhareeshwara Temple, Watergate and an Obelisk commemorating Srirangapatna. 
The second cluster features the Dariya Daulat Bagh (Tipu Sultan's Summer palace - is full of priceless artifacts, priceless not merely in their fiscal value but in their invoking of a period as well), Gumbaz, Nimishamba Temple, Sangama, Abbe Dubois Church, and the Dodda Goysa Ghat.
Restuarants in Srirangapatna - Amblee Holiday Resort - 08236 217474, Hotel Mayura, Hotel Vaibhav, Jungle Resorts restaurant

Morning itinerary– After breakfast in Mysore, journey of about 30 min to Srirangapatna (9 – 9.30)
*If you are travelling from Bangalore, leave as early as possible you can have breakfast in Shivalli, Chanapatna or many other eateries that dot the highway near Maddur or Chanapatna. You have choices of Andhra restaurants, Adigas, Empire, Kamat Lokaruchi, CCD, Mc Donalds, KFC, and even corner house!
1. Sriranganatha temple, (30 min approx)
2. Tippu’s fort, walk by the river Cauvery. (20 min, 10 min)
3. On the other side of the road (2nd cluster) - Tipu Sultan's palace, (45 min)
4. Sangama (10 min)
5. Nimishamba temple, by the river Cauvery (20 min)
6. Across the newly constructed bridge to Venkateshwara temple at Karighata (a small hillock from where the beautiful landscape around the hill and the confluence of the Kaveri and Lokapavani rivers can be seen. (30 min)

Afternoon – Post lunch in Srirangapatna, 5 km away, a bird sanctuary called Ranganathittu. Will approximately take 60 to 90 min.

Evening - Brindavan Gardens, also known as KRS (Krishna Raja Sagara dam), a journey of 30 min from Ranganathitu)

Entry timings:             
All week days               
06.00 am - 08.00 pm

Saturday & Sunday       
06.00 pm - 09.00 pm
Musical fountain:     
All week days               
06.30 pm – 07.30 pm
Show timings:
Saturday & Sunday       
06.30 pm – 08.30 pm


Venugopalaswamy temple, KRS backwaters, Hosakambadi (journey of 45 min from Ranganathitu)

About the place: Best, if reached by 6 p.m. This is a hidden gem in Mysore. As a visitor to the Brindavan Gardens, you are practically visiting the south side of the dam. There was a time when visitors could climb to the top of the KRS dam to see the vast expanse of the backwaters. Due to security concerns, that is not allowed anymore. In 1930, when the first phase of the KRS dam was completed, temples and villages were submerged, including Venugopalaswamy temple.
During the summer months of the drought prone years, the water level of KRS would dip and the temple would resurface. This hide and seek of the temple had been going for more than seven decades until the year 2004 when a mammoth work was started to replant the temple in the adjacent Hosakannambadi village (relocated from the original Kannambadi village by the king). The idea was to transplant the temple, stone by stone, from its original place to the new location and everything had to be faithfully re-created as the original. Tens of thousands of photographs were taken and each stone was marked before the dismantling operations started. The work is almost complete.

Directions: Ranganthitu – KRS Road - past Brindavan gardens (head straight instead of taking a left to Brindavan garden after the toll), dead end at katteri - turn left. After the left, if you are not able to spot a signboard, ask at this point for the diversion to Hosakanambadi. Drive slow as it’s a difficult to find diversion on your left. (Otherwise this road heads towards Krishnarajpet (KR Pet) and further hit NH48 at Channarayapatna),+Mandya+district,+Karnataka&daddr=Venugopala+Swamy+Temple,+Karnataka&hl=en&ll=12.423166,76.616249&spn=0.100753,0.169086&sll=12.311178,76.643715&sspn=0.201592,0.338173&geocode=FbWXvQAdWKeRBCFDvOKTrXrS3ykLLgPdd3evOzFDvOKTrXrS3w%3BFUrjvQAdFFGQBCEUHYwe3ogXfyntRTdYv3ivOzEUHYwe3ogXfw&oq=v&t=h&mra=ls&z=13

Suggestion – Reach Venugopalswamy temple by 5.30 p.m, watch the sunset, head back to Brindavan gardens at 6.30 in time for the musical fountain. But I have stayed there beyond sunset and soaked in the twilight for hours.

