[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Searching the Thamizh within me

Friday, July 30th, 2004

I am afraid I am losing my “Identity” as my Thamizh writing skills have deteriorated badly in the last decade. I was trying to write something yesterday but was shocked when I paused wondering which ‘ra’ to use for that word ‘ninaikkiren’. Though I figured it out shortly after that moment of surprise, I realize my Thamizh language instincts is draining badly. With that I am losing a part of my original identify; how can I be proud of claiming Thamizh as my native language if I have to really ‘think’ about the exact letters before writing? God damn it, this is naaaa goooo at all.

Ok, Ok, its alright, atleast I can write well in english. Wait a second…I cannot say that to myself? The truth is my English is not at its best either( I better not call this as my best!). At least I am reading, writing, and conversing a lot in English towards improving it(being in America, whether I like it or not, helps with that), but my beloved Thamizh is losing attention! For my own sanity I should be doing something about this.

Perhaps it was a fault of mine as I never cultured interest in any form of Thamizh literature outside of school curriculam. To help with that, everything about India and Tamilnadu is available in English, so I fell into the obvious trap. The only solace is I am not as bad as some of my friends who suck big time even to read Thamizh fluently, I cannot imagine what their Thamizh writing skills would be.

Thanks to the world of tamil blogs I am recouping my love for Thamizh. Sometimes I envy them so much for being not just creative but also for being a motivation for others to think creatively. I am sure they are also reinventing themselves with this new medium of blogs.

And for me, still miles to go before I reap the full Thamizh or English (one is better than none!) in me.

if you ever run out of things to read!

Tuesday, July 27th, 2004

Loads of articles on diverse topics fills IndiaNest.com. So many people want to write and just want to be read. I wish we have more than 24 hours a day to read of all this. Sometimes the artciles are just too long and boring though they are well written literature. I recently read this article about Indian Classical Music. Its undeniably an ocean and no one can write about its entirety in a few pages, but this was good attempt to introduce it to a westerner.

Finally, India pulled off a thriller to win against Srilanka today. This happens every single time, right when everyone is ready to write the team off, they win, emphatically to go up again only to lose a important match. But then there are so many Gods, even if we hate to admit it, the truth is at last the Gods save the team more often than Sachin or Shewag. Atleast, thats the easiest rationale for some of our spectacular wins and horrific losses!

The fate of a curry smell?

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

The flavor of Indian food, especially those of our curries and masalas, is one of its kind. No other world cusine boasts such a huge and equally wide variety of spices and flavors. This variety adds to the complexity of cooking and its duration. The 2 hour or so marathon cooking for a three-course(conservative regular!) meal radiates enough aroma(refrain from saying ‘smell’) to fill an entire house. Truly so, it is a unique aesthetic of India cusine – It invites not just you but also your neighbours to dine!

But when does this aroma become a smell, especially one that is repelling? I would have never thought about this aspect of the Indian food had I been in India, but of late, I have become averse to this issue of curry flavor that sticks to everything around you. Perhaps it doesnt make sense to people living in India, but for most of us living in US, it should be apparent. In fact, we realize it more when we visit others(we get so immersed in our home and the aroma around!). It is the smell on your winter jacket when you take it out from your closet after the long summer? Yeah, that closet across the kitchen and in the walkway infront of your main door! It is the smell on your window drapes(curtains), the same on the couch and the worst is, at times, it sticks to our clothes. While we try as much to keep our clothing as far away from the kitchen as possible, in addition to perfuming it, the smell of curry just beats us over to everything on occasions. The reason for the problm is simple and is quite easily and naturally solved in India.

1. There is absolutely no air flow inside any buildings here in the US. Keeping a window open is not a norm but an exception. All these windows are glassed, meaning getting light is important(?) but not air! To that sin, add cetral and automated Air Conditioning(AC). Rather one shouldnt leave any doors or windows open. Those other types of windows, are not built to allow lot of air flow, most of them are netted to prevent dust/flies/insects and almost all of them are sliding windows meaning only one half opens while the other half is twice sealed!. Keeping your main doors(front and back for those few who have it) is just out of question in the country, i wouldnt be surprised if they say it is against law to leave doors open!(heard of noise pollution, privacy?). With all this, the poor aroma has nowhere to go, but to find solace in couches and closets and under the beds and hoods and wherever we dont often try to move things in/out. The longer it stays, the longer it sticks to things around.