Sunday Mysore

Morning - Mysore Palace (2-3 hours)

Afternoon - Visit to Jagan Mohan palace which is now an art museum, and KSIC showroom

Evening- Chamundi temple, Nandi
The Chamundi Hills offer a panoramic view of Mysore, allowing you to see the Mysore Race Course, the Lalitha Mahal Palace, the Mysore Palace, the Karanji and Kukkarahalli lakes. The view is even more enchanting towards dusk, and also on Sunday evenings when the Mysore Palace is illuminated and glitters like gold
Darshan & Pooja Timings - 7.30 am to 2 pm, 3.30 pm to 6 pm, 7.30 pm to 9 pm
Suggestion – Visit temple at 5 p.m. Finish darshan by 6 p.m. Head to Nandi, a 15 feet high, large monolith on the way down. Come back to ‘view point’ at 6.45 pm to select a vantage point to watch the illuminated palace at 7 pm

Other recommendations 
  1. Get up around 6 in the morning and drive to a small hill called Himavad Gopalaswamy betta. The small hill is covered with fog during most part of the year with beautiful green landscapes around. Back to Mysore at around 11.30 am
  2. Karanji Lake – Houses the biggest aviary in Asia; boating in the lake (10 am – 5 pm)
  3. Philomena Church,_Mysore
Where to eat?
  • South Indian - Indira Bhawan - City Market, Nalpak in Sarwathipuram, Gokulam, Hotel Siddaratha, and Mylari hotel (known for its melting dosas which melt in the mouth), RRR for their mouth watering biryani.
  • North Indian - Hotel Metropole, King's Court, Gufa/Jungle at Hotel Pai Vista, Le Gardenia at Hotel Regaalis
  • Gujarathi/Rajasthani/Jain - Hotel Raj Purohit
The weather as on August 26th 2012 – 25 degree Celsius

What to Buy?

1. Mysore Silk Sarees at KSIC showrooms in Mysore, Karnataka
a. Factory Showroom (FSR) & Silk Weaving Factory, Mananthody, Mysore
Ph: 95821 -2481803. Sat & Sun holiday
Contact Person: Sri. P. Srikanta Prasad. Government Silk Factory Mysore Karnataka
b. Vishveshwariah Bhavan, K.R.Circle, Mysore
Ph: 95821-2422658. Contact Person: Sri. Sommanna
c. Vidyaranyapuram, Manandavadi Road, Mysore, Karnataka – 570008
Ph: 0821 2484962. At this address, too, there is a KSIC Factory & Godown
Contact Person: Sri. M. Mahadevappa
d. Zoo Complex (ZSR), Indiranagar, Mysore
Ph: 95821 – 2445502. Contact Person: Sri. Abdul Rasheed
e. Mayur Vatri Nivas, L.J.B Road, Mysore
Ph: 95821 – 2420713. Contact Person: Sri. Jayram
2. Kancheevaram Silk Sarees: Karnataka Saree Center, Zoo Complex (ZSR), Indiranagar, Mysore
3. Beautifully crafted woodwork and sandal stuff at Cauvery Emporium on Sayyaji Rao road. Also check out various stores on Dhanvantri road for handicrafts, idols and much more.
4. Mysore pak – a delicious sweet from Mahalakshmi Sweets, Bombat Tiffanys (both on DD Urs road) and Guru Sweets on Sayyaji Rao road
5. Mysore mallige – The famed jasmine flowers are sold all over the place by street vendors. Pick it, tuck it and enjoy!

Key words - Mysore two day trip

Friday, June 14, 2013

A memorable 'eatathon' weekend..

On a Saturday evening, I stepped out of HTIC with a happy mood. Now, that is a rarity! I should have guessed by then that it was just the beginning of a memorable weekend.

The first stop was at the Kolkotta mittai shop where we immediately downed the sweets- the kalakhand was the best, followed by paneer burfi and rasagolla. The jamun was a let down though. The chat counter said they were closed for the day which suited me fine as we got a chance to dine at Crimson Chakra. 

The out-doors of Azuri Bay and Crimson Chakra
Though the initial plan was to check out Azuri bay, their 'expensive' menu card and the attractive outdoor settings of Crimson Chakra made us shift sides :) The ambiance at Crimson Chakra was pretty good. They have a small place at the entrance where they sell t-shirts and other small things largely depicting Chennai. We were seated by the pool which was bit of an eye sore to the otherwise fine interiors. The service was pretty quick and we ate our brushettas in delight. The sutta valakai was kinda ok. It probably requires acquired taste. The tourtillas were oily but good. So, it was the brushettas that stole the show. We walked back planning the Sunday's picnic to the fort of Sadras. 

It was a different thing that we woke up only at 9 odd the next day. Nine in Chennai is way too late as the sun at that hour would be mercilessly shining upon us. So we decided to give Sadras a miss (this was kinda expected last night itself ;)). The next in the list was Cholamandalam artists village. While reading the reviews, I stumbled upon a cafe within the museum. Me being the foodie that I am, focused only on the cafe and googled more about it. We had read enough to convince us to have our lunch at Shiraz cafe at Injambakkam.

Two buses and some time later we got down at Injambakkam and walked back a few yards to reach Cholamandalam art museum. We were so hungry that we walked straight past the museum and headed to the cafe. The houses in the area, called artists village, were classic. Shiraz cafe itself was beautifully decorated. A one room yellowish orange cafe stood in the corner of a big garden with tables.       
We decided to sit amidst nature. The trees and the flowers added to the magic of the welcome drink which I guess was a blend of passion fruit, mango and crushed ice. It was delightful! The hosts (a brother-sister duo from Iran) were very warm and personally saw to the dishes. Nasrin is the chef and well, all the dishes were awesome. The soup was oats+dill+curd+something else and was sinfully creamy. Top notch! The veg starters were plenty, including hummus and fried pita bread, egg plant curry, a mixed vegetable dish, pasta (yummy!!), French fries, kebab, vegetable rolls and some more. The spread was lavish. I was 'almost' full already!!! But the prospect of chicken kept me going. The chicken sausage was so modestly flavoured and tasty; the apricot chicken was sweet and good; the prawn and fish curry was different and tasty; and the barbeque chicken was very well complimented with the orange peel rice. It was the best combo of the day. The dill rice was good too. The naan and egg+bread+chicken dish was also good. (good, good and good...I have run out of adjectives to describe their smorgasbord!) By now I had become immobile. For deserts there was cake, rice pudding, ice cream and fruits. And how did I miss the glasses of the fruit drink and shots of lemon and jasmine tea that we washed down!? They were great. And now came the hiccup! They do not accept cards which led to venturing out to get cash from an ATM!! A prank and half an hour later, we paid our bill (Rs.700+35 per person), downed our last glass of tea while making conversations with the very friendly hosts. They apparently came to India from Iran during the Iran-Iraq war days as students and stayed on. Promising ourselves and them to come back, we headed on to the beach a little behind the cafe. Oh, we did give the museum a miss (very unlike me though!).

The roads to the beach were lined by posh villas and resorts. The beach was clean and the shades of blue stretching up to the horizon were myriad! The gravel beneath my feet was different than that on Elliots, somewhat sturdier. There were very very few people on the beach making it all the more pleasant. And then we found a friend. Tall, dark brown, really handsome, walking majestically as though he owned the place, the dog instantly won our hearts. His blue collar added to his charm. Despite looking as though he was strong, he came and seeked pampering by rubbing his head against us with constraint (err, did you say 'like me'? ;)). I ran with him, cuddled him and wrote names on the sand while the waves erased it away. And then,... it started raining! Ah! perfect! :) A slight drizzle ensured us that we get under the umbrella to save our mobile phones. Damn technology! ;) But then, I guess it painted a pretty picture of us under the umbrella with the dog looking at the beach ahead :) Awesome threesome did you say? ;)

Impulsively, we decided to walk down to Kottivakam. We could actually see the port from there. And so, we started walking. The dog walked along too giving us good company. It rained a couple of times, each time lasting only few minutes and like a drill, we would instantly open the umbrella, keep our footwear beneath, and stand under it. 

Picking up sea shells and reminiscing childhood, we walked along, yapping happily. :) Our dog, (yes, am calling it ours as it walked with us like it was ours ;)) was 'galloping' so much that his blue belt came off. Try as much as I did, but he did not want the belt back on his neck. Walking along, we reached the first of fishermen colony which are all along the coast. The local dogs barked so ferociously that they refused to let our hero enter their territory. They barked and barked and barked. We had to eventually retrace our steps, get our hero back into 'no-dog's land', i.e, out of the barking dogs territory. He would not leave us, hence we had to take the road instead. He kept looking at us while we disappeared from his view. :(
We then took the road amidst the fishermen's colony. It looked like the roads were built just so that the local boys could convert it to a cricket pitch. All along that was what we saw.. stretches of road converted to cricket pitches by the mere presence of the guys, bats, tennis balls and the sticks or stones in place of wickets. 