2. Most of the houses here are carpeted. Nothing holds the smell better than carpets. For hard-core indian food families(religiously feast on freshly cooked indian food three times a day!), imagine the carpets tortured with all kinds of flavors over years….unless the house is well aired and carpets are soap cleaned regularly, it will certainly expose what they ate for dinner last night!

3. This is not true in general, but some leave their finished dishes open and also pile up(sometimes for days!) in the wash basin! This is even worse, a strange experiment with smell/decay!

Then there are those who dont give a damn about any of this, what can I say? It all depends on what you think? or should I say what you smell?

There is another aspect of the similar problem that happens to some of us. It is the joy of Indian food during Lunch at workplace. When one poor fellow Indian soul, somewhere in the other corner of the building, opens up his or her lunch box, Ah! Wah re Wah! the food’s distinct flavors that fill the entire floor…Hmm..pretty sure, 9 out of 10 other Indians out on the floor can guess what the food is. Tomato rice, Curd rice and chicken curma top the list. I am no exception, as much as I make fun of it, I opened by Rajma this afternoon stalking few cubes around if not the whole floor! I never dare to ask my other fellow American colleagues about what they feel about this? Perhaps, they were thinking about their tuna fish or left over chinese food that they had today! Trust me, it stinks so bad you would stop eating yours!

What makes me who I am?

Friday, July 23rd, 2004

Every thought is a cause…
I sow a thought, I reap an action.
I sow that action, to reap a habit.
I sow by repeating that habit, I reap a character.
I sow by shaping that character, I reach my destiny.
It all starts with that one thought…

Not all thoughts end in a destiny.
Some thoughts die at the root
Some thoughts, we love them so much, never leave us.
Some, the more we hate them, sadly never leave us too.
Some, we never realize them, but still stay to define our destiny.

It is all in a thought. Every thought matters.

Kalam inspired Documentary to motivate children

Wednesday, July 21st, 2004

I have never been as much delighted to see someone as president as when I knew Dr.Abdul Kalam will be the next president of India. Perhaps only now I have “grown” enough to appreciate an individual as President of India. It could be that I was happy to see a non-hindu president, an ultimate answer to doubts about India’s secularism. And to see a multi-talented president from Tamilnadu is even a unexplainable honour than pleasure. In all, for the first time, I was proud of our political gamers to have agreed on one thing, at least outwardly. I am certain in his hands the country has nowhere but upwards to grow.

His integrity in unquestionable. Besides, he reflects the voices and ambitions of the children, especially those deprived of basic needs, better than any other popular leader of present and past. To read his ‘Wings of Fire’ was like listening him talk graciously infront of us. Though some debate if it was more of a luck than his skills, the excellence he garnered in career and the international recognition he brought to Indian Space Industry is etched with diamonds in the Indian history.

Learning from Kalam

A documentary with Kalam’s story as background to motivate children from staying in schools(without dropping out for jobs) emphasizes the need for strong primary education and uses kalams much-written struggles during those ages. To know that writer-director P Dhanapal of Coimbatore has taken it on his shoulders to do this service is laudable. He is also getting support from Asha for Education, as they both worked together in making this a successful short film. Not just poor young children but everyone citizen will be highly inspired.

PSG College of Technology one of the premeire institutions in the country, (proud to say I studied BSc Applied Science there!) created a innovation think-tank in 1984, named STEP(Science & Technology Entrepreneurs Park), under the auspices of National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB). Minveli, a product of STEP, is a multimedia software company, primarily focusing on tamil media. P Dhanapal is CEO of ‘Minveli’.

Pretty Face of India

Friday, July 16th, 2004

Even among Indians and foreigners, the face of India is not that beautiful as we all may think. There are more gripes than appreciations. Atleast that is the perception when you read our mainstream newspapers, where politics, naturally though, tops the news. Everything else, exciting ones and sad, is deep hidden beneath the surface. Good news India, a once one-man website, concieved and still successfully managed by Mr.D.V.Sridharan, is entirely dedicated to trumpetting the good, positive and indeed truthful things happening all over India.