We walked and walked along the beach not knowing where we were. When we saw crowd on the beach, we thought we reached our destination only to be told (by the same damn technology ;)) that we were only half way through. We walked along the beach, making patterns of footprints- parallel paths while we were talking, one 'complete-set-of-footprints-path' while I was concentrating on making it one path, and another pattern of a 'single path' (it looked like just one single person had walked :)).This was also made cause of the wicked me who found that this took much less effort against the sand on the beach. ;) 

Bella Ciao
Taking a break to drink water at another crowded place, we continued walking till we reached Bella Ciao (our walking destination)! Yeah, restaurant once again! After all that walking on the sand we decided we deserved a glass of wine. So, wine it was. Wine and dine, and a candle light dinner at that. :) We ordered a non-vegetarian platter, thinking it would be a hell lot for us but we were surprised at the sparse looking plate that reached the table. There were 4 types of starters, of 3 slices each. Now these slices ranged from being paper thin small circles to cardboard thick rectangles!!! Mind you, they were not spheres or cuboids but circles and rectangles!!! I was so hungry, that I could have eaten all that all alone. We were glad we ordered focaccia along with it. That kinda compensated. But when I bit into those geometric shapes, I realised we had made no mistake. The cold cut hams were delicious. The flavour of each was so rich and distinct. Subtle and sensuous. Just like their ambiance. This place too needs another visit ;)

We walked out of Bella Ciao to be lead into the beach yet again! (Can't help it you see ;)) I dont know what really tempted us, but we just stretched down on the beach, looking at the night sky with its stars above and relaxed as we sunk into the sand beneath. Unmindful of the small crowd on the beach, we closed our eyes as though we were at our homes and drifted into thoughts the mind pulled us into. Finally, we had to nudge ourselves back to reality and head home, but not before we indulged ourselves in the finest of ice cream at Ibaco :)


A weekend it was!!! :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Lessons from the sea....

Last night at the beach, I was playing a little game with the sea. Every time the waves receded, I ran towards the sea and ran backwards towards the shore when the next wave approached. The rule was simple - to not to let the waves touch me and yet go farthest possible into the sea.

While I was teasing the sea this way, running backwards to the shore trying to escape an approaching wave, I stumbled, fell down and the wave swept over me. As I sat there shocked by my defeat I saw another wave approaching me. I heard my friends asking me to get up and run. Yet, it was entirely upto me to either get stuck in time and let another wave sweep across me or to get up and run back. 

And, run back I did. :)

1. When you feel defeated in life, the DECISION to let the defeat defeat you IS entirely YOURS.
2. You can chose to dwell in the 'fall' phase of your life or 'get up' and be on track. Only YOU can CHOSE.
3. It definitely helps to HAVE YOUR PEOPLE during this time. Though they may not physically be able to help you, be receptive to their call of help. 
4. Again, they can only 'call', but only you can HELP YOUR SELF. 
5. And well, always MOVE AHEAD and forward in life. Not backward. You may have the advantage of knowing/facing your opponent when moving backward, but 'moving ahead' in life should be irrespective of your opponents.

"Have the strength to swim, and you will never sink"

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A tale of three cities....

Accusations are swelling, friendships are threatened to be 'cut', and I am being asked to justify... After all it's about shifting loyalties!!!
Well, the issue here is my new found 'love' -Chennai!

I have lived my whole life in Karnataka, spending my life years in Mysore, Bangalore and shuttling between them! ;)

Spending 8 years in Bangalore, from my 1st std to 8th std, I was reluctant to go to Mysore after the family decided to shift there. After all, the 'making' of Lakshmi Krishnan had begun in Bangalore and it was a good beginning at that. But it may not have been humble. The exposure I got was tremendous. It opened up new avenues. I had tried my hand at many many things-dance, music, theatre,  prose, yoga, leadership...everything! I was at the peak of all this, when Mysore happened. Guess it was the teenager in me who picked up every reason to crib and compare Mysore to Bangalore in the initial four years of return. I kept stating every now and then that I will go back to Bangalore soon. I did that every vacation and on every occasion, what with my relatives and friends being there. As I was at it, I really don’t know when things changed and I fell in love with the 'village' as people tend to call it.

It was the traditional love story. Hatred turned love! :) :) I grew up from being the teenage girl to err, a lady amidst the innocence of Mysore. She is pristine, wonderful and is made up of all things simple and down to earth. Mysore humbled me. She taught me, nurtured me, but did not really punish me. She shielded me away from the wickedness of the world, and pampered me! But she did not spoil me. She stood by me and moulded me in to the person I am. She let me 'flow' and 'grow'.

As fate would have it, Bangalore happened again and trust me I was not really happy to go. But the 'want' to be away from the comfort of home was greater and off I went to Bangalore for doing my post grad. Reaching the 'garden city', I realised that the Bangalore I spent my growing years in had changed. Me being me, I was quite averse to changes. And while I tried sinking into being a quasi 'Bangalorean', (thanks to those initial 8 years), I realised how much I truly missed Mysore. I realised how much I truly love Mysore. Everything in Bangalore seemed so mechanical and everything about Mysore seemed so magical. And the love for Mysore while I was in Bangalore only grew, grew and grew.

I will call it destiny to land in Chennai. I had never in my weirdest dreams thought I would be in Chennai on long term basis. Why Chennai, whole of Tamil Nadu was ruled out! I had pictured my future in namma Mysore, listing out all things I love to do that I missed in 3 years or in pristine Coorg watching sun sets and listening to the birds chirping and feeling cold and cosy at the same time! But, instead I land in sweltering Chennai! All my fancy jackets and warm clothing sent to the deepest closet! Sigh..

I was so against Chennai that I cribbed and cribbed about it every day. And then, I realised I was actually trying hard to hate the place. I love the beach and am truly fascinated by the local train (the BIG train fan that I am!). It is not really similar to Mysore (the 2nd cleanest city in India!) but then, it is a strong contrast to Bangalore.
It still seemed to retain its culture despite its development.
It did not seem to sacrifice its heritage in the name of commercialisation.
Yes, the people sometimes are a bit rude and cranky. But then, don’t we find them elsewhere too?
Yes, my 'sampling' is not appropriate as the Chennai I talk about covers only 2 areas- I stay in the better part of Chennai with the beach next to me and work amidst the thick green cover and gentle beings. But then, such 'samples' exist elsewhere too!
Yes, Chennai 'sweats' and 'stinks' but that's the bargain I get for the beach! :)

I could go on and on about the three cities.., each one truly being an experience and shaping me into the person I now am and will be.
Each city deserves its due in teaching me everything I know and will know.
But, I think I will end it here with this sentence.
Bangalore was an early infatuation, Mysore, my first true love, and Chennai - a new crush! ;)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

In search of the 'quintessential' Chennai..

“How much Chennai have you seen?”
“Oh, you haven’t been there yet?”
“You should eat from Sarvanna bhavan.”
“And the temples, oh it’s a pity if you haven’t visited one.”
“Chennai is not Besant Nagar.”
Do this, do that, go here, go there... I was so tired of listening to all of it since the two months I landed in Chennai, that I decided to go exploring the 'quintessential Chennai'. 

With just one day off in a week, and a dear friend's wish to see the quintessential Chennai in one day, I surfed the net and friend's databases on what could be seen in a day, which at the same time gives the essence of Chennai. Many many searches later, from a list of suggested 50, to 'try-able' 12, to possible 7, the list kept narrowing down. The planner that I have always wanted to be, googled enough information (that's what I thought) and with a ‘not-so-raring-to-go’ friend, P (she had no option though) and a ‘I-want-to-do-most-in-the-list’ friend, S in tow, we started on a early Sunday morning. I love to spend my Sunday mornings, afternoons and if possible evenings too, on bed. So it was as equivalent to giving my life away to do this one day sightseeing. :)

So our ‘list for the day’ (word by word as told to us) was
1. Visit the Kapaleeshwara temple early in the morning and have temple prasadam for morning’s breakfast
2. Take the MRTS to Beach
3. “Enjoy” the pulling and pushing at Ranganathan Street
4. Spend 1000 bucks in T Nagar and get atleast 1000 things for the money you spend.
5. Eat at Sarvanna Bhavan (they forgot to mention what!)

So, at 8.30 a.m we were on our way to Kapaleeshwara (Shiva) temple in Mylapore.