GoodNewsIndia.com Taking an affectionate look at India !

Likely you wont hear a lot about these news elsewhere in media; its not as gossipy and chewy as politics or sports or movies, but they are news worthy by all means. Things that I promise we relish that we knew. Things that will bring hope for scores of Indians like living abroad wondering when I would take my last flight to home. Rediff profiled Mr.Sridharan in May 2003 that mentions he travelled 30,000 km just within India. Just to search for only worthy good news about India and Indians. Amazing and thought provoking.

Naturally, they dont have an army of journalists writing reams of stories every day. So news is hard to come by, but when it comes, its worth every second you spend reading it. When there is will, there is certainly so many ways!

Heartfelt Condolences for those Tender Victims

Friday, July 16th, 2004

80 children killed in school fire in TN

God showed how brutally cruel he can be sometimes. 80 Children aged 8 to 10, charred to death? Feels like someone hit my heart with a 1000 pound hammer. An oversight and mistake, for which the management, society, politicians and the goverment can all be blamed to various levels, but young buds have paid the ultimate iirevocable price. Even more pathetic, teachers and adult children(6th to 12th std) were able to escape when they saw the fire, but poor kinter garden and primary school children must have had no clue of what was going on.

Our heartfelt condolences to those parents and relatives of all the victims. Let us pray for those tender souls to rest in peace.

Never before…

Thursday, July 15th, 2004

Things I never did or used before my “Coming to America”. Not that these things are not possible or available in India, it is squarely because of my economic status and non-cosmopolitan coimbatore lifestyle and of course, in same cases, my attitude!. Positively in no specific order!

Never used a body spray or a perfume. That doesnt mean I used to stink, but hard to believe now, but I used to talcom powder! yep, for under arms as well !
Never flew in a plane
Never used a automatic revolving/sliding door
Never used a vending machine
Never drove a car ( except for the short fake stint to get a international driving license which of no use absolutely, contrary to what people back home say )
Never used an automatic flushing toilet
Never used a paper towel
Never had to ask ‘Water with no ice please’ in a restaurant
Never had a cusine other than chinese-Indian
Never had to tuck in my shirts
Never cared to match my shrits with trousers ( call it pants! )
Never knew how to do a tie ( and still don’t ! )
Never ever imagined I would wear a suit
Never used a blue swimming pool or green tennis court
Never saw white flakes or snow
Never skated, skied, ride in a boat
Never heard of the word ‘tornadoe’
Never saw a building taller than 14 floors

As I think about it, there is so many small and silly things I didnt know before. Thanks to the oppurtunities I had here, I know so many small things. Life (&) style in India has changed so much in such short time, anyone living in Metro cities could laugh at me.

Lazy Geek to Shylaja?

Wednesday, July 14th, 2004

Lazy Geek, he won the Best India Media Blogger of the year award for last year. Not that he blogs about only media, but his blogs are down to earth, simple and original. Living in chennai, he writes his perspectives on tamil movies/books, tamil bloggers in chennai and everythign else that strikes a chord in his mind. For those in chennai, another reason why you should start blogging and join that growing chennai bloggers, who recently had a ‘chennai bloggers meet‘. I wish we could have one for ‘Bloggers of Tamil Origin in New York / New Jersey Area !’ :-). I have once coincidence between this guy and myself, we both rank the “Pachai Kiligal Tholodu” from Indian as our all time best song. I would listen to it a zillion times and still would go for one more. My second in that list? “Pachai Nirame” from Alai Payudhey.

As I was skimming thru some of Lazy Geek’s (not sure what his original name is, but lets call him what he wants the rest of the world to refer him to!) archives, I see that he is a voracious fan of Sujatha(writer). I have read couple of Sujatha’s books, mostly from my renewed interests in his writings after I have dwelled into various other writings that referred him. No question, there is all the reason to be his arduous fan. From there, I learnt that another pious fan of Sujatha by name Desikan from chennai, is apparently also the biographer (offical?) of Sujatha. I had to believe it, atleast partially, when I read the Sujatha’s foreward in his own handwritten letter for Desikan’s personal website. Not so surprisingly, he is also an excellent writer himself and even writes his own tamil blog. Wonder where sujatha scribbles his blogs!. You could guess from his name ( Desikan is agmark-trademark name for such ) that he is from a vaishnav background (me too!) and has compiled a short list of literature on vaishnavism.