Shakti worshipped Shiva in the form of a peacock, which is why the area is called so (mayil is Tamil for peacock). Apparently, Mylapore is ‘older’ than Chennai. This oldest temple in Chennai is believed to be located on the spot where Lord Brahma installed a Shiva lingam in order to please Lord Shiva who cut off Bramha's head (Kapalam) to arrest his pride. Fresh with this googled knowledge about the area and temple, I rattled on until the bus refused to go further towards the destination. And why was that? There was a chariot festival in the temple and all roads around the temple were blocked. Now, I had heard enough about the devout Chennai-ites to know that this planned quick visit to the temple was going to be anything but quick. There goes my first part of the plan to the drain! Ah, too late to turn back! The god fearing person in me decided to go for it. As ‘luck’ would have it, we saw the quintessential Chennai that we wanted to see but without actually expecting to see it.

The roads were lined with shopkeepers setting up make-shift stalls to sell their wares. The road, without the vehicular traffic, was filled with people of all ages. The women in their temple best and hair adorned with jasmine flowers, never left their man's side. The children walked with their grandparents, pointing out to all the fancy things lining the streets, unmindful to the grandparents talking about the temple. Their talk was shadowed by the occasional booming of the loud speakers over your head announcing missing people and at the same time asking the people to make way for the chariots. All along the stretch, there were many groups offering free refreshing buttermilk to everyone and well, we made the most of it :).

Not knowing the right entry point to the temple made things difficult as the crowd started getting bigger. The roads around the temple called the mada streets were washed and painted with the traditional kolams, for the chariots would pass through them. The crowd regaled each time some generous person threw buckets of water from the houses lining the mada street. This was their way of beating the heat. They also used plastic sachets containing water to cool themselves. I have personally not seen these methods anywhere before. For the first time I also saw red and green flags being used by the priest on the chariot to give instructions to the devotees to pull or to stop pulling the chariot! This reminds me of another 'first' I saw a couple of days before at a Tam Bram wedding. A water bottle with holes in it's cap provided for a method to sprinkle water on plantain leaves for cleaning them before meals. Being a south Indian and eating meals out of a plantain leaf very often, this was indeed new and innovative for me.

Well, coming back to the chariot festival, we got all pushed around and finally got pushed into the temple too through the east gopuram (tower over the temple entrance with marvellous architecture). Temples for me have to be peaceful. But this environment, thanks to the festival, was anything but that. There were many sub temples within the temple courtyard; that of Ganapathi, Saneeshwara, Murugan, Karpagambal, Kapaleeshwara and many more. Apart from that we also saw the idols of 63 Nayanmars or Saivaite saints for whom the festival was being celebrated within the main temple of Kapaleeshwara.
The 63 Nayanmars 

After paying respect to the dieties, I was waiting to pay respect to my grumbling tummy. Something that everyone has always agreed upon is the fact that the prasadams at temples are really yummy. And this time was no exception. :) We were really content with the humble yet tasty prasad. On our way back to the railway station from the temple, we feared getting pushed back into the temple as there was the chariot crowd in the last leg of the procession which was to terminate at the temple. Braving the crowds yet again (which was an adventure of sorts) and downing two glasses of buttermilk, we finally made it to the Thirumayilai station.

The local train experience was the best part of the day. Trains have always fascinated me and every single journey till now has put me into a pensive mode. This one too was no exception. Intra-city, inter-city, inter-state, I love them all. The journeys give me the solitude and solace even amidst a crowd. There is definitely something about the trains. Let me not dwell on that as it will occupy an entire blog space. :)

The rest of the day was quite uneventful, barring the malai kofta at sarvana bhavan in T Nagar. It was literally koftas in payasam (an otherwise sweet delight), complete with tuti fruti toppings! Beat that! An interesting fact to note in T Nagar is that while half of it has Sarvanna 'some' store, other half contains Jayachandran 'some' store along with others. (And Chennai has its own share of Murugan stores as well :)). Considered a shopping destination, I did not quite find T Nagar very amusing as it was like one big market. Quite averse to crowds, I prefer doing my shopping in a peaceful environment. The heat added to the crowded woes. Though the shopping experience was nothing greater than the ones I have experienced in Delhi and Bombay, one must visit T Nagar for their silk show rooms, some of them which I must admit had a superior ‘drooling quotient’. Tired by the evening, we decided against the advice by Chennai-ites to not to take an auto by taking one. Auto rickshaw rides here have the reputation of costing an exorbitant Rs.200 for a ten minute ride! And how much did this guy charge? Rs.150 for a distance of 12 km and almost half an hour journey! Makes me wonder, if am new to Chennai or if he is new! ;)

So, finally we were done with our list for the day, though not to the nines. The pulling and pushing at Ranganathan street did not happen as we already dealt with our quota for the day at the temple :). We did not spend 1000 bucks in T Nagar either.