But the interesting encounter of all, he has compiled a list of poems from a writer by name Shylaja on Azhvars and Ramanujar. And Shylaja, not so incidentally, is my Aunt ! and Priya, who we recently visited in washinton dc is writer shylaja’s dharm puthri !

Fascade of a soul

Tuesday, July 13th, 2004

Wool of the man
Covering heart and mind
Hard to let it out
But soul permeates beyond anything
Wool fails to be of any use

w.Bloggar Preview

Tuesday, July 13th, 2004

I knew millions of bloggers use w.Bloggarw.Bloggar to post their blogs directly from their desktop(instead of from browser), but occured to me only today that I should try it just for the heck of it. It is cool though not a big deal.

This is just another ‘Thick Client’ or so called desktop application, as opposed to the browser based interface MovableType provides. I can now leave this thing open and type whatever crap i want and post it, while working on 15 other windows that are open lining up the task bar below!.

Washington to Columbus

Friday, July 9th, 2004

After a hectic visit in Washington DC past weekend, we are all set to leave to Columbus tonight for yet another vacation weekend. This time we should be ok, as columbus doesnt have much to see besides we have a wedding to attend to. We will stay put most of the time.

The july 4th firewords at DC was just splendid. Though we were drenched waiting in the rain for more than four hours, it was all worth it. To add to the excitement, I was wearing an orange outlaw T-Shirt that read ‘Parole Violator’. What do you think? I was serious? I better not, it was just for fun.

You can imagine what kind of security would be around the white house and capitol hill. With my skin color and freaking hair style, Folks with me were warning me against provoking the cops to question me. Except for a cop, who shouted alound ‘Hey, Look at the Parole violator there!’, Nobody gives a damn to what you are wearing, much less, whats written on your t-shirt. Infact it was so hot and humid, especially after the rain, a lot of poeple chose to wear the least! Of course, I knew that cop was just pulling my legs. This is America! This is exactly what it means to have Freedom!

Cassini stares at Saturn

Thursday, July 1st, 2004

Cassini is the spacecraft that just reached saturn, meaning it has just fallen into the atmosphere of saturn gaining access to its gravity. It just chills my brain when I say that. Why? Coz Saturn is just 3000000000 kilometers from Earth. Yes, No kidding – 3 Billion kms. It is so astonishing because it zipped through that distance in just a mere 7 years after it was launched. I still cannot comprehend fully this human marvel. The mission is a phenomenal success beause it has started doing what it was exactly sent for : Capture snapshots and study the rings, moons and atmosphere. This is one of the very first images. This is real and not a digital art.

Saturn's F Ring

Caroline Park, the lead scientist who spent the last 15 years working hard to realize this dream, spoke to the press today introducing the pictures. It was moving when she said, with tears and a shivering voice, that she never expected that the space craft would successfully go so close to take such amazing pictures. She said it took her a few hours to verify and believe that her colleagues weren’t teasing her with unreal pictures. I can understand how close this must have been to her heart when she said she felt like she had another baby when she saw the first picture. Of course, failing missions are much more common and acceptable in space science, so no wonder she was unbelievably excited.

Tighten your seatbelts, This is just day one! Cassini will hang around saturn for four full months.

PS:At Jet Propulsion Lab from where scientists control the craft, during those tense moments when the craft cross the saturns atmosphere, apparently, they pass along a jar of peanuts to everyone around the control room with everyone grabbing a chunk of it and gulping it to tone down their anxiety. And it seem to work! After a series of failed missions a peanut-passing tradition started in 1962, kick-started the mission to moon! Cant believe it? Hear it from the guys in JPL. A peanut writes the fate of a trillion dollar mission! So as long as there is a reason to believe, Americans believe in any crap!