Well, next time, I intend to visit my personal favourite-the museums. If not for anything, they will be atleast peaceful. Until then, happy glazing! ;)

Colours of Chennai 

Friday, March 22, 2013

To let go OR to hold on?

After years of knowing what I don't want to do, I was still fighting with my world outside and well,.. inside too. "Should I just cut all my 'fancy' ambitions and get down to reality as advised by the likes of people who have seen more world than me or should I go against the tide like I always have?" the question haunted me.

A friend once told me that I am a rebel for the sake of being a rebel. Now, I did not want to live up to that reputation. Especially, cause I believed myself to be a revolutionary :)

So, when I was being divided in understanding who I really was and illogically (for others) rejecting 'ideas' and offers of 'help' (which my brain intercepted as sympathy), things just happened from nowhere! Well, not really nowhere, but from unexpected quarters and to a large extent from unknown people too.

I was still skeptical when I attended the interview in Chennai and even more skeptical when I got through it. I remember not reacting to the news. Was I so sure that I will get through that I was non-reactive or was I so apprehensive about the whole thing that I was not really sure whether to be happy or sad, and hence non-reactive? Whatever the reason was, my face was largely non-reactive, but the turmoil within is something that no one will ever know.

Braced with the fact that my new year will truly be a new year with new people, new places, new work, new environment, I realised that everything that was new was also totally unknown to me. Ah! The new or unknown never scared me. But the scar of letting go of things haunted me. 

Anyways, with all kinds of encouraging words from family and friends, I managed to reach Chennai. But now, beyond 'reaching Chennai' it was completely unto me to prove myself that am a revolutionary and not a rebel.

Inhibitions to get out of old scars are so much that we sometimes refuse to get out of it. That is exactly what I did- refused to help myself get out of it. I wanted to dwell in it and I kind of liked myself in that state. But me being me, I could not just go on that way. Oh ya, hating my job sometimes made me feel good but sometimes worsened the situation. There were times I found reasons to quit it and go back. But I knew for sure I did not want to go back. Like always, I knew what I did not want. :) And well, I did not want to be the quitter too. But then, everything was going wrong. That is how it is always, isn't it?

And then I chose to see things beyond what my eyes could see. Life suddenly became simply more beautiful. The feeling was not attached to my job, nor the place, nor the people. And the best way to prove it is the fact that my Facebook updates are no longer about how much ‘I love Mysore’, ‘miss Mysore’, ‘am in Mysore’, about Mysore and so on. I remember the times when people would ask me what happened when the word 'Mysore' did not turn up in my updates. Mysore was so much a part of Lakshmi Krishnan..... until now. No, I am not not saying Chennai has replaced Mysore.. It never will..

What has happened is that I have grown beyond the attachment for people, places and things..
What has happened is that I have learnt to let go of people, places and things..
What has happened is that my state of mind (read peace) is not because of people, places and things..
But what should not happen is that I should not forget to hold onto people, places and things..because, there is a lot of difference between 'letting go' and 'holding on'.

I want to let go and hold on...

Thursday, February 7, 2013


So I am on yet another journey...
And this time after all the ups and downs, life has not come to a stand still..
A month into the new journey and I am still in the process of getting into d groove..
But before I move on, a thanksgiving!

So, after all that cramming, and crying and chaos, my pg exams got over!!
It was one experience!!!
But thanks to few special people, its a cherished memory now. :)

I had abundant support in college -Archana ma'am, you rock! Wonder what Vydehi Opath would have been without you.. Your family made me 'family' and that says it all! 
Jayalakshmi ma'am, Dorothy ma'am, you were among my strongest supporters. Thanks for believing in me and my abilities. Thanks for lifting up my sagging spirits! And HOD ma'am was the surprise package! If not for that golden one month off that you gave me maam, forget topping, I doubt if I would have cleared! And I will always remember your kindness ma'am!
Divya, a special thanks to you! You were God sent! Being awake with me through the nights as though you yourself were giving exams, spending restless moments with me, calming me in those tense situations, praying for me and many more.. I can't thank you enough! I hope and pray I get a chance to help you the way you did.
Amrita, anything that I say about you would be less.You have made me the positive person that I am. You tuned my attitude so that I can face the world alone. Thanks for everything! A single paragraph won't suffice for you :) nor will it do justice ;) Our relationship is beyond words! :) Thanks to uncle and aunty too! They made me feel like family!
Mahesh, Chaitra and Satish- thank you for believing in me and for making me believe in myself. Your blind faith in me is something I might never come across again in life! Thanks for the energy U guys gave me-literally too! :) The home food was sometimes the only highlight of the day! :)
Honey, Lavi, Aziz bhai- thanks for all the smiles and help!
Subhada, my room mate, my outing mate, my food mate, my support mate, my prayer mate,ah.. I can go on and on.. But it still would not cover the two years that we stayed under the same roof..sharing every single moment and thoughts. The movies, shopping, starring at stars, Saturday nights of music and much much more.. I would need a book to write about you! Thank you for taking care of me. :)
Sweta, Shalini, Manjula, Ramya-hostel life had LIFE in it because of you guys..6 months with you people were among the best I ever had!! You guys rock!! And so does Jaganath mess ;)
Srihari, you showed me the world, or rather what the world ate ;) Had some of the best food in life wit you. Life outside the gates of Vydehi was colorful and stomach full coz of you! ;)
Varsha & Suman-You guys made me like Bangalore outside Whitefield! Life was pure fun & one hell of a party with you guys!
Bharat sir, I owe my 'topper' status to you! Thank you! Thanks for bringing me out of one of my difficult phases.
Santosh, you have been there through thick and thin! I would not have survived Vydehi without you! I owe my pg seat and pg degree both to you! Thank you for taking all the crap! You were the only one who could take it! :)
Sudhee sir, Shashidhar sir,Radhika ma'am, Usha ma'am, Srinivas sir, Jeevan sir, Priya maam, Santosh sir, and all who taught me-thank you for being the selfless teachers!
Sudhee sir- You are the reason why I am an oral pathologist today! From inspiring me to teaching me, you have been the very reason of my professional stature today. I bow to you sir!
Abhishek Bhadranna, Abhishek Jahagirdar, Revanna, Afreen, Sushma - Thanks for being the friends in need, for all the professional help and others too..
Sijy, Shaheera, Krishnaveni, Imran, Manasa, Supreeta, Shazaib, Geeta, Bhavya, Surendra - thank you! :) You all added more colors into my life!
And I thank everyone who gave me a reason to smile :) I owe those happy hours of my life to you! :)
My backstage crew- uff!!! We did it!! :) Appa, Amma, Adarsh and Anna, we did it! :)
Thank you God.., for being there and letting all these wonderful people be such an important part of my life!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Good Morning Chennai!

'Trriiiinggggggggg' rang my alarm and I got up with a start to switch it off so as to not disturb my new roommates. The usual me would get up only at 9, snooze the alarm and hit the bed again. I looked at the watch. It showed 6 and it so told me to sleep. Divided between luxury and necessity, drowsy eyed, I fought my way out of bed. Had my bath (yawn, I still want to sleep), got dressed (yawn, I still want to sleep) and waited for my roommate/guide to get ready (yawn, I still want to sleep). During the wait I decided to explore my hostel terrace. Pulling my legs beyond me (as my legs were still sleeping), I reached the terrace after four flights of stairs.

The view awaiting me was something I did not expect. I saw the blue, the blue of the sea as far as my eyes could see...,where that 'blue of the sea' met the 'blue of the sky'. The sea seemed calm from that distance while I was sure it was roaring down there. The sun rays glistened on the seemingly calm sea and on to my face. No, now I was not yawning. My sleep was gone (obviously!) and I faced the sea and the sun and stood for long. 

All thoughts racing by, though I wished I could keep it calm. 
All thoughts splurging about, though I wish I could keep it still. 
All thoughts jumping at each other, though I wish they kept to themselves. 
And as I stared at the distant blue horizon, it somehow calmed my thoughts within. Now, that's where Chennai scored a brownie point over my previous place of stay, Bangalore. 
And that was my first day in Chennai :) 
Chennai, I hope I like you. And I hope you like me too.. :)